Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Year Plans

This time of year most of us are thinking about the future.  We’re setting goals, dreaming dreams and planning all of the ways next year is going to be different than the last. Except for my family.  Over the New Year’s holiday we are generally recovering from a natural disaster.  
I don’t believe that any days are inherently unlucky, but if I did, I would say New Year’s Eve is our Friday the 13th.  It’s like magnet for catastrophe.  
In the past six years we have had a house fire, a water leak that ruined our living room floor and a gruesome emergency room trip when my wife lost a fight with an immersion blender.  I will spare you the details.  
As you can imagine, these curveballs played havoc with our New Year plans.  The year I thought we’d be hosting a New Year’s Day party, I found myself ripping up laminate flooring.  The year we were supposed to do Christmas with my mom, we spent hours getting my wife’s finger stitched up instead.  And the year we had the fire, it took weeks of dealing with insurance and home restoration people to get the house back to normal.  
The good news, though, is that these nasty surprises have taught me a valuable lesson about life that sets the tone for the new year.  Make all of the plans you want, but hold on loosely because you never know what the future holds.    
James 4:15-16 says “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that’” (NLT).
In other words it’s better to hold on to God than whatever plans we’re making for our lives.  Our circumstances are unpredictable, but God’s faithfulness isn’t.  It’s great to have to goals and dreams, but far to better to have a God who will walk with you whatever life throws your way.   

Monday, December 4, 2017

Episode 009: Challenging Parent Conversations Part 2

In today's episode we're going to look at ten tips you need to consider when talking to parents about their child's behavior.  These conversations are never fun, but if we think through them in advance, they can turn into a great opportunity to build a relationship with parents and help kids thrive in church.  

Click here to listen in iTunes.

In Episode 007, we dove into part one of this conversation, what to do when parents bring a complaint or concern to us.  Today we will look at the flip side and work on a plan for the times we have to have to initiate a challenging conversation with parents.  You can find the ten steps outlined below.  

Ten Steps for Hard Conversations with Parents

  1. Open the lines of communication early.
  2. Choose the best time and location to talk. 
  3. Put yourself on their team.
  4. Clearly state what happened.
  5. Watch your tone.
  6. Don't diagnose someone else's child.
  7. Be solution sided. 
  8. Celebrate the child's success in the future.
  9. Don't be afraid to call in backup.
  10. Pray.

To hear more about each of these, listen to Episode 009.

Christmas Resources

On the podcast today I also challenged each of us to take some intentional time and slow down this Christmas to enjoy our friendship with God.   I mentioned my book Holiday Road: A Christmas Devotional, a fun, light-hearted devotional written to help focus your heart for the advent season.  Holiday Road is available in both paperback and ebook on Amazon.

Also, here is a free Bible study based on Holiday Road that you can use with or without buying the book.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Episode 008: Are You a Thankful Children's Minister?

Our level of thankfulness reveals the condition of our hearts, shapes how we relate to others and determines the direction of our ministry.  In this episode we will check out three things that may hinder our gratitude and three "turkey busters" that will stop these selfish turkeys from running wild in our lives and ministries.

Listen to Episode 008 in iTunes.

In Children's Ministry there are so many challenges and stresses we face each week that it can be difficult to cultivate a true heart of gratitude.  We are keenly aware of the problems and the resources we don't have (Anyone need more volunteers?  A bigger budget?  Better facilities?) and we are often so busy we neglect to pause and reflect on all that we do have.

Gratitude begins with awareness, stopping long enough to recognize the goodness of God in our lives and the ways we have been blessed by others.  But true gratitude isn't complete until it is expressed.  Remember Jesus and the ten lepers?  It was the man who actually returned to Jesus and expressed his gratitude who Jesus considered to be truly thankful.  

What do you need to stop and thank God for today?  Who else do you need to thank in your ministry and in your personal life this week?  

We have so much to be thankful for in our Children's Ministries: faithful leaders, gracious parents and the joy of serving amazing kids. But no matter how much we have been blessed, it's easy to let the frustrations of ministry and the pace of life lead to envy, entitlement and busyness, all of which short-circuit gratitude in our lives. 

In today's podcast I highlight three "turkey-busters," full-proof strategies to neutralize these enemies of thankfulness in our lives.  

Try these turkey-busting Scriptures this week to help you focus on the good things things God has given you and cultivate the habit of gratitude in your life.  

God's Big Christmas Adventure is family devotional written to help bring the Christmas story to life for families this holiday season.  It's available as a $.99 download on the Kindle store.

God's Big Christmas Adventure Now Available On Kindle

This Christmas God is on an adventure, and your family is invited to join Him. In God’s Big Christmas Adventure we’ll follow God on His epic quest to save the world beginning in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night.

God’s Big Christmas Adventure is packed with six family devotions written to help your kids experience the wonder of the Bible throughout the holiday season and in the new year beyond.

This devotion book also includes includes a special bonus section with ideas for new Christmas traditions to help your family make unforgettable memories and experience the power of God’s love. 

Don’t settle for an average Christmas. Dive into God’s Big Christmas Adventure and let your family’s holiday adventure begin!

God’s Big Christmas Adventure is now available for $.99 in the Kindle store.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Free Christmas Bible Study

Believe it or not the holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, that means you’re about to enter one of the busiest times of the year.  Ironically the season that is all about celebrating the birth of Christ can be one of the hardest times to connect with Him.
That’s why I created a free resource, The Holiday Road Bible Study, to give us an excuse to take some time during the weeks leading up to Christmas to reconnect with God.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is a four-week Bible study based on the book Holiday Road: A Christmas Devotional.  It can be used as a companion to the Holiday Road devotional or as a stand-alone study without reading the book.
Each week’s study contains a devotion from Holiday Road: A Christmas Devotional, along with an in-depth Bible study packed with verses and questions to help you dive deeper into God’s Word.
The Holiday Road Bible Study can be done on your own to enhance your personal quiet time during the Christmas season or with a group of friends to get you talking about the Bible and learning together.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is totally free and is just an early Christmas gift from me to you to help you have a meaningful and joy-filled holiday season.
If you like the study, I would love it if you would share it with your friends on social media or drop me an e-mail at and let me know what you think.
The Holiday Road Bible Study is available as a printable PDF, a MOBI file for your Kindle and as an ePub that can be read in iBooks or other e-readers.
I hope you have a joyful holiday season!

Family Devotion: Best Toy Catalogue Ever!

Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIrV)

Bible Story: Luke 17:11–19, Jesus Heals Ten Lepers

Terrific Truth: I can be thankful every day because of Jesus.

Wow, can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner? Before you know it, you’ll be making Christmas lists and decorating the tree. Speaking of lists, have you ever noticed how many stores like to mail you toy catalogues this time of year? They love to show you pictures of all the things you don’t have, so that you can make a list of everything you want. Their job is to try to convince you that you need everything in their store.

What if one year you got a different kind of catalogue in the mail? What it didn’t show you pictures of everything you don’t have, but instead showed you all the stuff you do have? Can you imagine if you had a catalogue with all the cool stuff you own? You may even discover some fun things you forgot you have.

But what if it didn’t stop with just toys? What if it also showed you pictures of your clothes and your food and your home? What if it showed the blankets that keep you warm at night and the hot water heater that heats up your water for a bath? What if it was filled with pictures of people who love you and even pictures of God and all the good things He is doing in your life?

That would be an amazing catalogue, wouldn’t it? Instead of making you think of all the stuff you don’t have, it would make you thankful for all the things you do have.

We probably won’t have a catalogue like that waiting for us in our mailbox, but God wants us to have one in our heart. It’s called gratitude. God loves it when we spend more time focused on all the goods things we have instead of complaining about the things we wish we had. It sets us free from greed and envy and lots of other bad stuff.

There’s a great story in the Bible where Jesus healed ten men of a terrible skin disease called leprosy. Not only did this disease cause the men a lot of pain but it meant that they had to leave their families and their jobs and couldn’t even go to the place where they worshipped God.

When Jesus healed these ten men, He gave them their lives back. They were so excited that they ran off to tell everyone what happened. Except for one guy. He didn’t run away. He ran back to Jesus. Why? Just to say thank you.

You see, his heart was full of the pictures of what God had done for him, and he was truly thankful.
This holiday season, before you make any Christmas lists, make a gratitude list and tell God and your family all the things you are thankful for in your life. It’s the best way to get what you really want this Christmas, a heart that is full of joy.


God, thank you for loving me and giving me so much. Help me to keep my eyes on the good things I already have in life instead of the things I don’t have. Help me to be thankful today. Amen.

Don’t miss out. Sign up here for the Family Devotion Newlsetter to receive free family devotions like this one delivered straight to your inbox each month.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Episode 007: Challenging Parent Conversations Part 1

If you’ve been in serving in Children’s Ministry for more than a week, you’ve probably already had to have some hard conversations with parents. Whether they had a complaint about Children’s Ministry or you had to talk to them about their child’s behavior, these conversations are never fun, but if we handle them right, they are a great opportunity for ministry.

In today's podcast we'll cover nine tips that will help you take these potentially challenging conversations and use them to build bridges between your Children's Ministry and the families you serve.

Click here to listen in iTunes.

9 Tips for Handling Tough Conversations Download

9 tips are a lot to remember so make download the Parent Conversation Cheat Sheet and keep it on your phone or some place handy as a reference for when you're dealing with a tough conversation.

What kind of problem are you facing?

To address a parent's concern, it's helpful to know what kind of problem you're facing.  Is it a people problem?  A process problem?  A programming problem?  Or maybe a preference problem?  Download the Problem Analysis Tool to help you figure out which one you may be dealing with.  

Keep in the mind, there can be quite a bit of overlap between these four areas, and the challenges we face are often a mixture of one or more of these categories.

Finally, there's one category of problem I didn't mention, and that is a perception problem.  Sometimes the problem you're dealing with appears to be one category but it turns out to be more of a perception issue.  For example, several years ago a well-meaning mom suggested that we should consider doing a lesson or a Bible story while her kids were in Children's Ministry.  It was hard not to laugh because that's pretty much all we do.  

In her mind, this was a programming problem, because she thought we just spent the whole hour playing with the kids.  In reality, however, it was a perception problem, because the only thing she was kids playing with their leaders during check in time and watching a video during check out.   It was up to us to help her learn about what we were teaching and to point her toward the tools we provide parents so she could continue those conversations at home.  

Is this a problem to be solved or a tension to be managed?

In this fantastic leadership talk by Andy Stanley, Andy talks about the difference between problems in our ministry that need solutions and tensions that need to be managed that actually help us make progress as a church.