Risk Taker

Today I am remembering a couple of my favorite childhood items. My Evel Knievel action figure and my Evel Knievel lunch box. I thought he was just the coolest dude back in the day. I mean who else would attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle, and break 40 bones before his retirement in 1980?

Today at 69 years of age Evel Knievel past away.

I know I was not alone in my admiration of this crazy daredevil. I think the reason I, along with so many other little boys were so enamored with him, was he was not afraid to look risk in the eye, and go for it! He wasn't afraid to attempt the impossible. He did the things the rest of us only dreamed of doing. We would try to be like him by jumping our bicycles off of little rickety jumps and spilling them all over the sidewalk in the process. I think a little part of us even thought we could someday be just like him. We took risks, albeit little ones, and we felt great doing it.

What we need more of today, especially in the Church, are risk takers. Daredevils. We need more people willing to try things a little crazy, willing to fail, in attempt of doing something great for the Kingdom. God is placing "Snake Canyons" in front of us all the time. The question is, are we willing to attempt the jump.

Does God have a "Snake Canyon" in front of you? Are you willing to take the risk and go after it?

Think On This

Jesus promised the disciples three things--that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.
- G.K. Chesterton

Beg God

I have been reminded so many times recently of the fact that it is God and God alone that causes a person to fall in love with Him. As a pastor to students I often find myself in frustration because I can't make my students love God. As much as I teach, disciple, and lead, toward that end, it is God, and not I, who calls them, and moves in their hearts to pursue Him.

At the National Youth Workers Convention this last October Francis Chan called us to beg God for the hearts of our students. He reminded us that we can not change their hearts, only God can.

I recently came across this poem on Michael Ferber's blog. It says it well.

No, it is not yours to open buds into blossom.
Shake the bud, strike, it is beyond your power to make it blossom.
Your touch soils it.
You tear its petals to pieces and strew them in the dust,
But no colors appear and no perfume.
Oh, it is not for you to open the bud into blossom.
He who can open the bud does it so simply.
He gives it a glance and the life sap stirs through its veins.
At his breath the flower spreads its wings and flutters in the wind.
Colors flash out like heart longing, the perfume betrays a sweet secret.
He who can open the bud does it so sweetly

Rite of Passage 2

Inspired by my recent post on Rite of Passage, Michael Ferber has written a series of posts on his blog on Rites of Passage. Read the first one here, the second one here, the third one here, and fourth one here. He presents some great thoughts.


Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
- Henry Van Dyke

This year I am thankful for
My God for inviting me into relationship with Him and for His love for me.
My family for the love that we share and enjoy.
My church community for the unity, and mission, we share.

What are you expressing thanks for this year?

Thanksgiving Worship

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 This scripture set the tone for an amazing time of worship with our students this morning, all centered around the theme of Thanksgiving.

We took a much different approach to giving thanks this morning. Set in the center of room was a long "Thanksgiving table." Placed all around the table were small paper plates along with pens. Next to each plate were print outs of different scriptures. During an extended time of singing we asked people to get up from their seats and go to the table. While at the table we were to consider the scriptures set before us and then respond by writing our thoughts on the small paper plates.

The scriptures on the table were all centered around two different themes related to thanks. The first was giving thanks for the stuff of life that we don't normally think to give thanks for; the trials, struggles, and pains of life. We were to read the scriptures and then write a prayer of thanks to God on the paper plates. A prayer that we could take with us as a remembrance of our thanksgiving.

The other theme was giving thanks to God for the people in our lives. So many times in the New Testament we read of the Apostle Paul giving thanks to God for the people in his life (1 Thess. 1:2-3, Col. 1:3-4, 2 Thess. 1:3, etc.). For those not in the midst of a difficult season or situation, we were to write a prayer of thanks to God for the people He has brought into our lives.

At the conclusion of the morning we talked about the difficult seasons of life, and discussed the why and how of showing thanks to God in the midst of them. A key theme that surfaced was the importance of not simply saying thanks, but showing it.

It was an amazing time, one which I hope is remembered for a long time to come. I am thankful.


Where do you find yours?

HT to The Ongoing Adventures os ASBO Jesus

Mobile Post

My friend Aaron just blogged from his new iphone, so I had to do the same from my razor, just because I can. Someday I'll be cool like Aaron and have an iphone!

Advent Conspiracy

Did you know that last year the The National Retail Federation forecasted that Americans would spend $457.4 billion dollars at Christmas and that the average family would spend $907? Does this bother you as it does me?

Is spending money on stuff that will likely be forgotten in a matter of months and going into debt to do it, the best way to celebrate the birth our Lord? The last time I went to a birthday party I did not go expecting gifts, I went to give to the one being celebrated. It makes sense to me that we should do the same for the One we celebrate this Christmas season.

I love the spirit behind Advent Conspiracy, a movement to inspire the Church to give relationally, and redistribute the money that would have been spent, on those that are truly in need. In doing so we give to Jesus.

Are you on Facebook? Join the Advent Conspiracy Group and join in the conversation.

Think Of Him

As we approach the busy holiday season I am thinking a lot of new thoughts, and asking a lot of questions.

What if we spent more time thinking of Him and less time thinking of us? What if we pushed back at consumerism and drew in closer to Jesus? What if instead of giving gifts to one another, we gave gifts to Jesus?

We hear a lot about the "Christmas miracles" and the "Miracle of Christmas." It was Jesus who said in John 14:12, in response to His miracles, that we will do even greater things. How might that look this Christmas?

This video is one of the tools God has used to really get me thinking, and re-thinking Christmas this year.

More thoughts to come.

Turkey 'N Thanks

How do you get a bunch of middle schoolers to dress in their finest clothes and sit around a table and enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal in a formal setting? Three words ... Turkey 'N Thanks.

To night was our annual Turkey 'N Thanks celebration or TNT as we like to call it. It's a time to come together as a middle school family and enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal in a formal setting and consider all that we are truly thankful for.

(If you are reading this post via a feed reader click here to see missing pictures.)

The food was amazing, and the fellowship and worship were great!

I showed this video to get them thinking about all the things they are thankful for.

It was great listening to all things in which they were thankful for. We were thankful for video games, family, chocolate, friends, shopping, church, weekends, food, and more. Very cool!

Rite of Passage

I was recently contacted by the parent of one of my middle school students. She and her husband are planning a rite of passage ceremony for their son and was wondering if I had any input. They were particularly interested in what would be an appropriate time/age to do such a ceremony.

I think they are on to something big; something strategic and important. Here was my response to her.

While I agree with you that kids are in some ways growing up much sooner today, I on the other hand, believe they are growing up much slower. Our society has done a great dis-service to kids by in affect delaying adulthood.

There are three questions that every young person seeks answers to. It is the answer to these questions that in a lot of ways determines the conclusion of adolescence and the entrance into adulthood.

These questions are:

1. Who am I?

2. What power do I really have?

3. Where do I fit in?

It is at the beginning of adolescence (onset of puberty) in which kids begin to seek these answers, a great time for a rite of passage.

Recent studies have shown alarming trends.

• Pre-1900
the average age of puberty was 14+ and the average age of when those three questions were answered was 16

• 1980
the average age of puberty was 13 and the average age of when those three questions were answered was 18

• 2007
the average age of puberty is 12 and the average age of when those three questions are answered is the mid-20s.

This can be attributed to a number of factors. Our society has encouraged and promoted a prolonged adolescence, through encouraging prolonged college education, delayed marriage, etc. Another way we have done this is by not doing what you are seeking to do...a rite of passage.

I applaud their decision and their desire to see their son move into manhood. I wish more parents would do so. It is a practice that takes place in other cultures throughout the world, but has long been forgotten in ours. A rite of passage is a great way for parents to invite their kids into the process of becoming an adult. Adolescence is an intimating journey and one in which kids would benefit greatly from godly guidance and direction from their parents.

Band of Brothers is a great resource with good ideas on such a ceremony.

Dare You To Move

We are called to love our neighbors as our selves (Leviticus 19:18). We are called to love the needy because the needy are Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). This is one great way that we can do so.

I support Compassion. Sponsor a child today!

An Angel?

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Jon did a great job preaching on this scripture yesterday. Hear the message here.

He discussed The Fact, The Command, and The Result. The Fact: You are the light of the world. The Command: Let your light shine. The Result: So they will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. This all led into a great discussion in our small group last night.

We were discussing the importance of seizing every opportunity God bring our way to be a light for Him. It is easy living in the "Christian bubble" that many of us find ourselves in, to think that I have no opportunities to show Christ to those who do not know Him. The reality is, they are all over the place. As we discussed this, a story that took place in my life came to mind.

I was roughly 16 years of age and visiting my grandparents in Salina, Kansas. Both sets of my grandparents lived just a few blocks from one other so we would spend quite a bit of time walking between the two homes. It was a summer afternoon as I was walking by myself from one home to another. As I began to cross an intersection an older gentleman approached me on my right. As I stepped off the curb I did the courteous thing and said, "Hi." He returned the gesture but included the question, "How are you?" I quickly replied, "Fine" and continued on across the street. What happened next, I often describe as the event that ruined my day and changed my life.

As I continued to progress across the street the gentleman asked, "How do you know you are fine?" In that moment two thoughts came to my mind. The first was, what is with this guy? What kind of question is that to ask of a stranger? The next thought was clearly directed by the Holy Spirit. The thought that came to mind was, I should tell this man exactly why I am "fine." I should tell him that I belong to Jesus and because of that my life is not only fine, but more than fine. Unfortunately that was not my response. Desiring to get on my way, I simply replied, "Because I know I am fine" and continued on across the street. As I turned my back to continue, I heard him call out to me again, so I turned myself around to see him looking me square in the eyes and pointing his finger at me. What came next floored me.

As he stood there staring me down with a face that meant business, he said to me, "Don't you know that it was Peter who said we are to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15) I have never felt conviction quite like I did in that moment. I knew it was true. I, in my shame, agreed with the man and walked on, never to see him again.

I have often wondered if that was an angel sent directly to me to deliver a message that I clearly needed to learn. I wish I could say that I have always been obedient to that truth, since that time, but I can say, that I have never forgotten it. God has used it many times over the years to remind me that I am His, and I am to be a light for Him in this world of darkness; that I am to seize every opportunity to share hope with those that need it.

May our light always shine in such a way that people are compelled to give praise to the author of hope and light.

Life With A Cat

Being a cat owner, I relate to this completely. Enjoy.

HT to Gman

Little Children and The Kingdom

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the Kingdom of God. Books have been written. Articles and blogs have been written, and sermons have been preached. I think that is great, as we ought to have a good understanding of the Kingdom in which we belong.

I have been reminded recently that the best way to understand the Kingdom of God is to spend a little time with a small child. It was Jesus after all who said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)

Yesterday my son Benjamin demonstrated the kind of faith that I believe God desires to see from us. He and Robin had plans to visit Grandma and Grandpa for the day. Robin had to break the news to him that Grandma was sick therefore they would not be able to go. His response..."Let's pray for her mommy." He then grabbed her hands and they prayed for Grandma. No sooner had they said amen, Benny declared, "Let's go!" That is faith! That is the kind of faith that the Kingdom of God belongs to.

We have much to learn.