Archives For Jesus


Getting Dropped Off At The Airport

Thursday Morning

My college best friend, Zac Northen, called me on Thursday morning and invited me to go to Israel with him for free. He leads a college gap year program and one of his leaders dropped out, so he invited me to join him. I immediately told him I couldn’t do that, as I had a lot to do at work. I was gearing up for Flower City Work Camp and assisting to lead 800 students for their spring break, helping lead a conference, and I wasn’t sure how my wife would take care of the kids solo and work full time.

Zac and his family

Thursday Night-Monday

I mentioned it in passing to my wife that evening and she said, “What are you thinking?? You should totally go!!” We discussed some details as to how it might work and I called Zac back and we began planning. But there was a problem. Because the international flight was being changed within the last few days, the travel agent helping plan the trip said that Turkish Airlines was having trouble changing who the ticket could be assigned to. Then, Turkish Airlines moved to their skeletal crew for weekend hours and the travel agent could not get a hold of anyone. We would have to wait until Monday to find out if I’d be going on Wednesday to a 10-day trip to Israel.

At this point, it sounded like the trip was at about a 50/50 shot of happening. So we waited until Monday and hoped to the travel agent could get a hold of a representative to move the plane ticket. The morning went by. Lunch came. I kept pestering Zac to see if he had heard anything. Nothing.

All of Monday went by and the travel agent still could not get the ticket transferred. I was so excited about the itinerary: visiting Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and more. And by end of the day Monday, the travel agent said, “You may want to tell your friend to bail on the idea.” I was extremely disappointed. I was really looking forward to hanging out with my good friend and seeing so many sites.

Tuesday Morning

I woke up Tuesday morning super grumpy. I rushed the kids out the door and went for a short workout before work. Midway through my life, I just quit. I felt defeated. I went to work and tried to go about my day as normal. I didn’t want to mope and set a negative atmosphere for my co-workers. But inside I was dull.

I was in the middle of a meeting when I saw Zac calling. I rushed out and picked up the phone. “You can go. It’ll now cost a little bit [due to the school being able to get a refund for an unused ticket/trip], but we can transfer everything. The travel agent is on the other line. You have 60 seconds to decide if you are committing.”


I told Zac I’d call him right back.

I called Sarah at work. She didn’t pick up.

I called again.

Then again.

Still nothing.

I paced my office.

The phone rings. It’s Zac calling me back and saying he needs an answer. Sarah had been encouraging me to go. In fact she was strongly urging me to go. She had been praying for time with a friend and an adventure (I found this out after). But now it was decision time. Sarah called me on the other line and I took it. I told her the scenario. She said “Are you serious?? Why are you calling me!?? Go!!!!”

So I said yes.

I scrambled to get a bunch of work done. I had an emergency meeting for Flower City Work Camp to figure out how we could get all the kids to come (hooray they can!). I bought a ticket from Rochester to NYC. I called my Mom, who agreed to come up from PA to stay with my wife for the whole time I’m gone. (Did I mention yet I have the best Mom in the world?). I took my son to soccer practice. Then explained to him I was going on a trip. He didn’t seem to care much at four years old, but made me promise when I got back to buy a race car for him, his best friend, and myself. “When I get home, we’ll go to Target right away, buddy.”

4-Year-Old Soccer Practice

Tuesday Night

As I’m putting Will down to bed, Sarah calls me with her concerned voice. She was doing substitute plans online, as she was going to stay home with our sick daughter, so I figured it was about that. Did I mention she’s had a fever hovering between 100 and 103 degrees throughout this whole saga? I finally came down and asked Sarah what it was. “They’ve cancelled your flight and re-booked you for 5pm, which is 6 hours too late for you to catch your flight to Israel. I’m not seeing any other alternative flights.”

I scramble to look on Delta’s website. There’s nothing. I hit a wrong button and signed up for a wrong flight on a wrong day to transfer my ticket to. Oh my gosh! I was so frustrated. I wanted to scream. Now I simply can’t get to NYC for this trip? Was I just not supposed to go?

I said a quick prayer. It wasn’t my holiest sounding prayer. It was an angry one.

I searched again on a separate site for flights. There was one more flight from Rochester to NYC remaining! I booked it immediately, while still on the phone cancelling with Delta. I was back in business!

Believe it or not, the story isn’t over yet. A huge winter storm was set to hit JFK airport in the morning and all day. It’s likely why my first scheduled flight was cancelled last night. They are calling for 10″-15″ of snow. Would I be able to get off the ground in Rochester to make it?

We went to bed last night unsure. We woke up at 3am and checked the flights and weather. We left for the airport at 4am. I said goodbye to my beautiful wife.

Wednesday Morning

And now I sit writing at JFK airport, waiting for the rest of the group to show up.

Life is an adventure. I plan to soak it all in on this trip. I just watched a short history of Israel and will be reading a book about it on my flight. I slept 3 hours last night. But I’ll walk the path Jesus took on his way to the cross. I will take a cruise on the Sea of Galilee.  And I’ll have communion at the tomb where Jesus raised to life. I’m so excited for the adventure, but even more excited about contextualizing the Scriptures. A friend prayed a powerful prayer for me yesterday – that this trip would spur on new insights for me to the life of Christ and have ripple effects in my preaching for years to come.

I’m excited.

I’m grateful for my wife, mother, and church staff enabling me to take a trip of a lifetime.


Billy Graham: A Faith Hero

February 21, 2018 — 1 Comment

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

-Billy Graham

We shared the same birthday.

You transcended political parties in an age of picking sides.

Faith drove all the decisions in your life.

Thank you for inspiring me with your passion, vision, dedication, and integrity.


Bill Hybels

Leadership is not about protecting a position or showing how smart you are, it’s about moving a cause/organization to some better place. It’s all about movement.
Can I do this?
Can I sustain this?
Can I take this across the finish line?
8 Critical Functions of Leadership

5 Intangibles of Leadership

1) Grit
How do people with less IQ and talent succeed more than others. A psychologist study
People with grit have long term tenacity
Use every last drop to move something ahead
Gritty people don’t quit, but can overcome whatever obstacle stands in their way
I think I can —> I thought I could.
Grit Assessment Test at
Can I develop grit?
Opposite of grit is ease.
Grit development demands difficulty.
Overcoming physical challenges is a way to grow grit. This overflows into other areas.
Most elite leaders volunteer for extra assignments and then kill it.
Don’t just deliver. Over deliver every time.
When senior leaders have grit, it creates a culture of grit.
Gritty organizations are unstoppable.
We must develop grit to be a great leader.
2) Self-awareness
When there is a big
Blind spot: something someone believes they do well, but everyone else on the team knows this is not true.
All of us have 3.4 blind spots
How do we identify our blind spots?
– direct supervisor
– peers, friends, and colleagues
Knowing how your past is messing with your decision making today is crucial for today.
Growing in self-awareness demands feedback from others.
3) Resourcefulness
– People with high learning agility start figuring out what they need to do
– Resourceful people figure it out.
– So much of our growth of a leader
Can resourcefulness be developed?
Yes. But you must be put in places that are confused, dysfunctional, and failing to figure out a way forward.
4) Self-sacrifice
– This is at the core of good leadership
– Self-sacrificing love has always been and will always be at the absolute core of leadership. Love changes people and cultures.
– Gallop: Do workers feel concern/love from their supervisor?
     – The entire organization performs better.
The greatest of these is love.
Tear down the professional veils that keep your heart closed off from co-workers.

Pastors Should Laugh More

January 10, 2014 — 5 Comments

I have to be honest. Sometimes I feel pressure to not be myself.

I feel like in order to be viewed as having a pastoral gift and calling, I need to be much more serious. To constantly be talking about the spiritual – and as a result – to unintentionally neglect the emotional needs of those around me.

It often feels like there is this unsaid rule that pastors need to be pretty serious in order to gain respect.

But that’s not who I am. At least not all the time.

Now of course I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place to be serious. As pastors we have the opportunity to walk alongside people in their darkest moments. To be at hospital bedsides, funerals, and gravesites. Even times of worship, teaching, preaching, and prayer. There are so many times to be sincere, deliberate, and thoughtful for a pastor.

But sometimes I think it would be more sincere to simply help someone crack a smile.

For me, one of my greatest fears is that I will become like what everyone expects me to be, rather than who I am made to be. To fall into an expectation of a position rather than pursuing my calling from God.

I feel like I have the gift of making people laugh. It may not seem very spiritual, but in a world that is filled with pain, a respite from the darkness by helping a huge grin can make all the difference in that moment.

Billy Graham said, “A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.”

Maybe we as pastors just need to laugh a little bit more.



See our updates from Bangladesh below:

Update #1 From Our First 2 Days in Dhaka

Update #2 From Our First Week in Bangladesh

Here is a link to the website of the group we are assisting.

Thank you for being a part of our journey!

Jonathan & Sarah

Social Media

Interesting stats on social media for the church I serve at:

Calvary Assembly
In the past year, we have sent out 520 tweets and approximately 450 facebook posts. In the past four months I’ve posted 157 times, an average of 12 times per week. We have a weekly total reach of approximately 1,500 (meaning 1500 people see our content online on average, per week). Wow!

Second Student
@SecondStudent has sent out 1,981 tweets and about 1,500 posts (not including hundreds more comments and pictures) in it’s 3 year existence.

Second facebook: In the last year has reached 14 countries, with 6 different languages, with 317 people who “like” the page. The average number of people who see some sort of content from SECOND each week is 1,000 people.

All from one youth group in Chili, NY.

Did I mention we have not paid for one dime of promotion. This was all free exposure.


Social media is still alive, my friends!

brennan manning

And God answers “That’s what you don’t know. You don’t know how much I love you. The moment you think you understand is the moment you do not understand. I am God not man. You tell others about Me — that I am a loving God. Your words are glib. My words are written in the blood of My only Son. The next time you preach about My love with such obnoxious familiarity, I may come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart. When you come at Me with studied professionalism, I will expose you as a rank amateur. When you try to convince others that you understand what you are talking about, I will tell you to shut up and fall flat on your face. You claim you know I love you.”

“Are you aware that I had to raise Jesus from the dead on Easter morning because My love is everlasting? Are you serenely confident that I will raise you too, My adopted child?” 

 “When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead. When I conclude that I can now cope with the awful love of God, I have headed for the shallows to avoid the deeps. I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a tea cup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”


“Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning