Sunday, November 30, 2014



Occasionally - perhaps too often - I 'open up my chest' to folks in order to be vulnerable about something I'm thinking, feeling, believing, etc.  The downside of that is that I have the privilege of pastoring a decent-sized church and that's a lot of people who get to view my open chest.

But . . .

There's something that's always bothered be about the Charismatic church - and I can say this because I are one ----

Down thru the years we've had a history of saying: 'The most important thing about life with the Holy Spirit is a particular few of the gifts found in I Corinthians' - then we'd go on to fill in the blank with whatever gift or gifts we thought most important --- prophecy --- tongues --- (insert your favorite Holy Spirit gift here).

We have been guilty of saying - or at least non-verbally communicating - that we Pentecostals had a corner on the market when it came to those 'best' gifts, almost as if the other gifts given by the Holy Spirit were fine, but somehow less spiritual - less anointed - less desirable - than the Big Two or Three.

So not true.

'God can really do something with that.'

Before the apostle Paul even starts talking about spiritual gifts he says know that you'll only get them when you walk in humility.  That's in Romans 12, before he starts speaking about 'gifts given according to the grace given to each of us.'

Then, before he gets to the rest of the stuff we think so all-fire important he says:  'You need each other.  You're part of a body, every one with different gifts critical to the health and life of the church.'  We aren't made up of some professional clergy and a few spiritual rock stars.  We need each other.

The reason God gave us gifts wasn't so you could say, 'Look what I have - I'm the prophet ... Look what I have - I put my hands on people and they get better.'  That isn't how it works --- at all.  The gifts are given so we can encourage each other - bless each other - continue the work of God in the earth today.

When Jesus left, He passed the baton to twelve people.  He said:  'I'm going away, but the Holy Spirit will come and ultimately you'll do greater things than I.'

So ... are you willing to accept that challenge from Jesus today - for our time - for our generation - as Jesus passes the baton to us ... will you accept the challenge to continue the work of Christ in the greater Kenosha and Burlington areas?

Will you?

Good.  I think God can really do something with that.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


On this Thanksgiving Day, we are freed ---- freed from ingratitude and the forever penalty of it.  We are freed ---- freed to revel in the joy of being doubly thankful for God's extreme grace on our behalf -- that He created us in His own image -- and then bought us back at the cost of His own Son.  Double jeopardy redeemed and saved by double favor.

That's the kind of life that screams to be eternally, forever, daily, hourly and minute-to-minute thankful for such ongoing astounding gifts.

For this, we say 'Thank You, God.'

"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Ephesians 5:20)

On this Thanksgiving Day ... 

Be blessed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It's Thanksgiving once again.

The thing about Thanksgiving for the believer in Christ is -- it isn't just Thanksgiving once a year.   Thanksgiving is a lifestyle for the follower of Jesus.

You were created to bring honor -- for who God is -- for how good He's been -- for what He's doing right now -- for the great things He's going to do ahead.

'For the believer in Christ, it isn't just Thanksgiving once a year.'

One of the great downfalls of men thru the ages has been that they've forgotten God.  It was true of the ancients - it was true of the middles - it was true of the recents - it is true of us - it will likely be true of the futures.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  You were created to bring gratitude to your Creator.  You were created to squash ingratitude in your own life.

Start now.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


When I was in college there was a young woman who would fall asleep standing up.  When we were in chapel - at the end of the prayer we'd all sit down and there she'd be, in the balcony still standing up, fast asleep.  Sitting in the cafeteria presumably praying for her meal --- for 40 minutes --- head down - fully asleep.

It's called narcolepsy.  So sad for her.

Joelene tells me I fall asleep faster than any human being she knows -- though I don't know how many humans she's regularly in a room with trying to get to sleep -- I'm pretty sure not that many.  Nevertheless, she's fond of saying that nobody dozes off faster than moi.  I can be talking to her in bed during full debate about the Middle East conflict and suddenly I'm not answering.  Right in the middle of the conversation - often when I know I can't win the debate.  Immediate and sudden lights out.

It's a gift.

We took in the movie "Interstellar" Monday night this week at the theater.  It was so spur of the moment.  We were the only folks in the whole auditorium by the time the previews started and when the movie proved less than 'stellar' for me, I put my skills to good use.

Of course, she saved me from embarrassing myself (in front of nobody) by giving a slight nudge when she saw my head thrown back, mouth agape in the darkness, 'enjoying' the movie.

They say the normal time to fall asleep at night is somewhere between 10-20 minutes.  I'm already dreaming of high speed car chases by then.

Other research claims falling asleep overly fast means you may be sleep-deprived.  Nonsense.  It's a sign of a clear conscience (says I -- um -- me).

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid;  when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  (Proverbs 3:24)

Case closed.  Boom.

You should try it.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Most of us say when talking about faith -- 'I have faith for my healing ... I have faith for my job situation ... I have faith for my marriage to work out.'  

But that isn't a phrase used anywhere in the Bible.

Rather, say: 'I have faith in GOD,' not faith for something.

I have faith in God that He'll supply - I have faith in God for healing - I have faith in God that He's going to take care of my family - I have faith in God for something, but never faith for something.

'I have faith in God - not faith for something.'

The centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant had his prayer answered not because he asked for healing but because he was fully convinced in the power of God to do it.

God isn't an ATM.  'Do it, God.  You said You would.'  It isn't instant God in a microwave.  Thirty seconds and out pops the complete meal.  I won't give Him my time, I won't serve the things of the Kingdom, but by gum, when I pray to Him, I deserve answers.


God wants our faith and devotion first - before any prayers are answered.  We'll see miracles happen. We'll see healing take place.  But we give our worship first.  We put our faith in God first.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014



It's the only thing God says we need in order to please Him.


The Divine surge of hope and confidence that rises in a person when faced with a specific situation or need.


To be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we can't see.

Sure.  Certain.  To have a firm persuasion and conviction.

It's saying I'm convinced about God and about this thing.  Because you'll never be healed of your sickness until you're convinced God is good and that He's powerful to take care of your situation.

What is in your life that's non-negotiable about God?  You know that you know that you know.  Where you land on that question, that's faith -- or the lack of it.  What is it you can say about God, 'I'm absolutely convinced and certain about this?'

'What is in your life that's non-negotiable about God?'

For instance, I know that I know that I know that my wife, Joelene, is faithful to me because of what I know that I know that I know about her.

One, she's crazy about me and madly in love with me.

Two, I'm certain that no matter what happens between us, we're in permanent covenant together.  That's a non-negotiable between us.

That's how I can say, "I have faith in Joelene and Joelene has faith in me.'

What is it you're sure of and certain of about God?  What will you not negotiate down about God, no matter what you see or hear?

That's faith.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Warning:  Cynicism levels high

Since my life is more and more an open book on this blog -- here goes:

Some people have asked what's going on with me lately.

Nothing.  What do you mean?

Well, you're losing weight.  I see you eating salads everywhere and walking right by the mashed potatoes and chocolate bar.  What's gotten into you?  Are you a vegetarian now?  Some vegan nutcase?

No -- and -- ummm, no.

Since I called our church to the 21-day fast back in August, stuff happened to me - mostly good.  First, God moved and spoke in my life.  And after what turned out to be more like 6 weeks of fasting, eating only fruits and vegetables, physically and mentally I felt better at the end of the fast than I did before I began.  Joelene, too.  (Please see the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 1.)  Yes, I lost about 12 pounds, but I wasn't really going for that - it just happened.

So Joelene and I decided to continue.  Vegetarians?  Not really.  Eating mostly fruits and vegetables now?  Yes.  If you invite us over, will we shun your grilled burger?  Of course not - invite us over.  Medium rare, please.  We're not 'those people.'  We'll still break actual bread and cut actual steak with you.

But we've changed some things.  You can continue being unhealthy if you choose.  It's just what we've decided to do.  Mind your own business.

And now, for the first time in our lives, we're fielding some of the comments 'those people' always talk about.  For instance:

'Do you mind if I eat this in front of you?'
No.  I don't mind that you're carnivorous.  Unless you're eating that in front of me just to make me feel badly, in which case I only mind that you're kind of a jerk.

'Why are you here - at Famous Dave's?'
Because it's Friday.  Be quiet.

'Mmmmmm.  This is so good.  You don't know what you're missing.'
It hasn't been that long.  I ate all that for fifty years.  I haven't forgotten yet what it tastes like.

'What DO you eat?  How do you stay alive?  How do you get your protein?'
I don't know.  Adam and Eve did OK.  They lived awhile.  I'm more interested in how YOU stay alive, inhaling all you inhale.  The list of natural superfoods and nutritional powerhouses is long: quinoa, hummus, kale, other dark green stuff, berries, nuts, all kinds of beans, varied grains.  I get by.

So there it is.  I said it.  I am now open to all the insults and jokes I know are going to automatically come my way now as one of "those people."

I was just having fun.  I hope we were having fun together.  I'm off to La Fogata.

And be blessed.

Cynicism levels may now return to normal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Just because I consider myself a well-rounded guy - able to talk on a variety of topics - and as I say in my blog disclaimer, this is not just about spiritual stuff;  it's also about 'a day in the life' - even occasional randomness.  Doesn't get more random.

I'm also liberated - in the sense that I don't feel the need to operate by some of the expected norms of society, especially those that are silly.

Having said that, I've saved these thoughts for the late fall / winter season.  You'll see why.  Here goes:

"I'm not sure guys should wear sandals."

I guess they're great for walking on the beach, but they increasingly show up in professional places.  Sometimes with suits.  Gasp.

I don't know if you know this but people who wear sandals are susceptible to a condition called metatarsalgia.  It's an inflammation in the ball of your foot.  Burning, pain, numbness in the toes.  Eeks.  It's caused by that little gripping motion your feet and toes have to make in order to subconsciously keep that sucker on your foot.

It doesn't matter if you picked up a pair at Walmart for $7 or if you plunked down $72 for a pair at Buckle, your 'foot thong' isn't designed for comfort.  You're wedging something between your toes and then trying to walk.  That's about as natural as inserting a screwdriver up one of your nostrils.  (I've done that; it doesn't feel natural.)

They're also dangerous.  You could step on a nail and that baby could come up thru the rubber under-sole straight into the precious, soft underbelly of your foot.  Ouch.

Plus, if you have the slightest bit of moisture on the bottom of your foot, they make that 'sucking' noise when you walk.  Throck!  Throck!  Throck!  Nasty.

You also have to have some fairly decent, manicured feet/legs to pull it off -- not the super white, fungal variety so many of us you have.

So - I'm just gracefully and pastorally presenting these thoughts as we approach winter so you'd have a good six months to think about it before picking out your new pair at Aldo in March.  And because I love you.

I'm just trying to help.  It's what I do.

Because one of these days you'll stub your toe on the cement curb - you'll drop a brick on your foot - you'll get it caught somewhere it shouldn't be stuck - and because you read this and decided not to wear your foot thong - you'll be saved.

You are welcome.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


For some reason I had my calendar marked today with a note saying "JEANS DAY BLOG, November 10, 2008."  

I don't remember why I thought it was so significant to put it in my phone for today - but there it was - and now here it is -- November 10, 2014 -- six years later.

So I went back to read what I had written six years ago today.  Sure enough, it was the first time I actually wore jeans to church as a pastor and had the nerve to stand onstage and speak while wearing them.

It was so big I decided to write about it that day.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why I should care on November 10, 2014 - six years later.  But my calendar says I'm supposed to, so . . .

But I'll tell you, I'm stumped.

I re-read the 2008 blog post and it said:  "Don't worry.  I'm not going to be wearing jeans every Sunday now."  

Well, that was pretty much a lie.  I've worn jeans almost every weekend since.  I did today as well, and I wasn't even onstage speaking.

It is what it is.

So - I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be celebrating today -- or cautious -- or happy or sad -- or what?!  Who can remember six years ago?

But if you want some literary kicks, feel free to wander back to the November 9, 2008 blog post here.

Funny (and thankful) how times change.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 7, 2014


There was a poll taken among pastors across the nation that asked:  'What would you consider the church's greatest threat?'

The number one answer?  Lost passion for God.

Another question asked: 'What would you consider the church's greatest weakness?'

The number one answer?  Lack of zeal for God.

Same thing said two different ways.

PASSION = intense emotion -- great enthusiasm -- hunger -- thirst -- craving -- fervency -- obsession, even.

Passion is the force behind almost anything great.

It's what inspired DaVinci to paint The Last Supper.
It's why Handel wrote The Hallelujah Chorus.
It caused Ludwig II of Bavaria to commission Neuschwanstein Castle.
It inspired Harper Lee to write 'To Kill a Mockingbird."
It moved Martin Luther King, Jr to deliver the 'I have a Dream' speech.
It's what moved in the hearts of the Berliners to tear down the Berlin Wall 25 years ago today.


Nothing great is ever sustained in life without it.  It makes the impossible possible.  It gives you a reason to get up in the morning.  You have to be passionate about something to survive with any meaning.

Passion is to "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.'  That's what that means.

Serve God passionately.  Worship Him passionately.  Do life with others passionately.  Tell people about Jesus passionately.  'Whatever you do, do it with passion - with all your heart.'

It's acceptable in our day and age to be passionate about anything and everything except God.

Apple products.
Social media.
Our jobs.

But Romans 12 tells us to 'never be lacking in zeal -- keep your spiritual passion.'

Keep stoking it.  It won't just happen.  Make the choice to be passionate about God.  If you're going to have a life obsession, let it be Jesus.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


So - on the way home from the office this week, I experienced:

- Two guys shaking their fists at one another inside their cars on 75th Street.

- A guy going at least 75 on 50 mph Green Bay Road.

- A semi trying to navigate the Chili's parking lot full of cars.

- A person who slalomed with the traffic cones on Hwy 50.

- Two accidents.

What's going on?

All I can say is this graph pretty much explains it:

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


The download of THE NINES conference online today offered the following talking points:

- Keep the bar of offense high and the bar of forgiveness low.

- We can disagree on secondary issues in a way that is distinctly Christian by keeping relationships at the forefront.

- The basis for relationships is covenant, not contract.  Not, "If you do this, I'll do that;" but, "I'm going to do this for you no matter what."

- We must not disagree in a way that fails to mirror the Christ covenant.  

- Figure out what is really worth arguing about and throw the rest out.  

- Let's contend, not argue.  And in our contending, we contend winsomely, with truth and grace.

- We seek the welfare and the good of our city.

- Sometimes we deride all the diversity of thought outside the church without recognizing there is great diversity of thought inside the church.

Great stuff.  Can't wait till tomorrow.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I have a question to ask:  What do you think Jesus thinks of our church -- and by 'church,' I don't mean the building?

My dream is that we'd have a powerful group of Christ-followers who are on mission every day and spending time getting to know God Monday thru Saturday.

I know there are some improvements to be made in our church -- but you can't fix all of them -- you can only fix you.

So here's the follow up question:  What kind of church are you?

And maybe an even more important follow up would be:  What if every person at (fill in your church's name here) was like you?

Think about it.

'What if every person at your church was like you?'

What if everyone at Journey Church served the way you do?  Maybe we'd have volunteers coming out our ears.  Then again, maybe we'd have nobody doing anything at all.

What if everyone at Journey Church gave the way you give?  Maybe we'd never have to ask for a special offering again.  Maybe we'd have to ask everyone to stop giving because we had too much.  Then again, maybe we'd have to turn off the lights for good and go home.

What if everyone at Journey Church had the thoughts you had?
What if everyone spoke like you?  Prayed like you?  Had the attitudes you have?

What kind of church would we have if those things were true?

I don't think it's a bad question.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


It would seem that a lot of people seek the Supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit without first acquiring the fruit of the Spirit.

We need both.

This is unscientific, but read on.

Gifts of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 12

Fruits of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23

  1. Word of Wisdom
  2. Word of Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healings
  5. Working of Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discerning of Spirits
  8. Different Kinds of Tongues
  9. Interpretation of Tongues
  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Longsuffering
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self Control
  1. The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation. If we have theWisdom of God, then we must have Love, for God is Love. If you search for the first gift of the Spirit, you must possess the first fruit of the Spirit.
  2. The Word of Knowledge is a supernatural revelation of information about a specific thing and has to do with an immediate need. Jesus gave instruction to His disciples so His Joy would remain in them and be full. A Word of Knowledge will always be received with Joy from His disciples, so we must first strive to have the fruit of Joy in our lives.
  3. Faith is a special outpouring of supernatural Faith for release of a miracle. Even a small amount of Faith in our Father will bring Peace into our lives. If we have the Peace that passes all understanding then we will be ready for the Gift of Faith when the need arises. So seek first to have the fruit of the Spirit: Peace.
  4. Healings are things God performs supernaturally. If we are Longsuffering, then we have learned to be content in any situation as Paul was. He learned that in his weakness, Jesus' strength was made perfect. So if we can learn to be Longsuffering, then we will be able to accept the supernatural Healing God has for us.
  5. Working of Miracles is a manifestation of Divine power to perform something that could not be done naturally. Jesus performed many Miracles because He had compassion on the crowds and acted with Kindness. Without the Fruit of Kindness, we would not be able to use the Gift how God would want us to.
  6. Prophecy is a supernatural disclosure, a sudden Spirit inspired insight that brings exhortation to the body of Christ. Goodness means to have decency, generosity, righteousness. To exhort and edify the body of Christ we must first possess the virtues and values which are synonymous with Goodness.
  7. Discerning of Spirits is to detect the true spirit behind the acts and manifestations taking place around us. It is used to further build Faithfulness for our Lord and Savior. The fruit of Faithfulness is the foundation for being true to the Lord and the acts of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Different kinds of Tongues is praying or singing in a supernatural or heavenly language which has a specific message associated with it. James tells us about the things from above, that they are pure, peaceful, and Gentle. How can we seek the Gift which will deliver a message to God’s people if we first do not seek fruit of His likeness?
  9. Interpretation of tongues is translating the message of tongues so that the heavenly message may be given. Would you trust someone translating for you that put their own thoughts and words into your message? You would want someone of great Self Control to be true and accurate. How much more would our Father want someone of Self Control to translate His message to His people?

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


OK.  It's over.  So now we can talk about it.

Everyone (including adults who snuck the best treats out of their children's bags when they weren't looking) have awoken with that 'not quite right feeling' in their stomachs from all the candy consumed.

Strike one for Halloween.

It's been a controversy that has ebbed and flowed over the past fifty years.  What do with Halloween and the church?

I will admit that it has been something of a personal dilemma.  I say that because the same generation (my elders) who were so adamant in their day against things like playing cards and shooting pool are the same ones I remember from my earliest days hosting big parties in the church building on Halloween night and coming dressed as Frankenstein, the Headless Horseman, Chain Saw Charlie (blood included), ghosts, etc. -- and then drinking red punch, eating sugar cookies and playing church games together.

I'm not kidding.

So my head has spun around several times on the topic.

One thing is for sure -- Halloween isn't going away.  It is now the second most lucrative holiday of the year for marketers, after Christmas.  Seventy-five percent of us will participate in some way or another in the festivities.  The other 25% will turn out their lights, presumably praying in the dark silence of their homes for the salvation of all those walking like zombies 'out there' collecting little Snickers bars and licorice.

Sorry.  I got carried away just then.  You know me.  It happens.

It's pretty much the only time of the year 150 people actually come up to your door and want something.  Usually it's the other way around.

So - I don't know if it's good or bad - you decide.  I could give a pro and con list of Scriptures that might be used to support either view.  Instead let me say that's why God gave you a brain along with the instruction to 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.'  

One famous preacher once said there are three options Christ-followers can choose with all the things society celebrates.  There are some things we should obviously reject.  Other things we can obviously receive.  Then there's that middle category - things we can redeem.

Until you figure out where Halloween falls in that triad, here are some random thoughts on it -- and sure, it probably would have been more helpful had I posted this two days before Halloween rather than the day after.  Call it -- well -- cowardice, basically.

-- Make it a neighborhood deal.  
Invite the entire zip code to your backyard and grill hot dogs - have hot cider - put up a big screen and show 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' (unless you also have a theology against pumpkins -- oops, there I go again.  Sorry.)  Redeem it by building some relationships on a night people are already prone to gather, even with relative strangers in their neighborhoods.

-- Pick one family and join forces for the night.  
Travel around the neighborhood together.  Then prayerfully take the opportunity to share the Gospel in some way.  Maybe you can choose that family strategically.  You've been putting Jesus hints out there from time to time with them -- now's another opportunity to go one step deeper.

-- Share faith along with the candy.
If you're staying at home, turn on the lights!  Add a little creative message on paper about Jesus given out with the candy.

The origins of Halloween are sketchy.  Search the internet.  You'll find a hundred different ideas about where and how it all started.  Admittedly, none of them sound good.  But however it began centuries ago, the associations are now limp at best for mainstream America.  We know there are ramped up, covert celebrations of evil on Halloween in various places, most likely right in your own city.  Let's not deny that.  But we also serve a God who has forever overcome evil and who will ultimately soon destroy satan and his minions once for all.

Can we as believers counter an 'evil day' with the power and love of 'Jesus who is greater' living inside of us?  Is there an opportunity to create Godly joy and be missional - as the sent people of God - on Halloween and in a sense, hijack this holiday for the purposes of good and for the purposes of God?

I'm just asking.

And be blessed.