A couple of weeks ago I put an amazing article of technology on Jake’s jeep.  To his great dismay, wailing and gnashing of teeth – I connected a little thing called HUM. This amazing contraption gives me his exact location, speed and alerts me to reckless driving (strong braking and so forth).  Isn’t that brilliant?

I am so (heavy emphasis on SO) glad my parents had nothing remotely like this when I was 16!

As a parent, I want to control the circumstances around my son’s driving.  I desire to protect him…even when I’m not around.  I feel like it’s an extra level of safety and a defense from the things I can’t possibly control.

And there’s the word: CONTROL

Let’s just be real honest here; we are control freaks.  We live under this veiled assumption that we have dominion over our lives.  We like to believe we control the circumstances surrounding us by the way we interact with it.  By pure influence, tactical reasoning, situational response and stealth we can control our footing or position in this ever changing world.

We say we believe God’s sovereignty and lean towards faith.  But just in case God falls asleep or forbid it that His will is different from ours, we place a tracking devise to make sure He’s headed where we want to go!

“Lord bless me and my family” (as long as you give me the salary, retirement account, the house and boat I want).

“Lord, show me your ways” (as long as I don’t have to compromise my comfort).

“Lord, win our community for Christ and His Kingdom” (as long as I don’t have to engage in awkward hallway conversations about you).

“Lord bless our church” (as long as that preacher gives me my kind of sermon, my kids think it’s hip, and the music doesn’t lull me to sleep).

A really hard and often uncomfortable truth for me is this: I control absolutely nothing except the choices I make. My very heartbeat is subject to the quantity of days given by God before it’s first beat.  My only control: the choice for whom it beats!  This world and all it’s charms or His pleasure.

Jesus asks us this question: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Luke 6:46

So I sit here looking at this HUM app on my phone.  I’m checking to make sure my son is safely where he’s suppose to be.  Just information really.  Not that I can do anything about it.  But it makes me feel better.  I’m in control.

All the time the Spirit is whispering: “he’s not yours, he’s mine.  I love him more than you ever will and I will send my angels to protect him.  His righteousness is my work.  His obedience is my work.  Don’t call me Lord and not trust one of your greatest worldly possessions to me.  I am shaping His heart for those things that are eternal.”

My choice is in the Lordship of Christ.  He really is Lord!  Over it all…every little bit of it!  It’s actually true. And it’s worthy of your deepest surrender and choice too!  As only a faithful father can, He is shaping you for the eternal.

Statistics tell us we’re losing the battle.  The hard truth is this: a generation of teens and twenty-somethings who’ve grown up in the church are now leaving for greener pastures.  And those greener pastures really have more to do with practical atheism and a plurality of thoughts and philosophies related to God, faith and religion.  We’re losing them and losing them in record numbers.

In the meantime, our traditional congregations grow older and plush with a stoic determination for all things comfortable yet irrelevant.  Just today, while attempting to shop with my wife, I found myself in a conversation with an older yet wise couple so deeply troubled at the drab of some churches and the lack of life and youth.

But I have good news…there is hope.  There are churches who have rounded the corner and found ways to engage the culture while holding to Biblical non-negotiable.  They do it in creative ways that stretch the bounds of comfort for those who’ve been seated in pews longest.  And, amazingly enough, they’re seeing this generation return and engage at a very high level.  And if you look closely enough…there’s something strangely Biblical about what they do.  There seems to be an empowering of the Holy Spirit in ways these churches have never seen.

So allow me to sound the alarm!  We can never make our traditions holy and mistake them for the purity of the Gospel.  If we make our comfort and preferences the center of our worship experiences…then we’ve succumbed to a spiritual narcissism.  So let me make this very clear – God will not be among the proud, the bitter, or the “set in their ways”.  News flash: it isn’t about you!  If that’s hard to swallow, try a little New Testament reading…maybe start with James?

This weekend we’ll be expecting a great move of God during D-Now @ Concord.  We’re investing in the future expecting to see students experience a mighty visitation of God.  I’m praying they catch a fire that will spread to the Church.  I’m praying that fire will remind so many of a time when their faith was new and passion was their language.  I’m praying parents will remember the call to live this faith daily…powerfully.  I’m praying when this fire catches hold, students will stand along adults with hands raised high.  I’m praying for shouting, stomping, jumping and praising that pours into the streets and shakes the foundations.  I’m praying a revival starts!

It’s time we rethink what we do…and lead with strong and passionate hearts for all things Jesus!  Let’s give up on anything and everything that divides us and hold to all that unites.  Let’s embrace change that hurts.  Let’s speak a relevant language and see the church become a place where all generations can worship at the feet of Jesus!

Lord…may it be so!

I love the movies of Christmas.  From It’s a Wonderful Life to A Christmas Story to Miracle on 34th Street, the movies tend to warm my heart and rekindle a wonder-like sense that Christmas is something more.  Almost as if there’s something we forget the rest of the year, only to be reminded now.

The culture of this season has become marked by long meetings, long rehearsals, tons of music, office parties, team parties, white elephants and elves on shelves.  And the food comes in waves of homemade fudge, cookies, cake, cheese dip, sausage balls, and all things yum…only to leave a real gift of a perpetual blah and physical yuck.

Then there’s the hunt!  Recently mine has centered on the Amazon (.com) where the forest is thick and the rivers deep with dangerous dollar signs along the journey of giving to those who already have everything.

But don’t get me wrong – the fun factor is high.  When the music comes to life, the parties launch and the kid’s concerts bring a sense of pride and accomplishment…life is good!

Yet, in true honesty – that song from The Grinch: “Where are you Christmas” is the unsung anthem of the season.  More and more I’m hearing a desire, if not desperation to find a way back to a simple season of hope, family and deep abiding faith.

If you’re looking for a path of practical steps, then allow me to share 5 steps to rediscovering the wonder of Christmas:

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

  •  It’s a Choice!  The hardest part of every journey is making the choice.  It’s a hard decision that has broad implications.  For most, it’s easier not to choose and just follow the crowd.  We do it because they do it and it’s what we all do.  Yet the one who stands up and says “I’m tired of living this way and I’m going to do something about it” is ready to make a decision based on a choice.  One thing is true – Jesus made people choose.  If you want to change things…then remember you have a choice.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

  •  Invest Wisely!  Just as you make decisions regarding your financial investments – the investment of your time, energy and passion is exponentially more crucial.  What you do, what you read, what you watch is what you become.  And as you invest your time, ask yourself this valuable question: “what Biblical Kingdom impact or return am I getting for my investment?”  Are you giving or taking, consuming or providing?  Are you giving the gift of kindness and generosity?  What are you modeling for your children or grandchildren?

We spend countless hours investing in our kids’ artistic or athletic prowess only to create the next generation of the spiritually apathetic.  We live in our cars and minivans and invest in the here and now.  Then we’re surprised when the investment yields a bumper crop of marginal fruit in the teenage and college years.

Choose now to invest in the things that money can’t buy and time won’t change.  Then you’ll make waves of eternal significance.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.– Matthew 6:1-4

  •  Do it in secret!  Take the challenge of writing the note, paying the bill, raking the leaves, fixing the stairs…in secret.  Do something that no one else can see and no one else knows.  When you see a need, meet a need.  Don’t wait on someone else to do it.  And then – tell no one.

Why?  Because there is no greater check of our ego and motivation than to do something knowing there is no reward, no hoopla, no applause.  When you try it and test God’s Word – you will find the spark ignited in your spirit will bring a real sense of Christmas warmth like nothing else.  And by the way, let your kids in on the secret.  They’ll transform right before your eyes.

“…As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

  •  See the unseen!  Christmas is a season that boasts the virtues of things that are not visible.  It’s a time when we wait for Santa to arrive in the night…undetected.  It’s a parental exercise in stealth maneuvers hoping not to get caught.  It’s the ringing bell from The Polar Express as we ask our kids…and ourselves “do you believe”?

And reality is…there’s something to that.  There exists a world beyond what we can see and a deeper truth that tells us that all the trappings of Christmas found in the wrappings and boxes are temporary.  Last year’s Christmas presents are now in the good will pile as we anxiously await this year’s next best thing.

Enjoy the gift, play with the latest electronic…but never let it dethrone the true King.  See the stuff for what it is and keep it in it’s proper place.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” – Psalm 40:3

  •  Worship!  Choose to drink deeply from the cup of thankfulness for the “way out there, beyond all measure, blow me away” kind of love that God has for you.  Worship through reading God’s Word.  Worship on your knees in a secret place…with tears streaming down your face for a baby born a King to make a way for you to find your way home.

When you sing – sing out loud…boldly!  Sing those Christmas carols with a conviction not based on the churchy/traditional/this is what we do kind of thinking.  But instead from a heart that has found a new song.

Then guess what – “many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord”.  In a season when everyone is doing the same old thing…bring a fresh wind of joy to your family, your office, your school and your church.  If we’re going to truly find Christmas – then you be the one to bring it!

So…where are you Christmas?  The journey begins today, as a choice to not accept the shallow shadow of the real Christmas.  Make the decision, invest wisely and do something without being recognized.  Look below the surface for the unseen and worship boldly.  Then and only then you might just find Christmas has found it’s way back home again.

Merry Christmas!


Stop this weekend to give thanks for our freedom.

Pause and remember the few who’ve sacrificed for the many.  In the midst of your celebrations, remember the soldiers who stand on the wall and guard our liberties.  Pray for their protection, guidance and reunion with their families.
Choose to be the few who refuse to take it for granted!  Reach out and thank a veteran…and model for future generations the spirit and gift of gratitude for those “who laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom” (Abraham Lincoln).

And then…embrace your moments!  Hug your kids…call your grandkids and savor every moment.
As for me; one is headed to Denver…and one is headed camping, anxiously awaiting me to finish this email.  One is testing his wings…the other just loving the gift of life.  And me…feeling truly blest!

Over the past week, I’ve been with my Dad.  Soon to celebrate 80 years, and fresh from open heart surgery.  There are many thoughts running through my mind…but allow me to share some lessons learned:
Cherish the present – don’t take it for granted.
Honor the past – learn from it.
Embrace the future – allow change to the be the incubus of growth.

As I’ve sat with Dad – I’ve journeyed back to the many fishing trips, ball
games, road trips, camping excursions that we shared.  Times when he seemed
so big and tall…

Dad never traded his kids for the fame & fortune of this world.  His
treasure was found in those he loved not things he could buy or honors he
could achieve.  Gentleness, kindness, patience and love were the language of
our household – and because of him…still is!

Times like this – now remind me that we were never made for this world.  So
I’m choosing to hold to the hope that this pain is only an investment in
that world beyond our sight and senses…the domain of the living God.

And so – my dad is still pretty tall…in fact he’s a giant!  A hero to me.
Remembering yesterday I see it’s made me who I am.  Cherishing today thrusts
me into a deep gratitude for what I have.  Knowing all along – it’s only a
moment until we’ll be worshiping at the feet of Jesus!

Praising God who makes all things new!