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Posted on Oct 23, 2014 in Blog, Church, Creativity, Culture, Encouragement, Fathering, Leadership, Pain and Suffering, repost

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

(Intro: This is a post I wrote in Sept of 2012, when I was fairly upset about some stuff, so I wrote this article and never published it. I just reread it and wanted to share it with you.)

Sometimes when it feels like we’ve failed at something, I think the basis of what we’re feeling is based on someone else’s imposed definition of who they think you should be – and you’re not living up to it.

You know what I’m talking about. People see a pastor at another church while they’re visiting on a weekend, and they instantly start comparing you (their pastor) to them. They notice all the little things they do that you don’t do. They notice their style and their voice. They notice all the things that make them who they are, and compare them to you.

What they don’t realize is that, they are experiencing them in a vacuum. For one, it’s not a fair, side by side comparison. It’s not like they’re in a Best Buy, looking at the TV’s where they can see the same movie on a hundred TV’s. Can you imagine that store? A hundred different worship leaders singing the same song or a hundred different pastors preaching the same sermon so you can pick the one you like best?

When they take the TV home, they begin to notice the flaws.

You’ve been there. You buy the TV, get home and realize it doesn’t have enough connections, or doesn’t look as big as you thought it did, or it looks bigger. You buy a used car, and on the way home you hear a noise you didn’t hear. You go to a new church, and then the pastor says something you don’t think is funny, he’s kind of a nerd, the worship leader is a little pitchy or sings a song you don’t like every weekend. Then they start to remember all the things they liked about their old pastor, forget all the things they didn’t like and long for the days when they were at their previous church.

I know I’ve been there before. I’ve had, in my life and ministry on a regular basis, people who judge me and how I do ministry against how they think I should be doing ministry. They have an image of what they think I should be in their head, and when I don’t live up to it, I am failing.

I’ve had people judge me against a flawed perception of themselves. They believe they are great at my job (even though they may have no training or experience) and that I should be doing my job as good as they think they could do my job.

Maybe they can do my job better, but the bottom line is, we shouldn’t judge anyone based on what we think they should be. But, you know how you work at a job for 40+ hours a week? You do this thing for 40+ hours a week that I don’t claim to know all about. There are things about your job that I don’t understand. Things that can’t be understood unless you’re in it all the time. The reverse is also true, but it’s not real PC to say. But I will. Unless you are a Pastor and you make your living pastoring a church and work in the church 7 days a week, you just don’t have an understanding of what it really means to lead a church.

The other bottom line, you shouldn’t let people judge you based on who they think you should be.

I know you can’t control them, but you can control how much you let them in your head. Don’t let their judgement of you drive you to try to be someone you’re not.

You are awesome just how God created you. The other guy they are comparing you to is awesome how God created him. When you try to be like him, you are being an imitation of a creation, not being the creation God created. When you’re trying to be someone else, that’s idolatry. We are made in God’s image, and our only pursuit can be the image the designer put in us since before we were born.

One thing I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. But only if that improvement is based on principle and truth, not comparison. If the improvement is to keep up with someone else, or because we are under pressure from people around us to be something we’re not, we shouldn’t do it.

As we shape who we are and the people we lead, we need to build into them the ability to think and appreciate people for who they are. Don’t let your people get caught up in the comparison game. Don’t let them talk negatively about your pastor, don’t let them talk negatively about your subordinates. Teach them to learn to appreciate the good things and find ways they can step in and fill in the perceived gaps.

One final note: with the highly connected world we live in, it’s very easy to see what every other church on the planet is doing. Whether it’s worship styles or songs, programs or ministries, videos, graphics, stage designs or sermons. We need to be careful to be sure that we aren’t comparing what we do to what the rest of the world is doing. God has a plan and design for your church body, just as he as a plan and design for you.

Just as God created you uniquely, he created your church body uniquely. If he wanted us to all be the same and act the same, he would have prescribed it for us. And in the areas we do have such prescriptions, I do think we should strive to live up that prescription. However, just as each of us are unique, he wants your church body to represent him uniquely.

So, no more cookie cutter pastors, no more cookie cutter churches.

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Posted on Oct 21, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth, Values

True North: The Need for an External Point of Reference

True North: The Need for an External Point of Reference

I grew up watching the Waltons. It was one of the shows that was in our daily diet. I think it was because of John Boy for the most part. The narrative he added to their lives and the morals they lived by from a different time were solid. Of course, you’re probably making fun of my for that admission, nevertheless, it’s was a good show.

I remember an episode of that show where Olivia was out with Elizabeth and Jim Bob (I think). One way or another, in the dense forrest of Virginia, they got lost. They encountered different trials, including one where Jim Bob had to scare away a bear by banging a couple of rocks together. As they navigated their way back to the main road, Olivia (the mom) said that moss grows on the north side of the tree, so that would help them know which way they were going. It was a point of reference. But there’s a problem with it.

Her point of reference isn’t global. That doesn’t work everywhere. For instance is the same true in the southern hemisphere? I know for a fact the same principle does not apply here in the Northwest where moss grows on all sides of the tree. So, what do we do then? Some may say you can use the sun. And while that’s true on a sunny day, we also have a lot of days where the sun isn’t visible. What do we do then? When you don’t know which way you’re going, even a map will do you no good.

The only real answer is to have an external point of reference. Like a compass. You need to have something that is outside of your current circumstance that points you in the direction you need to go. You need to have something outside of you that can lead you to safety. Your rescue is dependent on the external point of reference. You may not see the sun, but as long as you have that needle that is pointing to true north, you can navigate.

The problem we are facing in todays society is that we have removed the external point of reference. It’s not for a lack of tools and things that point to it. Those all exist and have not changed. But for some strange reason we have decided that we no longer need something outside ourselves to guide us. We believe that we are able and competent to lead from within the circumstance.

We don’t use true north anymore. Many don’t even believe that true north exists. Many believe each of us gets to decide what true north is for ourselves. And so, we are all out there in the same woods, using our own true norths to try to navigate this life.

“What’s the big deal with that?” you might be asking. One problem is that we are all sharing the same forrest. We are all on this planet sharing oxygen. Our paths cross. no one lives in true isolation. What happens when my north contradicts your north? What happens when your north gets in the way of my north? Who gets to decide which north is the right north? Who gets to win the battle of the norths?

In this scenario, one might think that everyone would just assume that everyone is right. But that’s not the case. And we can see that being played out all over media on a daily basis. It never happens that everyone is right. In fact, what most commonly happens is that everyone is wrong. What I mean by that, is we don’t hear people commending one another for being right, we hear people condemning one another for being wrong. How idiotic is it of us to claim that what’s right for me may not be right for you and yet, at the same time condemn you for not doing what I think is right?

So, when your north contradicts my north, then you must be punished. And whichever way the justice scales of public opinion are tilting that day is what will be the winning north. The scales may swing widely from contradiction to contradiction, and that doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and how I feel in this moment.

It does not make any sense. The reason we are such a messed up people is that we have abandoned our True North. The only way for us to find that sense is to abandon the ridiculous notion that I get to decide what north is and turn back to the real source of north – God. For it is God and God alone that sits outside our circumstance, and only he knows which direction we should go.

If you are unfamiliar with Frank Peretti’s illustration called “The Chair” I strongly recommend you make yourself familiar with it. Unfortunately this is an old video and it looks old, but the point is great.

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Posted on Jul 31, 2014 in Featured, Humility, repost

If We’re Being Honest… #lessofme

If We’re Being Honest… #lessofme

I’ve been in this place lately, and it’s hard to explain.

I have things I want to say to people. In other words I want to be heard.

And I know what you have to do to be heard, according to most things you read, that’s build a platform so you have an audience to hear your thoughts and musings and whatever witty banter I might have for you that day.

However, the hard part of that isn’t finding followers. Sure, that’s a challenge, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Because, I’m sure if I disciplined myself, I could find thousands of followers on twitter and gather a fairly decent following.

The hard part is, that it seems the thing we have to do in order to be heard is to be somewhat of a narcissist and talk all about how great and awesome you are. You have to talk down to the world and be able to say things about the world that make you look like Aristotle’s teacher.

In other words, it seems you have to be proud and arrogant to build a following. I’m not saying that everyone who has built a following is that way, but it seems to be important.

And that’s a big problem for me. Not because I don’t want the attention, because the truth is, I do. I’d love to have a billion followers.

But, the message I want to share is about walking humbly. Making much of Jesus instead of making much of me. Because, I don’t really have all that much to share with you apart from Jesus. Because, without the wisdom I’ve received from a life of following Him, I’m just an idiot. In fact, I’m still an idiot quite a lot of the time.

We talk about this at SixEight Church quite a bit. If this thing is built around me, we’re going to fail. Because I don’t have the eternal significance with which to sustain such a movement as that of the Bride of Jesus Christ.

We must always keep this in check. I think there is extreme danger in building things around ourselves. There are the obvious dangers of, what if you mess up and everything comes crashing down.

But, I think there’s the bigger danger of losing your soul.

“Whoah there, hang on. You thing you can lose your soul through the simple act of pride?”

That wasn’t me, that was the wisdom of Jesus:

25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matt 16:25-26)

“Really bruh, what do you think it means to gain the world?”

Well, perhaps this:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom 12:2) 

The way the world thinks is to make much of ourselves. The pattern of this world is to make everything revolve around ourselves, and to build our lives on the foundation of me. The world screams at us all the time about how we need to do this or that to be truly happy. And somehow, we never are.

But, we aren’t supposed to be like the world. We’re supposed to have transformed minds that don’t think like the world.

And it’s here that I see a grave danger. If the world is still about us, if we gain the whole world – then our minds have never been renewed and transformed. Our minds still think like the old man who’s a part of the fallen, broken and ultimately condemned to death world.

So, how’s your soul? Are you making everything about you? Or is it about Jesus? Am I doing a good job of this- on most days I probably fail miserably. It’s a process we will never be finished with. But, are we at least aware of it, and attempting, however imperfectly to make our lives about Jesus? That’s what I’m afraid of. I just don’t know how many of us are doing that today.

This is an extremely important message, and I have an intense burden for it and that’s why it’s hard to share. Maybe you’ll share it with some people you know, probably not. But, if you do, do so with the intention of making much of Jesus. Not yourself. And certainly not me. Because at the end of the day, I’m still an idiot.

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Posted on Jul 2, 2014 in Featured, repost, Worry

Too Much Worry

Too Much Worry

There’s so much to worry about. Even if we just focused on our own lives, there’s a lot to worry about. But with the rapid improvements in technology, we have more to worry about now than we ever have.

We always knew there were things going on around the world, but they weren’t in our face all the time. We knew there were starving kids in Africa, we knew there were dangerous places to live in the middle east, we knew there were natural disasters, we knew there were dictators, we knew a lot of things were out there. But, we didn’t have them all thrown in our face, every single day.

I don’t know what your Facebook feed is like, but mine is constantly filled with all of these issues and more. I’m reminded on a daily, if not multiple times a day, just how messed up the world is that we live in.

And it doesn’t matter which philosophy of life you subscribe to, because there is plenty of worry to go around. There are plenty of issues that can cause you to worry, even if you don’t agree with them.

And because we don’t agree with them, we have more stuff to worry about. Stuff we would have never worried about before, because it wasn’t in our faces all the time. But, because we don’t agree, we worry that our way of life is going to be snuffed out and replaced with something we don’t believe in or agree with.

How should we deal with it all?

Worrying is like a rocking chairHere’s my point, and it’s really quite simple, stop worrying about all these things you can’t control. Like the quote in the picture, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

You can’t control what your friends and family believe. You can’t control how your neighbor votes, the fact that they smoke on their back porch and it drifts into your bedroom, that their dogs bark and keep you awake or a thousand other things. You can’t control the ones who are in charge of you, whether they’re controlling your job or your country. There are so many things we can’t control that we worry about.

We can’t control how someone we know succeeds or fails. We can’t control how people around us perceive us. We can’t control our kids to keep them from making bad choices. We can’t control our parents. We can’t control the idiots who drive slow in the passing lane. We can’t control the stop light. We can’t control the guy at emissions. We can’t control the stock market or the super market. It’s all out of our control.

Worry about stuff that you have no control over is like worrying about the person in the rocking chair next to you.

You were hoping to enjoy your afternoon on the porch with your sweet tea, but you can’t because the rocking technique of the person next to you is all wrong. And on top of that, they’re drinking unsweetened iced tea. So instead of enjoying your own rocking chair, you’re worried about something else.

Just Stop It!

If we all just focused on our own lives, and making the most of what we’ve been given and stopped worrying about each other and the myriad of things that are out of our control, don’t you think we’d be much better off?

What if, instead of spending your days worrying about all these things outside your grasp, you just spend your days worrying about how what you’re doing right now is affecting you and those closest to you? What if you started focusing your life in such a way that you became a blessing to those around you? What if you got your stuff together and were able to start helping out others who need it? There’s plenty to worry about in your own life. And if you just focus on doing the best you can with what you have, and then try to make a difference in the people around you, you’ll have far less to worry about.

Reverse the whole world

You know what would happen if we all started living this way? It would literally reverse the whole order of the world. And yes I mean literally.

If we just focused on getting our stuff together and doing what is within our control to do instead of worrying about why the world isn’t doing these things for us, we’d be much better off. So much of what we worry about are things we were designed to do for ourselves anyway.

And if we take personal responsibility for what we’re supposed to be doing, there’s no one to blame but ourselves.

If we can get our stuff together enough that we can start helping one another out, then we’ve gone from worrying about what the other person is doing, to making a difference in their lives. We’re not sitting on the outside judging and worrying, we’re gaining influence from the inside. And when you have influence you can help lead someone in a different direction.

Soon, you’ve started changing the world around you, and instead of having stuff to worry about you have results to enjoy.

I Suppose…

…it’s easier to sit outside your life and the lives of others and feign concern through the disguise of worry. That way, you never have to do any actual work. But, if you haven’t done anything to make a difference do you have a right to worry? Of course it’s easier to never do anything and blame everyone else for why your life sucks. And while I don’t want to ignore the fact that there are those who have a lot to overcome in life, there are plenty of examples of people who have a thousand reasons to complain and worry who decide to enjoy life anyway.

As long as you’re sitting on the outside of your life worrying about all the things that might go wrong, you’ll always have plenty to worry about. But, what would it take for you to live your life intentionally?

Stop letting life happen to you, and happen to your life. 

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Posted on May 21, 2014 in repost, Uncategorized

If I Could Convince You Of This One Thing…

If I Could Convince You Of This One Thing…

We spend so much time comparing ourselves to other people. We want their houses, their cars, their families, their gifts and talents – basically all the good parts of their life without the bad.

And what time we don’t spend comparing ourselves to others, and desiring their life instead of ours, we spend doubting the person God made us to be. We think it’s humble or something to come across as unconfident in who we were made to be. Or, we’re just so insecure because our gifts are different from other people’s gifts, and their gifts are the more noticeable, flashy kind of gifts, so we assume that ours must be insignificant.

What’s the one thing I wish I could convince you of? To have faith in who God made you to be. 

have-faith-believe-in-yourselfAnd that’s the real kicker of the whole thing anyway. Let me explain. Who is responsible for making you the way that you are? Doesn’t that responsibility fall on God’s shoulders? Sure, there are things about how we were raised, the way our parents treated us, the way we made friends and the way they treated us that all affect how we live and do life. But, isn’t it God who created us on purpose for a purpose?

So, those little jabs you make at yourself, about how you’re not good enough at this or that, those aren’t just putting yourself down, but you’re putting God down too. When you belittle your gift because it isn’t as fun and in your face as someone else’s gift, you’re dissing your creator. Maybe that’s your intent. I don’t know you well enough to know.

But, what I do know and what I have seen is that every single person made in God’s image has something they can bring to the table. Every single person God makes, is someone he designed with His mission in mind. And when you put yourself and your skills and abilities and personality and other traits down, you’re putting God down too.

So, Have faith and be yourself. God made you to play a specific role that the person with the flashy gift is incapable of playing. And while they might get all the attention because they’re loud and obnoxious, you know that they couldn’t do what they do if you didn’t do what you do. There is no single person on the face of the planet capable of doing everything God needs done. So, be confident in who God made you. Because there is no one else he has made to do or be who He made you to be.

And if you don’t do it, no one else will. So there will be this big hole of stuff that’s not getting done because that’s what you were created to do. We need you. We need every single person doing what they were created to do.

That’s the only way to achieve true, world domination.

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Posted on May 10, 2014 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Intentional Living, Lost Virtues, repost, Responsibility

The Death of Personal Responsibility (repost from

The Death of Personal Responsibility (repost from

(I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago for our church blog, and I wanted to share it with you as well. The original post can be found at:

A few weeks ago, this graphic was making the rounds on Facebook. And as much as you and I may dislike memes and they way they’ve destroyed Facebook, there is a lot of truth in this one.

childhoodisnotadiseaseWhat is the truth that is in this picture? It’s really a rather frightening one. Because what it contains is evidence that we apparently live in a post-responsibility world. We live in a time where responsibility only pertains to others and how what they did has caused my current crisis – whatever that may be.

“Hang on man, are you saying these aren’t real issues and diseases?” No. Not necessarily. However, I do think we are far to quick to jump to labeling someone ADHD simply because they have never been taught the discipline of sitting still and paying attention. We are too quick to write off our bad behavior as being some sort of psychological disorder. And when we have a bad day, we think the answer is a happy pill of some kind.

Do I daydream? I do. Does that mean I have ADHD, no. It means I need to focus.

Do I snap and get angry? Sometimes. Does that mean I’m bipolar? No. It means I need to work on my temper.

Do I find myself sad or upset about things from time to time? Sure. Doesn’t that mean I’m depressed? No. Perhaps it means I need to focus more on gratitude.

Again, I’m not saying these issues don’t exist. I think they do. I have no doubt ADHD is a real thing – for some. I have no doubt that some people struggle with being bipolar. And I know people go through depression. I’m not judging or condemning those who legitimately struggle with those things.

But here’s what I am saying: we are the cause of our problems. Even if you have a true and legitimate diagnosis of one of these or the hundreds of other “disorders” that exist today, you are still responsible for your choices. There may be some who aren’t responsible, but they are the exception. Don’t hear me wrong either. I’m not saying I’m immune to this. I have these thoughts creep up from time to time. It’s much easier to look for someone or something to blame instead of taking the blame for myself.

The moment you push responsibility off your shoulders and onto the shoulders of something or someone else is the exact moment you stop growing and moving forward. As long as it’s not your fault, there’s no need for you to work on it.

Sure, that’s an easier place to be. It’s always easier to not have to work on who you are. It’s always easier to not have to have any reason to try to change. It’s always easier to stay the same and blame something for why you can’t change. But as long as your a victim of some disease, you will always be at the mercy of it. And what you’re really a victim of is the definition we read online, then looking for those things in ourselves. We read articles like “10 signs of ADHD” or “3 ways to know you’re depressed” and, magically, we see all those symptoms in our own lives. As if it’s possible to self-diagnose depression with a 3 point article that we skimmed.

Here’s the great concern for us as followers of Christ. We can’t pursue sin and Jesus at the same time. We’re either pursuing Jesus or we’re pursuing ourselves. What I hear in a lot of this discussion is an attempt to be able to justify our sins by something we can’t control so we can still call ourselves Christians. We want the promise of eternity with Jesus without having to give up what we like in this life. So we rationalize and justify our sins with psychological disorders, claiming that we just can’t change.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:24-27)

But you can change. We all can. But in order to change, we have to admit that there is something wrong with us. And unless you’re willing to do that, you’ll never get past where you are right now. But, if we can all admit that we are responsible for our choices and our actions…if we can all recognize that we’re sinners…if we can all recognize that we’ve made mistakes – then we have a chance at growing and changing.

Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? Yes! I will even go so far as to say, if we don’t suffer through the change, we will never know what it means to find joy.

“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) 

And you know what, the day we decide to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and start to work on turning away from the sins in our lives could be the best day of our time here on earth. Without that day, we never become more like Christ. But, with that day, we continue to work out our salvation and become more and more like Christ a little more each day.

Please, make that day – today! 

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