Sunday, June 30, 2013


I am coming to understand more and more the power of trusting God.  It seems we think we 'know' - we have it figured out - or if we try hard enough, we will eventually - what seems right to us has to be right.

But trusting God and following that plan, even where it seems counter-intuitive, is the key to opening all the other doors God has for us.  It's so important, God says, that without it (faith and trust) we can't even please Him.  Pretty strong statement.

When we come to terms with the fact that depending on God and His wisdom, His ways, His leading, His direction won't let us down, our lives will be larger and better than we could ever have imagined.  We'll receive blessings we never would have had we trusted our own best path.

He is not an impersonal God you follow.  He is altogether invested in you in the deepest, most personal way.

Take that first step --- and --- Trust.

And be blessed.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I rarely do this, but after reading a blog by E. Stetzer on the DOMA issue - and him saying what I would want to say on this topic, only a lot better, I am posting portions of his article here for your consideration . . .

Last week, the largest Christian ministry devoted to helping homosexuals struggle against their attractions apologized to the gay community and announced it was shutting down.

Today the Supreme Court of the United States struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996. The Supreme Court also declined to rule on Proposition 8 from California.
Needless to say, our culture is changing-- quickly and dramatically on this issue.  But how should Christians respond?
Our typical response has been to post on blogs, write articles, and send tweets to shout about our opinion and speak out against those who differ.  But, I'm not sure that is the best approach.  Why?  Because courts don't determine biblical morality, and regardless of what government does, churches shouldn't stop their mission.
Fifty-eight percent of American adults agree same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, and 64 percent believe the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States is inevitable.  Despite evangelical Christian belief that homosexual activity is personally sinful, society has increasingly decided that gay marriage is legally permissible.
But to an ever-increasing majority of our culture that view is discriminatory and, ironically, they sometimes appeal to Scripture for their justification.  When President Obama announced his "evolution" on the issue last summer, he quoted Jesus' Golden Rule.  Proponents of same-sex marriage hold that societal change is necessary to treat others as we would like to be treated, regardless of our views of morality and sin.  Christians have always taught that God's standard and intent is one man, one woman, one marriage, for one lifetime.  That position makes sense to us based on the Bible's clear teachings.
We must realize that believing what the Bible says about sexuality will increasingly put us at odds with our culture.  Pressure will continue to mount to accept a worldview rooted in cultural acceptance rather than Biblical revelation.  And we must prepare ourselves for the day when acceptance will not be enough — affirmation may be demanded to be a part of society.
For example, I was preaching at Pathway Vineyard Church in Maine on the Sunday after the state of Maine legalized gay marriage.  After such a strong statement and shift in the culture around them, what did the believers there do?  The same thing they did the week before: loved people, served the hurting, and preached Jesus.For those Christians seeking to witness real cultural impact, our public conversation should not begin with opposition to homosexuality -- but with our witness for Christ in word and in deed.  We need to show grace and friendship to those who struggle, while holding fast to what the Scriptures teach.  Without hiding our beliefs, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations, build relationships, and demonstrate grace.
Maybe we should follow that example this Sunday. And next Sunday. And the next.
Regardless of the ruling from the Supreme Court, your church has the same mission it did last week: to love people and share the Good News of Christ with them.
We cling to the cross, stand on the rock, and remain steadfast in the hope found only in Christ.  And it is that hope which we are commanded to share with the world, whether Christianity is the cultural norm or not.Christians are increasingly considering the reality that we might be on the losing side of the culture war.  But we should not panic.  The sky is not falling.  Jesus is still King and God is still sovereign.
Fifty years ago, Christians comprised the mainstream in America and were fully accepted as a cultural majority.  Many during that time did not stand up for those who were weak and marginalized. The "good old days" so often longed for were also times of racial oppression, gender discrimination, and theological confusion.  The past simply wasn't that great for many when Christians had more influence.
As kingdom citizens, we are at an historic crossroads.  We can either get furious at them again and perpetuate the cycle or we can respond like Jesus.  Our mission demands the latter.During those days, Christians preached loudly and boldly the lostness of people without Christ.  We railed against atheists and Hugh Hefner.  They were not necessarily mad at us, but we were mad at them without apology for the lies and immorality they promoted in our world.  Over the past five decades, they returned the favor, marginalizing our faith as out of touch and culturally unacceptable.
If we are going to reach the world — including those who believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue — we must learn to love them.  All of them. 
We can address religious liberty concerns as they come with firm resolve and Christ-like humility.  Even though the playing field may have changed, the mission of God has not.  We are not here to protect our ways and traditions.  We exist to show the world the love of Christ and share with the world His good news.So, don't rant on Facebook.  Don't lose your temper on Twitter.  Don't rage to your neighbor or coworkers.
No election, referendum, or court ruling will ever change that.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Remember the first time you climbed the long ladder up to the high dive?  I remember.  I walked to the edge of the board and the closer I got the more my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest.  I peered over the edge and it looked to be a hundred miles down.

And even though the physical risk was small, the natural reaction was to inch backward and grab the railing because that made my heart rate go back to somewhere near normal.

But the reason some people are bored with their spiritual life is because they've been hanging onto the railing for so long.  They wonder why their heart isn't beating fast for Jesus like the guy next to them.  The reason is there's no risk involved while we're clutching the railing.

Maybe what we need to do is ask God to walk with us back out to the end of the board where our toes are off the edge.  Because when we're at the edge, that's when our prayer life really gets serious.  That's when we hang on tighter to God.

'Isn't that a risk worth taking?'

Perhaps the edge of your board means taking a risk to go on that missions trip you've always thought about going on.  Yeah, it's expensive - sure, you'll need to take vacation - yes, it will mean using some savings - and yes, God is going to do something unexpected when you go.  Isn't that a risk worth taking?

Perhaps the edge of your board means stopping next door before walking into your house this week.  Maybe it's taking the God-conversation two doors down to the people God has been calling you to talk to.  You've thought about it a hundred times - you've planned the conversation in your brain and then cancelled last minute.  If you took a step their direction, maybe they'd take a step toward Jesus.  Isn't that a risk worth taking?

Perhaps the edge of your board means beginning the repair of a broken relationship.  You didn't even do much wrong, yet things are broken.  God has already spoken to you about it; you've just been putting it off.  Isn't that a risk worth taking?

Let God pry your fingers from the railing and walk you to the edge for the first time in a long time, because the life you're called to is either a risky, bold, faith-filled, unexpected journey with the God who loves you, or it's nothing.

And be blessed.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Jesus was a lousy recruiter.  When He invited the first 12 to join Him, He didn't say: 'Hey boys, come follow Me.  It's going to be awesome.  We're going to ride and eat in style ... first class ... express lanes everywhere ... five-star accommodations ... free coffee and donuts ... '

Instead, He said: 'I'm going to send you out as sheep among wolves ... so beware, for you'll be delivered over to courts and they'll flog you in their synagogues, and you'll be dragged before authorities and beaten within an inch of your life.'

So ... good times.

'Come follow Me.  We're all gonna run for our lives.  It's gonna be really scary and barbaric.  You're gonna love it.  Who's in?  Oh yeah, almost forgot.  Brother will deliver brother over to death and fathers will turn against children and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death, and everybody's gonna hate you because of Me.  WHO'S IN?'

Behind it all there's a Jesus who says, 'Let's go do this.  Who's in?'

Because behind our security needs -- behind the temperature controlled interiors of our minivans -- behind the safety of our garage doors -- is a wild, unexpected, risky Jesus leading us on a wild, unexpected risky journey.  Behind it all there's a Jesus who says: 'Let's go do this.  Who's in?'

Are you in?

And be blessed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


The church I grew up in was pretty safe.  I say safe because I don't remember a lot of controversy happening.  Maybe that's because I was 8, I don't know.

But God doesn't call us to --- 'Let's just try to keep everybody happy --- let's never talk about or do anything that riles people up --- it's how we've always done it --- let's not attempt anything different or be aggressive with our mission.'

'Let's not attempt anything different or be aggressive with our mission ... '

Just the opposite.  If we want to be like the church in the book of Acts, we'll be radically different. We'll invest our time in different places -- we'll invest our money in different ways -- we'll raise our children differently -- we'll respond to the Word and to the world differently.

There's something more important than you living a safe, civilized life -- because our culture has made security into a god.  And if that's where you are, not only are you missing God's best life for you, you're also living a version of Christianity that, frankly, Jesus would know nothing about.

You wouldn't say it this way, but you may very well be flat-out bored with life -- and bored with Jesus. But there's also a craving inside you, and that's where Jesus is probing -- that if you'll take a risk to trust this unexpected Jesus and obey His risky Book, there's a great payoff to that.

You'll never regret it.

And be blessed.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


If your church was a Mr. Potato Head, what would it look like?

Would your 'body' be composed of all feet or all arms or mostly ears or lots of mouths?

Would all your 'body parts' be in the right places?

Just wondering.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


People sometimes ask how and why we talk about God as if we actually knew Him - like we know He's there - and how do you know that for sure.

Lots of people think about God.  They wonder about Him.  They discuss and debate Him, thinking they'd like to know beyond doubt that He's real, but they do it from an intellectual base.

But God said if you really want to know Him and who He is, you can.  If you seek Him, you'll find Him.  He isn't hiding.

So I'm asking: 'Do you want to know Him?'

If so, just ask Him to show you.  Tell Him you want to know Him.  Ask Him to find you.  He'll hear you if you do that.  And He'll be found by you.

Just do it from a sincere heart.

And be blessed.

Monday, June 17, 2013


If you've ever sustained an injury to a portion of your body, you realize it didn't remain concentrated in that area, but it affected your whole person.

You're working on a project and hit your thumb with a hammer.

It affects your feet, 'cuz now you're dancing.
It affects your eyes, 'cuz now you're crying.
It affects your mouth, 'cuz now you're using bowling words.

So it is in the church.

'Each part should have equal concern for the other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  If one part is honored, every part rejoices.'  (I Corinthians 12:26)

If someone in the church is hurting or suffering or in pain, many feel that.

A brother loses a long, hard battle with cancer.  We feel that.
A woman who is so excited to finally be pregnant miscarries.  We feel that.
Someone loses their job and then loses their home.  We feel that.
A couple can't work it out and one of them walks away.  We feel that.

'If someone in the church is hurting or in pain, many feel that.'

When folks are hurting, it is the great privilege of the church - the body of Christ - to hurt with them.

The reverse is also true.  If somebody gets a raise ... somebody gets married ... somebody graduates ... somebody is healed ... somebody has a baby ... we all celebrate.

This is what it means to be the church --- to be unified amid our differences because we're centered around the person and work of Jesus.  We have a common mission and a common battle and a common purpose and a common enemy.  We have inter-dependence.  We desperately need each other and the more kinds of people who participate with their various giftings and skills, the better we all are.  We have worth - that even though everyone isn't equally visible, everyone is equally important.

And be blessed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I know it's kind of backwards today -- but I'm thankful to my kids for making me a Dad.  They're all adults now but they're great examples of the grace and work of God.  I'm proud of each one -- his/her giftings, skills, abilities, personality.  I'm ultra-blessed to be the father of such a group.

It was great getting a call from each of them individually today -- expected -- but nevertheless great.  It's amazing any one of them turned out normal (remains to be seen, I suppose), given some of the ways I 'fathered.'

Here is a sampling of some of the things I said to them down thru the years:

Don't ask me, ask your mother.
Don't worry.  It's only blood.
I'm not just talking to hear my own voice.
Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.
You're gonna like it cuz I said you're gonna like it.
If your best friend jumped off a bridge, would you too?
What part of "NO" don't you understand?
I'm going to count to three . . .
Wait until I get you home.
Who said life was supposed to be fair?
You're a girl, but you can do anything a boy can do (with the exception of one or two things).
As long as you tried your hardest, that's all that matters.
Turn off the lights.  Do you think I'm made out of money?
Close the door.  You weren't born in a barn, were you?
Shut the window.  I'm not heating the outdoors.
You didn't beat me; I let you win.
As long as you live under my roof, you'll live by my rules.
When I was your age . . .
I'll tell you why; because I said so. 
I wasn't sleeping.  I was watching that channel.
That isn't a tear.  I just have something in my eye (said when I was driving them to college for the first time.)
Don't you know any normal boys?
You know you're not leaving this house dressed like that, right?
Try smiling.
Wipe that smile off your face.
Animals sweat.  Boys perspire.  Girls 'feel the heat.'
You want something to do?  I'll give you something to do.
You know you'll always be Daddy's girl.
I love you, daughter (and now ... I love you, son).

Dad -- give thanks that they made you a father.

And be blessed.


God fully intends for His people to live in unity.  I know some have come from churches where there were tragic splits and infighting and factions and groups gathering in different corners of the lobby with various agendas ---- and by God's kindness, Journey Church ( has been an exceedingly unified church.  We've not had big ol' ugly church splits.  We've not had a falling out among the team of pastors or the deacons.  There is incredibly unity at Journey.

'That fact should make us burst out in spontaneous applause.'

Frankly, that fact should make us burst out in spontaneous applause.

The apostle Paul uses the analogy of the body to articulate what it means to be a church.  Think about your body (do I have to?) -- what a miracle it is.  I'm not a doctor, but I know you have over 200 bones in your body, 650 skeletal muscles, 210 cell types.  You have many different cooperative systems in your body -- circulatory, digestive, lymphatic, urinary, endocrine, muscular, nervous, immune, reproductive, skeletal, respiratory -- and they all work with such little notice that we miss the absolute wonder of how the human anatomy operates together for a singular purpose and cause, until all of a sudden you have a sickness or an injury.

And Paul says: 'So it is with the church.'  When it's functioning appropriately, there's nothing like it.

Dwell in unity.

And be blessed.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I got some feedback on yesterday's blog - both up and down - so I, glutton for punishment that I am, decided to blog on the same topic a second time.

Being average.

Here's what I mean(t).

I'm at a Dairy Queen the other day getting some sweets for my 'sweet' and as I'm standing there (waiting forever - is there such a thing as a 'fast ice cream joint?'), I notice a woman and little girl - mother-daughter-combo - sitting at a table enjoying their dessert.  The little girl has a train of vanilla sludge coasting slowly down her forearm - completely oblivious and completely happy.

They were laughing and poking and having what looked to be an all-around-great-time.

But I'm thinking to myself (please don't call me a sadist): What would happen if I walked up to that little girl's Mom and said, 'Isn't she the sweetest thing?  Maybe someday she'll grow up to be a convenience store clerk?  Maybe someday she'll have a hard time making ends meet?'

Pretty sure Mom wouldn't appreciate that one bit.

But if I walked up to her and said: 'I just had to say that you have a very pretty, adorable little girl.  Congratulations' -- that I'd get a smile in return.  I mean, maybe she'd reach out and pull her daughter in a little closer, but if I did it right, I think she'd be pleased ... if I didn't keep standing there staring.

Parents are fine being told their child is somehow special, but nobody wants to be told their child is average.  That's an insult.

I didn't realize until later in life that we all end up average - and that God isn't looking for superstars.  He has an easier time using 'average.'

A little boy with five loaves and two fish.
A young man with a sling and five smooth stones.
An older guy with a stuttering problem.
A teen girl with a pure heart.
Fishermen.  Tax collectors.  Prostitutes.


'Average doesn't look so bad any longer.'

Because, as one person said, 'the day average became not good enough was the day most of us started to dislike ourselves -- and after that day, we started disliking most everybody else.'

But listen ... here's what God does with 'average.'

He feeds 5,000.
He slays a giant.
He delivers a nation.
He blesses the mother of a Savior.
He spreads the Gospel to the four corners of the globe.

... and 'average' doesn't look so bad any longer.

And be blessed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I will confess to being flat-out average.  There isn't much spectacular about me.  I'm way taller than average - but otherwise, I'm not particularly great looking or ugly - I don't have a ripped body or a bloated ship - the skills that once set me apart I no longer use much - and on it goes.

I'm not trying to be humble about that, nor am I seeking unsolicited compliments (not that I'd turn them away), it's just true.  I'm "C+" average.

I've lived a lifetime trying to be special.  And yes, there have been single moments where I've achieved something worth noting.  But overall, I don't know that I've done anything in particular that would illicit a big parade in my honor.  Sure, there have been successes along the journey.  I've reached some life goals already.  I've been to a lot of places in the world.  I'm a
good multi-tasker, so there is that.  When you call me on the phone, I'm probably talking to you and playing solitaire on my computer at the same time, just so my hands keep busy.  But none of those are things a million others haven't also done.


For every Donald Trump there are a thousand Dave Thompsons.  You don't know who Dave Thompson is, do you?  Exactly.  (If your name is Dave Thompson, my apologies.)

'Average doesn't mean I can't change the world.'

But listen ... average doesn't mean I can't change the world.  The disciples of Jesus were all average - and look.

So I've decided that what is un-average is a life filled with the Fruit of the Spirit:

If I can get those nine down, I figure greatness can't be far behind.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I think it's the longest I've ever gone without blogging since I began years ago -- 8 days.

Joelene and I took a little R&R time in Key Largo, Florida this past week.  Here are some pics to prove it.

We made a joint decision to 'unplug' while we were there -- no Facebook -- no blogging -- no computer -- no e-mails (I did answer a very few, to be honest).

I will confess that the first day or two I really wanted to grab my computer and run off into a dark corner clandestinely to quickly post something - anything - relieve my 'disorder,' as it were, but I resisted the urge.  What surprised me is -- I didn't miss it.  I thought I would, but except for that first 24 hours where I had the shakes, I didn't.

It meant more face-to-face time with Joelene during a week where we really needed it (isn't that every week?).  I was actually surprised to realize another benefit:  less anxiety.  Working on the computer had always seemed practically cathartic to me, but I felt an even greater sense of peace once I unplugged.  I know it makes sense, but that was counter-intuitive for me.

So now I'm back - and I'm plugged back in - but maybe not all the way from here on out.

Could you go without technology for one week?  One day?  One hour?

And be blessed.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013


    There was a great passion for obedience to God in our Champions group this evening -- about 10 guys who meet together monthly to talk about what God is doing in their lives.

    Tonight we talked about risking for God - facing our fears - the importance of not being passive - that God answers every prayer, even ones we don't think He's answering.  NO is still an answer.

    That prompted me to investigate the things the early church prayed for.  Here's the list:
    They called on God to exalt His own name in the world.
    "Pray like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name"  (Matthew 6:9).
    They called on God to extend his kingdom in the world.
    "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven"  (Matthew 6:10).
    They called on God that the gospel would triumph.
    "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
    They called on God to save unbelievers.
    "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved"  (Romans 10:1).
    They called on God for boldness.
    "Pray at all times in the Spirit . . . and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel"  (Ephesians 6:18-19).
    They called on God for signs and wonders.
    "And now Lord . . . grant your servants to speak thy word with boldness . . . while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus"  (Acts 4:30).
    They called on God to supply His troops with necessities.
    "Give us this day our daily bread"  (Matthew 6:11).
    They called on God for strategic wisdom.
    "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him:  (James 1:5).
    They called on God to send out reinforcements.
    "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest"  (Matthew 9:38).
    They called on God for unity and harmony in the ranks.
    "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me"  (John 17:20-21).
    They called on God for the encouragement of togetherness.
    "[We are] praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?"  (1 Thessalonians 3:10).
    They called on God for a mind of discernment.
    "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ"  (Philippians 1:9-10).
    They called on God to know him better.
    "[We have not ceased to pray for you to be] increasing in the knowledge of God"  (Colossians 1:10;  Ephesians 1:17 ).
    They called on God for power to comprehend the love of Christ.
    "I bow my knees before the Father . . . that you may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge"  (Ephesians 3:14,18).
    They called on God for a deeper sense of assured hope.
    "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers . . . that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints"  (Ephesians 1:16,18).
    They called on God for strength and endurance.
    "[We have not ceased to pray for you to be] strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy"  (Colossians 1:11Ephesians 3:16).
    They called on God for deeper sense of His power within them.
    "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers . . . that you may know . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe"  (Ephesians 1:1619).
    They called on God for greater faith.
    "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'" (Mark 9:24;  Ephesians 3:17).
    They called on God that they might not fall into temptation.
    "Lead us not into temptation"  (Matthew 6:13).
    They called on God that they would do good works.
    "[We have not ceased to pray for you that you] lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work"  (Colossians 1:10).
    They called on God or forgiveness for their sins.
    "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"  (Matthew 6:12).
    And be blessed. 

    Sunday, June 2, 2013


    Here are the top 10 most dangerous countries for Christians around the world:

    10  Laos - the government is openly hostile to Christ-followers here.  Christians are restricted in their family and economic roles.

    9  Uzbekistan - fines for illegal religious activities now exceed 100 times the average monthly wage.  Many congregations have lost their buildings.

    8  Iraq - enough said.

    7  Yemen - Sharia law rules.

    6  Maldives - all citizens must be Muslims in this small island nation.

    5  Somalia - it's dangerous for anyone to live here period, above all Christians.  The government has an official goal to wipe out Christianity.  So far, they're losing that battle.

    'So far, they're losing that battle.'

    4  Saudi Arabia - conversion to Christianity is punishable by death.

    3  Afghanistan - two years ago, Parliament called for the execution of Christian converts, after seeing baptisms of Afghan Christians on Afghan TV.  As a result, most Christians have gone into hiding.

    2  Iran - see Iraq.

    Most dangerous country for Christ-followers
    1 - North Korea - persecution of Christ-followers has no equal to this country.  It is considered one of the worst crimes possible to be a Christian.  Christian parents can't teach their faith to their own children until the kids are old enough to understand the dangers.  Just owning a Bible here is grounds for execution.  Hundreds of Christians have been arrested, executed or sentenced to severe labor camps.  Despite this, the Christian church is numbered somewhere around 400,000.  They sing silent hymns in cramped basements of the crumbled buildings where they meet.

    Pray for believers at risk in these nations - and be thankful for your freedom.

    And be blessed.

    Saturday, June 1, 2013


    We make life (and life with God) so complicated.

    The secret to finding God is just to seek Him.  The God who created us and whom we serve couldn't be more personal.  He isn't hiding from you or playing games with you.  Anyone who really wants to find Him will.  No tricks - no big maze to sort thru - no bait-and-switch - no negotiation.

    'If you want to find Him, you will.'

    His eyes are inclined toward you.
    His ears are bent toward you.
    His face is turned your direction.

    He wants to be found - and He's trying to reach you even now.

    And be blessed.