Why is SYATP so Important This Year?

This year we have the potential to see 752+ youth ministries (partnering churches for Pulse Twin Cities and others) work together to reach youth for Christ in our schools and communities this school year. Together, we can  take SYATP to a new level we have not seen in years, here in the 180 high schools in the Greater Twin Cities and even beyond.
Youth Workers, we don’t minister to youth because of the great prestige of the position, or the great financial package, or even the great hours of the job. No, we do it because of the call of God on our lives in this season of our life and ministry.
Together, we can do this! Let’s not miss this incredible opportunity.
  • SYATP– September 26 at every school flag pole
  • Global Week of Student Prayer– Week of September 23-29

So, What if…

  • Youth workers approach SYATP differently this year?
    • Not just an event to get students to attend, but a launching pad for students from our ministries to connect and together impact their school for Christ (their mission field).
  • SYATP was a connection point for students at all 180 high schools in the Greater Twin Cities Area?
  • Youth workers have a strategy for SYATP?
    • Few ideas for Students in your youth ministry
      • Challenge students from your youth ministry go to their school flag pole on Sept. 26.
      • Identify key student leaders from your youth ministry to connect with key student leaders from other youth ministries at their school.
      • Help student leaders identify the Christian activity at their school and step up to
        • Do something – get involved with other students at their school
        • Say Something – share their faith story with a friend(s)
        • Start Something – at their school
  • Youth workers in a community connect with other youth workers in their city
    • Do something – connect with an existing network of youth workers in your community
    • Start something – start a network of youth workers in your community
      • Have coffee with another youth worker and share vision to connect with youth workers in your community.
    • Youth workers do a rally/gathering after SYATP
      • Youth ministries come together for rally (gathering) after SYTAP in their city
      • Youth ministries worked together to reach youth for Christ in their schools and community.
        • Common vision
        • Strategy
        • Action plans
What if SYATP this year was just the beginning of student leaders praying for their school and their friends. But resulted in students from the 752+ youth ministries connecting to lead on their campus. To lead other students in community at their school (a prayer group, a Bible study, a campus club, their FCA) and even working together to lead a service project or outreach at their school this school year.  
Be the Champion to step up and take the lead in your community!
Be Part of A Greater Vision! (Eph. 3:20)
  • Vision big enough to capture our city
  • Vision simple enough to grasp – about reach youth
  • Vision decentralized enough it can be owned
  • Vision that is relational enough it can actually work

Together, Let’s Do this! 

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What If It Could Really Happen?

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There are times when you are listening and what you are hearing  just grabs your attention. It might be the topic that is being addressed, or the words of the speaker really resonate with you, to maybe the delivery of the communicator. For the most part I am a pretty good listener. Over the years I have heard and taken notes on literally hundreds of speakers.

It was one of those mornings when what the speaker was saying just captured my attention.

The place was Open Door Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The speaker, Dave Johnson, the lead pastor. He is a man that I have learned to really love and appreciate. He is a gifted communicator who has a unique style and insightful look at passages of scripture that I know and have even preached myself.  But this day, Dave’s message was about the capital “C” Church and the lower case “c” church really grabbed my attention.

For years my heart has been wrapped around the capital “C” church, even though I have been a part of many different lower case “c” churches. I have been blessed to have seen, heard, and experienced a lot in both of those environments.

I have been around the Christian world a longtime. 

  • You see, my dad, a Senior Statesman is 85 years and before my  mom’s passing, they served together in ministry for over 60 years. As a pastor, he worked with other pastors in his community. Now he is older but my dad’s goal has always been to finish well. Well into his eighty’s he was still  active in state leadership of seniors, served as the Chaplin at a care center, and was even asked to preach in churches, and participate in funerals.
  • I am 62 years old and have been a “PK” preachers kid my entire life. Yes, I was raised in a denomination, but have worked with many denominations and independent churches throughout my almost 4 decades in ministry. My involvement in the “C” Church has allowed me to serve as a leader in many Kingdom events and initiatives over the years in the different cities I have served in.

Why, am I prone to ask the “What if” question?

I guess it was because of all that I had experienced in the youth ministry world. Youth pastors in churches are brought on staff to develop programs and disciple (train, equip, and empower) the next generation. That calling lead me, in cities where I served as a youth pastor, to an even bigger “Kingdom” vision of the Church in youth ministry in those communities. A network of youth workers with a common vision, strategy, and taking action to reach the youth in our communities, together.

The word “Synergy” is defined as the whole is greater than a sum total of all the parts. What if we could create “synergy” in youth ministry in the community. After all we were all part of the Kingdom.

So, I began to reached outside of my denominational “box” to engage with other youth workers in my community. Back in the day, we called that “networking”. Why the drive to network and get outside of the “box”?

Because, early in my ministry to youth, God stamped my life with the “Kingdom DNA”. It was like this. One day I was talking to God about the youth ministry God had called me to lead. That morning He impressed on my heart the this profound concept to me, “If you will build my Kingdom, I will build your ministry (youth group).”

That day changed everything in my thinking about my calling. It made me look at my calling differently. I no longer was thinking about being the youth pastor to the kids in our church or those involved in our youth ministry. No, I thought of myself as the “youth pastor” to the youth of my city. But I could not do that alone, so I set out to challenge others to join me, to network together to impact more students in our schools and youth in our city.

Again, Why? Because Satan’s youth group in our city was bigger and all of the “c” churches combined. So, “What if” this “C” Church ministry to youth in our city could happen? What would it even look like?

It was all about the youth in our community. So as I approached other youth workers about focusing on the things that united us and not the things that divided us. It was not about everybody doing the exact same thing, but it was about everyone being on the same team. It wasn’t about the name on the back of the jersey, it was about the name on the front of the jersey. It really was about the “synergy” around the simple yet life-changing message of knowing God in a real and personal way and to bringing Hope to a generation.

That was the passion that drove my mission when I first started in full-time ministry and it is the passion and mission that still drives me today, 38 years later. I want to see people come to faith, learn to to own, live, and share their faith, so will continue to be a Christ follower for a life time.

This is what I discovered. If we, despite our difference (denominations, backgrounds, doctrines, and dogmas) could rallied around four concepts in our communities, we the “C” Church, our collective voice and actions could impact schools in our communities. If we could have a vision:

  • Big enough to capture a city – 750 Churches partnering for Pulse Twin Cities, May 18, 2018
  • Simple enough it could be grasped – Reaching people for Christ!
  • De-centralized enough that it could be owned – Common vision to reach youth in every community at every school.
  • Relational enough that it could actually work – Local Youth Worker Networks

We have a BHAG” (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a vision for our city. It is a Ephesians 3:20 goal. Realizing that with God’s power working in us, we could believe God to do exceedingly, abundantly, immeasurably more than we can ask, think, dream, plan, or even imagine. So let’s dream big!

The mission is simply to bring the Church together around the mission to reach young people with the simple, yet life-changing message of the Gospel, the Good News, and Hope for their generation. With the mission in mind, I believed that young youth leaders can and come together in their communities to reach youth for Christ.

So “What if” it could really happen?

  • What could happen with a common vision, a strategy, and a group of committed leaders collectively take action in every city?
  • What if the Church unified to impact our schools?
  • What if students, equipped by their leaders, where to go to America’s Greatest Mission Field with a purpose to reach a friend for Christ?
  • What would be the result in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities and cities

If we as individuals in “c” churches part of the “C” Church were to live out Jesus’ prayer in John 17…”That all of them may be one (Church), Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that so that the world may believe that you sent me.” This is the power of a “C” Church – so the world we believe.

There is no question, we “c” churches desire to see transformation in our lives of people in our communities. That is evident, because I hear it all the time we want to have community, so we need to get out of our rows, into circles.

But what if the “C” Church, with great unity, synergy, and all of its resources really desired to see transformation in our community?

Church let’s not just imagine the ‘What if”, let’s do it.

Twin Cities and beyond, we have a tremendous opportunity to be the Church. Together we can go way beyond “What if?”

We have 180 high schools to impact. We have youth workers, teachers, coaches, parents, grand parents, and concerned adults to support (pray for, pour into, and provide resources). There are 1000’s of students who have been or are going to camps, conferences, or on missions trips, who come back and desire live out and share their faith with their friends, school, and world. All they need is support from people like you and me.

Church! Let’s do this!

 

 

We Have Entered a New Season “NEXT!”

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The Pulse Twin Cities Event at U.S. Bank Stadium is now history.

It was an exciting night as 40,000 people gathered to hear artist sing and share Jesus. Live interviews and videos from Minnesota Twins and Vikings players, and Olympic athlete. A Guinness World Record was set for the largest pillow fight and after a one-minute nap as Mike Lindell, the creator of “My Pillow” prayed that these 50,000 pillows would be prayer pillows. Then Nick Hall presented the challenge and 7,000 people responded to this challenge of faith and a reset in having a relationship with Jesus.

The Church of the Twin Cities came together pray for this event. 10,000’s of people in this season of evangelism used “Key 5 Cards” to pray for and invite their friends. 1,000’s of people were trained to share Jesus through the “Movement Training” and over 40,000 came to U.S. Bank Stadium for this special night.

But now the event is over and we are on to “Next”. We have entered a new season. There are will be thousands of conversations that will lead to talking about faith. Because of the vision, meetings, planning and now the execution of this stadium event we have entered the new season of “Next”.

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So here are some questions that we are going to answer.

  • How can God use this event for “More”!
  • What can and will “Next” look like in your city? Communities? Schools?
  • What can happen when 750 churches have a common vision to reach the next generation after the event?
    • 750 Youth Workers
    • 750 Youth Ministries
    • 750 Youth Ministry Leadership Teams
    • 750 churches with students attending 180 high schools in the Greater Twin Cities.

Church of the Twin Cities! Senior Leaders, youth leaders, moms, dads, school staffers, and concerned adults.

  • Next has begun and students from 750 churches are having conversations about the event.
  • Next will continuing as 10,000’s of students will go to summer camps, take a mission trips, hangout with their youth group and their friends.
  • Next will be fueled as these students begin a the 2018-19 school year, fueled by their experience of the “U.S. Bank Event” and their summer activities, with a desire to take this life-changing message of knowing Jesus to their friends, school, and world.

What can you do?

  • Pray
  • Pour into a young person
  • Provide resources

Join me and hundreds of youth leaders in “NEXT”!

 

 

#NeverAgain! Students Send Message

#NeverAgain!

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That is what this generation is saying to the leadership in our country. These young people have stood up because they saw 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High High in Parkland, Florida High killed. As this week as progressed on every news outlet we again saw the pictures and video of students streaming out of their high school. We have heard the horror stories of students from inside the school. The signs missed by the FBI or even how the perpetrator escaped with other students running out of the school.

In just matter hours after leaving the school, students began to come together. Student leaders stepped up like Jacklyn, a seventeen-year-old who was heading up the students charge to go the Florida State House said, “We are leading the charge for change.” It only took student leaders pulling together, 48 hours to organize a rally with 100’s of students at the Statehouse in Tallahassee, Florida and to get students on a bus to go to the Whitehouse. Wow! You saying that Students did all that in that short amount of time?

There have been many students interviewed, but it was the interview with Alex Wind, one of the organizers who said,

“We need to take a stance. Since we have the limelight on because of this tragedy. We have to seize that opportunity so we can assure there is going to be changed in the future. Now it stops! Never again will this happen in the country or any other country for that matter. We are the future. We are the ones that are going to make the change. You know, If Congress or the state or anyone doesn’t want to do anything, you know what, we’re going to do it.”

That statement reminded me of an event that we had in the 1990’s at River Rush. The in that video it students talked about their generation. But the statement rang in my ear was a message sent to the Church and to youth leaders. It was simply this, “If you don’t lead, we will.” That is the same tone that is coming out of Parkland students.

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In the spring of 2008, Allies had an outreach event called, GO M.A.D. (Go Make A Difference) at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota. The speaker was a young man named Ben Strong. He was the student leader (preacher’s kid) of the prayer group at his school a student shot into their group on December 1, 1997, where he killed three young ladies and injured another 5 students. At the event, he shared his story with 3500 students and challenged 3500 students to Go Make A Difference in their school and world.

You would think that after a series of school shootings that there would be change. But we all have etched into our memory April 20, 1990, the pictures of Columbine Massacre. The minds behind this school shooting were, two seniors, who killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 21 others, and even shot 3 more as they attempted to escape for school. You would have thought just maybe enough was enough.

But do you realize the 21st Century student has lived in what is called the “Columbine Generation”? It is estimated that there have been over 200 school shootings since that day. Do you remember what we used to fear and have drills for? Well, today’s students it isn’t the fear of polio or fear of a nuclear attack. It is the fear of dying from a shot of a rifle.

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We saw students running out of school and jumping out of windows. There were many stories that came out of yet another school shooting. Many were very sad and greatly affected many families forever. But one of those stories, of Rachel Scott, the first young lady shot outside of the school talking to a fellow classmate who just wanted to talk about his life. Her story has impacted, inspired, and challenged the lives of millions. Through her writings, a school assembly program called, “Rachel’s Promise” and the movie, that was in movie theaters last year called, “I’m Not Ashamed”.

If you have followed my writings, you understand that for years I have been saying, “America’s Greatest Mission Field is the middle, junior, and senior high schools.” Now the mission field is not just a school, but has become a “War Zone”! Both in the natural and the spiritual.

I have been in the youth ministry world for a very long time. Honestly, I have truly seen a lot of stuff happen in society and in the church. As you know and understand, in both areas of life there have been enormous changes.

When the students organize to get to the state capitol and the Whitehouse to bring their concerns and to say, #NeverAgain. Because of what has happened and a few students leaders who stepped up, I believe that we are going to see change. This really came to a head and there has to be a change.

So, here is my question to the Church and leadership in our churches!

Do we too need to make some changes? Just how seriously have we take the youth in our church. For the most part, I have observed youth in church leadership as an insider, pastoral positions, and as a leader in the church as an outside leader without the title. I have seen and experienced a lot over my the past six decades in the Church world.

The older I have become the more I have seen just how important the younger generation is to a church. For my entire ministry life (four decades) I have been involved in ministry to youth. It is not just something that I have done, but it has been my passion. I love to see young people develop in all areas of their lives and grow up to be great leaders.

I remember the very first video that I made for Allies Ministries, in 1990, We decided to shoot it outside of the high school that I graduated at Anoka. As I sat by the Anoka High School sign, I said something like this, “This is my high school. I graduated from here in 1974. And this is America’s Greatest Mission Field. I walked these hallways, just like you did in your school. Just like every CEO, salesperson, athlete, CEO, lawyer, pastor, mayors, school teacher, administrator, every person who sits in a boardroom, is a representative in a city office, state house, congressperson, senators, or even the President of the United States.”

Just think if we in the Church really believed this what could happen!

  • Students – go to school and make Christ the catalyst in their lives and schools.
  • Adults – pray for, pour into, and provide the needed resources
  • Youth Workers – equip and release student to go into their world and make a difference

Young people are making a difference. Every day thousands of students are making a difference as they tell their story of faith to people in their world. They are the Church’s  missionaries on America’s Great Mission Field. Let’s pray for, pour into them, and support them as they make their mark in their world and the Church.

 

May 18th is Just the Beginning!

This week, for the third time in a year, 600 ministry leaders, from 250 churches, in the Greater Twin Cities came together to focus on the mission to reach youth.

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Too, one of the worst school shootings in American history again has grabbed the headlines, despite the incredible stories of the young accomplished Olympic athletes competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

 

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Throughout my ministry, I have been challenging people that America’s greatest mission field is the middle, junior, and senior highs schools. But, now they have become war zones with images of SWAT Teams rushing in and students with hands raised running out for safety.

 

So Dan, what is the big deal about leaders and churches in a city coming together for another meeting? I guess it is because we believe that there is still hope for this bruised, battered, and broken generation. Those of us in ministry to youth are going to try to do something about it.

 

Do you remember the 90,000 plus for Youth Night at the Greater Twin Cities Billy Graham Crusade? When every seat filled in the Metrodome and thousands outside watching on the jumbotron? What about over 200,000, for the three days Luis Palu Twin Cities Festival at the State Capitol? Or over 20,000 young people at Harriet Island for Rock the River? Well, this is one of those moments in time and we, the Church need to seize the moment.

 

That was then and this is now. Now is the time to reach the next generation and the Church is coming together, don’t miss this one.

 

So what could happen if we, the Church of Twin Cities, churches in communities, leaders, and pray-ers (people who pray) focused on giving the next generation JESUS? Well, my friend, that is what is happening and it’s a big deal!

 

What just happen in the Twin Cities with all the concerts, parties and events, and at U.S. Bank Stadium with all the hype around a half-time show, and football game, are now just memories.

 

But what we, envision at U.S. Bank Stadium May 18, 2018, is coming and will be life-changing.

 

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To my friends in ministry to youth, senior leaders, those who have prayed for the next generation for years I have a message for you.

 

To my younger youth worker friends. We don’t get an opportunity like this very often. Just think about it, senior leaders and everyone else are talking about our mission. Don’t miss this opportunity for your ministry and for our city!

 

You see, to reach, disciple, and mentor the next generation is something that we talk about. But through my forty-plus years of ministry experience to youth, it is often been just that, talk.

 

I understand that there are a lot of other things that we need to do like raise money to build to builds, send missionaries to foreign countries, and reach all people with the programming in our church. Honestly, I get that. As a preacher’s kid, I have been around the church all my life.

 

But when we talk about this mission, we literally are addressing future of the Church and the investment in young people who will lead in our homes, communities, churches, boardrooms, and nation.

 

Just watch a little of the Olympics. You will see just how enamored the media is with telling stories about the progression the athletes. Why? because these stories of young athletes capture our attention and inspire us.

 

Friends, it is the same in the Church, young people are what brings life to your church and inspire us all in the mission to reach our world for the cause of Christ.

 

I remember when the media started the countdown to the Super Bowl LII, but now it is over. All we have are the memories and the pictures to remind us of those days that highlighted the “Bold North” created an atmosphere that showed off this region of the country that was displayed for the world to see.

 

That was a moment in time. The countdown is on for May 18, and way beyond. Matter of fact is there are now just 90 days before young people at Pulse Twin Cities will fill U.S. Bank Stadium.

 

The world has seen the Bank filled with fans to watch a half-time show and a football game. But now it is over and we are looking to “Fill em all” with people who bring their friends to hear music, speakers, and an invite to respond to the simple, yet the life-changing message of Jesus.

 

Allies, along with 400 ministries are asking you to engage. Did you know this generation has never experienced a revival? We are asking you to pray, pour into the next generation, and provide the resources needed for not just the event, follow-up, but the follow-through to harness this the energy and the synergy that is being created. Bringing it back to impact our communities, campuses (schools), churches, and our homes. Not just for a season, but for a lifetime.

 

I want to invite you to be part of what God is about to do in our city and bring hope and healing to a battered and broken generation.

 

  • Just think what can happen when people like you pray for a generation?
  • Just think of what can happen when people like you pour into a generation?
  • Just think what can happen when people like you provide for a generation?

Could You Imagine31,100 believing students bringing 31,100 of their non-believing friends to listen to music, hear testimonies and a message that can literally change their life!

Just Read Ephesians 3:20 – and dream with us!

This is a really big deal! Church, we can do this!

That is May 18, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium!

Overcoming Against All Odds and even the USGA Officials

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Dustin Johnson overcomes another potential ruling by the PGA officials and goes on to win the 116th US Open at Oakmont Country Club.
But it wasn’t without a little drama.

All week the three putts on the 72nd hole of the 115th US Open at Chambers Bay was the topic of conversation. Whether it was in a press conference at Oakmont, Golf channel shows, or anywhere there was talk about collapse in sports or Dustin Johnson and his chances to win this championship on Father’s Day.

You see it wasn’t just the missed but last year, it was also the 2010 PGA Championship when he was about to go into a playoff, but on the 18th hole his tee shot was way to the right and landed on some sand. When he assessed the situation in his mind it was just a waste bunker and so when he hit his shot to the green he grounded his club. Meaning before he hit the ball he touched the sand behind the ball, and because all the sand had been declared blunders and you could not ground your club, he was assessed a 1 stroke penalty which eliminated him from what he thought was a playoff.

Now on Sunday deemed a on the fifth green, before he was going to stroke his ball to the hole, Dustin Johnson took a couple of practice strokes by his ball. At that point he called in a PGA official he deemed his ball had moved. Which under the old rules of golf would be a penalty. Once the play has ground his club, when it is the wind or gravity the player would be assessed a penalty stroke. But with the rule change, now the players has to do something to cause the ball to move. All Dustin did was take a couple of practice strokes and the ball moved.

The USGA’s senior director of the rules of golf Jeff, Hall said, “After he put his club down, within a second the ball moved.” He went on to say, “You have to weigh all the evidence.” Hall felt, “more likely then not” that Johnson had cause the ball to move. But when he had called over the official on the 5th hole, the ruling was that Johnson has not caused the ball to move.

He played 6 more holes, but on the 12th hole was officially told by the USGA that his score was possibly on less than the scoreboard was showing. But they would not know until he was in the scoring tent and they together had a chance to review the video.

Wow! Another blow to Dustin Johnson in trying to win his first major championship!

So from that point all Johnson did was bomb massive drives straight down the middle of fairways. Then put a stamp on his victory with a birdie on the challenging 72nd hole of the 116th US Open. It was a putt to seal the deal and win his first major championship, but it won’t be the last for this long bombing athletic man.

Talk about overcoming difficulties, pressures, and a feeling of anxiety that could have him to collapse under the circumstances that were totally out of his control. The only thing this 33 years old man could do was turn up his game on the last five holes and win this championship and not worry about the ruling of the USGA in the scoring tent.

You see this man, everyone questioning if he could ever win at this level and then the again the USGA up in the air ruling, he answered all the questions and overcame all odds. Now Dustin Johnson has put all the talkers behind and proven he is an overcomer and stood proud holding the 116th US Open trophy.

What difficulties have you had to overcome in life to get where you want to go?

Twists and Turns

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The journey that we all are on at times takes many twists and turns. The course we are traveling is very seldom a simple straight line from point A to point B. There are detours on the road that mess with our plans and our time frames. Those decisions we make in life may cause us to either stay on or cause us to veer off the path. Sometimes when you do go off the path, it might not be what you had planned or was not part of your game plan. But who knows, it might just be exactly what you needed to actually put you back a place that you can get back in the game.

So whether we are talking about your life, marriage, or career stay wake and keep your focus on the road ahead.

Many years ago, I was driving to Kansas City with my family. At that time we had a new Jeep Grand Cherokee and we had been driving for about five hours. My family were all sleeping and dad was at the wheel. Yes, I was a little tired, but you know how that is you are on a journey to a distinction so you push through. You suck on ice, chew bubble gum, and open the window to get a little air blowing through the car. Well, that is what I did.

After we had passed through Des Moines I was doing well, but it was about an hour south of Des Moines I got tired. So tired that I was starting to nod off a little. So more bubble gum and ice to chew on and window up and down to get that breeze. But all the sudden on one of those times I nodded off, I opened my eyes and had no idea where I was at or what I was doing. Now the Jeep has down in the ditch with the cruise control on at 70 mph when I was jolted to realize my situation. Now all I could think about of was getting the vehicle out of the ditch (lucky that I did, because there was a culvert we would have hit). So still in a daze, but I did not hit the break. I just tried to get out of the ditch.

 Have you ever been trying to get out a ditch?
Now everyone is awake as the car comes up out of the ditch. When I hit the pavement I had to do something, so in my daze I hit the break and the car spun around a couple of times (without flipping over) and after a few seconds (which seemed like an eternity) the car came to rest in the middle of 35W in Southern Iowa. I was shaking. Everyone in the car was shaken, but glad to be alive.

So what did we do? Well, after pulling over and getting my bearings again. I got back into the drivers seat and we just proceeded on the journey. That incident that we experienced could have been very devastating to me and my family, but the only thing we could do was to get back on the road. But when we did, no one went back to sleep. We all stayed awake keeping our eyes on the road toward Kansas City.

There are times when you have to wake up and react to the circumstances that we are in. Just get our bearings again and get back on the road. There too are times, when we just need to relax because there is nothing you can do about the detour on the road you took. Yes, it might take a few minutes longer to get to our destination. But what I have learned in life is, if stay on the course we will get there. In both causes we just need to keep going.

So again if in your life, career, marriage, or any other part of your journey, you are going to have those twists and turns on the road. There maybe some times when you will encounter detours from what your plan is. The line between point A and point B just might not be straight, but my friends, if you will stay on the road you will get to your destination.

 What do you do when the twists and turns come to your life?

Checked Your Heart Beat, Lately?

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When was the last time that you checked to see if your heart was beating? Up until eight years ago, I am not sure if I hardly knew how or where to even check. But February 17, 2009 my life changed forever.

I was rushed from a Park Nicolett Clinic to Methodist Hospital in a ambulance. After going in for a check-up all the sudden the doors were opened with nurses and doctor told me that I needed to go immediately to Methodist Hospital and they had call an ambulance. They took me to a room and put a 12 lead on to monitor me heart, as soon as the ambulance arrived I was wheeled out on the gurney, put into the vehicle and I was on my way to the ER.

When I arrived they ran a echocardiogram and the test came back that my ejection fraction (a measurement of how much look the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction) was 10%. He told us that my heart was enlarged because of the fluid and that I had a heart value that was leaking. Not such good news. Matter of fact one of the first things he told us was that he had contacted the University of Minnesota and that he was putting me on the heart transplant list. I wasn’t sure is that was better or worst news.

That was February 17, 2009 and now today I am happy to say that I am still alive and functioning. Yes, things have changed a lot in my life and for my family. There have been times through out our almost 39 years in our marriage when we might be in a tough season. At those times I could tell my wife, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine”. Well, even that changed that day because of new fears of future and what that would mean moving forward. But with the medications that my cardiologists have me on, for the most part, I have maintained a pretty good quality of life.

Yes, I still battle arrhythmia. It is a condition where my heart will go out of sinus rhythm and will beat irregularly. Why that happens is a mystery to us and the cardiologists.  But it is a reality we live. Just in past 12 months my heart has been out of 35 times, where a episode will last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours usually. But with what I call “my pill in a pocket” it will (the pill) shocks my heart back into rhythm. But if that does not work within a 48 hour period from the time the arrhythmia begins,  I have have a procedure administrated to me called cardioversion.

This procedure is done by a electrocardiologist who places PADDLES on the heart and administrates electronic voltage to shock the heart back into rhythm, hopefuly. This all needs to be done in a timely manner within a 48 hour period from the time the arrhythmia begins. If not there is greater risk of stroke.  Over the years I have had this procedure performed four times, but in the past few. The pill has worked for me every time within the time perimeters that have been set.

So all in all I have been able to maintain a pretty good quality of life. When my heart is functioning and beating right I feel really good. When it isn’t well that is another story. I really just want to do nothing. When I stand I am dizzy and get hot and honestly most the time I just want to go and crawl in bed. I will drive myself crazy at times checking my wrist every few seconds, hoping and praying that my heart will go back in rhythm soon.

So that is why I asked the question, “Have you checked your heart beat lately?”

Yes, I have shared a little of my journey physically. But for you it might not be physical.

What vital sign do you need to check in in your life, leadership, or passion to see if you are healthy and beating right?

Do whatever you have to do to keep it your heart beating, even if it means PADDLES!

Sometimes You Have to Just Play the Game

There were many storylines and talking points about Super Bowl 50. But sometimes you just have to go out and play the game. 

For the past couple of week it feels like all the news was about three things. The republican and democrat candidates vying for the presidential election posturing and Carolina Panthers playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, and the Half-time show. If the chatter wasn’t about Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or Jed Bush, it was Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. It was sure to be about Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, or Cam Newton, NFL Player of the Year, and the offensive machine of the Carolina, or the future Hall of Famer, the aging Payton Manning and Von Miller and the Denver Defense. But if not the elections or the games, it was going to be about the Pepsi Half-time show or the commercials.

There is no question these are all different types of events. One is about the future of our country that will have a profound impact on all our lives and even the world. The others is a just an entertainment and a 3 hour game. But, every year in the world of sports this spectacle continues to grow, and in just two years the show is coming back to Minnesota and the new US Bank Stadium.

Even though there is so much that surrounds these days in early February, there is a game that is played. Before the game begins there is two-weeks of analysis by the expert commentator on the national sports shows, local sports talk show personalities. There will be interviews of players and coaches on both the winning and losing teams. At the awards ceremony show, the ownership and coaches of the winning team will presented the Super Bowl Trophy and a MVP Player of the Game will be named.

There would be none of the Super Bowl hype, if that wasn’t a game. But there is a game that is played.

This year when you listened to the experts “breaking down” the game for two weeks, it felt very much like Carolina was going to be the clear cut winner. A star quarterback of the future against the aging “Hall of Fame” quarterback of the supposedly past. Even though the defense of the Broncos was good, most did not believe that they could stop the “Carolina train”.

But as we all know, sometimes you just need to play the game. It might look very lopsided on paper or on the stat sheet, but to have a winner you must but the pads on, lace up the shoes, and go play. When you run through the tunnel on to the field with all the adoring fans cheering you, you realize it is game time. There will be yards gained by both running and throwing the football. There will be yards lost on sacks. There will be turnovers as a running back that is trying to get a few extra yards, loses the ball. Or a defensive end rushes the quarterback and a force fumble or makes the quarterback under pressure throw the ball that results in an interception.

You see, sometimes you just have to play the game. That is exactly what happened. I guess you could say I bought into all the “Carolina Hype”. At my Super Bowl party, the prediction I made was a little off at halftime I thought it would be 21-7. I really thought that Cam Newton would just come out firing on all cylinders and they score 31 points and win Super Bowl 50.

But sometimes you have to play the game and early on in the contest the tone was set. When the second player in 2011 NFL Draft, Von Miller clashed with the first player in that draft Cam Newton, and the ball squirted out of the hand the quarterback and rolled into the end zone and a Denver Bronco fell on it for a touchdown. That play set the tone for the entire game. Even though there may have been times when the Carolina offense started to get a spark, it was that Denver defense that just made all around 112.5 Million views feeling like I did.

There were many observations that were made about the game and even the post-game activity. But for me the two take-a-ways were.

  • You only affect the outcome of the game if you are in the game.
  • The only way you can win is to play the game

What were you observations?

Your Story Really Does Matter?

my-story

Yes, your story really does matter! Jesus commanded us to, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” He also told us as believers to “Go”, but we would not have to do it alone. The promise was we would receive power to tell what we had experienced and witnessed to “our” Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.

What I have experienced in the Church, is we were really good at the ends of the earth part of those words of Jesus, but the Jerusalem part was difficult for all of us. It does seem to matter our age, whether we are (older or younger) Boomers, Baby Boomer, Gen Xers, Millennial’s we have all been called to tell the story. Matter of fact sometimes I have seen the older we get the more callous we are to the story.

We see it all the time with people going on a missions trip to some other part of the world. They are so excited to go and work day and night doing everything thing we can to impact the lives of those we are trying to reach in foreign country. They raise money from family and friends to have the experience of a different world. The mission may be to may feed, cloth, pass out literature, have gatherings on the streets and/or in buildings (or a combination of some of all) to see lives changed.

But when we get home from the incredible experience, does it really impact us in reaching our Jerusalem or does it get us excited about taking another mission trip. You see people in our neighborhood, in the work place, friends, teammates on our ball team, fine arts, or in our classrooms need to hear the story. These are people dealing with all kinds of issues and challenges in their lives and they to hear the story.

So what is it that keeps us from “our” Jerusalem? Is it the fear? Is it rejection?

Paul said it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to very one who believes. Is it the message? You see there is a place where we come into the story. Call that experience, moment, or season what every you want, but the journey of being a Christ follower starts somewhere.

It is I Cor. 5:17 that says, “If any man or woman, boy, or girl be in Christ he is a new creation the old life is gone and a new life comes.” There is a change in your life.

But that is just the beginning of this exciting journey. Because everyone needs to not only come to faith or start the journey, but they really need to own the experience. What do I mean? A person needs to own their experience?

If a person owns their relationship with Jesus it will impact how they live their life, for the rest of their life.

As a person lives there life, they will out of the natural interactions be able to share their story with others. In the church that has been called witnessing. I really believe it is the fear of witnessing that scares people from witnessing. You see your story and your journey from darkness to light is powerful. It is your story and it has the potential to resonate with the people God brings into your path. When you step out or look for opportunities to share your story those opportunities will come. It maybe with a family member, friend, colleague, or a stranger who needs to hear “your” story.

When you come to faith, when you understand the fact that you need to own your faith, it isn’t your dad or moms, or friends faith it is yours, you will live it. Think about it this way. You come faith, then you have to own the message, when you own it, you will live it, when you live it you will naturally share it. I really believe if you own, live, and share your story, you will keep your faith for a lifetime. Through all your life-turns, changes, and challenges your will have a solid foundation to build your life on.

There is an old hymn that I remember singing. I can see mom at the piano or on the organ and dad at the pulpit leading the congregation in singing these powerful words, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” It is the second verse says, “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gal, my anchor holds within the veil.” Then third verse we would sing,

When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” Then the chorus, “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

There are going to be struggles and challenges in your life, but when you life is build on the foundation of the rock you are going to have opportunities for you to share your story. How God transformed your life. You will be able to tell about what your life was like before you became a follower of Christ and what has happened since that time in your story.

You see, if you own and live your faith, just be ready God opens the door for you to share your story. As you continue to share your story of transformation and struggle to be fully alive in Christ, the story you share will keep you alive in Christ for a life-time.

Your Story…it is yours. Own it! Live it! Share it! Keep it fresh and alive for a life-time!

Do really realize that “Your Story” really does matter?

It could just be that “someone” who your life intersects who just needs to hear “your” story. It just could be your story that will help them to write a “Better” story as together, we invite people to pursue the struggle of becoming fully alive in God.

Four Questions to Ponder:

  1. How did you come to be a Christ follower?
  2. What does it mean to you to own your faith?
  3. What does living your faith look like to you?
  4. Do you look for opportunities to tell someone your story?