Hug the Tree

BeTheTree logo 2.10

“Be the Tree” is so much more than a cool logo. For the youth ministry at Journey, it is their mission! Our Youth Pastor, Jeff Bradburn, uses the image of the inverted tree, along with this phrase to constantly remind the students of the opportunity in front of them. You remember the story of Zacchaeus and the childhood song that so many of us grew up singing, don’t you? Sing along with me:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man

And a wee little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see…”

And what happened? Because he climbed the tree, he encountered Jesus, received the love of the Lord and his life was forever changed. And so we come to the battle cry for The Passage Youth Ministry, “Be The Tree!” What if every student in this ministry became the tree for those around them? How many Zacchaeuses would the Father bring home? What if every follower of Jesus lived for this? To became the tree…a tool that God uses for people to see and encounter Jesus!

In an effort for our youth ministry to continue growing in their mission, we are heading toward the final stages of completing a youth facility to house them. It’s been a tremendous thrill to see this building go up, knowing how it will be used by our students and made available to the community around us. This building will definitely help our students continue to “Be The Tree!”

Well, early this morning, I headed up to this new facility so I could get a check to one of the sub-contractors that is completing a project today. It’s my day off, so Brycen (my 4-year-old little boy) and I had just started our “Daddy Day.” I pulled up to the parking lot, got Brycen out of the car, went inside, signed a check and then headed over to The Passage building. As we walked in, Brycen stopped to take a long look at The Passage logo that is stamped into the stained floor. I paid the contractor, then Brycen and I headed back to the car. As I was getting him settled in the car, he looked at me and said, “Daddy…does The Passage sign say, ‘Hug the Tree’?”

HUG the Tree? Really?

Well…guess I still have some work to do to get my little man on mission with us!

be the tree


Gas Games Are Fun – Reblog

I ran across this post on another blog that I like to read and had to share it. I love digging around in the heart and minds of kids. The way they see the world and encounter people…it’s so honest, transparent and free. As a dad, I’m constantly challenged and encouraged as I interact with my kids. I especially love where we’re at right now – the joy of watching my “big kids” (ages 13 & 11) claim their identities and watching my “little man” (age 4) discover the world.

Can you imagine the heart of Alexis? How she experiences her teacher, her class and the new games she gets to play? I’m all in with her – bring on the games…especially if they include gas!

Stuff Kids Write

Six-year-old Alexis likes PE because her teacher makes up fun games.

Not that gas in PE isn’t fun.

Remember the cool little scooters?

Any game involving those is a perfect fit for flatulence. After all, breaking a bit of wind might provide a slight boost in propulsion, and it makes a pretty terrific sound effect. (Just don’t leave any skidmarks.)

And if you didn’t want to get caught underneath the parachute before, just wait until someone pulls the ripcord on one under there!

Do you think they put that hole in the middle of the fabric for ventilation?


Thanks to Shelley for sharing her daughter’s note with Stuff Kids Write. It’s no stinker, that’s for sure.

Please send us funny samples of kids’ writing you catch wind of.

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Staff Meeting

I’ve never been a morning person. I would much rather stay up late, sleep in and get my day going shortly before lunch but the world just doesn’t function that way…and neither does my 4-year-old! So, every morning, I wake up get my kids going, take them to school, pick up the house and head into the office. By the time I arrive, I’ve already been up somewhere close to three hours but I’m still not alive. I say my “Hello’s” and head straight for my office to get my coffee going. Once that first cup is down, my eyes perk up a bit and I’m ready to go.

I’ve gotten to where I love this process. I still don’t care too much for mornings but I love what comes with them. Little moments with my family that quickly lead me to interactions with some of the best people in the world. Friends that I get to partner with for the advancement of the Kingdom. People like this guy!

Cheesy Zach

Tuesday mornings are my favorite. It’s when our staff descends on my office. We share life, make plans, encounter our God and laugh – a lot. These are my people and I thank God for them!

Take a look at what I get to walk into every week and you’ll understand. Click on this link and go to the video entitled “Staff Meeting.”

You Want Some?


Today is a good day! I went home to grab a late lunch and pick up the house a bit before the family hits the house later this afternoon and this is what I came home to. Pie! Three pies generously given to me by a friend who heard me issue a plea for pie to be a part of our 8th anniversary next week at Journey Christian Community. What a friend…right!?

Kinda makes me wonder though. Is this friend of mine really thoughtful? Being funny by going over the top with my request? Or secretly trying to add to my suddenly increasing waistline? Pie could never be used maliciously…right!?

Truly, these pies came from a great friend and I can honestly say that there’s probably a bit of all of this in the gift – which just makes me laugh! I love friends who are as close as family! People who know me as well as I know myself and who are bold enough to laugh with and at me. People who are at times more aware of my quirks than I am and actually love me because of them. It’s an amazing way to live.

Over the past three and a half years, I have been surrounded by these kinds of relationships. Journey is so much more than a place that I serve as a pastor, it’s my home. It’s my family, who I live with – celebrate with – cry with (which I wish I could get a handle on) – and serve with. It is amazing to be a part of this family of God and to play a role in welcoming others to join us in the amazing life we get to live together!

Journey, I love you and I thank my God for you! I can’t wait to celebrate our 8th Anniversary and Chili Cook-Off with you this Sunday. And I can’t wait to taste all those pies that show up. You want some? Then come on and join us!

Oh, and happy National Pie Day!!!

It’s More than Mario!

This summer I have watched some amazing people put down their pride in order to love on children. Some of them have transformed themselves into imaginary people. Some have given a weekend to kids from another part of town. And some have traveled to another country – just to share their love and increase the joy of children.

Do you remember what it was like to be a child? The imagination you had? The capacity for play? Take for instance, your first experience with a gaming system. Do you remember the fascination you had with the images on the screen? And the new addiction that was created as you became determined to conquer the game or at least better your latest score?

My first exposure to this world that effortlessly combines imagination and competition was at a friend’s house. As soon as I walked in, he told me he had just gotten an Atari and asked if I wanted to play. I said, “Sure!” – not really knowing what I was getting into. And then, for the next few hours, I was introduced to the now classic games of “Pong,” “Pitfall,” and “Centipede.” I have to admit, I wasn’t that good but it didn’t matter. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t wait until I got to play again.

A couple of years later, I got my own system, but it wasn’t an Atari. It was the next generation…the new and improved system…you know, the one that was going to put Atari to shame with its updated graphics and more expansive game options. You know…Colecovision! I was so impressed with my parents for getting me such an advanced system. My brother and I dove in. We were totally consumed with all the newness and wonder of games like “Donkey Kong Jr.,” “Lady Bug,” and a game we affectionately came to call “Bomb & Burn” – simply because the only way we could get through the maze of obstacles was to go guns blazing as fast as we could.

But then, it happened. My family was invited over for dinner to a young couple’s house. They had become good friends with my parents and my brother and I thought they were pretty cool too. They were in their late twenties, didn’t have any kids and always made time for us.

We had dinner, talked for a bit and then Bobby, the cool family friend, invited us over to see his new toy. He turned on the TV, plugged in a few wires and up comes a screen unlike anything I had seen before. The images were amazing! “This is the latest thing,” Bobby said. “This is a Nintendo!”

That was the first time I ever saw Mario. The first time I ever imagined jumping over a mushroom or intentionally hitting my head against a brick to gain more points. And to this day, if I hear the Mario Brothers theme song – there’s a little bit of joy that comes over my heart.

Childhood is such a magical time. It’s experiences shape us deeply. Both its joy and it’s struggles have a way of hanging on and working their way into the fabric of our hearts as adults. The love we experience. The lessons we learn. The time spent with family. The loving adults who gave selflessly to us – it all impacts us in ways we can’t explain but are forever grateful for.

Question: Who introduced you as a child to little but unbelievable moments of joy? Who is that person who loved you enough to invite you into their world? Who in your past deserves a really big, “THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME LIKE THAT!”

And possibly more important than that…Who are you offering yourself to as an adult? Is there a child in your life that you are pouring yourself into? That you are intentionally working to increase his/her joy?

Believe me, even if it’s just sharing a video game, it could impact a heart forever!

What A Staff

Do you have friends like this? People who know you inside and out and love you anyway? That’s the best description I could ever use to talk about the amazing staff I get to work with every day at Journey.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. There is not complete acceptance with them. In fact, quite the opposite! There is constant harassment. They tease me about my archaic paper calendar, about my bullet point personality and about my desire to plan things months in advance.

But don’t start feeling sorry for me. I get my jabs in as well. Believe me, there is plenty of harassment to go around!

The truth is, when I get up in the morning, I can’t wait to get to the office. To share life with them. To laugh. And to simply see what might happen next.

I could tell you about what really goes on in our 2-3 hour Wednesday staff meetings…but that might be going too far! Instead, just click on this link:

and take a look at what happened a few months ago behind the scenes as we made a video about Journey Lorena (our new church plant). It is truly a joy to walk beside the people of God every day.

Mark of a Good Vacation

I never understood this until I hit my mid 30’s. The ability to sit down right in the middle of little kids running around, the TV on or a computer in your lap and just fade away into oblivion! It is a gift saved for those who have traveled a few more miles.

Now, I long for days like this. Peaceful Sunday afternoons. Rainy weekends. Or like our vacation last week, a remote cabin in the mountains of Colorado. To have nothing pressing and the ability to just be – what a gift!

However, this moment was truly something special. I was sitting at the table, playing a game with my mom and my kids and I looked up at my dad and found him in this state. Immediately one word popped into my head… “REALLY?!?”

Really, Dad? You’re that at ease with the world? I get the naps on the couch with golf playing in the background but this?

If you’re not quite with me yet, take a close look at his mouth. Yes, that’s right…it’s a dental floss pick! He’s out cold right in the middle of flossing his teeth!!!

Now to be fair, he did work really hard. He caught a ton of fish and yes, I caught a grand total of – wait for it – 0! But this is the accomplishment I most aspire to. How about you?