Sunday, August 31, 2008


Today, the talk in church was given by one of our youth pastors, Jon Brown. He did a great job with the subject of solitude - and talked about how we need to de-rev our engines in order to get re-charged by spending time with God.

I realized how lax I had been with this discipline. It just seems like a busy life is a productive life ... but that doesn't make it a meaningful life.

And so, Pastor Jon led us thru some paces about how to be successful with solitude and ultimately experience GOD and REST.

And I will confess, when I got home and started thinking about it, it became abundantly clear at what kinds of breakneck speed I had been going and how tired I had become and how very much I desperately needed to slow down in order to hear God and do what He has called me to do.

So, I'm planning on doi ---- zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And ... be ... blessed.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I agree with Jud Wilhite when he says, As a pastor committed to a conservative Christian faith, I have no reason to water down the message of Christ and what He came to accomplish.

Far be it from me to water it down. Jesus came to free people who were - and still are - enslaved to sin. It's my job (and yours, if you're a Christ-follower) to call people to break free from the power of sin.

But after I call 'sin' what it is, I want to be soft on people. I've learned my assessment of others is almost always incomplete. In fact, sometimes those who seem to have it all externally together are actually a mess internally. They hide dark secrets and addictions. No matter how informed my assessment of someone may be, it is still lacking. So if I'm going to be wrong anyway, I choose to err on the side of grace. I want to be rid of the categorizations - rich, poor, together, not together, addicted, druggie, yuppie, loser, winner, cool, uncool. I don't know their struggle or their pain. I choose to err on the side of grace because SOMEDAY I'll stand before God and I pray HE will err on the side of grace with me.

The flat truth is: we're all messes. One hundred percent of us. But God loves messiness. The religious leaders of Jesus' day noticed that "He welcomes sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:2) GASP!

Eating together, particularly in the New Testament, is always a picture of acceptance, loyalty and trust. At the table with Jesus, outcasts found a refuge - the hopeless found a hope - the oppressed found an advocate. Jesus didn't just EAT with them or HANG OUT with them, He found intense PLEASURE in being with them. INTENSE PLEASURE. Blatant sinners. People just like the ones you see on Jerry Springer. "OUT THERE SINNERS." Think of it!

WHY did He eat with them? Maybe because they were loved by God? Maybe because they didn't PRETEND to be blameless? Maybe because it refreshed Him to see how readily they acknowledged their imperfections? Maybe because they didn't play self-righteous games? Maybe because they were self-stripped of pride? Maybe because they were aware of their own brokenness? Maybe because they were open to the message of a Savior?

Too often we see strength only in pointing out sin and stomping on it until it is dead. But Jesus showed us a different kind of strength - the kind found in grace, compassion and forgiveness.

So we can never stop wrestling with the seriousness of sin. And we can never stop thanking God for the forgiveness and new life through grace that He makes possible to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, NO MATTER WHO WE ARE.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Here are some pics of the water baptism we did at Lake Andrea last Sunday. I just got my hands on them. These are of Pastor Brandon and me baptizing a couple of different people. We baptized 72 people in all that one afternoon, which was amazing. Congratulations to all the folks who took that step of obedience. Very exciting.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


There is, or used to be, in south central Minnesota, the world's largest ball of twine. I've heard it's been moved to another location, but it USED to be about 30 minutes from where Joelene and I lived for 9 years. Sitting in a round, metal barn. That ball of twine was 40 feet in circumference and weighed more than nine tons. If you unrolled it, it would have stretched 1,500 miles. That's halfway across America. Kind of like the big ball chasing Harrison Ford down that corridor in "Indiana Jones." Only bigger.

And you might be saying about now: "Well, my goodness ... isn't that ... unique?!" And you would be wrong about that. There is a town in Kansas that claims to have the TRUE largest ball of twine - and another one in California - and several other towns racing to lay hold of the title: Home of America's Largest Ball of Twine. Whatever.

But no matter what else you may say about such a pursuit, you HAVE to be impressed by the PASSION of those who give their lives to rolling a huge ball of twine. Don't you? What is there inside a person that would motivate them to spend all their spare time for fifty years accumulating twine? Wait. Don't answer that.

For that matter, what keeps YOU from getting out of bed every morning to do what you've done for the past ten years? You might say, "Well, THAT is entirely different!" Is it?

Most of us do what we HAVE to do - not from passion, but from obligation.

Marriages begin with passion. We believe the honeymoon will go on forever.
Faith begins with passion. We believe the spiritual mountaintop will never topple over.

Why can't we have that passion every day of our lives? If we could package passion, we'd be rich. I am completely convinced that LIFE is meant to be lived with joy, fulfillment, excitement and purpose. And that when we live with passion, we honor God powerfully - because THAT is when we resemble HIM most. He created us passionately. His love for us has never worn down.

Has YOURS worn down?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


God does not make mistakes. Have you noticed that? He has a grand plan - for YOU - for your FAMILY - for your LIFE. There is no doubt.

He had it mapped out before you were even born. Truly amazing. He CHOSE you, He DESIGNED you, and then He very DELICATELY placed you on His time continuum.

I have searched the Bible from start to finish and have yet to find an occasion where God said, "Oops." If God wanted to, He could have placed you at any TIME, any PLACE, any ERA He chose. But for some reason, He wanted you born NOW - in THIS place - HERE. WHY?

Because He has a plan. Of all the 50 states I could be in, He has chosen to place me in Wisconsin. And not just in Wisconsin. In Kenosha to pastor. To live in Pleasant Prairie. And not just in Pleasant Prairie, but on my street. Next to the neighbor on my block. Think of it.

That took a great deal of planning on the Creator's part. Multiply that by six billion and you get an idea of the wonderful complexity of it all.

Rejoice in it. Accept it. Love it. Wonder in it. Be thankful for it.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Our Champions group met tonight at my house to download Mark Batterson's book, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day." It's the 8th book in our series of book-reading that we've been going thru together for 2008. Four more to go.

The book was about taking risks as men -- praying ridiculous prayers - realizing that you're never going to be 100% certain about most things, so just GO FOR IT - no fear - things like that.

I can really see the spiritual growth in these guys. Not just the camaraderie (that's there, for sure) - and these are 10 guys who didn't even know each other before they came together 8 months ago. But the journey has been exciting as the men have thrown themselves increasingly into each subsequent book, cared about each other's needs, prayed for one another, stood up and defended each other and shared some pretty amazing things that common men might not share in less safe, less embracing environments.

I'm looking forward to the final four months - with some sadness, realizing that these guys will go on to other ventures when we're done. I am praying for you guys - for your success - your families - your futures - your life with Christ. It's not over yet, but it's been awesome.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Today was another of the most amazing days in the life of KFA - like yesterday, only different. After today's A.M. service, we all went to Lake Andrea and baptized -- ready for this? -- SEVENTY-FIVE people. Pastor Brandon and I baptized one woman who gave her life to Christ ten minutes before at the baptism teaching up on the hill. How cool is that?

God gave us a picture-perfect day to baptize today -- children, teens, moms, dads - and several ENTIRE FAMILIES were baptized. All the stories of life change had to make you grateful to God for all He has done.

Next year -- maybe a service out at Lake Andrea followed by another water baptism like that.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Today was an amazing day. For most of the afternoon I was at Lincoln Park with scores of volunteers from our church - and several hundred people from the surrounding neighborhood - enjoying face painting, balloon animals, live music, children's games, free food, bouncers and even a 'prayer tent.' It rained this very gentle rain for about 10 minutes - just aggressive enough to send most running for some cover - and then it was over. The sun came out to stay.

The culmination of the afternoon was passing out over 750 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to children in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. What a wonderful experience to see young children smiling ear-to-ear as they got their backpack and opened them to find pencils, erasers, notebooks, rulers and tons of other stuff to prepare them for a great year of school.

One little boy came right up to me - he couldn't have been more than 7-years old - and he looked up at me and said, "Hey! There's SUPPLIES in here!" And I had to smile.

I'm proud of our congregation for their big hearts to bless other people in this way. It is gratifying and part of the re-training of ourselves to turn our eyes outward. Thanks to those who organized and served today. You guys ROCK!

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I haven't seen the movie "Bucket List" - yet - but I am focused on our upcoming ONE MONTH TO LIVE (OMTL) campaign at church where we're asking the entire congregation to read the "OMTL" book, then get in small groups for six weeks to discuss the weekend messages and book chapters - developing community together. It promises to be a deep, effective time of relationship buildling and spiritual growing.

That said, ONE MONTH TO LIVE gives you some pause about 'what if?' If I only had one month, what things would I want to do before I died.

And while that is a somewhat morose thought, I've turned it into something a bit lighter here. I have developed my own BUCKET LIST - 100 things I want to before I die. I already had something of an unofficial list, but I made it OFFICIAL - getting them down on paper. I've accomplished several of them, but a good 70% are still unrealized.

I'm not going to share ALL of them with you - only about 25 - but maybe they'll get you going / thinking. An asterisk (*) means it's something I've managed to get done already. Maybe you'll develop your own and share some of them back.

Attend an Olympics

Visit the Greek Isles - Great Wall of China - *Eiffel Tower - *Italy - Pyramids - *Himalayas - Holy Land - (several from my list combined here)


Learn to speak a foreign language

*See the launch of the space shuttle

Bench press 225 pounds

*Ride a subway

Write a book

Ride a camel

Learn to play the guitar

*Shake the President’s hand

Learn to ballroom dance

*Sit on a jury

Go on an African safari

See my three daughters married to Christian men (2/3rds of the way there)

Ride in a hot air balloon

Experience weightlessness

Learn to juggle

*Drive the Autobahn

Scuba dive off Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Invent something

Catch a ball in the stands of a major league baseball stadium

*Bungee Jump


And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I love the internet. It is fantastic. The person who invented it - Al Gore or whoever - was a genius. Actually, it was invented by American computer scientist, Vinton Cerf. Which, if you have a name like Vinton Cerf, you'd better create something ultra-cool like the internet in order to make up for a really weird name.

It was developed in 1973 as part of a project sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. It began as a computer network that linked computer networks at several universities and research laboratories in the United States. The World Wide Web was developed in 1989 by English computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. After ten years of hard work, the official INTERNET rolled out in 1983.

Know where I learned all that cool information? On the INTERNET!

What a tool it is for us to use in 2008. Amazing. We should use it as much as we can to spread the gospel - and I mean RIGHT NOW - TODAY - without delay - in as many ways as we can think of.

Here's some more trivia that fits in here. In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau released a study to show how many years it took before 60% of households used the various media technologies. Here are the results:

Telephone - 30 years
Radio - 10 years
Television - 5 years
Cable TV - 27 years
VCRs - 10 years
Computers - 15 years
Internet - 2 years

It's just sitting there waiting for us to take advantage of it for the cause of Christ. Visit our new website at

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Two posts on the same day today - but this is related to the one I submitted a few minutes ago. Just kind of a funny deal.

This morning in church, I referred to a student in our congregation who instant messaged me on Facebook a few weeks ago and was pointing out to me what a shame it was that all of the "UN-YOUNG PEOPLE" (as he put it) were taking over Facebook. The nerve. We then proceeded to have a back-and-forth conversation about how OLD I was and how "UN-OLD" he was. It was actually a lot of fun sparring online.

Well, I mentioned that story this morning as part of the "ELOHIM - GOD IS OLD, BUT NOT REALLY" message. And today, when I got home - I had six "UN-OLD" students from our congregation who wanted to be my friend on FACEBOOK.

I love the millenial generation - they are very cool. So to all my new 'un-old' Facebook friends -- welcome to my world.

And be blessed.


Today the focus in church was on ELOHIM. It comes from Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning GOD ... " The "GOD" there in the Hebrew is: ELOHIM ... ALMIGHTY GOD. Here's the real brief recap, if you missed it:

Today in our culture, we focus on OLD a whole lot. Old is relative, of course, but we in the U.S. are over-focused on AGE – and unlike OTHER cultures around the world who honor, respect and embrace ‘old’ … here we tend to disrespect, ignore and even fear old. We do everything we can to avoid it. And sometimes I think – when we talk about GOD – Jehovah-Shammah, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Shalom, Jehovah-Rapha, Jehovah-Nissi, Adonai … we can start thinking these are really just descriptive of some OLD GOD who doesn’t have very much at all to do with us today.

Remember George Burns’ portrayal of GOD in the 1977 movie, ‘Oh, God!?’ He plays an elderly, cigar-smoking, wise-cracking, far-sighted version of God. Whoever chose to cast George Burns in that part knew exactly what they were doing, playing into one of our most deeply rooted assumptions about God … that He is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY old.

Bryan Jarrett, Director of College Ministries at a church down South says: 'In some respects, it’s hard to imagine God any other way. To US, everything has to have a START and a FINISH. We don’t know what ETERNAL looks like, so we fill in the blanks with the closest thing we have: in other words – GREAT-GRANDPA. And if God was actually here BEFORE great-grandpa, then He must be VERY, VERY old indeed.'

The Bible uses terms for deity such as Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end. God is called ageless and unchanging. In the Old Testament, Daniel refers to Him as the “Ancient of Days.” All beautiful, accurate descriptions, but names nonetheless that evoke a sense of ‘old.’ It’s not hard to figure out where all that LEADS. It leads to a God whom some could describe as past His prime, over the hill, outdated and unconnected to the world we live in.

And then there are our everyday struggles. As long as God is ‘sweet old Elohim,’ our struggles are something He just doesn’t understand. Since He is OLD, God obviously cannot comprehend the complexities of the internet, so He couldn’t possibly get the struggles so many face with internet pornography. His views on sexuality are hopelessly old-fashioned, so it’s impossible for Him to understand the level of addiction some face – or same-sex marriages – don’t even START there – God can’t possibly get THAT. God can’t comprehend the things you see when you look in the mirror and there’s no WAY He’s going to be able to deal with the things you do to your body to make yourself more acceptable – and the things you do late at night when everyone else is asleep, don’t mention those. All of THAT is just a little too much for Old Elohim to deal with.

But here’s who Elohim really is – He is BIGGER than us; He is BEYOND us; He is ABOVE us. Long before anything existed, there was GOD. That means even before there was TIME, there was God. There was never ‘NOT God.’ He is not restricted by time or space – and He is just as involved and interested in YOUR life today as He was in the lives of Moses or David or Job or Mary or Paul or Peter – or your great-great-grandfather. He is ELOHIM, our Creator - Almighty God.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun … it rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6)

And sometimes I think we just forget that. We go through life – and when there’s a storm, we forget how big, how powerful, how mighty, how awesome the God of Creation really is. NOTHING takes Him by surprise – He made it ALL.

But the TRUTH is – ever since the beginning of time, people have been trying to shrink God down to size to make Him smaller than He really is. We try to condense Him to a little statue on our fireplace mantel – or some kind of picture or room or stained glass or symbol. We make Him so MANAGEABLE. Sometimes we try to put God in a little box or in a building … and we say, ‘THAT’S where God LIVES’ – or – ‘THAT’S where God is ACTIVE’ – and we SHRINK HIM DOWN. But we don’t NEED a God who is all neat and confined and boxed up. We have no use for a SMALL God. Not for what WE’VE got. No – we need a great big HUGE God.

And THAT is exactly who we have.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


CAUTION: THIS BLOG IS RATED PG-13 - for those with delicate constitutions.

I am loving the Olympics this year. I wish I had more time to watch them, but I'm getting in as much time as I can. Michael Phelps is an amazing amphibian and I hope he manages to break Mark Spitz's record, even though there is a part of me that hopes he doesn't do it, as someone who remembers watching Mark Spitz win those medals in the 1970's -- but I think deep down, I am rooting for Phelps. Records are made to be broken.

It was awesome to see the American female gymnasts capture gold and silver in the all-around competition, especially since it's rarer for our U.S. athletes in that sport to do so well individually, what with the Eastern European and Asian athletes coming on so strong.

I'm looking forward to the track & field competitions coming up - always a highlight for me.

That said, the remainder of this blog - and the real reason I'm going this direction today - comes from the inspiration of an e-mail loaded with pictures that my wife, Joelene, sent to me. It's still loosely related to the Olympics, but I wanted to butter you up real good and get you comfortable first.

I'm a relatively adventuresome guy when it comes to food. I've tried a ton of different things that a majority of people would go "Ewww!" to. I had monkey-gland steak in Africa (yep - tastes like chicken!). I ate escargot (i.e., snails) with my wife sitting across the table from me. She refused to look at me or speak to me until I had fully digested all of them. Squid, eel, octopus, alligator, crocodile, grasshoppers, frog legs, pig snouts, you name it. I've often wondered if I'd be a decent candidate for Fear Factor or Survivor, because I'm not afraid to eat that stuff. I even tried the vomit and booger- flavored jellybeans at The Jelly Belly Factory (not joking - they're for real - and taste very much like what their namesakes say, not that I've actually tried either of the real things).

So now today, my wife sends me these pics she found of what they're offering people as fare of the day over in Beijing at the Olympics. When in Rome, right?

Truth is, we Americans are far more sheltered - we'd say civilized - than the rest of the world when it comes to food-tasting. Americans don't like to know they're eating animals.

One article I read said that in Spain there used to be a food chain called Museo de Jamón (which translates to "Museum of Ham"). Hanging from the ceiling at each franchise was a display of pig hooves. Some Spanish restaruants had a special stand for pig legs ... and when you ordered ham, the bartender would grab a giant cleaver and hack at the leg for a while and then put the little hacked-off bits on the plate. Spaniards are comfortable with the cycle of life. They understand that ham was once a pig.

In contrast, many Americans love meat, but don't want to think about how meat became meat. American restaurants rarely serve anything with the head on it, for example. A head implies that your dinner was once frolicking in a field, or swimming innocently through the sea, or trapped in a little pen being force-fed milk products for most of its young life.

We also tend to feel that living creatures are not to be eaten - that is, things that are still MOVING. Potential food that is actually still moving implies our meal would much prefer, if it had a vote, to be somewhere else. Oysters are still alive when we eat them and we eat them by the dozen - but they kindly avoid wriggling somehow and this makes all the difference.

If you're ever in Korea (I hear) ... try the sannakji. It fights back. Chefs slice off a tentacle of a small live octopus and bring it to your table. The tentacle goes down squirming, which is considered the highlight of the experience — along with the slight vacuum action of its suction cups. You be the judge.

We also think internal organs are disgusting. We would quite happily chew on calves, thighs, backs, ribs, and flanks of most things with four legs. But brains, tongue, feet, stomach, intestines, and other internal organs are all suspect. If you want to break out of this rut, try some haggis. It's a Scottish delicacy made of sheep's stomach stuffed with innards, grains, and spices. It isn't much different from your average sausage, but the fact that it's a stomach makes it nice and creepy.

Or insects. Even though people on every continent eat them. Ants - cicadas - cockroaches - scorpions - worms - etc. And the fact is, insect flesh is almost as nourishing and 'good for you' as red meat or poultry. I've had a worm. It didn't really taste like anything. The texture was sort of like shrimp with the casing on: crunch, then squish.

All of that said ... our palettes are really underdeveloped here in the States and something tells me we might realize what we're missing if we would just expand our culinary horizons a little.

So here's a sampling or what they're 'enjoying' over in China right now just outside Olympic Village ... below starting in the upper left and going clockwise, you'll be looking at Goat Lungs with Red Peppers -- assorted Scorpions and Beetles -- Dog Liver with Vegetables -- Silkworms, Black Scorpions, Dung Beetles and Cicadas.

OK. Who's hungry now?

You can't say these blogs are predictable, right?

And be blessed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

SEEK - PT. 2

Writer Dave Fleming talks about pursuing things that are SURE. In other words ... 'much of what we experience has been built on apparent certainity. WE ... WANT ... TO ... KNOW! We want a SURE THING. We feel finding that is a divine right.'

Imagine a surgeon, just prior to giving the patient anesthesia, picking up a drill and announcing: "Does anybody know how to work this thing?"

Imagine a pilot, prior to takeoff, alerting the passengers that one of the engines has malfunctioned. "But hey - we still have ONE that works."

Imagine a presidential hopeful acknowledging the tremendous gravity surrounding our nation's problems and then squeaking out: "I'm not sure what to do, but over the next four years, I'll give it the ol' college try."

WE ... WANT ... TO ... KNOW! But when we approach the SPIRITUAL JOURNEY with the same solution-driven desire that marks the rest of our lives, it inhibits our ability to make that journey successfully. Many have turned spirituality into a sure thing - no questions - no doubts - no struggles - like a game show where all the answers are given ahead of time.

This does not resonate with the pathway of Christ. The narratives about Jesus portray Him as one who upset the confident and ignited this child-like wonder in those who could appreciate NOT KNOWING. It is ADVENTURE and TRANSFORMATION above ASSURANCE.

That does not mean, as we seek Him, there is not a confidence and assurance in Christ -- far from it. The Bible is clear about us having both. But it is not so much a confidence in CONCEPTS that we're told to believe --- but about a JOURNEY we walk and the One who is present to the journey.

THIS kind of walk actually INVITES us to be seekers ... to cultivate a heart that SEEKS ... CREATED to seek. Didn't Jesus say, "Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness ... ?"

It's not about getting answers ... it's not about activity ... it's not about performance ... it's about meaning ... it's about purpose ... it's about community ... it's about loving ... it's about JESUS.

Aren't we SUPPOSED to seek Him? Jeremiah said it: 'And you will seek Me and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart - and I will be found of you.'

Then why all the discord about SEEKERS? I AM ONE. You're not? WHY not?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Within the church world, much attention - good and bad - has been given to the words 'seek' and 'seeker' during the past 20 years. The truth is, we are ALL seekers. Aren't we?

In years past, when my children were small, I would walk thru my house and occasionally stuff a bag known theoretically as the give-away bag. This was reserved for objects that laid on the floor too long - never played with - never thought about or talked about - never picked up and put away - no longer sought after. If the object was stepped on with no regret, it went in the give-away bag.

You do wonder about the items in the give-away bag. Will they find a new home? Should we sell them on eBay? On occasion, second thoughts crept in. "Wow! I didn't realize I still had this thing. Maybe I should try to resuscitate it."

And then - sometimes we reached into another's give-away bag and an item that was dead to someone else became alive to us. Someone in the family really wanted that thing. Often, it was a toy.

Daughter: "But Dad, we really need this ... oh, please Dad, we won't ask for anything else the rest of the year."

Dad: "What about all the other toys you had to have? You never play with any of THEM anymore."

Daughter: "This time it will be different."

And for a few days or weeks - maybe even months - the object holds up its end of the deal. Things ARE different. However, in time - migration occurs - toward the give-away bag.

It is inevitable. And as I shake my head in disappointment that my daughters have let the must-have item die, I notice - just to my right - a deceased item that belongs ... to me.

Like my daughters, I am on the hunt for things that do not satisfy. What about you?

In an attempt to quench desire, we buy what we don't need, schmooze people we don't like, create personas we hope will make us more powerful or more beautiful. Yet many of these things end up in the graveyard. What's going on here? What are we looking for?

We are, by nature, SEEKERS. We seek for what we do not possess. ALL of us do. WHAT we seek may distinguish us from one another. THAT we seek reveals we are part of the same human family. And that need to SEEK is an intentional part of our design, placed there by God.

So - tomorrow ----- we'll follow this up with something related. But for now -- what have you sought after lately that ended up in the give-away bag? Just curious. The comment page is now open.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 11, 2008


One of the coolest things I've seen of late is this "HOUSE OF CARDS" 3-D interactive video by RADIOHEAD. That's them on the left. This video is one of the first of its kind.

DIRECTIONS: Click the PLAY button on the video and then be patient - it takes a minute to fully load. Once the music starts, click and drag on the screen and the face moves around. You can also click other icons at the bottom left of the screen to get other images to drag around. Don't wait for the song to stop playing - it loops forever. But it's very cool.

Just great fun - and something it would be so cool for the church to be so creative with. Enjoy.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


In our family growing up, I remember what we used to do every weekend. First, Saturday night was prep time. Get your bath -- relax -- have a chocolate milk shake -- watch a little wholesome TV with the fam -- get to bed early. Then came Sunday. Go to church -- worship God -- come home -- eat lunch -- take a long nap -- get up and go to church again.

In the early years of my own family, we employed a similar model, more or less. Go to church -- eat lunch -- come home -- take a long nap -- get up and go to church again, if there was p.m. church.

Today -- it seems very different. Go to church -- have meetings -- get lunch on your own -- get home -- go to another meeting -- errands or yard work -- no nap -- do a little work till the evening -- finally key down around 8 or 9 p.m. Now I would say not every Sabbath is such a poor example as this, but you could pick any one of a hundred and it would be a moon-cast shadow of what the Sabbath is supposed to be. It is God AND ourselves we are shorting.

And maybe that's not the way the Sabbath is for you at all. If it isn't, I bless and encourage you to keep it up. But I fear the death of the Sabbath is here.

"Blessed is the man who ... keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil." (Isaiah 56:2) The Sabbath is a blessing. Crafted especially for us. For six days a week, we have the opportunity to walk and talk and work with Jesus, but on the Sabbath, the day He set apart, He meets with us just to be with us, to refresh us, to celebrate with us. The thousands of things that haunt us, the multiple forms of media that clamor for our attention, the need to do, to find, and to see is stilled for twenty-four hours as the God of the universe stoops low to meet with us.

Inherent in the Sabbath is happiness, well-being, and prosperity. "'If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please ... then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 58:13, 14). So the Sabbath is a blessing.

So tonight - Saturday night - pre-Sabbath - I am going to spend in relative quiet -- alone (my family is out of town) -- reading my Bible -- thinking -- in a semi-dark and cool house -- maybe play a little piano -- and physically, emotionally and spiritually prep for tomorrow's day of worship and the Sabbath.

And my question to us ALL is: Since the Sabbath is the JEWEL OF THE WEEK, why aren't we regularly celebrating it?

I trust you have a peaceful Sabbath tomorrow.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Well -- this is so completely random - TIMES TWO. First of all, this is my 100th blog since I started last year. I guess that's a milestone. I should write more about it here, but I have some other random thing more heavily on my mind today. I think the reason I have the other random thing in my head is because of how beautiful a day it was today.

See ... our middle daughter is getting married outdoors 5 weeks from today. It's really coming close now. I'm happy for her. She's going to make a beautiful bride and her fiance is an awesome man. We're excited to have him in our family. We ONLY PRAY it doesn't rain that day. We have a location back-up, though we don't want to resort to using it.

And I think the great weather today is why I started thinking about the whole thing - hoping for a day like today for their big day. I was thinking about the actual wedding - not marriage so much. In fact, I cannot remember a summer where there have been as many weddings as this one. I have personally officiated (or WILL officiate) at a half-dozen - and many more have taken place in our church this summer. There is even one going on this weekend that I'm not going to make it to, sadly. Of course, I'm not officiating at that one. :)

That said, I wonder if you knew some of these things about weddings -- according to the U.S. Census Bureau ...

• 2.3 million couples wed every year in the U.S. That breaks down to nearly 6,200 weddings a day

• the average age of a bride in the U.S. is 25.3 (my daughter will be 22.5 years old when she marries in September - the groom will be 24.5)

• average age of a groom is 26.9 (her fiance, Darren, will be >>>>>>)

• average number of guests invited to a wedding is 178 (we're having about 200)

• one-third of those getting married each year have been married before (nope)

• $72 billion per year is spent on weddings (uh ... no)

• the average wedding budget is $20,000 (What? Don't tell my daughter!)

• $1,016 is the average cost of wedding rings for the bride and groom

• traditionally, the father of the bride would pay for everything. Today, however, the bride and groom themselves pay for the wedding about 30 percent of the time; the bride's parents pay about 17 percent of the time. The rest of the time, costs are covered by different sources.

• $19 billion per year is spent on wedding gift registries

• $8 billion per year is spent on honeymoons - 40% of couples travel within the United States - 60% go overseas - the most popular destinations are: Las Vegas, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Jamaica - honeymoons last 7-9 days (our kids are headed to Hawaii for a week on theirs - at a cost somewhere under $8 billion)

• the average honeymoon budget is $3,657

• most wedding guests spend between $70 and $100 on a gift

• June is the most popular month for weddings, then August, followed by September and October. January is the least popular month.

• 80 percent of weddings are performed in churches or synagogues (our daughter's is in our yard)

• the top wedding city in the world is Istanbul, Turkey with 166,000 for the year - Las Vegas, Nevada is in second place with 114,000 weddings

Just random, and I guess we have to do some of the traditions and trappings that people expect just to fit in. And we're happy to do it. But in the end, when the candles have burned down - and the cake has been eaten - when the guests have driven away - and the couple has flown - I'm praying the wedding day translates into a satisfied, contented, Christ-filled life for them both. Happily ever after. It will have been worth it then. I'm thankful for the son-in-law that Joelene and I have already - and now a second one coming - who love their women and who love God. And for some reason, I was just thinking about all that today.

Will you pray for sun on September 12th?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I'm not close to retirement age yet. Some days it feels like it, but not really. Frankly, I'm not looking forward to it all that much. Some people seem like they're just so READY to retire and relax and do whatever they want, but not me. I'm enjoying life and doing what God has called me to do - bumps and all.

I think heaven is my retirement. Seriously. If I didn't have a heaven to look forward to, I guess I'd feel differently. I'd be more compelled and driven to stockpile for my future here on earth.

I believe in eternal rewards, though. ETERNAL rewards. I don't plan on 'retiring' when I hit my 70's or 80's - sorry if you were hoping for that (or earlier). That's not the future I'm living for.

All of that helps me make my daily decisions. Where is my future? HERE? Naw. It's THERE. So my decisions shift based on where my future is. I just keep trying to remember that.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Today was a day of ups and downs.

I woke feeling rested today - UP.

The day started really overcast - DOWN.

I got a gift when I got to the office - UP.

I wanted to ride my motorcycle to work today, but thought it might rain, so I drove my car instead - DOWN.

I came home for lunch and since the weather had cleared, I rode my motorcycle back to work for the rest of the day - UP.

I had to have some difficult conversations today - DOWN.

We had a great evening with our family just watching some television in our upstairs family room with Popeye's chicken for dinner, which we haven't all done in ages - UP.

Today was a day I didn't deserve, up or down.

Today was a day about God, plain and simple. He was all over it, up or down. I have often tried to put God in my debt for one thing or another - and if I ever succeed in getting God to owe me something, I would be able to make great boast. And when I got the thing God owed me, I would then be able to say, "I deserve this."

But I DON'T deserve it - whatever IT is - UP or DOWN. I am just grateful I am given another day in which to glorify God and that I am declared righteous by faith alone, even while I am still ungodly. And that is the only way any of us can have hope that God is on our side. He is FOR us - up or down.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Are you a 'cellphone junkie?' Would you be afraid to admit you MIGHT be -- or would you be more embarrassed to say you're NOT one?

What prompts me to write this particular blog is some recent conversations with my 17-year old daughter who wears her cellphone like a 6-shooter. She whips it out like Jesse James whenever it beeps, rings, blings, buzzes, tweets or sings. She texts at about 90 words a minute - all day long.

I know it's a 21st century phenomenon that might be replaced by something that would make it obsolete within the next ten years --- and it's something I'm trying not to overreact to as a dad. Every generation has had its vice - and I'm not sure - haven't decided yet - whether this one is actually a vice or not. Feels like it is sometimes.

Even so, it prompts me to ask the following ten questions of us all - to determine whether or not we are 'cellphone junkies.' And then, having determined it, what to DO about it, if anything. So, here goes:

- Do you have more than 500 numbers in your cellphone directory?

- Do you most often answer your cellphone before the 2nd ring?

- Do you text more than 100 times a day, on average?

- Do you use your cellphone until it hurts? (Many people are now being treated for hand and wrist injuries from over-use of their cellphones)

- Have you picked up your cellphone THINKING you heard it ringing only to realize it wasn’t?
- Do you talk on your cellphone while driving?

- Do you use your cellphone anywhere, anytime ... at restaurants ... during conversations with people ... etc.?

- Do you leave your cellphone on while you sleep and keep it within arm's reach while you're in bed?

- Do you subconsciously hold your breath while you’re texting? (manic junkie symptom)

- Do you use your cellphone to perform at least ten of the functions below? (notepad - appointments - calendar - journal - map/GPS - internet - email - compass - twittering - alarm clock - instant messages - book download - camera - ipod - walkie-talkie - can opener - divining rod - magnet - thermometer - electric shaver - car jack)

If you answered at least five of these questions with a 'yes,' you may seriously be in danger of officially being a 'cellphone junkie.' So ... ARE you?

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Thanks for voting in the Immigrant / Native poll that was based on the blogs between July 23 and 27. The results are as follows:

I believe I am a 'native' - 54%
I believe I am an 'immigrant' - 46%

Very interesting, don't you think? Nearly half-and-half among those who chose to vote. What does that mean? Is it any wonder there is a tug-of-war, albeit a fairly civil one, in our day and age and culture - including in our church landscape?

One thing is certain - whether immigrant or native, church-as-usual is over. We can no longer stumble along and trust that SOMEHOW by the Spirit of God we will enter the Promised Land of excitement and meaning and spiritual growth.

The Bible couldn't be clearer in saying that it is GOD who provides the growth - but it is also abundantly clear that He uses PEOPLE to plant the fields, sow the seeds and water them.

One author says 'most of our churches went to sleep decades ago. Even though they appear to be awake, they're oblivious to changes that have taken place in the culture that affect the church.'

But churches are waking up - and that is very good news. The tendency, of course, is to want to return to the way things were before. If we open our eyes like Rip Van Winkle, who woke after 20 years of sleeping under a tree, then return to our village, we're faced with our own shocking reality. Nothing has remained the same. Like 'Rip,' we're tempted to throw all our energies into making time go backward; but it is impossible.

And THAT is the tension we face today - immigrant or native?

I love Henry Blackaby. I've heard him speak in person on more than one occasion and he is fascinating to listen to, as well as read. He encourages us to ask the all-important question: "Where are YOU going, God?" And then WE go wherever HE is going instead of inviting Him to go along with OUR plans. Doesn't that make so much sense?

I think so too.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Please be encouraged to vote in the poll at left - referring to late July blogs.

I am borrowing a Harley Davidson Ultra motorcycle starting today for a whole week. So I'm in 7th heaven. You might see me riding all over Kenosha this next week - because unless it's downpouring or snowing, I'll be on the bike.

So if you see me, Honk Twice - but don't scare me and knock me off.

And be blessed.