Sunday, August 31, 2014


If history has taught us anything, it's that people have tried to make a name for themselves down throughout the ages rather than glorify God.  They've built towers, palaces and cities for themselves in order to be secure so they didn't have to go 'out there' --- which is the mission of God for every believer.

The plan of God from the beginning was for us to go -- not stay behind safe walls -- but to make God's name known in all the earth.

We need to be careful that 'staying safe' never defines us -- because the church has a sketchy track record on this kind of thing.

'We're called to be outward-focused.'

We are the worshipping, missionary community of God called to be a blessing to the world -- yet we'll always be tempted to build a steeple that stretches a little higher and revel in that -- we'll be tempted to put together more amazing programs that are a little better than last year's and revel in that.  The temptation will always exist to define the success of church by the 75-minute weekend meeting and message - by the singing - by the attendance -- but that isn't what we're here for.

We aren't here to be safe and secure and happy.  We aren't here just to enjoy each other.  We're here to keep ourselves alert toward lost people headed for eternities separated from God.  We're here to bring life outside our walls -- not get all comfy and cozy inside.

We're called to be OUTWARD-FOCUSED.  Here's how we say that at Journey Church:

'We do not cater to personal preference because we are not here exclusively for us.  We exist for the world.  We will do anything short of sin to reach people who do not know Christ.'

And the personal application question for us all is:  'Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to connect people to Christ?'

Are you?

And be blessed.

Friday, August 29, 2014


We're in the first week of a 21-day fast at Journey Church.

I trust all of you who have accepted the spiritual and physical challenge are doing well in both areas.  These are exactly the times things can pop up in our circumstances and situations to deter us and discourage us - exactly the times God says to 'Keep going.'

Here are some tips to 'Keep going:'

Drink lots of water.  You are flushing out both spiritual and physical toxins right now as you fast and spend time with God.  Physical dehydration also causes you to be both tired and hungry.  Drink.

Go easy.  Some gentle exercise - walking - is good.  Just don't over-exert during this time.  Fasting provides not only a respite for your spirit, but also for your body.  You may have to lay off the 300-pound bench press during this period, and that's part of the bigger point.  You won't fall apart because you can't keep up with Marcus Muscle in the gym standing next to you these three weeks.  You'll get him when this is over.  Let your body be free from the daily grind and chore you've put it on in some of these areas.  Take more breaks.  Go for walks.  Let God speak to you in the fresh air and sun.  Go to bed a little earlier.  Open the Bible to your favorite passage and chew on it a little slower.  Go easy.

'Keep going.'

Know the symptoms.  If you start to feel headaches, tiredness, a foggy brain (other than your usual foggy brain), this could be part of your body, spirit and soul ridding itself of toxins, which is a good thing.  Don't quit.  These symptoms should pass rather quickly.

Pray.  This is part of why we're being called to fast.  It isn't simply dieting.  It's carving out time to spend with God.  It's for spiritual growth and renewal as much as anything.  Carve, and pray.

Keep going.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Many of you are on a 21-day fast as part of Journey Church corporate growth.  There are many and various fasts being enjoyed right now by all of you, but included here is a link to suggested Daniel Fast foods.

There are two references to fasting in the Old Testament book of Daniel, which is where the Daniel Fast comes from.  Daniel chapter 1 tells how Daniel and his three friends ate only vegetables and drank only water.  At the end of that period, Daniel and his friends appeared healthier than their peers who had eaten rich foods from the king's table.  In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel fasts once again, abstaining from 'pleasant food' -- meats and wine.

Here is a link to foods that might be included and not included in a Daniel fast:

Thank you for your willingness to be sacrificial and fast and pray.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Journey Church is on a 21-day fast beginning this week.  So many of our folks have jumped on with us it's flat out awesome.  They're going to not only to spend time in prayer but withhold and give up and sacrifice in order to hear from God.

I've been getting a lot of 'can I, can't I?' questions regarding the fast just over the past two days.

That shows a heart that wants to please God.  And let me just say -- you are.

You are.

But there is no need to be legalistic about your fast.  Self-discipline, yes.  Soberness and diligence, yes.

Be serious about it.  Sometimes folks say: 'I'm on a vegetable and fruit only fast, so can I have nuts?  Because nuts are technically a fruit, aren't they?'

Or, 'What about salad dressing, especially if it's fruity-based?'

Or, 'Can I have wheat products?  Isn't that really a vegetable?'  

And before long we're including noodles and burritos and half of Taco Bell's menu is now on the fast.

No.  Be serious about it.

But . . . don't be legalistic.  Because then we just all start to feel guilty.  'You had eight potato chips!! You're done!!  God flew away.'  And we've missed the whole point.

Give up what matters most to you in exchange for what matters most to God.

And if you happen to be on a Daniel fast over these 21 days, as I am, here's a link to help you with the right foods:

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


How hungry are you?

I mean, hungry for life change -- hungry for God to solve the problem you can't solve on your own?

Because hungry people are desperate people.  They'll do anything to see their life situation resolved.

How desperate for God are you - to see Him come and make a breakthrough change in your . . .

... marriage?
... family?
... business?
... body?
... direction?

How desperate are you for God to do a miracle in your life?

Because hungry people are desperate people.

Are you hungry for God to show up?

'Hungry people are desperate people.'

'Look right, look left -- there isn't a soul who cares ... I'm up against it, with no exit ... alone.  I cry out: "God, You're my last chance, my only hope for life!"  I've never been this low.  Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public.  Your people will form a circle around me and You'll bring me showers of blessing.'  (Psalm 142:4-7, MSG)


And be blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


How would you like me to bore you silly right now?  Here's how I could do that.  If I started blogging about a topic like, say, SELF-DISCIPLINE, you'd hang up on me like an annoying telemarketer.

Because self-discipline is so tiresome.

'Self-discipline is so tiresome.'

And yet, it's critical.

Self-discipline is just like a muscle.  if you don't use it, you lose it.

For instance, at one point maybe you didn't need much TV.   But slowly, over time, you began to say: 'I'll just sit here in front of the TV and relax' -- and you'd go into brainless mode.  You started needing TV to relax.  The next thing you knew you needed TV in your bedroom to fall asleep.

I'm not saying TV in your bedroom is evil - far from it - but there's a progression and often even pleasant, harmless addictions have a downward spiral.

For some, that pattern plays itself out with food or stuff.  For others, it's the internet -- and we fail to flex our self-discipline muscle.  And if you don't flex it, eventually you lose that muscle.

Apply that to flossing.  If I want to have teeth when I'm 70, I'll floss -- because the cost of dental surgery in 20 years is a lot more than the cost of the self-discipine of flossing today.

Do I like sugar and white bread and pasta?  Of course - but the cost of Type 2 Diabetes in 20 years is a lot higher than the cost of self-discipline today.

That's what is so beautiful about consistent exercising of the S-D muscle beause nothing ever becomes a stronghold when we continue flexing it.

We work it and work it and work it so that when adversity comes (not if, but when), we just have to flex it a little because we're flexing it all the time.

Get flexing.  You'll be so glad you did.

And be blessed.

Monday, August 18, 2014


It was one of the most exciting days in the history of Journey Church, as more people than we ever imagined walked into the waters of baptism at Lake Andrea (see July 28, 2014 post).

Here it is - in the flesh . . .

Resounding Boom.

And be blessed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


This weekend we hosted a small clinic on Human Trafficking at Journey Church.  After the success of the recent Hope Run Kenosha, where over a thousand walkers and runners came out to show support for human trafficking, it was a next step toward what we believe will be greater doors opened by God as He leads us forward.  It was an honor and privilege to have representation from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department at the clinic.  It lended authority, credibility and accountability to what we began this week.

Our guest speaker was Sandra Morgan (pictured here).  Sandra is the Director of Vanguard University's Global Center for Women and Justice.  She teaches Women's Studies, Family Violence, and Human Trafficking at Vanguard.  She has also travelled numerous times to northern Iraq where she is involved integrating women's studies at Duhok University.  

Her goal is to change the way we think about the forces that drive demand for human trafficking.

Sandra says:  'The modern slave trade is a business fueled by demand.  Consequently, to some degree we are all part of the problem or part of the solution.  We contribute to demand by turning a blind eye to pornography and sex tourism or by making choices that reward companies that keep their bottom line under the rest of the market by the use of slave labor.'

Sandra will be returning to Kenosha for a more public forum this coming March, as well as speaking at the weekend services for Journey Church.  

Something to pray about.

May God help us.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 15, 2014


On the final day of the Leadership Conference (see yesterday's blog) taken in by our Journey Church team, here are some of the highlights:

'"Crucial Conversations" come at the points of opposing opinions, strong emotions or high stakes.'

'How you behave in "crucial conversation" moments carries on long past the moment.'

'When we're stuck, what "crucial conversations" are we not holding or not holding well?'

'When it matters most, you and I do "crucial conversations" worst?' 

'If you don't talk it out, you will act it out.'

'"Crucial Conversations" can either be a pit or a path.'

LOUIE GIGLIO - Pastor of Passion City Church
'You don't have to know everything about the mountain in front of you to take the next step.'

'Life is short but God is big.'

'The only way to the top is one step at a time.'

'God can't use a man greatly until He wounds Him deeply.'

'You can, but you can't.'

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Our pastoral team was part of the Willow Creek Leadership Conference today at Park Community Church in Chicago.  Throughout the day, church and business leaders came forward to speak about elements of leadership and how we can better ones.

Here are some great outtakes from the day:

BILL HYBELS - Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church:
'We must cultivate the capacity to learn from a kaleidoscopic variety of leaders.'

'Leaders with the highest level of vision often have the lowest level of awareness regarding the team they have assembled to accomplish it.'

'What God treasures most in this world is people - even more than vision.'

'Your culture will only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be.'

'Everybody wants to know: "Am I adding value?"'

'Everybody wins when a leader gets better.'

'There must be a ruthless commitment to resolving relational conflict no matter how scary it seems.'

'The grander the vision, the greater the price tag.'

CARLY FIORINA - Former CEO of Hewlett-Packett / Chairman of Good360:
'Every organization (individual) has more potential than is ever tapped.'

'Human potential is the greatest resource we have.'

'The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.'

'Leaders change the order of things.'

'An organization can't reach its potential unless the people inside it reach theirs.

'A true leader approaches his task with a servant's heart.'

JEFFREY IMMELT - CEO of General Electric:
'Your peers ultimately decide how far you'll go.'

BRYAN LORRITS - Founder and Pastor of Fellowship Memphis Church:
'Have a bigger vision of life than bonus checks.'

'Play ball with everybody.'

The Three Most Dangerous Mistakes Leaders Make:
1 - Becoming a leader for the wrong reasons
2 - Failing to embrace vulnerability
3 - Making leadership too important

'Leaders sacrifice themselves for the good of others.'

'Nobody should be elected president who really wants to be.'

Great stuff.

And be blessed.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

AG 100th - 3

Today at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri (see last two blog entries) ... 

First up:  Jose Wellington Bezerra da Costa, Superintendent of the Brazilian Assemblies of God --- the Brazilian A/G has the largest number of A/G - Pentecostal adherents in the world, including the U.S.

Pastor Nam Soo Kim, pastor of Full Gospel Church in NYC took the stage next and brought dancers from his church to perform (see pic).  Full Gospel Church is one of the largest Korean-American congregations in the nation.

The rest of the morning focused on places where the church is being persecuted, with speakers from ...
Sri Lanka

God is doing great things everywhere.

And be blessed.

Friday, August 8, 2014

AG 100th - 2

At the risk of pride, I have to say I'm very proud to be part of the Assemblies of God denomination on this day (see yesterday's blog).

At the Centennial of its origination, we gather in our headquarters city, Springfield, MO, to celebrate and thank God for all He has done.

Today's amazing lineup of presenters were:
Juan Carlos Escobar - Spain
Lazarus Chakwera - Malawi
Barnabas Mtokambali - Tanzania
Yong Mok Cho - South Korea
Ivan Satyavrata - India
Hal Donaldson - Convoy of Hope

Some of my favorite lines were:

"Jesus says, 'I'm going ... are you coming?'"

"If there is darkness in the world, why curse it?  Somebody turn on a light!"

"If the Assemblies of God were a nation, it would be the twentieth largest on earth."

Joelene and I also made a very nostalgic stop by our alma mater, CENTRAL BIBLE COLLEGE.

'Twas a good day.

And be blessed.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

AG 100th - 1

The Assemblies of God, of which we at Journey Church are part, celebrates its 100th Anniversary this week in Springfield, Missouri, headquarters of our fellowship.

The movement's roots are in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where 300 ministers gathered initially.  We have now grown to more than 67 million adherents globally attending more than 350,000 churches in 190 countries.

According to the Assemblies of God, the denomination has experienced 24 years of consecutive growth with a 21% increase among Millenials.  Fifty-four percent of AG adherents in the U.S. are under the age of 35 and more than 40% are ethnic minority.  We are among the fastest growing evangelical groups in the world today.

That's great news.

Thousands will attend the 100th Anniversary Celebration this week, celebrating what God has done and asking for God's favor and blessing for the next 100, should He delay His return.  In 1914, the founders of the AG committed the movement to 'the greatest evangelism the world has ever known.'  This week in Springfield, it will reaffirm that commitment.

To quote from the fresh AG "Human Right" document:  

"While the denomination is active in addressing social justice needs and human rights throughout the world, the AG believes the most essential human right is that everyone should have an opportunity to hear and respond to a clear presentation of the Gospel."

Yes, and amen.  So proud to be part of the Assemblies of God.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


In a few short weeks, we'll participate in our annual 'At The Movies' series at the Journey Church campuses.  It's always an exciting series and a great opportunity to invite someone.

It explores entertainment and the believer's right approach to it.  Entertainment isn't something we should either be addicted to or avoid.  There is a proper place.

Entertainment can even point us to God.

The problem is that the world approaches entertainment far differently than God does.  Some believers want to avoid entertainment altogether.

I don't believe that is God's plan.  He wants us to understand and approach entertainment like Christ-followers.

How do you think we do that?

And be blessed.

Monday, August 4, 2014


The whole 'unity' thing bothers me.  It bothers me because it's sometimes just about the hardest thing to maintain, not to mention thrive under.

The curious thing is that unity is something we as followers of Jesus Christ already possess.  We don't have to grasp for it or achieve it; we already have it.

Our unity in the Spirit exists by virtue of the fact that each of us are individually united to Christ by His Spirit.  Because of that, we are inextricably bonded together, like it or not.  The problem very often is, we don't like it.

'I haven't always realized how tough it might be to preserve and uphold what we already possess.'

I haven't always realized how tough it might be to preserve and uphold what we already possess.

Distinct, yes.
Different, yes.
Divided, no.

I struggle with this big time.  I don't know if I'll ever get it or get over it.  I think our divisions deeply offend Jesus.  I know for sure it's what keeps the world fully content being anti-church.

What unites us - Jesus - is far greater than what divides us.

And be blessed.