Wednesday, November 30, 2011


There has been good conversation surrounding our KFA mission statement - "Making it easy to find and experience God."

It comes from a belief and desire that we have at KFA - that we are determined to live in such a way that people see us and hear us and watch us -- and by our lives -- other people are naturally impacted for Jesus.

We are walking thru some of the same trials as our neighbors and co-workers and family members who are not believers in Jesus -- and our prayer is that we will walk those roads with a greater sense of God's peace and strength and hope and joy than those without a faith in Christ. And in that way, people would be attracted to the Jesus inside us.

And it isn't that we think we're better than anyone else, we just think we're better off because of what God has done in our lives and we want our friends to experience the same amazing grace we have.

We're not the same people we were before we met Christ. There is a before and after pic - this is what we were before, then we met Jesus, and this is what we are now. And we know we're not done yet -- rather, God is not done with us -- but we're growing and changing and becoming more like Jesus step-by-step, by His grace and love.

KFA --
live the life out there, and let's make it easier for people to find and experience God by watching us.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I don't really have that many things in life that bug me. I'm a pretty tolerant guy. So to make it onto my 'Stuff That Bugs Me Hall of Fame' is a pretty big achievement.


1. Taking Forever To Order At Fast Food Restaurants
I actually try to avoid fast food whenever I can - just for health's sake - so when I do go into a f.f. restaurant, chances are pretty high I'm in a hurry. I know the fantastic people at McDonald's and Wendy's and Taco Bell can appreciate that. You can walk into any one of those establishments - order a #1 - and have it delivered into your hands as well as eaten in less than 3 minutes. Yet despite the cheap and easy menu, I inevitably get behind that one person who can't decide what they want or who are trying to get the best value for their money. It takes them four minutes to add up a burger, soda and apple pie and compare the cost to a value meal.
Maybe I just need to learn more patience and that's how God is running me thru the hoops.

2. Stealing All The Cheese By Grabbing That One Strategic Nacho or French Fry
This is food that has been created on the premise that if you pile up a bunch of starchy carbs and drizzle hot cheese over them, people will rush to buy and eat them. It's more than a premise though. People actually will eat anything with hot cheese drizzled on it. And everyone knows perfect cheese distribution is nearly impossible on these items. Some chips and fries will get a lion's share of cheese while others laying right next door will be totally deprived. But some people, regrettably, take advantage of that. They grab that one chip or fry that is strategically tied to every other fry or nacho on the top layer with cheese on it and they leave the remaining plain old dry chips and fries lying there - now exposed - in the bottom of the dish.
Maybe I just need to learn more patience and that's how God is running me thru the hoops.

3. Just Grabbing Your Fingers When Shaking Hands
I could have listed the opposite of this: Guys who grab your whole hand alpha-male style and try to crush it while pretending it's their normal grip. But worse than that is the person who cheats by quickly grabbing just your fingers so your palms don't touch and your thumb flails around in space. There's just no recovering from that.
Maybe I just need to learn more patience and that's how God is running me thru the hoops.

4. Creating Gaps In Lines
This is probably latently related to #1, because I hate waiting - no one does. But it's kind of sad how we get excited when the lines we're waiting in advance a few inches, and then everyone steps up a few inches. That's how lines work, and it seems unacceptable not to move up when the people in front of you do and stand there with a huge gap in front of you. What's up with that?
Maybe I just need to learn more patience and that's how God is running me thru the hoops.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 28, 2011


It was a great day 'in the house' yesterday. The Ripple Effect series we just finished had measurable impact on the folks. Many people raised their hands, expressing a desire to come to faith in Christ.

It never ceases to amaze me, this relationship with Jesus. There is a very real paradox to Him that cannot be fully explained. There isn't any comprehensive statement, confession or creed that can adequately describe Him and 'say it all.'

But every weekend we see the experience of His transforming power in people's lives - and it seems to precede any acceptance of some stated dogma or theology. Those things do not function as gates thru which a person must first pass in order to access God's grace. It is not a matter of intellectual conversion or agreement with right statements, but of personal change and evidence of that in behavior.

Looking forward to see what God continues to do.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When you get to the end of your life and you suck your last breath, what do you want it to be about? I’ll cut to the chase and answer that question for you. It’s all about people. To live for anything other than that is to live for a lesser dream - to get caught up in stuff that really doesn’t matter.

The greater dream would be to see and feel the hopelessness of people who are facing an eternity without Jesus and to listen when God prompts us to leave a circle of comfort and go into a zone of the unknown. The greater dream would be to pray for doors of opportunity to open – to be radically grace-filled, loving people. That’s the best life you can live.

When you walk onto your job site or into your office or school or neighborhood, if you look at the world like Jesus looks at it, then the main thing you’re trying to see is how many colleagues and friends and family members you can have on your arm when you cross the finish line into the next life.

I’m pretty confident from how I read Scripture that a life spent that way is a life with no regrets - it’s a life that started out as a ripple, but somewhere along the way, it turned into a puddle and then a pool and then a lake and then a river and then an ocean and then a tsunami for Christ.

You might even say at the very end, ‘I never got to live in that big house,’ or ‘I never got to drive the car of my dreams,’ or ‘I never achieved that or never got to do this,’ but ‘I brought seven people to heaven with me.’

“Those who believe in God have the testimony of God inside them.” (I John 5:10 - GNV)

And here’s what we might imagine Jesus’ dream being: That someday places of worship, religious buildings, would be filled with people who give a rip about broken souls and hopeless futures and Christ-less eternities ... that church auditoriums and worship centers would be filled with radically loving, outward-focused people who aren’t forever wondering what’s in it for them - who don’t continually need to be fed, fed, fed, fed, fed until they are fat, fat, fat, fat, fat - believers who don’t get caught up with small issues and make them into big ones so the mission of Christ is drowned out.

And I don’t really know if that’s what Jesus would say His dream is, but it’s consistent with why He came to earth ... that people who call churches like KFA home would drive down a stake and say, ‘I’ve bought in to this. It isn’t all about us. At the end of every day and at the end of our lives, it is about people who don’t yet know who Jesus is. It’s about people with broken souls and fractured hearts and busted up relationships who are far from God. It’s about people.’

God put a life message inside you that has to come out. You have a storehouse of experiences He wants to use to bring others into His Kingdom. You are perfectly positioned by God to reach somebody in your circle of influence with your story.

When it’s all said and done, it isn’t about how many books you’ve read; it’s not about all the classes you’ve attended. It’s about loving lost people the way God does. He has never made a person He didn’t love. Everybody matters to Him. Everyone does.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thankfulness is an attitude. It is a decision - and it is a decision based in reality.

In other words - ask yourself: ‘Do I really have a lot to be thankful for? Really?' I don't even know you but I already know the answer to that. It’s yes.

You’re alive. You’re here.
You ate this morning and you will again tonight.
You’re going to sleep with a roof overhead.
Your family - your kids - your marriage - your job - and a thousand more things.

Be thankful - and be blessed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Here is our FAMILY VIDEO SONG to you and yours.

Today, each of us wrote something we were thankful for on a small strip of paper - disguised our handwriting - and then secretly baked each of the 'thankful notes' inside a Thanksgiving dinner croissant. We placed one 'starter' croissant on each person's plate and watched them open it to find the thankful note. Each person then had to guess who wrote it.

We recorded this 'thankful' video after dinner - on a very full stomach. Enjoy - and Happy Thanksgiving.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I love the time in church history where we are right now. It is exciting and ever-changing and though it has unique challenges, there has never been a time when God's Hand is moving so powerfully as today.

Admittedly, that has caused some trauma among 'church folks,' of which I am one.

It does not seem that people-on-the-street really want to talk about religion so much these days, though they do want to talk about spirituality. There is a 21st century
interest and passion in the 'spiritual experience' that has not been seen in North America in decades. I know that may jar or annoy or frustrate 'church folks,' of which I am one, who want to talk about correct information and acceptable behavior as definitions for spirituality - but this new crowd wants to talk about spirituality as it relates to daily living - attitudes - heart.

I love that.

These new set of 'folks' also don't want to talk about divine abstractions, but about Jesus. They are no longer satisfied with 'God talk.' The kind of God people used to talk about is too distant for them. The focus on the conversation today is specifically on the hopeful transforming power of God.

For us 'church folks,' that means we have to make the conversation purely and definitively about a Jesus who can touch their lives on a daily basis.

Can it get any better - or easier - than that?

And be blessed.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I actually thought about getting rid of my mustache today, but then I ran across these guys and decided, in honor of them, that I would keep it awhile longer.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


A lot of believers in Christ can think back to the time when they first put their hope in Jesus. Remember how excited you felt about that? You wanted to tell people about what had happened in your life.

And as time went by, you met some really cool Christian folks and became friends - hung out together - got in a life group with some of them - maybe a Bible study or two ---- and over time, we kind of lost touch with the people we used to hang with. I mean, we have new lives now and we don’t have as much in common with the old friends anymore, right? It just made sense.

And the longer and longer we were Christians, the fewer number of friends we had who were not Christians -- even though unbelievers worked right next to us for eight hours a day on the job -- even though they maybe lived right next door -- even though we sat next to them in school every day.

When asked who they went to the lake with on the weekend, or who they went to the movies with on a Friday night, most believers said it was with friends from their church. And can we really fault that? Don’t we want that?

Sure. We all need Christian fellowship and community. But - think about it - shouldn’t it be that the longer we are believers and the longer we walk with Christ and the longer we understand the grace of God, the more we would desire others to experience His grace?

It just seems ironic that as we mature in the faith and get to know Scripture better and get to know Jesus better, that - statistically - fewer non-Christians get to experience those things thru relationships with us.

I’m not talking about street witnessing to total strangers; I’m talking about developing relationships with people we already know and have levels of trust with.

And it is at this point that something very strange happens to us. Once, it was natural and exciting to tell people what God had done in our lives, but slowly we begin to see offering hope to others as something the church does - and when I say ‘church,’ I mean the organization, or even the building. We just bring people to the church on a weekend and let the paid people tell them about Christ.

We stop hanging out with non-Christians - we stop going to the movies with them - we start buying little Christian stickers for our vehicles - we make trips to Great America on Christian Day when the Christian-only bands play ... and as one author says: “The transformation is complete; we have become citizens of the bubble.”

And after several years of that, we start becoming like Jonah in the Bible, who ran away from God when God told him to go to the wicked people of Ninevah -- we too stop wanting much to do with those who aren’t following God and, like Jonah, we grow numb to the fact that people all around us need the love and grace of Jesus.

It was Jesus’ pattern to enjoy deep community with His disciples, but then also from time to time to excuse Himself from that little circle of comfort and go in the direction of someone who needed to be loved or shown the way to the Father. So Jesus would often walk into the zone of the unknown and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and share the good news of the Kingdom.

And so should we.

“In your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


We took our whole 25-member team to the Catalyst One Day Conference at Willow Creek Community Church today. The guest speakers were Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel. Here is a download of some of their comments:

Leaders shape organizational culture whether they intend to or not.

Healthy cultures attract and keep healthy people. Unhealthy people love and thrive in unhealthy environments.

Unhealthy cultures are slow to adapt to change.

Healthy cultures don't happen by accident. They are created.

What we value determines what we do.

Healthy and productive staff cultures are characterized by mutual submission.

The message of mutual submission is: I'm here to facilitate your success regardless of where either of us shows up on an organizational chart.

What gets rewarded gets repeated.

Every physical environment communicates something.

Design, decor and attention to detail communicate whether or not you are expecting guests.

Periodically, we all need fresh eyes on our ministry environments.

Helpful content in communicating directly addresses thinking and living.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


If you have a student in middle or high school, you will want to send them tonight or tomorrow night to KFA's student ministry's (H2O) original production of "MAYFIELD," written by our very own associate youth pastor, Mat Angulo.

Four teenagers ...
A haunted mansion ...
Choices and consequences ...

I was there for dress rehearsal last night - it is creative, suspenseful, meaningful and with a great ending that will capture your student for Christ.

Send 'em out. Tonight and Thursday night.
KFA's H2O auditorium - 6-9 p.m.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The body of Christ will sacrifice anything and everything - property, security, tradition, heritage, fame, power - for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel.

To gauge whether or not we're willing to do that, we could ask ourselves some questions:

Are we committed to Jesus or to a particular doctrine or church?
Thriving churches understand nothing is as important as the Gospel.

Do we believe ministry is to make disciples or to make decisions?
Growing churches have let go the energy draining pit of institutional management.

Do we design mission for the needs of the public or the needs of church members?
Healthiest churches help others by equipping them to look beyond themselves and to give life away in the name of Jesus.

"Thriving churches understand nothing is as important as the Gospel."

Do we quickly grasp unexpected opportunities or do we worry about rules and procedures first?
Moving churches minimize rules, even bending and breaking them, if that is what it takes to do the right thing now.

Do we expect newcomers to be accompanied by spiritual guides or do we just wait for them at the door?
Exciting churches never just advertise and wait. They invite and then guide their friends, neighbors and associates along the path of life.

Do we ask for radical commitment or do we expect little from people?
Catalytic churches take the truth of the Kingdom seriously and expect people to strive to live as Christ lived.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Someone rightly corrected me not long ago in this blog about my wrong usage of 'ekklesia' - rather than a 'gathering' or 'assembly,' I described it as 'called out ones.' Egg on face there. Admittedly.

That said, we ARE 'called out.' Christ-followers in churches that are dying believe the 'called out' part means 'called out' to form a distinct society in which all the members follow certain rules, undertake various institutional responsibilities and enjoy specific privileges. The organization becomes a club to which they can each retreat for personal refreshment and in which their needs can be met by a personal chaplain.

The attitude is usually: 'Let's take care of our members first, then, with any resources left over we'll go after the lost.'


Christ-followers in churches that are growing believe they have been 'called out' to form a distinct witness. This witness is about Jesus, not about their church or their denomination. They see themselves as a community in which the participants all experience a constant connection with Christ and purposely reach out as His body.

We can either become a righteous remnant, retreating into caves and fortresses of elitism, preserving what we understand to be 'good' worship, 'pure' doctrine, 'correct' theology, shutting ourselves in spiritual Masadas, where we eventually choose to die rather than surrender --- OR --- we can become an apostolic witness, following Paul, Silas, Lydia and others like them into public places and personal conversations, sharing a relationship with Jesus that bears the fruits of abundant life, and transform our surrounding culture one conversation at a time.

'Let's take care of our members first, then, with any resources left over, we'll go after the lost.'

Participants in a declining congregation are: Committed to an organization -- managing committees -- preoccupied with raising money -- retiring from church work -- surveying internal needs -- eager to know everybody -- first and foremost loyal to one another -- perpetuating a heritage.

Participants in a thriving congregation are: Committed to Christ -- making disciples -- serving in the world -- pursuing constant personal growth -- sensitizing themselves to community needs -- drawn to the unchurched -- visioning a future.

Pick one.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We flew home from
Cairo, Egypt today - a very long day but such a great time with 15 other KFA-ers on what turned out to be a four continent tour - we started out in our own North America - traveled to Greece (Europe) for 3 days - went to Israel (Asia) for a week - and then ended up for 3 days in Egypt (Africa).

I didn't even know until I opened up my official Bucket List to cross off a couple of things (see yesterday's blog) that I had fulfilled a third Bucket List item without even realizing it - that is, visiting the Greek Isles. We did a day cruise to three of the Greek Isles during our trip.

So we're home - and happy - and feeling very satisfied. Here's one pic from each continent.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


One of my favorite Scripture passages is the one in Luke chapter 9 where Jesus says: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."

And it isn't even the denying yourself that's the really hard part; it isn't the taking up your cross that's the really hard part; it's the daily part that's really hard.


The path to hell is the easy road. Do nothing and you get there. The Gospel of Christ, that so many people say is for the foolish and simple, places people on the harder path - the narrower path - to heaven. The reason it's tough is because when Christ calls a man or a woman, He calls them to die. Daily.

That’s more than a clever little deal to tweet about.

First is last - weak is strong - foolish is wise - losing is gaining - dying is living.

Jesus suffered so, ultimately, you wouldn't have to suffer forever, substituting Himself for you - great atonement - on your behalf.

I know it goes against intuition, but death is the way to life for the follower of Christ. He's not asking to make us nicer, He's asking to make us new. As C.S. Lewis said: 'Die before you die. There is no chance after.'

And be blessed.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Just as a bit of trivia, today is my 1,000th blog post. I guess I'm just kind of proud of that.

Our 16th floor hotel room in Cairo, Egypt sits on the edge of the River Nile. It is late in the evening - 11:30 p.m. - and the river down below from our balcony is just now heating up with floating riverboat casinos, loud music and thousands of people thronging the streets. Traffic is reminiscent of Chicago at the 5 p.m. rush hour, except it's nearly midnight.

Egypt is a land of antiquities. We visited a mosque today as well as the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, where we saw many artifacts dated from 2500 BC and before. Highlights were King Tutenhkamen's furniture, chariots, beds, dishware and hundreds of other items found in his tomb.

One of the most exciting parts of the day was that I managed to cross two items off my Bucket List in one day.

The first was visiting the Egyptian Pyramids (pictured above) and the Sphinx. A few of us even paid a little extra to go inside one of the pyramids. Awesome.

The second thing I crossed off my list was Joelene and I getting the opportunity to ride a camel together. It doesn't get any better than riding one right in front of the Pyramids in the Egyptian desert.

Pray for the people of Egypt.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Continuing our trip in Israel took us to some significant locations today:

The Mount of Olives
The Garden of Gethsemane, where we took some time alone to pray
The Via Dolorosa
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Upper Room
The Southern Steps of the Temple - we read one of the Psalms of Ascent - Psalm 136 - and walked up the steps as we said each verse, responding at each step with 'His love endures forever.'
The Western Wall (pictured above), where we had the opportunity to pray for a short time

And be blessed.

Monday, November 7, 2011


What a great experience to float on the Dead Sea today without the assistance of anything but our bodies and the sea. The mineral level in the Dead Sea is at 34% - 10 times greater than the ocean - so all you have to do is lay on your back in the water and you don't sink. It's the freakiest thing, but very cool.

Other parts of our journeys today included En Gedi, where David hid from a jealous Saul in I Samuel 22 -- and Masada (pictured at right), an isolated rock plateau where Herod built a fantastic palace, located not far from the Dead Sea. It was the last outpost of Israelites in the first century. The eventual siege of the fortification by the Romans led to the mass suicide of nearly a thousand Jews before they could be taken captive.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We have had a most impressive and moving last few days in Israel with KFA-ers and our new friends from a church in Uniontown, New York. I hardly know where to begin:

A boat ride on the Sea of Galilee
Nazareth, Jesus' boyhood home
The Mount of Beatitudes
The Golan Heights, bordering with Syria (pictured above)
Capernaum, where Jesus began His ministry
The Jordan River, where it was a great honor to baptize 6 KFA-ers in the same river in which Jesus was baptized.
A drive thru the West Bank, bordering Jordan
Bethlehem, to view the traditional site where Jesus was born.

Today, we ascended to Jerusalem and will continue our journeys into the desert and parts south of Jerusalem.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We are in Greece - land of mythology and center for early world influence, art, culture, education, power and civilization.

Yesterday in Athens we saw the Parthenon (pictured at right). It sits atop the Acropolis, which means the ‘high point’ in the city.

One of the highlights (for me) was to stand on Mars Hill, where Paul preached to the Athenians in Acts chapter 17. I was honored to be able to share with our group about making the power of the Gospel real and life-giving to those around us, much like Paul did as he spoke to the disbelieving Stoics and Epicureans in Athens 2,000 years ago.

Today we were in Corinth, where Paul rubbed shoulders with Priscilla and Aquila for many months, joining them in their tent making business (this story can be read in Acts chapter 18). We visited some of the ruins of the various Greek gods and goddesses and one of the ancient Corinth agoras (open marketplaces).

I enjoyed giving another short message to our group revolving around Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. We actually had a stranger wander over and join our crew while the devotional was being given. Here in Corinth, where the patron god was Aphrodite, goddess of love, Paul ironically spoke to a Corinthian church who evidently needed a lesson in love.

He gives us a whole chapter of it – I Corinthians 13 – and tells us if we don’t have love, it’s all a waste. Greece is not the only place on the planet that thrives on myths – we have them too. One of ours is that if you just let your life drift, you will drift into becoming a more loving person. Not true. The drift in your life is always toward self. You have to be intentional about getting better at loving if you are really serious about it.

It could become one of our goals to eliminate at least one of the popular excuses people have for not accepting Christ – that we Christians are not loving.

Because church is not really a society or a special interest group, is it? Do you know what it actually is? It is a ‘pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-it’s-true’ club. It is a people enjoying the love of the Father and wondering why He would ever pick us in the first place. It is a rag-tag bunch of sinners who are just grateful they got rescued by Jesus and are enjoying the fruits of His amazing love. And I can’t help but think if we were all more like I Corinthians 13, a lot more people would want to join up.

And be blessed.