How to Give a Care

We use this word, care, easily and often throughout the day.

  • “Do you care if I have a cookie?”
  • “I don’t give a care.”
  • “I care, just not enough to do anything about it.”
  • “I care for you.”
  • “Be careful!”
  • “He should be under a doctor’s care.”
  • "I don't care."

Care is defined as a noun: the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something; serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk. It’s also a verb: feel concern or interest; attach importance to something; look after and provide for the needs of.

Maybe it’s just as easy to miss actually caring for someone as it is to say, “I don’t care for...

How Do We Respond to the Loss of Human Life?

No one can understand the place the human mind and soul go when overtaken by depression. Unless you've been there. Whether a season or a lifetime condition, mental illness is just that: it is an illness. And if that dark place of depression leads to such despair that taking one’s life seems like the only sensible thing to do - well, only those who’ve sat on that ledge can truly know that soulish agony.

I sat with a young man last week at a hospital where he was working his way back from attempting to take his own life...

Care is Intentional

What if you could learn...

  • how to listen - not only to words, but to someone's heart?
  • how to leverage your own brokenness in order to step with love into the brokenness of someone else?
  • to journey with someone whose shame is binding, confusing and masking their true identity?
  • to avoid some of the ridiculous...

What's So Good about the Dark?

The writer of Hebrews penned a passage that long ago became known as the “faith chapter” or the “hall of faith.” Chapter 11 begins this way: 

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen.

Put another way: Faith is the “sureness” of what we hope for…to be certain of things we cannot see. 

This verse seems to paint a picture of what it is to walk in the dark. Faith isn’t required in the light of day, when all is visible. Those “things we cannot see” are not merely out of sight, but rather...

One Agenda. Only One.

It’s curious to me how many end goals, expected outcomes… or agendas we attach to caring for someone. 

With sincere hearts we create agendas from a sense of obligation, responsibility… even calling. We mean well. We feel an obligation to be helpful. We feel responsible to lead people to hope. We feel called to rescue and deliver. But too often our agendas for an expected outcome get in the way of what we’re actually trying to do

Made in the Image of LOVE

I often feel like I’m supposed to have the spiritual stuff of life all figured out. I think I mostly feel that expectation from other people; after all, I am a clergy-card-carrying pastor. That doesn’t mean every person expects this of me. I do plenty of projecting onto unsuspecting, even anonymous, people, assuming I know what they’re thinking. Turns out, what I do have figured out is that I’m still a work in process. But I digress. 

I don’t have all the “spiritual” stuff figured out.

  • Like, the problem of evil. Why?
  • God’s take on the notion of “original sin.”
  • Why God heals some people and not others. Or does he?
  • Why God protects some people from certain death in the face of danger and allows others to die. Or does he?
  • What it means to be made in God’s image. 

God’s image. There’s a “spiritual stuff” question. You and I…created in God’s image. Really? Just what might that mean? There are many explanations about what it means to be image-bearers of almighty God. Among those explanations are the following…


    I admit it: I am broken.

    There was a day I wore my brokenness as a badge. Right below a larger badge that boasted I was aware and in touch with my brokenness. Both of those badges were worn on a coat of "I've dealt with my crap" self-righteousness. I was so proud of my humble condition. Which only further compounded my brokenness.

    Eventually, I shed my coat of self-righteousness along with the badges that announced my prideful humility. I put on a different coat. A "normal" coat. An "I'm ok" coat. There were initiatives to lead, objectives to accomplish and, quite frankly, people to impress. More symptoms...

    5 More Things Christians Should Stop Saying

    This week I read Eddie Becker's article in Relevant Magazine, pointing to 5 Things Christians Should Stop Saying. It's a great article. I'd go read the whole thing here. I'll summarize his list: 

    • That's really just a first-world problem.
    • I'll be praying for you.
    • Are you saved?
    • I have an unspoken prayer request.
    • Don't worry, God has a plan.

    His list got me thinking, so I thought I'd add a few more:

    • I understand.
      • Chances are, we don't. We think we do. We want to. But, really we can't fully ...

    Team: More than Task

    This past weekend my friend, Kim Volheim and his wife, Claudia hosted a gathering for our guest services leaders and coaches. Fifty plus men and women filled their home with no agenda. There was no meeting, no objectives to review or sharpen. 

    Kim created space. Just space. 

    Space to eat lots of sugary sweets and salty snacks. Space to talk. Space to be. 

    Most teams get launched and organized around task. There is a vision; there are clear objectives; there is a reason for the team's existence. They are built to get things done. it's how any vision or mission worth pursuing gets accomplished: team.

    However, although task brings people to a team, tasks aren't the only glue

    Chemo Crud. Courage. Community.

    It's day six of the final week of chemo crud. That's what my wife, Laura, and I have not-so-affectionately labeled the week following chemo treatments: chemo crud week. It is cruddy.  

    In case you missed it - Laura was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer this past July. This past Friday was her final chemo treatment. Chemo crud sets in no later than day two after the treatment and lasts a little longer with each treatment. Hopefully, last night's nausea and subsequent vomiting won't last more than another couple days.  

    Everyone sees Laura after chemo crud week. When she's happily engaging conversation at our church building, Starbucks or elsewhere in our community. It's truly remarkable to see her smile. To experience her genuine worship as she leads us with the arts team. To admire her strength and courage.  

    I see her as she is now.

    Stepping off the Stage

     This isn't news: I'm a recovering Pharisee. That is, I'm a long-time "wrapped-in-religion people-pleaser." If you don't quite understand me yet, that means that too often in my life my motivation for most anything has come from trying to make others happy with me. Approval. Acceptance. Smiles. "Isn't he awesome?" kind of stuff.

    Sick, I know. I lived that way for more years than I want to admit. So I won't. But I did.  

    For years I dismissed myself from Jesus' audience of Pharisees. After all I wasn't putting on a show. I wasn't making a big production out of my serving or leading or caring for people. But if I'm waiting for accolades or bothered by the lack of them, well... welcome to my stage.

    Truth is, I am still tempted to live out of that paradigm... that identity. 

    Discipleship & the Story of Two Sons

    We're weeks away from launching a new disciple-making initiative at Granger Community Church. We're ramping up for a life-long journey of new normal, not merely a three-semester classroom of teaching. We're currently training guides who'll journey with others, extending grace, understanding, and encouragement. 

    I helped with the training last week and my assistant, Julie, reminded me of the story of "the Prodigal Son" (as we church peeps tend to call it). It's a beautiful and challenging picture that helps us in our role of guiding, helping, coaching others with whom we journey.  

    I had a college professor who taught that the parables of Jesus had one and one point only. It was wrong to try to read too much into the details of Jesus' stories. Take the ever-popular story of "the prodigal son". Point: God the Father is a forgiving, unconditional loving God. According to my prof, the story's elder son character was merely added in to round out a great story. I think he may have missed a point or two in the parable.

    Cancer, Chemo, and College | A Daughter's Reflection

    Our family has always been tight. We communicate. There are no secrets. We're accepting and forgiving. We share meals together, vacation together, run errands together, enjoy Starbucks together...we do life together.  

    Our only daughter, Liv, was in Arizona visiting her boyfriend's (Jacob) family when we received the news that my wife, Laura, had breast cancer. Laura had the painful task of telling Liv over the phone. Liv experienced the equally painful reality of hearing the news about her Mama - over the phone. 

    We're facing the truth: this is cancer. But, there's more. 

    Technology & Human Relationships | Take 2

    Last week I wrote briefly about the confusion we create or at least cultivate regarding technology and human relationships. Technology isn't merely about the cool factor of an amazing product, it has the ability to enhance our relational experiences. Or not.  

    I asked in last week's article for feedback: Does social media and the technology that makes it possible really improve our relationships or does it distract? I'm about to make the first comment to my own question (I'm not bitter. Not very. A little. Maybe. No, I'm not.).

    From my own personal experience over the last couple weeks, my family and I have been blown away by technology and the three little app icons pictured above. 

    Two weeks ago my lovely wife, Laura, was diagnosed with breast cancer.


    Original Grace vs. Original Sin | Part 2

    I began this article yesterday, so if you're just hopping in, scroll down or use this link to read Part 1.

    You know that little "x" that says "you are here" on the directional map at the mall? It's the "x" that identifies where you're standing at the moment, so you can navigate your way to a destination - whether it be your car or favorite store. t's true at the mall and it's true in life.

    Everyone has an “x” that defines where he or she is.

    nd we all arrived there through a journey. Maybe the journey seemed somehow unintentional or perhaps it was methodically plotted. Either way, a series of many steps has landed us where we are. 

    It’s amazing that the scriptures are so filled with themes of journey and story, and yet we often fail to see the value of journey in someone else’s life. It’s easy to expect that once people have heard the truth, the only thing left to do is to obey. After all, Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). So they think, “You want to be free, you want to live life to the full? Then hear the truth and obey. Period.”

    But it’s seldom that simple.

    Personal Vision: Seeing What Can Be

    We're laser focused right now on our 2016 Vision as a church - Granger Community Church. his past weekend our senior pastor, Mark Beeson, urged each of us to ask "What do I want to see different in my own life by 2016? How much more loving and patient will I be? How will I be more like Jesus?"

    I reread an article I wrote some time ago and reflected again...

    In Matthew 4.18-20… Jesus looked past Peter's fishing nets, the smelly boats, the sun-beaten face… and saw someone who was not wise by human standards; not influential; not of noble birth. And said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Jesus' focus was on Himself, on His call, and His ability to transform. He was not focused on

    Peter, Jesus... and Me

    I'm realizing again just how much I relate to the Peter of the New Testament. I try to put myself in the story of the Bible, try to embrace the eternal message of the divine... and the human (that the divine created). Peter makes it easy for me. I so connect to his classic scenes.

    When I read about Peter it’s easy for me to see… 

    a man with his foot in his mouth;

    his mouth in everyone’s ear;

    and someone else’s ear in his hand!

    And it’s pretty much true…look at him:    

    • After a considerable amount of time with Jesus, Peter’s still interrupting teaching time with requests in Matthew 15, like, “explain the parable to us”. Followed by Jesus’ first closing his eyes, moving from despair to smile to a nasal laugh, before cupping his face in his hands and asking, “Are you still so dull?”
    • In Luke 12, he leans over