Ready for some football?


And so it begins.

Another year of setting lineups and managing our pretend teams. Another year of hilarious rituals, memorized chants and victory celebrations. And, yes, another year of grown men dressing up in their favorite team’s colors as if we are participating in some weird seventeen week version of “grownup Halloween.”

Yes, it’s time to start another NFL season and I can’t wait to hear those all familiar words… “Are you ready for some football?!” How about you? You ready? How’s your team gonna do this year? Have you gone through the schedule? Have you picked your wins and loses? Have you circled the key dates? Tell me…are you ready?

Before the first kick-off tonight and all the high fives begin to be exchanged – can I ask something of us? For those of us who follow Jesus, I just have one request…CAN THIS YEAR BE DIFFERENT?

Can we participate in this passion of ours in view of who we are? Can we root for our team without cussing the refs, the other team or our own coaches and players? Can we celebrate a touchdown or a victory without being a pompous jerk to the guy with the other team’s colors on, sitting across the room? Can we honor the humanity of an opposing team’s injured player instead of excitedly anticipating how this might help our team win? Can we allow ourselves to be entertained and still value people over the entertainment?

You see, for all that we put into it, football is simply entertainment. It is some of the most gifted athletes coming together to perform for our enjoyment. So, enjoy it! Scream. Cheer. Yell until you’re hoarse. But remember the people. The athletes, coaches, refs, and fans – they are all people who have intrinsic value. Don’t miss this! See them. Consider their individual stories. Don’t check your identity at the door. Come on…I dare you…watch this year as a Jesus Follower and you’ll never be the same.

So, are you ready for some football?


According to You!


What’s your experience with Jesus?

Is it defined by church? By one hour a week in a clean, air-conditioned building? Is he someone you briefly acknowledge a couple of times a year – when the holidays come, school is out and the crowds verge on chaos?

Maybe he’s more than that for you. Maybe he is someone you have come to know. Someone you could talk about for hours; someone whose life you have studied and whose motives you have admired.

Possibly you find the question hard to answer. Could it be, you have multiple experiences that come together in a strange collage? Experiences with people who call themselves, “Christian.” Experiences in various worship gatherings we call, “Church.” And experiences with the “character” of Jesus, we find in the biblical text. I have to admit, reconciling these things has, at times, been difficult for me. The words, “Jesus, Christian,” & “Church” are not always appropriate synonyms.

In response, we can easily lose sight of the question. We can find ourselves struggling with things that honestly have nothing to do with Jesus. So, I ask the question again…

What’s your experience with Jesus?

Have you ever invited him to hang out with you on your day off? Have you ever sat with him in a local coffee shop? Or paddled down the river with him in a kayak? Have you ever shared with him your greatest dreams and fears over lunch?

Have you invited him into your home? Are you comfortable with him moving in? Is it OK if he wants to rearrange more than the furniture? Really…

What’s your experience with Jesus?

If you sat down with someone who had never heard his name, what would you say? What stories would you tell? Of his life? Of yours? How would you describe his heart and what he has done to yours?

At Journey, we have  started a new series entitled, “According to Mark.” It’s a look at the heart of Jesus through his life and mission as told by Mark. It’s not an abstract retelling of Jesus’ life. It is a life changing story written by someone whose life Jesus changed.

Take a look…pick up a Bible and spend an hour with the “Gospel of Mark.” As you read, ask:

1. What’s God’s heart in this story (as revealed by Jesus)?

2. How can I express his heart in the world around me?

No matter what your previous experience with Jesus has been – it will change. You will come to know him with new eyes. And his story just might begin to be told…

According to You!

A Word About Life


For those of us who follow Jesus…

– who long for a more authentic expression of life

– who reach for something more than religion

– who want our faith to be more than a belief system

– who submit to a God we have never seen

– who have experienced a change that is undeniable

– who recklessly follow the way of love…

For you, I want to remind you, encourage you and challenge you with a life altering word.


Here goes…

“It’s not about you!”

I know, this may startle you. It may sound harsh or cold or insensitive. It may bring up all kinds of arguments or theological rebuttals and if it does, that’s OK. But it’s true none-the-less.

Question: Have you ever paused long enough to move beyond dealing with what you were saved from in order to ask, “What was I saved for?”

Really, what’s the point of our freedom from brokenness, struggle, guilt, conflict and death? To move into healing, freedom, confidence, peace and life – right? But life for what?

Deep down, we know that this authentic expression of life is much deeper than what we find our dreams, our failures, our desires and our successes. When we have moments of clarity, we know that true life can be found in the midst of all of this. It obviously involves us but somehow, it’s not limited to our external experiences.

So what’s it really about? What’s this new life for? As we question, listen to the following simple truth from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

You see, the further we follow Jesus, the clearer the view becomes. We begin to see life as it was intended, not as it has been twisted. As we encounter this truer life more and more, we see the one for whom life was made and for whom life was given. We see Jesus – the very heart of the Creator.

When our eyes are fixed clearly on him, we realize that he is the center of the story. It is about him. His love. His gifts. His dreams. His forgiveness. His hope for a new and better life – a life remade by him and a life defined by relationship with him.

We are brought from death to life so that he might wholly and completely know us and love us. This is his heart, his nature, his overwhelming passion – that he might be express himself fully to us, the object of his desire. That he might once again be free to shower his love on us.

It is in the midst of this love that everything changes for us. Our hearts are healed, our dreams are rebuilt, our pursuits are altered, our relationships are mended and our successes are redefined. And somewhere, throughout this transformation, it hits us. The truth of Jesus comes flooding our hearts demanding us to die so his life may fully take hold and the Spirit reminds us with the words of Christ himself, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”

It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about what we want or what we would choose. It’s about him and us being brought closer to him. Period. This is all that really matters.

Once we get this, the story changes. Our selfish pursuits become selfless offerings and instantly we are moved into partnership with our God. Moved into the front of his battle against what threatens to destroy his children. Moved to become extensions of the love of God. It is here that our gift of life finds full meaning.

What are we saved for? We are “Redeemed to Redeem!”

Take a look at the words of a new song we are singing at Journey, that was produced by Austin Stone Music:

Redeemed to Redeem 

We have come too far, beloved

Than to sway this path we tread

We have nothing else to boast

Than the cross where Jesus bled


We’ve been redeemed to redeem the world around us

We have been loved to love one another

We’ve been pursued to pursue Your kingdom

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem


Yes we know what is to come

A home where men no longer thirst

For our souls were made to love
 oh nothing of this passing earth,

Oh nothing of this passing earth


To You our lives, we surrender now

Our hearts are Yours, we surrender now

All for Your name, we surrender now

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh redeemed to redeem

Oh, oh, redeemed to redeem, oh oh redeemed to redeem


Monday Morning Smile


Monday morning. It’s the start of our work week. The dreaded day when life has to return to normal after the weekend. It’s the move back to reality after our weekly mini-vacation. For many, it is truly the repetitive journey from freedom to slavery. It’s when we leave the life we love, the life that we script – full of the activities we enjoy and the people that we want to be around – and move into a world that we would rather not be in. A world that is scripted for us, full of expectations and obligations. And so Monday marches on, another beginning to a life that is half-lived.

I know what Mondays are and I admit, sometimes it’s hard to crawl out of bed. However, I don’t dread them. In fact, I revel in Mondays.

Mondays are when my family, a messy bunch of Jesus followers, begins to live in their identity. It’s when they go into the world to infect it with the heart of our God. It’s when they become Jesus more than ever. It’s when the celebration we had the day before gets applied. It’s when people who have been given an incredible gift offer it to others freely and recklessly.

When Monday morning comes, I often go to the office to grab a notebook and my computer and then head back out the door to one of my favorite coffee shops. It’s my day to study, reflect, pray and it’s my day to be in the community. Sometimes, before I leave, I’ll poke my head into the sanctuary and see a quiet, empty room that was buzzing with people less than 24 hours earlier…and I smile. I know that it’s already beginning. Our small band of Kingdom Warriors are already taking their places. They have been reminded of who they are and who they serve and they are ready. They scatter throughout the city with a greater purpose than to make it through their week just to get to another weekend. No, they long for the week of opportunity in front of them. Opportunity to leave Jesus’ thumbprint in their world. Opportunity to prioritize people. Opportunity to offer what people are dying for and what so many don’t even know they need. Hope. Freedom. Transformation. Forgiveness. And Love.

So, today we are sent out once again. And I’ve got that Monday morning smile!


I Hate That Guy!

I have known what it is to live for myself, to choose me over those I love and to pursue every desire of my heart. I hate that part of me. I can’t stand it when that voice emerges in my head and encourages me to grab at what I want or to defend my rights. Truly, I hate that guy. I know him so well but also feel like he is an alien and a stranger in my own body. He does not belong there. And he is not welcome.

I used to invite that guy in. Knowing that he would ultimately do me harm but thinking I would enjoy his gifts. However, I have come to the place that his gifts are torture. Even the thought of them causes a physical reaction in my body. My back gets tense, my legs feel heavy and tight and I can feel my freedom beginning to slip away. I can actually feel death creeping into my heart.

As a result, my eyes dim. I walk with my shoulders a little lower. The cadence of my speech is altered. Little moments that would normally make me smile and fill my heart with joy are now lost on me or even irritate me. In my submission to the voice of that old guy, I am defeated and broken. In my pursuit of selfishness, I am actually destroying everything that I love. Yeah, I hate that guy!

But this is not the way of my Jesus. He has taught me a different way to live. One that is free. A life that is defined by comfort, intimacy and joy. A life of overwhelming love.

This is the life that dominates my heart and my thoughts. When I am living in it, I hear the voice of Jesus reminding me, encouraging me and celebrating with me constantly. I find myself smiling at young children and laughing freely with friends. I see people’s eyes and respond to what seems to be an unmistakable need, whether it be a hug or a probing question or a high five.

What’s amazing is this is a life that is not about me. I am constantly led to consider the person in front of me. To offer care and concern and challenge and love. This new life seems to be an upside down way of living. The more I think about other people, the more my heart comes alive. The more I serve my wife and my kids and my friends and the guy at the grocery store, the more my heart leaps.

It has even led me to a new way of dealing with conflict and struggle. I am reminded that the person I am dealing with has a heart that matters and I cannot be the reason for the lack of freedom in their life. That if humility and submission can serve them – then I can offer it. And I am challenged to not allow that old guy to rise up and attack both of us. Freedom is too precious for that!

The attitude of Jesus…no, I don’t always live there. But I love the days that I do!


Built To Last

The Passage finally got their foundation! After seven years of being a nomadic group of students who have moved from an off-site building five miles away, to a neighboring rental facility next door, to currently sharing space with our Journey Kidz children’s ministry…now, their long-term home is a very near reality. Our family at Journey couldn’t be more excited – not just because our youth ministry will have a place to call their own but primarily because of what they will do with it. The connections that will be made there, the hearts that will be cared for and the reckless love shared in the name of Jesus!

Last week, I stood at the edge of the construction site, watching truck after truck empty its cement into the huge trenches that crisscrossed this foundation and I was amazed at how sturdy this building would be. It’s not just a cement pad but underneath are enormous concrete beams that run several feet down into the ground. As I watched, I thought, “This is a building that is being built to last!”

And I think about Jesus.

I think about those beams supporting the foundation for a building that will house amazing moments in the near future and I think about Jesus – our cornerstone and our foundation. I think about how the name of Jesus is held up over everything else for the students in The Passage ministry and for the adults at Journey. How he is continually shown to be our hope and our life.

When we have him, we are more than secure! We are built into a structure that others will marvel at. He is our foundation of faith and supports our walk with God but he is so much more. When Jesus is truly present, he redefines everything for us. With Jesus, we have what we are looking for. With Jesus, the mystery of scripture is revealed. With Jesus, we find our true identity. With Jesus, we experience true family. With Jesus, we become a people of radical love. With Jesus, we can ignite the heart of a broken world.

I love watching this building grow!



Professional Christianity

I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I have known the name of God all my life and I have attended church since I was born. I love much of it and at the same time can’t stand much of it. I find myself in conflict constantly between what it means to be a Christian and what I know about being a Jesus follower.

As a pastor myself, I look at Christianity and say, “It’s become too safe…too slick…too polished…too commercialized…too business oriented…too focused on programs…too concerned with paying the bills…too professional.”

Professionalism is one of the worst things that could ever happen to Christianity. No, I’m not railing against education nor order nor having a vision nor any of that. But when the movement of God becomes a business, housed in an institution, ran by professionals…the resulting mindset too often becomes “promote and protect our ‘product’ at all cost.” As a result, the “obligation” we push on the people in our care is to the youth group or to the church or to the ministry rather than to Christ. The goal of living a reckless life of love – love of people because of our love for our Father – somehow gets lost in the ever-present need to keep the machine running.

Whether we say it or not, we end up functioning with the mindset that we can’t REALLY send people into the world, away from us, because we define maturity and faithfulness through our programs. And if we send out our best, what would happen to our churches? What would happen to our budgets? Our paychecks? This struggle is one of the many reasons why the missional/organic movement of Christianity is so popular. A movement that has so many challenging truths for every follower of Jesus to consider – whether you find yourself reaching out to the man at the bar or the woman sitting next to you in worship.

Question: Is it possible for an organized, institutional body of Christ to escape the many traps of professional Christianity and simply follow Jesus?

I say, “Yes!”

I believe that I am a part of a community that is intent on doing just that. We don’t do it perfectly and we will make many mistakes but our target is clear. We are after Jesus. We want to know him. We want to become like him. And we want to show people the way to him.

We are an institutional church…we have a building, ministry programs and a staff that includes both volunteers and paid professionals. We don’t see these as enemies of the kingdom but tools to reach our culture. We speak constantly that these things are not the point. That we are not building our kingdom but his. That the success of our programs is not the issue but seeing people find true life with Christ is. We realize that the kingdom is so much bigger than us but that we have a significant role to play. And we are intent to partner everywhere we can for its expansion, while sending and planting other expressions that are needed. Some of them will be national church plants, some will be international ministries, some of them will be local organic movements that don’t look like what we know church to be and will never enter our walls. We celebrate them all, look for new opportunities and send people out!

We live on a mission, with one real purpose: to love God and to bring people to him through authentic love.

This is what being a Jesus follower is all about. It is where life and purpose and meaning are found. If we chase his kingdom and not our own, he will be with us. He will bless us and use us as his partners in reaching a desperate world. In this process, people who have been wounded by Christianity and have given up on God will be drawn back to him by our love.

There truly is no better way to live!