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Get your read on!

23 Aug

How do you grow?

Not physically speaking, but in character and as a person.

Consider this quote by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, “The only difference between where you are today, and where you’ll be a year from today, are the books you read and the people you meet.

I think it’s safe to read this quote again and replace the word “WHERE” with “WHO”

It’s a pretty simple, yet powerful observation to say that when people interact with and act upon new thoughts and ideas, they slowly begin to change, to mature, to morph. Something happens from the inside-out as a worldview shifts, a new grid for processing information is put in place, or a new love is discovered.

One of the most significant ways to encounter and engage in new thoughts and ideas are from books and getting to know other people (and guess who writes books?…other people).

I thought I would share my reading list for the next couple months with you all, and if you see something you like, pick up a copy and let’s chat about it! In no particular order (yet):

Experiential Youth Ministry Handbook – Losey

Torn – Lee

Story Signs and Sacred Rythms – Folmsbee

Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood – Setran/Kiesling

Everyday Theology – Vanhoozer, Anderson, Sleasman

Ipod, YouTube, Wii play – Laytham

OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook – Dean

Everyday Apocalypse – Dark

The Seven Checkpoints – Stanley/Hall

Think Orange – Joiner

Unsqueezed – Starbuck (great last name, right?!)

What’s So Great About Christianity – D’Souza

How to Read a Book (I should probably start with this one, aye?)

Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again) – Rice

Love is an Orientation – Marin

Our Favorite Sins – Hunter

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Covey

Switch – Heath (bros)

A couple years ago I made a new years resolution to read a book a week. I actually ended up reading more than that (you can get a lot accomplished when you don’t have T.V.)!

Because of my recent job change, house hunting and a baby, I probably won’t keep that same pace…but I still don’t watch T.V., so hopefully I’ll still be able to do some significant reading!



We Become What We Love

16 Apr

“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” ~Seneca

Most people do not live their lives with a high level of intentionality. Most life is lived in a state of reactionary thoughts and actions.

As we go to school or work it becomes natural and easy to wait for the circumstances of life to determine our mood, motivation, thoughts, actions, friendships/relationships, etc…

I have a mentor who says, “We are often a mystery to ourselves.”

You and I experience thoughts and emotions throughout the day and we don’t know why? 

You and I also engage in many habits, good and bad, and don’t fully understand why we do those things…We just desire to do them, even if we know they’re harmful and detrimental to our lives (health, relationships, character, etc…)

How do we live more intentionally? How do we live our lives “on purpose”?

It begins with an understanding of our HEART (the source of our love, desire, and affections).

“Above all else guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4:23

Picture your heart as a “love pump” that is continuously generating affections and desires. It is impossible to turn off this pump, love and desires are continually being generated in your life. 

If someone just asked you to sit still and think, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to sit and think about NOTHING. Thinking is always DIRECTED toward SOMETHING.

The same is true with LOVE. You cannot just simply love. LOVE (desire-affection) is always AIMED or DIRECTED at SOMETHING or SOMEONE.

LOVE always has a target. LOVE is always running TO something.

When Jesus said that ALL the law and prophets hinges on the one great commandment to “LOVE the Lord you God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, strength…” What Jesus was communicating is that the TARGET – DIRECTION – END GOAL of our LOVE should be AIMED at the Kingdom of God.

Whether you believe it or not, you and I operate (navigate through life) based off of what we Love, desire, feel, and value.

We are all born as narcissists. You and I were born thinking that life is all about us and our needs and wants. God is continually working by His Spirit and His Word to direct our hearts away from OUR SELF and towards HIMSELF.

I pray we are careful with where we direct our affections…because we will eventually become what we love.

For more good reading on this topic, check our Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith.

The Eli-Samuel Relationship

9 Apr

1 Samuel 3:9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

If you remember the story of Eli and Samuel, you will know that Eli was a priest who mentored a young boy named Samuel.

One night Samuel was awakened from his sleep by someone calling out his name. He ran into the room where Eli was, but Eli said, “I did not call you, go back to bed.” After this happening a couple times, I can imagine Eli wondering to himself, “What’s going on with this child!?”

But Eli discerns that it’s the Lord speaking to him, so he instructs young Samuel in how to listen, respond, and listen…

There are many different aspects of being a disciple and making disciples, but one very important one is hearing God’s word, and helping others listen to what God is saying to them. I believe this Eli-Samuel relationship is a great picture of discipleship. Helping others learn how to be with, listen, and respond to the Lord. 

Many times I have found myself trying to “be” the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life, and proceed to dish out my wisdom without ever first instructing (encourage, urge, teach) someone else how to be still and listen to the voice of God.

Our goal is not to make disciples that follow us…but to make disciples who follow Jesus.

Do you have someone in your life that constantly pushes you back into God’s presence?

Are you becoming the person who is able to instruct and encourage others to be still and listen to the voice of God and how to respond to His call? 

Discipline vs Wrath

2 Apr

Punishment is too broad of a word.

When a child does something wrong, he/she  may experience punishment.

When someone deeply offends you, you may want them to experience your wrath. 

But what about discipline? I heard an excellent definition of discipline the other day that I’d like to share with you.

Discipline holds a vision for the future. 

With this definition, discipline can take many different forms.

It could take the form of punishment for a disobedient child: If Parents have a vision for who they want their child to become, and the child’s actions don’t line up with that”vision for the future”…then the parent’s correct/punish/discipline their child.

Discipline also takes the form of boundaries: If I have a vision for how much I want to weigh in the future, then I will put boundaries in place that will help shape the path to my desired goal. These boundaries could look like regular exercise, limiting sugary foods, and not eating after 8pm. 

Wrath is very different than discipline. Instead of holding a vision for the future, wrath is driven (and sometimes blinded) by anger. When wrath is poured out, it is not hoping for reconciliation in the future. Wrath is focused on satisfying its anger. 

For those of us who are found in Christ, we know that we do not fear the wrath of God. God’s wrath was satisfied by Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. We can take comfort in verses like Romans 8:1 “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ…”

But, we do have verses like Hebrews 12:6  “the Lord disciplines the one he loves…”

God loves you and has a vision of the future for what He wants you to be! He has prepared good works in advance for us to accomplish (Eph 2:10)! 

Take comfort in these words and remember  “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:10-11

I hope this helps you as you are put in the place of administering discipline and also…

Don’t be afraid to Yield to discipline (whether from your parents, your boss, or God).

Digging for Idols

26 Mar

Digging for idols?  Why would we need to dig for something that traditionally has been so evident?

If you visit places of worship in other cultures, it may be easy to observe stone, wood, and precious metal sculpted into different animals, people, or made up creatures. 

Traditionally and in biblical times, idols have not been something that is hidden, but rather something that is given a place of prominence for everyone to see and worship. 

Today, in America, most idols have fled places of worship and invaded homes, and although we may not find idols given a place of prominence inside our homes, they have found their way to “the best seat in the house”…our HEARTS

I have a mentor who says, “We are often a mystery to ourselves.” We sometimes don’t know why we do the things we do, say the things we say, and love the things we love. You and I even do things we wish we wouldn’t do…AND we DON’T do the things we often WANT to do. The apostle Paul affirms this in Romans 7.

This is because the strongest direction/affection of our heart is being won over by “hidden” or silent idols. Which is why it is important to “dig” and identify these idols before we can fully devote our attention and desire towards God. 

If the idols are never “found” they can never be removed, and remain dormant until will-power is exhausted. Love/desire/affection always wins over will-power.

Tim Keller, a pastor in New York has come up with ten questions to help identify idols:

10. What consumes most of your thoughts and feelings?

9. What motivates the things that you do?

8. What are you most afraid of?

7. What brings the highest amount of frustration or anger into your life?

6. What is one thing that can change your mood in a second?

5. What would your friends say is your favorite topic of conversation?

4. What are some things that you feel you can’t live without?

3. What brings you solace?

2. What do you yearn for?

1. What is one thing that you wish God would do for you? 

When you begin to answer these questions, you’ll be able to find your idols…but that’s just the first step. 

The second step is a questions of RESPONSE. 

And ultimately a decision of YIELDING…to God or to your own desires, comforts, and pleasures.

Encouraging Silence

19 Mar

Our technology mediates or stands between us and the real world…the physical world. 

T.David Gordon, a professor and author wrote, “We have become acclimated to distraction, to multi-tasking, to giving part of our attention to many things at once, while almost never devoting the entire attention of the entire soul to anything.”

I would argue there is no such thing as “multi-tasking” but rather “multi-dividing”…a characteristic of giving portions of ourselves away. (what else are you doing while you’re reading this? How many other “windows” on your computer are open?)

Distraction has become the “Norm” for everyday life…during conversations, meetings, while watching t.v., cooking dinner, playing, eating, exercising…we expect to have some form of distraction competing for the wholeness of who we are. (This email may very well be a distraction to you…keeping you from work?)

How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation with someone, and they hear a beep or feel a buzz, and they whip out their phone…(I’ll admit I’m guilty of this). I’m not saying multi-tasking is bad and should never be done…I play the guitar AND sing. I cook dinner AND hold a baby. I’ve got some instrumental prog-rock playing in the background as I type this…

BUT, when it comes to our walk with Christ, our prayer life, and our meditation on scripture…do we create space where we are able to offer our entire soul and attention? Learning how to be alone and silent with our thoughts in this age of digital distraction is quickly becoming a lost art. 

some quotes to consider:

“All of man’s miseries come from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” -Blaise Pascal

“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” -Isaiah 30:15

“Just as we cannot force a plant to grow but can take away the weeds and stones which prevent its development, so we cannot force anyone (even ourselves) to such personal and intimate change of heart, but we can offer the space where such a change can take place.” -Henri Nouwen

May you seek to YIELD yourself,  your time, to be separated from distraction and noise at some point today to consider the great themes and truths of scripture, and hear clearly from God.



Deeply Offended…

14 Feb

It was a snowy, but sunny morning as I walked into Panera Bread for a power breakfast sandwich and gently pasteurized OJ.  

I was meeting with a high school student for prayer and encouragement.We had an good conversation about life and godliness and how we can share in the divine nature in order to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

All was going well until we were about ready to leave. I had some “panera points” saved up that earned THIS GUY a free bagel. So I totally redeemed that thang before leaving. 

As I was handed the bagel, the lady behind the counter said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” 

I was shocked, and didn’t know what to say. All these thoughts kept flooding my mind, “Does she think that because I’m an American and Caucasian that I am Catholic?”  “Is this lady going to go through her entire day wishing EVERYBODY a ‘Happy Valentine’s day’ without being sensitive to their religious backgrounds?” “Who does she think she is pushing her Catholicism on me?” and “This is America…”

All these and more thoughts were flooding my mind, and like I said, I didn’t know what to say…I must have had a blank stare on my face for the better part of a minute. Flabbergasted.

I ended up giving her a half-smile and saying “Happy Holidays” as I turned and headed for the door, still in unbelief that I had been ruthlessly accosted by an employee of Panera Bread about her religious beliefs. 

I guess I’m writing this post to encourage anyone who’s reading this to be sensitive to people’s individual beliefs and religions on this fine February 14, 2013. 

P.S.    If you’re a Buddhist, happy Nirvanah day (they were an awesome band)

A Public Outcry Against Forks

4 Dec

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but one of the most deadliest items in the world is sneaking around…right under your nose (sometimes 3 times a day or more) and is trying to take your life! 

We’ve all heard that a certain 14 minute video caused riots that led to the deaths of American patriots in another country. 

Some of us heard a half-time speech from a certain sportscaster that if a certain football player didn’t own a gun, he and his girlfriend would still be alive (OJ anyone?).

This may be a little known fact, but the No. 2 Pencil has been the leading cause for high school drop outs – 3,030,300 annually! And when you factor in that 75% of US crimes are committed by high school drop outs, isn’t it about time we rid our schools of those darned No. 2 pencils?!?!

Well, I’m not talking about videos, guns, or pencils…I want to voice my concern about FORKS. forks

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the last 20 years. 35.7% of U.S. adults are obese. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. taking an average of 600,000 lives a year! Coronary heart disease costs the U.S. about 108.9 billion every year. fatso

Forks (and possibly spoons) – We need  more regulations for restaurants and homeowners to posses these instruments of death. 

Ok, so there’s a lot of sarcasm in this post, but seriously…What’s the problem? What’s the answer? 

What does the Bible say? One word provides the answer to both questions: the HEART. 

Luke 6:45 …a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. heart image

Michelle Obama may want to take away your King Size candy bars…but, glutenous people with low self-control/discipline will just buy two.

And I’m sorry…but suing McDonalds because you’re overweight may get you some spending cash, but won’t change your heart. 


Our culture is obsessed with blame shifting. Not too many people accept responsibility. 

So how does a nation monitor/control the hearts of it’s people? It can’t. Every individual is responsible for their heart and actions…but, Parents, teachers, and elders in the community should be the ones helping to shape the hearts of the next generation.  

What’s your role? Do your part in influencing others.

An Elephant Never Forgets

30 Nov

If you’ve ever seen the Jungle Book, then you probably remember the phrase, “An elephant never forgets.” Do you know why that is?

Elephants have an amazing memory! Do a study on elephants sometime, I think you’ll be impressed. 

Do you know how elephants have been trained for the circus in the past?  Trainers will us an elephant’s memory to their advantage. They will chain a young elephant to a tree. The elephant will then tug, pull, and scream with all their might to break free…leaving a scar on their leg. 

Past Scars

Because the memory of  the pain they experienced is so vivid, an adult elephant’s leg can be tied with rope, and attached to a steak that’s hammered in the ground…and they won’t try to escape. Is an adult elephant ABLE to rip that steak out of the ground? Absolutely. But it won’t, because the scar left a memory too painful for them to even try to bee free. 

I have met people who refuse to exercise the strength they have in life because of past scars. 

Circumstances from our past have a tendency to act as an anchor (holding us back from the person God wants us to be), OR they can act as a rudder of a ship (steering us through future storms of life). 

What are some of your scars? How are you responding to them? 

Accepting forgiveness and forgiving others is important to move forward. 

You cannot stay where you are in life. There is a better version of yourself that God wants to bring out. 

God has a purpose for your past, and a purpose for your future. 



What You See Is What You Get…Maybe?

18 Apr

What I have to say probably won’t effect everyone’s Facebook habits, but I still think there is an important issue to address…the difference between 


These words are sometimes used interchangeably. If you share some of your deepest thoughts, regrets, pain, etc…with someone, you could be described as being vulnerable or transparent. But the words are very different.

The Facebook “wall” got me thinking about this, and I won’t quote anybody’s comments word-for-word, but here’s a paraphrase of some random wall posts:

“I could just crawl under a rock and cry all day, I don’t feel like talking, so don’t bother…”

“I’m so pissed! No one call me!” 

“Some days I just wish I were dead. my phone’s off, so don’t call. Don’t txt.”

The difference between Transparency and Vulnerability is this:

TRANSPARENCY  is allowing others to see the real you. To see what’s going on inside of you. Your emotions, thoughts, and feelings are easily seen. Your emotions are on your sleeve. You are clear. Obvious.








VULNERABILITY  implies a posture of openness, and allows others to enter into your problem with you, in order to give you direction, offer forgiveness, tend wounds, possibly rebuke or admonish you, encourage, or confront you. 

A lot of comments I see on Facebook are characteristic of transparency, which allows an ENTIRE community to SEE and HEAR your pain, anger, regret, or annoyance…but does not  give permission or invite ANYONE to do ANYTHING about IT. 

Being transparent is easy. Being vulnerable involves risk. 

Which one leads to growth? Which one leads to tighter community? Which one allows others to exercise love? 

Would you be vulnerable?

Would you submit, or YIELD your thoughts, emotions, and problems to someone who cares about you?