Category Archives: Ethos

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:

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.

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.

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.”

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.


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!

The Difference


I want to write.

There I said it.

I want to write books and challenge people’s thinking and encourage their hearts to live lives of greatness and significance.

I want to write to challenge and change.

There is a difference in saying and doing. In wanting and producing.

The difference is in the DISCIPLINE.

The discipline to get up early and bang out some paragraphs.

The discipline to put down the phone and pick up a pen.

Tbe discipline to turn off the tv and turn on my imagination.

The discipline to quiet my mind long enough to cull through my thoughts.

The discipline to quit consuming that news story about the election or that that article about some far off tech or that article about stupid cat photos.

The discipline to create.

The discipline to do the work.

The discipline to put something out there. Regardless of wether it is good, mediocre, brilliant, mundane.

I can say I want to write.

I can say I want to create.

I can say whatever I want.

So quit just wanting. Quite just saying.

You want to be a runner… RUN.

You want to be a singer… SING.

You want to be whatever… so do whatever that is.

The DIFFERENCE is in the DISCIPLINE to actually DO.

I want to be a writer… so I’m going to WRITE. That’s what writers DO.

In Memoriam

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and

who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic
Paris, France
April 23, 1910

To all those in the arena who have stumbled; who have been marred by dust and sweat and blood; who have fought valiantly; who have come up short; who have spent themselves on behalf of others; who dared greatly; who know both defeat and victory…

The credit belongs to you.

The War Within

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” – Winston Churchill

Every feel like you just can’t get any traction? No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, no matter the preparation? We all have plans and visions but often life gets in the way and we abandon these hopes and dreams before we can even get started.

Take for example what happened to me yesterday morning: I wanted to schedule a mid-morning workout so that I could get in a run before lunch. In order to do that I had to plan my day, get up a bit earlier, eat a good breakfast, get the kids off to school, and crush my morning tasks before 11am.

I hit everyone of those targets like a boss! As I gathered up my keys and wallet to head to the gym I suddenly realized that I left my hat at home. (I’ve been growing out my hair and my luxurious mane keeps getting in my face.) “Oh well, good try. I guess you’ll have to wait until later to run.”

I pushed back. “No worries,” I thought. “I’ll swing by the house and grab one. It’s on the way.”

As I pulled out of the parking lot I remembered that I had left my gym lock on my desk. “Oh well, better luck next time. Don’t want someone to steal your stuff.”

I let out an audible sigh groan and determined that I would grab my hat from the house, head back to the building, grab the lock, and then, finally, get to the gym.

Once at the gym, I put on my running gear and then put on my wireless headphones. Dead.

“Are you kidding me!?!?!” I thought. I wanted to leave and come back later. Fortunately, I pictured Eric Liddell kicking me in the shin for giving up because the battery had died on my headphones so that didn’t detain me for too long. (And Yes, in my vision Liddell kicked me dramatically and in slow motion.)

Now, I was about 15-20 minutes past the time I had wanted to start my workout and as I headed to my favorite treadmill I got a call from my wife. I stepped to the side to answer my phone and watched as another gentleman got on my favorite treadmill and start walking backwards on it. He. was. walking. backwards.

“Ok! That’s it! I’m done. Maybe I’ll come back tonight!”

That’s when it hit me. The Voices WITHIN me are often louder than the voices around me.

Nobody in that gym was telling me to pack it in and give up. Nobody was encouraging me to put my jeans back on and go get a cheeseburger. No, the loudest voice of discouragement and of self-doubt was coming from inside my own head and heart.

The Voice Within was telling me that I was too messed up, that I was incomplete, and that I was lacking what I needed to fulfill the hopes and plans I had for my day.

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, calls this The Voice of Resistance. The Resistance is “the most toxic force on the planet. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.” The Resistance doesn’t come to play- it comes to destroy.

So how do we silence this Voice of Resistance? How can we defend ourselves from something so insidious and debilitating.

We overcome the Voice of Resistance by remembering our Identity. Author Jeff Goins believes that once we have a clear understanding about our identity, that clarity can and will move us to action.

In order to quiet those negative thoughts and feelings inside of me today, I had to remind myself who I was and why I was at the gym in the first place.

I was there because I AM A RUNNER.

I may not be very fast but, I AM A RUNNER.
I may not have a hat today but, I AM A RUNNER.
My headphones may not work but, I AM A RUNNER.
I may not feel like it but, I AM A RUNNER.

That’s my identity. I have a log of all my runs, some race bibs, and a couple of medals that says that’s who I am. When I presented the facts of who I am to The Resistance, he left me until a more opportune time. I got on another treadmill and hit the start button.

Walt Disney once said, “The difference in winning or losing is most often not quitting.”

What ever you do today, what ever obstacle you face from within or without, what ever voice is telling you to pack it in… REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.



As I wrap up the last few minutes in my office on this final day of 2013, I wanted to post a thought or two here before I power-down the Mac, lock the doors, and head home for the evening.

I keep thinking back over the previous 364 days and I’ve come to the conclusion that this past year was a bridging year for me and my family. We had to cross a mighty river and we experienced a myriad of emotions, setbacks, triumphs, near-tragedies, exhaustion, much grace, and lots of mercy.

All this to get us from where we are now to where God intends for us to be.

I look forward to the new year because I can see a hint, a glimmer, of hope and God-sized possibilities. This vision has been born out of the crucible of this past year. I wouldn’t trade the last 12 months for anything because I believe God gave us this past year to lay a foundation for what is to come.

I’m ready to live in 2014.

My prayer is that you are too.

Let’s live a better story together as we move forward into whatever God has in store for us this next year.


Only One Life

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

– CT Studd

Chasing Down Regret


That’s what it cost in the fall of 1999 to register and compete in the Athens Marathon. Or, you know, as the Greeks call it, THE MARATHON.

Studying abroad afforded me a tremendous amount of opportunity but none were as intriguing to me as the chance to run in the sandals of Pheidippides. Even though there were only a very few weeks available to train, a handful of my classmates eagerly signed up to run the original 26.2. They were of all shapes and and sizes and ran the gamut from fit to not-so-fit. A couple of the guys banded together and vowed to cross the finish line together. They wanted to know if I was going to join them.


When our plane landed in Athens I had a crisp one hundred dollar bill folded and hidden away in my wallet. When it came time to decide wether or not to run the marathon, I pulled out old Ben and contemplated my decision.

I can’t run a marathon.
What if I can’t keep up?
What if I hold everyone else back?
What if I don’t finish?
How embarrassing fill it be when I fail?

These and a half dozen other thoughts and questions rushed in and flled my heart with fear and anxiety. I calmly folded my money away and made an excuse that $75 was too big of a risk to take.

A few weeks later I watched as every single person that signed up for the marathon crossed the finish line. I was thrilled for them and I cheered as they entered into the Olympic Stadium, stepped across the line, and took ahold of their medals. I was so happy for them… and ashamed and disappointed in myself.

I was 19 years old and I consider that decision not to run that marathon as one of the biggest regrets in my life.

One of my favorite books is In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. I can honestly say that reading that book changed the way I see myself, my Jesus, and the world around me.

The book centers around the idea of seizing every opportunity that God places before you in this life. It’s about looking past the risk and putting your trust in the One who can carry you through. Mark uses the obscure story of Benaiah from 2Samuel 23 as the foundation for this bold and courageous book.

“Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.” – 2 Samuel 23:20

Ultimately Benaiah became head of David’s security team. Mark believes that God used events like pursuing a lion during a snow storm to prepare and develop Benaiah for his ultimate purpose. He makes the case that the greatest regrets in your life will not be when you took the risk or when you chose to place your trust in God to help you overcome an obstacle. Your greatest regrets in life will be the lions you didn’t chase.

Last week I turned 33. For the last few months I have been slowing preparing and training for something big. Despite a few obstacles like illness and having my appendix removed, I have been logging miles and making plans.

Today, I took the biggest leap yet on my way to chasing down that lion that has haunted me for the last 14 years. I registered for a marathon. 

On January 12, 2014, I plan on crossing the finish line and taking that lion to the woodshed.

Between now and then, I’m praying like it all depends on God and working like it depends on me. In the few months that I have been “training” I have seen God move me and develop me. I am learning so much more about myself and I’ve even captured some insight about leadership and ministry.

I ask that you pray for me as I move forward toward this dream and Big Hairy Audacious God Given Goal (BHAGGG).

I’ll leave you with Batterson’s Lion Chaser Manifesto. My prayer for you is that you will, with God’s guidance and help, chase down the lions in your life. Forget 14 years – one minute is too long to live with regret. Let us live boldly. Loudly. Audaciously. Not for ourselves but for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. Chase the lion!

21 Days To Experiment With

Today, was the first day in my 21 day challenge to Become a Morning Person.

For most of my life I have been a Night Owl. However, recently I have been winding down much earlier and when I have been up late I have felt less productive than in the past.

The biggest change though has come from not experiencing the effects of my insomnia. I was diagnosed with simple insomnia over 10 years ago and have had to live with the fact that there are some nights when I don’t sleep. Over the course of the last 2 years, I can probably count on two hands the number of times that I have stayed up, involuntarily, for nights on end. I feel as though, by the grace of God, my sleeplessness is under control.

The truth is I love being up early. Some may find that hard to believe but I really do. Once I’m awake, it’s on brother! I feel more productive in the mornings and I feel more creative before noon than any other time in the day. I recently read some research that claimed Morning People make more money, are more satisfied, and live longer. Struggling through sleepless nights never made me money, never made me feel satisfied, and never ever left me feeling healthier. This year I’ll turn 33 and life is too short to continue down a path that leaves you frustrated, drained, and weak.

Scientists say that it takes around 21 days for a new habit to take hold. Becoming a Morning Person isn’t a resolution. This is an experiment.

I can do anything for 21 days so I thought I should give this morning thing a chance and see how it fits on me. If after 21 days if I do not see any difference or benefit to being up before the birds than I’ll go back to staying up late.

Life is a series of experiments. Some work. Some don’t. Keep what works. Throw out what doesn’t.

Ditch the resolutions and start experimenting. I’ll be here when you wake up tomorrow.

What lifestyle change do you want to experiment with? Leave your comments in the comment section or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. Let’s be lab partners for the next 3 weeks!

What Story Are You Telling?

This post was originally published on April 24, 2009.

In their book, Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges state clearly that to lead like Jesus you must become a servant. In Matthew 20:25-28 we see Jesus telling his disciples the difference between leadership as defined by the world and leadership as defined by the Father.

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 TNIV)

Leading like Jesus requires us to tell a new story. Right now, the story most men are telling to their families is that a) Work comes before family b) My relationship with my child will always be strained and c) “Me” time is more important than “We” time

We need to be telling a different story.

Don Miller tells of a time when he met with a good friend over coffee. His friend begins pouring his heart out to Don telling him about how his marriage is suffering, that they are struggling to pay off the bills, and, on top of all that, his 13 yr. old daughter has turned goth and is dating a real loser. They found pot in her room and they are fearful of all the destructive behavior they are beginning to see in her life. His friend tells Don that he has done everything he can- from threatening to ground her to keeping her locked in the house to sending her to youth group (the horror!). The results have been less than encouraging and seem to have driven her further and further away. His friend felt frustrated and felt like a failure.

Don thinks for a minute absorbing all that his friend has said. “I think,” says Don, “that your daughter doesn’t like the story you’re telling her.”

No doubt his friend became a bit perturbed by this answer. Don says, “Ok wait. Hear me out. We are all designed to live in a story. Your daughter wants to live in a story where she is wanted and accepted and needed and loved- hence the loser boyfriend. She is looking for excitement, risk, and adventure- hence the drugs. She is looking for an identity and a purpose- hence the new, goth look. That’s the story she is living in.”

Don then challenges his friend by asking him, “What story are you telling her as her father? Maybe you need to tell a better story.”

The friend thinks about what Don has said for a few days. He then calls a family meeting. He gathers his wife, goth daughter, and younger son together and tells them that he has a project for them. He had contacted an orphanage in Mexico without first telling anyone in his family. This orphanage needed a new building and it was going to cost them $20,000-$25,000 to build a new one. “I don’t know how we are going to raise this money- we are up to our eyeballs in debt,” he tells his family, “but we really need to do something about this and I would really like it if we could do this together. Oh, and we only have two years to do this in. Any ideas?”

That night didn’t end well as you can probably imagine. The family stormed off and Don’s friend was left in the living room all by himself. However about a week later his son comes to him and says that since they will be going to Mexico they will all need passports and could he begin looking at getting the passports. Then his wife comes and offers to sell one of the cars. Then his daughter comes and says that she posted about this plan on MySpace and that she was asking her friends to do the same so that they could begin taking donations.

Two weeks later the boyfriend is gone, she is no longer isolating herself from the family, and they all start to turn the corner in their relationships to one another.

So what happened? The daughter (and everyone else in the family) got caught up with the new story. They all felt needed and felt that they had a purpose. They became the heroes instead of the bit players. They knew that they were called to something greater than themselves. They had become the servants rather than the served.

As parents, as adults, as leaders we are the ones that initiate the story in our families and churches. It is up to us to get caught up in the story God is calling us to and to guide our loved ones into that story.

So the challenge before you is to ask, “What story am I telling?”

Is your story one of self-service or self-sacrifice? The first one is a pretty lousy tale.

The latter was told by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like–minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1-11 TNIV)


The month of May was just one of those months.

Personally, we had a baby and I was laid low with an illness that is still nagging me.

Professionally, we had an insane number of events and opportunities for ministry to attend to.

This past week we finished up Work Camp, an event that takes months to plan and execute.

This week, I feel like I can breathe again.

Seasons of business happen to us all. When you are overwhelmed and pushed to your limit for a small about of time you are able to survive. It is when you allow these seasons to become the norm – that’s when you get into trouble. You can sustain being in the red line for a short amount of time but stay there too long and you blow a gasket… or your adrenal glands.

Don’t be that person who is constantly busy and overworked. Build into you year times of rest and rejuvenation. Avoid moving from project to project and went to event. Let your mental/physical/emotional field lay fallow for a season.

Your effectiveness and your ability to deliver will increase the next time you have to push through a difficult and busy season.