Saturday, December 31, 2011


I think people look at the world and look at themselves and imagine that God’s focus must be about them.  They say: ‘The reason everything exists is that God might save me, might rescue me, might help me, might ultimately have children who are mature like me.  That’s the focus of God.’

And they point to the fact that God created us and loves us and provides for us and cares about us and protects us.  They point to those things and go: ‘See?  Isn’t it obvious?  We're the point.  We're what God is after.’ 

God is for you, God does love you, God does provide for you, He is a shield around you, Jesus did come to seek and save the lost -- that's you and me -- but there is a motivation behind all that protecting and guiding and loving and saving that goes well beyond you.

The beginning of Psalm 23 says: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness ... “ (vss. 1-3)

Now if we just stopped there, you could argue, “Well, there it IS.  He is shepherding us, He is loving us, He is restoring us, He is providing for us, He is leading us ... ’ 

It’s easy to see God’s activity toward us in those verses.  And if that’s all you’re going to read, it really does look like we are the point ... except the reason for His leading and loving and shepherding and providing and restoring is clearer if you read just a few words further in that verse: ‘ ... He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Names’s sake.’

AH!  Why does God pursue you?  Why does God shepherd you?  Why does God care for you?  It’s not because of you.  It’s for the sake of His name.  It’s for the praise of His glorious grace. 

"The point and focus of the Bible is God - it's not you."

There’s a college class called Perspectives in World Religion where they unpack what is called 'cat and dog theology.'  A cat goes, “My owner feeds me, cares for me and cleans up after me.  I must be God."  A dog goes, “My owner feeds me, cares for me and cleans up after me.  He must be God.”  Far too many Christ-followers are feline in their theology.  “God loves me and He’s for me - so I must be the point of all His activity.” 

Alas, you are not.  God created you for His glory.  Jesus suffered the final hours of His life for His Father's Glory.  Today, He answers your prayers so God will be glorified.  God forgave our sins for His own sake.  He instructed us to do everything - everything - for His glory.  

The point and focus of the Bible is God; it’s not you.  God is about God.  You’re not here because of you; you’re here for God. 

And be blessed.

Friday, December 30, 2011


My favorite quote of all time found outside the Bible comes from Robert Frost, who said: "I took the road less traveled by, and it has made all the difference."

Is this not our basic calling as believers - taking the road less traveled?

The life with Christ calls us to exercise conscious choices to delay gratification; it calls us to sacrifice some present comfort for future reward.  

Denying yourself isn't a popular message in today's America.  Our society would encourage us: "If you want it, get it; If you have the money, buy it; If you feel it, do it; If you need it, take it."

Contrast that with the words of Jesus: "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will save it ... Whoever would come after Me must deny himself, take up a cross daily and follow Me."  A true cross, given or allowed by Christ is not a punishment but an opportunity for growth. 

"If you want it, get it; If you have the money, buy it; If you feel it, do it; If you need it, take it." 

Jesus says "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  But narrow is the gate and hard is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).  

But He also says: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). 

Yes sir, you CAN have it both ways.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


J. Naisbitt talks about excelling during adversity. He says the three great presidents of the United States were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.  They were great because each led the nation thru times that were the worst for her ... The American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II, respectively.  In between each of them, most of the presidents were 'What's His Name?'  

During adversity is when great leaders are needed.  So don't give up the ship.  We can muddle thru good times by ourselves - it doesn't take any stroke of genius to get a bunch of people thru times that are going great - but we need great leaders to get us through the tough times.

It was said of King Edward VIII of England, who abdicated the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee he loved: 'He was at his very best when times were good.'

Ugh.  Please don't let that ever be said of me -- or of you.  Great leaders excel in their leadership when there is difficulty.  So don't resent the rocky times.  These are what makes you stronger.  These are what bring your greatest opportunities.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I think I say it every year, but that's because I mean it every year.  One of the most inscrutable things about the Christmas season, particularly the 'week of,' is the sheer joy of the average person on the street.  People you've never seen before - never met - don't know - will smile at you for nothing.  They'll hold doors open for you for nothing.  They'll start friendly conversations over nothing.  

It's just weird - and maybe a little regrettable - that three days after Christmas, it's a different story.  Perhaps it's a little passe to remark about that, but it seems to worsen with each passing year.  It ramps up starting sometime around Black Friday on Thanksgiving at midnight and we enjoy almost a whole month of this other-worldly amazing attitude -- and then, around December 28th ... CRASH.  
Scrooge is not a person so much as it is a behavior - a spirit.  Let's keep the spirit of Christ with us throughout all of 2012, so when next Christmas rolls around 362 days from now, it won't feel so wonderfully strange and then three days later, so all too familiar.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I hope you had an amazingly fulfilling Christmas Day.  Here are some Christmas quotes worth paying attention to:

The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart.
-- Helen Keller

Christmas gift suggestions: to an enemy, forgiveness.  To an opponent, tolerance.  To a friend, your heart.  To all, charity.  To every child, a good example.  To yourself, respect.
-- Oren Arnold

 The worst Christmas gift is a fruitcake.  There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep sending it to one another.
-- Johnny Carson

To cherish peace and good will and to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
-- Calvin Coolidge

Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.
-- Dale Evans

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they're all 30 feet tall.
-- Larry Wilde

He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree.
-- Charlotte Carpenter

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David's throne and over His Kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
-- The prophet Isaiah

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


It was great to be 'in the Christmas Eve house' tonight at KFA ( with a couple thousand others, all celebrating the life we live because of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Enjoy your evening and the wonder that tomorrow brings in the arms and hearts of family and friends.  It only happens just like this once a year.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas Eve pics to share with you (just click to enlarge).  Good night.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 23, 2011


It was just another 'Day in the Life' today on Christmas Eve Eve:

- Had the day off today, so a little opportunity to sleep in.
- A great workout with my youngest daughter, Olivia.
- Fighting Racine, Kenosha & Pleasant Prairie traffic, returning all kinds of Christmas stuff we didn't need to buy after all (Sorry, fam.  But you still get gifts - don't worry).
- Out to a movie with Joelene & Olivia - "I Bought A Zoo" starring Matt Damon.
- Chinese for dinner.
- Wrapping a bunch of Christmas gifts in the basement with Olivia (See fam, we didn't take everything back).
- A little bit of TV.
- Time for bed.
- Goodnight.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Our three children are all part of what many societicians call Generation Y -- those born between 1985 and 2000 (people from 12 to 27 years old). They also form a significant segment of our church, KFA ( Two of our staff pastors fall in this category.

I don't know what words come to mind when I say Generation Y, but many immediately think of 'entitled' and 'self-absorbed,' but I think more of words like 'creative,' 'technically savvy,' 'comfortable with change' and 'downright smart.'

There is no doubt
Generation Y will change the face of the future and the face of the church just as much as their grandparents impacted their own.

They will change it with their sense of loyalty. Time was, loyalty was shown by how long you stuck around and paid your dues --- the older generations still think along these lines.
"Y," on the other hand, says: "I'll show you loyalty by how hard I work and how faithfully I serve/give, not by how long I stick around and do it."

They will change the future with their sense of tech savvy-ness. And not only are they tech savvy -- they're tech dependent. They need it to survive. It is an appendage for them sitting in the auditorium at 6 p.m. during a Saturday evening service.

They will change the future with their sense of teamwork.
"Y" is comfortable spreading the message fast and often - again, often thru social media and communications. A lot of their school work was done in groups or as 'equal' team members. Therefore, "Y"s function naturally and well as team players.

They will change the future with their honesty. It isn't that the rest of us haven't been honest, but "Y"s take it to a new level. They say how they feel when they feel it and are comfortable readily discussing personal information.

They will change the future with their diversity. They don't just embrace it, they expect it. They will have great difficulty understanding why others struggle with issues built around differences.

They will change the future with their views of work vs. life.
"I love my job, but I love my life more" is something you may hear Generation "Y" saying a lot. They will have no problem with work or with working hard -- but their jobs will never be the whole of their identity. They don't want a job, they want a life that hopefully includes a job.


And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I'm always harping on how incredibly terrific our KFA team is. I suppose that gets old, but they keep proving it, so I keep writing about it. And trust me, they do so many great things that if I told you about them every time, that's all I'd be writing about.

When he was president of the United States, Ronald Reagan had a desk motto in the Oval Office that read: 'It is amazing how much you can get done if you don't care who gets the credit.' Boom.

Those are words most of us should take to heart. They are words I believe our team has learned.

Sometimes in our team meetings, someone will speak an idea and it hits a responsive chord. This person may serve as the opening catalyst for change - a spontaneous initiator - who may be forgotten as the process continues its course - who may not be remembered or even thanked as the positive change begins to take form and shape and become reality.

But before it becomes reality, there is trouble. In a perfect model all the changes are laid out on a table orderly and nicely and sensibly and sequentially. Life, however, rarely works that neatly. Life is not naturally organized, though we make our best attempts to organize it.

Take a family vacation, for instance. "Family A" determines every detail two months before they ever get into the minivan. They schedule meals at restaurants, make hotel reservations, figure out toll budgeting and plan activities. The know just where they'll be when they'll be there. "Family B" gets in the car and drives south, deciding what they'll do as they go.

Which is better?

Neither is. Either plan is fine as long as there is a direction set at the beginning and an overall purpose for the trip.

The initiator of change in an organization must set the direction and start the group on the first mile. He/she doesn't have to decide every turn and twist to get from Point A to Point Z. That's why you have a team in the first place. Peter Drucker said: 'All beginning is difficult.'

Along the way there will be setbacks, roadblocks, detours, stops and stalls. If your team understands that, it will not only help them cope with the steps along the way but will also help expedite the changes.

Our team is achieving much of this right now - I think, without them even realizing they're doing it in such a healthy way. Shhh! Let's not tell them.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Here are some ABCs of doing ministry in the 21st century ...

A - Authenticity is king.
I don't know how many times I've had someone approach after a weekend message and thank me for just being real. I don't think I'm the 'realest' person on the planet, but people sure seem to connect whenever I open the cracks of those doors.

B - Balance vs. burnout
We're all feeling the pressures of living in a world that is rapidly changing as well as a society where margin is thin. I don't mind wearing out because of a day or week or month that was particularly busy, but I don't want to burn out. Gotta find the rhythm of life that works for me and those dear to me.

C - Community
It's one of our five stated KFA purposes: Authentic Community (also see letter "A"). We are a nation increasingly disconnected and the result is people desperate and struggling for community and belonging.

D - Disciples vs. decisions
The days of hand-counting are done. People are sitting in our church auditorium for weeks and months on end absorbing the Gospel without announcing they've prayed a prayer, raised a hand, or visited a lobby booth for materials. Yet we see hundreds of people continue to be baptized, proof that transformation as well as obedience and discipleship are taking place.

E - Enthusiastic Service before membership
Today, people want to 'test the waters' before making a formal commitment to your organization. They want to know if you're going to accept them first and so they put their toes over the edge of the pool in by serving and participating before diving in all the way.

G - Growth via groups
Personal growth comes in the context of group life, not so much the big weekend gathering, good as that is. For us at KFA, Group Connect has been an answer to get people growing in life groups.

R - Relationship instead of religion
Enough said.

T - Transitions
Everybody is changing - families - organizations - institutions - governments - economies - churches - individuals --- everybody. We need to be sensitive and 'ahead of the curve' of societal change in order to meet the needs screaming at us every day.

It is a very exciting time.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Joelene and I are headed to Thailand in January with seven men and ten ladies from KFA to do ministry on two unique fronts: Among those Thai women who have found no other good way to support their families than by giving their bodies to sex-for-money -- and among the Western men headed to those red-light districts to purchase it.

The men's team will be doing street evangelism on the streets of Pattaya (Walking Street in Pattaya pictured) and Bangkok, where men come to buy a woman for the night. Think New Orleans' Bourbon Street on steroids.

Steve Neyman, stateside coordinator for MST Project (, with whom we're partnering in Thailand, did our men's orientation today via Skype.

Some of the things we learned in that time together:
* All ages and all kinds of men come to places like these seeking love and intimacy, filling voids currently taken up by hurt and great need.

* Hurting people hurt people.

* God has called us to be an extension of love rather than judgment.

* We aren't fighting against people - not against flesh and blood - it's bigger and deeper than that.

* 'Grace and love are more transforming than shame and guilt.' (Chris Lenty - MST Project)

Pray for the ministry of these teams as they travel to Thailand next month.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tonight is the kick-off of the brand new SHE ministry at KFA. Over 150 ladies are traveling together to Rockford, Illinois for the Kari Jobe (pictured) concert.

We are excited to see how this amazing new outreach to women at all stages of life connects, grows, involves, motivates and reaches out to the ladies of


And be blessed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Every weekend that I stand in a church auditorium to speak to people, I face an enormous challenge. I am there as a man who is a believer in Jesus Christ, with a personally held deep conviction and commitment to follow Him. I come as a pastor who loves the church (and I'm not talking about the building). I come as an American born in the late 1950s and living in 2011.

I have to take a book called the Bible and relate it to those who are listening. It is a book that has been written not only in languages different from mine, but in cultures and in centuries different than the one I presently live in.

I have come to understand that the Bible gives God's unassailable truth, yet in a cultural container. The truth is absolute; the container, not so much. So I have to pour that truth from the container of first century Hebrew-Greek culture into the container of 20th century American culture. When that is done properly, not a drop of truth is lost.

For instance: 'Greet each other with a holy kiss,' found in I Corinthians 16. How about, 'Give warm, kind, genuine, sincere welcomes to each other as an expression of your love and unity?' Truth vs. container. In Kenosha, we shake hands or give hugs - maybe a fist pump or two, depending.

As leaders and pastors and shepherds and communicators, we have a responsibility to understand people and culture. Life can be hard - disappointing - a struggle. People come on the weekend overflowing with needs and looking for answers. They need hope and meaning.

We can give it to them by pouring the living water - the truth - into containers they can handle and drink from.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


There is love - and there is love that is profound.

Profound love can endure the stress of real life, and boy, can it be stressful. Profound love isn't mere sentimentality. It is rough and rugged, yet it is still love. It has less to do with good feelings between people and more to do with something so self-sacrificial because it is gained at its richest levels only by giving it away to others.

Love that is profound is hardly passive. It cannot be. Impossible. Passive love is an oxymoron. Profound love motivates one's very will and pushes one to act with urgency - right now - today - sooner than today -- get-up-from-your-chair-this-very-minute-and-do-it kind of love. It hounds you to the farthest limits of your own generosity and beyond.

Love takes its most profound shape when it is given equal priority to strangers beyond the sphere of church life. It becomes again profound when leadership releases control over others and instead equips others to discover new life for themselves.

Love at its most profound involves some pain - even mystery --- the kind that led Jesus unimaginably to the cross. Say it isn't so -- it cannot be possibly true. When we discover love at that kind of profound level, suffering then is filled with brand-new meaning - and once again, love takes us back to Christ where it all began and we are filled with awe at the greatness of God.


And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When was the last time you felt condemned? If you never have, then maybe the words 'There is no condemnation for those in Christ' doesn't mean much to you.

But if you've become well-acquainted with feelings of condemnation, then those words have very different meaning.

If you've had boat loads of shame and guilt - if you've experienced great judgment at the hands of another - then you grasp how sweet it is to be told you'll never again be condemned.

Your connection with God is unshaken even when your connection with life is.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I've never been that great at trusting. I've gotten a lot better but I lean to the cynic, unfortunately. That's why this whole walk by 'faith' rather than by 'sight' is a stretch for me. I'm from Missouri, after all - 'Show me.'

But think about it. We’re all being asked to trust that God, in fact, did visit this planet in the person of Jesus Christ and that Jesus was born miraculously to two Jewish peasants.

We’re being asked to believe that at thirty years of age, He started doing miracles and healing people - and then - after three years, He sacrificed Himself and paid for the sins of the entire world as He was crucified on a cross between two thieves.

We’re being asked to believe that three days later He was resurrected from the grave and then ascended to Heaven where, from that time until this time, He’s been reaching out to fallen, sinful people all over the world, including you and me -- offering hope and a new start — a more satisfying life -- an eternal future -- a free gift.

Do you trust all that? Do you believe it? Do you believe it enough to stake everything in your life on it? Because that’s exactly what God asks of you. Do you believe it enough to spread the word of this free gift to every door God opens for you? Because that’s exactly what God asks of you.

This Christmas -- even though some are facing medical challenges that have you scared to death -- some are facing financial shortages, job setbacks, family heartbreaks -- God is asking us this Christmas to believe that He is a powerful God -- a good God — that somehow, some way, He’s going to be faithful to His Word even though we can’t see it all right now. He can be trusted to orchestrate all your circumstances into a plan that ends up in a good result for you.

Believe it, Missouri or not.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I’m not particularly proud of this, but when people betray me -- when people deceive me in a way that winds up being very hurtful -- sometimes my reflex is to want them to somehow pay for hurting me. Every human being who has been wronged in some way is tempted to slam dunk whoever wrongs him or her.

A couple of weeks from now you’ll be gathered with family for the holiday. And most likely, in the same room with you are going to be some people who have hurt you in some way, betrayed you or wronged you. That stuff happens … even in great families.

So, at that Christmas family gathering we have decisions to make. We have gifts to consider giving to people, even to those we feel deserve nothing good from us at all. And we can either act on dark impulses that aren’t from God that make us want to inflict damage and hurt people who have wronged us … or … we can give the gift of graciousness to someone. 

We can engage in that battle and we can imitate Christ and treat someone with grace instead of judgment. I’m not saying that is always going to be easy, but if we’re Christ followers, graciousness is a gift we have to give.

There is a picture of a candle up there. It represents the gift of graciousness because it doesn’t matter if I have to go thru a hundred nearly melted down candles, I’m not going to give up being gracious -- I’m not going to give up waiting on the one who needs my grace. I’m not going to let that candle go out -- I’m going to keep lighting it over and over -- even when they try to blow the light out with their anger -- even when they kick dust on it -- even when they knock it over ---- I’ll keep lighting it again and again and again and again -- as long as it takes -- because God has called me to give the gift of graciousness to those around me - even those who hurt me -- and because God has been gracious to me.

I’ve engaged in the battle for graciousness and with God’s help, I’ve granted it to some folks and let them off the hook. But I’ve also done the other, where I’ve tried to make people pay. But I'll say this: I have never experienced satisfaction in my spirit for trying to make someone pay. I thought it would feel sweet. It didn’t.

And every time -- when I’ve worked it the other way and kept the candle lit and engaged in the battle for graciousness -- with the help of the Holy Spirit -- every single time -- when I’ve decided to cancel a debt and let someone off the hook -- when I’ve decided to bless instead of curse — that's when my spirit has found satisfaction.

God calls you to it.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Last evening our entire pastoral team and spouses split into two groups and went to two different assisted living homes to serve.

The group of twelve I was in went to
Wynwood Center on Hwy H. We hung out with the folks -- sat down and chatted -- sang Christmas carols with them -- worked on a Christmas craft together -- gave some cookies -- and chatted some more.

Pictured here are
Jason & Amy Lowe, Communications Pastor (top left) -- and Jon & Janet Brown, Student Ministries Pastor (top right).

The idea was put together by
Bob Griffith, Pastor of Children & Family Ministries and his team.

What a great way to start the Christmas season.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I was reading the other day about successful people - successful pastors - having a 'Bible in one hand and a pom pom in the other.'

I need to carry a pom pom more. I don't think I've ever been naturally skilled at being a great encourager. Recently, when our team (I asked our congregation to do this as well) took the Romans 12 gift test at, my results came out as follows:

Ruler -- 95%
Teacher -- 90%
Perceiver -- 85%
Giver -- 55%
Servant -- 50%
... all well and good, but then it dropped down to ...
Encourager -- 25%
Showing Mercy -- 16%

It isn't that I'm not an encouraging person - it isn't that I never show mercy. I do, but I guess I'm not driven or motivated as my first course of action by those things. Some of you won't be surprised at that, I'm sure. We can't all be 100% at everything on the list, but I know I need to be better at both of those things.

The legacy of Christian leaders to the early church was not their personal biographies or their 'gift test outcomes,' but the memory of their companionship. We don't know much about them at all, but we know how they lived as examples in community with others. We know how they cheered others on to run the race with vigor and resolve and determination and joy and abandon. Their letters are filled with admonishments, yes - a Bible in one hand - but also with great care, love and encouragement - a pom pom in the other. They are the most sympathetic of comforters and the most challenging of prophets.

Successful leaders spend a lot of their time waving pom poms -- encouraging, coaching, mentoring and guiding people to their own spectacular, God-given destinies.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Over and over I have asserted that the world - including the church world - has dramatically changed and continues to dramatically change. We are living as we speak in the middle of a cultural earthquake - a veritable crack point in history. Leadership of the past cannot be the same as leadership of the future. For a long time, change has been evolutionary; today, it's revolutionary - rapid - urgent.

The rapid sharing of information and lifting up teamwork is a critical factor to the success of great leaders, more than it has ever been in the past.

Radical diversity is changing the face of church life in 2011.

For decades, a large majority of people were raised, if not within the church, at least a stone's throw from it. Leaders could assume newcomers - or any comer - had some foundation in Christian faith. Now, the church can assume nothing of the sort.

For years, we imagined correctly that 'actions speak louder than words.' Not any more. The best deeds are received with some suspicion these days. People's eyes and ears are ultra-alert to 'hidden agendas.' They want to know the concrete faith that lies behind the actions.

Loyalty to one denomination used to be legendary. That has been thrown out the window today. Leaders either meet the changing needs of people or they go elsewhere.

People used to attend church nearly within walking distance of their home - at least no more than a short drive - and the whole family came together in one vehicle. These days people will drive miles and miles to whatever community of faith they connect to - and they'll each drive separately if need be.

This is hardly an exhaustive list of reasons leaders are having challenges today, but the challenge is clear. If we cannot adopt new styles and methods and define ourselves to a whole new generation with great purpose, then God will raise up leaders who can.

'The earthquake cometh.'

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I had the grand privilege once again of meeting with two church staffs in Milwaukee today in the second installment of the Life Development Network, helping churches who want to thrive instead of merely survive. It was a great day with two great pastors and two tremendous teams.

It’s all about team. In fact, growing churches do ministry in teams. Teams are replacing autocratic and Lone Ranger style leadership.

Growing churches expect every leader to develop personal mastery and take personal responsibility for becoming effective in their ministry. In the old system the boss told you what you needed to know to grow. Today, YOU have to figure out what to do to become good. Everybody on our KFA team is an expert of sorts at what they do. If I want to know about certain things, I’m going to go to certain people on our team for certain answers because they know better than I do.

Growing churches understand and manage their church culture. Within every church or organization there exists a specific, discernable culture. You know it moments after you walk in. Their set of norms, values and behaviors all contribute to the understanding of how things get done in that setting. Culture refers to "the way we do things around here." The specific culture of your church may not be written down, but it gets expressed in everything that happens - what you call things - where you advertise - how you communicate - where you spend your time and money - what gets taught - how members interact -- all communicate organizational culture. Ever hear someone say, “That’s NOT the way we do things here?” That’s culture, too.

We can keep the vision God has given us alive and fresh. We can make a pact to avoid personal, spiritual decay. Generally, the reason a church or organization moves into the ‘aging stage’ is because leadership gets there first. We can’t let that happen. We have to keep growing so our churches can grow. We can keep the mission of Jesus alive in our own hearts. We can avoid a status quo mentality and keep pressing forward. We can remember who God called us to reach.

And we can be a growing church.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 2, 2011


God has your back. He isn't mad at you. He likes you.

I have a friend who lives in California. He's always telling me that God likes him better than me because he's always having these cool and amazing things happen to him. Me? I get nothin.' We were standing at a conference once waiting for them to pull names out of a hat for big prizes. He won one; I got nothin.' It's happened several times with us.

'That's because God likes me best,' he said.

" ... Not only is God not mad at you, He is actively for you."

We both know he was joking but it's become a running joke with us. Unfortunately, some people believe that kind of thing. But God isn't against you because of how you behave or because of something you did three years ago - or last weekend.

In fact, not only is God not mad at you, He is actively for you.

Remember the days of tug-of-war? You'd get a thick rope, find a big puddle or mud hole and pick teams to see who could pull the other side into the puddle of mud. There was always one guy in the group that was bigger than everybody else. It was important you ended up on his team or you and your side were probably going to get muddy.

The God of the universe is on your team. There is no question. He is for you - and if He is, who can possibly be against you.

God has your back.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


It has been one of the great journeys of my life to move away from pushing papers to helping people. I admit it. Administration and organization have always been my alter-ego - stuff you do without even thinking much about it - but God has begun a great work in my life over the past several years and I have to say I'm grateful for it.

"I'm still in process ... but I'm thankful for the great journey."

I haven't stopped pushing papers but I've come to understand the life and joy that comes from loving people more than committees or procedures.

It has also been a journey of building integrity, not merely dispensing authority. It has been a journey of making mistakes and finding out people still love you and then coming to the place where you no longer fear making mistakes, which actually causes you to make less of them. It has been a journey of realizing that one does not need to try to advance oneself, but seek to help others advance.

I'm still in process, of course, but I'm thankful for the great journey.

And be blessed.