Why I’m Looking Past the Blood Moons (and you should too)


CAUTION–Darren will rant in 3…2…1…

Fellow Christians, am I the only one a little tired of hearing about Shemitah, Blood Moons, Red Heifers, Pale Horses, Black Horses,Yellow Brick Roads, Little Green Men, Yellow Submarines, etc. (and of those making gobs of money on these things)? It doesn’t make you a prophet to say judgment is coming, and you don’t need signs in the heavens, Jewish dates, or troubling headlines to proclaim it. Yes, judgment is coming. Judgment has ALWAYS been coming. This is NOT brand new information!

If you’re a Christian, don’t get overly caught up in the headlines, or the stars, or the moons. Don’t rush out to buy the books that focus on these things. All we need is found in the book we already have–THE Word. Are all these things in that Word? Kind of, although Apocalyptic Literature is deliberately open to interpretation, which is why prophecy preachers can use the same scriptures over and over again for brand new headlines. But where they appear, they are just SIGNS. Continue Reading →

A Thorn Full of Grace

thornToday I’m reflecting on Paul’s thorn in the flesh that God refused to remove (1 Cor. 12). No one really knows what the thorn was, but it was painful and annoying to Paul.

Three times Paul asked the Lord to remove it, but God said no each time. Instead, God provided grace to deal with the thorn, stating “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9, NIV).

As I think about this, it strikes me that sometimes grace isn’t found in the exit, but rather, simply in the journey itself.

Grace isn’t always found in the escape; it’s sometimes found in the prison. It’s not always found in the provision; it’s found in the lack. It’s not always found in the healing; it’s found in the pain.

God didn’t promise He’d walk us OUT of the valley of the shadow of death, but rather, that He’d walk us THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4, KJV).

His presence doesn’t always mean the end of the difficulty. Rather, it promises that the fear caused by the difficulty will be completely erased. Scary circumstances don’t necessarily end when God shows up, but when God shows up, scary circumstances cease to be scary.

Whatever you may be struggling with today, know that God’s grace is sufficient for you. Paul found grace in the thorn. Maybe God’s got a thorn full of grace for you, too.

I know I have a thorn or two. Of course, just because God uses them in my life doesn’t mean I’m going to stop praying for Him to remove them.

But then, He knows better than I do. So maybe—just maybe—I can trust Him even when I don’t have a clue what He’s doing.

Maybe—just maybe—you can too.

WE BOUGHT A BOAT! (and then almost died)

Jake Boat 2We recently bought a boat. It was a great day as we hooked it up to my truck for the first time and hauled it home. I grew up around boats. Dad was always buying one, fixing it up, then selling it. So now as an adult (whatever that means) I had images of grand boat outings with smiling kids, tan lines, and windswept hair. This image was fulfilled on our first few outings, but then came D-Day.

I readied the boat and was all set to take my wife, our 3 kids, two of my brothers, and my niece out for the first time–8 people in all. We drove down to the local marina and put the boat in the water. Up till this point, everything was running smoothly. I then started the motor and headed toward the dock to pick up the family.

They boarded without a hitch, and off we went toward our grand boating adventure. About 30 seconds into our journey, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to put the plug in the boat.

For you boating novices, most boats have a hole in the back to drain water out after you pull it from the lake. Obviously, you’re supposed to return the plug to the hole before putting the boat back into the water. I did not. And of course, it’s all my wife’s fault. Continue Reading →

18 Awesome 2nd Grade Inventions

NsacarI was asked to be a career coach this year at my kids’ school. This was a daunting request for me.

I speak to adults and teenagers all the time. I’ve stood on stage before thousands and calmly presented. I’ve sat in front of television cameras and performed interviews while feeling calm, cool, and collected.

But addressing a class of second graders is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. So many tiny eyes!

I thought my biggest fear was muppets (those big hairy ones that seem to be cut directly from Beelzebub’s body hair with eyes that follow you everywhere you go) but I think I’ve found a new phobia – 2nd grade teaching. God bless all you who take on this task daily! Continue Reading →

Life, TV, Book, and Platypus Updates

Wowser it’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog! My deepest apologies to all 14 of my loyal fans.

It’s been a crazy few months. We recently held our bi-annual international convention for my church’s worldwide constituency (a lot of big words there) and that pretty much consumed my entire life for several months. This year I had the unique opportunity to host our webcast.

1972434_836780399675163_8962459477483057131_nI was a bit freaked out, to be honest, not because I had to wear those earbuds on steroids, but because my default personality mode is always sarcasm. I feared that being in front of our church folk around the world (we had an audience of about 15,000+) would only magnify the potential foot-in-darren’s-mouth scenarios. But, lo and behold, God managed to keep both feet out of my mouth. Although I did so much walking throughout the week that if I could have licked my feet, I probably would have. (My apologies for painting that mental image.) If you’re interested, you can view some of the segments here (of the webcast, not of my feet licking).

But we had a lot of fun throughout the week, and met some very interesting people from around the world. And one very familiar face who made fast friends with my platypus.

Picture1 Picture3 Picture4Mr. Bush (impersonator) LOVED my pet platypus!

Mr. Bush (impersonator) LOVED my pet platypus!

Since that week, many new opportunities have been popping up. I’ve recently become the discipleship pastor at my church, and the chapel pastor at our International Offices—two very big responsibilities that I’m excited about and scared to death of all at the same time. It’s a twisted mix of emotions, like when I watch Property Brothers while staring at that hole in my drywall.

You might be interested to hear that I received an update about my book, Dear God We Need To Talk, from my publisher this week. I was pleasantly surprised at the sales. It’s not on the NY Times Bestseller List or anything, but it’s plugging along. I’ve been hoping and praying that it would simply sell well enough to enable me to keep writing. So far, so good, I think, but be sure you keep buying so I can write another wickedly riveting, uniquely sarcastic, gushingly platypied book.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s on sale at Amazon for only around $8.00 or so. A prime time to snag one! You can read more about it by simply clicking around this blog a bit. But be careful, you never know what you might stumble on. And if you’ve read the book already, I might implore-ask-request-beg that you consider writing an honest(ly awesome and gushing) review on Amazon.

And as always, beware of the platypus.Those uber cute eyes have a way of pulling you into its spell. Just ask W.


Theology By Nightlight

One of the things that bugs me most about theologians is, well, how theological they are, particularly when they try to explain things.

I was putting my 5-year-old daughters (yes, plural, I have identical twin girls) to bed recently and, after prayer time, Abby looked up and, out of the blue, asked, “Daddy, how can God know everything?”

WHOA, where did THAT come from?

led_nightlight_sideI tried to flip the neon sign of theology in my head to the on position, and began forming my response: “God’s omnipotence is directly related to his omniscience and omnipresence. The sovereignty of the Godhead over all creation comes from His foreknowledge….” Wait a minute, Darren, that’s not going to work with a five-year-old.

This one needed to be as simple as possible. I couldn’t use the neon light of theology, I needed more of a theological nightlight—simple and subtle. I would not be able to tell her about sovereignty, omniscience, and omnipotence. “Can’t possibly use those terms until at least six-years-old,” I thought to myself.

I fumbled for words.

“Well, baby, uhhh, I guess, he knows everything because… he made everything.”

I was über pleased with my simple but deeply theological response, but Abby was still staring at me blankly. I realized she needed more.

Then… all at once… it happened. The heavens parted and the Spirit descended on me like a dove of intelligence. I heard an angelic choir of a thousand children’s voices singing in perfect 12-part harmony as I relayed this theological nightlight.

“You know how when you draw me a picture, you can tell me every last detail of that picture?”

“uh huh”

“You can do that because you created that picture, and that means you know everything about it, down to the smallest detail. Right?”

“uh huh”

“That’s how God knows everything. He drew it all.”

As I finished speaking, the angelic choir of children’s voices faded into the distance, and then, as they faded, I’m sure I heard a still small voice say, “This is Darren, in whom I am well pleased.”

We seem to think theology is complicated and incomprehensible, but the truth is, we are all theologians, and we theologize (yup, just made that word up) every single day, even when we don’t know it. And when the opportunity presents itself, don’t avoid it; tackle it head on. God will help you.

Otherwise, you may hear that angelic choir singing in falsetto: “It’s too late to theologize, it’s too laaaaaaate.”

And as the picture below illustrates, we can be thankful that God drew it all, and I did not.

World Drawing 6

Thankfully God drew it all, and I did not.

Feel free to now share your best world drawing.


Daddy, Can We Spend More Time Together? How to be a connected parent in a disconnected world


As I was putting my son to bed recently, he looked up at me from under the covers and asked, “When can we spend more time together, just you and me?” Although I quickly realized that he was trying to manipulate me into letting him get out of bed so we could go play video games together, the question still rang loudly in my ears.

I have three kids. My son is 9, and my identical twin girls are 7. I work full-time in a ministry position that requires some travel that at times can be pretty dense and I have a book out with a major publisher. I’m learning to navigate the waters of job, travel, family, and book promotion as best as I can, but at times I’m certain I don’t find the right balance. Especially during these summer months when my kids are home all day every day and they realize that I’m not.

So, how do I make sure my wife and kids get the time they need and deserve?

My Dad was a pretty busy guy. He was a pastor, so he was always on call. He was a good shepherd of his congregation, and when someone needed something, he was there to help. And although I recall him being gone quite often from our home, I never felt left out or abandoned in any way whatsoever. So I’ve considered how he managed to balance his time.

If it was important to me, it was important to him.

I was involved in a lot of sports, and Dad attended everything he possibly could. He missed one every now and then, but he would be sure to find out all the details of what happened when it was over. And he rooted me on. He even coached many of the teams I played on over the years.

He invested time in helping me be better.

I remember Dad often dragging my brothers and me out of bed on Saturday mornings to haul us over to the ball field and hit a few grounders our way. Some days I would moan and groan about it, but looking back, it meant a lot for him to take the time to do that. It was only a few hours on a Saturday for him, but I still carry the memory.

At key moments, he showed me I was #1.

We attended church EVERY SINGLE TIME we had the chance (but we didn’t have much choice considering Dad was the pastor and all). But I can recall a few times when Dad let me skip church for a game or even a night out with friends. This may not sound like much now, but there was a different mindset when it came to church attendance back then. This simple act done only a handful of times over my younger years let me know that the church (ie, Dad’s employer) was not more important than me.

When he did wrong, he apologized (once).

There’s no doubt Dad made his fair share of mistakes, but the one that stands out the most isn’t because of the mistake, but because of the apology. We were an avid hunting family, and one year I received a permit to turkey hunt and Dad did not. He took me hunting and I got a turkey, but in his eagerness and desire to hunt, he also got a turkey. Thus, we ended up with two turkeys and only one was legal.

Later that afternoon he called me out on the porch and apologized for his actions, informing me that he had acted improperly in his excitement. I would have never thought twice of the incident, but that apology taught me a HUGE lesson. When we make mistakes (and we all will) be sure to right the wrongs. It also made me feel pretty important—DAD apologized to ME.

These are just a few things I’m trying to do with my kids. I fail regularly, but hopefully I can let them know over these few years that I have with them that they are truly important to me, and I value every second I have with them.

What are you doing to make sure your kids understand the same?

HOW I BOTCHED MY KIDS’ BAPTISM (and what I learned from it)

baptism 2I knew the moment was coming that Wednesday evening. My dad baptized me when I was little, and I was thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to do the same for all three of my children. I was moved to tears several times throughout the day as I thought about the upcoming moment. My children love Jesus, and this was a moment I knew I wouldn’t forget.

But when the opportunity finally presented itself, I was ill prepared. Although I had pictured it in my mind all day long, I had not planned out what I would say. And much to my wife’s chagrin (and my own), my default personality trait is wit and sarcasm.

So, because I had not thought through my words for the moment, I ended up being WAY more lighthearted than I had intended. I asked the kids questions like who their favorite parent was and how old Mommy was before getting to the more serious questions and, eventually, baptizing them.

After my first two children were baptized, the third walked into the pool. That’s when my mind began to whirl as I realized I had not said what I wanted to say. I quickly moved through the moment with my third child, and then stepped out of the pool in a dizzying fog of panic. I had taken it all too lightly and didn’t grasp the opportunity at hand.

I immediately realized it was a moment I’d never get back. My heart sank into my chest. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

My wife and friends did their very best to comfort me. But it’s something I’ll always regret. I had a prime spiritual moment to speak life over my children, and I replaced it instead with wit and sarcasm. As I’ve reflected on this botched opportunity, I’ve realized a few things.

1) My Wife Is Awesome

I already knew this, but she continually proves it to be true. She comforted me with gentle words of assurance. She said I was the Dad my kids knew, and by making them laugh, I likely made it more memorable for them. She helped me sleep that night.

2) I Can’t Live Up To Every Expectation

After working through my regret, I realized that one of the reasons I was immediately so stressed was because I was worried about what the people in the audience may have thought. I’m certain several probably didn’t approve of my lightheartedness during the baptism. I don’t blame them, but I can’t control everyone’s opinion. And if they choose to judge me based on one moment in the spotlight, I cannot control that, either. Not to mention the fact that it was all based on fear alone, since I never actually heard anything negative about the whole thing.

3) Friends Who Pray Are Friends You Should Keep

The day after the botching, I had to appear on two television shows in Atlanta. These on-the-spot interviews in front of a camera and a live television audience are daunting. They call for extreme mental concentration. And I woke up that morning unable to concentrate on anything, as I was filled with regret from the night before. I shared my struggle with a few praying friends, and they immediately chimed in with encouraging words. Over the next two hours, I felt the weight of my burden slowly lift. I know it was because they were praying. Although, on one of the shows that day, I admitted on camera that my Xbox gamertag is “wizardbeef,” so maybe they didn’t pray hard enough.

4) Cherish Every Opportunity

My son is 9, and my twin girls are 7. I can honestly say that up till this point, I haven’t had a major regret in parenting. But now I do. And this has made me appreciate more deeply the fact that I’ll only have these babies around once. They’ll soon grow up, and they’ll marry, and they’ll have kids of their own. But that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m going to more fully cherish every moment I have left with them. I’m going to hug them a little tighter tonight. I’m going to shut the TV and the phone and the computer off a little sooner. I’m going to linger at the foot of their beds a little longer when I tuck them in. I’m going to cut my meetings shorter and let the board games last longer. I may have missed one moment to speak into their lives, but I refuse to miss another.

5) One Botch Doesn’t Define You

I was reminded by many over the next couple days of the following truth: “Your kids won’t remember what you did once. They’ll remember what you did all the time.” I’m reminded of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament. Abraham lied twice about his wife being his sister out of fear. Isaac did the exact same thing. And Jacob stole his brother’s blessing and birthright. Yet, over and over and over again God is referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” These men had great moments of failure. They had flaws and shortcomings. They weren’t prefect, but they were FAITHFUL. One single act will never define us over the course of our lives. We’re not remembered for our one-time actions, but for our repeated actions. I won’t always get it right, but I’ll always try to get it right. In the end, I hope and pray this is what my kids will remember.

As Jim Henson once said, “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them.  They don’t remember what you try to teach them.  They remember what you are.”

To be honest, I don’t really remember my baptism. I don’t know what my dad said or didn’t say, I just remember that he was there, and that’s all that mattered. I want my kids to remember me not as a good minister or writer or editor, I want them to remember me as a faithful dad. Thankfully I have a few more opportunities to successfully capture that title.

And no matter where you find yourself today, so do you.

Unless you’re a mom, in which case, you might not want the title “faithful dad.”

4 Keys To Successful Christian Leadership

leadership1I did my first Skype interview this week with the National Critics Choice out of Singapore. It was fun to hear questions from around the world. One of the questions asked was “What do you think the keys to successful Christian leadership are?” I came up with a few off the cuff, but I’ve thought more deeply about it since the interview. Here’s what I’ve since come up with.

1) Be Patient

When you have a vision, you want to see it fulfilled. But God rarely allows things to play out the way we think they should play out, particularly when it comes to the things He promises.

I hate this about God, but it often feels like God wants the hope of His promises to nearly die within us before He fulfills them. Why? Because of our impatience with such things. When God gives a promise, we often begin looking for ways to fulfill it on our own. We start seeking out man-made avenues of bringing the promise about, or working it out in our own way. When we exhaust all our resources, God finally shows up and does it miraculously. This way, He alone can receive glory for the fulfillment.

So the next time you hear from God, be patient, and don’t try to make everything happen all at once on your own. God has a perfect timer. He never lets the biscuits burn.

2) Fear Not

As a Christian leader, there will come a time when God asks you to do something completely illogical, at least, by man’s standards. He’ll ask you to start a new ministry without a paycheck. He’ll ask you to pray for the healing of a woman on her death bed.  He’ll ask you to proclaim reconciliation over a long broken and forgotten marriage. Or any number of other things. When you hear the call, get up and go.

Others might raise an eyebrow, whisper a few negative notes of gossip, tell you how stupid you are, and turn away, but when you know it’s God, you can boldly and courageously move forward despite all odds. One very important note—you better know it’s direction from God. If you’re not sure, wait until you are.

3) Value the Journey Over the Destination

Good leaders know where they want to go, but it can be easy to value the destination over the journey. Often times we don’t care HOW we get there, we just want to GET THERE. We must remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, and at times, even more important.

Jesus said a good shepherd will leave 99 sheep to look for one lost sheep. This implies pushing the pause button on the journey. When the shepherd wanders off to find that lost one, the journey is halted, and everything is put on hold.

We must be in tune with our followers and understand their needs, their weaknesses, and their hang ups. Understanding such things will help us focus on the journey. We must intimately know the people in our pews. We must hear their opinions, and VALUE them. Then we can plan the proper route to our destination based on their needs.

Consider the Israelites in the Exodus story. They had a grand destination awaiting them after a mere two-week journey. But God had them wander in circles for 40 years before they finally arrived. Why? Because the journey was just as important, if not more important, than the destination. Don’t focus so much on the goal line that you forget how to properly run the race.

4) Focus On PEOPLE

God’s been dealing with me a lot lately about focusing more on people. I’m introverted by nature, so it’s easy for me to withdraw and isolate when I’m surrounded with opportunities to connect with others. But God wants us to be people-focused. That’s all that matters in this world.

Your lofty goals, your hopes of success, your buildings, bank accounts,  and number sheets all mean nothing. In the end, all that matters will be the ways in which you affected the lives of others for good (or for bad). I’m slowly learning this lesson, and I hope every Christian leader can do the same.

In fact, if all you ever learn is #4, I think you’ll be just fine.

I SAW NOAH: the good, the bad, and the ugly rock people

I saw Noah, or at least, I saw a movie about a guy named Noah, who had a big boat and floated along during a flood. Outside of that, I’m not sure what I saw.

If you watch Noah hoping for a sound, biblical lesson on the story of God’s worldwide flood and supplemental replanting of humanity, you will hate it. But, if you go knowing that this is HOLLYWOOD’S TAKE on a Bible story, you might not mind it so much. I jotted down a few thoughts during the movie. Here’s what a walked away with, all in question form, because they made me scratch my head…

1) Noah was a vegetarian?

Meh, I like meat, so I wasn’t too fond of this hit right off the bat. And I don’t recall this in the Biblical account. but it let me know right away that they wouldn’t be sticking to the Genesis account. But we can roll with the punches. I know they’ll be throwing a lot of strange ideas into the mix.

2) Rock People?

Everyone has bemoaned the Rock people, but I didn’t mind them so much. They seem to be the writer’s interpretation of the Nephilim, and you can just about make up anything you want when it comes to the Nephilim. I’ve always assumed the Nephilim to be more fraggle-esque than rock-monsterish, but that’s just me. The Rock People made me think of Luke 19:40 when Jesus said, “’I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” I figured portraying the Nephilim as Rock People was implying that people refused to worship the One True God, even if they did look a bit ridiculous.

3) God’s the bad guy and fallen angels are the good guys?

In the storyline, the rock people were spirits trapped on earth because they came to help humans against God’s will. For this reason, God (or “the Creator” as He is called throughout the movie—the term “God” is never used) seemed to be made into a force that was against humans, not for them. These fallen angels were painted as helpers, while God was the bad guy.

4) The flood saves creation, not humanity?

Many had noted in the reviews I read prior to seeing the movie that it had a very loud save-the-earth message. It wasn’t as loud as I expected it to be, but it was certainly prevalent. Noah seemed to believe that God had him build a boat and save the animals because God wanted to save His creation, not humanity. In fact, the story implied that God didn’t care if humans survived at all, as long as creation continued to thrive. This was a major move away from the Biblical account that got under my skin more than other aspects of the movie.

5) God is eerily absent?

As mentioned, the term “God” isn’t used in the movie. God never speaks, never shows up, and it appeared that God didn’t even close the door of the Ark, as the Biblical account makes clear. They made a concerted effort to show humans opening and closing the door several times on their own, without the need for God’s intervention. At first glance, this didn’t bother me, because this is how God so often seems to work even in my life. I see hints of Him. I see the miraculous now and then, but I’ve never seen God come down and shut my door or literally show up on my doorstep.

I see evidence of Him and of His miracle-working power, but I don’t see Him. I’ve seen enough to make me believe without a doubt, but it’s still a stained and shadowy glimpse of God. But after pondering the movie for awhile, it does bother me. The writer made a concerted effort to show God as EXTREMELY disconnected from humanity, and as caring very little for humans at all. In the movie, God is more worried about vegetables than about human life, and I thoroughly disagree with this take.

All that said, I didn’t expect an account that I agreed with. So I got what I paid for.

On the other hand, here’s a few positive things I noticed:

1) It was a very clean movie

There was a LOT of violence and death, which is to be expected when the entire global population is killed in an instant, but the movie itself was very clean, particularly for a Hollywood blockbuster. So it was fairly family friendly, especially for children at least over 10 or 11.

2) It makes you think

It bugs me how little we Christians actually think about our faith and our beliefs. This movie will force you to process what you believe about God, and how you feel about the story of Him wiping out nearly all of humanity at once. It also makes these great Biblical characters come to life, and makes them human, which they were.

3) It will drive you to your Bible

A friend read an article that stated biblegateway.com’s traffic had tripled since Noah was released. Seeing the movie will make you want to go back to the Biblical account and see what it actually says, and that could never be a bad thing. There’s no such things as “too much Bible.”


As a Biblical account of Noah, I give the movie a flat out F. Other than a big boat, a flood, and a guy named Noah, the most Biblically sound part of the movie was when they showed Noah getting drunk in a cave. Outside of that, it was all Hollywood-contrived storylines.

As an almost-family-friendly Blockbuster movie, I’d give it a B-. Since they took so much liberty with the story, they could have done a few more interesting things with it. It felt sort of blah for a blockbuster.

So, if you can stomach the off-Bible message, I would suggest seeing it, because if nothing else, it will make you consider your beliefs a bit more thoroughly, which I hope we all do from time to time.