This blog was originally posted on January 8, 2015.
Every year I seem to make the same new years resolution. It always has something to do with drawing closer to God. Basically doing better at John 15:4, “remaining” in him. This year is no different.
John 15:4: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
What does it mean to remain in God?
I recall the day vividly. A short-term team had come to visit and the first task on their list was to clean the green space in the center of the neighborhood. The space was filled with garbage, litter and overgrown weeds. No one had cared for it in months, maybe years. The team, having landed only a matter of hours before, graciously put on their work gloves and dug in. They worked for hours and at the end of the day the green space was cleaned and mowed. It looked great and the group and community smiled.
How will you show thanks this holiday? I remember a few years ago sitting down to watch football after our Thanksgiving meal thinking, ‘I haven’t really taken the time to make Thanksgiving very thanks giving.’ Not only had I missed the point of thanking God for His goodness, but I had failed to miss a tremendous opportunity to love others. An opportunity to share God’s goodness to those He has placed in my path.
Sometimes the holiday creeps up on us so quickly that we forget to make the day more than food, football and planning for the black Friday sales.
In the United States it seems everything is at our fingertips. I remember when our family returned about 3 years ago from living in Bolivia. One of the first things we remember (even as we walked through the airport) was the amount of people with smartphones. Blackberries were the in-thing when we left and now everyone had a smart phone. We didn’t even know exactly what it did outside of connecting to the Internet. As an early 30’s adult it was weird walking into the Verizon store a month later and admitting to the attendant that we had no idea how they worked and if we even wanted one.
Now, Americans are essentially addicted to smartphones. According to a recent pew research study nearly half of all Americans admit they couldn’t live without them! 
What is it that draws us to our smartphones? Even more why have we become so dependent on technology and instant control?
This was originally posted on October 14, 2013, but we wanted to share it with you again.
Jesus: Our model for loving others
How should my life (words, actions and decisions) reflect my relationship and pursuit of Christ?
If a person is walking with God on the inside, then their life (words, decisions, and actions done out of obedience to God) should reflect a distinct character on the outside.
Seven months ago I sat with a group of men at a men’s event in Sioux Falls and shared about God’s heart for the vulnerable and poor. We read scripture, discussed the meaning of some verses, shared our hearts in worship and committed to doing something about the brokenness in our community. In the room that evening were mechanics, accountants, contractors, farmers, coaches, graphic designers and entrepreneurs.
I challenged them to dream. What could this group together do for the kingdom of God? How could these talents and skills be used to love the vulnerable of Sioux Falls? Within a matter of a few weeks Men of Action was formed.
Entry six of a six-part series
Over the past five blogs we have answered the question: “Why it is critical for the church to be involved with the poor?” (If you are just joining this discussion and want to get caught up with us start reading the first entry of our series found here)
As we end this short series it only seems fitting to share one of the incredible ways we are seeing a church embrace the call to love and care for the poor of their city.
Founded over 15 years ago, Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon is a church that has embraced the call to be involved with the poor. I spent a few minutes talking with Josh Butler, the Pastor of Global/Local Outreach about the heart of Imago Dei. Here are a few of the highlights.
I once befriended a pastor who told me a story of how he desperately wanted to get the people in his new church plant into small groups. He wanted the group leaders to be well-equipped, so he embarked on a stringent process of training. After 5 intense months, only 2 new groups were prepared to launch.
In the meantime, much of the passion for leading and joining groups fizzled.
Thankfully he didn’t make the same mistake when training people to serve in areas of outreach. One of his mentors told him, “listen man, training and equipping is important. But stop trying to control everything by over-planning and over-preparing. This time, just go do it and take your people with you.”
Entry four of a six-part series
When I think of the word servant I think of a cupbearer, someone kneeling at the side of the king ready to meet his every thirsting need. Or a farmhand, shoveling manure or cleaning off the dirty plow. The word servant is often associated with menial tasks; cleaning, cooking, washing etc. – things that most people would not prefer to do. Consider this: In the Smith’s Bible dictionary  the word servant is used in the following ways:
Entry three of a six-part series
What images or phrases come to mind when you hear this word?
As someone who has been deeply involved in church ministry for over two decades, my understanding of discipleship has gone through several rounds of refinement. (I’m pretty sure there are many rounds of refinement still underway as I continue my journey of following Jesus, but that’s another blog…)