I am a husband, father of four, teacher, writer, pursuer of genuine spiritual transformation, authentic recovery, thoughtful faith and a Christ-centered life. Through speaking, writing, and consulting I give spiritual direction to individuals and groups. I do a lot of thinking, reading and conversing about the spiritual life, including how it dovetails with recovery from compulsive thinking and behaviors. And I do all this within the boundaries of my own recovery from compulsive living.
A Brief Snapshot of How I Got Here
Growing up in the heartland of America, and enjoying some personal success in high school, I attended the University of Missouri and earned a bachelor’s degree in education, intending to teach high school English. Along the way my plans were high jacked by getting involved with a youth ministry at a local church, doing Young Life in high school, leading Young Life during college and then on full-time staff, and receiving a divine call to professional ministry. I married Pam, went to Fuller Seminary and now one continuing marriage, four remarkable children, four, or five, ministry positions including one lengthy church plant, a pretty sizeable implosion and recovery later, I’m a profoundly grateful child of God finding that I’m useful to others as they make and deepen their own connections with God.
The ultimate call on my life and the passion of my heart is to use my gifts and skills to help people experience genuine, spiritual transformation. While my life experiences give me particular familiarity and strengths in dealing with addiction, recovery and sexual brokenness, the overall framework and goal of my work is spiritual wholeness.
I believe the Church, for all her weaknesses and shortcomings is called by God to be a spiritually empowered community anchored on and characterized by the Grace and Truth which came into the world in Christ. By speaking and teaching, listening and thinking, mentoring and consulting, I help individuals and spiritual communities find and fulfill their ultimate calling. My hope is to see the Church become a healthier, more effective community of people growing in the Grace and Truth of Jesus as his Spirit makes that real in everyday living.
My Book: Ashamed No More
For forty years my life could be characterized as an intense dichotomy of genuine spiritual development and compulsive behaviors hidden in shadows. After a long, arduous struggle to remove this dichotomy by replacing it with a fully integrated life, I am now living a life I never dreamed could be mine. A part of my thank you to the love of God and the community of others who’ve loved and supported us is to share some of that story and many of the things I’ve learned along the way. [link to book page]
A Bit More Substantial Bio
The only child of mismatched parents, I was bright and anxious, imaginative and lonely. I loved books and music and—except when feeling afraid or threatened—school. Part of my upbringing was attending church, and early on I developed a keen awareness of the Divine Being. Our church was what we might call a mainline church in the midtown part of our city. Some of the people in that church were very important in my development as they provided me with stability and support. I am grateful for that church.
It is a wonder to me now that, given my life origins, I was able to enjoy the educational opportunities that became mine: an above-average high school education, a bachelors degree in education from the University of Missouri, a Masters in Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, a year studying at Princeton Theological Seminary, and finally, a Doctor of Ministry degree, again from Fuller.
I met Pam Sandefur at the University of Kansas in the fall of 1977 while speaking at the Icthus Bible study. I got her phone number from a mutual friend, called her and it was my remarkably good fortune that she was glad to hear from me. I think we spoke for well over an hour that night, and we’ve really not stopped talking since. We married a year later. We have four grown children, all remarkable in their own right.
I’ve had the privilege of being on Young Life staff, prior to seminary, and since then have been an associate pastor in Lawrence, Kansas, an executive pastor at a large church in Kansas City, and planted a church in 1989. I was senior pastor of that church until leaving in 2008. During that time I twice served as the moderator of our denomination’s regional governing body. Beginning in January of 2009, I served as adjunct staff with PastorServe, ministering to clergy with personal brokenness issues and doing guest preaching for several years. I now lead the Shame No More project, a ministry under the oversight of Jacob’s Well in Kansas City.
I like reading mysteries, especially authors like Michael Connelly, P.D. James, Tana French, John Connolly and Elizabeth George, watching Masterpiece Theatre, action and other types of movies, hanging out with Pam, talking with my kids, streaming RTE.ie (Irish radio) and listening to Cashel (our chocolate Labrador) breathe heavily as he rests in our study.
I am trying to live my life in grateful response to the goodness I have been given; if I can be of help to you as you seek spiritual wholeness and integrated living, connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Email. If you’d like to discuss having me come speak to your group, please contact me via email.