Tuesday, March 31, 2015


If you just love people who are like you - that isn't love.  That's loving you.  That isn't the Gospel of Jesus.  Even pagans love pagans.  You love people just like you?  Big whoop.

What should set followers of Christ apart is that they have love for their enemies.  Nobody does that.  Bears fans certainly don't.  But that's what should set them apart.

What Jesus says is:  'Be perfect as I am perfect.'  But He isn't talking about being flawless; He's saying, 'Grow up.  Be like your heavenly Father.'

Live like the family name is in you.

The imagery is of us as faithful sons and daughters - children in intimacy with God - adopted into His family like orphans off the street - out of abject poverty.  That's what God has done for you.  He's chased after you - He's adopted you - He's brought you close.  Now you're sons and daughters - in the family.

Now, be perfect - be mature - grow up - act like your Father - live like the family name is in you.

And be blessed.

Monday, March 30, 2015


There are those who believe in the theology of common grace.

The problem with this idea is that grace is hardly common.

And yet, a form of it is expressed in Matthew 5 where it is revealed that God sends rain on the just and the unjust side by side.

He looks down at humanity and blesses His sons and daughters who love and serve Him.  He even blesses His enemies who scorn Him.

How often have you seen somebody living in opposition to God's principles get what looks like amazing blessing?

They get the same sunrise you do - the same beautiful world you do - they get great kids - financial security - prosperity - a nice home - God blesses and blesses and blesses and blesses - He gives and gives and gives and gives - even to people who rebel.

That's how God treats His enemies.  That's what He is like.

And that's how we're called to respond to those who hate us -- like God.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


The over-arching message of Jesus is to actively overcome evil with good.  It's what separates the Gospel of Christ from all other religions.  We don't fight evil with evil - we're called as followers of Jesus to actively overcome evil with good.

The Gospel says if your enemy is hungry, feed him.  If she's thirsty, here's a drink.  That's the Gospel-shaped story of Jesus.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

How's that?

Pray for them.  Don't pray, 'God, kill 'em.'

'You can't continue hating a person you're praying for.'

Pray for His blessing over your enemy - pray for her salvation - pray for his well-being and health - pray for her favor - pray for material blessing in that man's or woman's life - pray for good.

That's hard, I admit, but Jesus calls us to it.  You can't continue hating a person you're praying for.  Impossible.  Can't be done.

When you pray for your enemy your heart changes.  Pray for your enemy long enough and she ceases being your enemy.  That's the Gospel-shaped design for us all.

You begin to see your enemy thru God's lens and bitterness turns to grace - anger turns to mercy.  God starts to plant creative, healing ideas in your heart.  And it all starts by praying.  We can all do that.

Why should we pray?

'So you may be sons and daughters of your Father who is in heaven.'  (Matthew 5:45a)

Love my enemy.
Pray for them?
Because you are a son and daughter of God.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I was in Vilnius, Lithuania this past week - meeting some missionary friends - walking the streets of the capital - praying - dreaming - visioning with these folks.

Lithuania is one of the three Baltic States - the others being Estonia and Latvia.  All are former Communist satellite countries, annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, until the fall of Communism in the early 1990s.  Lithuania was the first of the satellite nations to declare their independence from the dissolving Soviet Union.

Vilnius is a city of about 500,000 people in a nation of about 3 million.

Estimates range from 1.5% and less of those who are believers in Jesus in Lithuania.

As I walked the streets of Vilnius' downtown - a modern, eclectic area - I saw hundreds of young people dressed in contemporary garb heading to their places of work ---- so many in need of Jesus.

A new place for us all to pray for ... Lithuania.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


This weekend was significant in the life of Journey Church as well as for our community.

We hosted the Hope Run Human Trafficking Forum, with guest Dr. Sandra Morgan.  

Dr. Morgan is recognized globally for her expertise in combatting human trafficking and working to end violence against women.  She is the director for the Global Center for Women & Justice.

As the main speaker for the Forum, Dr. Morgan imparted wisdom, knowledge and training on the topic of trafficking.  Also presenting were Sheriff David Beth, Chief of Police John Morrissey, Alderman Bob Johnson and other high-ranking city officials.

Katie Linn, co-founder and executive director of Milwaukee's Exploit No More led a session as well.

We recognize this problem of labor and sex trafficking as one that impacts our own city, closer than any of us ever imagined.  Let's pray that God continues to open doors for us to learn, act, respond and be part of the solution of women, boys and girls being trafficked - and to see the end to this abuse.

Journey Church services tomorrow will feature Dr. Sandra Morgan and Pastor Jason Butler (Transformation Church in Milwaukee and co-founder of Exploit No More) as speakers on this topic.

Join us.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Journey Church is part of a denomination called The Assemblies of God.  

There are 3 million adherents to the A/G in the United States and more than 67 million worldwide.  One half million people came to faith in Christ this past year in A/G churches, camps and related activities.

God is moving.

In a recent interview, R.H. Evans said that just about every denomination in the American church is seeing a decline.

There are several ways to look at that.  There has been a decline over the past 50 years among Protestantism.  But R. Carter points out that while the percentage of churchgoers has declined, the number of churchgoers has increased - percentages vs. actual numbers due to population growth.

Still - that isn't amazingly great news.

And yet, is every denomination declining, as put forward by Evans?

Not at all.

The Church of God in Christ has increased more than 1,000% over the past 50 years.
The Assemblies of God, with close historical ties to the Church of God in Christ, has increased 430% during that time period.
Evangelical Free churches, Presbyterian Church In America, Southern Baptist Convention and Lutheran-Missouri Synod have all seen increases.

Journey Church // Kenosha

So we are grateful and thankful to be part of a growing denomination of people who love Jesus and are on mission for Him.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


It's been 25 years ago now, but I remember when media mogul Ted Turner claimed Christianity was for losers.  I recall how angry and indignant a lot of Christ-followers got at that.

While his tone was totally wrong ... he was right on the money with that in fact.

The Gospel is for the crushed, not the powerful.  It is for losers, not winners.

You are not the answer to life's ills and complications.  There is nothing you can about them.

When we come to the complete dead end of ourselves, then and only then can we begin to see the Gospel for what it really is - the story of a great and mighty Savior who comes to rescue the weak and  failing.

'The Gospel is for the crushed, not the powerful.'

This is the only truth that can possibly set losers like us free.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


We're celebrating SINGLE-HOOD at Journey Church this weekend.

We see marriage and single-hood both as good things.  In fact, both portray the Gospel.

Marriage is a symbol of the sacrificial love of Jesus -- a husband lays down his life for his wife -- and the way a wife respects her husband portrays the submissive obedience of the church to Christ.  And yet, single-hood reminds us there is satisfaction and sufficiency in Christ alone.  You have everything you need in Him.

Actually, the union and connection between the believer in Christ and other believers lasts forever in a way earthly marriage does not.

Because for billions of years we're all going to be single.  I hate to disappoint you.  We won't be living in cozy mansion compounds with our extended families forever in heaven.  We'll be united with Christ - and that's a picture of heaven that should resonate with every person who is single.

'The grass isn't greener over there.'

Wherever you are - in whatever state you find yourself - be glad in it.

Because there are married people who say, 'I need to get free from this marriage in order to be happy.'  No.

And there are single people who say, 'I really need to get married to be fulfilled and happy.'  No.

In the life you're living today - right now - there's a gift of single-hood God has given you.  It may not be the gift some have asked for or hoped for - maybe it's the gift some have prayed against - but know that God is still good - He's still all-wise - you still have His favor - He still has a plan for you ---- and He wants to turn your single-hood into a gift, not a curse.

The grass isn't greener over there.

Married or single, we're called to steward the gift God has given to us at this moment.

And be blessed.

Friday, March 13, 2015


It isn't all that uncommon for someone to stop me on a Sunday morning and express the need for us to be 'balanced' in our teaching from the stage.

Grace is fine, PK, what about truth?
Truth is great, PK, where's the grace?

Evangelism is necessary, PK, what about discipleship?
So happy about all those salvations, PK, what about baptisms?

Faith is great, PK, what about works?
Love that New Testament passage, PK, what about the Old Testament?

Let's be balanced.  Since the Bible talks about both A & B, let's be sure both A & B are talked about equally.

I don't think so.

A. Stanley said, 'All the Bible is inspired, but not all the Bible is equally applicable.'

The truth is that the dominant message of the Bible is that God loves you ... that Jesus gave His life so you could be forgiven.  What we do as Christ-followers is critical but it isn't more important than what Jesus has done for us.

'The dominant message of the Bible is that God loves you.'

M. Luther said, 'Remove Christ from the Scriptures and there's nothing left.'

The Bible is about what Christ, the Forgiver has done for us, not on your work as the forgiven.

I used to say the Bible was a book about you.  I was wrong.  It's a book about Jesus.  Every page is about Him.

Let's forget about being balanced.

And be blessed.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Levi Ketelsen, the Journey Church pastor at the Burlington campus is fond of saying in every e-mail: 'The best is yet to come.'  

True that.

It is the quintessential expression of the Good News of Christ.  It was the unspoken theme of Jesus' ministry.  Everything He did - the words He spoke - the acts He performed - showed there was a new sheriff in town.

'The best is yet to come.'

Good life had been replaced and trumped by the best life possible.

Life was Jesus' specialty - not death.  He didn't really care that much for funerals.  He kept going to them and raising the person to life.

As R. McKinley says: 'Jesus doesn't do funerals, not even His own.'

The best life can be yours - today.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


I have to give a shout-out to the Journey Church // Burlington campus.  I had the privilege of worshipping with them this morning.

What a great bunch of folks who call that campus home.  There's so much life and friendliness, warmth and welcome there.  The campus is pastored by Levi & Tammie Ketelsen -- they're leading well there.  The worship is led by Joel Molitor -- passionate and deep.  The building's interior looks great and the 'family feel' is a testimony to the faithful people who have committed themselves to reach that great city for Jesus.

Thank you, Burlington.

And be blessed.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


I was super proud of ten guys from Journey Church // Kenosha and // Burlington who travelled to central Cuba this past week to do some construction on a church building for 7 days.

The Gospel is exploding in Cuba after years of oppression of those supporting Christian beliefs.  But now the door has flung open - not all the way - but enough for the Holy Spirit to do an amazing work there.

Blocks for making the church
There are now hundreds of churches - 500 alone in the district we were in, many of them meeting in homes - each shouting the praises of Jesus out loud.

We put our hands to making and laying block, mixing concrete, wheelbarrow-ing rock and sand and making new friends with our Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ.

I love how the Gospel of Jesus is the same everywhere.

Thanks to our team:
Matt Hedstrom
Chris Karnowski
Mark Stofferahn
Phil Molitor
Garret Smith
Pat Cowles
Closing Celebrations
Tim Remus
Mark Ellerbrock
Joel Molitor
Saul Echevarria

We look for opportunities to return to help our comrades in the faith.

Pray for Cuba.

And be blessed.