Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Refugees, Babies, Jesus, and you

I know many Christians who are are marching, posting, crying, and being very vocal in opposition to a President who has behaved in very unchristian ways and whose policies do not reflect the values of Jesus.

And had the election gone the other way, I would know a whole other set of Christians that would be marching, posting, crying, and being very vocal in opposition to a President who has behaved in very unchristian ways and whose policies do not reflect the values of Jesus.

So here are a couple of reminders.

most Americans are not Christians.

America is not the Kingdom of God.

Christ and culture have always been in conflict.

Jesus wins.

If you want role models for your children, stop looking at the people the world holds up.  There are amazing heroes in your own family and in your community of faith.

If your heart is for refugees, do something about the ones already here.  I know a handful of people in my church who have poured their lives into refugee ministry. A handful because it is really hard to get enough volunteers to serve. But if you really want to help refugees, find out if your church is involved in a ministry to them.  Get involved.  Or start one.  By the way, that will be much harder than posting or marching.

If your heart is for unborn babies, roll up you sleeves and get to work.  Adopt, do foster care, support ministries like Christian Homes, pray for the single Mom who decides to have her baby.  Walk that journey with her.  By the way, that will be much harder than posting or marching.

There is a lot of Kingdom business to be done.  You can make a difference to refugees and babies.

And it has nothing to do with America and politics.

It has everything to do with Jesus.

Lord, I know people are hurt and upset by politicians and policies on both the right and the left.  And it is easy to vent and lash out at what offends us.  But you have Kingdom work to be done.  You had work to do before there was a United States and you will have work to be done after there is no United States.  But for now, give us opportunities to do your business.  In love and by faith.  So your Kingdom will grow. Thank you for the spiritual heroes who are making a difference in this world.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


We are not a bunch of frightened, powerless sinners...

As a child I loved the stories of heroes in the Bible.  Samson, David, Peter,Stephen, and Paul.  They were courageous, they did battle with evil, they lived lives of great passion, and they changed the world.  I wanted to be like them.  And I believed I could.  Still do.

But as I listen to some Christians -- and even some leaders -- today, I wonder if we have lost something very valuable.  It seems as if some of think we are not any different than anyone else.

It is as if Christians see themselves as broken, sinful, weak, and scared to death.

Sinners.  Well of course, but we are different.  Our sins do not define us and we are not what we were, or what we would be without Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is transforming us.  We are showing more fruits of the Spirit.  Broken, but most of us have been put back together again in Christ.  And if not yet healed, we are on the way.

We are the alcoholics made sober, the mean made sweet, and the sexually immoral made pure.  We are forgiven.  That is the power and attraction of Jesus.  He changes lives.  We are not like the world.

Weak.  Not hardly.  Christians make up the most powerful army in the world.  Nothing can stand against us.  Not even the gates of hell.

Faith and prayer can move mountains.  That is power like no other.  Because our God is like no other.

Afraid.  No we are not.  Scripture is full of reminders that we are to be courageous.  We are not afraid or terrified or anxious.  We are strong and we are brave because the Lord is with us.  We give him our worries and our fears and we follow him.

Into the teeth of hell and a world dominated by evil.  We fight, we stay faithful, and we finish the race.

We make other followers of Jesus.

So church... stop whining and whimpering and hiding.

We have what will change the world.  It changed us.  We are better, stronger, and braver.

God takes sinful, weak cowards and turns them into forgiven followers who are strong and courageous.

Live up to your calling.

Be a Jesus hero.

God, thank you for Jesus who changes us to be holy.  We commit to renounce fear and to be strong in you.  We give ourselves to you and  to call others to a life of hope, joy, peace, and purpose.  For Jesus.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Biting My Tongue Hurts...

I have started this post several times and deleted it each time.

There is so much I want to say about the way some of my brothers and sisters in Christ are acting.

But I have to realize that there incredibly strong and faithful Christians who voted for Trump.  Or for Hillary.  They really believe that is what God wanted them to do.

I know faithful committed Christians who watched the Inauguration with grateful and thankful hearts and some who engaged in various forms of protest.

I have brothers and sisters that were truly afraid for what would happen if Hillary won.  And some who are truly afraid because Trump won.

I am very concerned that some are making politics an unspoken condition of fellowship.  Not for the first time.  I have spent time in years past explaining why you did not have to be a Republican to be part of my community of faith.  But I know why they thought you did.  The religious right could sure make it difficult to see Jesus unless you agreed with their politics.

And now I find myself explaining that you do not have to be a Democrat to be a Christian.  But I can see why some think that.  The religious left can sure make it difficult to see Jesus unless you agree with their politics.

But I am reminding myself that I know some of the people on both sides and they do love Jesus.  I strongly disagree with what they are saying and doing.  And most of you that know me know that I could not conscientiously vote for either candidate.  And you know that I do not vote as a matter of principle.

But you may disagree with me.  And I want to think you still love me.


I am going to love my brothers and sisters that choose to speak and act in ways that I would not.  When I think it is damaging to my flock or my family I will try to respond in truth and love.

I am going to remember that there are lost people in my country and in my community that are watching them, but that are watching me also.

So I am going to elevate Jesus above all.  I am going to use all of my efforts to glorify God and to help others be reconciled to him.  I want to be known as an ambassador for God and as a representative of his Kingdom.

I invite you to join me.

But in the meantime, I am going to bite my tongue.

God, help me to see others as you do.  Help me to remember that they are family.  That they love you. And that we do not have to agree on everything.  I pray for unity in your church. I pray that everything we do glorifies you and points others to Jesus.  He is the only real answer for this country and every country.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Thinking about houses, homes, money, and Jesus

So I have been asked a few follow-up questions about finances after my last post.  Here are few more thoughts.

Houses.  I have no problem with big, even expensive, houses.  But I do think there are a few things you always ought to consider.

What is my motivation for a bigger house?  If it to use it for Kingdom business... great.  Showers, teen hangout, company, family gatherings.  If it is to keep up with your -- or your kids -- friends ... then not so holy.  But do not fool yourself about what you would do with a bigger, nicer house.  If you are not using what you now have for the Kingdom ... you won't use your new house either.  We chose to stay in a small house we could afford.  Marsha has always -- and still does -- all those kinds of things listed above.  If you want to use your house, you will.  After all, Marsha fed 200 college kids about 500 dove in that house.  All in two hours.  Three years in a row.

Do not over-reach for your house.  I think budgeting is a great spiritual discipline.

I think your home can be made in any kind of house.  Houses do not make the home.

I absolutely think your house can be a holy place.  I love it when people ask us to pray over their house so it will consecrated for Kingdom business.

Pray over you house decisions.  Ask God for a clear sign to sell or buy.

Who knows, God may lead us to a different house someday.  We still occasionally check out other houses.  But we learned a long time ago to be content where we are.  God, Marsha and the kids made it into a great Jesus home.

So God thanks for our house.  Help us still to be good stewards of this place you gave us.  It is a holy place.  We promise to keep using it to your glory.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Daily Bread and Financial Advisors

So today was a day that left me conflicted over how I live my faith and how I trust God.

Marsha and I met with our Financial Adviser today.  Even writing this raises different emotions for me.  Should a Christian even have a financial adviser?  Maybe I should have already given away all my money.

Jesus said to pray for God to give us our daily bread.  If I am talking about retirement money, do I really feel any urgency to pray for daily bread?

On the other hand ...

My financial adviser is a devout Christian.  We go to church together.  I am one of his elders.  He talks about giving.  And ministry.  Providing for our family.  Incredibly supportive of my ministry.  And if you need help in this area, let me know.  He is a good one.

Maybe using him is one way I am being a good steward of what God has given us.  And I do believe that what money we do have is because we have tried to be generous with what God has blessed us with.  We tithe.  We spend a lot on meals and gifts.  We do for others.

We have tried to intentionally make financial decisions that reflect our faith.  Consciously stayed in the house we bought over 30 years ago.  It is nice.  We use it for Kingdom business.  We have wondered about getting a bigger/nicer house.  Would we use it more for the Kingdom?  Or less?

I am very aware that there are people in my world that do worry about eating tomorrow.  I know people living paycheck to paycheck.  I know some that are worried about money but it is because they bought into a materialistic lifestyle.

And I know some who write big checks and use their resources to bless the Kingdom.  I know some who give it away almost as fast as they make it.  And some who use big houses for Kingdom purposes.

There are some who put very little in the collection plate but spend a lot of money on Kingdom work.

We have done that from time to time.  I am not sure my giving can be measured by the tax deduction.

So we pray for God to guide our finances.  What to give, what to buy, what to do.  And so far He has.  And we believe he will.

Well ... enough rambling.  Just sharing some of my wrestlings with living out my faith.

And for those wondering, we are in good financial shape.  But Marsha did say that as long as I can hold my Bible and make sense -- I need to keep preaching.  That actually works out well because I really can't imagine I would do anything else.  Paid or not.

As she reminds me, God has always taken care of us and always will.

And it is all his stuff anyway.

Thanks God for all you have given us.  It is yours and we will try to be good stewards.  Thanks for people that help us know how to do that.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Change is up to you

I hear a lot of talk about how to change a church.  Members talk about leaving if things do not change.  Staff members spend much time planning how to change their church.  I know elders who in their first meeting after being ordained start talking about what needs to change.

What people want to change is interesting also.

Most of what I hear centers on the one hour spent in worship on Sunday.  Change the preacher.  Change the singing.  Change how we do communion.  Change who can lead worship.  Change how worship is done.

Or change that we are always changing.

Or change the building.  Add, update, better sound system, signs, seating, etc.

Some changes I hear are more generic.  Better communication.  Healthier families.

And sometimes churches can make changes in these areas.  If they can even agree what the changes ought -- or ought not -- to be.

But sometimes I hear things like this:  our church needs to visit the hospital more (or our preacher does, elders do, ...), the church needs to be more evangelistic, we need to do more to instill faith in our young people, we should help the disenfranchised in our community.  We need more Bible study.

It is this last group that I am focused on this year.  I don't know about my church -- or your church -- but I do know one thing.  I am church.  I can change.

Here is the answer.

Visit the hospital.  Go support one of the teenagers in their game or concert.  Talk to your neighbor about Jesus.  Take a homeless person to Subway.  Invite another family or two over to read and study the Bible.

But how do I get these kind of programs started?

Don't.  No programs.  Stop trying to organize.  No budget money.

You and your family just start.  Others might see what you are doing and catch on.

And if you are a leader in your church, when you start doing these things the rest of your church will follow your lead.  By the way, if they do not follow... maybe you aren't a leader (no matter what title you hold).  So just do it because you believe it is the right thing to do.

So I am working hard this year to look first in the mirror when I talk about how my church needs to change.  I am going to do what I believe my church needs to do.

Maybe the change God really wants starts with me.

So God I am going to try and complain less about what my church should be doing.  And I am going to do more of what your church should be doing.  Give me strength and opportunity.  For your Son. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Jake Gilbreth is 11

My Grandson, Jake Gilbreth, turned 11 yesterday.  Here is why I love him and am so proud of him.

He has had some tough things happen and faced them with courage and grace.  Kawaski disease when he was younger and then hernia surgery last summer.  Wanted the elders to anoint him and pray over him.  It worked.

Jake is kind and generous.  He cannot stand bullies.  He takes up for those who are picked on.

He is just fine doing his own thing.  He does not have to be part of any crowd or be included in everything.

He is funny.  Makes his teachers laugh with his humor.  Right before they have to put his name on a list.  But still...

He is a good athlete.  Good shooter in basketball.  Good baseball player.

Loves dogs.  His dogs, our dogs, every dog he meets.  And dogs love Jake.  That's a good thing.

Makes good grades.

Loves his family.

Loves God and Jesus.

And here a few of my favorite Jake things from the last couple of weeks.

Giving his cousin one of his lego sest because he knows his cousin loves legos.

Helping my Mom, his great-grandmother, set up her computer.

Studying the Bible with him and his sister Avery.

Watching him conduct a funeral for a rat (long story but pretty cool).

Fishing with him.

So God thank you for Jake.  He loves you and wants to be more like your Son.  I cannot wait to see what amazing things you will do with -- and thru -- Jake.  So protect him and keep taking care of him.

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