Saturday, January 30, 2016


In light of the amazing response toward my last blog post titled 'HON' -- and mostly because I'm just feeling righteously ornery today -- I thought I'd do something I've never done in eight years of blogging -- except for those other two times I did it -- and that's recycle one of my own posts.

I sat down to write this as a legitimate follow-up to 'HON,' but as I began, it dawned on me at some point that I'd already said this somewhere sometime.  So I searched back and 'Bam!'  Sure enough.  I had.  Six years ago.

So without further delay or adieu (and I don't even know that means but I know people say it a lot) -- I submit to you the MALE version of 'HON' ... with some slight revisions ... 

I have been going to the gym now for several years.  I'm sure you realized that.  I'm not trying to be hulk-like or anything.  But I go ... for a few reasons ...

It's a place I can interact with unbelievers on a regular basis ...

It's a way to keep in reasonably good health ...

It relieves my stress ...

It keeps what God has given me somewhere in the vicinity of where it all originally started out.

When I first walked into the gym years ago, I'll admit it was a little intimidating ... standing next to some 23-year old with muscles out to here ... then over there is a woman who is bench pressing 40 pounds more than me ... and there's the group from the Carthage University wrestling team who look like they gargle with nails just for fun.  

Then there's me.  I didn't even know what most of the gym workout machines were for but I learned by reading and watching other people's form and function.  I love being there now.

Over time I've become a regular.  The gang knows and accepts me as part of the wallpaper.  And as I'm changing in the locker room, it has become my pattern to say a pre-workout prayer: "God, open a door of opportunity today to share the reason for the hope that is in me."

Then if God opens a door, I walk thru it with some normal conversation about Him.  If He doesn't open a door, then I just work out. 

Over the years I've had many opportunities to have one-on-ones about faith and God.  It's been cool. 

But there is one negative about going to the gym.  Here it is in a real-life episode.

The hallway going in and out of the locker room is only big enough for one at a time so it isn't unusual for somebody to have to give way to somebody else to get in and out.  So one day I'm coming out of the locker room while a young athlete is going in.  He stops to let me pass first and says: "After you, sir."

SIR?  Do I look like a 'sir' to you?  I mean isn't 'SIR' reserved for men who have forests of hair inside their ears?  Come over here and look in my ears right now.

I wanted to say: "Boy, don't call me SIR.  You want a whuppin?'"  But the skull-and-crossbones tattoo on his 17-inch bicep kind of gave me pause.

I know it's vain of me to care about such things -- and I think the Bible talks about that somewhere.  I can't really find it right now, but I may have speed read that verse a few times here and there.  

I realize I'm in the age range of legitimate 'SIRS,' and it would be wrong to call me 'Hey, Butch' at my age, but I don't feel like a 'SIR' either.  Glass half full -- at least they aren't calling me 'ma'am.'

It's just a "thing" and I have to learn to deal with it.  You might feel the pain one day and empathize - you probably will - like when you're coming out of Express Men with that shirt in your hand and someone says: 'I hope that shirt is for your grandson and not for you ... Sir.'

And I guess that's basically why I'm at the gym in the first place ... to keep 'Sir-hood' at bay as long as I can. 

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I'm honestly trying to figure out how I feel about a waitress in a restaurant calling me 'hon' today.

It wasn't like I thought she liked me or anything - please.  I know it's just what some waitresses do.

Some people tell me that kind of speech is normal south of the Mason-Dixon line.  I'm not sure where that is, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't run thru Kenosha.  

I've had this kind of thing happen before so it isn't a new phenomenon exactly, but each time it's happened it has unnerved me a bit.

I've been called 'Beautiful' by a waitress before too.  But I'm not beautiful.  I don't think.  Am I?  Maybe I am.  I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'm not.




All titles cashiers, stewardesses, waitresses have applied.  I've never had a dude waiter call me any of those -- thankfully.

I think it might be a generational thing.  Most of the attendants who've called me by one of these names were older than me, but the one who said it today wasn't.  Much younger.

Don't say it.  Move on.

'What can I getcha 'hon?'

I thought about telling the management about this sketchy behavior, but then I heard her say it to the 80-something gentleman sitting to my left.  She said it to the young couple sitting behind me.  Then to the six year old eating in the booth with his mom.

So it wasn't about me then.  Why is that somehow strangely discomforting?

I guess she was just trying to be friendly.  Believe the best, I always say.  I suppose I'll cut her some slack and consider myself a valued guest.

I did leave a pretty nice tip.

And be blessed.

Monday, January 25, 2016


You often hear about how much Jesus hates religion.  I've heard scores of pastors stand on stages and make that statement:  "Jesus hates religion."

I know, I know -- the Pharisees and all.  It's true that Jesus reserved more harsh words and criticism for these hypocritical Law-keepers than He did for prostitutes and tax collectors.

But the Bible never claims that Jesus hates religion.  What He seems to hate is false religion.

It wasn't the keeping of the Law Jesus resented so much - it was the hypocrisy.  It was them not practicing what they preach.  It was them loving the places of honor in the synagogues.  It was them enjoying the special greetings in the marketplace.  It was giving a tenth of their income but neglecting mercy and faithfulness.  It was looking so polished on the outside and being so unclean on the inside.

That isn't just a first century issue.

Neither you nor I are non-religious.  We're all pursuing something - we're all worshipping something - we're all serving something - we're all devoted to something.

Even when the thing we worship and serve is something great -- a marriage -- a family -- a church -- a career -- a ministry -- it's still idolatry.  It's false religion.

Whatever consumes our time most is our God.

Whatever concerns us most -- whatever consumes our time most -- is our God.

As much as we are directed away from false religion, we are called toward true religion.  And in this we can find much hope.

The prophet Micah describes true religion:  'What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with your God.'

James describes it:  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure is this -- to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Jesus describes it:  'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  

True religion -- a life lived out of raw thankfulness for who God is and for what He has done in sending Jesus to live, die and rise to bring us eternal life -- brings honor and praise to God.  It is a life lived pursuing relationship with Jesus Christ.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


When I'm asked how often I speak about giving, I want to say I speak about giving every single weekend.

And I do.

I can't speak about grace without talking about giving because our great God, who loved us so much, gave His only Son to save us.

I can't speak about marriage without talking about giving because a marriage won't work if you're not both givers.

Finances don't define giving.  Giving is about your heart.  Jesus said: 'Where your treasure is, there's your heart.'

Sometimes people say, 'They're just after my money.'  The church isn't; but God is.  I'll admit that to you.  God is after your money.  Because your money represents your heart.  It always does.

Finances don't define giving.

You put some money in stocks and you'll start going online every day - you never did that before, but you are now - checking on what that stock is doing day by day.  Your heart will start to follow that treasure.

If you want your treasure to be in the Kingdom, put your heart in the Kingdom.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


'Ask whatever you want and I'll give it to you.'

That's what God said to Solomon in the Old Testament.  Can you imagine God saying that to you?

When Solomon was inaugurated the King of Israel it was tradition for the king to sacrifice one bull to God.  Do you know how many Solomon sacrificed?  One thousand.

God only says to extravagant givers: 'Ask whatever you want.'

He never says that to selfish people because they're answers can't be trusted.  But He can ask that question of extravagant givers.

Could God say to you: 'Ask anything you want?'

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


As part of my journaling this week I am struck by all the blessings that surround my life.  I couldn't begin to write a blog that described those blessings in full.  It would stretch to forever.

Part of the discovery of those blessings is only found in slowing down to hear them, feel them, see them, sense them all around.  It's critical to slow.

The other way I'm finding that makes God more clear is to change my routine a little.  Habits formed over long periods seem to block the new and fresh flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  So, walk a different way to get there -- drive a new route -- do things out of the usual order -- shift it out of autopilot.

You know how to walk already.  You don't need to re-learn walking every day.  But you can change your route.  You can change your thought processes.  You can change your setting.  You can toss in a spice you've never tried before.


Get it off autopilot.  And really soar.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I love America.  I've had the great opportunity to travel all over the world, but it's always a kiss-the-ground moment when you get back on American soil.

But the American dream can be a nightmare ... if you try to finance it.

You can spend seven years paying off a car.  You can spend 30-plus years paying off a house -- 25 years paying off college debt -- you can spend five years paying off new furniture -- and in many cases it's even worse than that.

The American dream can kill you.

God wants something more for you and your finances.  He wants to be at the center of them.

Don't seek the natural.

The point of your life isn't to make a lot of money -- the point of your life is all spiritual.  The point of your life is to get to know God - to love God - to serve God - to follow God.  When we do, all the natural provision takes care of itself.

Don't seek the natural.  Ask for it and it will come, but don't strive for it.  If you're going to strive for anything at all, strive for God -- seek God -- press in for God.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


For these past two nights and every other night this week, Journey Church is gathering at each of our campuses -- to pray.

There's something about the body of Christ coming together to seek, ask, knock, kneel and petition God.

Whatever you think about Kierkegaard's philosophy of life and theology, he got it pretty right when he said: 'The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.'

The beauty of prayer is that we pray to a personal Being -- Almighty God.  He isn't a statue or a concept;  He's Someone to interact with.  If He was impersonal or distant, prayer wouldn't have much meaning or purpose.

God also loves us.  He isn't just loving, He's ALL-loving - He's omnibenevolent.  He provides a good outcome.  That's His nature.

"The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays."

God is omnipotent, so there's nothing you can ask that is beyond His ability to provide.  If He weren't all powerful, we would have little assurance that He could or would answer.

God is omniscient.  He knows it all.  That impacts our prayers every time.  He understands, grasps and directs all that is happening in history at all times -- past, present and future.  This means no prayer is too big for Him, but also that no prayer is too small.

'Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord's people.'  (Ephesians 6:18)

And be blessed.

Monday, January 11, 2016


God made you to breathe.

When you do, you're cooperating with the way He designed you.  You can stop yourself from breathing if you choose, or you can get in line with His plan and breathe they way He meant you to.

God made you to pray.

When you do, you're cooperating with the way He designed you.  You can stop yourself from praying if you choose, or you can get in line with His plan and pray the way He meant you to.

Breathe.  Every day, breathe.  Every moment, breathe.
Pray.  Every day, pray.  Every moment, pray.

Praying is breathing.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Today, Journey Church began a congregational pathway to greater spiritual health and hearing from God.

We gave everybody in the house a prayer journal and made a commitment to journal together as a congregation.

Some in our church have never done this before but I'm so excited about it.

There's no THOU SHALT JOURNAL commandment in the Bible.  But the Bible writers modeled it.

Many of the Psalms of David are him journaling his heart thoughts to God.

The book of Job is Job journaling about his struggles and personal pain.

Jeremiah's journal is called Lamentations as he records his deep agony over the fall of Jerusalem.

Solomon writes about his quest for purpose and fulfillment in a journal called Ecclesiastes.

So as Journey Church prays and spends time with God in 2016 we'll write out our thoughts and observations.  We'll write about what we glean from Scripture as we read.  We'll record an impression from the Holy Spirit as it comes to our minds and hearts.  We'll chronicle a vision or a dream God places inside us.

Remember, journaling has many purposes.

- Record your life journey
It's one thing to remember the generalities of life, but it's another thing to remember specific dialogue, thoughts and feelings.

- Have a tangible account of God's blessing
The Bible says after all God had done for them, Israel forgot God.  If we don't spend time reviewing what God has done, we shouldn't be surprised that God rarely seems near.  Journaling is a log of what God has done.

- Remind you of God's growth process in your life
Sometimes I think we just can't see our own growth with God.  Journaling will help you see you're becoming more like Jesus week-to-week.

- Develop the ability to hear from God
God wants to communicate with you.  As you write your thoughts, you train your ear to know His voice.

- Inspire your faith
One of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship with God is that He answers us when we call.  As you record thoughts and prayers that have been answered, your faith grows.  You develop a confidence that if God answered once, He'll answer again -- and again -- and again.

- Slow you down

So as you embark on a year of journaling, my friends, don't let the following happen in your life:

Don't make it a legalism.  You missed a day?  OK.  Get back on the boat.  Don't beat yourself up.

Don't become self-righteous.  You aren't better or more mature than everybody else around you just because you're journaling.

Don't get superstitious about it.  Just because you're journaling doesn't mean you now have a special open channel to God's approval.

Keep a right heart -- set a consistent quiet place and time -- make a commitment to stick to it -- write from your feelings, not just fact -- periodically review what you've written to discover your spiritual progress in your walk with God.

And have fun.

I'm so excited for you as you begin this amazing journey.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


A lot of people believe all the right things and do all the right things and say all the right things and they think that's what God cares about.  But the move of Jesus in your life isn't about your belief system -- some people are sure that's what it's about, but it isn't.  It isn't about your right doctrine -- it isn't your ability to line up end time events accurately.  The movement of God in your life exists because God speaks to you.

There's so much He wants to do in your life and mine.  I don't want to come to the end of my life and realize God was trying to move with great power and wonder but because I didn't take any time to go deep with Him, He could never go very big with me.

'How could I have settled for less when I could have been so much more?'

I look across the landscape of our church - and I'm sure it's the same wherever you attend.  I see so many gifted, talented, high-potential individuals.  God has great plans for us.

We can't build the three-story version of our lives for God and be satisfied with that.  Oh sure, you'll get adoration and applause from everybody who's living with a two-story version - they're all going to look up to you - but you'll come to the finish line of life one day and God will show you the 89-story skyscraper your life was intended to be and you'll shake your head and say, 'How could I have settled for less when I could have been so much more?'

I've seen it a hundred times -- a person is so close to coming to God - so close to trusting Jesus with everything - so close to opening a new, exciting God-chapter -- and then they balk - they step back and refuse to step toward God because they think: 'Tomorrow ... later ... another time.'  And I know their intention was for it to be tomorrow or the next day, but before they knew it, tomorrow became a decade.  And ten years later they come back going, 'I don't know what happened.  I was so close, and then ... '

History is full of people who said, 'And then ... '

God calls you in.  He calls you deep.  He calls you forward.  He isn't interested in negotiation.

We're so good at that.  'God and I have an understanding.  We have an agreement.  We get each other.  Me and God, we have a deal.'

You don't have a deal.  Because God calls people with fully surrendered hearts.

We say we're 'all in' but we start haggling pretty quickly.  "I'll be 3/4 of the way in ... I'm halfway in ... I'm sorta-kinda in ... God understands."

God doesn't understand.

When my heart isn't given to God, His heart is still given to me.

What's amazing is that God loves you no matter how much you try to negotiate with Him.  I don't get it, but I'm glad for it.  Because when my heart isn't given to God, His heart is still given to me.  When I'm not all in with Him, He's still all in with me.

So beautiful.

Time to start letting God construct that skyscraper He wants to build in you.

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I love speed.

I had the opportunity to drive on the Autobahn in Germany this past summer while Joelene and I were on Sabbatical.  Great experience.  I only got two tickets, because contrary to popular belief you can't go as fast as you want EVERYWHERE on the Autobahn.  Now they tell me.

I confess that I'm also a lane changer.  I have an undeniable sense that if I keep changing lanes I'll get there quicker.

This also applies at the grocery store.  When I approach a lane at the market, I instinctively peruse the shoppers and their items to calculate which lane will get me to the cashier fastest.  You know you do the same thing, so don't get all high-and-mighty about it.

If the lane next to me seems to be moving faster, I'll just move my cart over there.  Unfortunately, as often as not, the lane I end up in seems to automatically go slower once I enter it.

If there is a line of 100 vehicles in the exit lane on the highway and it's backed up but the main lanes going down the highway are moving well, I'll often look down the line of 100 and see if I can spot a semi.  Then I strategically maneuver my vehicle with just the right timing so I can ease in front of the semi closer to the exit and trump all those losers who are still sitting in line 70 cars back.  Some drivers are so nice that they wave at me with some of their fingers when I do that.

My need for speed doesn't stop there.  I can't stand playing cards with people who take forever to 'think it through' before laying their card.  'Please play the four of diamonds so I can get on with my life, will you?  I'm growing a beard here.'

I'm designed to move forward.  I just am.

And I think all of this has a connect to faith for me.

One of the amazing things about life with Christ is that He's always moving forward.

One of the amazing things about life with Christ is that He's always moving forward.  He isn't moving backward.  He isn't standing still.  He's going ahead.  He's always acting - always creating - always doing something good and beautiful and right - always moving you and me toward Himself.

God moves.  And He wants us to move with Him.

You see all kinds of moments in the Bible where God moves with unbelievable and unmistakable speed to people who believe in Him.  I want to live in that world.

I want to live in the world where I sense God moving me forward - where every day is a new adventure with Him - where His life and energy flow through me in ways that are life-changing, not only for me but for those around me.

I know God moves.  I know He does.  I believe I can live that world - and I believe you can too.

And be blessed.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Caitlyn Jenner ... Donald Trump ... Tom Brady & 'Deflategate' ... ISIS attacks France ... migrants cross Europe ... SCOTUS decides Gay Marriage is here to stay.

No matter how you shake it, it's been quite a year.  For some of you, it was an amazing year.  You'd love to re-live it.  For others, you're glad it's over and you hope nothing like it ever returns in your lifetime.

Now it's January 1st, 2016.

Really just one date out of 365.  Not that much different than any other day except you stayed up really late the night before and maybe you didn't have to work today.

And yet it's a day that makes you pause, if only for a moment.

What did I accomplish in the past year?  
What's ahead for me in the coming year?

Everybody needs a vision.  A vision comes when there is a realization that God can do something incredible thru your life.  God has always used those who are willing to be used.  He doesn't need much more than that.

This could very well be your year.

So what's the vision - what's the dream - in your heart for the coming year?  Because those names at the top aren't the real headliners of 2015 -- and whatever names appear there at this time next year won't be the stars of 2016.  You are.

God has a plan for you to reach the full potential for which He's placed you on planet Earth.

Is this the year your dream finally moves forward with greater speed?
Is this the year you give your whole life to Jesus so He can do what He's wanted to do with you since before you were born?
Is this the year your marriage changes for the better?
Is this the year you let your heart and mind be transformed to look more like Jesus?
Is this the year you take a spiritual and visionary leap of faith?
Is this the year you carve out regular time to spend with God?

Because you're destined to be the star of 2016.  This could very well be your year.

And be blessed.