Saturday, September 26, 2015


Someone recently sent me a list of the 100 Most Common Nouns.  I found the list extremely interesting, particularly the Top Ten.

Each is a sermon -- among the most meaningful and powerful words in the life of a believer and in the Gospel of Jesus ... 

1.  TIME
"For everything there is a season and a TIME for every matter under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

2.  YEAR
"Receive My sayings and the YEARS of your life will be many."  Proverbs 4:10

"You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar PEOPLE; that you would show the praises of Him who has called you."  I Peter 2:9

4.  WAY
"Jesus said, 'I am the WAY, the truth and the life;  no one comes to the Father, but by Me.'"  John 14:6

5.  DAY
"With the Lord a DAY is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a DAY."  2 Peter 3:8

6.  MAN
"What is MAN that You are mindful of him, the Son of MAN that you care for him?  Psalm 8:4

"God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory: no good THING will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."  Psalm 84:11

"A WOMAN who fears the Lord is to be praised."  Proverbs 31:30

9.  LIFE
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal LIFE."  John 3:16 

10.  CHILD
"If you are a CHILD of God, then you are an heir of God, a co-heir with Christ."  Romans 8:17

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


First of all, I completely realize there is something totally wrong with me and this post could point to some psychological condition, but ...

Yesterday was my birthday.  (Thank you to everyone who sent me a warm greeting.)  

I don't know if I like birthdays any more.  It isn't really about getting older so much.  I don't really mind being fifty-#%$!^ years old.  I think I get cheaper meals at some eating establishments now, so that isn't all bad.

And I kind of like people making a big deal of me one day a year.  I think that's a fantastic idea.  I'd be for that on other days of the year as well.  I completely support that concept.

And Facebook blows up on your birthday so that's fun.

It might be the presents, I'm not sure.  I mean, the thought that somebody went out and thought they had to buy me something out of partial obligation --- "It's his birthday, so I'd better" --- is kind of unsettling.  It's funny, because I don't really mind that the other 364 days of the year --- 'For me?  For what?  No reason?  Wow.  Thanks!'  That's nice.

But usually I'm ready to go to sleep on September 23rd so I can start September 24th as soon as possible and just be normal again.  Like today.

Maybe the best thing about a birthday in the 50s decade is that you've finally come into your own.  I was in that awkward phase that started around age 13 and lasted until somewhere around 44 so it feels good to have at last come thru on the other side of that.

Maybe I overdid it when I said I didn't like birthdays any more.  I guess they're OK.  Now that I think about it, mine was actually pretty good this year.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


In order to have a genuine relationship with someone you have to pass through at least three other stages --

1 - Acceptance.
2 - Connection.  Common interests happen.
3 - Investment.  You spend time together.

And then you get to Stage 4 - Relationship.

What we've worked so hard on at Journey Church over the past 10 years is that first step -- becoming a church of acceptance.  You can belong here before you believe here.  We're a church of welcome, no matter your lifestyle or habits or belief system.  You can be here.  We accept you.

'JOURNEY has become a church of welcome and acceptance.'

It's so tough to get a church to this place.  So many churches never arrive at this first step.  You've been to those churches.  You go, but it feels like people hold you at arm's length until you think like them - behave like them - until you vote like them -- or you can't be part.

Journey has become a church of welcome and acceptance.  You've been so great at being that.

Thank you.

And be blessed.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Do you know why the message of Jesus got all the way to the 21st century?

Because the first century Christians prayed for boldness and God honored that request.

Then they asked for something more crazy:  'God, stretch out Your hand to heal and let signs and wonders be performed thru the name of Your Son, Jesus.'

I've asked for that.  You probably have too.

Our problem is we usually ask for that to happen sometime between 9a and noon on a Sunday morning where all of us who love Jesus are already gathered.

But what were the first century believers praying?

They were asking God to send them into the streets, among those who didn't believe, to live in such a way that those who were skeptical would see something extraordinary, and people would go: '(Gasp) That must be the God they're always talking about right there.'

Not:  'God, work Your magic on us who already know You at 11a on Sunday.'

'What if you and I began to pray our version of that prayer?'

What if you and I began to pray our version of that prayer?  'God, would You stretch our Your hand and do something thru me -- in my secular community -- among my friends who've been burned by religion -- with a family who has every reason not to believe because of what they've been through ... '

God, would You stretch our Your hand and do something?  Not only inside the church building, but for the benefit of those who don't believe in You out there?

What would happen if we all did that?

Here's one thing that would happen -- we'd all see more opportunities open up in front of us.

When we pray, 'God, give me boldness -- God, give me courage -- God, stretch out Your hand -- God, open doors' -- we'll see some things we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Make it happen, God.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Here's something I know about us.

What our prayers have in common is that very often the center of them is ... us.

If God had answered all our prayers this past year, in many cases, the one who'd be better off would be ... us ... maybe a family member ... perhaps a few close friends ... but by-and-large, it'd be us who got blessed.  It'd be us who got the job.  It'd be us who got healed.  It'd be us who made ends meet.  It'd be us had good weather.  It'd be us who made it safely.  It'd be us who passed the test.  It'd be us who had clear skin.  It'd be us.

And I don't think we should stop praying for us -- I'm just saying that self-centered prayers, after a time, turn us into self-centered Christ followers.

But here's something else I know about us.

'We want to be part of something bigger than us.'

We want to be part of something bigger than us.  And to be part of something like that we have to pray bold prayers that aren't so much about us.

Over time in church life, what begins outward automatically starts to turn inward.  The natural slide and inclination of our lives is to turn the spotlight on us, rather than on a world walking toward eternity separated from Christ the way Jesus did.  If we aren't intentional about cranking the spotlight out where 'they' are, it almost certainly ends up turning itself to focus on us.

We can never let that happen at Journey Church.  We must remain passionate to pursue God's mission for our communities and our friends and the marketplace -- and not allow it to just be about us.

This I pray.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Sometimes when you have the opportunity to pick any number, the number you pick matters.

That's why, when some Stanford University graduate students back in 1998 decided to pick a number they picked the one science had termed a 'googol' -- a 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

It was the amount of information they dreamed of cataloguing for their new internet search engine.  To keep the dream in front of them they named their company Google.  Today there are more than a hundred million searches thru Google every day, accessing billions of pages in 100 languages.

The difference was in the number they picked.  The difference was their vision.  It was their passion for the dream.  They decided to make it a big dream.

What would happen if we picked a big number related to God?  What would that number even be?  I don't know for sure -- I only know it would be beyond what we could imagine.

In 2 Kings, the prophet Elisha is suffering from an illness.  It seems the end might be near.  The king realizes the prophet has been the key to Israel's blessing and favor.  He knows that without Elisha, future success might be unlikely.

Elisha gives the king an opportunity for a final blessing.  He tells the king to get a bow and some arrows.  He tells him to open the window and shoot the arrow.  'It is the Lord's arrow of victory,' Elisha says.

Then Elisha instructs, 'Take the arrows and strike the ground,' meaning the king was to take the remaining arrows and hit the ground with them.

He was telling the king that what God would do would be linked to what the king would do.

So the king took three arrows and hit the ground with them.  But Elisha became angry at that and told the king he should have struck the ground many more times, not just three, because God would have completely destroyed the enemy thru them if he had.  As it was, they would only defeat their enemy three times.

Convicting story.

The king was given an opportunity to be part of God's great work.  God was ready to go.  But it broke down in the number he picked.  Three.

It was the size of his vision that broke down.  Striking the ground only three times, the king revealed his passion for the task was moderate at best.  Rather than using everything at his fingertips, he showed a lack of passion and zeal for what God wanted to do thru him.

'It's imagining a different future.'

Vision is about resolve.  It's about refusing to be satisfied with the way things are.  It's imagining a different future.

Are we content with the great place God has brought us in 2015?  Or is there more for us?

There is more.  God calls the church to have a God-sized vision with all our arrows shot.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


St Vitus', Prague
From the start the church has been a movement with great momentum.  At the beginning there were no buildings - no facilities - no staff - from the outset the church was a movement centered around a simple idea - an event in history - the resurrection of Jesus.

It was that single event that galvanized the early believers, that Jesus was who He claimed, and it was the re-telling of that event by actual eyewitnesses that launched the church in the first century.

When Jesus kick-started the church He launched it as a gathering around a simple idea with a simple focus.  But as time went on, something happened.  There began to be a transition from a movement with great momentum and passion and power to a location -- from gathering around the celebration of an event to gathering around a building and a system.
St Peter's, The Vatican

The church became something of a throwback to the Old Testament concept of a temple - the place people had to come to meet with God.

One of the highlights of our Sabbatical this summer was the opportunity to visit some of the grand churches of Europe.

St. Vitus' in Prague.

St Stephen's, Budapest

St. Peter's in The Vatican.
St. Stephen's in Budapest.
St. Mark's in Venice,
Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, among others.

St Mark's, Venice
Grand church buildings all.  Breathtaking.  Beautiful.  But buildings - not so much churches - many of them empty of worshippers today -- because what began as a movement with great momentum powered by the Holy Spirit, driven by the big mission of distributing the Gospel all over the world, ultimately became lifeless, inward, predictable, with little resemblance to what the very first church was about.

Jesus said:  'On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'  (Matthew 16:18)

Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
Not long after He said that He was crucified and then He rose from the dead on the third day.  Then He spent 40 days with His followers before ascending to heaven to be with His Father.  During those 40 days He gathered His disciples around and told them in a little while they would receive the Holy Spirit -- and this promise would continue on for their children and grandchildren and for all who would follow.

You and I are a fulfillment of that promise.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Our family, the team and board gathered around to pray
Joelene and I were absolutely astounded at the outpouring of love and support at our installation as lead pastors at Journey Church this past weekend.  The pics here are of that Installation Day, led by A/G Wisconsin District Superintendent, Larry Liebe.

There are a lot of great churches in our Assemblies of God fellowship, but I am not at all embarrassed -- nor do I think I over-state it -- to say we have the privilege of pastoring one of the very best.  The team God has given us is filled to the gills with professional, God-loving, skilled and talented servants.  They inspire me.

The church board is so supportive and honoring and gives all the right challenges and accountability.

On top of that, Journey is filled with gracious, kind, loving, worshipping, serving, authentic, forgiving folks.  

We arrived in Kenosha 19 years ago - we were in our 30s - our youngest daughter, Olivia, was in kindergarten.  She's pushing 25 today.

In the first weeks of being here, I lived in the spare bedroom of one of the families in our church while Joelene held down the fort in Appleton, Wisconsin, waiting for our home there to sell.  I worked in Kenosha Monday thru Thursday afternoon and then drove the two hours north to be with my family Thursday night and Friday.  On Saturday we all drove to Kenosha in two separate vehicles.  The church put us in a hotel Saturday night so we could be together and we all came to church on Sunday to lead worship.  Then Sunday afternoon, Joelene would head north again with the three girls so they could get to school on Monday.  And we'd all begin the process all over for another week.

We did that for about three months.

Once our home sold in Appleton, the fam came to Kenosha and we all moved into the basement of some lovely folks from our church - the 6 of us - me, Joelene, Whitney, Allison, Olivia ... and Polly, the American Eskimo dog.  We stayed there for a year while we were building a house in Pleasant Prairie.

We watched our family grow up there.

During those great years of ministry - as pastors of worship - we produced more than 20 musicals for Easter, Christmas and Fourth of July.  We led more than 500 worship services, accompanied by a great worship team, a band and 30-piece orchestra and at times, a 100-voice choir.
Altars full at end of service this past weekend

Those were the days.  We loved the family of musicians God gave us to serve with.

After 10 years and a burning in our hearts to lead in other areas, God moved us to Co-Lead Pastor with Pastor Dan Remus.  The past nearly 10 years serving in that capacity has been the greatest joy.  We have learned, grown, been satisfied and blessed.

Now we have the opportunity to be Lead Pastors of this church we adore on our own.

Our church - First Assembly of God -- Kenosha First Assembly -- KFA -- now Journey Church -- ever changing and growing -- has always been strong.  It's been led by Godly and wise leadership thru many years.  The church has followed that leadership with faith and passion.  It hasn't been afraid to change.  It's been courageous, not needing to be like every other church on the block.  They've made the name of Jesus famous in their communities by having a huge heart for people - by loving their cities - by serving them - by understanding and believing that God's mission requires personal sacrifice.  They've weathered storms of all kinds and come thru difficulty loving one another and loving Jesus.  The greatest asset of our church has been its Holy Spirit unity.

Joelene and I are blessed and thankful and we're better people because we've been part of this tremendous congregation as well as the hand of God that's been on Journey Church.

Thank you.

We love you and we ask for your prayers.

And be blessed.