stephenStephen Pate

All articles by stephen

 

Christmas Means God Is With Us

Honestly, I love Christmas. I love it all–the fanfare, the pageantry, and the traditions our family has developed over the years. But I also know that this season can be draining and distracting, and there’s a huge possibility that I’ll miss it. So, as we find ourselves in this joyous time of the year, I’m
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On Guns

We were in Paris when we heard about the Vegas shooting last month. We’d just stopped in at a cafe for a coffee, and I checked Twitter. The hashtag “Vegas shooting” was trending. So I clicked. What followed was shock, outrage, and heartbreak over the details of the event.
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On Travel

There’s something about travel that calls to us in the deepest part of our being. It’s the mixture of adventure, new discoveries, and rest that happens in our souls. Of course, time and money and obligations keep all of us from doing it more. I’ve found that when I can travel, though, it unleashes something
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Want To Find God? Ditch Your Ego

What is it that keeps us from knowing and experiencing God in our daily lives? There are a number of reasons and excuses we can come up with to answer the question, but I wonder if there is a simpler explanation. How often do we miss out on experiencing God simply because our focus is
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Why Camps Matter

It’s been a couple weeks since we finished our summer programming which included trips, events, and of course, camps. Towards the end of July, I had the chance to speak for a week at a camp as well. Needless to say, it’s been a busy and full summer. Yet again, I was overwhelmed at how
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Waking Up

There are several niche stories spattered throughout the Scriptures that delve into this idea of being spiritually awake. Men and women go about their business, only to be interrupted by a divine appointment. I’ve read these accounts and often found a bit of my story in there too, tucked between the verses. God is saying
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Reflections On A Decade of Ministry

This summer marks my tenth year in full-time ministry. I’m still not sure how that happened. A lot has changed over the years in my own thinking, processing, and understanding of ministry. I decided to jot down some of my thoughts as I reflect on where I’ve been, and with God’s guidance, where I’m going.
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Sabbath Delight

Sprinkled throughout the Scriptures is this profound teaching on a day that’s unlike an other day. It’s called the Sabbath. Most of us brush past these verses and insights, wondering if this has anything to do with us. But I’ve been rethinking the role of the Sabbath in my life. God gave His people a
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Experience Is > Google

We live in a world of information overload. We’ve all felt it, too. Google this. Ask Siri about that. Find the answer to any and everything you’re looking for. And we love it, don’t we? I don’t know how I drove anywhere before GPS or watched a movie without the help of IMBD. But I
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Be Strong and Courageous: A Prayer for Graduations and Transitions

This time of the year is always bittersweet for me. As our church prepares for graduations and transitions, we reflect on the memories we’ve had with students, but also prepare to send them onward. Over the years, this has only gotten more difficult as we watch the young ones we’ve lived life with prepare for
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Weakness

Paul writes about weakness and struggles in 2 Corinthians 12. “His grace,” Paul says, is “sufficient” and has the incredible power of covering us, even in our weakened state. His words in this passage have a haunting effect. What does it mean, really, to let God rule over our lives in such a way that
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Caught In Between

Last week I had the opportunity to publish my first book. It’s called Caught In Between: Thoughts and Musings On the Spiritual Life. The book is available on Amazon and I’d love for you to check it out. This is a project I’ve been working on for a while now, and with the help of some incredible friends,
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Redwoods

Last week, we took a trip up to Northern California and spent some time wandering around the redwoods. Besides their beauty and the sheer magnitude of these monstrous trees, it made me think of things that grow and flourish and last, even in a world of constant change.
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The Journey To The Cross (Thoughts on Good Friday)

Towards the end of Holy Week, we come to Good Friday. Today, we take time to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, the darkness that filled the land, the belief that everything was over. As we enter into a time of reflection on this day, it helps to dwell on what Jesus went through and what
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Reclining With Jesus (Thoughts on Maundy Thursday)

As we approach the middle of Holy Week, our attention shifts to the last supper. In this iconic scene, we observe the past meeting the present and a glimpse of the future. On Maundy Thursday as it’s called, we reflect deeply on the pending sacrifice of Christ, the emotions of this night, and what it
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Donkeys or Warhorses? (Thoughts on Palm Sunday)

This past weekend we celebrated Palm Sunday. According to our church calendar, this is the Sunday one week before Easter where we reflect on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Most churches celebrate this event as part of holy week in one way or another, usually with palm branches and a chorus of Hosana.  But a
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Women In Ministry (In 2017)

For the past few years I’ve been teaching a class at my alma mater–Hope International University. The class is called Introduction to Youth Ministry. Over the years, I’ve had classes of different sizes. One year I had as few as five; another I had as many as fourteen. My class this year is on the
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The Power of Little Things

Over the years, I’ve noticed a trend in Christianity to be known for our kingdom accomplishments. Full disclosure: this is alive and well in my own life too. It’s a human issue, especially when we elevate certain leaders to an almost celebrity status. We communicate “This is the ideal. Be like this.” But in our
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Choosing Joy

Henry Nouwen once made this comment about joy that has stayed with me. Nouwen said, “We have to choose joy… and keep choosing it.” Joy isn’t necessarily a byproduct to a life well lived. It is a conscious choice to be open to the gift of life and the presence of God. This is a
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The Shack

Not everyone will like The Shack. I get that. There are parts of it that are questionable from a Biblical perspective. But this movie also revealed some incredible things. It’s a story about forgiveness and the unrelenting love of God. If you really lean in, I believe, this film will teach you something about the
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The Oscars And Thoughts On Living Fully

This past weekend we hosted our annual Oscar Party. Our tradition started a few years ago and has remained one of my favorites. We eat some food, hang out, and try our hand at voting for the top picks. Every year, I feel inspired after the ceremony and also learn something.This year, especially, was unique.
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Why You Should Make Your Kids Go To Church

This is one of the posts where I’d like to be super honest and transparent. Here it is: You should make your kids go to church. Admittedly, this sounds a bit harsh and forceful, but stay with me. Involvement in church is directly correlated to faith formation in young people. In other words–and maybe this is
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Humility In Leadership

Somewhat recently, I was asked what I believed to be the most important trait of a successful leader. There are lot’s of ways to answer this question, of course, but I’m convinced one of them is the vital role of humility. Humble leaders are impactful leaders. Humble leaders are empowering leaders. This is true in
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Developing a Hunger

As we begin this new year, most of us have assembled a list of goals or resolutions to pursue. The writing down of goals is an incredibly important habit. Having a strategy to along with them matters too. But in order to make any progress on those areas, you need a drive. You need a
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A Prayer For 2017

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2016, I have a prayer for the New Year. With the passing of one season, we align ourselves for what is up and coming. We embrace the newness that is before us. So, as January first rolls around, there is a prayer I have for my life, my
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The Presence In The Absence

Lately, I’ve been acutely aware of both the presence and absence of God. There are days when God feels present in the whole thing, like I couldn’t escape Him if I tried. Other times, however, He seems aloof and nowhere to be found. It’s like David Crowder once sang, “Sometimes you’re further than the moon;
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Loving Life In The Rut

This year has been good, but–and this is a big BUT–it’s also been incredibly difficult and unbelievably challenging. For much of this fall season, we’ve felt like we’re stuck in a rut. Setbacks, financial struggles, and disappointment. These and more describe what the past few months have been like. In the turmoil, though, we’ve been
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Settling Is Not Always Settling

I’ve been thinking lately how life is fluid and change is often sudden. Isn’t it interesting how our plans can change in an instant? We’ve all been there, right? One moment you’re working, dreaming, planning, and striving for something, and then in the blink of an eye, everything has changed. Perhaps you’ve had an experience
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Remembering Our Purpose

  The church is God’s vehicle to change the world. It’s His vehicle to stand up to the evils that enslave and enforce others, and its members are those who are called to lay down their lives for the Kingdom of God. In all the political and emotional turmoil as of late, it’s important to
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The Sweet Spot in Youth Ministry: Students Leading Students

Something special happens when students are given leadership opportunities. I’ve been a big believer in this for many years, seeking out ways to equip and empower students. Like many things in life and ministry, good thoughts are not enough to make it happen. It takes an intentionality to make it work. Here are some thoughts
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This Election And Its Impact On Students

I feel like I’m late to the game when it comes to saying something–scratch that–ANYTHING about the upcoming election. This has been intentional on my part, not because I’m worried about anyone disagreeing with me, but because I didn’t know how to approach the subject. Honestly, and I know I’m not alone here, I’m not a
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Everything and Nothing

In the gospels Jesus asked this simple, yet haunting question–“What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your soul?” In other words, what if you have it all, but you’re missing what matters most? Is it possible to be incredibly full and yet painfully empty? Can someone have it all together, and yet,
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Living To Please Him

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that our aim, when we realize our salvation in Christ, is to live to please Him. This is a theme that dominates much of Scripture, but how often do we forget this simple goal? As Christ followers, where do we place our focus in this life? Are we
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Encouragement is Timely

I’ve often found that encouragement comes when you least expect it…and when you most need it. This has certainly been true for me lately. But how exactly does encouragement come our way? Some will bemoan the whole “Everything happens for a reason” bit. Others might be more prone to say life is just a cycle
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When Things Go Wrong

Last week we had one of those nights where everything we’d planned fell apart. Have you been there? First, it was the computer acting up. Then it was the projector. We tried various solutions to fix the problem, but we were at a loss. Night like this are always frustrating. We try our best, but then end
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Uncertainty Is Part Of The Game

I don’t know about you, but I struggle a bit with decision making. Oftentimes, I search for affirmation and guidance whilst navigating the changing waters of life. And the bigger the decision, the more desperately I seek out help and support. This has plagued me for most of my life and I find myself wondering if I’m
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Optimism and Realism in Youth Ministry

If you’re going to do youth ministry for any length of time, there are two perspectives you need to balance. First off, you need a good amount of optimism–a passion for seeing life change and believing that God can change anyone. But you also need a dose of reality, realizing the truth of brokenness in the
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Seasons

I listened to a podcast recently by Rob Bell. This is something I do frequently because I happen to think the RobCast is quite amazing. In this episode, Rob worked through the idea of seasons. His main point was that life has different seasons we experience, and it’s important to be aware of what season we
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Making Our Lives Good News

Marissa and I tend to find ourselves in these situations where we begin honest conversations with complete strangers. I’m sure a number of you can relate. Sometimes it’s gong out to dinner and beginning a conversation with our waiter, or chatting with somebody in line at Starbucks. Or, like what happened last weekend, we end up
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Laughing At Our Sin

I’ve been thinking lately–which I know might be a dangerous thing–about the issues we all have. This all happened after I counseled some of our students who told me they were ‘struggling’ with sin. We talked about Scripture and Jesus and still felt like we were back at square one. I thought about what sin
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The Importance of Short-Term Mission Trips

I just got back from a short-term mission trip to Ecuador. Like most churches, we seem to take a couple trips a year to various parts of the world. Our trips range from construction and building projects, to evangelism and training opportunities. Of course, taking a short-term mission trip is not easy or always financially
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A Sermon Spoken, A Sermon Lived

Our first few days in Ecuador have been incredible. Yet again, I find myself learning a ton by simply observing how my friends live. I had the opportunity to preach yesterday during the morning church service, but the truth is, I’ve been seeing sermons lived out since I arrived here. There’s a power that comes
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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: A Theology of Travel

When you embark on any kind of journey, the first step is to make travel plans. As someone who loves to travel, I always look forward to the thrill of “getting there.” Road trips. Boat excursions. Plane rides. Hey, even layovers can be fun (well, some of the time). Part of the adventure is, of
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This Sacred Moment

Time is fickle, isn’t it? How can we have so much of it, and yet, it seems to fly past us with unflagging speed? It never stops or reverses. It’s only direction is forwards. It’s the never-ending-always-moving-constantly-changing factor of our lives. Sometimes we live like all we have is time. But the truth is, we
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What We Really Need

There has been an unbelievable amount of tragedy lately. Death. Racism. Innocence crushed. Valuable lives lost. Everywhere you look, it seems, there is another headline broadcasting yet another painful event. Amidst these horrific events we are left broken, confused, angry, doubtful, shocked, outraged, and deeply saddened. There’s been a lot of talk and opinions expressed.
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The Most Important Part Of Our Marriage

There are a lot of things in my life that are quite good and wonderful and truth be told, I am a pretty happy person for the most part. But there’s one aspect of my life that brings me an unparalleled amount of joy and life. For the past eight years, I’ve been married to
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The Rhythm of Summer

Summer is my favorite season by far. It’s barbecues and pool parties; beach trips and sunburns; blockbusters and late nights; bike rides and iced coffees. The sights and sounds of summer are well upon us now. And don’t they give us all the ‘feels?’ Over the years, I’ve often mourned the brevity of summer. It seems
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Last Wednesday Night (6-29-16)

Summer has gotten off to an awesome, high-paced start. Here’s what we did last night…
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I Believe In Young People

I’ve had the joy of working with students for about twelve years now. My time has been spent in different contexts, with students from all walks of life ranging from junior high and high school students, to college and young adult. I’ve had the chance to speak to students at camps and conferences, and work
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Last Wednesday Night

Here’s what we did last Wednesday night…
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