A Special Message For Evil

Hey…Evil!

Come here. No really, come here.

I’ve got something to tell you.

Lean in close and pay attention, because I’m only going to say this once:

You think you’re winning don’t you?

You think because you took another dark swing at the unaware and innocent—letting panic and fear rush in—that you are winning.

Well, I need to set the record straight.

Yes, you may have a couple notches in your belt from weak-minded terrorists, heartless doctors, and minions with low self-esteems and daddy complexes. Sure you’ve caused kid’s to become fatherless, addictions to tear families apart, and divorce to run rampant. Abuse, human trafficking, obesity, disease, and depression all find comfort in your arms. Rape, murder, lying, cheating, and abortion all call you father. To some it may seem like you’ve done some serious damage to the goodness in this world, but you need to know something.

You will NEVER win.

You are a loser.

The most aggressive swing you can take at us is only a flaying arm of defeat as you writhe around on your back. You have no chance. You have no hope. You will ALWAYS be stomped out.

Why, you may chuckle?

I’m glad you asked.

Because darkness may grow, clouds may billow, and storms may come. The haze can fall and the temperature rise. Questions may swirl and confusion may settle in. Battle lines may be set and swords may be drawn.

But…

Up in the distance you should hear a familiar sound. It’s the sound of thunder and you know He’s coming for you. He’s riding a white horse, wearing a white robe dipped in blood. He charges towards you and with each stride the tattoo on His thigh comes more and more into focus. “King of King and Lord of Lords is etched in His flesh and His eyes blaze with fire. His sword dwarfs anything you could ever imagine and it will cut deep into your very being. The battle scars on His feet and hands show He’s no stranger to a fight and not a punk. Oh, and He’s not alone. He leads an endless army of soldiers prepared to fight to the very death for Him and Him alone.

But, You know how this ends.

You’ve been here before.

Evil…it’s time you understand once and for all:

You are no match for our God.

He has and will always be victorious. A thread of His light obliterates your darkest dark. A whiff of His breath creates out of nothing and his very touch heals anything. He uses the weakest of the weak to shame the strongest of your strong. He is laser locked on one target and you are that one and only target.

But you know all this!

You’ve even tried to get rid of him with your very best shot through death. But by killing Him you made Him even stronger. Oh, and did you forget, it only took three days for Him to shrug that off.

He’s left you impotent, useless, and vulnerable.

You are on the run, by yourself, and in the open.

Sure you may still have time to do a little more damage—which you will—but your days are numbered.  Just know that when your time runs out my God is going to stomp a mud hole in you.

So here is what we promise we will do…

We will fight and not turn away

We will live and not be afraid.

We will focus on our mission

To love without condition.

In all we do we will seek His face

Because in Him we find our peace.

So limp away, evil, and lick your wounds.

For we stand together unfazed by you.

I will say it one last time.

Hear me loud and clear:

Evil, go back in your hole,

Because your end is very near.

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Why All Of Us Should Care About What Happened At Rutgers…Especially Coaches

I know about athletics.  I played nearly every sport possible growing up, I went to college to play a sport, and for awhile I was given a paycheck to play a sport.  With every sport I played I had coaches that shaped my athletic skills and also shaped me as a young man.

I know about coaching.  I grew up in a family of coaches.  Both my father and grandfather are in the South Dakota Hall of Fame for coaching, my brother is a college coach, and I have even coached in small capacities.  I understand the stress, fatigue, frustration, and joy found in seeing athletes compete and succeed.

However the relationship of a player and coach is unique.  It’s one that requires trust, encouragement, discipline, patience, and honesty to be the most effective.  The higher you go in athletics the more each of you place your future in each other’s hands.  Coaches need players to play well, so they’ll win games, so they will keep their jobs.  Players need good coaches so they will play well, win games, get exposure, and maybe get a job playing that sport someday.

Yet the stresses of this job dynamic can be heavy.  Coaches walk a fine line of being challenging to their young players and being abusive to them.  I’ve had helpings of each in my life and I can tell you both have left a mark.

Recently, former Rutgers University Head Coach Mike Rice crossed that fine line. If you haven’t seen footage yet, here is what sparked Mr. Rice’s firing, the resignation of an assistant coach, and the resignation of the Athletic Director of the school.

ESPN Outside the Lines Story

I can relate to these players.  In my years of playing I’ve had coaches threaten to drown me, tell me they want to kill me with a 2*4 with a nail in the end of it, push, shove, knock me down, and throw baseballs at my head while being told by this coach they wanted to “F me Up”.  Sadly, the coach that wanted to “F me Up” said he was a Christian too.  I’ve been called worthless, useless, disgraceful, and belittled in front of my teammates.  Believe me I’ve had long car ride homes and walks back to the dorms following these lashings that were mentally and emotionally excruciating.

I say all this not so you’ll feel sorry for me because believe me I’m ok.  Most of, if not all of these men are out of jobs and away from coaching which is good for the players and the sports they coach.

My reason for saying this is that if it weren’t for a good home, good friends, and a relationship with Jesus Christ I may not have been ok.  The impact coaches have on players is amazingly powerful.  We will literally run through walls for them and that can be dangerous depending on what wall they want us to run through.

The Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal shed a spotlight onto coaching and the type of power that these men carry.  Now, I’m not saying that throwing basketballs at players and verbally abusing them is the same as what Sandusky did.  The sexual abuse of those kids goes into a whole other level of severity, but what I am saying is that the impact coaches have on their players is lasting both good and bad.

The best coaches I had were the ones that reminded me of the balance between sports and life.  They taught be great skills of the game, but instilled in me that there is more to life than scoring points, hitting home runs, or making millions of dollars.  When character, integrity, and hard work were the cornerstones of their coaching that’s when I flourished.  You may not have been able to see it in instant production on the field, but I can guarantee you can see it my life today far after I’ve taken the uniform off.

Parents.  Continue to encourage your kids and push them to do great things.  Don’t read this and pull them out of everything they are involved with because they may get a dud coach.  Keep them involved and active in their schools and communities.  Just make sure you are the safe place they can come home to regardless of how they play.  Take them to church, speak often of the bigger things of life, and instill in them a greater awareness of the needs of others not just their own.

Coaches.  I urge you to understand the power you have been given.  The next time you huddle up, sit in a locker room, or give your pre-game speech take an extra second to think.  Before you craft the next inspirational word look into their eyes.  See them for who they really are in that moment.  Young men and women that are in need of molding and are looking to you for it.  Yes I want you to win!  Yes I want them to win!  But what I want you to remember is howyou teach them, what you teach them, and why you teach them will effect them far after the season is over.

The final buzzer in life will sound for all of us at some point.  It’s what you do with the time God gives you between the dates on your gravestone not the date etched on a trophy that matter.

Stay focused on the bigger picture and understand the bigger impact.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: My Boy & His “Toys”

It is becoming technicolor clear to me that boys are different from girls.

Here are a just a few examples:

Finding something small on the floor.

Girls:  Will gently show you what they found so you can take it from them.

Boys:  Will shove it in their mouth as if it were the last piece of food on a deserted island.

Drinking A Bottle

Girls:  Will snuggle in and enjoy the full experience of the bottle until the very last drop.

Boys:  Will fight you until the very last drop as if you were their MMA opponent trying to put them in an arm-bar submission hold.

The word “no”

Girls:  Will instantly respond to you saying it because they realize you mean business.

Boys:  Seem to consider it a “suggestion” or possibly even an encouragement to keep doing what they are doing.

However my son has also shown me that toys are also and acquired boy taste to.  My daughter loves to play with her dolls, princesses, and color.  While my 11 month old son could care less about his LeapFrog games or trucks and has a magnetic attraction to something far more disgusting and germ laden.

The dog toys.

That’s right my son would rather play with a gnarled, slimy, frayed Kong or a foam frisbee with a hole chewed in it than his own toys.  Believe it or not some of his toys have never even been shoved in his mouth for test run which is a miracle in and of it’s self!

Easton 1 Easton 2

Ok, I’ll cut him some slack since he is ONLY 11 months old, bur he is really missing out.  He has no concept of why a drooled on chew toy is not as good as an iPhone 5, but some day he will.  Trust me…I’m on this one like white on rice.

It is amazing to see how many of us as Christians do this same thing in our spiritual walks with God.

As Christians we are what the Bible calls “new creation” when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It says the “old is gone and the new has come”, which mean “good by dog toy life hello better life.”  But yet we still like to play with our worn out, drooled on, covered in hair old life.

We would rather hang on to our addictions, affairs, greed, and pride instead of embracing the fullness of God’s plan for our life.  Our knuckles will remain white and cramped as we tightly clench the life we feel God is trying to take from us.

We do this is because of a false view of who God really is.

The good Dr. Luke gives us a perspective on this phenomenon when quoting Jesus.

““Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!””

- Luke 11:11-13

Jesus is saying not even the nastiest of criminals would bait and switch their kids with something that would harm them.  So why in the world would the God of Heaven and Earth try to do that to the child He created!?

The answer is He wouldn’t and He won’t.

Now listen.

This doesn’t mean if you ask for a Porsche God’s going to give it to you.  He may give you a 1984 Honda with one working door or maybe nothing at all!  He’s not a genie in a bottle, but the Sovereign God of the Universe whose perspective of things is just a touch greater than ours.  Our job is to show Him that we believe His toys are better than our toys through our submission.

It means that since He gave up EVERYTHING for us we can trust Him with our EVERYTHING.

The life He offers will always be better than anything we could ever find in the dog toy bin of our old life.  It’s time to stop going back to our old pathetic ways and start diving into the new life He’s got waiting for us.

Here boy!

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The Best Exhaustion Ever & How To Recover From Easter

burnoutAs I type this I am reflecting on what God just did at our church this past weekend.

We had an amazing Easter weekend at the Parkview Christian Church ~ Lockport Campus where I pastor.  950 adults and kids streamed through the doors and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed.  2 people accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and were baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection.  29 kids from slums of Nairobi, Kenya literally had their lives saved by our people’s sacrifice and sponsoring of them as part of our CMFi drive.

I witnessed newlyweds sitting in church as a new family.  I saw friends that had been praying for people to come to church for years sitting by that very person.  I met grandfathers that came to church for the first time. I teared up as I saw a father pick his handicapped daughter out of her wheelchair and hold her in his arms so she could worship.  I met a woman whose plane literally landed at 10:00 am that morning who ran to get her bags, drove home, started a load of laundry, and made it to the 11:00 AM service because she didn’t want to miss it.  People were hungry for Christ this Easter.

My staff worked beyond hard to help get the services ready.  They stuffed bulletins, set up Child Sponsorship booths, packed guest bottles, and organized volunteer teams.  Countless volunteers greeted, did sound, made communion, brewed coffee, played guitar, taught kids, directed traffic, and picked up trash.  Our staff and volunteers were hungry for Christ this Easter.

I was personally blessed to hear my daughter explain to me the REAL Easter story from Jesus’ birth all the way through her exclaiming “Jesus is Alive!” when told me Jesus wasn’t dead anymore!  My son took two steps for the first time, my wife is an amazing Christian wife and mother, and we are blessed beyond words in our life.  My family was hungry for Christ this Easter.

Yet all of this hunger for Christ, hard work, and excitement comes at a cost.  I am exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Don’t get me wrong I loved it….I repeat I LOVED it!

However even in these moments we need God’s healing and recharging.  Staying at this level of spiritual awareness and intensity is not possible this side of heaven.  We need God’s leveling in our life to allow us to withstand the long haul of our walk with Him and not peter out from exhaustion.

Thankfully the Psalmists new this and provided us a spiritual recharging point to turn to.

“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;

    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.”

  • Psalm 63:1-8

I pray that God meets not only me in the spiritual exhaustion, but perhaps you too.  Taking in the majesty and power of Christ crucified, buried, and risen can be an overwhelming experience.  You may need God to hide you in His wings to recharge and balance your life.  You may need to catch your bearings with your new “legs”  found in Him.

Wherever you may find yourself today rejoice in the God that meets you in whatever state you are in.  He is there for you, He loves you, and He will balance your life into the rhythm only found in Him.

363 days until Easter…I can’t wait! :)

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