Serving Millennials on the Journey Toward Significant Life
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My Take on 2017

My generation has grown up in a world that has increasingly operated on hyperbolic fear. It began when planes ran into towers and continued when shooters entered schools. This overwhelming worry about impending doom from exterior evil has been commodified by cable news networks that not only stir up fear but then leverage it for ratings.

Earlier this year I explored how fear often leads to anxiety, which can be a crippling malaise on people who struggle with it. Fear can cripple us to the point where we no longer muster up a fight, instead, we just give into the faceless enemy.

After last year’s election I stopped watching and reading from cable news networks. There’s no question my life is noticeably better since then. I have fewer worries. The latest headline news rarely reverberates in my head, leading to sleepless nights. You might say, my privilege affords me the opportunity to not be overly informed, but to that, I would simply ask how being informed has benefitted you?

There’s plenty of worry to go around without cable news overflowing your fear bucket. Fires in California. Missile tests in North Korea. Shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. KKK marches in Charlottesville. I haven’t even mentioned the continuous fight along the lines of partisan politics.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re learning how to wrestle with societal problems apart from people, and the ramification is a fractured society of people who cannot relate to others who are not them. And when we can’t relate to or understand those who are different from us, fear takes over.

This past year we sang a song at my church that includes these lyrics in the bridge:

Where there was death, You brought life, Lord
Where there was fear, You brought courage
When I was afraid, You were with me
And You lifted me up, and You lifted me up

The words are a reminder to us that fear is a liar, and God overcomes it by giving us the courage we find lacking on our own. As Doomsday Theology continues to be taught in various Christian circles, we turn our backs to fear, learning to value those who are different than us, and in turn, we bring the light of God’s Kingdom into the darkness of our daily existence.

Dear friends, be light. Do not fear. God has overcome and is overcoming.

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Called Out Episode 005: Calling

called out episodes

Calling has been a subject of interest for me ever since I made the decision to enter seminary (graduate school for pastors) and pursue a vocation within pastoral ministry in the local church. I never had a moment where I sensed God distinctly say, “go there,” and I followed. Instead, calling has been a constant walk through the fog, destination unclear.

I often find myself frustrated by our formulaic conversations surrounding calling. Following the “5 steps to find your calling,” completely misses it.

With this in mind, I recently talked with Ryan Pemberton about calling. This being a subject of both personal and pastoral interest for him, we’ve talked several times in recent years about calling. If you ever wonder where God is leading you, or are trying to discern what your calling might be, I know you will find this episode to be helpful.

You can listen to the full episode below (click here to listen email readers):


Or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Soundcloud || Stitcher || Overcast

You can find Ryan Pemberton on Twitter, and be sure to check out his book Called: My Journey to CS Lewis’s House and Back Again.

We’ll be taking a break over the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays, but you can anticipate a new episode coming in mid-January.

In the meantime, if you have appreciated these episodes, please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen and encourage friends and family to listen to all the episodes released to date.

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Called Out Episode 004: Tiffany Bulgin

called out episodes (1)

This new episode on my podcast Called Out features Tiffany Bulgin, who founded Isaac’s Room with her husband Mark. People in my hometown of Salem, Oregon know of Isaac’s Room through the local coffeeshop Ike Box.

Tiffany and I talk about the backstory leading up to Ike Box starting, as well as talking about foster care and why people avoid it. Then we finish by discussing what it looks like to take in the long view with loving people who are used to being discarded and overlooked.

You can listen to the full episode below (click here to listen email readers):


Or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Soundcloud || Stitcher || Overcast

You can read more about Ike Box and the work they’re doing with Isaac’s Room right here.

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Permission to be Honest With Yourself

When it comes to having a proper awareness of yourself our society pushes you in two separate and equally unhelpful directions:

1. You are a total disaster. You fail time and time again. You will never get better. You don’t deserve help from anyone. You are unworthy of God and his blessing.

2. You are awesome. You don’t make mistakes. You are the hero of the story. You are a gift to the world. God is blessed to have you on this earth.

In the first instance you are prone to depression, lack of purpose, and doubt.

In the second instance you are prone to narcissism, a self-agenda purpose, minimizing weakness.

For the past two years I have purposefully taken our church through a weekly practice that I call “permission to be honest with yourself.” Traditionally this would be called confession. We begin our weekly church gathering by praising God for his majesty and greatness, and in response to this how can we not help but realize our sinfulness and frailty?

This natural progression of corporately recognizing the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man, and subsequently, the covering of this sinfulness through the work of Christ, is a long-held movement for Christ-followers as they gather. Some churches have a spoken word prayer they recite every week, but I choose to call this confession moment “permission to be honest with yourself,” because it takes on a different feel every week.

Some weeks we recite a corporate prayer of confession, other weeks I describe my own personal weakness, struggle, and doubt. Some weeks we lament current events, other weeks we describe our longing for another place. Some weeks we wait in silence, other weeks we sing our failures with honesty.

This confession-like moment is always different, but undergirding this is a desire for the church to be a place where people are able to be brutally honest about their brokenness within a community of people who are willing to do the same, all in the presence of a God of mercy. I have a lot of goals when helping lead our weekly gathering as a church, but the highest is to give people the opportunity to be who they really are because this is where healing begins.

In our society brokenness is often commodified and used to build a personal brand in the name of authenticity. Or brokenness is flat out ignored in order to go through life like a grand masquerade. But never is brokenness spoken of as the beginning of entering into who we were created to be. Without it we think so highly of ourselves we would never need God. Without God we can never see a life for ourselves past our failure.

Ray Ortlund eloquently says that all people need to be aware of two realities of being human:

1. I’m a complete idiot. 

2. My future is incredibly bright.

Rather than minimizing or glorifying weakness, we declare our weakness to a God who has the power to turn weakness to strength, brokenness to blessing, and death to life. In this, lives are opened up to the healing touch of our Heavenly Father, and then the future is incredibly bright.

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Called Out Episode 003: Sharon Hodde Miller

called out episodes

I’m thrilled to share this episode with Sharon Hodde Miller, where we discuss her first book project, image management in the age of Instagram, and raising up women in the church.

Sharon has been one of my favorite connections in the past few years because she is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects with tenacity and care. Sharon lives in North Carolina with her husband and two boys, while also carrying the load of child number three, to be born soon!

You can listen to the full episode below (click here to listen email readers):


Or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Soundcloud || Stitcher || Overcast

You can find Sharon’s book Free of Me here or anywhere books are sold.

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My #MeToo Story

As a preface, here’s some backstory on #metoo and why it has gone viral in the past few days.

I hesitate to share my #metoo story because so many women have been so brave, and I don’t want to come in and mansplain things here. However, the bravery of so many women has encouraged me to share my personal story connected to this.

Late in high school, a guy in his mid30s started helping as a leader at my church. He used a carefree attitude to suck in me & my friends. We can have fun at church? I’m game for that.

As a pastor’s kid at a large church, I was often approached by adults who wanted to be serious, because, for them, church was a big deal. To encounter someone who wanted to have fun was rare and something I grabbed onto. But this was a ploy. First, it was inviting us to his house. Then it was buying us stuff. Then it was encouraging us that having one drink w/ him was okay.

All these were little tactics to get us to trust him, get us a little closer. Then came the soft-porn movies, sexually explicit conversations.

His tactics were the very worst in my book—using assumed spiritual authority to bait young men into impossibly comprising situations.

It was not until he made his move on me that I realized what he was doing, that I wasn’t the only one. It was all calculated. I had no idea how to respond to this. Do I say something? Do I tell my friends? I had assumed he was trustworthy, godly, worth listening to, worth spending time with. In reality, he was a gay man preying on me.

While much has been made of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal, evangelical churches are not immune to the same issue. Power often corrupts, even in the church. I am now a pastor prone toward cynicism about the church, because of one misguided man.

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