So… you got any plans? (repost from 12-30-09)

It’s that time of year again. Every channel on TV has one of those greatest/worst 100 of the year shows. You can’t turn on the radio without audibly stumbling over a top 40 countdown of every style and genre out there.


It’s just natural at the end of the year to look back and remember before we press on into the new.

I hate this time of year.

Not just because it contrasts with the Christmas Season (the absolute best time of the year), or even because I don’t like looking back. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

I hate this kind of looking back, because it doesn’t do anything for our future. It’s a waste of time and energy.

I love looking back, but as a ruthless evaluator. I believe there is such a thing as constructive criticism, especially when invited.

This is probably why my circle of intimate friends is so small… hmmm, I’ll have to evaluate that later.

Appreciating and seeking criticism is an art. Unwanted critique, from people who don’t know anything and consider their own opinion too valuable to be kept to themselves need to embrace every human’s capacity to, shut it.

However, trusted relationships with a certain amount of connectivity and some ‘smartness’ about them are invaluable.

For example, I preach the same sermon five times every weekend, and what I start off with on Saturday night is usually not the same thing I end up with on Sunday morning. It’s more refined, figured out and effective (but, at least on Saturday they get the raw unedited version… usually more poo stories).

How does that happen? I watch the video and critique myself overnight, but even before that, I will ask a few people in the first service to listen with a critical ear and meet me between Saturday night services.

It took a while, but they finally started getting honest:

  • “Good message Andy, but with regard to the second point, uh, did you have one?”
  • “Quit moving around so much, you look like a constipated wiener dog”
  • “Don’t ever, ever… ever, use that word again… but, it was funny”
  • “So, have you tried that powder stuff to get rid of the forehead shine, yet? No reason, just asking”

Then the most important step in the process, over Saturday night dinner I ask my wife, “What would you fix?” I don’t put her in a position of “If you love me you’ll think its perfect,” but phrase the question with the expectation that I am looking for some help here.

Over the years she has lovingly encouraged, critiqued and help shape my ministry.

Before the weekend is over slides have changed, illustrations are dropped, new points are created… the sermon is different.

It is important to look back, but only for the purpose of making forward progress. I’ve never been more reminded of that than when I read this verse

Ephesians 4:1 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received, but probably like you I often let day slip into day, month into month and year into year with making any real progress.

Whether it is in the spiritual, emotional, mental or physical arena, the best life we can live is one where we make progress. One of my favorite authors is Erwin McManus and he makes this point in two of his books:

“There’s so much talk about potential in our culture, as if it’s the end-all of success. Has anyone ever said about you, “He has so much potential”? If you’re under twenty – let’s give you twenty-five – consider it a compliment. Potential – your untapped or unlocked capacity. Potential – the hint of greatness not yet developed. “He has so much potential” – a statement of praise and maybe even adoration. And, then you’re thirty, and you still have all this potential. Pressing forty and you’re still full of potential. If you’re forty-five and someone looks at you and says, “You have so much potential,” pause, excuse yourself, step into a closet and have a good cry. What once was a statement of promise is now an assessment of lost opportunity. There is a point where you’re not supposed to be full of potential, you’re supposed to be full of talent, capacity and product. Potential is a glimpse of what could be, yet there must be a shift from where we have potential to where we are potent.” – Erwin McManus from Chasing Daylight

“You’re not supposed to die with your potential. A life well-lived squeezes all the potential placed within and does something with it.” – Erwin McManus from Uprising

Maybe these quotes impact me more than most because I am knocking on the door of 39, but for whatever reason I don’t want to have potential anymore. I want to be potent.

So, how do we get there? How does 2010 become a year ‘worthy of the calling we have received’?

Whether you are needing to whip your body into shape, change your financial direction, move out big time in your career, or need to take some spiritual mountains, here are some simple Biblically based steps to doing something with our lives.

1. Evaluate – this is essential. Look back with a critical eye, and even involve others if its helpful. Be brutally honest with yourself and about yourself. We tend to grade ourselves on  curve, and when we do we often grade out higher than we ought. There is nothing wrong with failing yourself in certain areas. It doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you are smart enough to know what to fix. The Apostle Paul did this:

Acts 15:36 (NIV) Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”

After re-reading this verse, take a minute and think about the letters he wrote to those churches. Some were encouraging, some were instructional, and some chewed out the churches nastier than Coach Mangino in the locker room at half time. Ok… maybe not that bad. Paul, and Apostle of the Living God, evaluated his work.

Grab a notepad, some prayer time and a bottle of “Real Honest, Real Quick” and ask yourself the hard questions: What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? Where have I stalled out? Do I already know what to do? Why haven’t I done it? What do I work on right now?

2. Seek God – the key component. Quite honestly, this is probably the link in the chain that keeps snapping on us. No plan, no strategy, no wisdom will work for us if it’s not God’s plan for us. Let me be clear, something might be good, right and beneficial, but if it’s not God’s plan for YOU, it’s not what you need.

Psalm 20:4 (NIV) May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

This is often read in a way that God endorses you and makes your plans work, but that’s a backwards entrance into this verse. More aptly translated, may you seek God so that He will give you the desires that are in His heart. In other words, seek Him and His desires will replace your desires. Then its a no brainer, He’ll make your plans succeed. For example, my kid wants a pop with dinner, but I want him to have milk. He’s going to get what he wants as soon as he starts wanting what I want for him. Only then will he succeed. Milk… does a body good.

3. Plan – without it, well, that’s just stupid. Two main mistakes in this area. One, some want to be so open to the Spirit of God and flexible to follow His leadings they don’t follow Him in the plethora of verses which say, PLAN! Two, we are so full of good intention and desire that we fail to plan because we are preparing to plan.  Example: we want to loose weight so we pray about it, google it, read about it, and talk about it, but never pick a course of action. We have so much information and desire that we are afraid to make the wrong plan. It’s called paralysis by analysis.

Proverbs 13:16, (TLB) “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it!”

You’ll probably never have the full story or all the best resources, but what you do have, use! Take everything that you’ve got and make the best plans that you can.

4. Set Goals – don’t be chicken. Many avoid this because they are afraid of failing. I have two significant help for you in this area. One, you might fail, big deal. This will give you something to evaluate before 2011. Failure is so much better than doing nothing, just make sure you fail-forward. Failure is actually a success when you fail in the right direction (credit to John Maxwell). Second, make your goals are God-Sized goals (credit to Rick Warren). If you actually make your goal you probably set it to low and where is the failure in that.  Life is about progress, not completion. The latter can also be defined as death… not it!

Luke 14:28-31, (TLB) “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”

Even Jesus encourages us to have a plan and set goals. Without it you get nowhere and have nothing to evaluate. To live without goals is to establish your life theme song as ‘Hakuna Matata’ and who wants to live with a warthog and a meerkat for the rest of their lives. It’s a great philosophy for a Disney cartoon and a horrible way to live a life.

5. Activate – the final frontier. I love almost all things sci-fi and even enjoy the variety of shows connected to the Star Trek genre. But, my absolute favorite one-worder from the show is from Captain Jean Luc Picard. The course is plotted, the crew is alert and the mission before them. It’s at this moment the captain says, “Engage.” Yes! Enough with the planning and prepping, it’s time to do something even if it is a trip into the scary unknown. Where does the Bible back this up? Where doesn’t it:

Jesus said “Go” (Matt 28:19)

Jesus said “Make”(Matt 28:19)

Jesus said “Teach” (Matt 28:20)

Jesus said “Take Up” (Luke 9:23)

Jesus said “Follow” (Mark 2:14)

Jesus said “Love” (Mark 12:30)

I believe Jesus says, “Engage.” It’s important that we evaluate, seek God, plan and set goals, but it’s all pointless if we don’t do something.

Take that first step, the rest get easier… sometimes. Either way, it’s worth the trip.

May 2010 be a year of no regrets as you live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Remember, if you make an impact, you’re going to leave a mark.

Cautious Optimism

When I look at the world today, I see it through a lens that sees lots of injustice.

Most of us do.

Whether we fixate on racial issues, religious persecution, economic disparities, or any number of things that just aren’t right, there is a desire to see something fixed that is simply beyond our control.

That’s why I was comforted today to see a word in Zechariah that gave me an optimistic hope for the future.

The angels who were patrolling the earth were frustrated that the earth was at peace. They were frustrated because the earth was at peace while God’s people were held in bondage and displaced.

They wanted God to do something about the injustice they were seeing.

Zechariah said that the LORD was gracious and comforting to the angels who were frustrated, and He said:

And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.” – Zechariah 1:15 (ESV) 

These words must have been a soothing blast of refreshing, cool air on the angels wanting to see justice.

God just said, I was angry with them before, but as they have just continued on oblivious to their own atrocities they have really ticked Me off (or, more biblically, “they furthered the disaster”).

Yes, it should give those suffering some hope about the future, that God sees, knows and is preparing to correct the path, right the wrongs and bring mercy to victims of injustice.


Just the other side of that hope I felt a growing concern.

Perhaps I am not always the victim.

Perhaps my own sinfulness has been mounting quietly over the years.

Perhaps my looking at the sins of others has kept me blind to the brokenness of me.

And, the whole time I am waiting for God to move against them, I am furthering my own disaster.

That’s why this is a “cautious optimism.” 

I truly believe that God will make all things right and every thing will be made accountable.

But, I am not excluded. There but by the grace of God go I.

I also am unjust, selfish, myopic and hopeless. I need the grace of Jesus to avert the wrath of God, because I too am a disaster.

Thank you Jesus for not giving me what I deserve, and teach me to pray for grace before judgement for those whose sins are so offensive to me.

May they receive the same gifts of mercy that you have given me.

I’m with the band

I love a good marching band, probably because I grew up marching for the Great Bend High School Black Panther Marching Band.

Some great memories.

It’s probably why I still love camping out on Hutchinson’s Main Street during the State Fair to watch all the bands march down our fare street earning a ticket for a day of fun. 

But this past fall, I was taken aback by what I saw. There was a small band from western Kansas (intentionally to be unnamed) that was doing just fine in the uniform of blue jeans and school T-shirts.

On the side closest to me, as I sat on the tailgate of my truck, about two-thirds of the way back in their marching band was a young saxophonist. I took a moment to look in her direction because that’s the horn I played.

Upon closer scrutiny, I could see what maybe others could not. She was marching in time, keeping in step, posture looked good, but there was a problem… she wasn’t playing anything.

Oh, the horn was in her mouth, and from a distance, you couldn’t tell, but I was up close, and there was no doubt. She was in the band, but she wasn’t playing the song.

I was amazed she was staying in line as she had perfected the art of the teenage eye roll, which she produced artfully, continually, fantastically even as she fake marched.

I chuckled to myself finding humor in her rebellion until I felt another question spring up inside this pastor of 28 years: “I wonder how many people in the church today are just like that?”

 I believe it is possible to stay in line, tap your feet and even look like you’re in the band, but actually, be contributing nothing to the performance. To show up and fake it in hopes that you get your “admission ticket” at the end of the show.

All too often, this is the case in the church today. We fill a seat, but we don’t contribute. We praise His name, but only inside these walls. We believe in the mission, but leave the work up to the pastor.

The truth is that everyone needs to play their part, or the song doesn’t sound like it should.

God chose to make the church his hands and feet in this world, and we have an opportunity, even a responsibility, to play our role so long as we have the breath to do it.

When we don’t, we are disobedient to him, a hindrance to others, and most importantly, we do damage to our self.

Let me refer you to the writing of the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 12:12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…

Vs. 14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many…

Vs. 17-18 “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose…

Vs 27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

Each one of you has been given a special place, role and privilege to serve in the body of Christ.

When you’re not in the mix doing your part, we are incomplete. So let me encourage you to make sure that you’re not just filling a pew, singing a song, or “paying your dues.”

The Christian life is an invitation to living life to the full! It’s your opportunity to make a difference in this world, but only you have the chance to step up and make it happen.

So, make a decision today that tomorrow will be different. Make the determination right now to make a difference. Enjoy your responsibility and your privilege.

I mean, come on, you’re with the band.

He knows

Before we get into this, let’s get one thing straight, if you ever see me on the side of the road with my hood up and me staring into that mess of nuts, bolts, and hoses, I can tell you what I’m doing. 


I have no idea what’s going on in there. I know enough that if there’s a problem, it’s probably coming from one of those thingamajigs.

That particular inadequacy complicates another problem because it’s tough for me to drive past a stranded motorist on the side of the road. Especially if I can see a mom and make out car seats, I’m going to turn around.

Very often the only thing I can do is offer my cell phone, but on occasion, it’s something simple like a flat tire, and I can get in the dirt and help a little.

I think the reason I’m compelled to stop goes back to the fact that I know what it’s like to sit on the side of the road. In fact, in my graduate school days, I remember pulling over for more than a flat tire. 

My car was on fire.

There I stood, next to the inferno, backpack in hand, in awe… my sporty little Geo Metro engulfed in flames, and not a single person in that bumper-to-bumper nightmare on Interstate 20 smack dab in the middle of Fort Worth would pull over, slow down or even give me a pity wave.

 It wasn’t till law enforcement saw my plight that I got a ride. You’d think that nothing could cause that day to get worse, but when the officer gives you a ride to class (at seminary) and your classmates and instructors see you being let out of a cop car… let’s say; the day gets worse.

It’s a horrible feeling to be stranded on the side of the road, in a dangerous place and feel like all those whizzing by don’t care.

When you’re in that spot, it doesn’t matter they’re busy. It doesn’t matter they don’t know what to do. Whatever their excuse is, while you’re standing on the side of the road angry, scared, confused, it doesn’t matter.

It’s the same in life. Sometimes our life breaks down and strands us on the side of the road. 

Divorce, cancer, depression, unemployment, bankruptcy, betrayal, you name the hurt, we’re all stranded on the side of the road of life at times.

I’m sure God’s people felt the same way as they languished for 400 years as slaves in Egypt, and that’s why a small passing paragraph in the book of Exodus mean so much to me.

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew,” from Exodus 2:23-25.

They were hurting, and in those days all they could do was groan and cry out for help.

But their cries, “Came up to God.”

And it quite clearly says God heard, remembered, saw, and God knew!

The same is true today. You may be broken down on the side of the road for any number of reasons. And it makes no sense why no one seems to stop and help. But, never forget, that when we cry out to our God, those prayers make it to Him.

He hears, He remembers, He sees, He knows.

Prayer, just say the word

Do you ever just say stuff? You know, those moments when your mouth gets away from you and somewhere behind your eyes your good ol’ pal the brain is screaming, “What are you talking about?”

Let’s consider a couple of examples:

Someone asks you to run the school fundraiser even though your kids graduated last year, and before you think it through your mouth pops off with a confident, “Sure!”

Someone at work asks if you’re ready for the presentation tomorrow and even though you don’t have a clue what they are talking about you hear the word “Absolutely” coming from that hole in your face.

The officer taps your window before asking if you know how fast you were going and you respond “no sir” with big sheepish eyes and softened tone, even though you know you were rushing because you were late and hoped that rule about going 5 mph over was a safe zone where they wouldn’t pull you over (that’s not a real thing, by the way, testify).

Yep, we all get ourselves in a little bit of trouble when our mouth gets ahead of us. Here’s one more that I bet many of us are guilty of: “I’m praying for you.”


What we mean is that we intended to pray for them, that we care about them, and that we may have even thought about them, but very often we never really prayed for them.

It’s a shame too because I truly believe that prayer is purposeful and powerful. I know and can feel the difference when I am the subject of prayers. 

For instance, I had major brain surgery in 2009. It was risky and extensive, and my church prayed like crazy. The surgery was amazing, and my recovery was like a vacation. I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Later that same year I broke a bone in my hand. The surgery was ‘difficult,’ the recovery was painful, and it still aches me today.

You see, everyone will pray for brain surgery because its a big deal, but hand surgery? I could almost hear the church say, “Come on pastor, just suck it up.”

It’s not something to kick yourself over, in fact, many people would pray for one another if they just knew how. Well, here are the words of Apostle Paul from Colossians 4:12 to give us three simple ways we can pray for someone in their time of need:

“Always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

First, understand that sometimes prayer is a struggle. You may need to make an appointment and put it on your calendar. Turn off the TV, take a moment and pray. Schedules are complicated, and attention spans are flaky; the struggle is real.

Second, pray that they would stand mature. In whatever situation, hurt, or uncertainty they are experiecing, pray God would intervene and they would gain the valuable lessons of growing up in the process. That’s a gift in itself.

Third, pray they would be fully assured in all the will of God. That’s a prayer for their confidence that no matter what, God is in control and they are in His hands.

We may not always know what to pray, but don’t give up. The next time you say I’m praying for you, I hope you can back it up on your knees.

I have enough

As the holidays approach, it’s a stressful time for parents watching kiddos open presents in front of gift-givers. We stand with fake smiles, praying for a miracle, remembering that we forgot to go over “gift-giving etiquette” with our little one.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised years ago when my six-year-old son opened a gift from grandma that she had wrapped inside a saltines cracker box. When his very concrete thinking mind saw the box, he looked up, hugged it and exclaimed, “Thank you, grandma, I love crackers!”

Fortunately, he also loved the actual present inside even more, and this daddy was proud of a son who knew how to be thankful.

This Thanksgiving season many will gather around tables of food, will watch some football and relish the thought of the tryptophan-induced nap, compliments of Tom Turkey. But, for many, that’s not the only thoughts we have about the holiday.

There is also fear and anxiety.

You see, there will be people you see that have made life difficult, and even if we only see them once a year, it’s still too much. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps we are on the outs with someone else and can’t seem to find a way back into good standing.

It’s sad, but sometimes these family gatherings are more painful than pleasant.

How do we go about the hard work of preparing our heart, and making our life ready to receive those that probably have not done a single thing to earn trust, forgiveness, or even an opportunity to step back into our lives?

Believe it or not, there is a way!

I’m thinking of two brothers from the book of Genesis: Jacob and Esau. These two had cornered the market on dysfunction.

Jacob stole everything from his brother, literally down to the birthright. He did so through manipulation and deceit. His brother Esau was so mad he pledged to murder him.

So, mom sent Jacob on the field trip to get out of town for several years (thank God for moms).

Some 14 years later, Jacob returns home. He now has a family, a career and all kinds of possessions. He also has a very justifiable fear that his homecoming may be a killer, literally.

After a night of tossing, turning and wrestling with God, Jacob heads up the road, and there is Esau to greet him… with a band of soldiers… things don’t look good.

That is until Esau runs too and embraces him, welcoming him home with love.

Come again?

What in the world happened? How did Esau move from “I’m going to murder you” to “I’m so glad you’re home”?

We don’t know what happened in the life of Esau, but one response may give a clue. Jacob tried to divert his brother’s wrath by sending gifts ahead of him, but Esau refuses them:

But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Genesis 33:9

 Somewhere in the last 14 years of being swindled out of everything, Esau became content with what he had and thankful. Because of that, he didn’t need an apology, and he didn’t demand justice. He just found his healing and released himself from prison.

Sometimes the situation will never be ‘made right,’ and very often offenders never find a sense of remorse. But, that does not stop you from finding the freedom of forgiveness.

And, for Esau, that path to freedom ran right through contentment and thankfulness.

May this Thanksgiving season be marked by your own freedom. Let those other debts and debtors go as you realize… “I have enough.”

Forgiveness as a choice

When is the hardest thing in the world to do, the best choice to make? 

When it’s forgiveness.

You don’t have to be a church attendee to have this pounded into you; Dr Phil or Oprah get the job done there. Forgiveness restores relationships, brings peace amid conflict and changes the face of everything from family to politics.

While forgiveness is hard, it is exponentially amplified when you, the victim, had little to no part in the initial hurt:

  • I mean he’s the one who walked away, right?
  • She’s the one stabbed me in the back, remember?
  • After what he did to me, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness!

That’s what makes verses like this so very hard: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

Forgiving as Christ forgave means unconditional, undeserved, unrestrained forgiveness of those who hurt us most. There’s no call for confession, no sign of regret. Christ forgave us while we were still sinners, and He asks us to do the same.

I believe this particular theological principle is called “NoWayishJoseish” in most of our personal doctrines.

Friends and family won’t let us forget the hurt, little things like songs and calendar dates stir up the pain, and we’ve become so comfortable with the misery we really wouldn’t know what to do without it.

So, we just live with the turmoil and convince ourselves its just the way it is. We continue to make regular visits to the temples and shrines of our distress where we worship what we hate.

But, what if God gave us this incredibly difficult command to forgive, not only to fix others, but to restore the forgiver?

Imagine walking a hiking trail with some friends and you suddenly feel a stinging on your calf and hear the terrifying sound of a rattle rustling back into the bushes.

Your friends sprint into emergency mode, “We have to get you to a hospital!”

But, you refuse.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was on the path, right where I should be. I have been wronged! That snake was way out of line, and I am completely right. I refuse to leave this spot until that snake comes back and apologizes!”


You may be logical. You may be convincing. You may be 100% right. 

You’re still going to die.

That snake is not coming back. And, you have to get the poison out of your system. 

One of the benefits of forgiveness is that it releases you from the pain, the anger, the past and the poison.

It’s the hardest work you’ve ever done, but sometimes it’s the only way. Don’t forget, when you forgive the deepest wounds, it’s never one and done.

That kind of forgiveness requires multiple applications, but it’s worth it. This is your life we’re talking about!

That snake is not coming back, but we still have to get the poison out of your system.

It’s time to forgive.

I love you, do you love Me. Check Yes or No.

She was the most beautiful little blond-haired, blue-eyed girl in Mrs. Woodmansee’s Kindergarten class, and I was in ‘love.’ It was to be the first of my many grade school crushes in an epically long saga of unrequited love.

Feel free to insert your angsty sigh right here.

I do not recall many things from those early years, but in this romantic pursuit, I have preserved more than a few HD memories. 

Pushing the merry go round during recess in impressive fashion with a ferocious display little boy testosterone.

Destroying my rivals of this young crush on the dodge ball court with ruthless and merciless abandon.

And, never making eye contact with the object of my affection.

Yes, that’s right, no holding hands or sweet conversations or evidence of awareness of my existence. The year-long pursuit of my first love should definitively be categorized as “FAIL.”

Still, other memories of that first year of elementary school surround a different girl. I remember her distinctly because there was plenty of eye contact… she was always looking at me.

This little, freckled ginger was always by my side telling me how strong I was when I pushed the merry go round.

Handing me her dodge ball which she collected instead of throwing it herself.

Feeling her eyes on the back of my head, all the time.

Oh, the good things we miss because we are focused on ‘something else.’

I watched that early crush grow up, the little blonde girl I chased, longed for and fixated on only to come to one conclusion: that would have been a mistake.

This is life, isn’t it?

We spend so much of our life chasing the wrong things; working hard for the affections of a love that will never love us back.

We become obsessed with the thought of something that never will be, heartbroken over things that never should be, and consumed with things, people, desires that in the long run are nothing but destructive to us.

When, right there the whole time, God is by your side. He has been pursuing you while you pursued others.

He’s been encouraging you while you have ignored Him.

He has been in love with you, longing for you and fixated on you long before you ever even turned around and recognized He was there.

How many times have we chased a rainbow only to find that a rainbow can’t be caught? Or, worse yet, we catch up to what we have pursued only to realize it was a bad mistake.

We give all to jobs that never satisfy. 

We offer ourselves on the altar of relational sacrifice to unworthy objects of worship.

We long for treasures that decay and dissolve almost the moment you finally get your hands on them. 

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Consider this little article a note passed to you in class from the God of the universe who has been pursuing you. As you undo the intricate fold, the message becomes clear. One statement with a check box to respond:

“I love you, do you love Me. Check Yes or No.”

“Shhhh… sleep on, sleep on”

I have had many of you ask for a way to get a copy of the reading I used this past weekend at CrossPoint. Let me provide it for you in two ways:

1) I will copy and paste below a copy of the text as I read it for you.

2) A link to the message where it was read (I considered giving you timining markers to find it quickly, but I would rather you just listen to the message, ha!).

This is a portion of a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon delivered June 21, 1857 and entitled: “Omnipotence, Mercy and Justice.


But hast thou never fled to Christ for refuge? Dost thou not believe in the Redeemer? Hast thou never confided thy soul to his hands? Then, my friends, hear me; in God’s name, hear me just a moment. My friend, I would not stand in thy position for an hour, for all the stars twice spelt in gold! For what is thy position? Thou hast sinned, and God will not acquit thee; he will punish thee. He is letting thee live; thou art reprieved. Poor is the life of one that is reprieved without a pardon! Thy reprieve will soon run out; thine hour-glass is emptying every day. I see on some of you death has put his cold hand, and frozen your hair to whiteness. Ye need your staff: it is the only barrier between you and the grave now; and you are, all of you, old and young, standing on a narrow neck of land, between two boundless seas – that neck of land, that isthmus of life, narrowing every moment, and you, and you, and you, are yet unpardoned. 

There is a city to be sacked, and you are in it – soldiers are at the gates; the command is given that every man in the city is to be slaughtered save he who can give the password. “Sleep on, sleep on; the attack is not to-day; sleep on, sleep on.” “But it is to-morrow, sir.” “Ay, sleep on, sleep on; it is not till to-morrow; sleep on, procrastinate, procrastinate.” “Hark! I hear a rumbling at the gates; the battering-ram is at them; the gates are tottering.” “Sleep on, sleep on; the soldiers are not yet at your doors; sleep on, sleep on; ask for no mercy yet; sleep on, sleep on!” “Ay, but I hear the shrill clarion sound; they are in the streets. Hark, to the shrieks of men and women! They are slaughtering them; they fall, they fall, they fall!” “Sleep on; they are not yet at your door.” “But hark, they are at the gate; with heavy tramp I hear the soldiers marching up the stairs! “Nay, sleep on, sleep on; they are not yet in your room.” “Why, they are there; they have burst open the door that parted you from them, and there they stand!” “No, sleep on, sleep on; the sword is not yet at your throat; sleep on, sleep on!” It is at your throat, You start with horror. Sleep on, sleep on! But you are gone! 

“Demon, why toldest thou me to slumber? It would have been wise in me to have escaped the city when first the gates were shaken. Why did I not ask for the password before the troops came? Why, by all that is wise, why did I not rush into the streets, and cry the password when the soldiers were there? Why stood I till the knife was at my throat? Ay, demon that thou art, be cursed; but I am cursed with thee for ever!” You know the application; it is a parable ye can all expound; ye need not that I should tell you that death is after you, that justice must devour you, that Christ crucified is the only password that can save you; and yet you have not learned it – that with some of you death is nearing, nearing, nearing, and that with all of you he is close at hand! I need not expound how Satan is the demon, how in hell you shall curse him and curse yourselves because you procrastinated – how, that seeing God was slow to anger you were slow to repentance – how, because he was great in power, and kept back his anger, therefore you kept back your steps from seeking him; and here you are what you are!


Here is the message from Habakkuk 1 in our “Bye Bye Babylon” series:

Many blessings my friends. May this challenge you, and if so, be willing to share it with others and challenge them!

Better Check the Map

“I am resolved to rise superior to every obstacle. With whom need I be afraid of measuring my strength? I will take Fate by the throat. It shall not overcome me. O how beautiful it is to be alive – would that I could live a thousand times!”

— Ludwig van Beethoven

Happy New Year my friends! As I think about new beginnings and the annual tradition of making resolutions, I wonder if we actually know what we are doing.

The above quote from Beethoven shows a man determined, excited, almost militant about moving forward and taking the fight to any adversary! 

“I am resolved!”

Maybe that is why I am a little hesitant to fully endorse the whole New Year’s resolutions fad. I don’t think people really approach their resolutions the same way:

  • My resolution is to lose weight
  • My resolution is to stop smoking
  • My resolution is to get my finances under control
  • My resolution is to finish school
  • My resolution is to be a better person (whatever that means)

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” (Thank you Princess Bride).

When we resolve to do something, the trouble is that our thoughts really aren’t a resolution so much as they are a mild wish. But, there is good news… you can become resolved to do something(s).

Here’s an equation to help you out: (plan + energy) motive = resolution

PLAN – saying you want to lose weight is not a plan, it’s a vague goal. Saying you want to lose 10 pounds is still not a plan, it’s just a more specific goal. Working out 3 times a week and limiting calories to 1500 a day… that’s a plan.

ENERGY – this is all about movement. Stored energy doesn’t do you any good right now, when you make a resolution it’s time make your move. Taking steps, moving the ball, stepping out is not an option, it is essential. Physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental energy must expended.

MOTIVATION – adding a plan to energy is good, but when multiplied by the right motivation, you stand a chance of your resolution becoming reality. For the believer, the good news is that your resolution, plan and energy may be anything, but we can all focus on the same motivation!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

If your motivation is to look good in the mirror, that will only last until that donut on a plate looks a little better.

If your motivation is to save money, then you’ll only stay strong until that super cool upgrade is released.

But, if your motivation is to honor the Lord, to serve Him and to make His name great… that will stand the test of time and endure the battle of the temptations.

So, for this year’s resolutions, have an actual plan, use real energy to act on that plan and find your motivation. Honor the Lord in all you do