Sunday, December 4, 2016

GUARANTEE

Some people want a guarantee before they obey God.

"God, once You promise me it's going to work, then I'll do it."

But God says: "That doesn't require any faith.  I want you to believe when you don't see it - and I want you to obey when you don't understand it."

Every single time God tells you to do something, it's a test of who you're going to believe -- God, or what you think is the right thing?

I'll be real about it -- some of God's commands seem unreasonable -- some of them are certainly inconvenient -- others seem flat out impossible.  But they're there for our benefit because our Heavenly Father knows best.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something that made no sense to you?  And you thought, 'What do they know?  They're old.'

Now looking back, can you see any wisdom in what they were saying?  We all can.

God is wiser than your parents.

So when God says, 'When people hurt you and abuse you and misuse you, forgive them,' does that sound like the right thing to do to you?  But because God said it, it's right.

You're building your faith and that's the foundation of a great life.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

SKEPTICISM

I'm assuming you've experienced both doubt and belief.

For some that's playing out right now because a lot of people these days don't believe in Christmas.  They believe in Christmas lights - they believe in Christmas trees - they believe in Christmas parties and Christmas gifts and Christmas eggnog -- but they don't necessarily believe in CHRISTMAS.

Not in the first six letters, at least.  Not in what it was all meant to be about -- that there was a God who loved the world so much He sent His only Son in the flesh - as a baby - to live sinlessly and walk obediently to a cross to be nailed there, sacrificing Himself for our sins because He loved us.

They don't believe in that.

But that's the real story of Christmas -- that God came down from heaven to become One of us.

The picture above is about skepticism sponsored by the American Atheist Association - the 'other AAA.'

'Dear Santa:  All I want for Christmas is to skip church.  I'm too old for fairy tales.'

Research tells us that 92% of people believe Jesus was a real person - but less than 50% believe He was God's Son.

So since they seem to be winning that theological war, why aren't the atheists content to just talk about being personally happy and leave the church out of it?  Why is there such an emphasis and attention on skipping church and denying Jesus with the skeptics?

Here's why.  Because they understand it's in the local church that people come to a place of life-altering faith in Christ.  It's in the local church where they begin to live that out.  It's in the local church where lives are changed and real freedom is experienced.

That's why the atheists want people to skip church.

Skepticism may be alive and well - but so is faith.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

DOOR

Hundreds of years ago the apostle John - who had watched Jesus be crucified and then rise from the dead - makes this statement about Jesus:

'I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.'  (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus says:  'I'm knocking because I can't get in.  I've been trying to reach you, trying to get through to you.  Time is running short.  Open the door and surrender, before it's too late.'

And because I love you, I'm going to keep on bugging you -- and because I love you, I'm going to keep putting pressure on you -- and because I love you, I'm going to keep sending people into your life to point out things you don't want pointed out -- and because I love you, I'm not going to let you rest.

He doesn't say that because He's upset with you - or angry with you - or frustrated with you.  He says that because He loves you.

God didn't spare His own Son in order to gain your salvation.  And He won't spare your health or your marriage or your career or your wealth in order to get your attention today.

I don't know if that's too controversial for you to hear, but if God wouldn't spare His own Son's life to save you, do you really think He'd spare anything else to get you to surrender to Him?  If He sacrificed His one and only Son to purchase your salvation on the cross, do you think there's anything else He wouldn't sacrifice to keep you connected to Him?

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

KING

There's something in you and there's something in me that wants to be king.  We want the power and authority to do whatever we want.

We don't want to be accountable.  We want to be autonomous instead.  Beholding to no one but ourselves.

If we have enough money, we don't have to worry about what anybody else thinks -- if we have enough authority, we don't have to be polite -- we don't have to spend time with people we don't want to spend time with -- there's something in you and me that wants autonomy and unaccountability.

When you showed up on this planet X number of years ago in a little earth suit about a foot-and-a-half long, you drew an imaginary circle around yourself and said:  'God, You may have created the universe - You may have control over everything out there, but I'm king of all that's inside this circle.'

At the same time we know very well that when there's resistance to God's will, there is going to be pain.  In fact, if you violate the principles of God either by accident or on purpose, there's going to be discomfort.

When our kids were young, I wanted them to understand the relationship between rebellion and pain. And I realized I could teach them the relationship between those two things myself -- or I could wait and let a school teacher teach them -- or I could wait and let an employer teach them -- or I could wait a let somebody who drives a car with a blue light on top teach them.  Because at some point we'll all be confronted with the reality of the relationship between rebellion and pain.

"LET HIM BE KING."

But 'kings' don't understand this.  'Kings' do what they want.  It's just how kings are.

Some of you may be caught in this dilemma right now because you've tried to be a law to yourself.  You have enough personal leverage - you have just enough authority - so you've made your own law. You may even feel like you're in a wrestling match with God.  God wants you to do something and you don't want to because you don't want to have to be accountable to anybody, because the battle going on inside you is:  I want to be king.

It's time to surrender it all to God.  You make a lousy king.  There's only one King.  He rules it all.  He wants you dependent on Him.  He wants you accountable to Him.

Let Him be King.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 21, 2016

ANGRY

God's judgment never falls randomly.  In fact, His anger has to be pried open.  It's very difficult to evoke God's anger.  But His mercy has a hair trigger.  His grace is so easily activated.

That's why the Bible says God's wrath flows to the third and fourth generations, but His mercy courses to thousands of generations.


God isn't angry with you right now.


That's how I know God isn't angry with you right now.  He loves you too much to let you go.  He pursues you -- even into your sin and disobedience He does.  He pleads with you to turn back.  He'll never leave you alone.  He'll badger you, He'll bother you, He'll pester you, He'll prod you, He'll heckle you ... but if you keep refusing Him, ultimately He'll let you have your way and allow you to reap the consequences of your resistance.

But even this is for our good, to bring us to Him.

'God knows that when the cold wind blows, it might turn our head around.'

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

RIEGELS

On New Year's Day, 1929, the University of California at Berkeley was playing Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl.  Roy Riegels, a Cal defensive back recovered a Georgia Tech fumble, ran across the field and turned to run 75 yards in the wrong direction ... straight toward the University of California's goal line.

One of Riegles' teammates tackled him just before he scored ... for Georgia Tech.  On the next play Georgia blocked the punt and scored.

From that day forward Roy Riegels was called 'Wrong Way Riegels' -- the guy who ran the wrong way in the Rose Bowl.

Super embarrassing.

Maybe our failures haven't been as conspicuous as Roy Riegels, but we have our own wrong way runs and the bad memories that go with them.  There are things in our past we wish we could undo or redo, things we wish we could forget.  If only we could begin again.

                              If only we could begin again.

A poet wrote:
'I wish there were some place 
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes, heartaches and grief
Could be dropped like an old coat at the door
And never be put on again.'

Guess what?  There is such a place.  It's found in the grace of God -- a grace that not only completely forgives our past and puts it away, but uses it to make us better than before.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

GEAR

This past Friday evening, we did something at Journey Church that absolutely blew me away.  We celebrated the volunteers of our church at both Kenosha and Burlington campuses with an event called "The Journeys."

A few got special awards but everybody who serves is priceless and honored.  The Dream Team.  These folks are the gears that make the movement of Jesus thrive.  They're the ones who push the cause of Christ forward -- grinding it out day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.  

The apostle Paul, almost every time he began one of his letters wrote:  'I Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.'  He saw servanthood as his fundamental identity.

The Journey Award
 That's our  
 fundamental
 identity as
 followers of Jesus, too.  It happens the day you receive
 amazing grace -- the day you become aware Jesus bled and
 died for your sins on a cross -- the day salvation comes to you
 as a gift -- the day you fall on your knees and say, 'What can I 
 surrender to You, Lord, for all Your benefits to me?'

 'Be steadfast, immovable.  Keep abounding in the work of the 
 Lord because your work is not in vain if it is for the Lord.'  (I 
 Corinthians 15:58)

 #journeyforward

 And be blessed.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

HUMOR

What you laugh at has a lot to do with the way you regard yourself.

I love people with a great sense of humor.  Some people are so natural at this.  I envy them.

I've also been around people who painfully use their sense of humor to put everybody around them down. They do it to deliberately to mock or belittle others.

Ultimately sarcastic humor is self-righteous - it's a form of self-justification.  I'll tear you down in an effort to make myself more valuable.  This is what the Gospel demolishes.

There are others who bitterly mock themselves.  At first it looks like a form of humility but it's as self-absorbed as the above version.  It's a sign of a profound spiritual restlessness.

We must keep our lives from either being over-awed by anyone or being under-awed by ourselves.

It's so good to have a Godly, healthy sense of who we are in Christ and a healthy sense of humor.  But it's always to be humor that builds the other up as a show of affection.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

BAHRAIN-DUBAI

It was a rare privilege to help lead a Journey Church mission trip to Bahrain (sponsored by the YMCA BAHRAIN) and the United Arab Emirates (sponsored by VOICE INTERNATIONAL) last week:

Bahrain - In Concert
While there the group had ministry in:
     2 schools
     2 women's conferences
     7 churches
     1 Naval base
     3 concerts



Bahrain - Minister of Social Development
I was so proud of our ladies in presenting a WOMEN'S SHINE CONFERENCE in both Bahrain and Dubai as they shared personal life testimonies thru video and live to women in the region.  I sensed the strong power of the Holy Spirit in the room at both conferences.

Some of the places I was honored to speak were an Arabic Church, an African Church and a Filipino Church.  I'm continually amazed at the bond forged between people of different lands thru the simple act of worshipping God.  Seventy-five people stood to indicate they wanted to receive Christ at the latter church alone.
PK in action

It was so much fun to watch our team to rooms full of children via videos, live teaching, games and songs.

The Bahrain/Dubai team







Dubai Church Service



Three-thousand people filled the hall in Bahrain as our band and worship team ripped out two full hours of music and preaching.  I love the way our team poured out their hearts, soul and guts to show the power and love of Jesus to the crowd.  At this particular gathering, the Minister of Social Development of Bahrain came out to listen.  

It was also a great honor to reach out and minister at the Bahrain Naval Base.  Sure, there was a problem with getting electricity to our equipment until 30 minutes before starting time, but we managed and God showed up.

Dubai - In Concert
There was time to do a few fun things while there -- visit the Al Fateh Mosque in Bahrain, Atlantis in Dubai, and take part in a desert safari, including riding a camel.  But it was all about the souls of men and women far from God in the 10/40 window as well as encourage believers who are living in a land hostile to the Gospel.

Pray for Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

And be blessed. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BELT

You may not know this but Wisconsin, where I live, isn't the center of the Bible belt.

It's the center for milk and cheese making.
It's the center of Green Bay Packer country.
It's the center of Harley-Davidson riding.
It's the center of cow-tipping and other such hobbies.
It's the center of the nation's largest music festival - Summerfest.
It's the center for bratwurst.
It's the center for famous people like Harry Houdini, Douglas MacArthur and Frank Lloyd Wright.
It's the center of lake country - more than Minnesota.
It's the center for toilet paper making, which I'm sure has something to do with being the center for milk, cheese making and bratwurst.

But I digress.

It isn't near the Bible belt.  But it isn't exactly secularized the way places like San Francisco or Seattle or New England are.  It isn't that.  Still, here's what makes doing church in a place like Wisconsin perhaps even more challenging than those places.  In those other locations, people know they have no desire for God.  They know they don't believe.  They know they have no intention of submitting their lives to Christ.

That isn't as true here.

We play the game here.  We think we're friends of God here because we think if we're kind of moral, we have God.  We come to church on a weekend and think we have God.  We think we're moral simply because we're better than the guy over there.  But that isn't it.

There's giving it all to Jesus ... and that's it.

Going to church doesn't mean God is our ultimate.  V. Havner said, 'Most church members live so far below the standard you'd have to backslide to be in fellowship with them.'

(Open grimace and groan)

Don't get me wrong.  I think going to church is an awesome thing ... to set you apart.
I think life groups and serving and giving are spectacular ... to grow you in Christ.
But if we're using them in any way as some kind of proof or method of salvation, then we're enslaved to something that will never deliver.

There's giving it all to Jesus -- and that's it.

It's time to pray.
It's time to be in the Word.
It's time to prioritize our lives with Jesus at the center.
It's time to get after the heart of God.
It's time to let it be real inside you.

And be blessed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

31

I was going to put "Halloween" as the title to today's blog, cuz it is, but I just couldn't bring myself to write it at the top.  Just because.  So '31' it is.

It's all ghosty and demon-y and ghoulish today for a lot of people.  There's a house up the street decorated to the nines with spider webs and white sheets and creepy-crawling type things hanging all over.  It isn't exactly HGTV, but it gets a lot of attention.  You probably have one of those in your neighborhood.  It'll draw a lot of little Supermans and mini-Miley Cyrus' tonight.

For Hollywood, the idea of demons and hauntings and ghosts is a favorite topic.  How many Friday the 13ths did they make, after all?  If you Google it, it's like Friday the 13th Infinity.  But it's pretty much the same movie over and over with different pretty girls getting slashed and clever characters like Truck Driver and Boy in Camping Circle and Extra Counselor.  Plus, the Jason character now is like the grandson of the original Jason.

What Hollywood likes to do, and what a lot of us seem to want to believe, is when it comes to things demonic and evil versus the things of a good God, sometimes the bad guys win and sometimes the good Guy wins.

Biblically, that isn't even close.

Sure, the demon world has power.  They can flex a little bit, but only in ways that God allows.

Remember Job in the Old Testament?  Classic.

Satan comes to present Himself before God.  In military talk, if you present yourself to someone, you're under their authority.  You're there being inspected in some way or another.  So when Satan presents to God, you know which one of them is in authority, don't you?

Very important.

God:  'How about that Job, huh?'
Satan:  'Yeah.  Your favorite.  Rich.  Tons of great kids.  King Midas when it comes to touching things.  But take that away and you'll see.  He'll curse You, Your majesty.'
God:  'Let's see.  But don't touch him personally.'

So Satan does.  Takes his stuff.  Takes his kids.  Everything Job owns.  Destroyed.  The only thing Satan leaves untouched is Job's wife, which is not a blessing, if you're feeling me.

Her advice in the middle of all this is: 'Blame it on God, you moron.'
Job:  'Thank you, honey.  It's such a joy coming home to you every night.'

But Job hangs tough.  In the middle of it all he says, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord.'

So Satan takes another stab at it - round two with God.

God:  'Hey. What's that I hear?  Is that Job worshipping Me even though he has nothing but a harpie for a wife left?  Yes, I believe it is.'
Satan:  'Sure, but let me take his health and he'll be cursing the living daylights out of You.'
God:  'You can take his health, but don't kill him.'

In all of that, the evil one is restrained by God.  Controlled.  He has no real power but what is allowed him by God, the Father.

The great news is that Job ends up loving God more and living a deeper, fuller life than he ever would have had God not allowed Satan to wound him.

And in your struggle against the forces of darkness, on day 31 or whenever, know that Christ is in authority.  You have nothing to fear.

And '31' can rock because of that.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

DELETE

When Adam fell there were all kinds of manifestations that resulted, and even yet today we're all fallen.  And without God to help us redirect, we'll all continue to fail.

Oh sure, there'll be some rich failures - some Benz-driving failures - but they'll be failures because none of that is success with God.

Money and success don't make you better; they just make you more of what you were before.

So if you were a whorish man when you were broke and then you got some money, you can just do it better now.  If you were hateful when you were broke, now that you're rich, you're just twice as nasty.  Those things just make you more of what you already were.

So your prayer has to be, 'God, give me the information that sets my mind and heart free from my idols and free from my past.'

To get there you may have to delete your entire mental data base -- delete, delete, delete, delete -- free up your hard drive so God can do a new thing in you -- learn to do everything differently.  But if we develop this idea of being renewed in our minds, we'll never be the same.

And be blessed.