Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

If I could have one Christmas wish, it would be that I could go back in my life to before our children were born and establish a foundation for being a better parent.  My pursuit of ministry success caused me to neglect my children, especially the two oldest.  I am guilty of having put the church before family for many, many years.  It is my greatest regret in life. 

Since I cannot redo the past, I must make do with the present.  Over 2500 miles separate me from my oldest daughter, her husband, and my only grandchild.  I missed too many years of her life when she was growing up.  She is very successful in her career and I am proud of her and my son-in-law.  Now, when I am more in tune with what is important, I cannot be there for them.  I ache every time we skype.  I miss seeing my grandson grow up and being there to help my daughter with him.  I don't like the fact that I am not going to see him open the train set we sent him for Christmas.  In spite of the miles, I treasure them dearly.  I only wish we were closer.

I am thrilled that my son and I have been able to find healing in our relationship.  I am grateful that he lives so close and that he will be home for Christmas.  But beyond that, I am pleased to say that he is my friend and that I really enjoy spending time with him.  I always look forward to seeing his truck roll into the driveway.  It means that we can spend a few hours together.  I'm proud of how he has carved out a life for himself.  He has a good career and is very gifted at what he does.  With all that he has going on, he still makes time for his parents.  I am blessed.

My youngest daughter has benefited from my wake-up call the most.  She is still in high school, and I make it a point to be as involved in her life as she will allow me to be.  We've done soccer and softball together for many years.  She is now involved in volleyball and is having great success.  She is an excellent student.  But more than anything, I love her tender heart.  She has become a sweet young lady.  I'm probably too much of a meddling parent and overly protective for her liking.  I'm just trying to be a better dad.

My wish for this Christmas is to always strive to be a better dad.  With God's help, it is possible. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Would You Do?

A few evenings ago, our son Jon was home for a visit.  While he was there, a discussion came up about something he had posted on his Facebook page.  Jon's posting was very thought provoking.  It went something like this:  If you could go back and relive any day of your life, would you chose a really good day and enjoy the experience again, or would you chose a horrible day (due to personal choices) and try to change the circumstances?

On the one hand, some might desire to relive that really good day - to recapture what it felt like.  Perhaps current circumstances are difficult and to go back in the past to a favorite moment might raise the spirit and provide some much needed encouragement.  Maybe a return to former glory would serve as an escape from the present.

On the other hand, to return to a bad day and change it would indeed be challenging.  It might require owning one's poor choices.  It might entail hard decisions and even harder work.  Would it be worth the effort?  Would it re-shape things so that today would be different? 

If you were given that choice, which would you choose? 

Monday, November 12, 2012


Yesterday in our worship service I challenged our people to start a revolution - a revolution of one.  It only takes one person to impact the life of a people group, a nation, and yes, even the world.  History is littered with examples of revolutionaries that brought about incredible change.

The revolution I am speaking of is spiritual in nature.  Each of us who claims to be a follower of Christ must really take up the cross of discipleship.  We need to take our follower-ship seriously.  We need to be devoted to Christ and to walk in utter obedience to Him.  We must devote ourselves to the same things the earliest Christ-followers devoted themselves to:  the apostle's teaching (the Word), the fellowship (the Church), the breaking of bread (the sacraments) and prayer (direct communication with God).  See Acts 2:42.

Then we must be about the business of being leaders.  The best definition of leadership is one word:  influence.  We must make it our aim to influence those who don't know Jesus to come to faith in Him.  We must live like Christians ("little Christs") and always be ready to share with others the internal hope we possess (see 1 Peter 3:15). 

Let's turn our corner of the world upside-down for Christ!  Let's decrease the potential population of hell by sharing a vision of heaven with those who need it most.  Will you join me?

If you read this, what does the word "disciple" mean to you?  I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Challenging Days Ahead

I know that there will be those who will disagree with what I am writing today.  However, I'm allowed to have my point of view as much as they do, so here I go.

I am disappointed in the results of the national election.  The political agenda that has been embraced at both the national and state levels is one that takes us away from God.  There are forces at work that have been waiting for this election to begin the onslaught against our civil liberties.  There are lawyers that have been working behind the scenes to prepare an attack on Christian churches and organizations, eliminating our 501(c)3 status in an attempt to force churches to pay taxes while at the same time forcing nationalized health care on our institutions.  If such action is legalized, then many churches will be forced out of existence.  The financial burden will be too great.  And when that happens, the programs and charities that currently meet the needs of many people will be eliminated, forcing people to become more and more dependent on the federal government.  The new world order that our current political leaders are calling for will become a reality, paving the way for a world government and a world leader.  This sounds eerily like the prophecies of Scripture. 

However, I am not a fatalist.  I still believe in prayer and the power of God!  The Church must rise up!  I am not espousing a political agenda or that the Church become another PAC.  No, the Church must rise up and be the Church.  We must get back to fulfilling the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment.  We must be soul winners.  We must disciple those we lead to Christ.  We must teach people the Truth. 

My friends, there is no answer but Jesus!  There is no power that can change a life but His!  We must change our world one person at a time!  But we must engage our culture with the message of hope and salvation.  We can't wait for them to come to us.  We must go to them!  Those without Jesus are lost and dying and headed for a Christ-less hell.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (see John 14:6).  As Josh McDowell once wrote, Jesus Christ is either Lord, lunatic, or liar.  I believe He is Lord.  Do you?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day

I've been sickened (again) this political season with all of the misleading campaign ads filled with lies and misdirection.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised as it takes place every election cycle.  I think what frustrates me even more is the number of people who can't seem to differentiate between truth and misinformation.  Like mindless sheep headed for slaughter, people are headed for the polls tomorrow (or have already done so via absentee or early balloting) to cast their vote for a godless agenda that will condemn America to ruin.

But there is hope!  No matter who is elected as the president, senator, congressman, etc, we who know the Lord have the inner realization that we have a future.  There is hope for America!  You see, our hope is not in the ways of man nor in the functions of a bureaucracy.  No individual is going to save us from ourselves.  We must turn to our Founding Father, and lift our voices to Him, and seek His ways.  And when we do, we have hope! 

When Solomon was dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem, God appeared to him and said, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices.  At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you.  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" (2 Chronicles 7:12-14 NLT). 

It's really up to us - the Church!  God restores when we are right with Him.  I agree with Bill Hybels when he says, "The hope of the world is the local church."  When the local church is walking with Jesus, that statement is true.  When we are walking with Jesus, then there will be a prevailing church against which the powers of hell cannot conquer (see Matthew 16:18). 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Leading Edge

I've been a student of leadership for many years.  As I look back over my life, I've been in leadership nearly all of it.  As a teenager, I was the senior patrol leader of my boy scout troop at the age of 14.  I served on the board of my home church at age 16.  Throughout my college years I was involved on several leadership ventures.  In my 31 years of ministry, I've led churches, boards, and committees, and served on denominational task forces and various district offices.  I've been blessed with a wide range of experience.

Now my confession:  I'm still learning about leadership.  I am constantly reading books on the subject, attend the occasional leadership conference, listen to leaders on cd, and glean from leaders I respect.  I'm constantly soaking up leadership principles to improve my interaction with people and to take my organization to the next level.  I am hungry to learn more. 

I also desire to share what I am learning and practicing with others.  I've come to that stage in life where I know that I need to invest more in others in this particular area.  I'm currently developing a program for systematic leadership training in my local church.  I'm co-leading a small group of pastors in my district where our focus is on leadership development.  I'm being certified as a coach in the Wesleyan Coaching Network in order to be able to enter into formal coaching agreements with those who desire to be better leaders. 

Leadership is influence.  I've not always been the best leader, but I'm working at it.  I'm at the stage in life where I am determined to leave a legacy of developing others.

What are you doing to invest in others?  I'd like to learn from you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Efforting.  It's an interesting term.  It's used in broadcast journalism when support staff is attempting to secure a guest for a show - "We're efforting that." 

It's also a good way to describe what happens in sports.  Players that are really putting everything into the game are known for their efforting - giving their total energies to the game.  My daughter Bekah and her friend, Morgan, are great at efforting in their volleyball games.  Some of their teammates - not so much.

Let's move the discussion over to spiritual development.  Are you "efforting" in your growth?  Are you putting in the effort necessary to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus?  Do you settle for simply being on the team when you could be contributing in the game?  Are you contributing in such a way that adds value to your team and teammates, or are you actually being a drain on their efforts? 

I know these are hard questions for some who may read this blog.  But we are all responsible to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Being a good steward is not keeping what we have, but investing it so that it grows.  When one person isn't efforting, it impacts the whole team - and the whole church.

So what do you think?  And are you efforting?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Toxic Waste

I was in a meeting the other day when a friend made this statement:  "We let our passions for what is good separate us from what is best."  Isn't that true?  Sometimes we allow the good things of life keep us from becoming the best that God wants us to be.  We sacrifice the great by settling for what is simply good.

What are some examples of this?  When parents are willing to involve their children in every sporting league and encourage them to compete in tournaments to the point their children are no longer regularly in church, I think this sends a signal to the kids that church isn't important.  I know parents are trying to get their kids to earn scholarships and other honors, but how many actually get these awards?  How many kids burn out on the very sport they are passionate about?  Another example would be choosing to pursue a relationship we know isn't in the center of God's will but we allow ourselves that liberty.  What does that say about our values?

Don't get me wrong.  There is life outside of church!  There are going to be times when some events conflict with the church calendar and your participation may be necessary.  However, I think each of us knows the difference between what is good and what is best.  Are you struggling in this area? 

I'm going to do a sermon series in August on this topic.  Let's explore this together.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Longevity or "Old?"

I received a certificate on Saturday at our district conference.  It was for 30 years of service in The Wesleyan Church.  As I stood on the platform with pastors who had served 25, 30, 35 and more years, I thought, "All this means is that I'm getting old."  The good news is that I felt (and hope looked) younger than the other men on the platform.  I guess that's my perspective and I'm sticking with it. 

Our General Superintendent did make an interesting comment:  Nearly 50% of those who are called to and start out in ministry quite within the first five years.  Wow!  I'm not sure what to make of that exactly, but it's an interesting stat.  I guess after 30 years it says I'm too stubborn to quit! 

On a serious note, I tip my cap to all those who serve in pastoral ministry for whatever period of time, and particularly to those who have been at it longer than I have.  Thank you for your faithfulness!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Updates on previous posts

Well, I looked back and thought I better update some of my past posts.
  • General Conference has come and gone.  We have restructured The Wesleyan Church to being led by one general superintendent and four major department leaders.  Many of the changes are good.  There are a couple of concerns as far as how some of them will impact overall effectiveness, but all in all, the denomination is leaner and meaner. 
  • I completed my online training for IWU and I passed!  I'm still a bit nervous about that first online class when it gets assigned, but like anything new, you have to try it before you know if you will like it!
  • I've lost about four pounds since implementing the "weight upon the Lord" plan.  I only have a couple of others in the church doing it with me, but that's fine.  By the end of the summer we'll be the envy (oops, can't have that) of the church.  :)
I'm praying our vacation plans come together.  There have been some obstacles but we are working toward it.  Look out New York! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weight on The Lord

Yeah, it's corny, but I issued a challenge to our congregation a week ago that we need to be better stewards of our bodies.  The Bible tells us to wait upon the Lord for strength.  Well, if we exercise and watch what we eat, our weight will go down, our health will improve, and we will have more energy for our families and for serving the Lord.  Part of the goal is for each participant to set a financial goal at the end of the next three months as a gift for a benevolence that we will be designating in the near future.  The money isn't for the church.  It will be given away to others. 

My goal is to lose 15 pounds by the end of August.  I've made my financial pledge.  If any of my readers would like to sponsor a financial pledge in support of my goal, that would be awesome!  Just let me know.  As I said, the money will go to assist a person or persons in need.  I have a couple of other people in the church who are also doing the challenge.  I hope a few more will step up!

One of the reasons I am doing this is to be more accountable for my weight loss.  My doctor says I need to take off more weight (and keep it off) in order to better combat my diabetes.  If I hit some of his weight goals, I may actually be able to get off my medication (Metformin) and keep my diabetes under control with diet and exercise.  When I was first diagnosed I weighed about 242.  A week ago I was at 224.  Today I was at 220.  I may be able to lose more than my goal of 15 pounds.  But that's the goal for the summer! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

In Over My Head

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you really wanted to do something, pushed hard to be able to do it, and then when you were granted permission you found out you were way over your head?  Man, I've felt that way the past two weeks, but this week in particular.

I have been teaching for Indiana Wesleyan University for nearly 12 years.  Due to the explosion in online education, our onsite program is struggling and the number of courses I am being offered to teach has dwindled from six to one a year.  That's not good on the old family budget!  I started asking to teach online about two years ago.  I was always turned down and told, "You are too valuable to our onsite program and we don't want to lose you to online."  I assured people that I would make onsite a priority, but I needed a couple of online classes a year.  I was finally approved a couple of months ago and started my training two weeks ago. 

Wow!  The first week of training took up a bit of time (about 14 hours).  This past week was supposed to take 18-22 hours - to give us a feel of what a real online class would be like.  Right!  I spent nearly 40 hours just on the program, doing my online assignments to learn how to use the program and grading fake papers that were all jacked up!  I mean, I had one three page paper I graded with 35 errors!!!! 

Next week is the third and final week of this training process.  If I complete it without losing the rest of my mind, I might be "hired" by the online division.  If not, I will continue teaching onsite in a very limited capacity. 

To top it all off, I'm still working on my coaching certification for the Wesleyan Coaching Network!  Anyway, I'm not really whining.  Seriously.  But I may have bitten off more than I can possibly chew, let alone eat!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thinking About Summer

It's June.  I'm looking at my schedule. 
  • I am just finishing week 1 of a three week training course with Indiana Wesleyan University to teach online.  I've been teaching onsite for nearly 12 years.  Next week will be killer!
  • It's the end of the district conference year.  Monthly, quarterly, and annual reports are due to the district and denomination.  Before June 15!
  • I am trying to get my coaching hours completed by the end of June for my coaching certification. 
  • Vacation isn't until July 5... Look out Dennis, I'm gonna win the fishing competition!
  • Return from vacation July 16 or 17.
  • Sarah, Adam and Micah arrive July 18.
  • District conference - July 21
  • Vacation Bible School - July 23-27
  • Bekah has volleyball tryouts in early August.
Summer used to be a slow down time in the church world and life in general.  Not any more.  I'm going to stop now and take a breath.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The President is Wrong

Ok, I have to get this off my chest.  The President of the United States is wrong!  Same-sex marriage is a violation of biblical truth.  His recent declaration that his view has evolved over the last few years is both misleading and untruthful.  It is my opinion (yes, I'm issuing an opinion because I don't have "proof") that he is taking this stance in an effort to gain the gay vote in the upcoming election.  He knows he is in trouble and could easily lose this fall.  His voter base has been backing away from him, so he had to reach out to another segment of the population.  His decision is not based on principle - it is based on lust for power and prestige.

For years our country has been headed down the path of other great cultures that have fallen over time.  It is time for the Church to stand for what is right and for us to say "NO" to the cultural drift.  But let me say that the change will not take place in the courts or in the legislature.  It will take place if we get serious about our calling to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) in the spirit of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37).  The only way for our nation and our world to change will be for the Church to make disciples seriously.  We have allowed the spiritual slippage that has taken place.  Let's take back the territory that we have given up over time.  Let the Church be the Church!

Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not very good at fasting.  I'm reading "Spiritual Classics" by Richard Foster and ran across a section by Catherine Marshall.  She wrote about fasting from criticizing.  She mentioned how hard it was to be silent and not criticize anyone or anything for a 24 hour period. 

As I thought about it, I started to realize that I can be very, very critical.  I really felt the challenge of doing a 24 hour fast from criticizing - from both saying and thinking critical, harmful thoughts.  I made the commitment and not five minutes later I found myself in a situation where all I wanted to do was complain and find fault with a person who didn't do what I thought they should have done.  But the good thing was that I felt really convicted.  I'm still in that 24 hour window.  I'm trying to think carefully before I speak, and I'm asking God to help me keep from a critical mindset.  I want to break the pattern. 

Anyone else out there struggle with this? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Change is Coming

This summer will be a time of change in The Wesleyan Church. Our denomination's general conference will be held in June. There will be a vote taken that would change the administrative structure of our organization. In fact, the change that is being voted on has been piloted for the past two years at our headquarters. The General Board of Administration (GBA) has given oversight to this process. The restructuring has been significant and many departments have experienced downsizing and responsibility shifts.

A big change administratively is in the office of General Superintendent. Until recently, we have had three GS's who have given direction to the general church. The new proposal calls for one GS. I recall suggesting years ago that we move in that direction so that we could have a singular voice that proclaims, "This is the direction that God has for us as a church" - a sort of "Thus saith the Lord" of the prophets. The pilot program we have run has had one of the three GS's serve as the lead GS with the other two serving as administrators over other departments. If the vote this summer ratifies the change, then we will have one GS, and fewer other general directors that would be a part of the administrative team. I know I've oversimplified the total picture, but I think you get the idea.

Ok, here is where I am struggling (even though I was championing something like this a few years ago!). The key (I think) to having one GS is for that person to truly possess apostolic gifts. The individual must be able to see the bigger picture of the church and be able to correctly discern the will of the Lord for the church as a whole. The person must be a respected leader who has a proven track record of empowering other leaders and unifying them in the mission of the church. The leader needs to be able to see that the purpose of the general church is to cast overall vision and direction, keeping the general church on task. At the same time the leader must recognize that the real strength of the church is at the local level - the front line of the battle for the souls of men.

Our delegates to the general conference have a major responsibility this summer. It may be our most significant general conference since the merger of The Wesleyan Methodist and Pilgrim Holiness churches in 1968 - the result of which is The Wesleyan Church. While much of our organization is board-run (there are those who would argue that the GBA has more authority than a GS), we desperately need a leader who will help us keep the main thing the main thing: fulfilling the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment. We must have a leader who is accountable to the whole (a role of the GBA) and yet be strong enough to lead and not be a puppet of a board or committee. 

I have friends to say that it doesn't matter who the leader is in Indianapolis - that the real decision-makers and leaders are at the district level.  I agree with that to a point.  The strength of our denomination really is at the district level.  But at the same time, someone will be elected this summer who will be the "face of the franchise" so to speak.  This person will represent us on many levels.  This person will network us with others who are of like persuasion to engage in cooperative efforts.  This individual must be able to speak with authority on behalf of the church and to communicate our mission with clarity and conviction.  Much like the early Church, we need a James or Peter or Paul who leads us boldly where no one has gone before! (Sorry for the obvious Star Trek reference - what do you want?  Engage?)

I will be praying for our delegates to this conference. May politics give way to purpose, and may we gain direction and strength that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit.  As John Wesley himself said, "You have nothing to do but win souls." I pray that will be the real focus of our denomination in the years to come!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Yesterday was a hard day. I returned to my hometown of Greenville, PA, to file my dad's taxes for the last time and close out what little was left in his bank account. As I walked out of the post office after mailing off his tax return (you can't electronically file a "final" return - go figure), I paused on the steps. Then it hit me. I no longer have any roots in that community. Being adopted and having no siblings, I have no real connection to the community. I have memories, and those will always be with me. But roots - not so much.

Then I started thinking about my children. Due to several moves in my ministry, our family has no real place we can say is "home." Fortunately, Sarah and her family are living where she grew up (San Diego area) and her husband has a wonderful family network there. I'm thrilled for her! Jonathan and Rebekah will have to decide where they will be "rooted" in the years to come. I guess I am saddened that at this time we as a family are so spread out. Perhaps one day we will all be closer together. I take heart in the fact that even though we may be separated by miles, we do love each other very much and that keeps our hearts close.

Regrets? Not in serving the Lord and believing that we have obeyed His call in our lives. But there is a longing in my heart for that place we can call home and be together. I know other families have the same struggles - we certainly are not alone in this. I guess I'm just reflective today...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thoughts on Meditation

My assistant pastor and I are starting to work through Richard Foster's Spiritual Classics. You may or may not be a fan of Foster and his writings which include Celebration of Discipline. I find Foster's works to be mind and heart stretching.

In the area of meditation this week, I find the writings of Thomas More to be challenging. More was an interesting character, most notably for refusing to sanction Henry VIII's divorce of Catherine of Aragon and for his taking the title of "Head of the Church." More was imprisoned and executed for his stand. It is said that he went to his death with "great composure" and even joked with his executioner.

In More's "A Godly Meditation," I was drawn to the phrase, "to buy the time again that I before have lost." My response is, "How?" I've always been taught that the time we waste is forever gone. I look back on my life and shake my head at all my lost time. Time lost with family. Time lost in ministry. Time thrown away due to sheer laziness or lack of commitment to the things of greatest importance.

I'm not sure how to buy back any of that time lost. I know I can't relive the past. Perhaps all I can do is make the most of what time I have left. What priorities will guide my life from this day forward? What will I do to ensure that those I love will be convinced that I have their best interest at heart? How can I make a Kingdom contribution that will be applauded by all who love me - not just to say I did great things for God, but that I did great things for them through God?

I guess you can say I'm struggling with this thought. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Been a While

I know I haven't posted anything in quite a while, but I have been having computer issues. Once again, I received a virus from who knows where. I've had the computer scrubbed again, installed a better anti-virus program, and hope that we are on the road to safe computer use. It's amazing. I don't really use the internet that much. I don't open emails if I don't know the sender. I don't download. I don't utube. Oh well.

Now that I've said all of that, I'm going to get back on here. Let me share one thought. In Romans 10:9-10, we find a couple of creedal statements that are the core of what it means to be a Christ. First, we must believe that in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. It's not about being sincere. It's all in the single truth that the resurrected Jesus is the source of life itself. Second, we must confess that He is Lord. The Romans confessed Caesar to be lord. But as Christians we must say the same thing about Jesus that God says about Him. He alone is Lord! And once we do these things, we will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11), meaning that He will never frustrate or disappoint us.

We are on the road to Easter!

Friday, February 10, 2012


I recently had the experience of having both my home and laptop computers infected with a computer virus. It was nasty, and cost me considerable money to clean them both up. The virus came at me from a trusted and what I thought were secure sites. So it goes with life on the internet.

It got me thinking - how effectively do we Christians "infect" our unchurched family and friends with the gospel? Are we close enough to someone for them to "catch" Jesus from us? Do we even try to infect others?

I had the privilege recently to lead my neighbors to Christ! What a joy it was to bring hope to those who needed Jesus.

Let me encourage you to pass along the "Jesus virus" to someone soon!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Doctrinal Purity

I've recently been engaged in conversations with people who have expressed concerns about preserving doctrinal purity within their organizations (denominations as well as independent ministries). Some have even gone so far as to express concern about participating in community events with churches whose doctrines differ from their own. Many times the individuals in the local church are confused because they want to serve with believers from other congregations, but they are told by their leaders that they can't on the grounds of doctrinal concerns. This is not new. I've had dialogue for many years with those who take this position.

Before anyone says, "You have to stand for something or you don't stand for anything," let me state that I take my denomination's doctrinal distinctives very seriously. I am a Wesleyan because I believe that the Wesleyan-Arminian distinctives are both biblical and liberating. I do not look down on those who embrace a different theological background. I simply love the doctrine of my church.

That being said, I have to address the real issue: What's really important? When all is said and done, we who are Christ-followers will stand before the Lord Himself and be judged, not according to the organization or doctrine we embraced, but on what we did with Jesus. Did we receive the free gift of eternal life from the Savior? Or did we attempt to live a good life with the hopes that would be enough? I recently officiated a funeral for a man I barely knew and I have no idea of his stand with Christ. All I could do as I led the service was to share with his family and friends how they could know Jesus and why they needed to know Him. I didn't talk about my church; I talked about Jesus. I tried to offer them the hope of Jesus.

So what's my point? It's all about Jesus. The church at Corinth had a bunch of issues, rooted in their lack of understanding of salvation. In the first chapter of his letter to the believers there, Paul addressed their divisions: they were arguing over who it was they were following and who baptized who - I would call these doctrinal divisions within the Church. Paul's answer? "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1:18)

Let's not be divided over little things. All believers everywhere are one Church! I know the Wesleyans won't have a private corner in glory, and I'm sure your denomination or independent church won't either. Embrace your distinctives - they are what make you unique. But embrace other Christ-followers even more. Then the world will know real faith. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Birthday

Yep. Turned 54 today! Nothing to be overly excited about. Or is it just me?

Age is something that I don't think about, except for those times when I go to do something and can't do it as quickly as I used to. My mind tells me I'm in my early 30's. My body? Not so much. But I am very fortunate to be as healthy as I am for my age. I know a lot of people who are in much worse shape. I'm blessed to only take one pill a day (Metformin, for all my fellow diabetes friends).

Let's see what this next year will bring!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Last Sunday I began (notice I started - I didn't finish, yet!) a message on the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11:1-13. I broke the prayer down into three sections: an upward look, an outward look, and an inward look. In dealing with the outward look, I talked about what "your kingdom come" means for us today. I take the position that the Kingdom of God is here in the Church - the hearts and lives of His people. We are an expression of His Kingdom. We are to advance His Kingdom. (The following is taken from the message of January 8, 2012).

So what keeps us from advancing the Kingdom more effectively? I believe it is the fact that we allow many things to rival God's Kingdom. What kingdoms rival God’s? Thanks to the suggestion of my good friend Steve Forsyth, I began to look at the rivalry in light of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. The temptations Jesus faced address kingdom rivalry in a succinct manner. Let me explain.

The first kingdom to concern ourselves with is self-wealth. The temptation to turn the stones to bread is simply greed / materialism. It’s a refusal to trust God to provide. This rivalry redirects our vision away from our dependence upon Him. That’s really the emphasis we see in 11:3 – “Give us each day our daily bread.” The emphasis on daily bread is on what is sufficient or necessary. In the OT (Exodus 16:4; Deut. 8:6), the Hebrews depended on the daily provision of manna as they wandered in the wilderness. In Jesus’ day, many of the workers were day laborers – they didn’t have permanent jobs. They had to depend on God to provide work on a daily basis (Matthew 20:1-5). We tend to depend upon the sweat of our brow (self-wealth) until we have our backs against the wall.

A second rivalry is self-importance. A friend of mine put it as self-lust. The temptation for Jesus to throw Himself off the temple and be rescued by a heavenly special forces unit was nothing more than Satan’s way of getting Jesus to be concerned more with image than about God’s will being done. Self-importance is polar opposite of humility. Pride and arrogance are the antithesis of a kingdom mentality. We are at great risk when we trust in our own wisdom and accomplishments. We are to have the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5-11).

The final rivalry is self-power. This is a control issue. Satan challenged Jesus to bow and worship him, with the promise of rule over the world (its kingdoms). It wasn’t Satan’s to give. But he dangled this enticingly before the Messiah with the mistaken notion that he could distract Him from His mission. We get distracted when it comes to seeking power for ourselves. We want to be in control; and we don’t want anyone to have control over us. It’s a spirit of lawlessness. We want things on our own terms. We get so caught up in the day-to-day and we don’t want any interruptions. It’s all about our goals, our dreams, and our destinies. Embracing this mindset rivals God’s invitation for us to yield power and control to Him so that He can use us for the sake of His Kingdom. Our purposes take priority over His.