Archives For Uncategorized

I recently posted at the For the Church site. I’m including the beginning of the post below with a link to the full article.

.          .          .          .          .


I was struck the other day by the uniquely odd situation of the almost-an-apostle Joseph (Barsabbas), who missed out on being one of the twelve set apart as apostles of Jesus because of a roll of the dice. We read his story in Acts 1. The resurrected Jesus has told his disciples to wait on the Spirit’s arrival. They were gathered to pray, and they decided it was time to replace the traitor Judas, who had literally spilled his guts over his betrayal. So, his position was up for grabs.

It was kind of like when someone leaves their job, and everyone wants to fight over their office because it has a window. But this was a lot more important. In Acts, the disciples set the criteria for who would be chosen, and they land on two possible candidates: Joseph and Matthias. They cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias. This, of course, had to be a downer to Joseph.

Sure, you can play the hyper-spiritual game if you want, and say something like, “It wouldn’t really have mattered to me as long as the mission of Jesus was advanced.” And of course, that would be partially true. But let’s be honest—a part of you would have been disappointed. Part of you would have wanted to argue for a “best two out of three” lot cast rather than a single cast. You might have made a case that there should be thirteen apostles instead of twelve so that you could be the deciding vote in a tie. Imagine Joseph explaining that one to his family years later when his grandkids say, “Pops, tell us again about the time you almost got to be an apostle.”

I joke, of course, but I also know that many pastors feel overlooked, especially early in ministry…

.          .          .          .          .

Read the full article at


I recently posted at For the Church, a new site that exists to engage, encourage, and equip the Church with gospel-centered resources that are pastoral, practical, and devotional. I am a regular contributor to the site, and I will try to post links here whenever I post something there. I’m including the beginning of the post below with a link to the full article.

.          .          .          .          .



Given the title, you probably expect this post to scold the young, brash church planter, telling them it’s time to grow up. This post is nothing like that. (As a side note, I don’t find this stereotype of church planters to be accurate in my experience, but that’s another topic.) This post is about something entirely different—it’s less “grow up” and more “slow down.”

In our church plant, we are constantly reminding ourselves to “act our age.” We are an infant church, about one year into our existence. We are just entering the toddler season. Toddlers trying to act like adults look pretty silly. Toddlers have different needs than adults, and we recognize that young churches have different needs than established churches. So, we try to enjoy the stage we are in, trusting that the developmental progress of our church body is what it needs to be in this life-stage.

The Temptation of the Fast-Forward Button

One of the temptations church planters face is pretending the church is further along than it is…

.          .          .          .          .

Read the full article at





April 28, 2015 — 2 Comments

So, it’s been a long time. Feels like too long, but it was probably right. I’ve invested the last two years planting Redemption Church in Edmond, OK in the Oklahoma City area. Launching a new outpost for the gospel is all-consuming work, and I haven’t had time or space to write much beyond our weekly sermons. We love our church and love our city, and we are grateful for all that God is doing.

Things are starting to reach a new normal, or at least they need to do so soon. For me, that means finding time and focus to write. I’m looking forward to it. I hope you will too.

I will be posting here, as well as other sites, and I will try to post links here when something appears elsewhere.

Thanks for following and reading. May God give you strength and peace today as you run ahead in the grace of Jesus.



“This is harder than I thought it would be.” We’ve all thought it at one time or another. Difficult tasks that require long seasons of effort can be exhausting. If we lose sight of the goal, we can face discouragement, depression or burnout. Many will veer off course before reaching the finish line. If we are going to persevere, we need to remember five keys to help us along the way.

Most great rewards demand long diligence before they can be seized. This is true in nearly every area of life. Family, work, sport, or cause: all require great patience and long toil before they yield results. In my current role, I am constantly reminding myself of these things and adjusting both my heart and my routine as needed. I hope you find these helpful as you engage in the battle to persevere.

As the saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself. 80 hour weeks don’t pay off in the long run. Get plenty of rest. For me, this means avoiding late night diversions that keep me from getting to bed on time. The Bible speaks of a time of sabbath rest, where we set everything aside for a day to recoup and refocus spiritually. When I say “set everything aside,” that likely includes cell phone, tablet and laptop. This is not easy, but God himself set this pattern of rest in order. In Genesis, after six days of creating, God rested from all the work he had done. And just in case you were wondering, God never tires. God did not need a siesta. No, this was an object lesson for our benefit. We need to incorporate this pattern into our weekly schedule. What 24 hour period per week have you marked on your calendar for sabbath rest? When I’m at my best, this rhythm of rest is a part of my routine.

Ever sprinted through a week or two on a project and suddenly realized you’ve barely connected with Jesus or your spouse? Have you started calling your kids by the names of your co-workers? Not good. The busier you become, the more important it is to prioritize your schedule.

In college, I read an article called “The Tyranny of the Urgent” by Charles E. Hummel. I’ve never forgotten the simple distinction it made between the truly important things in life and the urgent tasks that clamor for our minutes, hours and days. Hummel writes:

We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that the impor­tant task rarely must be done today or even this week. Extra hours of prayer and Bible study, a visit with that non-Christian friend, careful study of an important book: these projects can wait. But the urgent tasks call for instant action—endless demands pressure every hour and day.

Like the busy, distracted priest in Jesus’ story of good Samaritan, we become so busy with the urgent tasks at hand that we often miss the truly important stuff. If we are to weave perseverance into our lives, we must prioritize the important stuff so that we thrive over the long haul.

Trying to live as a Christian without prayer is like trying to live without air. You aren’t going to make it very far. Martin Luther famously said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” Prayer confesses for us our dependence on God. Prayer sustains us during difficulties. Prayer provides strength to take the next step. Prayer humbles us in success, and prayer comforts us in failure. Prayer emboldens us to take risks. Prayer offers friendship with our most loyal companion. As we travel the road of life, prayer centers us on what, or who, is most important.

Have some fun. Find a hobby. Play some golf. Go to a movie (by yourself). Go fishing. Build something. Shoot something (but not someone). Go to a concert. During a season of life transition, a wise woman said to my wife, “Stop doing so much, and go read some fiction.” Pastor Tommy Nelson used to tell us to”go get some rocky road, and be sure you get two scoops.” Do whatever it is that you do when you are having fun.

A counselor friend once gave me an assignment to carve out an undisturbed three hour block each week to do something I enjoyed. This was harder than I thought it would be. In my college years, three hours of play would have been cutting back, but at this stage of life finding three free hours in a week meant saying a firm “no” to other things. For some, this may feel impossible or even selfish, but I’m learning that self-care is critical to staying power. Play promotes perseverance.

This last key will require a little more explanation, but I am currently finding this to be incredibly helpful. In a letter to a younger leader, the Apostle Paul wrote:

It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Let me shoot straight with you: I’m a city boy, not a farmer. But I have been thinking lots about what Paul said, so I’m going to offer a few thoughts about it anyway. Farming itself is an act of faith. A farmer works long hours for a long period of time before he reaps any benefits from his labor. He shows up day after day and puts in a good day’s work trusting that it will all eventually produce an abundant crop. This requires a unique combination of diligence and patience.

There are two things I will point out about the farmer. First, stuff grows when it grows, and the farmer must trust his crops to appear when the timing is right. Second, there is nothing he can do to speed up the process. Working harder or faster or longer will not change the rate of growth.

What’s the point for us? When I remind myself to “plow,” it is a reminder to work hard and to trust the growth process, no matter how long and slow it seems. Show up like a farmer and do work, and then put your head on the pillow at night trusting something good will eventually grow. When I start to get overwhelmed with all that I have to get done, I find myself saying out loud “just plow the field today.” I can’t control the outcome, so I try to “do a good days work and leave the results to God.” Perseverance requires that we balance diligence with patience.


It is said that “in comedy, timing is everything.” The same is true of perseverance. Reminding yourself of these things before you are at the end of your rope makes all the difference. Otherwise, you will learn a life lesson the hard way. The athlete who becomes dehydrated during the match will find it impossible to rehydrate until after the game is over.

Personally, I am learning that the more my responsibilities expand, the more I must narrow my focus on these key areas. For me, these are not annual check-ins. They are daily and weekly reminders that help me persevere as I fight to fulfill my calling.

If you practice these five keys — pace, prioritize, pray, play, and plow, you will be more likely to persevere in the days ahead.

Which of the five keys grabs your attention? Which of the five keys do you find most difficult? Would you add anything to this list? What is your favorite quote about perseverance?



AMNOTE: This post originally appeared at I have contributed to their men’s curriculum called 33 The Series. If you aren’t familiar with 33, I hope you will check it out at If you want a discount code, email me at By way of transparency, I get a small cut if you use my discount code when you purchase the curriculum, but I’d promote it even if I didn’t.

*     *     *     *     *

Most of us struggle to find the balance between work and home. We feel like we are stuck in the middle of a tug-of-war between the office and the house, and we can only win at one or the other. Many live with a constant low-grade guilt about the lack of time with their kids. This struggle seems especially strong for those that travel.

Iʼm not a normal business traveler. In fact, my routine typically keeps me busy but close to home. Over the last few months, Iʼve found myself in a pattern of traveling every other week. This new rhythm of life has got me thinking. What does it mean to reject passivity and accept responsibility as a father who is on the road?

First, know this: your work matters. We often overlook the spiritual value of hard work, but we are called to provide for our families, to make a positive contribution to the world, to honor God by doing our jobs well. Just donʼt allow work to matter too much. When your job consistently limits your investment with your children, it might be time to recalibrate.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed.” With that in mind, I hope you will consider this post more of a digital roundtable on this topic. These are ideas Iʼve had. Iʼve tried some of them. Iʼve failed to try some of them. Some of you have traveled with greater regularity, and you will have even better ideas. I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Seven ideas for fathers who travel…

    1. Prioritize focused time with your kid(s). Wise men proactively organize their schedules around what is most important. They fight the temptation to live under the “tyranny of the urgent,” refusing to allow pressing matters to crowd out the most important things. So, prioritize an hour with your kids before or after a trip. Shoot some hoops or take your kid(s) to breakfast on days before you leave town.
    2. Manage the transitions well – For some, this is difficult. My natural tendency is to procrastinate with making my travel plans, but Iʼve found that it is critical to plan and organize my departure and return so that things are not crazy and stressful (for me or for my family). When these times are frantic, it multiplies the impact of being gone.
    3. Write a note to be opened while you are gone. I know, I know. Some of you donʼt think you are a “writer,” but it doesnʼt have to be that hard. Think of one thing that your kid does well, and let him or her know how proud you are. Think of the unique way that God has made your child. Is your kid thoughtful or hilarious or competitive or caring? Highlight one attribute you see in them. Say I love you. Donʼt be afraid to share your heart. Let them know you are happy that God put them in your life.
    4. Find an app or internet game to play. With so many apps and games available, find one that you can play. My 10 year old and I played Words with Friends for a few weeks. He could take his turn after school, and I could take my turn at night so that it was his turn again the next day. Iʼm guessing there are other apps that would allow for these easy touch points to stay connected.
    5. Facetime, skype or call. This seems easy, but Iʼve found it more difficult than I thought. When my kids are available to talk during the afternoon, Iʼm usually pounding away at work or in meetings. When Iʼm available to talk during the evening, my kids are usually in the middle of the dinner, bath, bedtime routine. If itʼs too late, I can hardly get them to answer two questions. I tend to get batter responses if I can sneak in a call before dinner time.
    6. Record a video reading your childʼs favorite book – If your child is small, itʼs hard to beat reading books at bedtime. With phones, Ipads and computers having built-in video devices, itʼs never been easier to record a video. Take five minutes one evening before you leave and record a video of yourself reading his or her favorite book. Your spouse can play it for your child while you are out of town.
    7. Guard your weekends – When you are regularly on the road, you need to especially guard your calendar on the days when you are home. As much as possible, try not to let loose ends linger around on your projects so that they demand your attention later. Discipline yourself to work hard on the road so that you can be fully present when you are home. Donʼt just be home; be engaged at home.

It can be difficult to balance family and work when you are on the road. It will require intentionality. Hopefully, something here got you thinking about your role as a traveling father. Maybe it sparked an idea for you. Iʼd love to read your thoughts.

Any ideas you would share with us? What has worked well for you? What do you find difficult? How do you manage to balance family with life on the road?

Share your ideas in the comment section below.


Every now and then I run across something that so hilariously or so painfully illustrates a larger problem that I have to share it. Sometimes, it is both hilarious and painful. Give this two minutes of your time, and I guarantee that you will laugh, and you’ll probably watch it again to make sure it wasn’t a joke. Then, somewhere along the way, you’ll be a little bothered by the tragicomedy of it all.

Only in Texas, right? Kind of reminds you of the verse from scripture that says, “Without elegance, it is impossible to please God.” (If you are looking for this in your Bible, you are going to be looking for a really, really long time).

Leslie, from Big, Rich Texas says, “It is appropriate to have a baptism anywhere. You can actually have it in a church…I prefer a beautiful swimming pool. It’s a little bit more controlled and it’s a little bit cleaner.”

Isn’t that how we’d all like our spirituality–a little bit more controlled, and a little bit cleaner?

You know, a clean place like the manger that welcomed the infant Jesus to the world. Or, a little bit more controlled like the cross where Jesus’ battered, bruised, bloody body bid the world goodbye (or at least “see ya later”). No, there was very little elegance in Jesus’ life, but his life was more glorious than the grandest of parties.

This video is a reminder how easily we can veer off course. Sure, few (if any) of us would throw a $10,000 baptism celebration that completely misses the point, but we are not immune to the temptation to embrace the trappings of Christianity without engaging Christ.

This is perhaps rarely more true than at Christmastime. We go to church without seeking Christ. We sing songs about Jesus without being awed by him. We decorate our homes with heart-warming reminders of the Baby Jesus, but we are not heart-broken over our sin that begged for the Savior to come. We throw office parties in Jesus’ name but never mention him to our co-workers. We too play religious games.

This is what makes Christmas so amazing. God came. In a manger. For people like us.

He didn’t hide until we became like him. He left heaven for us.

He didn’t wait for us to clean up the mess. He entered the mess for us.

He didn’t expect us to become righteous. He offered his righteousness for us.

He didn’t hold our brokenness against us. He was broken for us.

He didn’t hope that we would conquer death. He beat death for us.

Immanuel. God with us. God for us. In spite of us, yet also because of us. Jesus in our place.

The Bible says nothing about our need for elegance, but it says a lot about our need for faith: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6).

My prayer for you this Christmas:

May you believe in Jesus. May you rejoice in the God who took on flesh for your sake. May you leap at the thought that the perfect Savior gave his all for imperfect you. May you rest in the reality that he forgives sins–all of them. May you laugh like a child fully accepted and adopted by a forever Father. May you celebrate Christ, our Rescuer and King.


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I love everything about it. I love the food, the weather, the family, the food, the football, the food, the fun. I love the pace, which always seems slower and less hurried than Christmas. I love that we stop to say what are thankful for.

We should enjoy these things. And we need to enjoy the one that gave them to us. I want to offer a quick reminder that we need to remember the God that we are thankful to.

We say “I am thankful for __________” a lot, but the more important sentence to complete is this: “I am thankful to __________.” If you scan your twitter feed or facebook feed, I bet you’ll find “I am thankful for __________” repeated over and over, but you will rarely see a mention of who people are thankful to.

A “thank you” does not terminate on itself or vanish into the Autumn breeze. It is not intended to stop with us. A thank you is intended to go somewhere. It has a destination. Our thanks need to be offered to a particular recipient.

Let me illustrate. A letter is mailed from a father to a daughter. A football is passed between quarterback and receiver. A kiss is blown from one lover to another. Each is a great example of something offered and something received.

But each of these becomes meaningless if there is no one to receive that which is offered.

A letter mailed without an address indicated is marked “Return to Sender.” A football with no receiver bounces crookedly in the grass and must be retrieved. Someone walking the city streets blowing kisses to nobody is eventually invited to the psych wing of the local hospital.

If we offer our thanks generically, without intending them for someone specific, they lose their power. Yet far too many of us, maybe even most of us, fail to think about this most important question: To whom are we saying our “thank yous”?

Let’s remember that Thanksgiving is about the one to whom we offer thanks: God.

The bible points out our human tendency to enjoy God’s creation without showing gratitude to our Creator (Romans 1). This is our habitual way of acting in this great world of ours. We become so swept up in its beauty and tastiness and laughter and love that we fail to look beyond them to the Great Giver of All Good Things.

In some way, when we find ourselves continually saying “I’m thankful for ________” without ever saying “I’m thankful to   G O D ,” we are repeating the harmful pattern of those who “did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom 1:21).

The joy of Thanksgiving is in celebrating all of the good that we’ve been given.  It is a time when we set aside worry and heartache and achievement and striving to pause and give thanks for our many blessings. We soak turkey in rivers from the gravy boat, stuff ourselves with stuffing, pretend we are interested in an oversized Snoopy bouncing off towers in NYC, sneak an (second) piece of pumpkin pie. We remember that we love our children more than we love the Dallas Cowboys, even when the kids keep running between us and the TV. We make the most of the life we’ve been given. And it is good.

These are days to be remembered.

These are days to be thankful for.

And these are also days to be thankful to.

May we celebrate life to the fullest today,
and may we be “abounding in thanksgiving”
to the one who gives us life to enjoy.



October 23, 2012 — 8 Comments

As I am planting a new church, I pray a lot for our future staff. I pray for humble, high-capacity leaders. I pray for the Spirit-led culture that we want to create. I pray for God’s protection and providence. I pray for the men and women who will invest their lives to help Redemption Church honor Jesus and reach many with the gospel.

Last week, I spent four days on a staff retreat with The Village Church. Many are familiar with The Village because of Pastor Matt Chandler (cancer fighter, preacher, author). The Village is one of the partner churches in my church plant residency with Fellowship Associates. We were graciously invited to be a part of their staff retreat with the goal of learning about building a healthy staff culture.

I don’t have a lot of time to fully process this post, but I wanted to throw a few observations down while they were fresh on my mind after being with The Village staff this week. I want to give you a sense of the things we are processing in the residency, and I want to give you a glimpse of my heart for our church. It was good for my soul to see God at work in this group, and it was a good reminder that it’s worth fighting for the gospel to be lived out in authentic community.

Ten Observations on a Healthy Church Staff

  1. A Staff that Loves Jesus – On the retreat, a real love for Jesus was on display through the worship, conversations, preaching, prayers, testimonies. Forgiven sinners love Jesus.
  2. A Staff that Worships Passionately – I loved the extended times of singing and worshiping Jesus. The emphasis on extolling the person of Jesus is central and carries throughout the staff. It was great to see staff from a church of 10,000 worshipping passionately in a room with 100.
  3. A Staff that Laughs – The Village staff laughs. A lot. At jokes. At one another. At old stories from past retreats. They are committed to having fun. It shows up in the way they schedule their time, play games, share meals.
  4. A Staff that Encourages – I have seen real encouragement, both through one on one conversations and in large group settings. This is a group that wants to spur one another on through words of affirmation and encouragement, which is a practical outworking of “love one another.” The ability to speak the truth into one another’s lives is a powerful tool to edify the church. They give healthy honor to those that God leads them to honor.
  5. A Staff that Generously Gives – The fact that they are on a four day retreat says a lot, but they also play games every day at lunch and give away gift cards–with real amounts of money on them. I’ve had Christmas “bonuses” that amounted to less than the gift card I got for painfully singing “She’s Lost that Loving Feeling” with a group of guys (and it was as painful for me as for everyone that had to listen). One pattern I see over and over is that a church that is generous with their staff is generous toward others. Churches are either generous or they are not–it’s a heart thing.
  6. A Staff that is Kingdom-minded – The staff was publicly encouraged to follow God’s leading, even if it means leaving the Village to plant a church or join another work. They made a real investment in our church planting residents, both in terms of finances, wisdom, and time. It doesn’t surprise me that churches whom God seems to be blessing in terms of conversions and growth are also the most generous with their people and resources. These two are linked: a dependence on God’s work among us to save people and build his church, and a freedom with God’s blessing and resources for the sake of the kingdom.
  7. A Staff that Prays – I appreciate the time spent in praying for one another, praying for those with specific needs, praying for those with sin struggles or faith struggles, praying for families. Gospel dependence produces prayerfulness.
  8. A Staff that is Not Perfect – There is a willingness to embrace the imperfection and messiness of their lives. Not just in a theoretical way, but in real and honest ways. They let their sins be real (see Martin Luther) so that forgiveness is real. This freedom comes from sincere faith in the gospel. Leaders cannot possibly shepherd an entire church toward repentance if they are not authentically repenting themselves. The path to spiritual growth/renewal is always repent and believe.
  9. A Staff that Loves One Another – As a staff, relational connection must be fostered. They intentionally invest time together. On the retreat, every person from every department in the church was invited, including both ministers and support staff. They committed an entire work week to being together as a team apart from any “ministry” activity. They also do this for a 1/2 day each month. They work hard, but they also take time to rest and to connect. They are committed to sharing their redemption stories with one another, moving beyond life circumstances to talk about heart shaping events. They don’t hide the rough stuff, and they receive one another in love.
  10. A Staff that Remembers a Shared History – On the retreat, the staff took time to remember past retreats, recall people and events, reflect on how God had worked in the past. I believe it is important to remember this shared history and to celebrate God’s sovereign hand in the life of the church. God weaves many lives and stories together in a local church, and they make something more beautiful together than they could in isolation. Three benefits I see to remembrance: orienting new people to your culture, stepping back to see the big picture of God’s past work, building hope and expectation of God’s future work among the church.

As I mentioned before, this is not a fully developed summary. These are simply my first thoughts typed up quickly on the day after the retreat. I’ll reflect on these things in the days ahead.

I’m sure I’ll add or tweak things along the way, but if these things come to pass in the life of Redemption Church, I will have a full and grateful heart for God’s work among us.

As you reflect on your church staff, what are they doing really well that you could share with us? If you are not on staff of a church, what is one way you could bless and encourage the staff at your church? If you serve on a church staff, what is one practical thing you could do to become a healthier staff team this year?


NOTE: With our move to Edmond, Oklahoma to plant Redemption Church, I haven’t had a lot of time to write. So, I wanted to pass along a recent post that I wrote for my friends at Authentic Manhood. I’ve written several pieces in the Training Guide for their 33: The Series biblical manhood study. If you aren’t familiar with them, I hope you will check it out, grab some guys, and launch into the series together. If you decide to purchase the series, you can receive a 5% discount by using the discount code “Resident55,” and I will receive 15% of the proceeds (as a church plant resident).


I haven’t had a friend in years.” The comment surprised me. I knew it was (sort of) a joke, but there was enough truth in it to reveal the frustration. In years of working with men, I’ve never had a guy say, “You know, I just have too many deep friendships.” No, whenever I share about biblical friendship, guys almost always say, “I need friends like that.



July 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sometimes, you just gotta “Hold On.” May we all hold on until Jesus returns to make all things new.

From Alabama Shakes debut album. Tip of the hat to Steve Walker for the link.