Be Encouraged!

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. 

I’m kind of at this place where when I sit down and try to blog out some thoughts, I wonder if I’m getting to a place where I just am sounding like a broken record.

Grace? Wrote it out.
Forgiveness? Yup.
The wrestling of issues and relationships? Mhmm… covered that too.

It’s almost as if I feel like I’ve tapped the well or am starting to kick that proverbial dead horse. I feel this way at times when it comes to my journey and now the responsibility I’ve taken upon myself to let you know that an authentic, Christ centered journey, is worth the fight. I think its important however, through this social media induced world that we live in, that little reminders of life’s insanity as well as the hope that is set before us are needed from time to time.


1 Thessalonians 5:11
…encourage one another and build one another up…


I think one of the most important tools that we ALL have in our bags is the gift of encouragement we can so freely pour out on those around us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m feeling like my progression has become a little stale or even has taken a few steps backwards, its that word from a friend who has journeyed with me that completely changes my mood, my outlook on where I’m currently at and my perspective of future.

I hope he doesn’t mind if he reads this, and no names needed, but I have this friend who is an incredible worship leader. Mind you, he’s a worship leader that hasn’t lead worship in quite a few years. But as we’ve been talking and dreaming together as of late, he’s been picking up his guitar daily (I even got a chance to just sit and listen to him play for a few minuets on his back porch just the other day. He’s a beast.). My job, and not in a pressured sense of the word, is to remind him if how gifted and anointed and how incredibly special his role is in his sphere of influence. The hard part is, just like everyone else; he has had moments where situations have brought disappointment and confusion. There’s been people who have had one of the best in the nation in front of them and have taken his gift for granted. I get it. That’s the kind of stuff that’s gonna play a huge part in finding a platform of personal progression. I don’t just see a friend, but I see the potential, the power, that Christ has placed on his life to bring people into deeper relationship with the Father and man… I would be foolish not to remind him of that time from time to time.

I think I have touched on this in past writings, but I want to encourage you to be an encourager in any moment you can. Even if the people that you’re maybe surrounded with on the daily, say co-workers for example, aren’t always the easiest to get along with. Find something about their character, even if it’s a small something, and speak life over it. Tell them what a great job today. Tell them you love their laugh. Tell them that you believe in them when they open up about a specific part of their life.

So wherever you’re at in your journey today, I encourage you that you’ve not missed the mark and that you’re exactly where God wants you for an effective, life giving role in humanity. Sure, it may have been bumpy along the way. You probably aren’t perfect like me… hahaha – just making sure you’re still paying attention! Guess what, you’re never disqualified from being light and life to a dark and dying world. No matter what you’ve done or the hard place you may find yourself in today, you’re progressing and your Father is so incredibly pleased with you. Don’t give in to the naysayers and don’t take yourself out of the game. Its only going to get better, I KNOW this because I’ve lived it and have seen God continually prove Himself strong.

As you encourage those around you in the coming days I pray that you reap an incredible harvest of what you’ve sown. That the joy and hope and peace that are lavished upon you will only make you laugh at the times where you thought you couldn’t go on any longer.

Thanks so much for letting me rant, my friends.
Some cool news is on the way. We can’t wait to share.

Be SUPER encouraged.


Create Your Purpose

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

Hey friends!
Just wanted to take a quick second and share a little video I had the honour of doing with an old friend from the Greater Toronto Area. I love Cody and his heart to connect with people and help spread positivity and awareness of so many amazing organizations and causes. Take a look at Create Your Purpose on Facebook and Instagram and follow along in his journey.

Here's the vid.
Cheers, friends.


Brother From Another Mother

Grace isn't just forgiveness, it is forgiveness fueled by surrender.

We just got home from picking up our daughter from spending two weeks at a Camp, which is about 2.5hrs north of us in a little town called Paris, Ontario. Now, to look at this place you wouldn’t be blown away by any means. You’d think it’s pretty much a glorified trailer park for Pentecostals. I know, the picture I paint is bleak, but this is actually the place I grew up each and every summer and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. To be honest, some updates are really impressive and I know that the staff has done an amazing job in the past few seasons making the grounds come alive again. For my childhood, it was a place of games and friends and encounters with God that I could will forget…. And now to see my daughter as excited as I was to traipse around the campgrounds with wide eyed wonder brings my heart so much joy.

The one thing that pangs my heart is that this was a place where I had the joy and honor of not only encountering God as a child and a teen but it was a place where I had many opportunities to preach Jesus and lead many into great worship moments. If you’ve followed the main story I blogged about a little more than a year ago, you’ll know that my bad decisions have rendered future ministry moments, in this specific place, void. Now, this isn’t the focus on what I want to convey in this writing, but Camp is a place that holds my past and my future in tension.

What I was.
What I am.
What I want to become.

A friend came down from Toronto for the day to meet up. (I even have a smile on my face as I write this and that’s probably because I literally don’t have anyone in my life that is as real and as bold in his convictions as this guy.) He’s stuck by my side through the mountain top times and just as close through the moments where he even put his reputation on the line for my name’s sake.

Here’s where I wanna go with this…

He said something that hasn’t left my thoughts since the moment he spoke them. As we were driving around, pumping some Wu-Tang Clan through that stereo, he spoke so much life into my soul. “You know what? I get to watch the water turn into the wine while others who left and decide to judge from afar; they unfortunately miss out on the miracle.”

I was floored.
And not only for the honor my friend was speaking over my life in the moment, but for the fact that conviction landed on me in the best way possible. How easy is it for us, in our flesh, to write off a person who has wronged up.

Maybe it was a family member.
Maybe it was a life-long friend.
Maybe it was a confidant who you trusted with your deepest darkest secrets only to be hurt by them in one way or another.

My friend is an amazing example to me of what it can and should look like to be called a follower of Christ. To take what we read in the Word and to live it out uncompromisingly, no matter what situation is placed before us.

I think something that I need to work on is what I would refer to as ‘situational grace.’ Those wavering moments where you’ll love and forgive someone for one thing, and yet justify in one way or another the reasons why you just can’t forgive someone else. It’s sloppy. It’s not of God. It’s usually a spirit of hypocrisy that leads me to think that I have the right to harbor anger and bitterness and judgment because “I feel ______”.

I think it’s a safe bet to say that most, if not all of us would love to reconcile, or at least be seen in the light of grace by those that were once in our lives and are no longer because of messy situations. We’d love the grace to be extended but I truly believe this must start within our hearts first.

Extend grace daily.
Love unconditionally.
Yes, boundaries and healthy relationships are a must; please don’t be somebody’s doormat. We must do our best to love and honor one another on whatever level life allows in each moment.

I’ll leave you with these two scriptures.

1 Corinthians 4:21
Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

I’m thankful for a brother who could have beat me down with a rod but chose to correct me and call me out of my issues with a gentle grace that continually leaves me shaking my head, in a good way of course.

Hope this has found you well my friends.
Go enjoy that summer sun!

Stereotype or Solution

Once you label me you negate me. 

Is there any way I can get a refund for an education that I never really used?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration; maybe even a little harsh, but knowing the Kings of both Israel and Judah in chronological order as well as the correct spelling of each name… strange, but that never seemed to come up my entire vocational experience in the church.

Okay, I’m being brash… I digress.

I do however remember my church’s Associate Pastor instructed an Ethics class that I took one semester. What I loved about this class is that my Prof/Pastor always seemed to be playing devil's advocate in an attempt to get us thinking, even if it got to a point where arguments would break out over certain ‘hot topics.’

I remember one session where Pastor was trying to get us to differentiate between the definitions of moral collapse in someone’s life; more so the question of habitual issues warranting labels in people’s lives. For instance, are you a thief if you’re 10yrs old and take a chocolate bar from the corner store but NEVER steal again? Or are you a thief if you’re a professional bank robber (I just pictured the opening scene of ‘Italian Job.’) Are you an adulterer if you have one altercation that crossed boundaries but are faithful and loving all for the next 50 years of marriage? Or does it have to be an ongoing issue until you are awarded such a title? I remember the conversations would get incredibly heated and when we’d look to our Pastor for resolve, he’d just simply smile. I’m sure he was having as much fun as a Prof. could!

All that to say, I’m not about to lay down the law or come at you from a moral high ground, rather, I’ve been asking myself even in my own seasons of hypocrisy, how is it that some of the stereotypes we place on people are the furthest things from God’s heart for them. We are so quick to judge and condemn people for their sinful nature, where as God, in His grace, sees past our self-indulgence and simply waits for us to come to Him. Unfortunately it seems that we only come to the Father when our need outweighs our contentment.

I believe you’re not a liar.
I believe you’re not a cheat.
I believe you’re not an addict.

What I do believe is that though you may struggle with such things, the fact of the matter is that you and I are broken. The good news about that is we're never too far-gone for God to take what other’s would want to label or stereotype us as and work it for good.
For the good in our lives.
For the good of His Kingdom and for His glory.

Believe me, the pretense is strong in me on this one. While it pains me, for example, to come across judgmental articles written about someone’s faults where the masses make horrific comments about people they’ve never met, I myself still have a hard time dealing with judgment in my own life. I have trouble extending the grace that I’ve been so freely given.

But this is my hope.

What if we made an agreement to see through the lens of heaven a bit more before we stereotype or condemn someone’s shortcomings? What if we chose grace and mercy and all the other great things that we can so happily sing about on a Sunday morning but can’t walk about the other six days of the week?

I think we can become the solution for someone’s issues.

The power of life and death are on the tips of our tongues, (or our fingertips in this social media circus) and instead of tearing someone down, come along side them and champion them through their struggle. Man… in my own strength, this is impossible. I know that my heart is right as I post these thoughts while at the exact same time, I'm app to fall right back into a critical mindset the next time someone rubs me the wrong way. I know that I have a long way to go on this one...

I’m optimistic that we can become a people who love fiercely. That with wisdom and discernment in even the heaviest of situations, we can see people as God sees them rather than the label they may have been carrying around like a noose around their necks.

Let’s attempt to be apart of God’s solution (love, grace, mercy) rather than just another naysayer.

Hope this finds you well.
Keep going my friends, you’re doing amazing!

Come Home

Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?

There’s a picture on my instagram account that I look at every year on this exact day. I know, I know, I’m a sucker for the dramatic but stay with me for a second. It’s a picture of a 3-year-old Zoey, my daughter, standing by my in-laws pool. The caption, which I wrote after a weekend of leading worship to over 3,000 students, reads:

“No crowd, no stage, no moment will ever make me feel the way she makes me feel…”

A day later my ministry and little kingdom I was building would literally come crashing in as the sins I was collecting would finally be too weighty for me to carry any longer.

Now before I give off a vibe of “I used to be somebody” or “those were the good old days,” I want to let you know I only look back to this “height” of my life in ministry to see and celebrate the process of healing that has occurred over these past four years. When it looked like I had the world by the tail, I was actually so lost and so utterly confused as to how my life had gotten so off track. It’s funny though because God is definitely not a man that He should lie… the train wreck of my personal life was the very thing that He was about to take and make beauty from ashes.

No, I’m still not perfect nor has my journey been such. I actually sit here now shaking my head with a smile on my face just thinking of what a complete failure I have been in moments over these past four years, while at the same time seeing the amazing progress that God has made in my life.

I’m so thankful that in the past, lets say six months, God has placed hard situations before me that have actually steered me towards my calling and passions once again. I’m thankful that in moments when I could have chosen fear and frustration (don’t get me wrong, those feelings are apart of process), I chose faith in the end reminding myself that God has taken me so far thus far and He isn’t about to give up on me now. I have people in my life now who believe in me and in my calling. People who have spoken “qualified” over me and haven’t seen me in light of my short comings but with eyes of faith that see further into my future where God is calling the Riach’s towards something amazing.

I often think of the rich young ruler we read about in Luke 18.
The story lends that this young man had all one could ever want as well as a moral compass that wasn’t too far off north. Unfortunately when Jesus questions the importance of his material possessions over the desire to follow Him, our rich young man shies away from the conversation and is never heard from again.

All this to say, maybe you feel like everything is on point in your life at the moment, and if so, I’m so happy for you! You deserve happiness and fullness and all of His blessings! However, maybe you’re on the other side of the coin right now. Maybe you find yourself lost or hurting or abandoned…

Know this, no matter how rich or poor, how popular or unknown, how sure or unsure of your life’s path at the moment, NOTHING can stand up against a surrendered life in Christ. It’s in that place where you find everything that fills those emotional, physical and spiritual gaps that you experience without Him.

When I talk about Returning Home, I’m mostly referring to a life of coming back to my Father. Like the Rich Young Ruler, like the Prodigal, like Zacchaeus… they all had great things going for them but they had one significant gap in their hearts. They chose a life where other things mattered more than the Father.

Know that you’re not too far-gone.
Know that you’re exactly where you should be right now to run Home.

You don’t have to fight or strain or make to-do list of the things you need to get in order before coming Home. He’s waiting and willing to accept you, even now. Flaws and all.

What seems to be the shambles of a broken life or a bad decision might take, in my case, four years to feel like you’ve finally found the peace and acceptance that comes in the safety of your Father’s Home, but I promise, nothing compares.

I’m glad I’m Home.
Come join me, there’s lots of room.


The Light Anchor

I love your roots, not the flower everybody sees!

A new friend I’ve made along this journey has asked me to write down a few thoughts about being “Anchored in Christ.” Understanding that there’s a lot of rhetoric and somewhat confusing lingo if the Christian culture; (no Jesus isn’t asking us to partake in some creepy drowning ritual - maybe I’m the only one who thinks such things); I’ve been really chewing on this thought.  

There’s a clear understanding that an anchor is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. During a storm or choppy water, an anchor might be the difference between life and death. Obviously there’s many parallels that we can draw between an anchor and the saving grace that is found in a relationship with Jesus.

Cue ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong United.

What I’ve been thinking about though isn’t the easy parallel we can draw, rather, the opposite. Call me a pessimist but when I think of an anchor, I think of weight. Something heavy, something I can’t move. Life… life gets heavy sometimes. With all the ups and downs and situations that come our way through the happenings of every day life, sometimes we can feel weighed down or as if the situation we face is an unmovable object.

I believe a major part of being authentic is acknowledging that life isn’t always easy or fair or as we imagined it would turn out. As a believer, the most ignorant and immature thing we can do when things don’t go our way is to turn our backs on God and either blame him or start to question his existence or involvement in our lives. I know that along my journey in life, I’ve asked God on several occasions things like, “When will this season change? When will I start to see the promises of your Word again?”

For me, my relationship, or even better yet, the unmovable foundation of my relationship, isn’t the understanding that as soon as I pronounce the name of Jesus as Saviour my world becomes perfect, but as my understanding of how God sees me and loves me, the hope of a better tomorrow and an eternity with Him begins to guide my sails.

Hebrews 6:19
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…

My hope isn’t set on my feelings.
My hope isn’t set on circumstance.
My hope isn’t dependent upon my performance as a believer.
My hope isn’t set on the things I’ve done or not done or people’s perceptions of me.

No, my hope is found in the fact that I have a future that rests in the hands of my Good Father who wants me to look past the things in this world that would want to distract me or weigh me down and focus in on His unchanging, unrelenting, unshakable love. 

For me, it’s as if I picture a life anchored in Christ as ironic or counter intuitive to the apparatuses’ main function. When Christ is the focus of my life; when I’m reading the Word and am posturing myself in a position of worship; I don’t feel weighed down. I don’t feel like I’m drowning in the craziness of life. When Christ if my focus, I’m lighter. I’m happier. I’m more able to put my trust and hope in Him than in everything else that bombards me.

Maybe there’s something that’s weighing on you at this point in your life. Maybe someone has wronged you. Maybe your finances are in trouble. Maybe you just feel like you’ve been handed cards in life that you don’t deserve. I promise you, and yes, I speak from experience, that a life that is ‘anchored in Christ’ is one of redemption and hope for things to come.

Hope this has found you and found you well.

Sniper Focused

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

So, we just got home from Florida.
The land of sun, pools and the joy that comes while standing in lines for hours just so your daughter can get her picture with as many Disney Princesses as possible. I blame Belle for my very sore sunburn...

One of my favorite parts of our annual Florida vacation is the time, even if brief, we get to spend with friends. I saw my amazing friend Juan, who is doing really great things for the medical community in Orlando. Greg Francis, the writer of the last entry, and him and his wife are doing so incredible. I also got to tour the campus of South Eastern University in Lakeland with my friend Prof. Ben Gomez.

I love Ben. He’s one of those guys that even though I only see him once a year or talk to him a few times a year over text or social media, we never skip a beat. It was amazing to see him in His element. Students giving him shout outs everywhere we went on the campus, him interacting with the staff and faculty… it was really something to see. I went back the Ben’s place, ate pizza and hung with our ladies while our daughters swam for a few ours. Such a refreshing time!

So here’s what I want to get at.

I could see Ben was happy at work. I could see that he was in his element and was thriving in what he’d been putting his hands to. But it was at his house when we began talking about our futures that I had that “ah-ha” moment. Ben’s thoughts aren’t stuck on the things of the past, but he’s living focused for today and focused for what life will hope to look like at 40 and then again at 65. It was then God reminded me that when we lack vision for our lives, we get caught up in things that we may not be called to. The real us begin to die. Personally, I know that I’ve let some of the callings and passions in my life get put on the back burner, resulting in a lot of frustration and the feeling of being incomplete.

Proverbs 29:18
If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

What I do know is that God doesn’t revoke the plans He’s set out for you. That’s not His M.O. He’s come so that we could live life and life to the full! Maybe you used to be focused on that thing, that passion He placed inside of you and then, maybe because of an unfortunate event, thought that you’d missed the mark and so you laid that passion down.

Please, just as He reminds me in little ways almost every single day, know that it is Jesus that writes your story and not the disappointment you find in this world that would want to rob you of the very thing you’re called to.

For me, I know my calling. I know what moves me, drives me and makes me feel alive.
But I also know my flaws and the terrible things that I'm capable of. The deciding factor of what should win out in this battle isn’t what I’ve done in the past, but in a repentant life, realize that as far as the east is from the west, Jesus has no clue what I’m worried. He’s forgotten.


Jesus is only focused on and hopeful for my future!


So I encourage you, get enough guts today to start dreaming again. Focus in and begin to thrive! It may not look exactly like you thought it would, but hey, I figure that’s half coupling our trust with the adventure He’s setting you up for!

Oh, and if you can find a friend like Ben Gomez, who basically makes fun of you for not following something that God has so obviously placed over your life, keep him/her close. 

Jumpman... Jumpman... Jumpman...

Uh uh, uh uh, think I need some Robitussin

Let me give you a little intro to this guest blogger. Greg Francis has been a friend of mine for almost 7 or 8 years now. I met Greg through a ministry friend of mine and asked him and a buddy of his to do a pre-show to a conference I was holding. He crushed it that weekend. So talented, so humble and just a good dude to be around. Greg was one of the guys who was around in the "good" times. Always championing what I was up to; always one to give a shoutout and some love. Most importantly though, Greg was there in the lowest moments. Listening, talking, a hand helping to dust off the condemnation from so many other parties... Greg IS, in my mind, the true definition of an authentic friend. I'm actually so excited that I get to see him and his beautiful wife in just a few weeks time as me and the girls head to FL for some vacation time.
Please take some time to follow Greg and his thoughts on his personal blog:

Love you Greg!
Thanks for the these thoughts!

When I reminisce about High School and growing up in Brooklyn, I immediately think of my friends. We were pretty brutal, now that I think about it. Whether it was ranking on each others' moms or making fun of someone's awkward jump-shot, we never really cut each other much slack. I think that as a teenager, there was a special kind of transparency in the relationships I had that I don't always value as a 27 year-old.

One of our favorite games to play in High School was "Real or Fake". My friends and I would go around on the subway or in the hallways of school and we would try and spot a fake pair of Jordan's on someone's feet. I mean, if the Jumpman on a pair of Jordan Cement 3's were even the slightest bit off, you'd better believe you were in for a roasting session that you'd barely make it out of with your pride in tact. Say what you want but this kind of teenage brutality prepared me for something that 20's would try and distract me from. And it is this: people can spot a fake.

Much like a knockoff pair of J's, inauthenticity in our lives is both recognizable by others and it is unacceptable. In the way that it applies to our relationships and faith, it becomes detrimental. Fake Jordan's is embarrassing but fake relationship is insulting. It's insulting to our spouses and significant others. It's insulting to our friends and loved ones. It is probably most insulting to God.

If we look at the Cross and the reason that Christ's suffering was endured, it is apparent that meaningful relationship meant a great deal to God. For Jesus, it was worth the cost. For Jesus, the real thing just had to be copped, regardless of the price tag. For Jesus, a knock-off crucifixion just would not do. My friends, authenticity was way too expensive of a purchase for us decide that we will live a life that is not deep and transparent and real. 

And I get it! Wouldn't you take a discount if it meant it ALMOST looked like the real thing? I've come to learn that it's just not worth it. Some things are just better when it's real. When it comes to relationships, there's no way to replicate authenticity. The best con-man couldn't do it. Much like my friends and I in High School, an inauthentic thing can be spotted from a mile away- especially when the observers are the people closest to you.

There is no discounting with authenticity. It either is or it isn't. Anything less than what is raw and true is simply cheap. The people who matter to you most deserve the real you. YOU deserve the real you.

I promise that I mean well. I hope my point is not too harsh or disturbing for you. If it is, then I rest in the fact that I'm simply being authentic. 

Because no shortcut is worth it.
No facade is exempt.
Much like a bootleg pair of kicks, nobody likes a fake.