“There’s been a profound power shift within the church. Today a blogger with strong opinions and a large audience is probably more influential in contemporary Christian culture than someone leading a large organization. The shift has some serious implications. It is easy to have opinions when you don’t have any skin in the game. A blogger with controversial ideas and a large readership will probably land book deals and speaking invites. We are tempted to build a career around critique and deconstructing without ever having the responsibility of building something. The danger is that you can become parasitic: You live off the Christian scene you are critiquing. There is a world of difference between pundits and prophets.” --Mark Sayers
I do not believe I have controversial ideas. I certainly do not have a large readership. I do not have book deals. I would like more speaking invites (hint!).
I just want to declare here that I do have skin in the game. I’ve been at my church for 25 years—my not perfect church. I wouldn’t be who I am today without these people of my church. They know my skin. They know my heart. They know my passion—sometimes from when I run over them. They know me so there is forgiveness when I do that.
They know my sons. They have prayed for them all these years. For the one serving a 30-year prison sentence, they pray for him regularly. They send him Christmas cards and birthday cards. They feel like they know him even though he’s been gone 16 years.
And best of all, my church family are the ones who brought my prodigal son home. It was them. It was not me. It was their consistent and tenacious outreach to him. And when he slipped recently, they ran after him. For this, I am forever grateful. I know he is alive (not exaggerating) because of these people. Continue reading
Very recently I was in pain. I was watching my son spin out of control yet again. Yet again I had that wish for him to get arrested so that I would know he would live. This is a fear I have felt all too often but it is a fear that has been absent for two years. Having that fear come back—feeling that fear again—spiraled me downward.
This is living vulnerable. And there are times it hurts. Hurts a lot.
This is where bravery comes in. I have chosen him to be my son and that does not change no matter what level of pain or joy there is. He is loveable. He is so worthy of this love. (I wish you all could know him. You would see it too.)
Note: He has brought me such incredible joy. I would never be able to feel that joy if I wasn’t able to feel this pain. If I numb the pain, I will also numb that joy. Continue reading
On a recent Friday night I had this random text conversation with one of my grown teen, now in his 40s. I have his permission to share.
Greg: Strange random question. I remember you being a fan of the original Star Trek. What do you think of the new movies?
Me: Love them.
Greg: Me too. I’m watching both tonight for the too many too count time and it made me think of ya. A lot of trekky nerds hate em.
Me: They would be nerds, of course.
Greg: Lol. I’ve decided to marry a green woman. Is that too much to ask?
Me: Yes. What a silly pre-Valentine thought.
Greg: Sorry for my weird sense of humor. Btw, I’ve come to love M*A*S*H as well and Bruce Willis movies with the exception of the last Die Hard.
Me: It’s about time you realize that everything about me is absolutely right!! Continue reading
I preached on Sunday at my church. This is not a rare occurrence. I’m grateful to be serving at a church where the pulpit isn’t dominated by one personality.
The text I was given—John 17:11-19—led me back to the one book that has influenced me the most. Not the Sunday School answer of the Bible. That is assumed. The book is Real Christians
Don’t Dance by John Fischer. It’s been out of print for quite a while and it is rare to find a used one for sale on Amazon. Though you can get a Kindle verson for those of you who do that. You can also find the complete book for free here. The Evangelical Christian Library has done the work to make this available.
This one chapter—Magical Ministry Tour—has shaped me immensely. As I celebrate 25 years of Wild Frontier, it must be shared again. This is a major part of my ministry mindset.
“No word is more misused and misinterpreted in popular Christianity than ministry. It is the reason for everything: the justification for a top ten hit and the toleration of a substandard performance. It legitimizes one person’s right to accumulate and hoard money while it supports another’s right to beg for it. It serves simultaneously as an excuse to work or not to work. The word ministry covers so much ground that it no longer carries any significant impact. Instead, it leaves nebulous impressions and feelings.
“The popular understanding of ministering to people is to touch them in some spiritual sense. But in what way–what does it mean for someone to be blessed? Was it an emotional tickle? The twinge of a high note? A warm soothing chord that washed over someone’s trouble and anesthetized his or her reality? Was it a euphoric sense of being a member of a family of fans? The brief escape of identifying oneself with a charismatic personality? Or was it a real experience with God? Continue reading
I want to share with you a brave story I read. It’s from a blog post that went viral. I believe it went viral because of the bravery it speaks.
Pain is so much easier to deal with when we can numb it. Do what we can to get by. Do everything we can so we don’t feel.
Yet when we face it, an amazing story unfolds. This is an amazing story.
God, bless the brave characters in this story.
“Our intention was to dance on his grave.
“My beautiful cousin, who I’d not seen in 35 years, and I set out to dance on our grandfather’s grave. Our first dilemma was, of course, song choice. You have to have the right song. We bandied a few song titles about, Alanis Morrisette was a front runner. Obviously.
“We drove to the town where he lived, and where he is buried. We drove to the town where we were abused. Driving down the picturesque New England roads, I felt a little faint. Mary felt a little barfy. We pulled into a store parking lot, and Mary spent some quality time behind a dumpster, hurling. It happens. Continue reading
NFL football and MLB baseball make up the love language in my marriage. This is not something I changed in myself once I got married to John. This is something John had to adapt to in my direction once we got married—not that he has once complained.
So when I make a statement that I love Cris Carter it comes straight out of my love language. I’ve long been a fan of his because of what he did for the Minnesota Vikings and who he is as a man. A lot of people are fans of Cris Carter because of these good reasons. But I have one more personal reason. He did something very personal and thoughtful for my boys when they were in 7th grade. I will leave this story at that.
My second favorite NFL player is now clearly Benjamin Watson. He is not a Minnesota Viking. His current team is the New Orleans Saints. Thankfully he wasn’t on that team when they were big cheaters but due to that cheating season I very much dislike the New Orleans Saints. So why do I like him?
He is the kind of man I want my sons to be. My sons are too old now to be NFL players so that is not why I want them to be like Benjamin Watson. Benjamin Watson is a man of God with a clear message.
My attention was first drawn to this when he wrote the now-viral response to Ferguson. I agree. I agree. I agree. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to. Continue reading
Hope moves. What a brave statement.
I simply decided to repost this blog. Click over and read the entire thing. May this statement alone move the bravery that is inside of you:
“The gospel radically transforms our hearts, and makes us unrelentingly passionate about the things that Jesus is passionate about. It propels us into darkness. It moves us from the comfortable to the unimaginably shattered. It gives us hope. And friends, hope gets off the couch. It gets out from behind the computer screen and dives headfirst into the wreckage. Hope moves.”
Read Hope Moves.
What started as a call I received in 1983 came into fruition in 1990. Those 7 years of waiting took so long! And now Wild Frontier is celebrating 25 years!
Twenty. Five. Years. Wow.
It started with a deep gut feeling that there was “more” to youth ministry. I was so young back then and so young in youth ministry but I still felt that there was “more” out there. On that night in June 1983 in Alexandria, Minnesota, that “more” led me to a time of seeking which led to a download of plans in my brain. That “more” was further satiated by a song off an album my brother gave me for Christmas 1987—The Wild Frontier by Randy Stonehill. (Note: Steven Curtis Chapman had a similar song out a year or so after that Stonehill album with a similar message—The Great Adventure. That song also sung to my spirit but I’m not much of a Steven Curtis Chapman fan.)
Then the time finally came when I could kick off these nebulous ideas in January 1990. What a ride it has been! When you seek for that “more” you can only expect to go on a ride. Bravery leads you to get on that ride. It has been a great adventure. Though rarely comfortable. Seeking “more” cannot be comfortable.
I know. Because I’m still not comfortable. It’s just a different idea I’m wrestling with these days. Continue reading