Monday, November 29, 2010


God smacked me today. I realized I loved my church too much. Why do I say that? Because I was convicted by the reality that I think I love my church more than I love my community. I have come to love KFA so much that I’m afraid I might have allowed it to, over time, diminish my love for the community my church has been called to do ministry in.

Yes, I believe my church is impacting our community. But as the church grows, it is so easy to get caught up in church activity and even church relationships, to the extent we lose our love for our community. I know some people are still striving to get good relationships in the first place, so that might come off to them as over-the-top.

But here’s the pattern I see emerge in the book of Acts: as people in the early church fell more and more in love with God, they fell more in love with, not their church, but their community. Their love for God produced in them a love for people and a passion to share Christ’s love with everyone in their community.

Do I love my church? Absolutely.

Do I love the people in my church? Definitely.

Are there tons of things I love about our church? Tons.

I just think a real love for God shouldn’t just produce more love for my church, but also more love for my community. If it doesn’t, then whatever Godly passion I claim to have isn’t a passion from Him.

So - I commit to allowing God’s love FOR me produce more love IN me and THRU me for the people in my community. I can’t love everything the most. So today, I pledged to God that I would love KFA just a little less and love my community a lot more.

How about you? Which do you love more? Your church? Or your community?

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The Bible tells us there are some secret things going on with God. You can’t know them. They’re unexplainable. You’re on the outside of those secrets. You aren’t meant to know them - there are some things about Him you can’t fully wrap your brain around.

God’s ways are higher and deeper than ours. He has some mysteries you’re just never going to get. But there are certain things God does reveal to us. Those things belong to us. Why? So we might ‘follow all the words of His law.’ I’ll tell you a few things about Me,’ God says. ‘You need to know these things in order to obey Me and follow Me.’

But the biggest thing we need to grasp today is that there is only one true God. There aren’t 250 million gods to worship - there is just one.

Everything that has life is dependent on this one being. That’s a crazy thought -- that there is one being who possesses that kind of power and everything living and breathing right now is dependent on that one. Every animal ... every plant ... every life ... here because of God.

There is nothing and no one who compares to Him. So let’s just be clear on this and understand that we only think because of Him - we only move because of Him - we only breathe because of Him - we only exist because of Him.

And even bigger - that God can come into a human heart and live there. You don’t become God, but His presence and peace and strength and love can be inside you. And that isn’t hocus-pocus. That is 100% REAL.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I read something recently about a corporate consultant who was doing a presentation on the importance of dialogue. He shared that 20,000 years ago (he is a supporter of evolution) people believed in and practiced animism universally -- often conversing with rocks and trees. That’s a whole different conversation than say, with my wife - except from her perspective some days.

He mentioned that as civilization moved from hunter-gatherer societies (‘What did that stone say?’) into agrarian ones, it became more important to talk to one another (‘Can you move that stone out of my plow’s way?’). Farms and fields needed to be protected and at some point dialogue went from civilized to coercive (‘Move that stone or I’ll knock your block off’). Supposedly, in 2010, we have moved from civilized to coercive to reflective (‘Where shall we put this stone together?’).


He made the point that certain individuals help define us by the dialogue we have with them. Spouses. Parents. Bosses. They convey how they see us by the way they speak to us. Perhaps this is why adult children find it difficult to communicate with their parents in new ways - or why adversarial couples can’t find fresh ways to relate peacefully -- because they are frozen in old, low-level, warring dialogue patterns.

We’re probably all familiar with rapidly descending forms of dialogue, such as:

‘Hi, hon, I’m home!’

‘Where were you?’

‘I told you I’d be late.’

‘You’re always late these days. Is something going on I should know about?’

Guess where that dialogue is going real fast? Down.

I can’t tell you how many couples I have sat with over the years where the wife is discouraged because her husband won’t take the lead in the relationship spiritually. After an hour of encouragement and challenge, I convince him to lead the three of us in prayer - more specifically, pray for his wife - something he hasn't done in perhaps years. He doesn’t think he can do it, but most often, if not reluctantly, he agrees.

‘Dear God ... um ... thank you for my family ... uh ... help our home and ... help us ... er ... um ... be with [wife's name] ... help me be a better husband ... and ... bless us, Jesus. Amen.’

‘Pffft! You call that a prayer? See what I mean, pastor?’

(Yeah, I see what you mean. 'How’d you like to taste my knuckles about now?' I don’t actually say that.)

What are the chances that man is going to go out on a ledge to pray with his wife again? It would be safer to bet your life savings that Bill O’Reilly will be the next U.S. President.

Here’s a parent-child exchange. Consider the kind of relationship track being formed here:

‘I thought I told you to clean up your room.’

‘I did.’

‘You call that clean? This place looks like a pig sty.’

‘It does not!’

Here, the mom (I’m just assuming it’s a mom - sorry. Dad's don't care if rooms are clean) is using accusatory dialogue that puts her child in a role of the ‘less-than defender’ - dialogue which can freeze the child in time for decades to come.

Boss-worker dialogue:

‘Did you write that report I asked for yet?’

‘No sir, I’m still working on it.’

‘Your job is not necessarily secure here - you might think it is - but when I tell you to do something, I want it done now, not later. Have the report on my desk by the morning.’

(Submit your own response here.)

Dialogue is powerful. It has the capacity to lift up, depress, engage, shut down, liberate, imprison, enamor, alienate ...

Jesus elevated the dialogue: “Let your speech be at all times gracious ... so you may never be at a loss to know how you ought to answer anyone who puts a question to you” (Colossians 4:6). So can we.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Here was our Thanksgiving Day menu. We postponed Thanksgiving till today (see yesterday's blog).

Pear Walnut Salad
Cranberry Sauce
Pickle and Olive tray
Orcchetta with red sauce
Three Cheese Papparedelle
Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni and Pork plate
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Rice Pudding
Sparkling Duck and Julmust
Apple Pie
Chocolate Shortbread Tart
Chocolate Chip Cookies

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We tried something different for Thanksgiving today. We rode the train into downtown Chicago to take in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (we have always gone down on the Friday after Thanksgiving as part of our tradition instead).

The weather was great. It was a fun time with the whole fam together. That's Joelene and me on the train with our grandson, Elias.

We actually intended to eat Thanksgiving dinner this year at Macy's Walnut Room, but it wasn't open. (We'd heard it was.)

So we ended up coming home for 'leftovers.' But we're having our big Italian/American Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow instead. I love change. And in the end, no matter how you turn it, I'm grateful.

James McDonald says there are ‘LEVELS of GRATITUDE’ - elementary, high school and graduate school gratitude.

Elementary level is Hebrews 13:15 - 'Let us offer a continual sacrifice of praise to God.' It is the sacrifice of thankfulness. “Thanks, God. There - I said Thank You. And You should be happy I said it.' In other words, my obligation to thank You has been met. I could probably have done it without You, but thanks for helping me. That's something, but it’s not much.

High School level gratitude is I Thessalonians 5:18 - 'Be thankful in all circumstances, because this is God's will for all you who belong in Christ.' You can find something to be thankful for in every situation -always. We can make that choice. And this works really well - especially if you’re NOT going thru anything tough at the moment.

But if you want the real joy, go to graduate school level gratitude. Ephesians 5:18, 20 - 'Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus.' We’re famous for theologizing that you shouldn’t give thanks FOR bad things - just give thanks IN the bad circumstance. But this verse says: “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Graduate school gratitude is where we come to the place we can say, Thank You, God. This is the very thing I know You’re using in my life right now. You LOVE me and I TRUST You. Thank You, God, even ... for ... this.’

Am I a thankful person? Am I choosing gratefulness moment by moment? I"m trying.

Hope your day was amazing.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This is the whole fam enjoying a late breakfast together this morning at Frank's Diner in Kenosha - made famous on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri.

I had the cheese omelet slathered all over with their homemade chili.

A good time was had by all.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Earlier this year, Joelene and I had the opportunity to sail on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It was a spectacular, life-pausing moment to be on the very waters Jesus spoke to when He said: "Peace, be still," and they did.

I also thought about what Peter and crew must have thought and felt when Jesus strode up to them beside water's edge and said: "Drop the nets and follow Me."

Jesus had this incredible ability to excite people. Was it pure charisma? Was it the promise of adventure? Was it the presence of God? I think it was all three and more. He brought fire into people's lives - and they liked it.

I found out today firsthand that one of the reasons people 'under-perform' in their roles is because they don't understand WHY they are doing them in the first place. The number two reason people today stay in their jobs long-term is that the mission of the organization stimulates and excites them. Conversely, more people leave their jobs because the mission of the organization doesn't stimulate or excite them.

Basketball coach Pat Riley said: 'You don't have to yell and scream at a player who wants the same thing you do.'

True team builders excite people and inspire people to look up. Jesus did that so well; I'd like to learn to do that way better, too.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 22, 2010


As I've reviewed the past several weeks/months of this blog, I found myself shocked at how often I talked about change. It isn't that I think things are so 'bad' the way they are; I don't. Far from it. Things are awesome. But I'm not a 'status quo' guy. Things can always be better. I just have to learn the art of valuing the past and present while still steering toward the future.

I believe change is the new constant; that's why I talk about it so much without even realizing I'm doing it.

After all, change is what we're all about. Change is what Christ did in our lives at the outset. Some of you were radically changed when you became a believer. You quit smoking, you quit getting drunk, you quit the bad language. You turned your life over to God completely. That was some amazing, ridiculous change.

And you're still changing. When you stop changing, you stagnate and eventually you die. Same thing with church life. That's what happened in Acts chapter 6. The church had grown and the way things had been operating had to change. Widows were being neglected. The leaders didn't have to give to the primary tasks God had called them to. But the most telling thing about that situation is what the Bible says next: 'So the Word of God spread. The number of disciples increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.' (Acts 6:7)

After they were willing to change, the Gospel spread like mad. The church got healthier and bigger because they were willing to make the necessary changes.

I know, I know. Change bites. It's not fun. Sometimes it's very painful. But I refuse to let the discomfort of change keep us from fulfilling the mission God has given us. We've been asking "HOW" and "WHY" and "WHERE" and "WHAT" and "WHO" about everything lately.

What do we want to accomplish?
Why do we want to accomplish it?
Where do we want to take people once they walk thru our doors?
What do we do with them after they accept Christ?
What has to happen to see our city changed?
How do we communicate to people where we want them to go?
What are the steps to get there?
Who are we trying to reach?

They are tough conversations that embarrass me, anger me, challenge me, excite me and sometimes frustrate me at how I have helped lead KFA up till now. But they are questions that have to be asked. They are questions we should have been asking all along.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We entertained about 20 people at our home this evening - picking their extensive and collective brains about what is good with KFA as well as how we could be a better church. We stayed very focused with this particular group tonight - everybody in the room was in their 30s. It was a focused, spirited and lively discussion.

I love the heart of our people. They care intensely about those outside the faith and want to see our church reach out in meaningful and relevant outward-focused ways. How can you go wrong with that approach?

My vision became strengthened and my passion re-invigorated.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010



Last Monday night in front of an audience of hundreds at a presentation at the University of Southern California, TV personality Bill Nye — popularly known as the "Science Guy" — collapsed in mid-sentence as he walked toward a podium. Early indications are that Nye is OK, but what is odd about the incident isn't so much Nye's health setback as it is the crowd's reaction to it. Or, more precisely, its non-reaction, according to several accounts.

It appears the students in attendance, rather than getting up from their seats to rush to Nye's aid, instead pulled out their mobile devices - not to call 911 - but to post information about Nye's loss of consciousness.

One student admitted: “Nobody went to his aid when he first collapsed — instead, I saw students texting and updating their Twitter statuses. It was all very bizarre."

A cursory search on Twitter revealed a virtual play-by-play account of the incident.

Still, the Nye incident is nowhere near as disturbing as another episode reported in New Orleans earlier the same week, which involved Anthony Barre, a New Orleans man popular for his acid-tongued comic performances on YouTube. He was tragically murdered on the streets of the city's 7th Ward. As he lay dying, witnesses at the scene took to the Internet to chronicle the tragedy in real time, even posting photos of his body lying in a pool of blood.

This is the world we have to minister in today. Pray God gives us wisdom to understand how to reach people in this 21st century where people have never been more connected socially while at the same time never more disconnected from one another.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today was an awesome, relaxing day - the kind we don't get all that often.

Joelene and I went to the Grand Geneva Spa for the day. A little workout in the gym - a little steam bath - a little sauna - a little whirlpool - a little massage - a little nap --- it was amazing.

I'm ready for bed now and what looks like an extra busy day tomorrow.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We had another session of Life Development Network up in New Berlin today. We're in the beginning of the second and final year of a process that is helping us define our church mission, purposes, values, focus, strategies and ministry model (so far).

Today the main subject matter was forming teams in order to accomplish the mission and I had a chance to teach during today's session on the matter of what makes a great Christian leader.

First of course, is having Godly character. Being a Godly person doesn’t make you a leader, but it precludes you from being one. You can cover it up for awhile, but eventually your character will come out. If you don’t have the right character, the rest of it is pointless in Christian leadership circles. This is critical in the world we live because they’ve seen a lot of pride and arrogance, when what they need to see authenticity and humility. John the Baptist said: “He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). They need to see more of Christ and less of me. That’s a character issue.

A great Christian leader has to know where he and his church are going. That's vision and process. Almost every great pastor has two churches in his mind ... the one he leads now and the one it can become. What do you want you church to be five years from now? Ten years? If the gap between those two is too narrow, you’re in trouble and you’re coasting and already on your way down. There has to be a gap. But if the gap is too big, then there’s frustration. It’s like the team that has never won a game, but this year their dream is to win the state championship. Maybe they should concentrate on winning six games this year rather than deal frustration to their team. Vision involves believing God wants to do something great through you ... that God can use us with all our flaws - complexities - limitations - and still do something good. It is dreaming about the future - it’s what wakes you up in the middle of the night.

A great Christian leader has followers - that's influence. If a person says, "I'm a leader!" but turns around and no one is following, as John Maxwell says, "He's simply taking a walk." It is wonderful when the people believe in the leader, but it is more wonderful if the leader believes in the people. Influence includes having relationships, motivating and empowering others, building a guiding coalition and mentoring.

A great Christian leader has to have all three qualities - not just two-of-three. You have a leader with good character -- people enjoy being with them -- but they don’t know where they’re going. Another leader has great character and they know where they’re going -- but their own mother doesn’t want to be around them. They have the human relation skills of a porcupine. But the most dangerous two-out-of-three leader is the leader who has relational abilities as well as vision, but lacks character.

May God help us get ahold of and keep all three.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I don't really like the term 'preaching.' I'm not even sure why I don't like it exactly; it just feels like an old word to me. I know it's in the Bible - "Preach the Word ... " - but there are a lot of other words used in the Bible that have gone out of use in the Everyman's English. It doesn't mean I don't believe in the concept of strongly and faithfully and consistently speaking the Truth into people's lives in public settings. Far, far from it. I'm just not sure what to call it instead of 'preaching.' But that isn't what today's blog is really about anyway -- I just digressed before I even got started.

I spend some time - not a lot, but some - listening to others - um - er - preach. There are some great -- well -- preachers (AGGGH!) out there. I love hearing their insights on various topics and Bible passages. Some incredible brains and hearts in our world are doing great things for the Kingdom. We are blessed.

What has become clear to me is that certain communicators have certain messages they can't help getting away from no matter what Bible text they use. Just seems that way.

Ed Young, Jr. is always going to get it back to creativity.

Perry Noble speaks a lot about how dangerous Christianity is and how believers need to be dangerous and not settle for Christianity 'as is.'

T.D. Jakes always seems to have a message of encouragement every single time. The underlying theme is 'you can make it.' Same with Joel Osteen.

When I listen to Stephen Furtick at Elevation Church in Charlotte, I always hear how big God is and how He wants to do big things.

Francis Chan focuses on the depth of who God is.

Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle could be preaching on anything and it goes back to the Gospel and the Bible.

I'm not sure any of that is ultra-intentional. Maybe it is. But I think - mostly - it's an overflow of their inner passion and the message God has put them on earth to convey.

I think, for me, my message has so often been how much God loves us and how much He has called us to love other people - that He will use us in spite of the chinks in our armor -- and that the extent to which He has shown us mercy, grace and forgiveness is the extent we are called to show all those things to others.

I am a perfect example of how God can take someone completely unworthy and make him into something semi-useful. I have never been the smartest guy on the block -- not the most athletic -- or the handsomest (well, maybe that isn't true) -- or the most humble (see!). I was the LAST person you ever thought would be a 'preacher' or a leader, much less the pastor of a great church - but I am proof that God love anybody and use anybody.

KFA ( is proof positive that church is chock-full of people no one will mistake as superstars. Yet, He is using us to do amazing things. Why? Because He loves us and has given us a dead-on mission to love others - no matter what.

I have had some critics talk about the fact that I am a broken record on this subject in my - (sigh) - 'preaching.' It used to bug me, but I came to realize it's just my message - and I'll probably keep on hitting the repeat button for the time being.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I've had this blog for nearly three years now. Time flies. It's been something I've really enjoyed. I know there are those out there way better at blogging than I - more interesting - funnier - more cutting edge - but I've definitely learned some things during those three years. Some people have asked me WHY I do it. So I thought I'd make today's blog the reasons why.

It helps me clarify my own thinking.
Maybe this is the primary, selfish benefit of blogging for me. Sometimes I'm not sure what I think about a topic until I start writing about it -- or while I'm writing, it begins to come into clearer focus right before my eyes. Blogging helps me untangle my tangled thoughts.

It has given me some firsthand experience with an emerging technology and form of social media and communication.
Sometimes I hear people pontificate about things they know little about. When you actually use something, your learning and insights go to a higher level.

It has provided me with an instant feedback mechanism.
I love the fact that people can comment on what has been written. It's been interesting that most of the feedback will come thru FACEBOOK, to which the blog automatically posts. But a few still comment directly on the blog page and I encourage that and like it when it happens in any form.

It has given others a 'peek behind the curtain.'
It's kind of funny what people think about me. It seems to be at opposite poles. Half the world thinks I'm intensely private and quiet, holding my personal life very close to the vest. The other half thing I'm Superman-Transparent, probably based on what I've shared from the stage as well as here. But this has given me an opportunity to open my life in some controlled ways to those who read. I'm told people like that. I don't know.

It has allowed me to share my personal vision as well as our church vision.
This has been a great thrill for me - to be able to get out information about who we are, where we're going and what God is doing.

It just scratches my itch to write.
I have 'writing a book' on my Bucket List. In my next life, I'd like to be an author. In the three years, it has added up to 700 blog pages up and average of 350 words per post, give or take. That's 250,000 words total, which would equal four 250-page novels. So maybe I should scratch the book thing off my Bucket List.
In any case, I'll probably keep going with it for the foreseeable future.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Here are a few admirable quotes about leadership. Many have inspired me, in particular as we have been on a year-plus journey developing our mission, vision, purposes, values and ministry model for KFA. I'm enjoying the journey.

When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
~Margaret Drabble

This leadership quote speaks to the possibilities that exist when you and your team don’t have a bunch of preconceived ideas. Everyone is limited by what they are sure is possible. Without those barriers, the glass ceiling goes away.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
~T. Jefferson

This Thomas Jefferson leadership quote is a strong reminder about when to be flexible and when to stand strong. Too often people are rigid on their style and flexible on their principles – the exact opposite of what is necessary.

When we think we lead, we are most led.
~Lord Byron

Leadership is a give and take process, not to mention an exercise in humility, as this quote points out.

The only real training for leadership is leadership.
~Antony Jay

Classroom experience isn’t nearly as valuable as actually leading people and learning from your mistakes.

The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.
~Henry Kissinger

Kissinger knew that it was no great feat to get people to do something they had done before. Real leadership is getting them to do something they haven’t ever done or aren’t even sure is possible.

People are more easily led than driven.
~David Harold Fink

This is an excellent reminder that leading is different than forcing people to do what you say.

Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.
~Marian Anderson

This leadership quote reminds us to see things from the perspective of the people whose lives we impact – a critically important lesson for leaders in any position.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It was an awesome Night of Worship this evening at KFA.

Great crowd -- great atmosphere -- great spirit -- great singing -- great quiet time -- great hanging around afterwards.

Hope to see you next time.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This is Minneapolis, Minnesota as of TODAY. Our daughter, who lives there, sent us the pic last night of the view just outside her home.

Beautiful - as long as it's 400 miles away.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 12, 2010


One of our values at KFA is that we would increasingly become a grace-filled church full of grace-filled people (which is really redundant to say).

We are called to experience and express the grace of God. There is no question we have experienced grace. The question is, will we express it?

At our church we tell you: 'There is a place here for you.' We don't care where you've been or what you've done. God will take you where you are, but not leave you there. We believe there is great forgiveness for the past and greater hope for the future. There is no question how we feel about sinners. We love them - and love covers a multitude of sins.

Most of us will agree with the above. From there, the question leads - will we extend a similar grace to someone who differs from us in style? In others words, will love also cover a multitude of styles?

Thomas Jefferson said: 'In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.' Sounds perfect. But this has proved to be a difficult balance for believers to live out. We imagine the way God is at work in our story is the only way God could be at work in any story. And in our efforts to validate our own ministry methods, there is often a temptation to invalidate other's. We must resist that temptation.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


There is no such thing as coexistence in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom did not come to Earth to coexist. It came to take over and transform. In the Kingdom there is one will, one vision, one standard, one moral code, one code of ethics -- the KING'S.

The existence of any other constitutes rebellion. If the King's word is law and absolute, how can there be multitudes of 'little kingdoms' within the Kingdom? There can't be. Since there is only one King and one Kingdom, coexistence is impossible.

The Kingdom of Heaven permeates and agitates and loves and cares and will not stop until it has transformed its environment into something formerly unrecognizable. It cannot simply be given a place that shares a stage with all the philosophies and faith systems of the world. It has a desire and goal to grow and expand and overwhelm until it alone is left standing.

So all who are Kingdom citizens face the dilemma and challenge of how to live successfully and simultaneously in two worlds that are in inevitable conflict. We must be prepared for that clash and conflict. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God and continue living like our lost friends. Suddenly -- everything changes. Our culture - our nature - our interests - our priorities - our tastes ---- everything. The old is gone and everything becomes new.

Our assignment on Earth is not coexistence; it is transformation. It is love taking over a love-starved planet.

And be blessed.


It was a super opportunity this evening to be part of the Teen Challenge Banquet at the Frontier Center in downtown Milwaukee to hear former President George W. Bush speak. It was the largest attended banquet Teen Challenge has ever had -- anywhere anytime. About 2,700 people were there.

George W. Bush spoke about his own past journey with nicotine and alcohol and his identification with some of the struggles Teen Challenge enrollees experience and injected hope into the lives of those present. He is unflaggingly 'normal,' likable, optimistic and anecdotal and it was a great pleasure to see and hear him in person tonight.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Amid all the changes we face in the church, a lot is going right, and we need to strengthen all the good things that remain by celebrating them as frequently as we can. Churches that claim to have a transformational faith and a God who is truly good should be happy places.

I fear that Christians have somewhat gained a reputation for furrowed brows, wagging fingers and selfish rhetoric. I would rather earn a reputation for having joyful sanity and serenity, good clean non-mean-spirited fun, and quiet confidence in God that makes us smile at the future.

How can we learn to love more by believing the best more - to test all things and yet hold fast to what is good - to drain the bath water but hold on to the baby?

I don't know.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Today we were working thru our KFA MINISTRY MODEL with some of our staff. It's an exciting time to be part of the church -- our church, more specifically, but I am biased, I admit -- but developing your ministry model is just hard work.

We decided the last thing we want to do is just copy somebody else. The most celebrated and notoriously successful models of recent decades --- Bill Hybels, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, for example - became successful via bold innovation, not thru unthinking imitation. We can imitate their product, but if we do, we violate the very process that made them successful. So that's no good.

Those kinds of successful ministry models got that way by trying new ideas that were too radical to even be popular right off the bat. But if you wait until a model is popular enough to imitate, you're almost sure to be too late. By the time they are universally accepted, they're yesterday's news.

The truly successful models - what we hope to be - earned their success the old-fashioned way -- through pain, endurance, mistakes, and prayer. They were real people who stuck to their dreams - what we hope to do - with integrity and sweat and tears. Success was a risk for them - an untried dream - not somebody else's formula for success. If you imitate their success, whatever kind of success you get won't be the kind they got.

The writer to the Hebrews didn't say, "Consider your leaders and imitate their hair styles, speech patterns, gestures and ministry models." He said, "Imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7)

May God help us as we go forward.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Concordia College is in Moorehead, Minnesota - just across the river from Fargo, North Dakota. It’s a bleak and cold part of the country, especially in winter. All year long, the city of Moorehead anticipates Concordia's annual Christmas concert. It features a huge choir and full orchestra in the college’s big hall. Every year they create a unique background for the concert - a 100 x 30 foot mosaic.

Six months prior they rent an empty building and begin creating the mosaic. Thousands of people - from elementary students to senior citizens - paint the mosaic. They paint by number on a large-scale design that has thousands of tiny pieces. Day after day, month after month, one little painted piece at a time, the picture gradually takes shape.

When the mosaic is completed, they place it behind the choir at the concert. It has the appearance of an enormous stained-glass window. Every year in the middle of the summer in Moorehead, Minnesota, thousands of unknown, ordinary people paint a tiny, insignificant tile. Six months later, the result is a beautiful masterpiece.

Our tiny choices and tiny moves toward God may not seem like much. But someday, you and I will stand together in the great cathedral of heaven - and up front - right near Jesus, we will hang the most magnificent mosaic we could ever imagine, made up of thousands and thousands of tiny, obedient responses we have made to God’s love in our lives.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Daylight Saving Time ends tonight. Turn your clocks back.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


'Nothing else in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

It's a pullout from the eighth chapter of the Bible book of Romans. NOTHING can stop God from loving us. Nothing. He just keeps on. Annoying, isn't it.

In 21st century translation we could say: 'Neither failure, nor poor church attendance, nor inadequate Bible reading and prayer, nor betrayal, denial, doubt, insecurity, guilt, weakness, bad theology, or losing your temper can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord.'

He loves us -- even when we don't want Him too. He loves us. Even when we don't act like Christians. He loves us.

Go ahead and try to run from it - resist it - shun it - hide from it - He loves you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Nobody speaks high German anymore. Well, nobody but -- um -- high Germans, that is. Same with King James English. That's not really a problem for us. I hope it isn't, at least.

That's why I intentionally choose to use words from the stage when I speak that don't need extra interpretation. That's why I choose not to use language that is 'club-type' language, that only insiders understand and that it takes a lexicon to 'get.'

But I wonder if we've faced the probable fact that tomorrow's people won't be speaking OUR language either? And really, I'm not even talking so much about the future thesaurus, I'm talking about modes of communication ... ways of convincing ... ways of arguing ... what is funny and what isn't ... what motivates and what repulses ... what is in bad taste or what is awesome.

Will our words and methods be like Confederate money on the other side of the Civil War? I suspect there may be something quite new and revolutionary, though I cannot express it or grasp it here and now.

One thing is certain: our words will not stand alone. Our message will be a LIFE: words plus deeds. Words of faith without works of love will not survive. I'm pretty sure about that.

We suffer at the moment from a glut of words, trumpeted over-loudly. To be listened to going forward, my hunch is we must learn to whisper shorter secrets in vocabulary that is less religious, more common, more earthy. Not profane, but not like stones in the shoes of the pre-believer. This does not speak to the education of the world going forward. It will be a highly intelligent world, but the days of "Ebenezers raised where angels prostrate fall, with blessing on royal diadems in Zion and a thousand tongues lifting up ephiphanies on high to the seventh heaven" --- will be long gone. And that change to a more human diction will be good for us. The discipline of thinking clearly, saying what we mean, honestly feeling, and seeking to truly be understood is a discipline our souls need. In fact, it will make us more like our Leader.

Finally, our words will depend more and more and more on the power of the story. In this way, we will most definitely become more like Jesus, who was a Master.

So looking forward to it.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Sometimes we have people ask us why we don't do expositional teaching of the Bible as much as we do topical teaching. It's a good/great question and it is expounded on with great authority by both sides.

I don't really take a 'side' on it so much. I think both methods can be beneficial and bear great fruit.

Imagine dividing your churchy Church into two groups - one on each side of the room. One side is asked to brainstorm a list of things that Christians struggle with. The other side puts themselves in the mindset of pre-believers they know and comes up with a list of things that they, non-Christians, struggle with: vices, fears, relational issues, etc.

After about ten minutes, the two groups come together and compare notes. Guess what? No difference. Both Christians and pre-Christians think about and struggle with:

Doubting God
Trying to be a better person
Stress and Worry
Pornography and Lust
Materialism and Greed
Forgiving people who have hurt them
Trying to figure out who God is
Communication and Sexual problems within marriage
Alcohol and substance abuse
Anger issues
Relating to children
... ad infinitum.

Sure, if we've come to know Christ, we are several steps ahead in knowledge and life transformation - and hopefully ahead in conquering vices thru the power of the Holy Spirit, but I can't think of anything that would interest a non-believer that I also wouldn't love to talk about and hear about.

That said, there has never been a need to 'water anything down' or 'lighten it up' for the sake of an unbeliever. Jesus didn't do that, so we probably shouldn't either.

So here's a simple habit you and your community can use to download Scripture:
Stretch out your right hand as far as you can. Measure the distance between your thumb and pinky. Read that much Scripture only. After you read, ask these five questions and let people answer according to their own thoughts ...

1. What did you like about what we just read?
2. What didn't you like?
3. Was there anything there you didn't understand?
4. What did you learn about God?
5. Regardless of where your faith is right now, if you were to apply what you just learned to some area of your life, what would that look like?

Seem simple? Shallow? Why don't you give it a shot and see? I guarantee you'll notice some interesting, healthy and mature growth dynamics that happen as a result.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 1, 2010


It might have been a smaller-than-usual gathering of Champions at my house this evening, but it was a great and powerful time together.

We discussed book #6 in our series of 12 books. Tonight was Stu Weber's 'Tender Warrior.' It talks about what it takes to make a real man - tender vs. warrior - the right combination of the two.

I loved how the book ended, talking about the character traits of a 'finisher' and how important it is to end strong. I want to be a Caleb, of whom it was said: "He followed the Lord his God FULLY."

Somebody make a note to mark that down for etching on my tombstone someday.

And be blessed.