Archives For discipleship

This image is a “To Do List” from one of my all-time favorite musicians (and an Arkansan) Johnny Cash. The list was sold at auction in 2010 for $6,400. I really wanted this list, but not just because I’m a huge Cash fan. I wanted the list because it gave a simple, yet life-changing example of priorities.

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Item #2 and #9 really stood out to me.

2. Kiss June

9. Go see Mama

These lines show that Johnny Cash valued relationships. He valued them so much that he was willing to carve time out of his schedule for them. He made sure that his to-do list included investments in those relationships.

My “To Do List” had a lot of tasks, but not too many relationships.

It’s easy to say that I invested in relationships even though they’re not on my list, but that’s not the truth. As I looked at past lists, I can remember weeks that were so busy that I actually damaged relationships rather than building them up. Something had to change.

After seeing the list from the Man in Black, I started intentionally placing relationships on my to-do list. I now have a Task column and a Relationship column.

I try to make sure that the Relationship column is equal or greater than my tasks each week. It may be a phone call to say thank you or a lunch meeting with a volunteer to share how God is moving, but I want to put forth some type of effort to invest in relationships.

I’ve entered into one of the busiest “task” times of my life. I have to admit that the tasks are wearing on me. But for every new item in the Task column, there is also a new Relationship that I get to invest in. For a relational guy like me, this has sustained me and energized me more than ever.

How can you use your “To Do List” to value relationships?


When I was a kid, I absolutely despised summer reading! The only reason for me to pick up a book in the summer time was to prop up the broken leg of the ping-pong table! But over the years, I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of summer and the opportunity it brings to read some books on my wish list. I may not get through them all, but here are the books I have on the agenda for this summer:

1. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce A. Ware
I’m currently reading this book, and I am loving it. The purpose of the book is to enable parents of 6-14 year olds to guide their child through all major doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is Systematic Theology 101 put in an understandable, easy-to-use guide for parent-child discussions. I am definitely going to recommend this book for preteen parents.

2. Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson
I’m really excited about the emphasis that our church has placed on discipleship for the coming year. I’ve heard great things about this book, and I really think it can help me better define discipleship for my life and ministry. I’m also looking for some major themes that we can use to better train our leaders who are discipling preteens.

3. Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins
I’ve been in the Children’s Ministry world for 10 years, but I feel a shift occurring in our preteens and in our ministry philosophy. I really want to call them up and challenge them on a deeper level, so I’m hoping this book will give me some ideas for how to move in that direction. I know it may not be 100% applicable to preteens, but there are always transferable nuggets.

4. Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
As we launch our new preteen ministry, the first year of curriculum is going to include teaching on some major doctrines: Biblical inspiration and authority, what is sin, the Gospel, etc. I spent two semesters going through Grudem’s Systematic Theology textbook, so I’m hoping this book will be a refresher for some of the points made in that book.

5. Growing up Too Fast: The Rimm Report on the Secret World of America’s Middle Schoolers by Sylvia Rimm
I’m intrigued by this study. The study surveyed over five-thousand preteens to look at the big issues they face in this stage of life. Many of the issues were thought to be “teenage” issues, but the study found that many preteens (and even younger children) were struggling with the issues.

6. Adolescence Isn’t Terminal by Kevin Leman
This is another book that I want to read in hopes that it might be a recommended resource for preteen parents. I’ve read other books from Dr. Leman, and I’m a fan of his research and writing style. The book tackles some major preteen issues such as sexual maturity, peer pressure, relationships, etc. The reviews all say that is very practical and helpful for parents, so I’m looking forward to reading it for myself.

What books are you reading this summer?
What books should I add to the list?

It has been a long week being away from my wife and my daughter. It’s not that I have an unhealthy co-dependence or anything. It’s just that she is honestly my best friend, and I really enjoy being around her. Whether I’m just sitting or going, I’d rather be doing so with her.

This time away has been a little extra hard because I also miss my daughter. And for the first time in her life, I think she misses me as well.

This is where God spoke to me.

To try and combat the homesick feelings, I’ve been having a Skype conversation with my wife and daughter each day. Several times this week, my daughter has asked for me or gone to the computer and said, “Daddy?”

She misses me. She wants to talk to me. She loves me that much that even when I’ve been seemingly absent for 5 days, she still knows I’m there and wants to talk to me.  She’s only 16 months old.

Do I really miss my Father (God) and want to talk to him? If He were seemingly absent in a period of my life, would I still seek Him out and want to talk to Him? Am I even conscious that He is always there?

We laugh and joke that all the screaming and babbling my daughter does is “preaching.” But this time I think she really did deliver a message from God.

The biggest problem facing preteens and teenagers is their view of Jesus Christ. The next generation is holding onto a “Little Jesus.”

It is convenient to view Jesus as small enough to fit in your pocket. However, the problem with this way of thinking is that if Jesus is small enough to fit in your pocket and only be pulled out when needed, then He is small enough to be put right back into the pocket and forgotten.

Preteens and teenagers have a weak view of the Messiah, and guess who gave it to them? You and me. We have lived in front of these students with a weak faith and an inadequate view of Christ. This weak faith is leading them to walk away from church at an alarming rate. Now, the view that we have passed on to them has put the future of their faith and the Church in jeopardy.

For a better understanding of the faith of preteens and teenagers, I encourage you to read this article on the research from the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So what is the solution to this problem?

The solution is a “Big Jesus.” The solution is to help the Church—students and adults—to unpack who Jesus really is. Talk about it, teach it, live it. Do everything to help them see the full glory of Christ. When we find out who Jesus really is, it changes everything.

So, who is your Jesus—big or small?

How do we teach preteens and teenagers to view Christ as who he really is?

(Want to understand more about the Supremacy of Christ, start with reading Hebrews 1)