To Claus?


I was one of those guys that swore off Santa Claus before I was a dad. Wasn’t gonna happen. My kids won’t believe in that stuff. Now I’m a dad. Our first son is nearly 3 and the second one will be here in April. Where do we stand? How do we handle it?

We tell the truth.

Santa Claus is like Batman, Captain America, or Buzz Lightyear . He has a lot of movies. Everyone knows who he is. But he isn’t real. He is pretend.

But what about when he isn’t pretend? What about when you can see him or talk to him? What about when he’s at the mall? That is a fat guy with a beard. Kids sit in his lap and talk to him, kind of like grandpa. He is pretending. Like when my son says he wants to fly like Buzz Lightyear and I pick him up and run across the house while he extends his arms and shouts “To Infinity and Beyond!” We are pretending.

Where do presents come from? People who love you, work hard for the money they use to buy them, and don’t cheat with pretend magic powers. You don’t have to earn your presents. It has nothing to do with being bad or good. It has everything to do with being cherished and probably a little spoiled. There’s nothing pretend about overtime, deadlines, and income taxes.

We pretend a lot in our house. We have bear hunts, and super hero adventures. We build snake guns out of Legos and block towers for the Ethan monster to destroy. And we have a blast.


I made a pledge never to lie to my kids. Not even “white lies.” I don’t tell him the super heroes we love are real. I don’t tell him Santa Claus is real. I don’t tell him eating his vegetables will make him big and strong like Hulk.

I never want to limit my ability to speak truth into his young and sponge-like mind and heart in a way that could undermine the BIG truths we already discuss on a regular basis. Things like love, generosity, kindness, (we recently had to tackle the notion of death and afterlife) and truth.

What about Jesus? We tell the truth. Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. We have nativity scenes (at least 6 because my wife is Christmas-crazy). It’s important, we talk about it. But we don’t have to overcompensate. We don’t have to cram it down his throat in a half-guilty bid to outshine Santa Claus because Santa is never really part of the equation.

We might do it different than you. If you want to do the Santa thing go for it. Your house. Your rules. But we won’t. We don’t. And if I judge you a little bit for it, well—I’m only telling the truth.

Hate the Sinner – Love the Sin

If you are a professing Christian chances are pretty high that you have uttered the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” at one point or another. At the least you have probably heard it tossed around here and there.

The sentiment is fairly straightforward. It conveys the idea that you can entirely disagree with, and be at odds with someone’s behavior, while still caring deeply about them. The idea itself is fine. We really are at odds with a lot of dangerous behavioral stuff in this life. Hopefully we’re more at odds with the junk in our own closet rather than someone else’s. The problem with this idea isn’t that it’s untrue. It’s that we don’t actually mean it.

Generally whatever particular sin issue is driving the conversation usually dominates said conversation. This leaves little room for lovingly engaging people who might be neck deep in the issue at hand. God is amazingly loving, and forgiving, but how can you demonstrate that to someone if you are too busy telling them how much God hates what they’re doing. It’s like trying to give someone a brand new car by running them over with it. Or giving someone dying of thirst a drink by tossing them in a lake.

Christian, you are the face of God to this world. You are Jesus with skin on. Often people will respond to God in accordance to how you respond to them. Not always, but many times.

Also, you need God too. We all do. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a fine description of how God feels about the situation, but it’s a pretty crappy summation of Christian human reaction to sin.

God does hate sin. He hates all sin. He is completely good like that. God does love sinners. He loves all sinners. ALL OF US. He is completely good like that. But I have yet to meet the Christian who hates all sin equally and loves all sinners equally, and that certainly includes myself.

No, we pick sins that are obvious and we hammer them, leaving those trapped in that sin beaten and broken like some old rusty nail. Never mind that Jesus allowed himself to be beaten, battered, and nailed for them. All the while we ignore our pet sins and keep them in our most secret places. Even the villainous religious leaders from John chapter 8 had the good sense not to throw stones because of their failures. Would we? I have met a lot of people who went looking for God at some point in their life and wound up battered and bruised by the stones thrown their way.

I’ve spent over a decade reaching out to college students. I’ve had hundreds of conversations with non Christians. It is amazing how many people are turned away from Christianity, not by Jesus, but by the people who represent him. In their eyes we hate the sinner, but we love to talk about their sin.



I have had the outstanding privilege of serving young adults for the last eleven years. For the last four of those God has graciously granted me the opportunity to travel to Latin America in service to Jesus and His Church abroad. This week has been far and away the most intense experience of my life. So intense I am finding it difficult to collect the appropriate words.

I feel I have seen and experienced more of the powerful presence of God over the last ten days than I would have dared to imagine. So much has transpired that I’m not sure I will ever be able to absorb, record, or articulate all of it.

However, one resounding feeling rises above the chaotic din of stress, joy, and relief for this experience….


God is faithful. When you pursue Him. When you put your trust in His hands. When you decrease so that He gets the glory, honor, and credit—He always comes through.

Every. Single. Time.

Zacapa 2014: WHAT A JOY



For ten days now Jamie and I have had the distinct pleasure of traveling with a group of the most selfless, courageous, and loving people I have ever known. They have endured physical discomfort, an endlessly rearranging schedule, and intense spiritual warfare—the likes of which we rarely ever recognize in the states.

I have watched them daily push through fatigue, sickness, and injury to proclaim the love and joy of Christ. I have cheered them on as they left personal fears behind—being God-prompted into never before contemplated situations. The shy have became powerful proclaimers of truth; the insecure, bold beacons of grace.

Through sweat and dust and heat the life-giving Spirit of Christ has remained at the centre. The presence of God the all-encompassing Source. The Gospel the Great Calling; and the lost the Chief Mission.

This week eighteen students from small town America (Russellville, AR) along with Jamie, myself, and our accompanying locals had the chance to serve alongside Greg Miller Ministries. Doing so we shared the Gospel will 2,780 people, prayed individually with 495 of them—and lead 207 to Christ. As well as helping to facilitate a worship experience where 250 more people were saved!

Rebekah, Dakota, Dimas, Brian, Ashely, Stacey, Morgan, Cara, Jeff, John, Jacob, Aaron, Katelyn, Ian, Tosha, Emily, Madisun, & Lizette….WHAT A JOY it has been to serve alongside you on this trip!

More to come soon….

Thanks for reading,




Countdown Zacapa – 6 Days

Less than a week to go until Jamie and I will be Guatemala bound—18 young adults in tow! We are so seriously excited!

It is always such a privilege to travel to another country and help a long term missionary. This year we have the opportunity to partner with Greg Miller Ministries. I had a chance to meet Greg last fall and he is an awesome guy with a huge heart for the nation God has called him to.

This morning I recieved word that Guatemala experienced an earthquake today. A lot of thoughts immediately went through my head, first among those the well-being of Greg, his loved-ones, and a close family friend who’s family lives in the mountains of Guatemala.

The good news is that everyone we are connected to there is ok. The bad news, however is that not everyone is ok.

All of this only serves to point out a very real truth when you’re taking about investing in short-term missions. Things can change on a dime. You have to be ready to be flexible and fluid. Plans can change.

Ultimately, the goal remains the same. We’re headed to Guatemala in just a few days to serve the Church by serving Greg and his team. If the finer details change along the way, that will be ok. We will still go. We will still serve. Thankful for the privilege this opportunity brings.

Countdown Zacapa – 14 Days


Am I good enough?

This is a question people ask themselves all the time. Maybe not precisely those words, but some form of self-doubt and/or creeping insecurity nags at us from time to time. It’s nearly inevitable.

The short answer is “yes.” The shorter answer is “no.”

No, you are not good enough, at least not on your own. The horrible reality is that so many are out there trying to make it on their own. It’s tragic. And a lot of heart break and bad decisions play out as a result.

But yes, you are also good enough. Wait a sec here…….. DIDN’T YOU JUST CONTRADICT YOURSELF?

It’s true that on our own we are not good enough. But the whole point is that we don’t have to be on our own. We weren’t meant to be on our own. Life isn’t supposed to be a lonely affair full of solo sunsets and one-sided conversations.

GOD made you for himself, and for others. With him you are more than enough, not because you are good enough but because he is above and beyond good enough.

When you are living your life with God in it, whether you’re loading into an airplane and flying to another country, or walking next door to help a neighbor—God goes with you. He goes before you. He helps.

So go help somebody. Say something encouraging. Do something meaningful. Stop worrying about being good enough, and start doing something good.


Countdown Zacapa – 19 Days


In nineteen days Jamie and I are leading a team of twenty young adults to Guatemala. We’ve been making arrangements, making plans, and preparing our team almost eight months….and here we are. Less than three weeks away.

Taking young people to a far away place is one of the deep joys of my life. I love seeing the impact it makes on them. How it shocks them out of the apathy that so quickly can overwhelm us in our selfish culture. It’s a process of pealing back the nuanced layers of desire and distraction that define most of our American existence. In a word, it is a powerful experience.

After six months of regular meetings, tonight we met for the final time before we leave. I challenged them with the notions of sacrifice and selflessness. Not because any of us are looking or hoping to become martyrs, but because I want all of us to live outside of the context we are so over encumbered with here at home.

We go to do something that is not about us and not for us. We are partnering with a wonderful missionary who has been in Guatemala for over twenty years. I can’t wait to get these guys down there.

Please consider praying for us as we travel.