Archives For Kurt Bubna

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+. I don’t use it, but I even have a Snapchat account (I’m not sure why.).

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 6-7 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 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 pundit somewhere, have said that Gen-Xers are those born between 1965 and 1981, those who are 35-51. Millennials are…

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A few months ago, a young woman I’ve known all her life looked at me and said, “What’s that on your face?”

She’s the bold, outspoken type, so her question didn’t shock me, but I said, “What particular blemish are you talking about?”

“The hole in your cheek!”

“Oh, you mean the pockmark?”

Suddenly it dawned on her; I just pointed out a pitted scar left by a pimple on my pastor’s face!

I chuckled and said, “It’s okay, I embrace my flaws.”

Awkward for her.

Not so much for me.

Why do we try to hide our imperfections? It’s a great question.

Perhaps it’s because we fear rejection. Maybe it’s that we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Of course, we could just be afraid of scaring small children.

Whatever the reason, there is a freedom that comes in our relationships when we know we are loved regardless of our flaws.

Frankly, at my age, you do one of two things when it comes to your appearance:

  • Spend a lot of time and money on hiding your blemishes.
  • Accept the reality that you are far from perfect and it’s okay.

I choose to accept my imperfections.

One of my…

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We all hide. At times, we all live behind a veil of secrecy.

We pretend to know more than we know.

We act like we are better than we are.

We present only the presentable parts of our lives and feign a perfection that we do not possess.

Not yet. Not here. Not now.

So we fake it.

And from the beginning of humanity, our secrecy has been our ruin and our disgrace. Adam and Eve miserably failed and what’s the first thing they thought to do? Hide.

It’s in our nature to cover, to deny, to fake it with the hope that we might eventually succeed. We hide our sin. We conceal our struggles. We cover our inadequacies behind a mask of perfection.

Why do we hide? 

  • We are too proud to admit our defeats. Too arrogant to own our failures. Too stubborn to confess our weaknesses and our sins. Too egotistical to acknowledge the reality of our shortcomings. What would others think if they knew the real me?
  • We are too afraid of potential rejection or too fearful of wrathful punishment if we were ever caught.
  • Besides pride and fear, sadly, we sometimes hide because we find sordid and bizarre…

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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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Dale (not his real name) was in my office, and through sobs of despair and shame, he said, “I don’t know what happened or why, but I cheated on my wife, and now she’s found out and is leaving me.”

I wish I could tell you confessions like that are rare. They’re not.

The question I want you to consider with me is this: Is illicit sex worth it?

In particular, are adultery and pornography worth the cost?

On a regular basis, I teach that sex is a gift from God, and it is. Regardless of the current level of satisfaction in your marriage, sex is a blessing from the Creator. He wants you to experience loving, creative, and exciting sex with your spouse. That’s God’s plan, and after over forty years of marriage, I can tell you from firsthand experience—it’s awesome when his plan comes together.

Few want to hear this, and even fewer believe it nowadays, but illicit sex outside of your marriage, including adultery and pornography, are costly. Tragically, we humans tend to focus on the “fringe benefits” of immorality rather than the high cost of our infidelities.

According to researchers:

Pews

I’m a recovering idiot, meaning I tend to learn most lessons the hard way.

I’m also a church planter and the founding pastor of Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, Washington. My peeps would tell you they love me, and they would also confirm my proclivity for taking the less-than-glorious path of church leadership at times.

Before we launched Eastpoint in 2003, I read and reread Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. The inspiring and biblical insights within this book challenged and motivated me. I knew in my knower that this book was a timely gift from God to me (and many others).

From the beginning, we identified our mission, vision, and values based on the five purposes (i.e. fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry, evangelism). I told our launch team “we are a purpose driven church”, and we were pumped to begin the adventure.

At first, things went extremely well. We started with hundreds of people, and the church grew rapidly. It was exciting, and I started hiring staff. By year two we were looking for a larger and more permanent facility. Then that “recovering idiot” thing started to kick in, and I made a series of serious…

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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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Junk Drawer

Junk drawers. We all have them. Maybe yours is in a desk or somewhere in the garage or kitchen. Junk drawers are fairly common.

Let me tell you why I’m writing about those hidden places filled with odds and ends, lest you think I’m about to rant about something inconsequential.

I’m using your physical junk drawer as a representation of a relational junk drawer you probably have in your life.

The relational one is the place where we put the people who baffle, annoy, irritate, or scare us. It’s that place in your heart where you stow people you can’t get out of your life, but whom you’d rather not deal with at the moment—or ever.

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Why do we have physical junk drawers?

  • It’s the spot where we put something when we don’t know where else to put it.
  • It’s the spot where we hide stuff because we like to appear neat and orderly on the outside.
  • It’s the spot where we leave items because it’s easier to throw something in a drawer than it is to put it in its proper place. In other words, we’re a bit lazy at times.

Why do we have relational junk drawers?

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I’m a church planter, and most of what I’ve learned about the church has come the hard way.

Thirteen years ago, on the first Sunday in January, I launched Eastpoint Church. In the 25 or so years before that, I had helped start or reboot six other churches.

None of that makes me an expert, just experienced. I’m still learning. My most recent lesson is one I didn’t especially like, but I needed it nonetheless.

Here’s my latest discovery: At some point in your pastoring journey, you may end up in the land between “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and what you do then matters—a lot.

In this in-between season, things aren’t necessarily all bad. In fact, you might have much to be thankful for in your church. The bills are paid. The staff are gifted, capable, and faithful. People are showing up and still getting saved.

But the land between often means . . .

  • The buzz has faded, and you aren’t the hot new thang in town anymore.
  • The faithful are still with you but are much harder to inspire to sacrificial greatness.
  • When you announce a new series, the old regulars suspect it’s not…

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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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Letter of Criticism

“You’re a pathetic leader and pastor. Why God would let you pastor our church or any church is a mystery to me!”

That was just the opening line in a four-page single-spaced letter. Seriously. Of course, it wasn’t the first scathing correspondence to cross my desk, and it won’t be the last, but it hurt. A lot.

Adding insult to injury, this letter came on the heels of some other staff struggles and in the midst of a season of decline in our church. It might not have stung as deeply as it did if I hadn’t already been questioning my leadership. Nothing like getting kicked in the head when you’re down. For several days I wondered what it would be like to sell cars for a living.

I wish I could tell you that I’m so secure that I am unaffected by criticism. I wish I could write a blog about how to put people in their place when they go ballistic on you. Frankly, I wish the awesomeness of my leadership skills and the growth of our church were enough to silence the critics. They’re not.

So what did I learn…

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Give up b & w guyWe tend to see God through our shattered perspective, and that’s a big problem. With a severely damaged self-image, we generally have a broken God-image too. In fact, let’s be honest; some of us believe God is great and all-powerful, but we can’t imagine Him doing anything astonishing through our lives. We sing worship songs about His awesomeness, but we believe God is limited in what He can do with screw-ups like us.

A huge part of the dilemma is that we like to create gods in our own image. We make gods out of the rich and famous. We elevate leaders (including politicians and pastors) to god-like status. We put them on a pedestal somewhere prominent in our lives, but in the end it’s a puny little god we’ve made to worship rather than Almighty God. Here’s the problem: If our God is too tiny or too human (like us), then our faith and confidence in Him will be too small.

Deep down we want to believe that God can do anything, but we’re pretty sure He has limits when it comes to us. Time or space might not…

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