(Lesson 3) – The Environment – What Crossfit Taught a Pastor About Church


Lesson 2 – The Vibe

Taken at the CrossFit games, this picture demonstrates camaraderie in the 21k Row. This person is about to finish last and yet peers encourage her as if she is about to finish first. Did you notice the uniforms? I may be wrong, but nobody other than the rower is wearing black and yellow. Which leads me to believe, everyone cheering is her competition. They are the teams that finished, 1st, 2nd, etc. But they continue to cheer. Why, because CrossFit values challenging and encouraging one another even if the person is on a different team.

After years of weight loss failures, I took time to assess. Why was one program more successful than others? Why did Weight Watchers work? Why did I find health clubs so boring? Why is laundry hanging from the exercise bike in the basement? Why is CrossFit working so well? Why? Because CrossFit …

Values Both Challenging and Encouraging One Another

I am neither motivated nor challenged walking on a treadmill in a health club. Nobody tracks my progress. And nobody cares if I walk 10 miles or run 1 mile. But CrossFit challenges me. Casey, our instructor, challenges me to increase the weight I lift and decrease the time I take to complete a WOD (aka Work Out Of The Day). And when I have 10 burpees left to do, I can hear my peers chanting “You’ve got this!” I do my best when the community encourages and supports me!

Values Variety

A few weeks ago we bowled … using a rowing machine. The goal was to row 100 meters. Not more and not less. Every point above or below 100 was your score. If you row 104, your score for that “frame” is 4. The lowest score in ten frames wins. Seventeen weeks of workouts and we only bowled once. One day we workout in teams, and the next work towards our personal best. The lack of predictability from one day to the next keeps my interest.

Values Connections

Entering “the box” I sensed community; people enjoying one another’s company … or faking it well! People are connected to one another and on a first name basis. They ask, “How are your [fill in the blank] doing?” And over time, I became included and connected. I do my best when connected to community.

Learning for the church: For a church to help people “succeed” in developing a strong faith, maybe we need to embrace the CrossFit values.

Value Both Challenging and Encouraging One Another

Central to the teachings of Jesus is “God loves you!” And this can never be overstated. But to grow in our faith and witness, with God’s help, we must be challenged and encouraged. Challenged to be generous. Encouraged to die to our selfish desires. Challenged and encouraged to love others.  I love how Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, challenges and encouarges his church.

“The Jesus model (loving others) is centered on the you beside you. If you are a Democrat, it means it is centered on the you to the right of you. And if you are a Republican, you are to be centered on the you to the left of you. And if you are a racist, it is centered on the you you want nothing to do with.”

Growth happens when we are challenged and encouraged that have our best interest in mind.

Values Variety

I believe traditions are important in the church. Traditions keep us connected to the past. Traditions keep us grounded in the present. And my traditions are the most important (until I change my mind). Our Sunday morning religious traditions can disconnect us from the culture we hope to engage. Our attention deficit, social networked, information overloaded culture struggles to stay engaged with Sunday morning worship that has not changed formats since 1960. Even churches with a tradition of contemporary worship must ask the tough question, “How are our traditions holding us back from engaging the people Jesus calls us to love.” Our God is creative and our worship service should show that! Varying Sunday morning worship in both contemporary and traditional services helps keep people engaged.

Values Connections

Since the early church, being connected to other Christ-followers has been a foundational value.

Acts 2:42-47 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It’s people, far more than programs, that matter to God. For a church to be the church God has in mind, the members need to have a genuine concern for one another that extends beyond Sunday morning services. God’s plan to grow people up into the people God has in mind places a high value on connections.

With God’s help, may the church continue becoming the church God has in mind.



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(Lesson 2) The Vibe – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church

Previous Lesson – Lesson 1 – The Invitations

In November 2015 I walked into “The Box” for the first time. Was there any other choice? Ron offered to to drive and join me at the 7am class. I could not stand the humiliation of backing out. But, showing up could be more humiliating. On the drive there, Ron gave me an idea what to expect. It helped, but I was still anxious. I entered “the Box” with a single consuming thought, “I don’t belong here.” That was day one attending CrossFit in Lake Villa.

I am a social person. I make connections everywhere I go (e.g. At Starbucks, at Walmart, and even standing in line at Disney to ride the rides.) My children often say, “Oh look. Dad made a new friend.” I love people and most likely the one who starts the conversation. I do my best to make people laugh, learn their story, and encourage them. But, my extroverted personality went dormant walking through the door.

My posture was different the first days of class. I experienced conflicting thoughts. My heart assured me I needed to be here while my head kept sending a different message. “You are the fattest, oldest, out-of-shape person here and you will make a fool of yourself.” Can you say “self sabotaging?” My friend Ron who took me to my first CrossFit class was 20 years my senior. I was NOT the oldest. And yet, despite the “non-social-leave-me-alone” vibe I was sending, people introduced themselves and were glad I came. They had each taken the risk and walked through those doors. People explained exercises when I looked lost. Everyone encouraged me when it took longer for me to finish the WOD (a.k.a. Workout Of the Day).  They saw me, valued me, and celebrated my presence. And they kept doing it day after day and week after week.

Lessons for the church:
It is common for introverts and even hurting people to send off a “stay away” vibe. Extroverts, however, tend to send a “talk to me” vibe. At least that’s what I thought. Then my extrovert friend shared her church visit experience. Within minutes of walking through the door and receiving a nominal welcome she found herself alone. What did she do? The extrovert hid in the bathroom! This is “I don’t belong here” behavior; an overwhelming sense of discomfort brought about by a lack of familiarity with one’s surroundings. Walking into the unfamiliar territory called Sunday Worship can convert an extrovert into an introvert.

People know what expect and what is expected of them walking into a restaurant, a theater, or a shopping mall. But walking into church is different. It can be a very foreign experience. “I don’t belong here” behavior is common. So what can the church do to stop “I don’t belong here” behavior and feelings. Nothing! Really. We can’t change their vibe. But we can change the way we respond to it. So take a risk. Without overwhelming them:

  • Say hello. Introduce yourself.
  • Find out their name and then make sure to call them by their name.
  • Ask if you can help them get where they are going (e.g. information desk, worship space, children’s ministry, etc)
  • Give them a quick explanation of what to expect.
  • During the greeting, make sure to walk over and greet them again.
  • Thank them for coming.

The very people who send off the “stay away vibe,” may be the people looking for life-giving relationships. Let’s help the people who show up feeling “I don’t belong here” discover they are where they need to be; in a church that sees, values, and celebrates their presence. And let’s keep doing it day after day and week after week.

Next Lesson – Lesson 3 – The Values

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(Lesson 1) The Invitations – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church

community1Intro – The Yellow Line

Everyone has potential to be a better version of themselves. Yet we have narratives that sabotage our efforts. Maybe the only thing standing in the way of becoming the person God has in mind is a person willing to invite us to consider a different story.  My first invite was from Dave.

In November of 2014 while attending my daughter’s Daddy Daughter weekend I met Dave. Dave is the father of one of my daughter’s roommates. He’s a great father around my age. Works full-time and is successful. None of this surprised me. What surprised me is when Dave shared with me he had been attending CrossFit; known as going to “the Box”. It changed his life. He goes at least five days a week and had been doing that for over a year. I was skeptical at first but the physical benefits he shared were profound.  Why did Dave attending CrossFit surprise me? Because Dave reminded me of me. And I never imagined myself being capable of doing CrossFit. In my mind CrossFit overflowed with well toned 20 and 30 somethings with zero percent body fat. So not me! CrossFit was not for 50 years with more aches and pains than they care to acknowledge. Dave invited me to imagine I was capable.

Five months later CrossFit came up in conversations at Jake and Hope’s wedding.  Jake and Hope were the people I pictured at CrossFit. In their 20s and 30s, well toned, and voted most likely to be on the cover of a fitness magazine. Hope and Jake enjoyed regular CrossFit attendance and encouraged me to give CrossFit a try. They assured me CrossFit’s benefits were within my reach. They described CrossFit as more than just a workout. CrossFit is a community known for encouraging, supporting, and challenging one another. Hope and Jake invited me to imagine exercising with supportive encouraging people who want me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed.

Then there’s my new neighbor Ron. Ron shocked me when he told me he attended CrossFit. Why? Because Ron is 20 years older than me! If someone in their 70s can do CrossFit, someone their 50s is capable! And then Ron, one of the kindest men I know, extended an unexpected invitation, “Hey Mark, what if I take you the first time. What time works best for you?” Ron’s invitation was to consider I was worthy of a person being inconvenienced for my convenience.

Every invitation was important and necessary for writing a new narrative. In direct opposition to my past narratives, I accepted their invitations. Because each invitation became the beginnings of new narratives.

  • I am capable
  • There are benefits
  • I have something to offer
  • Acceptance and support are available
  • I am worthy of a person changing their schedule for my convenience.

And so, in the Fall of 2015, I entered “the Box” and attended Lake Villa CrossFit twelve months after meeting Dave. Each invitation played a significant role in shaping my decision.

Lesson for the Church – The Invitations
I believe our church invitations are not to programs and events! Our invitations ask people to consider a new narrative:

  • They are capable.
  • They have something to share
  • There are benefits
  • They are accepted and encouraged.
  • They are worthy of a person changing their schedule to help.

And it is more likely they will embrace this ideology when WE believe God is at work in their life. With God’s help they will discover that hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and peace are real and within reach! They will discover Christian community, although imperfect, is the conduit through which hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and peace flow.

It took a year and multiple invites before I walked through the door and stood on “the yellow line” for the first time. I am grateful for every enthusiastic authentic invitation.

For a church to architect a welcoming culture, it needs people to welcome! They may wander through our doors after finding us on the web. They may only attend Christmas and Easter. But the church that values the reoccurring enthusiastic authentic invitation is the church where people are welcomed well. Remember, inviting someone to church is more than an invitation to enter “the Box” filled with programs. Our invitations create opportunities for people to meet Christ. God is nudging people towards our front door. With God’s help may we continue what God has begun and invite people into a new narrative, a narrative filled with hope, joy, peace, forgiveness, and love. A narrative where their potential is realized.

Next Lesson – Lesson 2 – The Vibe 

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(Intro) The Yellow Line – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church

lake villa crossfit

In November 2015, I stood on a yellow line side by side with other people dressed and ready to workout. This was my first time at CrossFit in Lake Villa. I wonder if my posture showed how unsettling this was for me.  “Can I do this? I can’t do this! Why am I even here? I have to be the oldest least fit person in this place!” Weight loss has been a struggle for my entire life. I’ve tried everything from Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers. Each resulted in varying degrees of success. I’m 53 years old. My options for getting healthier were running out and doing nothing was not a choice. Showing up that day I hoped to find a workout experience with the potential to improve my health trajectory. And then the instructor said, “Line up! Shut up! Twenty jumping jacks!” The journey began.

That was over three months ago. I continue dragging my butt out of bed and out the door at 6:51 am. So what makes my CrossFit experience blog content worthy? I am grateful for the support and encouragement I receive daily. I am grateful for the change in my health. And I am grateful for the unexpected and profound church insights I gained attending CrossFit. I went there to shed pounds and gain muscle mass. But God used this experience to shed light on the experience of attending church for the first time. Week after week I’ve gained insights on how difficult is it for a person to get connected at church. I learned it will take more than good music, programs, coffee, and preaching to get someone back week after week. God used my CrossFit experience to give me new eyes and a deeper sense of empathy and respect for the people who visit our churches. The people who show up scared, intimidated, doubting themselves, desperate for hope, and wondering if they should even be there.

CrossFit is giving me a masters level education on leading a church that welcome visitors well. A church with a culture (not mere programs) that makes sure everyone is seen, celebrated, valued, accepted, and included. Over the next few months I will share what God teaching me about welcoming others into the church. May these posts challenge and bless you. So let’s begin! In the next few days I will be releasing the second post “The Invitations – What CrossFit Taught a Pastor About Church.” 

(Lesson 1) The Invitations

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#Hangry – When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both.

Very seldom do I EVER miss a meal! But, when I do, don’t mess with me. I tend to be short-tempered and crabby. Research shows that our brains, specifically the parts of our brain the control emotions and anger, function better on a full belly.

This may explain Jesus’ bad mood while he was out walking with his disciples.

Mark 11:11-14 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Why is this in the bible? Is it to show that Jesus was really human and dealt with the same emotions and physical limitations of our own bodies? Is this passage merely meant to remind us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? All good messages, but maybe not the primary message to take away from this passage.

Here’s what happens next. Jesus, already hangry, continues to the temple with an empty belly but full of attitude. He walks into the temple AND …

Mark 11:15-18 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

Just a bagel and a cup of coffee and maybe Jesus would have had more patience with what he witnessed in the temple. But maybe not. I have no doubt Jesus was hungry for fruit that morning. But I believe the fruit he was hungry for was more than just a few figs!

The night before He wanders into the temple and starts to ponder what will happen here the next morning. This is God’s house. This is a place of worship. And tomorrow there will be people selling doves and lambs so people can sacrifice them in order to receive forgiveness for their sins. The money changers and the merchants are actually making money off someone’s sense of guilt and desire for God’s forgiveness! And this is all happening under the watchful eye of the religious leaders; God’s chosen people.

I imagine Jesus going to bed that night getting more and more angry just painting that mental picture in his mind. God’s people are suppose to bear fruit! Fruit is fresh. It nourishes. It gives life! God’s people are not suppose to take advantage of people. God’s people are not meant to capitalize on someone’s guilt and shame but instead offer grace and mercy.

And then our sanitized view of Jesus is challenged when we picture Jesus flipping tables and throwing merchants out of the temple. This is not the picture of Jesus calling children to him to be blessed. This is not the Jesus that fed 1000’s with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. This is madder than hell Jesus! But Jesus was hungry! Hungry for God’s people to bear fruit.

Big Idea Part 1 – Jesus expects his follower to bear fruit! All the time and in every situation and especially in God’s house.

I don’t know about you but for me this is a difficult concept practice. Because sometimes the fruit I bear is rotten. Fruit tainted with anger, impatience, judgement, and prejudice. I judge people by they way they look. I choose to degrade someone so I feel better about myself. I would rather get angry than be patient. Please tell me I am not the only one!

But there is good news! He could have put to death all those who tarnished God’s name, but instead … he took out his anger on a plant.

Mark 11:20-25 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Big Idea Part 1 & 2 – Jesus expects his follower to bear fruit! All the time and in every situation and especially in God’s house. And this is only possible with God’s help!

Yes, Jesus expects people who follow him to bear fruit knowing all to well that without God’s help this is impossible. So have faith! Pray to God and ask for what you need.

  • More patience for my family
  • More acceptance for those who are different than me
  • More love for my neighbor

May we never experience a hangry Jesus! With God’s help, may his followers provide Jesus with the fruit He loves!

Amen? Amen!

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Torn Jean


When I was young and I tore my jeans, mom would sew a patch on them. It did not matter where the tear or worn out section of denim appeared (e.g. the crotch, the knees, or the pocket), you patched what was torn or worn. At some point the patch would usually give way to the tear. That was in the 70s.

Fast forward to the 80s. Torn jeans became a fashion trend. You no longer patched torn jeans … you strategically tore them to increase their value. And when you did not have the time or the skills to do this, you purchased torn jeans at an inflated price sometimes 4-5 times what you would pay for untorn jeans.

Patches were no longer valued. Torn became highly valued.

It happened with jeans in the 80’s and it’s happened on social media today. Torn has become valuable. Across the religious and political landscape, people are tearing one another apart with social media posts. Racism, homosexuality, and even Caitlyn Jenner have become fabric we attempt to tear.

Liberal and conservative parties and religious denominations are tearing at one another with a sense of unprecedented arrogance and authority. The rule of thumb is, “If you have an opinion, share it.” I would argue that just because you have an opinion does not mean you should share it especially if it is MEAN!

Jesus has an opinion on tears and patches.

Mark 2:21-22 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

What will it take for Jesus to pour new wine into us? Maybe it’s time we discard the idea that just because I have something to say it’s ok if I say it even if I tear someone down by saying it.

I am not suggesting that we merely accept one another’s opinions. I think the term acceptance has become so watered down it simply means I have to agree with you. Acceptance is willing to be kind and hear someone even when our beliefs and opinions do not align. When differing opinions come together they shape and sharpen our own thoughts. What I am suggesting is that we see the person we disagree with how God sees them. As a sinner redeemed by God’s grace, as someone Jesus was willing to die for.

I am wondering if it is time for something new on social media. Time for a return to kindness. A patch that never has or never will go out of style. Maybe it’s time we all repent (including myself) for our arrogance defending our position and tearing someone down. And instead risk engaging that person with kindness. Is it possible that the very person we tear down is the very person God has placed in our path to patch us up. And maybe if we adopt this new social media communication patch, Jesus will pour new ideas, new mercies, new hope, and new peace into our lives.



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From House to Home

After 24 years of calling Naperville home, the Borgetti family is preparing for our move to Lake County. Our home goes on the market shortly. Our realtor asked us to come up with the top reasons why 555 Stanhope Court is such a wonderful house. This became a very emotional exercise. I sobbed my way through every reason. I have a ways to go, but here’s my first swing.

IMG_4082#5 From an Address to an Assurance  – Our address is located on a cul-des-sac. There is just something about living on a cul-de-sac that cannot be beat. It’s just safe. Whether it was the summer block parties or teaching my children how to ride their bikes, there was always an assurance you were safe on a cul-des-sac.

IMG_4080#4 From a Windows to Wonder – For 24 years, every morning when I get up I have this ritual. I go to the window next to our bed and look out over my backyard. This yard has blessed me and reminded me that all God has created is good. Whether it’s the branches covered in snow, the scent of spring Lilies of the Valley, the green summer lawn, or the fall colors, this backyard has always been a wonder to behold.



IMG_4083#3 From Experiments to Experiences – When my children were little we purchased a “butterfly kit” online. This was a “grow your own butterfly” experiment. After a few weeks, we released 4-5 Painted Lady Butterflies from our deck. Even though we release them over 15 years ago, every summer since then, whenever we eat dinner on the deck, a few Painted Lady Butterflies show up on the flagstone patio. And, if you are patient enough, you can stand on the patio with your arms outstretched and your palms turned upward and experience what it’s like having a butterfly land on you.

IMG_4081#2 From Neighbors to Friends – For 24 years we have lived next door to the Meyer’s. The best way to describe our friendship is “refrigerator rights.” Which simply means, if you need it, and your neighbor has it, come and get it. Whether it’s some recipe ingredient or a leaf blower or the need for an extra oven, the Meyer’s are the #1 reason for living at 555 Stanhope Court.  We have shared many joys and sorrows. And we promise to return every Thanksgiving weekend to cut down Christmas trees, eat their food, drink their beer, and fall asleep on their floor watching movies.We love them and will miss them and we will return. They started off as neighbors and have become lifelong friends.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 10.28.17 AM#1 From House to Homes – I remember the day we looked at 555 Stanhope Court. It had all the buzzwords I needed to hear. Two and a half baths, fenced in yard, four bedrooms, a block from a grade school. I was tired of looking at houses so I relented and agreed to put in a bid. After 24 years of living at 555 Stanhope Court, the house we purchased has turned into a home we live in. And it will be hard to leave this home. And yet within scripture I find hope and courage to move forward to our next potential home.

Proverbs 24:3-4  By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Our home has been filled with the precious and pleasant riches of memories. And as hard as it may be at times, I find great hope in knowing that God will use 555 Stanhope Court to bless the next family, that moves into this house but discovers a home.






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Canned Cranberries …


For some reason, Holy Week’s Thursday Service (aka Maundy Thursday) is always treated like the canned cranberries on the Thanksgiving menu. Churches always offer it, but few want it. Last night I participated in my own church’s Maundy Thursday rehearsal and again was reminded that EACH day of Holy Week is an entree best experienced with all the Holy Week entrees.  So to any and all who are reading these words. Come! Come and experience this feast of grace we call Holy Week. And start with one of the first courses … Maundy Thursday.

If you live near Gurnee, come and visit us at 749 S Hunt Club Road, Gurnee, IL (less than a mile north of Route 120/Belvedere Rd.

  • Maundy Thursday 7pm
  • Good Friday 7pm
  • Easter Sunday 7:30, 9, and 10:30am

Grace and Peace


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Bye Buddy

2014-05-10 14.42.07

It’s been a little over a week since we said goodbye to our beloved dog Buddy. A 10 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Who would have ever thought that a dog weighing less than 20 pounds could fill our lives with so much love and joy?

After he was gone the first thing we noticed was the overwhelming silence. No scratching on the bedroom door in the morning. No sound of his padded paws on the hardwood floors. No snoring during episodes of Modern Family and Walking Dead. Even more than sound, he filled the house with unconditional love. The past nine days have been a rollercoaster of emotion. Great joy intermixed with unimaginable sadness.

This experience taught me there is a very fine line between joy and sorrow. In honor of Buddy, my daughter Cayla made the following FB post,

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow.

We mourn the loss of our friend and yet through the tears we find ourselves smiling as we remember his adorable face and silly antics.

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow.

It happens with pets and it happens with our children. Caryn and I will mourn when our last child heads off to college and yet though the tears we will smile with pride knowing our children are on a path to becoming the people God has in mind.

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow.

It happens with pets and it happens with neighbors. I will mourn leaving Todd and Ruth; our neighbors for 25 years. Yet through the tears I will smile remembering every day talking with Todd over the fence. Like the time I said some unkind words at a family gathering WHILE THE BABY MONITOR WAS ON! Todd was the first person I confessed to and laughed with. I will miss the Meyers and the “refrigerator rights” we gave to one another.

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow.

It happens with pets and it happens with disciples. Jesus shared these words preparing them for his departure.

John 15 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow.

I can only imagine the sorrow Jesus felt knowing he was leaving the people he loved, suffering an unimaginable death, and watching the one he loved desert him. And yet he knew that his sacrifice would secure their place in eternity. He knew his sacrifice would demonstrate God’s unimaginable and unforgettable love for them. And in suffering for the sake of others, Jesus’ joy would be complete.

And he suggested if we love others like he loved us our joy would be complete. Maybe that’s why there is a fine line between joy and sorrow.

  • Whenever we do something for the sake of others, the sorrow of losing them turns to joy remembering the opportunity we had to LOVE THEM.
  • Whenever someone does something for our sake, the sorrow of losing them turns to joy remembering how they LOVED US.

There is a very fine line between joy and sorrow. And that fine line is the love; the love we share and the love we receive. 

May the line between your joys and sorrows remain thin. May your joys and sorrows be stitched together with love.

For those who weep and mourn, may you be constantly aware of God’s fine line … love!


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An Apology to Nuns


I grew up being taught by nuns at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church and Grade School. Nuns were dressed in black and white and wielded rulers like light sabers. I am confident that I owe them an apology for more than one boyhood misstep. Like the time Russell and I called sister So-and-So Lizard Lips. Ok, I did not actually call her Lizard Lips. Russell did. But I got blamed for it because I couldn’t stop laughing. So an apology to all nuns everywhere for unruly Catholic boys.

But I also feel called to offer the “nones” an apology. What’s a “none”?  “The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion … “ Basically, “nones” have given up on the church. I have read their blog posts, heard their rants, and feel a pastoral apology is due.

First, I apologize the 21st century church looks more like a rock concert. The rock and roll light scene does nothing for you. I understand. We are not what you want. I get that. Please realize this is not the first time this has happened. In the not too distant past, churches were subject to ridicule for being irrelevant. The smells and bells, robes and stoles meant less and less to people. So we changed and became more contemporary. We changed our language. Some went so far as to remove all religious symbols. The word disciple was replaced with Christ-followers. Worship Services and Mass became Gatherings or Celebrations. The pastors began wearing business casual and jeans. People got what they wanted and they came in droves! Many people are still here. But I am not sure this is what you want. I get it.

I apologize that the 21st century church is not fighting social justice issues. I know the church struggles moving away from just feeding the poor to changing the structures that make the poor poor. I understand. You’d like to see us marching in parades and carrying banners fighting for social reform. I get that. Please remember that the church has a long-standing tradition to start with a person’s life being changed before going out and trying to change the world. Before we repent corporately, Jesus called us to repent individually. And quite frankly, we live in a sin adverse world where personal repentance is not in vogue. Today’s mindset suggests that as long as what I do does not hurt anyone, then it’s not a sin. But Jesus and the church never taught that. As a church, we continue to call people to personal repentance and experience change before they go and change the world. But I am not sure this is what you want. I get it.

I apologize the 21st century church does not speak your language. But we try! I try. We try to use relevant life circumstance illustrations and language that connects in our sermons. We study and hone our communication skills. But let’s be honest, unless you enter into a conversation with us … unless you show up and engage with us … how can we ever learn your language. Yes, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re connecting with you through social media. But we’d like to connect with you in person. But I am not sure this is what you want. I get it.

I apologize that the 21st century church talks about money. Every time you show up to church we talk about or ask for money. I bet that you are buried in student loans and financial debt and the thought of giving money to a religious institution is foreign and almost offensive. Please realize, generosity and giving is one of the spiritual disciplines we practice. Generosity grows our trust in others and God. And let’s be honest, you know this! You’ve experienced this. There have been times your generosity to others did more for the giver than the receiver. It just felt good. So we must continue to talk about generosity and giving in church. But I am not sure this is what you want. I get it.

If I can be so bold, I would like to share what I want for you, the Church, and my church. I want the church to be filled with people who want Jesus. Ok, there I go using insider language again. I apologize.

Let’s try this. With God’s help, I want the church filled with people who are discovering the

  • Unexplainable FREEDOM that occurs when past wrongs locked behind doors of guilt encounter Jesus’ grace and forgiveness.
  • Unbelievable ABILITY to be like Jesus; forgiving the unforgivable loving the unlovable, and giving the unimaginable.
  • Unimaginable PEACE that comes not when we get what we want, but when Jesus reveals to us we have all that we need.

But I am not sure this is what you want.

But maybe it is …


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