Thursday, August 30, 2012

If I Could Be Like That...

Well it has been a busy summer, but it was good - spending time doing the things I love with family and friends! And while I am sad to see the end of summer, there is good news, football season is coming!!
Ever since I was old enough to understand football, the Oklahoma Sooners have been my team, which being from Oklahoma aint hard! It was the mid 70s and the phenomenal Billy Sims was running the football; man was he great! No one could catch him, he was like lightning on the field with the moves of a cheetah and I was in awe. In my mind there is only one other RB that comes close to his caliber, the great Barry Sanders.
My friends and I would play football out in the courtyard of the apartment complex we all lived in, and every time I had the ball, this fat kid imagined being Billy Sims. Every time I made a move or made it past a tackler (no touch for us, because touch is for sissies, and everyone cheated anyway!) I would yell, “JUST LIKE BILLY! Did you see that? That was just like Billy Sims!” And then later on, as I lay in bed, I would visualize the moves I made and think, I was just like Billy.
As I grew up, I knew I would never be like Billy, I was too slow (in a sad bit of irony, I ended up being the slowest kid on our high school football team) and too, well... round. But I wanted to be like that. I would give anything…
Have you ever said that, “I would give anything, just to live one day in those shoes…”? Have you ever found yourself day dreaming of being someone else? Wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else, in someone else’s shoes? I think that most of us have. We wanted to be ball players, rock stars, super heroes, movie stars, etc, etc. We wanted to be like that, and we would give anything. Now we wish we were that guy at work that everybody envies, that family down the block that has it all, or those people you went to high school with who are out there living "the dream". And what would you give to live one day in those shoes?
Over the last couple of weeks I have been asked by a few people the question why did God create us. And while there are many reasons, I think the simplest is, because it is what God does. He creates. And after he made all the universe, earth, and all its various creatures, he made us.
But the part that blows me away every time is this:
        Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
        So God created man in his own image,
                in the image of God he created him;
                male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)
My purpose in this writing is not to answer why we were created, but to point out how: in his image.
Believe it or not, God fashioned you into his image! In the ancient world, men would fashion their gods into their likeness (or whatever they saw around them, or felt was important, ie. rain, cows, etc.), but the reality is, we were fashioned into God’s likeness.
You know, we worry and whine that we are not like someone else, or we are not as lucky, gifted, talented, good looking, cool or rich like someone else, however we were created like someone else. We were made into an image of someone else. And it is this someone else that we need to be more like.
That is one of the purposes of why Jesus came, to teach us what it means to be more like God, only now we call it Christ-like, because he is our example. So instead of wishing we could be like Billy, or "like Mike" (Jordan), or the guy down the street, let us strive for Christ-likeness! If we could be like that, man what would you give?
Here is the truth, I will never be Billy Sims, ever. I will never be like him. I think he was great for his time, and I even got to meet him once, which was cool. But I am not him, I am just Steve. However, I was made in the image of God, the creator of everything, The Almighty, savior of all humanity. The author and perfecter of love, the prince of peace, and king of kings. And so were you. You may never be the next big thing, or a super star, or the guy that everyone wishes they were, but you are an image-bearer of God. If you are going to be like anyone, why not be like the one whose likeness you were made in?
Jesus came to show us how to do that. And he gave up his life so that you could have a new life, so that you could be like that. It is time to stop wishing we were like other people, and begin acting like we are made in the likeness of the creator of everything! It is time to put aside the silly dreams of unreality, and pick up the truth, that you are made in the image of God.
So, may you realize that you were made into God’s likeness. And may you realize that he is the only person we need to be like. Because the truth is you can be like that, it is not easy, and we are never perfect, but Jesus has made it possible for you to become the person God intended you to be!
                                                                                                                     Peace and love,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Someone else?

I found out today that an old friend had died. He was more than a friend, he was a mentor, and he was my old boss. His name was Bill, and he changed my life.

There was a period in my life that I was going nowhere, no one thought that I would amount to much, heading down was my destiny. In short I was a what the french call, a loser. I moved from job to job listless and bored. I lost some jobs because I didn't like them, or, more likely, they didn't like me. No one would give me a chance or believe in me, and in turn I didn't believe in myself. I needed "someone else", then there was Bill. He owned a tire store in Muskegon Mi. and he gave me a chance. He saw something in me that others did not, and more importantly he saw something in me that I did not. He gave me responsibilities that no one else would; he gave me direction that no one else could; he gave me a sense of trust and a sense of confidence. If not for Bill, I am unsure of where I would be today.

 He was part absent minded professor, part philosopher, and part genius. He was probably the smartest man I have ever known, but was not the kind that would rub it in your face, or make you feel inferior to him. He was also the nicest man I have ever known, sometimes to a fault, but that was Bill. And I am glad to have known him, and even more glad that he had an integral part in my life! He taught me about the value of loyalty, the value of kindness, and the value of listening. He taught me to expect the best of people, and though you will be disappointed from time to time, always be willing to forgive and always do what you can to help a fellow human being. And most importantly, he taught me the meaning of being a man, and that part of being a man was taking care of your family. 

He was there for me when I told him I was marrying my love Amy; he was there for me when we had our first child; he was the one who gave me the confidence to go to college and pursue my calling of ministry; he was there when I needed a job after college while I waited for my first ministry; and he was there when I left for that ministry. He was always there when I was in need. As I said, if not for Bill, I am unsure where I would be. Bill changed my life.

Bill was not what the world would describe as successful. His business always seemed to hang by a thread. And he never cared if his was the biggest tire store on the block. He never let the idea of competition be the driving force of his life, simplicity was the key. All he ever wanted was to be able to supply quality service to his customers, ensure that his employees were treated very well, and that his family was taken care of. However, sometimes success doesn't come from being the biggest, or the most well known, but from helping out people who need it. Even when it is a dumb kid who doesn't know which way to hold a hammer or what he is even doing with his life. 

Sometimes success doesn't come to us the way we dream it. Sometimes success isn't what you accomplish, it is what you do to help others accomplish their dreams. One of the things I see Jesus do is help those who are in need, he showed compassion to those that that were considered untouchable, he showed mercy to the weak, and above all he showed love to the loveless: When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-3 ESV)

Bill showed me the greatest thing that one person can show to another: love. Let me ask, who are you showing love to? Who are you being an encouragement to? Who are you showing compassion to? Sometimes our greatest success doesn't come to us, but to another who we show love to.

So, may you show love to another person who is need of your help. May you be an encouragement to a struggling kid whose life is heading down, so that when they look back they will see "someone else". May you be that "someone else"  and help change a life. May you be like Bill.

                                                                                                        Peace and Love,


Friday, June 22, 2012


It is summer time, and for me that means, camp season! One of my favorite aspects of camp is called team building, where we place an obstacle or challenge in front of a group of students and they must overcome it together as a team. For several years I have worked a station called "The Wall". It is exactly what it sounds like, a giant wall that they must get their entire team over. It stands just under 10' and it is formidable. So far, I have had only one team fail. The reason they failed was because of the one problem that we all have, pride.

C.S. Lewis says this about pride: There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. 

I have been talking about pride for several weeks. However, I believe that the greatest problem that we all have is pride. It is the reason we so desperately want to be successful, so that we can stand up tall, and say, "Behold my greatness! All tremble and despair, because you will never be as awesome as me!" It taints everything we do, our lives, our relationships, and our worship. We so bad want to be something, but in the end, we become nothing. 

Pride is the reason that relationships are torn apart. We rip and tear at each other as we claw our way to our own greatness. We use each other to get what we want, we trample on each other to get what we want, and we think only of ourselves. We want to be something, but in the end we are really nothing. The question is, how can we, as Christians, say that we follow Christ, and yet allow pride to run our lives? 

Lewis continues: How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good - above all, that we are better than someone else - I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.

The reality is, only God is great. He will have none before him. Proverbs 16: 18 -19 says,
 18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall. 
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud. 

In our vain efforts to become great, we will always fail, because God will always bring low the proud. In the end you will become nothing. But Jesus says, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

Again, I know that this seems opposite to the rest of the world, But if we try to make ourselves into something, we become nothing, yet if we make ourselves nothing, God will make us into something!

Pride is the greatest sin according to Lewis, and I tend to agree with him. Pride corrupts and spoils all aspects of life, and in the end it leads you to nothing but destruction.

May you realize that only God is great. And may you realize that in order for you to be great, you must first become nothing.
                                                                                                  Peace and Love,
If you want to read the entire article by Lewis, follow this link:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Don't take your guns to town.

I don't know about you, but when I play a game, I play to win! I put my guns on and turn into a killer. When I play Monopoly, I become some sort of Mafioso who snuffs out the competition (I usually have a glass of water next to me that I drop other players' tokens into; and when I have taken everything from them I say, "You're sleepin' with the fishes!" in my best New Jersey voice.); when I play Risk, I am the Mongol hordes wreaking havoc and destruction; and when I play Mario Kart, I am "The Intimidator", running everyone off the track! In short, I can be a real jerk, because all I can think about is winning. I want to win at all costs, even at the cost of my family and their feelings. I always bring my guns to any competition, because I want to be the winner.

I do this with everything. When my kids played soccer, I was the parent running up and down the field yelling "sweep his leg!" When I watch sports I get so angry that I will throw things at the TV, and then proceed to yell at the top of my lungs. My competitive nature becomes so overwhelming that I begin to hate and despise those who are my opponents and I wish ill upon them. My competitive nature threatens all areas of my life - personal, professional, and even spiritual. No matter what, I put my guns on, and head to town.

It is sad when I sit back and compare other families to mine. What do they have that mine does not? Or what does mine have that they do not? Why is mine better? etc.etc. I take my guns, and head to town on someone's family! I do the same professionally, I compare their success with my success and determine who the loser is. I can also be spiritually competitive, with who knows their Bible better, spends more time in prayer, blah, blah, blah! It is a sickness, and it can consume me. I know I need to leave my guns at home, but just like Bill, I never listen.

The problem is arrogance and, once again, pride. The world is filled with the arrogant and the prideful. They compare themselves to others, and they judge others, all in an effort to prove that they are winners. That they are the best, so they take out their guns and mow down the competition. And as followers of Jesus, is this how we want to live? Is this an attitude we should have? Listen to what Jesus says,

  And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:2-12 ESV)

The world says in order to win, you have to be first! "If you aint first yer last!" But Jesus says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." The world says, "Mercy is for the weak!" But Jesus says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." The world says, "Win! At all cost!" But Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Like anyone else, I want to win because I hate losing at anything. But when I let my competitive nature drive me, then I become like everyone else in this world. As a follower of Jesus, I want to do things His way, therefore I need to practice the lost art of being meek, of showing mercy, and being peaceable. I have to learn to leave my guns at home, and follow Him. It is a daily struggle, yet this is the cross that we were all called to carry. This is what it means to die to yourself. It isn't the fun way, or the easy way, but it is Jesus' way. Jesus says in order to be a winner, you must first lose. The meek shall inherit the earth.

May you learn to leave your guns at home. May you learn that life is not about winning, but learning to be more like Jesus as we follow Him. May you carry your cross daily.
                                                                                                    Peace and love,

Thursday, May 31, 2012


  Growing up I had a little brother. He was always smaller than me, and I could beat him up. He looked up to me and feared me all at the same time, it was awesome!

Being his big brother, I always thought that I would naturally be better than him at everything, nevertheless, that was not the case! As it turned out, he was better than me at everything! I struggled in school, everything was difficult for me, but for Gary, school was easy, and he excelled. I wanted so bad to be an athlete, but I was slow, uncoordinated and lacked talent. Gary was a gifted athlete, he could run, hit, catch, shoot, everything! All this I took in stride until high school.

My mom, after much pestering, finally enrolled us both in karate. I thought I found my calling! My life purpose! However, as things typically went, Gary was just naturally better, and it made me mad. I became jealous of my brother and I began to resent him. It was bad. He was my little brother and I was envious of him. 

Often times I live with this monster inside of me. Its name is Pride. I look around at my peers and I see what they are doing and what I am not doing, and I become envious.  I will say things to myself like, “Really? Him? I remember him, he wasn’t that great! Why him? I am way better than that guy!” and before you know it, I am obsessing over my brother, resenting him, and wondering why I am not in his position. Sadly, these are the things that will keep me up at night. 

Last week I talked about our "real life." We have this ideal of what success is, sold to us by our culture, and when we have not achieved it, we feel like failures. However my point was that we need to begin looking around us and redefining what success is. And in order to do that, the first step we must take is to let it go. "Let it go, and so, to find way to let it go."  

We allow jealousy, envy, and covetousness, lust, rivalry, anger, and divisions to come into our lives, and they dominate our thoughts, our actions, and our feelings. They disrupt relationships, cause strife, and lead to hatred. This is the path to destruction, and can lead to ruin. The bible has much to say on this:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5:19-26 ESV)

A long time ago I had to make a choice. I could choose to resent my brother and his success, thus killing our relationship (much as Cain did!), or I could let it go and become my brother's biggest fan. Support him, help him to achieve what he was so good at. In short, I could hate him or love him. In the end, I chose to love him. 

Perhaps there is someone in your life, a brother, sister,  spouse,  friend,  co-worker,  peer, someone who seems to get all the breaks, and meanwhile you sit on the sidelines. They get the glory, you go unnoticed. You have two choices, you can continue the path of envy and hatred, and thus fall into ruin. Or you could let it go and choose to love them. 

Here is the deal, success isn't about how well you are known, or how much money you make, or about how the world sees you. Success is you daily dying to yourself, overcoming the flesh and living in the Spirit. We do this by letting go of the bad, and embracing the good! As Bono says, we need to find away, and wake up to our "real life!"
                                                                                                            Peace and love,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My real life.

When we were kids we would dream. We would dream of being something and someone, one day. We dreamt of being soldiers, firemen, astronauts, and maybe rogue smugglers who drove a fast ship and had a wookie for a best friend!
As we grew our dreams may have changed to movie stars, pro athletes, and rock stars, what ever the case, we kept on dreaming that one day we would be a success! It had to happen. If Hollywood taught us anything it's that one day our ship would come in!

All my life I felt that I was destined for greatness! Man I had to because I was me! Perhaps it was a mild case of narcissism, or just hubris, but I really felt this. I would lay awake and dream for hours about how awesome I would be. When I was a kid I wanted to be a super hero like Batman, or something daring like a firemen. When I was a teenager it was a rock star like Vince Neil or Prince. But somewhere in there I had the great idea of being a comic book artist! I carried this dream for a long time. I developed my love for comic art during my time in the Navy. After the Navy I met a girl and we got married. She encouraged my drawing, she even bought me a drawing table and other art supplies that I needed. I created, and I drew. But it was not paying the bills. In fact it paid nothing, so I had to get a real job. And life took over and my dream slowly drifted out to sea.

I was raised in the church. Grandson of a preacher. However I was never truly committed to Christ until after I was married. It was during this time that I answered the call to ministry. And my dreams changed. I went to college with high hopes and big dreams. I learned that there were churches of hundreds and thousands; that preachers were famous and wrote books; and I wanted it all. My dream was to be part of a huge church and be a sought after speaker (and serve God too, of course!). My dream after graduation was to begin preaching in a mid sized city church and go up from there! It wouldn't be long and I would be on my way... but that didn't happen. Instead I took a ministry in a small church, in the middle of farm country. And God has used this place to humble me. I kicked against it for the first few years, I kept waiting for "my real life to begin". I tried to quit (within the first year I turned in my resignation), thankfully God was merciful, and the Church kept me on. It would take another 4 years before I would wake up and stop feeling sorry for myself. I needed to stop waiting for that call that was surely coming, to stop checking the horizon for my ship that was definitely coming in. I had to grow up and realize that my idea of success needed to change. (If you haven't listened to Colin Hays song, "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin" you need to!)

We are all taught what success is. In school they would bring in successful people who would tell us that we too could be successful. We see them on TV on magazines and on billboards. There are books and books and books about how you can be successful if you follow these steps... yet the problem is we are never the guy on the book, we are never the guy on the stage, we are never the guy who gets invited to speak, we are just us. We are not famous, and we probably never will be. We are not the top dog we are just us. I know so many guys who want to be the top dog, and they are killing themselves to get there, they are killing their families to get there, and the sad thing is that they are not there. They just spin their wheels waiting for that moment, when their "real life" will begin. As Colin Hay said, "It's gonna happen soon." But it never does.

My purpose in starting this blog is to explore the idea that success can be defined in a new way, and to break the paradigms of success that the world has sold us. That my "real life" is what is happening right now with my family, my ministry, my job, and my own walk with God. Success is not being the guy who gets "the life", but the guy who receives life from the giver of life. In John 10:10 Jesus says,"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." The question is, can I be satisfied with a life that is not on top of the world? Can I be satisfied with a life that is simple and trusts in Jesus?

So what are you waiting for? Are you still waiting for that call, as Colin Hay sang in his song? Jesus offers you life, a real life. Pray that God opens your eyes to the truth and that you would see that life is happening all around you.
                                                                                                                   Peace and Love,