Monday, November 10, 2008

American Jesus

Been thinking a lot about a series coming up in my church community early in 2009. We're going to be exploring the "American" version of Jesus and Christianity. I know this is going to be controversial and shake people, but it's needed. Because America has domesticated the Jesus of the Bible. I'm not pointing fingers - I am guilty of this as well. And it's time the Church in America take a very serious look at what we've become and what we've done to rob Jesus of His real message and mission.

Some may ask - what have we done to Jesus? How have we domesticated Him? Well...bottom line ... we've made Him to look like us. He's our skin color. He's our political party. He agrees with our worldview. In addition to these things - Jesus is safe. Jesus is easy. Being His follower requires only that I attend church some and do some good things once in awhile.

Who is Jesus, really? This is the question I am wrestling with as I prepare for this series.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Own Nothing

Starting a new series at The Quest this Sunday. Focusing on "Biblical perspectives on ownership." This is a "stewardship" series. I've always struggled with "stewardship" series' in the past - and I'm a pastor! The problem with them is that they have an end destination in mind - getting people to give money toward a budget that the church is trying to raise. Is that really a worthwhile destination? Is is lasting? Or is it self-serving? Don't get me wrong - we have a budget, too. But shouldn't the destination in a series like this be for people to make a paradigm shift - from thinking we OWN our little world/life/story to understanding that God OWNS it all? And then trying to figure out how my story fits into HIS story?

Why do we settle for such small expectations of people - just getting them to give to a budget? God wants so much more - He requires so much more - He wants ALL of us. We are HIS.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Corrie Ten Boom and my daughter

Corrie Ten Boom has always intrigued me. Amazing woman who was a Dutch holocaust survivor and who helped many Jews escape the Nazis during WW II.

My daughter, Morgan, just finished the book "Prince Caspian," and we went looking for a new book for her to read during our Friday "Father Daughter Times" together (we read the Bible, another book, pray, etc --- intentional discipleship time). I saw a biography on Corrie Ten Boom's life and thought that Morgan needed to read about her.

So my daughter - who is just 9 and living in 2008 - is about to meet Corrie Ten Boom through this book. After this biography we may go on to read "The Hiding Place" - written by Ten Boom herself - telling her story in her own words.

I have a passion to raise my kids to know Christ and to see authentic models of what it means to follow Him in the real world - even when it is difficult. Ten Boom's story is certainly an example of that.

Looking forward to reading this incredible story together!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dead Preachers

I'm learning something about preaching. Simply put - to be effective as a preacher/teacher - I must be dead. Many will argue with this statement and use personal opinion and our fleshly desires to "be somebody" to tell me that God wants to "use ME," etc. Heck - I've even said that before - many times - in my preaching. But Biblically, it cannot be supported. The only way for Jesus Christ to be revealed and to become FAMOUS in my own life is for me to die, so that He can live. I won't quote one verse here to support that - it's the entire message of the Bible - especially in the New Testament. The way to LIFE is through the door of DEATH (just look at Jesus and the cross).

Anyway, praying that God will help me to die, so that He can truly live in my preaching and teaching to my church community. My community needs God, not me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I can't "stop"

"Sabbath" is a biblical word and concept meaning "to stop" or "to cease." My church community began a new series yesterday exploring the biblical concept of sabbath. I asked my church to acknowledge if they led crazy and chaotic lives that were costing them in some way. I think everyone raised a hand in acknowledgment - including myself.

We just don't get it. As Jesus-followers we often have the "right answers" - but our living is often, very often, out of sync. Not pointing fingers - I'm the worst.

God help us. How will we ever know God if we don't heed the call to stop and know Him?

Psalm 46:10 'Be still and know that I am God.'

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Update on Discipling My Daughter

Awhile back I mentioned that I was starting something called "Father Daughter Time" (FDT) with my oldest daughter, Morgan. We meet weekly for a time of spiritual growth and for me as a father to pass on faith to my child. We've met about 16 or 17 times so far (we missed a week here or there - but have been consistent for the most part). It's been amazing, really. We're almost through the gospel of John for our Bible reading, we've already read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and now are reading "Prince Caspian." In addition we make out a prayer list every week and talk about prayers that have been answered, are ongoing, etc. Finally, we come up with one thing Morgan can do to serve someone for the week (this is always the toughest thing for her). And last week - we decided to add a memory verse for each week. I want Morgan to "write God's Word on her heart" - what better way than memorizing it.

Loving these times together. Thinking of doing it until she's 13 or so. We'll see after that.

I'm going to do this with all four of my kids (starting at age 8)! Going to be busy, but worth it!

Missional Church

Reading a challenging and thought-provoking book right now called The American Church in Crisis by David Olson. You can view it here. It's based on massive amounts of research and study and is full of great stats/charts/etc. But bottom line, it demonstrates how the church in America is in decline - and has been for some time. It also projects how on our present course the church faces a major crisis. It challenges us as church leaders, denominations, etc. to be bold enough and willing to pay the price for what it will take to change, impact culture, and experience growth. Olson calls for a missional approach to church.

I'm waking up. Olson's findings resonate deep within me. I pray other church leaders are experiencing this as well. We have been complacent for too long. It's time we take a serious look at ourselves, our motivations, our structures, everything. We need to be willing to change for the sake of the Kingdom. Not sure what all this means, but I do know that the Church needs prophetic voices willing to focus the center on Jesus Christ and His teachings and His mission in our world.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I don't know why I'm always amazed at God's presence. But I am. Last night we had worship gathering called "Remedy" - which is an intimate worship time centered on prayer and healing. Usually have an intimate crowd, and keep it real simple --- some prayerful worship music, prayer, sharing. Last night as we shared and prayed together, people struggling and suffering opened up . And the great part was that others then gathered around them to support them and help them carry their burdens (Galatians 6:2). I said to someone afterwards - that I need to be very careful not to "plan God right out of worship." God was so central in our gathering last night, I realized that sometimes I make the "worship event" central instead of Him. It may seem like a little thing and some may call it semantics - but it's not. If our worship event is central - then we are central. If God is central - then we're worshiping the only One worth worshiping.

Last night is a challenge to me to be sure that Christ is the center of all we do.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Said something yesterday that really hit me hard - during my message at my church - I said that "we are wired by God for friendship." I've said something similar many times before ... so not sure why it hit me in a different way this time ... but it did. I guess it's sinking in. You and I - are made for each other. To be in community together. To know each other.

So why is this so hard? Especially in the church community? Why do we wear masks and put on facades? What are we afraid of? If I'm honest - I am afraid of real relationships. Because then I'm really putting myself out there. To be known. And to know others. And this is not clean and easy. Relationships are messy and difficult.

But how else can we have community? It doesn't happen by just putting it into the title of our church or something like that. It doesn't happen by writing it into a vision statement. It happens when we know we're wired for it ... and when we enter into the crazy, messy, beautiful process of being a community.

Just some stuff I'm thinking about today ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My new nephew

The world is officially larger. Isaiah Kenney Carr ("Zay") was born last week to my sis and bro-in-law out in CA. Cute kid.

The Bible says to "be fruitful and multiply." David and Maria are fulfilling the mandate. Welcome to the world of parenthood!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Job series

Began a new series at our church this past Sunday - exploring the theme of pain and suffering in our world. We're looking at the book of Job to discover how he dealt with the incredible pain and suffering in his life. We began by asking a question: "Does God allow suffering?" We said that He does, but that the deeper question that the book of Job probes is "How does a person deeply suffering respond?" That's a more difficult question if you ask me.

Gotta admit - this has been a tough series so far. But love dealing with the true realities of life instead of dancing around the issues.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My oldest daughter Morgan just finished her first ever "swim season" last night - with her final meet of the summer season. She did well - swimming backstroke, freestyle, and breaststroke. Had a cool moment last night after she finished her last race. I went over to tell her how proud I was of her for giving this her all, and my mom happened to see me talking to her. She mentioned how cool it was for her to see me doing this, and how it reminded her of me growing up and the things I used to do (cross country and track races, etc). Later I thought - what a neat LEGACY moment. My parents being proud of me for who I was becoming ... and now me passing that on into my own children.

LEGACY is something often forgotten these days. We're so busy and so worried about so many other things that we forget what is most important. Passing God and the good stuff of life on...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Beginning a new series in our church community in a couple weeks. The focus is on the parables of Jesus and how they "reveal" God and the Kingdom to us. The longer I follow Christ the more I realize that the Kingdom is "here and now," as well as "future/not yet." My struggle is reflective of the Church's struggle in general - we turn the Kingdom into some future only reality (get saved and go to heaven someday). We focus so much on life after death that we forget about life before death - which is where we are right now. Jesus' parables revealed God and His Kingdom in the present in such a way that we ought to be changed/transformed. We cannot stay the same. If we do, we have missed the Kingdom entirely.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jesus-led Worship

Once a month my church has a prayer and healing gathering we call "Remedy Worship." Last week had a small crowd (they are usually pretty small and intimate), and it was one of the most refreshing worship experiences I've been a part of in awhile. These gatherings are always very peaceful and flow pretty freely. Been reading a book lately called Pagan Christianity? by George Barna and Frank Viola. Here's a link to it on Amazon. Pretty tough book to read because it challenges so much of what we "know" as Christians and the Church - especially church practices. Anyway, the authors advocate what I would basically call Jesus-led worship where all in attendance at the meeting/gathering participate and minister. This, they say, is the first century model for worship. It's not something new to me, but I have been drawn to more of this in worship at my church. We try to be participatory, but this is even more radical. So at our Remedy gathering, I took a back seat and simply led the community in a time of worship through music (led by a couple), and then we discussed Galatians 6:2 for a few moments - focusing on bearing each other's burdens. Then I asked if anyone had a burden to share. Someone immediately spoke up. After they shared, I asked if anyone had words to share with them .. and someone immediately spoke up and shared what to me seemed like very God-inspired words. Then many of us gathered around the person and someone else prayed over them (I put the sign of the cross on their forehead with oil). This went on for several more people, we sang some more, prayed some more, etc. After about an hour or so it ended. Gotta say - it truly felt like Jesus led the worship. Quite an experience.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do you like Jesus but not the Church?

My church is starting a new mission/ministry in our downtown community. You can check it out here. We're asking a question that many of us in the Church don't ask enough - "Do you like Jesus, but not the Church?" Many Christians/church people get offended by a question like this. We wonder how it is that people don't like the Church. We also may be offended by a church going out and getting into conversations with people about this question. But it's reality and something the Church must begin to face. There are many people in our culture who have serious struggles with us and "church." And avoiding these real people or just saying they are "lost" is not the answer. Jesus calls us to radical evangelism. I say radical because we in the Church have pretty much turned evangelism into a "committee" that plans events, etc ... but doesn't do much to get out into the real world where real people are. Radical evangelism is the evangelism of Luke 15 - where Jesus hangs out with the people of society that the Church of His day ignored. I for one have been like the Church of Jesus' day and ignored the world around me for too long. Maybe it's time we really think about who we are and what we're called to. Maybe then we'll be able to begin a real conversation with people Jesus loves - who exist "outside" our church walls.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Starting a new series at Quest this Sunday. Been challenging as I've begun to study and prepare for it. The premise is that everyone's life speaks/says something. But when our lives say something for God they speak LOUD to the world in such a way that others are drawn to Him. Thing about it is ... in culture today this is best accomplished through our LIVING (instead of our words). The Church culture still has alot to learn about this, in my opinion. We tend to think the best thing to do is to SPEAK about God instead of simply LIVING for Him.

Looking forward to this series ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

3 in 1

Beginning a new series @ our church this Sunday - called "3 in 1" where we'll be exploring the mystery of the Trinity. Our concept of God can become so "boxed up" sometimes - meaning we think we have God and this faith thing all figured out. Truth is - God cannot be contained by our boxes. He's bigger than our thinking. He's more mysterious than our thinking. Just look at the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. 3 distinct "persons" (although not a "person" in the way we think about it) but still only ONE GOD. It blows the mind just to think about. The box becomes way too small. Anyway - looking forward to exploring our BIG God.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Hardest Thing about Church

I used to think the hardest thing about being a pastor and "doing church" was preaching, teaching, administration, etc. But the longer I'm at it, the more I think it's something else. That something else is creating a real sense of "community." We talk about community and relationships alot at my church, and I do feel we have a genuine sense of community - but it's still not where I would like to see it be. And I know there are others in our church that probably struggle with it as well. I believe most of the struggle for community centers in our fears of really opening up and being who we are. I can't tell you how many times I hear people say they longed for community, but still said they hold back themselves in really opening up and being real, etc. Sometimes I feel like we're all walking around longing for community, yet we still lack the very thing we want because we're waiting for someone else to take the first step/make the first move.

I've been challenged in my own faith to be the one that steps first/makes the first move. When we do it - it's amazing what sometimes happens. We find a new friend, or a friendship goes deeper than we ever thought possible. Just this week I shared a deep wound with a friend (I became vulnerable) - and he in turn shared one - and our relationship has become more Christ-centered and what I'm looking for in relationships. We are developing more of a sense of "community."

So be challenged - step out. Make the first move. See what God does.

Peace my friends...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Discipling my daughter

Was inspired by another pastor and blogger awhile back to begin discipling my own children. By this I mean I'm spending intentional one on one time with them where we focus on specific spiritual "challenges" (I'll explain). I have four kids - so this will be a alot for me! However, I've decided I would start when each one turns 8, and continue until the 13th birthday. So this will help spread it out for me since my kids span different ages. Have met with my oldest daughter (who is 8) twice now. It's been really cool. Let her pick out her own Bible (she had a kids type one - but I helped her pick out a new one in a modern translation - it's pink!). She also picked another book to read. I pick her up from school on Fridays, we go to a donut/ice cream place, and we spend an hour together. During this time we discuss 4 challenges each week - 1) Bible challenge - where she reads at least a chapter of the Bible and we discuss what she learned (we're doing John right now), 2) Prayer challenge - where she decides on things she wants to pray for during the week, 3) Serve challenge - where she decides one thing she will do to serve another person during the week, and 4) Intellectual challenge - where she reads another book and we discuss it. Right now we're reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. She keeps a journal of what we're doing. Gotta say - over the next few years I'll spend 200-250 times with her like this AND I love what it will do for our relationship and her relationship with God.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cool Image

This is a large "sign" we have hanging on our stage area at our church. Just thought it looked so cool I wanted to post it on the blog. It's for a series we're doing right now called "vintage FAITH" where we're looking at the ancient teachings of Jesus and how they relate to our world today. We're studying the 8 Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


The world has changed. But has the Churched noticed? Culturally it is becoming more and more apparent that people are "post-denominational." By that I mean that people are less likely to choose to connect with a church community because of denominational affiliation than they've ever been before. Simply put - people just don't care alot about this anymore. In many ways, I think this is refreshing. Instead of a focus on institutional moorings, people are interested in God and community and being missional. But this new post-denominational culture is rocking the Church world/culture. In so many ways we don't know how to respond because we have attached ourselves so closely to things that culture just isn't interested in (at least anymore). The Church of the 21st century is faced with a challenge - understanding and moving toward a post-denominational mindset, or risk losing our voice with present and many future generations.

Personally, I'm excited about the challenge and the opportunities. Denominations don't have to die in this wake, but have the opportunity to be re-born. God help us, we pray.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Churches don't compete

Just put a billboard up in our city. The idea behind it is that so often churches and Christians can be divided. The image we present to the world is fractured and broken because of our denominational and institutional disagreements. I'm not saying we shouldn't join a certain "tribe" or whatever (I'm connected to a denomination), but so often it becomes more important to us than relationships with each other and our common mission.

Love a quote from Charles Spurgeon on this (From "A Divided Heart," 1859):

When the differences are of such a character, that as people of God we can still love each other, and still unite in the common battle against the cause of evil and in the common end of building up the church, then there is but little that is faulty. When when our doctrinal divisions grow to so great a head that we cease to co-operate; when our opinions upon mere ordinances becomes so acid towards each other, that we can no longer extend the right hand of fellowship to those who differ from us, then indeed is the church of God found faulty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stuff we don't talk about @ church

We're in a series at our church where we've been discussing issues the Church doesn't like to face/talk about. The series has been based on a couple new books that research perceptions people outside the Church have about Christians/the Church (UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and They Like Jesus But Not the Church by Dan Kimball). We've been inviting questions and dialogue during the message/teaching time - which has really been incredible. The series has been very challenging as we've been looking at the following perceptions: 1) Christians are hypocrites, 2) Christians are homophobic, 3) Christians are sheltered, and 4) Christians are divided.

You can check out the series on our website's "watch/listen" page.