I’m going to be a dad + the most amazing last two weeks in HSM

1 02 2012

There are a lot of exciting things going on right now in my life. My wife is pregnant, 36 students accepted Christ two weeks ago in Student Ministries, and 105 students expressed interest in going to Haiti with HSM this summer this past week. I feel like there is a movement going on in Student Ministries and there is definitely a bunch of new and exciting adventures going on at my house (like not getting any sleep because my wife moves around all night trying to get comfy. She is so insensitive!).

Here’s the story I shared with HSM two weeks ago:

Back in September of last year my wife and I realized something was missing from our life. We were really happy with how everything was going. We both had great jobs, awesome friends, an amazing marriage, a cute dog, and an unwavering faith but we still felt like something was missing.

 November rolled around and I went on a mini vacation with a few friends and when I got back my wife told me that she bought me something. I asked her what it was and she said a new shirt. I was thinking, “man she is excited about this new shirt she got me.” But my wife loves buying people gifts so I kind of brushed that aside. As she went to go get the shirt she told me to close my eyes and when I could hear that she was about 8 feet away from she said, “alright open them.” There in front of me was my wife holding up a little baby outfit. 

 The first thing I said was “that’s not going to fit me.” And she said “Can you just be serious for once?” So I focused in and asked her if she was pregnant. She said yes, we hugged, texted our parents and a few friends and sometime around July 20th I’m going to be a dad. The thing that was missing for us was a kid. We were ready to be parents, we felt like God was pushing us in that direction and the thing that was missing for us will no longer be missing in a few months.

This then led into a message about something missing in our lives and for a lot of people the missing component is Jesus Christ. This has been one of the most exciting couple of weeks in my life and I still feel like the best is yet to come!

Here’s a little recap of the lat two weeks.

Series: We are in the middle of our series on the Armor of God called “Ridiculousness”. On Jan. 8th we taught a message right out of Perry Noble’s (senior pastor at Newspring Church) book telling our students that Found People Find People. We encouraged them to invite their friends back on January 22nd. (We also started a pretty big buzz on social media surrounding that day by asking our students to hash tag everything with #J22. It was really cool to see them rally around that.) They responded in a huge way and that weekend 36 students that we know about texted us and told us they were ready to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The following week we encouraged students to move forward with what God has equipped them with and serve. In response to a one of our three new service initiatives in HSM that were presented to our students this past weekend, 105 of them said they wanted to go to Haiti with us this summer. They responded to the vision to take action.

Worship: Jan 22- The team opened with a song by Rhianna (We Found Love) and played Awake my Soul by Mumford and Sons halfway through the message. Kevin and I had a blast incorporating music into the message and the students really responded. They then finished with an awesome song of celebration called Freedom is Here.The goal was to create an environment that a student who has never been in the doors of a church would feel comfortable in.

Jan 29- Hear the Sound. Oh My God. From the Inside Out. One Thing Remains. Tyler led and did a great job!!

Fun: Jan 22- Played a couple Minute to Win It games that went really well. Jan 29- Played a game that ended with Steve S. (one of our apprentices) with whip cream all over to him. The students lost it!!

Areas of Improvement: We need to bring this energy, excitement, vision, etc. EVERY WEEK! We saw our potential and now we know we can make that happen week in and week out. Time to get to work.


Just wait until your father gets home…

5 05 2011

I love to talk back. Even if I know I’m wrong, I really love to talk back. I guess I enjoy the argument. I remember talking back to my mom once when I was in third grade. I said something really rude and hurtful to her and it caused a moment of anger I didn’t see too often.

There is something you have to understand about third grade Steve. I was a BIG boy. I think I weighed something like 120 lbs and was about 5’2″. My mom is also 5’2″. Except she only weighs 100 lbs. So, in this moment of anger when my mom went to smack me in the face for talking back (it would have been well deserved), I channeled my inner Bruce Lee and grabbed her hand mid swing and said, “Don’t smack me.” Pretty courageous for a 10 year old right? It was, until she said those words I always dreaded. “Just wait until your father gets home.”

Crap. That was never good. My dad’s build was a bit different than my mom’s. 6’3″, 200lbs of belt wielding fury. (***I just want to make it clear that my parents did not beat or abuse my as a kid…they didn’t “spare the rod” but they were very fair.***)

All that to be said, I was a punk. I still am in a lot of ways. Not only did I keep my mom from disciplining me, but I gave her PLENTY more reasons to have that same reaction for quite a few years to come. My mom did plenty of disciplining, but she never failed to communicate love. I know she cared about me regardless of how poorly I treated her. I knew she would always be there for me even if I wasn’t always there for the family. And I knew she loved even though I didn’t care for anyone but myself.

After all of those trials I guess I learned a lot and turned out O.K. My parents had a lot to do with that. This weekend I get to share a little bit more about my experiences growing up with our JH and HS students and their moms. The fact that my mom will be standing on the platform right next to me is the most exciting part. I can’t wait to teach with her and let our students and moms see what a healthy, consistent, loving mom really looks like…

The night I got arrested…

24 03 2011

Last weekend I shared a story with about 50 parents about a mistake I made when I was 15 years old. I point to this experience as the beginning of a tumultuous 4 years in High School.  But not for me (at least, not at the time). My parents experienced the most hardship and difficulty during this part of my life. I know it’s true because they told me. Staying up late at night arguing what to do with me and how they were supposed to move forward in the midst of a pretty solid amount of dumb decisions.

The night I went to my first ever High School dance I was filled with excitement, fear, and anxiety. Mostly the latter two. I succumbed to peer pressure (which would turn out to be a trend for me) and invited a girl I didn’t know all that well because “we were part of the same group.” We dressed up, I placed the corsage on her wrist, we ate a delicious dinner, had our parents drive us to the school, and I suffered through the actual dance- only dancing during the slow songs. To my wife’s chagrin, I still treat most situations involving and form of dance this way.

After the dance I went to my friend’s house with 2 of my best buddies and began to watch TV and talk about girls and eat a ridiculous amount of food. At about 2 am one of the less intelligent members of the group informed us that he had smoke bombs and it was our duty to light them in front of the Carl’s Jr. down the street. We agreed. We put dark clothes on and set out for our adventure. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it very far.

As the lights flashed above the police car our immediate reaction was to run. All of us except for the guy whose house we were staying at. He decided to sit on the curb, so we had no choice but to join him. The four of us were piled in the back of the police car and I thought my life was over. We ended up having to pay a hefty $20 fine and take a 4 hour curfew violation class on a Saturday.

The part I remember most about the whole experience was probably mom and dad’s reaction. That and the horrible feeling in my stomach the next morning. Like I said before, this was the start of a string of stupid decisions I would make for the next 4-5 years and my parents had to deal with the headache of it all. However, in their response and reaction to my dumb decisions they ALWAYS communicated love. I knew they cared about me, I knew they loved me, I knew there would be consequences, I always got disciplined and I always knew they had forgiven me.

This week I am teaching on forgiveness and in preparation for the message, one of the first things I grabbed out of Timothy Keller’s book The Prodigal God was that forgiveness costs something. It cost my parents a lot of sleepless nights and it caused arguments and disagreements between them. But the price they paid for me is the reason I am sitting in an airport getting ready to go with my dad to our yearly March Madness games. I have a great relationship with my folks. I respect them and love them and I am so thankful for their sacrifices.

But, as much as it cost my parents to forgive me, it cost Jesus a lot more. As much as my parents sacrificed for me, Jesus sacrificed a lot more. As much as my folks longed for me to come home, Jesus desires for me to come home that much more. Without any kids of our own, I think this is part of the way I understand forgiveness. And I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am. Hopefully our students grab onto that as well.



Parenting (No we’re not having kids…yet)

7 01 2011

I figured with a title like “Parenting” I would get a lot of questions about our plans to have children. We’re still waiting Mom. The way I look at it I already have 200+ kids and I don’t have to change their diapers.

With that out of the way, it seems like parenting has been a fairly large topic in my life recently. My best friends in San Diego are pregnant, my good friend and mentor just adopted a beautiful girl from Ethiopia, and then there’s my job. If you are in student ministry or have ever worked with students, you know you are working with FAMILIES. Parents look to YOU (mid 20’s with no children) for parenting advice. It feels a little weird but everyone involved knows you actually have something to offer. You are relevant, you understand the culture, and you can even figure out what is going on in the mind of a teenager from time to time. YOUR insight is valuable and parents trust you because you love part of their family.

Students are difficult creatures to work with and parents LIVE with them. I remember hearing my folks remind those around them “there is no handbook for parenting.” I understand that and my heart breaks for parents in difficult situations. In the last two weeks here at Cornerstone, I have heard about a family dealing with suicide, a family finding out about an affair, and many families experiencing broken trust because of decisions made by their son or daughter. Students go through addiction, abuse, messy relationships, ridicule, loss, manipulation, and so much more hurt on a daily basis. As parents discover these pains and burdens they have us to turn to.

My hope and prayer is that those of us that work with students and families will be present and available. I pray we will be wise, humble, and loving as we meet with and care for the people God has put in our lives. I pray we have individuals to confide in who love us and care for us as we minister and lead. And I pray God will flow through us as we counsel and advise in areas we have yet to experience ourselves.

“That’s all parenting is. Pretending you know what you’re talking about and then jamming it down their throats.” -Danny Devito in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”