Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Today is the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's famous 'I have a Dream' speech.  It will forever be remembered as one of the catalytic messages of our century.

Dreams are the things futures are made of.

If your dreams are only as big as you, you don't have a very big God. But when you're walking with the Spirit, you attempt something that could never be done in the power of the flesh.  You try something you know you're bound to fail at unless God shows up.

Ephesians 3:20 - 'God, by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of, infinitely beyond our highest dreams, thoughts or hopes.'  (TLB)

But you have to look up in order to see that.

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, 'Yeah, I have dreams.  Of course I have dreams.'  Then they put the box away and bring it out every once in awhile and look inside and ... 'Yep, they're still in there.'

God doesn't want that for you or me.  We have so much to do for Him.

And here's how you know if it's really God's dream or not.  God's dream makes a difference in the lives of people.  His dreams are never selfish dreams.  If you just want to have a great job or make some money and live in a nice house and drive a nice car and retire early -- that isn't God's dream.

Just know that.  It isn't.

But if you want to make some money in order to give it away to serve the Kingdom of God -- to retire early so you can start a new career God might be calling you to -- that dream could be from God.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Good people deserve good stuff and bad people deserve bad stuff.  It's logical enough.  The idea that bad people get good stuff offends me.

What I forget is that the entire story of the Bible is not about how God has blessed good people, but about how He has blessed bad ones.

As someone has said: This is a one-way story of love.

I am continually tempted to put fences around grace.  I'd like the fence to be low enough for me to step over - but once over, I yearn for it to be waist high - shoulder high - even head high - for those coming behind me.

Grace scares me to death.  It is completely reckless.  Irresponsible.  It leaves me naked.  Suspicious.  Wary.  Too good to be true.  There's a catch somewhere.

'Grace scares me to death.'

But no.  There is no fine print.  No conditions.  No trick warranty.  No footnotes too small to read.  No bait-and-switch.  Extravagant.  Scandalous.  Outrageous.  Incredible.  Undeserved.  Shameful.

Jesus took your rap sheet and put it on Himself.  Your record has been transferred to Him and vice versa.


And be blessed.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


When was the last time God got disgusted with you?  Can you recall that moment?

One of the reasons we're not more passionate about God -- to walk with Him and experience Him and know Him is that we don't think we're good enough for Him.  And on that particular point, you've believed correctly.  You aren't good enough.

It isn't you at your worst God has a problem with - it's you at your best.  Because all your good and holy acts are like filthy rags to Him.

When you nail it, you disgust Him.  When you got up today at 4:30 a.m. and had your devotions over a cup of coffee and then prayed for 30 minutes and journaled your God-thoughts, it's on the day you think you 'scored' that God says: 'You fell short.'

'You aren't good enough.  Nor will you be tomorrow.'

So let me affirm the thought that you aren't good enough.  Nor will you be tomorrow.  Should you save the world from the nuclear holocaust and win your entire city to Christ - should you discover the serum that cures cancer and AIDS and should you sell everything you own and give it to the poor - God will say, 'It isn't enough to redeem yourself.'

The only reason you and I are standing intact and upright with the righteousness of God as our robe is because of the goodness and grace of the cross of Christ.  This is the only road to salvation, holiness and being like Jesus.  It is the only path to 'Well done.'

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Sometimes people go: 'Sure, I'll take God if He'll help me with my marriage ... Yeah, I'll love God if He'll help me with my finances ... I'll take God if He'll fix my situation.'

And when that doesn't happen the way they want or in the timing they expect, all of a sudden God has betrayed them because he didn't give them what He didn't promise in the first place.

When our end goal isn't God and God alone, we put ourselves in a very tenuous position - because the only joy in the universe that can't be taken from you is your joy in Christ.  Every other joy can be stolen.

'Christ is the only thing that can't be taken away.'

We've missed that.  We don't view loss or difficult correctly when our main goal is something other than God Himself.  The apostle Paul said it something like this:  'Since Christ is my greatest treasure, anything, whether good or difficult that gets me closer to my treasure gets rejoiced in.'

Think about how often that doesn't happen with us.

We say to God: 'Please get me out of this situation.  Rescue me from this circumstance.'   But Paul seems to be saying: 'This thing going on in my life got me more Jesus.  I've learned to be content specifically because of this thing.' 

So now, when I have money, praise Him; when my pockets are empty, praise Him.  When my health is soaring, praise Him; when I'm on a sickbed, praise Him.  When life is good, praise Him; when life stinks, praise Him.  Because Christ is your treasure.

Every now and then you see somebody who really gets this.  Even in their cancer they rejoice.  Why?  Because it gets them closer to their treasure.  Because Christ is the only thing what can never be taken away.

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The Visionary Leaders Elder Board for the School of Urban Missions (SUM) is meeting today and tomorrow in Dallas.  

This coming week, we begin our third year as a Kenosha cohort of SUM.  Our college is named Journey Ministry College (  

God has blessed this effort.  More than 30 students are enrolled in JMC this year to continue the process toward their Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies.  We will be sending our first graduating class out into ministry at the end of this school year.

In 20 years of ministry, over 90% of SUM graduates are still in ministry.  The SUM mission is to empower leaders in the 5-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11, 12).  

Pray for our college as the new year opens.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I heard somebody say to a third party the other day: 'Stop doubting.  Don't you know God stops listening to you when you doubt?'

Growth so often comes out of the doubting moments.

Really?  He stops listening?

There are enough people out there suggesting you should never ever doubt - but growth so often comes out of the doubting moments.

I feel doubt worst and most when I'm discouraged, under siege, stressed out, overwhelmed, upset and angry.  The irony is those are the exact times I need God most.

The other side of the coin is there are certainly times when I need to push my doubt to one side.  Jesus told Thomas in the New Testament to do just that.  'Stop doubting and believe.'  Maybe that's where the guy got it from when he said it to his friend.

Keep moving closer to God.  As you do, your doubts will decrease as Jesus increases in your life.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Every day, thousands of men log onto the internet to view porn.  They are addicted and don't know how to break free.  Many of them are filled with shame.  They can't tell anybody about it.

Nobody would argue the incredible amount of sexual images that barrage men in our society today.  Unfortunately, 'sex sells.'  It's in the check-out rack at the grocery store - lingerie stores in the mall - swimsuit issue magazines - beer commercials - billboard ads -- you name it.

'Sex sells ... '

If you think it isn't a problem, consider this (according to Family Safe Media):

*Every second, $3,000 is being spent on porn. 
*Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being released in the United States.
*The porn industry earns $100 billion worldwide every year.  Porn earns more than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, Apple and NetFlix combined.
*Child porn alone generates $3 billion annually.
*There are 68 million daily porn search engine requests.
*There are 4.5 billion daily porn e-mails.
*There are 100,000 child porn websites.
*Men who admit to accessing porn at work:  20%
*U.S. adults who regularly visit internet porn sites:  40 million.  Of those visiting porn website, 71% are male, 28% female.
*Average age of a child's first exposure to internet porn:  11
*Percentage of 15-17 year olds who have had multiple exposures to hardcore porn: 80%
*Largest population of internet porn users:  12-17 year olds.

While these stats are sobering, a more sobering reality is that these figures are most likely gross under-estimates of the real truth.

Porn affects us all and many we personally know.  It devastates relationships, marriages, families, careers, friendships and futures.

This coming Saturday - August 24th at 8 a.m., JOURNEY CHURCH is hosting a breakfast for men called "PORN, PURITY & PANCAKES."  Guest speaker Brian Gorman from Kenosha's FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH will share the startling facts and how to combat it in your life as a man.

Bring yourself - bring a friend - tell your husband - send your sons.  Sign up in the JOURNEY CHURCH lobby or call in this week to reserve a place - 262.694.3300.  Tickets are $5.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Rock stars, motivational speakers, entrepreneurs, self-help teachers, dictators ---- there are all kinds of leadership models out there today.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a simple servant.

We sometimes seem embarrassingly out of step when we compare our practices with the views of Jesus on what it means to be a leader.

Jesus exemplified serving, sacrifice and selflessness.  I know those aren't the qualities the company leaders of most Forbes 500 companies are known for, but they're what Jesus stood for.

'Jesus was about character, not technique or style.'

He was about character, not technique or style.

Who are your models for leadership?  Be careful not to get caught up with looks or appeal or charisma even.  The command of Christ for leadership is to 'humble yourself and live a life of servanthood, sacrifice and selflessness.'

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The language of Christianity is not primarily the language of morals.  God isn't your mommy saying, 'Clean up your room.  Drink all your milk.  Look both ways before you cross the street.'  

No.  the language of Christianity is about substitution.  Jesus stood in our place - for our sins.  He made Himself to be sin for us.  He who had never known sin did that.  He did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

This truth is absolutely scandalous - that while our sin is deep, His love and grace look the other way and are deeper still.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I wish we'd all stop trying to be so moral all the time ... 

. . .  so spiritual - so goody-goody.  It's all so draining.  Most of what you and I are walking thru as followers of Christ is about something other than that anyway.

It isn't about morality - spirituality - goodness - being better - trying harder ---- it's about trusting Christ.  And in that process, Jesus takes my distance from God and gives me His intimacy with the Father.  He takes my condemnation and gives me His love.  

That's a trade-in-a-half.  

If you aren't sure that's such a great trade, let me ask you this: Are God's commands and laws good? Answer that this way: Even if you don't like them, you still hope people observe them in relation to you, don't you?  You don't want to be killed, cheated, lied to, abused, robbed, gossiped about . . . right?

Even if you aren't sure you buy into this whole God-thing, just by having a conscience you know instinctively that these laws of God are good and right and healthy and necessary.  

And if you have bought into God, you've bought into all His laws.  But do we keep them?  Often, no.  Because the Bible tells us the law is amazing and you're not.

So we work work work work work work work super hard to be moral and spiritual and fair and good and pure and sincere at obeying them so when we stand before God we can say: 'This is what I did.  Here's my good resume.  I made great progress.  I'm better than I used to be.  I'm better than him over there.  I got further than pretty much everybody I know.'

And here's why that will never work.  If you try try try try try try try to be moral, spiritual, good, hard-working and pure, one of two things will happen.

One -- you will do better than most of the people around you and you'll become arrogant and sure of yourself - and now you're back to the very first sin - PRIDE.  And you'll be farther from God than the greedy person and the abuser.

Two -- you'll become frustrated and discouraged and you'll develop this picture of God as a mean judge - and when you fall beneath His mark, which is always - God will become your displeased boss.  And you'll be on the treadmill of guilt and shame and trying harder.

And that's the whole point of God's law -- to show you how crooked, bent and rebellious you already are so you stop trying trying trying trying trying - working working working working working - and instead you throw your hands in the air and say, "God, I can't."  That's when Jesus shows up to say, "It's OK.  I already did.  I took care of that and that and that and the other thing.  It's a gift.  It's grace.  Stop trusting your morality and trust Me.  Stop trusting your spirituality and trust Me.  Stop trusting your goodness and trust Mine.  Stop trusting your efforts and trust Mine.  Stop trusting your wisdom and trust Mine."

And that's one amazing trade.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Let's just talk honestly and openly.  If you live long enough, there will come a day - an hour - a season - where you're lost as to what God is doing.

You can argue with Him about what He's doing.  You can yell - scream - clench your fists - set your jaw - question - but the hard truth is: God is unlimited, and even though you may have one over-sized-Mensa-type brain, you're very limited.  He knows what's going on and you don't.

Right now - wherever you're reading this from, you don't know what's going on down the street.  If you're kids are out of the room at the moment, you don't really know what they're doing (you might want to run and check before finishing this post).  What's happening at your relative's house or your best friend's place right now?  You don't know.

'You aren't that awesome.'

You and I are limited in time - we're limited in authority - we're limited in knowledge - we're limited in understanding.  And here's the crazy part.  Most of the time we act as if we're unaware of that fact.  Everything in our culture screams of your endless personal possibilities and your unlimited personal potential.  What's one of the largest sections at your local bookstore?  The self-help and self-improvement section.

Here's why I say that.  I love you and all but -- you aren't that awesome.  Further, nobody has lied to you more than you.  Nobody has betrayed you more than you.  You aren't going to be able to fix you.

Here's why that's good news: Embracing that fact will cause you to seek Someone outside of you to solve your issues.  It will cause you to seek Someone outside of you to rescue you.  That Someone is God.  And He is unlimited.

He really is that awesome.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 9, 2013


All my life I've been 'that other guy.'  Always picked last for the sports team in grade school.  When it was just me and the one girl left to pick from:  "We'll take Sally!  You get Kevin!"  Last in line, last getting the girl, last for his acne to clear up, last to be known, last to shave, you name it.  Last.

Then I read E. Richardson's take on it, slightly abridged by me:  With less money, you give more.  When there is less status, you grant status to those who have none.  In becoming the judged, you relinquish your own judgments.  Downward mobility becomes the new goal.  In being freed from our bondage of success, being first or being known, upward mobility and status, we are now able to live in the reality of downward-directed love.  

'Last ... and loving it.'

No longer 'that other guy.'  Last ... and loving it.

And be blessed.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The more money you have, the freer you are.

The more beautiful you are, the more loved and accepted you are.

The stronger and more powerful you are, the more security you have.

The more freedom you have, the happier you'll be.

Sound right?
Sound good?
Sound true?

'God wants to free you from you.'

No.  God's economy tells us the opposite.

When your happiness, your freedom, your acceptance, your security are all hinging on you, that's a heavy chain.  It sounds like a huge burden to me.

The thing is -- it wasn't meant to be your burden.  Though we tend toward independence, you weren't designed for self-reliance.

God wants to free you from you.

CNN founder Ted Turner once said: 'Christianity is a religion for losers.'  

Actually, he was right.  It's for the sinner - the defeated - the overcome - the down-trodden - the loser.

You can't carry the weight of the world on your own shoulders?  Good.

Let God bring you to the end of you and you'll find the strength you need - the happiness you seek - the security you desire - the acceptance you yearn for - the life you were intended to live.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Today's Journey For 40 -- a 40-mile bicycle ride from Kenosha to Lake Forest, Illinois drew 42 Journey Church riders.

All proceeds went toward Lifesong Ministries, which is the process and organization we use to distribute potential monies to couples trying to adopt children.

Every mile along the route a picture of an orphan was posted.  To come up on a photo every few minutes of children from all over the world without a home brought the day into focus.

Thanks to the team of folks who put this day together.

And be blessed.