Saturday, September 28, 2013


One of our mistakes as believers in Christ is that we seem to think God and satan are equal and they're duking it out in the heavenlies somewhere.  And at some point near the end of time God is going to get in a great sucker punch on the devil and He's going to defeat him at the last second.

But you have to understand something about satan.  Even he has to bow to God.

'The devil gets his butt kicked at the end.'

In fact, the devil gets his butt kicked at the end.  I'm probably not supposed to use the word 'butt,' but it just fits here.  He gets his butt kicked.  There, I said it again.

I know about this. I've read the end of the story.  The devil loses.  Big time.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


'This is going to hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you.'

I suppose a lot of us heard that sentence at on
e point or another growing up; many of us, despite our self-promises, also said it to our children at some point.

The truth is, there are times as a parent it was completely true.

Do you know what your sin does to God, your Father?  It breaks His heart - this God who formed you, loved you, cared about you, provided for you, saved you.  Yet we choose to step outside His will, violate His laws, abuse ourselves and others, and all the while expect Him to bless us.

The most incredible thing about it all is that you - clay pottery that is broken and damaged - are still held in the Hand of the Potter.

'You see the flaws; He sees perfection.'

You are marred.  You've made bad choices.  There is foreign matter in you.  Imperfections.  Scars.  Cracks.  Debris.

But the Great Potter isn't surprised by any of that.  He isn't shocked by what He finds in the clay.  You see the cracks; He sees the plan.  You see the mess; He sees perfection.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Whenever God takes you out of something, He does that in order to put you into something better than what He took you out of.

He never takes you somewhere just to dump you or leave you to fend for yourself.  If God has picked you up out of something and what you're in now seems worse, then He hasn't set you down yet.  He's just polishing you - dusting you - wiping you off.  Once He's done and finally sets you down, He'll set you into something better than He took you out of.

Our problem is we get so caught up in what He's trying to take us out of, that as soon as His hand gets ahold of us, we slap it away or try to reach back for what He's trying to remove us from, and every time we do that, we end up settling for something far less than what He intends for us.

'Don't settle for the old kingdom.'

Don't settle for less.  Don't settle for the old kingdom.

Any blessings you get as a result of living in the old kingdom is just the devil giving you barely enough to keep you satisfied and quiet because he knows if you ever find out what God has to offer you in exchange for that old life, you'll cut the devil loose in a New York minute.  And he can't have that.

God promised to conform you to the image of His Son and make you an heir - and He will.

Whatever God wants to do with you, He has the power, right and authority to do it.  There's never a question that God will have everything He desires.  It doesn't mean everything that happens is what He desires, but He will have everything He desires.

And what He desires is you.

And be blessed. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Some of us want to condemn folks for what they do when the only reason we haven't done the same thing is that we just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

And we think that lets us off the hook with God.  But God says, "Think again."  God holds us accountable for what we've imagined doing, not just for what we've acted out.  The wickedness we've rehearsed - fantasized about - a hundred times in our hearts but hasn't made it out to our feet and hands just yet has not gone unnoticed by the Creator.

The only remedy is a brand spanking new heart, cleaned out and handcrafted by God - from scratch.

Are we more sinless than a man like David (see yesterday's blog)?  That's like asking a woman if she's more pregnant than the woman sitting next to her.

You either is or you ain't, and all of us ain't.  It's only by God's grace and mercy that we is.

That's terrible grammar, but it's great theology.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


God has a heart.

Oh, I know He's spirit, but He gets angry.  He expresses joy.  He laughs.  Yes, God laughs.  Imagine that.  Sure, several times when He's laughing He's laughing at His enemies, but still . . .

So when we talk about the heart of God, we consider how God feels.  Have you ever thought about that before?  God feels.  He has a heart.

'God has a heart.'

Perhaps it isn't all that surprising to you that He has one.  Maybe what is far more surprising is the guy in the Bible He chooses to lift up as the example to help us understand His own heart.

The only person in the whole Bible who is referred to as having a heart like God's is David.  David didn't say it about David.  Others didn't say it about David.  God said it about David.

David, the shepherd boy ... David, the warrior ... David, the eventual king ... David, beloved of God ... but also, David, the liar ... David, the murderer ... David, the adulterer ... David, the cheater ... David, the arrogant ... David, the abuser of power ... David, the conspirator ... that David.

Honestly, if this is the criteria God uses, maybe you and I have a shot.

It sure gives me hope.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Sometimes A DAY IN THE LIFE is just about laughing.

Don't miss the ending - and be blessed that this kid isn't yours ...

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The word for enticed in the Bible is actually a fishing term.  It's the idea of a hook.  And here's what the enemy of your soul does to you all day long.

He baits the hook with something he thinks you're going to be lured by and says:  'Come on -- take it -- touch it -- taste it -- go there -- do that -- watch this -- enjoy that.'  He does all he can to entice you away from God - to destroy you - to coax you into impurity - unethical actions - unwise decisions.

'Take it, take it, take it, take it.'  Because as soon as you snatch the bait, it's on.

And sometimes we're wise and we don't take the bait.  What does he do then?  Give up?  Not a chance.

He takes the bait off the hook and baits it with something else that will get your attention.  And he keeps on changing the bait until ultimately you reach out and ---- OUCH!

That's why James says: 'Don't be deceived, my beloved.'  Don't take the bait.

'Don't take the bait.'

Some of you are being sucked in by some things right now.  Even this week you're nibbling at the bait. Some of you are biting hard on it.  Your thoughts are out of control and your actions aren't far behind.

'Don't be deceived.'  That thing you're considering -- it isn't going to work out.  It never has.  In the history of this planet, you'd be the first one that sin has worked out for.  Don't choose that thing over a God who loves you.

I want my wife and my three daughters and my three sons-in-law and my grandson and my two granddaughters to know I'm a person of integrity.  I want my church to know it.  I want our staff of pastors and team players to know it.  I want my neighbors to know it.  I want to honor God in all the places people can see me honoring Him --- but I also want to honor Him in the areas nobody but God and I can see.

Would you join me in that challenge?

And be blessed.


Temptation never delivers.  It never does.

Whenever we're tempted to do, say, believe something, there's something more nefarious happening.  Underneath.

Temptation has less to do with behavior than it does with belief.  Every temptation to sin is, at its core, a temptation to disbelieve the Gospel.

The surface bait might be lust, greed, anger, pride, entitlement, etc -- but the real reason we bite is because we believe it will quench our desire for affection, fulfillment, self-worth, freedom, etc.

The deeper issue is that our failure to resist temptation is directly related to our disbelief in the richness that is already ours in Christ.  In other words, everything we need for life and Godliness has already been provided.

Grasping that fact - that what we need we already have in Christ - that we need nothing more - is the hardest thing of all.  This continued stance that we must take matters into our own hands rather than trust the Creator is our Achilles.

Be fully convinced in your deepest heart that you have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


The only place in the entire Bible where the word 'religion' is used with a positive slant is James 1:27:  'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.'

In that last part, James isn't referring to some monastic bubble where we remain closed off from society.  He isn't talking even about personal purity.  The whole context of the moment is to stay away from a 'my life for me' approach to living and instead be absorbed with a 'my life for you' pathway.

True religion takes us away from ourselves and coaxes us toward the untidy lives of others.  It doesn't take me further into me.  It actually sends me away from me.

That's so different from how we've always believed.  It flies in the face of most of our natural leanings.  Most of what we would consider 'spiritual' today would lift up our private time, our inner life, our devotional quiet.

'If we're experts at anything, it's spiritual navel-gazing.'

If we're experts at anything, it's spiritual navel-gazing.  Our own navels, that is.  But when we come face-to-face with the true Gospel - with what God has done for us - how Jesus stood in for us on the cross as our substitute - we are forced to look up - look out - look anywhere but in.  Anywhere but.

We were designed to embrace God - embrace others - and then, if there is anything at all left over - embrace ourselves.  You're not first.  You're not even second.  You're bringing home, at best, the bronze.

The beautiful irony is that as you look out - and look up - you are renewed inwardly.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The 1992 Barcelona Olympics gave us one of the more stunning moments in track-and-field history.  Arguably, it's one of the more memorable moments in all of Olympic sports ever.  It stars runner Derrick Redmond, who was expected to take home the gold in the 400 meter that year:

'Where did we ever get the idea that life was supposed to be uncomplicated?'

That's how the apostle Paul describes the Christian journey you and I are on ... as a race.  It isn't a sprint though; it's a full on marathon.  And we're told not just to finish it, but to finish it well.  In the same way Derrick Redmond pulled a hamstring that day on the track, hamstrings pull in our lives every single day.  Where did we ever get the idea that life was supposed to be uncomplicated?

Many have that idea, but it's wrong.  Life can be hard.  And because of that, it's helpful when someone occasionally comes out of the stands and gets an arm around us and gives us an assist when we're limping - and maybe - sometimes - even limps with us to the finish line.

That's what the church is for - and when I say church, I don't mean the organization.  I mean you - me - the church as individual believers of faith - loving each other and caring for one another.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


One of our eight core values at Journey Church is being INTEGRITY-DRIVEN.  Here's how we say it at Journey:

'We are stubbornly consistent and intentionally honest.  We will honor Christ by being the same in public as we are in private.'

God wants truth-telling out of us.  A recent Gallup poll revealed the ethical standards of Christians in the workplace were no higher than non-Christians.


God calls our church to higher ground - to higher morals - higher ethics in our lives ...
... in the way we do our work ...
... in the way we treat others ...
... in the way we act ...
We must not be carriers of the disease that has infected our society.  We must be different.

Are you living privately what you are expressing publicly?

And be blessed.

Monday, September 9, 2013


I recently found out something very interesting about little Burlington, Wisconsin where we began a multi-site campus this past March.  It hosts a club that holds the annual contest for 'World Champion Liar' every year.

Now there's a claim-to-fame we'd all like to pin on our lapels.  Of all the people in the entire world, I have perfected the art of lying better than anyone else.

Apparently it began decades ago when Otis Hulett, famous around Burlington parts for his various pranks, made up a news story.  He concocted a story that the Burlington chief-of-police sat around the station seeing who could tell the biggest lie among him and his buddies.

The Associated Press picked up that story and wanted to know if they were going to pick a "biggest liar" every year.  At that the lies began to pour in.  A club - The Liar's Club - was ultimately formed, incorporated and the contest expanded to worldwide level with lies coming in from all over.

'We're called to truth in our actions and our words.'

The only requirement to become a card-carrying member was to send in a lie and a dime.  (You can become a member today for the inflation-raised amount of $1.)


Some of the recent winners told lies as follows:
- The fog was so thick that when I cut down a tree, it didn't fall over until the fog lifted.

- My wife was so lazy she fed the chickens popcorn so the eggs would turn themselves over when she fried them.

- My husband's feet were so cold that every time he took off his shoes, the furnace kicked on.

Now - everyone knows that isn't really lying - it's tall-tale-telling maybe, and in this case maybe just good ol' fun.  We don't take that very seriously.

But there is a serious side.  Researchers say one out of every three working Americans is hired with educational or career credentials that have been fabricated in some way.

There's a need for truth-telling and integrity in our world today.  Nobody should be more aware of that than people who call themselves Christ-followers.  We're called to truth - in our actions and our words.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


It was an amazing joy to have Eric Samuel Timm in our Journey Church services all weekend.  The painting below was what he illustrated, drawing upside down for a few minutes and then up-ending it to reveal what you see here.

His book, "Static Jedi - the Art of Hearing God thru the Noise," is available on Amazon.  

From the book:
"Overthrowing Your Empire of Noise
Noise.  It's everywhere.  Televisions blaring our commercials.  Opinions shouted over the radio.  The internet and its unlimited distractions.  All the tasks and choices that you know don't really matter.  Always intensifying, becoming part of our everyday cycle, our now hurried lives.

But often, God speaks to us in the stillness.  When Elijah needed to hear from God, God sent a fire, a quake, and a huge wind.  But God wasn't in the fire.  He wasn't in the quake.  He wasn't in the wind.  God was in the whisper - but the noise hides the whisper.

Life is a dangerous place when we are stripped of our ability to hear God clearly.

During His time on earth Jesus Christ was a master of noise.  He balanced time, healing, teaching and feeding the multitudes with regular periods alone with His Father.  Static Jedi takes a look at the life of Jesus to help you master the noise and distractions and live in clarity."

How we need this.  Selah.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Here is the heartbreak of Jesus --- that the generations of people who have received full, unrestricted access to Him do not come to Him.

For centuries prior, people begged to go thru the veil that separated God from the ordinary Joe (see yesterday's blog).  It's what Moses yearned for ... it's what David's heart could feel but not fully obtain ... it's what Daniel prayed for three times a day, but never completely grasped.

But you and I have been granted this full gift freely, yet we take it for granted.  The door is full on open but we refuse to step thru - sometimes for weeks at a time.

'God doesn't meet anyone at the door anymore.'

We casually walk right past the opportunity that has been purchased for us at so high a price - the life of Jesus.  The costly gift snubbed.

God wants time with you.  He wants you to come to Him to find everything you need for life.  He promised He would not only hear, but answer.

God doesn't meet anyone at the door any more.  All the provision we need is right inside.  Walk in.  Experience the gift of access to the Father.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This evening at sundown will commence Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  It takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar.

Rosh Hashanah begins the Jewish High Holy Days, and is followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the 'Day of Atonement.'  

What a great day the Old Testament Day of Atonement must have been.  On that day, the children of Israel gathered around the door of the tabernacle.

Except for the high priest, no one could enter the Holy of Holies, where God's presence resided.  And even he only one day a year - today - The Day of Atonement.  There the people crowded around the door - sacrifices to offer in tow.

It was as if God was saying to them, 'Come to My front door and I'll meet you there.'  They weren't invited in.  God spoke from the other side.

I can only imagine the feeling on that one day of the year as the high priest approached the veil that separated God from everyone else.  He must have trembled down to his socks.  If you committed any defilement in God's presence, you'd be struck dead.  God's holy presence couldn't abide sin of any kind.

I can see the people holding their breath until the high priest re-appeared - sacrifices completed - mission accomplished.

Yet, in spite of God's glory in the temple - in spite of visions and dreams given to prophets - in spite of visitation from angels ---- God's people remained outside the veil.

Then ... Jesus.  Yet even with Him, access was restricted by simple logistics.  If you wanted to get to Jesus, you had to go to Judah, where He walked.  That could mean days and days of travel.  Then you had to trace Him to a specific village - a hillside - a lake.  If He'd just left town before you got there, you had to listen for rumors about where He was headed next.

'Anyone can see inside and walk inside.'

And once you found Him, you had to worm your way up to get physically close --- to hear His voice --- to look Him in the eye --- to feel His touch.

People went to great lengths to get to Him.
A woman pressing thru the crowds to touch Him.
A man climbing a tree to see Him.
A foursome opening a hole in a roof to get to Him.
So even then it was restricted access.  In the right place at the right time.

But it was at Calvary where Jesus provided complete and unrestricted access to the Father.  At the moment of His death, the temple veil was literally ripped apart.  In that instant, we were given in the boldest terms access to the place God lives.

We were and are able to enjoy something that generation after generation could not.  Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel ... all of them.  The door is no longer shut to us.  Anyone can see inside and walk inside.  Unrestricted.

Jesus Himself became our great High Priest.  And He swings wide the door to you now and says: 'You are accepted by coming to Me by grace thru faith.  So come.  Come boldly.  Come now.  Walk in.  The door is open.  I'll escort you into the presence of My Father, who is now your Father, day and night.'

And on this Rosh Hashanah ... 

Be blessed.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The picture of little John Kennedy, Jr. hiding under his father's, the President, Oval Office desk is now famous.

Over the years of raising our kids we tried to give them that kind of access to us.  If one of my kids needed to see me, they knew they could barge in to my office - politely - and ask what they needed.  They had immediate access.

You have access as well.  Not to me.  Forget about that.  You have to wait your turn.  You are not one of my kids.  But cheer up - you have access to someone more wonderful, powerful, wise and gracious than I.

As God's children, we have the greatest privilege ever bestowed on humankind.  We have the right - the audacity - the freedom to break in on God anytime at all.  Day - night - afternoon - around the clock - we can bypass guardian angels - cherubim - seraphim - all the heavenly host - to boldly approach the throne of our Father.

'Jesus provided this direct access for us so we might receive all the mercy and grace we need.'

Jesus provided this direct access for us so we might receive all the mercy and grace we need.




And be blessed.

Monday, September 2, 2013


For years I stood on stage and told people over and over: 'When you read the words of the Bible, know that it's a story about you.

Joseph and the multi-colored coat? A story about you.
Daniel in the lion's den?  A story about you.
Jericho's walls falling?  About you.
Adam and Eve in the garden?  About you.
Mary and Martha in the kitchen?  You.


'He is the emphasis of the Bible.'

I have come to more fully understand that the overwhelming message of the Bible is that God loves us and in Jesus the sinful are justified.  It is said in a hundred ways throughout the pages: Sinners are saved, blind eyes see, lame take up their mats and walk, unclean are purified, guilty are declared innocent, slaves are made into sons and daughters.

It is the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of each of us.  Yes, what you do with it is important, but not anywhere near as important as what He has done for you.

He is the emphasis of the Bible.  Not you.  Not me.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


There's a country song that goes: 'It's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way.'

Whatever.  But we could all use some tips in order to get humble or stay humble - not that I'm an expert on this - but here goes:

- Know Your Limitations
Realize there's almost always somebody who can do that thing you do so well even better than you.

- Recognize Your Faults
This isn't the same as #1 even though it sounds like it.  We tend to harshly judge others because it takes the spotlight off of us.  I love ya, but you're not that great.

- Be Grateful
Count your blessings.  You have a lot to be thankful for.

- Appreciate Others
When you begin to do just this one point, you're well on the way to greater humility.

- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
... Either positively or negatively.

- Learn from Someone Else
There's a lot of wisdom out there.  Take advantage of it.  When you ask someone's advice about something, you are - by definition - saying: 'You're better at this than I,' and that's a measure of humility.

- Wonder More.
We think we know so much, but when we begin to be amazed the way a child is amazed, we'll be more eager to learn and learning is always a sign of humility.

- Help Somebody.
When you help someone who can't possibly help you back, that's humility.

And be blessed.