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5 Things 30’s Josh would say to 20’s Josh

The closer I am to hitting the mid 30’s mark, the more I think about my journey. I’ve definitely gained perspective, but it’s also caused me to realize what a moron I was in my 20’s. To be fair, I wasn’t a complete moron. There were many positives along the way, but I also made some basic 20’s mistakes that thankfully I’ve learned from. Maybe it’s a right of passage, a necessary journey of maturity. I don’t know. Either way, I went through it and have put together a few thoughts I wish that 30’s Josh could slap 20’s Josh upside the head with. I doubt that 20’s Josh would listen, but still, it would be worth it. Also, I don’t want to color myself this totally dysfunctional, disrespectful, irresponsible 20’s something. I was far from it, but I did have my moments.

So here goes. If I could text myself back in my 20’s, here’s what I would say.

Josh, you’re a cool guy, but please…don’t be an idiot. Pay attention to what I’m about to say.

1. You don’t know half of what you think you know, so stop pretending that you do.

If you haven’t walked in their shoes, don’t pretend that you have. “Faking it” is both stupid and demeaning. People already know this. They can tell in the first 15 seconds of a conversation whether or not you’re full of it. You can show real empathy, sincere sympathy, as long as you allow the true peacemaker (Jesus, The Holy Spirit) to work through you. So dwell on that.

Also. Don’t hate on people who HAVE earned it, who HAVE worked hard, just because they don’t agree with you. Don’t dismiss them because they’re “older or out of touch.” Please. It’s exactly the opposite. They have something you NEED. Wisdom. Experience. Just because you’re the loudest voice in the room doesn’t make you right. Just shut up and listen.

Or, consider this.

How about making more of an effort to learn and ASK people who HAVE gone through it, or experienced it, to share some insight with you. And then Listen. Be respectful. Ask intelligent questions. Show honor. Don’t interrupt. Write it all down. Reflect on it. Grow from it.

2. It’s just as valuable to serve as it is to lead.

Don’t worry about position, focus on the relationships. Don’t fuss about a title, focus on the people. Don’t argue about the office, emphasize the mission. In fact, the greatest leaders are those that put the welfare of others before themselves. The greatest leader IS the greatest servant. Locate more areas to serve. They are there, you’re just not looking hard enough or you’ve turned your back to them.

3. Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Don’t be so wrapped up in what people think about you. You’re a great guy. I know you’re young and it’s not easy following the big footsteps of your dad. Or the expectations that people place on you. Just remember that he’s proud of you no matter what. God thinks you’re pretty awesome too. Develop thick skin, but keep a soft heart. Be confident in who you are. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t allow that fear to keep you from trying.

4. You don’t need that stupid shopping trip.

Seriously. Save your money! Or at least spend it on something worthwhile. Take that money and spend it on a weekend with your family making memories. This time next year…that shirt will be ugly, those jeans will be worn (and not in a cool way), your jacket will have a mustard stain, your shoes will be garbage. However, those memories…they’ll last forever.

5. Have faith that’s BIG, but be willing to start small.

Nobody is going to hand you anything, you have to work for it. You have to earn it. Don’t settle. Continue to push. Keep driving for more. Be a learner. But always stay thankful and learn to celebrate EVERYTHING that God does, no matter how great, no matter how small it is. It’s going to take time, a long time, even more time than you ever considered, but God is at work. Never forget that. Don’t burn bridges with people. We need each other more than you realize. So keep that in mind during every tough conversation, difficult decision or complicated situation. You can do this.

There’s more I would tell myself, which may or may not include previous Super Bowl winners and NBA Champs…ok, I’m kidding. What would you tell yourself? What would you say to your 20’s self if you could?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Leadership, Spiritual Growth

 

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My Quick Hitters Thankful List

Instead of posting one thankful thought a day for 30 days, I’ve decided to post them all at once. They aren’t numbered because the order doesn’t matter. There are 30(ish) reasons listed here. Some are definitely more significant than others, but they’re all a part of my life and so I’m thankful for each one.

I’m thankful for…

  • Jesus
  • My wife (Not only is she my best friend, but she has always been and always will be my dream girl)
  • My marriage
  • laughing
  • that I can grow a glorious man beard
  • that my wife was into my beard this year
  • that I just shaved that beard
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – All of them
  • My sister (who I miss)
  • My brother in law (who I consider my brother)
  • The beach (I get to see it one week a year…)
  • My church (I Love My Church)
  • True friends (People who say you can’t have friends when you’re a pastor are wrong. I do. I’m thankful for them, because they’re real friends).
  • Hilarious group texts (you know who you are)
  • Hot sunny days
  • My waffle maker (It brings a lot of joy to my family on Saturday mornings!)
  • Duke basketball games
  • A car that is paid off
  • Family movie nights and (sneaking candy into movie theaters)
  • Sleep (sleep is awesome)
  • Jaden (my son) – he makes me so proud!
  • Starbucks
  • Family summer pool days
  • that I get to pastor for a living
  • Friday day dates with my wife
  • Ava (my daughter) – she’s so much fun!
  • a trip to Florida with (just) my wife – Best. Vacation. Ever.
  • Great neighbors! (We love our neighbors!)
  • My wonderful parents!
  • Fantasy football (this item may be removed in about two weeks…)
  • My wonderful father and mother in law!
  • My life (God gave me this life, and I’m so thankful for it)

This list only took me a few minutes to put together. There’s so much more I’m thankful for and could be included on this list. God has been good to me and my family this year, and it just feels good to share it.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Family

 

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Why I Love Sports

This is a clip I just viewed by the Nebraska Football team during their spring game. It has over 8 million hits and for good reason, what a beautiful display of compassion, love and character.

Man, do I love sports. Even more, I love seeing amazing character.

Here’s a wonderful follow up story to this in the NY Daily News too!

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Random Fun

 

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Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

This is a poignant summation of the frustration of many who work in student ministry. As a former youth pastor of nearly 6 years, I can relate. Courtesy of Trevin Wax (original post here).

Dear _____________,

I need to get something off my chest.

When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry.

I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.

The desire for your teenagers to be on fire for Jesus and all about His kingdom is what wakes me up every morning. I long to see a group of passionate, unashamed Christians ready to live on mission. I thought we shared that desire, but I’m not so sure anymore.

It seems to me that you see youth ministry as a supplement to your kids’ lives – not something vital. I’m like a vitamin you hope will keep your kids out of trouble, not part of your weekly exercise routine. You’d never say it like that, I know, but based on your priorities, I can’t help but feel that way.

I got a text from your middle-schooler on Sunday, telling me how much he wanted to be at church, but how you were making him be with the team. He doesn’t know when he can come on Wednesday nights, because he always has practice. He tells me he can’t wait till he can drive, so he can come to church more often.

At the very least, I wish I had the opportunity to equip and deploy your son as a missionary to the sports fields, but there’s just no time left in his schedule. I recognize that sports can be a good character-building exercise, but sometimes I’m not sure whether all these activities are for your kids or really for you. If this pattern continues, you shouldn’t hold on to any expectations that your children will find a good church once they’re in college. When your kids have to ask what you’re doing this Sunday, it’s already game over.

What’s more, your daughter told me recently that you have a “no-toleration policy” when it comes to alcohol, but you’ve given instruction on how to avoid pregnancy in case she was going to have sex. Well, let me tell you that I have a no-toleration policy for both those activities, the first because it’s illegal, and the second because it’s immoral. I want your kids to follow Jesus, not the world. That’s why I am so surprised that it seems like you are more concerned about your children embarrassing you than disobeying God.

When we first met and you told me that you wanted me to help your kids love Jesus more, I guess you were really saying, “Help my children be moral, respectable and religious.” I should have leveled with you then. I have no interest in helping you raise nice, moral hypocrites who love ball more than God or chase pleasure more than His kingdom.

I want to work together, but that means we’ll need to be seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, not our kingdoms or self-righteousness.

Please know that I’m still committed to your kids. I just hope to see them again at some point.

Your friend,

______________

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Leadership

 

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Buried in the Grave

Easter 2013 may be over, but here’s a little secret. Jesus is still alive and the Resurrection matters! Every. Single. Day. Here is one of my favorite Easter songs by All Sons and Daughters.

Enjoy!

 

There was a day we held our breath
And felt the sting of bitter death
When all our hopes were buried in the grave
Our eyes awake our hearts were torn
Between our faith and what we knew
Before our king was buried in the grave

And grace was in the tension
Of everything we’ve lost
Standing empty handed
Shattered by the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

There was a day we looked for proof
That you had risen from the tomb
And all our doubts began to roll away
We touched the scars upon your hands
You kept your word
Oh son of man
You buried death by taking on the grave

You came here to save us
Cuz everything was lost
No longer empty handed
Clinging to the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us
Keeping us
From fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

It is is won
It is done

All we have
All we have
Is the promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we know
All we know
Is you said you’d come again
You rose up from the dead

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Random Fun

 

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Why Our Mission Matters

Huntington

I’ve never considered this region to be some sort of paradise by any means, but I’ve also never been miserable here. I’ve enjoyed raising my family in this community, surrounded by wonderful people.

I saw online today an article naming my home #2 in a list of the top 10 most miserable cities in the United States. Who is named 1st? Well, that would be our state capitol, which happens to be only 50 miles away.

If you live here and this doesn’t upset you, you need to wake up. I’m fired up about this.

This isn’t just about stress. This isn’t just about obesity. This isn’t just about jobs. This is about Jesus and the life HE called us to live. See John 10:10 and Ephesians 3:20. This is about an oppressed region that God desires to break free.

This is why OUR MISSION MATTERS! This is why our mission is dangerous! Lives are at stake. It’s time to get serious, even more serious than we’ve been. This is why we are here. We are here to ESTABLISH people in a relationship with Jesus, to BUILD their life upon the Word of God and EMPOWER them to live a life of victory. It’s apparent that this is not happening to the majority of this city/region.

This is not some simple puny little mission. God’s plan is not meager, weak, pathetic, or small. He redeemed us for a purpose and it is glorious! It’s time to love enough to speak up. To speak the truth. It’s time to settle for nothing less than a sovereign move of God, with the people of God, the church, living for Jesus and giving their lives to help everyone else do the same.

My faith says this: That none will be satisfied until everyone in Huntington surrenders to God’s LOVE and follows Jesus. That our purpose is consuming. As long as we draw breath we’ll serve God – and God is calling every man, woman and child in this region to follow Jesus.

I am not afraid nor intimidated by the enormity of the challenge. It’s just another giant God is setting up for us to take down.

Prepare yourself. Get ready. This has to change. This can change. This will change.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Leadership

 

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Video

Easter Pageant Resurrection BBQ

I can just see how this Easter Pageant brainstorming session played out.

Youth Pastor: You know what our Easter play needs? MORE PYRO!
Everyone else: Um, sure, as long as it’s safe.
Youth Pastor: Trust me, this is going to rule!

Skip to about the 1:20 mark.

Not only did Jesus beat death, hell, the grave, but he also avoided becoming a human BBQ. All in all a win I say. I can’t stop watching this. “The tomb…the tomb…the tomb-is-on-FI-ER…”

Special shout out to cool hand Luke who kept the song going through the blaze. Color me impressed.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Random Fun

 

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