Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I was with some of our staff today at the one day STICKY CHURCH CONFERENCE in St. John, Indiana. Following are some excerpts from that conference ...

"There is a problem when more information leads to less action."

BIG IDEA CONCEPT: Think about all the ideas you get on any given week from the church ... an idea or theme from the choruses you sing (or several) - special music theme - announcements - message idea (or maybe three or four ideas from the same message) - Sunday School idea - small group idea -- etc. All those ideas have a cancelling effect on each other and nothing ends up sticking.
'More information = less clarity. Most believers are educated three years beyond their obedience.'

Dave Ferguson asked the crowd what John McCain's BIG IDEA had been in the '08 election. There was a smattering of various answers to that question. But when he asked what Barak Obama's BIG IDEA had been, it was almost as if we had all been tipped off in advance, because we ALL said together, "CHANGE!" It was all about CLARITY. Remind me who won that election again?!

Matthew 5 has Jesus' BIG IDEA. It was - quite simply - "FOLLOW ME."

SCOTT CHAPMAN: "Practical Atheism is -- believing God exists while simultaneously behaving as if He does not."

Great stuff.

And be blessed.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I was at our 2nd LETTERS FROM DAD session tonight and listened to the stories of how the men presented personal letters to their wives this month. It was an amazing array of stories -- exciting, proud, thankful, anxious, anticipatory, wonderful.

What struck me was the yearning for character that these men have ... how they want to remembered by their wives and families as people of substance ... people of depth ... people of respect ... people of admiration ... people of character.


Your character is who you truly are. It will impact how much you accomplish. It will determine whether or not you are worth knowing. It will make or break every single one of your relationships. It is the internal script that will reveal your response to failure, success, mistreatment and pain. It reaches into every facet of your life. It is more critical than your greatest talent, your extensive education, your significant network or your deepest friendships. Those things all open doors, but it is your character that determines what happens once you pass thru those doors. Your good looks may get you married; your character will keep you married.


And be blessed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Great to have Zollie Smith in services with us today. He is the Director for U.S. Missions for the Assemblies of God. I love Zollie's passion for missions and for everything he talks about. He has great drive and energy. It's fun sitting down with him over a meal and listening to him talk.

Unfortunately for us all, the 7 inches of snow that fell in Kenosha Saturday night and Sunday morning cut our attendance almost fully in half - but those who were there got the real deal.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009



To hear how all the Letters From Dad guys did with the letters to their wives on Monday night.

Sticky Church conference next Tuesday in Indiana.

Selling all our 'stuff' on Craigslist.

Easter Sunday when the church house is going to be PACKED OUT!

Vacation in Florida during Easter break.

For SNOW to officially be done in Southeastern Wisconsin for 2009.

Discussion and kick-off of the new video venue service at church.

To see my new grandson.

And be blessed.

Friday, March 27, 2009


We've taken a few days to head up to Minneapolis - not only to visit our older daughters and sons-in-law (the pic at left describes some of my down-time 'activity' when it's just me and the guys - that's MONOPOLY on video game we're playing there) - but also to take our youngest, Olivia, to College Days at North Central University. North Central is one of our Assemblies of God colleges/universities and I'm not an alumnus of it, but both our other daughters graduated from there so we're sold on it and we're praying-hoping Olivia will be as well. AND ... it's reasonably close to home.

One of the bonuses of visiting the university is that you get an opportunity to see so many of our own KFA students who have made the choice to attend North Central. In fact, Olivia is 'bunking' with one of them during this stay. We also get to visit with a number of students who spent the summer at our church as part of their education as youth interns.

PS ... we're probably going to IKEA today. IKEA with three women ... not my idea of a really great time.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I'm reading about fluidity and third-culture stuff right now. Third culture refers to children indigenous to ONE culture who are brought up in yet ANOTHER culture which has innate acceptance of still OTHER cultures. Common examples of young people brought up in third cultures are those who are the children of missionaries, foreign diplomats and others. These children all learn naturally to embrace and accept other ways of doing things, other practices, other traditions, other belief systems, etc.

One of the 'other' things that has strongly impacted our American culture in the past 15 years is the rise in attention to our PETS.

No president since Chester A. Arthur in the 19th century has dared to move into the White House without at least a dog or cat and a few of the earlier ones took goats, cows and roosters, too. So then, nothing much is really NEW, right?

Well -- not exactly.

There is a NEW breed of pet in our fluid society. They are replacing CHILDREN in some respects. Sixty-three percent of American households have pets, up from 56% twenty years ago. That means 44 million households have at least one dog and 38 million households have at least one cat. (Interestingly, there are 17 million more cats than dogs because cat owners are much more likely to have more than one.) If you add the folks with fish, birds, snakes and other small animals, you have more than twice the number of homes with pets than you have homes with children.

The lives of pets are being elevated to the lap of luxury. In America today, the top 1% of pets live better than 99% of the world's human population. In 2006, Americans spent $40 billion on their pets. Pet products are a bigger industry than toys, candy or hardware.

Eight-out-of-ten pet owners buy gifts for their four-legged pet on birthdays and holidays. Pet health insurance is on the steep increase. Seventy percent of pet insurance owners say they would 'pay any amount' to save their pet's lives. Record-breaking amounts of 'human grade' gourmet, vegetarian, low-carb and organic food are being bought for our animals. Last year, over $9 billion was spent on over-the-counter health related supplies for pets -- and that doesn't mean flea collars and scratching posts. We bought teeth-whiteners, breath-fresheners, fur-glisteners, designer sweaters, doggie jewelry and animal car seats. Add to that kitty chin acne medicine, "Doggle" glasses to protect pet eyes from glare when they ride in cars, puppy sunscreen, kitty nail polish, animal anti-aging cremes ... and yes, pet contact lenses. Custom made doghouses, kennels that offer your animal hiking, swimming, television, gourmet meals and pedicures. One hotel in Nashville offers a package where you can have your dog ride in a limo to a recording studio and have his barking digitally mastered onto a holiday CD. Massage included. For the dog.

There are dog finishing schools, pet play groups to encourage socialization, doggie dating services and pet weddings. Animal retirement homes where pets are grouped by temperament and pet funeral homes.

Dog walkers can make $200 an hour for taking a pack of dogs around the block. A pet hair stylist can make $100 an hour if he is working for the right Fifi. The number of companies offering "Take Your Dog to Work Week" is soaring. We haven't managed corporate child care just yet, but corporate dog care should be easier.

So what, you ask?

Well ... maybe nothing. But in 2004, a California jury awarded a pet owner a record-breaking $39,000 in a veterinary malpractice suit, acknowledging that were the dog to be regarded as mere 'property,' it would have had a fair market value of only $10. In 2007, a pet food poisoning made famous in the news sent lawyers scurrying to file lawsuits for this pet-icide.

Is it that short of a distance before animal rights activitists push for outlawing pet ownership altogether? I mean, if pets AREN'T property in the eyes of the courts, then why should people be allowed to own them at all?

I'm not a dog hater at all -- quite the contrary. In fact, we have one (see the March 12th blog). But maybe it's not so bad anymore to be 'sick as a dog?'

I'm just saying.
And be blessed.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Today some of our staff went to New Berlin, WI for a one-day seminar on "Understanding and Navigating Church Life Cycles" by Steven Mills.

Steven discussed how churches and congregations naturally walk thru certain cycles from 'birth' to 'infancy' to 'childhood' and 'adolescence.' Then on to 'adulthood' and 'maturity.' If they're not careful and don't continue staying fresh and re-dreaming, re-inventing, listening to God and vision casting, they can slip on into 'empty nest' syndrome and 'retirement' as a congregation - and then, eventually 'death.'

Each member of our team decided independently where they thought WE were at KFA in that bell curve right now, with 'adulthood' being at the prime top-of-the-curve position. Most of the group thought we were in a really healthy positive spot, though certainly not perfect - far from it - but most of the crew present put us at the 'adolescence' position, meaning even though we're 75 years old as a church, we were coming into our own again as we have re-cast vision for the church over the past couple of years, after probably slipping over into 'maturity' (not a good thing on this particular bell curve) and possibly even toward 'empty nest' for awhile back a few years ago.

It is important that churches do this process over and over again to avoid - never staying the same - never being satisfied - never status quo - never becoming stale and irrelevant as society and culture continue to change at such a fast rate. The only things that remain the same are our FIRM COMMITMENT to preach the Word and retain our God-breathed values. What an exciting time to be part of the church.

PS ... Steven Mills and Melvyn Ming have developed some curriculum to help churches hone their mission and values and vision and strategy. The material is called "Church Leadership Development Process" and I'm privileged to be able to hang out with some of these very smart guys in Seattle for a week to learn from them and receive some training -- and then come back to our Wisconsin District and help lead other churches thru the same material, including our own staff. Can't wait.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Today was the long-awaited re-match between the church STUDENTS and the PASTORS in the Third Annual Pastors vs. Students Basketball Game. The pastors have lost two years in a row now and today we finally took our revenge. The pastors' team was victorious over those young whippersnappers, 51-49.

All the proceeds went to missionaries. So either way, it was worth the sore joints and red faces.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Tonight was special. I don't usually get so personal in my writing, but I delivered my LETTERS FROM DAD letter to Joelene tonight over a great Italian dinner at Gabriel's Restaurant in Highwood, Illinois. Very swanky.

It was great expressing my heart and love to the woman I love on paper in my own handwriting. Very special time.

If you're out there and part of LFD and haven't done your letter to your wife yet, get busy. You have 9 more days left.

And be blessed.

Friday, March 20, 2009


As another Sunday quickly approaches, I'm thinking about our view of God. As our Romans series continues, there has been so much talk about 'sin' and 'disobedience,' as well as revering GOD for who He is. We seem to appreciate God for what He can DO for us - and though He has done MOUNTAINS for us - including undeserved grace and mercy - we still seem to treat Him something like 'prized stock' so often.

Did you know on eBay you can buy somebody's toenail clippings? Yeah. What would you pay for that? How about a jar of crickets? Or someone's shaved eyebrows glued to a piece of paper? Besides these items, the history of eBay has documented things on it such as potatoes shaped like Elvis Presley or the Nike 'swoosh.' Every single one of those items have found a buyer on the internet. If the success of eBay has taught us anything, it's that people will pay for anything -- and often they'll pay for nothing. Several auctioners on eBay have listed "NOTHING" for sale and inscrutably, people have bid on it. Just like the company's ad boasts - whatever you're looking for, you can find 'it' on eBay, even if 'it' is nothing.

In our culture, we have been conditioned to believe nothing carries value unless it can be proven useful to us in some way. Tragically, this has become applicable to human beings as well. Marraige becomes disposable, so divorce skyrockets. When a spouse is no longer considered useful, they are abandoned or traded. Abortion, pornography, prostitution and a host of other societal ills have, at their root, the fact that something or someone is no longer useful to us.

This concept does not escape our relationship with God either. Many view God as a 'device' to be used rather than an all-powerful Creator to be revered. Why would we revere a glorified butler, since that is what many have reduced God to? God does not inspire awe and wonder because He is seen as nothing more than an asset to be used for personal satisfaction. Essentially, He has become an eBay 'nothing' to us.

How are you revering God? By examing His value to your personal life? By acknowledging who He really IS?

And be blessed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Well - tonight it begins. The NCAA Basketball Tournament leading up to the Final Four and the National Championship. It happens every March.

Our staff has been involved in a 'brackets competition' for the past three years to see who can pick the natonal champion. Winner gets a free lunch wherever he/she wants. I won two years ago. Last year, I came in somewhere in the middle of the pack. My only real goal is not to come in dead last.

Along these lines, here's a true basketball incident that happened just a few weeks ago. St. Mary's basketball team was assessed a technical foul when one of their players dunked the ball during the PRE-GAME WARMUP time. The whole thing was a little unusual, but it's a violation of NCAA rules, evidently. So, a technical foul was called. As a result - even before the tip-off circle signalling the beginning of the game, Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin went to the free-throw line. He made the free throw, and St. Mary's found itself trailing 1-0 before the game even began. This didn't affect the outcome. The Gaels eventually lost 83-58 anyway, but it does teach quite a lesson.

You think you know the rules. You think you know all about basketball - you're sure of it - you think you know. You don't THINK - you KNOW. And then along comes a game like this one and you discover not only is it frowned on to dunk in an NCAA pre-game warmup, it's actually against the rules of the game. And that's when you realize you'd have a better go understanding Madagascar's World Bank balance sheets.

It's then you realize you don't know anything. It's scary. But life goes on.

So, in honor of the whole thing, our pastors are challenging our students to a basketball game after church this coming Sunday. All proceeds go to missions. Check back here on Sunday for the results of that game. And ... no dunking during the pre-game warmup.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


We found out last week that our soon-to-be-first-grandchild is going to be a BOY! WOAH! After three daughters, we finally get our BOY! Very cool. (Due date is mid-August. You all will be the first to know!)

My daughter and son-in-law (Sam) are in Sweden right now. He was born there and is full Swedish. That's them in the picture. Congrats to them - AND TO US.

Whitney tells us the baby is about the size of a soup can right now ... minus the red-and-white label hopefully. Maybe a great name for the baby would be ... CAMPBELL. What do you think?

Whatever his name, I can't wait.

And be blessed.

Monday, March 16, 2009


WV Church - not to be confused with the ever-popular VW (Volkswagen) Church - stands for "WORLDVIEW CHURCH (WV CHURCH)." This follow-up blog bounces off the earlier October 27, 2008 blog titled "Worldview."

There are some characteristcs common to churches that have a 'Jesus Worldview.'

Just preaching good sermons does not make people develop a "Jesus Worldview." That half-hour 'lecture' (or longer) certainly delivers information helpful to developing that worldview, but just being exposed to decent teaching doesn't get us very far. If it DID, we'd already be a transformed nation. No, a place that is developing a Biblical worldview is a place that is relentlessly implementing various elements into an intentional plan of action.

Big Picture to Details
There is a key strategy in place. They begin with a pretty clear notion of where they'd like to be in the end. Then they conceive plans that move them backward from the end point to the starting point and every point along the way.

Uncompromisingly Biblical
You would think this one might be a no-brainer, but I'm afraid not. A Biblical worldview emanates from one place: THE BIBLE.

Connected Foundations
Bible teaching is always placed in a broad context. Every element is tirelessly connected to every other element in their teaching, their strategy, their values, their mission. It's all ONE.

Total Family Involvement
Churches that have successfully developed a Biblical worldview start their people on the journey when they are only four to five years old. The moral foundations of most Americans are generally in place by age nine. Biblical worldview churches enlist the help of the entire family in the process. This is almost required. Reliance on the one or two hours spent on a church campus during the week - much of which has little do with faith development - cannot be expected to compete with the fifty or sixty hours spent per week inundated by the media as it communicates alternative worldviews.

Addressing the Competition
Many churches believe the best M.O. is to protect its followers from the other worldviews being taught out there. The most EFFECTIVE Biblical worldview churches, however, believe it is imperative that believers be informed about what the competition is offering. While some churches fear that exposure to such things will water down their impact or result in attrition, the fact is that such a view expresses a limited trust in the power of God and His truth.

Being a true follower of Christ is more than just believing in God or Jesus; even the devil meets that criterion. Being a true follower of Christ is more than just believing the Bible is a reliable document; many archaeologists, historians and scientists who are atheists believe that. Being a true follower of Christ is to believe He gave us life and purpose - the purpose of loving and obeying Him - loving and serving others - living in concert with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about rules & regulations since we've been in this weekend series on Romans.

It seems we create fences that go around God's fences. Our reason for making them, we say, is so we don't get close to falling over the edge of sin. God's fences aren't good enough evidently so we create our own ... better ... safer fences. In other words, we 'help God out.'

L. Osborne insists that these man-made fences not only fail to protect us from sin, they actually increase the odds that we'll clamber over one of the fences. They also scare off the very people we're trying to reach.

So what we're trying to do is keep the bar as low as Jesus kept it. No lower; no higher. We try to avoid presenting cultural values, traditions and extra-Bibical rules and regulations as if they're on par with Scripture when they're not.

Because God got the Bible right the first time. He didn't goof that up. And all our extra fences are not only unnecessary, they're harmful.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


One of the newest trends in America today is that of 'old new dads.' Our LAST child, Olivia, was born when I was 31. I'm expecting my first grandchild - a BOY, as it turns out (finally!) - in August, one month before I turn 50.

That said, the thing that people like Senator Strom Thurmond, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, actor Charlie Chaplin, rocker Mick Jagger and financier Rupert Murdoch have in common are that they all fathered children after the age of 55. Not GRANDchildren ---- CHILDREN. Moreover, if you exclude Mick Jagger, who fathered a child MERELY at age 55, all the others did it after the age of 65. Thurmond and Murdoch were actually past 70.

There is a growing group of men in America who take painkillers and then go out and toss the ball in the front yard with their 7-year olds.

In 1980, only 1 in 23 births were to men over age 50. In 2002, it grew to 1 in 18. The ratios continue to shrink. Having a dad who is 62 at a son's high school graduation is no longer uncommon.

One reason for that is divorce. Men re-marry faster than women and what is being called "Do-Over Dads" is resulting in later births.

Another reason, of course, is both biology and success. Men can physically father children until very late in life; they have more access to younger women, and are more likely to have the means to support children in the later seasons of life.

The up-side is older men are more comfortable with themselves, more patient overall, more 'set' financially, more relaxed and interested in family life than they might have been while scrambling early in their careers. They are wiser and more reflective with their children and as they begin to realize their own mortality, they tend to focus more appreciatively on their kids.

It is certainly going to impact some of the ways we do ministry in the 21st century. So, is it BETTER to be an "Old New Dad" or a "Young New Dad?" I honestly don't know. I'm just glad I'm NOT one. What do you think?

But ... YOU GO, GUYS!

And be blessed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


We own a little buff-colored toy poodle. His name is Guiseppe. That is Italian for Joseph. Actually, we named him after the former media director at our church. If he's reading this blog, which I think he may sometimes - congratulations on that. I know he looks really cute and all, but ...

So -- I read a list today that gave the 'Top Ten Smartest Canine Breeds' in the world. The Top Ten Smartest DOGS. Isn't 'smart dog' an oxymoron?

They eat from the garbage.
You can leave the room for 2 minutes and when you come back in, they are wagging their tails and jumping around as if they've never seen you before.
They bark at their own reflections in the mirror.
They sniff and lick in awkward places.

So ... smart? Hmm.

But here they are ... the 'top ten smartest canine breeds' in the world:

#10 - Australian Cattle Dog
That's the dog from DOWN UNDER. It's a very organized dog. Many are known for putting their own toys away after playing.

#9 - Rottweiler
It's a German dog; the one that makes the news for tearing people's legs off, right?

#8 - Papillon
If you don't know what a papillon is, think about a small little thing with huge butterfly-shaped ears. They are so small they can be litter trained.

#7 - Labrador Retriever
It's the most popular breed chosen by families. If you love hair and love to vacuum, it's a great choice.

#6 - Shetland Sheepdog
They are happy to live just about anywhere, including Shetland, wherever that is.

#5 - Doberman Pinscher
We used to have a Doberman-mix and he was a great dog, I'll admit.

#4 - Golden Retriever
Word is, they can learn over 200 commands. Sit, sit now, sit down, sit please, sit over there, and 195 others.

#3 - German Shepherd
They learn tasks after only a few repetitions, and obey first commands nearly always the first time they are given.

#2 - Poodle (our little 'Guiseppe' excepting)
Think pink bows, circus performers and frou-frou hairdos. Actually, the “poodle clip,” as it is known, was created specifically for the working Poodle so it could swim more effectively while still having fur to protect its organs as it went about the business of hunting and retrieving.

#1 - Border Collie
Number One Smartest Dog Breed on the planet. They function best in homes where the owners are actually smarter than they are, which is almost nobody.

I hope I have given you some food for thought today.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We are not asking people to convert to our culture; we are asking them to convert to Christ. We don't expect them to learn a new language for everyday things; we're just asking them to let their habits and lifestyles be changed by Christ.

We are not a club. You don't undergo a hazing to be part of us, nor do you get ultra-special privileges that others 'outside' are kept from. You get to be part of the Kingdom with other people who also love Jesus and you get to grow and be part of something bigger than you are - you get to belong and be cared for - and you get to eventually turn around and invite more people to come into the same Kingdom of God you have learned to enjoy.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We have staff devotions every Tuesday morning with the whole gang gathered in the choir room. The pastors rotate the devotional time - today was my turn. I thought I'd share some of that devotional time here today ...

Q: What is your definition of a ‘church?’ Answers in the room ranged from - people who are the hands and feet of Jesus - to - a gathering of people who love God - to - a building with a steeple - to - somewhere you can feel loved and accepted.

Q: In your opinion, what does the mature believer look like? Answers ranged from - having an increasing presence of the fruit of the Spirit in your life - to - reaching out - to - loving God and others - to - being able to reproduce.

When I was a youth pastor (yes, I was one once) – I deeply cared about what was happening in the lives of the students I was pastoring. When I was a worship pastor, I deeply cared about how and why people were or were not worshipping. Now that I’m in my present role, I care intensely about how people are making connections – or not – in our church … I care about whether people are giving from generous spirits and hearts or from some other motivation … I care about how we’re reaching the lost and hurting in our community … I care about how we’re growing and becoming disciples.

I’m reading a book by Mark Waltz right now and he says, “I still pray for our people. I still feel a great sense of responsibility. But not like I once did. And I'm really happy about that. I don't care LESS -- I just don't feel responsible FOR everyone. I do, however, feel responsible TO them. Big difference."

And I think I feel exactly the same way. Because when I’m responsible TO people, I understand they have choices. When I’m responsible FOR people, I think I should decide for them.

When I’m responsible TO people, I know THEY have to figure out their next steps, not me. I have to show them what some of those can BE, but I can’t figure out everything for them. When I’m responsible FOR people, I try to tell them and then MAKE them do the next steps.

When I’m responsible TO people, I share their journeys and offer them encouragement and teaching. When I’m responsible FOR people, I try to micro-manage their journeys, never allowing them to wrestle, mess up or make a wrong turn.

When I’m responsible TO people, I talk to God a lot on their behalf. When I’m responsible FOR people, I talk to people a lot on God’s behalf.

The church is not a servant to man; it is a collection of people who are serving God and mankind. So, in his book, “Called,” Kary Oberbrunner says there is a common misunderstanding of discipleship that includes this progression:
1 Accept Christ
2 Don’t do bad things anymore
3 Withdraw from culture
4 Hang with Christians
5 Go to church
6 Read your Bible and pray
7 Be happy you’re saved and not going to hell
8 Tell other people you’re happy and they can be too if they follow these 7 steps

But then Kary challenges that THIS should actually be the progression, as suggested by Jesus:
1 I want your whole life – everything
2 I want to transform you and than have you transform culture
3 I want you to be in the world, just like I was
4 I want you to be the church – the present-day incarnation of Me
5 I want you to embody the Word to others
6 Be My hands and feet and see people as people, not projects to convert

Q: Which one do YOU think is closer to accurate?

Q: Which of those belief systems comes closest to best describing our/your church right now?

Q: Do we more often demonstrate responsibility FOR others or responsibility TO others?

Q: Do we trust the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives? Where do you see the Holy Spirit working in your life? What has God done in you in the past ten years? How about this past year?

Q: In what ways could you take more responsibility for your own journey?

PS: One of the perks of being the one to do devotions on Tuesday morning is that person gets to choose where the pastors do lunch that day. I chose 'The 45 Diner' in Bristol today. Hot turkey sandwich with a tall chocolate shake, in case you were interested.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Today after church was our annual church business meeting. We tried it at a different time (old time: Thursday nights) and I think we had a little better turnout ... nothing dramatically better ... but at least we got it done without having to come out an extra night, so that was cool.

We have a great atmosphere among our people and that feels really good. We launched a survey this morning about a proposed new service in our 750-seat H20 Youth Auditorium that would run concurrently with our present second service. It would feature hot, live music from a worship team/band, be shorter than our main service, have a live pastoral host in the room, and use the teacher from the main auditorium via DVD for the weekly message (recording of first service talk).

We are getting so full in our second main service that it's time to make a move. Plus, we want to reach new people in our community who might find a shorter, more casual, video-style service appealing.

In addition to that, we're proposing new starting times for our main auditorium weekend services -- 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We've hit a wall at the 8:30 a.m. time - and we understand that services that start with an '8' are tough to gather a crowd for. We've done OK with that, but we're at a ceiling now. So we're asking EVERYONE to be involved in these changes by making a new choice. We'll see what happens but I'm excited about the future.

If you're part of our church, you can take the survey at http://www.kfaog.org/.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


This is the time you LOVE to hate - the spring version of Daylight Saving Time, where you lose an hour's sleep and potentially risk missing church the next day.

This is another of Ben Franklin's bright ideas - right up there with the light bulb and all. He THOUGHT of it, but it didn't actually start till way after the guy was in the ground -- 1918. It was extremely unpopular during World War I (I knew there was something I liked about that generation), and it was repealed. But during World War II, they brought it back and it has stuck ever since.
For me personally, the real issue is realizing how many things I own around the house that have CLOCKS in them:

Cuckoo clock
Chime clock
Wall clock(s)
Basement clock
Bathroom clock
VCR clock
Computer clock
Car clock(s)
Bedroom alarm clock(s)
Eight watches

Some of our clocks require engineering degrees to figure out how to change them, especially when you only do it twice a year. You can't remember which doo-hickey on the clock to press to make the time advance. So it takes me an HOUR to go around setting the clocks forward an HOUR, which means I actually lose TWO HOURS of my life during the spring switch over.
What is this world coming to?
Of course, if you don't like Daylight Saving Time, you can always move to Hawaii, Arizona and parts of Indiana. Each of those states have requested waivers from the government and they don't observe it. So they must never be late for church there.
PS - Don't forget to also change the batteries in your house smoke alarms.
And be blessed.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I was looking at a bunch of old pictures tonight - actually searching for some graduation party pictures of our youngest daughter, who turns the tassels in a couple of months. And in the process I came across pictures of some of my late 2008 trips to Hong Kong, China, The Philippines, Palm Springs and Washington, D.C. Joelene was in Thailand as well. It was a big travel time for us the last half of '08 and early '09. And I started thinking how often we take for granted certain cultural things here in America that are not acceptable in other countries.

For instance, here in America, touching people is fairly common. But in THAILAND, you should never even pat a child on the head beause the head is considered sacred. You don't backslap someone even in a friendly way in KOREA. That will likely make them extremely uncomfortable.

In America, you can indiscriminately use either left or right hand for just about any activity. There is no rule. But many cultures still prefer to eat using their hands. In these cases in places like INDIA and parts of the MIDDLE EAST and AFRICA, food is often offered communally, which is why it’s important to wash your hands before eating and observe the right-hand-is-for-eating and the left-hand-is-for-other-duties rule. If you eat with your left hand, expect your fellow diners to be mortified. Even children who are left-handed in these cultures are taught to eat with their right hand — or at least explain yourself to your fellow diners before plunging in.

I've never been to Hawaii; I'm dying to get there some day when I can afford it, but evidently it's highly disrespectful and offensive to refuse or immediately remove your lei. Leis in the Hawaiian Islands aren’t just pretty floral necklaces that you get when you check into your hotel or show up at a luau. They're a centuries-old cultural symbol of welcome, friendship, and appreciation.

Here in America, we concentrate when having conversations with people by looking them straight in the eye when we communicate. To NOT do so here is considered, if not rude, at best indifferent or weak. But in KOREA and JAPAN, be careful how long you hold someone’s gaze. Prolonged eye contact will make a local uncomfortable. The word in GERMANY, however, is that you should look them directly in the eye when you speak with them. I will confess I did not notice that when we were in Munich a few years ago.

Even blowing your nose, something we routinely do here in public is considered disguting in other cultures, especially when done at the table. The JAPENESE and CHINESE are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief. In FRANCE, as well as in EASTERN countries, if you’re dining and need to clear your nasal passages, excuse yourself and head to the restroom.

The very first thing I do when I come inside my house is take my shoes off. But in LONDON, if you take off your shoes when arriving at the door of a home, the hostess will find you uncivilized. But if you fail to remove your shoes before entering a home in ASIA, HAWAII or the PACIFIC ISLANDS, you’ll be considered extremely disrespectful. Not only does shoe removal practically keep sand and dirt out of the house, it’s a sign of leaving the outside world behind.

We were at a restaurant last night for almost 3 hours with friends, talking over dinner fairly late into the night. But in CHINA, JAPAN and some AFRICAN nations, the food is the thing. So don't start chatting about your day’s adventures while everyone else is digging into dinner. You’ll likely be met with silence — not because your group is unfriendly, but because mealtimes are for eating, not talking.

I try to use the horn on my car rather sparingly. But today as I was out driving, I was honked at. I wasn't going too fast - I wasn't stopped at a light too long - I wasn't driving erratically or getting in anyone's way - but in ITALY, where we were a few years ago, honking horns is part of the landscape. A 'flash' of the lights and a 'beep' of the horn means, 'I'm coming down the road behind you at over 100 mph, so move over right now --- PLEASE.'

So - there you go. Now, next time you leave the country, you'll be set.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Apparently there are several “American Idol” contestants who have had strong links to churches both this season and past. I didn’t realize how many there were.

This year there is ‘The Welder,’ Matt Breitzke, who attends Craig Groeschel’s LifeChurch.tvSouth Tulsa campus. LifeChurch also had Alaina Whitaker last year. She made it to the top 18.
Another 2009 contestant is Kris Allen, part of the Assemblies of God Chi Alpha ministry. He is from New Life Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Then there is my personal favorite (so far) – Danny Gokey, a worship leader from right here in the Milwaukee area. (GO DANNY!) He has already moved to the next stage in the competition. If I could sing one-fifth that great …

Even though she didn’t make it thru to the final 12 this year, Mishavonna Henson makes ‘church kid #4’ – from an Assembly of God church in San Juan Capistrano, California.

And two years ago, Seacoast Church in South Carolina saw one of their worship leaders, Chris Sligh, make it to the top ten.

And be blessed.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I used to play the keyboard for a weekly radio program - yes, I said RADIO - and there was a lit sign on the side of the set that would tell the live audience when to applaud and when to keep quiet. Sometimes I think we need one of those in church.
The strangest thing happened yesterday at the end of my weekend message. The congregation - or some of them - started applauding when I was through. Maybe I should have taken it as a compliment, but honestly, it kind of unsettled me.
I'm just not accustomed to that particular response and I'm not sure I want to BECOME accustomed to it. I'm not there to get applause, of course, and I'm not in an emotional state where I need it either. Then ... after my message there was a spiritually moving drama and song and again ... the crowd applauded.
I was coming up to give a call at the very end of all that and as it turned out, I had to follow a set of hand-clapping rather than the drama and song I was hoping to follow. After several of seconds of waiting for the applause to subside, I continued. But I felt it seriously undermined the effectiveness of the powerful drama and song. I know people are just expressing thanks to those who use their gifts but sometimes I think it removes the 'wonder of the moment.' Hand-clapping has just become church's default response to choruses, announcements, songs, and pretty much everything. There are times I think that mere silence and ponder are more appropriate. Unfortunately, it only takes one person, albeit a well-meaning person I'm sure, to start the round of clapping before others automatically join in and the whole spirit of the moment becomes compromised.
I could be 'old school' with that way of thinking, but I honestly believe this is ONE area about which I'd prefer to remain 'old school.'
And be blessed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Today was about Romans chapter 5 - the DESSERTS of GRACE. I had a beautiful chocolate cake made by Lisa Kurman that looked extremely similar to the one at left, only better. It represented the decadence of grace. And that is exactly what grace is - DECADENT. It is outrageous, shocking, staggering, scandalous. It is God’s undeserved favor that NONE of us merits. It is so incredible that, at times, it borders on the offensive.
Years ago, scholars from around the world came together to discuss comparative religions. The topic of the day was whether or not there was anything particularly unique about Christianity. One scholar suggested that the incarnation was uniquely Christian, but other scholars said, “No, many religions have a notion of deities become human.” Someone else proposed that unique to Christianity was the idea of sacrifice and substitutionary atonement – in other words, that someONE or someTHING paid for your faults by standing in for you – but on that point, several scholars insisted there had been numerous religions that offer some kind of sacrifice as a way of paying for wrongdoings. It was midday at that conference when another scholar showed up ... his name was C.S. Lewis, author of “THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA” and “MERE CHRISTIANITY.” C.S. Lewis asked what the topic of discussion was and when he heard the question, he remarked, “Well, that’s easy. What is unique to Christianityis grace.”
The truth is: God loves us no matter what. He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us. And He calls us to simply believe in Him, confess our sins, and receive His forgiveness. He lives to pour His grace into our lives every single day. It doesn’t get ANY BETTER than this.
PS - That was about the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted, by the way.

And be blessed.