Sunday, January 29, 2012


A student comes to you and asks you a question that you don't know the answer to.  Maybe about life, about the Bible, about a current event, about pop culture. About anything.

Or maybe a parent comes to you and asks you a question you don't know the answer to.  Not like why did you this or that.  Like, what should I do when my kid does xyz or what happened at an event you were not at?

So, what do you say?

  • Option 1- FAKE IT:  lots of people do this.  They just make up something that is vague and kinda right, trying to sound confident and reassuring.  Crisis averted. 
  • Option 2- CLAIM IGNORANCE:  come out and say, I don't know.  Then apologize or tell them it's not your department and send them to someone or somewhere else to get the answer.  
Retail environments do both of these all the time.
  • FAKE IT:  "Do you know where I can find such and such an item?"  "We might carry it.  If we do, it'll be on isle ______."
  • CLAIM IGNORANCE:  "Nope, sorry, I have no idea. Go ask so and so and try this store _________"
But then this morning, a volunteer who is my son's small group leader for our middle school came into our high school room to look around.  It was between services and I know he is finishing up a graduate degree and works at the Apple Store in our community and I asked how he liked it.  He said, "I"m enjoying it.  Best retail experience I've ever had, but I have to get a different job cuz it's definitely not paying the bills." I asked if they worked on commission and he said they did not.  I asked about training before he got the job and he said it was 6 weeks before he was allowed to speak to a customer.  Then I asked him this:

"What do they teach you to say when you don't know the answer to a question?"

He quickly said, "I don't know, lets go find out together."

Well there you have it.  A much better option.
  • Option 3-  BE HONEST AND ENGAGING: Don't make stuff up, but don't pass the buck.  Respect their question, affirm their inquiry, confess your ignorance, and then join them in finding a solution. This does so much for you and the person asking the question.  It allows you to be truthful.  It shows you care.  In the end, you find out the answer and are wiser because of it too.  
So, the next time...
  • A SMALL GROUP QUESTION STUMPS YOU:   "That's a really good question. I'm not sure what the answer is.  I tell you what, why don't I do some research this week and you try too and we'll compare what we find out next week."
  • PARENT ASKS YOU ABOUT AN EVENT ON YOUR WEEKEND YOU'RE UNAWARE OF THE EXACT DETAILS ON.  "That's a really good question.  I don't know, let's walk over to so and so and find out the answer together."
  • YOUR CHILD ASKS YOU A QUESTION ABOUT SOMETHING FOR SCHOOL.  Don't just answer their question or send them away to find out the answer in disgust.  Instead, join them and teach them how to find the answer for themselves as you discover it together. 
  • A QUESTION ABOUT A BIBLE VERSE YOU DON'T RECALL: That's a really good question, then show them how you found the answer in a concordance or by search engine or whatever. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I was listening to the radio this morning on my way to work and I the host of the morning show I was listening to was doing a bit about some survey that asked which of the following four things would you rather be:

The whole thing kind of intrigued me and messed with me a bit all day.  Most of the people tried to say that smarter was the thing they'd want because they could use it to get richer and thinner.  Some said they wanted to get rich so they could buy a trainer and a tutor to help them get smarter and thinner.  No one seemed to want to be younger unless you could be smarter, thinner, and richer too, so they mostly ignored this option as too much genie-in-a-bottleish.

But no one really wanted any of them for their own intrinsic value.  They wanted one so it would gain them as much as the others as possible.  Like these 4 things are not separable, they are 4 wheels of the same car and required to roll in our postmodern culture. 

HMMM:  This would be a great intro or conversation starter in youth ministry.

NOPE AND YEP:  I don't want to be younger (but I do turn 40 in a few months) and I'm honestly working on the other three.  Thinner cuz being overweight sucks the life and energy from my body.  Richer, cuz my family is not cheap and my future expenses are going up, not down from what I can see.  Smarter... well cuz I'm dumb and need all the help I can get.  A magic name memory additive to my brain would be priceless.  I'm trying desperately to be a learner.  

WANTING VS WILLING:  I think most people want stuff they are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to actually get.  Like people will wish themselves thinner or richer or smarter, but then do nothing to change eating, exercise, spending, or study habits. Mostly we just wish things were different and then that's as far as it goes.  Wishing and willing are not the same thing.  If you wish your marriage was better, the question is then, "what am I willing to do to see that happen?"

IF WE WERE TO ASK: this in a ministry setting or in a circle of full-time pastors, we could easily craft a similar 4 set of desires.  I think pastors would try and lobby for the one that they thought would give them the other 3, cuz all are like 4 tires on a car and part of many healthy ministries.   But anyway, I think it would be this question: Would your rather your church had...


Friday, January 20, 2012



1 Corinthians 12:4-6 reads: "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."
We all know the parents who seem to have their kids doing everything they did or even wished they could do.  In an effort to lead their kids into a great experience, they have accidentally led them into a version of themselves a parent, not into who God has fully called their kids to be.  For sure, my family camps because I do.  Sure, my kids play soccer because I do.  We all clearly influence and shape our own kids.

But they also have their own unique personality and passions too.  Parenting my 5 kids means that I must constantly consider how God has uniquely wired and gifted each one so that I love them for who God has made them to be, not who I wish I was or they were.

In parenting toddlers, this might mean:
  • Fuel and fan anything they love that is good.  If your kid loves to draw, then feed that.  If they love to run, then get places where they can run.  If they love to sing, then by all means, give them some place to excel at that gifting.
  • Look hard in the mirror before correcting your child's passions. Make sure the issue is with your kid, and not truly with you instead. 
  • Try all kinds of stuff with them.  Try dance and art and reading and sports and music.  Try little bits of all kinds of stuff to try and help discover how and who God has wired your kid to be.
  • Let them have some choices.  For example, instead of just picking out their outfit for the next day, either help them make a choice or give them a few sets of clothes to choose from.   Maybe ask them to pick between 3 meal options for friday night.  When you go out, let them choose from several options to order off the kids meal. 
  • Be your kids biggest fan. Go ahead. It's ok. Love your kid and who they are and celebrate how God has wired them.  Help curb their rough spots for sure, but be sure to celebrate with them in what makes them super happy too.  


Well, I hope you liked this series of posts. I hope it was moderately helpful to you in your role as a parent. I know even writing them out again reminded me of some values I'm trying to continue to instill in my kids, long after the toddler age has come and gone.


Thursday, January 19, 2012



Deuteronomy 6:5-7 reads: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (NIV)
As parents, one of our values should continually be to get our kids to behave a certain way when we are not forcing them to do so.  Our goal is that they would make wise decisions when we're nowhere around.  Anybody can drive safe with a cop in the rearview mirror.  It's on the open road that is the concern.   Yes, I know your kid's an angel at their friends house and a pain in the rear at yours.  I get it.  I just mean that ownership, not compliance is our goal.  If it isn't, I guarantee that compliance or fear won't work as a dating motivator.  What will make a difference however is shared values. This is back to answering the why, not just the what question.

For parenting toddlers, this might mean:
  • Use God in everyday language.  Don't just relegate spiritual discussions to post sunday school or on church days.  Infiltrate your home with conversation that invites your kids to invite God into every space.  
  • Pray often and get caught by your kids.  Teach them how to pray and model for them the value of it. Pray with them for friends, their own concerns, and for thanks too.  Make it a habit to constantly thank and ask God to move with your kids in prayer. 
  • Don't just tell kids we don't say "such and such" a word.  Help them understand how those words hurt others or why those words are not good.  Remind them of your goals as a family to honor God an help them to see what things do and don't do that. 
  • If you're experiencing behavior issues, you could consider helping them to create a list of what they can and can't do.  For example:  Maybe the rule list with your 4 year old looks like: put my clothes in dirty clothes hamper, brush my teeth when I'm asked, say nice words, and share my toys with others.    You can even come to conclusion together on the consequences or the rewards... like an ice cream or a few minutes to play a video game they love or watch a movie or have friend over for a sleep over.  If the reward is clear and motivating, sometimes just not getting that thing is enough of a consequence to get your point across.  You just need to think about what motivates your kids, cuz every child is different and has different motivators. As they get older, rules clearly change, but their input into them will be the family norm and they'll own the values instead of just adhere to them. Then you can post the list on the fridge or more privately inside a bedroom door so that you can refer back to it with them. If our kids begin early on to have a say into agreed upon behaviors and what happens if you do or don't follow through, they begin the process of ownership instead of compliance that is mission critical in the long haul. 
  • Don't shut down faith questions or even doubts.  Invite your kids to explore the infinite mystery of God and wrestle with them in their sincere questions.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


EXPECT THEM TO BE MATURING (experience based), NOT TO BE MATURE (evaluation based)

Ephesians 4:12-13 reads, "Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. " (NLT)
Our goal as parents is future tense. We are working towards maturity which is a continuum. As a pastor to teens, my primary problem is not with a teen who is acting 16, it's with a parent who is.  If we all learned to act our age, we'd be better off across the board in my opinion.

This means you should expect your 4 year old to spill stuff, tryout new words she heard someone else say, pitch a fit now and again, and cry when hurt in ways you no longer cry about as an adult.

For parenting toddlers, this means:
  • Give them age and capability related responsibilities.  If they can't carry a whole grocery bag in after groceries are bought, give them something from the bag they can carry. Help them to be as mature as they are able.  Maybe they're not ready to do their own laundry, but maybe they can put away their own laundry once it's folded. 
  • When our kids were younger, one of our pumpkin patch rules was that you could only have one as big as you could carry all the way to the car.  No cart.  No help.  Seems silly, but it reminded our kids that they are responsible for what they are able to do in a subtle way.  We've often used the pumpkin patch as a teaching illustration for them when they ask to do that which is inappropriate for them, either too small or too big. 
  • Give them the freedom to fail.  We all make mistakes.  We desperately need houses of grace that help us to learn from and move on after falling short. Our kids will jack up life.  When they do, be quick to use them as teachable moments that move them towards maturity.... even if it constantly feels like 5 steps forward and 3 steps back. 
  • As age increases, consider and evaluate each kid individually as parents and work towards healthy behavior and responsibility expectations for their current age. Remember, the goal is to work yourself out of a job.  We are trying to set patterns that are moving your child closer to a full-fledged self-motivated and capable adult who is able to care for their own needs.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


TEACH THEM HOW TO THINK (process based) NOT JUST WHAT TO THINK (product based)

Romans 12:2 says, "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."  (NLT)
One of our jobs as a parent is to do just that. Not merely copy the behaviors and parenting patterns of those (even good intentioned) people around us, but to rethink some stuff. I think we need to rethink how it is that we are teaching our kids to make good choices.  If we don't want to raise teens who follow every idea or thought their friends or this world musters up and calls cool, then it’s imperative to introduce this at pre-school.  

The key word here is "why".  This is not an issue of "what" we let our kids do or "how" it is that they will do it.  It's largely about helping our kids to answer the "why would I do this or that?" question on their own in a manner that reflects solid reasoning and good choices.  

As little ones, this means:
  • Don't just provide healthy snacks, help them understand why one food is better for them than another.  "My mom doesn't let me eat that" is not going to last as a de-motivator for the long haul.  When our kids understand that they want to have a strong body and that certain foods won't help them do that, it's a better parenting process that leads to the same behavior we could have simply forced anyway.
  • Limit the "because I said so" to a last resort parenting card you play.  Even if I must use that phrase to gain obedience today, I must also explain how I came to that conclusion at some point with them in ways they might understand.  A 5 year old that knows not to cross the street without looking is great.  A 5 year old who knows why you don't cross the street without looking is better. 
  • Helping our kids decide why a tv show, music choice, or movie might not be the best option for them instead of just ruling it out.
  • Allowing our kids to be themselves.  Don't demand that they do everything your way, just demand that their way needs to have solid reasoning.  So if you want socks folded and they want them tossed in a drawer, let them argue why their way works before forcing your way upon them.  Help them learn the process and articulate solid reasoning in decision making.  This will be critical when the issues is not how do I organize my socks, but instead who will I date or how do I want to decide what to do on Friday night.  The ability to reason out a solid decision is a mission critical life skill we must all work towards developing in our kids. 


Monday, January 16, 2012


In honor of our JCC Parenting Summit at the end of this month, I'll be posting a 5 part series on this blog this week.

My experience as a youth pastor is that most parents of young kids I meet are scared of the teenage years ahead.  Some common fears are:

  • Sexuality will be navigated horribly   
  • They will leave all I have taught them behind when doubt begins to take root.
  • They’ll grow up to rebel against me.
  • They will make a mistake that can’t be undone like pregnancy, car accident, etc. 
But what most parents don't often understand, is that the patterns they are setting in parenting at a young age are the very thing that shape the teen they'll have one day.  Literally much of who they will be is being shaped in the patterns we set in pre-school.

To this end, my wife and I wrote a seminar for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) a few years back, shortly after we finished up that stage of our own parenting.  In it, we shared 5 basic parenting patterns that we tried to start when our kids are young to produce the young adults we want in the future.  It's kinda like planting a bulb.

We're not working for what we hope to see today so much as for the flowers we want to see in the Spring. It's the hope that the seeds we're planting now will produce a rich harvest in the future.


PROTECT YOUR KIDS (care based), DON'T SHELTER THEM (fear based) 
Jesus prayed this in John 17:15 of his disciples: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."  (NIV)
That's a great parenting mindset in my opinion.  Sure, protect your kids from things like cars in streets and bad movies and people who could harm them. Absolutely.  Just don't move subtly from caring for your kids to a fear based role of a bunker parent where you remove them from the "big bad world" out there all together.  A bunker parent tries to protect their kids from the evil one not by equipping them to protect themselves, but by building big huge "Christian walls" around their homes.  This surely keeps kids safe for a season, it just doesn't train them to live in the real world for the long haul. Failure to help our kids guard their own lives from evil down the road means we're raising teens who will spend a lot of energy wondering how to get outside of the big parent barriers and parents who spend all their time reinforcing the rules.  It's the wrong focus for both.

When parenting little ones, this means:
  • We work towards teaching them how to cross the street, not just putting up a bigger fence. 
  • Inviting neighborhood kids to play in your home under your family values instead of just telling your kids they can't play with so-and-so because they don't make good choices.  We then parent those kids like we do our own and lead up, teaching our kids how to make good choices when poor ones are available to them too.  
  • Talking about their "why can't we" questions in ways that don't end with "because I make the rules" but instead because "that's not the kind of people our family wants to be.  It's not the kind of people who make God's heart happy."  
  • Listen to music in the car that you want them to be listening to later in life.  
  • Letting them take healthy play risks.  Climb the tree, ride the bike off the jump, swim in the deep end.  Sure, these come with time, but don't shelter your kids from risk. Work with them to let them enjoy healthy risk.  Teaching them how to make that choice will reap huge dividends when the risks get bigger and the consequences much more out of our control later in life.


Sunday, January 15, 2012


We're doing a our annual PARENTING SUMMIT again on January 28th this year at Journey. While the basic principles of investing in parents and tying what we do as parents to what we do in our kids and student ministries are a huge focus, this year we're also coupling it with 14+ seminars and breakouts that parents can choose to attend during 2 separate break out session time blocks.

I'll be teaching a seminar covering the subject of the book I just finished writing "As for Me and My Crazy House" which comes out in March.  That seminar deals with 3 focus points as a parent which I'm excited to flush out briefly with parents who attend. We'll cover:

  1. taking care of your own heart.  
  2. tending to your marriage 
  3. caring for your family.  
In addition to that seminar, there will also be seminars by many of our pastoral staff and several from our church and school community sharing insights on this list and more:
  • How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk
  • Telling your kids about Jesus
  • Setting boundaries through discipline, communication, and responsibility.
  • Attachment and kids
  • Parenting your special needs child
  • Protecting your home from online porn and predators.
  • A Parents Guide to Social Media
  • Raising boys into men who love Jesus
  • Adoption 101
  • Parenting adults: when the empty nest ain’t so empty
  • Keys to understanding their Unique Personality Styles
  • Parenting a kid that is not your own
  • Raising Toddlers into Teens you love
I'll keep updating the website and more details to come in the next 2 weeks.

But if you're in the area and passionate about parenting, please don't miss this great training day.  At only $8 per parent or $12 per couple, it's a GREAT day of training for a minor investment of 1/2 a Saturday.  I really believe it will be so worth your time.  Just head to the website and register and you're good to go.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I started my weekly afternoons with Jake yesterday.  On Mondays after school I'm picking him up and taking him to grab an ice cream or something.  In order to earn his treat, he only has to ask me two questions.

I told him this on his way to school on Monday. He was very excited about this and when I picked him up, the first thing he said to me is, "Hey Dad, I got my two questions."  We then went to the bank to open his first bank account with $63 he had saved from gifts and such and then to starbucks to talk about life.

I asked him what questions he had and he very excitedly asked me these two things.

  1. How do you think your heart and soul get to heaven? 
  2. What do you think heaven is like?
Now I thought these were fairly deep for a 9 year old boy. I even told him that it was ok if he just wanted to know my favorite color or what I loved about our family.  But he wanted these two questions answered. We talked about it a little and about what the Bible says.  But I had to confess to him that I was both confident and guessing at the answers.  I told him I was confident that the Bible, when it speaks of one's heart, is not actually talking about the physical organ in his chest.  I also told him that while I would not be upset if heaven has golden streets, but that I wasn't holding out for it because the book of the Bible that describes heaven with streets like that also describes Jesus returning with a sword coming out of his mouth, and that just seems weird to me.  So I try not take any of the details too literally.

But anyway, he was interested and so we scratched at answering his Big Boy questions with as little presumption as I could.  Then on the way home, he saw a car with this sticker on the back for the second time in 2 days with me.  They are huge and evidently there's some cool trend saying you should place one of each of them on either side of your car or trucks rear window.

Jake saw these "skin branded" angel and demon women and he vocalized that he thought that one was an angel and one was a devil.   I was hoping he noticed neither, but he is a 9 year old boy and they are like 18" high in front of us.  Not much chance for missing it I suppose.  Now, without going into a whole theology for a 9 year-old, I told him that I didn't think either image was Godly or all that angelic.  I wasn't sure that either of them were made to encourage Jake or I to seek God or to do God's work. 

I told him that we don't know a ton about angels from the Bible, but I do know some things and I'm pretty sure they don't wear heals.  I also told him that from time to time he'd see pictures of female angels and even of babies as angels with wings, but in the Bible, they are always male and a couple of places they have 6 wings.  (2 to cover their face, on their body to fly, and two to cover their feet.  -Isaiah 6:2) 

Anyway, all of this reminded me of several truths:
  1. the best convos I have with my kids are one-on-one.  This time is priceless.
  2. the supernatural is mysterious.  I need to be careful not to make concrete that which is only partially known.  My kids are curious.  I can be curious with them and enjoy the mystery too. 
  3. teaching my kids how to interact with theology -in images, commercials, conversations, print, etc.- is part of my job as a parent.  Failure to do so doesn't mean they won't be confronted with it.  It just means they won't have any capacity to evaluate it for good or bad.  
  4. I need to keep a can of spray paint in my car to help the rearview windows of those who clearly don't have small children staring at them asking, "Daddy, how come that angel girl is naked like that?"


Sunday, January 08, 2012


I have been working as the Generation Pastor at Journey in addition to my job as High School Pastor for about a year now and it has produced some opportunities to bring continuity to our whole team in ways I never saw coming. Today we kicked off 2012 with a lunch to thank our volunteers who work with everything from infants through twenty-somethings.  There were well over 100 people there and that was less than half our team who could come, but dang... what a great celebration and reminder of how wide spread our influence really is.

At one point we celebrated those who have worked in any of those age brackets as a volunteer for any length of time.  In the end we discovered that we have one volunteer who has worked over 19 years in our ministry.  In the process I realized that his 20 year old son who still serves in our adult service worship band and now part-time on our facilities staff is a case text for someone who was literally shaped in part by ever single volunteer team represented in the room.  His son was involved in everything from nursery at 9 months to our college-age ministry today. WOW! What a picture of shared influence and baton passing and true community in process.  Cool to realize as we prayed over one another here below.  

Several times in our lunch I got a little overwhelmed with God's goodness and how thankful I am for a team to work with.  To this end, there are 3 main things that we're doing as a whole generations team to connect that have all proved super worth it.

GENERATION VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION/TRAINING MEETINGS:  So far they've been twice a year.  Once in January to kick off a new season after the holidays and once in August to restart the fall after our summer slows down.  We meet after church on Sunday for 90 minutes.  We provide lunch, encouragement, laughter, celebration, information, and training in small bits during this packed program. They each have proved to be so worth our effort and a great reminder that our "own area" is not the only place people are serving at JCC.

GENERATION PAID STAFF TEAM MEETINGS: I meet with our kids ministry team on Wednesday and our student ministry team on Tuesday each week and about 4x a year I meet with all of them together.  In our weekly meetings we sometimes gather over java, talk about the week ahead and the weekend before, and talk about anything down the road that we need to be collaborating on.  In our all-team meetings, we share about our lives, enjoy a meal, and spend several hours mapping out values, events, long term plans, and vision.

GENERATION FAMILY EVENTS:  These are geared largely towards our high school and below, but we've been doing some family events that are super kid friendly.  So far we've landed on this schedule:
  • Mid November:  Generous Family Night celebration where families come to worship, enjoy a teaching or skit, and then serve a family in need together through various hands on experience stations.
  • Weekend after Easter:  Family Fun Day. We sell lunch, provide jumpy houses and carnival rides, do a fund raiser by selling donated goods and services in a silent auction.  The funds raised go to offset the cost of camps and retreats and provide a great after service event for families at our church too.  
  • Spring: Help Us Help You community service day where families can pay to have our students come and do yard work at homes.  We've also done garage sales and car washes in tandem with this day, but this year I think we're doing yard work only.   We take teams of 6 students and 2 adults.  They do two shifts of two hours each and are paid $150 or higher for their time.  Families get some Spring cleaning done and we raise funds again to offset cost of camps for students.
  • Mid to late July:  Summer Fun Camp.  This is a "vbs" replacement of sorts.  We do a 1/2 day camp from 9 to 2 for a week where kinder-5th grade kids are connected with high school counselors and enjoy a fun and encouraging program with day trips to various afternoon locations around our community. Fun way for many of our generations team to work together for a common goal. 
So blessed to be on this team.  Praying that all of this truly goes to shaping Generation who understands, owns, and lives out a life changing faith in Jesus.  


Thursday, January 05, 2012


Maybe you love goal setting.  Maybe you despise it.  Regardless of how they make us feel, my experience says, not much happens without a goal. Not many people end up with a job they did not work hard for; or a degree they did aim for; or a great marriage they did not focus specific energy on.  The age old adage is true.  "If you aim for nothing, don't be surprised when you get nothing."

Sadly, as a youth pastor, I think most teens today have a reputation for not doing much with their lives.  I personally don't want anything to do with raising up a generation of apathetic young adults or perpetuate the myth that teens cannot do GREAT things with their lives TODAY!  We could surely do a whole series of blog posts on motivation and helping teens find one worth living for.  But for today, let's just agree that a chief indicator of healthy and purposeful living among anyone- teens included- is clear goals.  Goal setting, when done right, is a great destroyer of pointless living.

So on Wednesday morning as I ran on our treadmill to try and keep my focus clear on my goals of physical fitness that I've set for myself, I heard this story on the Today show about Jordan Romero- a 15 year old young man who on Christmas Eve 2011 became the youngest to ever climbed the 7 highest peaks on the all 7 continents.  As I listened to his story and interview, it was such a clear no-brainer lead-in to a discussion on goals with students that I went searching for it and then showed it in our small groups on Wednesday night.

After students watched Jordan's story, we then read some scripture and dove into these questions in small groups that you can download here and have for free.  Go ahead and steal them and use them for your own students.

You can also have the student scripture and goal worksheet I passed out too if you want.  You can download that here as well.

Now let's go out and kick apathy in the teeth and fight with Jesus to raise up a generation of passionate people who sincerely love God, fight for justice, and live radically for the Kingdom of God on purpose... setting their sites on some God-honoring clear goals for 2012.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I went to a funeral a while back where one of those giving a eulogy said this about the man who had died, "His eternity started today."

I understand it.  I just don't believe it.

No, not like I don't believe in eternity. I just no longer believe it starts when you die.  There is this idea in the church and the Bible that Jesus came to give us eternal life.  This means that when your heart stops pumping blood, your soul can keep on going in the presence of God.  This idea is central to the Biblical narrative.  However, what is not central is the idea that this begins at death.  I think Jesus came to give us LIFE and life to the fullest.  NOT only when one dies.  But TODAY.

Jesus famously said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  I don't think he meant in like 70 years after a long happy life. I think he meant now.

Now that I'm working with Generation ministries at JCC, I spent a lot of time at the Christmas Eve services around the parent check-in area and working in several of the kids ministry rooms as a volunteer.  One of my learnings was just how many people truly come to our church once every 4-6 months and still consider this "their church".   I know this because when checking kids in, there were quite a few people who had no idea how our "new" check in system worked.  The system is 4 months old!

This also happened when we put the new system in.  For months afterwards we were still getting first timers to the system who were not first timers to our church.

No, I don't think going to church is the litmus test for what being a Christ follower is all about.  But I do think that a lot of people are holding out for Jesus to be their Savior at death and missing the point in life.  Most aren't missing church cuz they're engaging Jesus in their days elsewhere passionately and don't need this community of faith.  As I work with students and families, my goal is not to help them get ready for death. It's to challenge and join them in a better way of life that alters the hope they have both in this life and the life to come.

Living like Jesus is not about he afterlife. It's about life.

If our message is that the gospel is a post death reality, then it's no wonder people are not interested in following Jesus.  It's for dead people.  Dallas Willard eloquently said once that, "the gospel is not about getting people to heaven after they die.  It's about getting them there before they do."  I think he's right.

It's time to bring some heaven to earth in us.  Today!


Monday, January 02, 2012


Last year at this time I spent the month of January trying to lead into a new me.

  • I blogged for 5 days a week for 6 months straight. 
  • I started a new reading plan
  • I started a new exercise plan
  • I started a new financial plan 
  • I started a new neat freak stage and declared war on flat surfaces- trying to stack nothing on the floor or tables and such.
  • I started a lot of stuff really... 
Truth be told, a lot of it went pretty well until the end of June.  Then it went pretty much down hill.  I was out of town/country for 6 weeks straight and life went nuts and my plan pretty much went out the window.  
  • I stopped blogging for those 6 weeks and then only picked it up sporadically after that
  • I stopped the reading plans I was on
  • I exercised kinda
  • Let's not talk about finances.  It will only make me say stuff I should not say on a blog.
  • And the flat spaces... well, all the coming and going made them uh... bumpy spaces I guess. 
  • (Reading my summary of this from last year at this time was actually pretty humbling.  I know I can start and finish stuff in my job, but when it comes to me, I'm evidently accustomed to fits and starts that don't stick. yuck.)
So, in the process of evaluating life these past few weeks, I've discovered that my January through June is pretty manageable and good for goals and such.  Yes I still have a marriage, 5 kids, a full time job, and go to school.  But when school is out and the fall hits, I'm slammed.  Summer plans for ministry and family go sky high, soccer coaching begins, the fall launch of ministry and small groups hits full throttle, the kids go back in school, and the development of pseudo new rhythms then gets clogged up by the holidays.  All of it combines to send my June through December into a bit of a tailspin.  

Now it's January and I'm starting over again.  But this time I'm tying to head into my year with this awareness and a change pace that I can maintain for 12 months instead of just 6.  I'm trying to do some planning that takes into account seasons where I can expect to reap and seasons where I can only plant.  

Toward that pace, I'm letting this be a month of intentional evaluation.  I'll take some steps to solutions, and some will actually be more like clearing a path to a longterm and future solution.

So I'm asking again:
  • How am I taking care of my body and soul wisely?  What is healthy and unhealthy in my sleep, eat, read, exercise, rest, and work rhythms?  
  • How is my marriage?  How can I see it grow and deepen and mature and flourish in 2012?  What do I need to do to bring my A game to that? 
  • How is my family and parenting? What are the specific needs of each of my kids and how can I help address them and adjust my schedule and life to care for them? 
  • What in my ministry is broken and what is working?  I'm trying to ask it again like it's my first day on the job and asking God to give me fresh eyes.   I don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but it's definitely time for some fresh suds at least. 
  • ... etc
Anyway, I'm trying to live my life to it's fullest and taking some time to evaluate how to do that well in the time I have ahead.  This year I turn 40.   I'm trying to charge it and make this new season of life one where I learn from my own successes and failures and make wise decisions.  

Thus NO EXCUSES!  It's time to kick some stuff in the teeth and at this juncture, I'm finding that January is a good season in the rhythm of my life to make some headway on that.  



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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