upside down world

Sometimes I wonder why I ever make plans at all.

I think that God delights in hijacking our plans. I wonder if he gathers the angels together when one of us comes up with a really clever plan of our own. I can picture it now…

“Hey angels, come over here and check this out. Ryan’s got an idea over here. He’s been working so hard at bringing it to life. It’s so cute when he makes plans. Somebody take a picture, we’ll put this one on the fridge next to the other ones.”

Sometimes I forget that I’m not the savior. Sometimes I forget that God is so much more concerned with the man I am becoming than with anything else. Sometimes he needs to remind me that there’s nothing predictable or mundane about following Jesus. Sometimes I think he really meant it when he said that he’s got tomorrow under control.

Deep breath… and here we go.

This Is My Song

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
-Lloyd Stone

winter camp

Here’s the recap:

hell, hell, hell, hell, hell, Jesus, hell, hell, hell…

…did I miss anything? Oh wait…

“See you later, maybe. Unless you’re in hell.”

This isn’t an exact quote, but this is very, very close to what was said to our kiddos before they headed home.

Are you kidding me???

What the hell has happened to the best news ever? I’ve never been more upset than I was during most of the chapel meetings.

A question: At the end of the day, does evil win, or does God have what it takes to save the day?

How dare we preach a “gospel” that makes Jesus seem completely helpless when confronted with the problem of sin and death. Didn’t he conquer death? Weren’t our enemies disarmed, defeated, and put under his feet? Isn’t he exalted and reigning at the right hand of God as we speak?

Does God lose?


Listening to CJ Bergman over and over has got me to thinking in these wee hours of the night. I’ve seen a handful of miracles in my life.

I crashed my motorcycle on the 101, no helmet, and walked away without a scratch.

I had someone throw a crowbar at me from their vehicle (yep, a crowbar) when I was in high school. He was in the back of a pickup (figures), and he chucked the thing from two lanes over. It flew through my open window, an inch from my, and landed on the middle console, between me in the driver’s seat and my friend Lonnie sitting shotgun. It landed in my cupholder and didn’t bounce or anything.

That same guy and 40 or so of his friends tried to kill me one night. They slammed their car into mine while we were driving down Miller Road in Scottsdale, which sent me up a sidewalk, shattering my axle… and as we turned the corner I was preparing to die. But when we turned the corner a cop was there, pulling someone over. He’s now a “professional rapper” in Scottsdale, and he asked me to be friends on MySpace. Classic stuff right there…

At ten years old I got drilled by a car while riding my bike to the city pool. I flew through the air, landed in the turn lane, and got up to stagger around until the ambulance came. Two black eyes, no permanent damabewbeg.

My brother got shot at outside of some party. The bullet bounced off the pavement in front of him, skimmed his head, and kept going.

At 19 I got health insurance for the first time in my life. The day after signing up I got a stomach ache, went to the hospital because it got bad, and left three days later. It was my appendix. Had it gone bad two days earlier, I’d still be paying the $15,000 hospital bill.

My aunt had a cat that gave birth to a boatload of kittens, but one of them wasn’t breathing. This slimy little guy was a gonner… until my aunt stuck most of its head in her mouth (oh yes, I was confused) and she gave the little booger CPR. It started breathing a minute or so later. My aunt, the Beastmaster.

The Gilbert High School basketball team jumped me after a game in high school… and I think I won the fight (if you call “winning” laying on the ground being pummeled).

I was a drunk for about 5 years. I did every drug under the sun, and was thrown in jail at least a dozen times. I got in fights, flipped off my principal, got suspended at least 20 times (including that one), betrayed my family, broke into houses, stole a car… and now I’m a pastor. I was a parasite. But one night, after about a year of wrestling with whether or not this whole Christianity thing was true, everything changed. If someone is reading this and worrying about my role in the high school ministry, I’d wonder if you’ve experienced what I’m talking about. I’m not that guy. I’m just not him. But I am. My story is only my story because of that stuff. Without that garbage in my past, I wouldn’t have the confidence in God to pull anyone out of the trenches and show them the best way to live. I’ve been there. I love my story. I’m sorry for those that I might have hurt, but I am grateful that God has spoiled me with his grace.

And then my reward… how does a dirtbag like me end up with Lindsay Gebhardt?

I have so many more stories. How is this my life?

the gospel

I’m looking forward to the release of the Poverty and Justice Bible, launched by Bible Society on March 21st. The bible will highlight the 2,000+ verses in the Bible that talk about God’s heart for the poor and the oppressed, and what our response as his followers should be.

The gospel is so much better than a fire escape. It’s the good news that God isn’t stupid, and petty, and that he cares when people are hungry, poor, scared, neglected, marginalized, abused, and lost. That’s the gospel. I’m sorry if you only heard part of it.

You may have begun thinking that God was stupid and petty when it was “Believe this, pray this, ok… now sit tight until heaven”. Thankfully the stupid and petty God was only a substitute that we had created to avoid the work that needs to be done.