Eight weeks ago I started experiencing a significant measure of pain in my left chest/shoulder area.  It turns out after seeing the doctor, that the broken collar bone and separated AC joint (football injuries from back in the day when we wore leather helmets) had severely compromised my sterno-clavicular joint.  Bottom line: the joint where my collarbone joins my sternum is messed up and I’m now pretty limited as to what I can do without irritating it.

I typically do some kind of intense “crossfit” type of workout at least four times a week – mostly to help slow down the aging process on my almost 50 year old body so I can keep up with my 9 and 11 year old boys.  Additionally, it helps me keep from dieing when I hike with my buddies in the Chugach.

What’s surprised me these past two months is how the more I get out of shape, the worse I’m eating.  As much I like to work out and stay in shape, I’m also normally a very healthy eater.  I don’t eat fast food or junk food and I eat in moderation.

This past weekend I realized I was out of control . . . eating myself into oblivion.  Compulsive.  Beyond full.  Sugar. Salt. Carbs.  Any time of day.

At first the correlation didn’t make sense to me.  What would cause me to eat healthier when I’m feeling good and getting lots of exercise and eat worse when I'm feeling so lousy?

I was using food to medicate myself . . . to feel better.  But like any addictive behavior, the crash always left me in greater need of “medicine.”  So today I’m at the end of day two of a fast, exposing how I can use food and how I can use ANYTHING (my phone, TV, exercise, food, sex, computer) to keep me from facing life on life’s terms.

If I see my life I will feel my life.  If I feel my life, I will find myself in need.  And if I find myself in need, I'll end up in surrender.  Otherwise, I am an addict looking for an addiction, an idolator looking for idols.

This was a new one for me . . . or at least the realization of it is new.

Sad.  Lonely.  Hurt.  Fear.  Angry.  Shame.  Guilt.  Glad.


A Pre-Easter Prayer

Shame. Guilt.  Glad. Lonely. Sad.

I tend to want resurrection without death.
I want growth without pain.
I want to live without dying.

Dear Lord Jesus,

You, "the image of the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for whom all things are created, everything visible and everything invisible," You, Christ Jesus, hung upon a cross and died for us.

Today we look squarely at the cross. The soldiers, who have broken the legs of the two men crucified with you, do not break your legs. But we see your heart is broken; the heart that did not know any hatred, revenge, resentment, pride, greed, bitterness, or envy but only love.  Your broken heart is the source of our salvation, the foundation of our hope, the cause of our love.

There on that cross all suffering has been suffered,
     all our anguish lived,
     all our loneliness endured,
     all our abandonment felt,
     and all our agony cried out.

There, human and divine love embraced.

There, God and all humanity reconciled.

There, all the tears of the human race have been cried.

There, all pain understood and all despair touched.

There, your body was broken and your blood shed, so that we might be forgiven and made whole.

As we look upon the cross, let our eyes recognize the anguish and agony of all the people for whom you gave yourself.  Save us from hardness of heart. We confess our sin, our own pride, our own disobedience to you, and we pray to receive your overflowing love.  May we never forget that you were pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.  And only by your wounds we are healed.

We pray in the compassionate name of Jesus.



My friend Brandon Thomas (dude has been a huge encouragement to me since our lives providentially intersected) asked me to blog about "calling."  I shared this with him for his blog last week.

Glad Sad Fear Anger

I’d sensed for several months I was in some kind of “transition.”  I prayed.  I wrote in my journal.  I listened for the voice of God.  I sought the prayers and counsel of godly men and women who have known me for a long time.  I waited.

The following is from a letter I wrote to a handful of close friends:

“I need your help.  As I consider what the Lord has done in my life and I try to be objective as to where he might be leading me to invest the next years of my life, I keep coming back to this track record with “men” and the fruit that God seems to bring forth when I step into these arenas of ministry.  And while doors are open to me to serve in the church through broader leadership roles like I have in the past, I’m asking God to confirm in me that this narrowing of focus is what He is calling me to -- and if it is, what this needs to look like in the short term with an eye towards the longer term.

Will you take some time over the next couple of weeks to pray for me? Ask God to affirm or confirm some of this in my life? I don’t know what to expect and don’t have anything specific in my mind.  I’m just open and I am asking.

God has been clear to me in the past and I am expecting to hear from him now.  I also know that He can speak to me through the support and counsel of friends like you who have known me for a long time and watched God at work in me and through me not in spite of my limp but even through it.

Will you pray for me?  Will you ask God for insight you could give me?  Will you respond back to me with any promptings He might give you in the days ahead?”

When I wrote to these friends I really was “open” and their feedback affirmed what God was showing me privately.

The last time I was in a transition like this, I prayed and waited for God to show me what He wanted me to do.  Once I knew the PLAN, my PURPOSE (or mission) became accomplishing that plan and I became PASSIONATE about the purpose of accomplishing it. 

The problem with this backwards approach of. . .


. . . was that over time, so much became about accomplishing the plan.  My worth was tied up in the plan.  Other people became a subtle means of accomplishing the plan.  And the virtue of the plan blinded me to how my drivenness was hurting me and hurting others (even those I loved).  Regretfully, my passion was as much about the plan as it was the God who had led me to give my life to it.

Exhausting and misguided. 

This time I wanted to do it differently.


I started with PASSION.  What did I really care about?  Where did I gain energy?  Where did I see the most significant fruit? As I looked into the rear view mirror of the previous twenty-five years of my life and ministry, regardless of the setting (whether on staff with Athletes in Action, FamilyLife, as a student in seminary, a church planter and church leader in Tennessee and more recently Alaska), engaging with men had been the common theme – and the place where I’d experienced God producing the most significant and lasting fruit in others and the greatest satisfaction internally for me. 

The past is not always an indicator of the future, but like points on a map that trend a particular direction, sometimes looking over your shoulder can give you insight into your future.  Additionally, it’s often the wounds from our past that open the door to our deepest passions (another blog for another time).

Clear in heart regarding my PASSION, I would look for my PURPOSE in a willing surrender to that passion.  And move forward trusting God with what that PLAN would or could become.

Lots of fear.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Lots of trust.  God, you have a plan.  Little control.  I didn’t know what tomorrow was going to look like . . . including how I would support my family through it all.

I’ve taken steps of faith like this before, but this time it felt and still feels different.  I have little need to prove myself and lots of freedom to be who God made me to be and share what God is showing me and allowing me to experience with Him.  I’m more passionate than I’ve ever been but more passionate about people and living with an open hand re: the plan.

Two years ago, even before I knew this transition was coming, I penned the following personal mission statement:  To motivate, encourage, and equip leaders . . . specifically focused on unleashing men who see the greatness of their need and the greater sufficiency of the Gospel. 

For the past two years, that’s what I’ve been doing with the Sage Hill Institute:  helping leaders become who they were made to be so they can do what they were made to do.