Monday, August 31, 2009

Gearing up 4 Fall

I think that one of the most exciting, yet - challenging times for a church is the fall season. Lately, I've noticed that even television stations are pumping up their "new fall lineup" in hopes to gather a crowd and to boost their ratings. Fall is a great time to offer up new ideas, new training, and a new perspective on how to do life together as a church. In fact, most research suggests that the fall season records the highest rate of turnout among new church goers. In other words, more people are willing to try something new in the fall, including church - more than any other time of the year.

So, I want to pray for our churches this fall. I want to pray that we all take advantage of this "new' season to impact our community for Christ. May this be the harvest season!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Revolution takes just ONE

Our newest member on our staff at WCC pointed out this pretty cool video that demonstrates that it only takes one to start a revolution. Question: Can you be that one for Jesus - no matter where God has you positioned in His plan? Go for it! Start dancing today ~

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Challenge of Being Plastic

"Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely."
P. J. O'Rourke

Each of us face the daily challenge of living our lives to please Jesus. John explains it this way, "Those who claim to follow Jesus must walk as Jesus walked" (1 John 2:6). You talk about a tall order. Even Apostle Paul, in Romans 7, admitted that the day to day challenge of walking in Christ's steps can be overwhelming to his human nature. He's left to wonder, "who can save me?"

Yogi Berra once said, "When confronted with a fork in the road, take it!" Obviously, this tends to be our dilemma when trying to please the Lord and also trying to satisfy our human nature. How most Christians resolve this issue is by turning plastic. In other words, since godliness may not work out for my convenience, at least I can look clean on the outside and fool a few people along the way. It's going plastic. Apostle Paul resisted this by openly writing about his shortfalls. The Bible says that we are to avoid going plastic by confessing our sins to "each other." This type of transparency restores our relationship with the Father and with each other.

So, next time I'm confronted with a fork in the road, I want to choose either right or left. Going down the middle is not the right decision, moreover, it leads to becoming a plastic person.

Let's stay real everyone! Pray for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Newest Staff Member @ WCC - Joel Nelson

I am so amped to have another member on our great staff at WCC. Joel Nelson and I have a bit of history together. Years ago we were neighbors together at Bethel Seminary (let me stress... years ago). Later in life (years after seminary) we both went on to start new churches - in separate parts of the Twin Cities. After this, our paths crossed again on a Leadership event in Ukraine. We were roommates for a full week while in Ukraine. Oh ya...I have some stories to tell you. And now, nearly 15 years later, we will be serving side by side at an awesome church together. Today is Joel's first staff meeting with us. It will be great having his presence in our "locker room."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let's face it. Those lines do not look straight do they? Be honest. You're eyes are being fooled.

I'm really jazzed about our new series at Willowbrook called, iLLUSION. A while back I started having some thoughts about the art of deception and how so many of us can be fooled or tricked by enticing scams in magazines or on television. It's as if our hearts has this special place in it that truly wants to believe in the unbelievable. And although this might noble, it does open us up to the power of deception.

I've been teaching from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, and the parable of the sower/soil. In my study of this particular parable I've noticed that Jesus is truly teaching about the art of deception in which we can be so easily tricked to stray off course. Although God sends out the sower and although the seeds are released from His hand, the world deceives us with competitive tricks or gimmicks to steal our hearts away from God. But to the one who remains focused and avoids being fooled or deceived by the pull of the enemy's schemes, this person will produce a crop/life that will grow and multiply with blessings.

I believe that this series has the potential to expose some of these dangerous schemes and to bring about God's clarifying principles to the truth.

Would love to see you join us for this intriguing series.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Take a Break. Why Not?

I love personal challenges. And one of the challenges that I recently committed to was to take a one month break from my blog entries. Why? Well -a relative of mine shared with me that in order to keep things fresh in his life, he discovered that each passion or obsession needed a resting point. Just as the body needs rest for the new day ahead, so our dreams and passions do as well. In doing so, we come at it with fresh eyes and with new perspectives. In ministry, they often call this a sabbatical. In fact, in the New Testament we are told that Jesus often times went to an isolated area to be with himself - to collect his thoughts and to pray. I must confess, there were many times during this past month that I thought, "Wow. This would be a great blog entry." But it tested the glue of my commitment to stay true to the goal.

What is something in your life that you may need to put to rest for a bit in order to come at it again with more energy and efficiency?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little sunshine on a Rainy Lake

This past week I got the rare opportunity to get away and refuel my engines by doing something I truly love to do - fish. Fishing can take my mind to different places and it allows me to experience the beauty of God's creation. After a five hour drive into Canada, Rainy Lake produced some great fellowship along with some big fish!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I always come away with...

This Sunday after church I got the privilege to do a little "exit greeting" as people left our 10:00 service. I love exit greeting because it gives me the opportunity to mix and mingle with just about everybody (young and old - first time guest and veterans). But I also must add that exit greeting (for me) does come with some elements of risk.

For example, several years ago an elderly lady did not recognize me as the teaching pastor while I was exit greeting that Sunday and she wanted to know if "the guy" on stage (which was me) is really the pastor at this church? I said to her, "He's all we got." And she smirked at me and said, "I guess he'll have to do!" Not sure how to take that!

And just this week, a lady came out of the service and was moving pretty fast to the exit door when I asked her if she would like a Willowbrook magnet with our summer calendar on the front? She quickly looked at me and said, "I'm in a hurry because the speaker went long today!" Ouch! I must admit, I wasn't expecting that from my MOM! Anyhow....

In all truthfulness, I was truly blessed this Sunday following the service because I met a sixty-four year old woman who has been attending Willowbrook for her third weekend and as I handed her our summer magnet I noticed that she had written down a lot of information on her worship outline from my message. I joked with her and said, "I'm happy to see at least someone is using my sermon notes." And she responded,

"I always come away with a few nuggets of truth to apply to my life."

I just about melted!

Now, I'm not saying that 64 is old. So don't get me wrong with what I'm about to say - but here it goes:

I hope that when I'm 64 that I am still collecting nuggets!

I think that when most people get to be my age (31 ..., okay 44) we tend to think we know all of the answers. We tend to think we can't be surprised anymore. I think in many ways, sadly enough, we have been "tamed," like a circus animal. We don't live for the adventure of following Jesus. But not this lady. She is a nugget collector.

What about you?

Are you like a deer that pants for water when it comes to Jesus?
Do you have a passion for the truth?
And if so, how much energy are you willing to spend to find it?

Something to think about!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I am committed to improving

I believe that one of the essential for leadership growth is an attitude that expresses, "I am committed to improving." When it comes to a great marriage, people just don't accidentally fall into a good marriage. Instead, all great marriages have a common denominator - they are committed to improving their skills, and they seek out the best resources to allow it to happen. At our church I oversee a lot of talented people. And although talent can help get you down the road, rarely does talent alone have enough gas get you all the way home.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 reads,

If an ax is blunt and the edge isn't sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success.

If a person is talented, but they are not committed to improving their skills, they are very much like this dull ax described by Solomon. Sure, they can rely just on their raw talent to impress a person or two, but when it comes to their full impact for the kingdom it will fall way short of God's outrageous design for their lives.

My prayer for me as I continue to walk this path of leadership is this: That by this time next year, I will have sharpened the ax even more by becoming much wiser through humility along with a deep passion and desire to always improve.

What about you? What do you see yourself becoming next year for Christ? What areas do you need to improve on (sharpen)?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Those Lovely Patterns

I was reminded this week, as I performed a child dedication at our church, how important the role of a parent is when it comes to spiritual development for their son or daughter. My mind went back to Sesame Street and the familiar song, "One of these thing just doesn't belong here." Remember that crazy game? The idea behind this particular lesson was for the child (watching from his or her television set) to point to that one object or "thing" that was different from the rest. For example, from the four objects listed, which one of these is not like the other?

One of the first things kids learn to identify are shapes. Much of our right brain stimulation comes from viewing shapes or patterns. And so when parents are standing up in front of the church dedicating their child to the Lord, I often wonder if the parents will commit their lives to a pattern in their home that best imitates the pattern of Jesus Christ. Will they show love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self control, and the many other important patterns for their child to follow? And most importantly, will they model a great marriage?

Wouldn't it be great for our children to identify which spiritual elements our from Christ and which ones are from the world? Well, in many ways, they will only know this if the parent best model the pattern of Christ.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"I think that's exactly what you do."

I was so moved by this homemade video by Francis Chan, Pastor of Cornerstone Church in California. What do our sons and daughters see in us as both dad and pastor? Certainly, our children do watch us closesly - and as you will see, do a pretty darn good job of imitating us as well!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quit Stewing and Start Doing

Do you have a bad bout of the grumbles? Are you finding yourself a bit cynical towards life? Is it effecting your every day decisions and how you approach others? If you're human, you've probably gone through seasons of life in which your complaint switch is on. You might be in that season right now. To make matters worse, you turn in your Bible for help and your eyes glance down on this verse, "Do everything without grumbling or complaining..." (Philippians 2:14). Pow - added guilt.

Okay...I'm going to address this situation straight on with you. I find that way too many people who grumble and complain stay on this track, unnecessarily, too long. It is truly stewing without doing. Some of what we complain about we can't do anything about (rain, cold weather, illness, etc.). And yet there are other things that we do have control over and the Bible says that instead of complaining about these things that we should become actively involved in the solution. In other words, we should quit stewing and start doing.

I know people who don't attend church because they complain about this or that (music too loud or too soft, message too long or too short, too many people talk to me or not enough people talk to me, etc.). The complaining doesn't change - but the stories do. When complaining last longer than it should, it is important to seek out help or counseling from someone you trust. You don't want it to become habitual. From my own experience, when I get into a rut of complaining, it becomes more addictive - and more intense. if this is you today, you're going to need to put on your big boy or big girl pants and face this challenge head on. Nobody will do it for you. You may need to make a call to a friend and have lunch with that someone who can assist you in putting your stewing into doing.

And of course, I want to pray for you. Certainly, you can't be having fun in life. My prayer is that the enemey (Devil) will not gain a foothold on you - but that you will break free and find a peace that surpasses all human understanding.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Animal lover? This dog story will preach...

Every so often a bizarre story grabs my attention. Such is the case for this story about a plucky pooch that was separated from her owners when she fell overboard in choppy waters, but swam five miles to an island, surviving on a diet of wild goats for four months until miraculously being reunited with her family.

“She surprised us all,” ecstatic owner Jan Griffith told the National Australian Associated Press News Agency. “She was a house dog and look what’s she done, she’s swum over five nautical miles, she’s managed to live off the land all on her own by eating wild goats. We wish she could talk, we really do.”

I'm not going to lie. My first thought after reading this story was - "That will preach." It's a story of transformation.

In the book of Acts the Bible records an amazing example of this transformation among the first Christians who were gathered together to begin the routine of their day. But on this particular day, their routine would be cut short. The Bible records that suddenly each of the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit (transformed) and they began to speak in foreign languages. I don't know about you, but that's a bit different. You can't plan for this. It just happened. In a moment of time, they went from being domesticated to transformed. They no longer were of this world, but from a new island - a new kingdom - living a new way.

When we become a new creation in Christ a transformation happens like no other. It changes us from being domesticated by our earthly desires of this world, to an amazing creature that approaches life in a whole new way. We may not go from eating puppy chow to devouring wild goats, but we do go from eating off the food of our old nature to consuming a whole new passion for heavenly foods.

To learn more about this amazing dog story, click here:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nice Coffee Surprise by Wife

My lovely wife (Terri) came through with a fun surprise the other day. Take a look:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Health of Your Pastor

Just this past week I received (via email) an annual survey about my spiritual health as it pertains to being a pastor. The organization collecting this information is, Converge Worldwide ( And so I took a moment to complete this brief survey and thought - why don't I just open myself up to you all. What's there to hide, right? In doing so, you'll get a pretty good idea what makes me tick and sick. Let me just give you the first two questions out of the eight that I completed.

1. What are your biggest challenges in leading?

Feelings of inadequacy. I wonder sometimes if I'm the right messenger to move the crowd forward. I see so many other leaders doing such a great job with a host of volunteers. From time to time I will struggle like Moses did, questioning God's playbook.

Personal growth. I once read that a leader will never take his or her followers higher than where he or she is at in their own spiritual climb. How true this is. I struggle each week to grow on a personal level. I've learned to be very intentional about this. This past year I have done so much better in this area - and I can truly feel the difference. Today, I always have a book going, always reading - something to keep my mind sharp on leadership and personal growth.

Keeping my family first. What does it profit the whole church if I lose my family? Nothing. This can be difficult lesson to learn when everyone from church wants your time and you start feeling important. I've learned to build some valuable margins into my life. The benefits of this are amazing. In fact, much of this past year has been rededicating myself to this Biblical mission of protecting our family.

2. What are a few things that really annoy you in ministry?

Lack of commitment. I cannot lie. When I see Christians (Christ followers) not attending church (sleeping in), not volunteering, in and out, tossed by waves of indecision, it drives me bonkers. I once read that the greatest gift you can give those who attend church is your own presence. Why? It encourages people. But unfortunately some Christians are pretty selfish and don't really see how their absence is actually hurting someone's walk with Christ. really pushes my "annoyance button."

Plastic people. I crave authenticity. So many people are hiding, not being truthful about their circumstances, pretending like nothing is wrong. I see people who settle for good in their marriage when they can have great! I know Christians who duck and hide from being in a small group because they know that eventually they must get real. And yet, I've seen the amazing power of God through a person's brokeness.

Christians who conceal their talents. I believe our church, like most churches, have exceptional talent. We have so many men and women who have been given extraordinary gifts by God - so it, of course, drives me nuts when they are not put into use. I hear a number of Christians say something like, "Well, I'm not sure if I want to be a part of this right now, but maybe later." And yet, when they do use their gifts, I see it bless the socks off people. It makes me think, "Why do we not see them knocking down our doors to share their talents?" Much of what the church needs to be about is helping or assisting people in finding their talents and helping each person activate them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I've Got YOU Covered

Years ago a friend of mine invited me to first row seats (on the floor) of a Timberwolves game. This, of course, is when K-G was still playing for our Timber-puppies. When we arrived at the Target Center we went through a special side door and into a small room in which a distinguished man placed a special tag around our necks. These tags permitted us to be on main floor with the professional players. Are you kidding me? Feeling extremely happy (and guilty) I turned to my friend and said, "How much do I owe you for this?" And he simply looked at me and said, "Don't worry. I've got you covered!" Those were four amazing words.

Not to get too preachy, but Easter is all about this. The word "atonement" simply means, "to cover." This is what Jesus did for us on the cross by paying for the penalty of our sins. We are now covered. The price has been paid. We have front row seats to His kingdom.

So, I'm spending some time this week reflecting on this whole concept of atonement. It is truly beginning to grow on me. And it's my hope that it will invade your heart as well. It's a GREAT TICKET!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life can change in .6 seconds

Real simple. Never give up.

I think I watched this ten times in a row. I would be crushed if I played for the yellow team. I hope that a number of Youth Pastors were on hand and available for counseling. Ouch!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How Could You Miss It?

Special thanks to, Pete Wilson, for getting this amazing clip to us.

Have you guys seen this?

It’s a clip of an experiment The Washington Post did with Joshua Bell, the world’s best violin player. They put him in a Washington DC Metro stop to work his musical magic. Would people stop and listen to the world’s best violin player who’s playing one of the world’s best violins (his violin was made in 1730 and cost $3.5 million)? To just get a ticket for a live performance would cost the average person over 500 dollars. And now, he's just playing in the Metro.

1,097 people walking past him and only a handful stop to listen. They are completely ignoring a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear this guy.

Why didn’t they stop to listen?

They were busy.They were distracted.They had something important to go to…probably a t.v. show to watch, a text message to read, a newspaper to browse. You know something ‘urgent’… something ‘important.’

They had the opportunity to pause and hear one of the world’s most amazing musicians and they opted to drown it out with the noise of their life.
This video was so convicting to me. Each and every day the God of the universe wants me to listen to Him, tune into Him, walk with Him and yet I often choose to drown Him out with the noise of the world. I’m missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

How about you? Do you struggle with this?

Monday, March 23, 2009

People in our church like to KISS now that I've got you here - let me explain.

As some of you know, I get the awesome privilege each week of leading a very exciting and dynamic church. Creativity is like a drug for me. The more creative - the higher I fly. And yet one of the many errors that I made early on in my ministry was to think that if our church was to be successful in growth, we must be cute and clever to bring in the masses. Now, let me add that there is nothing wrong with luring in a crowd by creative outreach methods. In fact, I think one of the biggest sins or traps that a church often falls into is the sin of boring your audience. Come on - we have the most exciting message on the planet! How can that be boring? However, what I have learned most from those that are attending each week, and what keeps them coming back, is the simplicity of the service. In other words - Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). In the past, I would strive to pack as many creative elements into one service as possible. It was the La-la-palooza of all services! But time and time again, our best feedback from our attenders has been - "less is more." People in our church like to KISS.

I guess a person can learn a lot from a KISS.

That will preach....

Agree? Disagree?

Make it happen at home first...

Okay...time for a test for us pastors and church entrepreneurs.

If you were to ask your church board, "How would you measure my success in ministry?," what number would they place next to your name? I think we could make a case that it would be close to a 10 - maybe 8 or 9. Let's face it. We're on fire. We're turning out some awesome stuff. We're impressing the crowds with some new themes and future ideas. We have a pretty nice external glaze going for us.

Alright...time for a test for us pastors and church entrepreneurs.

If you were to ask your family, "How would you measure my success in our family?," what number would your spouse or kids place next to your name? My deepest prayer is that this number would succeed the number from your church board. In reality, if it is lower, you have missed the mark of what your calling is to be about. This is not to say that we cannot have impact in our culture while our family suffers at home. Certainly, good things can and will happen by our giftedness in ministry. However, we can no longer excuse ourselves from our Biblical and moral obligation to our home (family) by overriding it with church success. I believe it is a silent killer for many pastors today. As rightly noted by Casting Crowns, "It's a slow fade..." Eventually, it will catch up with you.

So - are you ready to take the test? More importantly, are you ready for the answer?

Friday, March 20, 2009

"How beautiful you are, now that you love me!"

Had to smile when I read that on a greeting card the other day. Isn't it so true? We have no problem loving those that love us. In fact, there is something beautiful about the person who demonstrates their love for us. It's a bit attractive. However, this argument quickly breaks down as it pertains to God and His relationship with us. The Bible records that while we were still "sinning" God died for us (Romans 5 & 6). God was not attracted to us because we went out of our way to love Him. On the contrary, we were in an all out war with God - and the Bible defines our relationship with Him as an enemy. Think of that. How many enemies are you in love with today? Zilch, comes to my mind. here's what I believe God is challenging me to do: start praying and loving those that tend to be unloveable to me. I would go as far as to say that to the extent that we love our enemy is to the extent that we can fully know and love our Savior. But I say to you, "Love your enemies and pray for those that perscute you..." (Matthew 5:44)

Agree? Disagree?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quit Praying & Respond...

There are times in life in which you simply need to respond. I've noted a couple pictures to help get my point across.

I believe that God opens up tremendous doors of opportunity each day. And although the Bible clearly shares that we are to never stop praying, we still must be responsible to respond. Do we really need to think more about it? What is God asking from you today? Grip it and rip it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gearing up for Washington D.C.

My wife and I will soon be leaving together for a destination that we have yet to visit, Washington D.C. I would be lying to you if I told you that I wasn't looking forward to it. While in D.C. we will be exploring the many exhibits and museums that our Nation's Capital offer. Pinch me! In addition, we will be visiting Ebenezers Coffee House led by a great leader, author, and Pastor, Mark Batterson. I can't wait to get caught up with him. But what I'm most excited about is getting five days alone to hang out with my bride. In the past year Terri and I have made some enormous strides in our marriage by protecting our date nights and honoring one another's passions in life. This vacation will only go to enhance our relationship with each other and with our Lord. As you could imagine - we will soak it all up!

So if you're married, take time to make time - plan time - and GO!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Purity is the new Sexy now that I got your attention. There's just something about that word, "purity," isn't there? Oh wait. Could it be that "other" word that grabbed your attention? Please.

Oddly enough, last month I found myself (alone) in a mall walking through Victoria's Secret to pick up a little Valentine's gift for my bride. Without getting into a lot of details, our marriage has really improved over the past two years. Okay - end of that. You know where I am going...

After several minutes of searching and looking at the ceiling, a young female worker from the store approached me to see if she could help me make a decision on what to purchase. For some reason I felt the need to share with this young worker "that I don't do this much." Within a few more seconds I spilled the beans that I'm a pastor and that I was sent into this god-forsaken-store by my wife's order. She smiled.

And what this lady said next to me truly grabbed my attention. She said, "You know, purity is the new sexy." She went on to describe how Victoria Secret has really scaled back this past year and are now selling a much more modest line of clothing (or lack of clothing) based on consumer demand.

Well, I won't share exactly what I bought that day for my wife (don't hold your breath for a Twitter Pic), but I must say that I totally agree with this woman that purity has always been God's sexy. When I see men and women show a lack of discretion with their clothing and reveal just a bit too much of themselves, it is less than sexy and unfortunately promotes a real lack of discernment. And in many ways - may point to other self-esteem issues.

I JOHN 2:16-17: “For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

So what do you think? Is purity the new sexy?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I love My Church

Once again I wake up this morning feeling so overwhelmed by what God is doing through His church - which I'm amazed to be leading. I get the privilege of serving alongside of some of the greatest women and men on the planet earth. Oh yes - I know that there are those challenging moments in a leader's life in which you feel like you are out in the open sea with just a undersized 9.9 Johnson motor, fighting against the crashing waves and doing your best to navigate. And of course, we all have the scars to prove it. But those scars only serve to remind me about the greatest mission on this earth and the joy set before us - the cross and His glory!

So let me tell you why I love my church.

1. When there's a need, people respond. I believe that we have a very generous church! I wish I could share with you the many emails that I receive each week from those that have had their life touched by the generosity of an individual, family, or small group. Shock and awe.

2. We have our mission right. Although every vision statement (core values as well) must be repeated over and over to keep us on task, our people get it. We are seeing more and more unchurched people getting connected each week - and I'm hearing more and more "God stories" from those rubbing shoulders with the unchurched. I'm lovin' it.

3. Commitment. It is the glue that holds. We started Willowbrook nearly nine years ago with seven staff members. After nine years, we still have the original 5 out of 7 with us. Of course, we have added others, but it speaks volumes about one's calling and to remain in the trenches through all of the ups and downs and crazy transistions. We believe in the vision and we believe in each other. In fact, I would say that our staff is tighter today than nine years ago. In a very scary way, we are starting to look like each other. Help.

4. And finally, and I know this probably doesn't sound too theological, but we just know how to laugh and have fun together! I always feel strange writing stuff like this because it tends to sound a bit cliche - ish or artificial in nature. In addition, it can also come out sounding like our church lacks depth. But that's not the case. In fact, I would argue that because the "anchor goes deep and holds," it allow us to "party" on the boat a whole lot more!

So let's keep this cruise ship going and let's set sail for the open seas, people. I love this church!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Church and Our Family

I came across this interesting and profound song by a group called, The Streets. It's basically about a son who lost his father and is now left to ponder the purpose of his life while living in the shadow of his dad's legacy. Unfortunately, his father failed to leave him a foundation in which to find peace with his Savior. Why? Because they never went to church. Give it some thought.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday morning Quarterback

Arguably one of the best college football coaches in our day was Lou Holtz. The Minnesota Golden Gophers were fortunate to have Lou as their head coach for a brief two year period (1984-85). And after a very difficult loss to the Wisconsin Badgers Lou addressed his team by saying, “Wisconsin beat us this Saturday, but we will not make the mistake of letting them beat us again next Saturday.” In other words, it is what it is. It’s time to move on.

I believe that if you are a pastor today and you feel the hills and valleys of ministry, Lou’s words can serve us well. Maybe you’re feeling a bit discouraged by what went on this Sunday under your watch and you left the parking lot feeling a bit roughed up. Monday morning quarterback, although helpful, can be discouraging if you fail to release the issues of the past and neglect to focus your energy on the future. The good news is that Sunday is coming again and you’ll get another crack at it.

So strap on the chin strap, stay committed, and getting ready to be surprised by God.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Twitter: know when to hold them, know when to fold them

I joined Twitter a number of months ago and I must admit, I'm loving it. I have found Twitter to be extremely helpful in connecting with individuals who hold a plethora of knowledge and wisdom in so many areas of life. I have been astonished by the openess and honesty in which people approach life. In fact, I wish my entire church would Twitter. In doing so, I think I would know a lot more about my flock in which I serve (the good and the bad). I have also been able to connect on a personal level with my wife. Twitter is a great way of simply sharing, "I love you," during a tired time of the day.

But now I have come up against a real challenge on Twitter. Who should you keep, and who needs to be removed? In the past 10 days I have removed 23 people from my Twitter list. And with each removal, I truly feel awful and a sense of remorse. In fact, I feel bad when I am removed from someone's list as well (a tear is forming).

So, what I have done is this: I have made my "HOLD THEM" and "FOLD THEM" list. Remember Kenny Rogers and the Gambler? Hey, it works for Twitter too!


1. Those who share their heart openly & authentically (good times and bad)
2. Those who approach life with their cup "half full"
3. Those who are invovled in transforming their culture
4. Those who are humble in spirit - (Micha 6:8)


1. Those who only want to sell you something (solicitors)
2. Those who love seeing themselves on Twitter (every 5 seconds)
3. Those who use Twitter as a phone conversation. Go direct, people!
4. Those who brag about their Twitter numbers (gets really old, fast)

In addition, I admire Twitter folks that are well known in our world (a bit popular) that are also following the same amount of people who follow them. In fact, I wrote to a particular gentleman who has over 4000 followers, and yet, he is following 4123. I love what he wrote back to me: "Who's not to say that each of these friends won't have something significant to contribute to my life as well?" Okay ~ that's a home run, folks! That's a guy worth following.

I hope you are loving your time on Twitter as much as I do. It's my hope that you will be dealt the perfect hand and that you will know just when to "hold them or fold them.

New Series: First Aid

I'm anxiously awaiting our new Series this Sunday at Willowbrook. I truly believe that the defining moment of any church is when a community of people are in need of help, hope, and healing.

This Sunday (February 22nd) I will be teaching on how the church was designed by God to be "thee" economical stimulus package for our culture. Many individuals and families are hurting finacially today. And the question that the church must answer is this: "Will we walk across the street and be the good Samaritan?"

I'm pumped about this Series. Here's a short trailer for this Sunday's message.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bandaids may help, but they don't heal

I am very anxious to get to our next Series started at Willowbrook because it has to do with the church helping the hurting (first response). I've entitled this message series, "First Aid."

I'm not sure about you, but most of my friends are going through some tough times right now. And the question that comes out of this is: "How can the church help assist the hurting?"

You can't help but open a newspaper today and read about some type of "stimulus" package for our Country. Our government has brought together some of the best and brightest to attempt to figure out what is happening in our economy - and how it can be fixed. We are learning that the problem is much deeper than a flesh wound, but it goes direcly to the heart.

Bandaids may work to aleviate the initial bleeding of a wound, but bandaids are no substitute for true healing. Unfortunately, I believe that most churches today tend to concentrate on buying or marketing more colorful bandaids while failing or neglecting to address the real issues in the body.

The attempt of our new series is to look at how we (the body of Christ) can truly bring healing to those hurting financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Please pray with me that God will impact our community by "stimulating" His Church to meet the needs of those who are hurting with reckless abandon.

I'm pumped to watch the outcome of what God is going to do!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Diving in to Make a Difference

Thirty-four Willowbrookers took the plunge in cold and frigid waters to raise resources for Special Olympics. Willowbrook was the number one group, raising 5600.00. Next year, it's our hope to double or triple the size of our group. Can we do 100? Oh ya.

POINT: You must leave the ledge to make a splash!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love, Fear, Phobias & Homosexuality

Yesterday was a monumental moment for our Country as we watched our first African American take the highest seat in the land, The Presidency of the United States - our Commander and Chief. And as most of us know, President Obama selected Rick Warren to be the "one" to pray for our nation during this historical moment. But Rick's participation came with some strong scrutiny.

Reporter, Ann Curry, interviewed Pastor Warren days before the event, asking him to respond to the objections from the gay community over President Obama's decision to select him to share the platform. I had the chance to watch Ann's full interview with Pastor Rick and I wanted to include just a short portion of this interview (1:10) that deals with an important subject matter that I would like to discuss. (click below).

My Observations:

Let's be honest, Ann has to do her job and she is paid to put the tough questions to Pastor Rick. I have no ill feelings toward Ann in her interview with Rick. She's simply doing her job, and I know that Pastor Rick would agree.

So here it is: During the interview, Ann asked a very straightforward question to Pastor Rick that must be answered by all Christ followers. Ann asked Pastor Rick, "Are you homophobic?"

Of course the natural tendency among most of us when presented with this question is to respond, "no" and to attack the question -as Rick did. But would it have been acceptable for Pastor Rick to have said, "yes, I do have some fears and reservations toward homosexuality?" In other words, "yes" I can love each and every individual as Jesus has taught us, but "yes" I am fearful of what the gay and lesbian lifestyle represents to our culture today.

Here is where I believe we dig a whole for ourselves when it comes to this issue in our churches today. Namely, we want to dodge the question, or even attack it as being unfair. But it is a fair question.

I believe that most Christians have a very hard time knowing what to do with "fear" and "love." In fact, the Bible says that "Perfect love cast out all fear" (1 John 4:18). Hence, we wrongly equate this verse to saying that if we have any fear, we must not have God's love in us. And because of this faulty thinking, the "enemy or our advisary" gains an upper hand on us by placing a "phobia" on things that we may not necessarily support - for moral reasons. In this case, "Homaphoebia," fear of homosexuals. This is where Pastor Rick found himself.

If you recall in the Old Testament, Joseph was being lured into a sexual propisition by Potiphar's wife. She had Joseph all alone to herself and she wanted him to participate in this brief activity. And yet the Bible said that Joseph ran out of the house, leaving Potiphar's wife with only his clothing in her hands. I would strongly suggest that "fear" engaged Joseph's heart at that moment and it also ignited his feet to run. Joseph made the right decision. Joseph knew the implications of such a decision and he fled. Joseph had a healthy fear of what this sin could and would produce in his life. He also had a healthy respect for God, Potiphar, and...Potiphar's wife.

Now, can you imagine Ann Curry, months later, interviewing Joseph after this event? It might go something like this:

Joseph. There is a particular group of people in your community, who are suggesting that you might have, adulterousphoebia?

What's Joseph going to say? Unlike Pastor Rick, I'm sure Joseph would say, "Dang right! I have some real fears about this. You did notice that I ran away." Upon hearing this, Ann cleverly twists his answer from "phobia" (fear) to "hatred" by saying, "So you do have a bit of hatred toward those that practice adultery?"

See how slippery this gets? Can you see how the enemy can play the Phobia game to produce evil results? Of course Joseph can still love Potiphar's wife because she was created in the image of God (like everyone else). However, Joseph was truthful in his fear and he fled before the result produced sin.

I would assume that every living being on this planet has fears and reservations over some moral issues. To simply share, "Oh, I have no phobias," is untrue. It is precisely for this reason that decisions are made - good or bad. But what is possible is to love those in which our fears are attached.

I know Pastor Rick. He holds no hatred toward homosexuals. But I do know that he does have Biblical reservations toward those who are homosexuals. And that's okay. It's called, moral differences.

Here's the point: The church must be honest about our feelings on this subject. If we have some fears, let's share it productively. If we have hatred, let's reject it openly. If we have love, let's spread it universally.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pause and Be Still

I was tempted to write about this historical day in our history as a Nation, but instead I simply decided to pause and be still. Sometimes God speaks stronger to us and in us during a still moment. So pause and be still.

Now...start praying for our New President!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

American Idol Pastor?

The other day I was listening to a local Christian radio station (Twin Cities) in which the DJ was sharing his thoughts about the renewed hype on the popular hit show, American Idol. He then went on to say, "What if we, as Christians, were to vote on the pastor that best represents our "Christian Idol of this day?" He wondered, which Pastor would we vote for? Who would be "thee" next American Idol for God? Of course my mind quickly raced to a number of great "pastors," such as Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, R.C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, and the like. But after further reflection, and not to take anything away from these extraordinay men of God, I started wondering about the men and women who may never take center stage. The men and women who are serving Christ faithfully in a rural town or village, where the flock is small and the laborers are even fewer. Men and women who are limited in supplies, but not on hope. Men and women who have to load up their cars and trucks each Sunday with people, never to ask for a reimbursement slip for gas. A church in which the budget is tight but their love is lavishing. These men and women are the "no-namers." You will never see them on the cover of a magazine, never to have written a book or article, never to be selected as a Twitter friend, never to be consulted as a speaker at a Christian convention. No, they just go about their work quietly and diligently, not for glamour reasons. They are the "no-namers."

I wonder from time to time if we are guilty of favoritism for those pastors who are just a bit louder than the rest and have a larger stage or platform to present their ideologies and truths on what Christian success is all about - while neglecting the meek and humble pastors who do it for the eternal prize that awaits them. I believe that there is a fine line between what we call an "idol" and what God perceives as the real deal.

Hey, just some of my thought today as I reflect on some remarkable pastors/mentors in my life that have touched so many in a meek and gentle way.

Today, I'm cheering for the "no-namers."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Props to Mark Batterson

Just finished reading, In a Snowy Pit with a Lion, and I cannot lie, it defines the word, transforming. Props to Mark Batterson who puts the cookies on the table. I have been rejuvinated to dream bigger when it comes to trusting God in the area of leadership and personal devotion. My only regret with his book is that I didn't read it sooner. When you get the chance, grab the book and start reading. I think you'll agree - it will make your heart beat fast.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Polar Plunge

Oh ya... it's going to be one incredible day and one incredible event. I'm going to take the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics on Saturday, January 31. And I need your help. Would you...could you...sponsor me for a great cause? Below is a link to give you more information.


My life has been blessed by those who have been challenged greatly in life. It will be a privilege to take the plunge for them.

It's Time to Really Live

Here's a great quote to start your New Year off:

Christ is not valued at all
unless He is valued above all

- St. Augustine

I'm going to take the remainder of this week to let this sink into my cranium and make its way to my heart. I hope you'll join me.