social media

Your Smartphone, Your Kids, and Their Safety

Dear Universe,

We’re out on a date for the night and our kids are home alone. Here’s our address and a map to our house.


Mom and Dad

That’s ridiculous. No parent would ever say that.

I would never say that.

Except we do it all the time. Sure, we don’t do it intentionally, but the fingerprints we leave on social media do indeed tell the world where we are, what we are doing, how long we’ll be doing it, and how to find the people we care about.

Christian Living

If in Doubt… A Prayer for the Week

He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?” Genesis 3:1b

O, the temptress. I hear you in the shadows. You slither into my lonely moments and whisper in my ear.

And yet… despite you. To spite you. Stomping you out! Ignoring your coy tactics! I make a choice. I rest in my choice. I cling to my choice.

I will not allow your sneaky voice of doubt a defining foothold. No whisper, seeking clarity, will recast my mission. I will not be defined by you, I will define you!


  • If in doubt… I’ll teach the Bible.
  • If in doubt… I’ll say I don’t know.
  • If in doubt… I’ll take the challenge.
  • If in doubt… I’ll spend time with people my own age.
  • If in doubt… I’ll compliment and encourage instead of criticize or question.
  • If in doubt… I’ll be bold with what God’s laid on my heart.
  • If in doubt… I’ll invest in people instead of projects.
  • If in doubt… I’ll go with less planning, more doing.
  • If in doubt… I’ll say yes to a wild idea.

Yes, these are scary times. And scary times make counter-productive doubts seem reasonable.

I’ve made a choice to stand as a crazy man, convinced that God can use me to change things. Circumstances mean nothing. Opposition is a joke. Logic is often illogical. Realism is veiled fatalism!

While it seems natural to teeter-totter, like Thomas, between faith in what God can do and doubt in what I can barely allow myself to dream about God doing– I reject doubt’s gravitational pull and fling myself forward in faith.

Let doubt not define me today. Instead, allow me to define my life as one who overcomes doubts with  radical, ridiculous, simple, and audacious faith.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.


youth ministry

Climbing Trees

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to climb trees.

Photo by Sugar Frizz via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From first grade to sixth grade the most consistent place you’d find me (When I disappeared, which was all the time!) would likely be up in a tree. Until fourth grade it was all about hanging out with friends (literally) and seeing how high we could climb or if we could be quiet enough that adults would walk by and not notice us. When we got a bit older we got more brave and would try to jump from tree to tree. It was a place where I learned how far I could push myself as well as if I could trust myself as I explored various trees.

But in my later elementary years I discovered the trees could be a wonderful place to be alone. They became a place to perch and listen to birds, watch squirrels, and one of my favorites… read books. I remember reading Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and Shel Siverstein poems and everything by Jules Verne in trees. It was high in a pine tree in my back yard that I discovered that a book could take me somewhere far from home in the space between my ears.

My childhood wasn’t filled with horror but it wasn’t a parade of awesome either. Like a lot of families today– we had our messes. And for whatever reasons hanging out in trees and loosing myself in a book (or later, in a video game, or at the golf course) was a form of respite or escapism from the hard realities of my situation. While escapism is probably not the best way to deal with everything, disappearing from a place of disorder to one of order was healthy.

As I work with emerging adults who have lives strikingly similar to my own experience I wonder what their places of respite are. I’d like to think its our youth group or times when we’re together doing something fun. But more likely, they are off to their own set of trees, wherever that may be, to find sanity in chaos.

What was your place of respite as a kid?

How would you discover the place of respite for the students in your ministry?