Saturday, July 31, 2010


The Bible calls David 'a man after God's own heart.' That's what I'd like to be.

But the heart is ... without question, the most powerful part of your body. It has flowing in and out of it veins, arteries, ventricles, capillaries - sending and receiving to all parts of the body - yet you never see it. More powerful in many ways even than your brain. If your heart stops, you stop. If you have heart problems, you don’t even always know it until it manifests itself in other parts of your body.

In Scripture, there is a parallel concept. Your spiritual heart - that part of you that accepts or rejects Christ - the part He’s wanting control of --- directs much of what you do here on planet Earth. When someone has a wounded or unclean heart, it shows up in different areas of their life -- areas that aren’t necessarily associated with the heart. It will show up in what we say ... in the way we speak ... in the things we talk about ... by our tone. That doesn’t simply mean we have a speech problem; it’s bigger than that. The Bible is clear. There is a heart problem.

The Bible says a bad heart will manifest itself in what we do ... that doesn't mean we simply have a behavioral problem; it’s bigger than that. There is a heart problem.

We’ve all said things we wish we wouldn't have; done things we wish we wouldn't have --- so we try to combat those things by being more careful in the future about what we say; by being more thoughtful in the future about what we do. We work harder on our speech and actions and we end up treating the symptoms our whole lives rather than the causes --- but God says, "That's not the answer. It's not a matter of what you say or do ... it's a heart problem."

Whatever is in your heart, will come out. Everything is connected to the heart and until we deal with that, nothing will change.

Here's the good news. There is a solution to our heart dilemma (and this is why I stand on a platform every weekend and speak to people - because of this truth) ... Jesus is in the business of changing our hearts. And the change He creates is long-lasting because the change He brings is from the inside out. It doesn’t just impact our behavior and our words, it transforms our hearts.

That’s why David's son, Solomon, said: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

And be blessed.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I love reading other people's 'stuff.' In some of my readings, here are some offbeat and meaningful quotes that I have enjoyed. Hope you enjoy too ...

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. -Derek Bok

You can't comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable. -Princess Diana of Wales

It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter. -Marlene Dietrich

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost. -H. Jackson Browne

Right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time. -Fedor Dosteovsky

Women like silent men. They think they're listening. -Marcel Archard

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. -Dale Carnegie

I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that won't work. -Benjamin Franklin

You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. - H. R. Haldeman

It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again. -Vince Lombardi

Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire

Don't be so humble - you are not that great. -Golda Meir

As long as you're going to think anyway, think big. -Donald Trump

There is no worse bitterness than to reach the end of your life and realize you have not lived. -M. Scott Peck

You are the only person on earth who can use your ability. -Zig Ziglar

Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to. -Mark Twain

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. -Theodore Roosevelt

Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared. -Eddie Rickenbacher

And be blessed. -Kevin Taylor

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with our media crew at a park. We took some footage under a bridge that I'll use in a message in a couple of weeks. I'll give you a 'sneak peek' though. The idea was about how sometimes we just hit bottom and feel like there is nowhere to go but up and we find ourselves in a figurative cave - hiding - out of energy -- no hope --- useless.

I don’t know if you’ve ever come to the place where you’ve bottomed out. The stock market devastated your savings -- a foreclosure radically changed your family’s living conditions -- finances cut you off at the knees -- you lost your job -- a long-standing relationship blew up or came to an end -- that letter arrived in the mail and everything changed for you -- the doc came in with that ‘I have some bad news' look -- someone you couldn’t live without passed away. I think a lot of people have faced the bottom at one time or another -- maybe you’re facing it now.

It is in this very condition - on the run from an angry and jealous King Saul --- from the caves - that David writes Psalm 142 - and as you read it, don’t hear it as David's prayer, because it’s no longer about David. It’s about you now.

I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him and tell Him my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who knows my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my Portion in the land of the living.’ I don’t know of a soul on earth who cares. Deliver me, Lord.” (Psalm 142:1-7)

Ever felt that way? Lonely. Desolate. No escape. Nothing left. Yet, in the middle of it, the only thing David hasn’t lost sight of is God; because He cries for God to rescue him.

And here’s what it’s really about ... God has brought David at last to the place where He can really be used. When God brings you to a place like the caves where you think it’s the end and there’s nowhere left to go but up, He brings us to these places in order to re-route our lives, not destroy them.

Human perspective says: “I’ve lost this, I’ve lost that ... I’ve ruined this, I’ve ruined that ... I’ve caused this, I’ve caused that ... it’s over ... I’m done ... everything is gone.” But God says: “It’s just re-routing time ... it’s time to pick up and start something fresh and new with Me."

That’s what God does with David - and that’s what God wants to do with you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t left you. You are never more remembered or loved by God than when you’re in the cave.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Two things here tonight ...

I just returned from Oakland, California, where I was visiting the School of Urban Ministry there. SUM is founded and led by Chancellor George Neau and trains young men and women who are strictly called into ministry by partnering them with visionary leaders currently pastoring churches and pouring into them over three years, ultimately educating them with a fully accredited Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. During this three years, students are involved in 8 hours of Practicum per week - constant, hands-on ministry to go alongside their classroom studies. All of this is done at about a third of the cost of traditional Bible College & University costs. It was an exciting couple of days listening to the presentations by SUM. We are praying to find out if God would want KFA to host a school on our own campus.

The second part of my blog tonight is just a 'smiler' on my part. I was blessed to sit beside two young boys aged 10 and 12 on the plane back from San Francisco International Airport. Four hours of them bumping into me with their arms AND feet --- watching them play soccer on their handheld devices and watch way-too-adult movies on their portable dvd players --- talking about the World Cup with them (they knew way more about it than me - go figure) --- passing drinks and straws and cups and snacks back and forth between them and the stewardess (I was sitting on the aisle and they kept asking for things) --- and --- count 'em ... getting up 11 times to let them go to the bathroom. Yes ... 11 times. Small bladders, evidently. But, it was the most fun four hours on a plane I've had in a while.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The battle of the Christian life has been not just to believe, but to keep on believing. This is why the great target of your enemy is to break down your faith. If he can pull your hand back down to your side where you had it stretched out to God, he has succeeded.

Listen to Joshua’s parting instructions in his old age to his people: “You yourselves have seen everything the Lord our God has done to all the nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you.” (Joshua 23:3) In other words, look back and think on all God has done - and let history build your faith.

How about us doing that - just in the past 12 months? How many hundreds of mornings did you wake up with strength in your limbs to get up and function? You didn’t manufacture that strength yourself - I hope you don’t think that. It was a gift from God. When did you last thank God for your mental alertness, for a functional memory, or for the skills and ability to hold down a job?

We forget those things. We have greater faith for a future when we look back and acknowledge everything God has done in our past.

And then ... after Joshua tells the people to remember, he looks ahead - even at the end of his life. The first 22 chapters of Joshua tell how he has led the Israelites in conquering vast sections of Canaan. City after city has fallen to his armies. But Joshua isn’t satisfied with that. He says: “The Lord Himself will drive [the remaining Canaanite nations] out of your way. He will push them out before you and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord promised.” (Joshua 23:5)

Every one of us can point to things in our lives that are not yet the way God wants them to be. There is still a good deal of ‘land’ to be conquered. God wants to destroy the enemies that threaten to steal, kill and destroy us ... and He will, as we continue living by faith, not by sight.

Faith doesn’t come from you or me. It comes from God as we get His Word into our hearts and lives.

When we get a real faith in God, a certainty comes that when we call, He will answer ... that when we knock, the door will be opened ... and before you know it, we begin seeking Him for wayward children to be saved -- we begin asking Him for a greater sense of the Holy Spirit in our lives -- we begin petitioning Him for power to be released -- we begin trusting Him for the finances we need -- we begin following Him like never before.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It was the most exciting thing today to baptize over sixty people in water at Lake Andrea. The stories of transformational life change just kept coming one after the other today. Love that.

These are all people who have taken back what the enemy has tried to steal from them. In John 10:10, Jesus said: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full."

When Jesus says ‘the thief,’ he’s talking about our enemy, the devil. And the truth is, I believe the devil has an actual strategy of theft for each of us. His first move in your life is just petty larceny. But once he manages that, he moves to something bigger - grand larceny - personal assault - rape - then to actual killing, and sometimes to mass destruction. But it all begins with stealing.

And I think, in many of our lives, there was a time we loved Jesus more than we do today. Our appetite for His Word was voracious. Our love for church and for serving - enthusiastic. Our eagerness for spreading the Gospel - unquenchable. And I’m just asking, 'How is it now?' Sure, we still love God. But what happened to all that energy and passion?

We got ripped off.

How about the unique calling that rests on every believer’s life? Years ago God gave you a dream about what He wanted to do in your life. He wanted you to teach. He wanted you to sing. He wanted you to stand in the gap for another person; to be an intercessor. There was a pull toward the mission field.

But then ... you got discouraged. Somebody let you down. Something went wrong with somebody or something. Someone you deeply trusted failed you. Someone sharply criticized what you said or did. Life got in the way. Soon the dream faded and the calling didn’t feel so real anymore.

We need to be honest and admit what really happened. There is no point in conning ourselves. We have been burglarized by the master thief. The devil is always trying to rob us of something God intended to bless us with.

The latest surveys show the divorce rate among churchgoers is just as high as it is in the general population. If I were an atheist or an agnostic, I’d ask: 'How come your Jesus can't keep you two together? I thought you said He was so wonderful ... "

Are Christian couples breaking up because they shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place? Is it because they came from homes with poor role models? There is MORE to it than that. The thief comes to steal ...

These are the realities of spiritual warfare. Only faith in Christ and His power can give us victory over Satan’s destructive plans. Every day of your life there is a fight for your allegiance. The enemy tries to steal the Word right out of your heart ... tries to kill your faith. You never hear of a thief who makes off with four dishtowels and a tube of toothpaste. He’s looking to find what is precious and steal that.

Jesus, on the other hand is the exact opposite of a thief -- He is an anti-thief. He doesn’t come to steal, but to bless and give. He doesn’t break into anyone’s life; He patiently stands at the door and knocks. If invited in, He walks through the house placing precious objects on mantels and shelves and in the cupboards of your life. He fills you up with everything life is worth living for.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


It is great spending time with KFA-ers. We had the privilege of having ten people to our home tonight who have been attending KFA between 2 years and 16 years. After a great rib and chicken dinner, we heard stories of how people came to faith - what God is doing in their lives and families - how they arrived at KFA - their prayers and prayer requests and hopes for the future - and what I believe God wants to do thru KFA in the future. An evening well-spent.

And be blessed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Joelene and I were watching TV while eating dinner in our living room the other night - an activity we increasingly do now that our children are gone ---- and the show that happened to be on was one of those Entertainment Weekly kind of programs.

I know it's labelled entertainment, so there shouldn't be any big surprise about the information coming at you. But, just before we changed the channel, it struck us odd that people really seem to care a lot about Mel Gibson's latest tirade. They're interested in what Denzel Washington wore to the grocery store or what kind of dog Keira Knightly walks around the park.

I will admit we probably all have some kind of fascination with celebrity. I remember seeing Tony Orlando in an elevator once (OK ... definitely showing my age there) --- or we catch sight of Jennifer Lopez shooting a film on a trip to New York --- or Leonardo DiCaprio walking in front of the Capitol in D.C. You've probably seen a celebrity or two in your day.

But celebrities are a relatively new class in our culture. Celebrities didn't exist prior to the invention of the photograph. Former generations had 'heroes' -- people well-known for their acts of bravery or brilliance or creativity or self-sacrifice. Heroes earned their status. Celebrities, on the other hand, are well-known for being .... um ... well-known.

We know who Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and Taylor Lautner are. But other than appearing on a big screen somewhere, we'd be hard-pressed to name a single accomplishment. We have the power of the 'image' to thank for that.

In the 19th century, most people considered photographs almost as an exciting kind of magic, but certain African tribes believed (and still do) that the camera/photograph possessed agents powerful enough to steal your soul. The Amish rejected (and still do) the photograph for fear it will develop in people excessive vanity and pride. Neither group is entirely off-base.

Take Britney Spears. Photographs have made her into an object rather than a person. Frankly, when I GOOGLED her, I was hard-pressed to find a picture suitable to post on this blog. Sure, she may have sought the limelight and then started believing her own image but eventually she lost sight of herself. I don't believe who she became was who she started out to become.

I don't think that is uncommon either - and you don't have to be a big-time celebrity for that to happen. Without a center, Britney's life started spinning out of control with some disastrous consequences. Maybe she craved the fame. She certainly worked hard to attain it. But the images give and the images take away. She is now a persona, not a real person.

So it turns out -- the Africans and the Amish -- were right. Sort of.

One thing is for sure. We need a center -- a TRUE NORTH -- that is reliable and steadfast and that cannot be shaken.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but when do you think each of Jesus' disciples were actually converted to faith? The
Bible kind of indicates that Jesus walked up to a series of them, said, 'Come, follow Me,' and ... um ... well ... they just did.

"Yep. Sorry, Dad. I mean ... I know you were grooming us to take over the fishing business for ya when you retire in a couple of months ... but ... well ... we're goin' with the new guy here. Take care of yourself, Dad." And so they followed.

When do you think Peter was saved? These kinds of questions begin to reveal the hazard of our modern day obsession with determining exact moments -- as well as definitions for -- conversion. In the Bible, the Gospel writers don't seem to be as concerned about that as we seem to be.

The disciples' walk with Christ seems to be marked by an unfolding of discoveries ... not a single event so much as a gradual process ... a dimmer switch as opposed to an 'off/on' light switch.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to the apostle Paul's experience - who, on Wednesday is spewing murderous threats against believers and on Thursday, after being hit by a blinding light, is one of them.

So there are two different understandings of conversion then - at least two. And, in our way of understanding and explaining, one understanding typically seems to be at the expense of the other.

I get both understandings. In college, we took a course where you learned how to strategically build relationships with 'non-believers' (in 16 easy steps), as well as the most effective strategies for moving people from God's 'unsaved' column to His 'saved' column.

It went this way: Once I built a relationship with an unbeliever, my next job was to explain to them how their beliefs were mostly wrong. "Lift the hood of their head and tinker around with their brain like a mechanic until they had all the right beliefs organized in all the right ways. Once properly organized, and the person could regurgitate all the right information in the right order - out loud - a 'switch' was flipped in Heaven." Another soul has been set free.

This off/on method does find roots in the Bible. Paul said it: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Gotcha.

But the shift from 'non-believer' to 'believer' ... or 'unsaved' to 'saved' ... sometimes seems more like a wave. How you determine the strict boundary of the wave is like trying to determine when night becomes day. Or when confidence becomes arrogance. Or when praise becomes flattery. These things consist on a continuum.

Scenario: A good friend of yours goes to church every week and is convinced he is supposed to act like Jesus. He is one of the most authentic followers of Jesus you know. But he also wrestles with some very serious doubts. He has a hard time fully accepting that Jesus was divine. He just can't seem to get there.

According to the 'light switch' conversion theory, your friend is headed for hell unless he gets his beliefs straightened out in his heart and head. He needs a good dose of Pauline theology. And he has much in common with Jesus' own disciple, Thomas.

It's probably time that we begin to make space for the 'learner' - the 'student' - the follower who is on the dimmer switch conversion pathway. After all, Jesus' parting words to us were: "Go and make disciples ... " He didn't tell us to go and make believers. Disciples are followers as well as students - always learning - changing their beliefs as they walk.

I suppose conversion can feel like an off/on switch - where everything is suddenly illuminated. But it can also feel like a gradual dimmer - brightening a long darkness on a slow fade-up. Jesus, it would seem, joins us in both.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The moment I stop breathing on this journey, I'll see the face of Jesus. It could be forty years from now or it could be before midnight tonight. In that second, all my impure motives, self-oriented exploits and fleshly ventures will be burned away.

I'm not sure if God will show a movie reel of my life or just let me see it as a reflection thru His eyes or what -- but what I hope to see at some point are things I did that represented Him well and legitimately served His Kingdom.

Because of that, my life verse is Acts 13:36 - "When David had served God's purposes in his own generation, he fell asleep." That's pretty much it.

The essence of the Christian faith is that God sent Jesus, who intentionally came to lay down His life as a ransom for our mistakes. It was a necessary tragedy that ultimately brought each of us who believe, life. His way of living and His sacrifice serve as a clear call to give our lives away.

If spiritual leadership is anything, it is a journey OF death and a journey TO death. One journey is an inward dying to ourselves - our pride - our agendas - our ideas - our concerns - our ambitions ... and the other a preparation for our actual, physical death, where the only thing that matters is what we have left to those who will follow us.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Every time I mow our yard, I end up with a scar - or two - or three. There is buckthorn all around the perimeter of the yard and the needles are vicious. I should wear long sleeves when I mow, but on really beautiful days (like today), it just seems wrong to be out there all covered up.

It got me thinking about scars. How they are really signs of ownership. Signs of trial ... hard work ... accident ... in some cases, God's marks of ownership. Is that controversial? I don't know. Maybe it is.

Here are the scars I have on my body:
On my scalp --- from a car accident at age 5 and had many stitches performed after they opened my scalp to relieve a nerve pressing on my brain. Fortunately, my full head of hair covers up that one.

On my left hand - fingers three and four --- from when I was a kid carrying a ping-pong table folded up with a friend and the table unfolded with my fingers stuck in the cracks.

On my left hand - pinkie --- a scar that goes completely across the back of the finger when my half-brother shut the car door on my finger when I was about 2 years old.

On my forehead --- a round scar from when I threw a pipe in a stream and it bounced back up and hit me in the forehead. As I grew, the scar travelled up into my scalp.

Up and down the sides of my jaw --- from a teenage life of some pretty serious acne.

Marks of ownership.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


God can’t give you a dream if you won’t sit down and be quiet long enough. That’s where God’s inspiration happens. That’s what separates our goal-setting and dreaming from those who don’t know God. You get alone and tune in to Him. You listen. Because your intuition and personal great ideas can be 100% wrong. Instead of praying, "God, bless what I'm doing," instead pray, "God, help me do what You're blessing." God hasn’t promised to bless everything you do – but He will bless His dream in your life. But you need to hear Him to know what that is.

Then there comes a point of decision where you’ve got to stop talking and start acting. You’ve got to begin. You have to let go of the rope.

The trapeze goes out and there’s that moment of truth where the acrobat swings out and here comes the other bar. But in order to reach that bar, he has to let go of this one. There’s that split-second in space where he’s hanging ninety feet above the ground holding on to absolutely nothing. If he doesn’t let go, he’ll swing back until finally the momentum stops and he’s just hanging there -- and that’s where the dream eventually dies.

There’s got to come a point in your life when you say, "God has called me to this dream; I'm going for it."

If your dreams are only as big as you, you don’t have a very big God. But when you’re walking in the Spirit, you attempt something that cannot be done in the power of the flesh. You attempt something you know you’re bound to fail at unless God shows up.

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, "Yeah, I've got dreams. Of course, I've got dreams." Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and ... "Yep, they're still in there."

God doesn’t want that to be you – or me - or our church.

And here’s how you know if it’s really God's dream or not. God's dream makes a difference in the lives of people. His dreams are never selfish dreams. If you just want to have a great job or make some money, live in a great house, retire early – that is not God’s dream. But if you want to make some money in order to give it away to serve God’s Kingdom – to retire early so you can start a new career for God that He might be calling you to – that dream could be from God.

Get going.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I think most of us tell ourselves lies every day about our life potential.

"I’ll never do anything remarkable."

"I will never become anyone of significance."

That kind of thinking is not only bad self talk - it's bad theology. Because as ordinary as you and I think we are -- God is a Master at taking ordinariness and doing something extraordinary with it.

David - shepherd boy - runt of the family -- becomes Israel’s greatest king.

Mary - young, impoverished girl - yet full of faith - chosen to bear God's Son.

Peter - uneducated, red-necked fishermen who followed Jesus and changed the world.

Mother Theresa - tiny Albanian nun who impacted the world selflessly like no other.

Martin Luther King, Jr - poor black kid with a dream to change racism in America forever.

1 Corinthians 2:9: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him."

Not for everyone; for those who LOVE Him.

You gotta love Him.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Today began the first of 3 weeks in our series,
"At The Movies." The series seeks to connect strong spiritual truths with what is happening in the entertainment of our culture.

What are the writers writing about and why?
What does God have to say about all of it?
Can any of it be redeemed?

Our first installment utilized the animated movie, "UP." It was also one of the two weekends every year that families are given special invitation to sit together at KFA with no children's services offered. So it was a great day to enjoy the "UP" theme together.

One thing we all have in common - every one of us has dreams - and every dream is in the direction of UP. No dreams are DOWN.

And the awesome thing is ... the ability to dream comes from UP - because it is God-given. Every great achievement that’s ever been done has been accomplished because somebody had a dream. Nothing starts happening until somebody begins dreaming.

One of the problems with dreams, however, is that when you get into life or business or marriage or anything … you start off with this big dream but very often, circumstances and situations cause the dream to shrivel and fade.

The Bible says we were created in the image of God. I'm just beginning to grasp the fringes of what that means after all these years ... that the God of creation - the God of the universe - sculpted you in your mother’s womb. And inside you He tenderly laid a dream and vision that would take your whole life to fulfill. God has woven within you and me the threads of greatness and significance. God has created works “IN ADVANCE” for you to do. So ... periodically ... we need to be taught how to re-dream.

I have a dream for our church … it’s not from some book or the latests conference; it is God-given.

It is a dream of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with thousands of people in Wisconsin and Illinois …

It is a dream of seeing 200 small groups connecting people together weekly …

It is a dream of educating college-aged students and sending them out all over our city and region to do Kingdom work ...

It is a dream of more fully supporting workers and missionaries in the 10/40 window with all our resources ...

It is a dream of burning our church mortgage so other real ministry can take place ...

It is a dream of seeing someone in each of our spheres of influence come to faith by December ...

It is a dream of going into our community to help educate, resource, bless hundreds of people who are hungry, impoverished, in need and illiterate ...

It is a dream of seeing 1,200 KFA-ers serving to help the Kingdom move forward ...

It is a dream of filling both our church auditoriums on Saturday nights and Sundays with believers and new people coming to faith ...

It is a dream of planting churches at the harbor and in Lake Geneva and in Racine and in Northern Illinois or wherever God would lead us to do it.

And I’m confident that these dreams will be realized. Why? Because God gave them to me. I don’t know all the timing … I don’t know how it’s all going to happen ... I don’t know how long it will take … but I’ve never doubted the dream would come true – because it’s not from me. It’s from God. I have faith it will happen. Believe and dream with me.

And be blessed.