Monday, April 29, 2013


The first word to describe Christ-followers wasn't Christian, but disciple.  Disciples are disciples because they behave like their Master.  Life for them is daily death and resurrection.  There is a call on their lives to make new disciples.  The very word implies multiplication.

Implicit in this is the concept of sacrifice.  There is no real Christianity without it.  It splits your family - it threatens your life - it calls you to a radicalism where your job, finances, desires and hopes are impacted.

   'That is the best thing that can never be taken away.'

Don't be discouraged by that because it also comes with a great promise that is the Father's good pleasure to 'give us the Kingdom.'  And that is the only thing that can never be taken away.  And that is the best thing that can never be taken away.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


You were impacted by someone in your past -- and you will impact someone in your future.  Most likely that will be a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew, cousin.  Even if you aren't married, you are not immune.  You still have family.

A. Stanley says it well:  There are people who will be what they are, in large part, because of who you are.  They'll forget a lot of what you say, but they won't forget most of what you do -- when staying was difficult and it's what you did - when running away was the easy route and it's what you did - when paying the debt was difficult and it's what you did - when getting angry was easy and it's what you did.  You will shape a future generation.

What if what you do is the thing your nephews and nieces and sons and daughters take their cues from?  What if it's you they adopt as their role model for how they treat their own wife/husband and family?

Maybe that would be a good thing -- then again ...

Most of us won't even be around to see that completely played out - but your decisions will be made with the imprint of your life on them.

If that's true, what would you be willing to change?  And if that's true, why wouldn't you change?

'Choose this day whom you will serve ... as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.'  (Joshua 24:15)

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I don't know if your child - the one you bore - has ever done or said something so embarrassingly out-of-line in public that you wanted to crawl under the carpet.  Wait - if you have children - even one - of course he/she has.

Sometimes it's a cute thing but still embarrassing:

(At the grocery store):  'Daddy - I gotta go pee-pee!!'

(In line at Menards):  'SAVE BIG MONEY AT MENARDS!' at the top of her lungs.  Or worse, at a Menard's competitor.

At a wedding reception where everybody is in their finest and Junior takes his fork and loads it up with peas and flings them across the room like a slingshot and hits the bride right in the veil.

(At McDonalds, referring to the person right in front of you): 'Mommy, is that a dwarf?'  Ugh.  (under your breath): 'Shh!  No, honey - she's just very short.'

We could go on and on with comments from children about someone's pregnancy, ethnicity, speech ...

And then there is that time - and of course, this is always someone else's child, not yours - who literally lays down in the aisle of the store and throws a complete tantrum - screaming and kicking and wailing at something they want that they can't have - and you watch the parent stand there with a variety of responses from compromising to coaxing to pleading to bribing to apologizing to threatening to playing child psychologist to bait-and-switch tactics to retreating to going around the aisle like the child doesn't belong to them to all out violence in return.

At those times you feel your face redden.  If it's happening to you, you want to hide your head - try to momentarily disown your family.  Sometimes you care more what people are thinking than responding to the heart of your child.

"We have to figure out how to be on their side against the sin."

The Bible says our Heavenly Father disciplines those He loves.  In our life with Christ it has become clear to us that God has sided with us against sin.  That is a big thing to say.  He has stood on the side of the sinner in order to redeem him/her.  If we let the life of Christ seep down into our every day lives, choices and decisions - as it should - that fact should impact our parenting.

When our children are so willfully disobedient, disrespectful, dishonest - we have to figure out how to be on their side against the sin - not against them.

Because whether it's your child banging his hands and feet on the glossy floor of the retail store or it's the adult you rebelling against God, discipline is really about restoring broken relationships.  That's what God did for you when He sent Jesus.  No doubt about it.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


A great staff is made up of great servants.  A great staff culture is characterized by mutual submission.  A great staff is constantly asking: 'What can I do to help?'

Those were words from Andy Stanley at our all-team vision meeting today.  He wasn't actually there in person, but . . .

I love our team -- the admins, the plant management team, I.T., the Burlington campus group, Christian Life School administration, the pastoral group and their associates, Journey Ministry College students -- what a group.

Let me tell you what I hear all the time - and I love hearing it: "Where do you get your team?"  

They are great, aren't they?  We're blessed.

Jesus said: 'You want to be great?  You want to be awesome?  You want to be at the top of the heap?  Then be a servant.'  And the higher in the organization you go, the more you have to be one.

     '...the silos start to shrink.'

When we get that kind of thing working in a church the silos start to shrink.  I get to tap into your gifts and you get to tap into mine - and I'm the winner on that proposition.

Because that's what God did with us.  Even He didn't come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many, including you and me.

I know we're not perfect at Journey - far from it - but we have a lot of this going right.


And be blessed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


If you're in a marriage with no intimacy, knowledge, oneness, connection, comfort or pleasure - let me fire a warning shot across your bow.  You are vulnerable.  You're open to danger because the man whose physical and emotional needs are unmet from his wife is weak to another woman.  Likewise with a wife - the husband who isn't attentive to her makes her vulnerable to another man's encouragements and compliments.  And the next thing you know, a connection has been made that can lead to devastation in all parts of the marriage.

If you deprive one another and you're not taking care of one another and one of you gets bitter or frustrated or feels rejected or hurt or let down, here's what can happen when you go to bed . . .

       'You get the picture ... '

The husband lays down over here - maybe with his back turned.  The wife goes to bed on the other side, her back turned.  There's a lot of space between them in that bed.  In that bed there's room ... for satan.  He can crawl into that bed and sleep between you two.  And when that kind of thing happens, you've given him opportunity to create temptation, bitterness, neglect, rejection, hurt, lust, adultery and even divorce.  All kinds of things.

Keep the marriage bed sacred - fun - loving - Biblical - Godly - pleasurable - exciting - fulfilling --- you get the picture.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


God created sex.  It wasn't like He made the man - made the woman - then went out and got a reuben sandwich and came back and was like: 'Woah there!  What are they doing down there?  How did they even come up with that? Freakiest thing I've ever seen.'

Come on.  I mean, just look at the parts.  It seems that was the plan from the outset, right?

God created the body for pleasure - for sex - to be enjoyed exclusively within the context of heterosexual marriage - period.

              ' ... Just look at the parts.'

So sex is good.  The body is good.  Nudity is good ... provided it's all in the context of marriage and not in public.

We're not against sex; we're for marriage.

(I have not lost my senses with the randomness of this post today.  As is often the case with weekend posts, it is merely part of a larger message on the subject called "NEW SEX LIFE" at

And be blessed.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Perhaps the most famous song The Righteous Brothers ever recorded was 'Unchained Melody.'  It came out in 1955 and hit #4 on the charts.  I wasn't born yet - I'm just sayin.'

Jesus told us our righteousness was not so much a matter of doing right things and avoiding wrong things - we're still learning this.  He looks deeper - in your heart.  He looks at your motives.

Because God isn't interested in plain ol' obedience.  It's a specific type of obedience He's after.  Because you can do all kinds of right things for wrong reasons and you and I both know that's garbage to God.  Nobody even has to tell us that for us to know it.

It kind of reminds you of those famous guys in the New Testament who loved to do outward acts --- all clean on the outside yet rotten inside.  What was their collective name again?  FAIR --- UH --- SEAS.  Yeah.  Them.

Jesus hinted that those types wouldn't get beyond the welcome mat of heaven.  Instead, He showed us how filthy we really were -- that no matter what you think your lowball characteristic is, it's actually far worse than you suspected.  If I think it's lust, it's really adultery.  If I think it's anger, it's really murder.  If I think it's a lack of self-control, it's really idolatry.

Jesus cuts us to the heart.

You can bring nothing to the table of Christ except your unrighteousness.  And you look beautiful to God that way - and He changes you from sinner to righteous.  Brother.

And be blessed.


You, believer, live your life under a banner that basically reads: 'It is finished.'  You have been forever freed from your need to pay God back for what He's done for you - forever freed from trying to self-secure His love or acceptance - forever freed to serve somebody.

We love horizontally because God has loved vertically.

J. Linebaugh said: 'We are objects of love before we are subjects of love.'

That means everything I could possibly need has already been provided in Christ, so I'm now free to do everything for you without needing anything back from you.  That's right.  I can now actively get in line behind you - hold the door for you - let you go first - allow you to take the best and biggest piece - sacrifice myself for you --- and expect zippo in return.

              'We love horizontally because
                God has loved vertically.'

How wonderful for us both.

God may not need all your good works but your neighbor certainly does.  S. Clark says it well: 'We must remind ourselves that the good works that flow from faith aren't part of a transaction with God - they are for others."

Get going.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Joelene and Me Teaching "NEW WIFE"
Part of bringing security to your wife, guys, is laying down your life for her.

In fact, when you say to her: 'I am going to be here in the morning and every morning,' those are powerful words of care in her ears.

I'd suggest you go home and say those exact 12 words to her.

Philippians chapter 2 more than suggests that when you make decisions, make them as if she's more important than you.  That's what Jesus did when He humbled Himself, laid down His life and died for you.  He put your thing ahead of His thing.  Even though respect was owed Him and attention was due Him - still, He made Himself nothing.  He emptied Himself.

He didn't have to.  Nobody forced Him.  He made a decision out of love to place Himself under - to submit - to subordinate His will to you and me.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He put our forgiveness ahead of His glory.  He put our greatest need ahead of what He rightfully deserved.  He submitted Himself to us even though He didn't have to.

He opted for relationships over demanding His own way.  He opted for relationship over what He rightfully deserved.  Even He couldn't have it both ways - and friend, neither can you.

Because when it comes to your family - your children - your home - your wife - your husband - if those parts of your life are going to be everything God calls them to be - if they're going to honor Him and communicate His love and grace to a neighborhood and a city that needs Him so desperately, God has made it clear ... part of you will have to die ... part of you will have to submit ... part of you will have to surrender.  You can't have it both ways.

                            'That can't be

Because you've tried having it both ways and what you ended up with wasn't a life partner - what you ended up with wasn't a marriage - what you ended up with wasn't a family.  What you ended up with was a contract - what you ended up with was a relationship where you got what you wanted about 50% of the time and you kept score to make sure, but you weren't satisfied because there was something missing.

It's only when we say, "I'll surrender my rights" that we get the most amazing thing imaginable in our homes and families and marriages - and that's about the only way you can get it.

Here's the deal:  The divorce rate is hovering around 50%.  But if you do marriage according to the Bible, the success rate is somewhere around 100%.

That can't be coincidence.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I've been to my share of communication seminars and read my share of books on the topic, but I don't remember learning a great deal about keeping my mouth shut.

I know I lean toward being a 'fixer.'  What guy isn't?  I know wives love this.  My inclination is to hear the problem and respond with an easy, simple, 1-2-3 solution 'for dummies.'  Next.

When I've done this with my wife - sans the dummy comment - she has sometimes hinted if not outright said: 'I'm not really looking for you to solve the thing - can't you just listen?'

I think I'm getting better but ... you'll have to ask her.

Sometimes talking is just an attempt to show how much we know.  I've seen this happen in church lobby conversations.  Person A is talking and Person B jumps in with a ready-made solution.  Possibly the worst time to make a comment is when we most want to.

'Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.'   --- Winston Churchill

Maybe we should put a clamp on it more often.

Would you consider keeping your mouth shut to be one of your better forms of communication?  I'm just asking.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


God doesn't relate to you based on your acts - but on Jesus' acts for you.  He came to win what we couldn't win for ourselves.  Because of that, life doesn't need to be this unending, tireless, tiresome effort to validate ourselves.

You no longer have to be right - be rewarded - be regarded - be respected.  You get to be relieved from all that pressure.  Congratulations.

It isn't your responsibility to pass judgment on the verdict of your own life.  That's been done.  You receive Christ by faith - you pass.

'That's been done.'

Because Jesus was extraordinary, you're free to be ordinary.  Because Jesus succeeded for you, you're free to fail.  Because Jesus was Someone, you're free to be no one.


And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's probably not that important but it wasn't an apple that felled Adam and Eve.  It's just referred to as fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Maybe it was an apple; likely not.

Not only that, most people think the animals went on the ark 'two by two.'  No.  All clean animals entered in groups of seven and unclean in groups of two.  Since there were more clean than unclean animals, probably the majority of creatures entering the ark went in by sevens.

A lot of people think the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus, but that's really about Mary.  Most Christians believe all people are conceived with original sin, but that Jesus wasn't.  But this teaching tells that Mary also was conceived without sin, hence The Immaculate Conception.

It's become fairly common knowledge by now, but 'three kings' are never referred to in the Bible.  Three gifts, sure.  Three kings, no.

I hate to keep popping balloons, but we are never told that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute either.  Full of demons, OK - prostitute, not necessarily.

Also, 'prodigal' doesn't have any reference to leaving or returning, but to 'wasteful spending.'

Just food for thought.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Men are tough physically, but they aren't that tough emotionally.  That's all a big act.  Women are actually tougher emotionally rather than physically.

When we first got married, I'd give Joelene a little pinch somewhere (not saying where) and she'd say: 'Ow!  That hurts'  (She still says this, by the way).

And I'd say: 'How'd that hurt? All I did was ... ' and I'd do it again.

'Ow!  You're hurting me.  Stop it.'

'What?!  I barely touched you.  Don't be such a big sissy.'

Our three daughters did the same thing.  We did
n't have any sons, so the only people I had around to be a little rough with was the girls, but they couldn't take anything.  Everything hurt.

Do you want to know what the biggest shock was after we got married?  Joelene didn't want to wrestle.  That's because women are sensitive physically.  But ladies - as sensitive as you are physically, he's sensitive emotionally.  He doesn't want me saying that, but I'm right.

I've seen women verbally slug it out like heavyweights.  But when you say something to him in a dishonoring way, it's like him punching you in the stomach.

'Oh - his friends cut him down all the time.'  He isn't married to them.  When you cut him down, either in front of people or privately, it's the worst thing you can do to your marriage ... because a man is made for honor.

'God made man in His image and men will only live in houses where they are praised and honored.'

Psalm 22 says: 'God inhabits the praises of His people.'  God lives in houses that praise Him.  God made man in His image and men will only live in houses where they are praised and honored.

'Well, I haven't praised him for twenty years and he's still living with me.'  No ma'am.  He's only sleeping there; he isn't living there.  Do you know why he goes to the golf course?  Because at least there he'll hear: 'Good shot, Bill.  Great putt.  Nice drive.'

He'll rise to the level of honor he receives.  Honor him where you want him to be, ladies, not where he is right now.

I promise you - it will change your home and it will change your marriage.

MEN:  You are Gideons - Joshuas - Pauls - Peters - Timothys - Daniels - Josephs.  Today, we saw the army of Journey Church men gather down front and surrender it all to Christ.


And be blessed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


I don't know if the blog today is more for men or women -- you decide:

A man's number one need is honor.  I'm convinced of it.  Yeah, he wants companionship - sure, he wants sex - oh, he likes wealth and power --- but it's honor he needs.

If you don't speak to a man with honor, he can't hear you; he won't hear you.  He goes deaf.  I mean -- deaf.

Ephesians says: 'Treat him like Jesus.'
'But he doesn't act like Jesus.'
You treat him that way and he'll get there.

It's the cork-in-the-bucket principle.  You put a cork in the bottom of a bucket and it just lays there.  There are a whole lot of men out there just laying in the bottom of the bucket.  Praise is the water.  You fill the bucket with water and the cork rises.  I'm telling you, I know on this because I'm a man.  Praise him and he'll rise.

'You may be married to an undiscovered man of God right now ... your words of honor will help him get there.'

What I am is partly -- no, greatly - because I have one amazing and honoring wife.  She gives me honor even when it's undeserved, which is most of the time.  You may be married to an undiscovered man of God right now, ladies -- your words of honor will help him get there.

Honor him - and he'll rise.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for many years, has recently stepped down from leading that great church because he felt his time was done in that capacity.  I have the utmost respect for this man, even though our theology may not align 100%.  It's close enough for me to honor him for a life well-lived and much influence wielded with positive force - as an author, a speaker, a pastor, a leader and an influencer.

His father, J. Piper, Sr wrote some things that John found one day in his belongings, many of which are golden nuggets of truth (in italics) for pastors, leaders, believers.  I share them with you here:

1  The right road always leads to the right place; therefore, get on the right road and go as far as you can on it.
The truth is, wrong means don't lead to right ends.  In fact, quite the opposite is true - doing right things leads to where God wants us to be.

2  The door to success swings on the hinges of opposition.
This has been so difficult for me to learn.  There are scores of Biblical examples of this, but somehow it brings me little comfort when the opposition is against me.  Still, I take it to heart.

3  God in the right place in my life fixes every other relationships of life.
His rightful place is at the center of our lives - everything else falls into place and is held in its proper orbit if this is so.  If not, everything goes awry.

4  If it is a sin to do less than your best, it is wrong to do merely well.
'Best' always involves more decisions than the one you're making at the moment.  One decision followed through on means you've left other things undone.  Sometimes the 'best' is a B+ sermon or spending time with your children.

5  The part of your character that is deficient is the part that needs attention.
I've been taught that you coach to an individual's strengths and coach to an organization's weaknesses. That's still true, but so is this.  You will become vain if you don't keep your deficiencies before you and work on them.

6  God can't use a quitter.

7  It isn't enough to be good.  Be good for something.
Let the world know we aren't just against things as believers in Jesus;  we're for plenty of things.  Don't be a don't-er; be a doer.

8  Learn to be sweetly firm.
I'm still trying.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I've taken a few days from the blog just to be with my fam in Minneapolis - in particular for the birth of our newest granddaughter, Tessa Louise Lee.

That's pretty much all I have to say -- the pics speak for themselves ...

And be blessed.  We certainly are.