Totally Random Thoughts

1. I had a wonderful weekend. I hope you did too.
-Blackhawks won on Friday. Both my boys on varsity caused a fumble that lead to a TD.
-My son Logan turned 16 and hopes to be driving by the end of the week. (I feel like I am going to lose more hair:-)

2. Sunday morning worship went well. We had a few obstacles to overcome but everything came together. Thanks for everyone’s kind words about the sermon. You can listen to all my old sermons at our website –

3. I love this article about praying for your pastor – 4 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Pray for Your Pastor

4. I give God all the glory for a sermon being a “home run.” Somehow he takes my words and connects them to the experiences and lessons people have had through the week. He takes people’s thoughts and ideas and touches them with my words. He takes His word and penetrates hearts and minds. I truly want to give him ALL the glory.

5. Lately I am inspired by the quote, “We overestimate what we can do in a week and underestimate what we can do in a year.” The same could be said for five or ten years.

6. On Sunday September 20th we will kick off our big fall series entitled “Finding Your Way Back to God.” First, plan on being a part of this series yourself. Second, plan on inviting a friend. Third, be in prayer for other people who will be attending and inviting their friends.

7. The series idea for “Finding your Way Back to God” is from THIS BOOK. I promise the sermons will be original but my source thinking will come from this book. You might want to check it out.

8. There will be a fellowship lunch/dinner on Sunday September 20th immediately following worship. Mark your calendar NOW. Plan on coming and bringing a friend. If possible bring a side dish or a dessert to share, or maybe even both.

9. As the parent of a teen and a youth group leader I cannot recommend more that you read THIS ARTICLE

10. This video is a must for all seniors in high school and freshmen in college – and their parents. Watch and learn. Very important content: How to Survive World Religions 101

11. RUSH – our youth ministry to Jr and Sr. High students kicks off this Wed. Sept. 2nd at 7:01 at the Church. We are going to have a cookout and an introduction to the year. We are going to be doing things a little differently this year. There will be more video lessons with an extended discussion time. Jr and Sr. high will be divided for this after their initial few minutes together. It looks to be a fun and educational year.

12. After lots of discussion and prayer the Church leadership has decided that there will be NO “All in the Family” this fall. There are a lot of reasons I can gladly explain to you personally. So youth do not need to show up until 6:45 at the earliest. In fact, we are keeping the building locked until then since we had some problems last year.

13. Thanks to everyone who volunteers in any and every way at ACC or at any Church for that matter.

14. Dr. Jack Cottrell has posted a series of articles entitled “Grace Distinctions” over at his blog. I haven’t read them all yet, but he is a deep theologian that I am sure has great things to say.

15. Last week I watched a 3 hour webinar about worship in the local Church. It had good information but struggled due to numerous technical difficulties. Attendees online were somewhat gracious but also very direct as this was put on my a company selling worship development tools for a great weekly production. It was like watching a train wreck – I couldn’t watch but I couldn’t look away.

*Finally, I am ready for some Professional Football. First game on Sept. 10 and everything else on the 13th. Yipppeee

What Does Social Media Reveal About You?

Last week I reentered the world of Facebook. I was on Facebook from 2006 to 2008 and ended up wasting a lot of time. As I ended my ministry in Iowa I didn’t have much extra free time and decided to end my Facebook account. Well, lately I have wanted to chat with some people from Alaska, Iowa and Indiana where I have held ministries. That fact coupled with the fact that we have had almost no rain in Adrian for the last couple months and the ground is so hard I can’t metal detect has led me back onto Facebook.

I started an account last week and last Saturday I had time to fill in a lot of information and upload a background. Then I set out in the adventure of adding friends and seeing what they had on their sites. It has truly been an enlightening experience.

So here is what I have seen on people’s Facebook accounts in my fist week.

1. What people really value – Most people have filled their pages with pictures of family and friends. But they also promote their sports teams, their hobbies, their political views and even their faith. I have run across people who love to party and people who “like” almost anything connected to Jesus. You may say you love or enjoy something, but apparently if you do, it will be on Facebook.

2. What people do with their time – It is one thing to talk to people on Sunday morning and have them tell you they are busy. It is quite another thing to see the pictures of what they were actually doing. Work, sports, hobbies, family, and a dozen other things fill our time – we show it all in pictures.

3. Where people’s resources go – Inspired by some of the adventures I saw families taking on Facebook I came up with my own dreams. Then last night I started to price out some of those fun trips. Wow. Nothing is cheap. So I started taking a closer look at people’s photos and began to see where their money goes. It is interesting that Jesus says your heart will be where you money goes.

My trek back into Social Media has been a very eye-opening trip. I learned a lot about the people I lead and even a little about myself.

I wonder, what does Social Media reveal about you?

How Much Poison Does It Take?

I have been in a two month long project of cleaning out the sheds at our church facility. Through the years moisture and weather have taken their toll on numerous items that have been stored there. As a result I have been slowly throwing away ruined cardboard, rusty metal, and old books. The biggest problem has been the mice. They have left their dropping everywhere, chewed through any soft material and built fluffy homes from carpet and insulation.

I have launched a counter attack on their invasion of the Church property. There are now bags and containers of d-con placed in all of the corners for the mice to feast upon. If you are not familiar with d-con it is a poison that is designed to kill mice after eating. Apparently they love it since I have gone through 5 bags and 8 containers of the stuff. I have also found 5 dead mice so I know it is working too.

Here is the thing about this way of killing the little rodents. It says right on the package that it contains 99.99% other ingredients. It only contains only 0.01% of actual poison. The amount of deadly material is less than 1 percent. Upon reading that on the label I thought about this question, “How much deadly material does it take to kill a human?” I don’t mean literally kill someone (by no means!). I mean how much poison does it take to kill your soul? How many bad thoughts does your brain need to think before it affects your spirit? How much junk do you need to go through your brain before you feel spiritually sick?

My answer: Much less than you think.

You Will Find What You Are Looking For

I have found that you can find a reason to justify almost any action. I am not talking about sin, although people find a reason for that too. No, I am talking about finding a reason to do some action, any action.

Do you want to be mad at your spouse or do you want to love them? You can find a reason.

Do you hate your job or love it? You can find a reason.

Do you think your children are the best in the world or possibly the opposite? You can find a reason.

Do you want to leave your Church or would you rather stay? You can find a reason.

Do you love the preacher or do you hate him? You can find a reason.

Do you want to go to worship or stay home? You can find a reason.

Do you want to praise God for your life or be angry and bitter? You can find a reason.

The list could go on and on and on and on and …

The tendency of each one of us to focus only on the facts that agree with what we already feel. We hear the facts that support our views and ignore all information to the contrary. It is extremely hard to be objective about the world no matter how hard you try.

So what are you looking for today? You will find what you are looking for.

I Still Haven’t Got It All Figured Out

I have been a Christian for 35 years. I spent 5 of those years as a Bible college student and I have been a preacher for 22 years. I realize almost everyday that I am far from having everything figured out about God and the Bible.

The Bible is full of so much information. It is hard to learn it all no matter how much time you devote to it. One of my favorite illustrations about the Bible is that it is like the ocean. It is so shallow in places that a little child can swim in it and so deep in places that the best diver cannot reach it depths.

Because of the amount and depth of the information contained in the Bible I give myself to continual study. I read books and blogs, I listen to sermons and lectures, I ask questions and listen closely to responses and I never stop trying to hear something new and informative.

Unfortunately it is easy to hear a teaching and become rigid in your thinking. We think to ourselves, “I have that all figured out” and we quit trying to learn. This often manifests itself in becoming argumentative and mean. There is an arrogance that develops as the mind hardens to a topic before it explores it completely.

For that reason I think a Christians needs to develop several qualities –

1. A Humble Attitude – Each person needs to be willing to admit that there might be someone who knows more than them. There might be someone who has insight on a topic that you have only slightly studied. Do you have an attitude that would recognize those possibilities?

2. A Teachable Spirit – Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to ask questions with the possibility that you might be wrong or that you have something to learn?

3. An Open Mind – Christians are called not to be blown around by every wind of doctrine, but we have to be willing to accept new ideas. We have to take new information and process it against we know from scripture. Would you be willing to accept something you had never thought before if it were proven to you?

4. A Stretchable Heart – Sometimes I have had to admit that I am wrong. Sometimes I have had to adjust my beliefs as the truth is shown to me. It is one thing to say, “I know” with the head and another thing to say “I know” with the heart.

I believe that for the Christian learning is a lifelong process. There is just so much to learn and know. For me, I ask questions of myself. I try to learn from others. I open myself up to new ideas. I try to think through all sides of arguments and discussions. I try to place each Bible teaching over a particular verse into the greater context of the Bible. As a result, each day opens up new ideas and revelations about God and his Word.

My knowledge is growing and I pray it always does. I hope the same for you.

Weekend Reading

Here is some great reading for the weekend.

3/4 TIME (A great read for older adults)



5 Things I Learned In Sending A Son Away To College

35 Things I Wish I’d Known in High School (A great read for young ladies)

When Hollywood Goes to Church: 18 Stereotypes

Twenty-five Really Weird Things Said to Pastors and Other Church Leaders

9 Sins the Church Is Okay With

It’s Time for Your Church to Quit: 30 Ways to Be a Quitter

And one video really worth watching to the end –

Why Don’t You Like the Christians You Know?

Why You Might Struggle With Gossip

This week I have been in email contact with an old ministry colleague. He was once on staff at a Church with me and now he is the preaching minister at a Church in northern Indiana. In our conversation he was venting his frustration about a lady in the Church who continues to stir up dissension among the Christians there.

I have been there and I feel his pain. I will never fully understand why some people are so negative about the Church they attend. They will talk to anyone who will listen to their complaints and issues. Honestly, I believe it is done by people who are desperately longing for attention even if it comes in negative ways.

My interaction with my friend reminded me of a story John Maxwell told in a leadership lesson many years ago. He told about a woman in his Church who was a gossip and a source of division. He and a leader confronted her and asked why she was spreading such awful stories about people. Most of her stories were full on lies or half-truths and she was destroying the church. She said, “I can’t help it, people just tell me these stories and I have to share them.”

After a long silence, John said, “Do you know why people take their trash to the dump?”

She was taken aback and said, “Not really.”

John said, “Because they accept it there.” Then he paused and said, “The day they stop accepting it people will stop going there.”

Then he looked at her and stated plainly, “You need to stop listening to all the trash that people keep telling you. Then you will not have any stories to tell and our Church will smell less like a dump.”

I do not know what happened to that lady. I am not sure what happened at the Church. I do know that every Church struggles with people who spew their negative words tearing down the work of the Lord. This is even truer in a culture with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogs. Negative stories, often less than half-true, spread like wild-fire and do more damage than good. The Church suffers and the Lord gets a black eye when we spread gossip and slander our fellow Christians. So the next time a story comes to you, ask yourself, “Am I being Like Christ or the dump in this situation?”

My View of Preaching

It’s Wednesday morning and the pressure is on. You need to understand that I have a routine to each week of ministry in order for you to understand today. On Monday I do all the busy work of ministry like email, tracking information, mail, banking and whatever the weekend has laid on my desk. Tuesday is for sermon research and building the outline that will hold the structure of the message together. If I am lucky there will be three or four typed pages as a result of my work. Then I sit down in my chair this morning. Today I need to fill out the outline with ideas and illustrations. I need to cut out the distractions and make this sermon 90% ready for Sunday. Thursday will be for an edit, preaching through it and one more edit until Sunday morning.

Today the pressure is on me to get this sermon done. The real pressure is not just getting the sermon finished, it is found in making it great. No preacher sets his goal on having an average sermon on Sunday morning – at least I hope not. Personally, I want every sermon to be a home run. I want people to leave the building chanting “Jesus, Jesus” while drastically altering their life for God. I want each week to be incredibly educational, entertaining and challenging while honoring God’s word.

Unfortunately I have learned through the years that no one can hit a home run every time at bat. In fact, it is that analogy that helps me make it through every Wednesday. Years ago I heard Rick Warren say that his goal was not to get a home run every Sunday but to make contact with the ball and try to get on base. A home run may leave people breathless after the sermon but a series of singles and doubles will keep people moving for God. This simple analogy keeps me sane.

Let me be 100% honest – some sermons are not for you. Sometimes I need to speak the young people, some weeks I need to explain grace to new people, some Sundays I need to challenge the long time pew sitters. Every Sunday I have to focus the sermon toward who God is trying to touch. The Biblical text usually directs this for me. For example, last Sunday the text focused on elders and teachers. I can look at the text from all angles and try to touch everyone, but unfortunately not everyone will feel moved by it. That is just a fact of preaching and the nature of Biblical truth. Some parts are not written for you, but they are written for someone so they need explaining.

Today I will sit here trying to write the best sermon I can possibly write. My goal is that what I write will touch someone who God has been working on through the week. Or maybe God will start a work in someone because of their new understanding of Him. The majority may love it and it will be viewed as a home run or it may be a single and only a handful of people will be moved to greater faith. Either way God is accomplishing his work and I am glad he is using me to be a part of it.

Why Not Start Today?

I am doing it today!

I have thought about doing it for weeks, maybe even months. For some reason I never seem to get around to it.

I keep saying, “I will start tomorrow.”

Yesterday was no good and now it is today. A week ago today sounded like it would be good. Now it is here and it will be a lot harder to do it than I thought. I could put it off one more day.

Tomorrow would be easier. Next week would be the ideal time.

If I just intend to do it sometime, that counts for something right?

I have been waiting for the right day to come along.

I guess today is as good of a day as any.

I am doing it today. I am no longer going to lie to myself about it. I am no longer going to try to live on good intentions. I am going to stop putting it off until tomorrow.

Today is the day.