Passionate Pursuit

I was recently invited to write for GetConnectDAD‘s 52 Traits campaign. Its focus is to provide a platform for dads to talk about the traits that we would like to help instill into our children.  Below is my guest piece on the topic of being Passionate (or click here to view it on their site).

When people hear the word “passionate”, they often assume it is connected to the romantic realm; it’s just one of those words that tends to be associated with a singular meaning.  “Passionate” can also, unfortunately, trigger assumptions that what is about to be said will be sexual or even pornographic.  Be honest: when you read the title above, did a little part of you think that you were about to read about dating or marriage?  Maybe something along the lines of “Five Tricks To Keep The Romance Alive After Kids”?  Sorry to disappoint but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re needing that.

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Think about someone in your life that you would gladly follow: a boss, a friend, a parent.  Someone who you naturally trust to “lead you into battle”.  Now think about someone that is the polar opposite.  A person that you’d rather not even have on your team, let alone trust enough to follow.  What separates these types of people?  Would it be their upbringing?  Gender?  Race?  Socio-economic status?  Get past the surface level profiling and you’re left with one key trait:


Yes, passion is a requirement for healthy, romantic relationships but that is not its only purpose.  Passion is about so much more than that.

When you love what you do and don’t dread going to your job every day, that’s passion.  When you spend hours working on a project that others would avoid, that’s passion.  When you want to learn everything there is to know about a topic, even if it is not required to pass a class or get a promotion, that’s passion.

Passion is what allows us to become successful and to achieve great things.  It is what pushes us to not give up even when others would throw in the towel.  Passionate people are inspiring and compelling; they are leaders that we gladly follow.  We look at them and think “I want what they have”.

I have been dreaming about how to be a proper father to my baby girl since my wife and I opened that envelope last Christmas.  What will I raise her on?  What cartoons should she watch?  What board games should we play?  What video games should I introduce to her?  Before I started to become overwhelmed with all of that, I already knew that one of my top goals was to teach her how to be someone that is passionate.

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I consider myself a bit of a nerd.  Video games?  They can be fun.  RPGs?  Never actually tried a proper one.  Books?  I recognize some author’s names but I’m not as much a Reader as my wife.  But I love movies!  I love watching and critiquing them; I love feeling the emotion that a great actor can give their character (Matthew McConaughey in “Interstellar” watching the video messages from his kids absolutely wrecked me – big ‘ol man sized tears).  I enjoy looking into previous work of specific directors, cinematographers, and writers to see how they have refined their craft.  I then seek out their films even if they fall into a genre that I would normally avoid (this happened with “The Cabin in the Woods” simply because Joss Whedon wrote it).  I also love comics and the stories they tell; I love collecting and building with Lego; I love spending an evening with family and laughing over each other’s stories; I love having deep and challenging conversations with friends and strangers regarding my Christian faith.  You get me going on one of these topics and I light up because I am absolutely passionate about them!

Being nerdy just means being passionate about something, including everyone – the coolest people on Earth are passionate and therefore nerdy about something whatever it is, whether it’s sports, or gaming, or technology, or fashion, or beauty, or food, or whatever. – Zachary Levi

I want my daughter to learn how to be nerdy; to learn how to be passionate about something.  I want her to know that her passions should not be hidden just because some kids at school don’t share them.  I want her passions to impact and guide whatever she does in life.  The only way she will be learn to embrace her nerdy desires – the only way she will learn to be passionate about whatever is of interest to her (be it books like her mom, movies like her dad, or something else entirely) will be if she is given the example by her parents.  If she sees it everyday in her father.

It is my responsibility, privilege, and joy to cultivate my daughter’s passion and to encourage her nerdy behavior.  That requires me to remember to be someone who is unafraid to spend time doing the things that he loves, even when other people think they are silly or childish.  If my daughter is nerdy – if she is passionate – there will be nothing in this life that she will be unable to accomplish.  She only has to learn how.


No Shame

I’ve always been overweight.  Always.

There has never been a time in my nearly 28 years on this planet when I haven’t been fluffier than my peers or felt paralyzing shame at the thought of having my shirt off.  With that history has come an ever shifting attitude; my mindset has ranged from “I’m worthless because I don’t have a 6 pack” to “this is the way I am and I don’t need to change.”  In fact, I’ve blogged about the later on this site before.  I’ve tried diets and supplements and even gym memberships but it always came back to food; I love food and I love everything that goes along with it!  The time with people, the process of crafting a meal, the various tastes and combinations thereof – there doesn’t seem to be anything about food that I dislike except for the fact that with it often comes judgement by others.  And plain, raw veggies.

The bottomline is that I’ve been a failure when it comes to food for most of my life.  I’ve used it for a cure to boredom, relief from constant teasing, and as a barrier to unfair expectations.  I’ve had ups and downs in the battle against this addiction but they mostly have tended to repeat over and over because I don’t learn from my errors.  That changed this year with my efforts to live a Low Carb, High Fat lifestyle (LCHF, also known as Keto).

Over the last 5 months I’ve successfully lost 56 pounds.  I’ve gone down 1.5 shirt sizes and 3 pant sizes by simply changing what and how much I was eating.  With 19 pounds left until I hit my extended goal, I’m happier and healthier than I have been in quite some time.  I still love food, even though I’ve been steadily losing weight, and I have been able to grow my love of cooking by discovering new and different recipes.  It truly has been an adventure and I don’t see it ending.

Why has this worked when so many other methods failed?  Here are 5 things I have realized in my 5 months of Keto:

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One Choice

Have you ever had a choice set before you that you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, was going to change the rest of your life?  Can you look back and think of a moment where you chose a direction to take that completely altered your future?  I know I can.

I was raised in a Christian Pastor’s home.   A Baptist preacher.  I grew up going to christian summer camp, vacation bible school, awana, etc.  At every one of those big events I responded to the Altar Call and “asked Jesus into my heart” because the day after the last time I had gone forward, I felt liket it “didn’t count”.  The Camp High was gone and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a Christian.  I must have gone through those motions 8 or 9 times.

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Spiritual Growth: Identity

“Hi, I’m an Apple.”

Almost everyone remembers those “Apple vs PC” commercials from a couple years ago.  They featured a cool, hip, young guy as an Apple computer and an uptight, all-business, old guy as the PC.  When I made the switch to Apple back in 2007, I thought of myself as that image of a Mac user.

Everything else took a back seat.

A few years ago, a friend at church said off-handedly that when he thought of me he thought of an Apple fanboy who knew a lot about computers.  This gnawed at me because, moments earlier, we had been discussing our identity in Christ.  What I was hoping he would say was “church leader” or “Christ-follower”; at the very least, “Christian” had to make an appearance in that description, right?  It was at that moment that I realized that my outward expression of faith had become clouded somehow – it wasn’t on purpose by any means but I was not as clear with what I believed as I had originally thought.  I had proudly claimed to be a “geek” for awhile but it seemed that that particular title had supplanted “Christian” in my friends eyes.

Changing gears: I have talked to many Christians over the years who are homosexual and the most common title those individuals placed on themselves is that of a “Gay Christian”.  Every theological idea or cultural opinion is colored by their sexual orientation and place in society; their identity did not seem to be found in Christ but in what they decided was truly important.  I believe it says a lot about your priorities when you define yourself as a “______ Christian” (or “Christian ______”).  Substitute anything in there and it still applies: feminist, vegan, athlete, filmmaker, musician, etc.

Let me be clear: this post is not meant to be about the morality or scriptural support/condemnation of homosexuality.  I’m merely using this as an example as I feel it will be understood by the broadest number of readers.  If you are interested in that topic, I suggest checking out the Christian Ethics book I mentioned in a previous post.

The title of “Gay Christian” has a tremendous amount of cultural baggage; many who practice homosexuality define themselves by that one aspect of their lives – the problem with defining yourself like that is that if you have already found what defines you – be it sports, tech, entertainment, gender, or sexual orientation – is there room for anything else?  It doesn’t seem like it.

I often say I’m a geek; it describes the social practices that I most often partake in (gaming, movies, comics, legos, etc).  However, I am more aware now than I was a few years ago that it is incredibly easy to lose focus and let our other pursuits overtake what should be #1.  No matter where you are in life, remember this one truth: There is nothing as important as Jesus.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3

So, just to clear up any misconceptions, let me redefine myself for you: I am a Christian; a “little-Christ” who has made a commitment to follow Jesus, the son of God and Savior of the world, and am striving everyday to serve him with my life.  I love my wife and I like technology, movies, and disc golf but none of those things define me in as big a way as being a Christian.

What are you defined by?

“I’m not the shoes I wear; I’m not the clothes I buy; I’m not I house I live in; I’m not the car I drive.  I’m not the job I work; You can’t define my worth by nothing on God’s green earth; My identity is found in Christ.” – Lecrae

Why Ministry?

Tonight I found this note that I had written to myself a while back – it was written as a “pep talk” for those times when I would get discouraged doing ministry/school.  I decided that I would post it here in the hopes that it would help someone else as much as it just helped me.

Forgive the grammar and spelling errors; I probably originally wrote this at 3am with no rewrites.

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Hey Future Me.  This message is being written so that you will have something to wake you up whenever apathy strikes.  When you get to the point of “why am I spending so much time at church and school”, this is what you should read.

His Glory.  That is why I do it – it’s not about the money, fame, or accomplishment.  I work with youth because He is worth it.  The LORD, Yahweh, has shown me love and I pay it forward by working with students.  Are you listening future self?  It’s not about you; it is about your Creator God.  Christ commanded his followers to go into all the world to teach others about Him…well, this is your little corner of the world.  This is your sector.  This is your battleground. This is where you make a stand for Truth.  And you do it because of your love for God.

If I wanted to make money, I would have gone into welding.  If I wanted fame, I would have written that bestseller.  If I wanted praise I would base my happiness on the number of students who converted to Christianity or how many people came to the retreat or how many volunteers I had wanting to work with me.  But I don’t want those things. I don’t want to base my happiness on my own actions because in the end I will always not be enough on my own. I need God in order to do any amount of work for Him.

Future self, you’re going to have to read this note a lot.  A lot, a lot.  You’re going to get to the point many times when you wonder if it is worth it at all: the late nights, the stressful events, the seemingly endless prep work…I get it, Youth Ministry is hard.  “But, past self!  It’s so pointless!  You don’t understand how bad this event/night/service/message is going to turn out.”  Yes, I get it – but the Lord your God is in control; if you do what he wants, you will have succeeded.  He has called you time and again to work in youth ministry in the face of some pretty bad odds.  Your time at Multnomah has been anything but normal but He has always provided.  Trust in Him in this situation.  He is good and His love endures forever. Put your faith and hope in him and stop trying to do it all yourself.