Thursday, July 31, 2014


Well, all week we've had two of our three grandchildren, Elias & Ruby (a.k.a. 'Grankies') at our home.  
There are reasons we love having them and there are reasons, hopefully, they love coming.  For instance: 

- We're always up for an adventure.  Whether it's a nature walk thru our woods or jumping on the rocks at Lake Michigan, we love getting outside as much as the Grankies do.

- We know a lot of stories.  Some of them are even true.

- We let them get wet -- in the sprinkler -- at the lake -- anywhere there's water.

- We aren't afraid to be silly.  If it's a funny mask or a weirdo hat, we'll put it on, make faces, and dance around the room.  They're 4 and 2 -- who are they going to tell?

- We let them take their sweet time.  They don't have to get rushed getting dressed in the morning or be 'right on time.'  Live and let live.  They know we'll wait.

- We make a great audience.  When they want to show us something - draw something - read something - paint something - we can't wait to watch, listen and applaud.

- We can, with authenticity and authority, tell them stories about their moms because - well - we knew them pretty well as children.

- We make great popcorn.  Boom.

- We overload them with ice cream, shakes, popsicles, suckers and Jelly Bellys.

- We put their pictures, no matter what they look like, right there on the fridge.

- We lay in the bed in the dark at night next to them longer than we should - rub their backs longer than they need - and read an extra book or two until they drop off.

We want to make every day we can a special one.  We love them unconditionally.  It's been a great Grankies week.  Now that they're going home, we are happily collapsing.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Even the church is full of stinkers.

Oh wait - I'm getting ahead of myself.  Just hold that thought.

Whenever I hear someone say how much they love Jesus but hate the church - it makes me want to rip my hair out for a couple of reasons.

One is because the church may actually have done some things to cause someone to believe that way.

And two, that so many other believers might slap them on the back for saying it.

When God rescues us, He does so on a personal level as individuals, but He saves us into a community of believers.  That's the church.

There is no Lone Ranger Christianity.  That phrase is oxymoronic - or if you prefer, (I do), simply moronic.

You do not have a call on your life, sir / ma'am, to 'go it alone.'

You can't follow Him on your own.

The problem is, even the church is full of 'stinkers.'  (There it is.)  In fact, I think I'm probably a stinker some days.

What?  You aren't?


'Even the church is full of stinkers.'

This walk with Christ via His church is hard work some days - painful - with heartache - discipline.  But when done right it also includes an over-full plate of joy, fulfillment, friendship, purpose, excitement and a sense of family.

It is within the 'commune of Christ' that you experience the bumps and bruises of relational sandpaper as well as the victories of growth, change and maturity.

Since Christ is the Head of His Church, to thumb your nose at the church is to thumb your nose at Christ.

This is the imperfect beauty of being part of the body - the family - of God.

And be blessed.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Some people say numbers shouldn't matter.  I disagree.  Over the past two weekends, 280 people were baptized in water at the Kenosha and Burlington campuses of Journey Church.

As a church leader, I am amazed, grateful to God and excited about what He is doing in the lives of His people.

I love the out-and-out obedience that typifies this kind of decision for these 280.

Two hundred eighty is a lot of dunking.  Counting is important.  It signifies moving forward and it's critical to note that each of those 280 represent an actual person who made a decision to identify publicly with following Jesus.

'Good families count.'

Good families count - that's just all there is to it.  A dad and mom have to sit down and count their income against expenses.  Every time their kids get in and out of the car they have to count heads, just to make sure.

God counted people in the Bible.  There were 3,000 saved in Acts chapter 2 and 5,000 in Acts 4.  If you start reading your Daily Bible in January, long about March you'll come to a book of the Bible called NUMBERS.  So that can't be accidental.

All 280 had a face.  Each one should matter to God's church.  Counting matters.  Keep stepping forward, you 280.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Over and again in the Bible, Jesus calls people to follow.  He calls prostitutes, tax collectors, wicked unclean people, religious people who thought they had their act together.  He called them -- and He calls us -- to follow Him.

Follow Christ -- that's what it's about.

But I'm afraid for many of us, 'follow Jesus' may no longer mean the same thing to us as when Jesus originally said it.

One of the things I think of these days when I hear the word 'follow' is Twitter.

I didn't get Twitter at first.

I just ate a sandwich.
I'm getting my hair cut.
I'm at the grocery store.

But then I realized I could encourage people by being on Twitter.   I could tweet a Scripture -- I could write a note of empowerment to anybody who was following me.

So I signed up.

Since then, people have followed me and I've followed all kinds of people -- and then, after I got bored with them, I 'un-followed' them.

If you want to 'follow' someone on Twitter, it's really simple.  You visit their Twitter page and just hit the 'follow' button.  Then you start receiving their tweets on your personal devices like your iPhone.  I've done it with people like Paul Ryan, Mark Cuban and Dave Ramsey, as well as many lesser knowns.

But what does it mean that I'm following, say, Donald Trump -- and what does it mean that people are following me?  I mean, they might read my tweets and then again, they might just ignore me.

'Jesus isn't a button to be clicked on.'

Here's what I'm afraid of.  I'm afraid those who say, "I'm a follower of Jesus Christ" may be following Jesus the same way I'm following Mark Cuban -- which is to say, 'I'll click your button and say I'm a 'follower,' but I'll pick and choose which parts of what you say to pay attention to.  If it works for me, I'll do it.  If I agree with it, I'll listen.  But otherwise ... '

But Jesus isn't a button to be clicked on.  He's to be worshipped and honored and obeyed and followed.  He isn't one among many - He's the One and only true God.

No others.  Just One.  I'll go where You lead -- I'll sacrifice -- I'll take up a cross and follow You -- You're my Leader.

That's the burning passion of our hearts as followers of Jesus Christ.

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


We love rainbows.  It doesn't matter your age, everybody loves seeing them.  Nearly everybody has taken out their camera - their phone - and captured the bow in the sky.

If you haven't - well - something's wrong with you.

It's one of the most extraordinary wonders in all creation and it's been the subject of myth and mystery for centuries.

Greek mythology says it's the belt of the goddess Iris.
Some believe it's a stairway that descends from heaven to earth and back.
Some see rainbows as signs of good luck.
Certain Native American tribes believe they are bridges between the living and dead.
Little Irish leprechauns reportedly have pots of gold at one end.
The gay community has adopted it as one of their symbols.
Dorothy from Kansas warbled about it in 'The Wizard of Oz.'

Rainbows are special.

When Noah and his family came out of the ark after the great flood, God placed the rainbow in the sky.  He was making a unilateral covenant that He'd never again destroy the earth by water because of man's wickedness.

The covenant wasn't a mutual agreement; it wasn't a contract.  God wasn't saying, 'If you do this, I'll do that - if you don't do this, then I won't do that.'  It was, 'I establish MY covenant.'

Not we, but I.

It was unilateral and unconditional.  God was saying, "I set this in concrete.'  Man can't validate it or invalidate it.  Man doesn't deserve it, but there's nothing he can ever do that will cause God to break it.

That's ... pretty ... remarkable.

Because the fact is, man returned to his wickedness about as soon as the rainbow disappeared from the sky.  But God's covenant was unconditional - inviolable.  It's intact still today.  'I set My bow in the sky.'

So every time you see a rainbow in the sky - every single time - it isn't just a thing of beauty - it represents the victory of grace over judgment.

What does this world deserve?  Judgment.

What do you and I deserve?  Judgment.

What does this world get?  What do you and I get?  Grace.

That's God's covenant with you and me.

And be blessed.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The symbol of the Christian faith isn't a ladder with God at the top cheering you on to climb up to Him.  Neither is He standing at the top reaching down to lift you up.  That's a lot of other religions, but it isn't Christianity.

The symbol of Christianity is a cross.  God has come all the way down to you.  He put on human flesh and lived sinlessly and walked to a cross to willingly die in your place - for your sins - as your substitute - because He loves you.  It isn't you climbing up to Him.

God showered you with grace.

This is key to our faith.

Being good - doing good - doesn't attract God's favor.  You can't win God over by being one nice girl or one nice guy.  That's every other religion - the bottom-up version - try, try, try - you can do it - you're almost there - just a little more - be a little better ----


'You can't win God over by being one nice girl or one nice guy.'

Christianity is top down.  God did it all.  You can never be deserving.  You can never be good enough.  You can never work overtime for it.

Romans 2:4 says, 'God's kindness leads us to repentance.'  Repenting doesn't make God like you better.  It's the other way around.  Understanding God's amazing kindness and favor steers us toward change.

This is our bottom level struggle every day of our lives -- to think we can do for ourselves what only God can do for us.

Receive it.  He loves you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I'm nearsighted.  You may be as well - many people are.

Nearsighted means you can see things close up but you have a way harder time seeing things at a distance unaided.  It's called myopia.  Farsighted (hyperopia) would be the opposite of that, of course.  People who are farsighted kind of scare me.  I mean, how is it a person can see things far away but not see things up close?  It's just too freaky to think about.  Kind of like people who like beets. (Shiver)

So yeah, I'm nearsighted.  Myopic.  I can't see things far away - like seven feet away.

A long while back I was at the optometrist and I was sitting in the famous 'birthing chair' they have there, facing the white wall where the doc shows letters you're supposed to correctly guess and hope you're correct.

The doctor asked me to read the top line he had put up on the wall.  I squinted ever so slightly, just enough that he couldn't tell I was trying to help myself see, as if my everyday expression is a slight squint.  I actually narrow my eyes when I first meet a new eye doctor just so he thinks that's how I always look.  That way when I squint to see the letters on the wall, it won't seem weird to him, but it will help me a lot.

But try as I might, I couldn't see the top line with my 'regular squint' and had to squint a little more - and a little more - and a little more.  At some point, when I eventually narrowed my eyes to the point I looked like I lived underground, the doc said:  'You can't see it, can you?'  

'Ummm ... no.  Sorry.'

At that point, he rotated the magic NASA-type binocular contraption around in front of me and it was then I realized it was the Giant "E" that's at the top of every eye chart that I was supposed to be 'reading.'

Yeah.  I'm nearsighted, also known as 'blind' in my case.

But isn't nearsightedness the cause of most of our sin?  We can become spiritually myopic.  You only see what's right in front of you.  There's a temptation and you're thinking, 'Man, I really want to do that and it's gonna feel great - I know it is - smoke this -- drink that -- enjoy this -- go to that website -- because it isn't really going to affect me and nobody will ever find out.'  

And few people are thinking, 'But how am I going to feel right afterwards?'  

Few are thinking, 'What will my wife or husband feel the next day about what I've done?'  

Almost nobody is wondering, 'How will this impact my children for the rest of their days?'  

It's the rare person who ponders, 'Will I regret this the remainder of my stay on the Earth?'

'I'm nearsighted, also known as "blind" in my case.'

You don't see those moments because you're nearsighted to the point of being blind.  All I know is that for the next 30 minutes I'm going to have so much fun.

Maybe some are caught in the middle of nearsightedness right now.  You don't see the impact for eternity and so you'll forsake your relationship with God because all you can see is what's in front of you and no further right now.

'Having forgotten you were cleansed from your former sin' -- that's what Peter said.

Profound question:  Have you forgotten?  Did you forget you were cleansed?

Look.  And see.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Love the family of God.  Love those outside the family of God.  Make every effort to live in peace and harmony with one another.

Just close this link and don't read another word.  There is nothing more to say or to know.

That's it.  Finis.  Finito.  Terminato.  Fernig.  Klaar.  Fardig.  Fini.  Tetelestai.


Love others.

Is that what you're known for?  And if you aren't, be honest.  Isn't that what you'd like to be known for - that when people dislike you, even hate you and speak against you or treat you ill, you love them anyway?

And isn't that what we really signed up for in this whole Christ-follower deal?

'What more would you like Jesus to do?'

Think on this very hard.

I know you're patient like Christ.
I know you have super-human self-control.
I know you spread great joy everywhere you go.
I know you're compassionate.
I know you serve sacrificially.
I know you're super-generous.
I know you do good things.
I know your faith is enough to pull down mountains.
I know you're humble as all get out.

But how do you love - particularly those who come against you?

Are you like Jesus in that way - and isn't that alone the essence of the Gospel you say you live?  What more would you like Jesus to do to bring that to bear in your life?

And be blessed.


In less than 6 months from now, we'll be headed into another year, 2015.  

I hope I didn't just depress you.

But let's say Jesus came into your room right now -- today -- July 15, 2014 -- and said: "2015 is coming.  As you get up and start your day and walk out your front door I'll give you the choice of Option A or Option B."  Just like 'Let's Make a Deal' -- you can have the box or the curtain.  Which will it be?

'Be honest.  Which would you choose?'

Option A is:  'I can make 2015 a really easy, comfy year for you.  Everything will go your way - your marriage will be amazing - if you're looking for a spouse, she's coming in 2015 -- if you need a better job where you make three times what you make now, you'll get it -- nobody in your family is going to get sick -- the sick ones will get well -- you're going to develop a six-pack set of abs -- etc.  Good?  Now, know this -- at the end of 2015, you won't be any stronger spiritually than you are right now.  You won't be any closer to Me, but it will be a fun year.'

OR ...

Option B:  '2015 will be a year of hardship.  It won't be easy, but you and I are going to get tight.  So close.  You're going to experience Me and My goodness like you've never known.  At the end of 2015 you'll hardly recognize yourself.  You'll be so far beyond who and what you are right now -- steadfast -- virtuous -- strong -- wise -- patient -- Godly.  I'm going to get you thru 2015, but it's going to be tough.'

So you walk out your front door and there's Jesus -- two options -- A or B?

Be honest.  Which would you choose?

And be blessed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


We had three great services with Sean Smith last night and this morning at Journey Church // Kenosha.

Some of my favorite takeaways were:

'Tear up your UNSAVED list.  God is going to pour it out in these last days."

"The presence of problems doesn't mean the absence of Jesus.  It can be the opposite."

"If you're going THRU something, it means you're going TO something."

"You can be in church and forget God."

'The counterfeit can only take the mic when the authentic has left the stage.'

'Revival is coming.  The question isn't IF, but WHEN and thru WHOM.  Let the answer be NOW and thru ME.'

'It's better to have the Master's plan than to master your plan.'

'Hope is the immune system of the soul.'

'Our hope isn't in the one in the White House, but in the One who's coming on the White Horse.'

'God is as good a Finisher as He is a Starter.'

'My testimony can be as much what God has pulled me into as what He has pulled me out of.'

'It's one thing for God to let something loose; it's another thing for you to let it in.'

Come back tonight at 6p for the final service together.

And be blessed.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Don't be conformed to the world.

I used to hear that sentence a lot when I was younger from people who didn't think I should be doing some of the things I wanted to do.

Fair enough.

'You can avoid all kinds of worldly behaviors and still not be transformed.'

I agree that we shouldn't be conformed to the world.  That's good on my part because Jesus thru Paul the apostle already said we shouldn't be.  So it's really good to agree with both of them.

But non-conformity to the world doesn't primarily mean the avoidance of external worldly behaviors, even though that's the stuff we usually focus on.  Those things are included but they aren't most of it.  Because you can avoid all kinds of worldly behaviors and still not be transformed.  The Christ alternative to immoral behaviors isn't a brand new list of moral behaviors.

It's the transformation of our insides by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And be blessed.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Think about the person you'd like to be.

If it's Jesus you want to be like, I'd encourage you to turn your heart - your life - your thoughts - your feet - your attention - your time - your plans - His way.

Because if He's what you want to be about and be like and you spend your time walking away from Him -- 'I want nothing to do with His life - His work - His ways - His word - His character - Leave me alone and I'll do my thing' -- if you do that, don't expect to end up like Him.

'Don't take your eyes off Him.'

But here's the best thing:  It isn't about obeying a certain list of rules to get there.  Jesus said: 'Follow Me.  I'll show you how to get there.'

Don't take your eyes off Him.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Forgiven.  It's a beautiful word.

When Paul uses it in Ephesians, it's definition is 'redeemed.'  The Greek word means 'to pay for.'

In the first century this word was used to describe an exchange between two parties where someone spent an extravagant sum of money to buy someone out of slavery.

That's what God did for you.  He gave up His only Son at great cost to Himself to purchase our freedom thru the cross of Jesus Christ.  The most valuable currency every spent was the blood of Jesus.

And nothing and nobody can take away what He has done on your behalf.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


You aren't what's been done to you; you are what Jesus has done for you.

You aren't what you do; you are what Jesus has done.

God adopted you into His family as a son and daughter.  When nobody else wanted you, God said, "I'll take him.  I'll take her."

'When nobody else wanted you, God said, "I'll take him.  I'll take her."'

Long before you knew God, God knew you.  Long before you came to believe in God, God believed in you.

You are chosen.

I am chosen.

We are chosen.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


There's a very special gift you get when you develop relationships.  You're going to love this.  Ready?

You get the gift of difficult people.

'That's a gift?  If that's a gift, dude, I'm so rich right now.'

But it IS a gift.  God wants to teach you hope, but you aren't going to learn it thru a bunch of cheerleaders -- you're going to learn it thru some Debbie Downers in your life.

'God uses people to shape people.'

If you need humility?  There's always that arrogant boss who can help you get it.

Patience?  You don't need a book.  You have a husband or wife, right?

God uses people to shape people.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


This is me at three months.  I know, right?  (Yes, there were cameras back then.)  My mom says I weighed 22 pounds there.  I don't know; I haven't known her to lie or exaggerate, but 22 pounds?  Heavens to Betsy, there must be lead in my pants.

Here's why I show that.  When you look at all the factors that go into making me who I am in 2014, how did I go from that picture to today?

'God wants to get His hands on you.'

How did you?  What things happened in your life to shape you into the person we see now?

It's important to find the answer to that because one of these days you'll be looking backwards at the picture of yourself when you were three months old and comparing it to the person you are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years from now.

And I would ask you:  'What happened during that gap of time?'

Ephesians 2 says you're God's workmanship - hand-crafted - with a specific plan and purpose.  God wants to get His hands on you.  He had them on you once, when He created you, but some have walked their own direction and become someone God never intended.  Now He wants to get His hands on you again in order to re-shape you by His will.

And be blessed.