Monday, October 31, 2011


"JDI" stands for 'Just Do It.'

It is a sign that has hung at the Ford Motor Company among the ranks of workers to inspire initiative, dreaming and action. Some at the company have suggested such an approach could be dangerous.

Many years ago,
Henry Ford wanted to expand the organization. He told one of his young middle managers to do some analytic work to get them to the next step. When the manager returned, his data suggested the proposed project should be dropped altogether. Ford told him to redo the analysis. He did and found the same results. Ford wasn't happy about the report and asked the young man some difficult questions and then dismissed him. In the end, Ford conceded that the expansion should be canceled.

The young middle manager received no feedback and didn't know if his analysis report had gone anywhere, but a few months later he was transferred to
Brazil. Years later, he ran into someone at Ford headquarters who had been at the presentation. The man told him he might be interested in what Henry Ford had to say that day after he left the room. Henry had said: "We need more men in this company like that one."

R. Quinn
says that every couple of years, you need to bet your job, or else you're not doing your job.

"JDI" is correct. "Just Do It." But maybe we should add on a four-letter anagram to that: 'BDBS' - 'But Don't Be Stupid.'

Making a difference is important for both the individual and the organization. There comes a time when we have to take on the system because the system needs to be challenged. There comes a time when we have to 'JDI.'

But there are no written guarantees once we decide to
JDI, no insurance policies that will catch us if we fail. The possibility of failure is the companion that walks alongside every leader. But leaders cope with that possibility because they understand that whenever they sacrifice their principles because of pressure, both they and the organization/system take another step toward a slow death. Leaders are willing to accept the necessary risk because it is the right thing to do. They care enough to risk dying for the organization that may kill them for caring.

However, remember:

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


As we reflect on the Eurasia Experience (see yesterday's blog), it is significant that we at KFA have been called by God to have a specific great passion and concentration on nations within the 10/40 window, perhaps the final frontier of the spreading of the Gospel in areas most resistant - and yet, in areas where the Holy Spirit is working with great might, impact and effect. A contradiction, yet true.

We should pray for these countries - for the Christians living there, some in great danger and even secrecy - and for those gripped in the chains of untruth. Here are the affected nations:

Burkina Faso


Korea, North
Korea, South
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
Western Sahara

NOTE: If you are a church leader of any kind, I would invite you to take the poll at upper right. You need to read the October 27th blog before responding. Thank you.

And be blessed.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The Eurasia Experience is being held tonight at KFA - I don't want to give it all away, in case you're planning on coming tonight or tomorrow - but suffice to say it is an interactive 60 minutes where you 'travel' to a foreign land - 'get off the plane and go thru customs' - and then experience the marketplaces of exotic Eurasia, right in our gymnasium. After that, we gather in a 'mosque' where we see how much of the world worships.

This is our annual big world missions emphasis at
KFA and it is unlike anything we've ever done before. David Grant, one of our premier missionaries to Asia, is our guest as well.

One of our biggest hearts right now is for the
10/40 window, really among the last places on Earth where the Gospel has not yet been spread. God is doing amazing things in this stretch of the world and the Eurasia Experience is helping us feel that more deeply than we have before.

I hope you'll have a chance to come. It is not to be missed and you still have an opportunity tomorrow morning at either service at 9 a.m. or 10:45 a.m.

NOTE: If you are a church leader of any kind, I would invite you to take the poll at right. You need to read the October 27th blog before responding. Thank you.

And be blessed.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I have a bunch of little ‘suits’ laying out in my yard right now. It’s that time of year when all the leaves start falling. It’s been an extraordinarily beautiful fall around our house this year and I hate to see it come to an end, for a number of reasons. I can’t remember when I’ve seen such beautiful yellows and such brilliant reds about the yard.

Still, it heralds the coming of winter - one which, from all reports, is supposed to be heavy, if not brutal. We’ll see.

I used to think snow was God’s punishment on North-type people who were planning to use their vehicles in the winter to do something sinful. But I don’t believe that anymore - aren’t you glad? Some think snow is God’s dandruff but that’s just weird because if He’s watching over the entire world, I don’t see how He could just spread it in one area of one country. That makes no sense.

But I’ll enjoy what’s left of the fall before the power rake has to come out and the smell of burning leaves is enjoyed.

A little boy opened the big, old family Bible with fascination and looked at the old pages. Suddenly something fell out. He picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that had been pressed between the pages.

Momma, look what I found,’ said the boy.

‘What have you got there?’ his mother asked.

With astonishment, he answered: ‘I think it’s Adam’s suit.’

And there ya go.

And be blessed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I read a blog by Tony Morgan today that I'll not give word-for-word, but it could have been written by me or our team here at KFA -

We have been involved in something called the BIG IDEA for a couple of years now. It's basically the concept of 'one thought for the entire day, no matter what room you go to,' when you come to church here. As T.M. pointed out, you can go to a lot of churches and be surprised at how little connection there is between the various elements of what goes on.

'It’s as if there was no planning. I’m guessing everyone prepared their portion of the service separately. The message stands alone. The worship stands alone. The announcements stand alone. The videos stand alone. The special music stands alone.'

'You can go to a lot of churches and be surprised at how little connection there is between the various elements of what goes on.'

At KFA on a given Sunday, we're not singing about peace - using a video about God's love - and preaching on the Second Coming of Christ on the same weekend. We have come to understand and embrace the vision and value of communicating one powerful message and theme throughout the entire service -- music -- message -- video -- creative elements -- small group questions -- reflection pieces -- children's curriculum -- etc.

We start with ONE BIG IDEA - what is today going to be about? What's the ONE THING we want to say?

So if you send your child to JourneyKids ministry down the hall, they're getting it, too - the same message, only in child appropriate ways. And on that weekend when the adults focus on Hosea and Gomer, they kids may not be hearing that particular story, but they're still talking about having a pure love for God. That way, when you gather back in the car after the service, you're all talking about the same thing -- and we've helped families connect. 'Faith at home' happens.

And the Holy Spirit is not left out of the process either. We ask Him to guide us through our various stages of planning and seek to hear His voice - and when we do, we see greater retention, better application and genuine transformation happening as a result of His work.

QUESTION: If you are a pastor or part of a leadership team from another church, would downloadable BIG IDEA information/aids be helpful to you in your ministry? Might you occasionally or regularly use something like a supplied message outline (making it your own, of course) -- song & chorus ideas -- creative element message options -- life group study pages -- children's ministry curriculum --- that were all tied to a BIG IDEA for the day? Would that be useful to you at all?

* Would you mind taking the poll at right to help us know if it would be?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It is a minor miracle that I'm able to stand in front of big crowds every weekend and deliver any kind of talk that sounds rational and coherent, because the truth is I used to suffer from glossophobia. That's a fear of public speaking.

In junior high and high school, when I had to stand in front of my peers and give a book report, I don't mean to be indelicate, but i would practically wet myself every time.

I remember once giving a speech about contact lenses where I was going to demonstrate loading and unloading them - cleaning them - etc - because I had recently gotten my own first set. My hands shook so bad I almost pushed my eyeball out of its own socket trying to demonstrate how to put one in. I was that nervous.

Years and years later - in college and beyond - my mouth would get dry - my stomach would churn - my heart would race - my palms would sweat. I would look for the exit. I would like to say I've completely overcome that today, but I know I haven't. Not entirely.

I've been in rooms as an adult - even recently - where we had to go around the table and introduce ourselves - tell a bit about who we were - our families - our jobs - and as it got closer and closer to me, I would develop this temporary case of amnesia. I could barely remember my own first name. Here I am, a guy who speaks routinely to thousands of people every month from a stage, but I'm in a cold sweat because I have to say my name in front of fifteen people.

Go figure.

'God didn't make a mistake. Maybe He created me as I am for a purpose.'

And now when I speak, I listen to myself on the DVD and find I have this annoying vocal texture that makes me cringe as I listen and I wonder how the crowd sits there without running screaming for the exits in the first five minutes. So there I am - every weekend - trying not to raise my voice too much so it doesn't crack -- wearing three layers of shirts so I don't sweat through -- hoping my Bible doesn't slip out of my sweaty palm.

To add to my fears and insecurities and generally make matters worse, I might stand at the door shaking hands at the end of the service, only to have a gentleman come up, stretch out his hand and say something like: 'I like you ... but for the life of me, I have no idea what you were trying to say up there this morning.'

'God bless you, sir. Have a nice day.'
Where was the nearest exit again?

Here's what I know. God didn't make a mistake. Maybe He created me as I am for a purpose. Maybe there are others out there like me who could still be used by God to do obedient work for the Kingdom even though they feel like they never quite fit in -- and they could expose someone else to God's amazing love.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


We don’t really like to wait. We’re no good at it. I don’t know anyone who chooses waiting. If there is a long line or a short line at the grocery store, I don’t know anyone who says, “I’ll go with the long line because I need some quality waiting time.” If there is a green light, we don’t slow down and wait for the red so we can wait longer.

Problem is: God seems to make a living out of making us wait. And His perceived slowness often indicts Him, by our account, as uncaring or indifferent to what we're going through - because if He really loved us, He would have done something by now.

But the Bible says God is not slow concerning His promises as some understand slowness - but He is patient. Patient.

In other words, we think we’re waiting on God because He is slow, but in fact, God is waiting on us because He is patient. Do you see how that changes things? God isn’t slow; He’s patient.

And when we are waiting, we can wait with either a spirit of anticipation instead of a spirit of agitation. If you’re waiting in line at the DMV, I mean ... that’s just going to be aggravating, right? The longer you wait, the more aggravated you’re going to get. Why? Because of what you’re waiting on. But let’s say you’re waiting in line at an amusement park for a ride you want to go on. The longer you wait, getting closer and closer to that front seat of the roller coaster, the more excited you become, because you’re anticipating something. So it all depends on what you’re waiting on.

Isaiah put it this way ... ‘They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength; They shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Isaiah says that is what happens when you wait on God.

Now the challenge is that many of us think we’re waiting on God, but we’re not. If you are exhausted, if you are agitated, there is a good chance you’re waiting on something other than God. If your strength is being renewed, it means you’re waiting on God.

So finances are tight. You say, “Well, I’m waiting on God to make the economy recover.” Are you? Are you waiting on God, or are you waiting on the economy to recover?

Maybe you’re single; you want to be married. You say, “I’m waiting on God to send someone special into my life.” Are you waiting on God? Or are you waiting on someone special to walk into your life?

I’m just asking ... but do you see what I’m asking? Often we say we’re waiting on God but we’re really waiting on whatever it is we want God to do. And when we’re waiting on whatever it is we want God to do, that causes agitation and exhaustion and anxiety. But when we’re really waiting on God — a God who can be trusted, a God who sees the whole, a God who is patient — then our strength is renewed.

Then Isaiah says you will mount up on wings like eagles. The eagle has been clocked at soaring more than eighty miles an hour and Isaiah uses that as a picture. I don’t know that many of us resemble an eagle when we’re waiting. I think more accurately many of us would resemble probably a hummingbird. A hummingbird will flap its wings a hundred times a second. And the question you have to ask yourself is, “Are you flapping or are you soaring?” Flapper or soarer?

God’s timing is perfect - and He isn't slow. He's patient.

And be blessed.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I will confess that there is one little thing about God I don’t particularly care for. It's probably not kosher to say it, but it seems He is never quite on time. Have you noticed that He just always seems to be running a little late?

That’s one of my personal pet peeves --- people who are always late. I understand it happens to everybody once in a while. I mean, if one meeting runs long and it makes you late for the next meeting, I get that.

Sometimes there’s a line in the bathroom. I mean, not in the men’s bathroom. We don’t have lines. But I understand that sometimes the women’s bathroom has a line. At least I hope that’s true - otherwise all of us men have bought into a very big lie, because this seems to be an acceptable excuse used by most wome
n ... they’ll come out and say: There was a line in the bathroom.’ And we just take that as Gospel. But I’ll just be honest: I am skeptical.

I don’t know if all you men out there realize this or not, but I’ve been told there are spacious lobby areas in a lot of women’s bathrooms … they have couches and actual furniture in there. We don’t have that. Where we go, if you want to sit down, you’re not going to be sitting on a couch, if you know what I mean.

But we stand outside waiting for our ladies and we say to each other: ‘Well, must be a line.’ And if there really is, I guess running a little late because of the line is acceptable.

Sometimes you get stuck in really busy traffic - or you’re at a train crossing so you’re late to an appointment -- acceptable excuses. That’s life. Sometimes you’re late.

But there are certain things you just show up on time for. There are significant events you don’t want to be late for. And as you read through Scripture, it just seems that God was often running a little behind.

Sarah is promised a baby - but it doesn’t happen for decades.
Leah wants her husband Jacob to love her - but it doesn’t seem he’s ever going to.
Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison - for years and years.
Moses spends forty years shepherding in the desert while his people continue being abused by the Egyptians.

God, You seem to be running a little late. The answer and solution and deliverance all should have happened a long time ago. As you read through Scripture, you’ll find example after example. Actually, the real challenge is to find an example of someone in Scripture who didn’t have to wait on God. It seems to be pretty standard in people who are doing God’s will --- they had to wait.

If you want to be found in the perfect will of God, you just may have to spend some time waiting as well.

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Presenting ... our brand new granddaughter -- RUBY LAYNE LEE.

Born Saturday, October 22nd - 1:30 a.m.
Five pounds, eleven ounces.
Nineteen inches long.
Incredibly beautiful and charming.

Parents: Darren & Allison Lee

And be blessed.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It is official. We have a little baby granddaughter, born early this morning in Minneapolis to our middle daughter and her husband, Allison & Darren Lee.

We are very thankful and very proud. Names, weights, lengths and all the 'skinny' come later, after the equally thankful and proud parents have had their opportunity.

And be blessed. We are.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Disclaimer: If you are in love with the show, 'The Bachelorette,' please skip today's blog.

I was roaming thru channels awhile back and stopped at a show I never stop at -- 'The Bachelorette.' I realize and understand it is a deeply loved program by so many - not to be missed - and after all the hubbub I've overheard, I succumbed for 120 seconds to see what all the chatter was about.

I've even gone so far as to post a picture here in honor of this fantastic show.

It's one girl trying to narrow down her Prince Charming from a field of 25 guys with really cool names like Bentley and Dack and Armstrong and Roberto and JP and Shooter. There aren't any Freds, Jims, Daves or Steves.

I don't want to really talk about what I managed to 'catch' in that brief 120 seconds but I know, just from having watched that little bit, that decades from now, children will ask their parents: "Dad or mom, where were you when Trista dumped Avery?"

At times like this, you wonder how we, as a people, summon the strength to go on.

And be blessed.

Monday, October 17, 2011


For some reason I was yearning for the "good ol' days" today. I'm not sure why. I just get nostalgic that way sometimes.

In the "good ol' days," I used to think Jesus was returning at any time. At several moments, I actually thought He HAD come. One thing I was 100% sure of; you didn't want to miss it.

'I committed my life to Christ at least several times a week just for insurance.'

I remember sitting thru a whole batch of rapture-type movies as a kid:
'A Thief in the Night' (scary, scary), 'A Distant Thunder,' and 'Image of the Beast.' A musician named Larry Norman wrote a song called, 'I Wish We'd All Been Ready' that left you lying awake in your bed at night watching the ceiling, half expected a really loud heavenly trumpet to blast at any second.

I might get up in the middle of the night and tiptoe into my grandma's room to see if she was still there just to make sure I hadn't missed it. I figured if she was in her bed, I was safe.

Because of that, I committed my life to Christ at least several times a week just for insurance.

I still think Jesus could return at any time, but I'm not longing for those "good ol' days" any longer. After that, I am now longing for the grace of the present (and the future).

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Life is full of questions. Whenever we ask a question beginning with “What?” we’re really looking for information. If you look up the word ‘what’ in the dictionary, you will find it is defined as “a word used to request information.” But if you think about it, it seems that we shouldn’t have that many ”what” questions because we’ve never lived in an age with as much information as we have today. We are overwhelmed by information.

There is more information in one daily addition of the Chicago Tribune than a 17th century person would have come across in a lifetime. There has been more information produced in the last five years than has been produced in the past five thousand years leading up to it. We have information like we’ve never had before, so why do we still have so many questions? Maybe we need something more than information.

Usually when we are asking an informational ‘what’ question, we’re asking things like -- ‘What is the answer for my life specifically - right now -- what I’m going thru - the decision I’m trying to make -
What university should I go to?
What vocations should I choose?
What job should I put in for?
What is the name of the person I should marry?
What is my future going to look like with my family?
What is my wife’s real hair color (just seeing if you were paying attention)?
What is Your will for my life?
Our ‘What?’ questions so often center on God’s will for us.

There is the will of God that has already been revealed in Scripture. There are all kinds of areas of life where we say, “God, what do You want?” and God says, “Here’s what I want,” and it’s right in the Bible.

"What if we start praying and it turns out God’s plan is different than our plan?"

But we should also understand that God’s specific will for you will never violate His revealed will in Scripture. So for the person who says, “Look, I’m going to be leaving my wife because she’s just hard to live with and I know this is what God wants because I know God wants me to be happy” -- well, I hate to blow your TIRES, but that is not God’s specific will for your life. Your happiness is way down God’s line.

How can I be so sure of that without even knowing you or your situation? Because that violates what God’s revealed will in Scripture is for you as a husband and a wife. And God will never ever give you a specific will that violates His revealed will.

The reason that’s important is because knowing His will has a lot less to do with information and a lot more to do with submission - because it isn’t until we submit our will that we can know His.

And I think a lot of us would say, “I’m doing that! I have submitted myself to God.” But I think what we very often say is, ‘God, I want what You want for my life,’ but what we REALLY mean is: ‘God, I want what You want as long as what You want is what I want.‘

I’ll admit that crawling on the altar and submitting our wills to God and saying, ‘Whatever You want, God,‘ is a very dangerous pray because we have plans and we have ideas. But when we pray that prayer, we run the risk that God’s plan is possibly going to be different than our plan, that His schedule for this week could be different than our schedule for this week, that His appointments for us on Monday could be different than the appointments we’ve already got lined up for Monday.

I mean ... what if we start praying that kind of prayer and it turns out God’s plan is different than our plan? Well, it WILL be. You’ll find that it IS.

And be blessed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tonight was the 'grand opening' of our new Saturday night service at KFA (

I loved walking thru the church hallways and lobby spaces 30 minutes prior to find all the lights on and volunteers getting ready -- lots of smiles, enthusiasm, personal excitement and buzz. Loved it.

I'm so proud of our people and their love for God and how hard they work to get it done. There was nothing but excitement in the house tonight as 300-400 people showed up at our premier service.

So looking forward to tomorrow already.

And be blessed.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I think real community is difficult. It is also just about the most worthwhile and effective thing we can do with one another within the body of Christ. But it isn't easy.

I think it is uber-difficult for a pastor. I could be wrong, because I am one, but it just seems to me that there are extra challenges. Your opinions, your leadership, your 'aura,' your reputation, your 'bubble' - all play in somewhere with it. And yet you crave it just like everybody else.

Real community doesn't just happen. The Bible gives us some pretty direct counsel on this when it comes to relational health. 'If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him - work it out between the two of you.' (Matthew 18:15)

"He practiced real and authentic community."

Picture a conversation between me and a friend who has an idea for ministry. After our talk, I am not real sure it is a fit for our church and we talk that through. I know there is disappointment, but we end the conversation on an up-note and then move on. I don't think much about it until the next day. He calls to say, 'You know, I kind of got my feelings hurt in the conversation yesterday. I had an idea I really liked - I believed in it - but your reaction made me feel stupid.'

That is a devastating conversation. This is a person you love and the last thing you would do is be intentionally hurtful. You may have been right about the actual decision and it may have been tough to express your decision, but equally tough was the phone call this man made to keep the community real.

It was difficult to hear, it was difficult for him to say, but it was healthy. It was real. He could have sat on it and let it turn into bitterness. He could have let it drive a wedge between us. He could have called ten other people and told them about it. But he didn't. He practiced real and authentic community.

Beautiful. Jesus said: 'By this will all men know You are My disciples, if you love one another.' (John 13:35)

Francis Schaeffer
has a comment on this verse:
"Jesus is giving a right to the world ... He gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are ... Christians on the basis of our observable love ... (Jesus) is saying that if I do not have the love I should toward all other Christians, the world has the right to make the judgment that I am not a Christian ... There is a mark which, if the world does not see, allows them to conclude, 'This man is not a Christian.'"

Food for thought.

And be blessed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I firmly believe the church is the hope of the world.

One of the great scholars of the Renaissance, Erasmus, told a mythical tale about Jesus' return to heaven after His time on earth. The angels gathered around Him and He told them of His miracles, teaching, death and resurrection.

When He finished, Michael the archangel asked: "Lord, what happens now?"

'This is it ... we are the plan.'

Jesus answered: "I have left behind eleven faithful men who will declare My message and express My love. These faithful men will establish and build My church."

responded Michael, "if these men fail, what then?"

Jesus answered: "There is no other plan."

This is it. You are the plan. So am I. We are the plan. It rests in our hands.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Before there was Woody in 'Toy Story,' there was 'The Velveteen Rabbit.' The main character in the classic children's book is a little stuffed rabbit, all clean and new, who becomes 'Real.' Along the way, the rabbit meets an old, worn out, but very much loved stuffed horse.

It is written: "The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew they were only toys and would never turn into anything else ...

'What is REAL?' asked the Rabbit one day ... 'Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?'

" ... Most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints ... "

'Real isn't how you were made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse ... 'but when you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up ... or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse ... 'it takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints ... but these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.'"

This is a community giving itself over to love.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today was Boss' Day at our office. The admin team treated all the pastors to a great time in the lobby - with homemade desserts and an assortment of coffees and teas. Great time. They had a program for us full of funny stuff, a little poking and prodding at the pastors, a homemade song by one of media team (Mary, you were awesome!) and this final, surprise video by our friend, Vinnie Zarletti.

And be blessed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Today there were 30 people sitting in a room on an absolutely spectacular, beautiful, warm October day to find out more about KFA (, what makes us tick, and potentially join us in membership.

We typically split the day in three parts and two other members of our leadership team (Dan and Lisa) take turns sharing important information with the group.

I love the part I get to do. It's all about our church focus, mission, purposes, values and ministry model. I could talk about it all day, but I don't - but I could - but I don't.

Part of the class is helping the folks understand that we have to re-think the way we do some things today. It isn't your Grandma's church (or culture) any longer. Certainly the Gospel hasn't changed - and never will - but the way we approach some of it has to change or we face futures void of the younger generation whom we desperately need to carry on this faith.

In the class we cover things like our KFA outward-focus approach -- our lean to be grace-filled -- our desire to be relevant without watering down the Gospel -- our bent toward creativity -- our drive to be relational -- our growing heart for compassion -- and how all of that plays out in day to day KFA life.

I loved the group today. It just felt like they were 'on the page' with us - and how good does that feel? Welcome to you all. Here's to the future journey together.

And be blessed.

Friday, October 7, 2011


You can tell it's a slow 'news day' when the blog is about the new roundabout that opened today a half mile down the street from where we live. We've been detouring for months to get to and from home while it's been under construction - and today, I managed to wheel around the roundabout without braking and slide right into my garage. Nice.

I'm not sure why
Kenosha has a specific need for roundabouts (there is another new one just 1/4 mile to the east of this new one) - but I like them. They're all over Europe and it seems we've been slow here in the U.S. to adopt this traffic pattern solution.

Joelene and I are headed to Greece in a few weeks, where I understand the rule of traffic law is basically, "No stopping." But it was great to ride around the roundabout today (I did it twice just for fun) and then steer myself home.

I'm sure I helped pay for it with my tax money so it only stands to reason that I should in some way enjoy it.

In fact - I know it's 9:15 p.m. right now - but I'm going to get in my car and drive up there and take a spin.

And be blessed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


When it comes to discipleship, there is the view out there that people just need to decide to live a certain way, because after all, isn't the Christian life basically an act of the will?

All that love, joy, peace stuff comes when someone expends enough effort to demonstrate those qualities. Right?

So let's challenge people to roll up their sleeves, rub on a little elbow grease, and start living the way Jesus lived, because the only barrier to that happening is the person's level of effort.

Isn't that correct?

I don't know. Is it?

If you want to play basketball like
Kobe Bryant, don't you just have to try hard to make it happen? If you want to play piano like (insert your favorite famous pianist's name here), isn't all that's required is to try hard?

Kobe Bryant nor 'your favorite famous pianist's name here' got to be what they were simply by trying. They did it thru a life of preparation and practice. The jumps, acrobatics, timing, shooting, ability, scales, finger control, arpeggios, didn't come thru the game or concert times, but thru the practice times.

'To live like Jesus, we don't try; we train.'

For every breathtaking performance there were countless hours of dribbling, shooting and slaving over a keyboard.

To play like
Kobe or 'your favorite famous pianist's name here,' we don't try; we train. We do the things they did in order to perform more like them. And to live like Jesus, we don't try; we train. We do the things Jesus did in order to live like He lived.

A key to life transformation is ordering our life around some of the practice activities that were modeled by Christ so we can accomplish thru training what we cannot accomplish by trying.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Independence. I kinda hate it. I mean, I love it when it's me doing it, but I hate it when everybody else is doing it. We are far too independent and we end up calling it a virtue.

It's what we trained our three daughters to do from Day One. At some point we stopped holding the bottle and they did it; we stopped waddling behind them as they wobbled on shaky legs across the room; we stopped tying their shoes so they could; we stopped running behind the bicycle so they wouldn't fall; eventually we turned over the car keys . . . until they were fully independent. It seemed like the right thing to do.

But as a child, I was also told that I have no gifts, talents, possessions or abilities that weren't given to me by God - that everything I am came from Him and apart from Him I couldn't do anything.

For me, it was (and is) a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because I have an unhealthy streak of independence coursing through my arteries - as well as through other parts of me. My flesh, my pride, is in a constant state of rebelling against this truth and much of the Christian walk is bringing your self into DEPENDENCE and obedience to the will of God. I am my own worst enemy and without Christ I am eternally lost.

"I have an unhealthy streak of independence coursing through my arteries."

It seems the Bible is decidedly against independence from page one - not only independence from God, but from others. Christian growth has long been a relationship between someone who has something to learn and someone who has something to share - and you're not always the same person in that scenario.

That dependent kind of relationship accelerates growth more than sitting in a quiet room independently, poring over DVDs and books on Christian living. This isn't 'solo' work we're doing. The God-life is impossible apart from other people - and apart from Him.

Shake off independence.

And be blessed.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I know a lot of people think the bulk of life transformation occurs at salvation. I'm not convinced. It seems obvious that perfection is not achieved just because someone makes a commitment to Christ. But many believe the remaining pockets of resistance are solved and corrected merely thru the passage of time.

In other words, being a believer will somehow automatically transform you if you just stay the course and do nothing more. That means a five-year old believer will have five years worth of maturity, etc. If we can just fill the seats, then with time people will become disciples. Let's just get them attending a service and
voila! Disciple!

'Life change is not a question of time; it is about intentionality.'

Take a budding piano player. He loves playing. He's naturally gifted at it, but he isn't practicing much. He starts out enthusiastic but ultimately slips back to practicing once a week - then once a month - gradually not much at all. After years of that he shakes himself out of his funk about practicing and gets back on a daily schedule and immediately he begins to see dramatic improvement. If someone asks him how long he's played, his answer would not be a fair indicator of his skill level because for many of those years there was no consistent personal discipline or training going on. Someone else over here who has only been playing for a year or two but who has been diligent about it could easily outplay him.

There it is. You can be exposed to information, but that doesn't cause you to absorb it or use it for any self-improvement purposes.

Among Christians,
80% don't have a clue what the Great Commission is (See Matthew 28:18-20.) Less than 50% know John 3:16 is a verse that addresses salvation. You don't even want to know what the percentages are for issues related to actual lifestyles.

I'm thankful for our church,
KFA ( It is filled with people passionate about life with Christ. But in many places there are individuals who have sat in chairs and pews for decades whose lives reflect little of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The cause is simple: Life change is not a question of time; it is about intentionality.

Let's get intentional about the Kingdom.

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Much has been made about relevance in our church age - most of it, seemingly, negative. The quick comeback is: "Well, the alternative is irrelevance, and who wants that?" But that answer does not seem to suffice.

Joelene and I have had the great opportunity to travel to India and we noticed that many of the men walk down the street hand-in-hand. No, it's not what you think. It is their custom. It describes a relevant way of expressing friendship among Indian male culture.

In Russia (I'm told), a kiss between men is nothing unusual. Often it's on the cheek, but sometimes (I'm told), it's square on the mouth. That is a relevant Russian greeting, like it or not.

In some countries, when applause is given for a performance, the clapping is in a fashion that is united, with everyone clapping the same rhythm, often increasing in speed. In other places, standing for the prayer prior to the meal is typical.

That idea of cultural relevance can be applied to probably the hottest topic in church culture today: singing and music. Our tendency to confuse tradition with orthodoxy is famous in our religious and denominational cultures, so much so that there is little space for any cultural distinctives.

As J. White says: 'The irony is that many of our traditions that may now be irrelevant began in an effort to be relevant.' Interesting.

It is widely known that the great hymns of Martin Luther, now considered to be sacred, were anything but that to the people of his time. Luther often took secular tunes and put sacred words to them and then incorporated them into the life of the church. That created, needless to say, an 16th century 'stink.' Two centuries later the venerable Charles Wesley did it, too.

Bach? Yep. Guilty. Handel's Messiah was considered vulgar by the churchmen of his day. Vulgar. Wow.

Here's a quote: 'For some years it has been apparent that the rage for novelties in singing ... has been driving out the use of old, precious, standard hymns. They are not memorized as of old. They are scarcely sung at all. We cannot afford to lose these old hymns. The young people today are unfamiliar with them and will seldom hear any of them if the present tendency goes on untouched.' That was written in 1891.

The point is that all music was, at one time, contemporary. Whatever forms of worship and singing we do today must be meaningful to those who are using them to worship. That doesn't mean we don't honor what is ancient, but we must be careful about what has become outdated.

Look at it this way: In America today, 2% of music sold is classical. Ninety percent is contemporary. So for 2% of the populous, classically-based singing/worship is going to rock their boat. But the other 90% is going to find a form of contemporary singing/worship serving their efforts to praise God authentically.

That doesn't mean we accommodate culture; but we must be relevant. Every generation has had to deal with it, not just ours. We should never seek to transform the message of the Gospel, but helping translate it to a world far from God, so important.

And be blessed.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


The famous joke by Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff is one I have quoted many times. When he first came to the United States, he says he saw powdered milk - "just add water and you get milk." Then he saw powdered orange juice - "just add water and you get orange juice." Then he saw baby powder and he thought to himself, 'What a country!'

A basic assumption about life change is that when you come to Christ at salvation, it all happens instantly - your behavior changes, your speech patterns change, every addiction is automatically broken, all your attitudes become heavenly -- you, disciple are born, not made.

Truth is, when you come to faith, your eternal destiny is instantly altered, your life purpose is changed in a moment, but spiritual growth comes as a result of a process called renewal. Paul said, 'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' (Romans 12:2)

It's an idea similar to the word 'metamorphosis.' And what picture, from the animal world, comes to mind when you hear that word?

'A basic assumption about life change is that when you come to Christ at salvation, it all happens instantly.'

The butterfly, right? The process of going from cocoon to butterfly is “metamorphosis.” It’s a process that involves a conspicuous change in an animal’s structure. But you realize by what process the butterfly is changed. It is changed by emerging from its cocoon thru great struggle. If it doesn't struggle with enough gumption, it’s wings won’t gain enough strength to fly, so the struggle is, in and of itself, an important part of the process for the butterfly. So Paul says ‘Be transformed’ -- by great struggle -- by great determination -- it may not be totally easy, but change what you are on the outside to match what you are inside.

And what are you on the inside after coming to faith in Christ? Well, you are a child of God - you are a holy nation - a peculiar people - called out of darkness into light - a chosen generation - redeemed and purified - saintly.

You, follower of Christ, are called to be transformed on your outside by your behaviors, values, opinions and attitudes - so they match what your redeemed self is on the inside.

And be blessed.