Lessons From My Daughter On the Night Before Kindergarten


My oldest starts kindergarten tomorrow morning. No more two days a week pre-school, no more half days; but all day kindergarten. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around where the past 5, almost 6, years have gone.

In honor of her big day tomorrow, I invited her out to dinner tonight. I wanted to begin a tradition for she and I (as well as my other kids). I wanted to share some one-on-one time with her. And I wanted to offer her some words of wisdom and encouragement as she begins this new journey.

Everything was going as planned. She got dressed up. I arrived home from work to pick her up for our date. She selected the restaurant. You might think she would pick Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s. Nope, not my girl… Red Lobster. We arrived, walked in and checked in with the hostess. We went through our routine of checking on Larry the Lobster in the glass tank. (Larry ALWAYS seems to survive & still be in the tank each time we visit. It’s miraculous!!)

So, we sit down, order our food and begin our conversation. And, then it happened. About half way through my semi-prepared speech about beginning kindergarten, I was sharing with Abbye how her mom and I want her to be a leader at school. We wanted her to look out for and take care of her classmates. To look for people who may need a friend and be that friend to them.

At that point Abbye asked me, “Daddy, what if there’s a kid at school that other kids are making fun of and being mean to and they won’t stop, even if i try to stop them?”

In response, I said, “If that happens, you need to go let the teacher know what is going on and let her handle it.”

My daughter looked me in the eye and shook her head, “No, Daddy, that’s not me. I’m not gonna tattle on people. I can just handle it myself. I’ll tell them to stop. And if they won’t, I’ll just take the kid the are being mean to and we will walk away from those bullies.”

I tried to get a word in.

But she continued,”And then I’ll tell that kid that they are very, very special no matter what those other kids say. And I’ll tell them that they can be my friend and I’ll protect them from mean kids.”

It was then that I realized, my speech was unnecessary. My daughter was going to do fine. And she had a much better grasp on things than I gave her credit for. As much as I wanted to still caution her that there will times when she will need to bring the teacher into the situation, I was too overwhelmed with pride in what she had just shared from her huge heart to go into it. I decided to leave that lesson for another day.

We came home and as Abbye got ready for bed, I shared our conversation with my wife. She quickly relayed a story of her own from earlier today. My wife had said to her, “Abbye Grace, there may be kids at your school who are different. They might not dress in nice clothes. They might look different. They might smell funny. But we need to be kind to everyone.”

Abbye’s response, “Oh, mom, I would never make fun of their style. They just are who they are. Jesus loves them. And I love them too. Jesus loves their style. And I’ll love it too!”

At what point in life do we lose that? I wish we didn’t, but we do to some degree. We become self-centered. We become jaded. We put up walls of defense. We feel the need to hurt others before they hurt us. We stop reaching out. We say we care, but our actions don’t show it. We refuse to take the risk of standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. We criticize people who are different instead of seeing them how Jesus sees them.

I choose to take a lesson from this 5 year old gift God has blessed me with. I pray she never loses the her heart of compassion. I pray she always sees others as peopke who Jesus loves and gave His life for. Thank you, Abbye for reminding daddy how we should all live life everyday and not just when we are in kindergarten.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40

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A Lesson In Worship From My 5 Year Old


Leading worship is a great passion of mine.  I am thankful each day that God allows me to serve Him in the role of a worship pastor in the local Church.

One of my favorite things about God is how he chooses to teach us things through simple and often unexpected ways.

This past Sunday, I walked to our back porch to check on my 5 year old daughter as she was drawing in chalk on the patio.  What I found was a lesson in worship that filled my heart to overflowing.

Here is the prayer transcript from the prayer at the end of that video:

“God, do you please like my angel I drew?  I’m really thankful for them. And the bees all around me…I’m scared of them. But I always know you’re here with me. Thank you, God. Amen.”

My wife had this observation about that simple prayer –  In that prayer, she offered praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God, and told Him about her fears. And she recognized who He is, and what He can do because of who He is.  And she did it all in 10 seconds.

How convicting.

How simple.

How humbling.

Thank you, God for my precious daughter and her heart for you.

And thanks for the lesson.

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I Am NOT A Good Father

My wife left for a weekend mission trip yesterday; leaving me home alone with my five year old daughter, three year old son, and eight month old daughter for the first time since we became outnumbered by our offspring in our house.

Over the course of the past thirty hours, I have realized the following things:

– There is a teenager trapped in my five year old’s body.

– No matter how hard I try, it is impossible to reason with a three your old.

– I need to invent an alarm clock that sounds like a toddler puking – because once you hear that “bluuurpth,” there Is. No. Snooze!

– I am beyond incredibly grateful for my wife who stays home with our children every day.

– And lastly, I am not a good father. There I said it.

I am still wrestling with that last one. How can I not be a good father? People tell me what a great dad I am all the time. In fact, if you look at my social media, I am a #superawesomedad. But those snapshots of me smiling with my kids doing all different types of fun activities are just that – “snapshots.”

You know what you don’t see on my Instagram? You don’t see a picture of me ignoring my son as he tries to compete with the television for my attention. You don’t see me with my eyes glued to my phone while my daughter tries over and over again to show me the new thing she learned in gymnastics that day. You don’t see me disciplining or correcting my children out of frustration and anger instead of out of a heart of love and compassion. Of course no one posts those moments. But they reflect more of reality than I’d like to admit. Yet, here I am admitting it.

Why? Because through my shortcomings as a father, I am reminded more and more that there is only One truly Good Father. I am reminded that He never ignores me. He never puts me aside when I need His attention. He never corrects me out of anger, no matter how big of a mess I have made. Thank You, Lord!

                  “For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love
                                to all who call upon You.” – Psalm 86:5

Am I a horrible dad? No. But if The Father Himself is called Good, I know I have a long, long, loooooong way to go. But with each day, I want to strive to be more and more like my Good Good Father.

“You’re a Good, Good Father.
It’s who You are.
It’s who You are.
It’s who You are.
And I’m loved by You.
It’s who I am.
It’s who I am.
It’s who I am.”

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Grandma, Basketball, & Worship


Worship is a lifestyle that most certainly reaches far beyond just singing. But as a worship leader, I want to share a few thoughts on the musical aspect of worship. Music is such a powerful medium. Music can inspire, and lift the soul like nothing else can. Something happens when a heart that has a genuine desire for God is exposed to music that is designed to worship God. Surely the Lord delights in the joyful noise, but my guess is that He delights in the heart behind the noise even more.

Regardless of our taste in musical format, whether it be hymns or modern choruses or somewhere in between, our heart is what God focuses on. And in turn our focus should see past the style of the song and fixate on the One that the song is about. We practice this in other areas of our lives without even recognizing it. So often, we enjoy activities and events that really don’t interest us in and of them selves. What makes us enjoy those things is that someone we have a passion for is involved in them.

For example, a grandmother may attend a basketball game and have the time of her life even though she really doesn’t enjoy the sport of basketball. What made the difference? Her grandchild was on the floor playing in that basketball game. She is able to look past the game that she doesn’t really care for and focus on the one she is passionate about; and it makes the experience extremely meaningful to her.

A young man goes to the theater to see an on stage production of a musical when he has no interest in musical theater whatsoever. What causes him to enjoy the evening – his passion and interest in the girl who has a role in the musical. His focus is on the one his heart longs for and not on the musical itself.

When you and I enter into a worship service, it is my prayer that we could see past the words on the screen, past the tempo of the song, past a hymn or a chorus and let our hearts focus on the One that the song is written about. If that is our attitude, we will be more engaged in worship and find so much more meaning in songs of all styles.

What is your favorite line from a Worship Song or Hymn?

(Reposted under new title.  Originally posted February 24, 2012)

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Our Worship Leader Can’t Sing!!

Can't Sing

Hi, my name is Jason, I’m a worship pastor; and I can’t sing.

About 6 weeks ago, I came down with the flu, which turned into a chest cold with a horrible cough that has hung on for weeks. Subsequently, my throat has been put through the proverbial ringer. And that has left me without a singing voice. I can talk and carry on conversations. But when I try to sing, and especially when stand to lead worship through song, I have a very raspy, rough, off pitch voice that is nothing even close to what I am used to.

My voice, in particular my ability to sing is something that I have been known for, all be it in pretty small circles. I have led worship in churches for the past 24 years. I have sung with dynamic singing groups. I have performed with opera companies and musical theater. I have been singing solos in church from the time I was four years old. If you’re thinking to yourself, right now, “Wow, he’s kinda proud of his voice.”… you’d be correct. Truth be told, my voice is something in which I have held a very deep amount of pride – sadly an unhealthy amount of pride, or even more sad, an unspiritual amount of pride.

The first few weeks of this experience , I found myself leaving the stage of our sanctuary feeling frustrated after leading worship. I hated the way my voice sounded. I began to say things like, “God, how am I supposed to lead worship without a voice?” And He answered. The soft gentle voice of the Holy Spirit began impressing on my heart, “Jason, if you are leading worship from your heart as it was intended, your voice shouldn’t matter.” I’ll confess, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

In the weeks following, God began to take me through a process where I rediscovered what it meant to lead people in worship. For the first time in a long time, I was reminded that worship wasn’t about standing in front of a congregation and singing. It was about leading people to a place where they can have an encounter with the Savior. Worship wasn’t about me, or my voice. Like everything else, it was and is all about HIM!

Please understand, these weren’t new concepts to me. These were things that I had spoken aloud to my congregation, my students in our Student Ministry. Worship is all about Him. Why was it so hard for me, a worship leader, to put that into practice when it came to my voice? The answer, as I alluded to before – Pride. I came to a point where I needed to cry out to God and ask His forgiveness for holding on too tightly to and even abusing a precious gift He had given me. It has been a very humbling journey thus far.

So, how do you lead worship without a singing voice? God has led me to several answers to that question. A few of them have been, rediscovering the beauty of scripture, God’s spoken Word, and it’s place in a worship service. We have made more use of worship videos to re-engage our people during services. And when the times have come to sing, I have had to back off and sing lightly and rely on other’s voices. We have very gifted people who serve on our praise team each week. It has been their voices that have led out in the past few weeks. But I think my favorite times have been when I have just stopped singing all together in the middle of a song and enjoyed the incredible sound of the voices of God’s people singing out to Him collectively in worship.  Wow!

Hi, my name is Jason, I’m a worship pastor; and I can’t sing.

And that’s ok. 🙂

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7 Things Every Student Pastor Needs To Know


Having spent over 20 years in student ministry, these are just a few brief thoughts that I felt led to share:

1. You Bring Nothing To The Table

A great friend of mine spoke this truth into my life several years back and he reminds me of it often when we are discussing ministry. He tells me, “You bring nothing to the table but your unrighteousness. Jesus brings everything else!” Before your pride starts letting you believe that you are God’s gift to ministry, allow this truth sink in and humble your heart. Because that is when true ministry happens. When we start to understand that this thing is not about us or our abilities, but rather it is all about Christ taking the wretches that we are and choosing to use us in His kingdom work, that’s when He begins to get the true glory in our lives and in our ministries.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” – James 4:10


2. You Should Partner With Other Student Ministers

I struggled with this for years in my ministry. I used to think that only small and weak student ministries needed to team up with other Churches in order to do events. I felt that if I was to partner with another Church for a ministry project, it was a poor reflection on me or that it expressed my ministry couldn’t do it alone. Looking back on it, it was really a pride issue. If I partnered with another minister to do an event, then I would have to share the success and glory that would come out of it. That is a sad place to be in ministry. The truth is, at times, we can do so much more Kingdom work collectively than we ever could apart. I’m not saying you have to team up for everything on your ministry calendar.   But, at times, there are benefits to working together with other ministries.

“Therefore we ought to support others, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” – 3 John 1:8


3. You Are Vulnerable

No matter who you are, no matter how strong your faith, you are vulnerable to a spiritual face plant. The real truth is that I am a sinner. And because of that, left to myself, without Christ’s influence in my life on a daily basis, I am capable of some very ugly, vile, nasty, grossly offensive things. I must commit to daily renewing my mind with the Truth of the Gospel. When I don’t, I leave myself spiritually exposed and even more vulnerable to attack.

Whether it be moral failure, divorce, addiction, or some other form of stumbling, be certain that Satan is looking for the opportunity to destroy you. I speak from experience when I say that these things can and will cost you your friends, your credibility, your reputation, your family, and your ministry. Be diligent in guarding your heart. Be tenacious when it comes to protecting your marriage. And always strive to be morally above board in all your dealings, ministry or otherwise.

In addition, be very careful how you treat and speak about another minister who has stumbled. Show the grace and love that you would want to be shown if the situation was reversed.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” – Proverbs 4:23


4. You Need Accountability

This is something that we as ministers hear all the time, but rarely use it effectively.  We must have accountability in all areas of our lives. Men, if your wife doesn’t have the password to your phone, computer and all social networks that you are a part of, she needs to. (on a side note: and I know there are exceptions, but if you don’t have small children and you feel the need for a password on your phone, that’s a red flag.)

I have two guys in my life that I talk to on at least a weekly basis. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly about one another. I know I can call when I am struggling or when crisis hits my life and I trust them to speak the Truth in love to me. I know that they love me unconditionally, but they are not afraid to ask me tough questions or confront me when needed. If you don’t have a friend like that, find one.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17


5. You Still Have A Lot To Learn

No matter how many years of ministry you have under your belt of Truth, there are always ways you can improve your ministry. If you are just starting out, listen and learn from some guys who have been in ministry a while. If you have been in ministry for a while, listen and learn from some of the younger guys who have some fresh, new ideas. The way you’ve always done it is not always the best way to keep doing it. Take some time, find a conference that you feel like will be a benefit to you in your ministry, and go. Ministry, technology, and culture are always changing. We need to be willing to adapt our ministries methods (without compromising the message) to effectively reach students. Never reach a point where you are unwilling to learn something new.

“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.” – Proverbs 8:33

6. You Will Not Always Be Liked

I am a people pleaser by nature, so I struggle a lot with this one. Leading effectively does not equate with always being liked by everyone. There are going to be plenty of times in your ministry when students, parents, Church members, and even fellow staff members are not going to like a leadership decision that you make. You are called to honor God in your ministry. At times, that means making tough decisions and standing by them.

I’m not saying that you don’t take other people’s feelings into account. We are commanded by God to see others as more important than ourselves. But you cannot compromise your ministries integrity to save people’s feelings towards you. This is especially difficult when it comes to students. You are called to be their Student Minister, not their friend. That is a fine line to walk at times because those two roles cant always coexists.

But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” – Acts 5:29


7. You Have To Be Genuine

A former pastor of mine once told me that, “Talent and ability will only take you so far in ministry. If you aren’t genuine with people, you will not be successful.”   Especially with students, if you are not real with them, they will see right through you. You can’t stand up in front of a group of teenagers and plead with them to follow a pattern of life that you yourself aren’t living out in front of them. Your Student ministry will ultimately reflect its leader. If you compromise in your walk, your students will do the same. If you live out a life that is bold for Christ, you will inspire the same in your students. Be Real and your students will do the same.

“So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—maybe found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:7

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Jesus Rx

Jesus Rx

Like many people, I have been battling allergy related illnesses this Spring. Last week a head and chest cold took me down hard. When I’m sick like that, the remedy I reach for is Nyquil. A bottle of Nyquil will last the average person 3-6 months. A guy my size, it lasts about 2-3 days.   That little cup they give you as a dosage measure, it goes in the trash with the plastic safety wrap.

So, usually after 2 or 3 nights with my Nyquil, the cold passes. Did Nyquil cure my cold? Not at all. It simply helped me manage my symptoms.   The countless medicines out there on the market, for whatever type of ailment, all basically do the same thing. They don’t cure the sickness, they help mask the discomforts caused by the sickness itself.

We were all born with a spiritual sickness to which we have no cure on our own – Sin. And we turn to many things in life to help us mask the pain that our sin causes. Some turn to substances; some chase after fortune to satisfy the emptiness inside; still others attempt to find relief in relationships.

The symptoms that we try to cope with – anger, bitterness, loneliness, fear, guilt, pride, self worth, selfishness – they are tied back to the deep seeded sickness found in our sin nature. And there is no cure that this world can offer.

Sadly, even as Christians, too often, we treat Jesus like He is our Spiritual Nyquil. We turn to Him only when life gets tough and difficult for us to manage. Got a problem? Pull Jesus off the shelf and ask Him to help us deal with it.

Christ did not come to earth, die on the cross, and raise from the dead to help us manage our symptoms of sin. He came to be the cure for our sin once and for all.

He didn’t come to make your life better.
He came to make your life brand new.

He didn’t come to remodel us.
He came to remake us.

He’s not a self-help method.
He’s our Salvation.

He is the only CURE for the sickness of sin. Stop trying to manage the symptoms of the sickness. Start living in the freedom found in being cured.

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