Virtual Tour of Ukraine Protests

Over the last few years the people of Ukraine have stolen my heart.  The protests in Kiev and now other cities have been on my mind since they first began.  One of the first things I do every morning is check the news and updates from friends in Kiev to see what transpired while I was sleeping.

I want to share this article with you because it provides the best visual descriptions of the protests that I’ve seen.  It’s a virtual tour of the protest grounds provided by the protestors themselves.  There is no media bias here.

Please understand that these protests aren’t a disorganized hodgepodge of fiery radicals.  This isn’t about hate or revenge.  This isn’t a grab for power.  This is about democracy and throwing off tyranny, corruption and oppression. The people of Ukraine have suffered enough subjection.  It’s time for them to be free.

For the most part, the protests are incredibly organized, intelligent, and humane.  Check it out for yourself and pass it on.

The Anatomy of Maidan



Practices that Promote Lifelong Faith

Recently I was asked to describe our student ministry’s strategy for helping students develop faith beyond high school.  This is one of my life’s passions so I’m glad to share.  Yesterday I blogged about what I believe is the culture necessary for promoting faith beyond high school.  You can read the post here.

Today I’m writing about the specific practices we employ to help our students’ faith stand in life beyond our student ministry.  Here they are:



Students are often ambushed by the complexity of life after high school.  One of the best ways we can help our students is through education and conversation.  We created a supplemental curriculum for our seniors that covers topics like these:

  • Calling
  • Money and Debt
  • God’s Will
  • How to pick the right college and major
  • How to be awesome at being married

We use two books as well.  I developed a few teachings from Andy Stanley’s The Principle of the Path and we build the entire first semester around Donald Miller’s Storyline.  I find the concepts in these books to be extremely helpful for seniors.  The main point is that we gather ours seniors regularly and talk specifically about the transition they are entering.  By doing this we also retain our seniors very well because, well…they don’t have to hang out with freshmen.  And, the topics are relevant to where they are at.


Every year we invite our seniors on a retreat we call senior sneak.  This event is designed to challenge and equip our students to continue pursuing Jesus in life after high school.  It’s also an incredible bonding experience for our students and their mentors.  Our goal is to cement these relationship because the students will need their mentors in the year to come.

This event is also our most extravagant event.  We spend a little extra money to provide our students with a special experiences.  It’s another way for us to retain our upperclassmen.  We’ve built enough buzz over this event through the years that most of our students really look forward to the experience.

Hand Off

We have sworn off the graduation cliff.  A handshake and a graduation book isn’t good enough.  We believe that it’s our responsibility to connect our students with a new ministry or church and to check in on them.  We also vision and train our volunteer mentors to maintain relationships with their students for at least the first year of college.  Often, these relationship become lifelong friendships.


One of the simplest and most effective things we do is send a care package to our graduates during their first month of college.  The first semester of college is incredibly disorienting.  Our goal is to remind our graduates that we still care about them and that they still belong.  We send them food, LifeLine gear, a Starbucks card, digital bible studies and letters from volunteers and staff.  The feedback we get from these packages is incredible.

In addition to the care packages, we assign one of our staff members to support our graduates throughout the year with regular text messages, and social media check ins.  It’s a small time commitment that pays incredible dividends in encouragement.


The last thing we do is invite our graduates to two different events during their first year of college.  The first is a reunion event for all graduates and their small group leaders.  The goal of this event is to first remind our graduates that we still care about them and their faith development and second to reconnect graduates with their mentors.  This relationship is the most important thing we can offer them.

The other event is a special night at our senior gathering where graduates come and share about what they’ve learned in life beyond high school.  They offer advice to our current seniors and answer questions about what college is really like.  This is a huge win for both our graduates and our current seniors.


So there are some of the practices that we employ to help promote lifelong faith in our students.  I hope you found something helpful.  I’d love to hear some of your genius ideas as well.


image credited to Xiaobo Song

A Culture of Transition

Recently I was asked to describe our high school to college transition strategy and practices. Since this is one of my life’s passions I thought I’d give it a shot.  I hope you find it helpful and I’d love to hear your ideas and strategies.


What keeps me awake at night is the thought of our students walking away from Jesus and the church in life beyond our student ministry. I believe that our ministry has not been successful unless our students are continuing to pursue Jesus in college and beyond.

I think the mistake many youth workers make is jumping to practices that help students transition before stopping to consider the influence of church and student ministry cultures.  What students feel and experience is more powerful than what we say from the stage, especially for those who are involved in our churches from a young age.  Here are the culture pieces that I believe are crucial to healthy transition.

1.  A Culture of Community

I tend to believe that students walk away from churches where they never actually belonged.  Belonging is something that is felt and experienced not taught or preached.  We begin placing kids in small groups as soon as they can walk around.  We fight for a culture of community from the earliest days of involvement in our children’s ministry.  This is crucially important because kids learn:

  • Adults in my church care about me and my faith development
  • My story is important and valuable.
  • Faith is meant to be lived out in relationships.

Everything else that we do in our transition ministry is built around these values.

2.  A Culture of Mentoring

For years in student ministry we’ve talked about the importance of small groups in student ministry.  I believe that small groups are crucial but only when they are the right kind of small groups.  You see, more than anything the students of this generation need mentors.  On the whole, our culture no longer invests in the next generation.  It exploits them.

We must become ministries and churches that pour into students.  We must walk alongside them and demonstrate the way of Jesus.  In our ministry, we pair a mentor with 5 or 6 students for 4 years.  We use the model of small groups to achieve this.  However, we are clear that the “win” is not small group discussions.  The “win” is mentoring.  Small groups are the spring board into a mentoring relationship.  This long term mentoring relationship is key to our transition strategy.

3.  A Culture of Honesty

Many students who walk away from faith in college were silently drifting long before they formally walked away.  These students never spoke their doubts because they weren’t welcome to do so.  Left in the dark these doubts became stronger and eventually overpowered their faith.

Our student ministries must become places where doubts are acknowledged, appreciated and talked about openly.  Our student ministry cultures must communicate that doubts are normal.  We need to stop providing quick and flimsy answers to deeply disorienting questions.  Faith isn’t the absence of doubt.  Rather, it is faith in the midst of doubt.  Doubts pulled out into the light of community lose their power over us.

4.  A Culture of Integration

Some youth workers may disagree with me but I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to students transitioning well is student leadership or ministry teams.  Hold on.  Let me explain.

Many students walk away from church as emerging adults because they never felt like they belonged to their church in the first place.  They felt a fierce belonging to their youth group but after graduating high school they never connected with the larger church body.  Leadership and ministry teams are often counterproductive because they foster intense attachment to the student ministry and not the church as a whole.

Our strategy is to encourage our students to serve within the larger church body rather than within our student ministry.  We want them to become attached to Ada Bible Church, not LifeLine.  We believe that the best place for a student to serve is in our children’s ministry.  There they can use their talents to serve kids and perhaps more importantly, they serve alongside and develop stronger relationships with more adults from the church community.  This way they can also continue to serve after graduating high school.  Integration is the friend of transition.


Helping students pursue Jesus after leaving our student ministries begins with culture.  It requires a culture of community, mentoring, honesty and integration.  Tomorrow I’ll outline the specific strategies we employ to promote long-term faith development.


What Your Kid Needs From You in College

So how do you parent a college student?  While every child is wired differently I’d love to share a little about my college transition experience, and share some advice on what worked for me and others around me.



With the freshman year transition, immediate physical separation from my parents did a lot of good. As counter intuitive as it may sound, I noticed that the less my parents were physically present, the more I grew into my own skin.

In high school, your parents are kind of “always there”, and therefore a link to the life you need to transition away from. In my belief, it was good for me to cut myself off from my home; it also forced me to rely on The Lord and His strength, and not my own. My relationship with Him grew so much more when I only had His presence and promises to lean on.

Now, I’m not saying “PARENTS DON’T TALK OR BE WITH YOUR KIDS EVER, YOU’RE STUNTING THEIR GROWTH!”  Believe me, your kids will need to talk. A lot. I couldn’t even tell you how much time I spent on the phone with my mom.  That’s definitely needed. But, it should stop at that: advice and wisdom.

Additionally, encourage them to not come home as often. Again, I don’t mean to sound harsh, but establishing a presence on their campus does WORLDS of good for them. It allows them to make their school their new home, and also allows their own individual life to be established, instead of constantly having their adolescent life being fed into their present reality. Staying at school on the weekends, although hard sometimes, allowed me to develop new relationships, get to know my surroundings better, find a new home church, and just simply establish my roots. And I’m so glad I did.



My first semester of college was awful. Really awful. I didn’t want to be at the school I was at, I was homesick and terrified of becoming an adult. I love my school now and it had truly become home but at the time I was really struggling. However, the best thing that my parents did during those times was to remind me of God’s faithfulness.  The Lord had provided in so many ridiculously amazing ways for us to even afford college and He would see me through.

My parents did the wise thing and redirected my focus away from my emotions and toward the logistics of how God had shown Himself real and present.  A quote that got me through a lot: “When you cannot trace God’s hand, you can trust His heart.” (Charles Spurgeon)



I found that my relationship with my parents grew tremendously when I went off to college.  Our relationship transformed from one based on authority to one based on friendship and shared experience.

And the beautiful thing is that through college, I began to see my parents as wise adults who have been in my shoes before. Yes, my parents were my age at one time and learned the same exact things I did. That mutuality is absolutely priceless. Embrace that transition. It’s beautiful.



As I said earlier—college freshman need to talk things out. Talking helped ease the stress that I was feeling—and parents who were willing to listen made all the difference.  This doesn’t mean you towards “fix” the problems.  Sometimes just having somebody to talk to makes all the difference. These conversations further cultivated our relationship. Don’t shrug off the times that your child wants to talk. Those times mean the world to us.



Despite what I’ve suggested about transitioning away from home, please continue to show your kids that you love them. Some of the best moments in my college career were when I had this feeling of “Man, I’m growing into my own person. I’m becoming Spencer Penfield,” and then that afternoon I received a letter from my mom just saying that she loves me. Or a random phone call from my dad asking how my day was going. That combination made me feel like I could do anything

Finding ways to show your child how much you’re rooting for them, how much you love them, and how much you think what they’re doing is great- that’s what gets us by. Being separate, but continuing to love and encourage, that’s what it feels like to grow up.

So, whatever stage of the transition process you may be in and however frustrated or great you feel, rest in this truth:  transitions are meant to bring us to a spot where we have to put everything into the Lord’s hands. It is through these times that we are given the beautiful opportunity to surrender to the One who is constantly working something in us. And that is a beautiful truth to rest in.


Guest Blogger:  Spencer Penfield will be graduating with a major in Strategic Communication, and a minor in International Business from Cornerstone University this spring. There, he is the Marketing Intern where he helps manage the University’s social media. Spencer is an aspiring photographer, writer, dreamer, and storyteller. You can see his work or


Image Credited to Paul Stainthorp


The Evening Highs and Lows Tantrum

Everyone knows that all great student ministry small groups start off with “highs and lows” or some variation of it.  Some call them “best and worst,” “roses and thorns” some “wows and pows,” “mountains and valleys,” and others “poops and giggles”–an unsanctioned “craps and laughs” has even weaseled it’s way into popular usage much to the chagrin of conservative youth workers everywhere.  Also, more linguistically sophisticated youth groups employ “waxes and wanes.”  Actually, that’s a lie.  I don’t believe that archaic wording has been seen since 1884.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the idea behind “highs and lows” is that each student shares the high and low points of their week. This exercise is incredibly important because how else could Billy share about his great aunt Mabel’s bunion issue or how could Sally’s tell of her cat’s untimely end in the neighborhood cul-de-sac.

On a more serious note, “highs and lows” is actually a genius technique for leading a small group.  It creates space for each student to share and employed over time the exercise creates an atmosphere of honesty and support.  If you’re not utilizing it in your small group I won’t tell anyone of your noobitrocity but you should get on it!

A few months ago I decided to employ “highs and lows” in my family.  We began to share our “wow and pows” at every evening meal.  I fancy it to be a mini-small group time.  My kids are young–7, 5, 3, 1 so, sometimes the sharing is a little ridiculous.  Here are a few quotes:  “My high is that I won a monkey at school.”  “My high is that Parker asked me to marry him.”  “My low for today was that I peed my pants at school…again.”

Sometimes sanctioned “highs and lows” protocol is broken.  For example, my 3 year old hasn’t exactly grasped the difference between highs and lows so he always refers to the worst part of his day as his “high” which sets of a cacophony of laughter and well meaning corrections from my oldest son who is immensely concerned with exactness of procedure.  He’s a perfectionist in the making.

After the laughter has quieted, a second break in protocol arises.  My oldest daughter, who shall remain anonymous is rather rambly.  They say that in a typical day women use twice as many words as men.   Well, I am sure that my daughter uses roughly four or five times that amount.  She has the amazing gift of being able to stretch a short story into an incredibly long affair. She’s sort of like a Hobbit movie in that way.

As a typical dinner goes, she will begin to share what her low of the day was and my oldest son, who you may recall is concerned with exactness and specificity as well as succinctness and accuracy interrupts the story with a shorter and more correct rendering of the tale before she has finished.  Everyone knows that interrupting another’s “high” or “low” is a serious procedural infraction.

Now, along with being exceptionally wordy, my oldest daughter is also an Olympic level tantrumist.  Yes, she can go from zero to flail in just under 3 seconds.  Her tale now highjacked by her accuracy minded brother, my daughter will presently throw herself to the kitchen floor and flail about for several exceptionally loud moments.   At this point, the meal is either ruined or we take a 5 minute recess to regroup.  This is essentially what happens every time we do “highs and lows” at the Buer house.

All in all, I must say that I plan to continue using “highs and lows” at our evening meal from now until I’m too weak or senile to boss my kids around.  What I love is that my kids are learning to share honestly with each other and with us.  I also know that community isn’t built overnight.  It takes investment and time.  Over and over again I’ve seen 6th grade small groups that from the outside appears to be a WWE cage match, and yet that same group in the late years of high school is transformed into a beautiful picture of what grownup church ought to be.

The truth is that you can’t have the honesty, love and commitment without first going through the cage match.  Real community is forged in the wrestling and stories of aunt Mabel’s bunion and the dead cat cul-de-sac.  It takes time.  And, that’s exactly why I’m going to keep plugging away with “highs and lows” at the dinner table.  Although, a pair of ear plugs for the tantrums may not be a bad idea.


image credited to Amanda Tipton





2 Ways College Freshmen Struggle

One of my favorite student ministry events over the last few years is our graduate reunion event.  I love gathering our previous year’s graduates together with their small group leaders over Christmas break and listening to their stories.  Hearing their struggles and triumphs reorients my ministry focus.

So, what did I learn from spending a couple hours with former youth group kids who just polished off their first semester of college?  I’m glad you asked.


Nearly every graduate who shared talked about how hard it was to adjust to life beyond high school.  Most of them experienced loneliness during the first semester and talked about how difficult it was to find a group of friends and solid Christian community.  They talked about how hard it was to be so far removed from the people in their lives with whom they could be vulnerable and honest.  They felt like they had lost their cheerleaders and supporters.

Some of our graduates also felt a sense of letdown as they adjusted to college.  For years they had been told that college would be the best time of life and how they were going to have the time of their lives.  And yet, during the first few months of their first semester, most students felt profoundly alone and disoriented.  Most were not yet experiencing the good life they were promised.


The second thing our graduates talked about was balance.  Students struggled to juggle their new found freedom, social life and school work.  Most of the students said they planned to focus on school more next semester because they weren’t happy with their grades.

Several of our students talked about how they had to learn to say “no.”  One girl joined 18 different clubs before she learned the “n” word.

Balance may seem like a peripheral issue but I think it is actually the main issue for most of our students.   Because they struggled to manage all their roles, important areas of their lives suffered.  For many it was their spiritual lives.  It wasn’t that they didn’t care about God or that they wanted to make bad choices.  Rather, it was that they didn’t know how to structure their time in a way that created space for the things they really cared about.


We place a major focus on transition in our student ministry.  Our goal is that every graduate of our student ministry would continue to pursue Jesus after high school and our programming structure reflects this value.  What I’m realizing is that it isn’t enough to prepare our students to defend their faith, find a solid faith community, and warn them of the dangers in life.  If they can’t manage their roles and responsibilities, some of the things they deeply care about will inadvertently be put on a shelf.

We as parents and youth workers need to prepare our students to manage clubs, intramural sports, laundry, homework, dating, money, sleep, video games, and family.  Maybe these things don’t seem very “spiritual” but teaching our students to manage their time and resources may be one of the greatest gifts we can give.


image credited to Mark van Laere

Don’t Be a Negative Nancy in 2014

As we forge into 2014 I’m taking some time to reflect.  Is it just me or does it seem like there was a boatload of negativity in 2013?  Let me paraphrase my Facebook and Twitter feed from the year:

I don’t like that thing that guy said and if you do you’re stupid.

I hold one political belief and if you don’t agree with it you’re stupid.

I have a set of moral or religious values and if yours are different you’re stupid.

I’m not content with my life so you’re stupid,

I have no patience or grace of offer anyone so you’re stupid

My fantasy football team keeps losing so you’re stupid (ok, that’s just me)

So, to keep up my usual habit of offering advice that no one has asked for, here are my thoughts on internet behavior:

Calm down.  I fondly remember a time where people didn’t FREAK OUT and call for someone’s head on a platter over simple disagreements.  You don’t agree with my religion or politics?  That’s totally cool.  I’m not going to call you a moron and post a bunch of Memes to back up my name calling.  What’s the point?  That certainly is no way to win you over to my side.  Never once have I read an ugly hateful post from anyone that has made me think, “Gee whiz, maybe I should join them, they seem like fun”.

Now, I’m not asking the Right and the Left, Atheists and Christians, or Ohio State and Michigan fans to join hands and sing Kumbya.  How about we just start off by easing up on the exclamation point key?  Or, wait for it…..reserving some thoughts for face to face conversations rather than tweeting them.  You remember face to face right?  It’s where you say something to someone and you have to deal with their reaction in person.  It’s very 90s.

Suck it up.  Sometimes life is hard.  You didn’t get your Amazon order by Christmas.  Someone slid into your car at a stop sign.  Your kids were sick for all of Christmas break.  Your power went out.  I know what you’re thinking “You don’t know me or what my life is like.”  You’re right.  So with that in mind, why are you airing all of your complaints, issues, and personal problems on Facebook?  Either you have a complicated personal life that needs to be worked out with your close friends and family, or you’re just raining on the Facebook parade.

Seriously?  Let’s keep in mind that regardless of what’s bothering you, or the latest bit of manufactured outrage that has your undies in a twist- if you have the resources and ability to squawk about it online then you are better off than 90% of the population on earth.    OK, stand back-here comes the Jesus Juke….if you want to see people who are in need, people who are suffering, people who have it bad, maybe you should go on a mission trip.  Can you get water from your kitchen tap that’s not flavored with Cholera?  Then perhaps you should sit down and count your blessings and possibly have a cup of chamomile tea (I hear it’s relaxing)

Look, I’m not saying that you should never ever complain online.  This isn’t Panem and we don’t live in District 12.  I’m just saying that if you’re a Christian and you make it a habit to complain or fight with people on the internet you may want to rethink your social media presence.  Perhaps your dis-contentedness is telling God that you don’t trust him with the little things in your life.  The whole premise of following Christ is making him the boss of your life, and He can’t be boss if you always think you know better.



Guest Blogger:  Christina Thelen has been serving in student ministry for over 8 years and has been policing Internet idiocy since Al Gore invented it.  When she isn’t volunteering with students she can usually be found planning epic events or posting cat pictures to Facebook.


image credited to stark23x

What Are You So Afraid Of?

People are afraid of funny things.  Have you noticed?  Some people are afraid of being alone, some of crowds, some of being up high, some of being underground.  People are afraid of animals, bugs, thunder and darkness.  What about you?  What are you afraid of?

Personally, I’m afraid of lots of things.  As a kid I was terrified of mostly everything—the dark, tight spaces, heights, flying, and needles.  Let’s be real, needles are TERRIFYING!

As I grew older, I became afraid of different things.  Mostly, I became afraid of what people thought of me.  Maybe you can relate.  So, what are you afraid of?  I mean for real?  What keeps you up at night?



You might be surprised to know that the Bible says a lot about fear.  In fact, it may be the most common topic in the Bible.  God repeatedly commands his people to “Fear not!” or  “Do not be afraid!”

Maybe you have heard of the biblical character named Joshua.  Joshua followed after Moses, who led the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.  Moses led them all the way to the Promised Land and then inconveniently died.  After he died, Joshua, who was his protege, took over the leadership of the people.

And so there they were, on the borders of the land that God had promised them.  All they had to do was conquer fortified cities and armies much larger and technologically advanced than they were.  I don’t know about you but that sounds scarier than needles.

Into this scene, God speaks to the young new leader of Israel and said…

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9)

Don’t be a sissy Joshua.

In other parts of the Bible, God commands His people to “not be afraid.”  I don’t know about you but someone yelling at me to stop being afraid while I am terrified is basically pointless because I can’t change how I feel.



The key to understanding all these “Do not be afraid” commands is actually Christmas.  That’s right, I waited until after Christmas to talk about Christmas because I knew you’d be distracted by all the lights and gifts.  Check out part of the Christmas story from Matthew 1:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).

This name Immanuel is incredibly important.  It means that God is with us.  That is what Christmas is all about.  God has come to be with us. This presence of God among us is the key to fear.  Let’s return to the story of Joshua standing on the borders of the Promised Land.



God commanded Joshua to “not be afraid” but within that passage are 3 different declarations from God that he will be with Joshua.  You see, “fear not” is not as much of a command as it is an invitation.  If God is with you, what do you have to be afraid of?  God wasn’t asking Joshua to “man up,”  He was inviting him into the reality of His presence.  “Hey I created everything with mere words and hold the universe together.  Why are you afraid of some walls and chariots?”

The story of Christmas is the story of God with us.  The beauty of it is that Christmas is an ongoing reality.  Immanuel is an ongoing invitation of God’s presence.  It isn’t just for Christmas day.  It’s for today.  It’s for tomorrow.  Because of Christmas, God is with you.  Always.

So, what are you facing?  What are you afraid of? Is it what they think of you? Is it that you might fail?  Is it that you might not be good enough?

What if God is with you?  What if Jesus is Immanuel?  What if He cares and is present in your struggle?  What if He is bigger than the fears you are facing?



Goodbye to the Most Disappointing Year

I have to be honest, 2013 was not my favorite year.  In fact, it may have been the most disappointing year of my life.  To be sure, there were plenty of high points.  I absolutely love my wife and kids and really enjoyed our time together in 2013.  We had a great year with vacations, school and life as usual.  Also, this year I was blessed with the opportunity to lead our high school ministry and so far it has been a fantastic year of ministry.  We added 5 staff to our team this year which has been an adventure.  And yet, as I look back over 2013 one event casts a dark cloud over the rest of the year:  Our failed adoption.

Over the last few years, I have become more and more involved in partnering with local churches and ministries in Ukraine in order to reach out to and serve orphans.  In that time my family and I fell in love with Ukrainian orphan kids and even decided to adopt a girl who stole our hearts.  We worked incredibly hard to find partners, raise money, secure the necessary documents, and prepare our family.  God opened doors and the impossible repeatedly became possible.  She was so happy to join our family and we were so excited to adopt her.  The adoption process was such a difficult but amazing ride until our dreams crashed when our girl suddenly changed her mind about wanting to leave Ukraine.  She was manipulated by her orphanage director who was more interested in money than her future.  He convinced her that she belonged in Ukraine and that she needed to stay and take care of her alcoholic mother who had abandoned her years ago.

We did everything we could to persuade her but nothing worked.  And then, after the deadline for her adopt-ability passed, her mother committed suicide.  It was a terrible time and I’ll never forget holding this poor girl last summer as she cried and cried, wishing she could undo her decision to stay in Ukraine.  I’ve never experienced such heartbreak.

The adoption journey has been hard on me.  I still wrestle with why God allowed this to happen.  Clearly, He is the Father to the fatherless and calls His people to love orphans.  We were simply trying to follow in the path of Jesus and it didn’t work out.  Why didn’t He show up and fix this?  I don’t think I’ll ever know.  But what I do know is that the world is more broken than I originally supposed.  There is darkness here that can’t be glossed over.  This world needs restoration.  I used to be satisfied with this broken world because my life was easy and comfortable.  All that changed in 2013.

Never again will I be satisfied with this world.  It’s broken.  Millions of people are hurting, lost, without clean water, without parents and love, without hope.  My prayer for 2014 is that Jesus would return and restore this broken place.  To be honest, I didn’t used to be terribly concerned about Jesus coming back.  I’ve always enjoyed life.  Now I realize how messed up this world is.

And until Jesus restores all things, may the Church rise up and serve and love.  May we represent Jesus well and may we work toward the restoration that is coming.  My hope for this year is that we would become more engaged in suffering.  That we, as God’s people, would become less comfortable and more mission-minded.  We are the agents of restoration in this world.  Let’s get to work.