Sunday, May 29, 2011


After yesterday's blog, I got to reflecting about U.S. cities I've never been to that I'd like to visit someday. I've managed to make it to all the lower 48 states, but
Alaska and Hawaii still evade me. Still, there are several U.S. cities that I've missed along the way. Here's the top ten I'd like to get to one of these days.

Anchorage, Alaska
Honolulu, Hawaii
Savannah, Georgia
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
San Antonio, Texas
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Portland, Maine
Cour d'Alene, Idaho
Charleston, South Carolina
Roanoke, Virginia
Santa Fe, New Mexico

What about you?

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


It's been a privilege of mine to be able to do some traveling, particularly over the past several years. I have six clocks on the wall behind my office desk that post what the time of day is in those cities -- all places I've had the pleasure of visiting --
Mexico City -- Hong Kong -- Tokyo -- Calcutta -- Jerusalem -- Capetown. Add to those cities fascinating places such as Paris, Rome, London, Bangkok, Manila and Shenzhen, China and I feel blessed to have been able to see so many magnificent and interesting sights over the years. I am grateful.

This past trip to Casablanca rekindled my desire to make a list of 'world cities I'd like to visit.' Just for fun, here are my top ten:

Cairo, Egypt
Beijing, China
Sydney, Australia
Abu Dhabi, Dubai
Prague, Czech Republic
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Barcelona, Spain
Stockholm, Sweden
Athens, Greece
Lima, Peru
Moscow, Russia

OK - that was eleven, but not too much to ask, right?

And be blessed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


It is not politically correct to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the world these days. People might allow us to claim Him as our personal Savior, but to say He is the Savior of the world smacks against the multi-cultural and relativistic gods of the 21st century.

Having just returned from Morocco, it becomes clearer to me how awkward it can be to tell a Muslim (or a Jew) or a secularist what I really believe about Jesus. It can feel insensitive to say, 'Yes, I actually think Jesus intends to be your Savior, too, even though you don't agree with that.' It also strikes me like a two-by-four how easy it is to share and believe and proclaim here than it is almost anywhere on the globe.

The awkwardness of proclaiming Jesus as Savior is as old as the first century. Those who heard that claim in Jesus' day would have grimaced at the notion that a human being was ascribing God-hood to himself. Julius Caesar was called 'savior of the whole world. Nero, infamous for his persecution of Christians, was known as the 'savior and benefactor of the whole world.' Our dilemma in a multi-cultural world is nothing new.

Those early believers didn't think in some of the complex theological terms we deal in now. They never described Jesus as 'fully divine and yet fully human.' They just accepted what He had to bring. They expressed their belief in the most daring and risky ways that Jesus was far more than a human being. And many of them died for it. Many still are.

In a day where our American lives are hardly at stake for making such a claim, we should do no less. In fact, we should do much much more.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I think people were generally confused at Jesus. He repeatedly confounded the disciples with what He said and did. He was the Rabbi who did very un-Rabbi-like things. He was the Prophet who spoke about the Kingdom of heaven coming. He was the Holy One who rubbed up close against everything and everyone unholy. He calls Himself "Son of Man" 70 times, but only calls Himself "Son of God" twice, and He never called Himself "Christ" or "Messiah." Whenever someone else called Him "Messiah," He quickly re-directed them to "Son of Man."

I think I'm kind of like all those people. I am confused at Jesus sometimes. I know a little child can know Him. I used to sing it as a boy: 'Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so ... ' But I still haven't completely figured Him out.

I don't think Jesus is being difficult or anything and I know He is inviting people into personal engagement with Him. I know He doesn't want us just studying Him from a safe distance. I know He wants us seeking Him with open hearts. I yearn for all those things more and more.

But I have said at times - halfway out loud: 'Lord, I just don't get you. I don't get what You're doing in my life. Why can't it be clearer what You want?'

In the end, some of the perplexity turns out to be an important component of the process of coming to know Him better. At least I know I identify with some of His disciples that way.

Maybe I should write a Jesus For Dummies book. Would you buy it?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The powerful church can be cultivated. Powerful churches are champions at leading people closer to God, becoming conduits for the Holy Spirit to change lives for the better and impact society for the good. When we find out who we are and become fully settled on doing what God has asked us to do and be, then we don't have to move very far to find Christ and live for Him. Our days are not wasted doing the wrong things. Our lives are well stewarded.

The point of the powerful church is never to simply see its members attend church every week and then do nothing. It is to attend, be equipped, and then go out and live purposeful lives for God. A powerful church is a place where disciples gather - and then scatter.

It is critical that we make our lives count for God. Living a well-stewarded life is our responsibility and our opportunity.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It is our job to communicate the vision of Jesus to the world. We typically associate vision with great leaders like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr and others. We don't usually think of Jesus as having vision, but He did and He does.

We're called to pass on His message and to live in His mode. We're called to imitate Him by entering into relationships with unholy people while at the same time calling them to holiness.

Keeping those two together is anything but easy. Christ-followers often emphasize one and neglect the other.

We might label materialism as 'divine blessing,' racism as a 'good joke' and gossip as 'godly concern.'

Maybe we're afraid to hurt people's feelings by telling them some of that behavior is wrong. Maybe we're afraid of being accused of sounding judgmental.

On the other hand, some Christ-followers continue to uphold Biblical holiness in their words, but adopt a more Pharisaical approach to holiness in their works. We denounce the sin as we withdraw from sinners. We advocate holiness while we separate ourselves from people we consider unholy, but we are selective about the holiness we choose to denounce. Coarse language, despicable. Greed, no problem.

We must struggle to speak clearly and consistently about holiness while at the same time open our hearts and lives to those who don't embrace Biblical holiness. We must struggle to resolve that tension and not pander to our own personal preferences.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


One of the single most important things I need to do as a pastor is to stay encouraged - to keep my hope level high - and some of the ways I do that are to keep my prayer life up to date and my Word life up to date and my marriage up to date and the relationships that bless me up to date and my personal time up to date.

If I don’t stay encouraged, I’m not going to be the husband God has called me to be ...

If I don’t stay encouraged, I’m not going to be the dad and grandfather God has called me to be ...

I’m not going to be the friend God has called me to be ...

I’m not going to be the pastor God has called me to be ...

But sometimes we get to the end of the year and what we’ve had, rather than hope, is the opposite of hope - and that is discouragement.

We’re in very good company with the opposite of hope because the simple truth is almost every single person in the BIble had to bounce back from some kind of discouragement. Moses had to ... John Mark had to ... Peter had to ... Joseph had to ... Elijah had to ... Mary and Martha had to ... Abraham had to ... Paul had to ... we all have to. It’s universal.

And the million dollar question is this: ‘Is there a way - no matter how discouraged I may be - to replace that discouragement with hope?’

It would seem the starting points in moving away from discouragement and fear and depression and moving into hope is all about re-charging your spirit - relying on God - re-focusing on serving - refusing to give up - and those are impossible to do without God. We have to fight for hope.

So 2010 wasn’t your favorite year -- mine either. And maybe so far, 2011 hasn’t been that hot for you either -- but is there hope?

Can your marriage bounce back? Can it?
Can your kids bounce back? Can they?
Can your ministry bounce back?

Can your small group bounce back?

Can your business bounce back?

Can your job bounce back?

Can YOU bounce back? Is there any real reason for encouragement? Is there any real reason to hope? Or is it over?

It isn't over. Get back up. There is unstoppable hope with Jesus that can be yours today.

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I had the privilege of being in Morocco this past week (see yesterday's blog). We spent a lot of time praying for Muslims and for the people of Morocco to find faith in God.

The Morocco team enjoyed ministry at an International Protestant Church in Tangier on one of the evenings. The church there ministers to folks from Liberia, Nigeria, England, the U.S. and various other places around the world.

One of our visits - to Chefchaouen (pictured above) - was a beautiful stopover. The city and its homes are painted various shades of blue. It was one of those refreshing moments in the middle of a packed week.

We also had the opportunity to meet some ministry co-workers who have spent decades in Morocco and had the chance to spend significant time in prayer for the country right in their homes.

I strongly encourage you to join me in prayer for the people of North Africa.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The last two days have been amazing in the country of

We visited the third largest mosque in the world -- Hassan II (named for the present king of Morocco - pictured at right). It has the tallest minaret in the world and is built right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Please pray with us for the people of Morocco.

Last night I was privileged to speak at the appreciation banquet for the Casablanca International Protestant Church. What a great group of people who love God and are living here in Morocco. I spoke on the John 6 passage where the little boy shared his lunch with a mob of 12,000.

This morning some of our pastors spoke at various churches in Casablanca and Rabat. Some of the congregations were French-speaking and others were English-speaking. I love knowing there is a family of God in every nook and cranny of the world.

Pray for us.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I was talking with someone about repentance yesterday --- literally, 'change your mind' and 'change your direction' --- repentance.

What does that look like? Repentance. If we were to be serious about it. What difference would it make in our lives?

May I ask you a couple of personal questions?

What kingdoms vie for your submission?
What kingdoms do you seek even more than you seek the kingdom of God?

We all struggle with competing kingdoms - that's nothing new - values and institutions that order our lives and shape our hearts - or try to.

Kingdom of success.
Kingdom of career accomplishment.
Kingdom of sustainable recognition.
Kingdom of materialism.
Kingdom of time.
Kingdom of talent.
Kingdom of stuff.
Kingdom of your children.
Kingdom of advancement.
Kingdom of religiosity.
Kingdom of alcohol or drugs.
Kingdom of music.
Kingdom of sexual gratification.
Kingdom of self-expression.
Kingdom of security.

What do you seek first of all?
What is your number one kingdom?

And be blessed.

Monday, May 9, 2011


In this sequel to his book, "RADICAL," David Platt writes a fitting Part Two. You don't have to read "RADICAL" to get this one, but it helps in order to get Platt's full passion for people and for the lost and for not doing things 'status quo.'

"RADICAL TOGETHER" is a call to help the hurting and live a life that is outward-focused. It is a call to get up off your couch and do something. It is a call to have a grace-filled heart to those who are improbable in the ministry of the Kingdom. It is a call to recognize we're not living or working for the present world. It is a call to remember it's never about us.

All one needs to do to be prompted to rush right out and get the book is to simply review the big idea in each of the packed six chapters:

- One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church.

- The Gospel that saves us from work saves us to work.

- The Word does the work.

- Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people.

- We are living - and longing - for the end of the world.

- We are selfless followers of a self-centered God.

The icing on the cake is that Platt gives us six small group studies based on each chapter at the back of the book.

Hats off to another awesome offering by David Platt. In his own words: "So let's live radical together in eager anticipation of the day when we will see his face and, as a community encompassing every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, enjoy his beauty for all of eternity."

** This book was given free of charge for the purposes of book review. Rate my review by going to the link below.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Today is Mother's Day.

We tried something brand new at KFA ( with our annual Mother's Day Child Dedication. We moved it out of our main auditorium service and into a special in-between services ceremony held in our H2O youth hall. About one hundred people joined us for this amazing moment as six families dedicated children. We didn't have to rush thru it like we would have had to in one of our services and it gave greater honor to moms, dads, family and friends.

The whole thing was extremely special and we give a congratulatory 'shout out' to all the parents who were part of this introductory and new way of presenting children for dedication.

Here's how the line-up went:
Opening video about parents and children
Welcome and inspirational charge from the host pastor
Calling forward of the parents with their children, along with a sponsoring adult for each child
Video of each parent describing a blessing for their child
Passing out of flowers and gifts to the parents
Sponsoring adult read the dedicated child's new life verse
Poem read by host pastor's wife
Invitation for all family and friends to come forward to pray with the dedicating family
Dedicatory prayer by host pastor
Invitation to post-dedication reception

What a way to celebrate Mother's Day today. Congratulations to each family on the dedication of their child.

And a special 'blessing' to my own mom and wife today.

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of the awesome opportunities of being at KFA ( is meeting several times a year for the Welcome to KFA class, where people meet to become members or just find out more about us. We're doing that class right now.

We cover our affiliation, leadership style, mission, vision, purposes, values, ministry model, goals and some of our important core doctrine.

Always a great time to see a lot of people hanging around wanting to become part of us.

And be blessed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Our pastoral staff completed a two-year process today with the Life Development Network. We have been clarifying our reason for being as a church - our mission - our purposes - our values - our focus - our model for doing ministry.

It has been an exciting walk. We have already shared much of this at KFA and will be posting the entire journey in the wall case in the educational wing lobby shortly. Take a look.

In the end, it's been about Jesus and what He is calling us to do. Jesus never said, 'Hey, I have some really nifty ideas here for you guys. Maybe you'll want to borrow a few of them as you formulate your worldview.' Rather, He proclaims the true Kingdom of God and calls for a response - a total response - a response of both belief and action.

That's what we're about.

Saying 'yes' to Christ requires giving up our ideas in favor of His - it requires giving up on our authority and shifting authority to Him, even when we would rather not.

Everyone who makes a church plan - or a personal plan - ultimately comes to that crossroad, being confronted with the uncomfortable challenge of His authority - His plan - His way - His ideas.

We at KFA commit to offering ourselves to Christ fully - our opportunities - our challenges - our desires - our uncertainties. It is our top priority.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I love our church ( We are big believers at KFA in being grace-filled people - accepting others in all their messiness as they come to discover more of Christ step-by-step.

We are all about relevance, believing the Gospel must be contextualized in our present culture, placing it into vessels and containers people are drinking from today. We believe communicating in irrelevant ways is a sin.

At the same time, we believe in being outward-focused in our approach with the Gospel and with church. In that vein, I found some comments I'll share with you that apply to our heart and motivation as KFA-ers ...

1. If you’re just looking for the next cool thing in town, that isn't KFA. We are all about creativity, but we're not about 'cool.' We want to grow by conversion growth, not church-goer transfer growth.

2. If you’re a Christ-follower and you don’t like your current church, you will very quickly probably find a reason not to like KFA.

3. If your mindset is that of a consumer wanting to “go to church” once a week for a nice show, you'll be unhappy at KFA. We are not a Sunday show, we are a community of disciples on a unified mission.

4. If you want religion, we will disappoint you. KFA is a church built on the radical gospel of grace.

5. If you have a personal agenda, you should know God has already given us our vision, our mission, our purposes, our values and our model for doing ministry.

6. If you think KFA will be a nice church that doesn't grow and where everybody knows your name and where you can put my cell number on your speed dial ...

7. We have a strong conviction that the church is not the building; the church is the people --- people on mission --- people constantly looking beyond themselves unselfishly. One of our favorite phrases is: 'The Church is now leaving the building.'

7. If you want to join us and still hold onto your comfortable life - know right now that you must lose your life.

If all of that is A-OK, we welcome you.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


One of the tragedies of so many Christ-followers (and churches) is that they want to eliminate risk. But there is no such thing as risk-free faith. Faith is synonymous with risk. ‘Believe it even though you can’t see it.’ Risky.

If I were to ASK you: ‘What are your goals five years from now,’ many would say their plan would be to lower the risk and raise the security level. But the truth is, when you’re living by faith, the risk goes up and the man-made security decreases - and many are pursuing the exact opposite of what God is calling them to - and that is safer lives.

In fact, if you would have asked Moses to tell you about the greatest moment of his life, I’m convinced he would have told you about the day he stood there in front of a very deep Red Sea while the chariots of the Pharaoh came pounding down the desert after him. Then if you would have asked him about the scariest moment of his life, I’m convinced he would have given you this puzzled look and said: ‘I just told you.’

The greatest moments often double as the scariest moments. I don’t care how awesome you are - you don’t come face-to-face with a wall of water on one side of you and a thousand soldiers with spears on horses on the other side and not experience sheer terror. That’s how life works.

So go ahead and feel the fear --- then look at your God who says, ‘The fear doesn’t have to rule you or stop you because I am with you’ --- and then take the next step.

Step out of doubt - step into security.

Step out of all the reasons why not and step into all the reasons why God says you can.

Don’t step out by sight -- step out by faith.

You do the believable - let God do the un-believable.

You do the ordinary - let God do the extra-ordinary.

You do the natural - let God do the super-natural.

You have the same spirit inside you that raised Christ from the dead.

You are blessed coming in and you are blessed going out.

There is no weapon formed against you that can prosper.

Step out of your fears - because the path to your greatest potential is often straight through your greatest fear - not around it - not under it - but straight through it.

And be blessed.