One Small Thing That Could Change Your Life

We have a tradition around our house.  We practice this tradition every Monday and it has changed us for the better.  Because of this tradition, there’s a greater sense of peace in our home, we’re a closer family, and we’ve learned some incredible things along the way.  When this tradition was first suggested to us by some friends of ours, I kind of shrugged it off.  But my wife persisted, and boy am I glad she did!

So what it this miracle tradition?

We call it Media Fast Monday.

On Mondays, the TV does not get turned on, the computer is only used for work and school, and video games are off limit.  It’s only for one day out of the week, but it makes a massive difference!

Here are a few of the benefits we’ve gained:

1. We get more reading in.  If you never seem to have time to read, you’d be surprised at how many books you can devour by simply spending one night a week with a book.  I could write an entire post about the difference reading makes, so dive in!

2. We spend quality time as a family.  Let’s be honest, time together around the TV set really isn’t quality time.  With the TV off, we play games together, work on art projects, and have fun interacting.  The kids don’t dread Media Fast Monday, they look forward to it!

3. Our marriage is stronger.  Again, time around the TV together really isn’t that quality, and good, quality one on one time usually leads to MORE one on one time with the spouse (if you catch my meaning).  Turning the TV off has made us better lovers :-).

4. Fasting Media has a detoxifying effect.  With the TV off, I tend to feel less anxious, the house is quieter, and having less stimulation helps to clear the brain and calibrate my thoughts.  I often do my best writing during a media fast.

I want to challenge you to give it a try for six weeks.  It may sound radical but it really is a small price to pay for the benefits you gain.  Don’t give in to the temptation to work late on Monday nights or preoccupy yourself with going out with friends or doing household maintenance projects.  Use the time to strengthen your family relationships, your mind, and your spirit.

Let me know what you think!  Do you think you’ll try it?  Do you do something similar?  Tell me about it!

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The Spinach Eaters

The other day, my two youngest boys decided to eat a can of spinach.  They really believed that eating it would make them stronger, just like Popeye.  Check it out…

Hudson’s reaction to the soggy canned spinach was priceless!

I love the fact that children believe the impossible and, at times, I wish it was easier for me to believe the impossible too (I AM working on it!)

When I was a kid I believed that, if I tied a towel around my neck for a cape and concentrated hard enough, I’d be able to fly.

What’s something crazy you believed when you were a kid?

A Picture of Grace

I love grace. Seriously, I’m consistently astounded by the grace of God.

The thing about grace is that, if you ask 10 people what grace means, you’ll get 10 definitions for the word.

You might hear things like the following…

“God’s unmerited favor” “mercy bestowed” “divine pardon” “endowment of benefit” “bounty” “a gift” “bestow a blessing” and one of my favorites, “God’s ability in my inability”.

But, you know what?  I’m a picture guy.  I understand things better visually so I want to share a picture with you.

The other day, my seven year old son wanted to go for a bike ride.  He saw his older brothers riding up and down the street and wanted to explore the neighborhood.  I’ve tried many times to teach him how to ride but he just hasn’t gotten the hang of it.  He was really upset with his limitation and was tired of just hanging around the house and yard.

I felt bad for him so I dug an old tandem bicycle out of the garage and told him to hop on.  He loved it! He was free from the confines of his limitations, there was joy in his heart as we raced down the street, and he laughed with glee as we explored the neighborhood.  It was a new sense of freedom for him and all he had to do was sit back and let me pedal and steer.  What a deal!

That’s grace!  We don’t deserve it, but Jesus paid our fine, set us free, and empowered us! All we have to do is… hop on.

What are some of your favorite definitions for grace?


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Why I’m Grateful for the Body

Last week, my six-year-old son got sick.  More sick than I’ve ever seen any of my kids.  For six days he would get extremely painful headaches and vomit everything he ate.  I’m sure you could imagine how awful it is to watch the most energetic, fun, happy little boy become tired, dehydrated, and unable to play because of the pain he was in.

Our family physician was out of town so we took him to another doctor in the same office.  She was absolutely no help what-so-ever.  She ignored my wife’s concerns about the headaches and vomiting, made a crack about the fact that we home school, wrote him a prescription for an antibiotic, and sent him home without so much as a blood test.

The next day, he got so bad that we decided to take him to the emergency room.  He was in extreme pain, was lethargic, and hadn’t been able to hold down any food or liquid.  There he received great care from the hospital staff.  They were very concerned about his condition and the looks on their faces made me realize this was more than simply an ear infection or the flu.  They did a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and a CT scan to check for abnormalities in his brain.  It was so difficult to see my little guy laying there with an IV, barely conscious from the powerful pain medication.  We were scared!

So what does all of this have to do with the Body of Christ?  They prayed.  Our good friends at the Quad Cities Prayer Center sprang into action by notifying their network of hundreds of prayer warriors.  Our small group leader came to the hospital to bring some balloons for Hudson.  Our good friends watched our other two boys so that my wife and I could stay by our youngest’s side until he could go home.  Friends called, texted, and Facebook messaged us to get updates and let us know they were praying.

It didn’t stop with people we know though.  Great people from my Twitter community made it a point to re-tweet my situation to get more people interceding.  They left me messages to let me know they were praying.  These are people I’ve never met face to face, but care enough to take my cares to Jesus.  AMAZING!  I’m totally honored to belong to a Body like that, and extremely grateful for all of their prayers.

It doesn’t end with my son’s illness either.  God has used His people to be there for us in so many ways and on so many occasions.  Seven months ago, our ministry took an unexpected turn and, rather than running for security, we decided to take a step of faith and launch something new.  Time after time He has used his people to bless us when we didn’t know how we’d make it another week.  Even the computer I’m writing this post with was a blessing from a brother in Jesus.

It makes me think about the picture on this post.  Life is such a challenge sometimes.  We never know when we’re going to hit rapids, rocks, or other dangers as we navigate through it.  It’s such a comfort to know that there are others in the boat with you and, as we paddle together, we can look out for each other, work together, and lend each other strength when we need it.  What a great picture of the Body of Christ! (Romans 12:4-8)

As for my son, he’s home now and feeling much better.  He has kept everything down for the last two days and the headaches are becoming less frequent and less severe.  A little while ago I saw him dragging large sheets of cardboard up from the basement.  He said he wants to turn his bedroom door into a drawbridge.  I love that kid!

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I’ve been reading lately about the confessions of Patrick and Augustine.  They had struggles and shortcomings just like me and you, yet they had a profound impact for Christ on the world around them.  Most of us would be honored to accomplish one tenth of what these men did.  In our impotence and ineffectiveness, we feel the need to put on masks to hide the things we feel would tarnish our public image.  The appearance of having it all together even supersedes the need to reach out when we need help, or seek counsel when we’re hurting.  It’s strange since these men let it all hang out and changed the world anyway.

So, if these men can lay themselves bare, with great faith in God’s covering, why can’t we?  Why do we, like Adam, hide our nakedness even from God?  Maybe it’s because everyone’s doing it.  Maybe if someone else would start, a chain reaction of transparency and vulnerability would occur, allowing God to mightily use these broken vessels that seem to only want to be carefully displayed.  Since someone has to start, I think I will.

My upbringing was far from the traditional nuclear family.  My folks divorced when I was still in grade school.  My mom had to go to work to raise my brother and me, which left me alone to find all sorts of trouble to get into, including watching some very inappropriate things on television,  ding dong ditching the neighbors, and being a general pest alongside my friends.  I wasn’t great in school and secured my ranking as average in most of my classes.  I wrestled in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade but never actually won a match.

In high school, I found a relationship with Christ in a major way.  Unfortunately, I was a pharisee and would harshly judge people.  I had a sarcastic side a mile wide and would bring some people to tears by getting a laugh at their expense.  I dated the wrong girl and barely made it to graduation with my virginity intact.  I learned some things about myself, during my teenage years, that would really hurt me later in life.  I had charm, wit, and charisma and I knew how to use them to sail through certain things instead of patiently doing the hard work that prepares us for greater service.

I dropped out of college early because I already had a decent preaching ministry (thanks to charm and charisma) and I thought school was “for suckers”.  I felt the impact of that decision when I failed my first credentialing exam.  I burned bridges during those early ministry years by taking an “I’m going to say whatever I feel God is telling me to” attitude instead of taking the role of a servant.

When I transitioned from speaker to youth pastor, I spoke ill of my senior leader and got fired.  It wasn’t the only time I was fired from a ministry position and had to learn many lessons the hard way.  I’ve attempted to pioneer a couple of ministries that ended when I tucked my tail between my legs and gave up.  I came up with grand excuses and logical reasons for quitting, but in the end it was because I just couldn’t hack it.

I’ve wasted away many hours with distractions, diversions, and a complete lack of focus.  I’ve lied about my efforts, distorted results, and manipulated perceptions.  I’ve stolen, cheated, and allowed things in my “ear-gates” and “eye-gates” that don’t belong.  I am, in short, a complete mess.


But God’s grace has been all over me like a warm blanket.  He’s used this big pile of broken, dysfunctional mess to make a difference in the lives of young and old.  He’s lovingly humbled me and used me to bless others.  He’s used me to build significant student ministries.  He’s sent me overseas to be a blessing to pastors.  He’s allowed me to lead large groups of young people in passionate prayer.

The Lord has placed wonderful mentors in my life to teach, guide, and disciple me.  I’ve had the honor of “carrying the cloak” of men with powerful ministries and exceptional leadership skills.  He’s given me a great love for reading and has taught me things that have changed my ministry paradigm; things that I’ve been able to pass on to others.

I’ve had the thrill of working alongside major movie actors and directors.  I’ve been on the set of an Oscar winning production.  I’ve worked behind the camera, in front of the camera, and on the air.

I’ve shared in churches and in media all over the country and in Ireland.  I’m seriously amazed at the opportunities God has given this uneducated, distracted, mess of a man.  Want to know what the greatest thing is though?

My family.  When I look at my kids, I don’t see the loneliness and brokenness I felt as a child.  They’re healthy and they love Jesus with all their heart!  God made me a good dad and THAT is a miracle!  I’m crazy about my wife of almost 18 years too! I know this is His hand because I couldn’t stick with anything for more than three months, twenty years ago.

God’s tenacious grace has rooted itself deep into my soul.  I’m bound to it and it to me.  I’m nothing without it so I’m immeasurably grateful for it.  That’s my confession.

What’s yours?