How I Found God At Disneyland – Todd

disneyland__130426203418My kids skipped in a circle on the neatly packed bricks of the square at the entrance of Disneyland.  Kellie was fussing with the stroller and I was checking our wristbands as the hundreds of other families readied themselves for a fantastic day.  It’s a magical place, truly it is.

We bounced from one ride to another, seeing the life-sized characters of Pocahontas, Buzz Lightyear and, of course, the Mouses.  With each new turn, my kids’ eyes grew as the wonder, aromas and excitement of the theme park reminded them that ‘happy’ still exists on the planet.

I recall this time because I need to.  I allow this memory to roll on my mind’s movie screen because it is required.  The reel reminds me, not of the happiness of my kids or the shared experience of my family, but of the powerful joy I felt seeing my kids exuberant.  When their faces glowed, mine shone brighter.  When their giddiness was uncontrollable, so was my laughter because at some point, I found greater joy in my kids’ happiness than in my own.

This is how God sees you.  He loves to see you giddy.  He loves to witness you shine.  He loves it when his creation in your life causes that wide-eyed wonder and he giggles when he slips a miracle or two into your schedule and you come out beaming.  Even when your life steps in gum or the ride makes you queasy, he is there — like any good dad — reassuring you that its all okay.

At the end of the day, all three kiddos were asleep, on top of each other, in a stroller meant for one.  We exited the park with the other thousand families.  As I pushed, another father pushed next to me with his kids bundled like mine.  We caught eyes, smiled, and shared a moment because we both realized how awesome it was to show our kids what a wonderful life it could be.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17


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Love Year Round

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Can love be limited?

love year round.001So I’m going to make a judgment and hopefully you can look past my assumptions in order to get the gist of this post.

I was in WalMart the other day and a man and two women entered the same aisle in which I wandered.  [Here comes the judgment].  Based on their conversation and their over all appearance, I assumed that we were different. Politics, socio-economics and most likely sexual orientation played a part of our differences [again, total assumptions on my part.  But keep reading].

They were talking about the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations. One of them said, “I’ve heard people wanting to start a celebration of singles day.” The others in the group chuckled. Then she paused and said something very profound. She said,

“Why do we have to have a special day for love? Why can’t we celebrate love all year round?”

My heart leapt out of my chest. I immediately turned to the group, smiled and said “Amen to that!”

We all join together in humorous laughter and an exchange of smiles.

You see, differences are differences. I’m different from you; you’re different from me. Yet we all have this one thing in common — we all want love.  We want to love and be loved.  We want to know that within love, we matter — we have value — and that kind of love is something to be celebrated year round. 

How awesome is it that God loves us year round! [Tweet that]!  He doesn’t relegate sending a card once a year and he doesn’t give us some cheap store-bought candy blessing.  He is love and he gave himself for me, for you and for my new-found friends in, of all places, WalMart.

This Valentine’s Day, enjoy the differences and celebrate the wonder of God’s year-round love.



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Matt Stefan and Family

Matt Stefan and Family

I’m angry this morning.

I don’t normally wake up angry yet today I am.

A friend of mine who has influence and has influenced hundreds of adults and high school students died suddenly on July 4th of a brain aneurism.  Young, brilliant, creative and physical death captured him as he prepared for his day.

Funny thing is, Jesus is angry as well.  In fact, the morning that my friend died, my devotional reading was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus saw what death had done to Lazaraus’ family, the original language says that he was angry at it.  Many translations use the words “deeply moved” but the Greek says that it was an indignant anger.  Like when a horse snorts, that is what Jesus did (so the original language says).

Get that.  Jesus wasn’t angry at Lazarus’ family.  He wasn’t angry at the real or hired mourners or even that he chose to wait to visit.  Jesus is angry at death itself.  Angry that death causes pain.  Angry that death stirs up emptiness.  Angry that death shreds the emotional heart of people.  Jesus is angry at my friends death as well.

Yet death is necessary for life.  Death is glorious for those who know Jesus.  In fact, God says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”

I need to sit on that for a bit.  As much as I am angry, more so God is rejoicing and meet us in our sorrow.  Join me as pray for my friend’s family as I let the comfort of God’s Spirit quell my anger.




Do It WITH Fear

fear1I heard a story of a firefighter who climbed up a five story ladder to rescue a woman hanging out a flame engulfed apartment building.  As smoke billowed from the window, the woman screamed and coughed and begged for the firefighter to hurry.  The ladder lurched into place and the firefighter met her on the sill.

“It’s okay!” he said.  “Just listen to what I want you to do.  I need you to climb out of the window and onto the ladder and we’ll both go down together.”

The woman’s eyes went wide.  She looked at the firefighter, looked down and the five story drop,  looked back at him and said, “I can’t do it!  I’m afraid of heights!”

“It’s okay.  I’ve got you,” he said.
“No,” she yelled, “you don’t understand.  I get sick even walking up stairs.  I’m not coming with you because I’m too afraid.”

The firefighter thought for a moment and said, “Do it with fear!”
They both made it down together.

I love that line, “Do it with fear!”  Too often, we wait to have that conversation or venture out into something new because we are waiting for all fear to disappear.  What if fear is a good thing?  What if the adage “overcome your fear” is an impossible statement keeping us from doing something with fear.

That kind of healthy fear keeps us alert as we open a business.  That kind of healthy fear keeps us humble as we encourage someone with our faith in God.

Here are three ways to more forward with fear.

  1. Realize that fear, at some level, is part of our human experience.
  2. Visualize fear as a traveling companion, there to give advice but NOT to hold you back.
  3. Know that God’s perfect love casts out the fear of wondering if He loves you.

Whatever fear is holding you back, do it with fear.