Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year

It's the end of 2007. We are going to spend time with my friend Kurt and his family. Kurt pastors in Canon Falls, Minnesota. We were grooms men in each others wedding. We lived together for a summer in the 'hood on 12th avenue in Minneapolis. Kurt basically kept me alive by feeding me for a couple of weeks until I had a paycheck from a new job. We also almost got kicked out of Bible College together. Lots of good history. We will also meet two new members of his family that he and Kari are in the process of adopting after having them as foster kids. Very happy for them!

We will come home in the morning and go to mom and dad's for the traditional ham and beans on New Year's day. Then home for the Rose Bowl! I know that the conventional wisdom says Illinois has no chance of winning. But they did beat Ohio St. at the Horse Shoe so...

Speaking of no chance, Illinois basketball has dug itself a deep hole. They almost have to win the conference or the conference tourney to make the big dance. I really feel that after losing at home to Tennessee St. and Miami of Ohio they would have to win 12 games in conference to be legitimate at large contenders. I am pretty sure they aren't up to it. I hope I am wrong.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going all the Way

I recently finished reading the book Going all the Way by Craig Groeschel. It is a solid book about preserving intimacy for marriage. Primarily for people who haven't yet gotten marriage Craig does a great job of being biblical and giving practical advice. It would make a great gift for those people in your life who are single from teens on up.

Even though the book didn't really speak to my situation in life it is a valuable resource written in a style that will appeal to many people. This is a very important topic that the church needs to address more than ever before. One of the points Groeschel makes is that other than saying sex belongs in marriage the church in general has done a lousy job teaching about sex. By the way God created sex and orgasms to bond a couple together. Shared pleasure is a strong bond that along with emotional and relational intimacy can help a couple go all the way.

In our culture kids are starting puberty at younger and younger ages. They are also delaying marriage longer into their twenties and sometimes even their thirties. This means that a godly young person must know how to deal with their sexuality in a God honoring way. Some of our kids are going to have to remain celibate for 15 years or more in a society that screams that it isn't normal to wait until marriage. The only message many get as teens and young singles is that sex is dirty or wrong or sinful. This may be one reason we lose so many young people after high school and into the college years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great Quote

Thanks to Bob Franquiz for this quote that is so great:

"Let us capture our cities for Christ. I mean literally overwhelm them. Let us do it through the principle of saturation, filling the city with our doctrine. And let us do it through the two secret weapons of a Bible-believing local church: (1) contacting people and (2) contacting people, continuously. If you do that long enough, well enough, and loud enough, you are going to get everyone’s attention. A pastor may not win' everyone this year or the next year, but if he is willing to go to a church and invest his life he will win them one day."

Worship Part3

Should someone who doesn’t know God be encouraged to worship Him or should we encourage them to know Him first? I think that maybe this is a chicken or egg question. But I do know that as people seek God and turn their hearts to Him in worship the Holy Spirit of God reveals Jesus to them in a way that they can understand. The more an honest heart seeks to draw near to God the more they can know Him. The more of His presence they experience the closer it brings them to the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for all of us.

I have found that it is in worshipping the one true God that we find freedom from our idols. As I know Him and His love grows in me I find the idols I have been serving becoming less and less appealing. Worshipping God actually causes me to love Him more and His love cast away fear and doubt freeing me to truly worship in spirit and in truth.

I think yes we should try to bring as many people into our times of worship as possible seekers or believers. In this way we can all grow in truth and truly worship as Jesus sets us free. I am curious as to your thoughts on this so feel free to comment.

Worship Part2

Yesterday we talked about worshippers of God who “even while the worship the Lord they serve their idols.” (2 Kings 17:41) It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a Christian or not this kind of worship is really nothing more than hedging your bets. While God may accept it there is another kind of worshipper that He is seeking.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

Many people in the moment worship in spirit. But they lack in the truth department. Others lack both spirit and truth. What I mean is that we can get caught up in the feeling of a moment when you sense the presence of God’s Spirit in a worship service. But many times we leave and go back to serving our idols. When the next Sunday comes along we go to worship God because that is what our religion asks of us but we continue to give a place to our idols. So we do not worship in truth because we cannot in a worship song proclaim Jesus as Lord while in our hearts we harbor idols of money, sex, porn, relationships, work, family, alcohol, etc. That is not worship in truth.

Others may get caught up in singing a catchy tune with good music but they don’t really understand who it is they are worshipping. They do not know Jesus Christ. While they can still worship in spirit they too cannot worship in truth. Religious people who have knowledge think they are worshipping truth but if we are lacking in love then we truly do not know they God we proclaim to worship for God is love.

But can someone who does not yet know God or who doesn’t proclaim to know Christ worship Him and should we encourage them to do so? We’ll discuss tomorrow. Until then keep a stiff upper lip.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who can worship God?

Is it possible for those who are not Christians to worship God? Many “born again” people would simply say no. But is that correct? I would say no. It is possible for any person who has breath to offer worship to our God or to any other idol or god out there in this world. In fact we know from the Bible that eventually every person will bow down and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the mean time I have been thinking about this since reading a blog post from this dude who has by his own estimate led hundreds of unbelievers in worshipping God.

That’s correct I said unbelievers (or non Christians or unsaved, whatever term makes you feel good). Reading that post brought to mind 2 Kings 17. When the king of Assyria resettled people in Samaria (which was once Israel the northern kingdom) lions began attacking the people so the king sent priests to teach the people how to worship God. The people worshipped God but they also worshipped other gods and practiced child sacrifices and other practices of worship that the God of Israel never envisioned.

They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. (2 Kings 17:33) It goes on to tell us that: “Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” (2 Kings 17:41) It is easy to say that people who are not followers of Christ are the same kind of worshippers as these settlers of long ago. But really so many who identify themselves as Christians worship the Lord but also serve their idols. They do this in a way that their parents and grandparents taught them.

God is open to receive worship from any sincere heart. But there is a particular kind of worshipper that He is seeking. That is our topic for tomorrow. By then perhaps the fog will lift.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Experience

After our recent traffic accident in which our minivan was totalled we needed to purchase a replacement minivan. We have four children so we need a vehicle that can seat seven. I drove rental vehicle for five weeks and I will admit that I will miss the 2008 Toyota Highlander even though it lacked enough cargo space to grocery shop with our kids with us. It was fun to drive. At the end of five weeks we received our check from the other persons insurance company. For the record esurance (which was the insurance company for the other driver who was at fault) has treated us very well and fairly.

With money in hand we bought a Chrysler Town and Country on ebay. We were able to get it for the price we wanted with the options we were looking for and the mileage range we wanted. My parents and some other people we know who are all over 50 were concerned about buying on ebay. But we have several friends who have purchased vehicles this way and so we were confident. The kicker was that we had to fly to Houston, Texas to pick up the vehicle or we could have had it shipped for about the cost we paid for gas and hotels. But since Rebekah and I had never been to Houston we decided to fly in and enjoy the drive home together with out the kiddos. We enjoyed our time together and saw some places we hadn't seen before.

We drove down to Galveston and walked along the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. We drove through Shreveport Louisiana. We went to the Battlefield National Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We ate lunch on Beal St. in Memphis after driving past Graceland. So part of the buying the vehicle was in the experience for us. I think that it stretches us to get out and see and experience things we never have or don't usually experience. (I even ate an onion.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter Weather

Our church is not a large one although our building is pretty big and quite old being almost a hundred years old. And many of our people are seniors who don't like to get outside when there is a freezing rain advisory. So on a morning like this one we have to weigh the value of having a service by how many people will show up versus how much it costs to heat the building. It can cost as much as $150 just to heat it for three hours or so. I would rather have church no matter what but I live next door so I am trying to practice humility by listening to the opinion of other people. It is hard after working hard on a sermon and trying to promote a sermon series like we are doing this month. It would figure if we had a bunch of people who were planning on visiting today.

I haven't blogged much since our accident in October because even typing this much is hard on my wrist and hand. The chair for the desk is also uncomfortable for me. It doesn't seem to bother Rebekah which is evident since she blogs much more than I do. Stay warm and dry today. I hope to have a great crowd next Sunday.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Adrian Peterson

Get me a #28 Vikings jersey. Adrian Peterson is flat out amazing!

Monday, September 24, 2007


Last week concluded a period of prayer and fasting. It was a difficult week simply because I hate to fast! I made it through though with God's help. It seemed like there was a lot going on that could have distracted me. I really believe that the enemy did his level best to disrupt, distract and destroy the unity of Abundant Life.

I don't have any big profound insights. In fact it seemed for most of the week like my prayers were going no higher than the ceiling. We ended the week with a time of prayer on Saturday night. I cannot say there was a great turnout (I didn't do a great job of making a high visibility announcements). But I can say that after Sunday I have a renewed sense of hope that God is at work in Bethany and Moultrie County. I expect great things as we continue to labor for Him. And I feel a gathering sense of momentum. This is when it gets dangerous. I expect spiritual warfare to increase in frequency and ferocity. But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Western Thought

I have just begun an in depth study of Revelation. I like to preach through entire books of the Bible and I am really praying about preaching through this last book of the New Testament. This book is feared by some, considered irrelevant by others and misunderstood by most. As I have begun to study the background and introductory issues I have noticed that so much of what I have always been taught concerning this book is colored deeply by Western biases.

I come from a dispensationalist background. I am pretrib and believe in the rapture of the saints. But much of what I hear about prophecy and Revelation in general always strikes me as speculation at best and bad theology at worst. Part of the problem lies in the assumption that God sees the world the same way that people of Western European descent see it. This is wrong on many levels. Much of what is taught about the meaning of the prophecies would have had zero relevance to the original audience that John addressed this epistle of sorts to.

Understanding the original context of the Scripture as best we can is necessary for proper interpretation. I believe Revelation is as relevant now as ever. I also understand that I need to, as much as possible, attempt to put aside my presuppositions and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the text. I must open my ears and hear not as an American first but as a Christ follower first.

7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:7

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Numbers and the Truth

I have often heard it lamented that many people today don't believe the gospel just because a preacher tells them that it is true. It's really no wonder after all how do we know something is true? Everyone has an agenda in the media today. Whether they are lefties or righties, environmental extremeists or global warming deniers, or whoever else the truth is colored. Most news media have an agenda. The way poll numbers are trumpeted like they mean something further distorts the picture. Seth Godin has a great post about numbers and marketing.

So what are we to do as Christians? We have the greatest message. We have the only hope for the world. We need to live the truth. People are looking for incarnational truth. That's why God sent His Son as a man. Because we as people needed to see the truth lived out. The people in my life and in your life are looking for something that is true. But they believe what their friends tell them over what someone in a church service tells them. So we need to befriend them and love them. Before they ask the question, "is this true?", they are asking, "Do I want to be like those people?" Before you say that isn't fair, think about this: there are very few people who would say, "I don't want to be like Jesus."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...

Not really. But apparently I am willing to go into a burning house filled with smoke to save a church member. How many pastor's can say that? It wasn't the smartest thing I've done and it landed me in the ER twice in 12 hours. I didn't stop to think about what I was doing. Again not smart and I missed both services yesterday. Every one is fine though. We really feel the attack of the enemy though.

This is a time when it would be easy to be distracted from what God is trying to do in Bethany. Finances are low. People have left the church because we insist on teaching that Abundant Life exists to (re)connect people to God not to keep the saints comfortable until either death or the rapture. And now fire, sickness and other distractions too many to discuss.

Let me serve notice that we are serious about what God has called us to do and to be. We are going to do whatever it takes to be the gospel and proclaim Christ to people far from Him. We are not going to try to put a band-aid on broken people. We are going to introduce them to the only one who can make them whole again! And I fully expect to suffer some pain along the way but it doesn't compare to what my Lord went through.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Big Ten Network update

I found out this morning that Dish Network has added Big Ten Network. It is channel 439. This means that Dish will keep my business at least for now. Plus I don't have to go through the trouble of changing providers. Now I know I will be able to see the good, the bad, and the ugly this season with the Illini.

Looking forward to the game tonight despite the fact that they are playing Western Illinois. It shouldn't be a challenge but it should hopefully help get Juice's legs back under him. In the second half hopefully they will be able to play a lot of players and get them some game time.

I am hoping to see more of Jeff Cumberland this year. I remember Coach Zook was really high on him going into last season. He had 16 catches which isn't a lot but considering the QB play last season not too bad. I hope they find a way to use him more. He didn't have a catch last week.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Guest Speakers

I enjoyed this post by Vince Antonucci about guest speakers. I don't have very many guest speakers other than missionaries. I have even changed my approach to having them speak. If I don't know if said missionary can preach effectively then I often just give them a window to share. I have several friends who are full time "evangelists" meaning that they are itinerant preachers. My concern in having a guest is that I have spent almost six years working on a culture in our services. I have a style of preaching that works for us (as far as I can tell). Let me elaborate if I can.

I try not to be condemning. It is easy to condemn large groups of people such as gays, drug users, democrats, republicans, etc. It is also easy to go after vague categories such as the media, Hollywood, rock music, rappers, TV, etc. It is easy to use statistics to make a point but they are so easy manipulated that often statistics are meaningless. I try not to take scripture out of context and often preach verse by verse through whole books of the Bible. I don't use heavy manipulation in alter calls (although I do have them sometimes). We pray for the sick in every service and the altars are open for ministry but I never prolong and drag out the end of my message simply to get a result. I never speculate about the identity of the anti-christ or the date of Jesus return other than stressing that Jesus return is closer now than it was yesterday.

I have gotten plenty of complaints from Christians, many from our church (most of whom have left) about my not doing these things. But I feel like I am giving the messages that God wants our church to have. If I bring in some wild card that I don't know and a friend shows up who I or someone in the church have literally spent weeks,months or years building relationship with they can be scared away in one service by someone whose approach is radically different than mine. This is not to say that those speakers are wrong or don't love Jesus. I am saying that their style might not fit in our context and culture. I feel like I am the best judge of whether it is a good fit.

So that is my thinking on why we have so few speakers other than yours truly at Abundant Life. I am praying for and trying to build up others with the gift of teaching. In the future I hope for some home grown folks to teach and preach some of the time. Until then I am serious about my responsibility to guard the flock. Good post by Vince.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

When you run out of targets make something up!

"The producers of these Veggie Tales movies desecrate Holy Scripture by perverting it into upbeat do-good stories completely absent the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Read that sentence again. Holy Scripture. That’s what we teach our children that the Bible is. Holy. Untouchable. Sacred. Must not be tampered with. But we are considered freaks in a world where nothing is sacred. Nothing is holy. Nothing is untouchable, particularly if there is cash to be made. These people are getting wealthy off the mistreatment of the Word of God.

But here’s my favorite line: “How many hours of this garbage do you want your children to watch? We have the Holy Bible, preserved through the centuries by the martyrs who gave their blood for their love of God’s Word. So what do we give our children? Trash movies that distort the sacred words of Scripture into little moralistic, works righteousness tales with dancing cartoon characters.”

Thanks to MMI for the post about this little ditty from the folks at Slice of Laodicea. I guess if you aren't interested in sharing your faith with the unchurched you might as well shoot at the people who are trying to be salt and light.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

I really enjoy Labor Day weekend and I am looking forward to a great weekend. Today Illinois opens up against Mizzou. I wish I could go to St. Louis and watch the game in person but at least the game is on ESPN2 so this one I will get to watch. I am amped up about the Juice and seeing Benn and some of the other athletes. Tomorrow is service in the morning. We are starting a new schedule that includes prayer at 9:30. My brother will be in town I think.

Monday is the Pana Labor day parade. This will be eight years in a row that we will be attending (if the Lord wills, see Sunday morning sermon). The kids love the parade and it is a really long parade. Then we will grill at my grandmas. After lunch it is off to the races! We will go out to the tri-county fair and watch harness racing. We like to try and pick the horses.

Tuesday is the annual Dennis Rogers Memorial Eastern Section golf outing. We play four man best ball and I just hope to be able to contribute one of two shots out of 70. Anyway it is always a good time.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Big Ten Network

We currently are subscribers to Dish Network. Dish Network does not have an agreement to carry the Big Ten Network. The local cable company does not carry the network. All Big Ten games that are not on ESPN or one of the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, etc.) will be on the Big Ten Network. This is only football season but if I want to see any Illinois football games, and I actually do, then I will have to consider making a change. Direct TV is carrying the Big Ten although it does cost more we are considering switching because I may be able to miss a few football games but come hoops season I will not be a happy person to merely listen to said games on the radio.

The deal I am looking at will cost $15-20 more a month. But if I can come with it I will switch because for that price I will get NFL Season ticket and that would mean I could watch all the Vikings games. I want to see the Juice and the athletes Ron Zook has recruited win some games this year. I am not please with the Big Ten and its greed. But I apparently will follow along like a sheep and pad the pockets of these institutions of higher learning because I am a fanatic about Illinois football and basketball.

As I am looking into this I am also asking myself questions about how much I would be willing to invest in the kingdom of God. Would I go to great lengths to find another $20 a month to give to missions or outreach?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vick and RR Tracks

There is not a lot going on around here beside the fact that it is going to be almost 100 degrees today. That is way too hot for me to do much outside work. I need to get to some brake work for my dad and some painting and cleaning out the garage etc. But it can wait a few days until it cools. I am hoping tomorrow will be the last 90 degree day of this year.

I was trying to find highlights of the Braves win over the Marlins last night but every time I turned on ESPN there was a clip of Michael Vick or someone talking about him. I couldn't sleep again so I was up until at least 2:00. I tried turning the channel every fifteen minutes or so. I am not exaggerating that every single time I turned on Sports Center, NFL Live or what I thought would be Baseball Tonight they were talking about Michael Vick. Enough already!!!!

We live across the street from the Railroad crossing. Today they tore up a fifty foot section of track in order to replace it. Seth has spent the morning watching the guys working. Very exciting stuff for a two year old.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Yesterday I turned 32.

These are books I am currently reading or they are in the stack waiting to be read:
No Perfect People Allowed
Comeback Churches
Buying Property with out cash or credit
Flipping Properties

I know it's an odd list but that's what I am reading.

We went and saw Bourne Ultimatum again last night. I really like those movies. Some of the camera work is disconcerting but still an entertaining movie. We also tried to get more information before signing a new contract for cell service. But everywhere we went they were busy and I didn't want to wait more than ten minutes. It was ridiculous.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Breakout Church

Tomorrow night we will begin a discussion centered around the principles found in Breakout Churches which is based on Good to Great by Jim Collins. The question we are wrestling with is whether a church in a village of 1300 in a county of about 14, 000 break through the barrier we keep hitting of 50 people. We have come close a few times and then flattened out attendance wise. A good number of people either don't think it can happen or don't want it to happen judging by the events of the last eighteen months.

By it I mean becoming the church God wants Abundant Life to become. A church that is (re)connecting people to God. Our mission field are those who don't feel welcome in church, those who have been wounded by church folks and those who have made life altering mistakes that they feel like nobody can forgive them for. But God loves these people. While it will challenge many of us in our church who have been in a church all of our lives to understand those folks who currently would never think of attending a church let alone becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, nothing is impossible with God.

We could be discouraged but I choose instead to take courage and rely upon the Holy Spirit believing that God wants to do something great and we are about to experience a sovereign move of His Spirit.

Mainly we are trying to train leaders on our Sunday night discussion but we also want to challenge people's perception of what is possible and how it could be done. It should be fun and a stretching time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

How Far

It came home to me again today that there are people that other Christians don't want to reach. Those Christians will literally say to them, "You can go to hell." Sure they may not use those words but in avoiding them they might as well say it. Their attitude show that either they believe some people are beyond the grace of God or that certain people are worth getting your hands dirty for. This shouldn't surprise me because there were plenty of Pharisees in Jesus day who felt the same way.

Growing up in pastors home I experienced this many times. At one point our church was reaching a growing number of minorities. One precious older saint made it very clear that they weren't welcome in her church. And that's just one example. But if Abundant Life is to be the church that God wants it to be we have to reach the people no one else wants to reach. It is hard at sometimes and inconvenient. There will be slings and arrows and disappointments but in the end we hope to hear well done from one Master. If He approves it will be worth it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Illinois Budget

It looks like after a record special session more than sixty days after the budget should have been passed a budget might be in place. The problem was that the democrat governor and the democrat legislature couldn't agree on a budget. The governor insists that health care for all uninsured people must be included as well as more money for schools, etc. Which of course means that there will not be enough money to go around. It has taken this long to put a deal in place because of the impasse. Now that the deal has passed without the money for health care the governor is going to move the money around to fund his programs anyway even though it appears they aren't in the budget. Will the senate do anything to stop him? Apparently not. So why did it take this long to get here? Why didn't the senate and house just acquiesce to Blago's demands in the first place?

It would be nice if the Illinois republican party could make hay over this fiasco and provide a real alternative to voters. But given the ineptitude of the last several years beginning with Gov. Ryan's corruption I won't hold my breath. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Resolution 4

I have read on a number of blogs the disappointment that resolution 4 didn't pass at General Council last week. This resolution would have added additional General Presbyters. They would have to be women or under 40. In some ways this would be a good thing. But I really felt that an advisory board may be a better idea. We have recently approved this change in Illinois to help the executives keep in touch with what is going on in the churches.

My biggest problem with the debate was the attitude that came across from some people who supported resolution 4. The implication that if young pastors don't get a voice and don't get it now doesn't not seem to me to be in keeping with Scripture. I heard young pastors and older ones stand up and say that if this doesn't pass many young pastors will leave the fellowship. I don't know about you but I don't like to be threatened. These kind of threats seem childish. In some ways it seems like one my kids stomping there feet and demanding they get what they want.

As a young pastor I want to be a part of the solution. I want to work to bring growth to the Fellowship. But I have the attitude that even if my ideas aren't implemented or if I feel I haven't been heard I am not going anywhere. If my attitude was if things go well I will stay if they don't I will leave, then when things didn't go as I wanted them to I could say I told you so and leave. This seems to be a part of the spirit of the age.

1 Timothy 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers,

I urge us to take this approach to the conversation that needs to happen in the Assemblies of God. Even if the older pastors fail to treat us as younger pastors with respect it does not eliminate the burden on us to speak with gentleness and love.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sour Grapes

I have heard of some rumblings about the election of George O. Wood as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Some people are upset that a younger person was not elected. I admit that I had another candidate in mind that I would have liked to see elected. However I prayed for a month before the council for God's will to be done. I am sure that not everyone prayed the same thing. However I believe that the vast majority of the delegates are Godly people who want to see the will of God accomplished in our fellowship. So to complain afterward that your guy didn't get elected is just sour grapes. If we believe in the sovereignty of God then we trust that God has placed this man into this office.

For the record I believe that he will do a good job. He is a brilliant man who loves God and this fellowship. That is very important. God can speak through anyone and I feel that this brother can certainly lead the fellowship for the next few years.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

General Council reflections part 1

One thing that you will notice is that from a distance it is hard to tell a lot of AG pastors apart. Between the hair cuts and the style of dress from 50 feet away in a crowd it is easy to mis identify someone. There a lot of bald pastors who have shaved their heads. There are a lot of balding pastors with gery or silver hair. There are a few other hair styles as well so that I though I saw several people who upon closer inspectoin were not who I thought they were.

The most moving moment I think came late on Friday toward the end of the business sessions. Zollie Smith was elected as director of US Missions. When the results were announced there was the first of many sustained standing ovations. This is an important moment for a fellowship that refused to follow black leadership at its inception. I pray that it will pave the way for even more diversity in the Assemblies of God. We desperately need this if we are to reach our cities!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Conflict and Fear

2 Corinthians 7:5 "this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. "

Sometimes I don't know which is worse the conflicts or the inward fears. But we know that in this struggle we are not struggling against flesh and blood but against a very real enemy who doesn't fight fair. In spite of all this we continue to go forward (Re)connecting people to God.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Baptism and Dedication

We celebrated a baby dedication and baptism today. God is doing wonderful things in that family! Looking forward to hopefully having another baptism service in a couple of weeks.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Excellence and Change

Our August newsletter came out on Sunday and will be mailed to those who were absent today (and there were many!) We are making some changes in our schedule and the way we do discipleship. We (and by that I mean the church council) have renewed our commitment to do everything we do with excellence. If we cannot do it with greatness we shouldn't waste our resources. So we have decided to suspend Sunday School on Sunday mornings.

There are many reasons. We do not have enough teachers. Visitors rarely if ever bring their children to Sunday School. We have limited resources to purchase curriculum. Because of these reasons and a couple of others we are going to invest in a better Kids Church. Visitors will send their kids to Kids Church. We have limited volunteers who want to work with kids. If we invest in a better Kids Church it will be easier for the people ministering to the kids to do it with excellence.

We are going to continue to work on how we make disciples. This is our primary purpose. (Re)connecting people to God! This is done by making disciples who make disciples. Everything that we do will revolve around this mission (music, preaching, scheduling, resources, etc.) We are excited to see what God will do through our church as we reach out to people that no one else wants to reach. We are in process to becoming a different kind of church that is no longer inwardly focused but instead is a church that is working hard for the people who are not yet a part of our church.

We are very excited about our baptism on Sunday! This is why we do what we do!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Last night we had a a combined service with the Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This is the second time we have gotten together with them. The plan is to alternate church buildings every fifth Sunday evening. It was a great time of worshipping together. Their worship team led worship with me and then Pastor Kevin preached. Kevin contiues to improve as a preacher. It is fun to watch him grow in this way.

Kevin has become one of my best friends since he moved to Bethany. He gave up running a body shop with his dad to go into ministry full time. He will be ordained by the CP church in October. It is exciting to see the growth in his ministry life and in their church. Even though it is curious to me that he joined the CP denomination after being in leadership at Glad Tidings Assembly in Decatur. It has been really cool to be able to get to know his family.

I know that God is pleased when His children worship Him together!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sports Media

Is anyone else sick of the Michael Vick coverage? I imagine it will be wall to wall until his trial or until some other athlete does or says something stupid. Frankly I am not interested in the ongoing drama. Nothing has changed since the indictment was handed down. But much like their counterparts who cover politics or any other news the reporters will keep digging hoping that someone will say something damaging so that they will have their scoop. It's the same approach they take to Terrel Owens, Pacman Jones, and any other story. Enough already. I don't watch Sports Center as much as I used to because ESPN has become in many cases the sports equivalent of CNN.

I want to know the scores. I want to see the highlights. I want some experts to bloviate about strategy. I will watch the NFL draft for goodness sake! But enough with the 24 hours news cycle coverage. We know Vick went to court. Now let's get back to our real lives until the trial. Then report the verdict and move on. Is that too much to hope for? Probably.

Monday, July 23, 2007


When I think about why I am an ordained Assemblies of God pastor it goes beyond doctrine. I believe and agree with all 16 fundamental truths, otherwise I wouldn't be a part of this fellowship. To me it is about heritage and relationship. My great grandparents were members of an AG church. My grandfather was a pastor for more than 50 years. My uncle and my father are both pastors with long ministries. So there is a great heritage. But it is more than just family roots.

There are relationships. I have friends in China, South Africa, the Sudan, Nepal and other parts of the world. I also have friends in Shelbyville and Mattoon and Decatur. I know they will pray for me as I pray for them. Beyond that we are a fellowship that gave in excess of $200 million to world missions last year. I love that one of the purposes of forming the fellowship was to organize in order to help missionaries. The goal has been to bring the gospel to the world. But those pioneers didn't just send people they went into cities and into rural communities with the full gospel message. They preached and prayed and saw miracles. Lives were changed. My great grandmother who was an alcoholic was transformed by the gospel. She started bringing her grandchildren to church, one of which was my dad. He was saved and filled with the Spirit transforming his life. An evangelist named Sam Mayo came to Pana, Illinois and my grandparents were saved. Some thirty years later I was sitting at District Council and saw a gentleman sitting in front of me. On his name tag it said Sam Mayo. I introduced myself and relayed how thirty years earlier, before I was born, he had a part in changing my life. Those connections are a part of why I am an Assemblies of God pastor.

I also read the stories of the early pioneers in the fellowship. They believed that if the scripture said it was possible then it was. I know of mighty revivals that took place. But my generation hasn't seen a great move of the Spirit that changed the church and renewed it. As we pray about who will replace brother Trask I am reminded of the word of the prophet Habakkuk
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

Lord, lead us. Help us to rely upon you. Put into place a leader who will be a prophetic voice calling us to repentance. A leader who will be full of the Spirit. A man of God who believe that if it says it is possible in the Bible than it is possible!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I took this Sunday off from preaching. My dad preached for me instead and I still led worship. I think I have preached 27 out of 30 Sunday mornings thus far this year. It is a heavier load than most pastors recommend but I enjoy it and when I get tired I take a week off and have someone else preach. There seems to have been a demon in the sound system. It was awful. It would be nice to be able to get better equipment but we make do with what we have. We are striving for excellence in everything we do but with some things it takes time and money. It will get better.

It was nice to have my grandma in church with my aunt and uncle from North Dakota. We will squeeze some time in with them this week. It is always nice to have them visit. We haven't been up there for three years I think.

I am looking forward to digging back into James this week unless God leads me elsewhere. All in all it was a tough Sunday but God is good and we are starting to see fruit. Looking forward to baptisms in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Holiness and the future

I was talking to my uncle last night. He has been an AG pastor for more than thirty years. We were talking about the future of the fellowship. He feels that it important that our new leader be a man of prayer, a person who can relate to the culture but who models Pentecostal leadership in our culture. I agree. We are Pentecostal. We need to keep that distinctive. And while exgeting our culture we need stay connected to our roots as a holiness movement.

There is a lot of talk about having a local pastor assume leadership while still pastoring. That, I think would be a huge burden to carry for someone. I am not saying it cannot be done but I wouldn't want to carry that load.

Another question I have is whether or not it is proper to campaign for the position?
Keep praying for wisdom and guidance. I pray that there will be a clear leading of the Spirit in the meetings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

General Council

The news that our current superintendent of the Assemblies of God Tom Trask is going to resign has made the upcoming general council potentially a watershed event in our fellowship. I wasn't going to go even though it is very close this year in Indianapolis but now I will at least drive over for the business sessions. It will be interesting to see how the voting is approached. I hope that there will be a significant turnout by young credential holders. This is an opportunity to shape the direction that the fellowship will go in the next 10 years and more. I feel like there are a lot of challenges ahead. I also will be praying for whoever is selected because the weight of the leadership burden will be very great and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit it may well be an impossible job.

I think some of the challenges include:
1. A continued need to plant churches. The decade of harvest was not an unqualified success. We need to find more planters and put some financial resources behind them. I know that a great emphasis has been made on this need but we need to continue to make a growing number of church plants a reality.
2. We need to have a greater presence on college and university campuses. It is not enough to just tell the parents in our fellowship to send there children to one of our schools. We must be in this mission field.
3. We need to continue to see a growth in our cultural diversity. This must include the freedom for different expressions of what it means to do church. We need to continue to see Hispanic growth as well as other minorities. It would be wonderful to see young minority pastors in growing numbers.
4. We need more pastors. We need to continue to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers. But we must also connect with young people and sell them on their need for community and relationship. Our fellowship is based upon this and it is vital to future growth.

I'll post more thoughts as they come in the next three weeks. Mean while some guys have started a blog to further the conversation leading up to General Council.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Enviromentalism is a religion

"Pagan emptiness and fears about nature have led to hysteric and extreme claims about global warming. In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions."
George, Cardinal Pell, in The Australian 10 May 2006

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, told an audience in the US on Friday:
"Environmentalism should belong in the social sciences," much like the idea of communism or other "-isms" such as feminism, Klaus said, adding that "environmentalism is a religion" that seeks to reorganize the world order as well as social behavior and value systems worldwide.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We accept bold faced lies

Reading this story it becomes clear why many people just believe all the hysteria over global warming. Lies and outright exagerations are taken at face value. Experts do not agree on all the claims being made about climate change. That is why it is critical to examine the claims and make sure there is data to back them up.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Butt Prints in the Sand

Butt Prints in the Sand(writer unknown)
One night, I had a wondrous dream;
One set of footprints there was seen.
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
"Those prints are large and round and neat,
But, Lord, they are too big for feet."
"My child," He said in somber tones."
For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.
You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith you would not know.
So I got tired and fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt,
Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave some butt prints in the sand."

I saw this on Jason Boucher's blog.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Global Warming

One thing that bothers me a lot is the current trend of Christians jumping on the Global Warming band wagon. While climate change is happening it is something that appears to always have happened. The idea that humans are the main cause is based not in a Christian worldview. Instead it has been informed by many differing worldviews. These worldviews that are expressed in current environmental thought are informed by socialist and even communist political theory, evolutionary theory, humanism, and pagan or Wicca thought. Obviously these world views are patently opposed to Biblical worldviews. We need to think twice about hitching ourselves to this bandwagon.

Another problem I have with the scientific consensus that is called Global warming is that consensus is not the same thing as a fact. Either something is true or it is not. We don't have extensive temperature records that date back thousands of years. There is no way to predict with 100% certainty what will happen to the earth's temperature in the next 100 years. Remember back in the 1970's the fear was that we were entering an ice age. Why should I get worked up about carbon emissions and the like when I can't do anything to stop climate change and I haven't done anything to precipitate it?

Another problem that I have with those Christians who want to jump on the bandwagon is the lack of concern for the poor that environmentalists have. They claim to care for the poor but in reality there programs and actions would lock people into cycles of poverty for generation with no hope of escape. America is not the cause of poverty in the world. America does hold many keys to helping nations build economies that will lift people from poverty. But ideas like the Kyoto treaty lay the blame for climate change almost solely on America as well as laying the responsibility change exclusively on us while exempting China and India.

I could go on and on but for now I will leave you with this link to a paper by the interfaith stewardship group. I don't know much about them but I agree with what they say in this paper. It is worth considering. A church should not get involved with this Global warming crusade because it is not based in fact and it is opposed to a Biblical world view.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The right question

I have been meditating on this passage in Luke for the last week or so... Luke 10:25-37. It is the story of the good Samaritan. Notice the questions of the expert...On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"And who is my neighbor?"

He asked these questions in order to get the answer he wanted. He wanted to justify himself we are told.

I am blown away about how Jesus answers questions with questions so many times. The reason I think is that we ask the wrong questions. One key to getting wisdom is to ask the right questions. Jesus asks the right question he says, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

There are a lot of things that GOd has been saying to me in this passage. One of these is that I often ask God the wrong questions in prayer. Sometimes because I lack wisdom but often because I have wrong motives. And sometimes because I already think I know the answer and I just want God to confirm it. I have found that alot of times it seems that God anwers my questions with questions. I pray that God will sanctify my questions so that I will learn to ask the right questions.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Just watched the season premiere of American Idol. When an auditioner describes themselves as unique, it is never good. I'm just saying...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Voice Louder than Rock and Roll

Finished reading Caleb Quaye's autobiography A Voice Louder than Rock and Roll. Eric Clapton called him the world's greatest guitar player. He broke into the music business in London along with his friend Reg. We know Reg as Elton John. The book chronicles the rise of a great blues and rock guitarist. It really dispells any myth you might have about how glamorous it would be to be a big star playing in front of 50,000 plus people. He talks pretty honestly about drug use and the party life.

Caleb is now a Foursquare minister after accepting Christ in the eighties at Jack Hayford's church. The book is well written and has a lot of insight into the workings of the music business. It is a great read for fans of Elton John of which I am not one. But it also is a great testimony to the grace of God and how He can speak into even the loudest life.

There are a lot of great stories about the Beatles and other legends of the London music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. It was such an easy read that I finished in just a few hours.

Friday, January 05, 2007


At the same time sometimes there are legitimate reasons for doing something we have just forgotten what they are. Have you ever wondered why radiators in some New York City apartments are seemingly much larger than would seem necessary? It is because at the turn of the 20th century heating engineers sized their heating systems for the coldest day of the year and then adding 40% so they could bring these brick and plaster buildings up to temperature by burning coal in huge boilers each morning. Why so big? Because they had to hear with the windows open of course. Every one knew that back then. Why did they heat with the windows open?

It is because at the turn of the 20th century, many American cities teemed with immigrants who lived in tenements where the conditions weren’t much better than the steamship steerage that brought them to the New World. People slept, stacked like cord wood, in tiny rooms as cooking stoves fouled the air with noxious fumes. Gaslights in the homes of the more fortunate, traded oxygen for yellow light. Tuberculosis seemed to be worst where there were lots of people, and children died everywhere at an alarming rate, although no one knew exactly why. The idea of sleeping with the windows open and the heating system turned off started with the wealthy and caught on. Soon, everyone was doing it. So the buildings were designed for this reality.

Why do we have evening services at many churches? It is because that is when people would bring their friends to church. Today people are more likely to visit a church on a Sunday morning. Before we write off the practices of the past I think it would be wise to examine why things were done that way. Understanding the why can help us to capture the wisdom behind the practice. Once we understand the principle then we can adapt our practices in the present to the same purpose. Put another way, we may do things for the same reason but because things have changed the way we do them also have to change.

No one would suggest building an apartment building with oversized radiators and huge coal fired boilers today. It would be impractical and a waste of resources. We have better ways of improving indoor air quality without sleeping with the windows open and the heat off. In the same way we need to examine why we do things in order to maximize our effectiveness. There may be a better ways of improving the quality of our church.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, you will find Carpenter Hall, a building named for Rolla C. Carpenter, who in the 19th century was a professor of experimental engineering, and who in this century is mostly forgotten. In his 1895 book, Heating and Ventilating Buildings, Carpenter relates this story:

“Fahrenheit a German merchant, in 1721 was the first to make a mercurial thermometer. Fahrenheit took as fixed points the temperature of the human body, which he called 24 degrees, and a mixture of salt and salt ammoniac, which he supposed the greatest cold possible, as zero. On this scale the freezing point was eight degrees. These degrees were afterwards divided into quarters, and later these subdivisions themselves were termed degrees. On this modified scale the freezing point of water becomes 32 degrees, blood-heat 96 degrees (as determined later, this should be 98 degrees), and the point of boiling water at atmospheric pressure 212 degrees.”

Americans still use this unscientific instrument today, despite its awkwardness and foreign roots, a practice that perplexed the professor more than a century ago. “Except for the fact that it has been long in use, it has not a single feature to recommend it,” he concluded about the Fahrenheit system. Did you ever wonder why we say 32 degrees instead of say 30 degrees? Why is boiling 212 instead of 210 degrees? It is because Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit made it all up as he went along, and today we treat it as though it were written on a stone tablet.

How many things do we do in church just because they have been long in use even if they do not have a single feature to recommend them? We often treat something as if it were one of the Ten Commandments just because we have always done it that way. I think another reason why in America we still use Fahrenheit is because we do not want to go to the trouble of unlearning degrees Fahrenheit and relearning Celsius. The same goes for inches and feet as opposed to the metric system.

I know that I am as lazy as the next guy when it comes to unlearning old assumptions and ways of doing things and then relearning a better way. But if our calling is to advance the Kingdom of God can we be so cavalier about changing our ways to be more effective. This year I am going to continue to reexamine how we “do church” in order to become more effective.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


LaDaininian Tomlinson was named TSN's sportsman of the year. He has set a lot of records for the San Diego Chargers this year and has led them to the playoffs. He may well be the greatest running back to every play. He is respected as much for the little things such as his blocking and receiving as for his running ability. Many scouts who watched Walter Payton say that LT has all of Payton's qualities but he is faster. What impressed me in the article is LT's dedication and hard work. He is always asking himself how he can get better and whether or not he is doing everything he can to be the best that he can be.

He also stays away from clubs because "I could do the party thing but why? It's not worth what could happen. One say we're going to have kids, and I want to set an example for them. I want them to be able to tell folks, "I want to be just like my dad." Contrast that with the Viking's wideout Traviis Taylor's arrest Sunday night at a nightclub. Or the Denver Bronco's player who was shot and killed after leaving a club. Remember all the trouble Randy Moss has gotten in? Randy Moss had more physical tools than Jerry Rice. He could have been the greatest WR ever to play. Instead he has settled for merely a very good player who takes plays off and doesn't always give his best effort.

As a pastor I want to learn from LT. What can I do to get better? Am I doing everything I can to maximize my potential for the kingdom? Or do I rely on natural talent and just get by? What about in your profession? Are you continually trying to make the most use out of the talent God has given you? Are you the best mother or father you can be? Do you use the gifts God has given you to further the kingdom?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Last night I watched what was probably one of the greatest bowl games in history. Boise St. beat mighty Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. You had to see some of the plays to believe them. I was rooting for Boise because nobody gave them a chance and because they play on the coolest field in college football. Their artificail turf is blue! It looks cool on TV and on the XBox in NCAA Football. Fun stuff!