Saturday, June 30, 2012

FREEDOM

It was an awesome privilege to be a featured communicator at Kenosha's True Freedom annual event at Lake Michigan tonight.  


Our forefathers and we have been shaped as a nation by Godly standards and principles and we should be grateful to God for giving those to us.  I’m not suggesting all the founding fathers were awesome Christians with spot-on theology, I'm just saying there was at one point in American history a deep sense of personal and National accountability to a holy God that shaped our country's understanding of right and wrong.


Here’s what we learned in grade school from the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be
self-evident' (that means we don’t need to have a big debate on it - it’s just ‘DUH’) 'that all men are created equal - that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ... ’

The Declaration of Independence invokes the presence of God.  And down thru the early years of our nation’s history there was never an argument about whether or not we were accountable to God’s standards - it was just ‘DUH.’  It was part of the National conscience.  

In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln introduced a new phrase.  He said: ‘We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation - under God - shall have a new birth of freedom.’

Under God.  Abraham Lincoln viewed our nation as under the authority and accountability of God and the nation agreed when he wrote that.  Here we were having a Civil War, but neither side was fighting over whether or not we were a nation under God.  Both sides believed that part.
Our National ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ have been tied to God since the earliest days and the further we distance ourselves from Him as a nation - the further we distance ourselves from Him in our marriages and families - the further we get from expressing gratitude to a Creator God who set all this up in the first place - the further we get from being accountable to Him - the more we realize something else has to take His place.  It’s inevitable.  And if we remove the Creator God from the picture, what then is the foundation for what we do going forward?  Because there has to be something.  Our Declaration says it’s God, but we’ve removed Him -- so what’s the new foundation? 

I believe the new foundation --- is ourselves --- our own ideas, our own beliefs, our own morality.  And -- Christ-follower-in-2012-America -- it's critical that our foundation remains in Jesus Christ and that there be some still willing to pay the personal price to keep it that way.

May we never distance ourselves from a sovereign and holy God and begin to rely on ourselves instead of Him.  May we never become a nation of families who begin to say, 'Who is the Lord?'

And be blessed. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

CODE


I read today that there is a new Code Of Ethics For Pastors offered by the National Association of Evangelicals that they would like all pastors to sign.  It has already been signed by some fairly big rollers in the Christian world.  
Here it is - it’s kind of long.  What are your thoughts on it?
CODE OF ETHICS:
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3)
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)
All who are called by God to the ministry of the gospel solemnly commit to a life of joyful obedience and
selfless service in order to glorify God and enrich his people. Therefore, a minister will:
Pursue Integrity
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.  All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. (1 Chronicles 29:17)
in personal character.
Exalt Christ, not self. Be honest, not exaggerating or overpromising; peace-loving, not contentious; patient, not volatile; diligent, not slothful. Avoid and, when necessary, report conflicts of interest and seek counsel.
in personal care.
Care for the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical dimensions of your person, for “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
in preaching and teaching.
Interpret the Bible accurately and apply it discerningly: “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8). Speak the truth in love.  Give due credit when using the words or ideas of others.
Be Trustworthy
It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
in leadership.
Model the trustworthiness of God in leadership to encourage and develop trustworthiness in others.  Use power and influence prudently and humbly.  Foster loyalty.  Demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of the entire congregation.  Keep promises.  Respond sensitively and appropriately to ministry requests and needs: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).
with information.
Guard confidences carefully. Inform a person in advance, if possible, when an admission is about to be made that might legally require the disclosure of that information.  Communicate truthfully and discreetly when asked about individuals with destructive or sinful behavior patterns.  Tell
the truth, or remain discreetly silent: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).
with resources.
Be honest and prudent in regard to personal and ministry resources. Refuse gifts that could compromise ministry.  Ensure that all designated gifts are used for their intended purpose: “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
Seek Purity
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
in maintaining sexual purity.
Avoid sinful sexual behavior and inappropriate involvement. Resist temptation: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3a).
in spiritual formation.
Earnestly seek the help of the Holy Spirit for guidance and spiritual growth. Be faithful to maintain a heart of devotion to the Lord. Be consistent and intentional in prayer and scriptural study: “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
in theology.
Study the Bible regularly and carefully to understand its message, and embrace biblical doctrine. In forming theology, consider biblical teaching authoritative over all other sources.
in professional practice.
Identify a minister/counselor who can provide personal counseling and advice when needed. Develop an awareness of personal needs and vulnerabilities. Avoid taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of others through exploitation or manipulation. Address the misconduct of another clergy member directly or, if necessary, through appropriate persons to whom that member of the clergy may be accountable.
Embrace Accountability
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)
in finances.
Promote accepted accounting practices and regular audits. Ensure that church funds are used for their intended ministry purposes.
in ministry responsibilities.
Ensure clarity in authority structures, decision-making procedures, position descriptions, and grievance policies.  Model accountability at the highest organizational levels.
in a denomination or a ministry organization.
Ensure compliance with denominational standards and expectations, including regular reports.
Facilitate Fairness
Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
with staff.
Follow approved church and denomination practices in staff selection processes.  Advocate for equitable pay and benefits for staff.  Provide regular staff team building, affirmation, training, evaluation, and feedback. Be honest with staff regarding areas to celebrate as well as those needing improvement.
with parishioners.
Ensure appropriate access to staff by parishioners.  Preach and teach to meet the needs of the entire congregation. Assume responsibility for congregational health.  When asked for help beyond personal competence, refer others to those with requisite expertise.
with the community.
Build God’s Kingdom in cooperation, not competition, with other local ministries.  Provide Christian ministries to the public as possible. Encourage good citizenship.
with a prior congregation.
Do not recruit parishioners from a previous church without permission from the pastor. Avoid interfering in the ministry of a previous congregation.
I’ve signed it.  I haven’t done so to be with the ‘in crowd,’ but simply because people need to know leaders are also holding themselves publicly accountable to ‘every good work’ and to Godly, Biblical principles.  My wife needs to know it, my kids need to know it, my church needs to know it, my city needs to know it.
And be blessed.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

WYLL

Today was a cool opportunity to be on Carl Klauson's '180' show on radio station WYLL ... 1160 AM. My partner in ministry, Dan Remus, and I were on the show broadcast from our KFA lobby from 3-5 p.m. today.  A small crowd gathered in the lobby to listen live.

We talked about:
The Co-Pastor model of ministry
Church vision
Being outward-focused
Reaching lost people
Thailand missions and sex trafficking
This blog
and a variety of other things.

Sorry if you missed it.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

JUDGE

We have all read stories of people we thought were amazing, super-Christians, only to find out one day their secret sin had been exposed.  They had been living a double life for years, sometimes decades.

I'm always stunned by it, even though I've seen it and heard it dozens of times.  It always leaves you shocked and shaken in your disbelief.  It's happened with friends of mine as well.

'We're so quick to judge according to other people's externals.'

You realize it wasn't one terrible choice, but a bunch of bad ones stacked on top of each other until finally ... the whole thing fell over.  Sometimes you say to yourself: 'That could never happen to me,' and it is then you realize you're on the same tipping beam your friend was on.

We're so quick to judge according to other people's externals.  If someone gets caught in something heinous, we have this tendency to cross them off our Facebook list.

I have to be careful to tell myself I'm not their judge.  Fortunately for them, I'm not.  Fortunately for me, you're not mine either.  There is a Judge, but you're not Him.

And be blessed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

EXPERIMENT

We have a saying around KFA, not original with us:  "Everything is an experiment."


'Everything's an experiment'

That isn't because we want an 'out' if it fails.  Rather, it encourages us not to be afraid to try something new.

We reward innovation and risk-taking.

We've failed at hundreds of things over the years, but we keep trying - failing and trying, failing and trying.  And inevitably the moment comes when we get a win -- often it's a really big one.  But we never would have achieved it if we'd been scared of trying; if we didn't experiment a little.

I used to think people would think we were bad leaders if we failed.  And I suppose if we failed all the time, people would stop following.  But occasional wrong turns don't stop anybody from following.  If anything, people know leaders who don't risk are, at best, boring and uninspiring.

So we go forward with new and exciting things at KFA - and if it doesn't work, we'll try again.

And be blessed.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I read today that a Baptist church just northeast of Orlando, Florida has dreamed up a rather unique way of exposing false teachers to their flock -- they post the names on their church website.

Some of the people who made their recent website list were:  Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren & Bill Hybels.  Super-radicals all, man.  *(Kidding.)

Evidently the site was complete with youtube links and everything.  I was going to share the church website with you - which is part of the Conservative Baptist Association of America group of churches - but when I tried to check it out for myself, the website was 'under construction.'  Maybe they're re-considering.  Then again, maybe they're re-loading.

'This is why the Millenial generation doesn't want anything to do with the church in America.'

Truthfully, this is why the Millenial generation doesn't want anything whatever to do with the church in America today.  Whatever you think of the theology, styles or lifestyles of the above communicators, they are hardly false teachers.  I wouldn't mind being on a 'list' with them.

We need to get a grip on what we're showing and telling the unbelieving world today.  Last time I looked, 'They'll know we are Christians by our love' was pretty standard Bible fare.

Let it be.

And be blessed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DECISIONS

Decisions are one of those things everybody has to make on a regular basis.  They can be as simple as which pair of socks to put on and as complicated as where to invest your money for retirement or whether to move your family cross country for a potential new job.

Leaders have to make them too.  Daily.  They're as simple as deciding when and where to have the staff party and as complicated as what to do when one of your leaders fails morally.

Through it all, there are things we have to learn to be better in the area of decision-making.

'When you have to make a decision and don't make it ... I guess that's a decision'

We all make mistakes.  One proverb says: 'If you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything.'  Rather than becoming paralyzed by mistakes, God calls us to learn from them and move ahead.  Past mistakes can be awesome road markers for the future if we utilize them that way.

We need to develop the art of listening.  I'm not talking about listening so we can develop a response, but really listening.  Listening in order to understand.  Another proverb teaches, 'A wise old owl sat on an oak.  The more he saw, the less he spoke.  The less he spoke, the more he heard.  Why aren't we like that wise old bird?'


And then, I've often had the sense that you have to be absolutely certain about everything before moving forward, and then I heard someone say: 'You're never going to be more than 90% sure.'  That's probably true.

When you have to make a decision and don't make it, well, I guess that's a decision, isn't it?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

31

I'm suspending the normal blog today because of something way more important ... saying 'HAPPY ANNIVERSARY' to my bride of 31 years today.


' ... Born in an obscure village, 
The child of a peasant woman,
Grew up in another obscure village,
Worked in a carpenter shop,
Never wrote a book,
Never held an office,
Never visited a big city,
Never travelled more than 200 miles from the place where ... '


No, wait.  That was Jesus.


But she's really close to being that in a lot of ways. 


A shout out to my beautiful love and bride today -- thirty-one great years.


And be blessed.  I certainly have been.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ALCOHOLIC

I am an alcoholic.  I have been for years with varied success of eliminating it from my life.

Not really - but I made you look, didn't I?

But wait.  Keep reading, because it's actually true.  I'm not an alcohol alcoholic - I'm a sin alcoholic.  Just as the alcohol alcoholic is one sip away from disaster, so am I, as a sin alcoholic.

I humbly acknowledge that the war wages brand new every time the sun rises.  I have had moments where I talk about my sin as if it's way in the past - completely conquered forever.  It isn't.

J. Fisher says 'sinners are never fully cured.'  He's right.  "Watch yourself" with that, the Bible says.

'I'm one sip away from being out of control.'


That's one of the things I love about our Monday night Freedom Seekers group.  They just put their sin out on the table.  Everybody gets to hear it and know it.  There is no hiding.  Sometimes I think six months of Freedom Seekers should be required for every believer.  It would probably do us good.  There are things too big for us to try to handle alone.

I wonder what would happen if we walked into church next weekend with the knowledge that every person we looked at knew about what we were dealing with inside - our lust - our pride and jealousy - our greed - our sin.  If everyone knew what kind of sinner we were, how would it change the way we behaved, how we treated others, how we listened and worshipped and prayed and confessed and ... you know?

I'm a sin alcoholic.  I'm one sip away from being out of control.

Hold tightly to Jesus - and to a life group.

And be blessed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

TOWARD


There is a presumption that, because I raised my hand for Jesus at some point - because I prayed a prayer - because I went to church as a kid - because I got baptized as an infant - because I cried and went forward at camp - because I prayed with my Grandma - that I accepted Jesus in my heart and now I’m fine.  I’m making it in.  

But Jesus seems to say over and again in Scripture, “No.  It isn’t just a one-time decision; it’s a lifetime journey.”  It’s a lifetime spent walking toward Jesus, not away from Him.  It’s like a marriage in that way.  You don’t just one day say, “I love you and I’m going to marry you, now get away from me the rest of your life unless and until I really need you for something.”  

Why do we get that with marriage, but not so much when it comes to Jesus?  Because our relationship with God is likened to a marriage, where God loves us and we respond to Him, but there’s that mutual pursuit thru the course of our lifetimes until it culminates with the feast to end all feasts in heaven described in Revelation chapter 19.
'It's not just a decision.  That's where people get tripped up.'

Anyone who responds with a ‘Yeah, I’d like to join that party,’ and simply confesses, ‘I’m a sinner and in need of a Savior and I want to repent of my wrong,’ which means, turn from it completely ... ‘and accept and believe the fact that Jesus died on the cross for my sins’ ... can become part of God’s Kingdom family ... and then the rest of their life is spent walking toward Jesus by praying and reading the Word and getting in community with other believers.  
And my honest prayer is that none of us are like the religious guy who says: ‘Well, I know I’M going to be there.’  No.  ‘Work out your salvation with great soberness,’ the Bible says.  Don’t presume on the grace of God - don’t take anything for granted where your eternal future is concerned.  If there is anything we shouldn't be casual about, it's eternity.
Keep moving toward Jesus.  It’s not just a decision.  That’s where people get tripped up.  It’s a decision that leads to a lifestyle.  It's a journey.  Keep walking toward Jesus.
And be blessed.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

FATHER'S DAY

As Father's Day winds down, what a great day:  Church in the a.m. -- Red Robin for lunch -- swimming with my grandson -- calls from my girls -- talked to my Dad on the phone -- friends over in the p.m. -- a homemade chocolate shake -- fully satisfied.

Today at KFA, we celebrated with our fathers by inviting six men in each service down to decorated cafe tables at the front to enjoy a steak & eggs breakfast (and full steak dinner Saturday night) while the message was delivered on The Great Banquet of Luke chapter 14.  


To wrap up the gathering just before the final amen, we had a little pre-Great Banquet practice and surprised the whole congregation by having KFA waiters roll in giant carts full of bite-sized cheesecake for everybody in the house.

Happy Father's Day to you all.

And be blessed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

PEGS


It doesn't really matter what we as followers of Christ are right about if we’re wrong about our relationship with God.  God is more interested in the heart of a church than He is with its size or intellect.  He is way less impressed by our ability to debate church structure or theology than He is with our willingness to touch those around us. 
We have thought for decades that our programs were sacred. They aren’t.  What is sacred is the mission of Christ.  The mission is that you are called to shine a light and demonstrate God's love and grace to anyone who needs it.  The mission is extremely personal.  It is to seek and save that which is lost.  It is overtly messy and uncomfortable and awkward.  Square-pegs-in-round-holes kind of stuff.

'God has chosen us in spite of our messiness, or very possibly, because of it.'

If people looking in from the outside really knew your story - or mine - they'd likely question how in the world we got this role as follower of Jesus.  Even so, God has chosen us in spite of our messiness, or very possibly because of it.  All along He has planned this whole thing so we could send a collective message to a generation that desperately needs to know Him.  
God put us together to show how much He cares for a broken world, of which we are a part.  We are compelled to show them how much He loves  --  when push comes to shove  --  by tilting toward them with a Jesus-show of grace.  
That's His plan and only He could have thought of it.
And be blessed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SAME SEX


I've been in Seattle all week long sitting in on some training with Leadership Development Resources with Dr. Mel Ming.

The whole training is about having a cohesive mission - purposes - values - direction - and how ministry flows out of those things.  So much of it is about remembering there is a lost world out there who needs Jesus.  I love that - and KFA (and whoever else is reading) - we can never forget what our organizational mission and our personal mission on the earth is all about.  It's the same mission that Jesus had:  To seek and save the lost.  Essentially, for us at KFA:  Making it easy (by our own lives for others) to find and experience God.

So as I'm sitting here listening - taking tons of notes - trying to absorb everything I'm going to teach to other Wisconsin Ministry Network churches - and as I recount a conversation I had with a family member recently --- I begin to wonder how we would handle certain things as believers in Jesus Christ.

Let me go way out on a ledge with this scenario:  You're making friends with a neighbor across the backyard fence.  You've been talking with him for over a year now.  You've been to each others' homes for dinner - you've played rounds of golf together.  He's a nice guy.  You're making progress; you can sense it.  You're praying for continued and new open doors in his life and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into future conversations and actions.

Along the way you find out he is gay.  He has a partner who ultimately ends up moving in with him.  At some point you receive an e-mail invitation to their upcoming same-sex ceremony.

'Can we celebrate something we know to be wrong?'

Now - honestly - this isn't my own scenario.  I don't have any friends who are in this situation.  Maybe that's a bad thing, frankly.  I don't know that I'm going to be invited to a same-sex ceremony any time soon.  But some of you have been, I know.  I bet our kids will be invited to one at some point in their lives.  Our grandkids, certainly.

But ... would you attend the ceremony?

OK - before you answer, let me ask you another question.

I'm not baiting you on this - nor am I expressing my own opinion by asking the question - I just want you to think about it.  Can we celebrate something we know to be wrong?  Don't get hung up on the word 'celebrate,' just insert a more tolerable word if you need to and then answer the question.

Is this the area you would 'take a stand' on?  Where do you draw your line?  Would you 'celebrate' at the baby shower of a child conceived out of marriage?  Is that different?

Would you attend the ceremony?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SMOOCHERS


Evidently there is a church in New York City (where else?) that held kissing contests in their services during a series on marriage.

After his message about keeping marriage and romance Godly and alive, the pastor invites four married couples onstage to practice what he just preached - that is, engage in non-stop kissing for five minutes.  

The best smoochers, judged by the congregation, win $50 to spend on a romantic evening.  (I'm just thinking anybody who has the nerve to come onstage at church and kiss for five minutes straight in front of the whole crowd without blushing hardly needs extra money to spend on romance.  I'm guessing they have the romance thing down.)

'Public displays of affection aren't wrong.  Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed.'

One of the arguments for the action is: 'Public displays of affection aren't wrong.  Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed.'

Um.  OK.  That's a can of worms waiting to get out, but ...

Oh yeah -- the pastor of the New York City church is a bachelor.  Go figure.

And be blessed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

AGNOSTICS

I was seated next to a married couple on my flight to Seattle yesterday.  God opened some doors of conversation and communication during the flight, particularly once they found out I was a pastor.  

It turns out this very well put together couple were agnostics.  Just to be clear, that means they believe the existence of deity can't be known for sure.  They aren't atheists.  Atheists hold that we can't know there is a God, just as Christians believe you can know for sure.  Agnostics believe there aren't sufficient grounds either way.

I believe God allowed the opportunity to plant some seeds as we discussed 'truth' and our church mission (making it easy to find and experience God) and why I decided to devote my life to Christianity, both professionally and personally.

Something to pray for.

And be blessed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

GROWN-UP


I like to think I’m a grown-up.  I mean, I mow my lawn - I take care of the repairs on my car and my house - I make it to appointments on time and manage my schedule - I’ve raised three children.  But sometimes ... 
I did the cap and gown thing where I moved the tassel from right to left (or was it left to right?) -- I did it twice, actually -- so I know I’m grown-up.  When I look in the mirror, it’s pretty much confirmed.
'I need to think more like a grown-up and take responsibility for the things God is calling me to do.'

So I’m a responsible person and have great responsibility as part of my daily life, but there are moments when I like to avoid responsibility - things that are unpleasant or tiresome or challenging.  Maybe they’ll just go away if I wait long enough.  But inevitably, when I do that, the responsibilities - sooner rather than later - pile up to form one intimidating mound.
I’m glad Jesus didn’t do that when He was facing the Garden of Gethsemane and His eventual crucifixion - for you and for me.  I’m glad He dove into the responsibility and didn’t ignore it.  I’m glad He decided to take it on.
I need to think more like a grown-up and take responsibility for the things God is calling me to do -- things that will bless others -- sacrifices He’s calling me to make for the good of others -- things I know I won’t enjoy but I know are obedient to the Kingdom -- and realize that sometimes the only way to get rid of the pile is to drive thru it.
And be blessed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

SNOOZE-FEST


To get some context for today’s blog, please read yesterday’s blog.
First off, I completely agree with one of our ANONYMOUS responders to yesterday's writing, that preaching doesn’t save anybody.  Neither do drams or videos or songs.  That’s a work of the Holy Spirit every day, all day.
Having said that, a lot of preaching these days is flat out boring.  I know I put myself out on a limb when I say that because people might think that about my preaching (and that’s not an open door for you to either agree by stating it here or by showering praises my way).
Jesus told stories.  It’s a large portion of how He communicated.  ‘Did ya hear the one about ... ‘ He says on many occasions.  He used examples and illustrations that everybody in the crowd understood --- about vines - mustard seeds - leaven - He picked up a stick and wrote on the ground - He gathered mud and put it on a guy’s eyes - He asked for a coin from the crowd so He could make His point - and on and on and on.  To say that Jesus would only tell stories today thru spoken word if He were here seems a huge stretch.  To capture the attention of unbelievers like Jesus did, we must communicate spiritual truth the way He did.  Jesus is our model for preaching, not Paul or Peter or the early church leaders, not Aristotle or Jonathan Edwards or Billy Graham.  Jesus is.
I’ll communicate with anything that will help me tell the story better -- a drama, a video, a song, an illustration, a prop, someone’s testimony -- but only if it truly enhances the communication and says something I might not be able to say with my own voice.  There’s a boundary there, and I’m still trying to find the foolproof one.  Sometimes I miss it, but lots of things work lots of times.  The container changes; the message stays the same.
It seems that over the years the things people remember best and most are the stories.  Stories stir emotions.  They impact us in ways that information never will.  The Holy Spirit uses the stories - the dramas - the music - the videos - the speaking -- all of it.  Long after a three-point outline is forgotten, people remember the rock - or the ladder - or the pottery - or the flour - or the story.

' ... If we would just yell a little more, people would get the message.'
Some people think if we would just yell a little more, people would get the message.  ‘Beat us over the head, PK, we can take it.  Scream at us a little.  We like that actually.’  Some day I’ll get why that is.  It’s gotta come from something traumatic that happened to those people in their childhood.  Like Rick Warren says: “Some preachers try to YELL IT LIKE IT IS,” but preaching louder or with more neck veins popping isn’t the solution.  Still, I want to be passionate about what I do.  Hopefully I am.  (That isn’t another thing for you to affirm or deny here.)
Jesus’ goal was to transform people, not merely inform them and certainly not to berate them.  “What are you going to give me today that I’ve never heard before, PK.  I need something new.”  I don’t know.  Personally, I’m still working on getting the Ten Commandments and most of Ephesians working right in my life.  I figure when I’ve got 80% of that down, I’ll worry about something I’ve never heard before.  Until then, I have plenty to do.  Probably the same with you.
People searching for God aren’t asking us to change the message of Jesus or dilute it.   They want us to tell them how it applies to their lives.  When we do that, they become intensely interested.
I’ve heard plenty of church leaders and church people say: “We’re not here to entertain.”  But in a Gallup poll done a few years back, unbelievers listed church as the most boring place on the planet to sit for an hour.  I think every communicator has a goal to capture and hold the attention of the crowd.  We shouldn’t be afraid of being interesting on purpose - and we shouldn’t be afraid of using whatever is at our disposal in order to be.
To a world desperately seeking something to give their lives meaning and purpose, dull communicating is just about the worst thing we can offer them.  Truth delivered poorly is ignored.  Some people have a gift for taking the most thrilling Book known to man and working it into a 30-minute Snooze-fest (again, please neither confirm nor deny that where I am concerned).  But doesn’t anybody think THAT’S a sin - to bore people to death?  I’m just asking.
Go ahead and take your shots.  I am fully armored.
And be blessed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

ENTERTAINMENT


Following is a quote from a famous evangelical -- I won't tell you who because it would potentially bias you a bit - it would me.  Suffice to say, it isn't original with me.  But do you agree or disagree?
'I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching.  And ... to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire.  It's going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does.  And we’ll just go further and further.  So we don’t do video clips during the sermon and we don’t do (dramas).'       
        --- Signed, Mr. X
What are your thoughts?  I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
And be blessed.

ABBREVIATE


I am told at least once a month by someone or another that speakers (like me) should hold it to a quick-and-easy twenty minutes when we're up in front of our churches sermonizing.
Maybe.
Conventional wisdom has been that American attention spans have decreased over the past several decades.  Sixty-second TV ads have been cut to thirty seconds.  I see ads all the time on the Internet -- fifteen seconds long.
We abbreviate all kinds of words in our e-mail messages just to get thru them quicker:
LOL ... ASAP ... FYI ... TTYL ... IDK ... L8R ... BRB ... etc, etc, etc.
But wait just a moment.  For every short story, there are ten 'War and Peace' extrava-novels.  For every 15-second Internet ad, there are 10 thirty-minute infomercials on TV.  For every 50-yard dash, there are thousands of people training for marathons and triathlons.  For every 45-minute round of mini golf, there are scores of folks playing three and four hour rounds of country club golf.  
The biggest worldwide grossing movie ever was Titanic -- more than 3 hours long.
Sure - President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address in under 300 words and in less than 3 minutes, but President Bill Clinton gave a 9,000-word State of the Address during his presidency.  It took him 75 minutes to complete and by many accounts, was one of the most memorable and powerful speeches ever given by a President of the United States.  Most of my weekend messages are right around 4,000 words.  Just sayin.'
So I'm not really convinced that people can't sit thru something that is longer rather than briefer.  I'm not yet sold that attention spans are shorter than ever before or that Americans can't concentrate on something for prolonged periods or remember what they listened to.
This blog has been 327 words long and has taken less than three minutes to read.  It will self-destruct in five seconds.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HOPE


No matter what you’re going through, no matter if you’re winning or losing, hero or underdog, God is at work ... and He doesn’t want you to expend a single ounce of worry or fear over that thing, whatever it may be.  All will be well.  It’s going to be OK.  
We can endure the loss of an awful lot.  People throughout history have lost their health, their financial well-being, their reputations, their careers and success, but they’ve still gone on.  People experience relational loss or emotional trauma and still carry on.  Pain, rejection, isolation, even persecution and abuse.  But human beings cannot survive the loss of ONE THING ... they cannot survive the loss of HOPE.

'Human beings cannot survive the loss of one thing ... they cannot survive the loss of hope.'
Hope is how we live.  Hope is what gets us from one day to the next.  You go to school and you hope one day you’ll graduate.  You graduate and you hope you’ll be able to enter into a great career.  You’re single and you hope you meet the right person and get married.  You hope Jesus at least holds off His return until you can have your honeymoon.  You hope you have children.  We live by hope ... and when hope is gone, joy and courage evaporate.

One of the most profound Proverbs says:  ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.’  (Proverbs 13:12)
Here’s the deal with hope.  The issue isn’t just whether you’re a hopeful person or not.  The issue is: Are you putting your hope in the right thing?  Jesus comes and says to put your hope in the Kingdom of God, because His plan for the universe will one day prevail.  It will.  
All will be well.  It’s going to be OK.  Don’t give up.  Don’t quit.  It’s only a matter of time.  It’s not over yet.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CHAMPIONS

Last evening we 'graduated' another group of CHAMPIONS, after a year of being together.  CHAMPIONS is several guys meeting together once a month - reading a book per month - and then coming together to talk, discuss, learn from each other,  pray and develop community.

Our final book, "Just Walk Across the Room," by Bill Hybels - one of my favorite books of all time - always inspires the men to be normal - be regular - be authentic - and ask God to open doors of opportunity and conversation with people who are far from God in your regular sphere of life.

It never seems hard when I read Hybels' book.  In fact, it seems quite the opposite - just simply stride to the other side of the room and say "Hi" to someone and start a conversation.  Doesn't sound tough.

Thanks for investing your life in one another for a whole year, guys.  It's been a great pleasure.

And be blessed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

MORTARBOARD

This was an amazing weekend at KFA.  So exciting.

Friday evening we graduated 70 students from our Christian Life School.  Between the 70 of them, nearly 3 million dollars in scholarships were awarded.  Very, very impressive.

The salutatorian and valedictorian speeches were funny, inspiring and moving.  It was a proud moment to watch them all turn their tassels and throw their blue mortarboards in the air all at once.

As if that wasn't awesome enough, on Saturday morning 100 KFA-ers gathered in the morning for SERVOLUTION Saturday - where we go out to various locations in the city and do projects for people.  Some went to a nursing home for ministry, others cleaned a swale for the Kenosha City Water Project.  Some helped the elderly, fixing fences and putting up lattice-work.  Others helped widows and single moms, doing landscaping and yard work (that's where I was).  A few people just stayed on the KFA grounds and helped spruce it up for summer.

What a great day and what a great church to be part of.

Thanks, KFA.

I love ya.

And be blessed.