4 New Ways to Approach College

4 New Ways to Approach College

4 New Ways to Approach College

I still remember my college in vivid emotional detail. Each of my four years were very different from the others, involving a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of trying to figure life out without my parents or home.

I loved college. College is a really formative time for men and women, and is a great first step into adulthood. College is like the pre-season for any major sport, a safe place to figure out what works and what doesn’t, without having to suffer any major consequences. I know, I know, you could fail college, and yes that would be difficult; however, it’s not the end of the world. Life is too full of opportunities and God’s goodness to hinge entirely on college. So stay focused, but take off the crushing pressure that makes college feel like a life or death event.

While my college experience shaped and formed me for the better, my four years were some of the most difficult years of my life. Here are four lessons I learned outside of the classroom:

1 | Fix Your Eyes on Christ, Not Community

I am a big extrovert, and met a ton of great friends in college. However, my friend group and I struggled being in community with each other, often times we were dramatic, hurtful, and petty toward each other. At times l felt like I was back in Middle School with the drama of things, which was a shocking experience to me. I really thought my friends and I were mature adults since we were in college. Truth is, we weren’t. I struggled to love my friends well in college, because I was too fixated on that community. I looked to my friends for all my comfort and acceptance, and in reality, it was too much for them to supply. What I needed was more Jesus. I needed to pursue and understand my identity in him, rather than look for it from my friends. Doing this would have freed me to love my friends better, and be less dependent on them.

2 | Character Trumps Success

I love being competitive. I love succeeding at things, and I love winning. In college, there is a weight and an importance placed on what career you pursue, what job you’re going to get, how well you are doing in the classroom, etc. All these things are really important, and you should think about what God wants you to do in life and strive for excellence as a way to worship God; however, you should spend more time focusing on godly character. You should spend time cultivating your relationship with God, allowing Him to change and shape you so your character reflects him. Character gets you further than GPA, experience, and lofty goals ever will. Character breeds peace with your life faster than getting the “perfect” job ever will. Having a godly character is infinitely more valuable than any degree.

3 | Take Off the Pressure

In college, I concerned myself with what I would do after college. I focused on having my life figured out by graduation, and it came as a surprise to me when I graduated that I had my whole life in front of me. I realized that college is big, but life is WAY bigger after graduation. When you graduate at 22, odds are you’ll have 60 years of life ahead of you. Sixty years to figure out and pursue adventure with God. Sixty years to grow and develop a relationship with God that can change the world around you. So take the pressure off. You don’t have to have it figured out in college. You are free to pick a degree course knowing that your whole life is not riding on that degree. College degrees are important, pick one, work hard for it, but don’t be crushed under the belief that your life will be defined by one degree.

4 | College is Formational, not Forever

College is important because it’s the beginning steps of adulthood. I remember being so excited, so focused on college, that I didn’t even think about how short it would be. I thought college was everything, then I graduated and realized that 4 years really isn’t that long of a time period. I realized that college was a place to start a foundation, not build a house. College is the beginning, not the end. When I began to understand that college was not forever, it actually freed me to enjoy college more, and not cling to it unnecessarily.

These four lessons are pretty simple, but I wished I had known them when I started college. I wish I had focused more on God and his character, and less on achieving my own glory.

High School grad, congrats on completing the first stage of your life! I am so excited for you, and your future whether it’s in college or the work force! Spend the next four years working hard, dreaming, setting goals, but more than anything , pursuing God. Find out just how much he loves you, walk humbly with him, pursue him to love those around you, accept his pursuit of you. God is worth sacrificing your future for. Besides, he probably has everything for you taken care of. After all, he is God. That’s what he does.

Justin’s Worship Picks

Justin’s Worship Picks

Justin's Worship Picks

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. | Psalm 86:9-10

We love worshipping each weekend with you. Ever wondered what worship music our staff listens to during the week, or maybe just looking for some recommendations for your morning commute? Check out our worship leader Justin Adams current favorite worship tracks! Stream on Spotify below.

All For Love (Gethsemenene) | Worship Central
The Oil, The Fire | Sean Feucht
Fighting For Us | Michael Farren
Not Today | Hillsong United
You Alone | North Point InsideOut
Letting Go | Steffany Gretzinger

For the Parent of a New Middle Schooler

For the Parent of a New Middle Schooler

For the Parent of a New Middle Schooler

So your son or daughter is graduating the fifth grade. Maybe this is your first child to reach this age – maybe it’s your fifth. Regardless, they’re hitting a whole new stage of life. You might be be feeling totally overwhelmed, or maybe you’re feeling prepared but just looking for some additional resources. As the staff at Mission Hills, we want to come alongside you and walk with you in this journey in whatever way we can. Our Middle School staff has compiled just a few of the resources we think would be helpful to you as the parent of a new middle school student.

Students entering Middle School are entering an important developmental phase – they are beginning to strongly define themselves outside the home for the first time. They are looking for groups and peers to identify with. They explore developing opinions in a new way. It’s a wild and new world – and it can also cause a lot of tension. Connecting with a Middle School student can be tricky, and might require you to change the way you interact with your child. Additionally, navigating the modern world of cellphones, internet, and social media is complicated! All of these new territories can leave even the most prepared of us feeling overwhelmed. Below are just a few resources that we think are helpful.

Being Heard by Your Teenager – Communicating Without Control and Manipulation

52 Family Dinner Discussions

11 Digital Dangers Hiding in Plain Sight

Parents Guide to Giving the First Cell Phone

There are tons more resources over at Middle School Resources, check them out!

Remember, Your Outcome Begins in Your Mind-Set

Remember, Your Outcome Begins in Your Mind-Set

Remember, Your Outcome Begins in Your Mind-set

“For he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you. | Proverbs 23:7

Remember, Your Outcome Begins in Your Mind-set
Ever glance off at a pretty sunset only to feel your car tires jarring along the roadside? Truth is, if we focus exclusively on driving between the yellow lines, we avoid veering. We can apply this principle to our life and marriage as well.

Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Every man is what he is, because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.” He’s not alone in his thinking. Thought leaders through­out time agree that our outcome begins in our mindset. We find what we look for. We become what we think about. Their wisdom suggests that when we focus on fixing our issues, we unwittingly perpetuate our problems. However, when we focus on our desired outcome, aligning our thoughts with God’s pur­pose, we reap the benefits of living His design for our marriage.

As a couple, what do you tend to talk about? Where do your thoughts most naturally gravitate?
If you want to live a higher way of living—God’s way of liv­ing—in your marriage, create new habits of thinking. Instead of thinking and talking about your obstacles, consider God’s pur­pose. Instead of focusing on the problems in your relationship, consider what you both agree on and desire as an end result. Instead of pondering what you want to change about your spouse, consider how your differences make you stronger. Envision your desired outcome and welcome God’s perfect plan for your mar­riage, knowing your outcome begins in your mindset.

  • Answer the following questions together: What is our desired outcome in our marriage? How is God calling us to shift our mindset? What is His vision for us as a couple? How will we align our thinking with God’s to better celebrate each other and welcome His design for our marriage?
  • Each day, make a conscious effort to focus your thoughts, energy, and prayers specifically on your desired outcome—especially when you’re tempted to think otherwise.
  • Pray together daily, asking God to help you look past the obstacles and instead see His vision for your marriage.

Father, empower us to see your vision instead of our obstacles. We want to celebrate your unique purpose for our marriage and see the beauty in our individual design.

Steps for Reading Your Bible

Steps for Reading Your Bible


For Christmas this past season, I purchased an iPhone for my wife. I must say, it was a great gift and she was very pleased with my selection and color. What was interesting to us both was how a complex device has such easy instructions to begin. A very simple step by step instruction guide that was built into the phone.

So then, when it comes to studying the Bible, why does it seem so difficult? Think about it…There are 66 books in the bible in two sections the old / new testament, written over the course of 2000 years by 40 different writers contributing to the exact same story of the Messiah. Books written on history, philosophy, theological thinking, systematic thinking, poetry, music, personal letters to people, to churches, to countries, books on rules, parables or illustrations, sex, love, the future. Honestly, it can feel pretty overwhelming.

Where should I even begin?

You might feel like the Bible is difficult and hard to know where to start, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t need to feel that way, so I want to give you a few practical steps to get started:

Before you begin:

  • Find a place that is quiet and uninterrupted for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Open your new Bible from Mission Hills Church to the Book of John. Consider purchasing a NIV Study Bible from Amazon or Lifeway Bookstores. I would recommend the Ryrie Study Bible.
  • Get a notebook or journal to write your thoughts down in (when you write something down, you will remember it longer).
  • Pray a simple prayer, talk to God and ask Him to open your heart and mind to His Word.


  • Half of the battle is just getting started, and starting in Genesis can feel overwhelming. The book of John tells the story of Jesus’ ministry and is a great place to begin.
  • Read a section of verses (5 to 10) with a natural break and ask the following 4 questions:
    • Summary | What is the consistent theme of these verses?
    • Observation | What are these verses saying?
    • Interpretation | What do these verses mean?
    • Application | What will I do about it?


  • Personal Application is most important in reading and studying God’s Word. This is about allowing what God says in His world to change our hearts and lives.
    • What is God saying to me in these verses?
    • How am I going to apply these verses in my life?
    • What changes am I seeing as a result of reading and applying God’s Word?

Just like anything, it may take time to create a rhythm and be disciplined. Don’t give up! Remember that reading the Bible isn’t about fulfilling a check list of verses to read, it’s about taking the time to meet with God, listen to Him and begin to hear His voice in your life – day to day.

Lessons I’ve Learned as a Mom of Boys

Lessons I’ve Learned as a Mom of Boys


If you are the parent of boys, you probably are being faced with challenges unlike any other experience in life. Raising boys is a one-of-a-kind experience. As we understand what makes this calling unique, we begin to see (and enjoy) the way God innately created our sons. Here are some of the lessons I have learned as a mom of boys.

1 | Boys Spit!

For no other reason than because they can. It is some kind of right of passage. You can’t really control it, but you can direct it. Spitting is forbidden anywhere someone might be walking. This, of course, brought on a whole new debate, but at least people weren’t dodging our boys’ spit.

2 | Snowballs are for Throwing

If there is snow falling, snowballs will be flying and so is anything else boys can find to use as a projectile object. It is part of boys’ brains, taking objects and propelling them somehow through the air. I couldn’t stop the throwing of snowballs by my husband or our sons, but I could minimize the damage by limiting the target. “When throwing snowballs at your sister aim below the head.”

3 | At least ask if they are okay before you start to laugh out loud

Males’ level of sympathy and empathy is a bit different than that of girls. Where girls first instinct is to run over to a friend who has fallen or hit in sensitive areas of the body to see if they are okay, boys first instinct is to cringe first and then laugh hysterically. There is no age limit to this reaction and apparently, this reaction never gets old.

4 | Twenty-five words or less and make most of them verbs

Males are doers. They think in verbs. They think in motion. Females think in nouns. They think in detail and description. Let’s face it ladies, we talk too much and think we can solve all problems and situations with words. We can’t. Actually, males (of all ages) tune out about word five. So do yourself a favor; make your words count, use as few as possible and brush up on your verbs.

5 | Silence is Golden

Words can be overrated to boys. Monday through Friday, your son has spent the equivalent of a full time job sitting in a classroom. Try not to ask about his day or how he is doing unless he speaks first. Give him time to process his day and decompress by playing, eating, hanging out with friends, or limited screen time. Later, ask about his day with a well thought out question over dinner, shooting

6 | Is it Wrong or Just Different?

When your boys choose to complete a task differently than you would complete it, before you tell him it is wrong, pause, take a deep breathe and ask yourself if it is wrong or is it just different than you would do it? Mom’s way is not always the right way or the only way.

7 | Get in Touch with your “Boys” Lens

Mark Twain once said, “I never let schooling interfere with my education.” Boys are naturally curious and even though it might be a bit scary to watch them in action, try not to jump in immediately. Observe, take note and don’t assume you know what they are thinking. There is more to exploring and learning than what is being taught in classrooms.

8 | If All Else Fails, Read Calvin and Hobbes

For years, our son Luke would only read Calvin and Hobbes. His teachers would constantly try and get him to expand his horizons to no avail. What I learned from Calvin and Hobbes was through wit, wisdom, and humor there was a whole lot of reality concerning “Boy World”. Looking at this mystical world through the eyes of a six year old boy and his stuffed tiger/imaginary friend gives more insight than you realize and it will make you smile. We still have every volume of Calvin and Hobbes. The content is timeless and who knows, you just might learn something about boys.

If you are the parent of boys, you probably are being faced with challenges unlike any other experience in life. Raising boys is a one-of-a-kind experience. As we understand what makes this calling unique, we begin to see (and enjoy) the way God innately created our sons. Here are some of the lessons I have learned as a mom of boys.