Search Results For "Kurt Bubna"

Epic GraceMost of the books that I read on the subject of grace tackle it from a theological point-of-view in which the subject of grace is systematically defined and expounded upon. And I love books that comprehensively address grace, a topic with which it seems I’m never familiar enough. But sometimes, I like to read a book that builds on the foundation of a healthy theology of grace but focuses on grace lived out.

Kurt Bubna’s book Epic Grace is just that. It’s sort of a memoir that involves teaching through story. Kurt’s stories often made me laugh and always made me think. And the basis of the book is that grace is so big, so epic, that it’s the one and only thing that will get us through the thickest and thinnest experiences of our lives.

And whether Kurt intended his book to come across this way or not, I love the un-systematic nature of it. Every chapter covers an aspect of grace, or a related subject, illustrating the underlying principles from Scripture and from his own experience. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to hear Kurt read it out…

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Long ago, before smart phones, laptops, and blogging, I started in ministry as a young twenty-something youth pastor at a large and growing church. I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, I thought I knew more than I did, but I was clueless.

Almost forty years later, I know a bit more, but the longer I serve, the more I realize how much I still don’t know. I’ve invested my life in the study and teaching of the Word, in the pursuit of better leadership, and in the care of people, and the only thing I know for certain is that I’m still a student. Still learning. Still growing. Still far from perfect.

We (and I use the “royal we” meaning, me too) pastors are a curious lot.

Here are seven ways we struggle:

  1. We would take a bullet for our parishioners, lay our lives down for those we serve, painfully aware, however, that the bullet may come from someone we love.
  2. We pour ourselves into the preparation of a weekly message because we believe in the power of the Word to transform lives. Still we realize that maybe half of our congregation…

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Dad Daughter

More teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, birth defects, heart disease, pneumonia, and influenza – combined. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 (2015 CDC WISQARS). One source reports that for students in grades 7-12, there are over 5,000 suicide attempts each day in the United States. Let that number sink in . . . That’s over 200 attempts every hour of every day.

Sadly, the hardest funeral I’ve ever had to preside over was for a teenage girl who took her life because she thought she was ugly. Too often I’ve sat with parents trying to make sense of a teen’s attempt to commit suicide.

The numbers are staggering. The stories are devastating. But the battle for the lives of our youth is not hopeless.

Here are six things a parent can do:

First and foremost, maintain a family environment of unconditional love and acceptance. There should never be a moment, let alone a day, when your child wonders if anybody truly loves them. On a regular basis, tell your child, “I love you with all of my heart, and I’m proud to call you my kid!”

Model…

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Hold On

She looked at me with hopelessness as deep as the ocean in her eyes. “I’m tired of holding on to a dream that seems more elusive with each passing day.” Then she literally screamed through her tears, “What’s the point of hoping my husband will change when he’s more abusive now than ever before?”

Have you ever held on to a dream for so long that it’s become a nightmare? What once filled you with hope and gave you strength now sucks the marrow right out of your bones. Your dreams, your prayers, and your promises from God seem to mock you now and leave you in a cesspool of despair.

Maybe it’s not been weeks or months, but years and decades of waiting. For a season, you prayed hard and believed in faith for great things, but your prayers are only whimpers now and you can smell the stench of bitterness growing in your soul.

“Will my son ever be free of drugs?”

“Will I ever get pregnant?”

“Will I ever find a spouse and the love of my life?”

If one more person tells you to “hold on,” you’re going to hurt somebody! If you hear “let…

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Windmill

If you’re human, and over 40, you’ve probably thought at least once, Are my best days behind me? (If you’re a pastor, you struggle with this just about every Monday morning!)

I’m not suggesting you need to be middle-aged or old to wonder about this question. If you felt like your high school or college years were some of your best, then you might have faced this disheartening question early in your life.

I know a guy who was a football star in high school, and he frequently talks about that time as the best days of his life – and he’s my age. It’s sort of sad. Especially since high school was over for him 40 years ago.

Recently I was at a retirement party for some friends. I’ve known them for about 20 years, and we worked together on a large church staff for five years. At this gathering, the staff said some very nice things about my friends, and there were quite a few honoring and funny stories told.

I was sitting there, listening, smiling, and remembering, when a question hit me hard. Were those years with them my best years in ministry?

Then I nose-dived into thinking…

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Forgiveness is everything. Seriously, everything, especially when you realize how much you and I need it.

I’ve lived about 22,000 days. Let’s say I’ve sinned an average of four to five times a day or about once every three or so hours while awake. That would mean I’ve blown it about 100,000 times in my life so far.

Of course, you’re thinking, “No way, not Kurt; he’s much holier than that!” Or, you might truly know me and think that number is far too low!

The fact of the matter is, the Bible defines sin as missing the mark. Anytime I miss the mark of perfection, that qualifies as a sin in God’s eyes.

I think something that God would never think. Sin.

I look at something that God would never look at. Sin.

I say something God would never say. Sin.

I don’t do or say something God would do or say. Sin.

I look at a person in a way God would never view a person. Sin.

I treat my wife, children, grandchildren, family or friends in an uncaring or thoughtless way. Sin.

I pretend to be something I’m not. Sin.

I react in fear rather than respond in faith. Sin.

I act…

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Liked

The desire to be liked and approved of by others runs deep in most of us. Maybe all of us. We are wired for connection to other humans. We are made to be in meaningful relationships. And when we know or sense that someone in our sphere of influence doesn’t like us, it hurts.

From the time we start school as young children, we do whatever we can to gain the acceptance and approval of others.

  • If we’re nerdy, we play the smart card.
  • If we’re goofy, we play the fun card.
  • If we’re athletic, we play the jock card.
  • If we’re musical, we just play something, anything (even a trumpet) to fit in with others who are like us — hoping beyond hope that others will embrace us as valuable.

As we enter our teen years, we might feign apathy and act as if we don’t care about being liked.

But we do care. A lot.

Over time, after a broken heart or two or 20, and after rejection after rejection, we typically start to withdraw in an act of self-preservation. However, our retreat from people doesn’t stop our deep-seated need to be recognized and…

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Broken

An old friend, Richard, recently called me. He used to live in town and attend my church. For the past seven years or so, he’s been a member of a large church in Phoenix.

We were catching up and reminiscing about old friends when he said to me, “I had coffee with my current men’s pastor yesterday, and he told me some honest things about his marriage and about something stupid he said to his wife.”

I chimed in, “That’s cool!”

He awkwardly paused, and then said with a confused tone, “How is that cool?”

“It’s cool that your pastor owned his stuff and that he’s being real with you. It’s the people who try to hide and deny their sins that worry me.”

Bob said, “I guess I expected the guy pastoring men to be . . . well . . . to be more spiritually mature.”

Without hesitation, I reminded Bob of the many times he heard me tell stories of my idiocy. I also told him we all walk with a limp, and none of us is without a soul blemish or two (or 20).

On this side of eternity, the reality we don’t like to admit,…

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I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I became the old guy on our church staff. I don’t think of myself as old. I’m social media savvy. I text on my iPhone 7 Plus. I even have a Snapchat account (though I’m not sure why, because I don’t use it).

Of course, I don’t wear skinny jeans, spike my hair, have a long beard, or have the coolest eyeglasses. I don’t sleep more than 6 or 7 hours a night. I still say “dude,” and I enjoy a mid-afternoon power nap. I also now qualify for the senior discount at a growing number of places.

Okay, at almost 60, maybe I am old, but I’m learning some things about relating to Millennials. I’ll get there in a second, but let’s first attempt to describe who is what.

The generation breakdown is a bit difficult to define. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t classify the different generations except for Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, who are roughly 52-70 years old).

The media, or some self-proclaimed pundits somewhere, have said that Gen-Xers are those born between 1965 and 1981, those…

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Recently, my incredible wife turned sixty. She’s a year older than I am (I think that makes her a cougar!), and even more beautiful to me than the day I first met her in Ms. Nute’s high school choir class in 1973. We’ve been a couple for over forty-two years and celebrate our forty-first wedding anniversary in just a few weeks.

If you’re young, like under thirty, you think sixty years of life and forty-plus years of marriage is a looooong time. In reality, it’s just a grain of sand on the beach of eternity.

If you’re old(er), like over fifty, you know how weird it is to look at the face in the mirror and wonder, when did I become a senior citizen?

Let me make some observations about age for both the young and the not-so-young.

If you’re young . . . 

  • Live in the present. Months turn into decades before you know it, so savor the moments you have right now. Don’t waste the great gift of time. In fact, don’t wait until you’re old to live on purpose. “Bucket lists” are common among the elderly primarily because they’ve waited too long to take risks and…

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Nobody intentionally sets out to fail as a parent. No one plans on raising an axe murderer. I’ve never met a mom who lies in bed at night envisioning how to mess up her kids.

I have, however, met many parents who can’t sleep at night because they worry—a lot—about the fruit of their loins.

Where did I go wrong?

How could my son make such a terrible choice?

What’s up with my daughter? Seriously, what does she see in that guy?

I raised him “in the Lord,” and today he doesn’t want anything to do with God or church.

The struggle is real.

The doubts are crippling.

The personal agony is devastating.

My mom experienced distress and misery on my behalf. Once upon a time, I was a prodigal son. I walked away from God, the Church, my family, and my faith. It wasn’t pretty. I broke a lot of hearts, including my mom’s. Gratefully, she never gave up on me even though no one would have blamed her if she had.

Motherhood is one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

So what can a mother do when she has a wild, out-of-control child?

First, remember that you are responsible for how…

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Brutus Old

Betrayal hurts. Whether it’s from a spouse, a parent, a child or a BFF, when someone is disloyal and lets you down, you feel it. Deeply.

“Et tu, Brute?” is a Latin phrase meaning “you, too, Brutus?” and supposedly these were the last words of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination.

You may not die at the hand of your betrayer, but something inside of you hurts so badly you might wish you were dead.

I told my wife about thirty-five years ago that I was done with our marriage and wanted a divorce. That betrayal wounded her deeply.

In a moment of intense anger, my dad once told me never to call him “Father” again. That rejection sent me into a tailspin of grief and despair.

Over the years, some good friends (at least I had thought they were good friends) who were involved in my church have betrayed my friendship, and they left cursing my name on their way out.

Like I said, betrayal hurts. It rips your heart out of your chest, stomps on it, and then casts you aside like trash set out at the curb for pickup.

You’ve probably already dialed up…

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