What Scares You the Most?

When we’re kids, we all have irrational fears. Generally, those fears stem from a lack of understanding or knowledge—like that monsters aren’t actually in your closet. As we get older, our fears become increasingly rational. I imagine that your greatest fear right now isn’t spiders, the dark, or monsters. But maybe it’s your relationships, your job, and maybe just the future in general. 

So, I have an uncomfortable, awkward question for you: What scares you the most?

A job?
School?
Health?
Finances?
Dating? 
Marriage?
Kids?
A sin you can’t beat?
A conversation or confrontation?
That you’ll never be good enough?

In Matthew 14, Jesus sends His disciples out on a boat while He goes off by himself. A storm starts to swell around the boat, and naturally the disciples are freaking out. Just like you and I would be. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water, and says this:

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!
— Matthew 14:27 NLT

You’ve heard this verse a million times, I know. Countless sermon illustrations, worship songs, other blog posts maybe. But before you gloss over it, I want to point something out: the disciples had every reason to be afraid. Often, when we hear Bible verses that tell us “fear not,” we attempt to minimize our circumstances, and pretend they aren’t worth being afraid of. 

Notice that Jesus didn’t tell His disciples, “It’s just a silly storm! Don’t be afraid!” Instead, Jesus shifted the focus to Himself (“I am here!”) and acknowledged that the situation was, in fact, terrifying. 

A few weeks ago, I heard a message from Andy Stanley called “Fear Not.” In the message, Andy had everyone repeat a phrase that has stuck with me since: 

“I don’t have to be afraid, even when there’s
something to be afraid of. “

Right now, your situation might be scary. It might be terrifying. There might actually be something worth being afraid of. But you don’t have to be afraid. 

Fear is a heavy burden to carry. I want to ask you humbly: would you surrender that fear to Jesus today? It’s not going to make your situation less scary, but it will help you trust in a God that can walk on water, and in spite of our terrifying circumstances, can look at us with confidence and whisper, “Don’t be afraid.”

Creative Missions: Boise Recap

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Boise, Idaho and spend a week with some incredibly talented creatives during Creative Missions. Throughout the week, we partnered with churches from many different backgrounds, denominations, and styles to help with creative needs they had. This includes new websites, logos, print materials, social media strategies — you name it. 

Here’s a quick rundown of what we accomplished

  • 10 website designs or redesigns
  • 12 logos, branding packages and/or style guides
  • 3 new social accounts setup & branded
  • 6 videos
  • 27 total number of print designs (business cards, letterhead, etc.)
  • 14 signs
  • 10 coaching, strategy and/or training sessions (social, tech, general communications)
  • 5 AVL upgrades or troubleshooting
  • 3 photography/photo shoots
  • 4 email newsletter designs/redesigns
  • 1 stage design
  • 2 ProPresenter or presentation system software design/install
  • 11 Churches served
  • 22 Creative missionaries

That equals about $45,000 in free labor and services to churches in the Boise area. How crazy is that? While I know we were a huge blessing to these churches, I think they may have unknowingly blessed us more than I can even describe.

To be honest, I came to Boise excited for what God might do, but at the same time a little weary and disillusioned. I needed this trip far more than anyone there needed me. I felt uneasy about where I am, what I’m doing, and pretty much everything. I needed to believe in the local church again. I needed clarity. I can’t even begin to tell you how faithful God was. 

God showed up in so many ways for me during Creative Missions — providing clarity, spiritual rest, and many new friends all over the country. 

I am incredibly humbled to have been a small part of what God did in Boise through Creative Missions this year.

God is faithful, friends. He is so, so faithful. 

 

    On Storms

    For the past few days in Oklahoma, it’s been a bit stormy. In fact, there’s a thunderstorm moving in right as I type this. This has gotten me thinking a lot about storms, life, and when Jesus steps in and when He doesn’t. 

    As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples,
    “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”
    — Mark 4:35 NLT

    Reading in Mark 4, something became clear to me that I never noticed before: Jesus led them into the storm. He knew there was a storm coming, and yet He said to his disciples, “Hey! Let’s go to the other side of this lake!” 

    If you’re honest, have you ever feel like God actually led you into a storm? You stepped out in obedience—taking a new job, moving across the country, or making a financial sacrifice—and suddenly a storm starts brewing. 

    We know how the story in Mark 4 plays out—Jesus calms the storm, asks His disciples why they didn’t have any faith, and life went on. But that’s not how it always happens. 

    There are times where Jesus doesn’t calm the storm. Sometimes you go through the storm. And it’s hard. Things get damaged. The wind is blowing and battering up against everything, and there’s no stopping it.

    In the midst of storms, this gives me hope: God can calm the storm even if He sometimes chooses not to. 

    Your Heavenly Father, who loves you, has the ability to calm the storm you are in right now. And He might not. But, if He doesn’t, we can trust that He has a good reason for it. 

    Why isn’t God calming that storm? I don’t know, but I know that He can, sometimes He doesn’t, and I can trust Him through it.  

    He can. Sometimes He doesn’t. I can trust Him through it. 

    He can.
    Sometimes He doesn’t.

    I can trust Him through it. 

    When Jesus Isn’t Showing Up

    My favorite chapter in the entire Bible is John 11: the death and resurrection of Lazarus.

    Whenever we preach sermons or Sunday School lessons about Lazarus, we love to talk about how wonderful and amazing it was that Jesus raised him from the dead. And that certainly is amazing. But I feel that we often miss the point of the story: the part where Jesus doesn’t show up.

    While the Bible never really tells us the nature of their relationship, it’s obvious that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were closer to Jesus than most people. They were friends. They deeply cared about one another. They likely shared meals together. In fact, when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, they said that his “dear friend” was sick. If you’ve read most of the Gospels, you would expect at this point for Jesus to drop everything and go to Lazarus, or even say the word right from where He was and heal him (because he’s done that that for other people.)

    Instead, He doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t go to Lazarus. He doesn’t even heal him from afar, even though He had that power.

    Then Lazarus dies.

    Jesus beats around the bush a little with the disciples, saying that Lazarus has “fallen asleep”, and that He is going to wake him up. Naturally, the disciples protest. After all, if he’s sick, he needs to sleep, right? Then Jesus says something that is borderline insensitive:

    Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died.
    And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there.”

    — John 11:14 MSG

    I can’t imagine how the disciples felt at this point. Jesus—the miracle-worker—just let one of His best friends die, for their sake?

    Then Jesus says something that changes everything:

    “You’re about to be given new grounds for believing.”
    — John 11:15 MSG

    Jesus and His disciples then show up at Mary and Martha’s place. The text says that Martha went out to meet Jesus, but Mary stayed in the house. This is an important detail. Mary was mad. She was grieving. I imagine she was even wondering: does Jesus really even love us?

    Jesus calls for Mary, and the Bible says she “left hastily.” Then Mary says something to Jesus that I think you and I often say:

    “Lord, if only you had been here…”
    — John 11:32 NLT

    In the verses following, the Bible tells us that Jesus had a deep anger well up inside of Him. This wasn’t just any anger. This was righteous, compassionate anger. The kind of anger you feel when someone hurts your best friend or your child. The kind of anger you feel when you see hurt and despair on TV.

    Then, Jesus wept. This verse has always shocked me a bit—I mean, why was Jesus weeping? Didn’t He know that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? I think Jesus wept not for His sake, but for our sake. Jesus’ weeping was God leaning into our broken situation and whispering, “I know.”

    Then Jesus did the unthinkable. He prayed to His Father—just so everyone would know who He really was—and called for Lazarus. The dead man walked out, still in clothes they buried him in. Jesus took a situation that was beyond hope—after all, Lazarus was dead—and He breathed hope into it. Jesus certainly gave us a “new grounds for believing.”

    The reason I love this story so much is because it’s often where you and I live, isn’t it?

    God is seemingly coming through for everyone else but us. He’s healing everyone else, giving everyone else the family, friends, and jobs that we want. We feel stuck—and if we’re honest, sometimes we feel a little bit like we’re dying inside. Jesus doesn’t seem to be showing up.

    Even if your situation is dead and hopeless,
    Jesus is still able to resurrect.

    Jesus has given us a “new grounds for believing.” And that, friends, is certainly worth celebrating.

    The One Thing Great Friends Always Do

    I’ve heard it said before that you are often the average of your closest friends. That can be an exciting or terrifying thought, depending on who your friends are. 

    So how do you know if someone is a great friend? Or more importantly … how do you know if you are a great friend?

    Some people would define a great friend as someone they have a lot of fun with, or someone who makes them a better person. Others might say that a great friend knows them well, or someone they tell everything to. Here’s the common thread I’ve seen with great friendships:

    Great friends show up.

    Great friends show up when it’s difficult and when it’s easy. Great friends are present. When you need help, they don’t complain about helping you. If you need to vent, they’ll listen — and when needed, tell you that you might be wrong. A great friend is someone who picks you up at the airport at midnight, or drives a long way to help when your car breaks down. A great friend stays even when it would make sense to run away — they show up. 

    Here’s what I know you’re thinking right now: “Man, I wish I had friends like that.”

    If you’re saying that to yourself, I have to ask you a question: are you that kind of friend to anyone else? Do you show up? Often, we are our own worst enemies. The thing that could be keeping you from have fulfilling friendships is your inability to show up. 

    Do you always look for excuses when someone needs your help? Do you pretend to be “busy” when someone wants you to help them move? Nobody wants to be around someone like that all the time. 

    Great friends show up. So, start showing up. 

     

    It’s Not Going to Fix You

    “If I just ______, life would be perfect.”

    You filled in the blank, didn’t you?

    If I just made more money…
    If I just got married
    If I just got my dream job
    If I just lost weight
    If I just got rid of my bad habits
    If I just had more friends

    I’m sure some of those were things you filled in the blank. None of those are bad things. In fact, some of them are great things.

    But they’re not going to fix you. 

    Over the past year, I’ve lost almost 60lbs. Which is crazy, now that I actually type out the number. It’s been great, and I feel so much better physically and emotionally. But you know what? It didn’t fix me. I’m still broken and messed up and I have a lot more things to work on. 

    You will be frustrated with your life as long as you try to fix it or hope someone else or a new career or more money will fix it. We are not problems that need to be fixed, but people meant to be loved by a Heavenly Father.

    God formed you out of nothing but dust and love and a dream. You weren’t designed to be fixed. You were designed to be loved.

     

     

    Why I Ditched My Life Plan

    I used to have a life plan.

    Not necessarily a written down, detailed plan—but a plan nonetheless. It was the same plan most people have in America: I would go to college, get a great job, marry this girl, have 2.3 kids, drive a certain car, and live in the best neighborhood with an awesome house. And if I followed the imaginary plan, life would be perfect—right

    I don’t have a plan like that anymore. Sure, none of those are bad things—in fact, some of them have happened and some likely will happen—but the problem with following these types of plans precisely is that I rarely find God working in those details. 

    Instead, I find Him working in the places I didn’t plan on going. I find Him working in the waiting. I find Him working when I stop trying to work so much for Him. 

    At some point, I realized life was much more rewarding when
    Jesus was in charge of planning it, and not me. 

    I’m afraid that in our pursuit of the American Dream, we often miss out on seeing how incredible God’s work in our lives and in the world can be. When you choose to obey God above all else—including your pre-designed life plan—you’ll find that He’ll have you do things that are a little weird and a little scary. But when you put your entire life on the line trusting in His promises, He will always, always be faithful. 

    Old Houses

    Since I was a kid, I’ve lived in many different houses and an apartment. I never thought anything special of those houses when I lived there—but now, I always think it would be great to go back and visit—to see how it’s changed, to remember the places where memories were made, and to see how other people are making their own memories there.

    It occurred to me today that my current residence will likely be the same way. I don’t think much of it now, and some days I just really want to move—into a better apartment, house, or whatever—forgetting the fact that one day I’ll look back here and remind myself of the memories and time spent here. The stressful move in, the excitement of a new adventure, the monotonous reality of everyday life—the times here when God came through even when it seemed like He wasn’t going to do anything at all. Those memories. 

    I don’t want to miss those memories anymore. I want to live them, every single day. I want to squeeze every drop out of life, like a kid licking an ice cream cone until every bit is gone. 

    We’re all on a journey somewhere—and often, the temptation is to not bring anyone else along until we get there. Life is happening every second, and if we’re too caught up in what we don’t have or where we need to go, we’ve entirely missed the point. It’s not about where we end up that really matters, but who we became along the way, and who we brought with us. 

    And I think one day we’ll look back and smile, and I bet God will too, grateful He gave life to His kids who enjoyed the gift so well. 

    Your Dreams Are Impossible, and Why That’s Okay

    Recently, a friend of mine was talking about his future hopes and dreams. I knew that what he was saying was something he was passionate about, so I encouraged him to pursue it more.

    “It’s not possible for me to do,” he sighed. 

    That was one of the saddest conversations I’ve had, because my friend failed to realize that the fact that he wasn’t able to accomplish his dream on his own was not a bad thing. 

    I believe that everyone single person has a dream. Big dreams. Impossible dreams. We-could-go-broke-and-lose-everything kind of dreams. These dreams, I’m convinced, are often God-whispered. God often will give us big, impossible dreams—because we can’t accomplish big, impossible dreams without Him. 

    God loves to give us dreams that are
    impossible to fulfill without Him.

    If you are actually able to accomplish every hope and dream you have with your own effort and hard work, it’s not big enough. Don’t insult God by dreaming too small. 

    There is a God who loves you, is for you, and delights in fulfilling His dreams through you. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, of course—but it’ll be worth it. 

    “When you go through deep waters,  I will be with you.
    When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”
    — Isaiah 43:2 NLT

    The Intention Gap

    “I’ve been meaning to talk about that issue on our team.” “I was intending to talk to you about that idea.”

    Have you noticed that there’s a gap between our intentions and our reality?

    Here’s the thing: there’s not a single top-notch, high-performance organization that was built with people who had good intentions.

    Any great organization that you know of became a great organization because their people propelled the vision and mission forward by action and not by intention.

    So what’s at stake?

    If you continue in the path of having good intentions and not sparking action, someone else on your team will begin to take things into their own hands. And that person will begin to become the de facto leader, no matter their title or place in the org chart. And if you’re a bad leader, you’ll end up firing them. But if you’re a great leader, you’ll join them and do whatever you can to help them.