Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Costly Grace" by Jon Walker

In “Costly Grace,” author Jon Walker has brought the classic teachings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer into a new generation of Christian life. While Bonhoeffer spoke to his time and culture with intense passion and a life of surrendered discipleship, Walker has taken the legendary teaching of “The Cost of Discipleship” and placed it into the cultural context of the 21st century.

Building off classic Bonhoeffer themes and theology, Walker has restated the principles of a life surrendered to Christ in a language that relates to the modern follower of Christ. Themes such as calling, obedience, suffering and loyalty relate splendidly to Bonhoeffer’s classic. The explanations and examinations of themes such as purity, authenticity and community relate to the modern ethos of the post modern world in which modern day followers of Christ must exist and carry out our call to discipleship.

What Jon Walker offers in this work is an accessible study into Bonhoeffer without dismissing the high calling and deep theology of “The Cost of Discipleship.” In practical, common tones, Walker allows disciples to journey through the “narrow gate” of a life with Christ. I believe this book will become a classic in modern day discipleship and spiritual maturity.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Permission to Speak Freely" by Anne Jackson

“Permission to Speak Freely” by Anne Jackson is one of those “dangerous” books to read. It’s dangerous because every page seems to bring a new uncomfortable topic and a new battle within your own heart to push ahead. As Anne discusses abuse, addiction, pornography, and the lack of openness within the body of Christ, the reader is faced with not only their own internal story, but also the story of their own walls being rattled. It is a must read for every church member and leader.

As a pastor, it is easy to avoid the pain and agony in our own heart by being busy and caring for the heart of others. The reality is that as church communities, we rarely care for others at the heart level and the continual battle for doing instead of being rages in our community. Anne opens up new avenues of honesty and vulnerability that helps us to see ourselves and others for what we truly are; broken.

“Permission to Speak Freely” says what I have wanted to say for a long time in ministry. It screams of hidden pain and stolen joy. When we step out of our bubble and begin to really do life with others, the hiddeness must give way to honesty and the honesty must lead us to the gospel. Life is messy and helping others find real life in Christ causes us to have to deal not only with their mess, but our own. Anne Jackson gives voice to the liberating acknowledgment of being messy ourselves. And that is what makes “Permission to Speak Freely” so freeing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Willing to Die?

Yesterday was a wonderfully relaxing day around the Harvey house. We did very little in the morning, (well, the kids and I did very little. Alana did laundry and grocery shopping) went to some friends to swim and grill burgers (while dodging lightning bolts!!) and still got home early in the evening to watch some football and relax. Then it happened. I got sucked in like a mobile home in a tornado. Before I knew it I had traveled to the highest point on earth and lived to tell about it. Sort of.

I stumbled across one of those documentaries about a group climbing Mount Everest. They followed their preparations, their injuries and their fears. One member of the expedition was a Los Angeles firefighter, one a former Hell’s Angel, one an asthmatic who was climbing without an oxygen mask and one was a double amputee having lost his legs in another mountain climbing accident. How could I not morbidly watch to see which one of these guys was not going to make it!!

I have always been fascinated by Everest. I have zero desire to go off to Nepal and climb, but I cannot stop myself from watching documentaries about those who do. I watch and try to decide who will and won’t make the summit and who will and won’t make it off the mountain. I am fascinated by what becomes a fixation of these men and women to literally risk their life to stand on top of the world for twenty minutes.

Tim, the ex-Hell’s Angel member (I am not really sure what you are after you are a Hell’s Angel!) was so fixated on reaching the summit that he literally had to be turned in his tracks to force him to walk down. He was too far from the summit to reach it before his oxygen supply ran out. Brett, the L.A. fireman stopped at 24,000 feet and said, “I have reached my personal summit.” The one climbing without oxygen had to turn around because his mind began playing tricks on him and he was disoriented. The one who made the summit was the double amputee.

Every one of these people had a reason they wanted to reach the top. And every one of them was within inches or moments from their death. Their fixation almost cost them their lives. As I was lying in bed thinking about the show, I found myself wondering what I was so passionate about that I would put myself in that position. Is there an adventure that I have to do so desperately that I am willing to risk my life to pursue it at all costs? The simple answer is no.

It may sound wimpy and boring, but I can’t imagine placing my life in danger at that level. I think about my wife and kids and realize the selfishness it would take to risk their future for my fulfillment. I think about my calling to serve Christ by teaching others about him and realize that no adventure could replace an eternal calling. I think about the relationships I have and would never want to jeopardize them through a pursuit of such an intentional snub to my own mortality.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people trying to fulfill wild and crazy adventures. I wish there was a part of me that wanted to do those things. But when it all boils down, the question becomes, “what are you willing to die for?”

For me, I am willing to die for the safety of my family. I am willing to die trying to rescue others. I am willing to die for the sake of my calling. I am simply not willing to die for the sake of adventure.

What are you willing to die for?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Haiti Part 4

I don’t wear a watch on an everyday basis. I usually have my phone with me and just prefer to pull it out and look at the time. I have a watch that I wear when I run that helps me know how fast (actually how slow!!) I am running. When I traveled to Haiti, I knew I wouldn’t have my phone with me all the time so I wore my watch just to make sure I was where I needed to be. Once you’ve been to Haiti you understand that you just need to be familiar with “ish” time. That is where stuff that is supposed to happen at 9:00 happens at “9ish.” All the same, I wore my watch.

I didn’t think my watch would be a big deal. Until one morning I was in the Miriam Center and a little boy named Jean noticed my watch. I was holding another little boy, sadly no one around knew his name, when Jean came over and wanted to play. Having my hands occupied the only thing I could do was make the light on my watch illuminate which thrilled Jean. I would push the button and his eyes would get wide. He would cover his face and laugh and laugh. Then he would push the button and we would repeat the process. After about fifteen minutes I needed to leave because it was “time-ish” for us to go to the construction site.

Later that afternoon, Jean and I hung out in the common area playing with play-dough, taking pictures (the boy is quite the photog!) and making my watch light up. Jean has a magical smile that makes you feel like the light that is burning inside him is about to explode all over you at any moment. We became really good buds over the few days I was there and I hope to see him again when I get to return.

As I have thought about Jean and the light on my watch I am reminded that light is so fundamental. It is a necessity to accomplish what we want to accomplish. It protects us, guides us, and helps us feel secure. I know many people afraid of the dark, but I don’t know anyone afraid of light.

As a follower of Jesus we are light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” When our life is filled with him, we illuminate the darkened places that exist in our world. Whether it is a boy in Haiti who thinks a small watch light is special, a family in South Florida fighting to keep their heads above water financially, or a distressed teenager who needs someone to tell them they are valuable, we have the answer. We can illuminate the way.

As I ran yesterday, I glanced at my watch and thought of Jean. It was a bright, beautiful, summer day in Florida. But I couldn’t help but reach down and push the button to turn on the light. And then, I smiled.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Haiti Part 3

“I went to college so that I wouldn’t have to work construction!” That was the thought that ran through my head as we broke ground on the site of the church and the new Miriam Center. I hate construction stuff. First, I have no idea where to begin when it comes to doing this stuff. Second, I never have the tools I need. Third, I have ZERO skill. But, this was simply digging, so how hard can that be?

Very, I found out!! We hit the ground running the first day in Haiti and had about 20 shovels and three pick axes flying. Some people knew what they were doing. There are always some people in the group who know construction and have all the skills and know exactly what to do and can work you under a table. I hate those people!! We threw dirt around and clawed at the ground and did the best we could. This group had spirit and no amount of heat, humidity, bugs, dirt or sun would stop us.

After the first day I walked off the site thinking, “There’s no hope.” We barely made a dent. We worked our butts off and we haven’t even made a scratch in this hill. How much difference can we make in two weeks? I was only going to be there one, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see much progress before I left.

But God does amazing things. The next day we were a little more organized. And we had Haitian help. And the day after that, Haitians were already on the site working when we got there. And then we found out that Shaun King had arranged for us to employ them. Later I found out that these guys would be able to be employed for six months. And by the time I left, the site looked as if you could see the outline of a building.

As I was reflecting on all of this two thoughts struck me: first, I doubt God way too often. I usually look and think that I have to have all the answers and that if I can’t figure it out it must not be going to happen. God must laugh at my plans and my ideas quite often. Second, what seems impossible for man is not for God. When we see a hill, he sees a church. When we see a field, he sees an orphanage. When we see a limitation, he sees an opportunity.

By the time the group left the second week, the site was dug and level. A group of people worked long and hard on that hill. Some planted (by digging up dirt) some watered (by hauling dirt away) but God caused the increase (by touching people’s hearts).

“Humanly speaking it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27

If you would like to know how to partner with this project, please visit

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Haiti Part 2

I took up residence on the rooftop of the mission with my Bible in one hand and my journal in the other. I wanted to make sure that I captured my thoughts while I was in Haiti so I could relay more clearly what I was experiencing and what God was teaching me. It was a beautiful afternoon after a long day of digging at the work site.

As I looked down from the mission I could see children in the street, young men and women who were moving about during their day and some folks who were selling trinkets to anyone willing to buy. I could see dirt, and poverty and desperation. I could see that the struggle for survival is real and powerful in this place. The mission is an incredible oasis of hope in this place, but there is only so much they can do.

Some guys were setting up tents on the roof when someone noticed a cruise ship just off the coast. It seemed like a long distance away, but within ten minutes it was passing directly in front of the mission. Such a strange dichotomy: the finest of luxury and the despair of poverty.

I remember being on cruise ships that sailed these waters. They are headed to Labadie on the island of Haiti. It is really the only resort area on the island. In fact, I remember visiting there when my wife and I took a cruise and being told how armed guards were on the other side of the bushes making sure Haitians stay away from the tourist area.

Now I was on the other side of the bush. I was not at the resort, but in the midst of the despair. And I found this twinge in my heart that so much of my life has been about being able to enjoy the luxury and not end the poverty. I know I can’t do it all, but I have to be able to do more.

I am not against cruises, trips, or vacations. In fact, I love enjoying those things with my family. But I have come to realize the importance of the heart desire to serve the least of my brothers. In the moments as I watched the ship sail out of sight, my mind was overwhelmed with the image of how often we sail by others in need in order to enjoy our luxury.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Monday, August 2, 2010

Haiti Part 1

This is the first installment of a series of blogs regarding my recent trip to Haiti and what God has been teaching me through the process.
A journey of 700 miles can take you to whole new worlds. Unlike Columbus or Magellan, who had to literally sail the seas to discover new worlds, we have the liberty and luxury to jump on a plane, eat some snacks (assuming you packed your own!!) and emerge in uncharted territory.
Last Sunday I made just such a journey. I found myself first in Port Au Prince and then Port de Paix Haiti on my way to Saint Louis du Noord. Traveling with sixty strangers with Shaun King and Courageous Church out of Atlanta, I was there to help minister at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. They run orphanages, schools, feeding programs, health clinics and The Miriam Center, for special needs children. We were there to break ground on a new home for the Miriam Center a few miles away from the existing campus which has become too small and too crowded.
As I sat on Sunday night reflecting on my days travel, all that came to my mind was that thousands, no millions of Haitians were fighting for survival today. As I snacked on gummy bears and ate granola bars, how many would die of malnutrition? I had indeed entered a new world.
Riding in the back of a Tap Tap (be grateful for your seat cushions in America) I was made quickly aware of the desperation in Haiti. Even before the January earthquake, Haiti was a place of survival. Few thrive in Haiti. They exist, they survive and they hang on; but almost no one thrives. As you ride the seven miles from the airport to the mission, which takes about an hour, you realize that you are a novelty. Haitians look and stare. Small children wave and yell out, “Blanc, Blanc, Blanc!!!” They are not saying it because we are white, because we arrived as a very diverse group. But, if you are not Haitian you are Blanc.
Perhaps the Blanc feeling I had will never go away. Maybe I will always be an outsider. Maybe, no matter how much my heart breaks or my mind wrestles with the grim reality of life a few hundred miles from my home I realize that I am not fighting for survival. I am thriving. My family has not only enough food for today, but we have enough for weeks. We get to pick and choose what we want.
I have been home about 48 hours now. Part of the team is still in Haiti working on the mission. I will go back; hopefully soon and hopefully with some of you as my teammates. Until then, I will wrestle with the issues of surviving and thriving. I can’t solve all the problems in Haiti, but I do have an answer as to how we can help survive and thrive and how we can thrive more than we thought.
“I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” John 14:6
For information on how you can be a part of this mission, visit

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Change Your Church for Good" by Brad Powell


In the introduction of his book “Change your church for Good,” Brad Powell offers a glimpse into the future of many churches if they refuse to change their methods and approaches to ministry. While most churches will refuse to have the honesty of the members of Immanuel Lutheran to actually bury their church, they will simply limp along in a death crawl while the world around them goes to hell. The main reason is not a lack of mission or purpose, but stubborn refusal to change with the times.

As a pastor who has been serving a transitioning church for eight years, I see in Powell’s book stories that come from my own life. I have asked the same questions, had the same arguments and struggled with the same barriers that Brad encountered. I only wish I had this book eight years ago. My hair may not be as gray and my eyes not quite as baggy.

When Brad expressed his sense of journey as he explored the reasons the church was not growing, he described all the usual suspects that are accused of church decline. The message, the world, the church itself are all excuses, but not reasons for the death of churches. The main issue that most church leaders will identify with for the lack of growth in the church is the lack of faith that we as leaders and the church body has in the power of God to accomplish something great.

As I wrestle with these issues, often on a Monday morning, I find myself looking through the lens of my own desires, my own passions, and my own measuring stick. What we often find is that we are measuring God’s immeasurable power and goodness with our perceptions of what is success. We measure the infinite with the finite. What is left is frustration, depression and discouragement in the life of the leader and therefore in the life of the church.

What Brad Powell offers is insight into defining the right measurements, asking the right questions and taking steps in the right direction without compromise of the truth of God. As someone who actually has done the hard work of ministry and moved from one paradigm to the other, Powell offers the ethos and the pathos to speak to the heart of church leaders. It is not a simple step by step formula of change in style and ministry that is needed, but rather a heart change in the leader to seek the power of God and the presence of the Spirit to move in the community in which the church exists.

Brad Powell offers hope for all of us who are fighting the same battles. He gives valuable insight into heart issues that reflect the character of God and the passion he has for his body, the church. Many people think church planting is the hardest job in ministry apart from living in a tribe in the middle of a jungle. While giving birth is difficult, adopting and changing cultures that are firmly rooted is no less challenging. The labor is painful, the process exhausting and the growth doesn’t happen overnight. But learning to move in the right direction, with the right heart desire, and moving at the leading of the power of God will “change Your Church for Good.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

"If I hate my life this much..."

“If I hate my life this much, how much must God hate my life?” This was at the bottom of the page as I sorted through the feelings of my heart. The other night around midnight I found myself sitting with my journal at the dining room table. I was writing out words that seemed to fit my feelings and my emotions about my walk with Christ. Here is the list of words I wrote:
• Dissatisfied
• Disappointed
• Depressed

Now I am not talking about my life with my family, my church or life in general. I am just thinking about how I feel about my relationship to God. In this moment, God reminded me of how he feels about me.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

“But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

You did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16

Sometimes we may not feel like we are worthy of God’s love and grace. But that doesn’t change God’s love for us. My sin is that I become focused on me rather than on Christ. When I get my eyes off myself and onto him, I am able to accept that God loves me without condition and nothing can ever change that.

I love my life!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Twenty Years Twenty Lesson, Part 2

On Tuesday I started Twenty Lessons from Twenty Years in ministry. I gave you ten, and today I give you ten more. There certainly are thousands I have learned, but these are just to jump start some thinking.

It’s all about people. When we see people as an obstacle instead of an opportunity we are operating in our flesh. Never miss the fact that Jesus changed his plans to minister to people’s needs.

It’s about eternity. So much of what we spend time on in ministry is about our present, urgent needs. But those are all a means to help people meet Jesus for eternity.

Others have paid a greater sacrifice. Millions of people through the centuries have literally given their lives to serve the cause of Christ. My sacrifice is small compared to others.

Mentors make all the difference. Godly men and women in your life keep you moving forward. Never forget those who helped shape you.

Give grace and you will receive grace. Most of the time, when others see us as full of grace they will treat us the same. When they see us as entitled, spoiled and arrogant, they will treat us that way.

Ministry is only as successful as the volunteers that make it happen. I get paid to do my job. Most of the people around me do it simply because they love Christ and his church. Value those people!!!

Respect others. Your title, degree, or status does not give you a free pass on treating others with respect.

It’s your fault. Learn to take the bullet for your team. Never pass off blame to someone else.

Measure God’s work in you, not God’s work in others. There will always be a bigger church, a smaller church and a church that you can discredit. God is mostly concerned with what he has placed in your area of influence.

Keep moving forward and stay put. In twenty years I have had three jobs. My goal is to make my present job my last. In moving forward where I am, God uses the time I have put in to build health in his kingdom.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons

Yesterday was Memorial Day and my family and I did the usual activities: slept in, coffee and breakfast, beach, frozen yogurt run, dinner, watch baseball. Along the way we talked a little about the sacrifice of men and women who have died for our freedoms. As I went to bed last night, I realized that yesterday may have been a holiday, but today, June 1, 2010 is an anniversary.

Twenty years ago today, I started working full-time at Redlands Bible Church in Redlands, CA. I was a 21 year-old youth pastor who had no idea what he was doing, but was too dumb to know it. Now, twenty years later, I still at times have no idea what I am doing, but at least I know it. So, I thought that this week would be dedicated to sharing twenty lessons I have learned over twenty years. They may or may not help you, but there is something healthy about looking back at how God has shaped your life.

• Submit to God or you will surrender to the enemy. The most powerful moments in the life of a servant of Christ come in submission to his plan and his purpose.
• Serve your family first. People will come and go in church life, but your family is there forever. Unless you put ministry and status ahead of them. (Seen it happen far too often!!)
• Honor your wife by always speaking well of her in public. How you speak of your wife reflects the reality of your relationship.
• Honor your children by being at their events. There may be emergencies that require immediate attention, but they are few and far between. But your kids remember your presence over your position.
• Give up. Your traditions, your past, your expertise. God will show you new realities and new challenges. Hold on to right doctrine, but lose the baggage as quickly as possible.
• Determine what God has called you to do and zero in on the target. God has equipped us all differently. As much as I would love to speak like Andy Stanley, think like Mark Driscoll, have the passion of Louie Giglio, I am not them. I have to be who God created me to be and nothing else.
• Beware the Pharisee. They will try to tear you apart. And if you are not diligent, you will become one of them.
• Grace does not mean ignoring sin. Jesus never allowed someone he forgave to continue in their sin and claim to follow him. Why should we diminish the grace of the cross?
• Risk rejection. People will hurt you in ministry. They will lie, gossip, and leave. But you cannot live an isolated, safe life and have intimacy at the same time. The reward is worth the risk because some will walk the road with you.
• If you think you are too big to do the work of a servant, you have become arrogant. Jesus washed his disciples feet. Nuf said!!

Tomorrow we will hit a few more lessons learned.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have been learning some incredible lessons lately about myself, my faith and my enemy. They are lessons that I have learned before, but am relearning in a new time and circumstance in my life. I know most of you may not deal with any of these issues, but if any of you do, here are some things that I am learning.

• When I think I am invincible, I am about to find out I am very weak.
• When I find out I am weak, my default reaction is anger at myself.
• When I get angry at myself, I forget about God’s grace.
• When I forget about God’s grace, I become overwhelmed by my circumstances.
• When I am overwhelmed by my circumstances, I am not focused on the things God has called me to do.
• When I am not focused on the things God has called me to do, I become easy prey for the enemy of my soul.
• When I am easy prey for Satan, I allow myself to be led by my desires and attitudes instead of the mind of Christ.
• When I finally realize I need to focus on the mind of Christ, I begin to see his perspective and priorities in my life.
• When I focus on his priorities in my life, I am able to deal with the circumstances in my life.
• When I am weak, he is strong.

I came across this scripture in my time with God this morning and it hit home. I hope you find it challenging and encouraging all at the same time:

“Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good.” Proverbs 16:2

I pray that this week, you learn to focus on what is good and not be satisfied with what looks good.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Caring Community

I am constantly amazed at how God chooses to show up in my life and the life of the church. It is one thing to know that God is always with us and has promised to never leave or forsake us. It is quite another when God shows up in the everyday mundane aspects of life and reveals himself through individuals who demonstrate his love in such powerful ways.

Lately I have seen God do some great stuff through simple loving acts that people do for one another. From teenagers raking leaves in the yard of an older couple with some health issues, to someone providing grocery money to a family in need, to a woman in the church making chocolate covered strawberries to pass out to all the ladies in our church on Mother’s Day, God uses the small things in life to demonstrate his awesome love.

Jesus said that people will know we are his disciples by our love. When the body of Christ comes together to love one another and love the world around us, we demonstrate the greatest aspect of God: his love. Nothing challenges a skeptic more than unconditional love. Nothing causes a calloused heart to be softened than genuine caring. Nothing makes a jaded spirit more open than unconditional love.

The community of Christ is called to be a community of caring. It is in our actions and our love that God opens avenues of ministry and proclamation of the gospel. It is in our love and devotion to him and one another that God allows us to see his nature expressed in its fullest.

Jesus Christ gave two laws that were designed to help his followers understand life in all of its majesty. In Matthew 22 Jesus told us to love God and love others. When we begin to live our life by those principles, we become the “Caring Community” God intended for us to be. And when we care for the needs of those around us, we open the door to show them that it is not simply kindness, but it is God’s grace and love for us that propels our lives to be devoted to him.

In the last few years the church has been an amazing resource in times of natural and national disaster. After Katrina, churches rallied together to rebuild the Gulf Coast. When tsunamis have destroyed coastal regions around the world, the church has responded. When earthquakes have shaken Haiti and Chile, the church has responded. As Nashville soaks under a deluge of floodwaters, churches are responding. Here is my question: why wait for a disaster?

As followers of Christ, we are called to love and serve every day. We are called to care for the sick, the poor, the widows, and the orphan. That is our calling. And in serving we proclaim the gospel of Jesus. Why are we waiting for the next disaster? Why are we not serving and caring for those who are living the disaster every day in our own communities?

God has called us to care. Look around. There are people who live in disaster. Start out by loving god and then loving them and see what God does in the midst of the caring community.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Review of "Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxas

“He was quite clear in his convictions, and for all that he was so young and unassuming, he saw truth and spoke it out with absolute freedom and without fear.” These were the words of Bishop George Bell at the memorial service for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They capture the true essence of who Bonhoeffer was and what we, as those who follow in his trail aspire to become.

In his Book “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Marty, Prophet, Spy” Eric Mataxas has laid before us the formation, conflicts, relationships, burdens and passions of one of the greatest theological voices of the past century. While you read the pages you picture yourself in the esteemed halls of the German aristocracy and academia. You are transported to lecture halls, pulpits, private studies and the Bavarian Alps. While reading this account of the life of a man who faced conflicting feelings and passions from every side it is impossible not to feel that somehow you now know him and the breadth and depth of his passion for God.

Mataxas paints a wonderful picture of the family background, early childhood influences and cultural zeitgeist of Bonhoeffer. The imagery, attention to detail and theology woven throughout the pages brings to life a man whose absolute zeal for God was never watered down theology or rhetoric, but was personal and resolute.

One of the greatest gifts of “Bonhoeffer” is the inclusion of personal correspondence, texts of sermons and lectures and diary entries. It gives a behind the scenes feel to what the man himself was experiencing and how his inner devotion drove his life’s work. As any nation marches toward war, it is reasonable to assume that a nationalistic pride would rise to the surface. Along with his German bearing and position, Bonhoeffer also was torn between the desire for a Christian Germany and the reality of Germany in the hands of a madman.

This book is a precious gift for anyone who has read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings. It paints for us a deeper picture of a pastor, theologian, academic and patriot that has not before been appreciated. Eric Metaxas has once again written an epic biography of a man who has helped shape history and a man who far too few know. While the size of this book is daunting, the reward is well worth the time invested. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for everyone who love God and for everyone who wonders how that love of God can be reconciled with the love of their country.

Community Devotion

I have been reading an incredible biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately. If you are not familiar with his story, Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who took a stand against Hitler and the Nazi party during World War II. He died in a concentration camp at the age of 39. He was actually a part of a plot to assassinate Hitler and remove him from power. Bonhoeffer spent 18 months in prison and a concentration camp before he was executed in April 1945.

Before the outbreak of the war, Bonhoeffer spent much of his time training young pastors and overseeing the theological education of young men who were committed to living a life in community with one another and to transforming the culture through the impact of their lives. One aspect of this community was the concept of community devotion.

In community devotion, each person studies the passage of scripture for the particular day and then shares what God has spoken to them about regarding that passage. For those living in the schools led by Bonhoeffer it was a deep conviction and practice to daily comment or communion together over the scripture. When Bonhoeffer traveled, he scheduled his day so that at the time his students in Germany were studying the text, he would be doing so as well. For his time in America, that created a major obstacle because of the time difference.

One lesson that I have been learning lately is that the more I communicate what God is doing in my heart, the more it becomes personal and the more it becomes a blessing to others. As I post on my blog or FaceBook or through an e-mail the passage I have been reading and meditating through, I am constantly amazed at how often others tell me it encourages them as well.

As the scripture tells us in Acts 2, the early church devoted itself to the teaching of the word, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. I believe it is not a stretch to say that the concept of fellowship discussed here is the idea of discussion and community centered on the teaching of the word. I have come to believe that we have not really communed with God until we have shared that experience with someone else. That is why my FaceBook, Twitter and blog so often reference my bible readings and thoughts.

So, take the community devotion challenge this week. Study the scripture for yourself. Think about what it means to you. Then, share it with someone. You can use the internet, a phone call, an e-mail or a good old fashioned face-to-face conversation. But try to have community devotion this week and see how God brings his word to life in you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Church as Community

I have been wrestling with some thoughts and ideas in my mind for a while that I want to begin to share with you. They are aspects of my own spiritual journey that God has been showing me in the larger context of my relationship with and responsibility for the church community of LifeQuest. Over the next few days I will be laying out some ideas and thoughts to spur conversation and movement within our body. I hope that you will be a part of this by discussing them on the blog, on FaceBook or better yet by wanting to sit down and have a cup of coffee.

A major aspect that God has been showing me lately is the church as “community.” In our world we talk about church as a place, a building or an organization. None of those are biblical views of the church. The church is not a “place” it is a “community.” It is not an “organization” it is an “organism.” It is not a “meeting” but rather a “movement.” In other words, all of the ways we use to describe church in the 21st century is not accurate.

I heard a guy last week make the statement, “don’t connect church with certain prepositions like at, to in, and from.” In other words, we don’t go “to” church. We are not meeting “at” church. We are not sitting “in” church. The point is that we “are” the church. When we speak using at, in, to, and so on, we communicate that the church is a place. The church is a community of people seeking to follow Jesus and help others to find and follow Jesus. The place we meet is our gathering place. Our worship celebrations are not “church” they are gatherings “of” the church.

If you think about it, when we speak like we do about church we help those not connected to Christ associate church with a building or a place. Read Acts 2: 42-47. The description of the earliest form of the church is not based on a place, but on people with the common goal of loving God and loving others. In other scriptures the church is referred to as the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:4) and the “bride of Christ.” (Revelation 19:7). None of those passages focus on a building or a place.

If we want to be who God has called us to be, we must look at the church in anew light. We must see ourselves as the church gathered on Sundays, and Tuesdays and any other time we meet to encourage and fulfill the mission with which we have been called. And we must see ourselves as the church sent, to live among those who do not know Christ and who desperately need to be shown the light and love of Jesus.

So, let’s begin a new conversation. Let’s stop saying we are “going” to church or we have been “at” church. Instead let’s live in the realization that we “are” church. And that is true whether we are gathered for corporate celebration on Sunday or if we are simply sitting in a Starbucks sharing a cup of coffee. (I highly recommend the bold, black, venti!!)

So, what are your thoughts? I would love to hear them. Leave a note on the blog, send me a message on FaceBook, hit me up on Twitter (@johnjharvey) or call me and let’s talk.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Welcome to another Monday. I pray that this week you experience all that God has in store for you to the absolute fullest. It is Monday and if you are in South Florida it is a drizzly, gray day so far. It makes it tough to get going and makes all the little items that get in our way even more frustrating.

I came into the office today with a strategy to get a ton accomplished. Most of it had to do with getting the podcast from the last few weeks updated and making sure things were fresh on my blog. Of course the internet was not working when I came into the office. Now that it is up and running again I am out of time to accomplish what I had planned for today. I have afternoon appointments out of the office and tomorrow is full and Wednesday is a day spent studying, and….well you get the picture.

I had plans. I had goals. I had a list. And nothing that I have done so far today was on that list. But that is the way life is sometimes. I won’t try to over spiritualize my morning, but I will tell you one thing I have learned today: there is nothing I can do to change it. I couldn’t fix all that needed to be fixed and I can’t slow down the clock so my appointments are pushed back today. The last three hours are gone and I can’t go back and make them reappear.

I also found out a huge fact that puts it all into perspective: six billion people on the face of the earth are totally unaffected by my “trials” this morning. In the grand scheme of things they are mere blips. Instead of checking things off my “to do” list I spent time studying for next Sunday’s message, praying for people God brought to my mind and reflecting on how God has been moving in my life the last few weeks.

Maybe this morning wasn’t a waste after all.

Yours for his Purpose,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thoughts for Sunday Afternoon

Today has been an amazing day. The last twenty-four hours have been strange, wonderful, joyous, wearisome and powerful. Here are a few things that God is doing in me right now.

• Emily got home from Costa Rica early this morning. We got home about 1:30 a.m.
• When your teenage daughter goes on a mission trip, she comes home changed.
• She is not my little girl anymore. She is an amazing young woman of God.
• Using videos to worship was powerful today.
• “In Christ Alone” may be the most powerful four minute music video.
• I had chills on my arm as we worshipped.
• Seeing people come forward to publicly declare their faith in Christ never gets old. I pray we never get tired of seeing that happen.
• My kids crack me up. As we sat over lunch I realized how unique and wonderful they all are in their special way.
• I love the Masters. It is without doubt my favorite tournament.
• I am not moving from in front of my TV until this bad boy is over.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

It is the Monday after Easter. For most people it is simply another Monday. They go to work, they enjoy a beach day with the kids who are off from school for spring break and they simply go about their lives. For pastors and other ministry types, it is a day of trying to get through the fog. It is a day of reflecting, thinking, planning and coffee!!!

Easter Sunday is the Super Bowl for pastors. It is the one day when people who we won’t see again until Christmas or next Easter are in the service. It is a day of a thousand extra details. It is the day where everything that doesn’t go according to plan sets us off. I am not sure any of this as externally fueled. I don’t think anyone else has such high expectations of us, but I know my standards are pretty high on Easter Sunday.

So, today I am sitting in my office in a fog. I am exhausted. It is not the physical act of getting everything done, but the emotional and spiritual battle that has been waged in my mind and heart for the last few weeks. Easter is always looming out there. We know it is coming and we love it, but the level of anxiety we feel every Sunday is ramped up all the way to 11!!

Yesterday was amazing at LifeQuest. People who had never been here before were here. People who have been only marginally engaged were involved and committed. And people who have been the backbone of this ministry for years took their ministry to a whole notha’ level!! And now it’s Monday.

In six days we will all gather together again to celebrate Christ. We will all worship and reflect on the fact that the God of the universe loved us so much he stepped out of heaven and walked the earth. There will not be the sense of expectation. There will not be the sense of excitement. There will not be a special breakfast or an Easter egg hunt. But the truth of the day will be the same: Jesus is ALIVE!!!

So, on this Monday after Easter I will enjoy the fact that the one that was dead is alive and that I, the one who should be dead, is alive in Him.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon

I am so amazed that God shows up in the ways that he does. I am reminded often that God’s love and mercy in my life have not been earned, but are a result of his active love for me. This afternoon as I am reflecting on the worship celebration at LifeQuest today, I had some thoughts I wanted to share with you.

• Today, five people volunteered for ministry today for the very first time. That is awesome!!!
• The way God is moving in people’s lives is powerful. People who are sharing their stories with me are finding the grace of God in ways they have never experienced.
• It never gets old to see people respond to God’s Word.
• Every conversation I had today had a common theme: community. People are either loving the community they have with other people at LifeQuest or they are longing to find community.
• If you are not in a Life Group study of some kind, get in one!!!
• God is doing some awesome stuff at LifeQuest.
• Some people told me they changed their vacation plans to be at LifeQuest on Easter Sunday!!!
• I can’t wait for Easter Sunday!!!
• Don’t miss next Sunday!!! This is going to be a worship experience you will never forget!!!!
• I have a Sunday nap hangover!! Chat at you tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Basics

In 1954, American psychologist Abraham Maslow cemented the concept of the “hierarchy of human needs.” It has become the basis for psychological study and therapy since its inception. While I do not agree with many of Maslow’s beliefs or assumptions, especially his humanistic worldview, I do see incredible value in his understanding of human needs. Picture each step as a building block toward the next need:
Physiological (basic human needs), Security (basic safety), Love and belonging (relationships),Esteem (confidence), Self (who you really are).

I have noticed something rather striking about this hierarchy and I am seeing it played out in the lives of people I interact with daily. At the very center of the diagram, just above our basic human physiological and security needs, is the need for loving and belonging. It struck me this morning as I was thinking about this that the very basic, intimate need for love and connection holds all of our other needs in place. It is, in essence, the linchpin of how God created us.

I meet people who are continually looking for love and belonging. They seek it out in destructive ways many times. They move from one toxic relationship to another and they look for physiological and safety needs to be met through friendship, intimacy and support. While this has been breakthrough concepts in psychological circles, it is certainly nothing new.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus told a young man that the greatest of all the laws was to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love and belonging with our creator and love and belonging with our fellow man. Maslow didn’t solidify a humanistic concept, he repeated a biblical teaching.

The more I connect with people, the more I hear that people are looking for connection. They want true, rich relationships. They desire meaning and purpose beyond their own pleasures. They are not satisfied with the basics. They want the depth.

It is scary to reach toward those levels. But God created us to be a part of a loving community. He created us with a basic need and with a desire toward depth. We many times are too busy satisfying our basic desires we never move toward the point of intimacy with God or one another.

This week, how can you move toward intimacy? How can you promote loving God and loving others in your world? How can you help meet the most basic of needs for yourself and for those around you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"A Century Turns" by William Bennett

“A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears” is a wonderful piece of American history painted within the frame of someone who was in the room as events, discussions, policy fights and diplomatic decisions were made in the last decade of the twentieth century. William Bennett not only discusses the policy issues and societal shifts of the day, but he relays behind the scene commentary in such a way that the reader is drawn into the moment.

Bennett uses great skill in crafting the story of history with the personalities and the culture of the United States in the 1990’s and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Events that shaped policy at the time are now viewed with the consequences, both positive and negative, in view. Decisions to support foreign leaders at one point in our history have at another point led to tragedy and terror. William Bennett portrays the rationale behind certain policies and explains the fights that took place as members of different parties, factions, and cultures dug in their heels.

“A Century Turns” is a must read for the generation that lived this history. Over the course of twenty years the culture, language, technology, allies and foes of the United States have ebbed and flowed as the rivers of history moved forward. Bennett captures the context behind the content. For any lover of history or culture, “A Century Turns” is a thrilling and captivating experience.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Time!!!

This was a monumental weekend in our house. Maybe not monumental, but it was pretty exciting. Barriers were broken, challenges were overcome, fear was conquered, and a new challenge looms on the horizon. Kimberly was finally able to master the art of riding her bike this weekend!!!

We have tried for several years to convince her that training wheels were no longer needed. No luck! The first imbalance, the first wobble, the first spill and the battle was lost. For whatever reason, the bike was a battle she was not interested in fighting, much less winning. But this weekend, Kimberly won.

She fell a few times. Getting started by herself is still difficult. Turns can become a nightmare when you are not really sure how fast to go. But, Kimberly can ride her bike. Now she has proudly proclaimed, “Now that I can ride my bike I can get a bigger one.” Yes she can (sigh).

There was one moment where I thought we were lost this weekend. I was helping her around the block and she was getting tired, and I was getting frustrated. I told her she could do it if she just tried. She climbed on her bike and looked at me and said, “I’ll show you!!” And she rode her bike.

When Alana asked her why she decided she wanted to learn to ride her bike she simply said, “I am old enough to know how to ride a bike.” It was that simple. She just felt like it was time to grow up. Another hurdle on life’s road has been cleared and so many more stand in the way.

The lesson for me in all of this is that sometimes, it is simply time to grow up. We often try to remain in a state of childhood where we struggle, pout and give up. Sometimes, it is simply time to do life as an adult.

What hurdle do you need to conquer? What is the obstacle in your life that needs to be cleared? In what area do you need to grow up? My list is long, but my resolve is set. I’ll show you!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

That's Why We're Here

There have been some things I have noticed the last few Sundays that have helped me to see God show up in some really powerful ways. There have not been any major miracles happen in people’s lives that I know of. There have not been a ton of people contacting me because they have prayed to receive Christ. In fact, there has been nothing exceptionally public that has been going on. But some great stuff is happening that others may not notice.

One example I want to share with you is the story of a woman who has been attending LifeQuest and has been beaten up by life. You can look at her and see the strain that live has caused. I know a few details, but her life has been turned upside down the last couple of years. As I see her while I am speaking, I see pain and hurt. I am not sure I have ever seen her smile more than simply a cursory hello.

The last few weeks I have noticed that she is hanging around after the service is over. She is talking to a few people. I have walked past the group talking and heard pain, anger, and a few tears. I see others listening as she tells her story and I see people put their arm around her and offer a word of encouragement. I am pretty sure that none of her circumstances have changed, but she is here. She is hearing the gospel and finding support.

That is what Jesus has called us to be as a church; a place to hear truth and a place to live it out. No one here is perfect. We are hurt, frustrated, angry and all other kinds of things. But we are here, being the body of Christ as best as we can.

I love what God has called me to do. I love that God allows me to see small steps of healing in the midst of large amounts of pain. I pray that this week we will all be encouragement to those around us. And I pray that if you are in pain, you will find support and encouragement from the body of Christ.

Monday, February 22, 2010

People of Joy

As we get into the Easter season I begin my yearly journey toward the cross and the tomb by reading “Reliving the Passion” by Walt Wangerin. If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it as a resource to frame our hearts and minds toward Easter. It is designed to be read from Ash Wednesday (which was last week) to Easter. It is a perfect companion for those who follow Lenten traditions. This morning as I was reading I reflected back on one of his thoughts from a few days ago.

On Day 4, Saturday, Wangerin writes these words;
“The difference between shallow happiness and a deep sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope.”

As I reflect on these words I am deeply convicted about how often I strive to be happy instead of longing to have joy. No one likes to experience pain, especially over a long period of time. But out of that pain God raises those who endure to new heights to intimacy with Him. Through our pain we grow into deeper beings relying on the power of God instead of the ease of our circumstance to control our hearts.

We are a circumstance driven people. When circumstances call for celebration, we are happy. When circumstances bring pain, we cry out for mercy and seek to medicate ourselves on whatever indulgence will dull the pain. I know this is true for my life. I desire so much more.

I have encountered people dealing with all types of pain lately. And instead of medicating, we need to embrace it. We need to look for the depths of God in the midst of our circumstance. And out of the ashes will rise endurance. Out of endurance character and out of character hope.

May we strive to be people of joy, and not settle for happiness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I have come to realize in some areas of my life that I am a hypocrite. I know this is a terrible admission, but I think at some level everyone lives with a certain disconnect between what we really believe and what we always do. Sometimes it is in major areas such as integrity or commitments. That is not what I am talking about. Before you jump to any more conclusions, let me explain.

I tend to teach and preach discipline and focus to my children. I get onto them about grades, their messy rooms, watching too much television, etc. I am not overly harsh (at least I don’t think so) but I do try to push them to a higher level than I was willing to achieve when I was their age. They are smart, talented, and beautiful. I want them to be their absolute best.

Occasionally I look in a mirror. I try to avoid them when possible. The mirror I am talking about is not the one that shows an outer reflection, but the one that examines the inner heart. It is the mirror that only we can see. When I look there, I see that some things in my life are not what they should be for someone who talks a good game.

What I have come to realize in my own heart is that I have a long way to go to be the man God intends me to become. I am often lazy in my habits of time with God. I sometimes draw the conclusion that if I am in my church office, I must be doing things of God. Wrong!!! I often speak and write about loving others, but there are some people God has placed in my life that I can’t stand. I need to be able to control my appetites better (less cookies more carrots!!!) but that doesn’t always happen.

I know I am a work I progress. Some people just call me a piece of work!! But I have been asking God to show me the true reflection of who I am and how he wants to change me. It is scary, convicting, and powerful. But it is good.

My prayer is that each of us would look into our heart and do the hard work of the faith and not settle for less than God’s best for our lives.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Being and Doing

I came across the following quote this morning (thanks to Anne Jackson at and it sparked some thoughts I wanted to share with you.

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for
what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness” Thomas Merton

I have been working through this very same issue in my life for a while. Through reading scripture, reading other books and listening to what some Godly people have had to say, I have been focusing my life on being as well as on doing. I have been challenged by others to dive into this issue, but the thought seems to come and go with seasons of life.

The concept of valuing “being” and “doing” is counter-cultural for Americans. We are a nation founded by people who thrived on rugged individualism and a high work ethic. For us, accomplishment is something to be rewarded and we like to hold up our “finished products.” It is so much easier to measure something that is done than it is to measure something that simply is.

Being and doing are both valuable. They are scriptural mandates for everyone who follows Christ. Jesus told the woman in John 4 that it was “truth” (being) that mattered in her worship of God. The book of James tells us that our “actions” (doing) must match our faith. It is not an “either or” but a “both and” situation. We are to have a life of being that is reflective, focused spiritually, and transformed by the Spirit of God. We are to then have actions in our life that reflect the love of God outward toward people and that meets the needs of those around us.

This week, “be” and “do.” Allow your life to be one that values the soul and allows the inner beauty of God to reflect the outer actions of his work in your life.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The Noticer" by Andy Andrews

“The Noticer” is one of the few books that drew me in so that I had to finish it in one sitting. The images of pain, brokenness, and despair of the characters reflect everyday life in any community in the 21st Century. Of course, the gift of “perspective” allows us to see past the obstacle of the moment and to the glimmer of a bright future.

Andy Andrews has done a marvelous job of storytelling that allows us to see ourselves in each and every face. As life spins out of control the natural human reaction is to focus inward toward our own failures and outward toward our own enemies. In “The Noticer” the mystical Jones paints the portrait of a life turned toward introspection of our own soul and the encouragement of others.

The timing for reading “The Noticer” was perfect for me. I see within the tapestry of Orange Beach an amalgam of myself. I have been at times Andy and Jason, Walker and Barry. Rage, despair, anger and hurt have been traveling companions. Without loving compassion of people in my life, I hate to think where I would have been.

I have had many Jones’ in my life; men and women who speak truth with love. Friends who are bold enough to be honest and honest enough to be vulnerable. My prayer is that I would become a “Noticer.” I pray that my life would touch others and that they in turn would in turn plant seeds in the lives of countless others.

This book is a must read of everyone who desires to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and view life with new “perspective.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Content Heart

“When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.” Psalm 78:21-24

In this Psalm, the psalmist is reminding the nation of Israel of the rebellion that the nation displayed toward God. He reminded them that when they rebelled, God punished them. Ultimately, God loved his people so much he provided for them and gave them food from heaven to fill their stomachs.

As I read through this psalm today I was reminded of how often I sin against God. And yet, God has never turned his back on me. He has met my need over and over again. And I, like the nation of Israel, have over and over again complained about God’s provision (or what I perceive as his lack thereof).

Today I want to focus my heart on thankfulness. I want a heart of gratitude and love toward God. I want to remember that everything good that comes into my life if a gift from God above (James 1:17) and that the struggles in my life are largely due to the fact that I fail to live in line with God’s provision or his plans.

Lord, forgive my greed. I pray for a heart content with your love and grace. I pray that thankfulness will be my character and joy my attitude. Amen

Monday, January 25, 2010

Favre and Forgiveness

Last night was a great example of how one moment can lead to lasting images. In the football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, a legendary figure made a fundamental mistake and it cost his team a victory and a birth in the Super Bowl. How do you ever get over that?

In case you missed it, Brett Favre threw an interception with the score tied and the Vikings close to field goal range right before the end of the game. As soon as he threw the ball, the commentator said, “That is the first thing they teach you not to do playing quarterback.” It was one of those moments where you felt empathy, sadness, and shock all at once. Could this be how Favre ends his career?

In our lives we all have those “one moment” kinds of mistakes. We all do what we know we shouldn’t, we all forget the fundamentals and try to do the spectacular. The good thing for us is that our failures typically don’t happen in front of millions of people.

As I listened to people talk about the game and the end last night, I was reminded of all the failures in my life. I have blown it. I have thrown the ball when I should have run. I have tripped myself on obstacles that I saw clearly. When I reflect on scripture I am reminded that almost all of the heroes of our faith failed as well.

Abraham lied, Moses murdered, David committed adultery and murder (aren’t those the top two on human lists?), Peter rejected Christ and Paul killed in the name of YHWH. The beautiful part of the gospel is that none of them is held captive by their sin. All found grace, forgiveness and mercy by the power of the love of God.

Brett Favre will be blasted today on every sports talk program in America. But how many of us have thrown an “interception” this week? How many of us have blown it in much more important situations than a football game? Aren’t you glad that God does not hold us captive to our sins, but forgives us through Jesus?

“You have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti

By now I am sure you have all seen news reports of the severe devastation and loss of life from Haiti due to the recent earthquake. Thousands and thousands of lives have been lost and the humanitarian need is almost unprecedented. This is the time when the church needs to step forward.

I have been praying and thinking about how to be involved as a church. We do not have the resources to jump on a plane and go do something personally. However we can partner with organizations already on the ground providing not only physical relief but spiritual and emotional relief as well.

One of the organizations that handles these situations best is Samaritans Purse. This is the ministry headed by Franklin Graham and the one that runs Operation Christmas Child which we have supported for years. This is the link to read about their response to this disaster and their need for help:

This coming Sunday, January 17, LifeQuest will be taking a special offering to send to Samaritans Purse to help in their efforts in Haiti. I would ask you to please pray carefully about supporting this cause. This is a way for us as a church to partner with people who are on the ground in a desperate place at a desperate time offering the spiritual and physical help needed.

Every family in our church has some challenging financial times they are enduring right now. LifeQuest itself is dealing with our financial pinch and trying to be good stewards of the resources we have. This opportunity is for us to reach beyond ourselves, outside of our walls and into the eternal future of people we may never meet this side of eternity. I am asking you to give beyond your normal tithes and offerings and give sacrificially as you are able.

No matter the size, no matter the amount, God is able to do more than we can ever imagine. Please pray and come Sunday prepared to support our partners at Samaritans Purse as they respond to this human disaster.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mess Makes the Memory

So, this year my family did something we had never done before. We decided that we would take a winter vacation between Christmas and New Year. We had rented a cabin in Blowing Rock, NC, wrangled up winter clothing (because until this week’s record cold we had never needed it in Florida) and made plans for a week of fun in the snow. My kids had never really been in snow. In fact, Kimberly had never even seen it!!

On December 28 we arrived in the late evening to find that the road to our cabin was iced over and that there was no way we were making it to the top of the hill. We also discovered that even if we made it up, we would never make it down! Not safely anyway. In the course of about two hours my family trip turned into a Chevy Chase movie. We had to scramble to find a hotel room, scrap our plans for evenings around the fireplace and realize that our week was turning upside down.

Needless to say I was less than thrilled. I was frustrated, upset, and feeling like I had let my family down. It was not my fault, but I couldn’t help but feel bad. It is one of those moments where you feel like a failure as a dad. I could just hear my kid’s years from now telling some therapist: “My dad ruined my life in the mountains.”

Needless to say we adjusted our plans, made the best of it and had a great time. My kids loved going down the tube runs in the snow. We had a ball throwing snowballs and building snow men along the side of the road. We laughed whenever someone wiped out on the snow and ice.

The lesson I have learned through all of this is that we may make plans and think we have all the answers, but sometimes life just gets crazy. Weather, finances, schedules and interruptions cause us to feel like we are going to lose it. Maybe the lesson for me is that life doesn’t have to be neat to be enjoyable. In fact, sometimes the mess makes the memory.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suddenly becoming comfortable with clutter in my life. But I am learning that life can be exciting when we let go of our securites and enjoy the slide down the ice!!!