Sunday, September 30, 2012


The top 3 'A Day in the Life' blog postings of September were as follows:

1 - KFA40 - posted on September 1st - highlighting the 40-mile bicycle ride we took with about 50 other KFA-ers on Labor Day Saturday.  You can read and see more about it at

2 - HABITS - posted on September 19th -

3 - 180 - posted on September 9th - about repentance and life change

Feel free to go back and read if you missed the first time.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I don't know if you've ever held a stone in your hand.  I have.

There is a woman in John chapter 8 that gets drug into the middle of a crowd by some men who have caught her in the act of adultery.  They all hold stones in their hands ready to punish her by death, according to the Law.

I've been in the church pretty much my whole life.  I love the church.  I really do.  I believe with everything inside me that it is the hope of the world - no doubt.  It stumps me, though, why churches produce so many stone-throwers.

Somebody breaks an unwritten, manmade code or rule - we pick up a stone.
Somebody has marriage problems - we pick up a stone.
Somebody is confused by their sexual orientation - another stone.
Somebody has a bad day - another stone.
Somebody has a different opinion - a stone.

'I don't know if you've ever held a stone in your hand.  I have.'

So there they are.  This adulterous woman -- her judges, with stones in hand -- and Jesus.  Jesus says: 'Go ahead and condemn her.  Toss your stone.  Just be sure you're sinless before you do.'  Then, an incredible thing happens.  One by one, they let go of their stones.  Before it's over, all the stones lay on the ground - untossed.

My question to us is this: Are there any stones we need to let go of - something against a mother or a father or a son or a daughter or a parent or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker or a pastor or someone who's hurt you?

Put down the stone.

And when people come thru our doors looking for meaning - people who aren't like us - people who don't look like us - people who don't act like us - people who don't talk like us - people who don't think like us - people still carrying the weight of sin on their shoulder - people looking for belong - people needing grace - acceptance - love ---- let's not pick up stones.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Every now and then I tell our congregation that I'm about to 'open my chest cavity' to them so I might need to be extended a temporary umbrella of grace for the next 30 seconds.

I'm saying that to you now.  Umbrellas up, please.

Joelene sometimes tells me I look at myself in the mirror too much.  That isn't because I think I'm so awesome; it's because I think I'm not - if that makes sense.  It probably doesn't.

So if we're walking down the street and we pass by a big picture window and I glance to my right in order to --- um --- see myself as we're strolling, often she'll say to me without even turning her head: 'Stop that.'  Ugh.  I routinely lie and say, 'I wasn't,' to which she responds, 'Whatever.'  I hate it when she says 'whatever.'

OK.  Umbrellas down, please.

I remember thinking after graduating from my college Sophomore class, Intro to Psychology - (Wait!  Umbrellas back up), that I could now accurately analyze everyone on the planet, including my collie and the maple tree outside my room.  Who wouldn't be all heady after learning about Pavlov's Salivating Dogs and Freud's Sex Theories and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs -- what more is there after that trio?

There was one other lesser well-known theory introduced in that class -- The Theory of Looking-Glass Self.  It basically states that one's self image and self worth comes from your interaction with society and the perception of others.

Dr. J. Dobson said: Your self image isn't what you think of yourself.  It isn't even what others think of you.  Your self image is based on what you think others think of you.  Ugh and whatever.

You shape yourself based on the mirror.  You shape yourself based on what you think other people believe about you - their perceptions - their one-liners - their comments to a fourth party about what their second cousin overheard someone say about you.  We basically buy into that as reality.  Someone else's perceived perception becomes our truth about ourselves.

Too confusing.

Instead, what does God say about you?  Look it up.

Guess what I already know about what you're going to find there?  It's good.  Real good.

Let's see every person who walks thru our KFA ( doors that way.  Put the mirror away.  Umbrellas down.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I actually like the word "NO."  I mean, sometimes I like it.

I wish more people would use the word.  When someone asks you to go to bed with them and you're not married, it's the right word to use.  That's called an oral contraception.

'NO' isn't a four-letter word.'

"NO" isn't a four-letter word.  If something isn't good for you, it's exactly the appropriate thing to say.  "NO" is one of the ways we guard our hearts.

Sometimes I have to say "NO" to things people expect from me as a pastor.  Sometimes I have to say "NO" because to say "YES" would dishonor the commitment I've made to my family.  Sometimes I say "NO" because I don't believe in what I'm being asked to do.  At other times I say "NO" simply because --- I don't want to.  When you say "NO" to things that are hurtful to you, you are protecting God's property.

I don't always like to connect flowery speech to my "NO"s.  It feels wrong.  Just say it - that's my motto - but be nice when you say it.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 24, 2012


One of the four purposes of KFA ( is Enthusiastic Service -- so 200 KFA 'lifers' gathered at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning to go out and serve our community.  It was strictly 'offering a cup of cold water in Jesus' name' kind of stuff.

I love it.

Our life group went to First Step in central city Kenosha - where the homeless are fed and find a refuge from the elements.  We washed down walls - stripped and waxed floors - mopped - organized clothing - etc.  Our life group serves lunch to the homeless at this location on 63rd Street.

The other 190 KFA-ers spread themselves out between:

The Sharing Center
Urban League of Kenosha
Walkin' In My Shoes
Westosha Senior Community Center
Women & Childrens Horizon Nifty Thrify
ELCA Urban Outreach
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin
Hospice Alliance
Keep Kenosha Beautiful (3 different parks)
Shalom Center
Journey Ministry College 4-plex (

A great day.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


There’s just something about birthdays.  You gotta love ‘em but at some point you don’t really want to.  But you still do.

Mine is today and I decided last year that 52 was going to be the last upward-in-number birthday I was going to have ... that I would start reversing it and be 51 this year ... then 50 in 2014 ... and 49 in 2015 ... and so on, until I ultimately Benjamin Buttoned myself into oblivion.

I know my ‘outward tent’ is wasting away.   2 Corinthians 4 tells me that, but honestly, I try to skip over that chapter whenever feasible.  

Nevertheless, today is the day and there's no denying it.  So, in honor of -- um -- myself -- here are ten reasons I’m thankful that I’m ------ er ------ 51: 
  • I am created by God and made in His image.  No matter what anyone may say, I am His child.
  • Whatever someone else may have meant for bad in my life, God has flipped it to good.  
  • I have experienced redemption, salvation, sanctification, justification, propitiation, and a host of other awesome ‘-ations’ as a result of knowing Christ.
  • I daily experience God’s grace and mercy - undeserved and unearned.
  • I am forgiven hour-to-hour by a God who pardons disobedience and passes over transgressions.
  • I have a great mom who knew how to give good gifts to her son and raised me to be what I am today (Thanks, mom).
  • I have good health.
  • I have a job I adore, working with a strong, talented and gifted team and am doing life with some of the most wonderful folks on the planet.
  • I have an amazing family second to none -- a gift-from-heaven wife -- three spectacular daughters -- two brilliant sons-in-law (and one in waiting) -- two very special grandchildren (1 boy, my pride -- and 1 girl, my joy) and a third on the way.  (Yes, you heard it here.)

  • I have an eternal hope and future in heaven.
Does it get any better than that at ---- ahem ---- 51 years of age?

And be blessed.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I decided today that no doctor or president should be younger than me.  It just isn't right that your doctor looks like Doogie Howser, only younger - or that your president knows all the words to 'My Boo.'  

It doesn't instill confidence to have your doc walk in the room and be able to have easy or informed conversations about Miley Cyrus.  Doctors - and presidents - are supposed to be people within five years of retirement who have silver hair and arthritic tendencies of their own, not people who run marathons or look like they could bench press you.

I wonder if people feel the same way about pastors.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I have some very bad habits.

Sometimes I leave wet towels on the floor.
Sometimes I scratch my back with my fork.
Now and then I exaggerate a story at a party.
Occasionally I call my 'soulmate' by her pet name in front of people.
Usually I put my feet on the furniture and coffee table.
Normally I bring grass into the house from my feet after I've mowed the lawn.
Often I talk in parenthetical statements (not that I mean to), where I let rabbit trails (sometimes they're important rabbit trails though) steal the show.
Sometimes I push wrong buttons on my wife's car radio so when she gets in next to drive she'll be all messed up.
I read emails while Joelene is trying to talk to me.  I answer them too.
I spend too much time on the computer - and blogging.

Jimmy Buffet has a song called, "Bank of Bad Habits."  It talks about a place where we make deposits and withdrawals in people's lives.

The bad habits he lists are actually in the Bible - sloth, greed, jealousy, lust, anger, envy, pride.  Sometimes they're referred to as the Seven Deadly Sins.  

One of the lines in the song goes: "So put away all those alibis; you can't fool that Banker in the sky."  OK.  It ain't Emily Dickinson, but it's pretty much accurate.  So what will it be today?  A deposit?  Or a withdrawal?  Maybe a 'closing of the account?'

Your choice.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Author and speaker T. Ludwig says: 'It's more important to be kind than to be right.'  She speaks to children and classrooms about the impact of bullying, so I get that statement from her.

It resonates.

On the other hand ... I hate it that our options are either kindness or rightness.  Can't we have both?  Don't we desperately need both?  I think so.  Maybe a better way to say it would be: 'It's important to be right, but it's just as important to be kind.'

I have a former pastoral boss who, in his written evaluation of me (I still have it), said: 'Kevin is iron wrapped in velvet.'  I don't know if that was a compliment or not, but I've chosen to take it that way.  One of the recurring jokes from many in the music departments I used to lead, after occasional times of instruction, was: 'I think we just got reprimanded, but I'm not sure.'

Jesus was full of grace AND truth -- completely gracious -- altogether truthful.

I'd like to be like that when I grow up.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 17, 2012


St. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons in 2nd century France, wrote: 'Gloria enim Dei vivens homo' -- 'the glory of God is a human being who is fully alive.'

OK.  It isn't Bible, but on first reading it seems like he missed it.  The Psalms say: 'The heavens declare the glory of God' and surely the magnificence and beauty of the earth and the cosmos tell of it best.

But look again.  In the mirror this time.  You display the glory of God.  You were created in His image.  Yes, you.

The guy with the cowlick that won't behave.
The woman with the slightly larger-than-average nose.
The girl who refuses to replace the empty toilet roll.
The guy who likes donuts a little bit too much.


Made in His image - born to reflect His glory.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


We hold Biblical values in constant tension.  For instance, we value the inerrancy of the Bible without compromise.  We are 1,000% committed to it, no matter how awkward, costly or unpopular it may be.

That's one value.

We also deeply hold to the Biblical values of being grace-filled and outward focused.

Jesus welcomed sinners, but He didn't just welcome them.  He genuinely liked them, He sought them out, He went out of His way to find them, He went to their home and enjoyed meals with them -- and now, He asks you and me to keep this kind of work going on His behalf.

'Let's get down and dirty.'

Jesus doesn't demand that we first sort ourselves out and clean ourselves up before we dare step into the light.  He invites us to step into the light in order to get sorted out and cleaned up.  You can't clean a mess in the dark anyway.

The role of the mature believer isn't to be afraid of messes or to avoid messes, but to wade deeply into messes.  Not to judge messes, but to slog thru messes with one who is struggling.

Let's get down and dirty.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I believe two different things about the world.  It is, on one hand, God's good world.  That means I love it as I love all good things God provides and has created.  On the other hand, it's not the way it's supposed to be.  I'm pretty sure about that.  And I'm wary of it.

We tend to forget that both of these ideas are true.  It's easy to hold either idea alone.  You can believe the world is good and the way it's supposed to be and become naive about the trappings of it.  Then you can believe the world is fallen and evil and risk becoming cynical and closed off.

It's far harder to hold both truths in your hands at the same time.  This is God's good, fallen, evil world.

That causes us to hold our attitudes in tension as well.  We love our world.  We know God made it.  We know He loves it.  Christ came to die for it and redeem it.  We know we belong here so we sing, "This is my Father's world ... "  On the other hand, we distrust it.  It's a source of disappointment, even suffering.  It holds major temptation.  We know we don't really belong here so we sing, "This world is not my home ... "

Those conflicting attitudes lead to conflicting behaviors.  We care for the world.  We try to make it a better place.  We work for its good and welfare.  And yet, we don't love it or the things in it.


We are like expats -- Americans who live for years in another country, making their home there, settling down -- all the while realizing it's not their real homeland.

Are we there yet?
No, not yet.
But we're on the way.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Well, I am in two Fantasy Football leagues this year - first time ever for that.

One is with our KFA Pastors (12 members) and the other with the ever-expanding Taylor family (8 members).

Now that Week #1 is over, I find myself at 1-0 in the family league and 0-1 in the staff league, even though I scored 120 points in the first week of play.  Got beat by 7 points.

Here are my teams.  You can predict how I'll finish:

QB - Michael Vick, Philadelphia
RB - Arian Foster, Houston
RB - Matt Forte, Chicago
WR - Julio Jones, Atlanta
WR - Miles Austin, Dallas
TE - Rob Gronkowski, New England
RB - Reggie Bush, Miami
D  - San Francisco 49ers
K  - Matt Prater, Denver

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans
WR - Roddy White, Atlanta
WR - Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
RB - DeMarco Murray, Dallas
RB - Reggie Bush, Miami (both leagues)
TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco
RB - Frank Gore, San Francisco
D  - Detroit
K  - Stephen Gostkowski, New England

 And be blessed.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Christianity isn't, God forgave you, so keep right on doing whatever you want and God will keep forgiving you.

Christianity is, you do what you want, and then you meet Jesus and you realize what you've been doing is sinful and wrong, you realize that Christ is, in fact, Lord -- and you don't want to continue sinning because something happens deep inside you and you repent and you do a 180 and you change.

The Bible calls it being born again.  You become a new person.  You have a new nature with new desires.  You don't want to keep living the way you used to.  You want to change.  You want to be different.  You want to be like Christ.

Not so He'll love you, because He already does.
Not so He'll forgive you, because He already has.
Not so God would be pleased with you, but because Jesus has called you friend and now you want to make Him happy.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Whenever and wherever God is working and doing great things -- whenever and wherever grace is being poured out -- people grumble.

Is there a person who, if God saved them and forgave them and showered mercy on them tomorrow, it would cause you to grumble?


What about the one who abused you, the one who ripped you off, the one who hurt you, the one who betrayed you, the who cheated you, the who divorced you, the one who lied about you, the one who talked about you behind your back, the one who ruined your reputation?

Who would it be, that if God loved them and saved them tomorrow, you'd be grumbling and suspicious?

'That God would call any of us and love any of us and forgive any of us, that's a miracle.'

In the sight of God, we're all guilty.  That God would call any of us and love any of us and forgive any of us, that's a miracle.  And at any point that we struggle when God loves and seeks and saves someone else, we're saying, 'I deserved salvation and mercy and leniency, but they don't.'

And we have missed the Gospel of grace.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Baseball great Yogi Berra once said: 'A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.'  

The great theologians at Mad Magazine wrote: 'The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they've never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.'

Dave Ramsey:  'Debt is normal.  Be weird.'

One of the wisest messages I've ever read was given by John Wesley and published in the mid-18th century.  It had three points:

1 - Gain all you can.
Work hard - use your God-given common sense - be honorable in your tasks.

2 - Save all you can.
Don't waste anything or be indulgent on things that are frivolous.

3 - Give all you can.
Remember that God owns it all and not you; you're the steward.

'There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune; go there with a large one.'  --- Jack Yelton

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We have a mistaken notion that we own stuff.  We don't.  Even our lives aren't our own.  God owns us.  He created us.  He redeemed us.  He bought us with the high cost of His own Son's life.  We are His.

If we believe that's true, then it stands to reason that the possessions we own - the material goods - the lawn mower, the living room sofa, the bedroom set, the golf clubs, the 2011 Honda - all belong to Him. They're all gifts from God.

When we believe otherwise, we set into motion forces that are ultimately uber-destructive: possessiveness, selfishness, control, arrogance.

It might not be a bad idea to start every day saying something like: 'I'm not my own.  God has made me from dust and then bought me a second time by giving up His own Son to die for me.  So whatever happens today is a gift from Him.  Thank You, God.'

That might move us into a track where we begin living like God is in charge - not us.  And that would be a great thing.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I took this picture of the sunflower in our yard today.  We used to plant them in the garden at our previous home and they would literally grow so thick and tall - far taller than I - that at the end of the season, I would need a saw to cut them down.

We planted two this year -- the rabbits got one before we could stop them -- but this one survived, already over six feet tall.

I was going to go the easy and obvious route with it today and post some gratuitous spiritual blog about how the sunflower always faces the sun and isn't that truly what we're supposed to do?  Face the SON?  Get it?  Jesus is the Son of God and as believers we should always keep our eyes on ... yeah, you get it.

So as I was Googling about it -- because bloggers should always sound smarter than they really are and include all kinds of facts that everybody figured just came out of the wealth of knowledge that is their brain when the reality is, they Wikipedia-ed it all -- I discovered that sunflowers really don't turn toward the sun.  I always thought they did.  Someone told me that once and I have believed it ever since.  How frightening is that concept?

Then I looked at our big sunflower and realized IT wasn't facing the sun at the moment either -- so -- there ya go.

So, during my Google search I discovered that sunflowers -- after they're beyond the bud stage like ours is now -- face EAST.  Well, I just never knew that.  Fascinating.  But was it true?  So I went out to look at ours again, and lo and behold, it is facing East as East can be.  Like a sentinel -- facing East.  That's amazing.

'As lightning comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.'  (Matthew 24:27)

So the sunflower knows.  Keep looking East.  He's coming.

I'm sorry; I could not resist being spiritually obvious and gratuitous with this blog after all.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Today was our first (annual?) KFA40 - a 40-mile bicycle ride from Kenosha to Lake Forest, Illinois and back via the McLory Bike Trail.  About 50 bikers joined us - a few did the optional 20-mile ride - most took on the full 40.

The volunteer team had 'break stations' with water, protein drinks and bars located every ten miles on the trail.  There was a light, healthy meal for everybody who made it back - which was everybody.  Thanks to the amazing volunteers who gave their day to support the riders.

It was a great way to get a little workout in (did I say little just then?) -- have some community -- and enjoy a beautiful day together.  We even made it back just before Hurricane Isaac dumped a load of rain on Kenosha.

OK.  We had five flat tires in all and one guy who ran six miles back to the start line when his blew, but ... I'm anxious for our second (annual?) KFA40 next year.

And be blessed.