Constant. Present. Loving. God.

This post is an annual post, that usually comes along in December. Those of you that have been following my blog for the last 5 years (I can't believe it's been that long), probably have a good idea of what I'm about to talk about. Those of you that are new here.. let me bring you up to speed as quickly as possible. You see, 9 years ago on December 19th, 2005 my family lost our home to a house fire. When I say we lost our home, I mean that literally. Everything. Gone. It was a mess and it still gives me nightmares at times, it's unfathomable to think that that happened 9 years ago..

So why am I writing this post 3 months early? Because this  year is going to be different. This year, I want to be focused on the joy of what came from that situation. The amount of incredible things that have happened since that day are too numerous to list, but there's one thing that sticks out... one thing, that means more than anything else. My Salvation. That's right, 9 years ago I wasn't a Christian. In fact, I wasn't really much of anything, except angry. I was angry even before the fire, but afterwords that anger grew into complete disdain for God. I cursed him in my car, I turned my back on Him at every turn, I all but renounced any inkling of faith I had in God. The driving force behind my anger was simply this, and it's something many people wrestle with: If there's this great and wonderful God, why on earth did I stand with family and watch my home of 17 years destroyed by fire? Where was he? Why didn't he make it rain that day? At 17 years old I didn't have the answers to these questions, other than that God must not be as great and powerful as everyone says... I was simply afraid.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Looking back on that time in my life, after 9 years of absolute and complete transformation of who I am, I see now that there was no reason to be afraid. Even when I was spitting in the face of Jesus, even when I was crying out and cursing God... 

He was constant. He was present. He was loving. 

God made sure everyone was safely out of the house before anything bad happened that morning,. 
God was the person comforting me while I was screaming in agony.
God protected the firefighters who fought like mad to save anything they could.
God was who found Grandpa Don's 1950 Purdue class ring so I could feel some sense of peace.
God was who gave me the gift of writing, so I could try and process everything I was feeling
God was the community of Hope, that literally wrapped His arms around me and provided
God was my school, my friends, my family, and the strangers that comforted me at every turn.

And 9 years later, after the beautiful rescue God performed through my Salvation, that lesson holds true...

He is constant. He is present. He is loving.

God built a beautiful new home for my family to share with others, that is filled with love.
God is the person I cry out too in agony when the pain from that day rears it's ugly head.
God is still protecting me, and providing for me.
God is who blessed me with two good jobs, a reliable vehicle, and a home I can call mine.
God is who has continued to bless me with the gift of writing, and is using it for His Glory.
God is the community of Hope, my friends & family, who I would literally be lost without.
God is Community Church of Columbus, who have loved me from day one.
God is who entrusted to me this youth group, which is filled with kids that love me like Jesus daily.

And as I continue to walk through life, pursuing God, working towards glorifying Him in all I do, and yet still falling short of the glory of God on a daily basis, that lesson will continue to be truth...

He will always be constant. He will always be present. He will always be loving.

God will transform the hearts of my students, and use them to glorify the Kingdom.
God will continue to provide new and exciting opportunities.
God will continue to show me grace and love.
God will always be with me, never leaving and never foresaking.
Naturally, God brings everything full circle... as I began to write this post today, I saw a picture on Instagram from one of my favorite bloggers, talking about a new worship album and how it literally brought him to tears...

The name of that band and the name of their self-titled album:


Because irony is beautiful, and God takes the dark and dirty in your life, and makes beautiful things.

Grace and Peace,



My Own Lion's Den...

Often times when reading my Bible, whether just for my personal quiet time or preparing a lesson, I catch myself thinking "I want to be a man like ______" (insert whoever I'm reading about that day). Now, I think there's a lot to be said for admiring and respecting the men of the Bible (and the women of course), but this week I came to a new realization about the way I should think about that admiration and respect... Stick with me here.

I was reading about Daniel last week to prepare for a Youth Group lesson. The lesson was on Daniel 6, when Daniel finds himself in the lions' den. However, this lesson wasn't about what happened when Daniel had been thrown into the lions' den.. no this lesson was about the scriptures describing what was leading up to the moment when Daniel was cast into the lions' den. (I promise, I'll stop saying lions' den now). Here's the background, and I'm going to do some slight paraphrasing for the sake of time and words... After King Belshazzar's death (which was brought upon himself by worshiping wood/gold/etc.) King Darius rose to power. Now, King Darius appointed 120 satraps/provinces, which were essentially governors to oversee the kingdom. Above these 120 men were three administrators, one of whom was Daniel. Now, to put it in simple terms, everyone knew Daniel was the man. It was intended by King Darius that Daniel would be over the whole kingdom. When the other 122 men found this out, they were overjoyed ... just kidding, they were envious. So they set him up, they knew Daniel was a man of integrity and character and could be found in no fault of breaking the law, so they convinced King Darius to pass a decree. The decree stated that anyone who worshiped or prayed to anything/anyone other than Darius in the next 30 days should be thrown into the... well, the place I said I wouldn't mention anymore. What does Daniel do when he hears the decree?? Not only does he pray three times a day, he does it in front of his windows that face the city, knowing that people will see him.

I'm in awe. I mean I've heard the story of Daniel before, but never given much thought about the part that isn't completely taught in Sunday School. The part before God saved his life from those ferocious beasts. The part where Daniel showed his integrity, character, and courage in a very brave and brazen way. I mean, you want to talk about displaying your faith, love, and reverence of God in a way that is unabashed! Now, I'm sitting there reading all of this, studying it and soaking it in, when I begin to cry out "Lord, I want to be Daniel, I want to put my life on the line to publicly praise and worship you!" I started to compare myself to Daniel, I started to become envious of Daniel... and I realized in that moment I wasn't like Daniel, I was like the satraps. I was envious of who God had called him to be. I wasn't thankful for the person God has created me to be because I was convincing myself that being a modern day Daniel would be better than who I am! It was in that moment that God whispered to me, in the quiet and still of my empty house, as I sat at the kitchen table "I created you in my image, I have called you to do my work in a way that is different from all others, be confident, be courageous, be comfortable with who you are... don't strive to be Daniel, just be Brad"...

Here's the thing-- I know that God's Word is truth. I think God intended for us to learn from the men and women of the Bible, but I also believe God calls us to be ourselves. I forget that sometimes, and I find myself comparing who I am to who these men in the Bible were... the problem with that, is that in those moments my own self-image is already low. It's no secret that I struggle with self-confidence and self-worth. I have for many years, and when I compare myself to men like Daniel, satan tries to use that against me. Yet, as satan tries to destroy me... God closes the mouths of the lions', or in this case silences the negatives thoughts I have about myself, and raises me up out of their den. He reminds me that He has created me in His image, that I am His son, His servant, His ambassador. This last week, as this has been resonating inside of me God has spoken some truth into my life about who I am, and while I am in no way perfect, no way completely done growing or learning, I am reassured that I am becoming who God has created me to be.

Thanks to conversations with new friends, I have re-learned lessons that God taught me years ago about being comfortable with myself. I realized that while admiring and respecting men like Daniel, Abraham, Paul, and many others from the Bible, I need not be envious of who God called them to be. Because I have my own unique qualities, I have the ability to change the world. One moment at a time. I decided this week that I'm going to stop trying to please other people, and focus on pleasing God by just being who God is calling me to be, no matter where that takes me. I want to live the story God has written for me specifically, in the most whimsical way I can (Go read Love Does by Bob Goff... as soon as you finish this blog). I want to be a guy who makes moments for others, for himself, and for the Kingdom (then go read Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker). I just want to live a good story, I want to learn each lesson, and I want to love the way God has called me too. And when I start to stray from this, I hope someone sends me a link to my own blog. Because I may not be the smartest of me, but I know sometimes God uses moments in the present as precursors for lessons I need to learn, and re-learn, in the future.

Grace and Peace,



My Brother's Keeper

Here's a little follow up lesson from yesterday's post...

This morning during my quiet time before work (which I was more focused during), I was reading through Genesis 4. As some background, I decided this week to start a plan to read through the Bible in a year, reading both Old and New Testament passages each day. However, yesterday I was so focused on Psalm 46 I failed to complete all of my readings for the day. This morning I decided to go back and re-read yesterday's passages, and then I would read today's at lunch. I'm so glad I went back this morning because something struck me, something from Genesis 4 and the story of Cain and Abel.

I've read about Cain and Abel hundreds of times. I remember in Sunday School it was always taught that the story of Cain and Abel was a story about not being jealous of others and doing what is right by doing what God wants, not what we want. I'm not discounting that lesson at all, in fact, I think it's a good way for us to teach children about not harboring jealousy and hate in our hearts... but I think it goes deeper than that too. This morning, for the first time, I got a different glimpse of the impact that Genesis 4 should have on our daily lives.

"And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lordsaid to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground." Genesis 4:2-10

The first few verses there definitely point to the lesson that we shouldn't be jealous of others, we should be focused on pleasing God with our own words and deeds. That's a great reminder, but here's a thought on the last few verses that I'm working through this morning. After Cain kills Abel, the Lord speaks to him and says "Where is Abel your brother?" to which Cain replies "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?".. Now stick with me here... in 1 John 3:15 it says "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Which means at some point in my life, multiple points in reality... I am guilty of being Cain. When I harbor anger and jealousy towards my brother (or sister) that manifests itself into hate, I am murdering that person. Which begs the question, when the Lord convicts me about that hate, how am I responding? Am I responding as Cain did and angrily (and snidely) questioning God with "Am I my brother's keeper?"... At times... absolutely that's my reaction. When I am convicted to be there for someone, to respect someone, to reach out to someone, who I have no desire to love (from a selfish perspective) because of hate in my heart that's what I am doing. I'm looking at God and telling him it's not my responsibility, that I am not my brother's keeper. Which couldn't be further from the truth! To some degree, being my brother's keeper is exactly what I am... 

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another"

I am called to sharpen my brothers, which means being there for them, looking at for them, caring for them. If I am not spurring my brothers (and sisters) on towards righteousness and holiness, than I am contradicting exactly what God has called me to do. I am no better than Cain, giving God the business by snidely denying that I am my brothers keeper. Granted, my brothers have free will and I can't make their choices for them... but I can encourage them, push them, support them, and unify myself with them in way that keeps them strong in the Word, and the Lord. 

Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity"

Relationship with others is so important. In order to live in unity and have strong relationships with others we need to care about our brothers' and sisters' relationship with the Lord. We should be spurring each other on towards growth. When we dwell in unity with each other, we begin to live in tighter community. We are able to remove the resentment Cain had for Abel, because we should be finding joy in the good our brothers and sisters are doing, not harboring jealousy. 

How do you respond when God lays a brother or sister on your heart? Who are you harboring jealousy and hate towards? What can you do to live in better unity with others?

These are the questions on my heart this morning, these are the questions I'm working through myself.

Because I know that when God lays a brother or sister on my heart, I want to look to Him not with the response of Cain, but in a response of love saying "They're right where you have called them to be"

Grace and Peace


Silence speaks volumes.

"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 speaks volumes about being silent and when we allow it too, the silence speaks volumes. Which is something that I struggle with, and believe me, I know that revelation doesn't shock any of you. It's funny, because the last few months I've been pretty silent on here to the point that my writing has become non-existent. I realized last night that that silence is in direct correlation with my lack of silence in my communication with God. When I'm not still, I'm not listening... which a lot of times means I'm not learning. However, it's more complex than that...

Being that I am a "talker" (which is a vast understatement), I tend to communicate really well on my end, to the point that I over communicate on everything. Don't believe me? Ask my girlfriend, I'm sure she would love to have someone listen about my over communication problem. Here's what I realized yesterday... Sometimes when I pray, especially on long drives, or walks, when I have complete focus and reverence before The Lord, I tend to over communicate. I just continue to spew words, wants, needs, and desires out to God to the point that I don't think I'm really communicating with God anymore, instead, I'm just thinking out loud. My prayers become less reverent & focused, and more rambled & frustrated. I'm often too concerned with telling God to teach me things, to answer me, to provide for me, to heal me, to comfort me... instead of realizing that He is already doing those things, and I could feel His presence in a stronger way if I would just shut up...

Through this realization came yet another lesson. I'm telling you, when I shut up and listen God pours it on. This morning I read Colossians 3:15-17:

 "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

I realized that my inability to be still is correlated to my inability to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, and to let the word of Christ dwell in me. The icing on this cake of realization, is that all of that also causes me to stumble in my thankfulness. I find myself praising and thanking God less when I'm over communicating. One of my prayers almost every day, is that God would shape me into the man he's calling me to be... and somehow, I expect Him to do that without listening to that calling. I want others to see Jesus in me, I want to learn patience and stillness, and I want to practice those things daily. I want to know God, to the fullest extent, to the point that in everything I do whether in word or deed I'm seeking and glorifying Him.

Unfortunately, I have failed in doing those things daily.

Fortunately, that failure is forgiven daily, and I am wiped clean.

In order to know God, we must seek Him, and in order to seek Him, we have to be in relationship with Him, and in order to be in relationship with Him, our communication must become a two way street. I'm going to stop talking, and start listening. I'm going to strive to be more like Jesus today, and find joy in the stillness.

It's better that way.

Grace and Peace


What to do about Women... Take 2

A little less than a year and a half ago, in the fall of 2012 I wrote a post called What to do about Women. I covered some things I thought needed to be said about our responsibility as men, to treat women with a certain respect, to cherish them, and to honor them. Please understand, I don't feel like I'm the leading expert on women. Actually, I know for a FACT I am not a leading expert. However, I do know that God has taught me some things through other men, older men than myself, about what it takes to treat women the way God intended. It has also been made very apparent to me, again and again, in the last year and a half that a lot of you missed that post I shared. Because, you just don't get it.

This time, I'm not writing to men... instead I'm writing to all the boys out there. What I mean by that is I'm writing this for two people groups 1. Boys that by age are not yet men but will be one day, so they need to learn (we could argue when this changes, but we won't) and 2. Boys that by age should be men, but by maturity and actions are far from it. Brothers, please hear me when I say we have to change the way women are treated. I mean, what on Earth are we doing treating the heiress' to the Kingdom of God like this?? Why aren't we more focused on doing the little things that make them feel like they matter, because they deserve to know they do matter. I'm going to lay this out for you, and give you my opinion on the things that need to stop, and the things that should be happening in their place. As I said, I'm not an expert... I don't have all the answers... and I'm not the smartest guy I know, but these are things even the dumbest man should be able to do for the women in his life (and by plural "women" I mean that includes your mother/sister/friends/significant other... I don't mean multiple significant others, wake up!).

Honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing story after story about women, all kinds of different women, being treated like absolute crap by men who are acting like boys. If I could, I'd grab each of you by the shoulders and shake you back and forth while screaming "What the hell is your problem". Women are beautiful, complex and downright confusing beings... I get that, but they are also often times the most genuine, loving, kind-hearted, compassionate beings you will ever encounter. Why would you want to make her feel like an object or a possession? When God made Eve, he didn't look at Adam and say "I have made you a woman, own her, boss her around, treat her like the dirt that you walk on". NO! God created Adam to work the Garden, and then said "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18) Then he made a bunch of animals, let Adam name them, and then realized none of these beasts were a suitable helper for Adam. God put Adam to sleep, pulled out a rib, and created the world's first female human being. Adam woke up, looked at her, and said "WOAH MAN, that's awesome" and from then on, the female was known as woman... Okay, Okay, so that part isn't exactly Biblical, but I'm a man, and I know that's what 'ol boy was thinking in his head. What he actually said was "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23). Read that again men... bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. In the first post I wrote I used these scriptures to support the idea that women are to walk beside us, which is true... but I want to make a slightly different point here: again, Adam said bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Woman came from Man, woman is a part of man. As men, we demand respect because we are men! So, if woman came from man... doesn't she deserve the same respect we demand for ourselves? Shouldn't we love the women in our lives, as much as (if not more) than we love ourselves? I say we should, it makes complete sense. Woman was taken from the side of man to be his helper (and not in the sense that she's a subordinate), why wouldn't we want to treat women with the same dignity, respect, love and desire that we (most of the time) treat ourselves with?

Look, what I'm trying to say is... let's stop acting like boys and start acting like men.

Stop telling a woman you "don't really want to commit, but we can hang out". If you aren't interested in pursuing her heart, but rather just her body-- don't waste her time.

Don't ridicule her or put her down for things you don't understand. Women are (often times) more emotional than men, that doesn't give us free reign to mock their emotions (or get mad at them for being emotional) just because we don't understand... sometimes, they don't even understand why they are emotional (so I'm told).

Stop. Don't. Quit. Never. Are all words that should come before this phrase "make(ing) her feel unworthy". Guess what guys, WE are the ones who are unworthy. God created the most beautiful creature on Earth, and hard-wired her to love us. Don't take that for granted.

Unless your name is Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, or Atilla the Hun, you are not a conqueror There is nothing manly about "conquering" or "exploiting" women for your own sinful, sexual desires by "hooking up" with as many women as you can. Stop doing it.

Try taking interest in her and her interests... even if she's not a car, a sport, or a beer can (*please note, I'm not saying women do not enjoy these things). I'm not saying you can't still drink beer, watch sports, or drive your car like Mario Andretti, but it wouldn't kill you to watch a movie/show that SHE likes, to go cheer for HER teams, or listen to HER favorite radio station.

Pursue her heart. Make it your mission to find out everything you can about her, so that you can partake in her interests, maybe have some semblance of understanding of why she's upset with you, and know exactly what to do in those situations (at least sometimes). Don't just focus on how hot she is, focus on how amazing she is too.

Give her butterflies. I'm not talking insects here brothers (unless she's into that sort of thing?). I'm talking tell her she's beautiful, cook dinner AND do the dishes, buy her flowers on a day other than Valentine's day, do something spontaneous, plan a date of the things she likes to do, compliment her when you/she walks in the door, hug her, send her good morning texts to let her know you thought of her when you woke up. Make her feel so special that when she tells her friends about you, they struggle to believe you exist. Trust me when I say that if you can do this, it not only makes her feel special (as she should) it will make you feel like the tallest man in the world.

Be vulnerable. I know that's a scary word for us men, but let her see that there's more to you than sports, cars and beer. Let her know that you have interests that don't include building stuff and blowing it up. It's okay to tell her how you're feeling, in fact, it might just make her love you more.

Be genuine. Because guess what, you can stop/start doing all the things above, and they won't mean diddly unless it's from the heart. Don't deceive her, just  be real. If you can't do that for her, break up with her, give her the chance to find someone who can.

I said it in the beginning, and I'll say it again. I'm no where near an expert on women. The things I'm saying here aren't difficult to understand. Stop living by the standards of the world, and start living as a man of God. Guess what, if you have a woman in your life currently who cares about you, respects you, honors you, or even can merely "puts up with you", she deserves nothing other than your best.

What to do about women, you ask?

Honor. Cherish. Love. Pursue. Respect.

If I've learned anything from the amazing women I've gotten the chance to be impacted by, it's that those things are enough... and anymore, they're rare. Let's bring chivalry back, let's make a stand.

Grace and Peace


Holiness, Genuineness, Humility, and Love.


 I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the word church over the last few weeks. I've been spending a lot of time wrestling with the idea of the disconnect that I see so often between Jesus and church, or even more prevalent, Jesus and religion. Many of you have probably seen the Youtube Viral video Jesus > Religion aka Why I love Jesus and hate religion by Jeff Bethke. I'm not going to repeat what he says, even though I think there is a lot validity there. What I'm going to talk about is why people's perceptions of the church are hindering their perceptions of Jesus, why we are the problem, and why I, at least in some small part, am the solution.

There's been a lot of talk lately about church in Christian circles. In case you haven't picked up on that, just do a Google search on Donald Miller and his opinions on going to church. People have destroyed this guy for his views... and it's not okay. I'm not saying that I 100% agree with every point he made, but the point is he's bringing to light a huge issue that a lot of people are starting to talk about. That is, what is it about the church that's damaging people's viewpoints on Jesus. Before I go any further, let me make a distinction. I think that people have an issue with the church as an insitution and I think that that is a vastly different (not rightfully so) thing than we the church or the body of Christ. In order to make sure this distinction is clear throughout the rest of this post, when I'm talking about the institution I will refer to it as the church, and when I'm referring to us as the church I will call it the body. Okay, now that that is established let's get to the nitty gritty... and no we are not going fishing in the dark.

Let me just throw down from the get-go with this: The whole reason I'm writing this post, is because my heart has been breaking the last few weeks for those that don't have a relationship with Christ in a whole new way. I realized today, that the reason my heart is breaking is because as the body we are called to love people, yet, our own perceived righteousness often breaks others. I think it damages those around us that don't know Christ, and too often we are completely oblivious to this happening around us. I'm guilty of it too. Sometimes I get on my pedestal and push God aside and say, "HEY LOOK AT ME, I'M RIGHTEOUS TODAY BECAUSE I _____________ (insert random service/task). I make things about me, not Jesus. I'm not proud of that at all, in fact, I despise that about myself. Now, I could easily sit here and say things like "I'm human" or "It's okay because everyone else does it too" but those things don't make it justifiable. I don't want to be that person. I want to help people see the love of Christ by being the body outside of the church, and within it.

The simple fact is, that I'm wretched in my sinfulness. That these people that I have ostracized in my own perceived righteousness are not so different from myself. That became really apparent this morning during service when we touched on what Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15-17:

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example to those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."  

You see, I'm like Paul in that, when it comes to the sinners of this world, that Jesus came to save, I am the worst. I think that Paul meant that he knows that he's the worst because his sin is the only that he truly understands and knows within his core. He follows Christ and yet he is still a sinner who needs a savior. It brought to the light, in an even brighter way than ever before, the disgust with which I view my sin. Which is really funny, given that I still project this perceived righteousness to other people. That's something I want to break free of... and that's why I do this. Here's a side story-- I love side stories just an fyi...

Last week, someone asked me about why I blog. I mentioned that it's a way for me to be transparent and real. He wanted to know why it didn't bother me to share my sins/struggles/victories with people all over the world that I had never met, and most likely won't ever meet. I realized this morning the real answer is that because I want to break free of my own perceived righteousness, and I want to right whatever wrong notions I have given others about myself. The words above, talking about being the worst of the sinners, those words are true. I'm not righteous, I'm no different from anyone else. I'm a sinner, I'm a wretched, lowly, terrible sinner. What's different isn't me... what's different, is Jesus. I am saved by grace, I am saved by HIS righteousness, not my own. That's why I write this, and that's why I struggle with the heartbreak that I feel when I realize that the church is damaging the potential some of these people have to have a relationship with Jesus.

 As the body, we are called to let other people know this. This is where Chuck's message points this morning break down what I'm trying to say (Thanks Chuck!)...

There are a few things we can do to help combat the struggle people have with the church. As the body, as individuals we should be doing these 4 things (let's be honest, there's more than four, but this is what Chuck gave me to work with)

1. Pursue holiness. Ephesians 5:1-2 says this, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as CHrist loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." We are called to pursue holiness by being imitators of God. We should be loving those around us, we should be sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others, the way Christ sacrificed himself for us. Now, some of you may be thinking... "Dude, there is no way you, or I are willing to hang from a cross and die a brutal and painful death for these other people." I would say you're right, only because, I know we don't need to die that death. When I say we must sacrifice ourselves, I don't mean we have to be crucified for others. I mean we have to give of our time, our talents, our finances, our hearts, and our lives to others in order to lead them onward towards a relationship with Jesus. That's how we pursue holiness. We live like Jesus, and preach the life of Jesus to other people.

2. Pursue genuineness. Refer back to Paul's words to Timothy that I shared above. Paul was being true and genuine when dealing with Timothy. He was being real, vulnerable, and transparent. We can't put on a perceived righteousness or holiness just to give others a perception of ourselves. It's damaging to the message of Christ. The genuine truth is, that when it comes me... I'm far from being a good person. Granted, I would like to think by the world's standards I am a good person, but by Christ's standards (which is what I want to live by) I'm no good. Isaiah 64:6 says "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf and like the wind our sins sweep us away." My good works are no good, and others deserve to know that. In order for me to share Jesus with others I have to be willing to be myself, and be honest about the fact that God deserves all glory, and that without him I am nothing. In order for others to see the love that Christ has for creation, they have to be able to understand the grace and mercy he has shown me.

3. Develop humility. Philippians 2:3 says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Humility is something we all struggle with. The world has taught us that only the strong survive, which has led us to believe that if we are surviving it's because of our own doing. How often are we quick to blame God in the bad things? Yet, just as quick to praise ourselves in the victorious moments? Humility, as defined by the dictionary, is a modest or low view of one's own importance. Look, I still struggle with this daily, but deep down in my heart I know that I am not important in the grand scheme of things, what is important is Christ, and sharing his love with others. In a conversation I had just last night, about a new opportunity to walk side by side with an amazing girl, I said that my focus is to put God first, then her, my family and friends second, and myself last. Ultimately, I am here to be an imitator of Christ, and if that's true of me I have to develop humility and realize the lowly importance that I possess.

4. Share Jesus. Yeah, I made that one bigger than all the others... wanna fight about it?? (I kid, I kid). Honestly though, of the four points, I think this one is the most important, solely because it is the culmination of the other three. The church shouldn't be damaging people's views of Christ, we should be sharing Jesus. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I think a lot of times the church is perceived as rules and regulations that people have to follow, when Christ is really about relationship. On the phone yesterday, Price said this: "All relationships are the same, your relationship with God, your parents, with Megan, with your roommate, with me... they are all about love, and that love is about putting that other person first." If Christ is about relationship, then in order for me to have that relationship with him, I have to put him first. In order for me to share him with others, and honor my relationship with him, I have to put others first. Which means I have to develop humility, I have to be genuine, and I have to pursue holiness. 

Please understand, I'm not saying that the church is a bad thing. It just needs to be re-calibrated in a lot of ways. I think that the focus truly needs to be relationship and sharing Jesus, with those that are a part of the body, and those that are not yet a part of the body. I just want to see a change in the church as an institution. I want to stop perpetuating the idea that the church is about rules and regulations, not relationships. We have to humble ourselves and realize that for centuries things like power corruption, hypocrisy, false teaching, and unfair associations have been the problem, and we as people are in a lot of ways the root of that problem. This isn't a comfortable idea, but that's the point. Being a Christ follower isn't comfortable, it's blissfully uncomfortable. There's joy in ripping away the comfort that the world offers for the love that Christ gives freely.

In fact, sitting at Starbucks near some of our high school youth, that I know have a real grasp on the things that I'm talking about above. I asked them, "In four words or less, what would you say being a Christian means"... Here are the responses I got:

Loving others like God.

Being Jesus to the least of these.

Striving to be Christ-like

Representing Christ on Earth

Shining the light of Jesus

Loving God with all your heart

Glorifying God

 This is what gives me hope that we can re-calibrate the church, and get the church and the body back on the same page.

This is what we need to do in order to share Jesus with others.

This is what love looks like.

This is what humility, genuineness, and holiness look like.

This is real understanding of the joy of a relationship with Christ.

This. Is. The. Point.

This is the body, and this SHOULD be the church.

Grace and Peace


Challenge, Confusion, Comfort, and Culmination. 2013 A Year in Review


I started writing the annual "reflect on the past year/look forward to the new year" post for the last week. Each and every time I felt as though I was forcing it, or it didn't have my full attention. Tonight something is different, tonight I need to write this. I think that's because as of 3:30 pm today, the last two years of my professional life came to a close. In December of 2011 I began working for Cummins Emission Solutions. I worked with the Pricing Team for the last two years, and in the two years I have learned an incredible amount about business and myself. Now, you may be wondering why this is how I decided to begin writing this post, but you see it's because this new year, this new job, is the culmination of 365 days of God radically stretching me in ways I never dreamed possible.

This last year, I faced a lot of challenges and had a few triumphs. I began a small group of men that have become my Wednesday morning family. These are men that trusted me to lead them, and in turn have invested time, prayers, and energy into my life, my sin, my struggle, and my triumph. I traveled to Eastern Europe and made memories that will never leave me. I took a random trip to Florida with 3 great friends, I went to Gatlinburg with 6 of my best buds to celebrate a brother's marriage. I stood beside two of my dear friends as each of them married the women of their dreams. I moved into a new office building, which at first seemed like more of a headache than a blessing. Little did I know, that with that new office would come new friendships, friendships that have made me a better man, and saved me from myself on more than one occasion. I've gotten to celebrate new babies with many of my friends, and I've gotten to celebrate birthdays of cherished nieces, nephews, and my Goddaughter. I bought a new car (again), and I am thankful that it allows me to get from point A to point B so efficiently. And of course, I accepted a new position that was an answer to months and months of prayers. I am blessed by everything (and trust me, the above is not everything that happened) that God has provided, however, the year hasn't been all laughs and smiles.

I've stood next to friends as they've buried loved ones. I mourned the loss of my father's two best friends with him, and it strengthened our relationship. I lost touch with good friends. I faced stresses and trials at work beyond my own comprehension. I turned down a job that I thought was perfect for me. I've battled heartache, disappointment, and loss. I found myself going through the motions at times. I faced some of the demons from my past, and I revealed some of the skeletons in my closet. I learned that transparency, as difficult as it is, is the only thing that can heal the pain I still feel from all the things that have happened in the past. And, most importantly, I had to face the man I had become because of all these things. I'll be really honest, 2013 was a difficult year for me to look in the mirror. The stresses of my job, the disappointments in my professional and personal life, started to turn me into a man I didn't like. Thanks to my family, my friends/coworkers, and The Lord I was able to realize how much I didn't like the man I had become. You know, God has a funny way of revealing things to me too. Around the time I began to realize this about myself, I fell in love with a song that came on my computer at work one day. While I realize this song is probably written with the intent to be a love ballad from a man to a woman, I felt like God was using this song to serenade my soul. Go ahead and laugh if you think that's a silly concept, but it's true.

I Won't Give Up.

Jason Mraz released a song in 2012 that captured everything I needed to hear from God. That no matter what I was going through, no matter how much I had to learn, God would not give up on me. It became a comfort, each and every time I felt lonely, discouraged, defeated, downtrodden, or unsure of the future, I could play this song and it would lift my spirits. It would calm my nerves and remind me that God understands my journey, He understands my struggles, my fears, my trials, my failures and my uncertainty. He gives me space to be my own man, while still shaping me into the man He is calling me to be. He is also there to celebrate my triumphs (which are really HIS triumphs), share in my joy, love those I love, and smile when I smile. I have a much deeper appreciation of the personal relationship that Christ yearns to share with me, and that I will never fully deserve.

Culmination at it's finest.

The culmination of all of this, of the 365 days that according to our calendar composed the year 2013, was the new job that I begin on Monday. God uses every situation to teach me more about my faith, myself, and Him. There was a pivotal point in the 365 day journey of 2013. A moment where I decided to stop stressing about the money, the stress, the desire to change jobs, and the feelings of inadequacy. A moment where I finally handed everything to God and said "Father, I am not capable of doing this alone, whatever is Your Will be done, please". I spent the next few weeks giving of my time and finances in ways that previously, I had made excuses for why they weren't possible. From the worldly, financially responsible perspective I was probably making some silly decisions. From the Kingdom, Biblical, good steward of my resources, I was making the wisest investments of my life. That's when there was this second moment, where I hit my knees and cried out "Thank You Father! Thank you for teaching me about how to be a better man, a better disciple, and a son/friend/brother/coworker/employee/volunteer." That moment was a Tuesday morning, on Wednesday I revealed the moment of revelation, the changes to my giving, and the thankfulness with my Community with a Side of Bacon small group. We rejoiced together, we prayed for continued understanding and giving, and THEY encouraged me. On Thursday morning, I got a message at work asking me to call one of many, many people I had interviewed with. I called, and listened. He wanted to offer me a job, in fact, the offer would be in my Inbox within minutes. I could barely contain myself, I "played it cool and professional" by telling him I would review the offer and let him know. I hung up the phone, I sat down at my desk, and I cried. That's right, this job offer brought me to tears. Not because it was a lot of money, or my "dream job", at that point I didn't know what kind of money was being offered, and I still don't know what my "dream job" is. There were tears because God is good, God provides, and God loves. I not only got to learn valuable lessons, but now I was being blessed beyond words. It was as though, for the first time in many months, I felt... Appreciated. Worthy. Accomplished. I didn't feel those things because of the job itself, I felt those things because I had learned more than I could have asked for about myself. I became a better man in the search for this new job, and God provided the answer to a lot of prayers through this job offer.


I have one prayer for 2014, and one prayer alone. That prayer is to become better. Become a better man, a better friend, a better son, a better brother, a better roommate, a better coworker, a better Uncle, a better teacher, a better leader, a better volunteer, a better grandson, a better giver, a better mentor, and a better men-tee (is that really a word?). 2014 is going to hold it's fair share of challenges, trials, and triumphs. I will still face sin, fear, disappointment, discouragement, depression, anxiety, and failure. However, I will (hopefully) do it more gracefully, because thanks to 2013 I am stronger, because I was able to identify and relinquish control of more of my weakness and need for Christ to be my Savior. I have goals for this year, not resolutions:

1. Succeed in this job
2. Seek Christ more fervently
3. The general fitness and well-being goal (this is perpetual)
4. Devote more of myself to others
5. Focus more on living well

Grace and Peace