Thursday, September 29, 2011


Behind each of my tattoos there is a story deep with meaning. As I have been getting my most recent sessions of ink, several of you have asked why I was getting this one. That may have been partly due to the fact that until a week ago, it kind of looked like urban camouflage on the inside of my arm. Now that we are close to finishing this piece, it is easy to see Moses parting the Red Sea (or at least I hope it is). Having said that, I thought my blog was a great place to share the stories and significance behind each of my tattoos.

It took a while to figure out what was going to cover the inside of my arm. Granted, I have wanted a half-sleeve for a while, but I wasn't just going to get anything. It, like my other tattoos, had to be something worth permanently putting on my body. I was reading a book a friend gave me called Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up The Way You Thought He Would. I know, it's a long title, but the book is phenomenal, so I suggest you read it! At the time I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what God wanted me to do--and I was beginning to see some of that come to fruition. However, I was still a little unsettled as it wasn't happening when or how I had hoped.

About half way through the book, the discussion turned to Moses. From there, I replayed in my mind how his life had played out, specifically after he finally stopped resisting and handed the reigns over to God. In case you aren't familiar, I will catch you up with his story. Moses, a Hebrew, was adopted into Pharaoh's household. During his years in the palace, Moses' people were living in the bondage of slavery to Egypt. Eventually, seeing one of the Egyptians beating a Hebrew, Moses killed the slave-driver and buried the evidence. Lo and behold, this incident came to light and Moses went on the run. Now we jump ahead in the story and find that Moses had been living a pretty normal life until he encountered God and received a call to head back to Egypt and rescue his people. After some wrestling with God, Moses agreed to confront Pharaoh. Through some persuasion and a few miracles (you might call them plagues), Pharaoh let the people go and the Hebrews took off toward the east with Moses. Eventually they come face to face with the Red Sea (I should tell you at this time Pharaoh regretted his decision to let the Hebrews go and his army was in pursuit). Here Moses and his crew find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Moses knew what God had called him to. He knew the promises that were made. But first, they had to overcome this obstacle.

And it is here, we pick up and I put myself in Moses' shoes--the past in hot pursuit, looming over everything and a giant obstacle in the way of the life that has been promised. Over the past few years of rebuilding my life God had given me some big dreams and made some outstanding promises. Occasionally, I even saw glimpses of the future He had in store for me. But that's all they were, glimpses. There came a time (right when I was given the book Plan B) I kind of felt like God was just teasing me. It was as though He was dangling the proverbial carrot right in front of me, always just out of reach. I felt I was ready for what He had in store and wanted to see things start moving. While opportunities were presenting themselves, the progress was still too slow for me. It was then I began thinking about Moses. Thoughts flooded my mind about how he must have felt and what must have been going through his mind standing there at the Red Sea. God had proved himself faithful already (just as He has for me, time and time again), yet, here he was face to face with this insurmountable obstacle. Even though God had been faithful up to this point, I can't help but think Moses still had some lingering doubts. Will you really going to come through God? Are you sure you know what you're doing God? This all had better not be a cosmic joke or I'm going to be furious! There, in the midst of the anxiousness and fear Moses takes a few steps into the Red Sea (there's a lot of significance there), raises his staff and waits for God to do what it is He plans on doing.

That's exactly where my life is at right now. Things seem to be at a stand still. My past can still overtake me if I give up on God and allow it to. I can wait here at this crossroad and allow my mind to be flooded with numerous questions of why, how and when. Or I, like Moses, can take a few steps into the Red Sea, raise my staff (maybe I should get myself one of those to walk around with) and see how God comes through--yet again! I know the dreams and vision I have of restoration and renewal are much bigger than I can accomplish on my own. And I am no longer willing to stand on the shore, letting my mind become flooded with questions to which I may never have answers. So, like Moses, I am wading into the Red Sea, a giant ball of fear and anxiousness, to see what God comes up with this time. And when I cross, on dry land, hopefully I don't have to spend the next 40 years wandering like Moses and his crew.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


At the risk of sounding bragadocious, you should know God has bestowed some wonderful talent upon me. I'm not saying I'm the best at what I do. Nor am I saying there isn't room for improvement. Reality is, I will probably never receive large sums of money or huge accolades for this. However, I am passionate about this God given talent. So much so, that if I could quit my job and have a guarantee that pursuing this talent would make ends meet I would do it (at least that's what I keep telling myself now). What is this talent I speak of? Cleaning! Actually, that's not what I am talking about. But, if you do know me you would probably agree with that one as well. What I am talking about is preaching (and possibly writing).

Now, can I be honest with you? For the past several years, I haven't done much with this talent. The word that would most accurately describe my use of this talent God has blessed me with is squander. Jesus told a parable about a couple of guys who were given "talents" by their supervisor. Right now, I'm feeling kind of lazy. That means I'm not going to retell you the parable, so I suggest you open your Bible and turn to Matthew 25:14-30 and read it for yourself.

Did you read it yet?

If you haven't, stop reading this until you read the parable!

Now that you have done so, we can continue.

Start off by taking a moment and putting yourself in this story. I would like you to think about which of the servants you can relate to most. Sadly, I can most readily identify with the last one. I am identical to the guy that took his talent and buried it--all out of fear. What caused me to bury my talent was the fear of never measuring up. Never amounting to what I thought God wanted. Only, I never even knew what it was I thought He wanted for me.

By nature, I am a very competitive person. Competitiveness pumps through my veins. It is hard-wired in my DNA. I get upset when I don't perform the way I know I can. This means, I am constantly striving to be the best (not necessarily a bad thing). However, in all my striving I find myself constantly comparing myself to others. When it came to my two talents, I was comparing myself to the guy with five talents (think Andy Stanley, Rob Bell, Craig Groeschel). Of course I was never going to measure up, I haven't been entrusted with five talents; I have been entrusted with two. Nor do I have the experience many of these five talent guys have. This entire time I have been playing the comparison game (which, by the way, never works out for anybody), I wasn't even comparing apples to apples. No wonder I was frustrated and fearful.

Not only have I denied myself the life God intended for me. I have also denied God the opportunity to use me. Furthermore, I took away from others the opportunity to be edified with this talent. In case you were wondering, this is completely unacceptable! If this were baseball, I would have just struck out. Thankfully, that isn't how God operates. I am grateful for the second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) chances that He offers a guy like me. He had every right to take my two talents and give them to someone that was going to make use of them...but He didn't. I just hope I move beyond the fear and burying aspect, even though a lot of times I feel ill-equipped and completely incapable.

With that I resolve to, first and foremost, dig up my two talents (it's doing nothing buried beneath the fear and unrealistic expectations). Next, I am going to make myself comfortable with the fact that I am a two talent guy, not a five talent guy. The third thing I have decided to do is continue to develop my two talents. Finally, due to my detail oriented personality, it is necessary I set a time-frame to make use of these two talents. The time-frame I have set is one year. I can't waste more time squandering this talent when God wants me to make the most of it and the world needs me to use it.

Monday, September 12, 2011


God has managed to wreck my life...yet again! I am approaching two years since my marriage ended in divorce and have finally sorted out the mess and began putting the pieces back together. Not too long ago there was a peace about how everything was playing out and I was really seeing what God was up to. I know very well what the devil intended for harm, God is turning into good. However, since that peace had set in I had basically been in coast mode. Granted, not everything turned out how I would have liked it, but I had faith God was doing something. And a majority of the time, I was comfortable with that. At least that's how it was until I made a trip to Chicago with the leadership team from the church. A group of us took a few days off work and headed to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, which apparently was the motivation I needed to think through some things and to begin making some changes. It was this point God stepped in yet again, turned off my coast mode and shook things up.

Let me give you some snapshots of my highlights from the conference:

Bill Hybels started the conference on a high note (of course). What he said that stuck with me the most was that, "Leaders rarely learn anything new without having their world rocked." This statement put much of the last 2 years of my life into perspective. Well beyond the shadow of a doubt, I can say my world was rocked to the core 2 years ago in the form of a note on the kitchen counter. That note was the first sign my marriage was falling apart and heading for divorce. But, like Hybels said, there are many lessons I wouldn't have learned otherwise. To begin with, I learned to trust God more--it's kind of necessary when you don't have much else to cling to. It also gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate what was most important to me. There was a lot of time I got to spend getting comfortable with the real Jordan and finding out who he is and what makes him tick. To keep this brief, let's just say there was a lot I learned from having my world rocked by the dissolution of my marriage.

Len Schlesinger, the president of Babson College, gave a rousing discussion on what to do in the face of unknowability. And for me (and everyone else), there is nothing more unknowable than the future. His advice was so simple and logical, "If you can't predict the future, create it!" That sounds like a great idea to me. I wrestled with that idea and how I had been coasting and not creating my future. In case you were wondering, that is completely unacceptable. So, let me lay out some of his advice to create your future. First things first, take small steps with what you have in hand. Small steps tend to limit your risk and helps build momentum. Next, it's important to quit letting the fear of failure dictate the trajectory of your life (which I have been doing with some things for the last 4 years). Failure doesn't mean game over! Failure only means it is time to try again with what you have learned. His last and most timeless piece of advice: take action! It is impossible to get anywhere just by thinking about it. Do something, but always keep in mind, there is no guarantee for success! All of these were things I definitely needed to hear. So far, Willow Creek is up on Jordan two to nothing.

Next we have the mayor of New Jersey, Corey Booker (he definitely didn't disappoint). He shared some of his struggle to bring beauty to one of America's most violent cities. On several occasions he made the statement, "Do somethin'!" This tends to fly in the face of what some of us have been taught in the church. We are told to pray about it and wait on God. Sometimes we fail to see the danger in just waiting. Now don't get me wrong, it is important to pray and wait on God. If we are going to do something, we definitely want to make sure he's in the midst. But, far too often we play the waiting game and use it as a crutch. We fail to act because "God hasn't opened the door," but we fail to see that while he may not have opened the door, he hasn't closed it either. I wonder how often we miss out on what God is doing because of our inaction. If only we would take a step of faith, then he would make it apparent to us (whether that means we fall flat on our face or move on to bigger, better and more challenging things). More often than not, we need to approach the door and turn the handle. (Alright God, I get it! I will take some action and do somethin').

Steven Furtick really rocked the boat for me. "If the size of your vision isn't intimidating to you, chances are it's insulting to God." Thanks, Steven! I have already been wrestling with the vision God has given me for my life. I know very well it is going to be a stretch and will require the miraculous. I'm not comfortable with the vision because I cannot do it...on my own. As if the guilt of that wasn't enough, now you have to tell me I am insulting God. Awesome! According to all of the speakers so far, I really don't have an excuse to not pursue the vision God has given me. I guess I had better set my audacious goals like Furtick suggested and start asking God to make them a reality. Afterall, if he called me, he can equip me and make it happen. If you're keeping score, like me, that's four for Willow Creek and a big fat zero for me!

Another speaker I had the privilege of listening to was Erwin McManus. I have to admit, this is the guy I was most looking forward to hearing all week. Everyone of his books sits on my shelf at home. Numerous times I have read through them and lent them to friends and family. Seeing as how he was finishing off the conference, I knew whatever he had to say was going to be a kick to the face. During the conference he made such a simple, yet profound statement. I have been mulling over for a while now trying to process it and do something with it. McManus said, "No one is born ordinary, unfortunately many of us die ordinary." (Yep, that was definitely a kick to the face). While I have not died yet (obviously), I have allowed some of my hopes and dreams to die. For some time now, I have settled for the mundane and the ordinary. Why? Because ordinary is easy. Orindary I can handle all on my own. The ordinary isn't challenging and doesn't require God's help. Living an ordinary life allowed me, at times, to remove God from the equation. (I'm not saying I lost faith, I just wasn't using it unless absolutely necessary).

Alright God, you win! I guess it's time I take some risks and start pursuing your purpose for my life--yet again. Afterall, I know I will be miserable until I do so. I've seen it play out like this every time I decided to run from you before. I'm not going to be so dumb as to do it again. So, here I am! I don't have all the answers. I'm not ready for all of this. But I guess I'm willing to step out in faith and watch you work and provide as you always do. Just stop wrecking my life for a little while!