Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MEET

Have you ever wondered or asked yourself:  'Why am I here?'

I don't really mean, 'Why am I here on earth?' although that isn't a bad question to ask and answer.  I mean, 'Why am I here ... at a church ... your particular church ... when I could be home on the couch getting ready to binge watch some Netflix flick.

In fact, have you ever asked yourself, "Why are there people all over the globe worshipping God every single weekend?"

Why?

It can't be just to hear a message.  I mean, that's great and all, but honestly, aren't there better ways to do that these days with way better communicators than the one you have to sit and listen to every Sunday? Come on ... you know that's true.

We come to worship and sing.  Sure.  We do.  Something happens when we sing collectively that doesn't happen when I'm by myself at home listening to a song.  But again, aren't there just as effective ways to do that these days too?

I don't need it, but the kids need it.  OK.  But couldn't you just homeschool all that Jesus stuff into them and let them (and yourself) stay in their PJs to do it?

I go to make someone else happy.  Now we're getting somewhere.  That's why some people go to church to gather.  Admit it.  She's pretty cute and you're going out for brunch afterwards, so that's why I go.  Got it.

But if I'm a skeptic looking in from the outside and those are all the reasons why we gather, I'm going - REALLY?

And yet, God goes out of His way to say exactly the opposite when He tells us through the writer to the Hebrews:  'Don't neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another and al the more as you see the Day approaching.'  (Hebrews 10:25)

I love that.  The closer we get to the coming of Jesus and the more it would seem less necessary to meet, as some would suggest, we're told instead, "Don't meet less; actually meet more."  Increase your meeting together.  And the reason we're told that is because there's something inherently valuable in the gathering itself that has impact.

Don't meet less; meet more.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

GOVERNOR

Governor Mike Huckabee
We're at the Biennial Gathering of the General Council of the Assemblies of God this week.  Thousands of pastors from across our fellowship gather every two years somewhere in the country - this year it's Anaheim, California - to worship, vision, have community and do the business of the denomination.

Tonight, in a pre-Council meeting, Joelene and I had the distinct privilege of being invited to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda to tour the facility, including Nixon's boyhood home, followed by a gala dinner featuring former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as speaker.

Richard Nixon Presidential Library
Governor Huckabee is an engaging man and spoke with self-deprecating humor, closing with a serious and heartfelt challenge to us all that what we do makes a difference -- and if not us, then who?

Challenge accepted, Governor.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

PANAMA

Panama 150+
It has taken me a good week to fully process the full impact of our Journey Church Kingdom Builder trip to Panama at the end of July.  It was radically life-changing for me and for the 150-plus folks who went with us.

God put a challenge in front of me a year-and-a-half ago:  Put the summons to Journey Church -- 200 people on a Kingdom Builder trip to change a church and to change a generation.  In the end 150 took me up on it and we headed out divided into 9 teams, each with its own leader.

Gerritt & Tara Kenyon - Panama Missionaries
The missionaries:  Gerritt & Tara Kenyon
The mission:  Panama
The target:  Boys & Girls of Panama City

Every day we made our way into schools, performing assemblies with dramas and speaking - at other times playing volleyball/basketball/soccer with the students - still other times passing out free tickets for the main event coming at the end of the weekend.

Four days into the trip we spent our time transforming the Panama City Convention Center into an inviting atmosphere for girls -- cutting thousands of paper flowers -- making flower garlands and giant flower stalks and little flower petals and 'everything flowers' -- blowing up 30,000 balloons -- learning dance routines -- setting up nail polishing stations ...
 


 


 



In another part of the building we constructed a Fun Zone for the boys -- areas for interactive video games -- arm wrestling -- soccer -- an obstacle course -- darts.

The following day the doors to more than a thousand girls and 700 boys bussed in from all over the city who worshipped and heard the Gospel preached.  All of our team members had the opportunity to see and lead scores of students to Christ -- lay hands on them to pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit -- and give encouragements and hugs through both smiles and tears.

At the end of our time we were thoroughly exhausted but those 12 hour days were worth it - to be part of building the Kingdom of God.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

PREACH

I loved the article I read from Outreach Magazine written by Brady Boyd about what pastors should not neglect in their time in front of their congregations on stages all across the country every weekend.  I loved it so much I thought I would share his main points here for us all:



1. Preach the entire counsel of the Scriptures.

Do not skip over the difficult texts or focus only on your favorite topics.  With this as your guide, the Holy Spirit will help you cover all the significant issues in due time.

2. Love your people, but do not fear them.

Criticism is part of the job, but so are the miracle stories of lives changed. 

3. Hang around smart, mature and positive people.

We always need the encouragement and the wisdom.

4. Listen intently to opposing views.

That’s how we learn empathy.

5. Preach with boldness but not with anger.

God is not mad at us, even when we’re wrong. We should not be mad, either.

6. Do not neglect the marginalized.

The widow, the unborn, the orphan and the stranger often cannot help or speak for themselves.

7. Preach Jesus. A lot.

We need His words, His way and His life in the church — more than ever.


And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DELIGHT

'Delight' = great pleasure.

'Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.'  (Psalm 37:4)

I went to high school with a girl whose first name was Delight.  Never met anyone before or since with that first name.

Seems to me there isn't enough delight in the world today.  Way too much fear, worry, tragedy and trouble.

You could make a case that there isn't a great deal to be happy about these days.  Crime is up.  Abortion is the law of the land.  Too many marriages are crumbling and too many children are being trafficked and without homes.  Joblessness.  A nation divided by politics.

On the other hand ... Not long ago a man in NYC encountered a woman who had slipped in the subway terminal and broken her leg.  People streaming by left and right on a mission to their destination undeterred.  But this Good Samaritan, who was on his way to work, took the time to get her to his car and drive her to the hospital.  He spent the whole day making sure she was settled in and going to be OK.  He missed the whole work day so he could be a blessing to a stranger.

There are still things to delight in if you know where to look.

There are families in our church who have brought multiple foster children into their homes, freely and sacrificially being the arms, hands, feet and face of Jesus to children.  Many of them have gone the next step and adopted those children.

Delight.

I read about an armored car driving thru a metro suburb.  The driver had an accident and ended up dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the street.  Mobs came out of the cracks to descend on the money.  Not to line their own pockets but to help collect it back into the bank bags.  When officials calculated it after the re-gathering, every single dollar was accounted for.  All of it.

In places all over Wisconsin, Illinois and beyond those kinds of stories repeat.  Unidentified folks befriending others.  Assisting the down and out.  Coming to the rescue of those in trouble with no desire for reward or recognition.

God has given us much to delight in.

Know where to look.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

SLEEP

Why, in our American culture, with comfy beds - great cars - all the modern conveniences - access to all the calories we could ever want - full blessing on our lives - with all that, why can't we go to sleep at night?

Because you can wake up tired in America, throw down a high energy bar/drink, and then take something to help you go to sleep at night - and then repeat that process the next day.

Why can't we sleep?

We aren't laying down our anxieties.  We're gnawing our teeth at night about things God is already involved in.

Don't be anxious.  About anything.  Nothing.  Then come to God in prayer with listening and trust.  Then go to sleep with an assurance that God is there - that He's working.  He isn't sleeping.

'He who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.'  (Psalm 121:4)

'So sleep well, My sons and daughters,' He says.  'You're in the palm of My hand.  No power of the enemy can snatch you away.'

Sleep well.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

EXPLANATION

We have to decide right now if God is someone we can trust with our whole lives or not -- when something comes into our families or our careers or our situations that's hard or even treacherous, will we become angry with a God who loves us -- or will we still trust Him?

When the flames are licking at our feet and the furnace is getting hot, will we say, "I'm out, God?  I'll be back when things cool down or when You're a little nicer or when You're in control again."

Does God have a better plan for your life than you do?  Is He really God in every situation, no matter what?  Because God doesn't owe us an explanation for all His actions.

(Yeah, I didn't think I'd get a standing "O" for that one.)

But He doesn't.

When we get to the new heaven and new earth God will create for us, all will be revealed -- but He doesn't owe us a full account down here.

But I'll tell you this.  He's good -- and He knows -- and He can be trusted.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

POWERLESS


'Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made by the church.'  (Acts 12:5)

Earnest prayers.  That means without stopping.  Not some two-minute prayer in your life group -- not some add-on prayer around the supper table -- it was the desperate, passionate prayer of the church saying, 'We feel powerless, but we know how to pray.'

Many of us feel powerless against the world's system -- powerless against the notice in the mail from the lending institution - the IRS - powerless against the voicemail from the doctor.

Good news:  Prayer isn't powerless.

In fact, when we feel powerless, prayer is most powerful.

I hear this often:  'I pray.  I pray here and there in short spurts.  It works for me that way.  I pray in my car on the way to work.  I pray in my small group.  I take a couple of extra minutes on my break during the day to pray.  I pray with my family before bed at night.'

That's all great.  Keep doing that.  Don't stop.  But it has to work so God is moved, not so you're satisfied.

There are times in our lives - seasons sometimes - when we feel powerless and when God calls us to pray desperate, bold, passionate prayers.

Prayer isn't powerless.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

KINGFISH

What is community?

Sometimes it's a group of people living in the same general vicinity.


Sometimes it's a group of folks who have a particular characteristic in common.

At other times community is something deeper - it's this powerful sense of fellowship you have with others as a result of shared attitudes and goals, accomplishments, same interests and purpose.

And then there are times . . . that community is simply a baseball game where you're sitting in the stands together cheering on the home team together.

So great to be at the Kenosha Kingfish ball game tonight with over a hundred other Journeyers.  


Love this church.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

QUESTION?

What sermon are you giving right now - with your words, your deeds, your thoughts?

What are you broadcasting about God?  Because we're all broadcasting something.  What are you saying about God right now with your life?

Are you disappointed in Him?
Are you angry with Him?  Upset with Him?
Or are you satisfied with Him?  Are you thankful and grateful at how faithful He's been to you?

None of us would say life has turned out just as we imagined.  It hasn't for me.

I had health issues when I was young -- we've had serious financial crises -- our marriage hasn't been easy 24/7 -- I've had seasons of depression and discouragement -- my father was absent -- I've struggled with self-esteem -- ministry has at times been hard -- I've made bad personal decisions -- our kids weren't perfect ---- but God has been faithful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Some of you are going through it right now.  I know some of your stories.  Here's an absolute promise:  God is faithful to you ... even in this.  Right now.

Not, 'Has it worked out the way you thought?'

I know the answer to that.  That isn't the question.  The question is, "Is God faithful and will He be tomorrow?"

That's the question.  I know the answer to that too.  Yes, He is ... and yes, He will be.

The enemy comes along and says God has abandoned you.  He's forgotten you.  You have no favor anymore.  And if the only evidence you're looking at is outward, physical evidence, that isn't all God promised.

He promised He'd stand with you.
He promised to give you help and peace and grace and strength.
He promised to always be near.

No question.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

FREEDOM

From the mouths of our forefathers . . .






Happy Freedom Day.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 3, 2017

ABANDON

Will God abandon you?

How do you know He won't?

Many of us are living lives that haven't turned out quite the way we imagined.  Twenty years ago - ten years ago - five years ago - last year - last month - you'd not have dreamed you'd be in the place or the mess you are right now.

Has God abandoned you?

That's a question that needs to be wrestled with, because I know the nice church world answer to that question:  'Of course He hasn't.'

But you need to struggle with that question all the way to the ground.

Has God abandoned you?

Here's the second question, and it's closely linked to the first:  'Will God forget His promises?'

God is trying to speak to His people - and we can either lean in and listen more closely or we can reject God and His words and turn our hearts and allegiance away from Him - back to our own Egypts.

Those are our two choices all the time -- follow God, pay attention to God, obey God ... or reject God, resist God, direct our lives away from God.

All the time - two choices.

It may not be working out the way you thought, but that isn't the question.  It never is.  I already know the answer to that one.

The question is:  Is God faithful in every season?  In the valley as much as when skies are blue?

I know the answer to that, too -- yes, yes, yes, resoundingly yes.

He was faithful yesterday.  He's faithful today.  He'll be faithful tomorrow.

He has not abandoned you.
He is not sleeping.
He promises you peace and strength and help for the storm.
He said He'd never leave you.
He'll always be near.

And be blessed.