3 Things I Love about the Church

Lately it’s easy to find someone bashing the church bemoaning everything that they find wrong with it. However there are many things to love about the church.

4815172958_88abdec5e5_o-2

I think the disconnect lies with how we define church.

If you are referring to the multi-million dollar campuses that dot our landscape, the endless hours spent by professionals running the “machine”, or the entertainment approach so “they will stay at our church”, then you are right. I am not in love with that church.

Continue Reading »

He Calms My Storm

Our son decided about six weeks ago that he needed to wake up each night between 11pm and 1am in a complete irrational fit of rage. Some nights it lasts for five minutes. Other nights it lasts for at least 30 minutes. Needless to say, Danielle and I have had many sleepless nights. This new unwanted routine is rocking our world.

The lack of sleep for our entire family began to wear us down. Frustration, impatience, anger, and meltdowns became the norm. And, that’s just talking about me!

A storm engulfed our home and we were taking on water. I focused on the storm before me. And the storm was causing me stress, anxiety, fear…and lack of rest.

Continue Reading »

Family Worship Nights

I struggle leading our family in spiritual matters. I did when it was just Danielle and me. I am no better at it now that our son is a part of the family.

When our son was first placed in our home as a foster child, I intentionally prayed over him each night. The thought that we only had a few days or weeks with him fueled that focus. However now that he is a part of our forever family, some of that intentionally has waned. I guess that is just normal human nature. But, it bothers me.

Continue Reading »

How to Create Space for God and Host His Presence

I think that many of our so-called worship times on Sundays are no more than a concert. I prefer not to attend a lot of concerts.

However, authentic worship that creates space for God and hosts His presence attracts me.

Danielle and I attended a Bethel Worship Night last weekend. Some would call it a concert. I understand why.

However, one of the first things the worship leader said was that there was no agenda or set list to “get through”. He alerted us to the fact that there would be times of waiting which could be awkward for some.

The only agenda was to create space for God and host His presence.

Even though the title of this blog post is how to do that, I really don’t know of a formula to do that.

Continue Reading »

Who Else Wants to Write in 2014?

I am taking a 31-day challenge this month. A writer/blogger that I follow (Jeff Goins) challenged us to write 500 words each day for 31 days. Exactly the challenge I need to begin 2014.

I began 2013 knowing hardly anything about blogging or writing. I finished the year having written over 120 blog posts and a published book. Yeah, I am a little bit proud of that accomplishment.

But, I recognize that I have a ton to learn when it comes to writing. A common question I get from experienced writers and bloggers is, “who is your audience?”

I decided early on that my blog would consist of topics related to missional lifestyle. I threw in the occasional blog post about my personal life or writing, but most were about what I think missional lifestyle is about.

Nothing wrong with a “random thoughts about life” blog. In fact, these can be fun to read. But, I want to find an audience or tribe that is passionate about the things that matter most to me.

That includes topics like orphan care, international missions and missional living.

At the end of 2013, I decided to add three more categories or topics that I think are important to missional living:

Continue Reading »

Warning: We Are What We Worship!

You have heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” A lot people must believe that, because they pay attention to what they eat.

It is the same with worship. You are what you worship. Difference is most people don’t pay much attention to this.

 

5271684380_dbfaeeae17_z

What I find interesting is that even people that claim no religious beliefs worship something or someone. It is innate within us. Like it or not.

In my travels around the world I have seen people worship all kinds of objects—idols, large trees, or some representation of a supreme being.

In this country we worship celebrity, success, material acquisition…the list is long.

You might be thinking, “I don’t worship any of those things!”, “How can I be a tree or some celebrity!”. My evangelical friends are thinking, “I am not a god!”

Stay with me a second. You understand what I mean by “We are what we eat.” We don’t actually become a donut or a slab of steak. However, what we eat does change the make-up of our body.

Continue Reading »

His Presence Is What We Want

Last Tuesday I posted a blog about living in the present. Are we losing our ability to stay engaged in what is going on right in front of us, right here, right now?

 

How many times have you participated in a conversation where you were not completely present? You were physically present, but not mentally or emotionally.

Continue Reading »

5 End of Summer Activities that Your Family Will Talk about Forever

Summer is flying by, especially for those with school age children! Here are a few ideas of what to do during these last few weeks of summer. 

I have to admit that my wife and I didn’t think about getting in one more summer activity before school started for over 20 years. In fact, we avoided popular places during the summer. Most of our trips were in the Fall and Spring…one advantage of not having children. But now I think about these things because we have a son.

If you are trying to come up with a one or two last minute, memorable and low-cost things to do this summer, here are a few suggestions:

Continue Reading »

Warning: You Might Not Know Who You Think You Know

The question is, “Do you really know someone or just facts about them?” Especially today with people sharing so much about themselves via social media or reality TV, people who are simply fans or admirers think they intimately know that person.

 

 

A couple of weekends ago I was around several guys that just graduated from high school and are on their way to college. One of them brought up a conversation he recently had with a person who is a Mormon. He talked about how the conversation caused him to have questions about his own faith in Christ. As I sat and listened, I knew that these guys are about to enter a time in their lives when many people will test their faith.

Continue Reading »

How to Have a Spiritual Retreat with Your Spouse

4880938551_3f597a805f

A spiritual retreat with just your spouse may seem strange or maybe even totally disastrous to you.  But, just maybe, this peaks someone’s interest.  Most married couples probably admit that they do not spend enough time together seeking God .  For most of us, our lives simply drift along the river of life.  We feel blessed if we do not hit any snags or go over any unexpected waterfalls along the way.

The beginning of 2011 was a challenging time for us.  I had left my job as a mission pastor, but I was unsure of what was next.  My wife and I really thought that we were going back overseas as missionaries.  But, God had redirected our path, at least temporarily.  We had just received our certification to foster and adopt in the state of Texas.  If we were not going back overseas, I needed to know what I was going to do with my time.

Some friends of ours offered the use of their lake house.  It was a perfect setting for us to get away from our routine so that we could listen to God and each other.  I mention this retreat briefly in my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart.

Please hear me, we had never done this before.  And, we need to do it again.  In fact, now would be a great time for us to spend some time like this again.

Here is some of what we did on our spiritual retreat:

  • Spent three days alone away from home.
  • Chose to fast for most of the three days.  We fasted from all media, except some worship music.  We only ate raw food – vegetables, fruit, and nuts.  We did not want to spend our time on preparing food.  We broke our fast with a late lunch at a restaurant on our last day.
  • We put together a schedule for the three days.  We included alone time, worship time together, discussion time, and recreation.
  • We gave ourselves assignments for our alone time.  Reflection of current state, dreams of what could be next, review our finances and relationship.
  • The idea was to spend some time preparing our hearts first.  Then, dream about what God had next for us.  Finally, address difficult areas.

Sound like fun yet?  I thought I would expound on one thing we did – Dream about what was next for us.  That was the main reason for us to spend this time together.

When we worked on this separately, the instruction was to keep all options open.  Nothing was too silly or outrageous.  At least we could write everything down and voice it.

Later that day we shared our ideas and wrote them on one piece of paper.  Here are a few things we wrote down:

  • Sell everything and travel around the world working with different mission organizations.
  • Move to the beach.
  • Go back to school.
  • Start a bakery.
  • Become an author.

Now you know why I began writing!  It still took me some time after that retreat to settle on writing, but I eventually arrived.

Question for you:  Have you and your spouse ever had a retreat like this?  Would your relationship/future benefit from a spiritual retreat?