Saturday, November 28, 2015

When Does it End?

My heart breaks for all the shooting and unrest that is happening within our country and around the world. The complete lack of regard for human life is not only sickening but deplorable as well. When did human life become something that persons thought they had the power to take. I have grown weary of the violence and bloodshed.

Recently I was battling against this feeling of acceptance to violence. Many of you, if you were honest, would agree. We have become complacent with what is happening. We have grown to accept it as another facet of life. We have come to recognize it as the norm! Let me be honest and offer a little insight. Media had steeled my heart and soul to the violence. I could watch another story on a shooting, stabbing, bombing of a hospital, bodies in the street. Where before I used to turn away in remorse, pain, and empathy it has now become just another news story that I watch without batting an eye. When does it end?

We have become so complacent and accepting of what we see and hear and this has became all too clear at a recent shooting at our mall. Many of you know the story, but a young man shot a woman three times because she had ended a relationship with him, and this all unfolded while Elise and I were within site of the act. A young lady lost her life that evening, and it pains me to say that for a few days it never really set in. I was interviewed for local news agencies. I watched countless reports on the shooting. Read every document I could. But the reality that a child of God was brutally taken from this world did not set in for quite a while.

When it did, I mourned deeply. I began to cry over the violent way a life was ended. All this happened while I was watching a news story on the shooting, and I noticed immediately after that story more stories of violence, pain, and bloodshed filled the newscast. Truly violence sells. Truly violence has so impacted our lives it draws us in. Truly violence has become a way of life for us. Whether we commit it or choose to ignore it we are allowing violence to continue.

We must do something about this! We must change this! We must bring the love of Christ to the forefront of these issues! No more sitting by. No more pretending it doesn't happen. No more making excuses. No more ignorance. No more!!!

Let me make this clear: This is neither a political rant nor a religious stance (although I hope all I do and say is rooted in Christ and His calling on us to be His disciples) although those must be addressed. First for all of us who use these acts of violence as a pedestal for our political views and candidates...STOP! Stop using it as a crutch to fuel your political party, and simply help us stop it. Do not post your hashtags claiming you want to end violence, but do something about it. Hashtags mean nothing without helping the problem. Do not scream on street corners at those you do not agree with. When has yelling ever solved anything? Maybe engage the person and have a vested interest in them and perhaps change can take place. Attempting to block traffic and disrupt public servants turns them against your cause because you have become part them problem in their eyes. Maybe bring them coffee and ask to talk over your views. When was the last time you took your mayor, congressman, police chief lunch and asked to talk over the issues facing your town, county, state, country, or world? Instead of criticizing how a shooter or child molester "fits the profile" or "looks like someone who would do that" maybe we should focus on reaching out to those people before these acts occur. So many of these individuals have faced trauma and hurt that have now become a catalyst for what they did, but in the same breath so many of them never received help, love, or support. Instead of casting blame and presupposed views maybe instead we should be working to reach those on the fringe, the ones society forgets or willfully walks away from, those students who are tormented, those children who are abandoned, those people forgotten. Maybe instead of casting judgement we should cast concern, care, and love to others and seek to fix the problem at the root before it starts.

As for those who use violence as a resource for your so called "faith"...Shut it! Those who believe that you can proclaim that the shooting at Planned Parent Hood was an act of God's judgement or that this vile act saved lives, you are foolish and profane the very God you are claiming to serve. That is not love in the least bit. A true Christ follower would have gone down and helped those in need and served the widows and orphans. A true Christ follower would not belittle a woman seeking out an abortion but would ask her her name, to offer another option, and if she says no would not belittle her or cast slurs or Bible verses of condemnation upon her, but would instead call her their sister and let her know how much they love her and the life she carries.

All this to say: we have an obligation. An obligation to change our world. An obligation to turn from our violent ways. An obligation to protect life, not take it. An obligation to stand for truth, freedom, mercy, and grace. Imagine a world that our news stories glorified these aspects of society and humanity and not the killing and hurting of other people. What then? As a Christian, I have spiritual and moral obligation to do all I can to help end the hurt, pain, and violence that plagues this world. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we cannot do that by pretending the problem doesn't exist, we cannot do that by becoming desensitized to the issues, we cannot do that by simply praying for the problem to end. We must change how we react, must change our interactions, simply put we must act. We must engage. We must show this world who Jesus is, how He values life, how He alone can bring healing, and how our world will only truly be healed once everyone has heard the name of Jesus and He returns to take us home.

Will you help change the world? Change isn't something I can make happen. But I can lead by example...the example Christ Himself set forth. I will love others regardless of race,gender, ethnicity, economic stance, sexual orientation, or religious views. I will seek to clothe and feed those who are orphaned, alone, and hungry. I will serve our public servants and politicians out of respect and a realization that their jobs are hard and thankless. I will not cave to the violence that we see but instead pray daily that God allows me to be a light in a dark place, a beacon on a hill, that proclaims love, grace, mercy, redemption, and transformation.

Will you help change the world?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A belated anniversary post

Wow, so Elise and I have just celebrated two years of marriage! I cannot believe that two years have flown by so quickly. It seems like just a short time ago when I asked her to marry me at Wrigley Field (video here), and only yesterday when we said "I do" with so many of you there to witness that moment.

But to be honest I wouldn't change any of it! These two years have been two of the best years of my life.

Now that doesn't mean it has been easy. Elise and I have faced many hard circumstances in the past two years. We have both lost jobs, we have moved multiple times, we have both started serving in ministry positions, we have lost loved ones, and so much more. We accomplished the big three in our first month of marriage: we moved (twice), we switched jobs, and we were trying to figure out how to be newlyweds.

FYI for all of you people who just got married or will be...don't do this! Haha. It was a very crazy time in our life but God was good through it all.

But through all of the craziness, the hurt, and stress I see why God has brought us together. God couldn't have crafted someone better for me. He purposely shaped Elise and I for one another and put us together for a purpose. He allowed for me to marry my very best friend and to live an amazing life with her by my side. Through all of our hard times with everything happening I can clearly see how we compliment, support, encourage, and love each other. God put someone amazing in my life who without her these past few years would have been completely different and I wouldn't be the man I am today.

All those years of wondering will I ever get married, will anyone ever love me, is there someone for me, does God really care about my relationships, I see now that God has a plan for all of us when it comes to marriage and that we need to patiently wait for His timing. I'll be honest, it sucked at some points, I am not a good waiter. Patience isn't my strong point. But when I finally had enough of trying to figure everything out, God stepped in and brought the very best person for me into my life. Marriage has been everything I thought it would be and so much more, and while waiting wasn't the easiest or the happiest for me, I see why God had me wait. He had me wait to mature myself, to grow me into a better man of God, to allow for me to love others better, to show me He was in control, and to allow for me to enter ministry with the best person in the world. God works in His own timing. Sometimes we don't know why, we don't want to know why, we want to figure it out on our own and do it our way, but after so many years of trying to do it my way and questioning God's plan, I now see how wonderfully crafted His plan was to bring Elise and I together.

So if you are waiting for God to bring that someone into your life know it isn't in vain, He hasn't forgotten about you, you are not unlovable or unworthy of marriage, there isn't something wrong with you, and you are not alone. God is preparing you for something unimaginable. He is crafting someone just for you, and you for them. He is shaping you to be ready to tackle what life will have for you in the future. Trust in God's plan and be honest with Him. Share your heart, share your pains, your insecurities, but know that He is in control and His plan for your life is being worked out each and every day, even when you don't see it. Rest in the peace that He is shaping you into a wonderful match for someone He created just for you, and in His time that person will step into your life and rock your world.

So all that to say, Elise, I am so thankful that we get to share life together. You're my very best friend! Knowing that I get to spend each day of the rest of my life with you is a blessing, I thank God for you each and every day. The love and support you have shown, and continue to show me, blows me away. The way you always smile and hug me when I get home is one of the best feelings in the world. I am blessed to call you my wife, my closest friend, my co-explorer, my travel buddy, my ministry partner, and my favorite person in the world. God created a beautifully sculpted woman when He made you, and He perfectly matched your outward beauty with the inward beauty. You're kind, loving, supportive, honest, godly, and someone I look up to and respect. I love you more than I could ever express and I am so excited for what God has in store for us in the next years!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Everyday students from my youth group would walk into their schools and drop to their knees and pray out loud for their school, their teachers, their friends and their enemies. Have you dropped to your knees lately? - Sam Bhatt

That question has been plaguing my mind often these past few months, and it feels like even more so these last couple of weeks. This notion of prayer, daily, constant prayer, that can radically change your life and bring about results you never dreamed of. This has been something that has been causing some inner struggle for me. 

I am a control freak and a fixer. Any guy who reads this will probably be able to relate to that statement in some way. It isn't that I have to micromanage my life or the lives of those around me, but I don't like to feel, well, out of control. I like to keep myself, my life, my family safe and secure. I like security (I was in that business for years after all) and comfort and consistency. Change is hard. Trust is hard. If there is a problem I like to fix it. I don't like leaving projects incomplete, conversations unfinished, problems unsolved, or wrongs not righted. It is who I am as a guy. I like to have my life just so, I like to protect those I love, heal their hurts, provide for them, and give them what they need.

But recently I have been confronted with just how out of control I am. I have no power, no control, no authority. I have been wrestling long and hard with failures I have committed, wrongs I have done, not having enough financial stability to offer peace, fear of the future and the unknown, questioning different medical issues (no I am not dying). I have been clutching onto my own power, my own will, my own safety, my own comfort. I have been refusing to trust God. And I know I have written about faith and trust before but I am finding now just how much my heart is grieved by the fact I don't go to God with my troubles and pains. Instead I convince myself that I, a sinful and fallen human being, can radically alter my own life and remove the pain, hurt, doubt, and fear all on my own.

I have been attempting to do this for years and to be quite honest with sucks! I can't put it any other way. Trying again and again and again to maintain a life of comfort, to meet everyone's needs, to provide beyond my means, to go at it alone, to fix everyone's problems, to do it my way. I have and continue to be that guy. That guy who follows Jesus but is scared to death of what giving everything to Him looks like.  I am terrified of saying, "God here is my family, God here are my finances, God here are my medical bills, God here are my fears, God here is the control. God here is my life."

Because what if He doesn't answer how I want? What if His fixing of the problem isn't the same as mine? What if God says no? This terrifies me so much. It scares me to the point I wake up at night. I wonder and worry about circumstances I cannot control because of just that. I have no control and that scares me.

But I believe God is working on my heart and saying "my child don't you know I only want the best for you?" God's Word says that He knows me. He knew me in my mother's womb. He knows the exact number of hairs on my head. God knows my prayers even when I don't. He knows me better than I know myself. He leads me beside still waters, He comforts me, He protects me, He is always anointing me with His goodness and love. See Scripture makes it clear that God is the God of all comfort, goodness, hope, and peace, and that He can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. God isn't a God who stands in the shadows hoping to act when we refuse to give up control, our God is one who is constantly acting and orchestrating our lives even when we don't see it. But when we give up control, when we let fear go, when we take a step of faith, God is there to say "my child come to me, my burden is light and I have this. I will and always have taken care of you. Put all your worries and doubts on me. I love you my child and I will always be your loving, caring, and sustaining Father."

So yes, while doubt, fear, worry, and control plague my life on a daily basis, even louder rings this truth: My God, my Dad, is in control. I don't need to worry or fear, God will handle it. When I am overwhelmed by a cloud of doubt or anxiety, when I cannot see the light at the end of this dark valley, when I fear the unknown, when life becomes too much to bear, God, my God, is in complete control.

I can't say this is easy. I can't say that I like this feeling but it is something I am learning to embrace. And each day I am making it a habit to hit my knees on the floor as I cry out to God. I cry out and declare my lack of control, I lay out my fears and insecurities, I beg for guidance, and I ask for strength to rely upon His sovereignty and all-encompassing love. I truly believe many of us struggle with this, and I would plead with you to hit your knees as well. Go before your Father each day and ask for the strength we don't have, the guidance we need, the faith we should have, and a desire to cede control each and every day. It is truly in the lack of control that we can rest easy and know that control isn't ours but instead the Creator of the universe is in control of everything. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

A life worth living: A look at how Christians do and should respond to others

Well it has been a while since I have last written, and for those of you who actually read this please accept my apologies. Life has been increasingly busy and hasn't allotted much time for me to actually sit down and write. With that being said, it doesn't mean I haven't had thoughts and topics come to mind that I want to write about, in fact it is the contrary that is true. I have been overwhelmed with topics and ideas, and if you were to look at my phone you would find multiple notes that are the beginnings of many posts that have not come to fruition. So I have decided to tackle a topic that may be off-putting to some but please read through the entire post and then respond to it. I mean why wouldn't I tackle a controversial topic after not having written in months?

Over the past few months, I have been really convicted about how we (yes I am including myself here) as Christians respond to and with contemporary culture. I have been blown away by some of the recent articles put out by "Christians" lambasting Kylie Jenner and claiming she is a dismal excuse for young ladies to follow while the same article glories Sadie Robertson for her lofty moralism and beautiful standards on being a perfectly modest Christian woman. Or what about how Christians have taken to mocking Bruce Jenner over his transitioning from a man to a woman? How about how Christians have become so opposed to homosexual marriage (read some of the comments)? How about how Christians openly attack other Christians like Josh Duggar when a sin has been committed (and no I am not excusing what he did, but calling us to look at our responses)? Oh and take a look at what people are saying on his siblings social feeds and how they have attacked them for his actions. Or better yet how about how Christians openly decry anything they feel harms their integrity and beliefs? Did Paul not tell us to prepare for persecution? Didn't Jesus say it will come? But his response was never to vilify those who do the persecuting but rather the pray for them and bless them! How have we come to this? Why has this mentality taken hold of us?

What this comes down to is that we as Christians are so judgmental that we have now become idolaters of those we hold to be "holier than thou". Where did we go wrong? Is it only a few bloggers who write viral sensations that become instant hits and a rallying cry for Christians? Is it only the few Christians that have become the vocal voice for our faith? And the answer is a resounding no! We are all guilty of this. We as Christians who decry the holier than thou mentality, the Christians who praise a God of grace and forgiveness, we as Christians who believe no sin to be too great for the love of God, we as Christians who stand condemned just as everyone else in this world but are justified by grace alone, we are the ones who have taken a moralistic stance that idolizes"great" people and bestows on them some sort of odd hero worship, but in the same breath demonize those who stand contrary to them.

Please understand that I use the pluralistic form here because I myself am just as guilty if not the greatest idolater among us. I have openly mocked different celebrities, I have placed great men of God on pedestals and revered their teachings but not God's Word, I have judged others before they could even utter a word, I have placed myself in a better light than I deserve, all because I believe I know better. All because I am a Christian. I use my salvation as a crutch, instead of living out the lifestyle Christ has called me to! I have laid down my cross and instead picked up an effigy of judgmental and critical theology because I have become just like the Pharisees of the Old and New Testaments.

How dare we do that? How dare we hold the world to the standards we hold ourselves to? How dare we judge when we are deserving of the same judgment the world itself is? Have we forgotten the wretches that we are? Have we forgotten how far God has brought us? Have we become blinded to the fact that without the shed blood of Jesus Christ we would be hell-bound ourselves and deserving of the same death that Adam bestowed upon us?

We as Christians have done our faith, our God, a disservice. Please hear me out: I am not lambasting Sadie, I am not saying don't be modest, and I am not saying to be of the world. I am saying we as Christians should be worshiping the Creator not the created. We shouldn't idolize a young woman because she is following Jesus. Rather we should also be following Jesus in a similar manner and giving Him the praise, the glory, the honor, the worship, and the respect He and He alone is due.

I know this is a harsh critique and many would run and say "we are not worshiping Sadie nor are we hurtful in how we critique" but the truth is we are! Every time we decide to take up a "cross" to preserve our religion we end up hurting others, ostracizing the world, and turning people off to the bride of Christ. I am not saying that we should let go of our theology, our doctrine, our beliefs, because what would we be then? I am saying that we as Christians need to do a better job at loving others. We need to do a better job at encouraging and uplifting people. Imagine if instead of throwing hurtful critiques around about celebrities we instead prayed for them and sent them letters expressing how beautiful they are, and how God loves them? Imagine for a moment that instead of saying, "I won't bake you a cake because I don't support gay marriage," we instead said, "I am going to bake this cake for you and pray that you come to know who Jesus is and that you experience His radical love for you." Imagine if you would a world where Christians didn't judge others based on their political parties, their lifestyles, their manner of dress, or their sins, but instead loved and served the world just a Jesus Christ did. What would happen? Maybe, just maybe we would see revival. Maybe, just maybe God's name would no longer be a profane term but instead be honored. Maybe, just maybe the church would once again become a safe place, a place of love and refuge and restoration.

We as Christians need to be very mindful of what we say, how we act, and how we treat others. Any time we glorify or vilify others it reflects on who we serve and claim to follow. Imagine how our critical thoughts, actions, comments, writings, and responses reflect Jesus, and maybe look to change that. I am not saying we need to excuse the sins and hurtful actions of others, but we are called to love, forgive, and let God be the judge. We cannot look at someone and dictate what is in their heart because we are not God and all of us are still works in progress. Christ works in peoples' lives in radical and supernatural ways and people can decide to follow Jesus on their death bed like the thief on the cross, or by an amazing encounter with God like Paul had on the road to Damascus. We as Christ followers need to be living, leading, and declaring Christ in all aspects of our lives. My hope and prayer is that we can be better imitators of Christ by growing in Him and maturing in our walks daily by seeking to be like Him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What if?

I have been thinking a lot lately about a lot of things. And as this blog has become a platform for my musings, please allow me the opportunity to put some questions out there that are meant to spur reflection, inward thinking, outward reaction, open and honest dialogue, and hopefully change. Please know that the following does not represent anyone or any church in particular, but is a broad grasp at a bigger issue facing the church in North America today. Understand that this is not some rant against Christians or churches or denominations, but simply meant to cause us as believers in Jesus to rethink what we are doing, and then ask ourselves are we being effective for the Kingdom of Christ and are we representing Jesus in a manner He would be proud of?

What if.....

We got rid of denominations?
Now bear with me for a moment. I know many of us, although we won't say it out loud, will live and die by our denominational dogmas and orthodoxy, our church's potato salad, and the worship style we have. But is it truly worth it? What would happen if churches began to remove whatever rifts cause them to become an island or a cluster of islands within a denomination and instead began to passionately pursue bringing Jesus into their towns, cities, states, and countries by having a united front? Is that too much to ask? Is it that too hard for us to lay aside differences on theology or dogma to embrace growing the kingdom? What is the worst that could happen if churches united to spread God's Word? Revival? I am not asking us to neglect doctrine or the core tenants of our faith, but instead to admit and understand that there will be differences and as long as those do not contradict the Bible, why can't we lay them aside for the greater mission: growing the kingdom of God?

We embraced sinners?
What if instead of turning up our noses to gay marriage and cringing when a man introduces us to his husband, we instead welcome them into the church just as they are? I know I took on another inflammatory issue within the midst of this statement, but it proves my point! We as Christians have done a stellar job at ostracizing different communities since the foundation of the church. Be it the Greeks in the New Testament, the Muslims during the Crusades, the doctors who performed abortions and the women who received them during the 90's, or the LGBT lifestyle that has become part of our current culture, the church has done a great job at pushing people away. Is that what we want to be known for? Do we want to be known as body of the Christ that loves and ministers to sinners like Jesus did, or do we simply want to become the Pharisaical church that people walk away from? What if we welcomed those who are struggling? What if we loved sinners instead of judging them? What if like Jesus did we hung out with the sinners and tax collectors? Would that be such a bad thing?

What if churches became a safe haven again?
There I go asking a question that immediately riles peoples' feathers. I am right there with you. I immediately want to cry foul on this and proclaim that my church, yes I attach undue ownership to what is rightly God's, is a safe haven for all people! Broken or otherwise, come as you are, love the sinner hate the sin. But let's be honest here...churches as whole suck at this! We ostracize people, we gossip, we break trust, we form cliques, we become elitists. Many of you would say "Now Nick the church is made up of broken people, and we are all still sinners. No church is perfect" but I would reply "Why not?! Why aren't we striving for perfection? Why do we throw up that answer as if it excuses us from loving the way Jesus loved?" Churches were meant to be a place where people could gather free of shame and guilt, free from the gossip and drama that plagued their lives, and free to come as they are before their loving Father who gave His Son so we could shed this sinful shell we call a body! But what if we became a place that the widows, the poor, the fatherless, the childless, the broken, the convicts, the outcasts, the "bigger" sinners could come and be cared for? What if the church again became a church where everyone gave of themselves so all could be loved and cared for? What if people no longer had to fear being pointed at or talked about during or after a service or counseling session? Maybe the church would grow...maybe people would see Christ and Christians differently. Maybe, just maybe, revival would once again take this land!

What if? Just what if? What if the church in America began to change? Would it be all that bad? Are we so stuck in our ways that we have forgotten our true calling as the Bride of Christ? Are we so caught up in making rules and guidelines and calling out others, that we have become spiritually blind to the greater issue at hand just like the Pharisees of old?

Like I said, I know that this is a post that will rile some of us up. I know it can be cringe worthy, but my hope in this is to help us as believers think through how we are ministering to others, and how we can better serve our Lord and Savior. So I ask you...

What if?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A life verse and an honest confession

So recently I have been really challenged by a verse in the Bible, and when I share it some of you may laugh and say "yeah, you totally need to embrace it." And I would agree, but hopefully you will keep reading and allow for me to explain why.

Each year I have been trying to find a word, verse, chapter, or passage in Scripture that I can make my "life verse" for that year, and my life in general. It has been a while since I have talked about this, because well, duh, I haven't written in a long time. But this verse has been something I have wanted to talk about for a long time! So here verse this year is James 1:19-20 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of man."

So let me hit the obvious first. I like talking...A LOT! There have been times that certain people in my life gave a look, a smack, or just told me to stop talking because I tend to take over conversations. And most of you reading this know that about me. It isn't like I am espousing some awesome new truth about the life of Nick. I like to talk, which is probably one of the reasons I am in the profession I am now.

But this verse has more to do with my life than just telling me to shut it, and if you will bear with me for a short (hopefully short) while I will try to explain it.

I have noticed this past year that in many situations I have controlled a conversation I shouldn't have. I have talked way more than I should have and didn't listen nearly as much as I needed to. If I have done that to you, please accept my sincere apologies. It is never my intent to do that and I know that I have probably alienated some of you by doing so. I never look to take the spotlight or to be the focal point, but I know it sure seems that way.

This verse has been jumping out to me like a slap to the face since November of this past year, and I only began to listen around Christmas time (another character flaw...I am super stubborn!). And when I began to listen I realized that yeah, I talk a lot but I also don't listen. If you have ever been in a conversation with me you may have noticed that when someone else speaks I tend to finish their sentences, or immediately jump in when they pause to breathe, or I just start talking over them.

Realizing this has been hard on me. I have realized that I have made others feel like what they have to say doesn't matter, I have seemed prideful, and I have pushed people away because I don't listen. Again, I am sorry for this and that is not who I am nor who I want to be perceived as.

This verse has challenged me to not only be slow to speak but also quick to listen. I love to fix problems! Most guys do, and because of that we, I, often offer up solutions without truly hearing what the other person is saying. So I am striving to make that my goal this year. Not to stop being a fixer or problem solver, but instead to listen, to process, and respond in kind. For me that means pausing before speaking, truly listening to others, and processing what to say in response to what was said.

Hopefully you will begin to see a difference in how I respond when we talk. Know that this is a process for me and I am learning through this. Please help keep me accountable and be willing to grab me by my face to make me listen if necessary (just not too hard, I am pretty fragile), and be praying for me. God is teaching me a lot and I have been really challenged by this. My prayer is two-fold in this. One that God helps to make me a better Christ follower and leader, and two that others may see Christ in me and have a desire to grow to be more like Him as well. I want to be man of God who is seen as righteous not because of anything I do, say, or think but because I am following the Word of God and living by it.

So there it is. An open and honest look into my life and how God is stretching me. Thanks for taking time to read this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Life update and my attempt to get back into blogging

Wow! It sure has been a while hasn't it? It has been more than a year since I last wrote. That isn't because I don't have anything to say or because I lost my love of writing, life just got....well busy. My last post was from shortly after Elise and I said "I do", and then from there life took off for us! It has been a whirlwind to say the least, and I know if you read Elise's blog you have probably been more up to date with our lives. But I figured I would give everyone a glimpse as well to start off my foray back into blogging. Oh and if you are noticing the new design and layout, you can give props to Elise because she redesigned this a little while back and did an amazing job!

So after I wrote my last post, Elise and I were enjoying our new found life of marriage, but I was also looking for a new job. Many of you know my passion is in youth ministry and helping students to see the love, grace, and healing that Christ brings. And because of that I had been looking for youth ministry positions for a while, and God's timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I had a great job that I was super thankful for in Clinton but it was coming to an end and I knew that I would soon be unemployed if I didn't have a new position, but God led Elise and I to Parkview Church in Iowa City. Now neither of us thought we would end up staying in Iowa. I for one was not really sold on the whole Midwest style of living. Coming from the most densely packed state in the country to a river town with not much around was a complete culture shock for a Jersey Boy like me, but Iowa City was different. It was more urban but with a small town feel. The university and hospital was bringing a ton of young people in, and the surrounding area was exploding with people moving in. It seemed like every day something new was being built.

When Elise and I visited we were a little bit skeptical because we had a packed schedule over a weekend visit, and from the moment we arrived we hit the ground running! Dinner, visiting with staff, dessert, grabbing some sleep, breakfast, contract talk, coffee, meeting more staff, lunch, touring downtown, coffee, more get the idea it was a lot of meetings and food. And let me tell you...The food is amazing!

Anyway, we wrapped up the weekend with me teaching Sunday morning and then attending a Sunday night Youth Group program and we headed home late Sunday night. The whole way back (in fact the whole weekend) Elise and I couldn't stop talking about the church and how we felt there was something different about this position. A couple weeks later after a lot of prayer, conversation with some awesome Godly people, and talking with one another I formally accepted the position at Parkview and joined a team of two others to form a complete Student Ministries office.

Elise then transitioned to part-time with the newspaper she worked at, and as that was happening I was commuting on the weekends to Parkview to begin working with the team and the students. It was a lot for us as newlyweds to handle, but it seemed that God was giving us the strength to make it through it all. I mean I honestly wouldn't recommend to anyone to get married, switch jobs, and move with a 2-3 month period. It was a little crazy to say the least!

Our first few months in Iowa City there were crazy times. We were settling in, trying to adjust to a new pace of life, dealing with dental issues (root canals), transitioning jobs again for Elise, and just trying to live as a married couple. It was tough at some points but through it all Elise and I grew closer and our marriage continued to get stronger! We made some awesome new friends, adjusted to life in a university town (or small city depending who you ask), settled into our jobs (both now at the church), and began to see why God wants us here!

I am loving the ministry I am in, and Elise has jumped right in to help with the high school youth ministry, and has been a huge asset to what we do here. Now life is settling into a pattern, as much as it can being in ministry. We have some super busy times, but always find time to be together and just enjoy being married.

Here are a few other brief updates on my life:

  • Currently our youth team is planning our first concert at Parkview through our Student Ministries office and having The Digital Age come out on March 1st. It promises to be an awesome time and the outreach will be great as the Gospel will be presented. 
  • I have applied to and been accepted by Liberty University and plan to pursue my masters in Biblical Counseling with a Youth and Family Emphasis in the Fall of 2015.
  • I am beginning to work on two books and hope to eventually finish them. One will be on youth ministry and the different styles of leadership. The second will be semi-autobiographical with a focus on dealing with abuse in a Christian home and how to help all those involved (parents, siblings, the abused, and the abuser) as well as the church's response to it.
  • And I am another year older! Bring on the thirties in less than a year.
I hope that those of you who read this are relatively caught up, and hopefully looking forward to my ramblings. If not, just pretend you are so I feel good (haha just kidding). But I do plan to write a bit more now and share some of my thoughts, passions, and understandings of life, Scripture, and a little bit of everything else. God bless all!