Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I find it very interesting how God “speaks” to me. I have never heard an audible voice from God. I have never seen messages written in fire in the sky, nor had a burning bush give me a command of God. But God speaks to me over and over again in some very subtle ways. See if you can relate to this: a topic comes to your mind. Over a period of a few days or even weeks’ different people give different insight into that same topic. Every book, magazine or sermon you hear in some way reflects on that topic. That has been happening to me lately.

It has been happening regarding several areas, but one I want to address in particular: grace. I have always thought of myself as a person who gives grace. I try to forgive. I talk about forgiveness. I try to hear others. But the reality is that maybe what I have thought was grace was just lip service. Maybe what I envisioned was a grace that still allowed me to be right. Maybe what I pictured was not grace at all.

This morning I was listening to a message by an incredible speaker as I drove to the church. He pointed out that Jesus is about grace that forgives, not laws that pass judgment. I buy that. I teach that. I finished a book I was reading yesterday where the author was talking about grace as a tool of reconciliation instead of a measuring rod of correctness. Okay, I get that. But something keeps nagging me. Something just doesn’t feel right.

I have seen my grace shortcomings up close lately. I hold on to the anger people throw my way. I sense bitterness creep in and steal my joy. I resent times when I have been challenged. It may be that I don’t have this grace thing down after all.

Grace should bring freedom and not bondage. Grace releases and doesn’t smother. Grace restores and doesn’t break. Graced is meant to be extended and not stored. Grace is a never ending loop; the more you give the more you receive.

Today, I choose to extend grace. Today I will do my best not to have to be right. Today, I will release and not hold captive. Only by God’s grace.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Godly Focus

I am someone who has a hard time focusing in for long periods of time. I would have been a better student had I been able to take classes in twenty minute increments. I simply cannot sit still for very long. I had always hoped that as an adult this would change, but in all honesty, not so much.

Yes, I can force myself to sit through long periods of time when necessary. Yes, I love learning. Yes, I actually teach in a classroom setting occasionally so I understand the gluteus maximus to mind ratio. Basically it means the brain can only absorb what the butt can endure.

One of the things God has been showing me lately is how easy it is to lose focus. I have been reading the book of Nehemiah lately and re-learning some incredible lessons on focus. Nehemiah was leading a group of people who were worn out, afraid, and vulnerable. As a leader he was passionate, sacrificial and focused.

At one point, several of Nehemiah’s enemies tried to entice him into a meeting to trap him. Each time Nehemiah rejected their request to leave his job and meet. Instead he focused even more and asked God for strength (Nehemiah 6:9). Through Nehemiah, God accomplished a task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days. But it would not have been possible if Nehemiah had not had incredible focus.

Here are three lessons on focus for any task you have to face:

1) Recognize that your calling does not come from human will. Whatever you do your life is designed by God for a perfect and focused meaning. Recognize that what you do today has eternal, spiritual implications.

2) You are going to have critics. Nehemiah was doing the impossible and people were not happy about it. Whenever God uses you to do something that cannot be humanly explained, you will have critics. Focus on your call, not the criticism.

3) Seek God for strength. Nehemiah prayed specifically that God would strengthen him for the task at hand. God is able to accomplish far more than we can imagine. So ask him to strengthen your resolve and your body to accomplish his calling on your life.

I hope that you were able to make it through. I hope you can focus. And I hope that God uses you to accomplish the impossible. Now, get off your gluteus and go do it!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stuff that Matters

I love the moment where my kids begin to own their stuff. I don’t mean the physical junk that clutters the floor of their rooms. I mean the deep inside passion about things that mean the most to them. It’s the stuff that announces who they are and what matters the most. It is the stuff that makes you hope that you haven’t screwed them up by being a lousy parent.

When my oldest daughter Emily walks onto a basketball court and digs a little deeper to dive for a loose ball that makes me excited. When she talks about wanting to avoid places and parties she knows she doesn’t need to be at, that makes me proud.

When my youngest daughter Kimberly reads four levels above her grade level I am proud. When she is disgusted with injustice, it makes me excited. When she gets upset because kids are mean to other kids, it brings me joy.

This morning I had a moment with my son, Zach. He is in seventh grade and in public school for the first time. Today was the first See You at the Pole gathering for him at his new school. It is when Christians gather at the flag pole of their school to pray for their school. Zach was excited about going and he and I went over to the school an hour early so he could join in with others. No one else came.

Zach was crushed. He was actually a little mad. He couldn’t understand why no one else was there. He kept saying, “Why don’t Christians show their true colors?” For an hour we sat in the car and talked about it. I tried to encourage him and help him understand all the factors that may be involved, but he wasn’t buying it.

Zach prayed for his school. He prayed that Christians would stand up for what they believe. He prayed that people would do what was right. He prayed that he would show his “true colors.” Zach prayed that God would show up with power at his school that “no force” (his words) could stop. And all the while his dad was convicted that this little man has a passion that I underestimate so often.

This is the stuff that matters. This is the deep passion that I have prayed would develop in my kids. I have prayed that they would not follow my miserable excuse for a Christian life when I was a teenager, but that they would have a desire that nothing can stop. And this morning, it made me cry.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Everyone Hates Monday!!

Everyone hates Monday!! Every Sunday night at least one of my kids laments the fact that they have to get up and go to school the next day. People want another day to sleep, to relax and to be lazy. Everyone hates Monday!!

Monday’s are always interesting days in my life. As a pastor, my entire week is focused on Sunday morning. I plan, pray, read, think, write and study all to make the Sunday morning worship experience as good as I possibly can. No matter how good Sunday is, Monday is right around the corner.

A friend of mine who is also a pastor described the feeling as giving birth on Sunday and realizing you are pregnant on Monday. I think about that every Monday morning around 11:00 as I am trying to shake off the fog from Sunday and blaze through my fifth or sixth cup of coffee, I realize that in six days I have to be ready to go again. It is as if I need an EPT (Early Preaching Test) every week!

But Monday also reminds me of some great truths. First, God moves in people’s lives by the power of his word. Almost every week I have a card and e-mail or a note from someone telling me how God spoke to them through the message on Sunday. Second, I am blessed to be able to preach God’s Word every week. I was made for this. Third, God is faithful to show me his love and grace every day. I need to make sure I do the same for others. Even on Monday!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why we Worship

I’m reading a book right now called “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing” by Geoff Surratt. It is a great book for church leaders and one that has some incredibly practical and simple advice that we often overlook in our busy lives. One question that Geoff asks in the book is, “why do we have a Sunday morning service?” For someone who has always worked in the church as an adult, the thought has never really crossed my mind.

I guess there are many reasons that we have worship services on Sunday mornings. It brings about a sense of community, we are able to invite people to a gathering, we feel better about our lives and our families, we train our kids, etc. But are any of these the right reason? Is that what it is really all about?

Geoff goes on to point out what I already mentally know but very seldom vocalize: we gather for worship to make the name of Jesus famous. Worship is not about our feelings or our desires. Worship is not about how good we look to others or how we feel about ourselves. Worship is about making the name of Jesus famous. Period. The end. There is no more.

I have found more and more over the last few years that so many people forget that. I have heard people complain about music, about the message and about the temperature of the room. Some people have actually claimed to have left our church, not because we weren’t teaching Christ, but because they were chilly in the service. To be honest, they were the ones causing the chill.

People get offended by stuff the church does all the time. What I find offensive and what I think offends God, is that we think Sunday morning is about us. Did the worship meet my needs? Did I like that song? Did the pastor offend me today? (By the way, the people usually offended by what I say on Sunday mornings are usually people who love religion and like Jesus. Just sayin!)

The reason we worship is about Jesus Christ period!! He came from heaven to earth. He taught us what it looked like to love God and love others. He died on the cross for our sins. He rose from the dead to defeat death. He is preparing our eternal home in heaven. He is someday going to return and rule for eternity. So, why should worship be about us?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Night Meltdown

So, I have made it through the weekend and here is some of the stuff rattling around in my dome.

• Today was awesome at LifeQuest. I say it every week but I always mean it!!!
• I miss it when the worship leaders are away and I have to lead. My fingers are killing me from playing guitar!
• It is so great to see so many new faces every week!
• It was fun watching my daughter’s basketball team win the Back 2 School Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend!! Love those Sun Devils!!
• I like my 80’s music weekends on the radio, but now I have “Safety Dance” stuck in my head!!!
• I am so glad football is back!!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I’ve spent most of today in a virtual conference called “The Nines.” Since it is 09/09/09, Leadership Network had over 70 ministry leader’s video a message that is nine minutes long. The topic was, “What would you say to other leaders if you had nine minutes to say it.” Since they didn’t ask me to do a video, I decided that I will use tonight to highlight nine things I would say to people if they wanted to know. In descending order:

9) Try to serve somebody every day.

8) Think deeper.

7) Value friends.

6) Seek wisdom.

5) Love liberally.

4) Pursue God’s vision for you at all costs.

3) Focus on those God is changing instead of those who hate change.

2) Speak and listen to truth.

1) Your life doesn’t have to be defined by sin but can be redeemed by a Savior.

That is my nine. It didn’t take nine minutes for you to read, but hopefully it will help you to think a little deeper about your life and where God is leading you. So, what would your top nine look like?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There is an old saying that “truth is the first casualty of war.” As sad as that may seem, it feels as if we are in a war for truth in every area of our lives these days. Over and over again I am reminded that truth has become a casualty of the war against humanity. Our culture has adapted to a worldview that truth need only be relative, partial or explainable; it is never to be absolute. This line of thinking is not only dangerous, it is ultimately fatal.

Our society buys into this type of thinking in subtle ways and it produces within us a callous heart and a seared conscious. The slide from truth usually begins innocuously enough with a “little white lie” or by not telling the “whole truth.” As we slide down that slope we begin to believe that telling a lie is easier than telling the truth at times and the consequences are not as devastating. That, in and of itself, is untrue.

As Christians, truth is the foundation upon which our lives are built. The truth of a God who loves us, a God who forgives us and a view of the world built on concrete spiritual foundations that are absolute. This line of thinking is not always popular, but that has never been the point of faith. If God is not truth, than he ceases to be God.

As Christians we must love truth. We must love God’s truth, the truth of scripture and the truth spoken in love. I have been challenging my kids to recognize lies when they see them on TV, in movies or on the news. See what worldview is being described by our media and how it slants the truth to fit its agenda. We must learn to love truth, because God loves truth.

Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” The scripture also says “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” God loves truth and he desires for us to love truth as well.

This week, seek truth. Seek honesty and integrity in all things. And, in so doing, seek God.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

School Mornings

School days are a little different at our house this year. Emily still has her routine of getting up way early, getting ready and being at school at about 6:45 in the morning. Zach and Kimmie have changed schools this year and they don’t have to be at school until 9:15. It has taken some adjustment, but we are learning on the fly.

One of the downsides of Zach and Kimmie’s school is that traffic is ridiculous. In order to get them there on time, you have to get to the school by 8:40 and wait in your car until 8:55. Otherwise you sit in this monster snake of traffic and run the risk of them being late to class. Alana normally takes them, but today I got to drop them off. It was great!!

Let me explain. Traffic was terrible, the line was long and it was already hot outside. But as we sat in the car we opened the bible and Zach read Psalm 23. Alana has started doing this every morning with the kids, but I don’t usually get to be there. We talked about what it means that God is our shepherd. We talked about how he provides for our needs, and we talked about how we do not have to be afraid because he watches over us. We then prayed for everyone to have a good day and for Zach and Kimmie to know that God was watching over them.

It was so special to share these few early morning moments with the kids. We talk about the bible, we pray and we discuss life, but somehow in the mornings the kids are more open and ready to talk. Parents, use moments like this to teach your kids. Use this as an opportunity to share with them your own desires and fears for the day. Learn to let the daily moments be daily opportunities.

“These commandments that I give you are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Or when you sit in the car line at school!!!