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Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

I think every pastor on the planet has at one time or another experienced someone coming to them and saying, “We are leaving and going to another church. Church XYZ has a program that is better suited for our kids. They have more things to do.” I have been on the other end of that stick and it doesn’t feel very good. It hurts even more when the decision has already been made and their mind is made up even before talking with me about it.

That is not happening right now. It has and I’m sure it will again. When someone leaves because of doctrinal reasons (they like Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding, for example, and my preaching is nowhere close to his heresy) I’m okay with that. It recently happened and I now see God sparing us from a very divisive issue. When someone leaves because they are moving over 45 minutes away (as someone very close to me did two years ago), it hurts, but I understand. I just won’t talk to him anymore (except when we get together to go out to eat). 🙂  I can get behind both of those reasons.

If a family leaves because I don’t see things as narrow as they do and leave accusing me of being liberal and compromising on issues like homosexuality, pornography, sexual conduct, abortion, and other issues, I can see there is something else underlying it. It is also so not true.

But for someone to simply pack up and leave because another church offers something we don’t, that hurts.  I don’t use the “su**s” word but I sure want to.  I’m confused. Flabbergasted. It’s like all the time and effort put into their family, their marriage, their lives means absolutely nothing.

Church-going is seen more like a shopping event than a worship event. We have become a nation of consumers, content on shopping around for the best bargain, the one (ready for it?) “that meets my needs the best.” That is certainly the one thing the seeker movement has taught us: have your felt needs met-go to the church that best meets your needs.  I’ll be honest: I despise shopping at the mall. I know everything is there under one roof. 100 different clothing stores. 30 different shoe stores. All the mobile phone kiosks. Toy stores. Lingerie stores.  Jewelry stores. (I mean, let’s face it. How many different pieces of jewelry can there be and how can one diamond store be more “real” than another?) Even a food court for your choice of food.  What the mall offers is all these stores under one roof, offering tons of the same items, still over-priced.

When it comes to the church, people lose sight of the “why” of going. They miss the “I am being fed by a man of God who uses the Word of God uncompromisingly.” Too often we determine our like or dislike by the music; the lights/camera/action; the activities going on; the entertainment value; and so on. Christ, and glorifying Him, is not king; the consumer/customer is. What does he/she need?

Granted, “feel good” positive thinking messages (I can’t call them sermons) should have us looking elsewhere. Entertainment-driven “worship events” should tire us. An endless calendar which gives us no time for family should be a yellow flag. But to leave just to leave, to feel better, to play sports or whatever, is just wrong.  Ironically, the desire for more selections and variety is what has helped create the megachurch.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?


Friday, November 23rd, 2018

The idea of worship is nothing new. If we are speaking about the Bible it is a theme which dominates the pages. In Genesis, for example, we discover the Fall came when Adam and Eve failed to worship God by obeying the one command God gave. In Revelation we learn that all of history culminates in a scene of eternal worship in the presence of a loving God.

But we also find worship elsewhere. We live in a worshiping culture. The latest sports star. Musician. Author. Preacher. The list seems endless.

Jesus knew this was an issue in Mark 12:29-30: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

This will be final sermon of the Staking Your Claim series.  I’m not sure there is a better way to end a series talking about the non-negotiables of our faith than to talk about worship. If worship is honor and adoration directed to God, then it must be something we cannot do without. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best:

“He…who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” 

I would appreciate your prayers for me and for us this weekend. In a way, we will be refocusing our thoughts from Thanksgiving to Christmas-from gratitude to awe.


Friday, November 16th, 2018

I am not preaching this weekend. My brother, Rob, will be here to sing and preach. So, I decided I would do something that I hope will set your heart right.

Worship is often confined to what happens on Sunday morning at “church.” I’m a firm believer though that worship is 24/7. However, focusing on the time we gather together on Sunday morning is what I’d like to do in this post. We gather. We sing. We partake of the Lord’s Supper. We give our tithes and offerings. We preach. (Okay…I preach). 🙂  But chances are when we talk about worship to the everyday attender most will point to the singing.

Sunday morning singing has gone through several time warps. It used to be it was all hymns. (I still love Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy and some others like them). Then a few spiritual songs were added (think I’ll Fly Away or When We All Get to Heaven). The Jesus Movement brought in a whole new type of song, both worship songs but also “feel good about me” songs. The evolution of those types of songs has been slow but eventually we morphed into a band, a group of singers, guitarists, drummers, and (choke choke) light shows, smoke machines, and theatrics. Some have even introduced “secular” songs into a worship set (Like the church that played Highway to Hell to introduce their Easter service one time).  We now have songs that last 5-7 minutes due to repetition of verses and choruses. And, of course, there is the resident “jump around and act crazy” songs mistakenly substituted for and called worship. Now…please understand I love some of the music played. I like a beat, even a rockier kind. But there is a point of saturation.

Enter a new breed and new wave of hymns. Yep, that’s right hymns. I never thought I’d be saying it but I welcome it. Not going back to singing the old ones that drone on, but new ones which highlight God the Father and Jesus the Son in meaningful, heart-touching words and music. I’ve come across some of the “new” hymns lately by a church out of Australia (no not Hillsong). The group is called CityAlight. I have been touched by their music and lyrics. You know I have been if I tell you I have been to the Y the past two days and have had them in my ears. I’d encourage you to listen to them on your own but I would like to highlight a few songs that have touched me deeply.  No comment will be made by me. I’d like you to listen and then let me know what you think. I’m encouraging our Worship Team to pursue learning some of this music.

First, this was the first one I ever heard by them.

Second, this one is a cry of my heart.

Third, I heard this one today and it jolted me.

Fourth, this one is for good measure.  🙂

I hope you will check out more of their music. I believe you will be blessed beyond measure.  Have a great weekend of worship! Enjoy being in the Father’s presence.


Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

I recently shared this on my other blog, Be Transformed, and decided it needed to be “heard” by more. It had so much power, so much oomph, that I could not pass it by. I wrote it in my journal so I would have it, then used it in my post on Be Transformed.

My worst days are never so bad that I am beyond the reach of His grace. And my best days are never so good that I am beyond the need of God’s grace. Every day should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. Jerry Bridges

WOW! Is that good or what?

I’m ashamed to admit this but there are times I take grace for granted. Not the “I can sin because I know God will forgive me” taking for granted. I just forget it is there for me. Days are tough and I forget because I am preoccupied. Days are good and I forget because I’m not hurting.

So…let’s make a vow together to live each day in grace. Up or down…Grace.

My song this week is from a man who knows grace…big time.  It is very upbeat and is a great way to start and then continue your week. Here’s your song for the week.


Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Every day I live I am reminded of Isaiah’s words in chapter 6: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!”

What could possibly have gotten Isaiah so worked up and so “slain” that he admits to having unclean lips and living in the midst of unclean people? Only one thing really:

He. caught. a. glimpse. of. the. holiness. of. God.

It must have been an earth-shattering sight for him. A “take me to my knees” sight. A “rock my world” sight. Words fail me when trying to find the words to describe it. This sort of thing happened once to me. I was on a much-needed personal retreat of 4 days of fasting and praying. I needed to clear some things in my head, but more importantly, in my heart.  I was walking the property I was staying at and praying when I found myself on my knees. Overwhelmed and overcome by the weight of it all. For once I felt like I was standing in God’s presence. So began my journey out of legalism and into freedom. But it all started with catching a glimpse of God’s holiness. I didn’t froth at the mouth. I didn’t convulse. I didn’t have any ecstatic experience. I was just overwhelmed.

Here is a song I’d like you to listen to. It is long (a little over 9 minutes) because it is a medly of two songs. They are both good alone. Combined they are powerful. Hope you enjoy. More: I hope it brings you a reality of God’s holiness and helps you focus this week on Him.


Thursday, November 17th, 2016


A lot of people talk about worshiping God but really have no clue what exactly it is. Too much of what is called worship is actually self-worship. We sing songs that do not elevate the Father but ourselves. Proclaiming God’s worth, lifting Him up for adoration, is the goal of worship. Worship is not about us feeling good. It is not about “this is what I want” unless it is craving the presence of God so you can adore Him.

I’m presenting the following thoughts from Isaiah 58 this Sunday:

  1. Let worship not be about you. [Verse 3]. We cannot have everything we want. God is not a hobby- Someone we run to when we want to waste a little time or when things get really bad.
  2. Let worship be with an attitude of peace. [Verse 4]. The Israelites were fasting but were fighting while doing it. Some of the nastiest fights are not on a foreign battlefield but in the church parking lot.
  3. Let worship be more than a surface act. [Verse 5]. Anyone can raise their hands, shed tears, sing and look sincere. But God is not concerned with externals. Worship must be from the heart.
  4. Let worship be all about freedom. [Verse 6-7]. Freedom from chains of the past. Freedom from chains of the present. Freedom from chains of the future. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from bondage.
  5. Let worship be focused on Christ. God made us so we would reflect His glory back to Him. His purpose for our life is not to make us happy; it is to display Him.
  6. Let worship bring results. [Verse 8]. We were never meant to go through worship and not be changed. A person who says, “I didn’t get anything out of that today” is saying as much about their heart as they are the worship event.

I would appreciate your prayers as I try to bring some clarity to this idea of God’s worth. Thanks.

Beholding is Becoming

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

This past Sunday, Peter, the keyboardist in our worship team made a statement I have heard many times but find myself reflecting over…mainly because I read it again. Peter said, “We become what we behold.” I read it again Monday as I was reading Jefferson Bethke’s new book, It’s Not What You Think.  Jefferson put it a little differently but said virtually the same:

“Whatever you behold, you become like. Whatever you worship, you turn into. Whatever you turn your gaze to, it rubs off on you.”

He made that statement in a chapter on worship. (DUH!) But the deeper part was his discussion of us being a society of sexual fulfillment. Some scary statistics to consider:

  • 2.5 billion e-mails per day are pornographic
  • 1 out of every 4 search engine requests is porn related
  • Sex and porn are among the top 5 search engine terms for kids under 18
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic

To many sex is a god. But then again, so is Fame. Fortune. Status. Stuff. The list goes on. I go back to that original statement: “We become what we  behold.” The one who thinks they are untouched by constant screen staring is delusional. The one who thinks they are unfazed by the almost insatiable hunger for fortune…or fame…or status…or stuff is only kidding themselves.

It’s a hard lesson to learn when your idol lets you down. When the sex wears off. When the fame is fleeting. When the fortune disappears. When the status is forgotten. When the stuff breaks.

There is only One worthy of worship…and it isn’t me or yourself or any individual or any thing.


Thursday, November 19th, 2015

One of the things “us older” people will remember from church or (even today) if you come from a more traditional denomination  is a thing called Responsive Reading. The pastor or leader would read something, then the whole congregation would read something in unison in response to what he just said.

Silly me! It is just like what we find in Psalm 136.

“His steadfast love endures forever.” 26 times it appears. They are in response to the 26 affirmations about God.

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving should be an every day occurrence. It would be if we could keep in mind the powerful truth: HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.

This Sunday I plan to explore this psalm closer. There are actually 3 things we can be thankful for:

The Wonder of Creation

The Wonder of Salvation

The Wonder of Steadfast Love

What a powerful truth to remember each day. That, and more, is the reason we need to have heart of thanksgiving.

Now you can break out in song.


Thursday, October 22nd, 2015


I wear an ID bracelet on my wrist. Actually it is a RoadID bracelet. I also wear a FIXXID and a SportID as well. (Just go here to see what all three are). I wear them to identify myself in case of an accident on my bike and I’m unable to respond. I know that scares the heebie-jeebies out of Jo but the IDs are a safeguard just in case. The motto of RoadID is “It’s Who I Am.” Each ID gives my name, contact info (Jo), medical information and I include a saying.

My sermon Sunday is entitled “Its Who We Are.” We are celebrating our 11th anniversary as a church community and I feel it is necessary to remind ourselves who we are. That simply means restating our Mission and Vision so people (the veterans and the newbies) know who we are and why we exist.

Without vision, there is rarely direction. Without direction, there are no goals. And without goals, there is no progress.

It is going to be a big day for us. I’ll be preaching the bulk of the message and during the Vision part, Ryan will be contributing on how the youth are also involved in fulfilling the Vision.  I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week.


Thursday, October 15th, 2015


Here is a quote worth thinking about (if you are involved in the church in any way):

Most middle class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot. Gordon Dahl

That phrase “play at their worship” struck me. Worship is perhaps one of the most misunderstood words used in a church setting. And yet, it is one of the most vital elements of a church.

Worship does not have to be vertical.

Take Nazi Germany for example.  Adolph who?

Take America for example.  Status? Fame? Fortune? Athletes? (You get the picture)

Take the church for example.  Rock star pastors. Buildings to rival the Taj Mahal.

In the church’s case, worship is honor and adoration directed to God. (Least it is supposed to be).

Authentic worship always begins with God.

Always. It does not begin with us. It is a response to God’s calling upon us. And contrary to popular opinion, it is not “about me.” When someone says, “I didn’t get anything out of that” they are telling more about themselves than they may think. That is another topic for another time.

Worship is vertical. It is not about us. We become what we behold. My series on Church Alive will (obviously) be taking a look at worship this week. Your prayers are much appreciated.


Note: I left for Pennsylvania Tuesday to visit my dad in the nursing home/hospital (whichever one he is in at the time) and then plan to stop off in Ohio to celebrate a certain grandson’s 9th birthday. I’ll okay the comments when I have time but please don’t look for a reply.