Writer, Artist, Creative Arts & Communications Pastor, Alaskan, Bearded Male, who is convinced that you and your story matter.
Writer, Artist, Creative Arts & Communications Pastor, Alaskan, Bearded Male, who is convinced that you and your story matter.
I love meat. Probably in an obsessive sort of way. Almost every meal we eat includes some form of meat.
Breakfast? Eggs with bacon, sausage or ham.
Lunch? Sandwich meat.
Dinner? Steak that is stuffed with chicken and wrapped in ham.
Get the point? Even Ron Swanson thinks I eat a lot of meat.
So why do we keep giving up meat for Lent? Because it’s inconvenient.
Every single day, at least 3 times, we have to intentionally do something that isn’t routine for us. it gives us the opportunity to remember and think about everything that Christ has done for us as we figure out what the heck we are supposed to eat.
Also, giving up meat has been amazing for our relationship! It gives us lots of time together, cooking, shopping, looking for new recipes, and eventually going to Qdoba for veggie burritos when a recipe turns out horrible.
Still trying to decide what to give up? Choose something inconvenient, where multiple times a day you are reminded that you are sacrificing for reason.
And one day, when we get to that great big BBQ smoker in the sky, where there is no more Lent and no more sacrifice, I will eat brisket in the presence of my Lord forever.
But until then I will remember His sacrifice in my own, inconvenient way.Comments
That was the subject line of an email I recently received from a friend.
This email has led to a week-long interaction with him over this question and the more I have wrestled with it the more I realize that this is probably a question that many people wrestle with (I know that I have!) so why not take this debate public?
In my initial response to my friend I included this:
"It’s never time to leave ministry, if what you mean by ministry is the work that every follower of Jesus is called to. However, If what you mean by ministry is your staff position at church, then it could be time."
Since day 1 of accepting a position on staff at church I have had a rule:
If my work in the church ever causes me to fall out of love with the church, it’s time to walk away.
I would rather flip burgers and love the bride of Christ and her mission than receive a paycheck from a church and become a grumpy, cynical “minister.”
I understand that everyone has bad days, and even bad seasons, but when bad seasons turn into bad years you have some decisions to make.
So, what are some things you can do when this question creeps up?
1) Be Honest. This can be a scary question to address so we often push it down the road or sweep it under the rug in the hope that it goes away and we don’t have to deal with it. I have something to tell you, it doesn’t go away. Be honest about this question, it’s OK to wrestle with stuff like this.
2) Pray. The Bible tells us that God’s sheep hear His voice and know it. Ask God for clarity in the difficulty and confusion of your situation. Once you hear what God is saying to you be prepared to act on it.
3) Repent. Even though we hate to admit it, oftentimes our callousness in ministry comes from our own bad decisions, mindset, attitude, etc. Repent for the part you play in the situation.
4) Remember Why You Started. Very few people stumble into ministry. For most, it is an intentional decision based on vision, mission, and passion. If you are in ministry it’s most likely that at one point you were in love with the church. Remember why you started in the first place. Try and recapture what first captured you.
5) Leave Gracefully. In the event that you do believe that it is time for you to move on from your current situation, do so with grace. Some of the people I respect the most are those who have transitioned out well. People are watching you, so represent Jesus well, even in leaving.
But remember, if you leave paid staff at a church you are not leaving ministry. Ministry is something that every follower of Jesus is called into.
Is this a question that you have wrestled with? How have you dealt with it?Comments
We are living in a time of epic seismic change
Only 4% of the millennial generation are returning to church
The difference between getting your car keys and getting married used to be 5 years and now it is 15 years
How do you live in a moment of seismic shift? Hebrews 12:26 - 13:8
The current reality doesn’t have to be the defining reality.
We have a choice to be part of the victims or part of the rescue team
How do you survive seismic change?
- Connecting Story
As Christians we do not run from the rubble of a fallen culture, we run to it!
The prevailing theology of Jesus’s day was that when clean things touch unclean things the clean things become unclean. Jesus changed all of that. The clean thing touched unclean so that the unclean could be dean.
We were never meant to do family in isolation as a mom, and dad, and kids. We were meant to do family as an extended family. The extended family was normal in Jesus’s day, it is abnormal in our day.
We need connection in:
- Intimate Space (1 - 3 people)
- Personal Space (10 - 12 People)
- Social Space (20 - 70 People)
- Public Space (100+ People)
Covenant & Kingdom
Invitation & Challenge
Relationship & Responsibility
What we need today is not more mega-churches, but more meta-churches
We have believed that mission & discipleship are two different things.
High Discipleship & Low Mission: Clue, but no cause
High Mission & Low Discipleship: Cause, but no clue.
Low Discipleship & Low Mission: No Cause, No Clue
High Discipleship & High Mission: Cause & Clue
Shakeable times remind us of that which can not be shaken. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”
The church is standing on the greatest opportunity that we have had in hundreds of years.Comments
Because of the relationship that exists between Jesus and his disciples He gives them access to everything he has dominion and power over.
Jesus balanced Invitation & Challenge throughout his entire ministry: Nicodemus (challenge and then invitation), Woman at the well (invitation and then challenge)
Both corporate invitation and challenge and personal invitation and challenge
Monty Roberts video, example of invitation & challenge
All of us are either naturally good at invitation OR challenge
High Invitation & Low Challenge = Cozy Culture
High Challenge & Low Invitation = Stressed Culture
Low Challenge & Low Invitation = Bored Culture
High Challenge & High Invitation = Empowered Culture
To the level that you extend invitation is the same level that you can bring about challengeComments
"Discipleship & Mission are processes, not events" - Dave Rhodes
Programming Language ———> Scripture
Operating System ———————> Discipleship
Graphical User Interface ———> Parables
Apps ———————————————-> The Church
If you make disciples you always get the church. If you make a church you very rarely get disciples.
Jesus only mentions the “Church” twice, and once is when He says that He will build the church, it’s our job to make disciples.
Every church needs to be able to answer two questions:
1. Do we have a plan for making disciples?
2. Does that plan work?
Love is the open door to confession
Nothing you can do to make God love you any more, nothing to make God to love you any less. God loves you right where you are at.
You start discipling people where they are at, not where you want them to be.
The things that go unnamed in our culture, rule and reign over us, but as we name them we begin to rule and reign over them.
It’s possible to own a Bible and miss the God of the Bible
If the first reformation is about placing the bible in the hands of the people.
Biblical literacy isn’t enough, we want Gospel fluency.
Words create worlds
"Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Genesis 1 & 2 is the stoy of beauty.
Genesis 3 - 11 is where beauty leads to brokenness
Genesis 12 is where God begins to write a new story of community in the midst of humanity
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him”
We don’t obey God to get an identity, we get an identity and out of that we obey God
We don’t work for God’s approval, we work from God’s approval.
As long as the people of God don’t reproduce or do anything, Satan has won.
If you want to disciple people you help them grow in the character and competency of Jesus
We have got to stop trying to do church with skill and ability and start doing it with authority and power.Comments
Tomorrow it’s all going to be different.
You will eat healthier, lose weight, save money. spend more time with family and friends, etc, etc, ad nauseam, etc.
At least that’s the goal, right?
January 1st is a time for new beginnings, that’s why we talk so much about new years resolutions this time of the year
But if I am honest. what I need in my life isn’t another thing to do. I don’t need more, I need less. So this year I am not making new years resolutions, I am making un-resolutions.
I am going to stop bringing my phone to the dinner table.
The first thing I do in the morning will NOT be check my email.
I will not allow the opinions of others to keep me from pursuing dreams that God has given me.
I will not value shallow, temporary relationships over deep, lasting ones.
I will not let passivity cause me to fail to lead spiritually at home.
I am not going to pack every minute of my calendar. I need margin to invest into and mentor others
By doing less, not more, I pray that 2014 will be a year of healthy margin, deep relationships, and real substance in my life.
Will you join me? What will you choose to not do in 2014?Comments
Like most people, I make new years resolutions fully intending to break them within a matter of weeks. However this year I actually kept mine!
This past January I wrote about how I had lost my love for reading. Somewhere along the line I bought into a lie that said that my reading needed to produce something in me, other than just enjoyment and rest. I needed to read to become a better leader, artist, pastor, Christian, husband, etc. So I only read books that could help me get better at something. The problem? That was pretty boring to me. Reading had become something I had to work at, not something I could get lost in.
So this year I decided to make a change. I was only going to read books for enjoyment. No personal growth books, no leadership books. Goodbye John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and G,K. Chesterton and hello J.K. Rowling, Marie Lu, and Veronica Roth!
The result? I read a TON more books this year than I ever have before, AND I am finding real rest and enjoyment in my reading!
Most years I would average 5 - 10 books, this year I just finished my 21st book! Boom! And I wasn’t reading small books either, I went back and averaged out all of the books I read and the average size book was 359 pages! Not too shabby!
Now, I actually read more books than this, there were books for school and a couple for work, however I decided to only count these books that I really felt I was able to read for pure enjoyment.
So, what did I read this year? Here is the list of books I finished:
1. Sleepwalk With Me
2. Ready Player One (Favorite book of the year!)
3. 137 Books In A Year
4. City of Ember
5. The People of Sparks
6. The Prophet of Yonwood
7. The Eleventh Plague
8. The Diamond of Darkhold
9. Enders Game
14. World War Z
17. The Returned
18. Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief
19. Harry Potter: Sorcerers Stone
20. Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets
21. Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban
I have already started book #4 in the Harry Potter series and plan on finishing this series before moving on to several other books I already have lined up! Can’t wait to see how many I can get through in 2014!Comments
2013 has been a difficult year.
As I begin to reflect on what this year has brought, I am reminded of deaths, divorces, suicides, and other pain that Sherri and I, and close friends, have had to endure.
We have been reminded (too often) this year that our world is broken and hurting and full of sorrow and loss.
Yet tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am thankful.
Why? Because there is a gift in difficulty that we miss out on if we never experience hard times.
What is that gift?
It’s the gift of “God with us.”
One of the most beautiful things about the Gospel, and God’s crazy love, is the fact that He isn’t on the other side of our pain calling us through it, but instead He joins us, right in the midst of it.
“And surely I am with you always" - Jesus of Nazareth
Your pain. My pain. Our pain. Is not something we ever have to endure alone.
So for whatever 2013 has brought, or whatever 2014 brings, we can be sure, in good times and bad, that God is with us.
And for that I am thankful.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they introduce themselves.
"In the beginning God created…"
At the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, God introduces Himself and what is the first thing we see Him as? An artist.
There was nothing. God created. Then there was something.
Creativity is not just a hobby that God values, it is something He possesses as part of His character, and our creative spirit and gifts are a direct reflection of Him.
I would even go so far as to say that part of the character of God is hidden if we as creatives do not create. There are things that remain unseen that the world needs to see. There is void where God desires creation and darkness where He desires light.
Do not allow the creative character of God to remain hidden because of your self doubts or insecurities. Do not wonder if your art really matters. And do not diminish the role that you play in the Kingdom.
You have been created, formed, fashioned, designed, made in His image so that the fullness of the character of Christ may be visible in His church and in the world.
Create, make beautiful things, take nothing and form something, and as you do know that you are making visible part of the character of God Himself.Comments