The Weight of Words

This post originally appeared in the East Valley Tribune.

As a person who speaks in front of crowds on a regular basis, I often get into funny conversations with people I meet. We have five campuses across the Valley so most people in our church hear me preach at a distance. When all you know is what you see from afar, or on video, real life has a way — evidently — of surprising you. I’ve been told that I’m shorter than they thought and even that I have more gray hair than they’d expect. I’ve been told all manner of observations that catch me completely by surprise. People tend to turn off their regular social filters in moments like these. Normal etiquette falls by the wayside as blunt truth takes over.

As I’ve experienced this strange occurrence over the years, I’ve realized that this happens in an even greater capacity in a different context. Specifically, when we talk with someone who is hurting. Oftentimes when we don’t understand a person’s pain, we tend to say incredibly insensitive things to them. While my conversations with people can be comical, conversations with a hurting person often add to their pain.

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My Egypt Trip in Pictures

EbolaThe last few weeks I spent over in Egypt with a crew from our church staff. Our purpose was to capture videos and images to raise our global awareness at Central. It was my second time there (last was four years ago) and I thought I’d give you some of the highlights through pictures. Click on any of the images to enlarge. One of the strangest things was how often Michelle or I were asked about whether we were nervous about me getting Ebola because I was in Africa. Michelle started showing this map to help put things in perspective for people.

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A Conversation About ISIS

Last weekend I preached a message that touched on the way we view our enemies (you can watch it here). I then receieved an email from a lady in our church who began to wrestle with these ideas and explore them further. I’m reposting my correspondence with her (with permission) in hopes that it might address questions you have as well. Or even better, get you to a place where you start asking these types of questions. I have edited it slightly for grammar or for better readability.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m physically sickened when I hear or see what ISIS is doing. My heart aches as I know does the heart of God. Arriving at some of these tougher answers is not by ignoring the darkness we see in the world, but rather by looking for the light of Christ in the midst of that darkness.

Here’s her initial email:

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A Few Good Men… and Women

Do you see what God sees?

Intentional Living

Here’s a video we shot for TheIntentionalLife.com about our experience as foster parents.

"Save us from these comforts. Break us of our need for the familiar. Spare us any joy that’s not of You, and we will worship You."

18th Century Puritan Prayer