Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Our family has a movie that we've adopted as 'our movie,' even though - truthfully - we haven't watched it together in a long time.  But every time we mention the title, we all smile at one another knowingly.

The movie is 'Master of Disguise' with Dana Carvey.  As the character Pistachio, one of our favorite lines he spouts over and over is - 'become another person' - in that crazy accent of his.

In the movie he's -- well -- a master at disguising himself.  In fact, Carvey manages to fit into all of the following roles:

Prince Lamijama - Indian snake charmer

Turtle - (our favorite - pictured)

Gammy Num Nums - a sassy granny

Mr. Peru - (Tony Montana character)

Rambling Boat Man - (think "Jaws")

Cow Pie

Constable Muehler

Terry Suave - (James Bond-ish) - with a line we could all insert into our personal vernacular:  "Get it?  Got it?  Doubt it?  (wink)

Cherry Pie (this isn't a character - it's actually Carvey dressed up as a CHERRY PIE)

Steve, the Henchman

President George W. Bush (the classic Carvey SNL-holdover impersonation)

Master of disguise.

That's us sometimes - isn't it?  Masters of disguise?

God calls us to be masters -- but not at disguise -- rather, He calls us to be Masters of our Own Desires.

'Masters of our Own Desires.  That sounds better.'

Not all desires are bad, of course, but mastering them isn't easy.  Being moderate in them isn't easy.

For instance, I desire eating.  You do, too.  Eating's normal.  Eating's good.  But if we don't master our desire to eat, you know what happens.

Sleeping is good.  I like sleeping.  But if we don't master and moderate that desire, it brings trouble.

Same with the desire of playing.

Or buying.

Or getting.

Or having.

We have to be The Master of our Own Desires.

Fortunately, God tells us we have everything necessary in Him in order to do that - if we make every effort toward it.


And be blessed.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


God is the Lord who dwells in unapproachable light.

And yet, He's consistently found in dark places.

He understands darkness - He understands sadness - He understands discouragement.  He's Man of Sorrows.

Sometimes God is in your darkness.  There are times life feels like a giant hole - you can't rise out - it seems there's no relief - light won't break through.

We don't like talking about this much.  Give me the victory speech!  The 'I'm an overcomer' talk.

But a person of faith can be discouraged.  Dark moments are sometimes part of the faith experience.

'A person of faith can be discouraged.'

We need to push back on our nice-and-pretty Evangelical culture that has erroneously told us: 'This thing can't be part of your Christian walk.  It's too dark.'

Yes, it can.

In fact, darkness is sometimes the very stuff of new life.  You don't get to the resurrection without going through the grave.  No matter how cold and brutal Winter is, blooms ultimately break through in Spring.  Life comes from death.

So lift up your head.  Spring is coming.

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Abortion has been legal in this country for over 40 years now.  Can we just move on?

No, we can't.  Here's why.

Today is Celebration of Life Day.  

Life, I said.

The immediate discomfort the idea of aborting babies places on our spiritual souls is a proper discomfort.  We should hope and pray it never goes away, eons after the legal right to abort children has been established.

That unsettledness you feel comes from your Creator, who made every human distinctive out of His great love for His creation.  It is His imprint on your body - on your soul - on your psyche - on your image - it is what gives you inherent value as a two-legged creature with opposable thumbs who continuously walks upright.

To lay assault to any fully- or partially-formed 'image bearer of God' puts us dangerously in the place of God -- somewhere we are woefully inadequate to sit or function.

We stand - we pray - we cry out for the unborn - fragile image-bearers

So, 42 years later, we stand - we pray - we cry out for the unborn ---- fragile 'image-bearers' who cannot speak for themselves.  This plague has been faced in times before and unknown to us and God has always preserved His people and shone His light in the middle of great darkness.  It will be no different now.

Our passion for a holy God who hates the killing of unborn children compels us to pray unceasingly for the sanctity of human life to be realized by an unbelieving world which slaps at and mocks its own Creator by endorsing and involving itself in the vicious halting of life.

May we intercede as The Prayerful Voice for those who are mute.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Today is National Hug Day.

It was created by a fellow Reverend.  His first name is actually Kevin.

The similarities end there.

I've never been a big hugger.  I'm not sure why.  Growing up, my family wasn't super big on it.

I mean, I'll hug my wife and kids, sure -- but two people not married to the other wrapping themselves around one another -- I don't know -- sketchy.

Having said that, I've become a little more comfortable with it down thru the years.

'I've never been a big hugger.'

There's a great guy at my church -- he is committed to turning me in to a hugger.  He's making some progress, I'll admit.  He doesn't give (or want to receive) one of these namby-pamby pat-type hugs.  I am gently but roundly chastised when I give one of those to him.  He insists on a full on draw-you-in embrace -- not just to me, but to everybody he sees.

People love him.  I see why.

There's a young guy at church who always comes up to me and gives me a big bear hug.  Sometimes he even plants a kiss on my face (not the lips).  I'm just sayin.'  No, he is not weird, though perhaps I would have a tough time convincing you of that at this point.  But he isn't.  Weird, I mean.

Several years back we took a team to India.  One of our team members went with one mission in mind -- to give as many free hugs as possible.  She gave a lot of them.

According to the rules of National Hug Day, its purpose is to help everyone show more emotion in public (not sure we need that) by offering a hug to anyone and everyone you meet.

Anyone ... and everyone.

Got it.

I am now going to celebrate this day by going upstairs and hugging the Christian Life School Spiritual Formations Department head.

I am married to her.

And be blessed.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Martin Luther King, Jr -- pastor, preacher, motivator, advocate, revolutionary, orator -- delivered time after time words so closely aligned to the Gospel.

Today, we celebrate him.

KING:  "If you can't fly, then run.  If you can't run, then walk.  If you can't walk, then crawl.  But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."

APOSTLE PAUL:  "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

KING:  "I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."

JESUS:  "Greater love has no one that this:  to lay down one's life for one's friends."

KING:  "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."

JOHN:  "The light shines in darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it."

KING:  "We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."

PAUL:  "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind."

KING:  "We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools."

JESUS:  "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


'Simul justus et peccator' = simultaneously justified and sinful.

I have been saved already from the penalty of sin, and yet I am in daily need of rescue from sin's power.  The most celebrated Christ-follower needs the Gospel - the good news - as much as the most hardened pagan.

We need the Gospel.  It isn't merely an instrument to bring us to Christ.  It is the bedrock to grow deeper in Christ.

We don't change without it.  God intends for the Gospel to mold us and shape us at every point and in every way.  It increasingly defines the way we think, feel and live.

It is essential to dampen our agitation - to cure our impatience - to settle our unease - to calm our anxiety.  We need a confrontation with the Gospel.

Break it open.

And be blessed.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Take heart.

Cheer up.

Get your joy on.

Don't worry.

We only see that phrase 'take heart' a couple of times in the New Testament, but I'm sure glad it's there even once.

'Take heart.'

That's what makes us peculiar people as believers in Jesus -- set apart -- that we could have joy in the middle of trouble -- not walk around with some goofy Christian smile, but have deep inner contentment, something neither hell nor man can steal.

And while my face may not always be bright, my spirit is full of unquenchable, unstoppable joy.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


As our church name suggests, we're all on journeys to a destination promised us as followers of Christ - ultimately a new heaven and a new earth with God at the center.

Everything broken will then be fixed - everything wounded then healed - everything out of sorts then redeemed - everything made new.

'We're on journeys to a destination promised us as followers of Christ.'

It's an unknown journey in many ways and along the path there are various dangers to encounter.

I wish I could say we live in a world where there are no evils - no violence - no hurt - no perils - but if I tried to make such a claim, you'd laugh me off the stage.  We live in a busted world that God is trying to redeem thru us as His followers.

We have a clear destination; we also have a very clear assignment.

We are carriers of hope - carriers of peace - carriers of a life-changing message ---- and that makes this dangerous journey well worth it.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Journey Church is blessed with such an amazing team of men and women.

They love God with all their hearts.
They serve selflessly and tirelessly.
They have marriages and families that reflect Jesus.
They want to see our cities come to know God.

Oh yeah, they're fun to be around too.

For the past couple of days we've all been together, families included - 60+ of us - enjoying some indoor water park fun - eating - laughing - learning together.

Memorable and defining moments.

Our guest speaker, Nate Ruch, laid down some great principles to live by and do ministry by.  Here are a few talking points from our "SoulKeeping" weekend:

* Idolatry is filling the soul with anything other than God.

* If I don't pay attention to my own soul, everyone in my path will pay a price.

* Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.  Hurry is not the same as busy; we won't able to eliminate busyness.

* Discipline yourself around the 'big rocks' in your schedule.

* When it comes to life boundaries, who/what gets a "YES" and why?

* Culture = the way we do things around here
* Climate = how people feel when they experience the culture

Joelene and I could not be more blessed than to do life and ministry with these uber-amazing folks:

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Today was among the sadder days of what we're called to do in ministry -- the funeral service for a little guy who passed away three months to the day of his birth.

There's so much I don't know what to say at such a moment.

But this I know . . .

In the most beautiful of gardens, even those tended by the most skillful gardeners, there's an occasional flower that buds, but never fully opens.  In all respects the flower is like all the others, and yet something keeps it from blooming.  Ultimately it fades away without ever having reached maturity.

'What happens in nature's garden happens once in awhile in the garden of God's human family.'

What happens in nature's garden happens once in awhile in the garden of God's human family.  A baby - beautiful and precious - fails to come to its rightful unfolding.  Like the bud that never completely opens, he is gathered back into God's heavenly garden of souls where all the imperfections are made perfect - all the injustices are made right - all the mysteries are explained - and all the sorrows are turned to happiness.


And be blessed.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


I'm excited about our 'Crash the Chatterbox' series that kicked off today.  We're keying in on the book of the same name by Steven Furtick.

Everybody at Journey Church needs to get in a small group for these six weeks (if you aren't in one already) and follow along with the information provided downloadable at www.ourjourneychurch.com  

We're 'making it as easy' for you as possible to get involved.

The website has three options -
- Those of you already in a group
- Those who want to start a group
- Those who want to be part of a 'Chatter Group'

The six studies, starting this week, are on a 1-week delay (so if you missed getting in one this week, there's still time.  You'll only miss the intro this week and can start next week with no real penalty.)  There is a reading schedule available online so you know how the chapters of the book align with the weekend messages and small group study sessions.

Study guides are available to leaders via download at the church website the week prior and will also be distributed in weekend services as always.

There are Chatter Groups on campus available for you to take advantage of if you cannot find a group.  They will utilize the DVD study the publisher of "Crash the Chatterbox" has made available. These materials are available to you thru amazon.com if you so desire.

Let's dig in to these six weeks of small group time together and 'CRASH THE CHATTERBOX!'

And be blessed.