Heaven is for Real

With the movie Heaven is for Real coming out this week, I’ve gotten questions on whether I think this book and movie is worth seeing and reading and if it is true. This is the best thing I’ve found on it.

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I Want Breathing Room in Work & Life, Now What?


When it comes to breathing room, checking a box on Sunday can be the easy part. Actually putting it into practice, having conversations with a boss, a spouse, a child or friend, creating and sticking to a budget or cutting something out of your life, that can be the hard part.

As you move forward with breathing room, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Pray for yourself and the person you are going to talk to. Confess your sin and ask God to be with you and them as you have a conversation. If you are fearful, confess that. If you are worried that they won’t be open to what you’ll say, ask God to move (Daniel 1:9) and change their heart.
  2. Be humble as you talk to those affected by your choices. Daniel was humble, he didn’t go in guns blazing and throw a verse at anyone. He asked and allowed God to work and he allowed the King’s men to be in authority over him.
  3. Be like Daniel, asking your boss or spouse how to move forward, let them be a part of the solution. Let them talk with you about how to move forward, they might have a better idea than you do.
  4. Keep your commitment. Don’t shy away from this as you move forward. The Holy Spirit moved in your heart and our job is to move forward in faith. Trust that.  
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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Such a powerful day at Revolution yesterday
  • I talked about how God is able to turn our sorrow and pain into joy
  • We finished up the day singing this song, such a powerful moment
  • I am always blown away by how we plan our sermons so far in advance and yet, every week, they are so relevant to where our church is
  • Love how the Holy Spirit guides like that
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • Had a great early elder meeting today to finalize our 2014 budget
  • So excited about some of the things we are hoping to do in 2014
  • Lord willing, we will begin planting Revolution Church | Midtown in the fall of 2014, launching officially in January 2015
  • And then, planting our 3rd church by January 2016
  • Big prayers
  • It was really cool having AJ lead yesterday and be able to pray for those who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces
  • Having a current serviceman pray made that moment special
  • I’m preaching to the students of Arizona Christian University this week
  • Really excited to be on their campus and part of their chapel service
  • Not sure what I’m speaking on yet, adversity or prayer
  • Maybe a combination of the two
  • My Steelers finally showed up yesterday to win a game
  • Although, my fear is they will become the worst kind of football team, good enough to not make the playoffs but not bad enough to get a good draft pick
  • Yesterday, we had a newcomer’s lunch
  • Always love seeing how people find Revolution
  • Someone came because someone from our church had a good witness on their HOA website and discussion board
  • How cool is that
  • Been listening to 3 new songs from Elevation worship this morning
  • So good
  • Me and some guys from my MC are going to see the new Thor movie this week
  • Pretty excited for some guys time and a good movie with lots of action

Is there Hope for Men?

I have no hope in guys. But I still have hope for the guys because they are “the image and glory of God.” God wants his glory to shine through men. God wants his kingdom to be made visible through them. God wants them to be his sons. God wants them to follow, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the example of Jesus. I don’t care if you buy a truck or play some video games or rock out on your guitar. But the problem is when those are prevalent, predominant, and preeminent in your life. Some of you would argue and say, “It’s not a sin.” No, but sometimes it’s just dumb. You got fired because you fell asleep at work after staying up too late to get to the next level of some online game and become a guild leader. That’s dumb. You work one part-time job so you can play more guitar or frisbee golf. That’s dumb. You spend all your money on a new car or truck or toys or gear or clothes or gambling or fantasy football. Dumb. Some of you say, “Well, it’s not a sin.” Neither is eating your cereal box instead of the cereal. It’s just dumb. There are a lot of things that Christian guys do that aren’t evil; they’re just dumb and childish. There’s nothing wrong with being a boy – if you are a boy. There is a big problem if you are a boy with a beard and a condo. -Mark Driscoll, Call to Resurgence

Being Friends with Jesus

Made for Glory

Do you ever feel disconnected from God? Maybe you have the feeling that your prayers go unheard or unanswered? You don’t feel God’s love like you once did? Maybe you’ve never felt close to God or felt His love and you wonder if it is real.

This happens everyday to all kinds of people, regardless of their spiritual journey or where they are in their relationship with Jesus.

Maybe you’ve wondered what God wants from people. Does He want robots who do only what He wants when He wants it? Does He expect people to be His slaves while He is the master?

What if life is meant to be so much more than that? Our prayers that are heard and answered, feeling close to Jesus and knowing His love and knowing that we are His friends.

This Sunday, we’ll continue our series Made for Glory as we look at John 15:1 – 17. 

In these verses, Jesus lays out what it takes to be connected to Jesus, how to feel and know God’s love. And Jesus for the first time says that his followers are his friends. Which is an enormous statement. 

If you have ever struggled with feeling the closeness of God, wondering if Jesus can use your life or wondered how to feel and know God’s love. This is going to be a great Sunday to be at Revolution.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

New Song Sunday @ Revolution: “Greater”

Here’s a new song we’re learning Sunday at Revolution Church as we look at John 14:7 – 31 and the peace that the Holy Spirit brings to our lives. Fits perfectly.

Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week I asked Katie to share about a recent book she read that would be helpful for the female readers of this blog.

In Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldridge takes a very practical look at how our pasts impact our present and future, while giving advice on how to implement immediate change into lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is very honest and upfront with her story throughout the book, which makes it personal and an easy read. I appreciate her reliance on the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit. Some quotes that stuck out:

  • Jesus, come. Guide me. Holy Spirit, fill me. Dream with me and in me. Help me to unlock the desires you have planted in my heart and to write them down. Help me to dream big.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What would I love to do? What would I love to experience or create or offer?
    • What do I want to be really good at?
    • What do I want with God? What does God want with me?
    • What do I want to be known for?
    • Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing is too good to be true. And besides, if you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?
As she walks through the journey of embracing God’s dream of you, here are a few more things she said that I found helpful and hope you will as well:
  • Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things. It is surrendering them. It is opening up our clenched hand around them and allowing God access to them and to us. It is actually saying yes to God for them. Yes to his plan. Yes to his way. It is believing that just as his ways are higher than the heavens are above the earth, so his way for the things we fear is higher. This God of ours is a God of life, of goodness. He is the God of the Resurrection. We lay down our fear. We pick up Jesus. He is the only way we can live beyond fear. He is the Way.
  • Truth be told, a good part of our becoming takes place int eh sanctifying work of relationships. And not because friendship is always a greenhouse, either. Trees grow strong because of winds; drought forces their roots to go deeper. There isn’t anything on earth like relationships to make you holy. When our frail humanity is revealed in some way we and others don’t like, we bring it to God. We ask for forgiveness. We ask for his life to fill us and his love to flow through us. Which means “Christ in me, love through me” becomes a regular prayer. It always comes back to Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
  • John and I learned long ago that in cases of suffering, you can have understanding or you can have Jesus. If you insist on understanding, you usually lose both. When suffering enters into your life, take a deep breath. The very first thing to do is to invite Jesus into it. Pray, Jesus, catch my heart. When painful trials come your way, by all means ask God what’s up- ask him to interpret it for you. But whether he provides understanding or not, invite Jesus in. Keep inviting Jesus into the pain. Invite Jesus into the places in your heart that are rising to the surface through the suffering, be those painful memories, unbelief, or self-contempt. Pray, Please come meet me here, Jesus. I need you. Let suffering be the door you walk through that draws you to deeper intimacy with Jesus. Suffering can do that, if we let it. And though it would never be the doorway we would choose, it is one we will never regret walking through.
This is just a smattering of the writing of Stasi, but for me it took a little different look at things that I have read and known for some time. Although there were a few times I was afraid she was about to jump off the diving board into the deep end, she didn’t. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who has ever been hurt, and struggles to live the life that God intends.

The Biggest Sin in Adoption

We have met our son, FINALLY seen his sweet smile, squeezed his small body, got lost in his big eyes and then had to say goodbye for 5-10 weeks. Every time I think about leaving him that last day tears come to my eyes; we walk with him toward the lunchroom and his breathing becomes great heaves. Josh and I are trying to hold it together and not have a complete melt down in front of our son, who has lost SO MUCH, and now probably feels like the hope that he may have found in a relationship with us is being ripped away from him. We help him wash his hands, and instead of his lighthearted smile and willingness to obey, he is in a fit of tears and his legs won’t support him… we kiss his sweet face and walk away. The nanny explains we will be back, but how can a 4 year old know that in his heart. So again because my arms are too short to change anything in this process, we pray; that he doesn’t lose hope, that when we return he doesn’t reject us because he has felt abandoned by us, and that our hearts will be ruled by peace and patience as we wait.

This is the part that gets me, being ruled by peace as we wait. There have been times in this waiting that I have gotten caught up in the frenzy of wanting to know what is going on, following other people’s journey forward and feeling forgotten, and it. has. been. sin. Before we traveled to meet our son, we were waiting on a piece of paper from a government official giving us the clearance to travel, as we waited I begged God that it would come through. One morning I woke up especially early and prayed, I watched the sun rise and was reminded of  what we tell our kids… see that light from the sun, it is so bright that it is hard to look it, that is what the glory of the Lord looks like…


That morning I was reminded of the truth that God’s ways are above our ways, that He exists outside of time and He already sees it as done. The timing of the thing that I was so anxious about, God already saw as DONE. Thinking in that way helped me to not just cling to the peace that I knew I should have, but actually live in it.

We are in a time of waiting again, this is some of the most painful waiting we have had to do up to this point…

I am reminded of God’s heart toward us, His calling us and desire to be in relationship with us, and because of his patience we have salvation (2 Peter 3:15). My desire through this is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18). If I fall into the sin of worry, control and lack of peace, then I am not pressing into God’s heart for me or my son, who is not orphaned because he is OUR SON NOW, but feels orphaned. There is a longing in my heart that can very easily cross over into the sin of worry, but if I feel that and see it through God’s heart toward those who have not crossed over into His family I am more likely to live in His peace.

Isaiah 53:5 says,

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

If I am not living in peace then I am neglecting the very crucifixion of Jesus, and I think that is the biggest sin in adoption.

Why We Aren’t Healthy

self control in wood type

John is a friend in his mid-30s who works out very little. He has never had to think about his health or his eating habits. He can eat 3 cheeseburgers in a meal and not gain any weight. Each day he eats fast food for lunch. This has created a lifestyle that is not sustainable, as he gets older. He confided in me recently that for the first time in his life, he feels lethargic after eating and is starting to feel like his clothes are getting tighter.

In high school and college Daniel was in great shape as he played sports. But then he got a job, got married and his exercise habits slowed down while his eating stayed the same. He is now almost 30 and starting to long for what he used to look like and the pace that he used to live. He always feels behind at work and home and wishes he had the stamina he once had.

Heather is single, works part-time, and goes to school full-time. She wants to get married, but has always struggled with her weight. It isn’t that she eats a lot of food; she just makes poor choices about food. She wishes that she could have more time to exercise, but with school and work, it ends up being a quick bite here, a short night of sleep there, and a Friday night with friends that leaves her feeling lonely and unhappy. Whenever she sees her friends who keep their weight off, eat whatever they like (at least in her mind) and women she sees at the mall or in a magazine, she feels heavier and heavier. She wants to have time for community and church but struggles to make this happen on top of a healthy lifestyle.

Austin is overweight by about 60 pounds. He works too many hours each week, sleeps too little, and eats too much. He never exercises. He takes time to be with his family and attend church. He doesn’t have a desire to lose weight or be healthier and doesn’t really see the need as it hasn’t affected his health–yet. In fact, he would say that his weight isn’t a problem and it certainly isn’t a sin.

Lisa is married, in her mid-30s, and a mother of 2 toddlers. She spends her days chasing after her kids and picking up after them. She’s wants to get back to her pre-baby weight, but is too tired. She looks at magazines, which never help her to feel better. They only remind her of the body she used to have. Her husband doesn’t complain, but she is unhappy. She feels like a failure as a mom because of how tired she is, longing for 5 minutes of quiet, a hot shower and to know that she is making an impact on her kids. She misses the romance she and her husband used to share and laments the feelings she has whenever her husband asks her about sex because of how she feels about herself.

Any of these sound familiar?

The problem for many people is that these things are so normal and so accepted that we don’t think twice about them.

Let me ask you this. Do you find yourself eating mindlessly? You start a snack and before you know it, the bag is empty? There are leftovers on the counter or food on your spouse’s plate that you just eat? When you have a long day at work, do you find yourself eating to numb the pain or bring some comfort? If a meal you make is so good, you find yourself having seconds and then a third trip?

Answer yes to enough of these questions and you are addicted to food. If so, you are not alone. Most Americans are.

In fact, if you attend church, it is one of the addictions you can have that no one will call you out on. Think for a minute. When was the last time you heard a sermon on weight or eating habits? We talk about overindulgence, but always in relation to alcohol or money. Pastors typically stick to the really “big” sins partly because it is easier, and partly because most pastors are overweight.

It is so accepted in our culture to be overweight. It is almost expected.

Let’s Talk about You

I’ve spent some time talking about my story, so now it is time to talk about you.

Where do you fit into this? Do you have an eating disorder where you won’t eat anything or throw it up out of fear of what you look like or trying to look a specific way? This tragic thinking affects so many people, particularly women. I remember talking to a college student who couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds telling me how fat she felt. It was heartbreaking.

Maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum and you can’t stop eating. At the end of a long day you find yourself not eating one Oreo, but the whole box. It seems there are many foods that you can’t eat just one of.

Another is when we work out and can’t take a rest day. If you workout and enjoy it like I do, if you miss a day do you get angry? Frustrated that you will not be building the muscle that you want?

The Image of God

So how do you think about your body? Many people who attend church regularly every week and follow Jesus do not believe the truth of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” And, 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20 says: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Together, these two verses lay out a simple truth that many followers of Jesus know in their heads, but fail to live out in their lives. Why do we not connect the dots on these two key verses? If we truly believed that we were created in the image of God, we would look at our bodies with more wonder, more joy and gratitude for how we were made instead of thinking about why I can’t be thin or even lose weight. We live as if God messed up in the process of creating us and gave us the wrong body.  We often take 1 Corinthians 6 as simply a suggestion, yet rarely take it seriously and think through how we honor God with our bodies, how we treat them, and what we put into our bodies. We thank God before a meal, and then stuff thousands of calories into it, slowly destroying the body God has given us.

It’s popular in our day to think our bodies belong to us. We think, “No one can tell me what to do with my body!” In fact, in our culture nothing is more essential to our identity than the freedom to express ourselves and use our bodies as we choose. But God says our body belongs to him, not us. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and members of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15). The body is no longer for self-gratification, but for God-glorification (vs. 20).

Let’s go back to Genesis 1 for a minute. If you and I are made in the image of God, then that means we are not an accident. The body, DNA, and genetics you have when it comes to how you burn through food, or not, are not an accident. They were planned. According to Ephesians 1, God planned these things before he created anything. Think about your body and what you would change. Maybe it’s your nose, love handles, legs, or arms. Those were planned and created by God, in his image.

1 Corinthians reminds us the price that God paid for us. Jesus went to the cross to redeem our bodies. They are broken; sin is real and has brought havoc to us in the form of our eating habits and how we think about our bodies.

The only time I’ve heard 1 Corinthians 6 mentioned has been in connection with why someone says a Christian shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol as we stuff chicken wings into our mouths. Our view of this verse is too small and misses the grandness of its intentions. Taken together, these verses reflect how our body is to be a reflection of God to the world around us. On top of this, we see God’s love and care for us in our body that he has created.


Several years ago my brother-in-law asked me when I was at my heaviest, almost 300 pounds, “How can you challenge people in your sermons to have self-control if you don’t have any?” It’s a tricky question. Why do people lack self-control? Is it just born in them (or not in some cases)? Are some people just more strong willed than others and that’s it?

The reality is that personality-wise, some people tend to be more driven and strong willed than others. As a follower of Jesus, though, self-control is something we’ve been given by God. In Galatians 5, after Paul lays out how followers of Jesus have been set free by Jesus, he tells them how to see this truth in their lives in verse 22. He says that they will have fruit, evidences in their lives of this change, in the form of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (emphasis added).

The Holy Spirit has given followers of Jesus the power of self-control. This has enormous implications in how we eat, exercise, look at our bodies, sleep and work. Those moments of weakness when you want to eat another piece of pie or stay up and watch one more show, you have the power through the Holy Spirit to control yourself. The moments that you find your mind drifting and thinking about the body you wished you had or are trying to please in appropriate ways, you have the power through the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts and focus on how God created you. Sound impossible? But is anything that is worth doing not hard in the beginning but gets easier as you commit to it?

Do this: when you are finished reading this, go and stand in front of a mirror. I know, I know. For some of us, mirrors are our enemies, but hang with me for a minute. As you look in the mirror, look at the things you would change. Now remind yourself that God created those things for a purpose before the foundations of the world.

Then, think about what you ate today, the pace you have kept with work, and exercise and sleep in the last week. Are you honoring God with your body in those areas?


Two Ideas that Should Change how We Think about our Bodies, Weight Loss & Food


For many of us, when we think of addictions we think of things like drugs and alcohol. In our culture, depending on your background, you may now toss pornography or sex into those categories. Yet, in most churches and among Christians, these aren’t the only addictions that plague us. And no, I’m not talking about debt and money, although those certainly are addictions that plague many people.

What I’m talking about has to do with weight loss, body image and food.

My name is Josh…and I’m addicted to food.

If you are like me, you love food. You might be one of those people who just love to snack. You always seem to have a bowl of candy on your desk, grab a bag of chips mindlessly. Sitting in front of the TV you find yourself eating something. It isn’t anything big, it isn’t a meal, but you are just always eating.

Maybe for you it is dessert. You can’t go to bed without eating dessert. It is a comfort when life seems out of control. A long day is made better with a bowl of ice cream, a piece of pie, or some chocolate.

For me, I was never much of a snacker. When my wife Katie and I would take road trips, I never really wanted snacks. But I couldn’t resist the stops we could make for a hearty meal.

There is something else we might have in common. For you, it might not be food that is a problem; it is how you feel about yourself. The constant comparison to magazine covers or TV ads, the inferiority complex you have as you compare yourself to that guy in your office, the one who can eat whatever he wants and lose a pound, the woman who always looks put together. Your sibling who always seems confident, looks great, and feels great. Kind of like an annoying commercial.

Across the board in America, there is a problem when it comes to food addiction, weight loss, stress, health and body image. Today, there are more people overweight and obese than ever before. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 35.7% of adults are overweight or obese, and 17% of children (or 12.5 million) are overweight or obese. And consider this: 44% of U.S. women are on a diet, 29% of U.S. men are on a diet, 80% of U.S. women do not like how they look, and $109 million is spent in the U.S. every day on diet and weight loss products. Among those who lose weight while on a diet, 95% will regain all of the weight they lost within the first 5 years. And as far as stress, 43 percent of U.S. adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) study.

Is This It?

Maybe you have gotten to the place where you’ve asked, “Is this it? Is this really how life was meant to be lived?” Envying the bodies of someone else, envying the pecs, six pack abs, butt or hips of someone else?

My change began 6 years ago. There wasn’t a magic pill of any kind, I didn’t have a surgery, but things in m heart began to change, which led to things in my life changing.

I wasn’t always overweight. In fact, in college I played soccer all 4 years but when college ended, I continued to eat like I played soccer year round and then my metabolism came to a screeching halt and well, you can guess the rest. I ballooned up to almost 300 pounds. Someone looked at our wedding pictures recently and asked how much weight I lost. When I told them I lost 130 pounds, they said, “You lost a jr. higher.”

Maybe you are reading this and think, “I don’t have an eating problem. I’m not overweight, but I can’t stop looking at the bodies that others have. I starve myself to look a certain way, to feel beautiful.”

Maybe you are like a guy I had lunch with recently. He eats like he doesn’t know fruit or vegetables exist, but he doesn’t gain any weight. For him, weight is an issue others deal with, but he doesn’t view his body the way God does.

Our Bodies and the Gospel

Often, when it comes to our bodies, the only time we bring the gospel into the conversation is if we are talking about sex. This is too small. If the gospel changes everything, if the gospel one day restores all things, then our bodies, health, body image and weight loss should fit into the discussion.

Two ideas have changed how I think about food, weight loss, health, pace in life, body image and how I talk about them. The first is found in the first chapter of the Bible in Genesis 1 where it tells us that we as humans are made in the image of God. Most Christians do not believe this. How do I know? We envy other people’s images instead of celebrating our own.

The second idea is a verse that gets quoted to encourage Christians to not smoke or drink, at least, that is how the pastor of the church I grew up in used it. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20 it says, do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


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