The Top 7 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Campus Pastor

“For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” Romans 13:1b New Living Translation

Two and a half months ago I was fortunate enough to begin serving as the Campus Pastor of the CedarCreek Whitehouse Campus. If you’ve never been there, you need to come check it out!

CedarCreek Whitehouse, March 15 2015

CedarCreek Whitehouse, March 15 2015

Many people have been asking me, “So how’s it going? What’s it like being the boss?” The short answer I have given is: “It’s great! I’m doing my dream job! It’s also much tougher than I imagined!”

That’s the case, too! Since being a young Christ follower, I always dreamed of the day I would pastor my own church/congregation. At the time, no one was really doing multi-sites and I never could have envisioned that I would be where I am today.

I love my job!

That being said, I’ve learned quite a bit in the past two and half months. Here are the key things I’ve picked up since handing over (reluctantly) my huge ring of Associate Pastor/Janitor keys!

1. Everyone has a boss – Even the top guy in an organization has to answer to God, his employees, his investors, etc. Nobody gets to do whatever they want except for maybe Hanzel from Zoolander. That guy is so hot right now.

2. The higher up you go in an organization, the LESS personal freedom you have – The person working the fry-i-lator at McDonalds has more personal freedom than me. (That’s a fact) The higher up you climb the ladder, the more rights and privileges you give up.

3. It can be lonely at the top – Encourage your leaders whenever you can! The sword of Damocles is real and it’s sharp!

4. It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup – Your self-leadership becomes increasingly important when you’re promoted, not less so.

5. Give authority to others carefully and selectively – Nothing says “I don’t trust you” like taking back authority from someone. It also tears at the fabric of team culture and chemistry.

6. A good leader must be a good follower – Sometimes it really is as simple as not pouting if you do not get your way. Good leaders move on quickly when their pride is hurt.

7. It is not about you, it’s about everyone else – A good leader is a servant. They know they are only as good as the team they lead. I thank God every day for my incredible staff team at Whitehouse campus!

So, there you go!

Being a pastor is the most fun, humbling, challenging, stretching, messy, wonderful job on the planet.

I still can’t believe that I get to help people fall in love with Jesus and get paid for it! I get to encourage and develop my staff on their journey to becoming the people God wants them to be.

I get the humbling blessing of representing my church in the community I love.

If you are a young leader, or someone that aspires to leadership, I would encourage you to find a spiritual mentor and life coach. Godly leadership is modeled and passed down! It does not happen on accident. Discipleship is an intentional process that you cannot short cut!

I would not be where I am today if the following individuals did not invest significantly in my life and share their leadership with me:

Rick Shortridge, the best father a son could have.
Lee Powell, the greatest leader I have ever served under.
Steve Ruic, helped bring me back to the faith when I was lost.
Kyle Gray, not a typo! He was a great youth pastor and gave me my first shot to lead!
Ed Bellner, my spiritual mentor and friend for the last 18 years.
Mike Knisely, a giant of the faith and a walking textbook on leadership.
Steve Hutmacher, my intern director and an unbelievable spiritual mentor.
Ed McCaulley, the greatest balance of being both task and people oriented that I have ever seen.
Dr. Gary Staats, my teacher.
Ben Snyder, my boss and current mentor. He impresses me every single day!

All of these men have played a HUGE role in my life and I’ll be forever grateful to them!

Love you all, Seacrest out

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

To Santa or not to Santa: The 4 Common Paths Christian Parents Take

Should Christian parents encourage their kids to believe in Santa?

The answer to that question is difficult. It’s polarizing, it’s emotional…and it’s personal!

Ella the Elf (Yes, this is the dreaded Elf on the Shelf) plays Super Smash brothers in our house.

Ella the Elf (Yes, this is the dreaded Elf on the Shelf) plays Super Smash brothers in our house.

Let me guess…

You probably already have your mind made up on that and you’re reading this to try to affirm your position.

Am I right?

Most Christian parents have decided on one of the following three strategies:

1. Santa is Our Homeboy

You know this family. They have a prized Coca-Cola collection and have the Blue-Ray edition of Tim Allen’s Santa Claus 1, 2 and (oh yes.. it was painful) 3. They would also love to hop on the Polar Express and why yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause fun was a big part of their childhood and they don’t want their kids to miss out. They see nothing sinful or wrong about the wonder of Christmas. Why’s everyone hating on jolly ol’ Saint Nick?

(By the way, if you even hint that Santa is not real around their kids, they will kill you)

2. Santa is an anagram for Satan. Repent!

You know this family as well. They think it is perfectly acceptable to teach your kids about Santa…


Then they pull out their Bibles and turn to the verse that says, “Thou shall not lie to our children”. They believe that parents who teach their kids about Santa are setting them up for future paganism. After all, if a child finds out Santa isn’t real, what will stop them from questioning everything you told them about God?

(By the way, if you even hint that Santa is real around them, they will try to convert you)

3. Jesus Juke! Santa was a 3rd century bishop in the Christian church so technically he’s not evil. (Whew)

This option has grown in popularity over the past several decades. You can read plenty of Christian articles about the REAL Santa Claus.

St. Nicholas of Patara became a bishop during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. He suffered greatly for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. His life was also marked with generosity, especially towards children. He was born to wealthy parents but gave up everything to serve Christ.

Oh, you should probably ignore the weird part of the story where the church recorded that a unique relic with healing powers, called manna, was rumored to have formed in his grave.

For those in this camp, they seek to show that Santa isn’t a myth but he isn’t a Christ figure either.

(By the way, if you bring up Santa around them, they will use it as an opportunity to show that they are smarter than you)

So which path is the correct one to take?

Honestly, I don’t believe there is a correct path. I think each parent must develop their own convictions based on Scripture. Is it a sin to include Santa in your Christmas planning? I don’t believe so.

Should you encourage your kids help set the record straight with their friends and therefore “ruin Santa”? Not if you want them acting out of peace and love.

Instead of worrying about the status of Santa, make your primary goal this Christmas season is to make Christ the center focus of your home.

That’s it. That’s your God given Christmas parenting responsibility.

Help your kids understand Ephesians 3:17-18 (NLT):

17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Read the real Christmas story with your kids. Talk to them about God’s deep, unending love for them. Ask questions. Listen to their answers. Show them your heart and talk about how God’s love has changed your life. Express your faith in a way they can understand.

Allow Jesus to take center stage. Whether you spend the holidays trying to elevate Santa or destroy him, you cannot allow Christ to become an afterthought.

But wait! I thought there were four paths! Not three!

4. Be shockingly honest with your kids.

I realize this option doesn’t work for a lot of families but it is where I’ve landed.

I hesitate to even share this option with you because I don’t want to present myself as all knowing or morally superior. But perhaps, explaining what my personal stance is on the topic of Santa might help some parents who are legitimately struggling with what to do.

Tell them the whole truth.

We have told our kids since the beginning that Santa is a fun game that some children and parents play. That he is imaginary but possibly based on a real person. We have told them that Mom and Dad give them their gifts but that the greatest gift ever given was Jesus. We have told them that it would be unkind to ruin Santa for their friends.

Santa isn’t real but he’s still a part of their lives… in the same way that Elmo or the Mario Brothers are. My kids have wild, active imaginations that I love. All of these characters play a role in their childhood.

But my hope and prayer is the Jesus plays the biggest part.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Most Important Church Service I Lead Doesn’t Happen On the Weekends

Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Almost every morning I drive my oldest son, Jackson (6 years old), to Kindergarten and then I drive to work. It’s a full hour commute each day. And I love it!

Let me back up.

When I was a kid, my dad would read an old NIV Bible to me each night. Most of it was over my head. I didn’t care. I used to love hearing the stories and asking him questions. Before I had kids I dreamed of doing the same someday with my own children.

Then reality hit.

The boys don’t want to listen. Even with an easy to understand, NLT, interactive, all the bells and whistles, picture Bible, they don’t care. It’s the end of long day. They are tired. They are cranky. I’m tired. I’m cranky. They are squirrely. I am angry. They are kids. I’m exasperated.

Asa (4 years old) has shown SOME interest in Bible time but Jackson? Not so much. Most nights, he’d rather fidget with toys, fight with his brother or act like he’s sleeping.

I haven’t pushed him or forced him to embrace Jesus. I want his faith to be his own, not an extension of mine. But, the truth is I have been concerned. Many times I’ve wondered, “Am I doing enough? Does he even care about God, at all?”

I’m acutely aware that my sons are growing up as “pastor’s kids”. That scares the heck out of me. I don’t want them to think they know everything or that they run the church. I don’t want them to rebel and go buck wild as many pastor’s children do.

I can remember one time in college I got invited to an all-night kegger, put together by a high school kid, whose father was out of town and (you guessed it) a Christian minister.

So my rule each night was that the boys should be quiet and listen. Bible time is special. They have to try to answer the provided Kid’s Bible “Let’s talk” questions, even if it’s just a one or two word answer.

A couple years back I realized how much Jackson is just like his mom. Sara’s primary way of connecting with God is different than mine. I’m an intellectual and I feel closest to God when I’m learning about him- i.e. immersing myself in the scriptures.

Sara is different. She connects to God through music. When she is singing about God and His mercies, she feels His love in a deep and profound way.

Enter the car ride. I decided a needed a new way to communicate God’s love to Jackson. Each morning I made it my mission to create a unique worship music playlist. I became Jackson’s daily worship leader.

Keep in mind, I have a horrible singing voice. At times I have probably been torturing the poor kid! He didn’t care about that, of course. The quality of my voice didn’t matter but my enthusiasm did.

I would encourage Jackson to sing with me. I’d say things like, “Ok… now I need you to yell ‘Amen!’ as loud as you can!” I would pause the music at times to explain the different parts of the songs. Now if you ask Jackson what “Amen” or “You are my joy” means, he’ll explain it to you.

Because of these changes in routine, a funny thing happened over the last two years. He stopped fighting me at night. In fact, he started asking more questions during Bible time. It’s possible that he’s just growing up and maturing. But, I suspect our morning worship sessions have something to do with it.

Last Sunday, Jackson and Asa were asking Sara all sorts of spiritual questions while at Wendy’s. Sara took all three kids there after church. Can you say “superwoman”? While they were eating lunch, I was setting up for a Sunday night family service called FX.

They peppered her with spiritual questions. They initiated. On the car ride back, Jackson told Sara that he wanted Jesus to be his forever friend. He prayed with her to ask Jesus to come into his life.

The irony of this happening in a car ride is not lost on me.

When they arrived at church, Jackson couldn’t wait to find me. With a huge smile on his face he told me, “Daddy, I asked Jesus to be my forever friend. I’m going to be in heaven with you, forever!”

Now I know he’s only six. I know he doesn’t understand atonement theories or Christology. He probably doesn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of that prayer.

But I do.

Here is my prayer: May I never become so busy building up God’s church that I overlook the congregation that meets daily in my home.

I’ll never forget last Sunday, Jackson. Love you, buddy. I can’t wait to spend eternity with you in heaven, either. And I’ll see you at church tomorrow morning. Be sure to bring your “AMEN!” screaming voice!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Nothing in Life Could Have Prepared Me for a Shy, Sensitive Son.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. — Ephesians 6:4 (New International Version)

When I was growing up, my sister and I could not have been more different. One time, Bethany’s underwear was sticking out above her pants and being the loving, caring big brother that I was, I introduced her to the song “I see London…I see France…”

She cried and cried but a few days later her opportunity for retaliation came. I was wearing just underwear around the house and she said, “Luke! I see your underwear!”

My reply was “Not anymore!” I whipped those babies off and started streaking around the house.

For my entire life, making friends has come naturally to me. On the strengths-finders test, one of my top gifts is called “Woo”. It’s the ability to “woo” people over to your side and to build a team. When used well, it can help people reach their full potential and feel included in a group. When done wrong, it can certainly lead to manipulation and the feeling of exclusion… something I try to be conscious of all the time.

This past week, Jackson started Kindergarten. I’ve never really thought of him as anything but out going. He’s incredibly smart. He’s self-assured. When coached, he has no problem talking to adults. Last year at pre-school, he ended the year with several different “friends”.

But Kindergarten hasn’t been an easy transition for him.

Yesterday he told me, “Daddy… I like Kindergarten, but just not every day.” We told him this morning he had to go to school again and he said, “But I JUST want to play Legos.”

He’s been really tired after school and I’ve just chalked it up to his schedule change. But it hit me that I think he’s tired because all the social interactions are wearing him out.

Jackson was in tears this morning because of…recess. Sigh. Could that really be MY kid? Yep.

Monday he had wanted to play with a certain piece of playground equipment but the other kids wouldn’t let him have a turn. So, since then he’s just walked around at recess, not doing anything. He didn’t tell us about this until this morning. I think it’s partly why he didn’t eat all his food at lunch or ask for help (lunch is right after recess)

As a parent, you prepare your children to be ready for the world as best as you possibly can… but the truth is that the world is often a harsh, difficult place.

By the way, I’m not upset with anyone or asking for help or advice. This is just something Jackson is going to have to get through I think.

It’s also a great learning opportunity. Sometimes you have to speak up for yourself in order to not get stepped on. It’s true when you’re 5 and it’s true when you’re 35.

So… a couple of take away from this…

1. Home needs to be safe, fun and loving place. It needs to be place where kids can be themselves, let their guard down and have their self-confidence built up. Sure, there needs to be rules at home too, but it should be a wonderful place to be. Sara and I take this one seriously. We work hard to make our home a place that the kids LOVE to be. We want home to be as tension free as possible and we let our kids be kids!

2. Talking through difficult situations with your kids and helping them process what to do is key. Learning what to say can really make a difference for their self-confidence. We try to do a lot of role playing to help them verbally process all their options during those impressionable moments.

3. You can never remind your kids too much that Jesus is ALWAYS with them.

4. Empathize with your children during the difficult times.

This morning Sara took the time to give Jackson and huge hug and well…cry with him. She called me in tears after she dropped him off because all of this brought back a lot of memories for her. I’m glad Jackson has such a loving and caring mommy who understands the plight of the introvert. He’ll get through this and he’ll be stronger for it.

Also, she’s picking him up for ice cream today right after school, which leads me to number 5…

5. Celebrate the heck out of your kids’ accomplishments!!!

Monday, after the first day of school, we carried on a “Shortridge” tradition that began long ago. We took the kids to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate our miracle boy’s first day of Kindergarten. A boy who once was so sick we didn’t know if he would live and was now starting KINDERGARTEN. How did that happen!?!

As you can see, it was a great day.

Love you Jackson. Hang in there big man.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Smooth Ruined My Date Night

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” –Luke 15:7

A few months back, my mother-in-law asked my wife and me if we’d like to attend a Tigers/Indians game. We answered, “Sure!”, without thinking. There was a catch.

It was in Cleveland (shudders).

Her husband is a huge Indians fan and they thought it would be fun to attend a Tigers/Indians game in Cleveland and then, later in the year, go to a game or two in Detroit.

All joking aside, Sara and I couldn’t wait. We are huge baseball fans and the chance to get away to do something fun, for a whole night without any kids, is something that happens… well, never!

So it was a close game and a ton of fun. It even went into extra innings until Michael Brantley, nicknamed Dr. Smooth, for some unknown reason, hit a walk off home run for the Tribe.

Michael Brantly’s Walk-Off Homer, May 19th 2014

Disappointing for a Tigers fan, to say the least, but it was a quite a sight. I’ve never seen a walk-off home run in person. We were surrounded by Cleveland fans and all game long I heard them preach doom and gloom. I heard 700 different reasons why the Indians were going to lose that game.

When the ball went up, you could instantly hear a roar from the crowd. The fans exploded. People were dancing in their seats. Strangers were hugging each other. People were hooting and hollering for a good 15 minutes straight. I expected to get harassed a bit, as a Tiger’s fan, but they basically ignored me. They were all too busy celebrating. I watched one guy start break dancing in an open section while all his friends cheered him on.

People went absolutely bonkers.

It got me thinking a bit about Luke 15:7, in which Jesus says, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

Can you imagine what a heavenly party looks like? What kind of a celebration happens every single time someone turns back to God? It has to be millions and billions of people all spontaneously erupting into cheers and celebrations! And all for a single person who comes to faith in Christ!

I know sometimes people think I’m a little “off” because I’m pretty open about my faith. Once in a while I’ll get the “Can you tone it down a bit?” speech. That’s ok… but no, I don’t think I will.

I’m passionate about lost people coming to faith in Christ because of verses like Luke 15:7. God’s heart aches for the lost. God wants all of His children to come back to Him. And He’s appointed His Church to carry His message to those that haven’t made Him #1 in their life.

It’s a simple message but one that easy to miss. God loves you. It’s not that God wants to do something about your sin problem, exactly; it’s that God has already DONE something about your sin problem.

But, He won’t force His way into your life. You’ve got to come back to Him of your own volition.

I wonder what the celebration in heaven looked like when I came to faith. I can just hear an announcer:

“Luke Shortridge steps to the plate… he’s saying a prayer… and it’s genuine! He did it! He accepted Christ! Oh, they are going absolutely crazy in the stands! Look at those angels doing back flips! Woo hoo!!! Peter, get out of that fountain! Paul, put your shirt back on! OH, Moses is doing the humpty dumpty! That’s not pretty folks.”

Posted in Blog | 2 Comments

Bill Nye Thinks I’m Dumb and I’m Ok With That

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” –Genesis 1:26 (New Living Translation)

Bill Nye the Science guy is set to debate Ken Ham, from the Creation Museum, today at 7pm. You can watch online here:

They entitled the debate, “Is creation a viable model of origins?”

Bill Nye says “no” and Ken Ham says “yes”. And so… we dance!

Last month I wrote about my atheist professor that told me I would fail immediately if I wrote a paper on why intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in schools. I never revealed what I actually did when faced with that dilemma.

I wrote a paper on why you should quit smoking and got a big fat “A”.

I’m not super proud of that.

Ok, yes I am. I got like 2 A’s on papers, total, during my entire undergraduate study.

But, the point remains that, even as a pastor, I usually steer clear of the evolution debate because I believe people largely see the facts as they want to see them.

If God Himself is speaking to someone, if they feel His presence and know that He truly has the power to change them, to save them, to embrace them—then their faith will fill in the gaps.

I’m not trying to give an intellectual cop out. I’m just saying that, for those who have faith, we don’t need every mystery solved. My faith does not rest on proving that creationism makes a lot more sense than evolution.

Even though, for the record…

I do believe creationism makes a lot more sense than evolution!

Bill Nye says that when faced with someone that doesn’t believe in evolution, he asks, “Why not?”

(You can see this take on the subject in this Youtube video which has 6.1 million hits…)

My simple answer is, “I don’t believe in evolution because I don’t see Macroevolution anywhere in the world.” I see adaptation… I see life changing to survive… but never, not once, do I see one species become another species. If evolution was a plain, obvious fact, then where are the millions and millions of transitional fossils? We are the millions of transitional species for that matter?

One species just doesn’t become another species. This has never happened in a lab. It’s never been witnessed or documented. Darwin himself said, “[The lack of transitional fossils is]…the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Evolutionists would have you believe there is overwhelming fossil evidence to prove these transitional species existed… but the evidence doesn’t back it up. A handful of sketchy “What is it?” fossils don’t cut it. I want to see the dog/cat. I want to see the lizard/chicken. I want to see the hamster/tiger. Actually, I REALLY want to see that one.

So if Bill is right, within a couple hundred centuries our great, great grandchildren will be reading details in history books about their descendants who ignorantly viewed creationism as a viable, yet archaic worldview. But, somehow, I have a feeling they will still be reading their Bibles to find life’s answers, just as people have done for over two millennia.

As Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park SHOULD have said, “Faith finds a way…”

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Satan, Temptation, and Making Sure You Never Skip Lunch

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” –Luke 22:31

Do you ever think about Satan? Do you ever ponder the fact that there is a supernatural being out there, prowling like a lion and looking to destroy people?

I certainly try not to!

He’s real, of course, but we don’t like to think about him much. It’s too unnerving. Some people obsess over Satan and believe they are possessed by him.

A few times in my pastoral career I’ve had someone tell me that Satan is right there, tempting them. My standard reply goes something like this: Satan is a created being. He does not transcend space and time like God does. He’s not omnipresent.

His power is limited. He can only be at one place at a time. While ‘the enemy’ may be tempting you, it’s probably not the case.

But really, I’m just guessing.

The truth is I don’t know exactly how Satan operates. I know he has plenty of fallen angels, or demons, at his disposal. I know that spiritual warfare is real and is happening all around us.

There is a very real, albeit often invisible, chess match happening all around us—Light versus Dark.

In the book The Screwtape Letters (which I highly recommend), C. S. Lewis writes a series of letters from senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood. Lewis would later comment that it was frightening just how easy the book was to write. Once he got started thinking like a demon, it was easy to come up with tricks and schemes that the demons would use.

Screwtape Letters

Wormwood is assigned to a troubled young man, one that is headed down the wrong path (Christianity). He is in the library when he happens to have a thought come into his head. “What if there is a God and the Bible is true?”

This is a very concerning thought for any demon, so Uncle Screwtape writes that the next time that happens, Wormwood should whisper into the man’s ear, “It’s time for lunch.” After doing so, the man will put down the book he’s reading and move on to some less dangerous, frivolous activity.

Satan doesn’t have to completely destroy you. He just needs to get you off track.

I’m not one to see Satan around every corner or one to blame him every time I stub my toe. But, there is an evil one looking to destroy you. Ignoring this only gives him more leverage. He knows you better than you think. He knows your weaknesses and short comings. He is able to lie, and tempt and try to destroy.

Thankfully for us, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Satan tempted Peter and Peter fell hard. Peter betrayed Christ. And yet, this was the man Jesus chose to lead the rest of the disciples! It was Simon Peter; the man that knew he needed Christ’s forgiveness, whom God was able to use to solidify His Church.

Satan and his demons can tempt, but they cannot force you to sin. And, their combined power is never stronger than God’s. If He is for us, who could possibly stand against us?

With God, there is always hope. If you are tempted, don’t give in. Don’t let your life be consumed with sin. Run into the arms of your savior. It’s not too late. He will not turn you away!

Satan tested Peter and Peter failed, but that was not the end of the story. None of us are righteous, not one. However, God is a god of first, second, third…10,000 chances.

Questions to Consider:
What seem to be your biggest temptations? Do you find yourself ignoring or obsessing about spiritual warfare? Is there any area in your life that you need to allow God to redeem?

Posted in Blog | 2 Comments

Wanting a Magic TV Box, Aliens and the Cross

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:29 (New Living Translation)

When I was taking Comp 2 in college, my professor asked this question, “If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?” The class had all sorts of varying answers. My classmates wanted to see building the pyramids, the concerts of Mozart, Shakespeare’s original productions, the great battles of the Civil War, the JFK assassination, and on and on. Their answers were all over the place.

Then my professor surprised me by saying that if he could witness any historical event, he would choose to witness the crucifixion of Jesus. Why was that surprising to me? My professor was a staunch atheist.

He had made it known, many times, that he did not believe in God. I tried to do a paper on teaching intelligent design as a viable theory in schools, along with evolution, and he told me that if I wrote it, he would fail me immediately.

Yet… he still wanted to know about all the hub bub surrounding Jesus.

In the classic Science Fiction book, Childhood’s End, aliens invade earth but don’t do anything for 50 years. The movie Independence Day was LOOSELY based on this book (But the book was way better, trust me).

Childhood's End
Their space ships hover over the major cities of the world and make no contact with humans. While time passes, people get used to the spaceships and a new generation is born that has never known life without them. When the aliens do decide to make contact, people are surprised, but excited to meet them.

The aliens look like devils, but the people are not afraid. The aliens offer great technologies, including a magic television box that can show any event in earth’s history. After a few weeks, all the major world religions, including Christianity have died out because this box proves that they are all major hoaxes.

With undeniable proof, the people stop believing.

Back to my professor—He wanted that magic TV box. He wanted evidence. He wanted to see the truth.

And guess what… so do I!

I would love to witness the events in scripture as they unfolded. I know they would be speaking in Aramaic and Hebrew, but I would love to be a fly on the wall for the last supper. I would love to see the miracles of Jesus and be a travel companion to Paul.

I would also like to take a few doubters with me! Wouldn’t that be fun?

God doesn’t work that way because He wants us to have faith. There were eye witnesses to all of these events who still didn’t believe. Jesus was rejected in his hometown, probably because they saw him grow up and didn’t think he was all that special.

For many, seeing doesn’t necessarily mean believing. It still comes down to faith!

God treasures our faith. He savors it. It is a way in which we demonstrate our love for Him. As the verse listed above reads, He also blesses us for our faith. I don’t know exactly how this reward system works, but I believe it with every fiber of my being.

If I trust in God, even when things don’t make sense, He will make good on all of His promises!

Being made right with God is about believing in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It’s not about doing a bunch of good stuff to make up for your bad. It’s about believing in the good Jesus has already accomplished.

You don’t need a magic TV. You just need to have faith. Once you believe, then you will see.

Questions to Consider:
Do you struggle with faith? What historical event would you love to witness? Why does God value our faith so much?

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Sterile in 2014! ( and 4 More New Year’s Resolutions)

So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. –1 Peter 1:13 (New Living Translation)

Every year I try to set a handful of goals for the upcoming year. Nothing crazy. Nothing that I absolutely know I won’t be able to keep, but, resolutions that will push me to honor God more than I currently am. Here they are!

1. Get a vasectomy! I’m knocking this bad boy out on January 2nd. Yowch! I have heard every horror story on the subject. I am not looking forward to the pain, but I am looking forward to a few days of down time. I’m also glad my wife won’t have to worry about birth control or getting her tubes tied.

So really, this resolution is about serving my lovely wife!

(Well, ok… worry free sex factors in as well)

TMI? Hey, I said this blog involved transparency. Married people have sex. This is not dirty or bad. God set it up that way!

2. Blog once or twice a week all year long! One of the best parts of 2013 was becoming the editor of the, which is a daily bible study that follows the weekend teachings of CedarCreek Church.

This job has helped me think deeply and write a lot more. The more you write, the easier it becomes.

Writing is fun, but it’s also a little scary. Every time you write, you put your soul on the page. You allow others to see within. They can complement what they like and criticize what they don’t.

I am going to take some risks with this blog. I can’t promise it will always be pretty, but I hope you benefit from it!

Side Note: I am not the editor of in any way, shape, or form. That is a site to help gay Christians to live out their homosexuality/faith. No, I’m not joking.

3. Run the Toledo Marathon in under 3:30:00. This year I will be training to run my 5th marathon. Some people think marathon runners are a little crazy…and they are all right! But, if I accomplish my goal, I will have broken my PR by over 16 minutes. It’s aggressive. It’s brutal. It restores my soul!

4. Be available to people. A few weeks back someone stopped by the Whitehouse Campus. He came for the service, but also planned on catching up with me. This was a friend I hadn’t seen in some months. He saw me at the campus, but I never noticed him. A few weeks later I ran into him somewhere else and he  explained that he had come to church, but that I was “too busy doing stuff to talk.”

He didn’t intend to hurt my feelings by saying this, but it was a slap in the face. Do I really carry myself in such a way that others think I’m too busy for them? Ouch!

God deserves my heart, but the people in my life deserve my time. The tasks can wait… or, if not, I can do a better job of delegating. The people around me need to come first.

5. Read through the New Testament. In addition to my normal devotional, I’d like to read the New Testament with the rest of the church. This year we have elected to make the Daily Bible Reading New Testament only. Not that the Old Testament isn’t powerful or important, it is! But, challenging people to read about a chapter a day is a great way to get lots of people into God’s Word.

How about you?

Questions to Consider: What are your goals for 2014? Mental? Physical? Spiritual? Will you consider reading the DBR New Testament plan was well? What changes do you need to make 2014 better than 2013?

Posted in Blog | 2 Comments

Scoring a Mold-O-Matic Snowman Can Be Oh So Much Fun

“And I [Paul] have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35 (New Living Translation)

Do you believe it is better to give than receive? I know, Jesus said it… so yes. It has to be true. But, for a long time, I would have secretly disagreed. I mean, who doesn’t love getting gifts?

Having kids changes your priorities. Parenting forces you to become selfless in a million little ways, one of which is in the area of gift giving/receiving.

My parents were lavish gift givers. They still are. When I was a teenager, my mom would randomly hand me $20 and say, “Here you go! Thanks for being you.” I mean, come on. Who does that?

My parents were anything but normal in the most generous sort of way.

I’ve tried to carry that same approach as a dad. I try to say yes as much as possible. There is nothing quite like getting your kids the very thing they have their hearts set on. You watch their faces light up with excitement and wonder. They can’t help it or hide it. That’s part of what makes it so great.

I know what you realists are thinking, it’s just a temporary fix! Stuff does not equal happiness. Giving in to your bratty children’s every whim does nothing but reinforce their selfishness.

All of that is true. I get it. If my sons are in full blown meltdown mode (every parent knows exactly what I mean) then they don’t get squat.

But dang it! You’re only a kid once! Why not make their childhood the best you possibly can?

Besides, giving is so much more fun than receiving. God knows this. He invented giving!

I have often thought about the sacrifice that God the Father made when sending His son to earth. For the first time, since the very conception of the universe, the Father and Son were separated. Jesus left perfect love and community to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men. (Luke 24:7)

And God was happy to send him. Because God loves us that much!

When you sacrifice as a parent, you don’t really mind it. Even if you give untill it hurts, it is worth it each and every time.

This past week we went on a family outing at the Toledo Zoo to see the Lights Before Christmas. When we got there, we realized they had one of those mold-o-matic machines that make toy figurines. They used to have them at the old Children’s Wonderland. And yes, my parents let me get a figurine, each and every time!

Jackson (who is 5) saw the machine and wanted one. I said sure. It was two bucks, why not? He got a little angel figurine and Asa (who is 3) wanted a Snowman. I told him yes and then realized that the machine only made angels.


And so, the great snowman machine search began. I looked everywhere. I looked in the children’s areas, the Timbo Trail, the new ice rink, the monkey house, and the botany building by the huge tree. I even stopped to wait for 700 people to take the perfect selfie in front of it!

It was literally 90 minutes of searching before it hit me… the science center! It had to be

So was Asa excited? See for yourself.

I know God is emotional. The Bible shows God expressing all sorts of emotions. Jesus wept. He was described as a man of many sorrows. God the Father told the disciples He was well pleased with Jesus after the transfiguration.

I believe The Father experienced sadness when sending Jesus to earth. But, I believe He also experienced unspeakable joy, because God loves giving gifts to His children and Jesus was the best gift ever given.

Questions to Consider:
Were your parents generous gift givers? What is the best part about giving? How does it make you feel to know that God gave His one and only son for you?

Posted in Blog | 2 Comments