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image courtesy: digitalemu @

image courtesy: digitalemu @


Fear is one of those things that can keep us ’stuck’—hindering us from knowing the life of fullness and adventure we yearn for and found in Jesus. In two previous posts, we’ve looked at the reality that decisions made from a posture of fear are seldom great, and examined some of the symptoms of living from a place of fear. What can we do to live more in the freedom of joy and purpose God has for us rather than the prison of fear?

In my own life, I’ve found the following to help in avoiding leading or living from fear: Continue Reading…


June 20, 2014 — Leave a comment
image: Martin Deutsch @ Flickr
image: Martin Deutsch @ Flickr

There are many times when I wonder just what to do. There are options, opportunities, moments to be capitalized upon…and not an obvious right way to go. Is there a way to know what to do? Every time we say ‘yes’ to one thing, we’re saying ‘no’ to something else, just by way of limiting our availability… and trying to determine what is the most prudent or urgent/important or furthest-reaching investment can be so overwhelming it’s almost paralyzing.

There’s a story in Scripture that speaks into a moment of ‘where do I go from here?’ and I have found it incredibly helpful: God has identified and called out a man named Saul to be the first king of the people of Israel. Saul had no idea what it means to be king; the best he has is what can be observed of the other kings in the Ancient Near East…and I think it’s safe to say that in many ways these weren’t the best role models.

God has been using a man named Samuel to communicate this kingly call to Saul. This involves certain signs that God is, in fact, positioning Saul as king. In the midst of this communication, a particular verse stands out to me:

Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. ~ 1 Samuel 10:7

What a relief it must have been to hear this for Saul. And I think the same relief is available to us–once we have been commissioned and enabled by God, there is a real sense that —presuming continued connection with Him—we are free to tackle what’s in front of us. This is a great reminder to stay connected…and to stay active in doing what’s placed before us.

Are you following Jesus and living in obedience to Him? If that’s the case and you’re struggling with knowing what to do ‘next,’ my suggestion is to heed the word above and “do whatever your hand finds to do.” After all, God is with you.

Note to self

May 31, 2014 — Leave a comment

On my thirty-second birthday, I thought of some things that my future self might tell me on this day. These are the things I’d like my life to reflect during the next 32 years and beyond.


  1. You’re not that important.
  2. Pray. Be passionate and persistent…especially when you don’t feel like it.
  3. Celebrate often. It’s too tempting to press on to the next thing, the next day, the next marker. Take time to celebrate with those you love; this is where memories are made.
  4. Eat your greens. Seriously, they’re delicious.
  5. Brush your teeth. This is especially important after eating your greens.
  6. Take the long view. Reacting in the moment to the moment is seldom the best move.
  7. Give more than you take…especially when it comes to those who you work and live with.
  8. Be quiet.
  9. Your critics are not your enemies.
  10. People are stronger than you think. Sometimes they need someone to help expand awareness of their capacity.
  11. Ask great questions.
  12. Fear is a bad reason to make big decisions.
  13. Just because you have a thought, that doesn’t mean you should express it.
  14. Failure doesn’t have to be fatal.
  15. The most frustrating reactions people will have to your thoughts and ideas are often founded in their fear of change…or your lack of ability to communicate. Learn to navigate these.
  16. Create space to be alone. You need it.
  17. Give two people permission to tell you what they really think and what you really need to hear. This should include your wife and someone who has nothing riding on your reaction.
  18. Seek out different perspectives. Find people more tactical and relational than you. Engage those with more experience and those with none.
  19. Do not sacrifice your family for the sake of your job. It should be the other way around.
  20. Words are powerful. Don’t be a jerk with them.
  21. What your kids see in you they will repeat.
  22. Don’t be so hard on yourself (see number 1).
  23. Your wife chooses you every day. Don’t ever make her regret that choice.
  24. It’s the little things that are often the most valuable. Be faithful in them.
  25. The relationship you’ll have with your kids tomorrow depends on what you invest in them today.
  26. You are positioned to be more generous with your time, energy, and money than you think you are.
  27. Tell those you love that you love them. Often.
  28. Tell your real-life heroes why they’re your heroes while you have opportunity to do so. Be specific.
  29. Choose optimism. You’ll live happier. Also: make friends with realists—you’re going to need them.
  30. Go on adventures. Work trips don’t count.
  31. There’s always more to learn.
  32. You haven’t had your best ideas or experiences yet.


May 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

image: “Binoculars” by Peter Miller on Flickr


Today was “Vison Sunday” at SLW—not that “vision” is contained just to this one day each year, but it’s the Sunday when we take some time to celebrate God’s faithfulness over the past year and get a glimpse of what’s to come. As part of that, we hosted our Local Church Conference. What follows are the personal reflections given as part of my report this year:

If 2013-2014 could be summed up in a single word as far as life at SLW is concerned, I’m pretty sure we would all agree “transition” would say it nicely: Senior leadership transition, adjustments in various ministry environments, celebrating the Alsdorfs’ move to church planting in Meadville, and identifying new interim (and searching for permanent) ministry team members are just a few of the things we’ve navigated together.
Transition is never easy, but ours has been one of the smoothest seasons of leadership and ministry transition I have ever seen. As I have shared with others, though this is a testimony of God’s grace, faithfulness, and favor to us… it is also evidence of your gracious spirit and desire to lean into “next” with one another. Additionally, it speaks volumes about the caliber of our senior leaders: Pastors Shawn & Beth finished well, but that is only half the story—Pastor Jesse started well and has led our ministry team with a focus, determination, and grace which has allowed God to use us as a church for amazing things.

Continue Reading…

My family and I are enjoying some quality time over staycation. During this time, I’m re-posting some of my favorite old posts.

image: image*after

image: image*after

“Holiness” is a funny word: it can bring to mind strange rules and fiery preachers… and sometimes things are done in the name of ‘holiness’ that make it appear the antithesis of love.  So, please don’t let the topic of this post keep you from going any further.  I freely admit that some of our definitions of holiness are misguided and potentially hurtful; I also admit we’ve been distracted by conversations related to but not central to holiness. Discussion about the Wesleyan stance on alcohol is best left to another post (or ginormous tome).  No, we’re not perfect in how we approach the outward look of holiness… neither am I perfect in how I live, believe, or do life.

Continue Reading…