The two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make

February 28, 2008

Early this morning my friend Jamal Jivanjee shared a poignant word on the two most common, but deadly mistakes that leaders make.

It can become so natural to lead by the Voice when necessary. I am surely guilty of this. But it doesn’t make sense – either you lead full-on spiritually or we’re settling in our own abilities.

I believe God is calling out a generation to lead by the Spirit with every fiber of their being, who are not afraid to penetrate any culture for the name of Jesus, who are fiercely bold and courageous yet with childlike innocence and endeavoring love. My brother Jamal and I are heartstruck by this piercing promise. It seems daunting, but we are called to keep listening.


Soon, very soon

February 26, 2008

Soon, very soon, I hope to catch you up on life. I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging, but hope to get back in the midst of things very soon.

Hudson Taylor, during a time of severe sickness

February 26, 2008

Today, at my Doctor’s office, I looked down and read these words under the glass on his desk. I immediately took out my laptop and wrote it down because it resembles the past time for me.

Hudson Taylor the great missionary, during a time of severe sickness, once said, “I am so weak I cannot write; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.” That is all that God asks of you, His dear child, when you grow faint in the fierce fires of affliction. Do not try to be falsely strong, but rather be still and know that He is God, that He will sustain you and bring through. “Stay firm and let thine heart take courage.” Psalms 27:4

C.S. Lewis on Pain

November 29, 2007

A moving speech in the movie Shadowlands. C.S. Lewis, who is played by Anthony Hopkins, shares this 2-minute version of why God allows pain.

Oh, That’s Common Sense (Then Why Doesn’t Everyone Remember to Do It)

November 25, 2007

Thoughts from my last day at Mayo Clinic

Published: September 6, 2007

Do I Try to Find Common Ground?

Shortly after our conversations with our newfound friends at the Starbucks next to Mayo, I began reading in I Corinthians 9. I was sitting in the waiting room for my last appointment with the Internist before heading back to Atlanta.

“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings (vs. 22-23).”

I want to dig into this on a much deeper level and understanding later today. But for now, I am fascinated with the simplicity and practicality of it. For one, it just makes sense. Do I share in people’s oppression? I want to see what the meaning of that word is here, but in a general sense it means to feel dominated, coerced or subjugated by something or somebody. To be oppressed is to be subjected to a harsh or cruel form of domination or to have worry, stress, or trouble because of somebody. It also means to hold something in check or put an end to it (Encarta World English Dictionary). For me it’s sickness. For others it’s a boss or a government.

The fact is many if not most people are oppressed by something, and Paul is saying we should share their oppression. To share means much more than just finding commonality. It can also mean to take equal responsibility for it, but I’m not sure (yet) if that is what Paul means here. The message is we must be responsible to share with others whatever they are going through for one overarching purpose: “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It doesn’t say, “so that they might be led to Christ” and it doesn’t say “so that someone might bring them to Christ.” It says “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It also doesn’t say “will”—it says “might” which means that doesn’t mean you must bring them to Christ, taking off the wrong kind of pressure. There’s a balance to this like everything else in the Christian walk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Evolutionary Conference

October 5, 2007

In April of 2006 I was eating lunch at Panera Bread downtown Orlando. A guy who looked about my age asked me about the book I was reading. The rest is history…

Evolutionary Conference


Jon Tyson brought the goods. He gave terrific talk on the Holy Spirit. Following him was tough enough. Well, everybody else had to brave through my breakout session.

Overall, it was a great turnout and I loved the environment. See you tomorrow at FBC Orlando.

Cool vs. Effective

September 27, 2007

Read where Rick Warren said…“Concern: some churches would rather be creative and cute than effective; they prefer cool to effectiveness. Problem: most of the world is not “cool” and those churches become boutiques. (Eg, Wal-Mart is not cool.)” Thanks for the link Jeremy.

I agree.

Ever since I was a kid I have noticed and thought about how some people are cool. Well, sure I’ve wanted to be cool and maybe you could say I was -to some people (and maybe not to others), but generally I have always thought it was buggish as the English would call it.

I have friends in ministry who are really cool, but when I’m around some of them I feel an awkwardness that’s hard to describe. I feel a coldness. I have some ministry friends who do some really cool things and yes, who are really cool, but I don’t see the kind of life change described in the Bible oozing from within. I won’t dare criticize them because God uses all kinds of people. But I just want to look at them and ask them why I feel this way and why won’t they love and listen to everyone, not just the seemingly “important” people.

God addresses this in many passages. We are to maintain a balanced lifestyle of love and Truth. God’s movement is about trust and Truth, grace and love.

I have to admit I often feel tempted to try and be cool rather than effective. I am careful about who is on our team. I hope to build a team who wouldn’t know they are cool if they were, who just does what they can to reach real people.

The ultimate goal is always to not see the clothes we wear or the positions we’ve held. It’s to just see Jesus.

The meaning of a to-do list

September 27, 2007

No, I cannot imagine the horror and pain New Yorkers felt. I remember walking into the conference room at the organization I was serving at in Dallas. The emotions that welled up inside me. Then a few days later being in NYC and witnessing a destraught city looking for something, hope, meaning and answers.

This post that reads beautifully while touching a nerve. It’s by far the best post I’ve read in a long time.

The Genuis Misfits

September 27, 2007

Here’s a video worth watching. Created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. The Wizard Academy calls him a good example of a genuis misfit, something they specialize in. A genius misfit, says the Wizard Academy, is someone who suceeds in the mainstream even though they never feel completely part of it.

Would you be called a genuis misfit?

Seeing people differently

September 23, 2007

As you can see I’ve tentatively changed the name of my blog. Not sure if I’ll keep “i see people” or not. That happens to be the quote I have on my personal business card. See.

As you read it on my card, if you look uniquely you’ll see it doesn’t just say “i see people.” It really says “i see people differently.” And well, I try, because every person is different. There are no cookie-cutter people. That’s impossible.

I think it’s valuable for every person to train their minds to see things differently. Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind, says Samuel Johnson. Tom Peters champions, We are all unique. Beware Standardized evals: One size NEVER fits all. One size fits one. PERIOD. 53 Players = 53 Projects = 53 different success measures.

It is true. The guy who has nothing to say has something to say. Everyone has something to add—a value to give—an experience to share. No matter who is talking—listen closely and you’ll see the truth in this. In fact, if you listen hard enough you’ll have to buckle up because it might be too bumpy to ride if you’re not ready for it.

No matter how hard you try you are going to be different. You can’t be like anyone else. Don’t try. You can’t.

So there you go. I’ve been meaning to change the name for some time. Hopefully, this name will be easier to say (as I know conversoulogy isn’t). I also plan on revamping my entire blog.

A new update

September 21, 2007

I know. There hasn’t been too much posting this week. Here’s the latest…

• Met with my friend Lee McCutchan for a few hours over at the Ministry Ventures office. He told me about this thing called Hyperbaric Treatment that has changed his life. So, I’m going to give this a try. Lee’s not the kind of guy who just jumps into something, which I appreciate about him. Lee’s in the convergence season of his life, since he sold his company a few years back. That company had up to 180,000 taking classes at once. Hyperbaric is an innovative treatment. He said a lot of professional athletes use it. John Smoltz has one at his house and gets in it before games to give him a mental boost. Thanks Lee –for your generosity.
• George Zimmer called and recommended someone in Atlanta. For now, we’re going to put that on hold since we are working with some other doctors.
• Amber’s dad has recently become friends with a doctor named Ray Strand. Dr. Strand is a M.D. who for years thought vitamins didn’t work and nutrition could be gotten from just a normal diet (like many medical doctors believe). Then his wife became ill and they couldn’t out what was wrong with her. That is, until she started taking nutritional supplements and soon thereafter she felt better. Dr. Strand went on to write a bunch of books with Thomas Nelson. He’s been very accessible to us, which is nice. Thanks to Amber’s mom and dad for helping out with this and being so generous to help me get on Dr. Strand’s Usana program that has helped over 2,000 people.
• I am sleeping better, largely due to the prescribed sleeping medication (something that I put off doing because I don’t like taking medications unless I have too). But even these super powerful sleeping pills can take up to 2 hours or more to put me to sleep.
• Besides this I am working like crazy to finish up a consulting paper/analysis for my friend at Chick-fil-A. I’ve developed this tool called “We are all the same. Unique.” And God’s opening more doors to use it to help leaders clarify their unique passion, wiring and calling. It’s fun to be able to mix my leadership research and experiences with my love to write and individualize. And craft something leaders can put in their backpack. I’ll tell you more about this later.
• Last night we hosted another spiritual dialogue at our home. Can’t get enough of ’em! We are truly blessed with wonderful community around us to “do life” and to spur each other on to live the gospel! We thank God for you.

Frustrated, No. Intrigued, Yes.

September 10, 2007

I have a hunch that when some heard we came back without a root cause they felt really sorry for us. We have one word for you: Don’t! I know you must think we are frustrated. It makes sense, right? Actually, we are more excited than we have ever been. We hear God’s voice and see Him working. What else can we ask for? I’ve been fully healthy while not having that before, and it wasn’t fun.

We’ve been able to experience a closeness in relationships that is insurmountable in light of any normal season.

Bottom-line: My body is hurting, but my spirit and soul are growing.

I am intrigued by what God is doing. First and foremost He is growing us (Amber is going through this too). What a loving Father! Second, He has a plan—and this is part of His plan. Isn’t that exciting?! I could give you stories and stories, opportunities and opportunities of ways I think God has used this. But none of them will compare with the real story God is writing. Only He knows the purest and clearest reasoning behind this. That is why I don’t even feel the need to explain the many, many reasons I can think of why and how God is using this. If you need that, then you don’t know or have forgotten who our God really is. But if you do, then you know how God works and how beautiful that really is! I don’t feel the need to explain everything – as Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 9—I just give what I can and follow God the best I can and leave everything else to Him. Like Paul wrote about, if I tried to please everyone it would not only be unwise, it would be wrong. So, I thank you for trusting and sharing what the Lord is doing in and through us. And we do the same for you and with faith that God is pursuing us (and you) no matter what stage or season any of us are in. That’s the most important thing.

Even though it is highly tempting to be frustrated (and we all are at times) -it is much better to turn such possible frustration into hope, and of course, faith. And I hope to make my way each day with a slice of intrigue because I never know what God wants to do “today”. Perhaps, it is this mystery, when embraced, that makes life a thrill to live.

I pray our lives and your life is as He wants them to be. I pray we will each walk with Him all the days of our lives. And I pray we will “be still” long enough to remember who God really is and that will be our guide post as we live each and every day.

Final Day: (Is this the end or the beginning?)

September 7, 2007

The end is near (or so we think).

I’m writing this on day five, and it can’t be a bad day considering what day four was like. I wouldn’t mind etching that from my memory. Not only were the tests painful (and I might add, personal), they did not lead to a viable answer. “There is something wrong,” the Doctor alluded, “I just can’t pinpoint the root cause.” So you’re basically saying that something is wrong in my body, but you don’t have a clue what it is. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Then my Internist who is quite the guy, upon looking at all of my test results and detailed reports from all the specialists, looked at us and said something like this, “We at Mayo get some of the worst cases out there, and are known to find answers that others could not find. But… (uh oh, I don’t want to hear that word “but”) there are some cases we don’t figure out.” Ouch. He didn’t say that did he? Then he goes on, “Sometimes it takes time.” I have heard that before. “You have to try things.” Thankfully, I do have a few new things to try. “Other times it can be too early to catch whatever is going on.” Interesting, but that makes sense.

So, you can imagine our spirits as we begin this last day that includes one last meeting with our Internist.

We continue to feel hopeful and how important it is to keep reminding ourselves how grateful we are that so many horrible cancers, tumors and diseases have been eliminated. This is especially encouraging to consider among so many others who are incredibly sick. However, all we know is that something’s off in our spirits.

We want to accept that –hey, if Mayo can’t fix you then only God can, right? (Yes, we believe this but we don’t feel in our hearts this is the only way we need to think.) We know God can heal me right now, but we also know He has a plan that we are to trust and follow.

“Unscheduled” Appointment

Now, it’s 10am and we have some time until our last appointment. We decide it would be good to go to the Starbucks 100 feet from the main building. Our souls are longing for some “soul nourishment” time. I drop my laptop and Bible on the comfy chair and tell Amber I need to take a walk.

When I return she is engaged in conversation with a lady probably in her fifties. She has a blood pressure checker wrapped around her arm, and hooked around her neck to hold it up. I can tell they are “into” it, in a very sincere, genuine sort of way.

Sherri is a former Ophthalmologist from Western Wisconsin, a strong Christian, and a very sweet demeanor. Well, for the next hour or so she pumps Amber with tremendous insight and encouragement. There’s a lot of common ground going on in that conversation.

While they were talking, this guy in a Tommy Bahama shirt and black jeans jumps into the conversation every now and then. He seems very curious, and also seemed to have a lot of common ground with Amber and Sherri. Sherri’s husband has been sick for a long time as well, somewhat similar to me but had improved a lot, so they were able to relate a lot. And the guy, whose name is George, could relate too because his daughter has been sick for a long time, and his wife is there for breast cancer. While this was going on I was chatting on the other side of George with someone Sherri had met at Mayo named Barbara. She was there for her routine check-up. A dynamic Christian herself, we had a wonderful conversation and prayer.

I’m getting somewhere so stay with me a little bit longer.

We find out that George is someone we all know. When he handed me his card it said George Zimmer, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Men’s Warehouse.

That made me chuckle.

Most of us know him from the television commercials he narrated, usually closing with the company slogan “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” Started in 1973, and now there are over 700 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

So, we’d like to shout out a big thanks to Sherri, Barbara and George, our newfound friends. God used you to give us the exact wisdom we needed to move forward. Our hearts skipped a beatwhen we met you.

You guys encouraged us to consider more options. You agreed that Mayo is the best in the world at what they do, which is a wide range of traditional medicine. But now that we have more options, we feel led to keep searching.

Goodness it’s hard to be flint!

September 4, 2007

But we are deeply grateful to have His promises. Thank you for sharing scriptures with us and for your constant prayers- we certainly need them. So far, not much has been “revealed” in the physical realm- although always encouraging to cross off more of the “really bad” things from the list! We are still waiting on more test results and Bryan has two tests today- one that has been done and was abnormal so they are checking further- although when asking the Dr. if this could be causing his other issues, he didn’t think so. There have been some things recommended to “try” out as his symptoms remain very hard to diagnose- even for the Mayo Clinic. But we are still praying that if there is something that is “missing” or just hasn’t been a light bulb in the doctor’s minds- that it will come to mind. They will be conferring today and tomorrow- so please pray as they discuss and think that if there is something that hasn’t yet come to the light, that it will.

Interesting to say the least that one doctor while asking about the process of this illness actually asked if a lot of good has come out it- and of course we went on and on about great things that have happened and how God has used it. Then he said (admittedtly tongue in cheek!) “Well, if God is allowing this, then who are we physicians to wrestle Him to the ground?” Whoa. That was crazy. Especially since there wasn’t really evidence that he was a believer. And not long before that- Bryan was able to share with him and he had lots of questions about faith and what specifically that means. So who knows?! What we do know is that we are supposed to be here and that no matter what, we will continue to seek healing in Bryan’s physical body, while at the same time seeking to glorify the Lord in the midst of this challenge.

2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Status, and Sioux Falls

September 2, 2007

I only have a second to write. We are in Sioux Falls with Amber’s family. …hanging at the lake and without an internet connection.

So far, we have eliminated some things (more on that later) and are waiting to hear the results from the MRI and Lymes Disease test. Friday was a very busy day, to say the least! So, check back later for more stories and info.

We will be back at Mayo on Tuesday morning.

Here’s a pic we took yesterday:


Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Like Flint.

August 31, 2007

Hey, it’s Amber again. Bryan is in a test. Wanted to update you quick on what is going on. Yesterday morning we had one appointment that went well- very sharp doctor- the one who ordered this test this morning. We were also able to get some other appointments scheduled for today. We spent the better part of the day being a “checker”- basically like flying on standby in a waiting room and trying to see if he could get fit in earlier. He didn’t end up getting in, but we can’t say we didn’t persevere! 🙂 Today is a very full day with 5 (possibly 6) appointments. Thank you for your prayers for these appointments. Please continue to pray for wisdom for these doctors.

Some verses that stood out to me from the Lord this morning were from Isaiah 50.
vs. 7b “I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
vs. 9a “It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.”
vs. 10 “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

The word “flint” grabbed me, so I had to know exactly what definition would be given for it. Upon looking it up, I found out it described as an extremely hard stone – used to produce a spark or strike a fire. One specific definition was “something very hard or unyielding.”

And it’s not a pretty stone either. Clearly it is a necessity and not just to look at- not the kind of stone you would use as jewelry!

This morning, we are setting our faces like flint. Our trust is in our God. We are so deeply grateful that He has allowed us to be here at this incredible facility with some of His most intelligent people. He has lead us to this point and we know He will continue. Though we are still in the dark as to what is going on… we surely have a sense that light is and will be revealed this week. We desire to be unyielding in our focus and to persevere in patience- all the while being aware with a readiness to be a spark of hope and encouragement for anyone He puts in our path.

Our host where we are staying asked to pray with us last night. It was such a beautiful time and showed us again the sweetness of the Body of Christ.

Thank you again for your prayers and words of encouragement in this process. Pray that today will be significant in getting us closer to some answers. We believe it will be… but we surely need the Lord to go before us and to bring clarity.

We love you and we are so grateful for you. We know so many of you have things going on in your own lives as well and we pray for each of you as the Lord brings you to mind. It is a joy to be on this journey together.

btw- if Bryan has time or feels up to it to write a post sometime today he might so check back in a while…

Day One: The Mayo Experience

August 29, 2007

This is Amber…

Greetings from Rochester, MN!

We arrived safely last evening after a flight delay due to weather. Our new friends we are staying with, Dr. Simon Mittal and his wife greeted us with warm hospitality!

We are deeply grateful for your prayers. The initial consultation this morning went well. The doctor overseeing the evaluation is not only smart, but also kind and easy to work with – a huge blessing! After reviewing medical records, many questions and an exam- he referred us to three other doctors and for some tests. At first, the earliest available appointment for Neurology was next week… But praise the Lord it has been moved up to Friday so far. We will continue to wait to try to get in earlier on two of the appointments- please pray that will happen. It will make a huge difference- especially if those Dr’s order more tests.

All the staff at the Mayo Clinic have been friendly and helpful. It is evident that they care about patients and are “on your team” to get answers and expedite the process as much as possible which is very encouraging (esp. in a world where I sometimes wonder if customer service has gone out the window!) Yes…it is still alive! 🙂 Amen.

Again, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your prayers and support in standing with us. There aren’t words. We love you.

So Like God

August 29, 2007

I feel so much love. The response has brought me to tears. I am utterly speechless.

God has put every piece in place. I don’t know what God has in store for this trip, but I know it is already a glimpse of how God is in control.

A few “So Like God” happenings already (wrote this entry at midnight last night—just now posting it):

So Like God #1: Here we are, staying in someone’s house we’ve never met before tonight. Dr. Simon Mittal, who works with the Mayo Health System – first a servant of God, second a family man, and third a servant to God’s church. He and his wife, Maren, asked us (actually asked!) if they could pray with us one night. I love the Body of Christ!

It feels so good to begin the tests tomorrow with a community of laborers who care. I don’t feel alone. In fact, I plan on reading all the emails and comments I have been receiving in the waiting room or wherever else they want me.

I have this humble privilege of going to one of the top medical centers in the world. It’s such a humbling thing – for little ole Bryan to receive this kind of treatment. But, you know, I am more excited to experience the Body of Christ here in Minnesota.

So Like God #2: Dr. Simon happens to live in the same city – a not-so large city of 26,000 folks, as my cousin’s wife grew up in (note: I have one first cousin! Ha!). This is where her family lives! Right down the street from the Mittal’s. How amazing. We are about 50 miles from Rochester, so it’s not like this is a coincidence. I love it when cool things happen like that. Oh, did I mention I officiated Jeff (my cousin) and Debbie’s wedding last year, so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this wonderful family.

So Like God #3: This illness has brought me closer and reconnected to so many people. I love that! I’m quite surprised, even though I shouldn’t be, by how many people have taken the time to get in touch. I suppose it sounds like a bigger deal when you hear about it for the first time, partly because they know me as an energetic guy. I guess it has become sort of the “norm” in our lives over the past year especially.

So Like God #4: Minneapolis/Rochester happens to be only about 4 hours from where Amber grew up and where her family lives. So, when I’m done at Mayo for the holiday weekend, we’re going to drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and be with the Unruh clan. There’s never a dull moment around them, which I love.

Life’s sooo good!

New News – Going to Mayo Clinic

August 28, 2007

New news

I am writing to say hello, and give you an update.

It has been a long road, filled with lessons I won’t soon forget.

I have seen 16 doctors both in the medical field and the holistic field, some of whom, are the best in their area. I have traveled all over the country to see them and I am grateful to each one for adding some value to me. (btw…if you are wondering- yes, I have read Jordan Rubin’s books).

It seems it is time to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. All of the great doctors I have visited have helped eliminate some possibilities and helped me with better health habits and nutrition, but they haven’t been able to lead me towards total health. And although I have certainly grown in my ability to manage and deal with this illness mentally, emotionally and even spiritually; my physical symptoms of extreme fatigue and “brain fog” (among other things) continue – not fun for a normally intuitive 27 yr. old should-be-full-of-energy guy. Thankfully, we were able to rule out Celiac Disease after all (a change from the first test results). With a liberated diet (praise God!), I have gained some weight. It was just two months ago when the scale read just over 110 lbs. I knew I was in trouble when one Doctor started calling me Paris Hilton and Nicole Richey. Well, I am extremely grateful to have put on 15 lbs. and of course each day we plead for divine healing.

Flipping the Switch

It’s the best way I can describe what happens when “it” hits.

If I have two-three semi-normal days in a given week, it is a phenomenal week. The other days have phases. Something like this:

    It usually begins when my body begins to slowly crash. I can usually feel it coming the day before it takes over. By the next day, I am laid out in bed with a body that can barely move. It feels like I am shut down completely. At times I can feel pain in my bones. And the biggest heartache is in my mind. I wouldn’t mind losing my bodily energy, but when my mind shuts down, it feels terrible. And this is the most humbling part of being sick. Many days, I don’t have a choice but to show up to the event I am speaking to, or the meeting I have scheduled for. And I am at the mercy of my body, or if the Lord chooses to miraculously heal me for an hour or a few days. It’s truly amazing how often this happens. Recently, we were speaking in Ohio, and my body and mind stayed focused throughout the two days. When I finished my last speech, everything immediately shut down. Those are the cool, unforgettable moments. My switch is in God’s hands.

The term worldliness can be defined as “living as though you have no need for God.” Well, God has graciously chosen to give me help in learning this. I am completely dependent on Him, and it’s actually a wonderful thing. When I try to do things without God, it’s not good. I am learning to live more prayerfully by His Word no matter what I am doing. I certainly don’t do this perfectly, far from it, but I am learning and growing. And it helps to have a wife who walks with the Spirit. All of this to say, more than anything I am learning to “fight” and “stand firm” on the promises I already have. It’s not about letting go and letting God. Rather, it’s joining Him in the “good fight” for God’s mighty power to have reign.

So much support…

I am taken back and humbled from the hundreds of emails I have received. I cannot believe there are people who have not only prayed but actually have fasted for me. I have heard so many stories of how God is using this illness for his glory, and that makes it all worth while.

I have to admit, I haven’t done a very good job communicating with everyone. I guess it’s partly due to the fact that when I have a good day, the last thing I want to do is write or talk about my illness. There’s so much more to do! It’s hard because we still don’t know what is going on. I have tried so many Doctor protocols and yet it continues. I have found it’s hard to communicate what’s going on without a “name” or a “diagnosis”.

Mayo Clinic Door Opens

I have been to Emory in Atlanta, unfortunately they join the long list of health centers and medical professionals that haven’t been able to offer a concrete solution or even a diagnosis. I have tried many tests. These tests are invasive and humbling to say the least. And now we feel it’s time to try even harder! So, tomorrow I fly out to Rochester, Minnesota and Wednesday morning is my first appointment at The Mayo Clinic. They are well-known as one of the top health centers in the world. Please pray that God would bless these doctors with the wisdom to finally understand what has been causing this illness. Please pray that he would strengthen me and bless me with peace and contentment during the multitude of tests that I will undoubtedly have to undergo. Please pray that he would bless Amber and I with discernment as to which tests should be taken and to help us to make wise decisions.

We thank God for insurance, but still these tests at Mayo could cost up to a maximum amount of $4,700.00 out of pocket- which is still a lot! Please pray the Lord will provide for whatever we end up needing through His people or whatever means necessary because we have been doing as much as possible to take on extra work, etc. but we are at a point where we still need extra help. And the last thing we need is debt.

I am most grateful to Christ who freely gives peace, love and joy that makes nothing unbearable. And I am grateful to my friends, family (and even strangers) who have lended prayers and a “huge hand” when we need it most.

Do pray with us. It’ll be nice to feel well again, but in the meantime we’ll keep roaring as loud and strong as we can.


What is the Church?

August 28, 2007

I’ve been rediscovering the essentials of the faith, a discipline I should be doing regularly. Right now, I’m digging into what Jesus called “My church.”

To begin with, I am reading through Charles Colson’s classic Being the Body. Last night, I read a good chunk in it and tonight I am taking notes. My hope is to go through this with our community in September.

Here are some excerpts about the definition of the church. It’s not even close to everything, and does not fully define it like Colson does throughout the book.


    In direct response to Peter’s confession, Christ announced: “On this rock I will build my church.”

    And to that church He promised a vast grant of authority, which He called “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

    “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,” Jesus said, “and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church was to be His instrument on earth, and whatever was done in His will would have eternal significance and consequence.

    Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession was to announce that He would build His church. And from that declaration we learn four crucial lessons about the church.

    First, the church is not a building. An ekklesia was a gathering of people. For the culture at large, ekklesia meant a public assembly of citizens. It was used when they were “called out” of the city to vote. Through its Hebrew counterpart, it also meant those whom He brought together and called by His name. The people of God.

    All references to the church, including the metaphorical “body” and “holy nation,” refer to God’s people.

    Second, the church is more than simply a collection of people; it is a new community. Many modern Christians see the Christian faith primarily, if not exclusively, as the gospel of “Jesus and me.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

The Prosperity Gospel

August 13, 2007


There was a time in my life when I would have had a hard time -not with what John Piper is saying, but how he is saying this. But I would have been wrong.

This is a dangerous, misleading false teaching that MUST be eradicated.

Yes, these are intense words, but our day and our theology causes for it. May we continue to converse about these issues, so that we find ourselves only satisfied in Jesus. Our life and the world depends on it.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with 100% of it, but it’s important that we guard our theology. Read I Timothy 4 and 6. Paul thought so.

Kudos to Jimmie Gillespie for telling me about this.

Now let’s converse…

Oh – by the way, this applies to health and suffering too:) I surely would love to learn more with you about these issues. As for the suffering issues, I have a lot of opinions from this past year through my own health deficiences. It caused me to study it like never before. And I think I’ve heard everything under the sun. There’s certainly a lot there about what we’d like for theology to be.

What’s most important to do in college today?

August 13, 2007

I couldn’t agree more:) with most of this.

An eye on the next life

August 6, 2007

As I lay in bed this rainy afternoon, the only thing that brings joy is keeping an eye on the next life. I may not be able to talk. I may not be able to move. And even the slightest stress turns my inward body into an out-of-control spin. Yes, these are without question unique times! But my soul and my Spirit are alive and well, thanks to a great God I have the privilege of walking with. And the only way that can change (-a unaligned soul and Spirit) is to do anything but sit and rest because God wants me to do just that. I’m not supposed to make phone calls. I’m not supposed to go hang out with friends. I’m definitely not supposed to work. I am commanded by the Ruler of the Universe to sit and be. And it feels good.

I am utterly amazed.

And…I will relish every moment when my body builds itself back. However, in the meantime, as I sit and be, I am reminded how I was made for the life which is yet to come. The men before me who followed hard after God, men like Abraham and Joseph, and all the patriarchs of the Old Testament, they didn’t know why things went as it did, much less what was next. They did know, however, that God was with them, and there was more to life.

What life are you stacking up rewards for?

For the life which is yet to come—live well!


August 6, 2007

Amazingly, the moment I finished my last message at this weekend’s retreat my body went haywire. All weekend I felt relatively good—even on little sleep and a fairly busy realm of activities. And this energy lasted until the last second. God is so amazing and all-powerful! He’s definitely been protecting me from the low-times when I needed some energy. The week before I did pretty well on vacation, or about as good as you can do on a vacation. I was tired a decent bit, but hey – I was vacating so I got along all right.

God showed himself this weekend, and it was a pleasure to partake in such a sweet time. I made some incredible friends and learned a lot. But the HUGE bonus was Kara accepting Christ. Amber had the privilege of praying alongside of her as she cried out to God and as God opened his arms wide open. Amazing.

Thankfully, now I’m chillin at George and Jami’s house. Actually, I’m laid out on a bed in their guest room and can hardly move. But I’m filled with so much joy due to my gracious and giving Heavenly Father. Wow, I’ve never been so happy to partake in this gift of sickness. What an honor!

Definitely keeping me grounded, and a huge reminder of the God who created the Universe.

Kudos to Jimmie and Rachel Gillespie…who have officially become two of our dear friends for life. Our conversations were riveting—to say the least. We are so grateful to Brian and Janaa (and little Dylan, of course) and the New Life College and twentysomethings gang who blessed our socks off. Though we surely missed two of our best friends Andy and Sarah Bullard who had to make a last minute run to the hospital to have child #2—Grant Noah Bullard—who decided to arrive a little earlier than expected (credit also goes to Sarah’s erupted appendix).

Really looking forward to being back in Ohio for New Life’s men’s conference in late October.

And really, really looking forward to making the Bullard’s our brand new neighbors in September.

Who will Father and Mother all these children?

July 20, 2007

Spiritually speaking…

It’s easier to keep a few feet away (a mile for some) from those who don’t share a similar belief system than it is to invite them into our lives. There’s an easy way and a hard way to do it. The easy way has proven to be a remedial supplement for some, however it keeps us isolated from sick patients who need close, constant, attentive care. People don’t need Doctors that tell them how sick they are; they need caregivers who’ll Father and Mother the new baby child into its new world of fresh beginnings. Who will Father and Mother all these children?

We are all the Same. Unique.

June 29, 2007

We are all the same. Unique.

We are unique. We are all the same in that we are unique. We share uniqueness.

No matter how hard you try you are going to be different. You can’t be like anyone else. Don’t try. You can’t.

You are unique.

You were born unique and you die unique. Some were born into wealth and others into poverty. Why? One little girl was born into the poorest of homes and became the richest woman in the world. Her name is Oprah.

Why is it that we see those who are poor as unfortunate?

It doesn’t make any sense does it? Is it meant to?

Why do I weigh 110 and feel so sick (at the time of writing this over a month ago)? Is it because God wants to teach me something or make me better? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it okay for once to accept there may not be an answer? YES, it is! Embrace the mystery, but more importantly-embrace your uniqueness in this mysterious maze of life.

How to stay humble

June 28, 2007

One day I was having lunch with Josh McDowell and two businessmen. One of them asked Josh how he stays humble. But Josh kept talking. The guy grew kind of irritable so he asked him again, “How do you stay humble as you accomplish so much for God?” Josh’s answer: “I’m too busy to think about it.”

That’s it.

There’s something to be said about working hard for God and not looking back, but keep your head focused on the now, on our God. Many of us in our culture spend so much time evaluating, which is a good thing, but sometimes it causes us to outthink what really matters. Josh works hard. He gives what he can and leaves the rest to God. That’s the way Jesus led his disciples. He told them what to do, in fact, he pretty much threw them in the fire and they obeyed. After they obeyed they went to sleep ready to give God another day. We live what we can have for ourselves; another vacation, a retirement fund or a new house. We work hard so we can reap great things for ourselves. But I don’t read anywhere in the gospels about the disciples doing anything remotely like this. Jesus didn’t lead them that way. He didn’t tell them if you do this and follow me like this you will reap things for yourselves to enjoy. He called them to die to their selves, and to live for eternity.

We know one thing: you won’t be humble thinking about being humble.

Top 10 Lessons I Have Learned From Being Sick

June 28, 2007

Last Sunday, I shared at my Dad’s church some of the top lessons I am learning right now through all my health deficiencies. Here’s a look at my short-notes:

1 “I didn’t know how to be sick.” All of us are suffering. No one is immune to suffering. We all suffer because of the fall.

2 “Sometimes, I don’t feel spiritual.” Feelings are fleeting. Feelings are fickle. I didn’t know it was there. I had to relearn what it means to be a spiritual being. I put some stock in what God made me feel, but when I became sick I was forced to realize how dangerous this was.

3 “I took for granted the good times.” It’s amazing how much it hurts when we can’t operate like we used to. And it’s unfortunate how many of us don’t stop and consider how fortunate we are. We misuse the gifts and sometimes we control and overpower people with our strong personality and ability to outsmart people. Well, what happens when that’s all taken away? Then what do you do? We should remember whose we are and what we were created for. While I have been sick I have been able to reflect and I’ve realized how much I live for myself. It’s sad, really. I think of me far too much and place far too much attention on me. It’s quite embarrassing once you think about it in light of our God and eternity. It’s hard to imagine what it feels like when your personality changes. Yes, when you get sick it affects your personal makeup, the way you interact, the way you lead, the way you communicate, everything. If I depend on achieving I will eventually get depressed.

4 “Being sick doesn’t change your life.” It reveals who you really are. And being sick is a good time to let people into your lives. It’s an opportunity to see how we respond and struggle through hard times.

5 “Suffering without meaning is despair.” And meaning might not be a two-step formula. It might mean there is no reason at all, just a loving God whose allowed you to hurt. And while he allows it, he hurts with you.

6 “You can’t deny yourself unless you know yourself.” Sure, it helps to study others and how God worked in and through them, but it’s far more impacting to study ourselves, and how God wants to uniquely lead us. I think there’s something drastic missing from our lives when we ignore the study of who we really are. God made us to be unique. He made us with specific distinctions and purposes, yet we don’t put emphasis on learning what those are.

7 “Sometimes we’re so worried about the what, while God is more concerned about our motives.” I may not be able to “discern” or “feel” (if that matters) if my whole heart is not in line with him. I have to be completely surrendered in order to do the what. It’s amazing how “simple” the what is when we’re this way.

8 “Your misperceptions might be perceptions.” When I was a young, brash 17 yr old who was transformed by Christ, following Him was simple, thrilling and impactful. I read the Word and obeyed. Simple as that. I shared my story with others and saw fruit almost every day. Five years later, I started trying to figure everything out and do it “better”. At that moment something began seeping out of me. I have to work hard to remember my salvation, and what matters and doesn’t matter. Misperception: I am called to do this or that. Perception: I am called to “live in Christ, die is gain”, “to make disciples of all nations”.

9 “People will fail you, but our Heavenly Father never will.” I will fail my wife. My wife will fail me. Your earthly Mother and Father will fail you. But our Heavenly Father will never fail you.

10 “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?” Those who do most make the most mistakes. God doesn’t bless leaders. He blesses faith.

Also, this is a word I wrote in my journal the night before:

    I am not seeing God as he really is, as the Old Testament prophets saw him. When I pray and when I ask what he wants I have my own agenda in mind because I doubt that what he wants is what I would want. I have too little respect and perspective of who this Great and Mighty God really is. When I pray in the back of my mind is this little tug-of-war of thoughts saying what I think is best for me and not what he thinks is best. Yet, I am doing this with the Creator of Heavens and earth – the Mightiest thing that my mind can’t even comprehend. Yikes!

As I try to constantly recall this thought, it is changing me!

Nice People Don’t Change the World

June 28, 2007

I just came across this book and idea that resonated with me. It’s by Lynne Hybels, wife of ministry guru Bill Hybels, and I believe it reflects the struggle of “many”. I don’t think this book is for women only, and in my opinion it might as well be called Nice People Don’t Change the World. Yet, she’s writing to women who only in general terms struggle with this more than men (men struggle with it their own ways). But I like how she uses that to help spur women to use their untapped potential, to “respond compassionately” to the world with the “talents, skills, education, and financial resources that women didn’t dream of in the past”.


Nice Girls Don’t Change the World is also about Lynne’s transformational story “from a people pleasing ‘nice girl’ toward becoming a change-maker (or as she prefers to say, a ‘dangerous woman’)”, one “that has taken her through a painful crisis of identity, a pitch-dark night of the soul, and a fierce battle with fear.”

We’ve got to let go.

We’ve got to let go of the things that are tying us down, like fear, perfectionism and pride – and use what God has given us to change the world! We’ve got to stop hesitating and move far and away from passivity and indecisiveness, and have courage. Faith is having hope in the future. Fear is losing hope in the future. God says to never worry about tomorrow, but have hope in it – and focus on today. This is what makes a person come alive!

It’s so hard to motivate those who are gripped by fear because they’re afraid of making a mistake, and with so many options to choose from choosing anything can be a daunting thing. This is why we are afraid of commitment and would rather use our time to watch a few hours of Television than serve the world. And as our confidence drops and our focus hazes we become nice people. When we are too concerned about what people think of us it’s a sign of meism, which is rooted in selfishness and fear. All we have to do is re-surrender our lives to God and put our faith and motives in him, and we’ll move from nice to dangerous.

As Erwin McManus says (as I recall in my head, misquoted), “When we are out of God’s will, we are in danger, but when we are in God’s will we become dangerous.”

Dick Wynn

June 11, 2007

Six years ago Amber and I were graced with the chance of a Lifetime. Amber was interning with Tim Elmore at EQUIP yet he gave each person another mentor to meet with every week. I was interning in Dallas at Josh McDowell Ministries at the time and remember hearing all about her new mentor Dick Wynn. Dick was creating a new division at EQUIP focused on training emerging leaders. Previously, he served as President of Youth for Christ International.

As soon as I made my way back to Atlanta to see Amber I was introduced to Dick and since then he’s become of the most impactful people in my/our lives.

The last few years Dick served at Crown Financial Ministries as the Senior VP and Presidential Advisor. He had a small goal to train a couple hundred million leaders overseas. Dick’s the kind of guy I could share an idea to and he’d make it bigger, better, stronger and wiser. Trust me, you’ll be hearing more about Dick on this blog.

Just recently, Dick and his wife Janet decided to leave their role in George to be closer to kids in Florida. I had the opportunity to write about Dick on his Crown farwell guestbook:

“You are the model leader. When I think about leadership I think about you. You know how to cut through the fog, how to make the right decision at the right time – how to cast a masterful, memorable vision for the future. Among so many other qualities! You certainly know how to distill wisdom in me and you do it with such natural, unforgettable ease. What else can I say? You are the leader inside my mind. So, for the rest of this guy’s life there you will be. You’ve enriched my life, Dick. That, I am grateful for! Love, Bryan Davidson (btw: and Janet, what a jewel, what an inspiration you are to us!)”

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