Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guest Speaker: Steven Scott

We were blessed to have author and entrepreneur Steven Scott speak to us this morning. Steven challenged us to think about life’s most important questions. He talked about the important role of Jesus in our lives today and how we can live eternally with God forever.

Check out Steven's books.

Listen to this morning's message.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Being Dad

Here is my column for tomorrow:

I love being a dad.

Our two boys are a blessing to me daily. David is two years old. He is playful, affectionate, and a little stubborn. Of course he gets that attribute from his mom. He loves to play outside. He loves to play with his trains. A common phrase heard around the house is, “Build me a track daddy.” He likes to be the steam engines and I get to be the diesel engines. He loves to run around in his diapers. His favorite food is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Yeah, the stuff out of the blue box. High in value and low in nutrition.

Benjamin is eight years old. He likes to play soccer. He enjoys playing Club Penguin on the computer. He was recently elected mayor of his third grade class. He doesn’t like homework and isn’t terribly fond of school. He likes playing tricks on me. He is in Cub Scouts. His favorite activity is sitting in front of a campfire with marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. Again, not much nutrition, but good value.

I have gained a glimpse of what God must be like through being a parent.
  • I love both boys the same. They are different. But I couldn’t imagine loving one more than the other.
  • I celebrate when they celebrate.
  • When they suffer, I suffer.
  • I want what is best for them, even if that means saying “no” or “not yet.”
  • I enjoy it when they want to be in my presence. I love not just being near them, but being with them.
  • I am willing and usually able to help them, if they allow me to work in their lives.
  • No matter what they have done or what they will do, I can’t imagine not forgiving them.
I try to be a good dad. My imperfection gets in the way of me being too good. God’s perfection allows Him to be a loving parent that I only have a small glimpse of. Because of this glimpse, I do know this: through God’s love, grace, and power we are adopted, accepted, and forgiven.

Starting September 13th, we will begin a new series called: Living God’s Dream. Much like I have dreams for my children, God has dreams for us. Dreams that will give us the contentment and fulfillment that I have been talking about over the last three weeks. I invite you to join us on this four week journey of discovering and implementing the principles and practices that God dreams of for His children.

In Christ,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I think Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk interrupted. I'm not much of a golfer. I have played four times this year which is four times more than I played last year.

I do enjoy playing. It is peaceful. My first two holes were pretty rough. I found myself about 30 yards past the green on the scenic par four third hole at Pacific Springs. Shortly after I gently hit a pitching wedge, the ball rolled into the hole. Par.

On the fourth hole I hit a nice drive and a good second shot. I was just off the green. I softly hit a seven iron and the ball rolled toward the hole, stopping less than an inch short. I tapped in the little putt. Par.

The fifth hole was a short par three. My tee shot made it twenty yards before it stopped in the rough before almost going out of bounds. The second shot flew out of the rough all the way to the back of the long, narrow green. The fifty foot putt was a piece of cake. It ended up in the bottom of the hole. Par.

The sixth hole was a long par five. I shot a ten. The last three holes weren't much better. It was fun while it lasted.

One way to think of humility is an inward and willing recognition of the mismatch between the immense challenge (in this case golf, but generally life) and our own limited capacities. Thank you holes six through nine for reminding me of humility.

Thanks for the fun night Jason, Jason, and Lyle.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Made: Live Out Loud

Here are the notes from today's sermon. You can listen here.

1. Lessons from Brother Lawrence

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness. -Colossians 1:24-25

You can choose to embrace this journey passionately or go along passively.
I walk before God simply, in faith, with humility and with love; and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him...and this without any other view than purely for the love of Him, and because He deserves infinitely more. –Brother Lawrence

Question to consider:

How might your current circumstance be a call to live more passionately?

2. Fan the Flame

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. -2 Timothy 1:6

Self-gratification ironically will never fully or completely gratify us because self-centeredness is not what we are created for.

You’ll always run out of ways to entertain yourself, but there will always be more ways to serve others.

Questions to consider:

Where are you spending most of your time and efforts? Are you chasing self-gratification or are you using your gifts to serve others?

3. Unlikely Journey

But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. -Luke 12:48

God has kingdom-building plans for you. Pray, listen, and trust in Him to reveal how you can best serve him.

Questions to consider:

Have you taken the time to pray, listen, and trust God to reveal how He can use you? In the meantime, where are you serving Him today?

4. Giving your life for your friends

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” -Matthew 19:26

God can do great and eternally significant things through a life surrendered to him.

Question to consider:

God demands that we surrender everything. What are you still holding on to?

5. The Master Potter

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand. -Isaiah 64:8

Whether you feel created for noble purpose or common use, remember that our all knowing, powerful God created you.

Questions to consider:

What is something you have or something you do well and enjoy doing? How can God use this gift or ability to serve others for God’s glory?

6. Brokenness to Blessedness

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. -Romans 8:28

God can use our painful circumstances to help you care for others dealing with similar difficulties.

Questions to consider:

What difficult situations have you navigated through in your life? In what ways can God turn your experiences into ways to serve others?

7. Live Out Loud

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. –Acts 1:8

This is life we've been given, made to be lived out. –Steven Curtis Chapman

Question to consider:

You have been given a once-to-be-lived and never-to-be-repeated life. What practices can you put in place this week to start living out loud?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009


They replied at once, "Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!" So they began the good work. –Nehemiah 2:18

Most of you know that I enjoy running. Those of you have been around for a while know that I have struggled with injuries this year. It hasn’t been fun. Ice, Advil, stretching, strengthening and rest have become part of my daily routine. I looked back in my journal and here is a brief history:

March 31st – Decided not to run the Boston Marathon on April 20th. Since I can’t walk up or down the stairs without the help of the railing, I don’t think my chances of running up and down hills for 26.2 miles are going to work out for me.

April 15th – Haven’t run in two weeks. My lower abs and adductor muscles hurt when I am sleeping and really hurt at all other times.

May 23rd – Ran slow this morning. Legs hurt, but at least I am running.

July 12th – Haven’t run in nine days. I am actually starting to walk like a normal person.

July 26th – Ran 8 miles at Platte River State Park. Not back to normal, but getting there.

August 17th – Ran 18 miles at Zorinsky. I’ve come a long way in five months. I’ve hurt a lot, learned a lot, gained some patience, and experienced healing. I think I’m better.

Life is a lot like running. Healing is often a process. Soteria is the Greek word that translates as salvation. It carries a rich meaning: to heal, to recover, to make whole. Soteria occurs 45 times in the New Testament, and is strongly associated with Jesus—the Savior (in Greek: soter) who led a ministry of healing while he walked on the earth. Jesus said to the twelve: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” –Matthew 10:8

Jesus is interested in our wellness. For broken relationships that have ended, he desires that we will one day trust again and experience peace. For broken relationships that haven’t ended, he desires reconciliation and forgiveness. For those who are physically hurting, he desires wellness. For those who face the burden of addictions, he desires freedom. For those with self-destructive behaviors who continue to make poor decisions, he desires wisdom and hope. For those who are searching for more in life, he desires contentment and fulfillment.

Soteria is often a process. It takes time. It takes the perseverance to believe that tomorrow can be better than today. It takes faith to believe that God can make good and is at work in your current situation—no matter how messy or bleak the situation is.

On November 22nd I believe I will finish the Philadelphia Marathon. It will have been a long recovery from those mornings early in the year when I was taking one slow step at a time down the stairs. I believe that you will cross the finish line of your marathon as well—whatever it may be. Your wall will be rebuilt. You will experience soteria.

In Christ,


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Made: Holy Discontent

Here is the message from this morning. Listen here.

1. Broken Dreams

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. –Isaiah 55:9

Question to consider:

What brokenness and past experiences do you have that will enable you to serve hurting people?

2. About Face

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. -Philippians 3:7

God used a zealous persecutor of the church in a dramatic way.

Question to consider:

What area(s) of your life do you need to surrender to Christ’s authority?

3. Act like the people wearing a red vest

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. -Philippians 2:3-4

Instead of asking, “What can I get from life or others today?” we need to be asking, “What can I give to serve God and others?”

Question to consider:

How different would your life and attitude be if you spent your day looking for opportunities to serve others?

4. I Spy

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:17

Our lives are filled with opportunities to serve God. It’s our job to spy them out.

Questions to consider:

How do you serve God already in little ways by the way you think, speak, and act? What are you going to do to find additional opportunities and serve God in those ways?

5. You are Not so Weird

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. -Psalm 139:14

When you seek to understand why people consistently and predictably behave the way they do, you can form a relationship that has charge but isn’t going to blow up.

Questions to consider:

Do people who behave differently frustrate you or do you appreciate their differences? Why?

6. Character vs. Personality

Romans 12:2

Character at its most basic level is doing what’s right, no matter what.

God’s heart and God’s desire is that our character would dictate our personality.

Question to consider:

Are you allowing your personality to dictate your behavior or does your character dictate your personality?

7. Velsigne

And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you. -Genesis 28:14-15

God’s blessings are not negated by our shortcomings.

Questions to consider:

God’s blessings are given so you can give to others. What has He given you that you can share with others?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Love Letter

This incredible little piece was written by a childhood friend of mine. Check out Jennifer's blog when you get a chance.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." -- John 1:14

I dusted the spare bedroom the other day and came across it. I pulled it from the shelf and held it in my hands: my childhood Bible. It was a reminder of a time when The Word was a stranger relegated to the bookshelf.

So patient, He was. And still is.

He was waiting there for years, inside pages where He poured out His heart. He put some of the best parts in red. But I didn't read it.

A Love Letter, unopened.

Every few months, I swiped the Word with a lemon-scented dust cloth. But always, I left it in its place – a decoration on a shelf next to a book about Degas' paintings.

I wanted to believe the promise of love,
the mystery of grace,
the work on a Cross,
the hope in a tomb,
but I couldn't.

Some talk about faith like this: "You've got to move your faith south -- from your head to your heart.

"My faith worked in reverse: I needed God to move my faith north. I had a heart that was willing, but a brain that was not. I wanted to believe, but I could not.

So rather than disappoint myself with stories that seemed like fairy tales, this Love Letter stayed shelved for years.

But the willing heart wins every time. The Word Himself planted Truth in hearts, under a canopy of forever. And the Word would grow in willing soil.

"He has set eternity in the hearts of men." -Ecc. 3:11

Yes, He would make everything beautiful in its time.

One day, my oldest sister sent a gift by mail. It was a book like the one on my shelf -- same words, same red letters. I opened it. The words of Mark 9:24 leapt from the page: "Lord, I do believe. Help me with my unbelief."

I gasped, silently mouthed the words. Dare I ask this for myself?

God, if you're there, could you do that for me? I asked. I want to believe, Lord, would you help me with my unbelief?

Lord help me with my unbelief!

I don't know when it happened exactly, but my faith went north.

I began to feel the words, in the marrow. Leather-bound Soul Food in my hands -- alive and active -- had become more than stories. The Word put flesh on The Word. He wrote letters to me -- to me! -- and I wrote back to Him in the margins. I underlined my favorite parts in green.

Today, God is as close as gold-lined pages on my fingertips. When He says He loves me, I believe Him from my Word-drenched heart all the way up to my Word-drenched intellect.

Author and Giver of Life, Keep me pointed north. Kindle in me the desire to continually learn more about You through Your Word – a Love Letter to me that woos. Even when I fail -- and I will again -- remind me that it's never too late to pick it up again; Your words are faithful even when I am not. Amen.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reflections on the First Day of School

I was thinking about Benjamin's first day of school yesterday. Here is a thought I had. It will be my column on Sunday:

Like many of you, we took our son Benjamin to his first day of school on Wednesday. He is a third grader now. Before school, we took pictures of him. His little brother David snuck into a few of them. He also got a picture taken with me and one with Amber. As I was downloading the pictures, I looked back at his pictures from Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade. I noticed I was wearing the same shirt in his first grade picture that I wore on Wednesday.

It is a grey t-shirt made by Adidas. I wear it a few times a week. It is mostly polyester with a little cotton. It used to be fairly thick, but is getting thinner every time I wear it and every time I wash it. It used to have florescent, bright orange lettering on the front and back. Now it is no longer florescent or bright, just a muted shade of orange on the cracking letters and numbers. The writing on the front says, “I Eat Marathons for Breakfast.” On the back there is a big “4.”

I have owned the shirt over three years. I probably wear it twice a week when I run. With 300 uses and an average of 9 miles per use, the shirt has travelled 2,700 miles in its lifetime – roughly the distance between New York City and Los Angeles. Occasionally it even makes it out during the day, assuming it is clean: Saturdays and an occasional weekday if I know that I’m going to be in lock-down in my office behind a computer.

You are probably wondering why I am telling you about this shirt. Well here’s the deal: this shirt will be retired one day. It will either get a hole in it or it may disintegrate or Amber may just get sick of it and throw it away. There is something in my life and something in your life that will last forever: The Bible.

The words of the Sacred Book are trustworthy and they are true. It is a story of God’s work among God’s children. They apply to people today just like they have applied to God’s children since the day they were first spoken. These words talk about life’s most essential elements: hope, peace, forgiveness, sex, relationships, anger, abundant life, eternal life, prayer, healing, how to handle money, how to be a spouse, how to be a parent, worrying, fear, serving, loving, giving, and living. In short it is God’s love letter to His children.

I encourage you to dig into God’s Word. We have many Bibles at our information table. Start with the book of Matthew or Luke and read about Jesus. Then go into Romans or another of Paul’s letters. By reading a chapter a day (about five minutes a day) we will allow God to speak to us. Enjoy the journey through life’s most precious Book.

In Christ,


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Made for More

Here is my sermon from this morning. The series is based on the book, Made, by Jud Wilhite. It is a wonderful little book. Listen here.

1. Everybody Should Have to Be a Small-Town Pastor and Buy a Pregnancy Test Kit in the Local Grocery Store – At Least Once

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -Ephesians 2:10

Question to Consider: Are you living for God’s purpose or your own?

2. The Other Six Days, Twenty-Two Hours, and Forty-Five Minutes

so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. -Mark 12:30

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
-Psalm 139:13-14

Question to Consider: How can you learn to fully grasp the fact that God uniquely designed you to live for Him with every part of your life?

3. Michael’s Song

So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. -Romans 12:5

In Biblical fellowship masks come off, conversations get deep, hearts get vulnerable, lives are shared, accountability is invited and tenderness flows. People become like brothers and sisters.

Question to Consider: What is one thing you can do to connect with another believer to experience life together this week? On a regular basis?

4. Not Running the Race

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. -Romans 8:29

Signs you are growing in your relationship with God.

  1. You’ll naturally want to tell others about Christ’s love and how His grace is transforming you.
  2. You’ll want to serve others with your time, talent, and treasures.
  3. You’ll continue growing in your relationship with God by practicing spiritual disciplines and acquiring biblical knowledge.
  4. You’ll live in authentic biblical community.
  5. You’ll respond to God’s love by pursuing a lifestyle of living for God.
  6. You’ll better understand who Christ made you to be and make every effort to reach the world by living in the mission of the church.
Questions to consider: When you look at the list of six characteristics of a changed life, how are you doing in these areas? What tangible and specific things can you do to grow in one or two of these areas?

5. Chariots of Fire

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. -Colossians 4:5

We are all missionaries…wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ. –Eric Liddell

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” -2 Corinthians 5:20

Question to consider: Are you bringing people nearer to Christ through your words and actions or sending them farther away?

6. A Free Lunch

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. -1 Peter 4:10

Few things in life offer more fulfillment that the thrill of discovering and using your unique gifts.

Questions to consider: Are you currently serving God? Are you open and available to His call for your life?

7. Hide and Seek

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. -John 10:10

Questions to consider: Do you know God’s purposes for your life? If so, are you living them out? If not, what will you do to discover them?

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Here is my column for tomorrow. We are starting a new sermon series: Made.

Is it just me or is it hard to believe that summer is almost over—at least as far as the schools are concerned? It seems like it was just the other day that Amber and I were picking Benjamin up on his last day of school?

It is equally hard to believe that Benjamin is going to be in 3rd grade. I look at him in disbelief at how big he is growing—physically and mentally. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that I would put him in his pajamas, lay him down to sleep in his crib, and smell his freshly washed hair when he slept. Now he is staying over night with friends, watching television shows that aren’t animated, and asking me questions where I have to look up the answers.

All this personal nostalgia actually has a purpose. One of the points is that life goes on. Summers end, kids grow up, and life happens. I have been thinking a lot lately about life. I don’t want to reach the end of my days and wonder what might have been. I don’t even want to go to bed at night thinking something like:

  • If I only had more time I would have…
  • If I only had more energy it would have been fun to…
  • If I could have been more organized and efficient I would have had the time and energy to…
  • I’ve always wanted to do … but I’ve just never got around to it.

And I think that many of you are probably pretty similar to me – you don’t want life to pass by without experiencing feelings of contentment and fulfillment. But life keeps moving: day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute.

During the next three weeks we will be looking at what it means to live a life of fulfillment and contentment. I don’t suspect that all of us will have everything figured out by the end of August, but I do pray we will be on a journey together that leads us to higher, deeper, and wider levels of life. I pray that the world is a little better because of us. I pray that we are part of somebody’s testimony. I pray in the mornings that we wake up and are eager to live. I pray at the end of the day we sleep well because we know we didn’t just go though the motions, but because we lived.

In Christ,