God is a Show Off

”He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.”

Today we are talking about size and what this parable teaches us.

Before we dive I want to read to you a snippet from the margins of a bible about parables. The quote is from the Voice Translation.

“Jesus’ teaching often includes parables: stories that explain truth about the Kingdom with examples from everyday life. Considering that most of His listeners know about farming, it’s no wonder most of Jesus’ parables are based on agricultural realities.

Parables like this force Jesus’ listeners to think about the kingdom of God differently. He challenges their ideas, and He also knows they are unlikely to forget it. When they see farmers broadcasting their seeds they will remember this parable and ponder the mysteries of God’s kingdom. It never seems to bother Him that people are confused by His teaching.

HE doesn’t expect them to understand everything; He wants them to wrestle with His teachings so His worlds will sit in their hearts and germinate – much like the seed sitting in good soil that eventually grow to bear fruit.”

Jesus is by far the greatest teacher that ever existed, which is important because we have many teachers, but truly there is only one that matters as much as Jesus does.

This morning, my prayer for all of us is that Jesus’ words would sit in our hearts and germinate like a seed in the soil.

Today Jesus calls you and me to understand that we need to wrestle with the simplicity of the mustard seed. It’s not simple, and we must wrestle with what it truly means.

The question is why?

About a month and a half ago my life and my wife’s life changed forever. Our daughter, Rilla Olive Rey Alexander was born at 7:51 am on July 19. She was born at 6 pounds and 1 ounce and was 19 3/4 inches long.

She was tiny.

Smaller than I was comfortable with because I was so afraid of hurting this little life that we were now entrusted to take care of.

To explain the last month or so I could wholeheartedly say that God is a Show-Off.

I have never been so terrified in my life and yet I have never before been so blessed in my life. I lose it more and more every time I look into her eyes. She was so tiny, and she was creating seismic changes in my life, how was this possible?

We have a misunderstanding in what size is. We have a skewed understanding of what strength is and what weakness is. For centuries we have surmised that God’s power would level the earth and rightfully so it could, but it doesn’t, it works like a still small voice. We are given this parable today about a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds in the entire earth.

The imagery of the seed is seismic in how much it changes how we think about life. We believe you to be big and strong and have muscled out to your eyeballs; we have to have large sums of money or even be a certain age or tax bracket to impact change in this world.

We have never been more wrong.

How can this be? How can something so small impact so much change, how can the faith of a mustard seed move mountains?

God uses everyone, no matter their age, how much money they make or what job they have or how attractive the world deems them to be they are all of the sacred worth to God and deemed very good by the creator of everything.

So, today know that wherever you are, whoever you remember the famous quote from Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Know that you can change the world.


God is Never Absent

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away; that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety – that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it.

Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.” (“God in the Manger” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I love me some Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he is truly an important voice in the history of faith and Christianity. His words from God in the Manger are so well crafted and expressed that I believe there will never be a time in this world where His words are not applicable to our daily lives.

2016 was a interesting year. Interesting in fact is putting it lightly. There are a lot of people that left this earth that some would say earlier than expected. These people were creators in some form and so because they created things that fed us to a certain extent it has been as the worst year ever. I want to remind you not to buy into this feeling. As people of faith we know this:

We have to take the good with the bad.

Our lives cannot always be filled with good all the time or bad all the time, there are good things and there are bad things. And no matter who you are and where you are there is someone somewhere that has it worse than you. That is what life is. It’s a journey that has mountaintops and valleys. When we have valleys we tend to ask where is God in these moments, because we have implicated for years that where bad exists of course God cannot exist.

We really need to stop this. Dietrich’s words strike true because God is never absent from our lives. He is present on the mountaintops and present in the darkest of valleys.

He is.

Anything that says otherwise is not truth, not our God.

God is good and present all the time. The issue is are we even looking for Him? Are we listening for His voice and not our own? Today I challenge you and myself to do something. I challenge you to at some point in every day to say a prayer. A very specific prayer. A covenant prayer.

This challenge is an experiment. An experiment of what our lives could look like if we read this covenant prayer everyday. I wonder what would change. How would it change our relationships? Our work ethic? Our social media presence?

I have no idea what it will do, but I am curious and wondering so I am going to do it. Even if I am the only one in the world to do it. I hope you will join me in reading this prayer everyday. Here it is:


A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition (Contemporary Version)
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen.

I wonder what this would look like if we really tried to apply this perspective? I invite you to join me in this journey. I bet you will see God doing wonders in places you never considered.

Social Media in Youth Ministry

Greetings Youthworker Movement! It’s been a long time, but I am so excited to be back writing, a passion of mine. Since last writing here at the Youthworker Movement I have moved ministry settings and am now serving at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church. In my new setting of ministry, I have been reminded in this ministry setting, the vast influence that a certain model of communication has on our lives and the lives of the students in our Youth Ministries.

When was the last time you tweeted? Posted on Instagram? Sent a Snapchat? Since this morning the teenagers in your ministry have used one or all of these outlets multiple times, in fact, current research shows that:

92% of American teens go online daily, including 24% who go online ‘almost constantly.

Let the following infographic from Teen Safe: Protecting the Most Valuable Treasure explain further:


At the core of our calling as youth workers is communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Layman’s translation: We communicate. We communicate a lot!

We do Sunday School, Sunday Nights, Wednesday Nights, Bible Study, Mission Trip, Worship, and many other great things in our youth ministry context. In every one of those settings, we are communicating. We now live in a culture where communication is constant; it never stops which puts us in a predicament. How do we communicate the life worth living, life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with everything else that is being communicated? The sobering fact is that every second there are around 6,000 tweets posted on Twitter.

6,000 per second!

What many have tried and failed in doing was demonizing social media, and that is just not working. That failed very quickly, and more and more youth become more and more disinterested in church. So, we must come to terms with how we are going to effective use social media as a tool for communicating the gospel. I wanted today to give you two quick things that you can do right now to help you in this regard.

Get a Youth Ministry Instagram Account – If you don’t have one already, you need to set up an Instagram for your youth ministry. You can find the one that I manage at @heightstumin for the Student Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC. This is our major hub of information that we share with our students. We send all kinds of gifs for laughs (appropriate ones of course), encouragement pictures, promo graphics for retreats coming up, videos of worship, testimony videos of our students, and we are constantly flooding this account.


Because that is where they are all the time. You communicate to and with your students where they are and in the language that they are speaking.

Connect this Instagram account with Facebook and Twitter – There are a lot of social media options out there, and some are great and safe and others, not so much. So I would suggest you stick with the top 3. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once that you have created an Instagram account for your youth ministry, connect that account to a youth ministry facebook page and a twitter account.

  • Download typorama, adobe spark, or the Bible app to create encouraging pictures to post on instagram. These apps enable you to choose a photo background and put text on top of the background. The Bible App with Youversion.com creates daily bible verse insta-ready for you to post. (other apps of interest are ultratext , wordswag , and I am sure many others. My preference however for my posting are typorama and adobe spark).

The Facebook Page is not really for students; it’s a P.R. move to show the parents and other people in the church what the youth ministry is doing. Some youth will check it, but most won’t because Facebook is where their parents and grandparents are. The Twitter, however, is another place youth congregate for the fast pace nature of sharing tweets.

After you have done that begin sharing all you can through Instagram to these other media outlets. Whenever your gatherings are during the week really post all you can to these accounts. The more you share, the more they will see, they more they will likely share and invite friends to join them and you in ministry.


Final thing, I am teaching a Social Media Strategy Workshop at Spark Youth Ministry Conference in January and would love for you to come so that we can continue this conversation and learn and grow together in how we can use social media as a tool and not so much a hindrance. At this workshop, we will discuss in more specifics how you can setup your own social media strategy in your ministry setting. You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking

You can register for Spark Youth Ministry Conference by clicking here. We have lots of great workshops coming this year and you don’t want to miss this!

The Half Truth of Christmas

When I was a young boy I heard a lot of things and I remember them from time to time. One of the statements that I remember hearing is:

Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

I remember hearing this and not really thinking anything of it other than what it clearly implied. That the reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus, the Christ child was born. As I have grown in my faith and walk with Christ I have begun to question things that I heard when I was a young boy, as we all should.

As believers in Jesus we tend to sometimes say things and believe things that we “think” are biblical, but they aren’t. Even if they aren’t biblical, they sound like something that would be in the Bible and a part of them are true, and yet another part of them are not. The parts that aren’t true are dangerous to our witness and this is one of those half-truths.

No, Jesus is not the reason for the season.

In fact I am more than confident that Jesus would agree with me on this, because Jesus knows that the reason he came was not for himself and that is what that statement implies. That Jesus only came for His benefit, which of course we all know is just not true.

Jesus would say and I believe is clearly saying through me in this blog post that You and I are the reason for the season. Jesus didn’t come for himself or to gain anything, but solely came for your gain and my gain.

He came so that we would recognize a far better way to live.

This Advent season I hope you know in the depths of your heart that you are that important to Him. He loves you and I like there is only one of us to love.

And that is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Be Excellent to One Another


It wouldn’t take you long to experience a very bitter truth about his world. It probably happened this morning already, and it is everywhere, spreading like cancer.

The truth is we treat each other like trash.

From politics to school, to work, and yes even at church (no matter what denomination you claim), it is everywhere.

A good majority of Jesus’ ministry can be organized categorically as the behavior of citizens of God’s kingdom. i.e. Jesus talked FREQUENTLY about how we treat each other. By “frequently” I mean, he talked about our treatment of others all the time. Additionally, when he wasn’t talking about how we should treat one another, he was actively doing it.

He regularly fellowshipped with the sinners. Tax Collectors, Prostitutes, Thieves, Lepers, he didn’t choose who to love. He fellowshipped with everyone. Additionally, probably the crowd that he was hardest on was the leadership of the church, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees.

He expected more from the church. His expectations for how the church treats the world were exceedingly high. The church according to our Savior not should lead the way, but must lead the way.

Maybe that’s why 1st Century Followers of Jesus were often called Followers of THE WAY.

I think Ted “Theodore” Logan said it best: “Be excellent to one another, and party on dudes!”


Let’s celebrate life together! This community, the community of Christ, the body of Christ must be known as people that are excellent to one another. Don’t attack one another, but in all things show excellent love and grace to another as Christ has shown you.

Our identity as the Body of Christ is how excellent we are to another, those in all parts of the world.