A Walking Target

I love Sunday morning comics in the paper; I still look forward to reading them each week. One of my favorites is “Far Side” by Gary Larson. He has done such a great job of capturing so many human expressions and depravities. 6g6XMU8In one of his comics, he displays an aerial view of a man, a woman, and a dog walking through a city park – each one of them with a target on top of their heads. The caption below the image reads: “How birds see the world.”

Have you ever felt like a walking target? We have all had those days where it seems like nothing we say or do is right. There are days when our children test every ounce of our patience. There are days when we just cannot connect and communicate correctly with our spouse. There are days when we show up to work and report on our efforts only to be told that what has been done is not good enough. And, there are days when we are so sensitive that everything that happens to us seems very intense and very personal. Those are the hard days that we all face. Those are the days where we feel like life comes straight out of a “Far Side” comic strip.

Yet, God has given us a great reminder about the power of His grace for those daily life experiences. James 1:2-4 says: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Perhaps you need to change your perspective to that of a God-defined, grace-filled perspective.

When we are saturated with the loving grace of the Lord, and our identity rests not in what we do but in who we are in Christ, it is then that we can have the true perspective needed to be joyful (joy-filled) “walking targets” in this world. When we do this, we surrender ourselves not to be captive to circumstances and experiences with others, but rather, we submit ourselves to the process of God transforming our lives.

What if our perspective were to change and we were to realize that the target was not there to shame or hurt or destroy us, but rather it has been placed there to engage, grow, and equip us for works of righteousness for the glory of our loving Lord and Savior? In order for us to not just survive but to thrive and to be joy filled in those experiences, we actually have to grasp the purpose of being a “walking target.”

God loves you, and the remaining text in James 1 encourages us to understand that God desires for us to seek His heart and to seek His wisdom for holy living. God promises to be faithful in delivering His grace to meet every need of our lives. We must abide in Him and respond to His work in our lives so that no matter what we face God can use it to transform us into who He desires for us to be. We are not simply walking targets, but rather we are followers of Christ that the Lord desires to shape and mold into His instruments of noble holy purposes.

So “consider it all joy” being a walking target this next week, this next month, and this next year. Consider it all joy to be a walking target because our gracious and loving God will grace you with His wisdom and His truth that you will need every day. Abide in Him, rest in His grace, and trust in His provision. Operate not from what you can accomplish on your own, but from what God has graced within you.

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – January 2015)

a slow fade

I will never forget that moment when I heard God speak to me about my future. I had always thought that my future would be as a teacher and football coach – serving in a church as I could. When God spoke to me about my future, it was actually what I had always dreamed of as a little boy – but much different than the plans I had been making for myself.

When the Lord spoke into my life about my future in ministry I was already deep into it but I wasn’t fully sold out to it as my life’s calling. I was pulled into student ministry and I’ve been there ever since. Sure, I had exposure to other aspects of the church but my passion became seeing students fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. I had great mentors who fanned this desire into big flames as they poured into me, showing me God’s redemptive heart for the world.

I have always loved student ministries and since 2002 I have served in this arena of the church in a variety of capacities: volunteer, speaker, intern, small group leader, coach, and pastor. I will never forget the first winter camp i served at, on a whim, that got me hooked. Each place of ministry with different teams of people has helped shaped my heart to serve in the church. Every role and each church has also helped me to understand clearly why I do, what I do: to advance the Kingdom of God and to build up followers of Christ.

There are so many stories. Funny ones that will be great to tell for years to come. Growth opportunities that are almost embarrassing to recall – but grateful for being stretched and challenged as I was. Yeah, definitely grateful for growth and for opportunities to lead and grow and mature not just as a leader, but also as a follower of Christ.

A little over three years ago I started off at a new church, focused on reaching students with the love message of Jesus Christ. Never did I imagine that my passion and focus in ministry would change and grow along with me to the point that I wouldn’t be in student ministries. I truly thought I’d be that “life-long youth pastor.” Yet, over the last three years God has brought a new set of leaders and mentors that the Lord used to speak into my life – just like He did many years ago when I thought I knew what my future was going to be then.

God began to shift my focus in ministry. And as my focus shifted, my passion did as well. I was surrounded by the right people who are confident in who they are in God. They were willing to pour into me and point me towards God’s best for my life. These were more people who God used to confirm my calling to serve Him and who equipped me to learn and grow. I’m grateful for this slow fade of change as it has brought me to this place, here and now.

This slow fade…as tough as it is to say, is truly best. I am confident that this is a special part of God’s plan for my life. It means saying goodbye to student ministries as a pastor. It means saying goodbye to all things youth – but also, it means something else. It also means saying I’m ready for what is next. It also means saying I am ready to step out and follow Christ to new areas of ministry where once again, I can humbly learn what it means to love God and love others in new and passionate ways. I am truly excited for what is next. And I’m confident that the Lord has been preparing me for this moment, for this shift, for this change.

A huge part of my heart was sad when I first considered this change becoming a reality. I love my students and their families. I love hanging and pointing them to Jesus. Student ministry has always allowed me, to be me. However as I’ve walked along this path of change for over a year now I have heard God speak powerfully about my future, about His future for my life. My heart and passion for families and marriages, for life groups and small groups, for discipleship and evangelism and for boldly proclaiming the Word of God has grown and expanded. Those students that I love so much deserve a new leader who has a strong & undivided passion for them, their friends and their families. This slow change into something new will allow me to serve in new ministries and embrace a future that God has prepared for me.

Officially as of April 1st, I will no longer serve as the Student Ministries Pastor at my church. I am so thankful for this but even though my role as a pastor is changing, I get to stay at my current church. This is so great for so many reasons as I get to be surrounded by great leadership, amazing friends and an awesome church family during this slow fade from student ministries. I’m very confident in the team of leaders who have risen up and been equipped to serve our students at this church and I am very excited that I get to continue to serve at my church, to pastor and shepherd, to encourage and to equip, people that I have grown love and a community that I long to see fall in love with Jesus Christ.

My passion for ministry remains. I long to see people fall madly in love with Jesus, to find ways to show the power and grace of God and to see those people commit themselves to a vibrant life of prayer. My desire to advance the Kingdom of God and to build up followers of Christ during this new aspect of ministry is clear. To say no to one thing, means I am able to fully say yes to something else. I always want to be able to say yes to fulfilling the calling on my life and to be able to radically obey Christ in every aspect of my life. This slow fade into something new will allow me to do just that…

Praising God for what He has called me to do in and through Him!

Stop Telling God You’ve Got Problems

A long time friend of mine from Redding sends out an e-mail every Monday with a quote. Today’s matched my thoughts from the past few days. His quote was from an unknown person, but it said: Stop telling God you got big problems. Tell your problems you’ve got a big God.

Last Thursday afternoon I came home from meeting with someone feeling totally discouraged. Feeling forgotten. And really feeling like nothing was ever going to change. Ever felt that way? I will admit that I got emotional. I cried on my drive home. I cried as I sat in my car at the parking spot at the house, and I was nearly in tears as I walked into my house as well.

As I walked into my house and sat down on the couch next to my wife she could tell how much I was hurting. In my heart, for whatever reason, for a brief second, I actually questioned myself on whether or not I’d share my continued frustration. I questioned whether it really mattered anymore, and I wondered if it was even worth sharing.

It mattered to her. It mattered that my heart was hurting. It had been over 65 days since I had left my role as one of the pastors at my previous church. So, I shared, once again, my feelings of discouragement, of feeling forgotten, and my fear and wonder over if I was ever going to pastor again. I remember that night I changed my status on Facebook to, “I need a job”.

I said, “Babe, all I have left in my heart right now is love…my faith and my hope is so lacking right now…” (I said this as I stared at the wall of the living room in my house where we have this huge sign that reads: Now these three remain…faith, hope, and love…)

Melanie did an amazing job to encourage me. And Friday morning she wrote me this amazing letter of continued encouragement. Reminding me of why she loves me and how much God loves me. But I couldn’t help but remember my major complaint from the night before…

…as I sat there, sharing all of my toxic feelings towards God, the economy, job hunting or whatever, I shared with my wife something that was so so selfish, something I had never before spoken out loud to anyone, but something I had been dwelling on for a few weeks.

From the pit of my hurting heart came this thought: God, I obeyed You!!! I never questioned Your direction. I did what You asked and followed Your prompting to leave this place of ministry where things are going well and I moved. Without reservation I obeyed You and I followed Your leading in my life and now Lord, here I set, with nothing God – not knowing where I am to go to in ministry next, no place to pastor at – I feel like I am nothing, and that I am not being who You’ve called me to be. I obeyed you Father and I followed You. I stepped out in faith and in obedience and I am still standing here Lord…!!!

As I look back on brutal rant and rave I see how honest my “feelings” where being expressed. And although I was being honest, I was being very dramatic and well, very selfish. In a way, I had lost heart. I felt like I was losing my faith and hope in it all and in Him and I had started to treat ‘my problem’ with the wrong heart.

Friday night Melanie and I went to a church in Rocklin that was having the the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda perform. Little did I know on this Good Friday 2009 that the my Great God was going to begin to treat my heart problem.

The children opened with a few lines, sharing about their suffering in their country and about being orphan’s. Their opening song was “Not Forgotten” and they sang this song with joyous smiles because they truly felt that no matter their problem in life, God had not forgotten them.

As the song opens, three times it says, “I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten…God knows my name.” The chorus took my breath away…

He is…

Light over darkness
Strength over weakness
Joy over sadness

He knows my name

Father for the fatherless
Friend to the friendless
Hope for the hopeless


My faith was renewed, and my hope restored. I am not forgotten, for Christ knows my pain/weakness/sadness/hoplessness and, He knows my name. It’s time to stop telling God my problems and it’s time to start telling my problems that I’ve got a big God who knows my name. I know where God has called me to step out, and I will be faithful in my obedience to step out and wait upon the Lord because I have faith in a gracious God who restores my hope and my calling in Him. And so, just like Melanie remind me…I want to remind you…

You are His precious child
You are His workmanship
Jesus has prepared a way for you
You have been called by God
You have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world
You have been adopted by God
Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice for you
You are worthy because He has made you worthy
You have been glorified
You have been made righteous
You are loved by the King
You are forgiven
God has GOOD plans for your life
God promises that all things in your life will work together for good
You are co-heirs with Jesus Christ…..God’s own Son!!!
God desires to bless you with good things
You have been gifted by God and have been equipped by God to do good things for His Kingdom

I want you to remember those truths too. We all are precious to Him. He knows us all by name and no one is beyond the reach of God, and no one has God ever forgotten. You may feel that way at times, or maybe you have felt that way for years, but the truth is that God does want all to know that He has called us and that He is faithful to love us like no other person can and it took my loving wife and some amazing kids from Uganda to remind me of the Lord’s powerful, life-changing truth.