Sunday, November 29, 2015



God wove you.  He wired you in regard to your personality, your aptitudes, your gifts and desires and passions.  Then He placed you in a time period and in a geographical location.

You are 'fearfully and wonderfully made.'

That Psalm text isn't just for women's ministry or for children -- it's for you.

The intricacy of your creation was placed in you by God in two ways:  in your visible form, your physical body -- and in your unseen substance, your unique personhood.

That's so powerful.

I'm about 6'5" tall.  I weigh around 190 pounds.  That's no mistake.  It might be obnoxious, but it's no mistake.  I have a ridiculous metabolism.  I burn off lunch about 45 minutes after eating by taking a nap.  Don't hate me.  Because God wove me that way.  He knew my days before even one of them came to be.

God wove you.

Other people - not me - have super analytical minds.  Some of you are computers with legs.  Because God wove you.  And He has a particular missional, outward use for you for good in the world.

How exciting.

And be blessed.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Tonight I went to the surprise party of a friend who had a birthday ending in --- gasp! --- zero.  He seemed to take it fairly well.  Why not?

I remember the first time I approached the gym door at the same time as 24-something-Buff-Junior and he paused, held the door for me and said: 'After you, Sir?'

'Who you calling Sir, Chump?'

They say the age you are is your speed of life.  In other words, when you're eight, life is moving along at about 8 mph.  When you're 25, the speed of life is 25 mph.  At 40, it's 40 mph -- at 65, 65 mph - when you're 80, it's 80 mph.

I've not been 80 yet, but at this point, I don't doubt it's true.

Someone said:  When you're young you have time and energy, but no money.  When you're in middle-age, you have energy and money, but no time.  When you're old, you have time and money, but no energy.  You can't win.

Celebrate the zero.

There are some pretty amazing benefits to growing older - and if you think about it, 'growing older' includes 100% of us.

No one taught me how to grow older, but it seems every time you approach the next zero of life, you re-evaluate just a little.  What's truly important in life comes into clearer focus than when you were an earlier zero.

Most of the major questions of life have by now been answered, thank God.

Not only that, when my wife and I have a skirmish after 34 years together, I'm not worried she's going to walk out and never look back.  It feels good to say, 'We've lived too many zeros for that to happen.'

Friendships become more stable, grandchildren become more likely and more amazing, contentment and emotional stability increase.  It's a misconception that you get grumpier as you gain more zeros.  People who are grumpy at 60 were grumpy at 30.  

With each compounding zero you make wiser and better decisions.  Your cognitive years are at their peak.  You're a better problem-solver and emotional intelligence grows.  You gain your own voice and become comfortable and confident using it.

You've also spent a lot of years developing a personality.  At a particular one of the zeros,  you discover you actually like yourself.  Not to mention, I'm happy to report to all of you who are younger, that my inner child is still ageless.

'It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.'  ----- G.G. Marquez

So be free to celebrate the zero as early as possible.  In fact, I think I'm going to go give myself a big hug right now.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


This is just a friendly 'heads up' that tomorrow, November 20th, is National Absurdity Day.  I'm not joking.  We're supposed to celebrate all the absurd things of humanity.  I've given you a few hours notice so you can prepare yourself.

The one fact of life we should accept is that we aren't going to be able to accept everything in life.

This shouldn't be hard to understand.  You accepted all kinds of dubious and absurd things as a child ...

-- Your mom told you not eating carrots would destroy your eyesight - so you gobbled up as many as you could, only you did it in even numbers to make sure your eyes didn't get lopsided vision.

-- Your dad said you'd have to eventually pay back all the food you ate in the home as a kid, and when you saw him giving your Grandma money after babysitting you, you assumed he was paying off his debt.

-- You thought when you heard people laughing in the background on TV shows that it was folks from around the world sitting in their living rooms laughing, so you got really close to the TV so they could hear you laughing.

-- As a kid, you thought people got pregnant from kissing.

-- You were terrified of eating fruit seeds because you believed you would grow fruit trees inside.

G. Carlin said: 'Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe and the vast majority will believe you.  Tell them the paint is wet and they have to touch it to be sure."  Absurd.

Enjoy the day tomorrow.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I really hate death.

It stings big time.

We had a funeral today.  Granted, it wasn't the funeral of a 21-year old.  It was a beautifully-lived life of an elderly woman who I had the opportunity to know and cherish.

Still - I'd like to be done with death.

Paul said, quoting Isaiah, 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.'  Then he quotes Hosea:  'Where death is your victory?  Where death is your sting?'

Standing there at the casket looking at a person I barely recognize, it all seems so final.  And yet, death only 'wins' over those who don't know Jesus.  She did.  She does.  She shall.

Paul finished up his quote by saying, 'Thanks be to God who gives us the victory thru Jesus.'

I really do hate death.  It saddens me because I know there are people who die without a relationship with Jesus.  And while I'm not the judge, we're tempted at funerals in order to ease the pain, to hint that maybe the deceased sneaked in to heaven no matter how he lived.  I admit it's hard to craft your words in a way that can be comforting to family members without causing them to lose hope when their loved one lived a whole life counter to the Kingdom.  So hard.

At the same time we who are living can be inspired because we know any number of people still breathing with whom this Good News has never been shared.  We can determine here and now to be more intentional and bold about helping more people get to heaven by telling them the difference Jesus has made in us.

'I am not ashamed of the Gospel.'  Paul said that, too.

I pray you can say, 'It is well with my soul.'

Death sucks.  Can I say it that way?  I'm sorry, but it just does.  You will be struck by that deep fact and emotion many times during the course of your life.  That pit-in-your-stomach moment will be normal, natural, unavoidable and undeniable.

But though we grieve, we who have put our faith in Christ can grieve with hope.  Because we believe that Jesus died and rose again and we believe God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep as believers in Christ.

I pray you can say "It is well with my soul."  And if you can, that you would then determine to tell as many people as possible about the Good News and the hope they can have in Christ.

And be blessed.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I had someone tell me not long ago that we need to be careful we don't express too much grace from our stage or in our conversations with both believers and unbelievers.

They wanted to see more emphasis placed on our efforts.  This, to them, was the essence of a true believer.  Anything else was lazy -- sloppy.

In defense of this view, I get it.  I do.

Paul makes it pretty clear in Romans that being a recipient of the amazing grace of God doesn't mean you get to invite all your friends to your 10 pm sin party.

But the whole grace thing really is sloppy, isn't it?

I'm still saved, but I need Jesus to come.

Because I've tried pulling up my bootstraps to be holy.  I've tried rolling up my sleeves to be holy.  I've tried to be holy by focusing on holy.  And I can do it -- for awhile.  I can pray more -- read my Bible more -- be more forgiving -- more patient -- more loving -- more kind -- with enough gritty effort, I can do it.  My sin quotient will lower.  For a time.

But praying longer may not mean I lust less.
Reading four more chapters every day may not mean I conquer pride.

I'm still saved, but I need Jesus to come.

People have said the more we speak of grace, the more license we take, but when we really understand grace, the opposite happens.  The more we comprehend the depth of what Christ did for us, the more we want to love Him - obey Him - follow Him - serve Him.  Grace does the reverse of what we thought it did - it brings us closer.

Charles Spurgeon said:  "If people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it.'

I don't think we should stop preaching 'effort.'  Not at all.  Faith without works is dead.  But neither can we preach too much grace.  It is life and breath to us as believers in Christ.

It isn't sloppy at all - in fact, it's very neat.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


God save us from the most recent red cup Starbucks end times controversy.


All kinds of Christ-followers are insisting that Starbucks is dissing Jesus with their latest plain-red holiday cup.  Evidently Starbucks hates Jesus.  Gag me with a stirrer.

You are the one sent out with the Gospel, not Starbucks.

I didn't realize it was the responsibility of a secular for-profit company to be on the front lines of the Jesus movement.  This concept is new to me.

The truth is -- this is YOUR war, Christ-follower, not Starbucks'.

YOU are the one sent out with the Gospel, not Starbucks.

YOU, the church, aren't called to business.  You're called to be in the world, not of the world, but sent to the world.

YOU are the one set apart for the Gospel, not Starbucks.  Jesus gave YOU the Gospel, not Starbucks. He gave it to you so you'd make it your life and then preach it to the nations.

Every saved person this side of heaven owes the Gospel to every lost person this side of hell.  Starbucks knows no such responsibility.  Nor does Target or Walmart or Kohls or McDonalds.  But YOU, follower of Christ -- YOU have an obligation to folks who don't know this Gospel.  You have no option.

Do you believe that?

Careful - because if you do, it forever changes what you focus on and what you complain about.  It forever changes the way you lead your life and your family.  It changes the way you spend your time and your money.  When you realize you are obligated to all people - when you realize you actually have a debt to pay in that regard - you spend your life paying it.

And you spend very little time carping about plain red Starbucks cups.  Just enjoy their coffee.  It's what they do.

Now YOU, Christ-follower, do what you're called to do.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 9, 2015


At times throughout history, God seems to have allowed the church to be challenged - not because they were unfaithful to Him, but precisely because they were faithful.

Faithfulness doesn't grant a church immunity from persecution.  If anything, history confirms that God has allowed nations to judge His people.

The Babylonians came against Judah.
The Egyptians came against the Israelites.
The Assyrians conquered the tribes of Israel.
Islam is even challenging our present culture.

But in the end, God will judge all things -- and of His Kingdom there will be no end.  When He returns every eye will see Him -- every knee will bow to Him.  The crucified Jesus will be declared King of kings and Lord of lords.  And the cross will be replaced with a crown.

In the end, Gandhi will confess Jesus as Lord.
Buddha and Krishna will confess Jesus as Lord.
Muhammed will confess Jesus as Lord.

You do not have immunity, but you have Jesus.

So don't live in fear.  You do not have immunity, but you have Jesus.  He has overcome the world.  Jesus said, 'The gates of hell will not overpower the church of Jesus Christ.  

So live every day as if it were your last day - as if at any moment Jesus could appear in the clouds.  Because someday soon -- He will.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


We cannot doubt that we've been weakened by compromise.

When we read Jesus' response to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, we see that He rebuked them over and over for compromise.

What is the spiritual state of the American church in this regard?  You know already, don't you?

We're divorcing one another at alarming rates, completely justifying our actions in regard to God-ordained marriage.  We're winking at co-habitation before marriage as if everybody does it and God is OK with it.  He isn't.  We've adopted many of the moral values the world is so famous for.

We're compromised by consumerism.  To the church at Laodicea, Jesus said:  'You are rich.  You need nothing.  Yet you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, blind, poor and naked.'  

We've been weakened by compromise.

The church in the book of Acts was able to withstand the storm without because they had decided against compromise.  Instead of imploding, the church grew exponentially.  This has happened in modern days with the church in China - in Cuba - the Middle East.

If in the future the church in America was to lose its tax-exempt status - if hate speech began to include the things Jesus taught - if those things were treated as punishable offenses, would the church survive?

I pray, yes.

We cannot afford to compromise.

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Seven Churches of Asia
Don't take the church of Jesus Christ lightly.

The seven churches mentioned in the New Testament book of Revelation all call the country of Turkey home today - a nation that is 99% Muslim.

Much of what we call the Islamic world today was once Christian.  Same with Europe.  But prophetically speaking, the Europe we know now will come to an end with the rise and spread of Islam there.

Could that possibly be said of America someday?

Perhaps and yet, God forbid and God help us.

We are not a sick, weakly church.

But let me remind us that we are not a sick, weakly church.  Let me remind us that we are not called to live in fear.

Jesus said:  The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.

No, don't take the church of Jesus Christ lightly.

And be blessed.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Well, I have to do it - you know that.  There's no way I can NOT do this.  Not after 30 years of waiting and hoping.  The last time the KC Royals won the World Series, I had left the city of my childhood not long before to begin ministry.

So it was super fulfilling to watch the games this past week and see them work their magic, particularly in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings over and over -- never give up -- keep plugging away -- swing, swing and swing.

I saw this article from Tim Elmore at and loved it so much I thought I'd share it with you.  Enjoy.


Last night the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series in thirty years.  Ponder that reality for a moment.  Many of the fans cheering them on weren't even alive in 1985, the last time they won it all.  

This team is young and talented and in many ways, went against the grain of modern day professional baseball.  In a day of free agents, television contracts and big cities, General Manager Dayton Moore defied the odds.  Kansas City is not a large city and their television contract is nowhere near what other teams from larger markets get.  Hence, the Royals don't have the money to buy talent like other teams.

But they've got something else up their sleeve.  

I have watched the leadership of this baseball club over the last seven years, since first visiting them in Surprise, AZ at spring training in 2008.  I'd like to offer some good news for leaders reading this who might be tempted to assume you can't do anything extraordinary because you lack budget or notoriety or people or options.  May I summarize what Dayton Moore and his front office leadership have practiced since they arrived in Kansas City years ago:

What we lack in cash, we will make up for in culture.

A culture of character, hard work and leadership prevails in this organization, from their eight minor league teams all the way down through to the major league team we just saw dominate the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets in post-season play.  As Peter Drucker is quoted as saying:  'Culture eats strategy for lunch.'  It's not that the Royals had no strategy; on the contrary, they worked their strategy beautifully for years.  In fact, it's because they do not enjoy the luxury of a gigantic budget that they must work a strategy so well.  They can't simply buy an Alex Rodriguez or an Albert Pujols or a Josh Hamilton at the drop of a hat.  Their strategy, however, revolved around cultivating a culture that would infect every player and coach in a marvelous way.  Organization culture works like the ocean tide - when the tide goes up, all the boats go up.  Everyone is affected and they become better people for having worked in such close proximity.  Let me offer some observations I've made about the culture of the Royals, and for that matter, every great team, club or organization:

The Truth about Culture

1.  All teams have a culture, by default or design.
2.  People are carriers of culture, good or bad.
3.  Some teammates are more contagious than others.
4.  There are as many cultures as there are managers.
5.  The culture affects behavior more than anything else.
6.  A leader's job is to nurture a healthy culture.
7.  They do this through their habits and attitudes.

So - the next time you're tempted to say you can't do something stellar in your school, athletic team or organization because you just don't have the money or the talent, take a lesson from the Royals playbook.  While money and flowers and championships are nice to have, they can come as a by-product of a good culture, rather than the cause.

My hat is off to the 2015 Kansas City Royals, who made no excuses for not having a bigger city to play in or a bigger budget to play with.  Congratulations.  You taught us all a lesson in leadership.

And be blessed.

@ - Tim Elmore - "One Great Lesson Every Leader Can Learn From the Kansas City Royals" - November 2, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015


It's the day after Halloween, so I figure this is safe for the next 364 days.  Something to think about at least.

I'm not sure I totally understand the big pushback in certain Christian quarters against the cultural tradition of Halloween.  I mean, I get it - kind of - but if it's for the sake of protecting our children from the demonic forces of evil on October 31st, then I don't really get it.

In all the years our kids went door-to-door in Cinderella and Crayola costumes gathering individually wrapped pieces of candy in orange plastic pumpkin containers, I never once noticed their personalities or characters slide downhill days or weeks after.  They didn't become bad seeds or progressively develop deep issues that needed deliverance or intervention years later.

They walked around the neighborhood with their little friends - rang doorbells - yelled 'Trick or Treat' - held out their little plastic pumpkins - then repeated that exercise at the next 50 houses in the subdivision.  Then we all went home and they dumped their prizes on to their little girly beds and I secretly plucked out all the Tootsie Rolls for myself when they weren't looking.

I don't know how big (or small) your God is, but honestly, maybe the worst thing about going door-to-door collecting gummy bears, suckers, candy corn and mini Three Musketeers bars (which I also stole from my kids' buckets) is managing the sugar intake while the pile of candy decreases over the next few weeks.

'We should redeem as much as we can.'

As believers in Christ there are plenty of things we need to reject:  Selfishness, bullying, abuse, violence, porn, racism, pride, divorce ... but there are just as many things we can redeem.  In fact, we should redeem as much as we can, not rail against everything we can.

I live in a house on a street where few (actually zero) trick-or-treaters walk these days, but I remember those nights as amazing family moments and time with neighborhood friends.  Actually, it was the one night of the year that we could guarantee interaction with the block.

This might have been a better post 24 hours earlier, but I'm a coward.  So it's OK if you choose not to participate in the door-to-door Halloween evening festivities.  There's no condemnation there.  It's the choice you've made for your family.  I understand.

Just understand back.

And be blessed.