2018: The Year of the Groundhog

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Do you do resolutions? I don’t know if I do. If I do, I don’t remember a single one I’ve ever set. Every year it's probably just “do better and don’t die.” Some years I only live up to half of that (I’ve died several times).

This year I don’t really have resolutions, I guess. They're not concrete goals. I have statements? Self commands? I have a theme for the year? They're mantras I want to yell at myself when I get off course. Does that sound like a Self Help idea? Am I becoming a Self Help person? If so, oh well. I promise I won't start posting pictures of myself doing yoga on a beach (I keep those pictures private).

I thought I’d share one of my themes for 2018 because it might hit home for a few of you.

Last month I asked people to anonymously send me their biggest fears going into 2018.

Here are a few of your submissions:

“That’ll it will be just the same as 2017. That nothing will change. That I won’t improve.

“That it will end up just being more of the same crap from this year…

“Spiders”

“That I will find myself repeating an experience that will lead me away from youth ministry

“My biggest fear is that this year, nothing will change; that I’ll give into fear that my life will never be anything more than it is now. I’m afraid I won’t take the risks I need to take to move forward and do what God has called me to do, rather than what people expect of me.

It was a real relief to read some of these. I originally asked for submissions because I was drowning in anxiety. I was spending a lot of time with my heart beating way too fast and I needed to hear that other people had to worries too. A lot of these sounded like what was going on in my head. I wasn’t alone (hooray!).

My biggest resolution/theme/mantra/catchphrase for 2018 is

REFUSE MORE OF THE SAME

I'm writing it in all my notebooks. It keeps showing up in my calendar and on all my To Do lists. This is what I want to be able to say at the end of the year. "I refused to have more of the same."

It's what a lot of us were afraid of going into the new year. I don’t want to do last year again. I don’t want to do the last 5 years again. I don't want the same frustrations, excuses, mistakes, and problems I've put myself through over and over. I refuse! NOT TODAY, SATAN! Send it back to the chef! Give me something new!

I know I don’t have control of everything that’s going to happen in 2018 but there are things I can control. I want to be really mindful and intentional about not falling into the exact same patterns that have screwed me up in years past. It’s a new year and I want to make sure I’m actively trying to make it AS NEW AS POSSIBLE.

You know how in the movie Groundhog Day Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over? It feels like that's what I've been doing for the last few years. Except I haven't even noticed that it's the same! I've been oblivious to it. UNTIL NOW, BABY! There comes a scene in Groundhog Day where Murray is tired of wasting the day so he tries to make the most of it and make a difference. That's the part of the movie I'm in.

Refuse more of the same!

And if this year doesn't go well for me, I'm going to steal a groundhog and let it drive my truck off a cliff.

Also, please, no spiders.

Buzz Lightyear's Confession

I wanted to share one of the 10 Free Sermon Illustrations About Confession that I'm giving away. This is one of my favorites. If you want you the other 9, sign up here.

“For to confess is not simply to change but to first face and fully deny the false person you were trying to be.”

This is a quote from Josh Larsen’s book Movies are Prayers. In his chapter on how movies can be prayers of confession he looks at Buzz Lightyear’s journey in TOY STORY. For the majority of the film Buzz believes he is actually a real life space ranger and not just a toy. This all comes crumbling down when he happens to see a commercial advertising other Buzz Lightyear toys.

Feeling at his lowest, Woody tries to cheer up Buzz by saying “being a toy is a lot better than being a space ranger.”

On this scene Josh Larsen writes “Glancing from the corporate stamp on his wrist (“Made in Taiwan”) the hand-lettered inscription on the bottom of his foot (“ANDY”), Buzz comes to understand that his true identity lies not in the facade of a factious hero but in being claimed by someone else, someone who loves him despite his faults.”

Get 10 FREE SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS ABOUT CONFESSION

Most AWKWARD Prayer Time

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What's the worst/least helpful thing someone has said to you when you've asked for prayer during an altar call?

That’s the question I asked my Facebook friends a few months ago. There were SO MANY responses.

Here are some highlights.

“I know a teenager who was visiting a church for ministry purposes. The kid tried to cast a demon out of a man he’s never seen before. That someone just happened to be the pastor of the church.”

One guy told me he was literally told “to ‘shut up and quit praying.’ I needed to listen to what he was praying over me.”

A woman told me “After a lady finished praying for me one time, she said, ‘You know, I would really like it if you married my son.’”

Someone said “The worst is when you ask for prayer for a specific thing and the person praying with you repeats it in prayer extra loud and at the quiet part of worship." I thought this was really funny and relatable. How many teen guys don’t ask for prayer because they’re afraid the leader will start shouting "LORD, HELP THIS PERVERT TO STOP LOOKING AT SO MUCH PORN!”

It can be so scary to take the leap and open up to a leader about what you’re going through.

To confess and ask for prayer is making yourself so vulnerable.

But it can be just as scary to be on the other side of that conversation.

To be the leader someone is choosing to be vulnerable with can be so intimidating.

You can feel all this pressure like you have to fix this person in the next few moments or you’re not doing your job.

That mindset can lead to more harm than good.

I want to help train leaders.

That's why in 2018 I'm partnering with churches for a special event that not only includes a free comedy show outreach event for the community, but also training for pastors, leaders, and parents on how to be there for someone opening up.

Very Good Friends

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I’m writing to you from Wichita, KS. I performed at a Christmas party last night (a lot of fun) where they played a game called “poop the potato.” Tomorrow I have a house show and next Wednesday I’m doing comedy for “big church.” It feels weird saying “comedy for adults” and I didn’t know what else to call it.

Wichita is where Cameron, one of my best friends, live. That’s a picture of him up top. He didn’t know I was taking the picture. He won’t know until he sees this (hi Cameron!).

I’m VERY good at sneaking pictures of people. If we're friends, there's a chance I snuck a picture of you while hanging out and you'll never know. I don't know why I do this. Just for fun, I guess. There's no weird collection I keep for creepy reasons.

I was so excited about spending time with Cameron since I haven’t seen him in several months. I’ve been making a list on my phone of all the stuff I want to talk to him about.

“What do you think about all these churches live streaming their services on Facebook?”

“What’s one thing you’re most looking forward to?”

“Matt Chandler recently preached a sermon where he talked about feasting and it was so beautiful and I want you to hear it.”

I always leave conversations with Cameron excited to learn, read, and get closer to Jesus. My biggest hope is that he could say that about me, too. That’s the kind of friends I want to have. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

I once saw Wade Bearden lecture on C.S. Lewis and he said if you’re ever not sure about your preaching or writing you can always throw in a C.S. Lewis quote to make everything better and make you sound smarter.

So here’s a C.S. Lewis quote for ya:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friendship is one of those things that makes all this surviving worth it.

 

Here’s to the Christmas season!

Here’s to the long break

the cold weather

The empty schedules

The “I’ve got nothing on today”

the conversations that feel so short until we check the time and see that 2 hours have passed in 30 minutes and we're like "HOLY CRAP OUR CONVERSATION WAS SO GOOD WE TRAVELED THROUGH TIME!"

here’s to making friends with your family

and making family out of friends

 

I FREAKING LOVE CHRISTMAS

Jokes and the Holocaust

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I just watched the documentary LAST LAUGH on Amazon Prime. Here’s the description they give:

Can a tragedy the scale of the Holocaust ever be the subject of comedy? Perhaps more importantly, should it be? Here we see comedians pitch in with their own views on the boundaries of comedy - views tested against the reactions of Holocaust survivors.

Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner, and a ton of other comedians talk about how and when you joke about tragedy, and (the part I found most fascinating) WHY you’d joke about it. Even Holocaust survivors are interviewed about what humor was like in the camps.

“We were miserable but without humor I don’t think we would have survived.”

It’s a really great documentary with a lot of great points on both sides. That’s one of the things that I loved about it. There’s not a neat and tidy conclusion. Not everyone agrees. One survivor talks about the importance of finding the humor and another says is offensive to even suggest there’s humor to be found.

What are we allowed to talk about?

What are we allowed to joke about?

This is the subject of one of my videos in HOW TO LEAD A CULTURE OF CONFESSION.

My main rule is that we should be aware of what we’re laughing at. Victims should never be the punchline.

I think Mel Brooks is pretty strict about following this rule when it comes to the Holocaust. To him it was important to make fun of Hitler and the nazis, to make them look so silly. He called it “revenge through ridicule.”

The other thing I really loved about the documentary is how it illustrates the two ways comedy can get through a dark time.

First, comedy can distract us. It can be a powerful form of escapism. Robert Clary, an entertainer and Holocaust survivor recalls performing in make shift shows in the camps. “For the 10, 15 minutes I performed, they forgot where they were.”

That’s so beautiful.

Secondly, the main point I think the comedians are trying to make about why they want to make jokes that involve tragic subject like the Holocaust is because if we can joke about it we can talk about it. If we can make jokes then it’s not bigger than us.

I really think this documentary is worth your time. You might totally disagree with a lot of it, but I think it’s a really fascinating topic and worth exploring.

Here's the trailer:

My Graphic Design Process is Terrible

Here is my process for graphic design

  1. Have an idea
  2. Recreate what’s in my brain in Photoshop
  3. Do a bad job
  4. Get frustrated
  5. Take a nap
  6. Try again
  7. Succeed but realize it was a dumb idea and it looks bad
  8. Give up
  9. Forget that I’m supposed to be making something
  10. Go on urbanoutfitters.com and look at vinyl album artwork
  11. Find something I can rip off
  12. Try
  13. Do a bad job
  14. QUESTION EVERY LIFE CHOICE YOU'VE EVER MADE
  15. nap
  16. Try to think of cool new ways I can trick talented friends into doing it for me for free
  17. Realize that’s a bad idea
  18. Distract myself with Twitter
  19. Try one more time with a different idea
  20. Accidentally make something that looks pretty cool
  21. Freak out with excitement
  22. Polish it up and make it look nice
  23. Second guess myself
  24. Decide it’s good enough

This is always the process and it’s exhausting.

I recently wen through all these steps as I tried to create some sort of graphic for my 2018 stand-up tour, The Black Hole Comedy Tour.

My original idea was doing something where I scribble a poorly drawn “black hole” over my face. This would really fit the theme of the show because it’s about the type of topics we’re afraid to talk about because they feel like they’ll be black holes that’ll suck everything into it and ruin our friendships.

I tested out this design and didn’t like it at all.

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Then it was time for a nap.

I screwed around some more and made this

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I’m not good at this. I hate this.

Then I made this weird thing.

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Meh. TIME FOR A NAP AND TO QUESTION EVERYTHING.

But when I came back I made this and thought it was…..ok, I guess.

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Then I did my classic move of looking at album artwork for something I could steal and that’s when I found the design for the Bojack Horseman soundtrack and I really loved it.

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I loved that involved space (black holes are in space). I loved that was so simple so it’ll be easier for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing to recreate it.

I tried using my silhouette and just doing the exact same as Bojack but it wasn’t working. I really liked the little ink droplet from the earlier thing so I just used that instead and then I couldn’t stop screaming out of excitement because it actually looked ok.

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Praise God.

It is finished. I don’t have to worry about designing anything else for a while. This will get me through the year.

Also, and this is only kinda related, but you should check out Austin Kleon's book Steal Like an Artist.

New Free Video Series | How to Lead a Culture of Confession

My biggest passion in my comedy and preaching is confession. We need to be open and honest about what’s going on in our lives.

Paul says in Galatians that we need to bear each other’s burdens but how can we bear someone’s burden if we don’t know what it is?

I’ve created a free video series to train church leaders on how to be the type of leader that people will feel comfortable opening up to.

Watch the series

This is for pastors, small group leaders, volunteers, or church members who just want to be a good friend to the people in their lives.

HOW TO LEAD A CULTURE OF CONFESSION is a free 4 day video series.

Sign up with your email address and for the next 4 days you’ll receive a new video in your inbox every morning. They’re short, simple, but challenging.

Start today and walk through the steps that will let your church know that you’re a leader they can be honest with.

SIGN UP NOW TO WATCH “HOW TO LEAD A CULTURE OF CONFESSION”

It’s easy. It’s free. It can make a huge impact.

Watch it on your own while sitting on the toilet (they’re short videos) or go through the series with your ministry team. You’ll end up having some incredible discussions.