Saturday, January 31, 2009


Today was a day of contradictions. I found myself thinking about peace and how much we need it just to function in life with a sense of health.

I started by visiting someone at the E.R. He's had some fairly mysterious things happening in his body of late and the docs aren't sure what is going on there. We talked about how different it must be not to know Christ in this life and how others get on - or not - without the peace that comes at moments like these from knowing Him.

As soon as I drove away and stopped at the corner red light, a young man pulled up next to me in a little red Beetle. His driver's side window was open slightly and he was flicking the ends of his cigarette butt outside. I watched him for a minute at least and noticed he was extremely jittery. He had a cell phone in the other hand and was looking one way and then the other, left to right, almost as if he expected someone to jump from the street into his car any second. He seemed very agitated by the phone conversation he was having. His head kept flicking from side to side and I wondered if he was 'on' something. The entire time sitting at the stoplight he did this, extremely nervous.

I picked up my own cell phone and placed a call to a friend who is near death. Her family talked with me. They told me they knew God was in control no matter what happened. I could sense a rest and comfort coming right thru the phone. I hoped they were gathering the same from my end thru their phone.

I went to the do-it-yourself car wash. Very busy today. Long lines waiting. Everybody cleaning their cars what with the warmer weather. The guy two cars in front of me whose turn it was to wash his car was having problems. He was giving some wild gestures to his car or someone inside. I had my window rolled up so I couldn't hear him, but he was reading the riot act to whatever or whoever as well. He turned around and gave the money receptacle a good swift kick. It worked just fine when I finally got my turn in the wash, no thanks to him.

On my way out of the car wash, I placed another phone call ... this one to a lady on the edge of life if she doesn't receive some help for her liver and a bone marrow replacement. She told me how confident she was that God was able to not only see her but help her. There was no doubt in my heart that she meant what she said.

Five people. Two different responses to life. One full of peace; one oozing frustration. Even in the most dire circumstances of life, the one filled with God receives the coveted gift of knowing rest. May it be yours.

And be blessed.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Remember the hard-core days of slavery? Well, you probably don't; neither do I. But that was a time where the country was seriously divided into two opposite camps. We have that today in the church.

Now ... I love the church. That may be an exaggeration of the obvious, since I've given my life to it. But I mean it. I believe the church is the hope of the world. By 'the church,' I mean YOU and ME ... the PEOPLE. Not the BUILDING. Still, the church has some thinking to do lest it tear itself apart all the while it is trying to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.

One one far side is the group that dives right in and conforms to whatever the culture is doing at the moment. They flaunt their freedom and enjoy everything God has created - and I mean EVERYTHING. They belong TO the world.

On the other far side is the group that wants to stay as far as possible from people and culture and society in order to remain 'unstained.' They insist that doing those things grants some form of holiness. They live OUTSIDE the world.

Kary Oberbrunner illustrates it just right for me. Imagine these people in the Garden of Eden. God says: "Here's the beautiful place I've created for you. Enjoy it. Skip thru it. Have fun. I've made you immortal and the only thing you have to do to stay that way is make sure not to eat from this Tree right here, OK?"

Now ... put these two groups of people I mentioned earlier IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN.

If you're in that first group, you ignore God's voice and head straight for the Tree. Not with the express intention of eating the forbidden fruit; just to be near it so you can identify with it - become more familiar with it - study it so as to better understand how it could potentially kill you. Maybe you'd get as close to the Tree as possible without actually eating from it - rub up against it - take your knife and carve your initials in it - do anything and everything imaginable with the Tree EXCEPT eat from it.

Not good. But if you're in the second group, what you do is start adding to God's original instructions. "He told me not to eat of the fruit of this Tree. But then I probably shouldn't touch it either; that's only common sense. And if I shouldn't touch it, maybe I'd better build a fence around it - a really tall fence so I can't even see it. God will approve. Eventually, God will endorse and adopt my plans as His own. In fact, that Tree is so bad that I'll impose these rules on my wife and my friends and anyone else around me -- for their own protection and good, of course. And if any of them disagree with me or denounce what I'm planning, I'll condemn them as less spiritual than I."

Not good. The problem is: we don't have just ONE alluring Tree today; we have millions. And we have at least as many choices in response.

We can say: "Everything is created by God and is good for our enjoyment if it is received with gratitude." It's too much work to figure out what is good and what is bad. It takes too many brain cells, so let's just consume everything in our path. As a result, the world doesn't notice anything positive or spiritual because it's hidden beneath carnal choices.

We can say: "So much fruit is dangerous and deadly; therefore, let's stay away from all of it at all costs." The risk of choosing something terribly wrong stops us from choosing anything at all. So we boycott culture rather than discern culture. And we form a Christian sub-culture that is of our own making rather than God's making; opposed to everything for no good reason.

The only way out is to simply follow Jesus, not our man-made forms of Him. What do you think?
And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The DIY craze has completely taken over America. Got a problem with your pipes freezing? (I did recently). DIY. Want to install a fountain in your garden? DIY. Figure out how to put in a new water pump on your car? DIY. Cut your hair so you look like Jennifer Aniston? DIY. Heating and ventilating ... personal finance ... decorating ... going green ... learning Spanish? All DIY --- Do-It-Yourself.

Thanks primarily to the internet, here's the newest trend in the whole DIY phenomenon ... DIY Doctors. What do you do when you have a cough that won't go away? What do you do when you find an odd lump in a place where you shouldn't be lumpy? DIY diagnosis.

It is the biggest trend in American health care right now ... researching your own symptoms ... diagnosing your own illnesses ... administering your own cures. Americans are flocking to complementary and alternative medicines like acupuncturists, chiropractic and massage therapies in record numbers.

There are some obvious REASONS for this: Co-pays and charges for doctor's office visits more than doubled in the past two years ... a generation raised on the internet has grown increasingly distrustful of the 'establishment,' including doctors.

I guess there is ONE good thing about all this. I can't sue myself if I diagnose incorrectly, can I?

Here's the question: If I consult the 'how-to' book when I need to know how to cut a mitre joint ... if i consult the internet to figure out how to make my dog obey ... then why don't I check out the Bible when I worry too much or find myself in a financial straightjacket or can't stop gossiping or am having problems coveting something my neighbor owns.

God has left us the greatest Do-It-Yourself Handbook known to man, except that you never really have to worry about 'doing it' on your own. He promises help. So ... time to dust it off and find out 'how-to' live.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Our older two children live in Minneapolis with their husbands. If you're a parent like us, you would like to go back and re-do some of the kids' upbringing. I'm thankful for our kids and how they 'turned out,' but some days, it was in spite of us, not because of us.

I was reading an article today and I so closely identified with it. It said, "The truth is ... ministry can be very hard on pastors' children." Very true. You needn't feel sorry for us because of that, but it' is so.

Your kids will hear you criticized.
Your kids will watch you hurt.
Your kids may see you wrongly strike back.
Your kids may see and hear your hypocrisy up close.
Your kids may reject the church because you’re there way too much.
Your kids may enjoy the extra attention when they are young and despise it when they mature.

And so, it is with great thanksgiving that I watch them thrive spiritually and be reasonably balanced from the 'in a fishbowl' upbringing they had to endure. In fact, both of them and their husbands are involved in ministry in churches.

Strange? I don't know.
Ironic? Possibly.
Blessed? Most definitely.

YOU be blessed, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I believe in resolutions. I know some people don't care for them. And now, with January already coming close to an end, maybe it's the time to consider them -- long after many have already discarded their New Year's ones.

So in an addendum to my January 2, 2009 blog, here are some promises with a purpose worth considering:

1 Every week I will commit to doing something I don't want to do. (It's just a good discipline and stretching exercise.)

2 I will invest my life in something that will outlive me.

3 I will ask less often, "What's in it for me?" and ask more often, "What's in me for it?"

4 I will remember that the best things in life aren't things.

5 I will enjoy the little things.

6 I will commit myself to be the person God wants me to be.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


It was great to see over 100 men show up tonight for the LETTERS FROM DAD kick-off. We'll be meeting once a month for the next four months to learn how to better bless our spouses, our children and our parents.

It's going to be exciting to see what God will do in the lives of an army of men who want to be better husbands and fathers.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Olivia, our youngest, took her SAT today at Waukegan High School. I know she was real nervous, but I'm sure she did just fine.

The whole thing made me think about how thankful I am to have such a great ministry as Christian Life School as part of our church and what an amazing impact it has. We have committed and passionate school leaders in Susan Nelson (administrator), Troy Tennyson (upper school principal), Christie Gould (elementary principal) and Stephanie Tennyson (daycare director). I want to thank them for what they do. They love students and are committed to their Luke 2:52 growth - spiritually, physically, academically and socially. Joelene is working there now as a Junior High guidance counselor and Worldviews teacher.

I didn't have the privilege of attending a Christian school. I went to public school, as many of you did. Sure, we all turned out just fine (thanks!), but I'm still glad we offer what we do with CLS.

Olivia was home-schooled for several years before she started middle school at CLS and is graduating this coming May from there. All three of our daughters will have graduated from the same school. I know a lot of people who home-school, as we did for awhile, and most are avid proponents of it. They have a point, I'm sure.

In fact, did you know that all of these awesome people were home-schooled?
1. Author Agatha Christie.

2. Author Pearl Buck. Her family moved to China when she was just three months old. She was homeschooled by a Confucian scholar and learned English as a second language from her mom.

3. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell. He was homeschooled by his mother until he was about 10. It was at this point that she started to go deaf and didn’t feel she could properly educate him any more. Her deafness inspired Bell to study acoustics and sound later in life.

4. Inventor Thomas Edison. He left public school after only three months because his mind wouldn’t stop wandering. Today, he would most likely be an easy ADHD diagnosis.

5. Poet Robert Frost.
6. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. He didn’t learn to read until he was 12.

7. Mozart.

8. Author Laura Ingalls Wilder. She started teaching school herself when she was only 15.
You might say, "Wow! You just made a pretty great case for HOME-SCHOOLING, didn't you?" Well, maybe - but there were only EIGHT people there, so ....
I'll still throw my hat in the Christian school ring today. I'm not against public school or homeschooling - not at all - I just know we have one of the best Christian schools in the country right here.

Congratulations to all the teachers, workers and volunteers who are part of CLS ministry.

And be blessed.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I did two kinds of blending today.

ONE: I put some ingredients in a blender and made myself a smoothie. I'm big on that. I love smoothies and I've been making them for health reasons and just sheer pleasure for many years now. I'm kind of back in the swing of it full force after slacking off for awhile.

There are a THOUSAND combinations of fruit smoothies you can make. I've created dozens of them on my own without consulting a book. Here's the one I made today ...

3/4 cup of orange juice
1 cup crushed ice
1 frozen banana (peeled)
2 oranges (peeled)
2 small scoops of low fat vanilla ice cream
1 single-portion container of lemon yogurt
Some protein powder
BLEND THE SNOT OUT OF IT -- and you have two nice, tall glasses of scrummy fruit smoothie.

TWO: The other case of 'blending' happened at the grocery store. I was walking in (to buy fruit for my SMOOTHIE), when I approached a woman who looked very familiar, but I wasn't sure. Happens to me all the time. She lit up once I got close enough for her to see the whites of my eyes and she said, "Pastor Kevin ... you blend right in with everyone else" (i.e. - just like a "NORMAL" person).

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to make of that or what to do with it. I just smiled and said, "Why, thank you - so nice of you to say."

But INSIDE, I was thinking -- WHAT?!!! I'm not sure how I'm SUPPOSED to look. Truthfully, after I walked on, I was glad she had said it. That's exactly what I want to do - I want to blend in - at least with how I walk and dress and just 'do life.'

Where I DON'T want to blend in is how I show compassion and love for people - how I might stop to help someone in need - the words of grace and blessing I might give, even to a stranger - the smile toward someone in the grocery aisle - the values I ascribe to and how they are played out in my life daily.

Jesus said, "You are to be IN the world, though not OF the world, yet sent TO the world."

IN it -- that's the blending.
Not OF it -- that's the shaking.
Sent TO it -- that's the spreading.
It isn't difficult doing ONE of those. Accomplishing TWO at once is trickier. But trying to live out all THREE simultaneously - well - we sure do need God for that one.

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009




Right - handed = 73% of our respondents

Left - handed = 18%

Equally adept using either hand = 9%

** (In the United States, the percentage of right-handed people is about 90%.)


Less than 5 hours = 2% of our respondents

5 - 6 hours = 18%

6 - 7 hours = 32%

7 - 8 hours = 34%

8 - 9 hours = 9%

More than 9 hours = 2%

** (It depends on some factors, including age, but generally speaking, 7-8 hours is necessary for optimum health for most people. Only 45% of our respondents get more than 7 hours nightly. I'm not sure who the 2% are who get more than 9 hours every night or what they do for a living -- and I'm very concerned about the 2% at the other end who get less than 5 hours.)

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Feel free to vote in both polls at right - the first is based on the Jan. 16th blog - the 2nd is based on the Jan. 14th blog. Thanks.

Doing what honors God, rather than men, is the only yardstick of success. But to do that, we need Biblical worldviews. We need to be able to think the way Jesus thinks.

According to George Barna, a HUGE percentage of America's born-again adults do not possess either the foundation or the beliefs to qualify as having a Biblical worldview. A HUGE percentage. GUESS how huge.

A lacking Biblical worldview means they do not fully believe that:

* God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe.
* When Jesus was on earth, He lived a sinless life.
* Satan is not just a symbol of evil, but is a real entity.
* A person cannot earn his or her salvation by being good; that it is the free gift of God.
* Every person who believes in Christ has a personal responsibility to share his/her faith with others who believe differently.
* The Bible is totally accurate in all its teachings.

Those six statements are not, of course, a complete inventory of a person's belief system, but they come close to some irreducible minimums.

So - here's the answer to the above question. Ninety-one percent of all born-again adults do NOT have a Biblical worldview that would include even those six statements; 98% of all born-again teenage students do not believe all six of them.

If your heart did not just drop to the floor, then you don't understand the implications of those chilling facts. When people wonder why the American church is losing its influence in society today - which 7 out of 10 American adults currently contend - the reason is so very few really believe or think what Jesus believed or thought.

Here it is, said another way: The U.S. has about 225 million adults. About 175 million of them claim to be Christian. About 80 million are 'born-again' Christians. Roughly 7 million have a Biblical worldview. That is one out of every 30 adults in this nation.

God doesn't need a huge team to help Him 'make it up the hill,' but those figures do give new meaning to the Biblical description of believers as 'the remnant.'

The TRUTH is: JESUS applies to everything. Whether the issue is clothing, divorce, vocation, voting, media content, relationships or family issues -- it doesn't matter; He has something to say about all of it.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Join the voting at right - two polls - the first based on the Jan. 16th blog - the second based on the Jan. 14th blog. Thanks.

I believe the best possible chance for life transformation happens within community. When people in the first century accepted Christ, it was inconceivable that they would accept Him and not tie in with community – which was defined as ‘the church.’ No one lives in isolation. It’s not even scriptural. We need the body of Christ.

As time has gone by, some churches have gotten away from the New Testament model of bringing people together in such a way that you know what’s going on in my life and I know what’s going on in your life – where there is a natural sense of belonging and where individuals can authentically care for and care about one another because they’re doing life together.

There’s a temptation to believe there’s God – and there’s me – and we’re mostly on two different planes. I pray to God, but He usually ignores me. Every now and then He answers a prayer or two and shows up in some unique way – but then over THERE, I have my marriage and my friends and my business and my work – and hopefully, occasionally, God shows up over THERE – but there is this barrier between God and everything else in my life.

But not only does the Bible not teach that – the Bible teaches AGAINST that. Even though your relationship with God is PERSONAL, it was never intended to be PRIVATE.

More than FORTY times in the Bible the words ‘one another’ are written. That means there are more than forty commands from God you can't fulfill without authentic community.

Our greatest regrets at the end of our lives will be that we failed to have meaningful relationships with people who would really love us and give us a sense of value and belonging.

AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY … SMALL GROUP LIFE … is where its at. Get on board.

As a very special P.S. – TODAY is Joelene’s birthday – and her first day back from 11 days in Thailand – CONGRATULATIONS and WELCOME HOME!

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


There are two polls at right for your voting pleasure - the first is based on the Jan. 16 blog - and the second on the Jan. 14 blog. Please vote.
Much - or at least some - of life is about dealing. Dealing with frustrations - dealing with annoyances - dealing with interruptions - dealing with things that don't go your way. And not letting them overpower you. When I think about the number of days where I allow situations to completely debilitate me because something goes wrong ...

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I was going to blog about it last night, but I was too frustrated - so I ended up writing up about something so random as people who are left-handed.

Joelene is in Thailand till Sunday, so my plans for Friday during the day were to spend some time doing some Kevin-stuff - maybe hit the gym - run a few errands - have some lunch at my favorite restaurant - and then kick back a bit until the evening plans came. It didn't turn out that way.

About three weeks ago when it dipped below zero for a couple of days we had some pipes freeze upstairs in the bathroom. It's a new house and it just surprised me - and disturbed me. It shouldn't happen. The pipes that froze weren't even on an outside wall, so it was a big mystery to everyone, including the builder. I called the him but it was just a couple of days before Christmas and then we went out of town (I shut the water off to the house while we were gone). Once it warmed up that time, they un-froze on their own (just before we left out of town, actually), but obviously it needed to be looked into.

Then yesterday happened. Below zero temps again for two days straight. Sure enough, I went upstairs and the pipes had frozen again. The tub, the toilet and the two sinks in the bathroom - none of them were working. So I called the builder and he was gracious enough to come over right away - he's a very nice guy. And he was as concerned as I about the situation.

He went into the attic over the garage to see if he could access the problem. He discovered that wind blowing up thru our back porch had blown some insulation away from some of the pipes and they had frozen. He located the spot inside the house and cut a decent-sized hole in the interior wall of our home. He put a blow dryer in the hole to try to unfreeze the pipes - a temporary solution. He went back and forth from the garage attic space with the blow dryer to back inside the house. Eventually, the blow dryer blew out entirely.

At one point, when he was upstairs in the attic banging away to open up a spot up there to investigate the problem, I heard water running inside the house. I panicked because I thought a pipe HAD burst and was spewing out water, so I ran lickety-split to where I heard the strong dripping. Turns out, with him banging so hard in the attic, that a bottle of oil (yeah, OIL) that Joelene uses for decorative purposes way up on top of the kitchen cabinet had been knocked over from the banging. It had fallen over and the top had popped off at just the right angle, naturally, and oil (yeah, OIL) was pouring down the side of the cabinets onto the dishes and countertop and floor. Of course, to get to it, I had to step in it. It was splattering everywhere. So now I was tracking oil with my feet wherever I went, which of course I didn't notice at first.

I heard him coming back and I didn't want him to know that had happened - I didn't want him to feel badly. So I tried to act naturally (I'm so good at that) and the crazy thing is, he said to me, almost joking: "I didn't knock anything over with all that banging, did I?" "Ummm ... no," I answered. I just couldn't tell him. He would have felt terrible.

So while he was going in and out - from house to garage attic back-and-forth - I was trying to clean up the oil that had gotten all over everything while trying to look au naturel whenever he would come back in the house.

After four hours, he had done all he could for the time being. The two upstairs bathroom sinks and shower had resumed operation (although the toilet didn't unfreeze until today, now that temps are sneaking upwards). He promised to come back Monday and fix the problem for good as well as patch the hole in my house.

On his way out - (the garage door had been open the whole time he was here) - he noticed the sink in the garage. That sink had not frozen either time it dipped below zero before. But there was an icicle hanging from the spigot that hadn't been there four hours earlier when he first came. He reached over to 'flick' it off and the filter at the end of the spigot came off in his hand. Then he tried both faucets and they were frozen solid. Apparently keeping the double garage door open for four hours had frozen THAT sink.

So he left and I got a space heater and put it on the counter in front of the stainless steel fixture to try to unfreeze it. I came out sporadically to check it but it continued to stay 'stuck.' I decided to just let the heater 'go forever' and two hours later, I came out to try it. Remember I said the fixture is STAINLESS STEEL? Yeah, well I tested it to see if it had unfrozen yet. It had. And the stainless steel was as HOT as ... well ... it was REALLY hot. So I burned my hand.

It just wasn't my day and it underscored how important it is not to let situations and circumstances and stuff get up in my face. Everything has to stay in its proper priority. And there's no way that frozen pipes is anywhere near the top, even though they need to be taken care of. I'm not really even sure how to do the 'prioritization' thing, to tell you the truth. GOD IS NUMBER ONE. We hear that all the time. But I'm not sure that God IS number one - or that He should be. I mean, I'm not sure that's a very good way to say it. Maybe a better way to say it is: GOD IS AT THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING.

C.S. Lewis said: "Relying on God has to begin all over again every day -- as if nothing had yet been done."
I'm looking back at yesterday now to see how I could have better put Him at the center of that situation rather than let it get to me like it did. Sometimes I just think I stink at this whole Christian walk thing. But I'm sure I'll have plenty more opportunities to 'deal' in the near future.

And be blessed.

Friday, January 16, 2009


TWO POLLS at right for you to vote in this week. The first is based on THIS blog. The second is based on the January 14th blog. Thanks.

I was at a store today and the cashier was writing something on a piece of paper. His arm was at such an odd angle as he was writing, I honestly thought he might have some disability - but then I realized he was just LEFT-HANDED and he was writing in that contortionist way it seems many lefties do.

Only 7-10% of the country is left-handed. I've heard that left-handed people have a suspicion that they are 'less-than' in some way or another. I used to think it was all nonsense until some people started telling me about all the advantages righties have without even realizing it.

I do remember way back in Latin high school class that the word for 'left' was 'sinestra,' where we get our word 'sinister.' Similar translations are also found in Italian and Spanish. In many European langauges, "right" is not only a synonym for correctness, it also stands for authority and justice.

If you go WAY, WAY back - the "hand" was a symbol of power. The left hand symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misfortune and evil. This metaphor survived ancient culture and was integrated into mainstream Christianity. Being right-handed has also historically been thought of as being skillful: the Latin word for 'right' is 'dexter,' as in 'dexterity.' You've heard of someone having 'two left feet?' In other words, they're real clumsy. You get the idea.

A left-handed individual is sometimes referred to as a southpaw. The term comes from the game of baseball. Ballparks were originally designed so batters would face east. That way, the afternoon or evening sun wouldn't shine in their eyes. That meant left-handed pitchers would be throwing with their south-side arm.

Left-handed people are sometimes placed at a disadvantage by the prevalence of a right-handed society. Many tools and devices are designed to be comfortably used with the right hand. Scissors, for instance. They do make left-handed scissors, but for scissors to function in a truly left-handed manner, their blades must also be mirror-inverted, so the leftie doesn't have to make a blind cut because the blade obscures the paper from view - most aren't. The computer mouse is sometimes made to fit the right hand better. Even a lot of kitchen knives are designed for the rightie. Left-handed adaptations have bridged the world of music, too. Special guitars have to be made for left-handers. They cost more and they're tough to find. The vast majority of firearms are designed for right-handed shooters, with the operating handle, magazine release and safety mechanisms set up for manipulation by the right hand.

When we went to India, we were told it was rude to shake hands with your left hand, because in India, the left hand was more unclean than the right. This would be for sanitary-slash-excretory reasons and that's all I'm going to say about that.

In his book "Right-Hand, Left-Hand," Chris McManus argues that the proportion of left-handers is rising and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. He says that left-handers' brains are structured differently in a way that widens their range of abilities. In 2006, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that left-handed men are 15 percent richer than right-handed men, on average.

Four of our last six U.S. Presidents were left-handers, as were Henry Ford, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Michelangelo, Joan of Arc, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria and Ehud (the left-handed judge in Judges chapter 3). Oh yeah - and my grandmother is left-handed, too.

So, which are you? Rightie or Leftie? Vote in the top poll at right.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Read here, then participate in the poll at right.

One of the SMALL FORCES behind tomorrow's BIG CHANGES is what we call the '30 Winkers.'

Everybody knows you're supposed to get eight hours of sleep. Even as the nutrition experts go back and forth on how many carbs we're supposed to have, and the alcohol experts go back and forth on whether we should drink red wine every day (I don't) - the Sleep Experts have been singing the same song for 150 years. People need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

I don't suppose I have to tell you that we're failing at that. The average American now gets somewhere between 6.4 and 6.8 hours of sleep nightly. Thanks to 24-hour-a-day electronics and expectations, we're awake more than any Americans in recorded history. Unfortunately, because of the drivenness of society, our ability to 'manage' our lives on 5 hours of sleep has become a badge of honor for many. And the number of people who sleep LESS than 6 hours per night is quickly rising - 34 million are currently burning the midnight oil. Or midnight Internet solitaire.

As tired as Americans are, the rest of the world is faring no better. In a 2005 survey, 7 out of 10 night-owl nations were Asian nations. We didn't even make the top ten. 75% of Portuguese go to bed after midnight ... as do 69% of Taiwanese, 68% of Koreans, 66% of Hong Kongese, 65% of Spaniards, 60% of Japanese, 54% of Singaporeans and Malaysians, 43% of Thais and 39% of Italians. Of course, Portuguese and Spaniards integrate siestas into their daily routine.

It's a big concern - people who walk around tired - their lives continuously drained - not even a moment to spend with God or hear from Him - too worn out to spend time with family - trying to forever catch up on much-needed rest and never catching it.

How can we change the world if we're sleepwalking all day?

So this is a CALL - for what it's worth - to balance the rhythm of life -- hard work -- free time -- deep rest (rinse and repeat). Whaddaya say?

(By the way, Australians take the prize for MOST sleep per night - 31% of them get more than 9 hours nightly. Aren't you jealous? If you had the courage to admit it, you would be.)

Participate in the poll at right. Thanks.

And be bleszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I love Twinkies. Or I used to. Then I found out what's really in them. So now I don't eat them anymore ... unless I'm really hungry ... or really stupid.

Of the 39 ingredients in a Twinkie, there are a few recognizable ones: flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, water and a trace of egg. But they have an unnaturally long shelf-life of about a month, meaning the 'normal' ingredients like milk, cream or butter are replaced with incomprehensible and barely pronounceable industrial ingredients like cellulose gum (gives the creme filling that slippery feel), lecithin (they use it in paint to keep pigments evenly dispersed), Yellow #5 and Red #40 (which give the Twinkie that golden look), sorbic acid (comes from petroleum), and sodium stearoyl lactylate (who knows, but it can't be good). Not the kinds of things mom used in the kitchen.

I suppose the spiritual application is so glaring that you're already there ahead of me. I probably don't even have to say it. But I will.

We can have the most amazing exterior -- smooth, attractive, appealing, sweet and tasty ----- and yet on the inside where it counts, we're all slippery, pigment, smoke and mirrors, petroleum-based and sodium stearoyl lactylate.

Where GOD looks at us is where WE need to focus our energies. "God looks on the heart, not on a man's outward appearance." But the amount of time we SPEND on the inside often pales by comparison to the amount of time we spend on the outside - perfecting, polishing, preening, coiffing. God is way more interested in us listening, meditating, pruning and loving.

No spiritual Twinkies here.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I had not thought I would ever use this space to review a movie and yet, here I am.

Tonight my daughter Olivia and I went to see "7 POUNDS" with Will Smith. I have not in recent memory watched a movie so difficult to get a handle on for so long in - and then once you did - found it so emotionally moving.

I won't give it away, but remember the phrase, 'a pound of flesh?' It means, 'something which is owed that is ruthlessly required to be paid back.' The phrase is derived from Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice' and it comes at the insistence of the character Shylock about the payment of Antonio's flesh as the central plot of the play.

SHYLOCK says: "The pound of flesh which I demand of him is dearly bought, 'tis mine and I will have it."

During '7 POUNDS,' Will Smith says to one of the characters: 'You are a good man. You are even a good man when no one is watching.'

How I want that to be able to be said of me ... when no one is looking ... good man. But we have a tendency to want to extract our pound of flesh from those who have hurt us and sometimes we are ruthless about demanding it.

But what if we could turn that around the opposite direction, much like the motivation of the movie? What if we endeavored to give ourselves away in such a manner that - every day - we were looking to find ways to 'give away a pound of our own flesh' for someone who needed it ... someone who needed us. How would it change the world in which we move and live? How would it change our family? How would it change our neighborhood? Our workplace? Our church? How would it change us?

I just wonder.

And be blessed.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I received news from a friend today who is in pretty serious bad health and unless God really comes to an earthly rescue, my friend's rescue is going to be heavenly - and soon. Which isn't at all bad - for my friend. It's just bad for US ... who remain. And even THAT isn't all bad; it just FEELS bad.

I agree with Brad Bright in 'God is the Issue' when he says he is often 'perplexed by the way Christians in the West think. Somehow we have gotten the nutty idea that God's blessing means we will be free from pain ... but Jesus didn't think that. He sweat great drops of blood before being beated and killed. Peter didn't think that. He rejoiced that God had found him worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Paul didn't think that. He was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, hungry, thristy, cold and naked - by his own account. They all understood firsthand what pain was.'

I'm still going to pray for a miracle for my friend - but I will not let my faith in God waver over it no matter what happens - or what kind of personal pain comes as a result of it. That is not fatalistic thinking; I'm asking God for faith to rise in my heart for my friend ... and then be a very firm believer that 'all things work together for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purpose.' That is exactly the way my friend feels about it, too.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Ten ladies from our church left for Thailand today. Joelene was one of them. Our Life Development Pastor, Lisa Kurman was another. After over 20 hours of flying, they'll be touching down and then splitting into two groups: one group to Chang Mai in the north to work with refugees and the other group (Joelene's group) going south to Pattaya to work with women and girls involved in the sex slave trade. It's quite the industry in Southeast Asia. They'll BUY the young ladies, in essence, for a day - and take them to a Center to minister to them in various ways. This is Joelene's second trip there in a year. She is made for this kind of thing so I'm happy she has these opportunities. I look forward to hearing from her more often than last year. We have Skype this time. So I'll update you as I hear things.

That means I'm a bachelor for eleven days. Well, almost. Our 18-year old daughter, Olivia, is home but she's got a very busy life already so I'm not sure how much she'll be around. Even so, she and I will negotiate the laundry, cooking, cleaning, dishwashing, general house duties and feeding of the dog between the two of us. When Joelene is here, there is NO negotiating.

I'm also 'alone' at the office. My administrative assistant, Sylvia, is on the trip, too. Sure, other people from the office are picking up a lot of her work, but it's not the same. She KNOWS me. So if you see me bumping into walls over the next 11 days, it's because my two life-lines are in Thailand.

Pray for me.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


You've heard of "TWITTER," right? If not, TWITTER is a free, social networking, micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as 'tweets'), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. OK - better?

A few months ago I created an account that allowed me to TWITTER. You do it by texting thru your phone mostly. That information is sent to a variety of phones, websites, etc, that you have hooked up to where other people can see what you're doing or thinking at that moment - if they've decided you're someone worth listening to. You might be brushing your teeth, eating dinner, playing in the snow, about to have surgery, driving (oops! No. I never do that while driving), sitting in church bored, part of a staff meeting, grocery shopping, thinking about life --- and a host of other occasions. AND ... you are notified when others decide they want to update you on what THEY are doing - if you've decided they're someone worth listening to. It's both 'cool' and 'annoying' at the same time.

So, recently I came across a concept that asked: "What Would JESUS Twitter?" And here are some of my own offerings ...

'Adam is one spectacular specimen I have made.'

'Cancel yesterday's TWITTER ... EVE is one spectacular specimen I have made.'

'How does 969 years sound for the oldest person on the planet?'

'Noah needs more wood.'

'Noah needs more wood.'

'Noah needs more wood.'

'Joseph is really preening over that new coat.'

'Sent some food down from the sky to the desert-dwellers today. They asked what it was.'

'Decided to call the food falling from the sky MANNA - since that means, 'What is it?'

'I wonder if 3 plagues is enough to make that Pharoah listen.'

'I wonder if 7 plagues is enough to make that Pharoah listen.'

'I wonder if 10 plagues is enough to make that Pharoah listen.'

'You should see those walls of Jericho falling right now. That is SOOOOO cool.'

'I'm putting 20:1 on David over Goliath.'

'I'm feeling so bad for Job right now, but I know he can take it.'

'Now THAT is one honkin' song book.'

'Solomon ... dude .... is writing some sick stuff.'

'Well, TODAY Solomon is writing some pretty wise stuff.'

'Whenever a donkey talks to a man, the man should listen.'

'Daniel should really have been a lion-tamer.'

'I'm debating what the next weird name will be that I give to a prophet.'

'This manger hay is itchy.'

'My cousin, John --- he's kinda OUT THERE.'

'B-R-R-R-R-R! That Jordan River water is COLD and SMELLY!'

'Out of 12 followers, 12 are knuckleheads.'

'Peter is sinking fast ... but at least he got out of the boat.'

'I've had a great time here.'

'These nails really hurt.'

'Just resting.'

'I'M B-A-A-A-A-A-C-K!!!!'

'See all those people everywhere around you. I love them.'

'You should see this awesome place I'm making for you.'

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


The results of the 'grandfather naming poll' are in and polls are closed. It was awesome to see so MANY of you vote. Thanks.

The winner? Well, the WINNER was 'None of the above' (38% of you), but of those who left alternate names, none were universally accepted by the 'None of the aboves.' 'Grandpa Manilow' had some steam early on, but that petered out, thank goodness. A few got on the 'G.K.' bandwagon (stands for Grandpa Kevin). Some thought the child should just call me 'P.K.' like everyone else (COME ON, PEOPLE!). Other assorted ideas were 'Grandad,' 'Papa' and 'Pop-Pop.' The Honorable Mention Award has to go to the suggestion 'Grand Poobah,' which was strangely and dysfunctionally appealing to me.

That said, the votes came down this way: "G-PA" (26%) - "BOPPIE" (19%) - "BUMPA (15%) - "OGGY" (11%) - "BAMMY" (3%).

I'm told that the entire poll was a moot point anyhow because the little guy/girl will end up calling me whatever he/she wants to and I'll not only be stuck with it, I'll love it. We'll see about that.

Be blessed.
Signing off, G-PA.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


You remember the story of the 'Tortoise and the Hare,' right? They're racing and the hare took off like a rocket, knowing he could easily win, and in the process he got distracted from the goal and the tortoise ended up winning, even though he was slow by comparison.

MORAL? Slow and steady always wins.

How do you eat an elephant?
How do you climb a mountain?
If you want to make a million dollars, do you involve yourself in get-rich-quick schemes, or do you develop a 30-year plan of investment to make it possible?

How long ago did Jesus give the command to 'go preach the Gospel to the whole world?' Has He completed that process or is He still working the plan? Does He feel compromised because He hasn't yet reached it?
Brad Bright says, 'Sometimes we confuse compromise with patience. Is it compromise to climb a mountain one step at a time? How else do you get to the top? Is it compromise to take 30 years to make a million dollars? Or is it wisdom?
The process of involving yourself in changing culture is also incremental. We don't compromise; we just take it one step at a time. This is not a sprint. It's an endurance race. It requires patience and consistency. We dare not get distracted like the hare.'
And be blessed.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I was going to resist the old and tired RESOLUTION blog at the beginning of the year - but then I saw an article listing a bunch of famous TV stars' New Year's resolutions - and it made me think.

BRITNEY SPEARS would like to stop worrying so much - and she wants to have more joy.

FERGIE wants to be healthier.

ASHLEE SIMPSON is planning on focusing more on her family - being a better mom to her son.

JAMIE FOXX is looking for the right woman -- trying to find 'that rare jewel,' he says.

COOLIO? No bills in 2009.

JULIE BOWEN is hoping for a healthy baby.

KANYE WEST wants to be 'nicer.'

BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN would like to stop the habit of smoking.

Now ... here's the observation. They're all GREAT resolutions - some important, some noble and admirable, some vital - but they're all resolutions where GOD needs a part.

RELATIONAL resolutions - God wants to be involved in your family and friendships.

HEALTH resolutions - Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit - created by God.

ATTITUDE resolutions - It is the Fruit of the Spirit we need to have growing daily inside.

FINANCIAL resolutions - God is the owner of everything you have.

You want success in 2009? Resolve all you want. It's actually not a bad idea or practice. But acknowledge GOD in the working out of each of them. Don't try to do it on your own. That'll never work. It wasn't DESIGNED to work that way. God wants to be involved in every facet of your life, so commit the resolutions to Him and let Him have a part in seeing them through.

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 1, 2009



As the first word from me to you in 2009, can I encourage you to read the Bible thru with me this year? There are plenty of tools out there for this, but we've been promoting 'THE DAILY BIBLE.' It walks you through in chronological order and takes away some of the inevitable drudgery that comes when you get to certain spots throughout the year. Mixes it up a little -- and it's available in Spanish as well. In fact, a good friend of mine has posted daily devotionals to go with the readings from 'THE DAILY BIBLE.' You can find those at

Take care of yourself SPIRITUALLY this year. Read thru with us. Get to church.

Take care of yourself PHYSICALLY this year. Eat right. Exercise. Rest well. Play some. Take time off.

Take care of yourself RELATIONALLY this year. Get in a small group. Forgive and let go.

Take care of yourself FINANCIALLY this year. Stop the credit card spending - get out of debt. Tithe and give. Live within your means.

And just as a reminder of how vital all the above things are, remember how fast it all goes by.

And be blessed.