Summer Vacation

Summer break

My elders have been kind enough to give me a longer summer break than normal this year. Because of that I won’t be posting anything new on my blog until July 18th (at which time I’ll be back with some great new stuff for you), so that we can rest, recharge and enjoy some time as a family. I’ll also be posting less on social media, but I’ll be posting fun pictures of our adventures on Instagram.

In the meantime, here are some of the top posts on my blog to keep you company until I get back:

Healthy Marriage


Healthy Leadership

Personal Health & Fitness

Healthy Preaching

And if you’re looking for something to read this summer, first start with my book Breathing Room: Stressing Less and Living More, and then after that pick something from my summer reading pile:

Have a great summer!

8 Thoughts on on Being a Dad on Father’s Day

father's day

As today is Father’s Day, and now being a dad for over 10 years and a son for a lot longer than that, I thought I’d share some things about being a dad.

1. In our culture, being a man is difficult. I know that being a woman is incredibly difficult, and I’m not wading into a historical debate or sexism in our culture (which sadly still exists). The reason I say it is hard is because of a lack of clarity, which is also one reason why being a woman is hard (but that’s a different blog post).

Most people have no idea what a man actually is. Now with people choosing their gender identity, the lines are becoming even more blurry than they already are. This makes success as a father, husband, friend, brother and son that more difficult. Are men supposed to be tough or tender and cry a lot? Should they be hard workers and entrepreneurs or play video games until 4am? All of them at once? Which is it?

2. Purity is really hard. I’m not just talking about sex here, but that’s part of it. Having a pure mind, a pure heart, pure motives as you pursue your dreams, those are all incredibly difficult. Sometimes this is because we are sinning, but other times it is because what we are pursuing is right, but it just doesn’t line up with what people around us think we should do.

3. Parenting is really hard. I know, parenting has always been hard. Throw in now raising kids with social media, exposure to porn at an early age, the gender conversation, and it is really hard. It is hard to keep kids focused on who they are, who God is while everything gets pulled in a different direction. On top of that, everyone has an opinion on every parenting topic: discipline, vaccines, schooling, sports, dating, and you often feel like a failure. I figure my kids will end up in a counselor’s office when they’re adults (I did). I just hope it isn’t that bad. Just writing that makes me feel like a failure of a dad, but you can judge.

4. Being a picture of God as a Father to my kids is scary. Going along with #3, I’m reminded on a daily basis that my kids are forming a picture of not only relationships with others but with God as they interact with me. Here’s a question every dad needs to keep in the front of his mind: What is it like on the other side of me? What emotions and feelings do people (my kids and spouse) have as they interact with me? As your kids grow up, that is what they will often feel from God.

5. Dealing with your wounds is hard work. Depending on your upbringing, your wounds will be different than mine. But you have them, and they make an impact on your life today. I’ve talked before about mine, but if you don’t deal with yours, they will haunt your future. You have wounds, and they are impacting every relationship you have. They are impacting every interaction, everything you hear. But it is hard work. I want to leave what happened when I was 11 back in 1990 with Vanilla Ice. But I can’t, and neither can you.

6. Having friends is hard work. Let’s be honest, friends for most people are difficult. For men they seem to be a lot harder than I expected. In college hanging out was easy. In your 20’s, really easy. Now with jobs, mortgages, kids, marriage, moving across the country, being friends with people is hard. We expect people to keep up with our lives on social media but never really connect with them. I keep hearing from men in their 50’s and 60’s about how they have no close friends, and that is really scary to me. I asked a room full of young church planters recently how many of them had close friends, and in a room of a 100 just a few hands went up.

7. I’m astounded by my wife. Regularly when people hear we have five kids, the looks are often comical. Sometimes they say what is running through their heads, sometimes not. I always fill in the blanks if they don’t say it out loud, but they always stop in their tracks. They wonder how we ever sleep, have time for ourselves, not lose our minds, and it takes being intentional for all of that to happen. That’s why I’m simply blown away by Katie. Without her I wouldn’t be the father, husband, leader or man that I am. When church planters ask how Revolution got off the ground, my response is, “Besides God, my wife.” The way she rounds me out, holds our house together, pushes me, believes in me, deals with me, deals with our kids, it astounds me.

8. I’m hopeful about it all. We’re about to enter the teenage years in our house, and I’m hopeful. I love the relational beings my kids are becoming, the questions they are asking (even though we’re having the sex talks a lot earlier than I thought we would when I was a young parent), I love playing games with them and experiencing life. I also love that I have the privilege of raising five people who will make an impact on the world one day. That thought shapes my parenting every day. I get to be a part of the legacy they will leave.

Making the Most of Your Family Rhythm & 8 other Ideas to Help you Grow as Leader, Spouse & Parent


Here are 9 posts I came across this week that challenged my thinking or helped me as a leader, preacher, husband and father. I hope they help you too:

  1. Six Questions Leaders Should Routinely Ask Themselves by Eric Geiger
  2. 15 Things No One Ever Sees Which Largely Determine A Pastor’s Success by Brian Dodd
  3. Making the Most of Your Family Rhythm by Parent Cue
  4. 9 Of The Best Communication Tips For Churches by Steve Fogg
  5. How Our Sex Life Manifests Our Soul Health by John Piper
  6. Why Referring to “Screen Time” May Not Be Helpful to You or Your Kids by John Charles Dickey Dyer
  7. The Remedy for Our Helicopter Parenting by Gloria Furman
  8. 10 Ways to Be An Exceptional Parent by Doug Fields
  9. 4 Ways a Church Benefits from Having a Healthy Pastor by Dan Carson

9 Things I Learned From Preaching About Homosexuality


Recently I preached on the topic of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, and what the Bible says about it. I’ll be honest, for me this sermon felt like a dark cloud waiting for me as I thought about our series through Romans. While I love preaching and don’t mind when people disagree with me, this topic feels different in our culture.

Let me be vulnerable for a minute. This topic is one reason it took me so long to preach through Romans. Sadly, one reason is because of fear of what people would think of me and our church. The other is because I didn’t know if I could talk about it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a jerk. I’m convinced if I had preached this sermon two years ago, the tone would have been radically different, and that grieves my heart to think about what I used to sound like, but also grateful for the work of God in my heart.

Now that I’m done with that confession, I hope you’re still reading.

If you are a pastor, you should preach on this topic. If you will, here are nine things I learned that you should keep in mind:

1. Your people are curious. If you’re a pastor, you get the question, “What do you believe about homosexuality or gay marriage?” on a weekly basis. I know I do. People are curious. Most people think they know what Christians think, but most Christians aren’t even sure what they think. Why is there so much hate around this topic? Why do Christians treat this sin differently than others? Is that right? Did God make someone that way? Do I attend a gay wedding? How do I respond to a friend or child who says, “I’m gay”? All of these are questions they have.

2. Your tone matters as much as, if not more than, your content. Your content matters, so before you email me about that, it matters. A lot. You need to be clear and say, “This is what I think the Bible says.” In fact, as one friend told me, “Your church will remember your tone more than your content after this sermon”, and I believe that is true.

3. Your language and tone tells your church how to communicate it. Not only are you training your church what to believe about homosexuality, but you are also training them how to talk about it, what they will sound like. You are teaching them how to treat people in our culture that they disagree with. Christians are notoriously terrible at this. We post stuff on social media on a whole host of topics without ever asking, “How will a friend of mine who disagrees with me take this?” If you don’t have a friend who disagrees with you on homosexuality or some other closely held belief, that is a problem.

4. Your language and tone tell people who struggle with same sex attraction what kind of reaction they can expect from your church. This to me is one of the most important things about this entire topic and how to preach on it. Sitting in your church every week are people who love your church and are trying to love, or trying to figure out who God is, and they are wondering, “What do I do with these feelings? Do I talk about them in my small group? Can I ask my pastor about it?” You are telling them, “If you bring this up, here’s the reaction you can expect.” My hope is that my church will be a safe place to bring up this or any other struggle. It helped me to talk with friends who are gay and ask them about their story. How did people react? I also asked, “If you walked into a church and this topic was being talked about, what would you want to hear or not hear? How can I communicate what I think and not sound like a jerk?” These were incredibly helpful conversations.

5. It helps to preach through a book of the Bible. I don’t know if I would choose to preach on this topic if it wasn’t in a book of the Bible I was preaching through. In fact, I wouldn’t choose to preach on most topics, because like all pastors I have the topics I like to talk about, and those are usually ones that aren’t uncomfortable or things I’ve conquered in my life. That’s why preaching through a book of the Bible is so important. It makes you unable to skip things. I couldn’t just breeze over these verses. Also, it helps in prep. I knew for over a year that this topic was coming, so I was able to get articles, books and other resources to work through in preparation.

6. This is a gospel and worship issue. This topic is incredibly divisive for a number of reasons. It is a political battlefield as it relates to rights. (I think that’s a different topic, so when I preached on homosexuality, I stayed away from that.) It is also incredibly personal because most people are related to someone or are friends with someone who is gay. This is all about the gospel and worship. Here’s why: Is Jesus Lord and King? If so, then it matters what he says about this. If not, then we are back to exploring the gospel and what Jesus said. (And yes, Jesus talked about homosexuality, so don’t let someone tell you, “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.”) Additionally, marriage is connected with the gospel throughout the Bible. Whenever we talk about it, we are talking about the gospel.

7. As passionate as you are about homosexuality being a sin, be that passionate about greed, gossip and adultery being a sin. Yes, I believe that the Bible calls a homosexual relationship a sin. I don’t think struggling with same sex attraction is a sin, just like being tempted isn’t a sin. Acting on that temptation is a sin. Getting drunk, ruling your life, trying to control your world, gossip, letting the opinion of others drive your life, being a workaholic, finding your identity in anything other than Jesus, the Bible calls all of those sins that Jesus died for. Yet Christians don’t put up a sign about that when they protest. If you are going to talk about this and be passionate, as so many are, be just as passionate about those committing adultery and being greedy as well. The Bible puts them all together. In fact, when Paul lists homosexuality in Romans 1, he also lists more than 10 other sins with it.

8. Think through redemption for someone in light of this topic. I’d love to say I have a clean answer on this, but I don’t yet as I’m still thinking and praying through it. Now that gay marriage is legal and happening more and more, what does redemption look like? What happens for the lesbian couple who has kids and they are rescued by Jesus? But if you are a pastor, you need to start wrestling through that and thinking about what gospel redemption looks like for those in gay marriages. In the same way that this conversation in our culture is becoming more and more complex (as letters continue to be added to LGBTQIA), this idea of redemption will become more complex.

9. Get over your fear. Maybe you aren’t afraid. If you aren’t afraid when you step into the pulpit to preach on homosexuality, you are probably going to sound like a jerk. Maybe not, but probably. If you are afraid, get over it. Pray through it, talk with friends, your elders, study up and get on stage and preach.

How to Figure out God’s Will

God's Will

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.

This truth has had an enormous impact on how I live my life, how I make decisions, how we do our calendar as a family and how I lead Revolution Church.

But how do you know what to say yes and no to? That’s the most common question I get from someone who has read my book or has heard me say this in a talk. Honestly, it’s different for each person.

Too often we focus on what we want to do in the next day, week or month and then make a decision based on that. Let me frame it a different way for you: What kind of person do you want to become in the next month? In the next half year? One year from now, who do you want to be?

Will this involve doing something? Yes, but it changes the context.

For example, if a year from now you want to be closer to Jesus than you are today, a stronger disciple, then you will make the choice to say yes to community, yes to serving in your church, yes to reading your Bible, and yes to inviting people to church. That will then determine what you say no to.

Often we hope that something will happen. We will simply become kinder, more generous, thinner or smarter without putting in the work or even be willing to make a choice towards something. If you want to become a person who is known for ________, then you will have to make decisions for that to happen. A wish and a hope are not enough.

Take your marriage or another relationship. What if six months from now that relationship was stronger? It would mean that what you are doing right now would have to change. You would need to make more of an effort, you would have to say yes to giving time and energy to that relationship and saying no to something else (ie. golfing, sleeping in, working too late).

We often think we have no power over where our life goes, what our marriage becomes, the relationship we have with God or how kind we are. Yet we do. Every day we make decisions that get our life somewhere.

Here’s the problem: we never sit down to ask, Where do I want to end up?

9 Keys for Your Church to Reach More Men

how your church can reach more men

In most churches today, as has been true for the last few decades, it is made up of more women and children, than men. Yet, in most churches, it is still the men who lead and make decisions.

When we started Revolution Church and we started with the idea that the target of our church would be 20-40 year old men. Last year when we did our yearly church survey, we were 49% men, 51% women, and the average age of our church is 28 ½.

Our church isn’t that unique. Most churches plants are filled with younger people, but what we have learned over the years is how to reach men. This won’t surprise you:

  1. Reaching men is different than reaching women.
  2. Most churches are set up to reach women.

According to Focus on the family:

  • Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow?
  • If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
  • But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.

We know this to be true, we know the impact a father has on the life of a family. Many people have their view of God tied up with their view of their earthly father. We talk about the father wound and the impact a father has on us. Yet, many churches have simply chosen not to reach men.

Companies have figured this out and largely market to 18 – 35 year old men. Are they neglecting women? No. The reality is that most women like a lot of what men like when it comes to marketing, but the reverse is not true. Churches need to learn from this.

Having a target

Every time I talk with pastors or Christians and say we have a target as a church, I get interesting questions. The reality is, your church has a target. The style of music, dress, what time church is, what kind of building you have, what ministries you have and don’t have.

How do you know if you are hitting your target?

  1. Who comes to your church?
  2. Who gets baptized?
  3. What comments or questions do you get?
  4. My favorite comment is the one I hear from a wife all the time: I wasn’t so sure about this church, but Revolution is the only church my husband would come back to, so here we are.

Here are 9 things you can do to start reaching men and see impact in the lives of people, families and your city:

  1. Think about men when it comes to the atmosphere, name of your church, structure and songs. Most churches are filled with pastel colors, flowers everywhere. Why? Women designed it. Not a bad thing, but it won’t appeal to men. One other thing that I think is important when it comes to thinking through the lens of men (and women) is preaching once a year on relationships, marriage, what it means to be a man or a woman. Our culture has so many questions, so many thing are unclear to our culture on these topics that people are wondering.
  1. Preach to men. Most churches, the win for men is to stop looking at porn. While porn is destructive and pervasive, every man is not looking at it every day. There are more things a man struggles with or has questions about. Men in a sermon tend to want logic, clarity and action steps. Women tend to want more stories, feelings and emotions. While a sermon should strive for both, most pastors end up on one end of the spectrum and their church reflects that. I often think about men I know when I preach on a passage and try to discern questions they would have about it. When men leave a church, they tend to talk about if they were challenged to think in a new way, while women tend to talk about how they felt after a service. Not all are like this, but I’ve found this to be typical. With a sermon, what do you want people to do? How clear is the main idea?
  1. Have a clear win for your church. If your church doesn’t have a clear win, a clear vision, men will not sign up for it. Men want to know what is on the line, what impact something will make, why they need to show up. This especially matters to businessmen. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but learn the language of the men you are trying to reach. How do they talk? What books do they read? What is important to them?
  1. Show them how actions affect their legacy. Men are concerned with legacy, how things will end up, how they will be remembered. When you minister to a man, keep this in mind. Date night with his wife is not just something for today, but has an enormous affect on the marriages of his kids. Purity in his life will be passed on to his kids and grandkids. Whenever possible, show a man who what he is doing right now, good or bad, will affect his legacy. Men think about the future in a way women do not.
  1. Give them clear examples worth following. One of the reasons I didn’t want to become a pastor when I was 18 was I had never met a pastor I wanted to be like. Most men look at church leaders and see people they don’t want to be like. Or, they don’t see men they would want to become. This doesn’t mean every pastor needs to drink beer or have a tattoo, but when men follow another man, they are following someone they want to emulate. Put leaders in your church, in visible places who men would want to emulate. This will sound sexist but I’ll just say it. Men follow men. If you want to reach men, have strong male leaders in your church who exemplify Ephesians 5. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have women leaders (if you are a true complementarian church, you will have strong women leaders in your church), but many men who are pastors aren’t actually leading, they are just shepherding. And men know the difference. One thing that is important and few men can articulate this but I’ve found this to be true: men want a pastor who is working hard on his marriage, is honest about his marriage and has a marriage they want to emulate. Is this pressure on the pastor? Yes, but so is everything else about his life and ministry. Too many pastors do not have a passion filled marriage and the men who walk into their churches know it.
  1. Expect men to succeed. It is amazing to me what happens in someone’s life when we expect them to succeed or reach a goal. People pick up on our expectations and they have a way of reaching our expectations. If you expect men to lead family devotions, tell them, tell them you believe they can do it and give them resources to do it. If you expect men to reach something, tell them and help them get there. Too many churches seem to say, “We’re content if men just show up.” Or, “You should do ___” and then never give them any tools to accomplish this. Men will often not do something if they are afraid they won’t succeed. This is why men don’t lead at home, don’t pray with their wife, they are afraid of failing.
  1. Give men something to do. What do most men’s ministries tend to be? A male version of a women’s ministry. They are discussion focused, a large event with men listening or trying to get men to share. While women will share before they serve, men want to serve first. Give them something to do. Help them see how their actions can make an impact. Which leads to the next one…
  1. Help them see how their job is a mission field. This is something churches have failed in. Give them a missional theology of work. Not everyone should be a pastor at a church, yet most of the time a pastor meets a businessman he makes him feel guilty for not being a pastor.
  1. Ultimately: The reality for reaching men is they have a habit of becoming what we expect them to be. Whatever bar you have for men, they will reach it. Men are able to do impossible things in life, but the church has by and large held up a broom stick they can jump over and wondered why men didn’t come back.

How to Catch Your Breath in December


Right about now, if you are like most people, you are wondering how you will survive December and get everything done that you need to. The list seems endless. Parties, gifts, people, food, traveling, more food, TV specials, plays and recitals. The list is endless. People are coming and going. If you are in college, you have finals on top of everything else. This is on top of what you normally do in life.

Deep down, we know this isn’t the way we should live life and it feels wrong at Christmas, but stopping to catch our breath seems silly. Impossible. UnAmerican.

It isn’t and deep down, you also know that.

Here are 7 ways to catch your breath this month so that you head into 2015 not exhausted, but refreshed, ready to tackle the New Year:

  1. Schedule some down time. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I believe that if something is not scheduled, it does not happen. We do things out of habit and planning. Including wasting time watching TV or surfing the internet. Put into your calendar days and nights when nothing is happening. If you don’t, you will run from one thing to the next and not enjoy any of it. 
  2. Say no to something. If you schedule down time into your schedule, chances are you will have to say no to something. This is hard to do. We like to say yes as much as possible, not miss anything and be at all the parties and get togethers, but we can’t and shouldn’t. If we say yes to everything, we will miss the important things. We will miss moments with our kids, friends we really care about and miss out on memories.
  3. Have a food plan and stick to it. One of the areas that causes a lot of frustration for people come January 1st is how much they eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don’t simply show up at the party and eat, have a plan. Here are a couple of ways: Take something healthy to the party. There won’t be a lot of healthy options, so bring one and eat it (think of the memory each year now when you and your friends laugh about the fact that you are the one who brings hummus to the holiday party). Another one? Don’t stand by the food. If you are away from the food, it makes it harder to overeat. The hardest one? Limit how much dessert you eat when you are at parties. And finally: get rid of leftovers as quickly as possible, even if you have to throw them out. 
  4. Go to bed at 10pm as often as possible. Sleep is one of the most overlooked but important areas of our lives. I know, you think you can survive on 4 hours a night and a Coffee IV drip plugged into your arm, but you can’t. You will crash and that crash will happen sometime soon and ruin your holidays or at least make a dent in January when you need get going for the new year. Get to bed. Don’t watch as much TV and if presents aren’t wrapped, put them in a bag and call it a win. 
  5. Don’t wait til January 1st to exercise. In January, health clubs everywhere will be packed. New Years Resolutions will be made to lose that holiday weight you put on. What if you didn’t wait until January to get into shape? Put it into your schedule now. If you workout regularly now, don’t quit over the holidays.
  6. Plan fun memory moments. Christmas is a great time to make memories. The tree, decorations, TV specials, buying and wrapping gifts, plays, the food, the songs. All of it creates moments with family and friends in ways that other times of the year do not. Don’t miss this because you are busy doing other stuff. Spend time reading to your kids, TiVo the Christmas specials and watch them, listen to Christmas music all month, take some special daddy (or mommy) dates with your kids. Make this time special and pack in the memories.
  7. Make your goals for the New Year. Don’t wait til January 1st to make your goals for the New Year. Notice, I didn’t say resolutions. Here is a simple process I use to help you set goals you will actually reach. Don’t make 10 goals this year, make one. What is the one thing that if you accomplished would make the biggest impact in your life and family? Do that.


How to Set Goals for 2015 You Will Reach


Every year around this time, people begin thinking about the New Year and make resolutions. Sadly, many of these resolutions will not be reached. There is a way, a practice of creating goals you will not only keep but reach.

Here is a simple process I use each year to make goals and reach them:

  1. Call them goals, not resolutions. I want you to think of this as a goal, not a resolution. A goal is something you are working towards, with a destination in mind. It creates all kinds of sports analogies that I think help us in our mind.
  2. Look back before you look forward. One mistake I see a lot of people make when it comes to their goals is they don’t look back and celebrate. Often, our year was not as bad as we think it was. What did God do in the last year? How has God worked, blessed, challenged and sharpened you in the past year? I think an important part of setting goals is celebrating what has already happened (and sometimes lamenting missed opportunities). But, then you get to move forward.
  3. What is the one thing you want to accomplish this year? The last thing is choose one thing, not 15 goals for 2015. Will you accomplish more than one goal this year? Probably, but one of the things many people do that sabotages them is they pick too many things to reach for. What is the one thing, if you accomplished it would make the biggest impact in your life? That’s the one thing you need to do. What if you accomplish this by April? Then set another goal. Two years ago my one goal was writing a book. Six years ago is was losing 100 pounds. Both of those goals took over one year to complete, so it rolled over, but they happened. Choose one thing and only one thing and work until it is done. Is it getting out of debt? Going back to school? Starting a business? Mending a relationship? Do that one thing and then move forward. 


Lighten Up


I have a confession: I have high expectations for everything. For myself, my church, what I do, my family, the things my family does.

Because of this, I work hard at what I do, but I also expect others to work hard at what they do.

Which leads to, higher stress.

Let me give you an example.

When I go on vacation with my family, we make plans on things to do just like every family. Places to go, places to eat, activities, etc.

When we do this, I’m hoping that our family will make some fun memories and have a good time together. When that activity or plan does not live up to my expectations, my stress and anxiety goes up.

When this happens, I actually miss the memory that is taking place.

The lesson: lighten up. Take the moment as it comes.

Your life won’t end if things don’t go as planned.

Your kids won’t end up in counseling simply because a birthday party wasn’t perfect.

Your marriage won’t fall apart because of a failed date night.

These “failures” simply become part of the lore of your family and life. They become the stories you will tell one day and laugh about.

Remember that time…

So, lighten up and start creating the stories you’ll tell for years to come.