Friday, May 30, 2008

Death in the pot and other short stories

Sometimes I wish I were like the Prophet Elisha while at other times I don't. How can one man sustain so much excitement in his life without suffering a cardiac arrest? What did he have to do and how much time did he have to spend in prayer to command God's favor with such seeming ease? Yes, incase you missed it I'm back in 2 Kings chapter 4. Here are two more seemingly innocuous stories, related to us in just a few paragraphs. I imagine that the faith required to walk in such authority took more than a few 'paragraphs' of his life to acquire.

The first story tells us that Elisha was back home in Gilgal and there was a famine in the region. (ever get the idea that famines seemed to follow this man around?) He was hosting a 'prophetic conference' at the time, and decided to feed all the prophets in attendance, with a large pot of stew. One of his servants went out into the fields to gather herbs to spice up the stew and picked up a seemingly innocuous (like the story) looking vine which they added to the stew. It turned out to be poisonous and the prophets all began to exclaim in alarm as they feasted on "death in the pot." We'll pick up the story directly in 2 Kings 4: 41: Elisha said, "Get some flour." He put it into the pot and said, "Serve it to the people to eat." And there was nothing harmful in the pot. What??? Since when did flour become a poison neutralizer? My point exactly. It isn't!

Elisha's confidence in God's ability to heal is so high, that all it takes is a little gesture of some sort on his part. I'm convinced it could have been honey, wheat, rice or anything else they had in the pantry and he could have used it the same way he used the flour. As if that isn't enough, the story is immediately followed by the visit of a man bringing him 20 loaves of barley bread as a gift. Elisha orders that it be given to the people to eat, but his servants question his sanity in light of the fact that there are 100 men and merely 20 loaves (incase you suck at math, that's 1 loaf between 5 hungry men). Elisha insists saying, "For this is what the Lord says: 'They will eat and have some left over.' " How do you determine that the instruction, as unpalatable and apparently ridiculous as it sounds, is indeed from God? If you have the answer e-mail it to me quickly. As for me, I'm still learning to hear, discern and obey His voice. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What are you doing today?

Someone sent me this video on facebook. I literally couldn't believe my eyes as I watched it and heard the amazing attitude with which Nick approaches life. Spare a few minutes of your time to watch it too. You'll be glad you did.

So, my question for you is: Do you still think you have a tough life?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kids really Can...!?!

Our very effective and incredibly fun children's ministry is called Kids Can. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then need I say more?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Selah - pause and think about that!

We had our Lead Team meeting on Thursday. I love these meetings! They provide an opportunity for me to 'pour' into my team, as well as an opportunity to just relax and connect with each other. There's always good food, lots of laughs, and a ton of stuff gets done. I feel sorry for you guys who have stuffy, sit-at-the-table, coat-and-tie 'serious' types of meetings (at least I feel sorry for the ones who have to sit in those meetings and listen to you drone on and on and on and... you get the idea). I really enjoy a laid back atmosphere as it tends to engender creativity, honesty and openness. Any way, all of that has little to do with what I wanted to talk about today, I just thought I should rub it in :)

Last Thursday's meeting got me thinking (don't you even dare think anything like saying how thinking for me might be dangerous). In the photo, I'm holding Selah. Selah is Hope and Kenneth's daughter, who are both part of our lead team. Just before the meeting began, I was holding her and rocking her to sleep, nestled quietly in the crook of my arm. It was 'pictureworthy'!!! She looks so peaceful, content and safe in the coocoon of my body, shielding her from all harm. When the Bible says that God holds us close in His everlasting arms, I just wonder if this is the picture it's painting for us. Now if we could only learn to rest instead of struggle, we'd really enjoy the journey. Selah was so content, she fell asleep in my arms, even though she'd been fretting just before I carried her.

So, today's nugget holds no big secret for any of us. It's simply to learn to rest in His arms. If you're wrestling with something that's keeping you awake at nights, or giving you fits during the day; how about imprinting this mental image in your mind so that you remember how big your God is compared to you. Oh, by the way, if the mental image of my face doesn't quite do it for you, then by all means replace the face with one that does, I promise I won't be mad. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Naturally 7, Naturally Heaven...

You may have been living under a rock the last few months and so may have missed this amazing acappella rendition by the group Naturally 7, on a subway train in Paris, France. This will certainly perk up your weekend. Presented here for your exclusive listening pleasure: It's Naturally 7!!! Enjoy, and have a fabulous weekend, from our house to yours!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I'm currently reading the book unChristian - what a new generation really thinks about Christianity ...and why it matters. Long title I know, but this is a pretty stimulating read that forces you to ask some hard questions. I'm asking myself many questions. Not exclusively the four questions the book would indicate should be asked, in the foreword. Nonetheless, I'm asking myself many questions. I will reserve my personal responses for when I am completely done processing these big ideas. I have a couple more really interesting titles to read when I'm finished with this book. Rob Bell's Sex God - Exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality, and Dan Kimball's They like Jesus but not the Church - insights from emerging generations, are just two of the books waiting in reserve. As you can see, there's a lot of stuff going on in my life at the moment.

More importantly though, there's a lot of good stuff going on in my wife, Sola's life. She finally caved. She took the plunge. She bit the bullet. She dunked the cat (I have no idea what that means or even if it's an actual saying but I really like it so...) But I digress. What I was actually trying to tell you is that my wife finally stepped over to the dark side and entered the world of blogging. She's an amazing writer and has the quintessential wry british sense of humor. She is incredibly articulate, profound, insightful, unpretentious, and yes, all the other cliche adjectives you can think of (what did you expect me to say? After all, she is my wife!!!) So please, click on the following hyperlink redefining pink and go over to her blog and show her some love. It would mean the world to me. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

La Familia

Isn't it amazing how some of the most profound epiphanies come out of incongruous moments. I thoroughly enjoyed the responses to my blog post yesterday, and gained significant insight into something that I'd suspected for so long. Are you ready for this profound revelation? Here it is: Family is the most important influence on our lives. There, I've said it. What? No applause at this significant insight? Oh, I get it, you already knew that so I guess it's no big revelation for you. Well, forgive me for being so slow on the uptake but I must admit that, while I've always known this fact, it sometimes eludes the space between my ears.

How important is family in shaping our values and responses to life? Just read some of the statements in response to my post asking the question "what do you wish you'd known back then that you know now, that could have saved you a lot of pain and heartache?"

  • My mother used to say "define your boundaries early in any relationship, so you don't have the uphill task of re-defining them."
  • I am not my husband's (or anyone else's) Holy Spirit. Stop trying to be.
  • My grandmother also told me not to focus on acquiring material things because we didn't bring anything with us (into this life) and certainly won't be taking anything with us when we leave.
  • One of the most painful times I experienced was after my marriage relationship ended... and sometime after, I moved, and I was alone (not lonely) and God was able to really heal my heart and make me more confident.
  • Learn to love your family as they are instead of wasting time wishing they were different.

Notice how this sampling of responses all have to do with one family relationship or another? There you have it. It's scientifically proven after this survey, that family ranks high on the list of things that influence our lives. With that being said, today I'm posting a photo of my family that was taken after church last Sunday. Why am I not in it? Who do you think took the picture? At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Well, what do you know???

I have nothing at all profound to share with you today. In fact, I'm hoping that you have something profound to share with me. Yes, you heard me! You see, as I've been reading a number of different books and blogs recently, I realize that the greatest leaders are the ones who have learned how to be vulnerable with the right people. In their book Deadly Viper, Character Assassins, Mike and Jud quote Craig Groeschel as saying, "We also do our best to systematically reward confession. We are deliberately creating a 'confession culture' with our staff. If you confess it then we can help you. If you hide it and we find out, then there are serious consequences."

I'm learning that reinventing the wheel is a painful, thankless and useless process. I can and should learn from other people's... well, shall we just say 'unfruitful choices'? So, I've been paying a lot of attention to the things people say they wish they'd known "back then" that would have helped them avoid some of the pitfalls they fell into. I have a ton of those "If I'd known back then what I know now...." I've even written about some of them here. So here's how I need your help today: Would you share with us at least one thing that you wish you'd known in the past that would have helped you avoid some of the heartache and pain you've had to deal with.

Now you know, if you don't respond to this post I'm up the creek without a paddle, so please respond so that all the wonderful people that read this blog can avoid 'no-paddle-creek'! Thank you kindly.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We are not alone

Let's not forget them, shall we? There have been over 150,000 lives lost in the last month as a result of tragic events that struck Myanmar and China. What makes the tragedy in China even harder to bear is the fact that China has a "One-family-one-child" policy. Entire schools were wiped out with not one survivor, thereby eradicating an entire generation of families. Many people don't know where to turn as they look for answers in an attempt to cope with the unimaginable pain they have to contend with.

As Christians, while we may not have the answers, we know, and are well acquainted with the One who does. These tragedies present an unprecedented opportunity for us to give and to pray! This is not the time to be apologetic about prayer, or to suggest that prayer does little to alleviate the pain and suffering. God responds to the cries of a hurting people, so more than ever before, lets raise a clarion call to prayer. And while you're praying... give generously!! As a church we are giving through Save The Children. Having researched a number of organizations that are all doing tremendous work in helping victims and survivors of these tragic events, we settled on Save The Children for a number of reasons which I won't elaborate on here.

The photo in today's post is a photo of a school girl that had both limbs amputated at the site where she was found. She was the only survivor in her school (that has so far been found), but in order to save her life, she had to lose her legs. How often are you and I confronted with choices like that. Please pray and give to help people whose lives are so far removed from your own. After all, Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you've done it to me also."

Friday, May 16, 2008


It's been quite the week for "thought-full" posts that encouraged us to look a little deeper at some passages of the Bible, and how they relate to our lives and circumstances. In case you were thinking today was going to be a repeat performance... think again! I just got back from my 20-mile (15 today) ride and I'm too exhausted to even engage my brain in heavy thinking, so I figured I'd give you some light-hearted, easy reading for the weekend.

I wanted to give you an update on my visit to the doctor earlier this week. It's official... I have the heart of an ox! The staff at my doctors office kept coming to check me out (under the guise of needing to check on something), compounding my anxiety that something might be wrong. Finally the Doc. came in and informed me that my BP (blood pressure, to the uninitiated) was 104 over 70 and that my pulse was so low, he wondered if I was a professional athlete. All the other "unmentionable" and "humiliating" tests were all good. So, what's the problem with being unable to ride 20-miles if my heart is so strong, you ask? Well, let's just say in the last couple of months my wife has been cooking my favorite meals, and I haven't lost my appetite!!

Speaking about professional athlete, my son's recruiting is going really well also. Today's photo, courtesy of, is a recent one taken at the Nike Camp at UF in Gainesville, FL. He currently has offers from almost ten schools (he has a couple of verbal offers for which he hasn't yet received the official letters), and during his spring season practices, he has had visits from coaches from schools like LSU, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Kansas and a number of other D-1 programs. He is relishing the attention and we are constantly reminding him that it is purely God's grace and favor, and if he starts getting "too big for his britches" he might find himself on the wrong side of God's favor (God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble). Or, to paint a picture for all you Nigerian readers out there in blogland, in the inimitable words of Rooftop MC's song, God might "Lagimo" :) Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Did God really say...???

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I'm "embedded" in the book of 2 Kings right now. My story today comes from the same chapter as yesterday's post, but with a completely different scenario. Today, my machinations have little to do with the recipient of the prophet's miracle, but focus primarily on the prophet himself. One of our favorite "Christianese" phrases (it would appear) is "God said" or "God told me." Don't misunderstand me to be suggesting that God doesn't speak to us quite clearly. My point here is really trying to figure out when that statement is true or when it's just a cop-out to avoid taking responsibility yourself. The number of times I have heard that statement said with such conviction and then heard the same person turn around and indicate something different, is nauseating enough without the added fact that they make God appear schizophrenic.

So that I don't do all the work for you, I suggest you read 2 Kings 4: 8-31. Are you done yet? If so, then join me as we pick up the story in verse 32 (If you tried to cheat by not reading the preceding verses, you'll lose the essence of the story). Elisha arrives at the home of the wealthy shunamite woman, and his servant Gehazi, who has preceded him there, quickly informs him that the "staff-on-the-face" thing didn't work. Then Elisha goes into the room where he is alone with the dead child. First thing he does is he prays! Then it gets "weird." He " on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy's body grew warm." (Vs. 35) Did it make you uncomfortable to read that? If it didn't, then you're not living in the real world. With constant allegations of child molestation, "fruit-cake christians" claiming to be God, and so many other perverted things going on in our world, how can that not make you uncomfortable? The only way to not be uncomfortable in an act like that is if you've heard clearly the voice of God speaking to you.

Remember, the first thing he did when he shut himself in the room with the boy's body, was to pray. Here's the end of that story: "Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes." (Vs. 35) What!?! What if Elisha had thought to himself, "These instructions are to crazy even for me Lord. I'm afraid I can't do that. What if his mum walks in and accuses me of necrophelia? (intercourse with the dead)" Is it possible that the dead child would never have been resurrected? This is so deep, disturbing and powerful on so many levels all at once. I guess the real key is, make sure you know the voice of God to you whatever it is you feel called to do. Evidently there was no concern whatsoever for Elisha, having prayed and reassured himself that these were God's instructions. After all, the dead child came back to life only after Elisha's "strange" behavior. So, what's God saying to you today?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jars of Clay

If you're not careful you could miss it. If you don't pay particular attention it could escape your keen and observant eye. I'm talking about the story behind the story of the widow woman in 2 Kings chapter 4. On the surface it may appear as if her miracle may have been contingent upon her obedience to the prophet Elisha's instructions, as obtuse as the instructions may have sounded. Okay, if you don't believe me check this out: She tells Elisha that her dear departed husband's creditors have now focused their attention on ensuring that she repays his loan. They have determined that they are taking her two sons into slavery to pay off his debt. We're not told how much the debt is or how old the boys are. All we know is that she is in panic mode so she "cried out to Elisha." His response: "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few."

Huh? Excuse me??? It's my son's lives in danger here and we're talking about starting a jars of clay collection (pun intended)!?! Before we miss the point of the story though, do you see what I see? (I'm full of cliches today). She had to borrow empty jars from her neighbors! And, according to the story she didn't borrow a few. So here are my questions: How many neighbors did she have to go to in order to get all the jars she collected? Since she didn't know what the prophet's intentions were, what did she tell them she needed the jars for? And finally, the really big question: What if she had lived a poor witness in front of her neighbors, would she have even been able to approach them to ask for the jars? You see, the first thing we are told at the start of the chapter is she said to Elijah, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord."

Evidently everyone on their cul-de-sac knew that Mr and Mrs "Oil-Jar" were believers, and so would have watched the way they lived their lives, really closely. If the neighbors hadn't consented to loan her the jars she would have been in a rather tight spot, because, according to the story, the minute she ran out of jars, the oil stopped flowing. By that time though, she had filled enough jars with oil that she could pay off her husbands debt and live off the rest of the money from the sale of the jars of oil. Which tells me something else: If you're selling jars of oil, clearly you're not returning the "borrowed" jars to your neighbors, so the jars were probably given to her and not loaned. So, the moral of this story is: husbands don't leave debts for your wives! Seriously though, the real moral of the story can be summed up in my final question: How's your relationship with your neighbors?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are you thirsty???

I think I'll live! I suspect I'll make it another day!! In fact, I'm certain I'm going to survive!!! "What the heck are you talking about?" I hear you asking me. Well, I rode today. For the first time in weeks I rode. It wasn't pretty and I only managed 11 miles before I knew I had to quit, but I rode. And as I rode this morning, God spoke to me. Not in that spectral voice where He announces to me that the world is about to end (although at some points during my ride I wished it would), but with a gentle nudging reminder of the importance of maintaining my spiritual health.

I drank a lot more water today than I normally do when I ride, because I found myself getting thirsty quicker and more often. The bottom line is that I'm out of shape! Remember my posts on One Prayer? Well my one prayer for the global Church is, Make us Thirsty. I'd post the video of the recording here but then you wouldn't watch it during the month of June so we'll just wait. I will however give you a tickler. Thirst is the body's built in "fuel gauge" to determine dangerously low fluid levels. If you allow your body fluid levels to run low, there are unpleasant symptoms that accompany dehydration, not the least of which are clammy skin, muscle spasms and "sandpaper" mouth. Further left unattended, these conditions could rapidly deteriorate into something much worse.

In taking care of my spirit, the same principles apply. I can be doing just fine in my committed prayer and bible study times. I can be growing in leaps and bounds spiritually, but if I take a break for whatever reason (the same way I've done with my excercise routine), I'll find myself rapidly retrogressing. I realized how much ground I'd lost when I was completely worn out by mile marker 5. How lame is that, considering my usual routine is a 20-mile circuit? So what's the early warning system or "fuel gauge" that indicates that you might be running on "spiritual empty"? The short answer is; your anger, your addictions, your depression, your loneliness, your bitterness, your fear... shall I continue? Laying off road-biking is tough for me physically, and the consequences are dire (especially to my waistline). As dire as the consequences are, they are nothing compared to the consequences that come with laying off my spiritual workout. So, my advice to you today (and I don't even charge like Dr. Phil): Hydrate! Keep your spiritual fluids going strong so that you don't run on empty. Are you thirsty?

Monday, May 12, 2008


I must admit that I'm feeling rather bloated and unhealthy at the moment. I've had a really bad back and neck pain and so I haven't been bike riding for almost two weeks. Wow, the very idea of eating and not exercising is problematic for me but that's where I've lived the last two weeks. Enough already! I have an appointment with my doctor this morning, since, even two visits to my chiropractor last week haven't been able to resolve the problem. I'm telling you all this so you can say a quick prayer for me as you go on through your busy day. How can I pray for you today?

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Mother of all...well, mothers!

It seems to me that it was fairly recently that I posted about Mother's Day here. To my mind it's come around rather quickly, but maybe that's just an indication of how busy I've been. Having said that, I must admit that I'm thrilled for another opportunity to show my wife how much she means to me. This will be a little bit of a difficult one for my wife as her mother passed away just a few short weeks ago and so it will be her first Mother's Day without being able to see, or at least make a phonecall to her mother. I'm also looking forward to being able to let my mother know how special she is to me.

To all of you mother's out there, I am truly grateful for the sacrifices, tears, heartache and so much else you've had to endure to make little boys and little girls into productive men and women. I pray that this day will be a reflection of God's heart towards you. I pray that you will be celebrated, honored and heralded for your often thankless work. I pray for all the expectant mothers-to-be. I pray that your labor will be short and sweet and that your child will be the fulfillment of all your dreams. I pray that you truly enjoy your last mother's day celebration without diapers (at least for a while). For those of you who, for whatever reason, have been unable to have children even though it's your hearts desire, I pray that God will bring you comfort during this season when we celebrate mothers. I pray that you will find some measure of satisfaction in knowing that you have invested in the life of someone else's child.

And for all the rest of us, this presents a unique opportunity to suspend our diets for one day and go berserk over all the special meals that will be served in so many homes and restaurants this weekend. Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I can hardly wait...

With so many churches, including The Well, submitting video for the One Prayer effort in June, I've been asking myself what it is that motivated me to want to be a part of this, and indeed what I would like to see emanate from this incredible vision of a united global Church. Here are just a few of my thoughts on the subject:

  • I have always longed to see a church that reflects heaven in it's outlook and approach to loving and reaching people.

  • It is an amazing way to take advantage of technology in spreading the message.

  • It is an opportunity to hear great speakers who have remarkable insight into the Scriptures, that we might otherwise not have had access to.

  • It's an opportunity for me to share something that I believe will add value to the Church through a forum that I would otherwise not have had access to.

  • The global Church will actually be spiritually united in a way that has never happened before

  • I am really thankful to Craig Groeschel, Bobby Gruenewald and their team for putting this together.

  • I pray that God would visit the global Church in a powerful way during the month of June so that we are inspired to continue in our efforts to be One Church.

I'm so excited about this opportunity, I can hardly wait for June to arrive. What are some of your thoughts on the subject of One Prayer?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Prayer, two sermons...

Yesterday was somewhat of a low key day. I spent much of the day praying for Myanmar and preparing for my One Prayer message. In between that, I did some running around for our upcoming community outreach event called Overflow: Sanford. By the evening I was feeling pretty good about my readiness for the One Prayer recording. That is until I stared into the lens of the camera... then I froze. You see, I love to preach and teach the Scriptures but I hate being aware that there's a camera lens zoomed close-up to my face so that you can see every ridge and furrow (at least that's how I felt).

But I pushed through my misgivings and preached the message of my life, all the while thinking, "There may well be people from all over the world who will listen to this message." The more I thought that, the more inspired I became, and the less conscious of the camera. I hit it out of the park! It was a great message (even if I say so myself). I mean, I was inspiring, profound and motivational... I was on fire... I was... I'm sorry, I was getting carried away for a moment there. You see, everything went perfectly according to plan and when I was done the video guy tells me that I was right on the money as far as time goes. I was ecstatic. Until we had to play it back. Then we discovered that the audio didn't record. It was like watching an old Charlie Chaplin silent movie, all animated gestures and no words.

Nobody wanted to stay for a second taping, so I preached my heart out... for the second time in the space of an hour and a half... to a camera lens and the video guy, who was checking his messages on his blackberry while I preached up a storm. Wow. God really has perfected the art of humbling me as soon as I begin to think it's about me. It was a good recording and I'm pretty confident that the message will be a blessing to some church somewhere in the world during the month of June when we all join together in "One Prayer" for the Church. If it is, it won't be because I hit it out of the ball park, it will be because of God's sovereign grace. So, how was your day yesterday, anything exciting happen? I bet you didn't have to do two services on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Update on breakfast!

The death toll in the Myanmar cyclone has reportedly topped 22,000 and there are over 41,000 people still missing. These numbers are not just zeroes but valuable, individual lives. Please spare a prayer if you can do nothing else. Check out the details here. You can give financial aid to victims and families of the deceased here.

What's for breakfast?

Do you know where Myanmar is? Are you even aware that Myanmar is the name of the country that used to be known as Burma? I didn't think so. In case you're wondering what this is about, let me assure you that I'm not remotely interested in giving you a geography lesson this morning (National Geographic channel does a pretty decent job of that already). I'm talking to you about Myanmar this morning because of the devastating tragedy that has hit that largely Tibetan Bhuddist nation. They've been in the news quite a bit lately. The collective eyes of the world have been focused on the iron-handed tactics of their military Junta against protesting monks who are simply protesting against the continued oppression of the citizens of that nation.

Four days ago Myanmar was struck by the unimaginable tragedy of a freak cyclone that ravaged homes, temples, and lives. The report (consigned to a small corner of the page on, suggests that there are already 15,000 reported dead and still 30,000 people unaccounted for so far. What's that got to do with you, you might be asking? Well that's exactly the point. It has absolutely nothing to do with us and so we don't really recognize how devastating it is for that many people to die from one disaster. No food, no running water, no electric power, no real news as to whether your lost family members are dead or alive, an oppressive military dictatorship with an almost reluctant response to the disaster... wow! What if they were your brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts... how would you respond then? The truth is, if you're a Christian, they are your brothers and sisters, and the love of God compels us to act.

This is not meant to put you on a guilt trip (I'm patently aware of how sensitive people tend to be about feeling judged or criticized), it is simply meant to call your attention to something that grieves the heart of God. Many of those listed as dead, may never have had a personal encounter with Jesus and so their lives have amounted to little more than just an existence. In the wake of the disaster, they have left behind relatives that are searching for answers. As Christians, we have direct access to the One who is the Answer, and so if we can do nothing else, we can pray! As we spare a few moments of our day in prayer for the survivors and for the victims families and friends, we might do well to remember that, while we had access to the breakfast of our choice today, many of them have not eaten or drunk clean water in days. Will you spare a moment and pray?

Monday, May 5, 2008


I know John Lennon popularized this imagine "ideology" with his song of the same title. I admit it's an incredibly catchy tune, but today I'm inclined to think more about the words than I am the music. I imagine (pun intended) that Lennon saw this idealistic picture of a world that he believed could be. A world without heaven or hell. A world with no political boundaries or borders. A world without religion. A world with no personal possessions, no greed, no hunger... Wow! John was no doubt an idealist, and while his intentions may have been honorable, his premise was so completely flawed as to make his "Imagined" dream an impossibility.

You see, from the first line of the song John missed the boat. There is a heaven and there is a hell, no matter how hard you try to imagine that there isn't. There is a God and there is a devil, so there will always be religion. There will always be poverty, pain, greed, hunger and all the other human characteristics that make us inherently flawed humans. Craig Groeschel posted a blog today that speaks to the idea of Jesus' prayer in the book of John, asking that the Church would be One. Building off that idea, here are some things that I like to imagine, in the hopes that one day we'll truly wake up to the unchanging truth of Jesus' prayer.

Imagine a Church that was united. Imagine a Church that was culturally, racially and generationally diverse, yet united as One. Imagine a Church that was committted to One purpose (His purpose). That would be the Church that looks most like the heaven John Lennon imagines doesn't exist. That would be the church whose voice would be relevant in the larger society. That would be the Church that would speak purposefully and passionately to the hearts of the lost, the hurting and the next generation. That would be the Church that Jesus promised He would build, and against which the gates of hell would not prevail. Imagine the possibilities...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sovereign King!!!

Is God ever as surprised as we are when the devil blindsides us with circumstances we weren't prepared for? Apparently not. According to Isaiah the prophet here's what God has to say concerning that: "From the beginning I told you what would happen in the end." (Isaiah 46:10) Evidently, God is sovereign (without input or a vote on the matter from us) all by Himself. The ability to trust the sovereignty of God in the midst of dire circumstances is one of the real challenges of our Christian faith.

There are a few Christian cliches we are skilled at tossing around when life seems to be going according to plan (at least our plan). I know God knows what's best for my life. I'm glad God's in charge. I know God cares deeply for me. Words like these come quite easily when the water is calm. There a tad harder to voice when you have to step out of the boat and walk on the raging sea! What do you say when you're looking at a broken engine and no money to repair it, a suspicious growth on your face that's getting larger by the day, a terminated job with no visible means of income, do you trust in His sovereignty then?

Rejecting the sovereignty of God takes a lot more effort though. It requires scissors and a hole-y Bible, for you have to cut out many verses in order to justify your assertion that human suffering cannot be reconciled with the sovereignty of an all powerful God. My humble suggestion? Take God at His word (after all you do your bank manager and he's only human), He is sovereign all by Himself. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An irrefutable truth

I'm going to conclude this series of posts on spiritual warfare, today. It is my sincere prayer that, more than anything else that I've written, this series will make a difference in the lives of the readers. I say that because it appears to me as if many of the current generation of Christian leaders have distanced themselves from this irrefutable truth, opting instead to preach exclusively "feel good" messages that highlight God's love for us in the midst of our weakness. While that message is true and essential, it is not the full gospel message. Whether we recognize it or not does not negate the fact that we are embroiled in a spiritual battle, and it is this truth that will empower us to "set the captives free" as the Scriptures command us to do.

Obviously four days of short posts on the subject, in no way exhaustively examines the powerful issues involved in demons and deliverance, and spiritual warfare. However, if it whets your appetite enough to influence you to do your own research and study, then I would have accomplished my purpose. So let me end today's post by sharing a couple of sentences from a conversation between Ted Dekker and John Eldredge at the end of the book, Adam. In response to the question: What is the bottom line on spiritual warfare? here's what they had to say:

JE: The battle is not the point. Evil is not the point. The point is the love story. We live in a love story that is set in the midst of war. When you understand those two things, you will suddenly understand Christianity, and you will understand your own life.

TD: A love story set in the midst of a war. I love that! The bottom line is that spiritual warfare is very real but the enemy is defeated. Our struggle does not end at any minute or hour of the day. It's continually there. Darkness is continually trying to snuff out all light. However darkness cannot stand against the light. Our problem is that we tend to forget that there even is this battle between light and darkness, and so we make no attempt to light the candle in the dark. Without the light, darkness tends to just reign in our lives.

As a pastor involved in helping people walk through personal struggles, I have seen how darkness can ravage unsuspecting people who are simply trying to make it through another day. If you're struggling with "darkness" in your life, it's time for you to recognize that there is an answer that lies outside of your own capabilities. If you would like to learn more about this subject, leave a comment and let me know that you'd like me to send you a copy of my book I'm a christian so how can I have demons?, and I'll be delighted to do so until we run out of books.