Is Jesus enough?

In the quest to know God’s will for our lives, I think we sometimes blend together the typical secular goals with our faith.  But I’ve been wondering:  what if we don’t achieve our goals?  What if we don’t land that dream job?  What if the person you’ve been pursuing isn’t interested?  What if you’ve felt called to do a certain type of ministry and it never seems to work out?

Is Jesus enough?

What do I mean by that question?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t put forth effort and go for it.  I’m saying that our faith needs to be grounded in such a way that Jesus is enough to satisfy.

When I was younger, I felt called to full-time pastoral ministry.  Others I knew affirmed it.  I was a volunteer youth pastor and began preaching and working with the youth in our church.  I went back to school to study ministry full-time and got my degree in church ministry.  I studied theology, leadership, preaching and counseling.  I worked on staff at a few different churches and ultimately left the ministry after two back-to-back bad experiences, the last one being quite abusive and demoralizing.  Since then I’ve only ever volunteered.  It was a challenge to trust again after being burned.  Even as a volunteer, I’ve experienced several churches where it seems difficult to get connected for whatever reason.  What’s the message there from God?  I thought I was called?  At one point I felt recovered enough and tried to look for ministry positions again but by then I had gaps in my ministry resume and didn’t have the connections.  Ultimately I followed the career path that was in front of me to pay the bills and provide for my family.

I’ve had to let go of what I think my life should look like and follow the path God has set before me.  Because if you take away the job, the ministry, the connections or friends or whatever else we hang our hats on, we are still Christ followers living out our faith.

So if the dream job doesn’t materialize, is Jesus enough to carry you?

If you lose the house in the suburbs or your standing in the community, is your faith enough?

If the person you thought would love you is no longer in your life, can you carry on?

I think about people in the Bible who had it all and then faced tragedy or obstacles.  Moses never got to see the promised land.  David never got to see the temple built.  The prophets never got to meet their Messiah.  Peter was shamed by denying Jesus.  Paul was imprisoned for preaching.  You hear stories of missionaries who don’t see the fruit of their ministry but after they pass the seeds they planted took hold.

Is our faith in Jesus enough to carry us through life?  Trusting in Him, following His will and allowing Him to order our steps?

In the movie City Slickers, the main character talks about having one thing that means everything.  Think about that “one thing” in your life besides God.  If that one thing were taken away, how would your faith in Christ be affected?

Is Jesus enough?

Philippians 3:7-11

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Looking for answers in a world of tragedy and hatred

Every generation looks at the news and changing values around them and believes the end must be coming soon.  Each generation believes things are getting worse and it’s only a matter of time.  The early Christians felt there could be no greater evils than what they faced:  a corrupt Roman rule that sought to torture and execute them, feed them to lions for sport and drive them underground.  Every generation believes that things are so bad, Jesus must be coming back soon.

We see awful stories in the news that shock and outrage us.  School shootings, terrorist bombings, domestic violence, acts of discrimination and hatred, families torn apart and treating each other horribly.  We look from afar and judge and wonder how people could act such a way.

The Bible discusses the sinful condition of humans repeatedly.  It began with the original sin that ended utopia in Eden and brought brokenness to the world.  It continued with religious people that ridiculed, imprisoned and killed  God’s prophets, even mocking, torturing and killing the Son of God who brought the hopeful message of the Kingdom of God.  History has seen horrible dictators, genocide, murder, terrorism and evils that shock and sicken us.  In the Bible, Paul wrote the following phrases in his letter to the Romans:

“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Rom 7:18)

Writing about sinful people he said they will “invent ways of doing evil” (Rom 1:30)

It’s not all bad news.  Because we are made in God’s own image and likeness humans have the capacity to do good, but because of our sin we have the capacity to do evil.  Paul writes extensively about this dichotomy throughout Romans.  In chapter 7 he notes that he knows the good he should do and the evil he should avoid, but the good and evil inside him constantly do battle.

We all have that battle within us.  When things are going well, most of the time the good side wins.  We may fall into some sinful habits here and there but keep them in check.  Other times, we give into our darker side and allow ourselves to be tempted into sin.  At some points in our lives – and for some people most of their lives – we can become broken, worn out, depressed and decay deeper into sin.

We see awful stories in the news that shock and outrage us.  School shootings, terrorist bombings, domestic violence, acts of discrimination and hatred, families torn apart and treating each other horribly.  We look from afar and judge and wonder how people could act such a way.

And then we look in the mirror.  And we contemplate the hatred we have in our heart for someone that hurt us, the strained relationship with a person we’ve refused to speak to for a long time, the habit that no one knows about and we keep hidden in a dark place, or whatever sin is weighing heavily on our hearts.

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At the end of Romans chapter 7 Paul writes “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Now this is coming from a man who was an Apostle of the early church, who wrote most of the letters of the New Testament and did many great things for God.  To some people, this kind of writing dwells too much on the negative.  Many people just want to talk about happy thoughts and focus on the good things that humans do and are capable of.  And we should do that.  We should celebrate great human achievement, acts of love and kindness and unselfish behavior.  It’s true there is enough bad news out there, we need more positivity.

At the same time, when tragedy strikes or when we have those moments where we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom or are in a bad way, we need to realize the struggle within us.

Some would say we are getting more sinful each generation as morals change.  There are also ways that our morals improve by shedding off ignorant or judgmental attitudes of the past.  But at the same time, stories come along that remind us that for all of our progress, people are still broken and sinful people.

We will never conquer this ourselves.  We will never see peace, healing and love on our own.  Yes, humans are capable of it because of the imprint of God He’s put in us.  But real change comes from real change of heart, a change that only God can bring. In Romans chapter 7, Paul asked “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  And then he answered his own question:

“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

People can put their faith, energy and hope in things like political candidates or parties, in social justice initiatives, in communities bound together by common interests and even deep love for each other…and those can be good things but ultimately lacking full potential without the answer Paul points us to:

“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We know that we will never see perfection this side of heaven.  There will always be sin, there will always be tragedy, there will always be people using their free will to commit crimes and horrible acts.  And if we’re honest with ourselves we realize we will always struggle with that same area of sin, we’ll gossip about someone behind their back from time to time, we’ll say something we don’t really mean, we’ll hurt people we love with our words or actions.  We aren’t perfect.  At the same time, we can do good.  We can help people, we can stand for truth and justice and help our communities.

We can do good things because our Creator made us in His image and likeness.  We can access the love and charity in our hearts and do good, even great things.  To truly combat evil, we’ll need more than what we’re able to achieve ourselves.  We’ll need a powerful ally.

“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Celebrating Great Fathers

If you’re like me, your Facebook feed today is full of children and mothers thanking the Fathers in their lives.  Video tributes, hand crafted items, taking Dad out for his favorite meal…but what’s really great is they are truly expressing love and appreciation for Fathers.  This generation of Fathers is more involved in their children’s lives than ever before.  Some are stay-at-home primary caregivers to their children and their spouse works outside the home.  Men are achieving more work/life balance to not stay long hours at the office but rather race home to spend time with their children.  

We’re starting to see a change in mindset of how people view and talk about Fathers.  TV shows and commercials are no longer shaming the stupid/lazy Dad cliche of yesteryear with a perfect superhero Mom/wife correcting his silly mistakes.  People are shamed for suggesting that a Dad spending time with his children is “stuck babysitting.”  You probably have heard of programs called “Mothers Day Out.”  This title assumes only Mothers are primary caregivers that need time away from their children.  What about the stay at home dad, or the single Dad trying to make it?  Though I am not a stay-at-home Dad myself, I was pleased when my church started a program and chose to call it “Parents Day Out.”  Thank you for realizing that child care is not a Mother-only endeavor anymore.

Now, men and Fathers have made many mistakes in the past and there are endless stories of absent or neglecting Fathers.  But things are changing and Fathers are more involved than ever.  When I take my son out by myself without my wife I don’t need women to give me a sympathetic look as if I’m stuck and am a clueless Dad who will surely screw this up.  But the good news is, more and more I see smiles and appreciation for a Father spending time with his son.  And that’s the story happening all over, and our media is finally beginning to reflect that.  A month ago when I was shopping for a Mothers Day present, I also saw this in the store:

Great Dad

Many people have had bad experiences with their Fathers, or didn’t have a Father around for them.  So Father’s Day can be a source of pain (as can Mother’s Day for the same reason).  My heart goes out to those with those types of Father issues.  Thankfully I had a great Dad who was very involved.  He would race home from work to be with us, he left early to coach our sports, he was a mentor to other kids whose parents weren’t around or didn’t care to show up to watch their games.  He set a great example for my brothers and me, and so I can be thankful for the time I had with him.  When he passed away, at first I felt robbed of more time with him.  I try to keep perspective of others that lost their Fathers at younger ages, or never knew their Father at all and I feel blessed.

The more we can see positive examples of Fathers blowing up our Facebook feed, women and Mothers celebrating and praising the men in their lives instead of complaining about them as well as the media reflecting a more positive image the better off we’ll be.

These days, Dads do it all.  Change diapers, wipe noses and tears, play dolls and have tea parties, help with homework, coach sports, taxi to practices and music lessons, prepare meals, do the laundry…everything there is for a parent to do.  Thank you to all the Dads out there being great examples to your kids and families.  And for those who didn’t know your Dad, I hope you’ve had a chance to find a mentor in your life to help fill the void.  Ultimately, God can fill that void as our Heavenly Father but He has also blessed us with many great Dads around us to help fill in the gaps.

Practical advice for first time dads

At the time of this writing, my son is almost 2 years old.  When you’re expecting your first child, you get all sorts of advice from reading material and other parents.  The stuff geared towards fathers is either really obvious or dumbed-down and borderline insulting.  I tried to think back to what I wish I had known or was better prepared to face.  So, here you go.


1. Don’t worry, be excited, you’re going to enjoy this! Don’t listen to people who complain about how tough it is to have a baby and make negative comments like “your life is over” or “you never get to do anything for yourself.”  While it definitely changes your life and limits you in ways, it is also is a great blessing and honestly a lot of fun.  Spending time playing and laughing with your baby will make up for whatever baby-free activity you’ll miss.  I also personally found it made me happier; able to let loose and be silly with my son and enjoy life rather than be so serious all the time.




2. Take advantage of your time before the baby arrives to do all child-proofing and any projects around the house you want to get done in the next year or so. Seriously, don’t put them off.  You will likely not get to do them after baby is born.  Re-decorating a room, landscaping, spring cleaning, etc.  It’s not only because you’ll have less time and the baby makes it difficult to get things done, but you’ll also want to enjoy time getting to know your newborn and not stress about unfinished projects.


3. Child-proof your house. No, really child-proof it.  You’ll do all the things you’re supposed to but be surprised at what your baby or toddler will get into.  Your baby will explore his world and touch EVERYTHING.  Don’t underestimate your baby.  She will be stronger, smarter and more resourceful than you expect!


4. What to read.  There are obviously a LOT of books, blogs and websites with loads of information.  Yet many of them seem vague or general.  My wife and I gravitated toward the blogs that were more straightforward and practical…and funny.  We preferred things that sounded like a real person with experience, not a text book vibe.  Read whatever grabs your interest, but in my opinion the best is Baby 411. 

Baby 411 (also Toddler 411) is practical and each section is short and to the point.  When you are exhausted and want to refresh your memory on feeding or sleeping tips (what is sleep again?) this will be an easy reference.  A friend gave it to us for a present and we plan on doing the same for anyone we know about to have their first.


5. Listen to other parents…whose babies are only a little older than yours.  Some of the best advice will come from other parents.  But keep in mind that parents of older kids are onto their own challenges and won’t remember specific details about the first year.  Each month you are facing something new to you.  If you ask a parent of a 10 year old how many millimeters of formula to feed a 6 week old, they won’t remember.  Feeding, sleep patterns, teething…all these things are generic ideas for older parents.  So it’s even a more distant memory for people in the generation above you.  Speaking of…


6. Generational differences.  There are new laws, new health studies, etc. that your parents generation never dealt with.  And their experience may have included a dad that wasn’t as involved as you plan to be. 


These days fathers are more involved than ever, and there are more and more stay-at-home dads.  Even among younger generations, people might have expectations based on how things were in their house growing up.  Don’t let people shove you aside or ignore you.  You need to learn what to do as well as bond with your baby.  Family may be visiting, friends will drop by with prepared meals and visit for an hour…but soon after it will just be you and your wife dealing with this baby.  You’re the father, and that is just as important as the mother.


7. Sleep will become a drug.  A newborn will wake about every 3 hours to sleep.  You’ll hear about this elusive “sleeping through the night…”  don’t worry, it WILL happen.  There were times my wife and I thought our child would never sleep more than 6 hours but soon (around month 5/6 if I remember) he will start increasing to 8, then 10 and before you know it 12 hours will be normal.  Then you can actually get some sleep as well.  In the meantime, take turns waking up to feed and change the baby so you both can get some decent chunks of sleep.


 Bed is all mine


8. Most importantly, enjoy every moment you can.  You always hear parents say their kids grow up so fast and they wish they could go back to those early years of cuddling and cuteness.  This is going to be lots of fun and your baby is going to laugh, smile, play, joke around with you, wonder at the new world she is experiencing and every day is entertaining and fun.  Yes, it has challenges and stressful times.  But all it takes is a smile or laugh from baby and all is right in the world. 



This weekend I opened my WordPress blog for the first time in months.  I haven’t posted since October and even then it was sporadic.  I was surprised to find so many visitors and those that have hung around to read a few posts.  I once told myself that even if only a few people read and are impacted, I should keep sharing.

I branded this blog for church life, but often I am interested in writing about other topics such as family/raising kids, pop culture, etc.  So why limit myself?  We as the Church are called to impact the world around us and that includes culture and family life and all aspects.

To help me write more often, topics might be inspired by a movie I just watched or a funny situation I just experienced with my toddler.

I also recently went through a very busy season in my life and wasn’t feeling very creative.  Thankfully things are getting a little calmer and I’d like to attempt some writing again.  So stay tuned…  In the meantime, here’s a picture of one of the reasons that’s kept me from writing.  It’s been amazing watching him grow up:



The Freedom of Confession

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

–1 John 1:9

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”

–St. Augustine

Call it a cultural thing, or societal, generational or even part of the natural human condition.  But people generally don’t like admitting they’ve done anything wrong.  Usually confessions are actually celebrating bad behavior such as in a made-for-TV movie or a “tell-all” book.  However, there is great power and freedom in confessing your guilt and admitting your need for forgiveness.

The mother of a murdered child forgiving the man that pulled the trigger.

A pastor stepping down from his position and stepping up to admit his need for counseling.

A parent asking a child for forgiveness for wrong doing.

Being the first to make contact after years of not speaking to someone.




When it comes to our spiritual life, the Bible says that if we confess our sins before God he forgives us.  He is a just God that demands holiness yet we don’t have to fear confessing our sins before a holy God.  John 3:17 tells us:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Confessing sin frees us from guilt, from shame and from the trap of counting rights and wrongs and hoping the good outweighs the bad.  The Bible tells us not only to confess to God, but also “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

Every week at my church, we read a confession together out loud.  I think this is one of the most important and powerful aspects of our weekly worship.  Sometimes as I’m praying the words displayed on the screen I wish that skeptics and people burned by church would be there to witness it.  We confess that we don’t show the love of Christ to people like we should, that we judge people or treat them unfairly, that we let our anger or bitterness get the best of us, and other things that are openly admitting we’re fail as followers of Christ and as the Church.

People usually say they stay away from church because of hypocrites who don’t practice what they preach or have a “holier than thou” judgmental attitude toward others.  I wish those people would hear the Church confess these things and see humble people admitting they fall short but strive to do better with God’s grace.  Now imagine we had a humble spirit and confessed to people in our lives that way.  Imagine the impact it might have on people.

Confession frees you from guilt, builds accountability with close friends and family and can even be a powerful witness tool to share the Gospel.

Jesus and ‘Merica

Independence Day, the 4th of July:  American flags, BBQs, fireworks and lots of patriotic displays.  You’ll see the American flag on bathing suits, beach towels, cooking aprons, paper plates and napkins, tattoos, you name it.

But nothing is greater than when churches remind us that Jesus did not exist before America, and that Jesus is himself an American who loves America.  And he loves ‘Merica the most.

America Jesus 3



America Jesus 4



America Jesus 1


America Jesus 2

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I’ll bet you didn’t know that Jesus carried a copy of the Declaration of Independence to the Liberty Bell (don’t worry, it was just a copy not the original).  Jesus wept but he could not repair the crack.

America Jesus 7


This photoshop job goes double ‘Merica on us:  Jesus wrapped in an American flag inside another American flag.


America Jesus 5


Churches like using “F” words

A little known historical fact in church history involves the day a church came up with the ingenious marketing scheme to advertise events.  You have to use “F” words.  You know what I’m talking about:  food, fun and fellowship.  Let me set the scene for you…

No one knows for sure, it’s all just legend and oral tradition.  But I like to picture a small country church in Savannah, Georgia during a women’s ministry planning meeting sometime in the early part of the 20th century.  The ladies of First Church of Savannah were having trouble attracting people to attend their Bible study.  They always served such delicious snacks, desserts and sweet tea.  But still only a handful showed up.  Something had to be done.  They decided they needed more than just food.  They needed…something.

They brainstormed on the chalkboard of the Sunday School classroom for almost an hour before Sarah spoke up.

“Fun.  We have to offer fun.”

Mildred was confused.  “Fun?  What exactly does that mean?  What type of fun:  games, music, activities?”  Sarah replied, “I don’t know, just fun.  If we say it will be fun, maybe people will show up.”

Grace perked up from across the table.  “Yes, fun.  That’s what we need.  It doesn’t matter if we actually do anything as long as we advertise that it will be fun.”

Still, Mildred wasn’t fully convinced.  “What if people ask too many questions?  Such as ‘Where is the fun you promised?’ or ‘What type of activities are your idea of fun?’”

That’s when the magic happened.  Barbara had been quiet all night until she received inspiration from the Holy Spirit and shouted out “Fellowship!”

The room fell silent for a moment, then erupted in agreement.  Still, Mildred wanted to clarify things.

“What exactly is the difference,” Mildred asked, “between what we’ve been doing at our Bible studies and ‘fellowship?’”

The room of sweaty and tired women – wanting to go home and end this meeting – peered at Mildred with disdain.  “Fellowship will make it sound more spiritual than just hanging around,” Grace said.  Plus it’s alliteration.  Using alliteration in church is always awesome.”

So it began.  Ever since the meeting of the minds that fateful night, churches everywhere have followed suit by promising food, fun and fellowship at events.  Want to raise the bar of excitement for your Bible study where people sit in a circle and talk?  Offer food, fun and fellowship.  Is your Men’s prayer breakfast not drawing the numbers?  You’ve got the food, you’re missing the fun and fellowship.  Is the monthly budget meeting boring everyone to tears?  Get some donuts and B.Y.O.F.F! (Bring your own fun and fellowship).

Because it doesn’t matter what the event is.  It makes no difference if it actually is fun or any real fellowship occurs.  If it’s happening in a church you’re going to have food, fun and fellowship.  You may find some truly daring churches that add a fourth “F” word.  It could be faith, forgiveness, family; the sky is the limit…as long as it begins with the letter “F!”  (Except that word, get your mind out of the gutter).  ;)

Here are some examples of churches advertising the three F’s:

This church matched a cute graphic icon with each word:



The men of First Baptist know how to do it.  A chef’s hat, meat, music, crosses, an angled closeup photo of a Bible so you know that this BBQ with live music will not be without scripture!




This youth group took the concept and added Rock-em Sock-em robots.  Look closely:  they’ve got food but their fun is “crazy fun,” they offer games and a “Fellowship Night.”  Notice the hours of this fellowship “night” are 4pm-7pm but hey, it’s gonna be crazy fun so who cares?




This ad left out the fellowship but included another “F” word, fire.  And of course the Bible.  Nothing goes with games, music and food over a  giant blazing bonfire like carrying around your Bible.




Come for the food, fun and fellowship.  Stay for the lion taming act.




This church just straight up went “F’ing” crazy:





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