Tag: jesus (page 1 of 3)

Excessive, annoying grace

I like coffee. And maybe (said while squinting my eyes and making the universal pinching symbol for tiny) I am a little excessive about it. Just maybe.

I have just a few different ways of brewing coffee. Here’s what I’ve got:

V60 Hario
Stove top Italian Espresso Mokka
Iced coffee brewer
Espresso machine
Manual Espresso maker
French press
Traditional brewer


You never know what kind of coffee you’ll need. Seriously. I may need to make lattes for guests, or a pot of clean coffee for me and…well, I’d probably just drink the whole pot of Chemex. *Confession alert.*

Or maybe it’s hot outside and an iced coffee is preferred. Or maybe we have a lot of people in the house that could care less about the taste of their coffee and I’ll get the Keurig out. 😃

Regardless, I’ll bet you look at my coffee brewing collection and say I’ve got a little too much. Too many options. You probably have just 1 way, maybe 2, of brewing your coffee at home, and can’t imagine why a person in their right mind would need more. You may even say that my collection is a bit excessive. I can see why you’d say that.

Because you don’t love coffee as much as I do.

I love drinking it. Sipping it. Gulping it. Making it. I love the art and science of making the *perfect* cup.

And I especially love serving it to others.

You may not appreciate my excessive approach, until you’ve had a cup from my house. I can guarantee you that it’ll be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had. Ever.

Annoying obsessions

There are lots of things we see other people doing things that are excessive seem excessive and annoying to us, right? When people collect items we don’t care about, it seems odd to us. From comic books to cars. Baseball cards. Pokemon. Pogs  (remember those??). Signatures from famous people. Action figures. Barbies. Buttons. Cameras. Typewriters. Fountain pens.

And coffee equipment. It’s annoying to you. You may think, “Why would anyone need so many different ways to brew a cup of hot dirt?” But I assure you, I do. And if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, you will appreciate my collection.


Grace: noun \ˈgrās\ Unearned favor from God.

Grace is the same way. I need excessive amounts of it.  I realize the gap between who I am and who God’s created me to be. I see the mistakes I have made and continue to make. And I need grace each and every morning. I need it by the bucketfuls. I need it so much that I preach and teach on it. I tweet it. I talk about it in conversation. I need it in every different form I can get. I get it and I give it.

Without it, I’m bankrupt.

If you don’t feel like you need it, my obsession is strange. Which means I may be annoying to people. More often than not, it’s annoying to “church” people. People that “have life all figured out.” People that think it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.  Sorry, folks, I’ll take all of the “good thing” I can get.

Side note: I’m so thankful I’m not at a “churchy” church. My church is a place where it’s ok to be in process, ok to still be figuring things out. Ok to not be ok (but not ok to stay that way).

It’s impossible to abuse grace. Because it’s meant to be applied when you’re at your worst and when you think you’re at your “best.” Even our “best” is filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) So even in my best year in my best season on the best hour of the best day…I still fall woefully short. I’m still in need of grace to cover me. When perfection is in demand, I’ll choose to let someone else live it.

Grace is always needed. Never earned. Paid for already. (John 1:14-17)

To get that grace, you’ve just got to ask. (Romans 10:9-10)

If you want the favor of the King, cast all of your eggs in the basket of grace. That’s where mine are.


Stereotyping For the Loss

I’m a man. A husband. A father. A pastor. A Millennial. A Jesus follower. A Crossfitter. A coffee guy. A wanna-be tech enthusiast. A Tennessean-born-and-raised-Californian.


Any one of those could be a stereotype. Every one of them is.

Please don’t categorize me. It may help you to process things more quickly, make decisions and move ‘forward.’ But I’m not simply the caricature of any of them. Don’t short circuit me into a stereotype so that you feel more comfortable.

The whole is the sum of its parts. Not the sum of its caricatured stereotypes.

Husbands are dumb. Fathers are absent. Millennials are entitled. Jesus followers are judgmental. Coffee guys are irresponsible with their money. Pastors are narrow minded bigots. Cross fitters have cult like intensity. Men are chauvinists. Californians are skin-deep. Tennesseans are rednecks.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m going to destroy your mold for who you think I am. Because God has created me unique. I’m not a category. I’m not a group. I’m me. With all of my idiosyncrasies, my tendencies toward sin, my quirks, and my gifts. My experiences, both good and bad, have deeply shaped who I am, how I lead, and how I interact with you.

I’m not the dad that used to live in this house. I’m not the husband you saw growing up. I’m not the pastor you watched once on TV. I’m not the Crossfitter who will yell at you because you’re not doing your burpee to standard. And I’m not the bumbling man you see on TV. I’m not a typical Californian…but I do have a little redneck in me. 🙂

I am a husband that loves his wife and a dad that loves his kids. I am a Crossfitter that cares deeply about my own physical health. I love serving other people coffee nearly as much as I enjoy consuming it. I love Jesus with everything I am, but if you’re not also a Jesus follower we can still be friends. I’m not going to boycott you.

When you get to know someone, and their story, perceptions change. Nobody is the sum of their caricatures.

If you want to be able to lead people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to speak hope to people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to love people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to change culture, learn people’s stories.

If you’re a Jesus follower, you’re called to love. In fact, that’s how the world knows that we follow Jesus.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

You cannot truly love someone you do not know.


Quit hoping the wrong way, a guest post from Pete Wilson

This is a guest post from my friend Pete Wilson (Twitter, Facebook, Blog). Pete’s just released his latest book, Let Hope In. You can pick up a copy HERE.

If you’ve not read anything of Pete’s, please do yourself a favor and pick this book up. His writing is fresh and pointed. It’s easy to understand and apply…but the principles are difficult to live because Pete pulls no punches.

And a book about hope? Good grief, pick this book up now.

Let Hope In


There are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in someone.

Eventually everything we hope for will disappoint us. Every circumstance, every situation that we’re hoping for is going to wear out, fall apart, melt down, and go away. When that happens, the question then is about your deeper hope, your foundational hope, your fallback hope when all your other hopes have disappointed.

All of Scripture points to one man, one God, not because he gives us everything we’re hoping for but because he is the One we put our hope in.

For the past year I’ve been working on a new book I just released entitled “Let Hope In“. I knew from the beginning that this book would fall short of helping people find life-changing transformation if all we do is identify the problems, challenges, and painful moments of your past. Identifying these memories from your past alone doesn’t help you. If all you do is remember the source of your pain, then something has gone horribly wrong. Why drudge up the past if you can’t find healing from the pain?

And for there to be real healing, for your past to really become your past, what needs to happen here is that you discover or discern the lie that your memory contains. This is fundamental to your healing.

It is important to understand that your past is not really the problem. The real problem is the lie you believed when an event happened in your past.

The truth is that memories don’t hurt us. It is what we believe about those memories that hurts us.

Trusting in the loving care of God regardless of what has happened in my past has been an ongoing process in my journey. And it’s only when we trust his loving care that we’re able to really begin to allow the hope of Christ to shine through us. Yes, hurt people do hurt people. But what’s equally true is that free people free people. And becoming free starts with being able to fully trust the loving care of God despite what we’ve possibly been through in our past.


Your theology doesn’t matter

I have a Nike+ running watch that tracks distance, pace, calories, and GPS. I wear it while I run, and it gives me instant feedback. When I’m done running, I plug it into my computer, and it tracks my progress over time.

It’s really a great piece of equipment.


image via Nike.com

But mine started messing up.

And I began to get pretty frustrated. I’ve had the watch for a year-and-a-half or more, so I just knew that when I called customer service I was going to be told, “Sorry…you’re outside of the warranty period. There’s nothing we can do. We wish we could help.”

When I called, I was blown away by what I heard on the other end. (here’s the gist)

Hey Mr. Reed, I understand your problem. I’m so sorry that’s happening. I know how frustrating that must be. I’m a runner myself, and I use a watch just like yours. I want mine to work every time. Let’s try a few things. If they don’t work, we’ll work on getting you a replacement.

They were already promising something that most companies would only use in cases of extremely irate customers. They actually established a relationship in the first 30 seconds, and already offered customer service superior to 99% of other companies I’ve ever talked to over the phone.

You know what that translates into for me?

I’m a Nike customer for life.

I’m going to buy Nike shoes. Use Nike watches. Wear Nike socks. Eat Nike spaghetti.

Because I believe that they care about, and will take care of, me. I believe they’re passionate about their product…and that they’re going to stand behind and replace it if something happens. My customer experience with them has made me a customer for life. Even though other companies may make a better running shoe, come out with a cooler watch, or release a whole new line of socks designed for people just like me.

I just became a loyal Nike customer. Even though I may disagree with Nike’s core principles. May not support the same initiatives that they support. And if I were to sit down and have a conversation about morality with them, I’m sure I’d find myself on a different page than they are.

I’m loyal to them because of my customer service experience.

The Church’s message

The same thing is true in our churches.

If you want to make loyal “customers,” (people who don’t just show up once, but come back regularly) that doesn’t start in the pulpit. That doesn’t start with your theology.*

People could care less about where you stand on the authorship of the book of Hebrews or how long it took to create the Earth. They don’t even care what you believe about the Bible.


  • life’s fallen apart
  • they don’t have any idea what their next step will be
  • they’re a wreck financially
  • their marriage isn’t fun anymore
  • they’ve been burned by the Church in the past
  • they’re coming because their spouse made them
  • they’re just looking for a little help
  • they don’t really want to be there anyway
  • they are skeptical of “church people”

…they could care less about your theology.** What you believe doesn’t matter to them. All that matters is their “customer service” experience:

  • how they were treated in the parking lot
  • how safe they feel dropping their children off
  • how warm and welcome they feel walking in the front door
  • how engaging the music was
  • whether the signage is clear enough to tell them where to go, so they don’t feel dumb walking around clueless
  • whether someone besides the “guy on stage” greets them
  • how they were publicly addressed as visitors

That’s scary, isn’t it? It means that a church with terrible theology, that doesn’t look to Jesus as the answer to hope, grace, mercy, and truth, could swoop in and convince people that their message is life-changing. Because they love people and help them feel cared for.

Your theology isn’t the reason that a visitor is going to stay. Or leave. At least not initially.

You want to fulfill the Great Commission, but you won’t get people to hang around long enough to soak it in unless you give an eye to people’s “customer service” experience.

Does your church have an eye for customer service? What do they do to show people they love them week in and week out?


*this is really a theological issue at heart, though. What you believe about our God who loves us despite our sin, who gives us His best (Jesus) to cover our worst drives this others-first behavior. But the specifics about what you believe theologically don’t matter as much to new folks.

**theology matters immensely. What you believe is of primary importance in the local church. And it drives what we do each and every week. But it doesn’t matter to people when they’re on the outside of faith, or when life has fallen apart. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt


A whole new level of gross


image credit: www.gimmesomeoven.com/

When we sat down for dinner, I assumed it was going to be a dinner just alike any other. Turns out it would be a dinner like no other.

Rex isn’t a particularly picky eater. He tends to eat whatever we put in front of him. Partly because of his taste buds. And partly because he knows that if he doesn’t eat the dinner my wife and I made, we’re not making him anything else.

This particular night, we were having sweet potato fries as a side. We’d sliced fresh sweet potatoes, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and roasted them in the oven. The sweet aroma weaved its way through the house.

When we sat down to eat, Rex ate his meat, but didn’t want to eat the fries. I told him that he needed to eat at least a few of them. So he pushed them around on his plate, wrongly thinking I’d believe he’d eaten them. “I don’t like orange fries,” he said.

The battle began.

“Rex, you just have to eat 4.”

The battle continued.

Then I saw it happening, but I didn’t believe it. I thought he was faking it, because he’d done it before, trying one more time to get out of eating the sweet potato fries. He started retching a little, talking between heaves: “I really don’t like orange fries.”

“Buddy, you’re going to eat 4 before you leave this table.”



Then it happened. At the exact moment I’d decided to get on his level and remind him that he’s not getting anything else for dinner…no dessert…no…and I never finished that last sentence before I saw his supper again. He cried. And I wanted to.

I gently wiped his face and hands, and helped him change out of his clothes. I took his plate to the sink, and told him we’d probably had enough dinner tonight. Me, included.

Then I wiped my face off. My mouth out. My hands off. And I put on a fresh change of clothes, too.

Jesus’ Turn

That moment reminded how much Jesus loves me. He loves me enough to take on the mess of my sin. To bear it for me. Because even my best is like a “filthy rag.” (Isaiah 64:6)

He loves me enough to take on the shame of my sin. To look foolish so I don’t eternally have to. (Tweet that)

Every time I’m short with my son I’m reminded again of my stench.

Every time my pride rears it’s ugly head I’m given another glimpse into the dense layers of grace God offers us in Jesus. (Tweet that)

Every time I just care about myself, ignoring the needs of others, I see my stink one more time. Because Jesus doesn’t ignore me. (Tweet that)

Even when I commit the same stupid sin. Again.

Even when I’m less than the husband I should be. Again.

Every time I wallow in my guilt and shame, Jesus comes along and gently wipes my face off. Takes my plate to the sink. And gets me a new change of clothes. He sends me to the living room and says, “It’s ok. That’s enough for tonight. You’re all clean now.”

Once again He affirms His love for me. His love never fails. (Psalm 136:1)

Even when he wears your supper. (Tweet that)


The audacity


image credit: Creation Swap user Jeremiah Bauer

Who has the audacity to tell me…

…how to parent?

…that I’m wrong?

…to not be lazy?

…to quit being stingy with my money?

…to forgive someone who permanently damaged me?

…to call me out when my sarcasm stings?

…I need to rest?

…not to go there?

…not to watch that?

…to be friends with him?

…to quit hanging out with her?

…to go to that college?

…I need to quit avoiding him?

…that I have no right to an ego?

…to love those people?

…to tithe?

…that my best life is still yet to come?

…that I don’t have to try to impress him?

…that I’ve got nothing to give him that makes him any better?

…that he loves me, even in my worst moments?

The guy who rose from the dead. That’s who.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. – the apostle Paul (Romans 6:8-11)



Buried in the grave

Buried in the Grave, by All Sons & Daughters, is far-and-away my favorite Easter song right now.


(lyrics below the video)


There was a day we held our breath
And felt the sting of bitter death
When all our hopes were buried in the grave
Our eyes awake our hearts were torn
Between our faith and what we knew
Before our king was buried in the grave

And grace was in the tension
Of everything we’ve lost
Standing empty handed
Shattered by the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

There was a day we looked for proof
That you had risen from the tomb
And all our doubts began to roll away
We touched the scars upon your hands
You kept your word
Oh son of man
You buried death by taking on the grave

You came here to save us
Cuz everything was lost
No longer empty handed
Clinging to the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us
Keeping us
From fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

It is is won
It is done

All we have
All we have
Is the promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we know
All we know
Is you said you’d come again
You rose up from the dead


Don’t waste your fail


image credit: vmvt.it

When I was in college, working on my undergraduate degree, I had a class in swine production.

I know, I know…sounds just like what you’d expect a guy who would end up as a pastor would study, right?

My path to full-time vocational ministry was not the one of least resistance.

A few times that semester, we got to visit a pig farm, and see the whole production. We’d help with the newborn pigs, watch a feeding time, see how research was conducted (on the research farm on campus), and meet with various workers. It was fascinating.

And made your clothes smell horrible.

There was no faking that you’d been to the pig farm. You had to change clothes and shower before your next class…every time.

One thing that stuck with me from that class was the way that nothing was wasted on the farm. Not even the pigs’ poop.

The poop was piled in a barn, and over the course of a year, the poop would compost, leaving a rich fertilizer that the farmers would use to fertilize the fields that other animals would graze. It was an incredible additive and boost to those fields, giving yields that greatly surpassed the non-fertilized fields. In other words, the poop made the crops grow faster.

Pig poop, though foul-smelling to us humans, contains nutrients that help crops grow really well. After it was harvested and composted (by which time it didn’t stink anymore), it was simply spread across the field in the spring, just before a rain, its nutrients used by the budding crops.

The poop from your past

You’ve got poop in your life. Things you’ve done that you’re not proud of. Things that have been done to you that you wish hadn’t happened. Dreams that you lost, relationships that crumbled. Jobs lost. Marriages destroyed. Addictions that you’re ashamed of. You’ve messed up in a way that you’d hope and pray nobody would ever mess up. You’ve done things…or not done thing…that you never want to repeat.

We typically do one of two things with that pain and suffering:

  1. Ignore it and act like it never happened.
  2. Wallow in it.

Neither is healthy.

Option 1 leaves us judgmental of others who have real pain, ignorant of our own Pharisaical stench. We’re left with a shallow understanding of our sin and pain…and thus a shallow understanding of God’s goodness and grace. Acting like “poop” never happened wastes our pain.

Option 2 leaves us in a crying, heaping, depressed, self-depracating mess. All of the time. We get stuck in what “could’ve been,” what “should’ve been,” and “who I wish I was,” constantly making ourselves pay for our past mistakes over and over again. OR making others pay for our past mistakes by disengaging from those who love us, and who would love to help. Wallowing in our “poop” wastes our pain.

I’ve got a 3rd option, and I take my cue from the pig poop.

Allow your failures to help someone else.

The way God brought you through the junk can help someone else who, right now, can’t see the light. They’re stuck. They’re in the middle of an addiction or the throes of suffering.

Live a life full of grace because you’ve been graced so much by the King. Live a life of love because you were loved first. Live a life of forgiveness because of the heaping amounts of forgiveness you’ve been given that you can never repay. Live a life of generosity because you’ve been given so much.

Your valleys can become great pastures that others can graze from as they see you living life to the full. (John 10:10)

No need to ignore the past. It’s purpose isn’t to hold you back. No need to wallow in it, either.

Let someone else graze from it.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:6-7


A leader’s focus

Drops of dirty road water hurled themselves at the hem of my gym shorts as I rounded the corner. It was a chilly February afternoon, and I was almost halfway through with my jog. It happened to be my long run for the week, the final installment that week for my 13.1 mile training plan.


image credit: Shape.com

As I rounded the corner, I started down a longer, straight stretch, a slight downhill section that cut its way between a row of houses, cold rainwater zipping across the road as I splashed my way down.

I looked up, and in the distance I saw the next corner I had to round. It was over a half-mile ahead. For the next minute, that’s all I focused on, and as I did, I felt myself slowing down, physically and mentally, frustrated I wasn’t further down the road. Anxious about how far I still needed to pound. My legs were ready to quit, and my mind was nodding its head in agreement. Until I looked down.

I dropped my eyes for a moment and focused on the wet pavement in front of me, putting one foot in front of the other. Looking at the pavement, then at the next puddle, then at the next mailbox, I pressed onwards until, before I knew it, the corner I’d dreaded was already behind me. The music in my ears echoed on as I focused on the next step.

The focus of a leader

There are times when leaders need to look way ahead, dream big dreams, and help paint a massive, far-off-in-the-distance picture of the bigger-than-what-we-can-even-imagine future that’s coming.

But there are also times when we need to put our heads down, and help others see that next step. Forget “the big picture.” Forget “the dream.” Forget “where we’re headed.” Just help people take that next step. Help them to not lose focus on what’s in front of them, and celebrate small wins. To look too far into the future can be paralyzing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing.

Even a small step of faith in the right direction is worth celebrating. We’re all in process. Don’t paralyze people by the scope of the road you point them down.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Jesus, Matthew 6:34






Don’t forget…you’re my friend


Just the other day, my son (Rex, 4) was playing with his uncle (Carson, 7). They’ve been playing together a lot recently. And like most boys their age, they play well together. Most of the time.

But there are moments where you think that the house is going to fall apart. That the carpet is going to roll up, the dry wall crack, and the bricks scream in agony because of the noise. Partly because they’re just boys and they play hard. And partly because…well…”He won’t give me back my Batman!”

Amidst the landscape of imaginary fire-breathing dragons, Rex and Carson had their swords, shields, and helmets, wielding each with very, very little precision. Instead of the dragons taking the brunt of their zeal, it was often the door frame, the couch, or our dog. In the middle of the battle, Rex turned to Carson, looked him directly in the eye, and said

‘Don’t forget. You’re my friend.’

As swords and arrows were whizzing by, it would’ve no doubt been easy to forget which team you were on and who the real enemy was, swinging your sword at the wrong person. Chopping off the wrong head. Creating enemies out of friends. This wasn’t a cry of desperation for a friend…it was a cry of “We set this out beforehand. We were clear before things went sideways with the Ogre in the corner. So don’t forget.”

This saying has a sense of camaraderie, rallying hearts, minds, and purposes. Refocusing energy and relationships, energizing what was once dead in the water. This awakens you to old, dusty covenants that need revisiting. Brightens dead corners of your heart.

We need this reminder today, too. And I bet there’s someone in your life that needs to hear this from you. Someone you’ve been treating more like an enemy than a friend. Someone who’s seen your dark side more than your bright side. Someone who really is your friend, but for all intents and purposes looks more like a fire-breathing dragon to you. Or you to them.

Maybe forgiveness needs to happen. Maybe humility needs to happen. Maybe “it’s you, not me.” But it can all start with a simple shift of heart.

4 people who need to hear this today

Your spouse

they are your friend, right? But when was the last time you reminded yourself of this? When was the last time you told them? When was the last time you treated them like the best friend you long to see at the end of the day? The one you tell your secrets, your hopes, and your dreams? Time to remind yourself, and them, of who they once were to you. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

“Don’t forget, honey. You’re my friend.”

Your child

It’s hard, in the heat of the moment, to remember this. I’m not advocating that parents need to be friends first, and parents second. That’s a lousy way to parent. But in the moment when things get loud, and patiences are being tried, it’s easy to forget that your child is a gift from God to you. That, no matter how they’re acting, they’re looking to how you’ll respond. You represent God to them, whether you like it or not. Will you lose your temper? Will you disengage? Will you abandon them? Or will you show up when they need you, loving them even when it’s hard? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.” – Ephesians 6:4

“Don’t forget, son. You’re my friend.”

Your friend

You’ve got a friend in your life with whom you’re not as close anymore. Maybe it’s because of something they did to you. Maybe you did something to them. Maybe time and distance have taken their toll, and you’re just not close anymore. Friends are an incredible gift from God, though. “A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17)

“Hey buddy, don’t forget. You’re my friend.”

Those you collaborate with

The people with whom you work can, and should, be your friends. If they’re not, you’ll be miserable, and your organization will suffer. Friends work well together, disagree passionately, and still head in the same direction. You’re all working towards a common goal. One may think that their way is quicker, but in the end you want the same thing. Remind yourself that you’re on the same team. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:14

“Hey man, don’t forget. You’re my friend.”

 And aren’t you glad we get this message of hope from our King? He is our “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Who do you need to speak this to today?


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