When Jesus Wouldn’t Stay…

Mike —  December 28, 2016 — Leave a comment

There was a day, early in Jesus ministry that could have derailed the whole thing if Jesus had made a lesser choice. Imagine the high Jesus must have felt (yes, Jesus had feelings) after blasting through the devil’s lies as he tempted Him in the wilderness. Choice by choice, refusing to stray from the path His Father had revealed… You know how good it can feel when you succeed in beating temptation, right? Now imagine the crash when Jesus’ return to His hometown of Nazareth ended in a mob threatening to throw him off a cliff!

It had to hurt. But Jesus faithfully went on His way to nearby Capernaum, where He taught and healed some people and rescued others from demons. Unlike Nazareth, these people ate it up. They loved it and began bringing people with all kinds of sicknesses to be healed by Jesus. After the rejection at Nazareth, it had to feel good to be amazing people left and right. It must have been tempting for Jesus to soak it all in and bask in their adulation. He could have hung up a sign and made Capernaum famous as the home of the healer who never fails (and probably made Himself rich in the process). But He didn’t.

In Luke 4:42, we find Jesus out in a solitary place, away from the crowds for a moment, getting ready to leave Capernaum. But the crowds found Him and tried to get Him to stay. “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

Before He walked on water…

Before He called out a single disciple…

Before He rose from the grave…

Jesus understood WHY. He knew that He had been sent, and He knew why He’d been sent. No highs or lows could dissuade Him from His mission. I know that I’m prone to be thrown around a bit by the ups and downs, but it’s when I forget why I’m here that I can get most off track. I’m grateful for a God who reminds me that I’ve been sent, for His Sprit who reminds me why, and for the Son who shows me how to humbly accept what comes and continue faithfully on His mission.

I pray that your 2017 will be full of clarity about the fact that you are sent and about WHY God has sent you wherever He has.

Top 6%…

Mike —  December 14, 2016 — Leave a comment

If you play along here on this blog much at all, you already know that I recently published a book. If you have any book writing experience, you know that it’s one thing to write a book and quite another to actually sell copies of it. (Which is why writers have agents and publicity teams, etc.) I’ve read that the average non-fiction book sells about 250 copies a year and about 2000 copies over the “lifetime” of the book. Even though there are a ton of books published each year, there aren’t that many that actually sell very well.

Now, I’m not looking to get rich or get a major publisher’s attention/book contract with this little effort, but I’ve also never been one to be satisfied with average. I’m glad to already be very close to surpassing that 250 mark in the first several weeks, but did I mention that it’s a very different thing to sell a book than to write a book? The writing is done, and I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t have gone to print if I thought it wasn’t worth reading. I’ve very comfortable sitting down and grinding out word after word for hours on end… But I AM TERRIBLE AT PROMOTING myself (and my work by extension). It feels stupid asking people to buy my book all the time. I look back at my social media feeds and feel embarrassed… but the thing is, I ACTUALLY THINK THIS JOURNAL CAN HELP PEOPLE.

Find Fuel

The world needs a church that is in intimate conversation with our Maker, our Head. People need to know that they can actually talk to God and He will listen, and He will actually respond and we need to listen, too. We are absolutely dependent on Him to fuel the Movement that He has started and sustained to seek and to save His lost children. We have to learn again what it means to be a people of prayer, and I think a few weeks going through this book can help us do that.

So, I’m learning how to tactfully (and hopefully humbly) promote the book/myself. Here are a few things I’m learning:

  • Stats and analytics pages don’t do anything good for the ego. They either puff it up or tear it to pieces. I’m learning to remember who God says I am regardless of how many books have sold.
  • There are a LOT of books available that aren’t selling a whole lot. I found out today, that PRAY was in the top 6% of books selling on Amazon. That sounds much more impressive than the equally true rank of #455,000 (out of 8 million).
  • I now know how to set up ad campaigns on Twitter and Facebook. (Twitter seems to be more exposure for me so far, but I’m not sure how much that’s converting to actual sales yet.)
  • No amount of promoting that I do can rival what you who have already bought the book could do collectively. I wrote it, of course I’m going to want people to buy it. But you… your “word of mouth” is what will get your friends (who don’t know me at all) interested in the book. If you could take a few minutes and share in a post on your own blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, or if you could share an entry of your journal to your Snapchat story or leave a review on Amazon… Get your small group to go through the journal together… It could be the beginning of an eternal difference, not just a book rank difference!

I wonder what it would take to get into the Top 100,000? Want to help me find out?


Mike —  December 6, 2016 — Leave a comment

Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that they’d been chosen to play a part in God’s fulfillment of His will to “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head…” God was making them heirs with Jesus and reserving for them an inheritance that only His extravagant grace could provide! He was blessing them with “every spiritual blessing in Christ…”

Maybe, like me, you need reminded from time to time that you’ve been given such a role, too. You’ve been chosen, and given His Holy Spirit to work in and through your life and to guide you to the promised inheritance of God.

You’ve been marked.

Don’t let a circumstantial discouragement or a momentary setback cloud over His mark in your life. Listen to His whisper and let His promise light the world around you.

God has a dream for this world, and you’re invited to be a part of it. It is an irresistible dream that God has had for all eternity. It’s a dream for your life, your community, and the whole world.

God’s dream is that you would live each second of your existence with a confidence that he relentlessly and passionately loves you. His dream is that you would willingly risk loving others because you know God has risked everything in loving you.

Dave & Jon Ferguson, Finding Your Way Back to God

Maybe things aren’t going well right now…

Maybe life is alright, it’s just not what you’d hoped it would be…

Or maybe you’ve grabbed hold of everything you ever wanted, and found out it’s not enough…

We need to know there’s more to life than what you or I dream of. This life is not about our wishes, but about God’s. His imagination sparked us into being, and His imagination keeps echoing in our lives as He seeks to draw us deeper into His mission and heart. Take some time in the next couple days to dive in to His dreams for you. Take a risk to love someone that needs to see Him alive in you.

Buy My Book

Mike —  November 1, 2016 — Leave a comment

Several years ago, I developed a short devotional booklet for some of my students who were on a backpacking trip. My hope was to help them get a better sense of how people prayed in Scripture so they could develop a healthier life of prayer themselves. Since then, I’ve used it from time to time with others, and the time has finally come for an expanded version of this resource to be made available more widely.

I dug up the old file, re-wrote, edited, re-edited, and submitted the book through a self-publishing platform called Blurb. Thanks to some great supporters on Kickstarter, the process is done! Their pre-orders have been delivered (or are possibly still en-route), and the guided journal is now available to you. I hope you like it, but more importantly, I pray God uses it to help you be more clearly attuned to His Voice.

The book will be consistently available through this link to the Blurb bookstore, as well as via other booksellers like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. (If you’re local, I do have a limited supply of copies available as well – just let me know.) I can’t wait to hear how God uses this in your life.

Today, the Barnes & Noble link has the best price, but those will probably fluctuate somewhat as various retailers do their thing. (The list price is $11, so you should always be able to get it for that, and if you want to order a bunch of them, you can get a good bulk discount from Blurb.)

Thank you so much to the many of you have encouraged and enabled me to get this project done.

Coming Soon…

Mike —  October 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

I’ve just ordered a proof of a prayer journal I’ve been working to publish. Once I’ve had a chance to review it and make sure everything’s where it needs to be, it will be available to purchase! It’s been a long process, but all that’s left will be done in just a couple weeks or so, and I’m excited to see how God will use the journals to move in people’s lives.

I’d love it if you would join me in praying for the launch over the next couple weeks. Not that there’s a book tour and launch party type of stuff happening, but pray that as the book goes out, God will be at work. And of course, keep watching to find out when and where you can get your copy!


Political Fear Vs. Faith

Mike —  September 28, 2016 — 1 Comment

I mostly stay out of political issues (at least the ones that are purely political). I’ve rarely seen any fruit grow out of the rare occasion that I have entered into political debates of some sort. This may be the source of my current dilemma:

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how the two major parties have provided us with the two current candidates. How did the States of America become so disUnited that Clinton and Trump are even in a conversation about the Presidential office? Of the millions of individuals who could potentially run for President, how did these two emerge as the final options?

Obviously, I don’t know either of them personally. Neither do you, so let’s not pretend… But based on track record and what gets reported (which is getting very difficult to accurately weigh these days), how does anyone of any party have any hope that either of them will be good for our country? Between the mountains of litigation and investigation, along the trails that run from Benghazi to Watergate to imminent domain disputes and unpaid invoices for shoddy work, what exactly have these people done to make us think the job of President is a good fit? Do they even actually understand what the job of the President is? Do we? I have friends on the left and on the right who are terrified that “the other” is going to become President and destroy our country.

Honestly, I have little to no hope that the next president of our country will do much to strengthen our Union… But I’m ok. I’m not losing sleep about this. (We’ve survived bad presidents and their idiotic policies before, right?)

I can sleep at night because my hope is not in a President. No president will solve the issues that are threatening our nation. No president will bridge the fissures in our society that seem to grow at an alarming rate. No president can fix what is broken in humanity. Only Jesus can do that.

And so I hope. I pray. I imitate Him and love people that don’t deserve it (like others have done for me when I don’t deserve it). I follow Him and seek to reconcile everything I can to Him. And I’m calling the church to stop being afraid. If I have ever had any kind of spiritual influence with or impact on you, I’m asking you to take a deep breath, remember who He is, and stop spreading fear. Pray that God would fill you with the courage of real faith that has allowed His people to change the world for thousands of years. Pray that God would move in His church to heal the brokenness in our nation. Pray that He would move in His church to show people that they matter because they’re made in His image. Then, go introduce your neighbor to Someone who can actually change the heart of a man and build a better culture out of him. Go a little further and show your city what a difference God is making in your own life. Put your faith to work and let Him love people through you so deeply that they can stop being afraid, too.

Proud or Priceless

Mike —  August 31, 2016 — Leave a comment

This summer, I was excited to take my high school students to see For King and Country while we were in California for CIY Move. The concert would be coming toward the end of what I anticipated being a great week, but a long one. I’m not a concert guy, so I was expecting to enjoy watching my daughter and the rest of our students enjoying themselves more than I’d enjoy the concert itself. I should write more about this later, but the show was incredible! Engaging, meaningful, inspiring… and way more fun than any other concert I’ve been to.

One of the things that I appreciated so much was the message of hope and chivalry contained in the song Priceless. Our girls are being taught to find their identity and value in ways that will never really allow them to know their true worth. Popular songs like Sit Still, Look Pretty encourage girls to refuse to settle for being some boy’s trophy (which is great), but there’s also a lot of pain and emptiness when you get to be queen of your own world and discover that’s not what you really wanted after all. (I’m not picking on that one song in particular, it just happened to be on the radio earlier & it’s really catchy.) It’s concerning that behind the facade of empowerment lies a prideful spirit that does not lead us nearer to the heart of God. Don’t settle for being proud, when in fact, you are priceless!

We are, male and female, made in God’s image. God is at work to restore that image in all of us, but the pride that says “I don’t need you or anybody else.” keeps us from seeing that. By pridefully declaring our self-sufficiency, we push away the One who is actually sufficient and all those He’d like to work through to rescue, heal, and fulfill us. Priceless has been a great reminder of human value that steers clear of the pride that so often trips us up. Something to think about…

I have not seen an official video for Priceless, but there is a trailer for their film by the same name. I hope there will be a video at some point because they’ve really done a great job on the other videos I’ve seen released. You should check those out, too.

From Trash To Treasure

Mike —  June 14, 2016 — Leave a comment

I have a problem. I maintain that it’s a good problem, but still… a problem.

It’s hope.

Hope is my problem.

I can’t stop hope.

I can’t look at someone or something and write them off as a lost cause.

This morning, I took a truckload of crap that’s been cluttering up my yard for way too long to the dump. Why did I have all this stuff laying around? Hope. That rotted railroad tie might be useful for something… If I can get a few more Christmas tree trunks, I could make something… That block of scrap wood could be turned into a… something. It’s not bad enough that I’ve let all this stuff clutter up my yard/patio/garage/shop/etc. It’s worse.

As I was loading up, trying to maneuver 8 feet of waterlogged timber into place, I stopped to evaluate if I REALLY needed to get rid of it. As I was holding this filthy, heavy, rotting corpse of something once useful, I (I’m not making this up) stopped and stood for several seconds trying desperately to find some legitimate justification for NOT dumping it! I have a problem.

I can’t see trash.

Oh, I can look at it. But I always see more. I always see potential for something else. As frustrating as this can be (just ask my wife) in the “workshop”, when it comes to people, I’m glad I have this problem. It’s allowed me to see beyond the Facebook facade and the haze of smoke and the hard stares and razor scars and blank eyes and concealing hoods and accolades and great test scores and smiles and makeup and so many other things that have concealed some of the amazing students I’ve known and grown to call friends. Hope has somehow let me see what could be, not just what was.

God can always change what was. I may not ever get around to making “something” out of the debris (let’s just call it what it is) that I’ve held on to, but I believe with every fiber of my being that God can bring hope to any situation. I’ve watched it happen. He can pick up the filthy, rotting corpses of our lives and breathe new life into our lungs. He can breathe hope anywhere…

even in homes wrecked by alcohol and drugs and the abuse that so often comes with them.

even in journalists that can’t seem to agree on what facts are actually facts.

even in election cycles that drag on forever and divide us from each other.

even in families mourning the tragic loss of a child.

even in war ravaged nations and villages.

even in Orlando.

even in me.

This world is so broken. Humanity is so in need of hope. Would you let Him breathe hope through you today? Look through the clutter and noise, find someone who’s hurting or hiding or just in need of someone who will really SEE them, then hope. You just might get to watch transformation take place before your very eyes!

Hi. It’s been a while… Sorry for that. Circumstances have caused a great deal of self editing as I’ve been wrestling with them. But life continues to happen, and I’ve been working on a new project that I’m going to need some help with. I hate to ask after not sharing anything here for a couple months, but I have to. For years, friends and family have encouraged me to write a book. Several of you who read this blog regularly have been the most vocal in your support. Now is the time that I’m hoping that support will translate into the funds needed to get this project off the ground.

I have a guided journal that I’ve used a few times with groups of students that has been helpful to them in developing a deeper life of prayer and I want to make it available to a wider audience. I’ve expanded it a bit and added some elements to help spark the journalers thinking about prayer. But it will cost a little more than I can cover to get this published in the right format, so I’ve started a Kickstarter to help with part of the upfront costs.

So much of our life grows out of who we think we are.

Who we think we are should be informed by our communication with the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves.

You are who God says you are.

But how do you know who God says you are? Can you learn to listen to that ‘still, small voice’? This project will help people look into what the Biblical writers thought about prayer and just how they conversed with God, and also guide readers/journalers in some creative steps into that conversation as well.

Check out the funding page if you’d like to help give this bird wings.