Friday, February 28, 2014


I'm in New Orleans for a few days with our Pastor Gabe and Pastor Lisa and 20 Journey Ministry College students from our church.

We're here teaching and training 250+ ministry college students from around the country who converge every year at Mardi Gras for street evangelism.

I love the passion for God and the energy for life in this generation.

I can't tell you how proud I am of Journey Church and the investment we've made in educating students and future leaders called to ministry.

To find out more about Journey Ministry College, go to

And be blessed.

Monday, February 24, 2014


He got what he deserved.  She got what she deserved.

We hear that kind of talk all the time these days - about what others deserve.  That talk should never come out of our mouths.

Do you want to go by what YOU deserve?  Do you want to talk that talk?

No.  Don't go there.  Please.

Who would say: 'God has dealt graciously with me, according to His mercy?'


And be blessed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


It was a great pleasure to host Michael & Amy Smalley at Journey Church today.

Their message in short:
Honor God
Honor Others
Honor Yourself

Thanks, Smalleys, for great ministry.

And be blessed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


There are situations in an alien culture like we're living in right now as Christ-followers where we are seeking to identify with it - where we are endeavoring not to be isolated from it - yet where we are attempting not to get sucked into it.

Very tricky, because our present situations require us to know how far to go and at what point to draw the line.  This is where character, principle, values and conviction come in.

In a business, when everybody in the department is padding their expense account because 'everybody just does it,' what does the Christ-follower driven by integrity do?  He'll do what God calls him to do and let the chips fall where they may because he knows God is working on his behalf.

In high school, if you don't cheat on your exams a little here or there, you're the weirdo.  But the young Christ-follower with even half a backbone of principle and conviction will say, "If that's how it is, I'm happy to wear the big "W."

'This is where character, principle, values and conviction come in.'

This is huge for us in 2014 because - according to research done by pollster George Barna - there is no statistical moral difference between the average Christ-follower and the average unbeliever when it comes to matters of honesty.

Please wait here while I stick something very sharp into my eye.

God has called us to live according to a different set of guidelines.  He's asking us to do life in such a way that people see us living the Jesus-life without hypocrisy, while at the same time reaching out to unbelievers in grace and love.

Tricky?  Sure.  But when we work it out - in the world, not of the world, but sent to the world - we'll make it easy for people to find and experience God.

Wear the "W."

And be blessed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


What kind of God do we serve?  He's the God who makes promises and keeps them.

He is the same yesterday, today, forever.

If God doesn't change, then His promises are true and real and can be banked on.  We've seen His track record.  We know His character.

Let us hold unswervingly . . . for He who promised is faithful.

So, when you're discouraged:  Be anxious for nothing . . .

When the airline gives away your seat, cancels your flight, loses your luggage, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're lonely:  Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? . . . I am convinced that neither life nor death . . . the present nor the future . . . height nor depth nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When a loved one breaks a vow and breaks your heart, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're worried:  When you lie down, you will not be afraid . . . your sleep will be sweet.

When your child turns his back on God and rejects the values you worked so hard to instill, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're confused about life:  If anyone lacks wisdom, ask of God who gives liberally . . . and it will be given to him.

When a friend abandons you, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're fearful:  He will save you . . . He will cover you . . . He will give you refuge . . . You will not fear . . . a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

When you fall to sin and are filled with shame and guilt, repent and turn to God and then hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're in need of courage:  I am with you, don't be dismayed . . . I will strengthen and help you.

When it seems the whole world has turned against you, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

When you're in great grief:  Death has been swallowed up in victory . . . Where O death is your sting?  Thanks be to God.  He gives us the triumph thru Jesus Christ our Lord.

When a lifelong dream crumbles in failure, hold on to hope:  He who promised is faithful.

Hold on.

Hold on.

Hold on.

And be blessed.

Monday, February 17, 2014


It isn't that we don't love God.  It isn't.  We still pray to Him . . . when nothing else works.

We'll go to Him -- after we've tried all the other avenues that might resolve things for us.

That's what we call 'adding a Baal' - a second god.  That's how idolatry works.  It's why it posed such a threat to Israel - and it's why it poses such a threat to us.

We've decided we'll worship both God and that other thing at the same time.

A Baal isn't just an Old Testament thing.  It's anything that tempts you away from full devotion to the one and only true God.  Anything.

You have a heart.  It is capable of serving only one master devoutly -- only one.

'If your one master is going to be a powerless Baal, just be honest about that.'

If your one master is going to be a powerless Baal, just be honest about that.  But if it's going to be the One True God, who keeps all His promises -- then fall on your knees and confess and repent and starting walking with Him.

Stop jacking around with it.

But you must choose.  It's decision time.

And be blessed. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Remember the first time you got God?  The singing was amazing - the messages were amazing - your small group was amazing - the guy who handed out programs at the door every weekend was amazing.    But over time, God became ordinary to you, just like manna did to the children of Israel.  

That's our danger, isn't it?

Because the music hasn't changed - the messages haven't changed - the small group is still meeting - even the guy who hands out the programs at the door every weekend is still there ---- but you've grown tired of it all, bored with God.

'Don't lose your craving for God.'

That's why we say:
What if you came to GroupConnect - met some folks - started doing life together?
What if you went on a missions trip?
What if you came to Servolution and emptied your cup for somebody else?
What if you got in a men's small group - a women's small group?
What if you shared your faith with somebody far from God?
What if you served in H20 or in JourneyKids?

Because the longer we wait, the blander God gets.

Don't lose your craving for God.

Fulfillment - satisfaction - contentment - only comes thru Christ.  No other way.

What is on the altar of your life that you have such a hard time resisting?  You'll never know real satisfaction until you've put God there instead of that thing -- until you've tasted Jesus.

And be blessed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The Epicurean philosophers said the chief end of life was pleasure.  Christ-followers don't believe that. Pleasure is a side benefit.  Because if you over-consume, you actually begin to decrease pleasure.  There is a law of diminishing returns, even on pleasure, because you have to keep digging deeper into whatever pleases you in order to receive more pleasure.

'What if it was actually God we craved rather than the things of the world?'

This is what happens when men get into porn.  They have to keep turning up the dials in order to continue receiving pleasure from it.  Appetites grow into cravings and cravings bring death.  Cravings can sabotage your life.  Cravings have an evil progression.  Jesus said they give birth to sin and sin, when full grown, gives birth to death.

What are you hungry for?

It won't be filled to satisfaction by anything or anyone but the One who said: 'I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.'  (John 6:35)

What if it was actually God we craved rather than the things of the world?  What would our lives look like then?

And be blessed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Can we really have Godly community in our day and age?  

I believe the answer to that is most definitely a resounding 'YES.'

There's a passage in the Bible we don't read very often, but it's inspiring to me because it's such a picture of community.  Paul lists a bunch of people in the church at Rome that he wants to thank … a community of believers who together, made an impact for God.

I know it's long, but I encourage you to read it - slowly - and while you're doing it, think "Community."

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.  Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.  Greet also the church in their house.  Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ.  Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you.  Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.  Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.  Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.  Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ.  Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus.  Greet my relative, Herodion.  Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus.  Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa.  Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.  Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them.  Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the churches of Christ greet you.  I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them.  For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded … the God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”   (Romans 16:1-18, 20)

What a powerful community that sounds like.  Together, greater than the sum of their parts.  Christ has promised to be present in the unified body in a way He is not present in the individual.

That's the kind of community I want to be part of  one that works together - loves together - serves together - worships together - goes out together - speaks words of blessing and life together - drives toward the same vision together.

Think of what could happen  together.

And be blessed.

Monday, February 10, 2014


We are not born into cultures of community.  We are born into cultures of individualism.  In the simplest terms, whenever we gather we do so most often as a group of individuals, each concerned about his own wants and needs, not most often as a community united around common characteristics.

Not so the early church.  They gave themselves to a distinct set of jointly held beliefs and practices -- 'devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … all the believers were one in heart and mind.'

They didn't forsake community.  They harvested their unity around a set of core values and convictions that led toward a set of actions and behaviors … not clone-like, but Christ-like.

Yet we are continually assaulted with the apparent glory and riches of individualism.  It's what our entire country was built on, some say.  Posters abound with clever tag lines:

Individualism … "Only losers waste time listening to the input of others."

Individualism … "Every man is an end in himself, not a means to the end of others."

Individualism … "Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream."

Individualism … "The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone."

Is some truth hidden there?  Sure.  But is individualism all it's cracked up to be?  I'm not so sure.

'Isolating yourself and becoming and individual are great routes to travel if you want a more self-centered life.'

R. Frazee tells a story:  'It can never be said that Adele Gaboury's neighbors were less than responsible.  When her front lawn grew hip-high, they had a local boy mow it down.  When her pipes froze and burst, they had the water turned off.  When the mail spilled out her front door, they called the police.  The only thing they didn't do was check to see if she was alive.  She wasn't.  Police climbed her crumbling brick stoop, broke in the door of her little blue house and found what they believed to be the 73-year old woman's skeletal remains sunk in a five foot high pile of trash where she had lain, perhaps for as long as four years.  Her next door neighbor, who had lived twenty feet from Ms. Gaboury's home, said: "She was alone and needed someone to talk to, but I was working two jobs and I was sick of her coming over at all hours.  Eventually I stopped answering the door."'

Isolating yourself and becoming an individual are great routes to travel if you want a more self-centered life.  Our culture continues to run the road toward disconnection, and yet we each have a deep, driving need for community.

Don't isolate yourself.  You need people.
Don't exalt individualism.  You aren't that great.

Get in community and do life with somebody.

And be blessed.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


This imperfect community is in this together.

'There is no private leak in a boat.'

If we were all in one boat (we are, actually) and you discovered a leak down where I was sitting, would you think: 'I'm not going to mention that leak to Kevin.  I'll let him find out about that on his own.  And when he finds it, I'll let him figure out how to fix it by himself?'

Or would you think: 'I'd better let Kevin know about that right away and try to help before this boat fills with water?'

Of course you would do the second.

There's a right and helpful way to handle a leak, since your leak (my leak) will eventually affect everyone in the boat.  There is no private leak in a boat.

We're in this together.

And be blessed.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


When Joelene and I wanted to paint one of the sunny rooms in our house, we went to the paint store and selected a color -- a shade of tan.  It was applied to the wall - we waited a few hours - and then found it didn't look at all like what had been on the swatch.

We looked at each other and said:  'That's pink!  Yeah, that's definitely pink!"

I have since found out that many factors can affect the tint of the paint.  The actual paint color is only one variable.  There is also the tint of the primer - the surface you're applying it to - the angle of the sun that comes thru the window at a certain time of day.

Artists realize this phenomenon, too -- that what you see on a canvas isn't always a good representation of the paint on the surface.  Sometimes artists employ that technique on purpose.  They paint underneath first, knowing it will bleed thru and impact what is on top.

Art isn't the only thing created that way.  God created people like that, too.

'When we interact with one another, we aren't painting on blank canvases.'

If you have an argument with someone, you soon realize you aren't just having a discussion with them about the actual conflict, it's also about the fight he had with his wife before he left the house that morning -- it's about the fact that two weeks ago a rumor started flying around where he works that there would be more layoffs -- it's about the fact that you look just like his college roommate who stole one of his prized Pink Floyd CDs in 1989.  

There's way more on his canvas than you thought.  On yours, too.

Remember, we're all dirty canvases painting on one another.

And be blessed.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Momentous days come only a few times in life.  That's why they're called momentous.

When a child of yours turns 30 years old, that's momentous.  If you haven't had a child turn 30, you'll have to take my word for it.

As a parent, you get the distinct gift and privilege of seeing a little girl who started out at 8 pounds, 11.5 ounces and 21.5 inches long grow into an intelligent, loving, caring, beautiful woman - inside and out - now a wife and mother as well.

No matter what happens in life, it will never get better . . . or more momentous . . . than that.


Happy birthday, LoVE …

And be blessed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Christ-followers are soldiers.  Our Commanding Officer is Jesus.  We represent Him.  We bring the good news of forgiveness, salvation, transformation, vision and life purpose.  We're given a new life agenda.  We no longer serve 'me, myself and I;'  we serve God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Reaching a community for Christ isn't about overpowering our culture or even just about being compassionate toward people in need.  It isn't about putting together attractive events or increasing membership.

Soldiers of Christ are partners in God's work to redeem a lost and searching community -- the very thing we were before we received Christ.

Is our vision this big?  Or are just 'doing church' with a smaller vision?

'Reaching a community for Christ isn't about overpowering our culture … '

Soldiers who share Christ's big vision of lives changed, brokenness healed and relationship restored to God and to one another hardly have time to argue over style or preference.  We're soldiers on a mission with a vision far greater than any of those.

This is life and death.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


If you were a little mischievous in Junior High and say, during Health Week - when the boys and girls were separated to learn all about their bodies - someone stole the 'Welcome to Womanhood' girls filmstrip (I am neither confirming nor denying such a thing) … but those over 40 remember that, right?  (Reminisce in the pic at right.)

"Your body is beautiful and growing" --- PING!
"There's no need to be alarmed about what is going on inside or outside you" --- PING!
"Boys are evil; stay away" --- PING!

And the principal, Mr. King, would come into the class to try to get to the bottom of it.

'Already, in sixth grade, the value of community was very high.'

'Who stole the filmstrip, boys?'  And he'd cross those two big hairy arms across his chest, partially covering the spaghetti stain on his striped tie.  'No one is going anywhere until someone comes forward with the truth.  Until then, this entire class is going to be punished.  Nobody is going to recess.'

And already, in sixth grade, the value of community was very high because no one was going forward to confess.

Except for Henry in the front row.  There he was, all sweaty, getting ready to break at any minute, even though he knew nothing about the missing filmstrip (Don't ask me how I know that).  And sure enough, there he'd go - hand sliding up slowly into the air, shaking like a leaf.

'Mr. King, I didn't do it, but I'll say I did it if you'll let everyone go to recess.'

Now . . . even in that sixth grade community you realized something wasn't right with Henry.  I can only pray he found a good therapist by now, but poor Henry hated conflict.

But the truth is, it's the very presence of conflict dealt with in a healthy way that makes community flourish.  In fact, conflict is part of community by definition.

(Come back tomorrow for Part II.)

And be blessed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Jesus emptied Himself.  Everything was rightfully coming to Him -- respect was owed Him -- attention was due Him -- and still, He emptied Himself.

In our culture, we'd say it this way:  'She's full of herself … he's full of himself.'  Two thousand years ago, Jesus emptied Himself.

He made Himself nothing, by taking on the nature of a servant.   He didn't have to.  Nobody forced Him.  He made a decision - out of love.  He humbled Himself.  He decided to place Himself under.  He decided to submit.  And guess who He humbled Himself to?



'When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He put your deal ahead of His deal.'

He put your forgiveness ahead of His glory.
He put your greatest need ahead of what He rightfully deserved.
He put you first and me first.
He submitted Himself to us.

And if this one and only life you've been given is going to be everything you crave it to be - everything God designed it to be - God has made it clear.  Part of you will have to die.  Part of you will have to submit.  Part of you will have to surrender.

You can't do 'genuine follower of Christ' any other way.

And be blessed.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


There is a story told about a U.S. Congressman having lunch with some of his constituents at the fairgrounds.  When it comes time to eat, he fills his plate with salad and side dishes.  Then he comes to the chicken table - and the chicken lady is there handing out legs and wings and thighs.  As he approaches, she puts a thigh on his plate and he says:  "Do you think I could get a second piece of chicken?"

And she says:  'I don't think so.'

He responds:  "I'm sorry ma'am, but do you know who I am?"

'As a matter of fact, I do.  You're the Congressman from our district.  Do you know who I am?'

'Well, no,' he says.

She answers: 'I'm the chicken lady, so move on down.'

I love that story because it's the classic illustration of pride - from both sides of the scenario.

I think we all deal with pride on one level or another.  It's easy enough to prove.  If you've ever been in a group photo, who is the first person you look for?


And if the picture is good of you and bad of everybody else, what kind of picture is it?


And if it's bad of you and good of everybody else, what kind of picture is it?


So you see our problem.  Pride is so tricky, because anytime it gets addressed, it's nearly impossible to see you're walking in it.  You're always thinking about somebody else.  But I need to examine myself.  You need to examine yourself.

And be blessed.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Today was the 2014 No Regrets Conference // Kenosha // Men's Conference --- hundreds of men making the choice to spend the day worshiping - having community - learning - growing - serving --- to ultimately return home to their wives, children and families, having walked another step closer to Jesus.

These times in a man's life are defining.  We must not neglect these moments.

Because there will come a time -- when the kids are out of the house and grown -- the garage will no longer be full of bikes -- no half-finished school projects sitting on the kitchen counter -- the refrigerator will be free from chocolate finger smudges -- the gerbil cage will be gone.

There will come a time -- that you and your wife won't have to search for missing puzzle pieces -- you won't have to answer a hundred of those same annoying kid questions -- no more geometry homework to tutor -- the final loose tooth tied to a doorknob.

There will come a time -- that you won't have to lend out the car keys and tremble in your skin until they're returned safely -- no more sending anybody back upstairs because she came down to go out in 'that' -- the chatter and clink of glasses and silverware at the dinner table now silent.

The house will always be clean.
Filled with memories.

And we'll say to ourselves: 'Did I do enough?  Am I content to be happy with just 'me and her' now?  Are there any regrets?'

'These times in a man's life are defining.'

Days like No Regrets are the moments in a man's life that help define the tomorrows so we don't have to look back and wish it was yesterday again.

Thanks to God --- and to the men, volunteers, breakout speakers and attendees who made No Regrets '14 a great success.  We'll see you next year.

And be blessed.