Monday, December 16, 2013

Jesus Moved Into The Neighborhood

The Christmas season marks the time when we remember the birth of Jesus. The interesting part is when I look at the world around me, what's on every one's lips is not this glorious occasion, but rather a song of consumerism and want.

Today I thought back to my childhood and how my mind would automatically associate Christmas morning with all the stuff I could hope to receive. Every year I would drive my mom crazy with my giant wish list and high expectations for what I would unwrap on Dec 25th.

There is nothing wrong with being a kid and wanting to wake up to some presents Christmas morning, but when our sole focus is the getting and receiving of gifts, we are missing the point.

I'm not the first to acknowledge or even write about the consumerism that plagues our culture around this time of year, but have we ever asked why?

Why do we choose to focus on stuff instead of our Savior? Why has Christmas become what it is in America?

I believe we have giant gaps in our hearts. Ways we have all been hurt, memories that haunt us, tragedies that have occurred. If we are honest, our time on Earth has not left any of us with a sense of wholeness in and of itself. We were all born into this world of sin and shame, guilt and death, trial and tragedy. We feel the full weight of that.

We may not always be able to name it specifically, but we recognize our lives are a mess sometimes. We know those gaps are there. Maybe we feel pain big time, or have taught ourselves to not feel at all, but it's there.

The good news of Christmas is Jesus came to set us free from those bonds of sin and death. As John 1:14 puts it in "The Message" translation of the Bible:

"The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish."

(emphasis mine)

Jesus, God himself, moved into the neighborhood. 

What I find interesting is how a season that marks a time when our Savior came to Earth to fill all of the gaps in our heart has become a season where we gather up anything and everything else to fill those gaps.

There is a huge significance behind the word Emmanuel or "God with us." God didn't have to come be with us. God is holy and could have kept himself out of our mess. What no other belief system can lay claim to is a God who became fully human and fully divine in order to draw his creation back to himself and make them whole.

This season is not a time for us to fill in the gaps in our lives with perishable things. This is a time for us to take ahold of the nonperishable love and redemption found in Christ Jesus.

Check out 1 Peter 1: 3-9:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (emphasis mine)

We have all faced darkness. We all need something more than what this Earth can give us. So consider with me regaining focus in this season and remembering who Jesus is and why He came. More than that, take practical steps with me to press into the Father's heart and let him fill in our wounds and our gaps.

It's why He came. There is a light, and it's shining in the darkness, and the darkness against it won't prevail. There is a greater inheritance waiting for us that what we would or could give ourselves, and it's in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:18-19:
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Strength in Weakness

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." - 2 Timothy 1: 9-10

"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 2:1

I often think that everything in my life is a result of my own actions and my own ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps, persevere, and make the right choices.

I put the weight of my own salvation on myself. I put the weight of other's salvation on myself.

But very simply, whatever I may ever gain or possess or have given to me or see or do or accomplish, can never compare to the riches of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.

My strength cannot solely come from me if I am to continue running this race of life. I can no longer pretend like my weaknesses don't exist. I cannot detach from my own heart or from the heart of God.

I have to press into the heart of God and be strong in His grace. Because he has always been my Father and it's never been because of what I have or haven't done. He loves me because of his own purpose and grace, and it is in that grace I will find my true strength.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

7 Things I Have Learned About Loving the Poor.

A few things I'm processing today about caring for the poor:

1. A person's bank account does not define them. We are all created in the "Imago Dei" or "image of God." Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are God's workmanship.

2. Circumstances may help provide context for understanding what a person faces daily, but again, circumstances/bank account do not define.

3. Those we view as having "less" often have more to give than we could ever realize. It's just been buried under years of being in survival mode and being wounded by others. Or we simply just don't ask or care to hear their opinion.

4. We have a biblical mandate to "love mercy & act justly" (Micah 6:8), we know that true religion cares for the orphan and widow (James 1:27), and that Jesus himself came to proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted & set the captives free (Luke 4:18-19)

5. Our role in all this is:
- to be a catalyst for relational healing
- provide tangible expressions of love that affirm worth, value, and a persons role in community
- empower others to walk with Jesus & take steps to grow beyond their current circumstances.

6. God is doing it. He is our savior. He is the savior of the poor. He calls us to be on mission with Him. We are to "do with" and not "do for" the poor, the outcast, the broken. When we work together in community, it is far more effective and shows us a glimpse of heaven on Earth.

7. Unless our identity is found in God the Father and his streams of mercy for us, we will never be able to effectively walk with others through their healing process.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Him.

To understand God as one who is able to fill in the gaps and heal the wounds created by our earthly relationships, is to understand the core of who our heavenly Father truly is. He is full of grace and truth, our God is love in its fullness.

Out of a pure understanding of who God is we can derive our identity, for we were created in His image and in Him we live and move and have our being.

May who we are not be informed by the things we produce, but may the things we produce be informed by who we are in Christ. For only He can make us whole.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Good Gift

I believe the point of our lives is to be a good gift to others, to use what we have been given in selfless ways that foster community and show us what it's like to lay down our lives so that others may live. 

If we aren't careful, this selfless way of living is all too easy to disregard because we are by nature selfish beings. The irony is that the more of ourselves we give, the more we actually discover who we really are.

Jesus modeled this so perfectly not just in his death but in the way he lived. Scripture tells us that even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. How often do I want to be served instead of serving?

Why does our culture celebrate the accumulation of stuff and not the one who gives it all away? Why do we celebrate fame and not the one who is quietly changing lives in their own neighborhood? Why do I fall prey to this selfish way of thinking so often?

Jesus, would you show us how to truly lay down our lives for others. How to not just be for people, but to physically be with them. Would you show us the significance of you becoming human and living among us so that we may become "one of" those we feel called to love.

Ultimately, give us neither poverty nor riches, simply give us our daily bread. In everything we have, may we use it to be the good gift to others that we were made to be.

Friday, June 21, 2013

At His Feet.

I want to give people Jesus in a genuine way.

To share with them everything he has given me and to practice dying to myself so that others may live and God be glorified.

This becomes a near impossible task when the focus narrows, and my vision goes no further than simply accomplishing all I must accomplish in a given day or week.

Rhythms matter in life, and when we are finding ourselves in unhealthy ones on a daily basis, they directly effect what we have to give to people and whether we even do it at all. We get selfish, overly task-oriented, and if we aren't careful can even lose the core vision of why we do what we do to begin with.

You see this occur all the time when father's are choosing career over family, single moms are having to work 40 hours a week just to provide and never see their kids, or in the lives of college students who bury themselves in books or over commit to too many things, just to name a few scenarios.

We even see this situation played out in scripture in Luke 10:38-42:

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In the last few days I have had multiple people ask me, "What's your dream?" or "What's your goal?".

Truthfully, I didn't know how to answer them because I hadn't thought about it in a while. I got so caught up in the day to day stuff that long-term vision and dreams took a backseat.

Accomplishing things is not bad. Being faithful in what God has given us on a daily basis is key. However if we refuse to sit at the feet of Jesus and find contentment in being with the Lord, we are absolutely missing out.

Obedience to God is not burdensome, God is not a slave driver. He is an Abba, Father. A daddy. A father to the fatherless who loves us and who has hopes and dreams for our lives that would blow our mind. He wants to give us good gifts, he desires for us to take our burdens and give them to him.

Scripture speaks directly against this fearful and anxious living we so often practice.

To be healthy, we must put ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Always listening, allowing him to love us, to challenge us, to speak to us the next steps he has for us. This is not combative to faithfulness in the little things each day, but rather drives it.

In our wounded souls we tell ourselves we are not even worthy of a God who deeply and intimately cares about us and who has hopes and dreams for our future. We treat ourselves as his employees rather than his sons and daughters.

May God deeply and holistically love you today.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Though The Earth Give Way

"God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea"

- Psalm 46: 1-2

Have you ever felt like you had the rug pulled out from under you?

Or experienced unforseen pain, heartache, and other chaotic situations that sent your head spinning and your heart down a dark road?

I feel like most of the hurt we undergo in this lifetime comes from stuff we never expected. It's like we start out as children a giant boulder, but we get put under the waterfall of a fallen world that erodes us until we are nothing more than a pebble.

"The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress."

- Psalm 46:7

All of the sudden it hits us all at once, giving us a feeling like we are drowning and can barely keep our head above water.

The Earth gives way and we crumble, left as a shell of the person we were before. We call out for rescue, trying desperately to figure out how we ended up in this horrible place.

"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

- Psalm 46:10

In our heart rages a battle between confusion, hurt, love, joy, etc. It's a endless cycle of emotions.

We struggle to find the foundation under us.

"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
"The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress."

- Psalm 46: 10-11

That's the foundation. That's how we stop from crumbling when our world seems to fall apart. That's how we get through each day and all that it brings. That is the air we breathe, our rock, our fortress.

That's how you thrive in this life filled with chaos. Go ahead, try other stuff. However, take the word of a guy that has been through hell and back in multiple ways and who has experienced the faithfulness of God first hand.

God is our rock, and he never fails.

Stay the course. Don't give up. Don't lose heart.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You Are Anything But Ordinary

Some days I find myself waking up and thinking "Wow, there are so many mundane tasks I have to accomplish today. Life just feels....ordinary." 

I might even sit down for a few minutes and scroll through my news feed on Facebook or Twitter to see what others are up to. Chances are I will read about all kinds of folks who are doing a ton of other things that are really extraordinary. 

Then that thought comes back, but in a different way: "I'm so.....ordinary".

Am I though? Is my existence on this Earth nothing more than a rhythm of work, rest, hang with friends, work again, get a haircut, work, friends....... etc?

Do you ever feel ordinary? Like, what's the point?

You see it's all about perspective. There is this lie out there in this global world, where every second of the day we have an outlet to compare ourselves to others, that what we are doing or who we are is just not good enough or cool enough.

It's a lie that tells us, not only as we not as good as the next person, but our lives carry no weight or influence in the places we go and with the people we see. 


If you are a follower of Christ, then every single day you have a heavenly Father showering fatherly love on you just aching to have your heart become one with his. Not only that, but He also makes us whole in a way where we don't have to compare ourselves to others.

"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Because Christ died to restore our right relationship with the Father, we too now have a role to play in the way we love others in our everyday lives.

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 16-21

Your life is consequently anything but ordinary. Every single day we live, we have been gifted with the opportunity to receive the love of the Father for ourselves, and then to be that love for others.

Life is a day by day process. There are no big things that don't contain lots of little steps to get there. Anyone who has achieved anything of worth will tell you that it took lots of day to day discipline and hard work.

As Mother Teresa once said: "There are no big things, only small things with great love."

Live today as the loved, reconciled, ambassador of peace that you are. Let God work in and through you to transform those seemingly ordinary places, into places where people experience the love of God.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Table

You know what's so wonderful about potluck dinners?

Everybody brings something to the table. Nobody comes empty handed with nothing to give. People are empowered to feel a sense of actualization as a contributing member to the meal. They understand that they have something to give, even if its a bag of chips. They have something everyone else can use.

Potlucks are everywhere in today's church culture. They provide context for community and put everyone on an equal playing field. Everyone brought something, so everyone instantly becomes "one of" the community.

That sense of contribution and the subsequent feeling of confidence and pride that comes with it is invaluable to forming a healthy community. 

So why are so many systems of service in America acting in opposition to that sense of "oneness" & "togetherness"? For all of our culture of service, are the people we are coming in contact with feeling like they bring something to the table as well? Are they being allowed to feel like they have something to offer?

I look no further than my own life to relate to the poverty mindset. I grew up in a tough home situation, where much of the time we didn't have much money or resources. There were many people who dropped off groceries on our front doorstep and ran away, or who helped us one time and then never again.

But you know what made the biggest difference? The people in my life who called me friend. They didn't view me as a project, they weren't primarily concerned with "saving me". They simply cared about who I was, who I was becoming, and showing me what I had to bring to the table.

Just read what Jesus says in John 15: 9, 12-17 (emphasis mine):

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other."

Jesus has called us friends. By his great love and the work of his Holy Spirit, he has revealed to those of us who follow him who we are, how we are gifted, and has empowered us to play a part, to contribute, to his work on this Earth.

This is a glimpse of what Jesus has been saying to me. There are action steps ahead that will come with time.

I want you to consider what this means for you. When you give or serve, are you letting the Holy Spirit guide you and are you focusing on the "who"? Are you seeking to form community and looking for ways to allow people to use their gifts? Are you taking on a spirit of humility and a desire to learn?

How can we stop measuring our service by how it affects us? How can we be people who empower others through the Holy Spirit to take next steps in who they are becoming?

"Nobody is so poor that they have nothing to bring to the table." - Bob Lupton

We all bring something, and we should never be so selfish as to disallow others to bring what they have. We must care for the needs of those we serve above our own. 

Very simply, as Jesus has loved us, so we must love others.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

10,000 Reasons

How many times has your heart been broken?

How many times have you trusted someone only to be let down?

How many times have you have experienced something so painful that you doubted your heart would ever recover from it?

Over my lifetime I would estimate I have felt like this 1,000 + times. At least that's how I can perceive it sometimes.

It's no secret that life can be unpredictable & that our hearts can be wounded over and over....and over again. In this lifetime every single one of us will experience great pain and great joy. It is a mixed bag of emotions,circumstances, and our reactions. How we make meaning of this lifetime is everything.

I know a lot of people that as "life happens" allow their hearts to become hardened, and feel themselves getting truly lonely on the inside. Maybe they never show it on the outside, maybe they do, but the one thing they have in common is a feeling of being shrouded in darkness and being on autopilot. To them, God is no more than a bully who wants to judge them, or maybe He doesn't exist at all.

Then there are those ridiculous, insane people who as "life happens" actually get stronger. Not in a way that's pretending to be tough, but I mean they actually become better people for their experiences. They are growing and thriving, learning from each day. Sure they fall, but they get back up. To them, God has compassion on their hearts and a plan/purpose for their lives.

There are 2 foundational truths we need to understand about our existence:

1. We were born into a spiritual battle for our hearts between a God that loves us unconditionally and an enemy seeking to destroy any shred of that love he possibly can.

2. There is a God in heaven who created us to be in perfect relationship with him and who has created a great story of reconciliation, sacrifice, and redemption in which we are being transformed into his likeness and having our original purpose restored. Not only that, we have a part to play in this story.

In my 24 years on this Earth, I have experienced death, homelessness, a public shooting, poverty, depression, abandonment, heartache, failure, car accidents, being in prison, hunger, etc.

The Apostle Paul tells us his experiences with being shipwrecked, tortured, imprisoned, beaten, etc.

In the context of those experiences he writes this in Phillipians 4:11-13.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

The "him" he is talking about is Jesus. In spite of all he has lived through, Paul stills trusts with all his heart in Jesus.

For all the 1,000 + times I have felt separated from the love of God, there are 10,000 more when God has been victorious.

He is my rock, the strength of my heart. He is the foundation upon which I rest. He is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. He is my fortress, He is a mighty God. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.  He is my everything.

Friends, your life has a purpose. God cares deeply about you and your heart. There is more to life than being a victim of a crazy emotional roller coaster. More than being tossed around by circumstances.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess in Christ our Lord, for he is faithful to heal us. His mercies are new every morning. He is the author and the perfector of our faith. Nothing in all of creation can truly separate us from Him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


There are a few lyrics from the Switchfoot song "Thrive" off of their album "Vice Verses" that I absolutely love:

"A steering wheel don't mean you can drive
A warm body don't mean I'm alive
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive"

And isn't that just how life feels sometimes? 

Void of a sense of intimacy and real joy, we go from thing to thing, task to task, meeting to meeting almost on autopilot. We are technically alive, but nothing about the way we feel inside or interact with people would give any indication that we are.

Much of the time, we get so used to it that we barely even notice our heart has become a little more hard and our will a little more weak. We remember how we used to feel, who we used to be, and the present just feels so....impossible. overwhelming. frustrating.

Was it meant to be like this? Were we meant to just "get through" each day?

I have to believe there is more. More than the anxiety, the fear, the need for control. There is no way we were given the gift of life just to use it to run the rat race for success and to get there at all costs.

There is no way we were created to only focus on ourselves and our needs, having no awareness of the people around us or the overwhelming love of the Father.

Believe me, I get it. We have to work while going to school while having a significant other while having friends while being involved in church while....etc.

Maybe there are some things in our life that we are investing time in that shouldn't be there, but for most of us it's all good and necessary stuff taking up our time.

                    "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you" - 1 peter 5:7

                                         If you are reading this and feel anxious. 
               Take a deep breath. Take 5 minutes. Turn off the computer, phone, etc. 
                             Bask in the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father. 
                   Feel His love for you. Breathe it in. Meditate on the above verse, 
                                        and understand 2 things about God:

                                                           He is strong.

                                          He loves you with a deep, deep love.

                                        Be STILL and KNOW that He is God.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Risen Life

I feel terrible today.

The weight of the world feels like it is slowly getting heavier on my shoulders. I feel caught in that ugly place of confusion, frustration, weariness, selfishness, lonliness, and exhaustion.

This is one of those days where I feel like everyone is just waiting for me to fail and like I have nothing to give.

But Jesus has risen.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

You see, whether we want to admit it or not, we are human beings. 

We are needy, broken individuals who, if left to our own devices, allow our perspective to become narrow and our actions harmful.

On our own we do not always feel loved, or like we even have the ability to love others. On our own we dig ourselves deeper into despair or whatever bad feeling exists and we isolate ourselves from any form of true intimacy.

"I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

Jesus has risen.

Meaning we don't have to stay in frustration, isolation, or fear. Meaning that as we die to ourselves and imitate Christ's humility, as we share in his sufferings, we can also share in his resurrection.

"We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." - Romans 6: 2-4

The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is a reminder that Jesus can breathe new life into our humanity, and has empowered us through his Holy Spirit to be an agent for resurrection everywhere we are.

You are not "just a" mom or dad, you are not "just a" employee, you are not "just a" ordinary person.

You are someone with the ability to influence those around you wherever you go, to live the power that comes from having Christ live in us and through us.

We don't have to be perfect, just willing. Willing to let God work in our hearts to bring true healing and intimacy with Him, so that we can be that for others and ultimately point them to Jesus.

"The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Imitating Christ's Humility

I want to start this blog with the following passage from the book of Phillipians. Specifically Phillipians 2:3-8:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ JesusWho, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself   by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!"

(emphasis mine)

You know what one of the most amazing things about Jesus' death on the cross is to me? 

The fact that all authority and power in heaven and earth had been given to him, and he chose to lay it down of his own accord.

He could have summoned an army of angels to prevent him from being held captive, or at the very least taken the multiple opportunities that were given to him by his accusers to defend himself. 

He could have lashed out in anger at his torturers or ran away as he felt the anxiety and fear in his final moments at Gesthemane. He could have said "Father, not your will, but mine be done."

But he did none of those things.

He took the very nature of a servant and humbled himself to the point of death.

What Jesus did on the cross represents forgiveness for all of our sins, a way being made to relationship with God, and full submission of Jesus to his Father's will.

That's what I want us to consider. What steps are we taking to die to ourselves on a daily basis in submission to God the Father? How are we imitating Christ's humility?

Are we getting angry and frustrated when things don't go our way? Are we seeking only the good of ourselves? Are we entitled to what we "deserve"?

The Son of God himself did not wield his power against humanity. So we, who are here today & gone tomorrow, should not be so arrogant to think we can act any differently.

May we take the nature of a servant, may we "wash each other's feet", may we look not only to our own interests but to the interests of others. May we learn to hear the Fathers voice, and know that his commands are not burdensome, but are born out of his undying love and commitment to see us look more like Jesus.

May the death of Jesus remind you how deeply you are loved, and empower you to love others.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I want to be humble in a way that isn't just really good at faking it, but where I have a true self awareness of who I am in relation to the God we serve.

I want to improve at submitting to authority, and not always thinking my way is right or that I'm untouchable because of what I may have accomplished or experienced.

I want to mature in the unique plan that God has for my life, not spend all my time comparing myself to so and so in an attempt to either boost my ego or make their story into my story.

I want to have character and integrity, to do the little things well even when no one is watching.

Most of all, I want to help empower families and lead folks out of the poverty mindset and into the worth and dignity they possess as the creation of God Almighty. I'm tired of seeing single parent households that can barely pay the bills, feed their kids, do laundry, or find a job.

I'm tired of the way people in those situations fall into depression and believe they are worthless. I'm tired of them getting used to being somebody's project.

I'm tired of living in the poverty mindset.

Let's face it, you can't lead where you haven't been. I believe the church needs more spiritual mothers and fathers who throughout their life have consistently taken steps in faith to follow Jesus no matter what it may have cost them. People who are truly mature in the Lord, confident in their identity in Jesus, humble, compassionate, quick to love in action & truth, submissive to authority, full of character & integrity.

In a word, people who are being sanctified. Looking more like Jesus everyday.

If we want to see true and lasting change, disciples of Jesus being made, broken homes and families restored, and people coming out of poverty, we must allow Jesus to walk us through the process of maturity. If we want to be participants in what the apostle Paul calls "the ministry of reconciliation", if we want to see resurrection happen all over the place, we must be in tune with what God wants to do in & through us.

In this next season of life, I will be working part time at Starbucks and part time as a missionary through Current of Ohio, LoveCanton, and many other entities I am involved with.

I know that God wants to teach me all of the stuff I listed above, and I believe being bi-vocational for a season was the step out of my comfort zone that Jesus was wanting me to take.

So how about you?

What is the next step Jesus is asking you to take?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reaching The Summit

Kids matter deeply to God, and the tragic circumstances and home lives that some kids must face, is not the end of the story. Healing for at-risk kids in physical, spiritual, and emotional ways is absolutely possible. I know because in many ways it's my story.

I grew up in a tough home environment, and the stress of poverty and the weight of our brokenness felt like too much to handle sometimes. My response was often violence, which caused me to get suspended multiple times, almost expelled, and eventually led to my brief incarceration in a juvenile detention center when I was in 8th grade. 

That is a brief part of my story, and was not the end for me. Today I am a new man who has   experienced great personal healing through God and the community of people he placed around me, including much of my once broken family. I have lived firsthand the life of an at- risk kid and the transformation that is possible.

As a result of how my life was changed, my goal is to give back and do whatever it takes to help kids facing big obstacles. To do this practically, I will be climbing Mt. Rainier in Seattle, WA ( during August 18-20, 2013 w/ 3 other friends. Our goal is to reach the 14, 411 ft. Summit.

This is both a personal growth challenge, and an attempt to raise money for the Christian Children's Home of Ohio ( Our total goal is $20,000 as each person has committed to raise at least $5000.

Their mission is to "bring healing to hurting children & families in His name." For more than 40 years, and with programs in 16 locations throughout OH, including many counseling centers and a Children's Residential Center where kids get the care they need, CCHO is a beacon of light for at-risk kids. 

For the personal challenge side of it, I will also need to raise some personal costs just to be able to go. Rest assured, I will be saving every penny I can to help cover this.

I will be tracking my progress in every aspect of this climb, so stay tuned for more info.

Please be in prayer for the climbing team, the kids that CCHO supports, and the countless other children that are still living in abusive situations.