How My Son’s Illness Revealed Our Sickness

Just days before our daughter was born, our son woke up coughing and laboring to breathe. We tried to put him in a steamy shower, but it wasn’t helping, so we brought him to the hospital.

On the way to the hospital he started to calm down, but it was still heart breaking to listen to the sound of him breathing. The ER doctors gave him a steroid treatment, gave us some tips and tricks for what to do if it happened again, and hours later we brought him back home.

We put him to bed and I sat in our rocking chair watching him fall asleep.

As I sat there listening to his labored breathing my heart was breaking and I started to tear up. As his father, I wanted to do whatever I could so that he could breathe easy, but I knew that the only thing we could do was wait for the medicine to complete its work.

As he started to fall asleep, I thought about How much God loves our son and each one of us.

I thought about how just like my son struggled to breathe, we all spiritually struggle to breathe.

We have a spiritual sickness that goes untreated because we think that maybe our sicknesses give us more freedom than the treatment. But over the years it gets harder and harder to breathe.

We’re all laying in our spiritual and emotional cribs trying to breathe, without the right medicine.

We use many different medications for our illness, for some of us we use Netflix, social media, our families, our hobbies, and so on. We occupy our time with insignificance, to distract us from focusing on how hard it is to breathe.

Sometimes we think that if we just work harder or do more good then we will be able to breathe easy.

Just like the Religious people in the time of Jesus, who tried to do the right thing and to follow all the rules, we are seeking good things to heal our sickness, but they never will.

In Mark 2:16-17 it says,

16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Little did the Pharisees know that their righteousness was farther from blissful breathing than the sins of those ‘tax collectors and sinners’. The scribes and Pharisees thought that working hard and following all the rules was sufficient medicine to save them.

The tax collectors and sinners knew their sinful-remedies for their sickness weren’t working, they knew they needed what the Physician had for them.

The Physicians medicine is the only sufficient medicine that can save us.

The Great Physician spilled his blood to wash away all our sicknesses, it may not heal our sicknesses right away, but we must be faithful and let the medicine complete its work.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.’ – Hebrews 13:20-21

In what ways do you self-medicate instead of trusting the medicine of the Great Physician?

Much Love!

Join the Movement of Christ

Dear Family,

You don’t need me to tell you that our world is becoming increasingly divisive. It can be hard to imagine what is going on in the minds of the people around us on every side of every issue. I know I have been questioning the sanity of our society for quite some time.

But can we imagine for a second, the pain and struggle that has caused other humans to attack themselves and each other? What causes a person to shoot people at a concert and at a church service?

Hurt people hurt people. The problems and issues we are dealing with today are not because of the person in front of us, it’s because of the person before that person, before that person, before that person, etc.

Have you ever played the game ‘telephone’, where one person on one end has a message that he whispers to the person next to him or her, and then they whisper the message to the person next to them and so on? Most of the time at the end of the telephone line the message has changed. This is not because the last person decided that they wanted to lie, rather because at one point in the line someone said one wrong word and then the next person said one wrong word, and then the next person misheard another word and all of a sudden the original message is gone.

That’s the same way with life. At one time my great-great-great grandfather was hurt by his grandfather, and then he tried as best he could to not hurt his son in the same way but neglected him in another way, and because he is hurt by his dad he inadvertently hurts his daughter who starts to wonder if maybe drugs, sex, or violence might help heal her pain and on and on and on.

There are deep-rooted wounds in the heart of every part of and every person in our society.

Much of our individual pain and overall cultural suffering can be traced back to adolescence.

But we don’t have to stay in this pain. We can step into the lives of children and teens around us and change the bitterness of their pain into a hope for the consummation of the Kingdom of God.

That’s what Britt and I are doing. We’re joining Youth For Christ to step into the pain of
students who don’t know Christ to show them that true hope and healing come from God. Our goal is to introduce students to Christ and bring them into the church body through our work at Life In Christ Church.

What are you going to do to join the hope and healing of our world?

You could volunteer at your local youth church, Youth For Christ, or some other youth
organization. You could donate money to Youth For Christ for Britt and I or to any other Youth For Christ chapter to help them reach more students with the hope of Christ. There are countless avenues available to serve in. The question is will you actually do it?

God has given us the gift of His love, and it is up to us to share His transforming love to our dying society.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2nd Corinthians 5:18-21

Why are We So Focused on The National Anthem?

Everything we do is an attempt to live with more freedom. Every thought we have, every impulse, is based on an idea that through this thought or deed we may experience more freedoms in our daily life; more opportunities to choose what we want to do with our time and money.

Whether it’s through cultural, social, and/or economical conforming or reforming, the desire for freedom is at the core of our being.

It’s the driving force of every major social and political movement.

The Revolutionary war was fought for freedom from Britain.

The North fought the Civil War to free slaves. The South fought the Civil War for their ‘freedom’ to have salves.

World War 2 started because of a perceived lack of freedoms in Germany resulting in threatening the freedom of the world.

The Civil Rights movement was a fight for equal freedoms. Those who fought against Civil Rights thought that equal rights would infringe on their freedoms.

Every position in each fight has or had moral reasons for them. Depending on your perspective you could probably make compelling arguments morally and situationally for your position on national anthem protests, #___________LivesMatter, etc.

The problem arises from our different moral and situational perspectives.

If a family member of yours served and possibly died in military service, the flag stands for their sacrifice. Therefore, these national anthem protests seem like a personal attack on your family and friends.

If you have been impacted by police brutality, racial profiling, and racial slurs, then it feels like the National Anthem stands for freedoms that you are not experiencing. Therefore, the national anthem protests become more of an expression of your individual and/or community pain.

Very few people are willing to put down their own personal perspective to see other perspectives, for fear that other people will not do the same for them.

That is the definition of selfishness. Our nation is full of people who are concerned with themselves only.

If we would put down the hurtful words and victim attitudes maybe we could become a nation that fixes injustices rather than fight for a self-serving ‘justice’ that only benefits certain people.

I’m thankful for the military and the veterans who have served to fight for our freedom. I’m also hurt by the lack of understanding for our black and brown brothers and sisters.

Jesus Christ experienced unjust treatment, racial discrimination by Romans, and the loss of relatives and neighbors to military conflict via the Roman Empire.

But he didn’t fight for His personal rights.

People slandered him, spat in His face, beat him, whipped him and hung him on the cross. He didn’t call his accusers and crucifiers bigots and label them as ignorant. What He said was, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ Jesus died to save his accusers and his crucifiers. And just like the people who were accusing, beating, and murdering Jesus, we don’t know what we are doing either. We are unjustly hurting people with our words and actions.

Are we willing to lay down our own perspective of freedom and reach across the battle field to embrace and understand the other perspectives?

Not only did Jesus not fight for His personal rights, he embraced the Samaritans (John 4:7-26) who were even lower than the Jewish ethnicity, and He loved the Roman soldiers (Matthew 8:5-13). We too can embrace racial minorities and veterans.

The question is, why don’t we love and seek the wellbeing of others above ourselves?

Redeeming Our Time

I use to teach leadership to students in urban schools through an organization called GR Initiative for Leaders. At the start of the academic year we would spend a couple weeks introduce the concept of leadership to the students we worked with. We spent the first few weeks convincing our students that while some people are born with natural leadership characteristics or raised in a ‘better’ socioeconomic circumstance, we are all leading ourselves and others in one direction of another.   

We would then share our definition of Leadership: Influence + Responsibility.

The point of these lessons were for each student to see that no matter what they initially thought about being a leader, they all had influence over a number of people (cousins, friends, siblings, teammates, etc.) and, depending on how they spent their time, they could significantly increase their influence in a positive way.

In the same way, how we spend our time influences us in either a positive or negative way.

The way we are influenced is the same way we influence the people around us.

I had a college baseball coach who really knew how to use his time well. Some of the most profound and influential moments from my undergrad years came from the short 30 second interactions he had with us in random places around campus as well as during and after games.

I would frequently visit him in his office after our workouts. Almost every day there would be a Bible or another Christian book open on his desk. It became clear that he spent his free time reading and studying the Bible.

What proceeded out of his mouth came from how he spent his time.

Many of us often neglect our own hearts and spend all of our time watching Netflix, listening to violent or sexually charged music, and/or spending hours on social media. And we wonder why we get angry so quickly or react so poorly to our friends, family and co-workers.

Sometimes what we spend our time doing overrides even our deepest moral and religious beliefs.

The point is that what we spend our time doing deeply impacts our core beliefs in a way that alters the way we interact with each other.

We have to redeem the way we spend our time in order to be able to redeem our relationships with God and others.

If one of us would like to spend more time praying and less time on social media, find someone to help you make that change. Figure out what kind of restrictions would help you the most and put them into action.

For me, redeeming the way I use my time has helped the condition of my soul as well as the way I interact with my friends, family and strangers. I still have bad days but I’m now more conscious of the influence I have on people regardless of my personal history with them.  

May the Lord open our eyes to see how we can change the way we utilize our time.


In what ways can redeeming the way we spend our time also redeem our relationships?


Your First Step to Connecting with New People

Personally it’s been very hard for me to connect well with people over the years. There always seemed to be an incredible awkwardness that accompanied talking to someone new. The only people that I could really have conversations with were people who were good at connecting with me.

Many of us know those types of people who are naturally good at talking to and making connections with people. But for some of us it is harder to maintain eye contact, find areas of common interest, show interest in people who are different than us, and to ultimately be ok with being uncomfortable. Those realities can put us in a position where we are not able to forge new friendships, deepen existing relationships, or succeed professionally.

Over the past 4 years I’ve gotten better at connecting with people through one not so simple trick: fake it.

When I say ‘fake it’ I don’t mean being disingenuous in relationships. What I mean is when it feels uncomfortable and you want to get out – keep going. You may not be interested or even comfortable in getting to know more about certain subjects or different cultural intricacies, but being uncomfortable in that relational connection can have incredible impact in both of your lives.

You might say that if you don’t feel like getting know more about that person then you are not just faking it but you are being fake. But if you believe relationships are more valuable than accomplishments, then pushing through your own prejudices and cultural differences can bring you closer to being more Christ-like. For when we value relationships over and above accomplishments, we are less likely to exploit individual relationships for selfish gain.

One of the best way to be unselfish is to practice thinking about others, especially if you have a hard time connecting with people.

So if you have a friend, coworker, or a student who you struggle to connect with, ask them about themselves (where they are from, what music they like, their literary interests, etc), finding those places where they are different from you. Then ask about those differences to jump into the uncomfortable mystery of who that person is.

What this practice does is give that person the ability to share about themselves in a way that not many other people want to hear about. It also gives you a more clear understanding of how to continue a meaningful relationship with them.

What are some tools that help you connect with people who are different than you?

Relational Investments

When we think about where we are as individuals today, we can often trace our location (geographical, spiritual or emotional location) back to a relationship that we had in the past.

As humans we place our value in the types of relationships we have, as well as the perceived value that someone places in having a relationship with us. Past relationships can have a tremendous impact on how we view our current situations, whether personal and professional.

For example if someone has an abusive parent or spouse, the value they place on themselves can directly come from how they were treated. They can become apprehensive of authority or companionship and become cynical, isolated, and sometimes violent.

Or if someone had an amazing friend or family member who continuously encouraged them to pursue their dreams. They might one day receive a Grammy award and genuinely feel like that person is responsible for helping them become a star.

Every interaction we have with the people around us will make negative or positive deposits into their lives. It could be a small deposit but over time the deposits we make will gain interest.

A negative relational deposit in my life came from confessing my struggle with pornography to a pastor when I was 13 years old. He told me that he would follow up with me on a regular basis and help me overcome this struggle. I was encouraged and for about a month I didn’t look at pornography. But as it became clear that the pastor was not going to follow up with me it became harder and harder to say no to pornogrpahy. And consequently I was addicted to porn for 8 more years. 

However small of a relational interaction that was, it was made more significant because that was the first time I felt comfortable enough to say something. Even though it was a 5 minute conversation it took me 5 more years to confess that sin to someone else.

The tough thing about relational equity is that negative deposits have a significantly higher interest rate than positive deposits.

A friend of mine and his wife foster adopted two young brothers, and as he reflected on the experience he said, ‘it took a year and a half of telling them we loved them 30-40 times a day to make any difference in their actions.’ Their negative experiences created a debt in their lives that needed continuous positive deposits. Now they operate out of a surplus of positive love.

Proverbs 18:21 says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.’

The way we talk to people we interact with can either lift them up from where they are, or bury them deeper in the grave of negativityheart-1908901_1280.

We have the ability give life to those around us. May we be intentional in the way we navigate relationships.

In what ways have relationships impacted you?

Who Really Cares About What You’re Going Through?

While working with students, I have heard kids say I don’t think anyone would care if I were dead. Others thought ‘if people knew what I have done they wouldn’t love me or care for me anymore’. With adults, the conversation changes to earning love and care by what we do.

One of the fundamental needs we have as humans is to feel loved and cared for.

The truth is there are times in our lives where we feel like we will be drowned by the stresses of this world. We have so much going on that it seems as if no one cares about us or what we have going on in our lives.

There is a passage in the Gospel of Mark that displays this truth:

There arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and [the disciples] woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’ (Mark 4:37-41 NASB, emphasis added)

The disciples were about to die; the uncontrollable, powerful sea was about to swallow them up. Then, in what they thought were their final moments, they accused their teacher of not caring about them.

What an interesting time to ask Jesus if He cared that they were perishing. Were they expecting Him to say ‘Yes’ and then grab a bucket to help get the water out of the boat?

I don’t think they were expecting an answer. I believe that at this moment it became clear to them that nothing really matters except to know that Jesus cares for them. This is a desperate plea from scared men.

But what happened next went beyond their expectations.  Jesus demonstrated His care as their teacher by proving His power over the uncontrollable sea. This terrified the disciples because they were trained fisherman with a vast knowledge of the unpredictable nature of the sea. But with three words their teacher calmed this raging storm.  

Jesus showed himself to be more powerful and more uncontrollable than the sea, while at the same time revealing how much he cared for them. At that moment, everything that was impossible became possible. Their understanding of God and His world started to shift.

I can imagine them feeling all at once that Jesus completely cared for them, but also disoriented by His immense power. The mysterious reality is that indeed Jesus did care about their lives, but He Himself is more uncontrollable than nature – making him unpredictable, infinitely powerful, and frankly, unsafe.


Jesus isn’t the soft, tame, or safe God we sometimes hope He is. But as C.S. Lewis puts it in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (emphasis added)

We are incapable of manipulating, controlling or even fully understanding Jesus, but we can know for certain that Jesus loves and cares for us more than the depth of the seas and the strength of the waves.


I often get discouraged by the direction of our culture and the lack of caring adults in the lives of many of the youth in the United States. When I think about the lives being stained by other humans I lose focus on how much God loves and cares for us. I have to constantly remind myself of that reality, or I get stuck in hopelessness. I can find myself asking, “God do you care that people are perishing?’, and He responds by saying, “Yes, that’s why I created you.’


As this tumultuous world seems to rise against us, how can we focus on the power of Christ’s love for us?

Jesus: The Original Avenger

One of my favorite movies is the first Avengers. The courage and bravery of the heroes, especially Captain America, is something that I admire.

Near the end of the film there is a world news scene (after the heroes save the city) about the public opinion of the various superheroes. There are two types of opinions in this scene, the first type are the ones who are fearful of the Avengers and want them to answer for the damage they caused to the city, the second type are the ones who are thankful that the heroes saved them. I was almost in a rage with the first group, thinking: they just saved your lives how dare you question them! Would you rather be dead?

Then a woman who was being interviewed responded to the critics of the Avengers,

“What, that this [destruction] was all somehow their fault? Captain America saved my life.”

At least someone got it.

As I thought about that scene I noticed that it was the people who weren’t in immediate need of saving that were against the Avengers. Little did they know that if the Avengers did not step in, the whole world would have been in ruins.

Then it would have been different; then they would have prayed for the Avengers to save them.

It’s kind of like the people Jesus came to save.

Like the Avengers, He encountered two types of people, the religiously confident and sinners. The religious people (i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees) thought they would be saved by their actions. They were so angry with Jesus when He ate with sinners and tax collectors (Matt 9:10) because they thought those sinners did nothing to deserve a Rabbi’s company.

The religious people thought they deserved some respect from Jesus because of their hard work. The sinners on the other hand, were so open to Jesus that they came from miles around to see Him. They were in need and knew it.

Those that saw their need for healing, who saw their need for saving, came to Jesus.

The religiously confident were the ones who hated Jesus and wanted him to answer for the commotion He had raised among the people.

The Bible says that Jesus and His disciples turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). He showed intense, unconditional love. He destroyed the social dynamics of the culture, giving sinners confidence and comfort. In turn the religious were uncomfortable and afraid, so they had Jesus killed.

The problem with the religious people (the problem with me) is that they don’t realize that their self-righteousness is an attempt to barter with God, to control Him.

Self-righteous people think they deserve something in return for their good works. But why should God give us anything?

The Bible frames that question in this way,

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4 NIV)

While I was meditating on that question a couple of years ago I had a disturbing thought. As I was looking up at the stars this vision hit me:

The universe is so big and humans are so small. Why do we go about our daily lives as if nothing could ever happen to us? Meteors and planets are flying through space around us at thousands of miles per hour and I think God owes me a good life because I work hard for Him?

That thought brought despair into my soul; my religious to-do list can’t protect me from a meteor much less a car crash or a hurricane. How can I be certain that I have done enough to be saved?

I need a superhero to save me because I can’t do it on my own.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16,17

Jesus is going to come back soon, is your confidence in Him or in your spiritual resume?

Is Free Will a Myth?

One of my first college classes was a philosophy class at a community college.

My professor didn’t believe in the Judeo-Christian God and wanted to make sure we all saw her philosophy behind her conclusion. She used various examples in her explanation including the famous question, ‘Could God create a rock so heavy that he couldn’t lift it?’ It’s an interesting question but I was more interested in another concept. That concept was: if God is sovereign and knows everything that’s going to happen then we don’t have a free will.

My professor was saying if God exists and is omniscient there couldn’t be free will because he already knows every outcome.

She held up 3 expo markers in the class, one was red, another blue, and the other black. ‘If God already knows which one I’m going to write with then the other two markers are just an illusion. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t choose something apart from what God decided I would choose.’

The conclusion of her argument was: If that were truly the case we wouldn’t have any power to deviate from what God decided we would do, or be able to apply what the bible says to our lives. In turn rendering the bible false in light of all the scriptures that talk about free will, God’s power and the changing of our lives.


It’s hard to imagine a God who doesn’t allow for us to choose what we want to do. If we can’t willingly choose to change the direction of our lives then it must mean that God is presiding over the evil in the world.

But maybe God’s omniscience is different than just knowing the future.

Could it be possible that God knows all possible futures?

In the illustration of the 3 markers, God knows the outcome of every marker. He knows what’s going to happen if you chose the red marker, the blue marker or the black marker.

If there is a fork in the road God knows what’s at the end of each road, but He won’t decide which way we are going to go.

It helps to think of it as a game show. There are 3 doors that lead to 3 different paths, at the end of each path there are three more doors that lead to 3 other paths and so on to create a web of doors. The host knows what’s behind every single door throughout the whole web but he doesn’t know which direction you are going to choose. Every path represents a decision made, and every door represents a possibility.

God is not like a game show host because he wants to help us walk through the right doors to become our truest self. If we enter a door that we shouldn’t have, He provides another door at the end of that decision that will lead us back to the path that leads to life. Jesus is ‘the way, and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6)

Through Jesus, God has given us the power to choose against our predispositions and family heritage to live life as He had originally intended it to be. It’s not easy but Jesus never promised an easy life.

What decisions do we need to make to change the trajectory of our lives?

The Jesus Basket

I like watching movies. Though I prefer movies that are action packed, I firmly believe that everyone enjoys a good love story. For example, the first time I watched the Notebook I was in a dorm full of male athletes; by the end of the film, there was not one dry eye.

There is something magical about a great movie.

A great movie can inspire us to dream of a better life for our families.

When I saw the movie 42, that detailed the struggle Jackie Robinson went through to break the ‘color barrier’ in Major League Baseball, I started to dream about all the things I wanted to accomplish in my life.

I came up with an incredible list of things I dreamed of accomplishing, a story I would be proud to be that main character of, but after awhile I started to feel discouraged.

In all honesty, my dreams felt so far away that I stopped working for them. I felt stuck. I didn’t feel stuck because my life is terrible; I have a beautiful and amazing wife, a wonderful son, and I work for a thriving church. But when I think of big historical events like Jackie Robinson paving the way for other African-American athletes, I too long to be a part of something like that, something bigger.

The problem is that I can’t see the bigger picture.

God created us for something more, something big. But somehow we get lost in the mundane. We allow the monotony of our job, and endless to-do lists to siphon our God-given purpose.

Jesus tells us that we will do greater works than He did (John 14:12), but when do those works start?

This wasn’t Jewish hyperbole because when we read the books of Acts, Romans and beyond it becomes clear that the disciples actually took hold of the promise to heal people, perform miracles, and reconcile people to God, just as Jesus did when He was with them. The disciples were living out a great story that Jesus invited them into.

They put all of their eggs in the Jesus basket. When everyone else was holding back to see if Jesus was really the Messiah, they gave 100%. Even when it went in the face of everything they had learned, they said ‘You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”(See Mark 10:25-28, and John 6:21-68).

I get stuck at this part. I tell myself that I am completely following Jesus, but there is always a part of me that I hold back because of the risk it takes to trust God. Not only that but sometimes I read the Word of God and think, this is a hard saying, who can listen to it? (John 6:60). I think I gloss over the hard stuff and pay closer attention to the ‘easy stuff.’

In my mind I say as the disciples said, You have the words of eternal life… And [I] have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God, but in my heart I say, ‘It’s too risky and too hard to do everything He says, so I’ll just live a comfortable and unchallenging life that’s only partially dedicated to laying down my life for You.’

But no good story has ever had a main character that was comfortable the whole time.

Jesus wasn’t comfortable. He took our sins upon Himself and died a horrific death. But He was also raised from the dead. Upon His resurrection, the invitation to join His story was released to everyone in the world.

Jesus has a grand story planned for every single person who puts 100% of their hope in Him. It’s time we stopped being comfortable with the mundane and started to embrace Him as He is, the Savior of the world.

It will not be comfortable, and it may not always be safe, but living a good story never is.

I’m challenging myself to start living a better story. The story that God planned for me. A story worthy of conflict. A story that will allow me to speak God’s grace, love, and peace into a mundane world.

I hope you will accept the challenge with me.  

What eggs are you struggling to put in the Jesus basket? Let’s embark on this journey together.