Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Truth Killer

There is an old saying that “truth is the first casualty of war.” That may be true in our 24-hour drive-by news cycle of today. But God’s Word points out to us that it has always been true. In spiritual battle, as well as in earthly combat, truth is quickly relegated to the infirmary.

In my personal devotion times lately I have been hanging out in Daniel. The first few chapters are pretty straightforward and understandable. They are the famous stories; Daniel and his friends not eating at the kings table, Daniel interpreting dreams for the king and Daniel in the lion’s den. The last few chapters are much more intense. They involve visions, symbolism and prophecy.

I have no desire to expound of what they meant in Daniel’s time or what they may mean for us today. Instead I want to point out a simple fact: pride kills truth.

In Daniel 8 there is a vision of rebellion and war. There is the destruction of kingdoms and kings. At the very end of the chapter Daniel himself falls ill because of the heavy nature of the vision. But today, one small verse caught my eye.

“Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did and truth was thrown to the ground.” Daniel 8:12

Truth became a casualty of this rebellion. In so many ways, we become prideful and rebellious in our walk with God and truth gets thrown to the ground. When we think that we have a right or special access to God because of our position or our success, we are the leaders of rebellion. And when we believe that what God has done would not have been possible without us, we buy into the lie. Truth gets thrown to the ground.

The past week has seen a man of God who was being used by God in a powerful way fall in the battle. I don’t know this man personally, and I have no idea about the depth of his sin or the struggles he is facing. But for all of us who may want to throw stones or cast judgments or think we are above such things, we are throwing truth to the ground.

Some may argue my interpretation or exegesis of the passage. I am simply sharing what God showed me today from his word: I can kill truth very quickly if I am not careful. When I get arrogant and judgmental, when I get lazy or casual, when I get frustrated and tempted, I am on the edge of body slamming the truth. I need to remember that all that is good in me is the result of all the good Jesus has done.

What are the areas that you need to pick up truth? Where are you buying into the lie of rebellion?

Monday, June 15, 2009

When God Shows Up

The greatest sign that God has shown up in a person’s life or in a church community is that change happens. I don’t mean change from one music style to another or change from one preference to another. I mean real, deep down, heartfelt change. There is no chance that humanity can encounter divinity and not be changed by the experience.

Scripture is full of stories of men and women who were changed by the mere presence of God. Noah built something never before seen based on an encounter with God. Moses found courage to leave the desert as a shepherd and lead a movement of a million people from Egypt. Paul went from persecuting Christians to being persecuted. The one common factor in each experience was that God showed up in a powerful way.

Today we go through our religious routines and wonder why God is not responding to what we are doing. Is it possible that what we are doing is not blessed by God simply because it is what “we” are doing and not the power of his presence we desire? I have no idea why God moves the way he does or chooses to use some people and not others. But I know that people or churches that are used by God are the ones that embrace his presence and encourage change from selfishness to worship and humility.

We have seen God move in the life of LifeQuest Church in the last few weeks like never before in our ministry. I know it is not because I have suddenly become a better speaker. I know it is not because our worship team is playing better music. I know it is not because we have a lot of flash and glitter to our services. All I know is that God is showing up because people’s lives have been changed.

People who have never been to church before are now attending every week. People who had rejected God all of their lives are now stepping across the line of faith. Yesterday we threw a baptism party for seven people. People who were apathetic to church life are now stepping up to tackle major ministry areas. People who were not really excited about sharing their faith are now bringing their friends and neighbors to hear the message of Christ.

God has been showing up here. I pray that we never miss that fact. I pray that we never lose sight of the fact that God is changing people’s lives. I hope we never think it is about us. I hope we always remember it is about his presence.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I learned two great lessons yesterday as I tried to get some exercise on my bike: never leave your cell phone at home and always make sure your equipment is ready. I had planned to burn some calories with a bike ride late yesterday afternoon. I got my iPod, jumped on my bike and took off.

I was getting into it. My heart was starting to pump, a sweat was breaking out, and Daughtery was thumping through my ears. A side note: “Crashed” may not be the song of choice when riding on a busy street!! About two miles into my ride something suddenly was not right. My left foot suddenly was doing its own thing. In order for a bike to work properly, both feet need to move in the same direction. I thought I had broken my chain, but the pedal on the left side had fallen off my bike. Okay, no big deal. Find the pedal, screw it in, and get going again. Wrong!!

I found the pedal, but the threads wouldn’t work. I could not screw the pedal back onto the extension to make it work. This was no good. I had a choice: walk the bike home two miles or try to ride it home two miles. Of course, I chose foolishly. Do you know how hard it is to ride a bike with one pedal? I thought I may be like a one legged duck who swims in circles. Instead I found out I was one giant cramp in my left leg as I tried to ride my bike home.

I have thought about the spiritual implications of this incident. Maybe the lesson is to prepare before you begin. Maybe the lesson is to fight through any difficulty. Maybe the lesson is that foolish people do foolish things and have to deal with the consequences.

For me, the most important lesson I can come up with is the wheels (or pedals) sometimes come off in life. We are headed one direction and suddenly there is a major issue. The question then becomes how we deal with it. There are all kinds of great quotes to use here: “When the going gets tough the tough get going.” “No pain no gain.” “Never quit fighting until the fight is done.”

I don’t know if there are any great lessons here. I simply know that the unexpected happens and we have no choice but to deal with it. So today, I will go home, fix my bike, crank some music and pedal!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Idols and Furnaces

Occasionally I read through scripture and come across a familiar bible story and my mind re-enacts the Veggie Tales version of the events. I have been reading through Daniel in my devotion time lately and this morning was spending some time in Daniel 3; you know the story of Rack, Shack and Benny. This passage has some great insights for us and some timeless truths for adults of any age.

• Humanity loves to build idols to ourselves. (Daniel 3:5-6)
Nebuchadnezzar decided that he needed to be worshipped as a god. He built an idol and commanded people to worship him. As a leader, I must always be checking my ego to see if I am leading people to follow me or to follow Christ.

• Rack, Shack and Benny took a stand and were unwilling to compromise their convictions to worship only the true God. (Daniel 3:12) We must continually ask the questions, “What am I worshipping instead of God?” We may not have an idol to bow to or an image we worship, but anything that compromises God’s truth for our own pleasure is an idol.

• The three were willing to go to the furnace whether God rescued them or not. (Daniel 3:16-18) It is easy to say we will do whatever God asks of us, but how far are we truly willing to go? They had no guarantee that God would rescue them, only the faith that he could. They were committed to worship only the one true God.

• Their faith was contagious. (Daniel 3:26) Nebuchadnezzar was willing to kill anyone who did not worship him. After the events of Daniel 3, he was willing to kill anyone who spoke against the one true God. Maybe his zeal was a little over the top, but he learned from the three committed followers of God what true faith looked like.

How far are we willing to go for our faith? How much does God call us to seek him and know him in order to make him known to the world around us? Are we willing to go to the furnace for our faith?

Monday, June 8, 2009


My mind has been in a race all morning. I went to bed with a heavy heart because of some issues other people were dealing with and woke up this morning with my mind running a million miles an hour. When circumstances in our lives seem crazy, disruptive, out of control and frustrating, it is very difficult to rise above them and put on the “happy face” that everything is fine.

Eternally I know that Jesus has everything under control and that my life is secure in him. But the circumstances that I find myself battling are not always easy, nor do they feel very spiritual. In fact, it simply seems like I am running in place, making no progress and bogged down by a heavy heart and a mind jumbled by details.

It is in these moments that I must hit a spiritual reset button. It is in this time that I need to step back and look eternally at the truth of my life and not the temporary obstacles. In the end, God has my best in store for me and my life is in his hands.

I am reminded of David’s words as he bared his soul to God:
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1.

My soul longs for God’s presence, his peace and his comfort. I seek his heart and his perspective. I long for a reminder of his grace and mercy in my life.

The most interesting this about all of this is that the circumstances are not directly related to my own. I hurt for someone I don’t even know personally because of pain in his family’s life. I hurt for families in our church that are hurting. I long for more connection with the one true God in order to feed my own soul.

The way to rid your soul of barrenness in the desert land is to find water. In John 4, Jesus promised that those who trust in him will never thirst again. Jesus, please quench my thirst with the power of your love, your grace, and your presence.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Sixteen years ago today my life changed forever. Before that day Alana and I had been married for about three years and had learned to live and love together. Then, on June 4, 1993 our world was forever changed when Emily was born. From the moment I held her until today I have been amazed that I get to have the joy of being her dad.

Emily is an awesome girl. Some people miss it and don’t really see it, but she is a young woman of strength, character and deep passion. The greatest thing I see in her is a desire to love and serve Jesus. Her music and her desire to serve working with kids is one avenue of her love for Christ. I pray constantly that God would continue to grow that deep into her soul.

When Emily was three, I was having the worst day of my life. I was sitting in the back room of our house staring at the mountains of Southern California and contemplating what was happening to me. Emily came in from watching Barney and got in my lap. She took her hands and looked me dead in the eye and said, “Daddy, Jesus loves you.” Suddenly it seemed like maybe things would be alright after all.

Emily is also an athlete. She is all about basketball. From the time she was three years old it was the only sport she ever truly loved. She got a basketball goal for Christmas when she was five and has never stopped shooting. She wears a t-shirt that says, “Remember when you play ball like a girl used to be an insult?” She is strong, talented, and focused. Whatever she seeks to do in life, I know she will succeed.

Emily is not perfect. None of us are. But Emily is a young lady who is daily finding herself and daily causing me to strive to be a better dad. She is smart, funny, talented and beautiful. She is able to think deep thoughts and yet silly enough to make up goofy songs with her brother and sister.

As a dad I am very proud of all of my kids. Today Emily reaches a milestone birthday. She will get her drivers license soon, she will learn to depend on me less and less and she will soon be off on her own to live the life God has designed for her.

In so many ways today I am honored, proud, and excited for Emily. But there is another part of me that wants to shrink her down, cause her to still want to cuddle with her daddy on the couch and be my little girl again. I want her to be the same little girl shooting hoops on a four foot goal and watching Barney. (Okay, we can skip the Barney part, but you get the idea.) Today is Emily’s day. And as a dad there is no way I could be more proud of who she is.

I have learned a lot in sixteen years. I have learned that for good or bad your children will reflect you. When Emily is all competitive and hates to lose, that’s me. I have learned that as much as you want your kids to grow, it is the parents who experience the growing pains. And I have learned that God is a great and an awesome God to bless me with three amazing kids. It has been an awesome sixteen years!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Many people know the basic bible stories of Daniel. We know of Daniel being taken from Israel to Babylon and how he was trained to be a servant to the king. We know about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (their Babylonian names) and the stand they took even while facing the fiery furnace. We all know the dramatic story of Daniel in the lion’s den. What we often overlook is the first choice Daniel made that allowed him to rise to such an important place in the government of a pagan king.

I heard Andy Stanley talk about this passage several years ago at Catalyst, but as I was reading the passage again this morning the depth of Daniel’s actions seemed to jump off the page. Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.”

Daniel was an upright Jewish young man who did all he could to follow God’s design and law. When he was taken into exile he could have easily given up and followed the commands of the pagan king and eaten food forbidden by God and participated in the pagan lifestyle in front of him. He had the perfect excuse to disobey God. His life literally was on the line.

But Daniel “resolved” not to defile himself. He made a heart commitment to stay true to God’s plan, God’s design and God’s purpose for his life. The scripture indicates that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the only ones who made this decision. All of the other young men taken into exile compromised their faith in order to fit into the lifestyle of Babylon.

How often do we make the same decisions? How often do we make a slight compromise here or a “course adjustment” there and find ourselves blending in to the landscape of our culture? It is so easy. We have the perfect excuse. We want to blend in, adapt, and participate in order to influence.

But Daniel made another choice. Daniel 1:17 says that because of their choice “God gave knowledge, and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.” God made them outstanding because they chose to take a stand.

I worry sometimes that in our struggle to influence we give up our core values of holiness and separation. I am not a legalist. I am not talking about whether certain actions are right or wrong. I am simply asking a question. In our effort to reach the culture are we losing the resolution of our souls not to be defiled or defined by the culture?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Storm Trooper Kimmie

The picture attached to this post is of Kimberly, my 8-year-old Storm Trooper. That was taken a couple of weeks ago at Hollywood Studios at Disney. This morning I really understood how much of a “Storm Trooper” Kimberly really is. She was riding in the middle seat of the Suburban today as I took her to school. We are driving along chatting about the fact that she only has a week left in school before summer break. Then Kimmie decided that Daddy needed a good laugh.

Being very serious she said, “I like sitting in the middle seat because I can see how fast you are going. The speed limit is 45. Remember, safety never takes a vacation.” Needless to say safety almost took a vacation as I tried to keep coffee from flying out of my nose from laughing. I am never quite sure what my kids are going to say, but I am usually sure it is going to be funny.

When I got to the office this morning and was thinking about it, I was reminded of the fact that people are always watching. It may be our kids, our friends, our co-workers, neighbors or total strangers. But someone is always watching how we act, how we speak, and how we represent Christ. That can be a huge burden, but thankfully Christ never called us to be perfect. He knew we would never be perfect, so he gave us his Spirit to help us regulate our actions and think about what we are doing.

We may not always have our own personal “Storm Trooper” in the backseat to remind us of what we need to be doing, but we can be assured that God’s Spirit will never leave those who follow him and seek after him. If we listen, if we tap into his plans and purposes for us, we can rest easy in the fact that people are always watching. Even 8-year-old little girls.