Friday, April 29, 2011


  • The only reason you and I are here right now is because somebody dreamed it before you. You’re not going to have to die for your dream. But some others before you had to. What you have won’t come at the death of your spouse or children. Know why? Because it already cost the life of some others before you.
  • What we’re doing isn’t new; it’s just ‘our turn.’ We’re here today because people like Peter and John and Paul were faithful to contextualize the Gospel and contend for the faith.
  • Paul doesn’t want John Mark - Paul is fiery. Barnabas, the sweet guy, says, “Let’s give him another chance.” They had a difference in philosophy, not in theology. (We need to be a little more graceful with people who have different views. Our cannibalization of one another has to stop.) Do we believe in Jesus, born of a virgin - lived a perfect life - His death for our lives - and His resurrection ... do we believe that? Then shut up and get to work side by side.
  • Are you Godly?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a good communicator -- how is your home?

Are you in the Word for more reasons than just having to have something to preach? Because sin will choke you out and publicly ridicule the name of our God.

I’m not asking if you’re spotless, but are you clean.

  • If this is just all your fanatical effort and it’s not about the Holy Spirit moving in your life - you weighing every sermon, "Did it work - did it not work?" - then you’ve lost it. Because this is our watch now. It’s our time. It’s our turn.
  • Right now there is a man at work - he is miserable - he is distant from his wife - he has accomplished his dreams - his kids are out of control - his world is on fire. But by this time next year he will have made a decision to throw off the things that hinders him and he will run with endurance the race set before him because of the words God wants to speak thru you. OR ... you will continue to walk against the ways of God - even as a minister - and that man will end up far from God, potentially forever.
  • It is OUR TURN.
And be blessed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


What was Jesus’ model for doing ministry? Was it to:

Build a big building ...

Have some good music ...

Give some coffee ...

Do some cool things for the kids?

Was that Jesus’ model?

Jesus looked at the crowds following Him - and then turned to them and said: “Unless you drink of My blood and eat of my flesh, you can’t be My disciple.” At that, the Bible says, people started leaving Him. Then He turned to His disciples and asked: “Are you going to leave too?

The Jesus model was gathering twelve people to Himself - training them - challenging them - and then releasing them to do ministry.

When we aim for community, we get community. When we aim for mission, we get community AND mission.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm giving some thoughts over these next few days about church planting and multi-site concepts. This from Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson:

* We have to come to the place where confession equals commitment to God and where baptism equals ordination for service.

* Thanks to the multi-site movement, there are now more churches opening than closing in the U.S. But in large part, we are all going after the same 50% over and over. That means we have a ‘strategic problem.’ We can no longer expect those people to come to us; we have to go to them.

* One question is: "What will sound like ‘good news’ to THOSE people?" That is our ‘missional problem.’ We must learn to communicate the Gospel in ways that are meaningful to those outside of faith - people who, whether we like it or not, don’t find our models and methods of doing church engaging. They aren’t going to come to our present church no matter how good we are. More of the same isn’t going to draw them.

* Most of the ways we try to resolve the problems of church today come within the paradigm of what we already know. That can resolve some problems, but not problems that are fundamentally different than what we currently understand.

* So what might a 'new' church look like? One thing is certain: it won't be ‘business as usual,’ but the happy news is it also probably isn't as far off as we might think from where we are now - we just need some new glasses to look thru.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Over the next few days, I'll be posting some thoughts regarding the concept of church planting and multi-sites. It's on my heart (constantly) and so -- coming for the rest of this week are some comments and ideas on that vision:

* Most multi-site / church plants have leaders that come from in-house small groups. There is someone identified from that group as a natural leader.

* The best time for beginning a new venture is late September/October or pre-Easter. These times create the best/most momentum.

* One of the biggest questions to ask yourself before launching a new service or multi-site is: 'Is there evidence of Divine activity in this decision?'

* To identify a new location, ask yourself: 'Where is there a collection of your present members in your surrounding region? Where are people already driving a good distance from in order to reach your present campus?' That can be a starting nucleus for your new location.

* The Kingdom of God has historically expanded most rapidly via the planting of new churches.

* We cannot afford to bypass the current opportunities for harvest because of financial constraints.

* Is God calling us to be a church WITH multiple campuses -- or -- a church OF multiple campuses?

* As you begin to grow past 2 or 3 campuses, there should be someone waking and sleeping on that subject -- someone specific designated to drive that vision for your church.

* Have a season of fasting and prayer for this kind of vision with your leadership team and congregation.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 25, 2011


What is the responsibility of leadership in the church? According to Ephesians 4 it is to equip people for works of service. If we really believe that, it changes many things about how we have perceived church leaders.

We had well over 3,000 people attend our Easter weekend services this year. There is no way I can minister to all those needs. People may logically realize that and respond: 'Well, you have 8 other pastors to lean on." But that can't be true either. We'll never have enough staff to reach out to all the needs present in our church, much less in our city. If we hope to multiply the Gospel the way Christ intends, it will require not just a pastor or a church staff but the entire body of Christ 'built up in love as each part does its work.'

What that means, in essence, is that church leaders are intended by God not to plan events so much, but to equip people. Leaders do not exist to provide services but to show people how to do ministry.

Join us in the journey. We need you and God needs you.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


As usual, my wife, queen of the annual Easter Basket for each member of the fam, got me a dark chocolate bunny. Not to be indelicate, but in no time at all I had bitten off its head, bunny ears and all, in one fell crunch.

I always look forward to that, now after all these years actually making an exhibition of the bunny cannibalism. Yet it is crystal clear to me that it is not about bunnies - or colored eggs - or chocolate - or lilies. It is about something terrifyingly serious: Jesus rose from the dead.

That’s one reason Easter hasn’t been completely eaten alive by the consumer culture. Christmas, which can be cast as the heart-warming story of a pregnant Mary and a devoted Joseph and their search for a room, ultimately being surrounded by cuddly animals in a manger, is easily domesticated - more easily tamed - more easily sold to the masses.

Easter, on the other hand, is violent and untameable. The man whose followers believed Him to be the Messiah, was tried, beaten and executed like a common criminal. What is more, after the crucifixion the Bible portrays His disciples not as stalwart messengers of their leader's legacy, but as cowards, hiding behind locked doors for fear that someone would catch and arrest them. The story is messy. Very unmarketable.

But the truth is, on Easter Sunday, everything changes. Christ raises from the dead. That resurrection is at the very heart of the Christian message. If you don’t believe that fact, you would be hard-pressed to describe yourself a Christian.

This new life He brings is in fact “new.” Christ is not simply “resuscitated.” He is not merely brought back from the dead with the understanding that He’ll die some time in the future. He lives forever.

It’s not about bunnies - or colored eggs - or chocolate - or lilies. It is an event that makes a personal claim on you. Either you believe Jesus rose from the dead or you don’t. There is no happy middle. If you believe the former, then everything changes.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We have been sitting in our staff meetings over these past several weeks discussing some weighty things that affect the future and direction of our church ( We have a team of creative, outward-focused thinkers and I love that. It's a great team. We never have a famine of ideas. We could lay out a plan for the next five years and all be excited about it and fist pump each other on the way out the door.

But there is something subtly deceptive and dangerous about that system. The assumption is that God is automatically obligated or willing or excited to bless our plan. I don't see in Scripture where He makes that kind of promise. Yes, we do everything for the glory of God, but that doesn't mean everything we do for His glory will ultimately have the assurance of His blessing.

There is one thing God said He would bless with a guarantee: His plan. Rather than trying to be ultra-persuasive and extra-innovative - neither of those bad things - we seek and desire to align ourselves with the plan He has already promised to bless.

And we just get that from reading His Word and listening carefully to His voice.

And be blessed.

Friday, April 22, 2011


We have all viewed with great horror the scenes of the tsunami ravaging Japan or the flood wall of water overtaking New Orleans as the levees break away. Such sights leave us staring at the TV screen in disbelief as the images are played over and over by the media.

As David Platt says, in some ways 'the floods depict the radical call of Christ to Christians and the church. When Christ calls us to abandon what we have and abandon what we are, it's almost as if He's challenging us to put ourselves out there in the flood plain ... our lives ... our possessions ... our churches ... our plans and hopes and dreams ... in front of the levee and then ask God to break it ... to sweep away whatever He wants ... to leave standing whatever He desires ... to completely re-make us, according to His will.'

Some days I wonder if I'm there personally?
I wonder if our church is there.

Is our community of faith at a place where we might say, 'God, we'll do whatever You want ... we'll drop and lay down whatever You command ... we'll eliminate whatever isn't best ... we'll add whatever is necessary to make Your glory known in the world, no matter the cost to us.' I don't know. Are we there?

I simply and humbly want to ask the question, 'Among all the good things we are doing and planning (both personally and organizationally), are there better ways to align ourselves with God's Word ... are there better ways to mobilize God's people ... are there better ways to marshal God's resources for God's glory in a world where millions are starving and over a billion have not yet heard of Jesus?'

Some would say that's a great question for a pastor who desires a really short tenure. I'm convinced it is a question we cannot avoid.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I hear a lot of Christians talking about their 'rights' these days. "I have a 'right' to do this or that ... I have a 'right' to receive this or that ... I have a 'right' to know this or that ... "

I realize that we in America highly prize our rights - and rightly so. It is the primary distinctive that puts us head and shoulders above when compared with the other 200 nations of the world. Given that, it's so easy for Christians in America to transfer that belief to their relationship with God - or to the church.

We who believe and trust in God have done so because we have freely chosen this path. We examined the spiritual data and we chose. We are not 'owed' anything particularly; we chose this journey.

But we also have to examine God's choice for US. When we return to look at the example of Jesus and His disciples, we see that concept turning on its head a bit. We don't choose so much as we are chosen. I know many aspects of that remain a mystery to us, yet this much is clear: If you are a follower of Christ, you have been called and chosen by God, just as those first disciples of Jesus were called and chosen. Of course, you have also chosen to say 'yes,' but the first chooser was God, not you.

This wipes away some of the talk about what your 'rights' are as a believer. You have more obligation than right. The call of God is real. Jesus wants you to be one of His disciples.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I'm not a big fan of Thomas Kuhn. Honestly, I actually can't stand the guy. He's the dude who coined the phrase, 'paradigm shift.' Ten years ago, everybody was talking about paradigm shifts. Everybody was part of one - everybody was in one - everybody should get one. But half of the people who said they were in one couldn't pronounce paradigm (NOTE: PAIR'-UH-DIME) and nobody could say for certain what it really meant. (See June 26, 2008 blog.)

According to the 'man' himself, paradigm shift means "a major change in theory, behavior and worldview." He should know; he created the word.

But the truth is - if that is the real definition - Jesus exploded paradigms all the time.

He never hesitated to reject the practices of other teachers. A teacher's top priority was to pass down and preserve the oral tradition, being sure to cite past authorities in the process. But Jesus never taught like that. He spoke with an authority independent of other teachers. He didn't base it on any daisy-chain that linked Him back to Moses. He spoke simply, yet confidently.

Also, in the early centuries, it was the duty of the disciple to find a teacher. Jesus reversed that completely. He sought out His disciples.

Jesus was a misfit of sorts.

But even as He shook up first century pair'-uh-dimes, He also rattles 21st century ones. Because of that, we have a couple of choices. We can accept His message and allow it to naturally transform our lives so that we never go home the same again - or we can opt to say 'no thanks' and go about business as usual. What we cannot do is say 'yes' to Him and continue living more or less like we were before our encounter with Him.

That is a paradigm He simply will not allow.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I do a lot of reading. My bookshelf is full of books (see the April 11th blog). There are a lot of great authors out there. There are also some great authors who are wrong. A lot of books promise to give the 'real truth' about Jesus, but what they offer is hardly that. Very often these books appear to be the result of some serious scholarship and we fall hook-line-and-sinker for anything that sounds smart these days.

In the end, Jesus gets demoted.

I'm not going to take potshots by naming people or books that I think are in that category - maybe I should - maybe I will another time. But there is a definite sense that Jesus is taking on a 'lesser-than' status when we read some of them.

I have never known a believer who would admit to relegating Jesus to a 'step down' from how He is described in Scripture. There is no intentional denigration. Yet we create other Jesus-es who look a whole lot more like us than taking seriously the way He is genuinely revealed to us.

"Jesus is a perfect gentleman." Really? Go back and read the Gospels again on that one. Democrats think Jesus would be one of them if He walked in the flesh today. Ironically, Republicans think the same. I even read about a Socialist who said that Jesus was the first one of his kind. Somebody has to be wrong there. Most likely they're all wrong.

We seem pretty sure we know what Jesus would be like if He were to join current society:
"Jesus would wear jeans to church."
"Jesus would walk around in shorts and a tank top."
"Jesus would have some tats and piercings."
"Jesus would watch 'American Idol.'"
An opponent against the law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets swears Jesus would be in his corner on that.
Christian heavy metal rock music says: "If Jesus was alive today, He'd be in the mosh pit."
Another: "If Jesus was alive today, He would be at the Super Bowl!" (No doubt standing shirtless a the 50-yard line wearing a rainbow wig with John 3:16 painted in blue on His chest.)

OK, I admit those are kind of laughable - but we all do that to one extent or another. We make Jesus the Jesus of our personal preferences. That's harmless to do, isn't it?

I don't think so. When we do that, He becomes a lump of Play-Doh and we end up trivializing Him - He becomes one more politico, one more spectator, one more music fan molded to our pleasure. That is a serious problem for us who are of faith, because we obscure who Jesus really is - what He really came to do - why He journeyed from Heaven to earth. We miss the entire point of His birth - His life - His death - and His resurrection.

Even more shattering, if He becomes too much like us, what's the point of being transformed to be like Him?

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I always wanted to be a genius. It was not until recently that I realized I actually could be.

The measure of our genius is not how much we know or how much we have learned or how much we have - but how much we give of ourselves. Unfortunately, few of us really aspire to 'go there.' The reason that is so is because the focus of giving is sacrifice. And sacrifice, by definition, is difficult.

Even so, we are taught that when we sacrifice sparingly, we reap minimally. The upside-down of this is that the 'takers' of this world always need more. Their cravings are never satisfied.

Conversely, when we sacrifice much, we gain beyond measure. The givers in this world have hands that are always open and yet - mysteriously - are never empty. These are they who, wherever they go, always have more. They never leave a place or relationship having taken more than they have given.

These are the true geniuses of our world today.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Just about the most moving thing I have ever seen while watching a movie/TV screen is the final scene from Stephen Spielberg's
'Saving Private Ryan.'

It is set during World War II at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. A full fifty percent of the men who were part of that first wave at Omaha Beach that day never lived to see the sun set that evening.

Paratrooper Private James Ryan and his unit had been spared the horror of that because they had been air-dropped into Normandy the night before. Unbeknownst to him, two of his brothers had not survived the D-Day assault and a third brother had been killed in action in New Guinea. Captain John Miller and his men had been assigned the task or retrieving Ryan from the field because U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall thought three out of four sons lost to one mother was quite enough for one family to contribute to the war effort.

Ultimately, Captain Miller and his team found Ryan's unit and Ryan's battle soon became all their battle as they joined in the fight. The Germans came at them and Captain Miller never let Ryan leave his side. Through the course of it, Captain Miller was shot. As he lay there dying, Miller manages to say to Ryan: 'James. Earn this. Earn it.' Of the squad sent to save Private Ryan, only two escaped unscathed. All the others were dead or dying.

Decades later, James Ryan, now a father and grandfather, brings his family to the cemetery where Captain Miller lay. He hopes he has 'earned' it - that his life has counted for something - that he has been worthy of the price Captain Miller and others paid on his behalf.

James Ryan comes to the headstone with his wife beside him. He looks at her and says, 'Tell me I'm a good man.' With great earnest, she answers, 'You ARE.'

I can barely write about it without getting wet behind the eyes. It is one of the most emotional moments on screen I can remember. Who of us can watch that or read this without asking ourselves the very same question: 'Have I lived a good life?'

That question pursues every human. I continue asking myself that kind of question even before I'm anywhere near the end (hopefully): 'Have I been a good man? Have I lived a good life?'

What will the truth and destiny of our lives be?
How can such a life be lived?
Have I lived one?
Have you?

And be blessed.

Friday, April 15, 2011


One of the most basic and simple forms of Jesus’ teaching is that Christians in community are never to give up on one another ... never give up on a relationship ... never write off another believer. The Bible seems clear that if a relationship has cooled off or weakened in any way, it is always your move. It doesn’t matter “who started it.” God always holds you responsible to reach out to repair a tattered relationship. A believer is responsible to begin the process of reconciliation, regardless of how the distance or the alienation began.

When someone seriously wrongs you, there is an unavoidable sense that the wrongdoer owes you. The wrong has incurred an obligation, a liability, a debt. Anyone who has been wronged feels a compulsion to make the other person pay down that debt. We do that by trying to hurt them back, by yelling at them, making them feel bad in some way or just waiting and watching and hoping that something bad happens to them. Only after we see them suffer in some commensurate way do we sense that the debt has been paid and the sense of obligation is gone. This sense of liability and obligation is impossible to escape.

What is forgiveness then? Forgiveness means giving up the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you. In fact, in some sense, forgiveness is a form of voluntary suffering.

Think about how monetary debt works. If a friend breaks my lamp, and if the lamp costs fifty dollars to replace, then that act of lamp-breaking incurs a debt of fifty dollars. If I let him pay for and replace the lamp, I get my lamp back and he’s out fifty dollars. But if I forgive him for what he did, the debt does not mysteriously vanish into thin air. When I forgive him, I absorb the cost and payment for the lamp. Either I will pay the fifty dollars myself to replace it or I will lose the lighting in that room. To forgive is to cancel a debt by paying it or absorbing it yourself. Someone always pays every debt. Always.

In all cases, when wrong is done, there is a debt - and there is no way to deal with it minus suffering. Either you make the perpetrator suffer for it or you forgive and suffer for it yourself.

And when two people within the church are in conflict with each other, it can wreak a lot of havoc in the hearts and lives of the Christians around them who are not immediately involved. The worst thing (but unfortunately the common thing) that happens is rather than suspending judgment, praying, and encouraging the parties toward reconciliation, people take sides in the dispute in a very world-typical way. It is hard not to sympathize with the party you know best. It is also hard for that person not to share his or her hurt with others in a way that does not vilify the other party in the conflict.

As a result, we can have second- and third-order unreconciled relationships. The problem with this is obvious. There is no direct way to heal such breaches. This is a spiritually poisonous situation.

The reason there are so many exhortations in the New Testament for Christians to love other Christians is because the church itself is not made up of natural ‘friends.’ It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs or anything else of the sort that bind most groups of people together. Christians come together because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ and owe Him a common allegiance. In this light we are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.

The reason we will have to hold ourselves accountable for our relationships is that mutual love, even within Christian community, is super-hard. Oh - not with your best buds, but with everybody else. Jesus has brought incompatibles together on purpose.

But the larger reason we will want to hold ourselves accountable to healthy and forgiving relationships is that mutual love in Christian community is one of the main ways the world will see who Jesus is.

So we must never give up on each other.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It was a crazy experience as I walked thru our building today around 10 in the morning. I was on my way to Christian Life School chapel, where I was scheduled to speak.

To get there, I had to walk thru the main lobby of KFA where the Encore group (west of 60 years old) were meeting. They had some great Gaither-ish type music playing -- stuff I could sing by heart. Everybody was sitting around talking and the music was kind of in the background, but loud enough to sing along.

When I arrived at the H20 hall, where 400 students and teachers were streaming in preparing for chapel, I noticed they were playing on the screens some hip-hop Christian music video. It was pretty far removed from what was coming from the lobby speakers where I had been two minutes earlier. The student worship team led in 25 minutes of non-stop singing - passionate and sincere - and ear-blasting loud. Radical and awesome.

After I was done speaking, I walked back toward my office. I had to pass by the Children and Family Ministry auditorium - so I stuck my head in there and there was some kiddie music playing - something synthesized sounding and lively.

I finished the journey back to my office, where my administrative assistant was playing some fourth kind of music that didn't fit any of the other three I'd just heard. I am proud of our diversity and our passion to reach different age groups in ways that are relevant and current without removing the message of the Kingdom. And we're all on the same team - that is most incredible of all.

Way to go, KFA! Proud of you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


There has always been a sense that 'clergy' is more powerful than 'laity.' I think that's a trap. There is a doctrine out there called 'The Priesthood of all Believers,' which I believe in deeply as a Biblical concept. Simply stated, it means every believer in Jesus Christ can have a life that is connected to God on a personal basis and every believer can serve with a distinct function for the Kingdom with equal importance to the clergy. Certainly, leaders within the church have legitimate and Biblical reasons for being there (I'd better believe that, right?), but there is not a special pipeline to God and their lives are not substantively different from the lives of the laity. Or they shouldn't be.

We talk about the concept of 'the priesthood of all believers,' but it seems like we don't do as much about it, practically speaking. It is continuously communicated from our stages with some eloquence, not to mention conviction, yet a relatively small percentage of believers involve themselves in something significant on a regular basis.

What would be scriptural as well as exciting and transforming would be to have believers who came to faith and then began daily times of personal worship, prayer and Bible reading that effectively built up their lives. We may have become too comfortable and accustomed to getting all of that from pastors alone or from TV/internet preachers.

The outflow of that is when confronted with an actual unbeliever or crisis situation in the life of another, the message is: "Go see my pastor" or "Get to church and they'll fix that."

Um. No.

However, I fear we have cultivated some of that motivation ourselves. "Don't miss the series for the next four weeks. It'll change your life!" ... and things like that. It is small wonder then that people perceive themselves as incapable and incompetent to handle their own situations thru personal knowledge of the Word or listening to God or thru the support of the life of the body of Christ.

Walking with Jesus is within the grasp of every individual. He is the One who makes us competent to walk it out. Remember ... you have a priesthood in you.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I am tempted every day of my life, but some of the temptations that assault me aren't what you might think. Only 20 feet to my left - every day - stands a set of bookshelves 16' wide by 9' high. Chock-full of books screaming to be read.

I've read a majority of them -- skimmed a lot of the rest -- smelled them all (see February 21 blog).

There are 60 books on Christian living -- two dozen on theology -- 30 on 'doing church' -- 50 about marriage and family -- 20 on end times (with 20 different views represented)-- money -- commentaries on books of the Bible -- the will of God -- worship -- spiritual gifts -- prayer -- spiritual warfare -- heaven and hell -- faith and healing -- SOMEBODY STOP ME!

Sometimes I hate that wall. I look at all those viewpoints and get this nagging sense that we have successfully made Christianity a lot more complicated than it was intended.

When we voice a cry for greater intimacy expressed in simpler times, maybe we should look over our shoulders at the shelf - and how elaborate and complex we have made a very uncomplicated Gospel.

Back to reading one of my 17 Bibles now.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


It will come as no surprise to anyone that I've made some pretty bone-headed mistakes in my time. And what is just flat out true is that God doesn't seem to say very often: 'You know what, I'm going to be a Good Guy and spare you the consequences of those.' Instead, He seems to say: 'I'll walk with you through the experience of the consequence.'

I've said similar things to my own kids. 'Daughter, I'm not here to spare you from every rough thing in life, particularly what you've brought on yourself, but I will be here to walk through it with you. I'm here.'

God does the same. He knows the hurt you're experiencing is a result of your own mistakes - and while He may not magically remove all the consequences or the hurt, even though He is utterly capable of both - more often He graciously showers mercy down and lovingly shrinks the full weight of the mistakes.

He knows that what you're carrying on your back is way too big for you, even though it may be the result of your own actions, but letting you go through the results and consequences of the mistakes while walking with you - sometimes carrying you - is probably one of the most loving things He can do.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


There is a very old story about a kind farmer who fell on hard times and became at the mercy of an evil moneylender. The old moneylender thought the farmer's daughter very beautiful and proposed a settlement. He would forgive the farmer's debt if he could marry his daughter. The moneylender proposed a game of chance to determine the outcome and the farmer and daughter could do little else but agree.

The moneylender told them he would put a black pebble and a white pebble in a bag and if the girl drew out a black pebble, she would have to marry the moneylender. If she drew out a white pebble, she would remain with her father and the debt would be free and clear.

The evil moneylender bent down to the pebble-strewn pathway and picked up two pebbles. The alert farmer's daughter noticed he had shamelessly picked up two black pebbles and put them in the bag. He then asked her to pick a pebble out.

Imagine you were the person standing there. What would you have done? How would you have advised her? Three possibilities exist --- refuse to play, but then her father would be thrown in jail --- go ahead and pick out a black pebble and sacrifice herself for her father --- up-end the bag and expose the moneylender and likely prompt his swift revenge.

Think about a situation you're in where everything seems hopeless - no way out. What do you do? Is there really only one option? Are there really only options A and B and no others? Here's what the girl did.

She put her hand in the bag and, without looking at the pebble or showing it to anyone, fumbled it and let it fall onto the pathway, where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

'How clumsy of me,' the farmer's daughter said. 'But it's OK. We'll just look and see which pebble is left in the bag and that will tell us which one I picked.' And in a moment, the girl transformed what had been an impossible situation into an advantageous opportunity.

Most problems - even complex ones - have a solution --- if we just think beyond the choices that are most obvious.

And be blessed.

Friday, April 8, 2011


At the conclusion of the movie,
'The Wizard of Oz,' the four characters all discover that the abilities and attributes they had spent so much time searching for were things they already possessed.

Lesson learned. Too many are waiting for the 'wizard' to come along, in his many forms - therapist, counselor, coach, boss, teacher, pastor, spouse - and do for them what they will ultimately have to do for themselves. At the end of the day, no teacher or counselor or spouse or friend can truly solve your problem. Your greatest ally for a solution is not any of the above, good as some of them are. Your greatest ally is God.

As soon as you see that, in conjunction with accepting responsibility for your own life, you free yourself from any delusion that some miracle by one of your allies is going to make life better. You begin to see another possibility: that only God and you (in that order) can bring that miracle into being.

This is not a 'just believe in the good in yourself' theology; it is a 'put your faith and trust in God' theology. Have you ever noticed that when God gives you a dream, you still have to work to make it happen? It's God -- and you -- in that order. This isn't by-passing God or stepping ahead of Him - it is a recognition that He has already put some things inside you that are waiting to get out.

Time to let them out.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


One of the disturbing aspects of the 'born again' boom is that it has seemed to have so little impact on society. It seems obvious that something is wrong. We call ourselves Christ-followers but the actions to back it up are often absent.

Wayne Jacobsen calls them pseudo-Christians and he describes six varieties ...

Pretend Christians.
They go thru the motions for the benefits of being thought a Christian. It pleases a spouse - it helps them make business contacts - it gives their children a good heritage - etc.

Cultural Christians.
They inherit faith from previous generations.

Fire Insurance Christians.
Thoughts of 'hell' drive them to say a prayer, but they are always trying to eek out just enough salvation to get by. Their favorite question is: 'Do I HAVE to in order to stay saved?'

Creedal Christians.
These master on theology, but they forget that great theology isn't nearly enough. It's how much of it we allow to shape our lives that counts.

Good-hearted Christians.
They seem so loving and kind, but they do themselves a disservice by finding false security in their own goodness rather than in surrendering to Christ.

Ethical Christians.
These types are usually happy only when demanding of others the same ethic that makes their own life so miserable.

We may think there are many varieties of Christians when the Bible really only recognizes one - disciples. Their hearts burn for Jesus. They have unquenchable hunger for God. They aren't perfect, yet keep pressing ahead and their lives are marked by confident faith.

Is it you?

And be blessed.

Monday, April 4, 2011


"Love At Last Sight," written by Kerry & Chris Shook and in the tradition of their earlier book, “One Month To Live,” is a 30-day journey that offers something special intended for you and the people closest to you. “Love At FIrst Sight” is broken down into four sections - each one week long ...

1 - The Art of Being All There

2 - The Art of Acting Intentionally

3 - The Art of Risking Awkwardness

4 - The Art of Letting Go

The book focuses on relationships and is written to be chewed on one-day-at-a-time, but not chewed on alone. When you read along with someone you love, you may be surprised at how the relationships God gave you to last a lifetime will be strengthened for the journey in only 30 days.

Enjoy ... and be blessed.

* This book was provided for review free of charge by Multnomah Press.

** This review has also been posted on