O Captain, My Captain


There are a few times in my life when I have been completely blown away by love. Unconditional, true, raw, complete love.

When I married my gorgeous wife Lisa.

When I saw Max for the first time.

When I had to say goodbye to my Mom.

Another one of those times was this summer on our annual SH Mission Trip. We make the trek to Lakewood, NJ with 82 teenagers and 26 adults to serve with an organization called A Future With Hope. This trip has become a cornerstone for our youth ministry programs at Avon Lake U.C.C. and an adventure that seems to get better and better every single year.

Every evening we gather for a time of worship and one of our adult leaders shares a message with the group. On one particularly long day, filled with some behind the scenes Semper Gumby moments, I was looking forward to our time of worship. In the middle of worship I had to take a phone call to put out some “fires” and when I returned my good friend Bracken had been speaking and called me to the front. At that point he asked everyone to stand on their chairs and repeat after him. Truthfully I remember them starting out by saying “O Captain, our Captain….” and that’s when I simply stopped and looked around the room at all the love being shown to me and was so deeply humbled by their gratitude and appreciation for…..me.

I was deeply saddened to learn of Robin Williams death and his apparent suicide. Many will question how a man with so much and a man who shared so much joy and laughter could ever take his own life. The truth is depression is an ugly animal. Depression can completely suck the will and mojo out of the strongest people in the world.

The only cure for all of this sadness is Love. Lots of it. Not the kind that comes with regulations or stipulations. I am talking pure, unfiltered, radical love.

In one of my favorite movies of all time Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character, John Keating is honored by his students when they all get up on their desks after he is fired from his teaching job and say “O Captain, My Captain”. We need to stand on metaphorical desks for the people in our lives and let them know that they are loved. We need to make that phone call, send that text, write that email, we need to spend time listening to their cries for help. We need to say “I love you” to the people we love.

Carpe Diem. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, you’ll miss your boat. Seize the day. This day. The day that the Lord has made.

Robin Williams will be remembered as one of the most brilliant talents of our time. What will his legacy be?

That we get real about depression & mental illness.                                   That not one more person takes their life because of this pain.        That love wins. All the time.

Help a loved one. A fried. Or Yourself. 1.800.273.TALK




I am in Chicago this week for the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference. It’s being hosted by the Jopa Group and the crew at 4th Street Presbyterian.

This is waaaaaaaaaaay different than any other youth ministry conference I have attended.
And that’s a good thing.

It’s not even been 24 hours, but I have learned quite a bit including:
1. Everyone in Chicago has a reserved parking spot at Trinity U.C.C.
2. They are serious about the “don’t take pictures without permission” signs at Trinity U.C.C.
3. Driving into downtown Chicago at rush hour resembles New Dehli, India. I’ll never understand how it all works.
4. Ditka’s makes a mean steak. #thebleucheesecrustisamust
5. There’s a LOT of really, awesome people here who care about the U.C.C. and care about Youth Ministry.
6. Outdoor Ministries works. There are models that work. There is a need for us to get outside and to get our young people outside. This is the bottom line. U.C.C. folks in Ohio…..I am talking to you. It’s definitely WWJD. Reference Wayzata Community Church.
7. Rev. Otis Moss III brought the thunder this morning. “Jesus healed people with pre-existing conditions.” “We need to be the lighthouse ship.” “We have to be the lighthouse ships in the church. We have to go where the trouble and the need is. We can’t stay put.” #representingtheCLE
8. As Luke Lindon would say….the chapel of 4th Street Pres looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
9. I get to hang out with Margaret Mills. #bonus
10. I am even more energized to get back to it in Avon Lake.
11. Smoked Pulled Pork for dinner. #doesitgetanybetter?

Back to work.



This past Saturday we held our 6th Annual Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament at the church to raise money for our SH Summer Mission Trip. We set our goals at having over 132 teams play in the tournament and to raise over $9,000 for our trip.

I am thrilled to announce that we had 159 teams compete in this year’s event and we were able to raise over $10,000 for our trip this summer. We definitely had some help from some folks in higher places when it came to the weather. On Wednesday before the tournament we got slammed with ANOTHER Winter storm that took out power, closed schools and made life miserable….again in NE Ohio. On Sunday, the day after the tournament it was hovering around 0 degrees out and the big fan in the sky was set on hurricane strength. Somehow in the middle of this on Saturday we managed sunny skies, 44 degrees, zero precipitation and just enough wind to make our World Record Shot a bit difficult.

I am in awe of how many people give so much every single year to make this event possible. I cant begin to list all of the people and organizations that helped us get ready for Saturday’s big event. From all of us going on the trip this summer…..thank-you. Your support and generosity is providing us with the opportunity to travel to New Jersey and assist the people there with the cleanup from Superstorm Sandy. This trip is providing lots of teenagers with their first exposure to serving and what it truly looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This trip changes lives and changes our world one person at a time.

I can’t wait to tell you about it when we get home.
Until then….please continue to pray for everyone going on this trip and for the rockstars at A Future With Hope in New Jersey as they scramble to find a way to prepare for our team to arrive.

God is good.
#grateful #humbled #sleptreallyreallywellonSaturdaynight



I had to post this. I have no deep thoughts to go along with this video. This is just to show you what terror looks & sounds like unfiltered and in real time.

I love nature and I love bears, but I pray to never see a bear in nature coming in my direction at full speed.

#HappyThursday #SupportyourNationalParks

Where’s The Love?

Where's The Love?

This is wrong.
No other way to cut it.
It is the polar opposite of what Jesus was about.
It is the opposite of loving your neighbor.
It is barbaric and something that has no place in 2014.

I believe in love. I believe every life, every person, no matter – what, is perfect and loved unconditionally by God. You can’t be about love partway or only some of the time.

Love is something that is all or nothing.

I am saying a lot of prayers for the people in Uganda and for the rest of us. We can’t let our world become a place of intolerance and bigotry. We have to stand up for love. The radical, unconditional, unending and courageous love that Jesus perfected 2,000 years ago.

#loveeveryone #allthetime



Tomorrow. Buffalo Wild Wings – Avon Lake.
Dine-In OR Carry-Out. 25% of your total bill will support our SH Summer Mission Trip to New Jersey this Summer.


Tell every person you see between now and tomorrow to dine at Buffalo Wild Wings in Avon Lake as many times as possible tomorrow. Thank-you in advance for your support.

This summer we are taking a group of over 100 youth and adults to New Jersey to assist in the recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy. Every single wing you smash is directly helping us make this trip possible.


See you there!


SH Mission Trip 2014_BW3S Flyer



I have been going to summer camp for 25+ years and I still find it just as incredible as it was when I was 10 years old. I still find everything about it……irreplaceable. Maybe it’s because it’s a week where I have nothing else to do but have a complete and utter blast. Maybe it’s because I still get to spend that week with some of my best friends in the galaxy. Maybe it’s because I get to see kids from Avon Lake get hooked on camp and fall madly in love with the whole experience as I did. Maybe it’s because it’s the one place where I feel closest to God and for one whole week God and I get some real quality time together. Maybe it’s all of that plus a bajillion other things.

I hope you all consider making summer camp a part of your plans this year.
You will NOT regret it.
Join us this Sunday for Camp Sunday and hear alllllllllllllllllllll about it. (you may even see pictures of me from the 90’s when I thought it was awesome to dye my hair nuclear blonde!)

Pack your bags and send in your registration.
See you at camp!

Proud to Be

The National Congress of American Indians has release a video extending their efforts to eradicate the offensive R-word.

Just days before Super Bowl XXLVII, the NCAI is reminding Americans that Native people are not mascots.

“This week’s celebration of football is exactly why we need to keep talking about the D.C. mascot,” the organization said in an email to ICTMN. “Cheering for a football team should never include the casual use of a racial slur. It is important for all teams and all of their fans that the name of the D.C. team is changed.”

In October 2013, the organization released a 29-page report called Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful ‘Indian’ Sports Mascots, which ICTMN covered here.

The video called “Proud to Be” illustrates the strength and beauty of tribal nations and highlights prominent and influential Native people throughout history. The roughly two-minute video ends by saying that Native Americans call themselves many things, but not the R-word; and the last shot of the video is a picture of the ‘Redskins’ helmet.

A Long Time Since Mungeli

It’s been quite some time since I last blogged. I had just completed a two week journey to the other side of the planet. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the remote village of Mungeli, India with my wife, Lisa, the good Reverend Kelly, Dave Witzigreuter & Gregg Brekke. We were there on an immersion experience to see the work of Dr. Anil Henry and the work he is doing at the hospital and school he oversees. My mind was completely blown and I am itching for the next opportunity to visit Mungeli.

So now here we are here three years later and I am back to blogging. And again life has provided me another incredible life-changing experience. It was only a few months ago that I found out my wife and I were expecting the birth of our first child this July. #cantwait #daddybootcampthisSaturday

In the next few weeks we will be launching a brand new website for the church. As part of our new website, I will be blogging to keep all of up to speed with everything we have going on in our youth ministry programs, information or articles that may be helpful to you and my random thoughts on everything you can possibly imagine.

Thank-you for stopping by.

Oh and if you cared to read more about that experience I had in Mungeli you can get it all at http://www.meandmungeli.blogspot.com.

I am HUGE fan of hashtags. And if I know anything about Jesus…..Jesus loves them too. #kingofkings #jesuslovesyou

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