Serve29

This summer will mark something remarkably unique for me. I have gone to a summer church camp for 26 straight years and will not be going this summer. A crazy and unique experience for me, for sure. I love camp. I believe in camp. Turner Falls Youth Camp in 1996 had a lot to do with getting me into the ministry position I am in today.

I remember that camp during the summer between my 6th and 7th grade year. I felt a call into full-time vocational ministry. This is not an uncommon thing at camps accross the United States every summer. For me it was wildly uncommon. I was the kid that would go unnoticed in class because I never spoke. I kept quiet.

Fast forward amost 20 years later. I am the Executive Pastor at my church. I have pastored here for 9 years and pastored a total of 12 years. I have been priviliged to see my students make a positive impact on this world. God has truly blessed me.

That camp forever altered the trajectory of my life. In those 20 years I have learned the value of people around you.

Leap Day is just a day for most people. However, the fact remains it makes 2016 a year with 366 days, not 365. We decided NOT to waste our extra day.

Money Shot

So Monday February 29th, 2016 we set out to give 24 hours to our community. We didn’t want to waste a second of this extra day and I can safely say we did not.

Through indivdual prayer times, nursing home visitation, hero appreciation, trash pickup and cleanup, and a huge awesome party we made our Leap Day something to remember forever.

I learned something about myself and other people on that day:

1. We is better than me

I speak this phrase all the time to the ministries I am privileged to lead. We is truly better than me. I learned that during our Serve29 project. No one person could’ve ever made Serve29 successful. It took countless amounts of people pulling their own to make it such a great day.

2. Give a man a place and he will serve

Serving is not up for discussion in the kingdom of God. I saw so many people jumping into roles that needed filling. Give someone a why to serve and they can deal with any how.

3. Fun is spiritual

God is not some stoic and silent personality. Each personality on this planet bears his markings, so when a group of people get together and have some fun, HE IS THERE.

4. Love can carry you farther than anything

The bible teaches that God is love. So his people must use love as our only weapon. Serve29 was all about love. We were asked so many times at different Serve29 events why we were doing it, our only answer was We Love Tahlequah.

5. There is good in this world

Truth be told we can lose sight of this sometimes. I am reminded that good still exists and that good can top any negativity this world offers.

Do something GOOD in the world today!

 

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Winning the Battle of Worry

I have sat through many lectures, teachings, and sermons where the keynote speaker would talk about his or her book and say “If for no other reason buy my book so you can have something to read if you cannot sleep.” Everyone kind of laughs and snickers a little bit and then we move on. We all have that thing we do when we cannot sleep. Most of America now employs facebook to be the mind numbing activity used to expedite sleep. Often it acheives the exact opposite of what we desire. Our minds stay engaged until all hours of the night and we end up with less sleep than we have ever had.

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As a leader and pastor I have worked with countless people that say they cannot sleep that the nightmares in their dreams keep them from ever getting any sustainable rest. Why can’t we sleep? We have the most luxorious beds this world has ever seen, our homes are protected with 24 hour alarm systems that are monitored by companies every second of every day. We can check in on our babies with baby monitors. (some even have video screens) Yet we are a sleep deprived generation.

If you were to be honest, often what keeps us up are the things we are worried about; money, our kids, health, marital problems, job related issues, etc. As Christians we are children of the King. In fact Jesus Himself spent a lot of time telling us in the scriptures not to worry.

Matthew 6:25

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (NIV)

Jesus said it and we all believe it, but how often do we follow through with it?

If I was an intelligent man I would take some time to give you 10 easy steps to stop worry. However, that would cause me to be a world class hypocrite. I try not to worry, but often I allow my mind to wander to the worst possible scenarios. Why is webmd.com so popular? Because it puts a special kind of worry on us. Humans naturally work toward the worst possible scenarios.

Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the forbidden tree and instantly become afraid. They are so afraid that they hide from God and try to see if he doesn’t notice them. Humans first response to worry wasn’t to run to the God that created them, but to hide from Him.

Why are we like that? Why do we force God out of the equation of our greatest needs?

Before I can answer that question I have to differentiate to types of worry

1. Worry about things you cannot control

2. Procastinating about things you can control

If you are up at night because you haven’t finished that paper, stop being lazy. If you are up at night because your wife is mad at you for forgetting her birthday AGAIN. Be a better husband.

But so often we get to bed, exhausted, and then our minds run and run and run about things that probably will not happen or we have no control over.

When you cannot sleep or the worry of your day manifests into nightmares of your sleep what can you do? I probably will never completely stop worrying but how can I control my mind one day at a time?

1. Read the Psalms

Its the first thing I tell people. When you cannot sleep for any reason, read the Psalms. Not because they are boring chapters like that speakers joke about at the top of this post, but because they have a soothing presence about them.

David would go into the tormented King Saul’s chamber and play the Psalms for him. It was the only thing that soothed his soul.

Trust me, it works in 2015 too!

Just the other day I had been pressed over and over with some difficult nightmares. Nothing that I can even really remember after I woke up, but I got out my phone and started reading Psalms. After the 10th Psalm my mind calmed and I slept so peaceful until my son grabbed my face and said “WAKE UP, its morning time!”

2. Take control of your thoughts

As a Christian we have the ability to take control. Jesus told the disciples that all power and authority on heaven and on earth had been given to him and that we have that same power too.

Take control of your thoughts.

3. Say them out loud

Most ludicrous things we worry about sound silly once they come out of our mouths.

4. Pray before you sleep

If you are married pray with your spouse before you both go to sleep. Not only will it draw you closer, but it will also bring peace to your home.

My wife and I make it a point to tuck our kids into bed and pray over them. We pray for safety, blessings, and PEACE.

We want our home to be a peaceful home full of true joy.

Staying out of worry and living in peace doesn’t happen without purposed effort. Live a life that controls your thoughts, prays over your family, and lives in the scriptures.

Live in Peace Today!

I got played and he got apple juice

I have sent out more than a few tweets complaining the ESPN thinks football is spelled S-E-C. I get annoyed whenever my friends that love a college football team from THAT confernce celebrate a National Championship from their rival. All because they are in the S-E-C. Tiger Woods finishing 137th in a golf tournament makes bigger ESPN headlines than my St. Louis Cardinals winning another World Series. Breaking news on sports channels seems to be that LeBron James sneezed today. West Coast people scream of East Coast media bias. Fox News will do everything in their power to prove left wing wrongdoing and CNN does the same thing. Everywhere in the world bias lives and thrives.

I’m far from the best dad in the world, but every once in a while I want my kids to take advantage of me. One night I was putting my son, Everton, to bed and he was crying and wouldn’t lay down and I said “What do you want.” He screamed back at me “Apple JUICE!”

I got played and he got apple juice.

I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being played and having a little bias. You couldn’t even remotely try to convince me that my kids are not awesome. I understand they have flaws and I am not shocked when I hear they get put into timeout at daycare or in a little trouble in their church class.

But in a world full of people that accuse others of inappropriate bias, I am okay to be biased to those I love. It doesn’t mean I think they should get special treatment from others. All I want is for my kids and my wife to be treated fairly by others. However, when it comes to me, I want to be biased. I want to treat them special. I want to get “played” by them because they are my kids. I want to shower my wife with extravagant love because she is MY wife. My biased has nothing to do with any other family. It only has to do with the Drake bunch in Tahlequah, Ok. Our world is tough and mean and cruel and I think it is high time someone starts showing some biased behavior to the people that live under their same roof.

Don’t make others treat your family better or make others feel inferior, but when you get into your house, let those people know that they mean more than anything to you. Like the S-E-C it might not be me being successful, but I will celebrate, LOUDLY, every success my wife acheives in her workplace. To me she is the GREATEST TEACHER IN THE WORLD. Who better to think that than her husband? To me Kanon is the most perfect little girl in the world. Who better to think that than her dad? To me Everton is the funniest dude on this planet. Who better to think that than his dad? In a world where we tear others down, I will build my family up MOST.

Oftentimes the people we treat the cruelest are those that live under our roof. We will snap at our spouse and then use a fake nice voice with a coworker on the phone. The old cliche of a family fighting on the way to church and then getting out of the car and immediately acting like everything is fine, is a cliche, because we have all been there. Your family is the least likely to disown you, so you are comfortable with them. That is why we are pulled to flipping out at home instead of at work or in the public.

But I want to start a revolution. Let’s make the home the place of pure safety. Sure it will still be crazy and messy and lived in, but what if our homes became a place of pure refuge where all the negativity in the world could be dropped and you could actually be safe with people willing to not point out your every flaw?

Be biased today.

What can you do, today, to show your spouse or kids or parents that you are in their corner?

How can you show your bias today?

Five Distractions Dangerous to Parents

As a youth pastor for over a decade I have encountered more parents than I can remember. Most good parents in their own right and all having the propensity to become distracted with some part of parenting that can derail their child’s future.

Here are five distractions parents must avoid.

1. Forgetting who the parent really is. 

I know that you love your child. But sometimes love doesn’t mean doing what your child wants. Its about making decisions that are best for them, even if they cannot see it.

2. Going negative in front of your kids

Most people start talking negative and don’t even realize it. One way to derail your kid’s future is to speak negatively about people in front of them. You might think they are mature enough to handle it, but I have seen my fair share of students suffer through negativity because their parents make it an option in the house.

Let’s keep life positive

3. Focusing on their relationships too much

I am in TOTAL SUPPORT of any parent that wants to be involved in their child’s dating relationships. Teenagers need that kind of support at home, but make no mistake about it, a teenage relationship can become dangerous very quick. Parents need to be wise in understanding how quickly a young heart can fall for someone whenever that relationship is viewed as so important that you do NOTHING but focus on it.

Focus on it, but REALLY FOCUS on your relationship with your child and training them to be a good wife/husband some day.

4. Worrying too much

This world is rough, but rather than spending every waking second worrying about little Johnny, try raising them to make this world a better place.

5. Priority Fatigue

I have two children (ages 2 and 3) and some rules I make a priority are frankly incredibly hard to maintain. I’m not saying to never change or evaluate. I am simply saying that we must fight fatigue when dealing with our kids.

When the fighting gets tough, don’t give in on the priorities you know are important. Stick to your guns, in love, and eventually those priorities just might be carried on in your child.

Keeping a Top 10 log of the things that keep you going.

A simple thought has been coursing through my mind of late. What pushes me? What makes me get up in the morning and enjoy my life? I think its important to keep this thought in your mind. It will help you maintain perspective and understanding as you continue chasing your dreams.

keep-going

Here is a top 10 list of things that keep pushing me.

1. The dream God has placed in me

2. Kendrae

3. Kanon and Everton

4. Hope

5. Future Thinking

6. Excitement

7. Leading people to make a positive impact on this world

8. Surprising Doubters

9. Helping people work through difficulties

10. Creating

The key is to look at your Top 10 and evaluate. Some of them shouldn’t be in there, others shouldn’t be as high, and others shouldn’t be so low. Keep evaluating and keep pushing!

Ray Rice, the NFL, and the Baltimore Ravens

Earlier this year video surfaced of Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back, dragging his fiance out of an elevator, unconscious. The NFL in all its wisdom (sarcasm) decided to suspend him TWO WHOLE GAMES and the Atlantic City DA decided to give him out of jail counseling. We have seen this before, its called Jock Law, where the jock gets better treatment. There have been instances where athletes have been delayed jail time until their season ends. This is ridiculous. In recent years some District Attorney’s have swayed the opposite way, giving the athelete much harsher sentences to make an example out of them. Plaxico Burress shot himself, accidently, in a club and was punished to the furthest extreme the law allows. Those things are furstating, but nothing like what is happening right now.

Yesterday TMZ released video from INSIDE the elevator showing exactly how Rice’s fiance became unconscious. It is a horrible video that is incredibly disturbing, however, probably not shocking to those who really spent time thinking about HOW this poor woman became unconscious. In response to this leaked video the Ravens and the NFL finally did the right thing – they released and suspended Rice.

In May Janay Rice had a press conference apologizing for her role in her abuse and the RAVENS supported this press conference by tweeting about how she was apologizing.

The abused owe no one an apology. I understand that she has come out today strongly against all of us and the media for looking down on her husband, but the truth is that abuse has no place in anyone’s life.

This morning I was talking to my wife about this incident and I said “I hear that the Joe Mixon tape didn’t look nearly as bad.” Joe Mixon is an University of Oklahoma freshmen that was caught on tape punching a woman and sending her to the ground. I haven’t seen that video, but Mixon was suspended for the year.

My wife said right back to me “As if hitting her not as bad is ok.” She was right. There is no excuse for domestic violence and the truth is that violence is violence. I understand that some domestic abuse cases result in much more serious injury, but how dare me try to excuse one case of an athlete hurting a woman over another. There should be zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.

We need to create a world that doesn’t allow any sort of person to get away with atrocities based upon athletic ability or fame. We need to create a world that we aren’t swayed by wins and losses on judging a person’s life but rather on the content of their character.

I’m glad that the Ravens and the NFL got the Ray Rice thing right, they just did it in the wrong way. Don’t react to protect your image react to protect the abused. Both the NFL and the Ravens reacted to protect their image.

Let’s protect each other!