Friday, December 31, 2010


I saw some TAVERN RULES the other day. It struck me how many of them actually apply to church.

1 Satisfaction guaranteed - just talk to us.
2 The guest is usually right. OK ... always.
3 Music is at the volume we like. Ear plugs available on request.
4 Celebrate all you want, but we don't sing 'Happy Birthday' here.
5 Feel free to talk to strangers.
6 Alert your server if you have any special dietary restrictions.
7 About the Tavern Rules - Don't talk about them with your mouth full.

I used to be a whole lot more about rules than I am today. Don't get me wrong, I still like rules, but I've come to realize they can bog down vision. People just start trying to follow the 'book' rather than 'live' and 'create' and 'dream.'

But I agree some rules are necessary. Less is more probably, but whatever rules you end up having should at least define who you are. If we could keep them as simple as these Tavern Rules, we would probably do well.

We don't have a long list of rules that defines KFA, but we have our core values. They define us:

As we end this year and enter the next, I'm excited to see what God will do.

Happy New Year. And be blessed.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

TOP TEN 2010 (5)

The #2 favorite blog post #2 of 2010 by my readers, based on the number of visits that day, was also one of my personal favorites. It was originally posted on October 1st and titled, 'MESS.' Essentially it was a post describing the messiness of the Christian life, of which I am a prime example. I admitted that I sometimes dream I’m following Jesus, wishing He would notice me, wanting Him to personally choose me, then all of a sudden He turns around and looks me in the eye and says, 'Follow Me.' With a heart that skips several beats, realizing my life is about to change forever, I run His direction when all of a sudden He says, 'No, not YOU - the guy behind you.' It's then I realize spirituality is kind of messy - it isn’t perfection with a nice bow on top. It’s about accepting the reality of your own flawed-ness and understanding God is present in your mess.

The #1 read and commented-on blog posting of the year - whether you like it or not - was the posting on February 22nd originally titled 'HAGGARD.' It detailed our in-person meeting at KFA with Ted Haggard and a few others in the room where he shared about the accusations against him a few years ago regarding morality. The true spirit of the blog was about God’s grace and my desire that KFA be a place that manifests it. I think people would rather talk about ‘the Haggard situation’ than about God’s grace but my prayer is that we would be a church that faithfully reflects it.

NOTE: The #3 - #10 favorite blog postings can be reviewed by visiting the past four days’ entries.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TOP TEN 2010 (4)

September was the month for the 3rd and 4th most popular blog postings of 2010.

#4 - 'WAR' - originally posted on September 19th ...
I posted, after fighting with nature this particular day, about all the creatures I'm dealing with at and around my house -- bats, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, woodpeckers, etc ... Thanks to so many for the encouraging comments and the methods suggested for co-existence and harmony as well for extermination. Some of you are downright violent.

#3 - 'MIRROR' - originally posted on September 6th ...
On one of my more transparent days, I blogged that sometimes I'm not always sure about what I know. It's not from lack of study or conviction that I don't know; it's just that some people seem like they know everything all the time - they're so sure - and I'm just not one of them. My Bible tells me we 'see thru a mirror dimly' at the moment and that we have a God whose ways are far above and beyond ours. That leads me toward at least a little bit of humility about what I think I know or don't know. That, of course, prompted some interesting responses, including people who thought I needed to be more confident - and those who thought that was what the Holy Spirit was for and 'why wasn't I relying on Him for that.'

Feel free to view the past three days for Favorite Blog Postings #5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TOP TEN 2010 (3)

The #6 Favorite Blog Posting of 2010 was 'GRACE' - originally posted on October 6th ... I highlighted one of KFA's 8 core values in this blog -- that of being a grace-filled church. Grace is one of the things church people get edgy about. Never mind that each of us have received oodles and gobs of it. For some reason we strive to make it more 'responsible' after we've been the recipients. But not at KFA. We are doggedly determined to become a church where grace reigns.

#5 - 'ELEPHANT' - originally posted on October 20th ...
In a word, it was all about holiness. Often 'holiness' is the elephant in the room. I went back in my memory to list a bunch of rules I grew up with in church -- from 'no dancing' to 'no playing cards' to 'no mixed swimming' - and from there, blogged that our theology should be aligned more around 'mission' even than 'holiness.' That, of course, always elicits great response.

Note: Check out the past two days' pages for 2010's Favorite Posts #7, 8, 9 & 10.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

TOP TEN 2010 (2)

The readers' #8 Favorite Blog Posting this year was titled 'JOB' and posted on December 3rd.

I was feeling 'sappy' that day, I remember - and wanted everyone to know how much I love my job -- our staff -- our volunteers -- our church. I love it because I know it's where I'm supposed to be. I ended the post with a little challenge for you to do the same.

#7 - 'SIR' - original posting way back on March 6th ...

While I used the blog title as a way of 'venting' that one of the young, muscle whippersnappers at the gym had called me "SIR" as he passed me going into the locker room, the big idea of the post was that there are doors of opportunity open to you and me everywhere all day long if we'll just watch and listen. If we'll pray for doors to open, they will.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

TOP TEN 2010 (1)

For the final week of 2010 I've decided to reminisce about some of the posts here that seemed to be the most popular ones of the year. They weren't always my personal favorites, but they were the most commented on (here and on FACEBOOK) - or - they were the most read according to my Blog Analytics.

This tells me what people are interested in - what elicits responses - what stirs people up - what excites them - what bores them - etc etc etc. Maybe it will prompt you to return to read them again and/or comment again.

#10 ... "KFA" - original posting on May 15th ...
This blog post began innocently enough. I had observed that the strong majority of relative newcomers to
KFA were actually calling it KFA rather than the full-blown Kenosha First Assembly. I even mentioned that KFA could even be considered 'insider' language if you weren't sure what it meant, although you could likely figure it out pretty quickly. From there, I moved to making some comments about successful companies around the world who were known more by their initials than by their full names. Ninety-five percent of the blog post was about that. Little did I know it would set off a chain of blog and FACEBOOK responses - exciting, spirited and passionate all.

#9 - "GIMMICK" - original posting on October 11th ...
In this post, I began by giving my intended goal: To talk you out of following Jesus. I said that Jesus never had a gimmick to get more followers. He said from the very beginning that to follow Him, you had to give up everything in comparison. But we don't want to believe that or do that. And we have to be very careful that we don't begin to re-define what Christianity is -- that we don't twist and turn Jesus into a form we're more personally comfortable with.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I love the word 'journey.' It's so descriptive of the walk we walk day to day. Here are some things I've read and believe about the journey:

It always involves faith.

It is risk in action.

It includes trials and hardship.

It involves life change. Once you've encountered God, you can't be the same.

It is not dead or boring; it's an adventure.

Are you on the journey?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I was reading P. Noble the other day and he had some 'Signs that you (or your church) Lack Vision.' I thought they were good to share here with you, along with a couple of my own ...

#9 No one is ever challenged to radically rearrange their lives to be part of what God is doing.

#8 God hasn't asked YOU to give up something.

#7 Everyone in your church is clean and perfect. (If you're reaching lost people, you'll find ministry gets messy.)

#6 Nothing in regard to how you are leading has changed in the past year.

#5 When your youth group wants to do something, you make them have a bake sale in front of WalMart, but when the Senior Citizens want to do something, the church covers the cost. After all, they are the tithers (and then you go to your office and wonder why more youth don't come to your church).

#4 You can do everything in front of you without God's help.

#3 You think the answer to every problem is: 'If we just had more money ... '

#2 No one has ever left your church.

#1 You've never spent a sleepless night wondering: 'How are we going to do what I just told our church we were going to do?'

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


'A AA AA AA ABLE ATTORNEY" is the first business listed in the Kenosha Yellow Pages. There is either something very obnoxious or something very clever about creating a business name that inevitably lists you as the first entry in the Yellow Pages, as if people routinely open the Yellow Pages the way they do a novel. Now that we have the internet, do people actually still consult the Yellow Pages?

It's the same reason Jeff Bezos named his company 'AMAZON.' But formerly clever businesses like 'Amazon" and "AAA Insurance" and "AAMCO" have now been relegated to page two of the Yellow Pages, due to the ultra-ornery-ness of businesses like "AAAABA About Recovery."

I probably just have a personal 'thorn' when it comes to this. I'm a "T." That means I remember being near the end of every line in grade school and high school. The only three behind me were Kid 'Thomas,' Kid 'Williams' and Kid 'Young.' Now our eldest married daughter has even worsened her lot by going from 'Taylor' to 'Thulin.'

But here's the larger question. What I wonder is: Who, exactly, invented alphabetical order? Ever thought about that? I mean, why does M come before P? Who said? It kind of ticks me off.

So, I'm proposing a new order to the Alphabet, based loosely on Scrabble, because everyone knows that's the coolest word game there is. Pass it around:


And be blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I don't often vent on the blog. I don't think it's appropriate. But I don't always do everything that is appropriate.

I have come to understand that in the ministry, you WILL be criticized. Why shouldn't you be? You're not that special as to be preserved from criticism.

Not all criticism is bad anyway. I meet with a team of people every other week who love me, care about our church and its ministries, who are great analytical people. I have learned a ton from them. In fact, they seem to love tearing apart the sermons, micro-analyzing the bulletin design, evaluating the worship components - and I love those conversations. I'm not afraid of those talks; I welcome them because I hate status quo and so do they. I also know they are heavily invested in KFA with their hearts and they are people who love me deeply. They understand my heart and passion. They know what keeps me up at night. They know some of my personal battles and struggles. With that kind of armor, I can handle a boatload of criticism. These people have forever marked me for the better.

But there is another kind of critic. This one sees you, not as a person, but as a personality. That makes it way easier to say terrible things. I've heard some very smart pastors say they try to learn from their critics. Maybe. I'm not totally convinced.

The overwhelming majority of criticism I have faced has come from the same quarters over and over -- or worse - anonymously. I tell our administrative staff to under no circumstances pass on to me any correspondence - whether delivered by an official USPS truck or written on a white offering envelope - that doesn't have someone's name written on it. That letter is bound for The Otis File - the white porcelain round bottomless pit with the flusher on the side. Sorry, that's just how I run with that.

I don't always know if the above kind of critic is even a normal person. If you have someone who checks out your website every day to see what you 'got wrong' (which is pride, I think) - and they listen to your sermons and then critique them on-line ... uh ... is that normal?

I have let the 'bad' kind of critic take me from my family and my ministry far too often. I've occasionally lost some sleep over what they've said. Not often, but occasionally. But I am passionately confident in what God has called us to do in Kenosha - and I am obsessed with people who need Christ and believe it is our main mission as a church. It was Jesus' mission, so it has to be ours too.

I hate to make it this simple, but if God is moving in your church or ministry, if people are coming to faith, if they're taking steps toward being baptized and discipled and then those same people are reaching across the aisle to invite more people to meet Christ, let me ask you something -- who would want to tear that apart?

Get on board with us.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


A poll was taken recently asking what would be the worst

Christmas gift you could possibly receive.

31% said fruitcake. It ranked higher than ‘NO gift’ -- most people would rather receive nothing than receive fruitcake.

30% said if they got a fruitcake - they’d hide it in the closet.

25% said they’d return it.

20% said they’d give it away to someone else. Which means, if you get a fruitcake for Christmas this year, odds are 1:5 that it was given to the gifter by somebody else, who then re-gifted it to you.

But when we receive a gift that comes from someone’s heart, something happens in our heart. That’s what God is about -- giving something to us that is so great that something happens in our hearts.

If we did a survey and asked: “What are your favorite qualities about God?,” people would say things like ... He’s loving - kind - forgiving - patient - merciful - grace-giving - powerful - sovereign ... and all that is true - but a quality so often overlooked about God is that He is also generous. He is all about giving. It pleases the heart of God to give. We struggle with generosity, but God doesn’t.

Acts 20:35 - 'It is better to give than to receive.' You get more pleasure when you give than when you get. It's just true.

Over the years, we loved watching our kids’ faces light up when they started unwrapping gifts around the tree. That certain look has meant the world to Joelene and me and you begin to understand a verse like that - how much joy you get from giving -- and not just to your children.

On certain years we have done something extra at our house at Christmas. We’ve wrapped all the gifts and then we’ve hidden the best and last gift somewhere else in the house. Then at the end we go: “Well, I guess that’s it. Oh, wait! I think there’s one more.” Then we go to the garage or the basement - wherever we’ve stored it --- it’s been a big dollhouse or a Nintendo ---- or when they got older, it was a nice camera or an ipod. And we’d get our camera ready so we wouldn’t miss the reaction.

I believe God gets the same satisfaction when we receive His gift of Jesus. It puts a smile on His face when we finally come to the realization that we need Jesus ... and God snaps the picture of us at just the moment. That brings God the most enormous pleasure.

We forget that the baby Jesus was born to die - so Jesus comes near the end of His life and says in John 10:18 - ‘No one can take My life from Me. I’m going to GIVE it ... willingly.’ He’s all about giving.

So when we think about God offering us a gift at Christmas, the bottom line is that He doesn’t just offer us a gift; it’s bigger than that. He offers us an unbelievable gift - and indescribable gift - a gift too wonderful for words.

And when we think about the gift God gave us in Jesus, it should elicit the most amazing, thankful response from us possible. But sometimes I think we become de-sensitized to the story of Jesus. ‘Yeah - it’s Christmas time again. Jesus came as a baby in a manger, right. We heard that last December, didn't we?‘ And when we come to church this month, we know we’re probably going to hear it again ... and probably this time next year, too - and the one after that - and the one after that. And we act like we’re getting fruitcake.

But the fact that God sent His Son, Jesus, to the world as a baby with skin on to ultimately die on a cross for our sins is the most wonderful news we will ever hear or experience.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Roger Bannister ran the first 4-minute mile in 1954. Doctors said it couldn't be done because the human heart would explode with that kind of exertion. A few weeks later, a second runner did the same thing. (We don't remember his name, do we?) Then, one by one, more and more people began doing it. Roger Bannister just had to do it first.

Did humans suddenly evolve the ability to run faster? Did their hearts suddenly grow stronger to allow it? Hardly. What changed was the level of expectation. What we believed to be impossible was now proven to be possible.

The story is told about flea training. Put some fleas in a jar and close the lid. They'll pop up against the lid in an effort to escape - for about 2 hours. Once they're convinced they can't get out, you can remove the lid. With a perfectly clear path to freedom, the fleas remain in the jar and starve to death.

Who do you know who tried something once - and failed - only never to try it again?

What artificial barriers have you placed in your life? Have you convinced yourself something is impossible for you or out of your reach? Is it really out of reach, or might it just be beyond your present level of belief?

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It was an amazing day today. I feel like a lot of my days are amazing - not due to me, but to those around me - but today was awesome-amazing.

It started off with breakfast with the Allies down at the harbor. The Allies are area youth pastors who gather every month for prayer and visioning together. They support each other and their families - they celebrate victories - they challenge each other with accountability - and essentially, it is a brother/sisterhood of young, innovative spiritual leaders who are pastoring students across our city. Today, they invited their Senior Leaders to join them and pray for them. I had the very very great privilege of giving a short devotional to the group. I talked about how God is calling the church (the people) to get of their boxes (their buildings) to spread the Gospel.

An hour after that meeting finished (youth pastors are not known for starting breakfast early), I had the opportunity to have lunch with the pastor and leaders at Church of Joy in Zion, Illinois. They also operate the Success Center located in adjacent Winthrop Harbor. These people reach out to inner-city students in Waukegan, Zion, Kenosha, Racine and other area communities to tutor them, love them, build relationships with them, coach them, invest Christ in them, feed them and counsel them. They operate a Sidewalk Sunday School as well. What a spectacular group of people. Their facility is amazing and what they do six days a week to help what are predominantly struggling African-American students - to give them not so much a hand-out as a hand-UP - takes the breath away. It was an honor to see it up close and personal.

It was an amazing day today.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Never - and I mean never - apologize for passion.

It's one of the missing ingredients today in the church - and how we need it. I've met a lot of young pastors who are full of enthusiasm, dreams, goals - they pray big prayers - they refuse to be quiet about what God has given them. And unfortunately, that scares some people away.

So many pastors seem to lack passion - (I hope that isn't me - don't think it is) - and rather than doing great things for God, they just want to keep the sheep happy and grazing and if possible, maybe catch the attention of some sheep down the street and coax them on over.

We don't need that. We need men and women full of great passion and vision - men and women set on fire by God - men and women who feel as if they'll explode unless they do and say what God is showing them.

I've made my share of mistakes, of course - I've blogged about them over the past week or so - but I don't ever regret the passion in which I have pursued what God has called me to do. I refuse to be complacent about the church or about the dream for it God has placed in my heart.

I am passionate that we become a church where it is 'easy to find and experience God.' It isn't that we think it's going to be super-easy for everyone. We just think the reason enough people aren't making the choice for Christ is that they aren't seeing it lived out minus the hypocrisy. So in living lives of truth and integrity and purity, we make it easier for our neighbors to say, 'It looks pretty good on him/her. If he/she can do it, them maybe I can too.' And in that way, we make it easier for people to find and experience God.

I am passionate that we be a church where authentic community and enthusiastic service is going on daily.

I am passionate about worship (that means singing, praying, giving, living) that is also passionate.

I am passionate about people growing in faith personally - learning to feed themselves rather than waiting seven more days until the next weekend bowlful is served up.

I believe the church is the hope of the world - not the building, but the people. This thing inside me - this passion for the church and for people far from God - isn't mine. I never could have drummed it up. But now that God has placed it in me, it burns. So when I speak about the church and the vision, I can't help but be filled with passion.

Never - and I mean never - apologize for passion. The world doesn't need one more church leader who lives to marry, bury, counsel and dress to please everybody. The world needs one more church leader full of passion, who actually believes that God loves people and sent His Son into the world to rescue them. And do everything you can to get that message out. And never - and I mean never - apologize for passion.

I need to go scream now.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'll break my rule about one-blog-posting-per-day and put a second one up tonight.

I had the opportunity to hang out with about forty of our 20-somethings we call FUSION at KFA. We started at the Holiday House helping people who might not otherwise have a great holiday pick out toys for their children and then carrying boxes of food to their cars for Christmas.

Afterwards we all went bowling together. It was just flat out fun, even though the game is flat out torturous. I bowled a 93 the first game, but managed to somewhat redeem myself by squeezing out a 154 in game two.

It wasn't about the bowling anyhow - we have some great young Millenials at KFA. I felt honored that they let a 'seasoned' guy like me keep company with them tonight. My thanks to Pastor Jason & Becky Held for their amazing leadership of this group.

The future is looking bright.

And be blessed.


It happened again this week.

A couple in our church had a full set of appliances - dishwasher, refrigerator, stove - they couldn't use because they were moving into another place that had all those things already. They stopped by and asked if we knew of anybody who could use them because they wanted to give them away.

Funny thing is: we did know of someone.

So a second party who was in big-time need was the recipient of some pretty cool appliances yesterday.

This kind of thing isn't really that much of an anomaly at KFA, even though every story isn't as dramatic as this one. We operate in a very generous church community. It seems that people live out what it means to love God and love others, for which I'm extremely grateful.

If your church shut its doors tomorrow, would your community notice a difference? As a follower of Christ, are you personally generous with your resources and possessions? I hope you'll wrestle with these questions. I'm convinced they are key ingredients to our mission as we bring the message of hope to this city and 'make it easy for people to find and experience God.'

And be blessed.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Here are some of the dumb leadership mistakes I've made - some of them fairly recent:

Putting projects before people.
This is just one of those areas where I need to embrace the tension between relating with people and accomplishing the mission - and knowing that 'people' edge out 'job.'

Trying to fix the problem instead of the process.
It's kind of like continuing to change diapers rather than potty-training your kid. You can either continue reacting to the problem or you can fix the process. Ninety percent of the time it's a systems problem, not a people problem.

Just delegating a 'task' instead of a 'responsibility.'
I think I've been famous for this dumb leadership type of decision. As one person said: 'If all I've known is straw houses and I control every detail of their construction, then my leadership will never generate brick house ideas.'

Assuming it's always black-and-white.
I confess I tend to be a black-and-white kind of guy. Following rules is easier than the messiness of relationships. Following rules is easier than getting God's will. I'm for guidelines and order, of course - that's never going to change - but innovative organizations, I'm finding, don't value rules over mission.

Not following my gut.
I'm actually pretty good at this, but when I haven't followed it, a dumb decision often resulted. I usually call my 'gut,' the Holy Spirit (with no offense to Him) and know now that when I stop listening to Him, He seems to stop talking to me.

Waiting till there's a problem to get feedback.
I admit I'm encouragement-challenged. I tend to speak up more when expectations aren't met. I'm getting way better at that, but I've found it creates a culture of fear when I make this dumb mistake. I need to discipline myself to encourage my team a lot more.

So - there they are. Some of my dumb leadership mistakes. Not all, but some. They're a reflection of my personality. They also, on some counts, reflect the sin that is sometimes present in my life that I war against. Your list likely looks different. But you know your list like I know mine. You should, at least. If you don't, ask yourself. Ask your spouse. Ask a close friend. Ask your co-workers. Ask God. One of them is going to tell you.

And don't settle.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Fun day today.

The expected Southeastern Wisconsin 'blizzard' was underwhelming, thank goodness - no complaints there --- but it seriously affected our attendance this morning. Still, we had a great time together singing and getting the Word.

After church, Joelene and I went with our Encore group to see the live production of 'Miracle on 34th Street' at the Racine Theatre Guild - and then to Infusino's Restaurant for an Italian dinner with the entire gang.

Great show.
Great people.
Great food.
Great day.

Hope yours was too.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I was reading something by S. Godin the other day and he said something that so resonated with me, that I wish I would have said it. in fact, I've thought it so many times myself. Here it is, slightly edited for personalization purposes:

If you want to drive yourself crazy, read the Facebook or Twitter comments of an audience after you post something - or after you give a talk of some kind.

You didn't say what they said you said. You didn't mean what they said you meant.

Or read the comments on just about any blog post. People who read what you just wrote completely misunderstood it. Or else you did - but you WROTE it, so how could you misunderstand what you wrote yourself? Still, people sometimes insist you did. Hmmm.

We think direct written and verbal communication is clear and accurate and efficient. It is none of those. There is a huge amount of information communicated via your affect, your style and your confidence. The same thing is true by the affectation, style and confidence of the person reading/listening. But I don't think humans are so good at getting all the details.

Plan on being misunderstood. Repeat yourself. i've found this is particularly true when communicating vision. Not only does it leak, but it leaks wrong sometimes. And it has to be repeated many times to get thru the right way. I've been learning this the hard way, quite frankly.

So when in doubt, repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself.

Now ... what did I REALLY mean by this posting?

And be blessed.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I strongly believe that every single one of us has a unique calling on his life. That is certainly not something reserved for a chosen few who end up as pastors like me. We all fulfill our calling (or not) by being excellent as we express our talents and abilities - our dreams and passions. Anybody can do a job, but a calling is lived out by someone who has tapped into a source that goes far beyond education or intelligence.

Work that is connected to calling is never done only as an exchange for a paycheck. It should provide a sense of being connected to a higher God-given purpose. If your work is boring, monotonous, exhausting, you are clearly unconnected to your calling. That doesn't mean 'assembly-line work' or 'retail' or 'waitressing' cannot be your calling. I've seen people do all of those with a great sense of passion and enthusiasm, proving it's a place God had planted them, they knew it, and loved it.

But every day, millions of people rush to jobs they hate and then go home to lives equally empty and dull. And yet those same people defend those choices as responsible, practical and realistic.

I think that's 'whooey.' How can it be responsible to live lives devoid of meaning, joy and purpose?

What about you?
Are you working so hard you've forgotten to let your soul catch up?
Are you living your life too small?
Are you listening to God speaking?
Is your life so full of meaningless clatter that there's no room left for the things that make your heart sing?
Are you creating the legacy you want to leave behind for those you love?

There's no greater way to do that than to follow your calling.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I have this revolving dilemma that rotates thru my brain on a regular basis: Preach what people want to hear so you can keep attendance up.

Sometimes I preach my heart out on a weekend -- delivering something I feel God really gave me, and at the end of the day I was confident I said pretty much what He was asking me to say. It was something people needed to hear. But sometimes - on those weekends - attendance is down for whatever reason and I feel like a lot of people missed that Word. Maybe they missed it because they knew what I was going to be talking about and it wasn't interesting to them on the surface.

Now ... I am the last person who wants attendance to be down - or to preach things I'm pretty sure people are not going to be interested in. I'm just saying the temptation to deliver something that people will be curious about is always there. And I don't think that's all bad. There's a balance there.

But ... but ... here's what I think can't happen in my ministry. I can't fall into the trap of just giving messages that will 'pack the house out.' I can't fall into the snare of thinking the goal of my communication is to make people laugh or help them have an 'enjoyable' experience. In the words of Francis Chan: 'I can build a bigger church than Jesus if I'll just tell everyone what they want to hear.' Yikes.

I have to be willing to help people struggle with 'uncomfortable' parts of Scripture ... deal with the 'hard' teachings of Jesus ... not water down the requirements for following Him - OR - add in new requirements that He didn't lay down. I have to deal with issues that nobody would ever give me a hard time about if I never brought them up. It's not my job to make people come to church; it's not my job to make people listen; it's not even my job to make them open their hearts and ears to what God wants to say to them.

Know what my job is? To speak the Word. To speak what I feel God has given to me ... to do it with authority and in love. To speak the whole thing ... even the parts a lot of people don't want to hear. That's my job.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


If we could shrink the population of the earth to a village of 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this. There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, north and south
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
75 would be non-Christian
25 would be Christian
6 people would possess 59% of the world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States
80 would live in sub-standard housing
70 would be unable to read
60 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth, only 1 would have a college education and only 1 would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, compassion, understanding, outreach, justice and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And be blessed.