Talk about THIS over the holidays with your families.

Family All Together At Christmas Dinner

What if I told you the way you talk could physically change your brain chemistry? You would probably think I was lying. We are who we are right? Well, that’s not exactly true.

Yes, there are dispositions that different personalities lean toward but your attitude, and dare I say personality, is more pliable than you think. We already know that our memories are greatly influenced by our emotions (click here for more) and now there is strong emerging evidence that the mind can be shaped through a thinking exercise.

Here is where it starts to sound too good to be true. The research states that a specific type of thinking (and talking) can reduce physical aches and pains, depression, anxiety, improve sleep, and can even improve your workout!

So, what is it? Gratitude. Yep, being grateful. Here is the cool thing. Gratitude isn’t just an emotional response to situations you like.

Don’t think of gratitude as a feeling, but a way of choosing to view the world.

Gratitude can precede an emotional response. You can choose to think gratefully and the body, over time, will begin to FEEL grateful.

There are many resources showing this thinking exercise to be incredibly powerful but Dr. Korb, a research neuroscientist at UCLA, says it clearest:

“The wide variety of effects that gratitude can have may seem surprising, but a direct look at the brain activity during gratitude yields some insight. NIH researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude. They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.”

What’s even more amazing is when modern science supports something a two-thousand-year-old text has been saying. Paul in the book of Romans chapter 12 teaches that thinking in the way of Jesus Christ, the way of hope and love, can “renew” your mind. Now we know objectively and scientifically that this is true!

So, this Holiday season when you are sitting around the table with friends and family take a moment to think and talk with gratitude. Try this question, “What are you most grateful for and why are you grateful for it?” The greatest gift you give your family may end up being a way of thinking.

To take this even further let this be your New Year’s resolution.  Every morning take about one minute and write out two or three things you are grateful for in a notebook. I encourage you to start the journey and see what happens to you as the months go by.  Just maybe, under all that fear, anxiety, and negativity that’s literally killing you is a new person.

Want more? Check out Dr. Korbs article.

Dr. Korb

God wants to heal you from your view of healing.


Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes as she stopped mid-sentence to compose herself. “It’s over. It’s not fair. I just wish God would heal this relationship.”  Her jaw clenched a bit as her facial expression shifted from sad to frustrated.

She continued, “Does God want me to hurt?!  Why won’t he heal this?!”

Interesting question. This poor young adult wandered into the wrong pastor’s office if she was only looking for someone to support her feelings without critical Biblical analysis. So I responded with, “I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘heal.’”

When MOST people ask me to pray that God would heal them, they really are asking for one of two things:

  1.  That God would give them back the life they had prior to their hardship.
  2.  That God would “heal” them into something that they admire, but what they admire may not be for their ultimate spiritual good.
  • Students want to be “healed” into the kind of person who could be popular at school.
  • People want God to reestablish a broken relationship with someone that they shouldn’t really be in relationship with at all.
  • An absent workaholic parent who lost their job desperately wants me to pray that God would return them to their job or one similar to it.
  • When cancer drives a non-spiritual person into deep spiritual searching,  blind to the real sickness that has already plagued them they want me to pray that God would take away the very thing that may actually be leading to a truer healing.

Most people want God to “heal” them back into their previous life or “heal” them into someone that isn’t really healthy at all from God’s perspective.  Let me be clear – this isn’t healing.

God doesn’t heal backwards or heal you into someone that is further from Him.  God wants to heal you into something new.  God wants to make you into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  C.S. Lewis says it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  God wants to call you out, to wake you up to what truly matters most! When you get to heaven you may discover your sickness was actually leading to a much deeper healing.

Let me redefine the word healthy as clearly as I can.  A healthy person is someone who is right with Christ.

Anything that makes that relationship stronger is better for you even if it hurts a bit in this brief life.  Maybe that severed relationship, sickness, or job loss could ultimately lead to deeper healing.  I believe God does still heal the temporal things.  However, I don’t believe God wants to heal you into a person that is more spiritually sick.  Health, wealth, and prosperity are not the end goal in life.  The end goal is to be reunited with God through Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t matter if you have more money than the late Steve Jobs, bathe in hand sanitizer, workout every day, and take multivitamins.  You will eventually die and lose all this temporal stuff.  Don’t waste your life praying that God would give you back what may have been adding to your spiritual blindness.

Oh, but the news I deliver is so good!

I believe you are made for more – more than having money, more than looking good in the mirror, and more than quick sensual pleasures.  I believe you were made on purpose and that God is working you out and waking you up to an amazing eternity that will vastly overwhelm the greatest of temporary pleasures we find on this planet!  C.S. Lewis is correct. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.”  The Bible takes it even further in Rev. 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Remember your temporal hardship won’t last, but your heart will.

Here is what I pray for you and I believe what you should pray for others:  I pray that God would do whatever it takes to draw your heart closer to Him.  I pray God would make you truly, eternally healthy.  I pray God would make you ready for heaven where there is perfect peace and perfect joy.



How does the enemy groom a heart to walk away from Christ and despise those who follow Him?


How does the enemy groom hearts to despise Christ and those who follow him and ultimately be proud of their rejection? (A modern version of Bunyan’s work.)

  1. He turns their thoughts away from the things to come and the promise that all will be made right in the end.  He draws primary attention to the pleasures and pains of what is happening right now.
  1. He convinces people the spiritual disciplines, like prayer and Bible reading, are boring or a waste of time. They may say things like, “It doesn’t make any difference anyhow” or “I’m just too busy.”
  1. They grow annoyed with lively Christians. They may say things like, “Who has time for people blind to what’s going on in the ‘real’ world?  Those people are silly!”
  1. They cease to participate in public faith expressions like worship services. They will continue to groan about how annoying those people are in a pious superior way.   Almost like they are too “good” to be around those who just don’t get it.
  1. They look for fault in Christians and use it as the reason for turning away. Their focus turns even more from the Creator to fallen creation.  They trade away grace towards imperfect Christians for judgement against their deficiencies or failings.  They may say things like, “I know how (he or she) really is.  I would rather they be genuine and open than live a fake Christian life! I would never do that.”
  1. They openly grow in the company of the immoral, sensual, and negative and feel “right” with them. They now praise their willingness to acknowledge sin. They call this “good” by twisting words like “genuine” or “authentic” to really mean acceptance.  You will hear them say things like, “I love being with people who are real!  Christians are so fake, they’re hypocrites!  I wish they would be authentic about who they really are.”
  1. They secretly indulge in immorality themselves and grow ever more entertained by those that do likewise openly. At this point they still feel some guilt in their hearts when they act in sin, only now they are bitter towards Christ, his teaching, and those that follow it because they blame Christian boundaries for the reason they feel bad.  Spiritual conviction becomes the “evil” they want to fight against.  They are blind to the real origin of their pain, a bitter rebellious heart, that will actually grow more unsatisfied if it indulges in what it wants.
  1. They play with little sins openly. They now work to actively defend not just the sinner, but the sin itself. You may hear them say, “Even if there was a god he clearly put this in us.  It’s natural.  To deny it would be wrong!”
  1. They show themselves as they really are, hardened towards the ways of Christ and proud of it. At best people at this level like things about Jesus, but only if it lines up with their subjective version of what is good.  They pick and choose texts to follow.  The central driver of their life they believe is their heart. However, they are blind to what has been grooming them all along.  At this point they see themselves as beyond the Bible, openly proud to flaunt their ways of living as superior or more refined than the antiquated ways of Jesus.

Bunyan believes that only a divine act of God can spare a heart entrenched in this much self-assurance and pride.  “Now, being bogged down… they perish forever in their own deceiving unless a miracle of grace prevents it.” –Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress

There are active agencies working on your heart.  Read that last sentence again.  We even become agents of these greater powers to influence others.  The enemy is conditioning you to become pious, self-pleasing, and hyper focused on just this moment and will lower you into trusting the most dangerous of guides, an unguided heart running aimlessly towards whatever draws its attention next.

Christ is working to prune you, to help you see it is only through His work and our humble acceptance of it that we can become the eternal creatures we were designed to be.

Take a moment and evaluate your heart.  Where are you at?

*I adapted these from The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan to fit a modern audience.

My wife’s feet…


Last Friday was beautiful. The temperature hovered in the mid-70s and huge puffy white clouds painted a soft blue sky. My wife and I were each enjoying a cup of coffee on the back porch as we shared about our week, the kids and what we were learning in our personal Bible study. I looked down and noticed my wife’s feet. They were calloused with chipped red toenail paint.  After noticing the obvious wear and tear I started thinking about all that those feet have done. Long before kids and marriage those young feet would prop up on the passenger side dash of my old pickup truck as we drove down the roads of the little town we grew up in. She would beg me to pull into Sonic and I couldn’t resist where those perfectly painted cute little feet wanted to go. A few years later I remember those feet carrying a gorgeous blond in a white wedding dress. It’s amazing, the church was full of people and I can only remember her. Over the years those feet followed me all over the country as a youth pastor. They warmed themselves many times on my leg during cold winter nights. They have climbed the Rocky Mountains while mentoring students and helped build churches and schools in impoverished countries. Then came babies. I’ve seen those little feet so swollen my wife could have worn clown shoes. I have watched those feet quietly sneak out of a sleeping baby’s room many times with multiple kids. Those feet have also carried a broken hearted woman into my arms a time or two. I clearly remember how painful it was when we lost one of our babies or when her grandmother died. Though the feet are a bit more worn these days and I long ago traded my truck for a van, they still sometimes pop up on my dash and even find my legs in bed when they are cold.

Those feet, calloused with chipped paint.

I love them more today. Not because they are perfectly painted and young. I love them because of the journey they have taken.

Here’s to the future with more memories, adventures, and yes… a few more callouses. I am beginning to see – real beauty isn’t something found, it’s something built. I am learning that some of the most beautiful things come in worn packages.

I also interviewed my wife a few weeks ago as we talked about our marriage. She is so awesome! It’s worth checking out.

Don’t go to another counselor until you read this.

Don’t go to another counselor until you read this.brain

Years ago I was approached by a young lady looking for advice.  She was clearly frustrated, her eyes filling with tears, as she began her story.  She grew up in a large family with a father who was fairly distant and cold.  She had years of pent up frustration at the distance and lack of understanding in their relationship.  However, this time he had crossed the line…

At this point, in most conversations about a painful situation, people tend to protect someone and downplay something serious or they tend to exaggerate an event.

Early on I did something I have since regretted and learned to STOP doing.  Hold on, you’re not going to like this…I had to STOP fully believing their stories.

You read that correctly.  I have wrongly reprimanded people that didn’t really deserve it and have neglected to engage when I later realized I should have all because I believed people without looking for the truth.  Listen to Dr. Julia Shaw, a memory expert and researcher at London South Bank University: “Much like our ability to switch the name John with Jack without realizing, we can quite easily change details of more important events in our memories without noticing. We can come to remember seeing and doing things that never happened, and the sneaky part is that in our minds these errors look and feel just like our other memories. These kinds of memory errors are called ‘false memories,’ and they are the subject of considerable study around the world.”

This gets even scarier!

Listen to what happened during one of the research projects:  “I recently conducted a study that elucidates this, published in the academic journal Psychological Science. Through a series of three interviews, my participants came to believe they experienced a highly emotional event that never happened.” 

She goes on in her research to share that this is accidentally done all the time in highly emotional questioning situations like police interviews or counseling sessions.  Yep, you heard that right.  Bad counselors can actually make your events MORE traumatic.  Every time you recreate the event, the mind can literally paint a more superfluous image.  Your ex grows ever more into a monster.  Your childhood becomes just as bad as living in a concentration camp.  You mix real events with emotions and retell the story over and over again with no objective guidance and end up with a new “real” memory based on something that isn’t actually true.  This sounds terrifying.  At this point I should interject.  DON’T go to bad counselors that may “seed” your memories. They can make a bad situation much worse in your mind and in your heart.

So, how can you tell if a counselor is bad?

Pay attention to how counselors probe your memories.  Closed questions are less than ideal.  “What was the color of his shirt?” Leading questions are dangerous.  They write memories as the brain tries to fill in the gaps. “He was angry, wasn’t he?  His fist was closed, wasn’t it?” Dr. Shaw’s research led me to two conclusions:  1) The best way to probe a memory is to just listen. Don’t over ask or “seed” their memories. 2) If possible corroboration is absolutely much better. Find out who else was there or if the event was recorded.  It’s best to compare stories like a good police officer asking each witness separately and drawing core conclusions off of the similarities.  Look for real evidence.

Back to the story.

As she shared what happened her emotional response didn’t seem to align with the reported misbehavior of her dad.  Yes, her dad is kind of a jerk.  Abusive? Her unseeded stories never revealed physical abuse, not even a spanking. She didn’t even recall a time he raised his voice.

Oh, I could have seeded that memory!  I could have added things like, “He was really angry with you, wasn’t he?”  That would have been absolutely wrong on my part, but bad counselors do it all the time.

I stopped the conversation. I didn’t want to proceed and make things worse.  I needed another perspective.  So here is what I asked.

“Do you trust your siblings?”

She responded. “Yes, absolutely!”

“Can I ask them about this?”

She said, “Yes.”

All of us gathered in a room as I asked her to recall the situations again.  At least one of them, if not more, were present as she remembered her dad’s “cruel” and “harsh” rules.  As the family conversation progressed it didn’t take long for a sister to speak up and say, “That’s not exactly how it happened.”  That sister then told the story with less creativity.  Yes, dad said you had to be back by 11:30, but there was no door slamming, no shaking of the fist, and no yelling. I noticed when the other witnesses, who she knew and loved, spoke into her life, they didn’t feed a false memory, they helped her build a memory closer to reality. Then we used the example and teachings of Christ to build a right response.  I didn’t ask her to do what SHE felt like doing.  I asked her what she thought JESUS would have her do in that situation.

In the Bible the heart is to be formed not by looking within, but by finding anchors outside of ourselves.  Jeremiah states that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9).  Our hearts (and minds) are prone to lie, especially to ourselves. Even the Apostle Paul says that a renewal of our mind, by committing to the ways of Christ, gives us the capacity to test what will really honor God (Rom. 12:2).  John says that by following the work and way of Christ we are literally set free from the deception within and without (John 8).  Like being lost at sea, one can get caught in deep cyclical bondage as their mind constantly replays and rewrites their story, led by an imperfect creative mind.  They even pay people lots of money to listen to them replay events over and over again.  The Bible says there is a guide who can successfully pull you out of yourself.  You will have to do what is objectively right over how you may feel, but he knows the way.  Restitution of relationships, the way to racial equality, dealing with past hurts or current issues of the heart can all be safely and wisely discerned. The guide knows you and knows the way you’re to take.  Choose to trust him.  John 1:14 says that the Word, literally Truth, came and made his dwelling among us to show us the way.  Since our minds are objectively and scientifically proven to be unreliable, who will you follow?  Pop psychologists come and go.  New self-help strategies that fly off the best seller list are quickly forgotten, but that man named Jesus of Nazareth who lived thousands of years ago has given unimaginable hope to billions and still guides today.  Yep, I choose to trust him.  That’s my guide.  Even over my own heart.

*The opening story was purposefully adjusted to protect the family involved.


Want more?Abandon the American Peace machine

I take on the western view of inner peace in this quick easy read found by clicking here:
(It’s 99 cents on Amazon.  I would make it free, but Amazon won’t let me.)

Below are a few places to explore our memories!

Introduction of false memories: (Scary stuff)

The Memory Illusion.  Here is an introduction to the book and a link to it.

Scientific America: A great resource with other resources.

Ted Talks:


Why your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal.


Ever wondered why your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal?

“Pastor Mike, I have heard you say that it is God’s desire for us to save sex until after marriage. I want to be honest with you. I am sleeping with my girlfriend, and I think it’s great. With birth control and protection… sex is much safer today.”

“Pastor Mike, I have heard you say it’s best to limit, or avoid, alcohol completely. The truth is, I have been drunk a few times; it was really fun. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Think seeds.
You plant a seed in the ground, cover it up, stand there and look at a pile of dirt. You shrug your shoulders and say. “Ok, where is the giant oak tree?” People have an affair and after a few days say to themselves. “Ok, that was fun and I don’t see any big problems.” They drink a little too much at a party, or sample drugs, and think, “What’s the big deal? That was fun!” They experiment with a “live-in” relationship and after a few weeks think to themselves, “I like this! My parents just don’t get it.” It seems like nothing bad has really developed… not yet. The big bad consequences, their parents warned them about, are just not visible. Much like the seed planted in the soil, nothing is visible… not yet.

However, something else is happening, beyond what they can see. Something very dangerous. Something very subtle, very sinister. It’s something we may have unintentionally implied, all while trying to protect our kids.

“Trust your heart.” I believe this is one of the enemy’s greatest tactics. It isn’t really about getting people to enjoy sex outside of Biblical boundaries. It isn’t really about losing sobriety or a sound mind to have a little fun. It’s not about the selfish spending of money over living generously.
I believe the enemy’s greatest offensive weapon is convincing you that you can trust your heart. That these fun experiences are your greatest compass for living. Instead of trusting a truly objective, unimaginably wise guide, in God, you look within, and trust your own subjective, unimaginably deceived heart. Ancient wisdom teaches us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Why do your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal?  Because you taught them to trust their heart and that is exactly what they are doing.

Here is the truth we need to tell our kids. Sex outside of marriage may be fun at times. Partying with your friends can feel good. Moreover, honoring God and obeying his ways doesn’t always “feel” good in the moment. I think it’s dangerous to imply that if they wait until marriage their sex life will be amazing or that loss of sobriety, through the use of drugs or alcohol, will always feel bad. That’s clearly not true, and ultimately very dangerous, because we are still centering our kids’
life compass on their own temporal, personal pains and momentary pleasures. Remember a heart, even a “Christian” heart, that is centered on it’s own temporal pleasures will diligently work to bend or rewrite boundaries allowing it to have what it wants.
Here is what our kids need to know. All of us are small, finite, and blind to true joy and true pain. Our own hearts will deceive us, so we need a loving guide. God understands and loves each of us. He gave his son to suffer and die to make right the wrongs we have done. Perfect joy is coming, but no human can get there alone. This comes through one road, one compass… Christ. The center of your life isn’t avoiding painful things or chasing pleasurable things. It is trusting in the heart of a loving, wise Father who plants seeds that will grow oaks of righteousness, that display the Lord’s splendor.(Isaiah 61:3). The right “seeds” or “compass” isn’t found within one’s own heart.  They are found in trusting the rich, time transcendent, word of God and work of Christ.

3 minutes to catch the vision and join the mission! Check out the video below:

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Where is the love?

facebookcommentsYou know that moment you click on a scripture verse for encouragement on Facebook and find the comments below akin to a WWE wrestling match?

I have been to one professional wrestling match. It was the year I graduated high school.  Goldberg was going to “fight” Andre the Giant.  It’s oddly entertaining as thousands of people chant “Goldberg” amidst flashing lights, smoke, and rock music.  Near the end of the match Goldberg does his infamous spear move and chaos erupts.  The ring is flooded with other wrestlers and bouncers as the announcer yells, “We have world war three breaking out!”

It’s all about showmanship, people trying to look big and influential.  Trying to stand above the other person.  Condescending posturing weaves in and out of the wrestlers ring. As it does all through my social media feed.

It’s starting to get old.  Social media comment sections have gone from feeling like a high school lunch room table of chatty cheerleaders to all out WWE wrestling mayhem.  It bothers me most when the pretentious, arrogant swagger comes from those who call themselves Christians.  I get it.  It’s easy to fall into this.  Someone offers a theological idea that is off and you feel that it’s your duty to correct it.  The problem is the love is gone.

Instead of HELPING your brother out you are TAKING your brother out.  Guess who is watching?  All your friends that don’t believe in Christ.  Instead of defending your perspective of the Truth you discredit its power by the way you posture yourself.

Don’t hear me wrong.  I am not talking about blatant sin and accountability here.  I am primarily talking about internal fighting over perspectives that are still within the greater Christian camp.  I agree, we need to hone each other out as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).  Yet, we are to seek a mature understanding of the Scripture with an attitude of love (Ephesians 4:1-16).  I do believe there are times that call for strong correction (Luke 17:3), but the goal is unity and restoration.

Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand for Truth.  However, please be aware of how you are doing so.  The whole world is watching so many discredit the Truth they proclaim by the false conduct of their character.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35)

Why the church has gone silent on the growing mental health problem

mentail health2

Many churches have walked away from the growing mental health problem.

I don’t need to get into the statistical weeds on this one.  Go look it up for yourself.  Mental health is a growing problem with little “good” solutions being offered. The sad part is most of the church community has walked away from this.  I believe there are three reasons.  Two are embarrassing.

1)    We were taught to walk away from people with mental health problems.

All the way through school I heard one common theme when it came to counseling.  Refer.  We were basically taught that we are unqualified as pastors to help people with mental health problems and so we should just pass them along to the professionals.  So that’s exactly what an army of “well trained” young leaders, including myself, have done.  We don’t do anything with mental health because we were taught not to.  After nearly 17 years in ministry here is the problem – very few actually go get the professional help you recommend.  Either they can’t afford the “real” help or they are too embarrassed to embrace it.  So they live with a growing addiction, depression, or anxiety until it’s too late.

2)    We want to run smooth, uninterrupted, perfect productions.

The sad truth is messy people make it really hard to run a “flawless” service.  It’s quite ironic how many churches that carry tag lines like “all are welcome” really don’t mean it.  Often what they are really saying is, “Those of you who are like me and don’t fit in another church are welcome here.”  From young hipsters sporting lumberjack clothes who feel like outcasts in churches that rock Gaither music, to the elderly person I talked to the other day who now feels like an outsider in her church because it is geared for a younger generation.  Though I honor people trying to create ministries that reach people like them, the reality is they are still functionally (how they design services and ministries) working to only reach “outcasts” that look like them.  I am going to be a bit bold – they are probably not the last, the lost, and the least in culture.  What are these ministries designing for the bipolar homeless vet living under the bridge?  We have a long way to go too, but we are trying to build ministries with eyes that aren’t locked on ourselves.  Our church has an inner city campus, and its true inner city, not a hipster church in a needy area that just displaces those who are really in need.  Pastors Eric and Cathy (the leaders at that campus) are the real deal.  They hear threats, deal with people that are high, and assist in hard domestic situations on a regular basis.  I wish people viewed this type of ministry as “cool.”   Many want to belong to churches that DO a ministry like this, but don’t want to BE at churches that are like this.

3)    We are afraid of liability issues.

Yes, churches get sued, I know ours has.  The moment we choose to do ministry in messy places with messy people, we better believe it will be risky at some level.  Here is what we have to believe – that disobeying the Great Commission and Great Commandment is MORE DANGEROUS than being sued or working with messy people.

I have a theory.  I know it may sound strange, but I think the church CAN help.

I believe we need to adopt a new approach concerning mental health in the Church and stop abdicating our responsibility to be Jesus in hard situations.  At our church we are going to do a few things right away, but remain very open to other suggestions! So please share.

We are going to:

  • Realize we are failing at honoring the mandate from Christ to love those who are in real need.
  • Assume we can make a difference instead of assuming we can’t.
  • Maximize small groups that deal with hard situations.  Instead of treating small groups like Celebrate Recovery as a weird stepchild of the church it will receive the honor it deserves.
  • Utilize local professionals for emergency situations.  However, we will work to provide a safe system for people when they return to normal life.
  • Continue to build a church that provides space for imperfect people.
  • Realize our powerful potential!  When people find true love, forgiveness, community, and purpose for life in Christ it truly does change everything.


*Image via

All you have to do is become the victim.


“Dad, it’s not my fault!”

My daughter without any prompting jumped straight into justifying the fact that she hit her older brother.

My son standing alongside his sister tilted his head back, rolled his eyes, and replied.

“Come on dad, can’t you see it’s not my fault?  All I did was tell her she was wrong.”

The truth is their tension goes way beyond this one event.  However, something stood out to me I hadn’t noticed before.

All my children naturally fight for the spot of victim too.  From a young age they know if they can secure this spot in any situation they gain sympathy and are off the hook for their poor decisions with little to no consequences.

I can almost hear Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  “It wasn’t my fault.”Only One

Have you ever noticed this isn’t just exclusive to children?  Watch the news.  Everyone is fighting for the spot of oppressed victim.  Even those with massive power and influence work diligently to appear hurt by other groups.  The voices of those who are truly in need are lost in the choir of those who play the “game” really well.  The orphans starve, the mentally disabled go without help, and the elderly widows still sit alone.  Why?  Because they can’t play the “game” well.  It’s not cool to help those who truly need the most help anymore. I don’t want my kids to steal the light of society’s mercy from those who truly need it!

Instead of teaching my kids to join the choir of those pity baiting, screaming “poor me,” I decided to give them another social and relational tool.

I am going to raise them to be active change agents for good!  I want to give them tools to see beyond their selfishness and the façade of those who just play the victim.  I want them to weep over the children who literally live in Guatemala’s dump or creatively raise money for orphans in Uganda.  To do this they have to turn a blind eye to the fakes banging the drum all around us and realize most of their “pain” isn’t really that painful when you look around the world.

Here is what we do.

I will not raise my kids to passionately pursue the place of oppressed victim.  I will however teach them to love the oppressed and teach them to creatively work to make society better.  I will not raise children taught to live as victims, I will raise cultural change agents.  I will put their little minds to work in a positive way.

So here is what we do and some things to try.

  • Build perspective.  When they hurt acknowledge it and help them, yet always give them perspective.  With wisdom let them see and be aware of real suffering.  Let them see your compassion and encourage compassion in them.
  • Make holidays, even birthdays, about giving more than getting.  
  • Instead of only asking your kids how their day was at school, ask them how they thought their teacher’s day was, or how their friend’s day was.  Get them thinking outside of themselves. 
  • In sibling rivalry instead of rewarding the child who makes the best case for the victim make much of the child who offers real strategies to improve the situation.  You will have to help with this if they haven’t been taught to think this way.
  • Teach ethics, morality, and responsibility to your children with the same fervor as you would mathematics or natural sciences. 

Our culture is birthing a victim movement.  Every group is doing this, from those in power to those that truly have none.  Influence through pity is a terrible way to live. Living with creative compassion and empowering others to do so is so much better.

Want more? Check out An Open Letter to my Kids

In our home we define “right” by the teachings of Jesus Christ from the Bible.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

James 1:27

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

John 14:21

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

Most adults accept Jesus for this one reason.



Last year most adults in our church accepted Christ for one reason.

They wanted more.

Either they achieved their goal and still were left empty or they felt as if they were falling behind.  Either way they desired more than what life was giving them.

One of the most interesting pieces of any religion is simply it’s answer to the heart’s desire for satisfaction.

Many who explore religion actually do so quite logically.  It isn’t blind, but rather the natural step that is driven by a hunger.

What do you do when you achieve the job you wanted?  Are you now complete?  How about when you finish the degree you were working for, or marry the person of your dreams, or lose the weight you thought would make you look good?   Are you now complete?  Everyone begins by answering “yes” until they realize they are not yet whole or that the object of their affection lacks the ability to satisfy this mysterious hunger that still resides.  Maybe it’s better described as unsettled, or a searching.  Eventually all land in the same place, still unsatisfied.

Malcom Muggeridge, the famous British journalist, says it well:

“It is difficult to resist the conclusion that 20th century man has abolished himself.  Tired of the struggle to be himself he has created boredom out of his own influence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength.  He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down until at last having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered, old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.”

Ancient King Solomon equally says it well:

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

It’s not that another degree, marriage, or raise doesn’t bring momentary happiness, absolutely they do! Yet it isn’t just a quick pleasure that we desire, it’s to feel complete.  Most who try and succeed in their earthly endeavors begin to realize that along with their success is this ever growing awareness that it isn’t fully working.  Then, as Muggeridge states, many begin to drown this realization with sedatives.  It’s almost as if they state, “If I cannot feel complete I choose to not feel at all.”

What if there is more?

Jesus Christ stands far above other religions. It’s not a story of man trying to create purpose or build towards it.  It’s perfect purpose coming to man.

This my friends is what Easter is truly about.  A way made for people to find endless, boundless, deeply fulfilling more.  I challenge you to go to church and honestly and openly explore the wild and beyond realistic claims of Christ.  After all, His story wouldn’t be amazing if it didn’t stand apart from every other man’s story.  It’s the wonder of the story that makes it so wonderful.

Who knows?  As you gaze into the empty tomb you may find it filled with everything you have been looking for.

If you have found more in Christ share this with a friend!

Here is the full sermon: