Wednesday, December 30, 2015


My very first blog was posted on December 20, 2007 -- 8 years ago now.  More than 1,800 blog posts have followed that initial one.  The journey has been rewarding for me in so many ways.

I've been able to share what I know and believe, whether it's been humorous or sober.
I've hoped to help others navigate their own journeys thru difficult topics and theologies - and maybe encourage us all not to take ourselves too seriously.
During the process, I've learned more about myself and about God.

Now ... as 2015 comes to a close, I re-share the Five Most Read Blogs of the year.  I invite you to 'click' on them and read them at your leisure.  Here they are:

Posted Nov. 10, 2015
The most popular post of the year here by far ... Is the controversy over the Starbuck's decision to produce a plain red cup for the holidays really a controversy at all?  Should we care?

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted Oct. 31, 2015
My thoughts on the fall SCOTUS decision on gay marriage.

To read, copy-and-paste:

3 - BUD
Posted Jan. 6, 2015
The pain of doingthree-month old early in the year.
a funeral for a

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted May 18, 2015
The final blog post before Joelene and I unplugged and left for Europe for 7 weeks this summer on Sabbatical.

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted Nov. 1, 2015
It was a cheap and cowardly way to do it - but the day after Halloween I took a shot at the way many Christians view it.

To read, copy-and-paste:

August 18, 2015
As I searched for a new Worship Pastor for Journey Church this summer, I waxed about the meaning of worship.

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted June 10, 2015
In one of the few postings while on Sabbatical, we spent a couple of hours stuck in our car inside a dark Italian tunnel waiting for the highway ahead to be cleared of an overturned truck.  It gave me a chance to ruminate on my lack of patience.

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted Nov. 14, 2015
It was the day of the funeral of an elderly friend.  The opening words to the blog were:  'I really hate death.'

To read, copy-and-paste:

Posted Aug. 1, 2015
On the day of our installation as Lead Pastors of Journey Church, our reflections and thanks.

To read, copy-and-paste:

And there you have it.  Enjoy.

Over 8 years of blogging, my closing line has remained consistent.  So here's to an amazing 2016 ... 

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Did you know the first artificial Christmas tree was made in the 1930s by a company called Addis Brush?  They made toilet scrubbers.  So the first fake trees were really nothing more than gigantic, green toilet plungers.

Joelene has to have a real tree in the house at Christmas.  It might be more of a mental thing than anything else, but we can't make the switch from real to artificial.

I admit artificial trees are more convenient.  They retain perfect shape, no watering, no messy mounds of needles to clean up in January.  Over time, probably cheaper.

But a real tree . . . it's just all-American to me.  It's renewable and recyclable.  For every tree harvested, two or three seedlings are planted in its place.  And they smell amazing.

One legend (there are many) says that the custom of the Christmas tree began in Germany in the early 1600s -- originally called the Christ Tree.

I like that.  Whether yours is real or artificial, when you look at it, remembering that they used to call it the Christ Tree makes a huge difference in how you view Christmas.

Focus on Him this season.

Be invited to one of our Christmas Eve services this December 24th -- at either of our Journey Church campuses -- // Burlington or // Kenosha -- 3p & 5p at each campus -- Christmas carols, candle lighting and more.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Anyone who's ever had children knows this scenario:

You're getting in the family vehicle to go on a trip -- the minivan's full -- everybody's buckled in -- and it doesn't matter how long the journey, a few miles or 500, about 30 minutes in a voice raises from the back ...


That's cute -- at first.  And you laugh:  'No, we just left.'  But after the sixth time, it stops being funny. But that isn't really what they're asking, is it?  The question goes deeper.

They know you aren't there yet.  The statement they're making is, "I'm bored.  We've done everything we know to do back here -- the license plate game - the letter game - our iPads are dead - we've watched the dvds - counted each other's fingers and toes - we've done all we know to do.  Are we there yet?"

And in our journey with God, we ask Him that:  "Are we there yet?"

We know we aren't there yet, but that isn't really what we're asking.  What we're longing for and waiting for and hoping for hasn't yet come.  You aren't asking a question, you're making a statement.

'I've done all I know to do, God.  I've had every conversation - I've prayed every prayer - I've read every verse - I don't know what else to do.  Are we there yet?'

Christmas is a reminder that just because a dream has been delayed doesn't mean the dream is denied.  Sometimes we think while we're waiting God is doing nothing.

We feel powerless when we wait, but as we wait, our hope matures.  It doesn't just grow; it grows up. And when we learn to be still and wait and hope when there's no outer reason for hope, it's then we'll become the people God is trying to form.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


When Joelene was pregnant with our girls, we didn't have to wait very long from the moment she had those first labor pains/contractions till the time we saw our girls face-to-face.  I mean, we had to wait the nine months like everybody does, but once they were read to emerge, they did.  Fast.

Her labor with our first, Whitney, lasted less than 2.5 hours - from the time of the first contraction to the appearance of our daughter.

Daughter #2 - Allison - had a labor of only 45 minutes.  We almost didn't make it to the hospital.

Olivia, our third, had a labor that lasted only 1.5 hours.

I know.  Don't hate us.  Or at least just hate Joelene.

It would be very difficult for us to fully understand the wait time that preceded that first Christmas 2,000 years ago.

The promise of the coming of a Messiah was something the Israelites lived with -- not for nine months -- not for years -- not for decades -- not for hundreds of years even.  The very first promise of His coming is given way back in Genesis, thousands of years before Jesus actually came to earth.

That's a lot of waiting.

Along the way there would be more than 300 prophecies in the Bible about His arrival.  For thousands of years they heard it.  That's a lot of hoping -- it's a lot of longing -- it's a long time to watch and wait.  They lived with this anticipation.  In fact, they had to be wondering at some point -- will a Messiah come at all?

From the last prophecy at the end of the Old Testament to where we pick it up in the New Testament there's a 400 year gap.  Four hundred years of silence from God.  He doesn't speak.

Is He listening?
Will He keep His promises?
Does He even care?

Then ... Christmas happens.  The birth of a Savior.

Christmas is a reminder that although at times God seems silent, He's never absent.

That's why Christmas is a reminder that although at times God seems silent, He's never absent.  It may seem He's taking a long time to come, but He's working.  He's planning.  He's moving.  He isn't sleeping.

He's never been absent in your situation.  God will come.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


There was an extraordinary sense of God's presence at Journey Church // Kenosha campus services this weekend.  Powerful.

People came to faith in Christ.
There was intensity in the singing.
Joy permeated the lobby before and after.

All signs of God's presence infiltrating the place.

One of our strengths down thru the years has been how God has blessed us with amazing singing and music -- part of our worship to God.  There have been many moments where we stood in awe and knew God was walking up and down the aisles while we were singing.  Today was one of those days.

Even though God doesn't particularly need our worship, He's seeking worshipers nonetheless.  He deserves to be honored by His creation.  Worship is the time we forget about us and focus on Him.  It pulls our affections off our own idols and puts them on God.

The motivation isn't for you and me to have a 'great experience.'  I'm sorry, but it isn't.  It's to honor and please God.  It's to remember how good, how big, how powerful, how loving, how holy He is.  Understanding this is exactly the antidote to present day 'worship wars,' hymns vs. choruses, and on and on.  Worship is not about self-gratification; it is about blessing God.

It's the key to God's presence.  It's what brings intimacy with Him.  We become like what we worship.

What we experienced today at Journey Church // Kenosha wasn't just about singing songs or enjoying a good feeling.  It was about seeing God for who He truly is - and then giving Him what He's truly worth - the very best of our time, our talent, our thoughts, our words, our deeds.

This is why we gather.  This is why we worship.

We are grateful for the leaders God has given us who lead so skillfully with such great heart and passion.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Here are four tests you can run on yourself to guide you in to more honesty ...

The Authority Test
Will the result of this choice put me under its power?
'Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.' (I Corinthians 6:12)

The Sanctification Test
Will the result of this choice make me more like Jesus?
'Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive.'  (I Corinthians 10:23)

The Edification Test
Will the result of this choice benefit others?
'Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.'  (Romans 14:19)

The Conscience Test
Will the result of this choice make my conscience uneasy?
'Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.'  (Romans 14:22)

'We're always one decision away from damaging what took years to develop.'

Financial mistakes can be repaired.  Poor communication can be fixed.  Decisions that don't work out can be salvaged.  But character can destroy you.  We're always one decision away from damaging what took years to develop.

A great question to ask yourself is:  'What small thing in my life right now has the potential to grow into something big?'  Because a lack of honesty doesn't appear out of nowhere.  It begins small - then it grows, until eventually the small thing once barely noticeable becomes a thing that impacts a life.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


The great test of moral honor is how we respond to challenges.

Years ago I had -- let's just say a 'discussion' -- with a friend of mine over something we were both fairly heated and opinionated about.  I didn't behave very well in that back-and-forth.  I had to apologize later for my actions as well as my words.

Nothing reveals character quicker than problems.  It's been said, 'Christians are like tea bags; you don't know what they're like inside until they're in hot water.'

That's one of the reasons God allows problems.  They give us the opportunity to reveal what's really inside.

God made you to be 'that person.'  He made you to have moral honor.  He created you to be the same on the inside as you are on the outside.  And yet, because God also gifted us with incredible freedom, we can each choose to move away from Him if we want to -- but when we do -- when we move away from God, we always begin to portray something different on the outside that doesn't match what we were created to be on the inside.

Keep your moral honor, my friend.  Be like Jesus.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Thanks for your patience while I've been in this recent dry blog season.  My computer has been acting up and I couldn't even turn it on for several days.


But ... I'm back.

I don't know if you remember the name Rachel Dolezal.  She was President of the Spokane Washington chapter of the NAACP for nine years.  Last year she resigned when it was discovered she had lied about her racial identity.  She had said she was black when she wasn't.  To rebut that controversy, she insisted she was trans-racial.  While she wasn't technically a black person, she said she identified as a black person.  In fact, she had managed to convince everyone for years that she was black.

A family in Georgia found themselves in jail after having several fundraisers for their daughter, who they said was terminally ill.  They raised tens of thousands of dollars on her behalf.  It was later discovered the little girl wasn't ill.

I'm in 9th grade.  I wanted to beat my arch nemesis in a scholastic achievement.  When he asked me what place I got, instead of admitting I came in underneath him, I lied and said I had outscored him.

Enron, Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae -- all these people and companies were presenting, 'This is what I am.'  But underneath they were something different.

So let's ask that question of ourselves.  Have we ever presented ourselves one way but underneath we were someone different?

Solomon wrote:  'The one who lives with integrity lives securely.'  (Proverbs 10:9)

Their lives are open books.  There's no reason to hide.  You don't have to remember the details to your last story because all your stories are true.  You're secure.

Dishonesty is so exhausting.

But people with integrity can say to a world that's watching:  "Go ahead and look.  My behavior will match my beliefs.  My walk will match my talk.  My character will match what I confess.  Who I am on Monday will be the same as who I claim to be on Sunday."

How are you doing with that?

And be blessed.