Friday, May 31, 2013


Congratulations to the 51 graduates of Christian Life School ( who turned their tassels and threw their blue caps into the air tonight.

Major kudos to valedictorian Ethan Thomas and salutatorian Tyler Tennyson.  The accumulated scholarship opportunities accrued by our grads totaled more than 2 million dollars.

I am grateful for an amazing school that taught and graduated our own three daughters.  We have an amazing administration, caring and professional teachers and a great foundation of many years of experience training students spiritually, academically and socially.

Thanks to our leadership team: Administrator, Susan Nelson --- Upper School Principal, Troy Tennyson --- Elementary Principal, Christie Gould --- Early Childhood Director, Jen Anderson.

We are blessed.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I had a conversation today with someone about their need to want to 'argue' about the Gospel.  (I asked them if I could write about it without using their name -- Yes.)

I understand the temptation to want to prove your point but it isn't a win.

We do not have an aim as believers to address every fine point or nuance issue the Bible leaves open for us - nor do we have a purpose to satisfy the curiosity of every questioner.  We DO hope to 'destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God'  (2 Corinthians 10:5).

'Let's be motivated by love, not by winning.'

If we're always arguing and contending for the faith, we risk doing great damage and adding brand new obstacles to the person searching.  Let's give enough information to help them along their journey toward faith in Christ, not get a check in the 'win' column.  Let's be motivated by love, not by winning.  We're not trying to trump an argument; we're trying to introduce a person to Christ.

Now that'd be a win.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The apostle Paul said he had an obligation to reach others.  He was literally saying, 'I have a debt to pay.'  

It's the kind of debt when you see a house on fire or you see someone drowning, you have no option.  It isn't a choice; you can't just sit back.

Paul said since Christ owned him, he owed Christ to the world.

Every saved person this side of heaven owes the Gospel to every lost person this side of hell.  We have an obligation to folks who don't know this Gospel.  We have no option.

Do we believe that?

Be very careful, because if we do, it forever changes the way we do church.  It forever changes what we focus on and what we complain about.  It forever changes the way we lead our lives and our families.  It forever changes the way we spend our time and resources.

'We have an obligation to folks who don't know this Gospel.'

When we realize we are obligated to all people - when we realize we have a debt to pay - we spend our lives paying it.

This is why we're here.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Thank you.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


God's aim in showing Paul the Gospel wasn't so Paul would have it.

'When God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me ... (here's the purpose clause) ... so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles"  (Galatians 1:15, 16) ... or among the nations ... or with your family members ... or at your workplace.

Why did God show us Jesus?  So we might sit back and enjoy a nice presentation on the weekend?  So we might indulge in the pleasures of the world Monday thru Friday and then play some games with Him on Saturday or Sunday?  So we might store up a 'Get out of hell Free' card?


He gave us the Gospel for one reason ... so we'd make it our lives and then preach it to the nations.  God's design for the Gospel wasn't centered on Paul; it was centered on others.

The reason any one of us has the Gospel in the first place isn't so we'd just go to heaven and enjoy it.  Don't think that for a moment.  The reason we have the Gospel is to proclaim it.

That's why one of our eight Core Values - being OUTWARD-FOCUSED - is stated this way at Journey:  "We do not cater to personal preference because we are not here exclusively for us.  We will do anything short of sin to reach people who do not know Christ."

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


You don't go to church.  And you don't invite people to church.  You are the church.  You don't have to bring them to a building to experience the love and presence and glory of God.  You have that in you, 'Church.'

They have the church right in front of them every day.  Our lives are the display of the Gospel and the glory of Christ, not programs or performances you might experience at the building you routinely call 'Church.'

'People all over ... are going to rub shoulders with the church all week long.'

People all over the Kenosha region - or wherever you live - are going to rub shoulders with the church all week long.  That's the picture.

Do not let the institution of the church rob you of what it means to be set apart for the Gospel.

And be blessed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


You never lose when you're generous.  Never.

I've been learning this in a variety of ways recently and thought I'd pass along a few ideas to you because there are a lot of ways to be generous.

Listen with your whole body -- yes, that's a generous action.

Lend somebody something they need.

Stick up for somebody who needs it.

Pay an unexpected compliment.

Do what you say you're going to do.

Say 'thanks' with sincerity and be specific about it.

Keep quiet when you need to.

That stale grudge you have? Let go of it.

Take the blame.

And if you're really feeling generous . . .

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


For decades, Christ-followers have been taught that Christianity was a lifestyle - that the foundation of our faith rested on how we should live - centered on the moral changes that took place in our behaviors.

Performance.  Ours.  Not focused on Jesus' performance.

I know - I know - the Bible has all kinds of things to say about our becoming like Christ on the outside.  But that part is secondary - at least.

I'll confess that I have more recently come to grasp this in greater fullness - after years of going a different direction.  I have come to understand and believe that the major focus of the Bible is not us -- it is the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross.  The highlight of the Gospel is HIS life, not ours.

We have preached and thought and assumed that folks have inside them some ability to 'roll up their sleeves' and 'pull up their bootstraps' and 'get out the elbow grease' in order to right themselves.  But ultimately we all come to the same conclusion - our own efforts to improve ourselves is a deck of flimsy cards.

As one author said: 'The more I look into my own heart for peace, the less I find ... the more I look to Christ and His promises for peace, the more I find."

He is the way.

He is the truth.

He is the life.

He is the whole point.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Doug Pollock
Doug Pollock was our guest at the Kenosha Campus, Journey Church this weekend.  Doug is the Evangelism Trainer for 'Athletes in Action' (AIA) and author of 'God Space:  Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally.'  

The cool thing about this man is that he lives what he writes about.  So inspiring and challenging to just be normal and real and natural and pray and wait for open doors and then take a chance to walk thru them.  Loved it.

Here were some outtakes from his message this weekend:

'We are internally strong, but outward-focused.'

'We are not human beings on a spiritual journey; we are spiritual beings on a human journey.'

'When a spiritual conversation opens, don't Biggie-Size the meal.  If they want more, they'll ask for more.'

'Whether you're the first, middle or last link in the chain, it all matters to God.'

'God's Kingdom advances one touch at a time, one conversation at a time.'

'You cop a "JESUS BUZZ" when you step into the conversation God opens for you.'

'The best teams are committed to moving the ball a few yards at a time; they're committed to first downs and sustained drives.'

'We're often just one good question away from a spiritual conversation.'

'The secret to being interesting in a conversation is being interested.'

'We SPAM too many people for Jesus.'

'We need to start conversations where people are; not where we'd like them to be.'

'God Space is where Christianity becomes credible, relevant, plausible and believable.'

And be blessed.

Friday, May 17, 2013


It was official two months ago, but today it became official to the public -- our new sign telling the community we are now Journey Church - Kenosha Campus.  It's exciting to see it larger than life.

As Paul said in Acts 22:21 - 'God said to me, "I'm sending you on a journey to outsiders."'  (MSG)

Thanks, God, for walking with us on the journey.

Greater things to come.

And be blessed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


We spent time in our life group last evening talking about our own personal faith walks.  So good to hear where each person has come from and where God is taking them.  Everybody in their own stage of discovery and understanding and obedience.  Great stuff.

It isn't a bad question to ask of ourselves: 'How certain are you that your view of God is based on actual evidence rather than opinion?'  And, 'What might help to increase the level of confidence you have in what/how you believe in God?'

'If there were no God, there would be no atheists.'     ---- Chesterton

Belief requires faith - and Hebrews 11 says 'without faith it is impossible to please God.'  That doesn't mean reason or intelligence have to be thrown out the window.  The existence of God can be a very reasonable faith decision.

Even so, there are doubts.  Even if you recognize God probably exists, it still may be hard to completely believe it.

You aren't the first one to have doubts.  The Bible is full of people who questioned.  Here's what Jesus said to the most famous of doubters, Thomas:  'Jesus, without shaming Thomas, said: "Reach out and put your hand in my side.  Stop doubting and believe."  Thomas said to Him: "My Lord and my God."  Then Jesus told him: "Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."'  (John 20:27-29)

Jesus met Thomas at his point of need - it says, without shaming him.  He'll meet you at your point of need too.

It was a sick boy's father in Mark chapter 9 who said to Jesus: 'I believe; help my unbelief.'  That can be our cry today as well.  I believe - I'm at 40% - but God, move me to 45% (substitute your own percentages).

Trust Him.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I was reading an article interviewing a relatively famous person today.  It almost seemed that the famous person had 'everything' wrong in her answer.

Question:  What are Sundays like for you?
Answer:  'I'll have four TVs on so I have company in every room.  I'll put on a 'Sex in the City' marathon, 'Millionaire Matchmaker' or the Kardashians.  I always make a Sunday dinner.  I enjoy cooking.  But we don't eat together.  I usually dip into the pot, so by the time I'm plating I'm already full.  My little boy eats at the computer and my husband eats when he gets around to it.  You have to grab family time when you can, but sitting together at the table is not something we do.'


Let's create a response completely opposite to that one:
Question:  What are Sundays like for you?
Answer:  'We go to church together (you can come Saturday to Journey Church though).  When we get home we keep the TV off.  We make computers off-limits on Sundays and we make it a habit to sit around the table and talk and eat together.'

Which sounds healthier to you?

And be blessed.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Today is National Apple Pie Day.

I don't know why it just feels good to write that, but it does.  There's something very American about apples and something very comforting about pie.  Put 'em together and . . . bam!

That reminds me that it is almost universally accepted by the most reliable of theological sources - namely, cartoons - that Eve ate an apple way back somewhere between 4,000 and 4 billion years ago and got this whole mess going.  The Bible book of Genesis records that she ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  We all know that was an apple, don't we?

Cucumber Tree
One reason we think that is because the Latin word for 'evil' is malum and the Latin word for 'apple' is also malum.  However, there are those who think the fruit she ate was more likely a fig.  I don't know.  Figs are so unglamorous. No doctors are staying away if you eat a fig every day.

One writer says the word 'apple' is appropriate because etymologically speaking, the English word 'apple' is a generic term including all fruits, berries and nuts.  The Old English word for cucumbers is literally 'earth-apples.'  So, according to him, the forbidden fruit could have been an apple, a fig, a banana, or even a cucumber.

A cucumber?  Really?  Do those even grow on trees?

All I have to say is there has never been a National Cucumber Pie Day.

And be blessed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Shouting out loud and strong to the great and amazing lady who has been my mom for over 53 years now -- and still going strong.

Love ya, mom.

Love yours today, too.

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


God has given you a specific thing you do well - you can't do everything - but there's something you do well.  It's a divine enablement.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  You see it in your own family - where you work - in the marketplace - you see it in others.  Some people are great with their hands -- great organizers -- hospitable -- full of mercy -- servants -- creative people -- all made with different specialties.  And Paul, 2,000 years before there was the MMPI or the Taylor/Johnson or Myers/Briggs or the Color Code or Melancholies, Sanguines or Cholerics, said that every person in the church doesn't have the same strength.  God has divinely given to every individual a personalized divine enablement.

I think I must live with the more organized person on the planet.  Joelene can walk into most environments and see what needs to be done - and I'm talking right now.  She can look at something for 30 seconds and say: 'If they'd just do that,' and 'If she'd just ... ' and 'If he'd just ... '  She's very intuitive about all that.

People used to come to us and ask: "How do you keep your home so together and organized and you're both so busy but your three girls are all just like so-so?"  And I'm not bragging or anything - it's just true - she did it all.  It came so naturally to her.  That's a divine enablement.

Now, Joelene rarely wants to get up on stage at Journey Church and say much.  You don't know what we went thru to get her up last month to help me with the New Wife message, even though she did an awesome job with it.

I mean, if I was onstage choking to death, she'd hand the water to the nearest pastor and have him/her bring it up to me.  But she says to me: 'How do you get up there and talk that way to everybody - New Sex Life and all that stuff?'

'I don't know; how do you organize so awesomely?

'I don't know.'

You know what that is?  It's a divine enablement.

'There's something you do well.  It's a divine enablement.'

There are certain environments where you just flow - and there are certain environments that stress you out.  There are arenas where you shine and there are arenas that shut you down.

Here's the deal: Every person who names the name of Christ has been given a divine enablement - something you do well.

But here's the big question:  Why?  Why did God set you up to be so good at some things and not so good at other things?

You may look at your gifts and say, 'I think God gave me these gifts so I could make a lot of money - because I took this thing I was really good at and I built a business around it ... I'm a leader ... I care for people in my occupation ... I'm skilled at ... God's blessed me at ... '

OK.  But why has He?  And the answer isn't so you can make a lot of money, even though many of your abilities help you do that -- but that isn't the primary reason God gave you that.

God gifted you and me as He has for the purpose of bringing those gifts together and doing what none of us can as effectively do on our own.  That's the body of Christ.

And be blessed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


The most basic, yet most profound, teaching of the Bible is that 'God is love.'  It is the common thread woven through from Genesis to Revelation.   Jesus prayed about it in John 17.  All of creation was meant to express it and embody it.

God could have just made us love Him - made us do His will (Picture a string on your back that someone pulls and you say in a Ken/Barbie voice: 'I love you.').  That's the picture of forced love and obedience.  But love isn't programmable.

'Love isn't programmable.'

Instead, God wants to lead us as free agents.  But that means love must be chosen.  And choice means you can say 'no' if you want to.

Here's the catch - and it's a biggie.  If we choose to follow God and love like Him, we get life.  If not, we die.  Hmmm -- which should I choose?  It's a dilemma, isn't it?  Two very attractive choices.


This isn't tough.


And be blessed.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Jesus defines God for us.  He is a God of outrageous and inexplicable love.  He is for us, not against us.  He isn't mad at us.  He isn't ignoring us.  He isn't complacent toward us.  He has approached undeserving people like us and - inscrutably - loves them.

These cues we take from Christ.

We can take them from nowhere else.  Not from our own understanding - not from our own experience - not from our own philosophizing - not from our own interpretation.  If we take our cues from anyone or anything other than Jesus, we will continue misconstruing God, ourselves and everyone around us.

'Our best view of God comes only thru Jesus.'

Our best view of God comes only thru Jesus, so enjoy the view.

And blessed.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


This was the weekend of our annual SHINE Conference for women.  The conference drew more than 900 women and this year's guests were Natalie Grant and Amy Groeschel (  

Features were:
A photo booth
Nails Station (not the drywall kind, guys)
Boutique with 'stuff' for women
Onstage games, worship, emphasis on Operation Hope Indiagreat music from Natalie and awesome inspiration featuring Amy.  

I'm proud of our leadership team of women who put on such a spectacular event for the ladies of our region.  You honor the Kingdom and lift up Jesus.





Rock on, Girls.

And be blessed.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


There is no off-season for love.  God's love for you has no depth limits.  It is a love that stops at nothing to give of itself unselfishly and irrevocably.  It means no road is too long or too difficult for this love to travel.  The real test of love is the depth to which it will go.

One of the greatest sentences the apostle John ever wrote is: 'This is how we know what love is - Jesus Christ laid down His life for us, and we should lay down our life for our brothers."  (I John 3:16)

Every time we practice it, that's the depth of love.

God in Christ not only came down from heaven to the level of humanity, but far deeper.  He came down into the ugliness and shame of our most horrible sin in order to rescue us.

'The real test of love is the depth to which it will go.'

And when you stand looking at the cross, there's something that assures you, not only that those two arms stretch outward forever to embrace the world, but also that the base of it reaches down deep forever to every man and woman who ever breathed.

That would include you.

And be blessed.

Friday, May 3, 2013


When it comes to human relationships, we have some real mountains to scale.  Mountains of misunderstanding can quickly pile up to become death zones for relationships - marriages - business partnerships - work associates - children - parents - friends - you name it.

One of the biggest mountains is the Mountain of Me First.

It's human nature to say, "I'll meet your needs if you meet mine . . . first."  We don't always use the word "first" out loud, but it's loudly implied.

We start this early.  If you have more than one child, you've witnessed this mountain in play when you all get in the family car.

Child #1: 'I call SHOTGUN.'  (If you aren't familiar, calling 'SHOTGUN' allows you to ride in the front passenger seat, but some weird law of civil humanity.)

Child #2: 'No fair! You called SHOTGUN the last three times!'

Child #1: 'That's why it's called 'CALLING SHOTGUN!'

And so it goes.

'I call SHOTGUN!'

Maybe your family has developed elaborate rules to keep the SHOTGUN peace.  On even-numbered days, Child #1 gets the front passenger seat ... on odd-numbered days, Child #2 gets it.  Or ... nobody is allowed to call SHOTGUN until we're completely out the door.  Inside-the-house-calling of SHOTGUN is strictly prohibited.  Or ... if there are more than two children, the one who called it last is exempt from the front seat the next time.

See, I've done this before.

It's natural to want to see my own needs met before I meet someone else's, and yet 'natural' creates a huge mountain to scale in order to love like Jesus - because Christ calls us to act in ways that aren't natural.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Today was our regular First Wednesday of the Month with some other local pastors to hang out and pray together and eat lunch.  I always look forward to first Wednesdays for that reason.

One of the things some of the churches are joining together for this month is OUTPOUR 2013, an evening at Journey Church - Kenosha Campus ( where we'll praise and worship in unity.

Hope you can make it.  Here's a promo video about the gathering on May 19th, 6 p.m.:

And be blessed.