Category Archives: Discipleship

Get Into God’s Word


2Timothy 3: 1, 14-17

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days… But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure. – John Locke

Yesterday we kicked off a brand-new sermon series for the Summer called, “For the Bible Tells Me So…” Each week we will look at a specific passage from the Bible that will help form you into the person God would have you become and help you understand your identity in Jesus Christ.

My hope is, that by the time school starts back in the Fall, you and your family will become eager to read your Bible, and understand how to integrate God’s Word into your life.

You ability to grow UP, IN, and OUT hinges on your ability to read, understand, and apply the Word of God to your life.

When Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, Satan attacked him with every temptation he could muster. Jesus withstood those attacks and was able to fight off these temptations with The Word of God (Matthew 4). Look, if Jesus needed Scripture to fight off Satan’s assaults, so do we!

Today, spend some time thank God in prayer for His Word – both The Word Made Flesh (Jesus) and The Word On The Page (or Screen). Think of at least four specific reasons you can be thankful. Also, ask God to give you a greater appreciation, appetite, and awareness of His Word so that you may grow closer to Him.

As a BONUS, here are…

5 Ways to Start Reading Your Bible Today

Take a Breather

Mark 6:30–32 NIV
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Have you ever had one of these days? You know, the days when, with every great intention, you set out to make a dent in your world or at least your inbox. You lay down a vision for your day and wake up ready to kick some tasks and take some notes but before you even sit down at your desk the phone rings…

and then someone walks in your office with a crisis that needs your input…

then something in your workspace or building breaks…

then your kid gets sick at school and you have to pick them up and take them to the doc and then to the pharmacy…

then… and then… and then…

We’ve all been there, right?

This is where Jesus’ ministry staff finds themselves on this particular day. The apostles were right in the thick of this kind of ministry whirlwind. They came to Jesus for a staff meeting to share with him all that they have been doing and to get a little encouragment and development. The problem is that ministry doesn’t stop. Not for staff meetings. Not for office hours. Not when you’re on vacation. Not in the minutes leading up to the beginning of the Sunday servoce. Not. Ever.

Mark reports that people and problems kept interupting this personnel meeting and was so consuming that the apostles looked around a few hours later and realized that they worked right through lunch.

That’s when Jesus says, “Let’s go. Get in the boat. We are taking a break.”

Jesus sensed what they needed was some space, some breathing room. In fact, Jesus himself was probably stretched thin and, no doubt, was still greiving over the execustion of his cousin, John the Baptist earlier in this chapter. In the midst of ministry still left to do, Jesus hit the pause button and had everyone head to the lake.

So Jesus and the staff climb into the boat, cast off, and for a moment… there is quiet. There is stillness. There is no one and no situation vying for their attention. For a moment.

Mark 6:33–37 NIV
But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

The people needing to see Jesus and needing a word or needing healing realized what was happening and ran around the Sea of Galilee to meet them on the other side.

When I visited this region we took a boat across the Sea of Galilee and it took us roughly 45 minutes to an hour.

I’m not sure how long it took Jesus and the apostles to make the trip but I know this: They only had a short break before they were thrown right back into the thick of ministry activity.

Maybe I’m looking to deeply into this story but it resonates with my heart. On the far side of the lake, the apostles were fading fast. They were hungry, bombarded, and seemingly overwhelmed. They get into the boat, receive a short repreive from their work, and then they are seemingly ready for the next wave of pastoral care. On top of that, Jesus doesn’t let them off the hook when it comes to continuing to meet the increased needs of the people they are serving.

“You give them something to eat.”

I hear Jesus saying, “I gave you a chance to rest. It was enough. I am enough. Let’s show them what The Father is capable of.”

Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Culturally this is a season where you might hear Jesus-people talking about how they are giving up ice cream or posting on Facebook about how they aren’t going to be posting on Facebook for a few weeks. The season runs for approximately 40 days leading up to Easter. In the grand scheme of the year and certainity for the totality of your life 40 days isn’t a very long time. I mean, by comparison, the MLB season is 182 days.

What if you looked at the next 40 days as a time of respite and preparation for what is coming next?

For most of us in ministry, Easter Sunday is… a pretty big deal. I know that ministry cannot and will not stop completely for this season but how can you push pause and get in the boat with Jesus for a brief RnR? Maybe you make room in your heart through refraining from an activity or giving up sweets or deactivating your social media platforms or… what ever that looks like for you. Let God breath into you for the next few weeks.

Not because it’s trendy or a tradition or tantalizing but because you need it.

You need to rest because on the other side of the lake, there are more poeple to serve.

On the other side of these 40 days, Jesus needs you to feed his people.

Get Into God’s Word in 2017

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(This morning I shared something with my church family that has me super excited. This year, rather than put out a Bible reading plan at the first of the year, we are going to take the next 52 weeks and help our people engage their Heads and Hearts in diving deeper into God’s Word. We started recording podcasts, planning some seminars, and reached out to other ministries for resources to help us get into God’s Word so that God’s Word can get into us. From time to time, I’ll share our journey here on the blog. If you would like to join us on this journey, grab your Bible and dive in! I’d love to travel alongside you.)

In 6 days we usher in a new year and say goodbye to this one. What if, one year from today, you could look back and say that in 2017 you grew in your personal relationship with Jesus, in your intimate friendships with God’s people, and in radical influence with those who don’t know Jesus? What will you have done to make these things a reality?

I believe that there are many ways to growing in each of these areas but there is one thing that you can do to grow in all three of these areas simultaneously: That is to passionately and intentionally engage in reading your Bible.

God’s Word is the one place where we learn about who God is, who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. We read about and enter into the story of God’s people from creation and into eternity. We hear the voice of Jesus calling us to mission and He sends the Holy Spirit to transform and empower us for spreading the Good News to a broken, hurting world desperate for life.

When we read God’s Word, it changes us and the world around us.

Maybe you’ve read through the Bible every year. Maybe this is the first year you’ve considered making the commitment to read everyday. Regardless of whether this is your first time or the hundredth time, we want to help you get into God’s Word so that God’s Word can get into you.

Starting this week, we are launching a brand-new initiative to help you engage with God’s Word on two fronts so that you can read with your Head and your Heart. We want to help you understand what your reading and encourage you to apply it to your lives. Through a daily Bible reading plan, audio podcast teaching, resources, and events we want to make 2017 the year of Biblical Engagement at Lakeside.

A ministry called The Bible Project has graciously allowed us access to use their video content as a launching point for us to understand God’s Word in a creative and powerful way. The Bible, written over thousands of years, by dozens of authors, writing in every imaginable style and genre is God’s Word about His Son, Jesus. It tells a unifying story of how God, through Jesus, rescues and redeems His people in order that we might have a real relationship with Him today and into eternity. The Bible Project, using sound teaching and creative storytelling helps to make sense of the larger narrative of God’s Word in a way that is meaningful and immensely practical.

Each week, we will release an audio podcast  (and in the coming days and weeks we will release through iTunes as well as other internet resources) filled with conversations, teaching content, and encouragement for your journey into God’s Word. We will also link to a Bible Project video or other resource to help you grasp what is happening each week as you read and engage with God’s Word. Throughout the year, we will also provide the whole church with teaching and tips to help you get the most out of reading and applying God’s Word in your life.

This is the final week of 2016 so to prepare yourself for 2017, check out the first podcast (bonus: I linked the 2nd podcast below too), the reading plan, and a video from the Bible Project giving you an overview of what the Bible is all about:

Podcast Episode 1: Get Into God’s Word
Podcast Episode 2: Genesis 1-11
The Bible Project: Read Scripture
Bible Reading Plan

Other Resources
The Bible App
Read Scripture App

Nothing gets me more amped than thinking about what is possible when people meet with Jesus and begin to live like Jesus. That’s what happens when we read God’s Word. Again, imagine the possibilities of what is possible if we as a church body passionately and intentionally seek the voice of God and allow Him to grow us Up, In, and Out this year. Anything is possible when you get into God’s Word and God’s Word gets into you.

peace,
Micheal 

2017 > 2016

bye-registration-open

Imagine a year from now…

You’re looking back on your year thinking to yourself: “What a year I’ve had!”

Goals in all areas of your life were getting ticked off your list.

Health goals. Financial goals. Relationship goals.

Goals you’d been trying to accomplish for years. Finally behind you.

And it all started with this:

Best Year Ever 2017

I have been using Hyatt’s Best Year Ever system for the last 2 years to make significant progress on some of my biggest goals in my life.

When Hyatt’s group asked me to get the word out about BYE I didn’t hesitate because it has made such a difference in my life.

I’ve learned how to set AACTIONable goals that are clear and consistent with what I’ve determined is most important to me.

I’ve learned how to keep my goals in front of me at all times in the year making it harder to ignore or forget.

I’ve learned how to celebrate when I reach my goals and how to readjust or identify what might have gone wrong in missing the mark in a healthy way so that I can regroup and move forward.

I really think that if you are serious about making 2017 a better year than the dumpster fire that was 2016… Best Year Ever is for you!

Peace,
Micheal

P.S. You can’t just “hope” that 2017 will be your
best year ever. You need a roadmap. This
will show you how.

Check out Best Year Ever today!

Letter to The Next President

letter-to-the-next-president

Over the last few weeks, I have been preaching a sermon series entitled, Good Faith: Being a Christian in a World That Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme. It is based, in part, on the book of the same name by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman – which you should get and read TODAY. In yesterday’s message, I told our people that, as men and women of Good Faith, rather than wringing our hands in worry over the election on November 8, we needed to commit to raising our hands in prayer on November 9th and beyond. Regardless of who is elected President of the United States tomorrow, disciples of Jesus Christ have a greater calling that goes on regardless of the person who resides in the White House. Below you will find the full transcript of the letter I wrote to the Next President. I am committed to doing these 3 things in the name of Jesus and I invite you to join me.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

After a grueling and (at times) unbelievable campaign, you have received the votes necessary to become the President of The Untied States. Now the hard work begins: Putting together your leadership team, selecting Cabinet members, connecting with Senators and Congressmen, laying out your agenda for the first 100 days and beyond. The pressure from political allies and foes alike is, no doubt, immense. You certainly have no shortage of voices to listen to. However, we would like to add our voices to the mix and write you a short letter of encouragement explaining to you our commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ, to you, and to the country we call home.

We are a group of Christ-followers who meet together for worship, fellowship, and service to our community which is just south of the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex. We seek to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ in our relationship with Him, our friendship with one another, and influence with those around us. We strive to be men and women of Good Faith – people who seek to love well, grounded in our convictions, and living out the Gospel so that those we come in contact with may experience abundant life in Christ Jesus.

As you step into the Oval Office, we have some things that we would like to share with you as you begin to serve the great people of this great nation. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to a young preacher that he is mentoring. His letter, 1Timothy, details for young Timothy, how a leader is to serve, mold, and lead a young congregation to faithfulness and fruitfulness in an ever-changing world. In chapter 2 verses 1-7, Paul says,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Based on this passage, there are 3 things we would like you to know about what we as a church are committed to do for you over the next 4 years.

First, we will pray for you. The tremendous amount of stress that being President will put on your heart, your mind, your family, and those around you will be more than you can bear on your own. God’s Word tells us to pray to God for His wisdom in difficult situations and trials. God tells us to pray for our friends and our enemies. To pray when we are sick and to pray when we are thankful. In prayer, we connect to God, those we are praying for, and our own hearts. We are committing to you that we will pray for you by name. We will pray for your family. We will pray for wisdom and strength.

Secondly, we will work for Peace and Prosperity. In the Old Testament, God’s people were about to fall into the hands of their enemies and be carted off to live in exile. The prophet Jeremiah, speaking the Word of God to God’s people, tells them how God expects his people to live amongst their new neighbors. He says them to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” We are committed to working for the peace and prosperity of the world around us. It seems as though our country and the world around us are more divided today than at any other time in recent memory. Our God is the God of Peace and his son, Jesus, is the Prince of Peace. Peace isn’t just the absence of war or violence, it is a wholeness and state of being that is a gift from God. Prosperity doesn’t just come in the form of coins and monetary notes. Prosperity is the abundant life that Jesus offers to all who will believe in Him. We are committed to the flourishing of the American people and every other human being on the planet. Rather than be divisive, we will work for peace. Rather than hoarding our blessings, we will seek to be a blessing.

Finally, we will continue to proclaim the goodness and the glory of Jesus Christ. We believe that the pathway to life is through Jesus Christ. Our faith is a personal matter but it is not a private matter. Throughout history, men and women have lived and proclaimed their Good Faith which was formed by Jesus and the Bible – the Word made flesh and the Word of god passed down to us. These people of Good Faith created hospitals to care for the sick because Christ healed us from the greatest sickness of all: sin. They created organizations to help the poor and the down-trodden because Christ cared for us. They took in orphans and gave them families because our Heavenly Father took us in. They fought to free slaves and pushed for human rights because all men and women are created in the image of God. Thank God that men and women of Good Faith didn’t keep their faith to themselves. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are obligated to those who reject God and those who accept Him, both the wise and the unwise, the haves and the have-nots, red, yellow, black and white – that is why we are eager to write you this letter. For we are not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Congratulations on your victory, Mr./Madame President.

Our prayers are with you.

4 Things to Pray For Today

1tim-2_1-4

When I was a Campus Minister, one of my duties was to lead a prayer over the school’s intercom system every morning. If you think you feel inadequate or inarticulate when it comes to praying, I promise you that praying over an intercom will amplify, not just your voice, but your anxiety as well.

If you are anything like me, you desire to pray and connect with The Father through this amazing avenue of prayer but sometimes prayer gets difficult. I get distracted. I get frustrated. I forget. I just flat out don’t know what to say some days.

In our Wednesday Night Men’s and Women’s class we are challenging one another to go deeper in our relationship with Jesus, one another, and the world around us. Prayer isn’t about getting things from God but about getting into relationship with Him. Just as your relationship with your spouse or family members grows through communication, your relationship with God grows as you spend time speaking to and listening to The Father.

If you are struggling with prayer or don’t know what to pray about, here are 4 Things You Can Pray For Right Now:

God’s GLORY
If there is one truth that will change your perspective on prayer it is this: Prayer is not about you. Prayer is all about God. Spend time praying that God will receive all the glory that is due Him. Pray that He will receive glory through your life, your decisions, in your relationships. When Jesus prayed that God’s will be done, he was praying that God would be glorified through his life and sacrifice.

In what areas of your life or this world would you like to see God glorified?

PERSONAL life
Jesus tells his disciples pray for their “daily bread.” Jesus isn’t just talking about carbs and calories here. He tells us that we can come to God to ask Him to provide for us whatever we need for each day. Some days I need God to give me rest. Some days I need help with my depression and anxiety. Some days I need more wisdom. Whatever I need, I know God provides. Here’s a list of things you can talk to God about:

– your joys
– your struggles
– your spiritual life
– your relationships
– your emotions
– your intellect
– your health
– your home
– your work
– your rest

What do you need to make it through the day today?

PEOPLE we know and love
Prayer doesn’t just change your relationship with God. It also changes your relationship with those that God has put in your life. Praying for others is one way we live out the golden rule – do for others what you would want them to do for you. When you pray for others, you move your focus off of yourself and on to another person. Your family, friends, and even your barista at Starbucks are all dealing with the same “daily bread” needs in their own lives that you are dealing with. Don’t close out your prayers today without praying for the people God has put in your life. If you don’t know what to pray for, send them a text and ask them. Chances are they will be quick to give you something from their heart that you can pray for… and they may even pray for you!

Who will you pray for today?

THE WORLD around us
A great Irish poet once said, “It’s no secret that the stars are falling from the sky / It’s no secret that are world is in darkness tonight.” Ideed the world around us seems to get a little darker every single day. Prayer is a small candle that you light in defiance of that darkness. With each candle, the darkness goes away a little more. With each candle, the world gets a little brighter.

What big issue going on in the world could use your prayers today.

I hope that these 4 ideas give you a little encouragement and provide for you some content to take into your prayer time with The Father today. If you want to dive a little deeper into your prayer life, I’ve listed a few suggestions for prayer resources below. Also, if there is any way I can pray for you today, hop over to Twitter or Facebook and send me a message. I would be honored to pray for you.

RECOMMENDED READING
Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
The Autobiography of George Müller by George Müller
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Armchair Mystic by Mark E Thibodeaux
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
The Book of Common Worship, Daily Prayer
2000 Years of Prayer

Is there a book on prayer that I left off? Do you have another suggestion for a resource on prayer? Leave a comment below and help us all learn a little more about growing our relationship with God.

Time to Shine

In my sermon yesterday I tried my best to address some of the problems we see happening around us as it relates to issues of race, divisiveness, and hateful rhetoric.

Recently, Rasmussen revealed the results of a poll that said 60% of likely voters believe that race relations in America are worse than ever before. The poll was clear that “We the people” are deeply divided. We are even divided on the solutions for how to address these divisions with some advocating for more Governmental laws and oversight and some wanting to see more personal responsibility and a strengthening of the home.

Obviously, I believe that what the world needs more than anything is the Good News of Jesus. The results of the pain and hurt that we see daily on our television screens and read about on the internet are indicative of what happens when a culture removes God – the author of life, liberty, and freedom – and attempts to pursue these things apart from Him. We pay lip service to the Father and we offer up hashtag prayers and then the world continues on its own way searching for peace that it cannot find outside of God’s will and ways.

What God wants is for us to TURN from our sin and our ways of living on our own, to ABIDE with Him in relationship, faith, and trust, to EXPERIENCE forgiveness, grace, and love in Christ Jesus, and be transformed by His Holy Spirit.

Two thousand years ago, the churches in Galatia were dealing with the same divides that we are dealing with today. Fighting over race (Jew and Gentile), arguments between the genders (male and female), and class divides (slave and free) were all causing pain, disunity, and frustration. In Galatians 3:26-29 Paul boldly issues this statement:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The Word of God is crystal clear… No matter our differences – skin color, economic background, or sex – we are ONE in Christ. Jesus has leveled the playing field. Jews are not greater than Gentiles. Men are not better than women. Freemen and Slaves can share in table fellowship with one another because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Admittedly, this is the ideal of the Kingdom and we aren’t quite there yet. This is one of those “already/not yet” realities that we are still striving to achieve. We’ve seen progress though. I believe that the power of this statement was used mightily by abolitionist to once and for all break the chains of slavery. The scriptures were never meant to be used to declare “men good, woman bad” but thankfully this passage flies in the face of that backwards thinking. The last year or so has tested our resolve to be a “post-racial” society. We, like Dr. King, still dream of a day when we will judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

So what can we do? How can we work toward making Paul’s declaration about unity applicable to our lives today?

Yesterday I made the case that in order to be RECONCILED to one another we must REFLECT God in RELATIONSHIP.

God is One yet He is also three. This is the majesty and mystery we call The Trinity. God is One and God is relationship. He exists in relationship as The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. Stephen Saemunds in his book Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service draws from the Gospel of John to unpack the loving and working relationship that exists between The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. He says that 4 things are evident in the character and nature of the Trinitarian relationship:

Full EQUALITY
The Father, The Son, and The Spirit each have separate identities and roles but each of them treat one another with full and mutual equality.

Glad SUBMISSION
We see glad submission to one another in the way that The Son “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” but submitted to the will of the Father and willingly went to the cross.

Joyful INTIMACY
John 1:18 declares that Jesus is Father’s only Son and is “close to the Father’s heart” and in John 10:30 Jesus says that he and the Father “are One.”

Mutual DEFERENCE 
John 3:35 tells us that The Father loves the Son and, even though He created all things, The Father “has placed everything in (Jesus’) hands.”

All of this to say:

The way that God exists in relationship has great implications for how we ought to live in relationship with one another. 

Imagine the impact in our churches and in the culture if we reflected these characteristics in our relationships with one another. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we have been made in the image of God. What if we really lived out this calling embedded deep within our DNA by the God of relationship who exists in relationship?

Imagine if we treated everyone around us with Full EQUALITY seeing everyone as a person created by God in the image of God.

Imagine living in Glad SUBMISSION to one another and doing away with selfish living and self-serving decision making.

Imagine what Joyful INTIMACY would look like as we draw closer to the ideal of enjoying unbroken and joyful fellowship together.

In a world devoid of honor and humility, imagine what would happen if we lived in Mutual DEFERENCE to one another setting aside our own preferences for the sake of others.

There is hope.

Recently Barna released results from a survey that said 73% of US adults believe that the church has a role to play in racial reconciliation. 73% of the country is looking to God’s people to reflect God in relationship and point the way to life in the midst of a desperate and dying world.

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2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

It is time for us to reflect to goodness and the glory of The Father, The Son, and The Spirit and to make a difference in this world.

It’s time to shine, Church!

Parents, It is YOUR iPhone

Ok parents,

It’s Christmas afternoon. The living room is still a disaster. It looks like Hallmark threw up with tinsel, ribbons, boxes, and wrapping paper strewn all over the place. You’ve been sitting on the couch basking in that “I’M THE BEST PARENT EVER” glow, patting yourself on the back for getting your kid the thing every kid wants… A new iPhone!

They’ve deserved it. They made good decisions this semester. They were good to their little brother, brought home decent grades, and you’ve really gone back and forth with pulling the trigger on finally getting them their own iPhone. Good on you.

Except one thing… it isn’t their iPhone.

You’re Mom. You’re Dad. It is YOUR iPhone that YOU are allowing them to use. Your responsibility to them didn’t end when they flashed you that smile, hugged you tight, and put in those white earbuds and ran upstairs to set it up.

An iPhone (or any smartphone/iDevice) is a powerful tool and a huge responsibility – for both your child and for you.

Do you know how it works?

Do you know what content they have access too?

Which apps they are loading on to it, right now? 

Will you keep tabs on what they are viewing, listening to, and sharing with their friends?

If it is primarily for music (an iTouch), how much access do you want them to have online?

Have you given them some expectations, limits, or guidelines?

You are the parent. You are ridiculously in charge! Don’t make excuses like, “I don’t do technology.” & “I don’t want to cramp their privacy.”

If you don’t show them how to use it properly – with wisdom, discretion, and responsibility – I promise you, someone else will show them how to use it any which way but loose.

So, check out the articles that I’ve linked below and get familiar with the amazing, powerful, potentially great, potentially dangerous device you just handed your pre-teen.

Sit them down and work with them on setting it up, laying expectations out, and, if YOU decide, enable restrictions and forbid certain content from being installed or viewed.

It could get a little uncomfortable for you. Warning: You will sound like your own parents at some point during this discussion. It. Will. Be. OK. I promise.

You’re the parent. It isn’t their iPhone. It is YOURS.

You call the shots. You are ridiculously in charge.

Apple’s Built in Parental Controls

Parental Controls in 2min Video

Keep Your Child Safe on the iPod Touch

Beginner’s Guide to iTunes

The Complete Guide to Transferring your Content to a new iPod touch

To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love

Example of a Social Media Contract

Catalyst Dallas Highlights

I had a full weekend.

I had the opportunity to attend both The Catalyst Conference in Dallas with some of my team and than a Men’s Conference with some great dudes from our church. I am exhausted, inspired, spent, fired up, sleepy, and wide-awake. Many of you in ministry and leadership know exactly the kind of tension I am feeling right now. These events are often like trying drink from a firehose. With so much information and inspiration coming at you you grab what you can, take some notes, sing loud and proud, and then find some time over the next few days to ruminate on and incorporate what you’ve learned into your real world.

The theme of Catalyst this year was A Community of Change Makers. I attend the Atlanta event back in October and was excited to take a handful of our ministry leaders to the event at Gateway Church here in the metroplex. The major emphasis from every speaker was that to truly lead others effectively, a leader must lead him or herself first.

Here is a fundamental truth that is so important for us to learn and live out:

Who we are as leaders is more important that what we do.

For today, I just want to share a few of my favorite quotes from the weekend – with a couple of Don Miller & Bob Goff quotes from the Men’s Conference. I hope that these thoughts give you some motivation for your week ahead. Be sure to comment on the exit question at the bottom.

Whatever you have to do today, Love. Everybody. Always.

Andy Stanley

  • 2 questions every leader must ask: 1) Who am I? 2) What breaks my heart?
  • Great leaders make things better for their people.
  • You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart.
  • Many years from now, what would you like people to line up to thank you for?

Lisa TerKeurst

  • External Change requires Internal Shifts.
  • The 1st Five – give the first five minutes of your day to the Lord.
  • God is good and God is good at being God.

Dr Caroline Leaf

  • Your brain is nothing compared to your mind.
  • Change you mind and you can change your brain.
  • You can listen to God or Google and Gossip. (Non-toxic thoughts vs. Toxic Thoughts)

Eugene Cho

  • God doesn’t want to change the world. He wants to change us.
  • Act upon the thing that God puts on your hearts.
  • Don’t be more in love with the IDEA of change. Actually Change.
  • Don’t quit. Persevere. (Note: Apparently Cho had been ill and traveled from Seattle to Dallas. He had to stop part way through to take a breath and recover.)

Robert Morris

  • We may be born selfish but we are re-born generous.
  • Do not GIVE in order to GET. Wrong motivation.
  • Mammon promises us things only God can give. Life. Peace. Joy.
  • People don’t need money. They need God.
  • Abel gave of his first fruits. Cain gave what he wanted, when he wanted, in the way he wanted.
  • We are the most like God when we GIVE.

Robert Madu

  • When you encounter Jesus you always walk away with more than you expected.
  • Fatherhood is the best ‘hood.
  • There is a vast difference between knowing Church and knowing Jesus.
  • Jesus wasn’t just a good man but a God-Man.
  • When someone is lowered through the roof… you should probably shut that sermon down.
  • When your EXPERIENCE doesn’t line up with your EXPECTATIONS God is probably giving you a REVELATION. Pay attention to what he is telling you.

Danielle Strickland (The Highlight of Catalyst for me)

  • Everyone wants to change the world. Not everyone is willing to get up (early) to do it.
  • You know which surfer catches the wave? The one in the water.
  • Posture yourself/Posture your life in such a way that when the wave comes, you can catch it.

Rich Wilkenson Jr

  • God hasn’t called us to hard things. God has called us to do IMPOSSIBLE things.
  • Don’t let your past failures or your fear of future failures keep you from following where Jesus is calling you.
  • Don’t take a fragment of failure with you to the next place.
  • Criticism can get on you but don’t let it get IN YOU.

Bob Goff

  • You are not defined by your worst day or your greatest success. You are defined by LOVE.
  • When we live under the banner of Christ it doesn’t just change some things, it changes EVERYTHING.
  • I’m just trying to be the next humblest version of myself.
  • Love. Everybody. Always.
  • People turn into who others say they are.
  • You get the green lights you get.
  • God wants us to live right on the edge of YIKES.
  • It’s not about MANNING UP. It’s about SHOWING UP!

Don Miller

  • Tie your dreams with the dreams of others. Good stories involve other people.
  • Think of Joker’s face and Vader’s limbs. They didn’t do the hard work needed to bring about real healing.
  • We are in the middle of Act II. It’s difficult. There is no resolution. In the midst of conflict.
  • Look at the people God calls into LEADERSHIP. You have not done worse than them.
  • Heroes are in it for the sake of others.

Exit Question:

What is the most important leadership lesson you are currently try to live out in your leadership context?

The Fifteenth Year

15 years ago I had just returned from a semester overseas studying abroad in Athens, Greece. My small Christian college seemed even smaller after exploring the world but I was ready to get back to classes and earn my degree in Youth and Family Ministry.

That’s when I got the call.

A graduate student had recommended me to a small church just outside of Little Rock to serve as their part-time youth minister. He told me about the church and all that the job entailed. I would teach classes on Sunday, Sunday Night, and Wednesday night. I would also occasionally lead singing and participate in the life of the church.

He said that the job was mine if I wanted it.

I said, “Yes!”

With that invitation and with my agreement to work and serve that little church, I officially began as a full-time minister following God’s calling in my life.

So much has happened over the last 15 years. 

We have moved from AR to AL and back to TX. I have taught hundreds of classes, led thousands of songs, read countless commentaries, and attended numerous conferences. I’ve held new born babies, prayed over men and women going into surgery, spent late nights in the ER, and stood by those who have lost loved ones. I’ve welcomed new families in the church and said goodbye to others. I’ve been to the mountain top and I’ve trudged through the dark valleys. I have seen God work wonders and I have seen Him transform myself and those around me.

My focus for this year is Fitness.

I want to be Spiritually Fit.

I want to be Physically Fit.

I want to be Emotionally Fit.

I want to be Intellectually Fit.

As I think about what it means to be fit in ministry and in life I remember the challenge Paul shares with the church on Corinth:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)

Over the last few weeks I have been praying over and planning some pretty ambitious goals for this year. I feel God is calling me to abandon the average life and ministry in order to go deeper into His Story and His Kingdom. No one stumbles into fitness. No one wanders around the track and crosses the finish line. To run the race and finish well takes training, focus, passion, and faith in the One who provides the strength needed to endure.

I live a great life.

I get to live out my calling doing the thing that I love with people that I love for a Savior that I love.

As I begin my 15th year in full-time ministry I have never been more excited about what God may have in store. I’m ready to dig deeper, reach higher, abandon average, and run the race full out.

Here’s to the start of another 15 years in ministry.