Trust + Branching Out.

My friend Marko has an event coming up. It is called The Summit. I am working on taking a whole van full of guys to it.

Mainly because it is really easy to listen to people you agree with tell you that everything you are doing is awesome. It is a little harder and frankly a little riskier to go somewhere to be disrupted and challenged and (probably) angered and maybe, just maybe change my mind about something. Marko and I disagree on lots, but we have forged a great friendship primarily by gently pushing each other. Your youth ministry (or marriage or church or life) would be well served for you to get pushed a little bit.

So, how about you join me?

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We are in a series called GO5PEL – explaining the Gospel in 5 words and colors for the students, helping them grasp the concepts in a way they can continually share with friends.


here are the sermon intros for the first two weeks


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Student Ministry Values – #1 – Expectant.

This is a series on the 6 values we have adopted as our shaping values for Harvest Student Ministry. We use these in many ways. Not just on mugs or on the wall (although those places too) we use these values to frame our success or failure on a weekly basis. The first value is


We approach each conversation and event believing that God will do great things.

It can become very easy over time in student ministry for cynicism to take over. You see so many students make commitments and struggle to follow through. You see volunteers bail out who said they would stay the course. You see friends in ministry lose it all through foolish choices. This takes an emotional toll and can begin to overtake your faith.

When we commit to being expectant, it means that although reality has shown that not everyone will love Jesus the way we hope, God is the opener of hearts and the ultimate judge. Every student who walks through the door will get our complete belief that God is going to shake their world through his word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Expectant preaching is unafraid of a lack of response, because God’s word always make an impact.

Expectant worship gives full passion regardless of the size or vibe of the crowd, because God’s spirit always moves when the name of Jesus is lifted up.

Expectant prayer echoes Jesus crazy promises, that we have not because we ask not. God has no lack of willingness, it is our lack of faith that holds us back.

Expectant community leans into vulnerability knowing that the beauty of being known and loved is worth the risk of being hurt.

Isaiah 55.10-11

10  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

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Prayer + Preparation.

Our summer camp for Harvest HS is coming up in a few weeks. This will be my 5th year overseeing the camp itself and that is after 4 years of leading worship at it. Over time I have seen this summer camp do amazing things in so many peoples lives. I remember lots of moments of transformation for students I love and I remember even more that have marked me forever.  So many legendary things have happened both sacred and just plain fun …

-the night I burned the wall of sins to illustrate what grace does.

-middle of the night slip-n-slide + pop tarts.

-the time we smashed idols all together.

-the silent sermon.

and on and on and on it goes.

I was reading the Bible this morning and was reminded that every year I get to week of the camp and in the flurry of recruiting sign-ups, planning messages, organizing cabins, and dealing with last minute drama, I always get to the end and wish I would have prayed more. and I hate that feeling. The feeling that God was willing and desirous to do more, but we left some of what He wanted to do on the table due to a lack of discipline or faith.

Rather than bemoan the past, I have decided to make this year  different. For the next few weeks until we leave for ‘The War,’ there will be a lot of intentional + expectant interceding for God to do something fresh and something new and something beautiful. Why?

Mathew 21.22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

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April – June Book Reviews.

Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #4)Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful story that metaphorically teaches the lifelong lesson of following God’s lead no matter. This comment from Aslan the lion has stuck with me, “No one ever finds out what would have happened, but you are always free to find out what will happen.’

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strong installment in the series is highlighted by Eustace turning into a dragon and desperately trying to shed his skin. He is able to only when Aslan does it for him. The symbolism of Christ’s removal of our sin is the best part of the journey to the end of the world.

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although probably the most lackluster in the series, I was blessed this tale of the power of sin to bind and destroy us.

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Vision: Lost and Found: The Story Of A Church That Got Stuck but Didn't Stay ThereVision: Lost and Found: The Story Of A Church That Got Stuck but Didn’t Stay There by Tim Stevens

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved the heart behind this book. The goal of continuing to grow and being willing to follow God’s leading in your church is worthy of commendation. However, that this church was not guided by scripture in there changes in any way deemed worthy of mentioning is a problem that is hard to ignore.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As good as fiction gets. A clever premise, unusual characters, and a riveting story make a true page turner. There is a reason this series is such phenomenon. The writing is crisp and clear. Anyone would enjoy this book.

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The middle book in the series continues the quick pace and desperation of the first book. I don’t that I have ever read fiction that so vividly puts the reader in the characters shoes. A great sequel.

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Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found the final book in the series a disappointment. The overly political anti-establishment vibe gets a little wearisome when seen through the eyes of teenagers. It is worth reading to get the scope of the series, but is not the thriller the first two books are.

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Some Things I Have Been Thinking About Lately.

Stuff I didn’t feel like Tweeting or polluting Facebook with… 

– The current obsession from both sides of the aisle to assign morality and motive to church size is asinine. People reaching a lot of people aren’t necessarily egotistical and/or power obsessed. The people reaching a few aren’t necessarily lazy and/or jealous. However, blindly reaching for more no matter what it takes ensure compromise and reveling in smallness can’t co-exist with the Great Commission. Jesus parable about the talents is lost on some people.

– It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that the key to leadership is security. Insecure people are jealous, easily offended, and worried about being outshined. Secure people see success as leveraging those around them and being honest about their strengths/weaknesses. Secure leaders don’t mind not knowing all the answers and revel in seeing the growth of others. 

– Pastoring people through the stages of life is an immense joy. Weddings, funerals, baby’s born, kids going to college, and all the littles ones in between make the fabric of a joyful ministry. People who outsource all of that stuff are mega missing out + not fulfilling the call of a pastor. Finding ways to stay involved on the ground level is critical. 

– Secret sin is so destructive. The way it destroys marriages + families is so disheartening. A couple weeks ago on Mad Men, divorced forced absentee dad Don Draper had the perfect line to his philandering protege Pete Campbell, ‘Because I am who I am and I’ve been where I’ve been, let me tell you, you only get one chance at what you have.’  

–  Getting up each day to do something I love, with people I enjoy, at something that makes a difference, in a way that provides for my family is a privilege beyond measure. Those 4 factors are not present for so many faithful people who tithe to allow me to work for the gospel. I MUST honor them with my character and effort everyday.

what are you thinking about?


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Sunday 5/6/12

This Sunday was the last week of our interruptions series. We had powerful worship and teaching on the truth always coming out.
In addition we added elements to keep small groups fresh.

In Junior High we gave every small group a pizza with stickers on the top of the box and inside the box. The top of the box contained a puzzle pictured here :

Can you get the answer? They won candy for their small group by getting it right. I received 25 text guesses, the kids were excited about the game.
The inside contained a sticker with the small group questions for the night.

For High School, we had everyone outside to start the night, and the doors were locked. We appeared on the roof and threw parachute men with CD’s attached off the roof. The small group leaders had been given money in envelopes. They all went and got in the small group leaders cars and went out for ice cream, while listening to the CD and discussing the question. This was meant as just a conversation starter for the message which happened later. This is the audio from the small group CD.

Then there was a powerful message. Here is the outline.


The response was overwhelming from the sermon. Two students took me aside and asked me to pray with them. One asked me to pray for his dad to get out of prison and not be deported. One confessed 3 secrets from his childhood that he had never told anyone except his girlfriend. He texted me later and said he confessed the sins to his mom. Praise the Lord for the soul piercing power of God’s word.

Tonight was great because it contained fun creativity to keep things fresh but in no way watered down the message of God’s word. This is the happy middle that I want to find with every youth group. Praise God.

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