Sunday, April 27, 2014


How do you see yourself?  

If I put a mirror in front of you and asked you that question, what would you say?

A little more graying at the temples than I'm happy with ...
A too angular and over-sized nose ... 
Some skin discoloration ... 
A couple of zits (at my age?) ...

That's some of what I'd say if you put a mirror in front of me.  The truth is, when most of us look in a mirror, we see far beyond what is apparent on the outside.  We see deeper.

Insecurity ... pride ... secret sin ... failure ... lust ... jealousy ... unworthiness ...

Most of the time what we see are the negatives.

But I wonder what we would see if we really knew God was for us -- that He was working a plan that included us that was a design for good.  I wonder what we would be willing to do for God if we knew we couldn't possibly fail.

The answer to that isn't just about developing a better feeling about yourself.  It isn't about pulling up your bootstraps and trying harder.  The answer is to start believing what God says about you ...

Child of God
A friend of Jesus
Alive with Christ
An heir with Christ
Justified and redeemed
No longer a slave to sin
Set free from sin and death
A temple of the Holy Spirit
Triumphant and victorious
The righteousness of God in Christ
Blessed with every spiritual blessing
Chosen, holy and blameless before God
A receiver of boldness and confident access to God thru faith in Christ
Blessed with the peace of God that rules your heart and mind
A member of Christ's body and a participant of His promise
God's workmanship created to produce good works
Brought near to God by the blood of Jesus
Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise
Predestined to obtain an inheritance
A benefactor of God's supply
Not condemned, but blessed
A new creation in Christ
A citizen of heaven
Light in Jesus
Forgiven and loved forever.

There now ... isn't that way better than what you believe about you?

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


On the count of 3, I want you to shout 'Praise the Lord!' as loud as you can (hopefully you aren't reading this post on your phone at the grocery store right now).


One . . . 

Two . . .

Three . . .

'Praise the Lord!'

'God just got bigger.'

Do you know what you did just then (presuming you actually did it)?  You made God bigger in your space.

Now I know, Mr. Theologian, God didn't get more powerful or more loving or more holy because you shouted that, but you created the beginning of an atmosphere where He grew in your life.

You exercised your 'I-will-rejoice-in-this-day-no-matter-what-happens' muscle.  When you do that, God steps forward to notice - because He's looking for that.  He's searching - for people who have decided to acknowledge Him before moving on with their day.

And God just got bigger.

And be blessed.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Vulnerably speaking, I was monitoring my own selfish quotient this week.  I say I was 'monitoring' it in that I noticed it boldly and frequently on display in just a few hours period.


Frankly, it shocked even me.

Now, I know ME - that I can be selfish (of course, we all can - and I had to include you just then in order for me to feel better about me), but I was self-surprised that I was so brazen with my self-centeredness in my every day walk.  Don't make me give you the accounts blow-by-blow.  That would be too much.

Embarrassingly so.

'I know that I can be selfish.'

Now that I have shared it with YOU, you are free to tell me how wrong I am about myself --- that I am a paragon and pure testimony of humility and servanthood.  But stop.  Please resist that urge.  I am what I am.  But I sure don't want to stay what I am, especially what I showed I was deep down this week.

What is the core Scripture that makes all the other ones work?

It's: 'God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son ... '

Where's the selfish part in there?  It's missing.  Noticeably, brazenly, scandalously absent is any trace of selfishness in that.

How I want more of that in my own life.

God . . .

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Here's God --- looking around --- searching --- for people whose hearts are completely turned toward Him.

Completely?  If that's so, I'm afraid I'm out.  You?

None of us have perfect hearts like that.

So what does that mean?

He's looking for people whose hearts make important to them what's important to Him.  People whose hearts aren't just saying, 'How do I make my business work?  How do I make my marriage work?  How do I make my finances work?'

These aren't people consumed with their own deal, but with God's deal.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


'There's a wideness in God's mercy and it sets the captive free;
Unmerited favor for the broken -- bringing life and liberty.
There's a wideness in God's mercy that can beat sin's strongest test;
It can put them as far from you as the east is from the west.

It's a goodness that knows no limit;
And it will never run out,
From the day you let Him in, you're covered;
Makes me want to shout.

Grace is not a single occurrence, but a life that can be lived;
Every morning as you start your day, new mercy He will give.
It's deeper than the ocean and higher than mountains tall;
Your past, your present, your future doesn't matter --- His goodness covers all.'

'Grace is not a single occurrence, but a life that can be lived.'

There's a goodness gap --- a gap between what we want to be and what we really are.

So I must ask: What do you work hard to hide?  I mean, something in your life that even people close to you don't know?  What is it?

Did you know you can't hide that from God?  He knows about it.  But there's a goodness gap between what we want to be and what we really are.

But there doesn't have to be --- because there is a wideness in God's mercy even bigger than our goodness gap.

That wideness covers all our sin.
It sets us free.
It's lifts us out.
It gives us a forever.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 21, 2014


The resurrection of Jesus isn't just about something that happened two millennia ago.  The same power God used to raise Jesus from the dead is available today - right now.

It's available when you're stressed over exams.

It's available when work is crushing you.

It's available when there isn't enough work.

'It's available.'

It's available when you've raised your voice to the kids or said things to your spouse or to a friend that you can't take back.

It's available when you have too much month at the end of the money.

It's available in the ordinariness of life.

It's available -- and we can wake up to that power every day.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


The stats are that the average non-morning person hits snooze three times in the morning.  That's thirty minutes of extra sleep -- and many of you actually set your alarm clock thirty minutes early precisely because you know you're going to hit it three times.  But then what do you do?  You push it a fourth time because you knew you had a snooze cushion.

You people are what we call snooze abusers.  We keep hitting snooze because it's nice and toasty under the covers -- or because the hassles of the day are already bombarding us before our feet have even hit the floor.

But there's a life snooze button too - and many are living on snooze.

If you're a follower of Christ, think about your life before you met Jesus.  Loneliness - abuse - addiction - dissatisfaction - unfulfillment - purposelessness - in the fog of life ---- and in a way, you were hitting the life snooze button again and again.  But even after you became a follower of Christ, there were still seasons of life where you were kind of spiritually sleepwalking, not really tuned in to God.  You knew He was there, but He wasn't that real to you.

'Just let me hit snooze.  Ten more minutes and then I'll deal with it.  Ten more minutes and then I'll think about God.  Ten more minutes and then I'll see if Jesus works like they say.'

'Ten more minutes and I'll deal with it.'

Maybe we're hitting the snooze when it comes to our past - past memories, past hurts, past difficult relationships.  We hear the alarm go off and we just don't want to deal with them.  'Ten more minutes.  I'll think about it then.'  Snooze.

Maybe your snooze button is about the future and the anxiety and uncertainty of tomorrow.  That weighs on you.  You aren't ready to confront that.  'Maybe it'll go away -- ten more minutes.'  Snooze.

Maybe it's about today - parenting drama, relationship drama, work drama, school drama, career drama, money drama, emotional drama.  You just want to hit snooze and pull the covers over your head.

The great news of Easter is that we can wake up to God and begin to live the life He designed us to live.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


All I can say today - on April 17th - is HAPPY BIRTHDAY to an amazing mom.  (Here she is with the Grankies):

In tribute:

'When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it's merely a formality.  It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no.  You're going to get it anyway.'  --- E. Bombeck

'All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.'  --- A. Lincoln

'God couldn't be everywhere, so He created mothers.'  --- C. Gross

Happy Birthday, Mom!

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The whole point of Easter is that we get . . . (fill in the blank).

How would you complete that sentence?

... new life in Christ?

... the promise of heaven?

... justified, saved & sanctified?

... eternal peace and joy?

Maybe the best answer is a one-word answer.

... God.

The greatest news of the Gospel is that when you come to faith in Christ, you get God.  You need God.  You want God.  You get God.

He has sent His Son, Jesus, to us - at great cost to Himself, acting in His death and resurrection - to remove every hindrance between Himself and us.

God is the Gift.

'In Your presence there is fulness of joy and at Your right hand are pleasures forever.'  (Psalm 16:11)

It's Easter.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


If you're a follower of Jesus, there's a lot I know about you.

I know you've experienced a complete and total life miracle.

I know you were dead to God and alive to sin, but now since you've come to faith in Jesus, that's been flipped --- now you're alive to God and dead to sin.  That doesn't mean you don't sin any more, it means when you do, it's against your new nature - it's something that grieves you.

I know judgment was your destiny and now forgiveness, grace and heaven are your destiny.

I know you were an enemy of God and now you're a friend and a child of God.

I know you were headed for eternal separation from God and now you're destined to be eternally present with Him.

I know you believe what Jesus says in His Word, even when you don't understand it or agree with it.

I know the Spirit of God convicted you of sin --- that He opened your blind eyes to see truth - He opened your deaf ears to hear truth - He opened your hard heart to believe truth.  He made you to be a new creation in Christ and began to change your desires and change your identity and change your behavior and change your thoughts and change your plans and change your future.

And you started over.  You changed.

That's what I know about you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Why follow this God?  How can you possibly not follow Him?

And when your children come around and ask, 'Why, Daddy, why?  Why do you keep trusting when it doesn't look like anyone is in charge of this mess?'  You can tell them, 'God handled the sea - God handled the desert - God handled Jericho, my child.  And He can handle the messes of our lives.'

God will not give up on you.  Don't give up on Him.  Stay in the process.  He'll be in the race with you til the very end.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


That you have a tendency to sin doesn't make you anything but human.  It doesn't mean you're a sorry excuse for a man or woman, but that you are weak flesh and someone whom God wants to invest His Spirit in more and more and more.

That process of holiness takes time.  You may have failed today, but it doesn't mean you have to fail in the long run.  It isn't about winning on April 8th, it's about setting your eyes on that final rope.

'The aim is faithfulness.'

Just run the race with God until the day you stand in front of Him - keep walking toward Him every day - because you can't win if you don't finish.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Today was the 1-year birthday of the Journey Church // Burlington campus.  

Joelene and I had the privilege of being two of 180 people gathered for services at the Burlington campus today.

What great folks ---- enthusiastic -- passionate -- committed -- happy -- they love their church -- led by campus pastor Levi Ketelsen.

A great message by Levi -- FaceTime-ing with the Kenosha campus during the service -- some great worship in music with Kenny Hackbarth leading -- an amazingly moving video about the first year of // Burlington -- cake and party favors -- a tremendous day.

Proud of our team and looking forward to what God does in the city of Burlington.

And be blessed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


I wonder if you'd just indulge me for a moment.  Would you get out a piece of paper and a pencil right now.  I really need you to do this because it's very important.  Before you read on, get a pencil and some paper.

I'll wait here while you do that . . . . . .

Yes, I'm still here.  Just waiting.

Do you have it yet?

You do?


Here's what I want you to do with it.  Write down the names of three people you're better than.

Ready, GO.

Did you do it yet?

I need to make sure you actually did it.  I have time.  Go ahead . . . . . .


Now just hold that for a minute while you read on.

My high school wasn't just divided into freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.  It was segmented according to sub-classes:  Italians ... jocks ... geeks ... cute girls ... all the other girls ... brainiacs ... music and drama people ... rich kids ... poor kids ... loners ... stoners ... Black ... non-Italian white ... Hispanic ... Asian ... it was brutal, frankly.

But then I graduated.  Freedom.

Oops.  Wait.  No.

I soon realized that high school didn't have the market on creating sub-classes.  It was going on everywhere in the adult world, too.

Here's the unsavory little secret about me and you --- we all keep published and unpublished lists of who the desirables and undesirables are.  We all do.

So, go back to that list you just made.  Do you think you're better than they?

"Of course I don't.  How ridiculous."

But we do, but in very civilized ways.  We create boxes and put labels on them and then put people in those boxes.

It's so un-Jesus.

Go back to your little list now.  Look at it again.

Again, I'll wait.

Now, here's what you do.

Tear up that list.
Set it on fire (safely).
Take a hammer and nail a thousand holes into it.
Rip it into micro-pieces.

And then ... repent and love your neighbor as yourself.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I will ...

I will continue to be with the people of God.

I will continue to share the Gospel with my neighbor.

I will continue to be faithful to give my resources to God.

I will continue to show up on weekends, even when I don't feel like it.

I will continue to read my Bible, even when it seems it's doing nothing for me.

I will continue to exercise the Fruit of the Spirit in my relationships, even when it's hard.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Step, step, step, step.

If every day you could just take a step - a step - a step - a step ----

Love God a little more today -- step.

Think about Him at lunch today -- step.

Read a chapter from His Word today -- step.

Remember to thank Him today -- step.

Pray for a friend today -- step.

By the end of the year, you'd be 365 steps further down the road of Becoming More Like Christ.

What if every year you added a tiny bit more to your steps?

Truth be told, maturity actually looks a little more like this than what I just described:
Day 1 - Step forward - step forward - step forward.
Day 2 - Step back - step forward - step back.
Day 3 - Step forward - step forward - step back - step forward.
Day 4 - Step back - step back.

But the beauty of that is, even with the setbacks, by Day 10 you're still ahead of where you were on Day 1.  There is net growth.  That puts you closer to your goal.

Rejoice in that.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I just have to do it.

I saw the article on Chick-Fil-A yesterday and thought about it for a whole day (that's a long time) before putting up today's post.

Chick-Fil-A has now outgunned KFC in the great fast food chicken war.  They are now the new national chicken champion.

There are plans for more future stores in our area but as of right now there is one - count it - only ONE Chick-Fil-A store in all of Wisconsin -- just 15 minutes north located in the Regency Mall in Racine.  Glory.

Now, I still like KFC, but the truth is, Chick-Fil-A has proven itself with customers, quality, taste, and values.  They have way less than half the stores KFC has (most are in the South), but sales passed $5 billion last year, while all of KFC's stores racked up 'only' $4.2 billion.

And think about this:  That includes every seventh day (Sundays) closed.  No Chick-Fil-A stores are open that day because of the owners' - the Cathy family - belief and faith in the Gospel.


To be congratulated.

Thank you.

Maybe this will prompt a brand new round of same sex marriage proponents who want to see companies ruined who dare to have, much less express, Christian values.

Courage, Chick-Fil-A.  You're doing OK.

And be blessed.