Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Recently, I officially passed 40 and turned 41 years old. Although I never watched the show “30 Something” I remember seeing it advertised and thinking who would ever watch a show about people that are that old. I have always heard it said that, “age is just a number” but the only people who say that are old, so I have avoided that statement. After all, I have never heard a 20 year old say: “20! Wow, it’s just a number: I felt so much younger than that.” No, only when the reality of age hits us do we start saying that “41 is the new 21.”  Here is a news flash...it’s not the new anything! 

But, much of this is jest: age has never bothered me. I guess being a Pastor has helped that. I remember being a Sr. Pastor at 23 years old and wishing people would just see me as older.   Well, I am no longer called a "young Pastor"  so I got my wish.  But, with more age I pray has come more wisdom, a deeper understanding of doctrine and shifting of my views on some things. 

One of these lessons I want to mention, God has worked on only recently in my life. I have learned so much from godly men in my life that were older who simply invested in me in some way or another. The one thing that I was told consistently without any exception was that as a Pastor you just Can Not have close friends, especially in the church where you Pastor. From a practical standpoint this makes perfect sense: it is supposed to keep you from having to choose to be a Pastor or friend, it guards your family, it keeps you on task. For most of my ministry I have tried to live this way.  Naturally, I always had some people I was closer to than others, but I have always stayed on guard even with them. The constant difficulty I had was I knew in my heart that I would never give any other Christian this advice.  In fact, it was the opposite advice of what I gave at Church:  I would tell our members to pour their life into others, that church is "life on life". 

I was raised in a Pastors home and, while no home is perfect, our home sought to honor God. The difficulty was that my ecclesiology in my teaching and doctrine was not consistent with what I was doing, and that created a dilemma. I knew that if I invited people into my life it opened me and my family up to being hurt by someone.  I also knew as I looked at my life and how people tried to hurt my family, people that knew absolutely nothing about me and that I couldn’t pick out of a line up, that this vulnerability would cost. But in fact, I found that there were wicked people that didn’t know me, that would try to hurt people and wicked people that did know me, that tried to hurt people. One thing I did notice though, many of those that knew me and I had walked through things with them, they loved me at the best of times and worst of times. I was convinced that part of my calling was to live somewhat in isolation, and this was to be a mature self- sacrificing choice. But, as I doctrinally looked at this “choice” I couldn’t justify it biblically.  Do I really believe that every member of the body of Christ needs the body? Then from a biblical standpoint could I find a reason why I was excluded in this? Again, practically all the arguments ran through my head, from hurting church members feelings, to people thinking I was playing favorites to whatever else I was told by countless people through the years, but what constantly kept coming to mind was “if I would be willing to lay down my life for these people, if I must be willing to feed them, love them and answer to God for them, I not only have to know them, but they have to know me.” Sure not all of them will know me the same way, but they had to know me.

I would hear of the Puritan Pastors that were willing to invite men over to their house in order to model leading their family worship. I think of Christ who had deep open friendships with 12 guys and brought them in, knowing all of them would walk away in His darkest hour and one would have a hand in His murder! You don’t get more betrayed than Jesus and, knowing it was coming, He did it anyway. So, where did this leave me...us? Well, it led to me learning and leading my family in how to do this. I know to most this is probably something you had to learn in Pre-K and I did as well, but it is something I was willing to "sacrifice" for the call God put on my life. So, something I saw as a sacrifice was in fact, contrary to what God taught and what I would proclaim from the pulpit. In short, the catalyst for change was thinking through my own preaching, and reading books about the church and being a Pastor (Dangerous Calling by Tripp is outstanding in regard to this subject). I think the greatest help I have received is the way our sweet people that now call me Pastor have loved and trusted me, and a staff who is biblically rooted and are all on the same page. God used the preaching of His Word, the work of His servants and grace of the body I am apart of to begin teaching me a lesson that most of my congregation understands far better than I. We have friends that love us in spite of us (mainly in spite of me). We have friends that see us, warts and all, that are gracious and precious. In fact, the love that has been shown to my family has made me a better pastor: it has allowed me to love as more than a pastor, but also as a friend. It has allowed people to confront me as their brother and friend and not always as complaining to the "Pastor". It has allowed us to experience fun and joy which I thought for the sake of my "calling" I wasn't allowed to experienceIn truth, this prohibition was a form of self preservation and the fear of man. My family has people that we love like family, that we care for and long to serve - that is what the church should look like. Thanks for your patience with this 40 something preacher; I truly love you. My friendships may not always "look right" from your perspective but we are learning... at least God has given me friends but more importantly, He has given me a church family.

C. S. Lewis:

There is no safe investment.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.
The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
—C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1960), 169-170

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Every year my two boys and I read Thoughts For Young Men by J.C Ryle. I don’t know of any book that hits young men between they eyes any better than this masterpiece. We have gone through a Men and Boys' Bible study on this book at Trinity. Anytime I can find solid advice for my boys or our young ladies at our Church, I do everything I can to put it in the hands or in front of the eyes of our parents. The last two weeks I have highlighted two great posts from Kate Conner, but in reading these post she had a link from another blogger that gave his advice to young men and I would be cheating you if I didn’t post this. You can read it here or go to his blog, but by all means read it and go through these with the students in your home. Hope it encourages you!

Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Boys 

(Young Men)

First a disclaimer : This post is a complete 100% rip-off of something Brooke’s cousin Kate wrote on her blog a couple of weeks ago and it took off. Here it is : Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls - It’s brilliant and you should read it and then follow all of Kate’s writings because she is awesome at it.

Her post has blown up and I’ve been seeing people post it on twitter and facebook that I know don’t even know Kate. I love that it’s happening and it inspired me to come up with a list of my own directed toward boys. So thank you Kate for inspiring me.

Now 10 things I want to tell teenage boys (young men)

1. Pull your pants up. No one wants to see your crack hanging out or your underwear. It makes you look like an idiot. No one with any sort of authority will ever take you seriously, it’s hard to run, jump or move. It’s not slimming and it’s not 1990 anymore. Do I need more reasons?

2. Look people in the eye/Have a good handshake. These two things will tell me a lot about a young man. It will tell me if they are confident, driven and respectful. If I was hiring more team members and someone came in didn’t have a good handshake and didn’t look me in the eye while I was talking to them I wouldn’t hire them. They could be super qualified for the position but without those two things I’m not interested.

3. Open the car door for your girlfriend/fiance/wife. When Brooke and I started dating about four years ago I decided that I was going to open the door for her every time we got in the car and I still do to this day. As men we need to make sure that our lady knows she matters to us and that she is important and there is no better way to continue to tell her this then opening a door for her. There are times when I will get in the car and Brooke will look at me and say, “You know you’ve been opening the door for me for 4 years...That means so much to me.” It’s easy and it shows respect and kindness. Do it!

(Ladies- If a guy doesn’t open the door for you, tell him he should start.)

4. Not trying isn’t cool. Try hard in school, in sports, at work and at whatever else you do. It is worth it and will pay off.

5. You are not entitled to anything. Life is hard and takes work. No one is going to hand anything to you for free. You haven’t “earned” anything. You need to work and work hard to earn things. Stop acting like the world owes you something, like your teachers, parents and bosses owe you something. They don’t, you have to work for everything.

6. Develop good eating habits. I know this might seem like silly advice and sound very motherly, but you will thank me in 20 years when you can still see and touch your toes. If you are skinny right now and eat whatever you want just know that it won’t last forever. Your metabolism will slow down and weight will just start to hang around your gut. You don’t want a gut. You want to stay thin and fit because you’ll live longer, your wife will be more attracted to you and you’ll be able to actually play with your kids longer. If you can develop those habits now, it will pay off big in the future.

7. Stop swearing. It’s not tough, it’s not cool, it makes you sound unintelligent.

8. Stop looking at Porn : This will ruin your marriage, your life and your ability to enjoy sex. I used to work as an intern for XXXchurch and we would meet young man after young man whose life was ruined by being addicted to porn. It’s not worth it.

9. Have integrity. Stand for truth and always do the right thing. Sometimes it’s a lot harder but it’s always worth it. Leave a legacy that is good.

10. Be a real man. Real men are not the men you see on TV or movies. Real men are kind, compassionate, respectful and honest. They fight for truth and justice. They love their wives whole heartedly and deeply. They care for those who need help. They work hard.
I was not a real young man. I was kind a punk kid coming out of high school and through most of college. I didn’t do half those things on that list. I made bad choices that I regretted. I don’t look at them as learning experience, I look at them as mistakes and if I could go back and change them I would. Don’t live with the idea that “you only live once” or “you have to do something to learn from it.” That type of living is idiotic and full of shame and regret. Instead, live honestly now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Part 2 Of: “I Don’t Know This Lady, But..."

There are times when I come across blogs that I really want some of our people to read, so I will highlight them on my own blog. At TBC we talk a lot about Biblical Manhood and Biblical Femininity. In a world where roles are so confusing, the Word is crystal clear on what makes a godly woman and what makes a godly man. I have written and highlighted several articles regarding this subject, but when I came across Mrs. Kate Conner’s blog and saw what she had written to young ladies and young men, I thought it would be very appropriate to at least spur these types of discussions in some of our homes. I always want to speak to the heart over behavior, but certainly the behavior can reveal what is going in the heart. Use this blog as a discussion starter, it is filled with wisdom.


Dear Boys...

After I posted “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” a lot of people came out of the woodwork and said “What about the boys?!?”

In fact, I got quite a lot of hate mail about my urging women to dress with some self- respect and not “saying anything” to young men about respecting women. To which I replied (respectfully, in my head) “Um, that’s because the post was written TO GIRLS.”

I decided not to write a “10 Things” for teenage boys for 1 reason:
I’m not a guy.
I’ve never been a guy.
I don’t know how guys think.
If I wrote a list for guys I would have to call it, “Ten Things Girls Want Guys to Know.” Which, come to think of it, might be kind of helpful, but not at all the same thing as man-to-man advice.
(I guess that’s 4 reasons.)

But my husband, who is a guy, has been a teenage guy, and knows how guys think, wrote his list of “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Boys,” and I think it’s awesome. Also, my good friend T.J. (who is a guy, has been a teenage guy, and knows how guys think) wrote a list on his blog, and it is equally awesome. You should go read it here right now.
Here is Dan’s list, for all the young men (and not-so-young men) out there, and those who love them.

Ten Things Dan Wants To Tell Teenage Boys

1. There are no shortcuts to respect. Shortcuts to popularity? Maybe. Shortcuts to hype/cred/fame/swag? Sure, whatever. But shortcuts to respect? None. You earn it or you don’t. You earn it by giving it to people that deserve it. You earn it by giving it to people that don’t. Men, women, kids, the elderly. Teachers, parents, the greeter at Walmart. You earn it by the way you carry yourself. The sooner you realize it’s what you really want, the quicker you can quit looking for shortcuts that don’t exist.

2. Person not parts. Often, you will look at a woman. Your teenage years are a good time to master the habit of seeing a person and not just body parts. The girl you’re checking out not only has a nice butt – she also has a name, a personality, parents, goals, dreams, and a life that doesn’t involve your staring. Plus, that respect thing will be easier if you look her in the eyes first.

3. Control your sexuality or it will control you. With the right boundaries, sex is cool. And for a teenage guy, sex seems like this overwhelmingly huge part of life. But it is NOT worth wasting your whole life for. Sex is best in its proper time and place – if you rush and do things your way, you’ll regret it. Sex can drive you to do stupid things. As cool as you think it is, remember this for a little perspective: your parents did it too.

4. Laziness is a disease. Other men will treat it that way too. Men may disagree with your opinion, your values, or your lifestyle and still give you some credibility. Let them believe you’re lazy, and you might as well not open your mouth again. They’re not listening.

5. There is fine line between confidence and arrogance, but a canyon between confidence and insecurity. Act like you’re supposed to be there. When you believe yourself, others believe you too. People look for someone willing to take on challenges, willing to say ‘I got this.’ Be real, be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. The best confidence of all comes from knowing that whatever happens, I’m coming out the other side. After all, what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. ( FYI: the respect from #1 will kill arrogance before it starts.)

6. Whatever you’ve been asked to do, do just a little bit more. Exceed expectations. If your Mom’s expecting a ‘C,’ fight, claw, and scratch for a ‘B.’ If Dad asks you to wash the dishes, wash them AND take out the trash. I know this sounds like nothing but extra work. But in business, this gets you new customers. In basketball, this improves your free throw percentage. In relationships, it builds trust and responsibility. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is only five letters. Just a little ‘extra.’

7. Women do not think like you do. You think you look cool because you’re wearing a new shirt. She thinks you look cool because you actually ironed it. You think ‘I love you’ means ‘I think you’re fun.’ But she’s thinking about words like ‘forever’ and ‘always’ and ‘The Notebook.’ Speaking in this romantic language as a teen guy is like trying to speak to hostile Latin King gang members after watching an episode of Dora. You don’t really understand what you’re saying, and you’re going to get yourself shot.

7b. Oh, and those women want you to pull your pants up.

8. Speak up. Sometimes you have something meaningful to say. Say it. Say it where people can hear you. Speak up! Speak up when you say hello, when you ask the girl for her number, when you’re answering a question. If it’s not worth saying proudly, it’s not worth saying. (This doesn’t apply to cell phone conversations)

9. You will not fail if you do not try. In other words, feel free to avoid failure at all cost. But only if you’re content being single, broke, jobless, uneducated, unknown, and unaccomplished. If that’s not what you’re looking for, you’re going to have to buck up and give it a shot. And sometimes, you’ll screw up. That’s part of life. Remember: if you failed two times out of every three times your entire career in
baseball (and hit a .333 average), you’d be in the top 26 all time! (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/batting_avg_career.shtml)

10. Real men. For the rest of your life, you’re going to hear about all kinds of real men. They are going to be described to you as men with superhuman strength, impeccable taste in fashion, loads of cash, and the charisma and charm that every woman wants. You’re going to hear how real men wear pink, real men drive Fords or Chevys or Porsches, real men grow beards, real men drink this, or go here, or use that. They’re going to use this kind of language because you were made to be a man. And for someone to question your manhood is to deny you a valuable part of who you are. The last thing you want women or men or society or culture to think is that you are somehow ‘less of a man.’

Here’s the secret: this real man that you’re supposed to measure up to doesn’t exist. The only man that you’ve got to worry about striving after is the man you were created to be.
You’ve got to wake up in the morning determined to meet your potential head on, to no longer judge your success by the products that they’re peddling, but to judge yourself by standards that have existed since the beginning of the time:

Am I going to make excuses or am I going to make something happen?

Am I going to make my life count or am I going to waste it?

Am I going to make my life about what I have or about who I am?
After all, answering these questions well will get you the best kind of respect there is: True, solid, ‘conscience-clear,’ left everything out there, self-respect.