Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blind Side

I recently saw the very popular movie The Blind Side.  I must admit that it was a very intriguing story.  But the whole thing left me a bit unsettled.

In summary, the movie is about a family who takes in a young man who is a ward of the state.  They offer him a home and eventually adopt him into their family.  The compassion that is modeled is compelling.  Their actions are portrayed as flowing from their faith since faith is shown as central to the family and their kids attend a Christian school.  The young man eventually gets a college scholarship to play football and is now in the NFL.

But the movie also left me asking a lot of questions that are still quite unsettling to me.

Was this man's dignity stripped of him in showing his story on the big screen?
Why was the movie's  portrayal of the mom in the story as the type of white woman that makes black people not trust white people?
Why does Micheal Oher, who the movie is about, say that he has no interest in seeing the movie?
Does this really model loving one's neighbor?

I also thought:   If I was black....
Would I have any interest in seeing this movie?
Would this movie seem insulting to me?
Would this movie give me a negative feeling about white people?

I'm not saying that the family who opened their home to Micheal did something wrong, but making a movie about this young man's story really unsettled me.

Any one else see the movie?  Thoughts?  Reactions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


On December 26th, Reach Records released the debut album of DJ Official.  The album contains a compilation of original songs by over 20 artists including- Lecrae, Flame, J-son, Trip Lee and many more.  Fish, as he is affectionately called, is a master DJ and producer and this album is a must have for every fan of Christian hip hop.  Pick up yours today or go online to REACH RECORDS.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pack the house

Yesterday was a good day. It was one of the reasons that I love our church. Relational. Laid back. Family like. We all gathered at our house for a game, children's story, singing, and a word about the importance of God's gift. The house was packed. Now I remember why we have two house groups.

Then everyone headed to another families home. We packed gift boxes for everyone to take and give to their neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. It was great to see everyone working together. Then we ate and played games.

The day was full. The house was full. Really full. The shoes by the door told it all. Shoes, shoes, and more shoes.
As we all left with boxes to share the good news of God's gift, I thought of Romans 10:15.

"How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Disney's first black princess

Welcome Tiana! Disney now has a black princess. My wife and daughter got to be a part of a big celebration. 5th 3rd Bank donated a princess party to the after school program that they are a part of for over 50 mothers and daughters. Tiarra's and make-up. Red carpet and stretch limos. They made a big deal of it for them. Three different local news channels covered the story.

So is this a big deal? I mean the Obama's are in the White House. I believe it is for young African-American girls who have never quite seen themselves in Cinderella or Jasmine.

I read an article today in the Chicago Tribune which talked about why this is meaningful to African-Americans.

I was actually suprised that co-director John Musker said "he never knew African-American women may have been waiting for decades for a black princess". This is how disconnected we often are from the experience of others.

I have not seen the movie. I have already heard some of the criticisms, but I am glad that in 2009 Disney is now offering a princess story that features a princess with black skin.

Do you think this is a significant event?

David Warren

Another person in my life who has been a tremendous influence is David Warren. Dr. Warren was a professor of mine at Cedarville College. He stood out to me. One thing I noticed was his ability to answer almost all questions with verses from the Bible that applied to the situation. During my junior year, I asked him to take time to disciple me. He agreed. He said that to him that meant that we could get together once a week and grab a Coke and talk. That was what I had in mind.

Over the next two years of school, I came to treasure this hour each week. At the time, Dr. Warren was the only faculty in the Bible department that did not have his Ph.D. He lacked the academic credentials that often mark a person with knowledge, but he was(is)a man of great wisdom.

We would talk about theology. We would talk about life. We would talk about relationships. Mostly, I would asked questions and then listen.

When Lisa and I married, we asked Dr. Warren to speak at our wedding. We rarely keep in contact any more, but as I consider people who lead me today I still think of David Warren.

Much of who I am and seek to be as a leader comes from things that I learned and admired about Dr. Warren. I desire to be a person of sound practical wisdom. I desire to be a person who is willing to sit and discuss life with people. I desire to know the scriptures and use them to impact real life. I desire to make an impact on people that lasts beyond the time and proximity of our earthly relationship.

Dr. David Warren is a leader and he has marked my life. Thank you David Warren for taking time with a young college student who was seeking wisdom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruth Brown

I have been reflecting on ways that the sovereign God has used people to help allow me to be who I am today. One such person is Ruth Brown.

My maternal grandmother, Venita Misner, met Ruth as a young adult living in Chicago. Ruth was renting a room from my grandma's family and they became friends. Ruth was a committed follower of Christ and began to share her faith with my grandma. My grandma came to a faith in Christ as well. My grandma married and moved back to Grand Rapids, MI.

Ruth never married. She took on my grandma's family as her own. She was "Aunt Brownie" to us growing up. She prayed for our family as her own. Although Ruth lived her life in relative obscurity to most, she was a warrior for the kingdom. She was very involved in her local church in Chicago. She was close friends with many leaders of long time ministries based out of Chicago including the founders of AWANA and Sunshine Gospel Ministries. She had a passion for Christ and a passion for Chicago.

Fast forward many years. God was calling me as a college student to explore a life of full time ministry. During my sophomore year, I made a decision to spend the summer in Chicago serving with Inner City Impact. No one was more excited than "Aunt Brownie". She dropped me off at the beginning of the summer. Her health was so bad, that she could hardly climb the stairs to the third floor of the building. That summer God began to prepare my heart for His calling me back to Chicago after graduation.

Ruth Brown died in the fall of that year.

In March of the next year, I was struggling financially and contemplating dropping out of college until I could find a way to pay for it all. I got a call informing me that Ruth's unsaved sister Marge, felt that God wanted her to use what earthly possessions she had to pass on to help me pay for college. Ruth had no real wealth of her own, butshe had convince her sister Marge to invest what she had in me. Marge said that Ruth was so excited that God was calling me to Chicago and it was only right for her money to help make it happen.

Over the next three years, I was given $30,000 towards finishing my college degree. I took no loans after that point and ended college with only the debt from my first two years of school.

Jehovah-Jireh- God our provider!

God used a faithful servant of God who lived life unnoticed by the world to begin a spiritual heritage in my family many years ago. And then in her death, He used her again to help make it possible for me to be who I am today.

It is only by the grace of God that I now lead a scholarship program called PURSUE to help support other Christian young people as they go to college. Without this faithful women, I don't know that I would serve Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in shepherding our young community of faith on the west side of Chicago.

Aunt Brownie, thank you for being a part of my great cloud of witnesses. (Hebrews 12:1,2)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Influences in my life

Writing my spiritual autobiography for a class and thinking about so many people who have helped make me who I am.

Thinking of a few right now:
Ruth Brown, Dr. David Warren, David Woodier. So many others. I will write more about each of these in the coming days.

Glory to God for such a cloud of witnesses.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dr. Benjamin Mays

I am working on a project for my grad program on Dr. Benjamin Mays. I am learning so many interesting things about this man who was committed throughout his life to the training of men. It has been encouraging and inspiring.

Mays served for 27 years as the president of Morehouse College. He coined the phrase "Morehouse Men", which is still spoken with honor to this day. He impacted scores of leaders in politics, business, and ministers of the Gospel. Dr. King is probably his most famous student.

As I search, I find more and more that is intriguing about this man who grew up in poverty in South Carolina and went on to get his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Chicago.

These words tell of his perspective:
"I have never done anything for the purpose of being honored, to have my name on the front pages of the newspapers,I have done what I believe I was sent into the world to do: worship my God and serve my fellow man."

Julian Bond,Morehouse graduate and former president of the NAACP, summed him up by saying: "First he built himself, then he built Morehouse Men."

God uses people to impact people. But it starts with personal formation of ones character.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christian Community

"Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together

To often, we frustrate ourselves with what "our church community" is not instead of marvelling at what it is: a display of the tapestry of God's grace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dreaming big


Dr. Benjamin Mays - ordained minister, educator, orator, mentor to Dr. King, and president of Morehouse College for 27 years

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Repairer of broken walls

Thinking about Isaiah 58 today.

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I think of fasting as one of the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are important to transformation. Does our fasting look like this?
Do our lives look like this? Do we care for our neighbors in this way?

Friday, October 30, 2009

To Live is Christ

This video puts the words behind Trip Lee's summary of the book of Phillipians from the 13 Letters project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Should tax dollars be used to help the poor?

There is much political debate over whether American tax dollars should be used to bring aid to the poor. Some believe that this is completely the governments responsibility. Others think that the government should not be involved at all.

What do you think?

I think that we should consider how God felt these things should be handled in the nation of Israel. Looking at the Old Testament law can give us some insight into God's dealing with a nation. A few of the many verses to consider:

I have heard many refer to Matthew 26 where Jesus quotes the OT and says the poor will always be with you. But few go back and look at what was being said. Deuteronomy 15 does say that the poor will always be with so "open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land". This is about generousity, but not about government involvement.

Exodus 23:11 talks about the Sabbath year. Every seventh year, the farmer is to not harvest his own land so that the poor may eat from it. That would mean that about 14% of the food from their field would be designated by law to the poor with no strings attached.

Leviticus 19:9,10 tells the farmer to not go around and pick up all of the leftover harvest, but to "Leave them for the poor and the alien". Again governmental law to leave some extra for the poor. Lev. 23:22 repeats this again in case they missed it.

Leviticus 25 talks about the year of Jubilee (which the Israelites never actually practiced). A time of land being returned to original owners. A time of resting from work. In this chapter, the Israelites are told that they are to care for the poor and not lend them money with interest. So much for all of the banks and payday loan places that exploit the poor.

Deuteronomy 24 talks about paying the worker who is poor daily because he needs it. It also talks about paying him a fair wage. So much for those who are against a minimum wage.

And then there is the tithe. This is the tax of the day for the Israelites. There were three tithes. Two to be paid yearly and on to be paid every three years. Basically a 23% tax when you average it out. One tithe was general. One tithe went to the feasts, celebrations, etc. The other tithe which was given every third year was for the Levites and the poor - orphan, widow, alien. So in Israel, 3.33% of all that people earned was set aside for assistance to the poor among them. This is talked about it Deuteronomy 14 and 26.

Does this mean that the US should set aside tax money to care for the poor? Not necessarily, but I think that we should consider our responsibility as a society to those who are less fortunate.

What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

ABC 7 News Chicago Features Friday Night Lights

This news story was featured several months ago. It reminds us of the need for the church to continue to be creative in promoting a culture of peace.

I thank God for my good friend Chris Butler and the leadership that he is offering to promote peace in our city.

What do you think the church's role should be in promoting peace?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are you worn out?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hurting for our youth

Last week, I found myself heartbroken once again by the violence that has affected our young people. I began to cry as I watched video online of the incident in Roseland that ended with a young life taken. I thought of my friends who work at the Agape Center who watched this unfold in their parking lot.

Much is being spoken and written about youth violence because this video brought to light things that are happening day in and day out in many communities. I can't say that what I saw on the video was something that I haven't seen in front of my own house on occasion. Mobs of people fighting. Boards. Bats.

The Chicago Tribune published an article today titled "Fenger kids tell why they fight". It gives a bit of insight into the challenges that many urban teenagers face daily in their pursuit of an education and a better life. Some of them are honor students like Derrion Albert.

Dennis Byrne points to all male high schools with all male teachers as a solution. I think this has some validity, but the problem is more complex than one solution can offer.

Youth violence has many causes: male aggression, youthful indiscretion, rebellion, hopelessness, racial neglect by society, poverty, etc. But I believe that one of the core issues is a breakdown of the family. We live in a culture that does so many things to discourage strong family relationships. As a result, we are reaping what we have sown.

What do you believe is the answer to the violence of our youth?

What can be done to strengthen the role of the family in society?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Developing leaders

Lois Lebar states that in the typical church "We train our church people to be professional listeners rather than leaders".

Obviously training leaders will require instruction, but to truly develop people you will need to allow them a great deal of time to talk. People need to know that they can have a say in God's work through His church. They will not develop as leaders until they know that they are being heard. They will just be good listeners.

How much do you get to say at your church? How much of the time do you just sit and listen? Do you feel that you are developing as a spiritual leader?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Cosby Show

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the launching of "The Cosby Show". I have always believed that this show was one of the more important avenues of changing generational attitudes and stereotypes about race. My generation and those after us who grew up on "The Cosby Show" filter many of our thoughts about race through that show. This show positively defined the African-American family in ways that had never been done to that extent before and I would argue that have never happened since.

One of my favorite commentators in the Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page, wrote an interesting piece today about how The Cosby Show in many ways opened the door to the possibility of Obama becoming president. I think this is so very true.

In many ways, Bill was a key catalyst in making Barack safe for white America.

I see The Cosby Show as a "game changer" in American race relations.

Do think the Cosby Show played as significant role as I have suggested?

What are some other "game changers" in American race relations?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New High School

I am excited about the new high school that has been built just a few blocks from our home. Nice buildings and facilities don't make a good school, but it doesn't hurt either. $100 million dollars spent.


I hope that this will help inspire students that they do have opportunities.

Do you think that the new Westinghouse High School will become one of the premier schools academically in the city of Chicago?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is right doctrine an end?

"Those in the knowledge camp put the emphasis on getting our doctrine in line. Right belief is seen as the means to life...But notice this- the Pharisees knew more about the Bible than most of us every will, and it hardened their hearts. Knowledge just isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you are familiar with the biblical narrative, you will remember that there were two special trees in Eden- the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. We got the wrong tree. We got knowledge, ad it hasn't done us much good."

I will admit that I easily fall into the "knowledge camp". I am a strong believer in sound doctrine.

But I have often seen those with great head knowledge, who live dull lives that lack transformation. They seem to be lacking an abundant life. It seems quite obvious that right doctrine, although important, is not the end. Life transformation and passionately pursuing God and His glory is what it is about.

May we not stop at sound doctrine!

Thoughts or reactions?

Monday, September 14, 2009

How does submission look?

Ephesians 5:21-28
"submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."

Lots of opinions out there of what this looks like.

Anyone have any examples of how these verses look in your marriage?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Most stressful city

Chicago was chosen as the most stressful city for the second year in a row. No wonder I feel that I carry a lot of stress.

School, work, church, family, crime, traffic, bills, high prices, trash, unfriendly people. So many different things bring me stress. Sometimes all at once.

Remind me Lord of Matthew 6:25-34. You are in control!

What types of things get you stressed?

Be still my soul

"The problem is not entirely in finding the room of one's own, the time alone, difficult and necessary as that is. The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of its activities"
Anne Morrow Lindebergh

I found this quote to be so true of myself. I have such a hard time "stilling my soul".

What do you do to slow down and focus on God?

Monday, August 31, 2009

2 Million Minutes

I had an opportunity to meet Bob Compton this weekend. Bob is the founder of 2 Million Minutes. 2MM is an organization that compares education in the US to India and China. We watched a few of his documentaries. Very interesting.

2 Million Minutes.

Do you think that the United States offers the best education in the world?


"Seek to understand before you are understood"
Stephen Covey - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do you love the bride?

Thank you Rachel for giving me the book Why we love the church:In praise of institutions and organized religion. I enjoyed reading a book that spoke positively of God's design for Christian community.

It seems that so many today are speaking and writing critical things about the Bride of Christ. Some are suggesting leaving church all together. I'll admit, the church is not perfect. Yours may seem worse than others. But it is designed by God to bring Him glory. So I love it. I work hard to help others build a positive representation of the church in a local context.

Many run to conferences, camps, special groups, etc. to find what they should look for in the church. Others start organizations, clubs, special groups to do what they should be doing as a church. But God has only promised success to His "church". (Matthew 16:18)

Let's continue to be the church and build His church!

Do you feel that the church is an effective means of bringing God glory?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I returned to Chicago last night after being gone for about ten days. First thing this morning, I met with a good friend to catch up on our church, our community, and our lives.

I feel blessed to have friends in my life to share life with. Thanks Deshaun.

What importance to friendships have for you?


Kiva is an organization that partners to allow people from all over the world to lend small amounts of money to potential entreprenuers across the globe. It partners people and empowers people to work instead of just giving to charity. I love it.

The idea is that the borrower will actually pay back the loan and the money can be lent out again to another person.

Do you have any unique ideas to empower people rather than just giving money to charity?

Helping Africa

This is a company that I learned about at the Leadership Summit. Good African Coffee. They believe that the key to supporting Africa is not aid. They believe that economic empowerment through trade will lift Africa economically.

Do you think that aid can be detrimental to the long term growth of people or nations?


The last month has been a whirlwind of different events.

July 30 - Aug. 1, I was involved in the Legacy Disciplemaking Conference at Moody Bible Institute.
August 6 and 7, I was at Willow Creek Community Church for the annual Leadership Summit.
August 9-14, I was a camp counselor at Urban Camp at Camp Timberlee.

So many things have happened in these weeks. I was blessed to spend the last few days with my wife and kids. We went on a canoe trip, went to a huge flea market, played Putt-Putt, played games, and made memories. I love family time.

I am looking forward to sorting out my thoughts from the last few weeks and getting back to a routine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Heard this quote today at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek: "Good leadership is making change seem more exciting than standing pat."

I like that, but it can be challenging to accomplish.

What are ideas that people have about making change more exciting?

Monday, August 3, 2009

52 Zoos in 52 weeks

This video is of friends of ours Gabe and Marla Taviano from Columbus, OH. The just finished visiting 52 Zoos in a year. What a creative plan to spend time together as a family.

Look for Marla's book coming out about this family adventure.

You can find out more at

I hope this encourages you to be creative about spending time and making lasting memories with your family.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Here it is again

For all who think that racial profiling is a thing of the past, here it is again.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., renowned author and Harvard professor, was arrested in his home for suspected burgularly. Story here

It is sad to think that even a well known, 59 year old black man has to deal with profiling by the police. The next thing we will be reading in the newspaper is that Barack Obama was arrested for being in the White House.

What a sad commentary on the state of our country. I know that racial profiling happens every day on the west side of Chicago where I live. Young men being stopped and harassed for the crime of walking down the street while young and black. This is an everyday occurance in long forgotten neighborhoods like ours. But to hear about profiling in Cambridge of all places is even more discouraging.

What will it take for people to see everyone as a part of the same human race?

Why do police so easily get away with this type of treatment of those that they are to "serve and protect"?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Yesterday was the first annual PURSUE PRO-AM. The weather was great. People had a wonderful time. Paula Faris came to help out. Here husband John's team won 2nd place in the event. Many people left with prizes. And we were able to raise some money to help our students go to college.

I am thankful for all who helped out to make this event a reality. Time to start planning for next year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fountain of youth?

This water might just be it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Still in love

A few weeks ago, I spent a few days in historic Galena,IL with my wife Lisa. She wanted to try a bed & breakfast to celebrate her birthday and we were not disappointed. We chose the historic Stillman Inn. The mansion was beautiful, the location was ideal, and the service was impeccable. Our inkeeper, Dave, was a delightful Christian man who spent time talking to us about our lives, about his life, and about the sights to see in the area.

We had a great time away from the hustle of the city and enjoyed the time with just the two of us. If you are looking for a romantic get-a-away, I would suggest the Stillman Inn in Galena without reservation.

Has anyone else tried a bed and breakfast? What did you like and dislike?

Husbands, have you taken time to romance your wife lately?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lecrae -Beautiful Feet

I love this song.

A challenge to have beautiful feet for the gospel. Also an exhortation to not ignore or forget about the hood.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

While we are talking politics...

In the car last night, I heard Sean Hannity on the radio. Very disappointing.

The words that came to mind as I listened to him:
Know it all
Doesn't listen

Those are just a few. The sad thing is that I agree with some of the positions that he holds, but I would never want to identify myself with him. Why do Republican talking heads have to brand themselves as such elitists who disrespect and demean anyone who doesn't agree with everything that they say? Think Hannity, Limbaugh, and the like. They call themselves "great Americans", but I would say that this attitude represents everything wrong with America.

Can we get a humble Republican?
Can we get a Republican who doesn't know it all?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is the Republican party racist?

Leonard Pitts suggests in his article Grand ol' bigots? that the GOP is the "repugnant party" on issues of race. Pitts' article points to numerous examples from just the past year where the GOP has dropped the ball to say the least as it relates to how they view "others" and especially black people.

Is it any wonder black people have such a hard time voting for a Republican?

Do you think that the GOP is bigoted in it's essence?

What do you think of Pitts' suggestions about the GOP?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Treasuring Christ

You have to check this out!

I attended the Don't Waste Your Life tour last week in my hometown of Lima, OH. The concert opened with this video.

Convicting. Inspiring. Great reminder.

Gospel Intentionality - Part 2

A few days ago, I posted a quote from the book Total Church. Today I found one of the authors (Tim Chester) fleshing this concept out on his blog. I thought it was very helpful.


Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

House churches

In case you missed it, THIS ARTICLE was in the Chicago Tribune today. I felt that it gave a fair reporting on the house church movement.

What are your thoughts about the house church model?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gospel Intentionality

"Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality."
Tim Chester & Steve Timmis - TOTAL CHURCH

I love this quote. We the people of God need to approach all of life with gospel intentionality. We are the church mission strategy. We are the outreach program.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reading the Gospel of John

This past week, I spent time reading through the Gospel of John with a group of people in one sitting. It took about two and half hours. Here are a few observations:

There is something good about hearing the scriptures read out loud.
There is something good about reading the scriptures with others.
There are a lot of things you notice when you read a whole book at a time.
There is something priceless about hearing your kids want to read the scriptures with you.
I spend too much time reading other books in comparison to THE book.
Too often, I find things that are trivial to do when I could be redeeming the time.
I highly recommend having a Bible reading party.

Thanks Lisa, Shayna, Joshua, Matthew, James, Marcus, and Lamar for sharing this experience with me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Small Group Bible Study - ILLEGAL

Have you caught wind of the story in San Diego of a small group Bible study that was being shut down because it was a "church". The gathering of 10 to 15 people was under investigation for operating without a proper permit. You can find the story HERE.

It is worth watching how this story unfolds. If something like this were to set a precedent, it is hard to imagine where this might lead.

Can you imagine the implications of home Bible studies being regulated by government?

Does this concern you at all when a government is getting so involved in someones personal religious life?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reading the Bible

I have been thinking about how we approach the scriptures and came across these thoughts:

These are the differences between INFORMATIONAL READING and FORMATIONAL READING.

Informational seeks to cover as much as possible. Formational focuses on small portions.

Informational is linear in process. Formational is in depth in process.

Informational seeks to master the text. Formational allows the text to master us.

Informational sees the text as an object to use. Formational sees the text as a subject that shapes us.

Informational is analytical, critical, and judgemental in approach. Formational is humble, submissive, willing, and loving in approach.

Informational has a problem-solving mentality. Formational has an openness to mystery.

Do you read the Bible for information or for transformation? What do you think about these observations?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Race and Anger

Have you ever wanted to talk and learn about race with someone who is of a different race and felt that they just got angry?

How did you feel? Where you made that they were angry? Did you listen to try to understand where the anger was coming from?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009


Did you see the movie Slumdog Millionaire? Many people did. The movie received eight Oscars and grossed over $326 million. You would think that everyone involved in this project is doing pretty well financially.

It is all of over the news this morning that one of the child stars of the movie lost his home today. Not his big home in Hollywood. His shanty in the slums.

You mean to tell me that a child who starred in a movie that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars did not receive enough money to help his family buy a home. It is unbelievable that this young boy was still living in the slums.

This is a terrible picture of the exploitation and injustice that is all to common in our world.

Hollywood gets rich on the backs of poor people and doesn't even care enough to help them out of poverty. This sounds much like the Walton family and what they have done through their Walmart empire.

God help us to love our neighbor.

What are your reactions to the story about this young boy?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Heeding your inner life

"[We must] enter ourselves first of all into the center of our existence and become familiar with the complexities of our inner lives. As soon as we feel home in our own house, discover the dark corners as well as the light spots, the closed doors as well as the drafty rooms, our confusion will evaporate, our anxiety will diminish, and we will become capable of creative work. The key word here is articulation. Those who can articulate the movements of their inner life, who can give names to their varied experiences, need no longer be victims of themselves, but are able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. They are able to create space for Him whose heart is greater than theirs, whose eyes see more than theirs, and whose hands can heal more than theirs. This articulation, I believe,is the basis for spiritual leadership of the future, because only they who are able to articulate their own experiences can offer themselves to others as a source of clarification."

Henri Nouwen - The Wounded Healer

What do you think of this quote? Is knowing yourself well a key to effective spiritual leadership?

Monday, May 11, 2009

An ever changing world

Some things that are worth considering as we seek to reach our world for Christ.

What does this mean for how the church is to be a city on a hill?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Next Evangelicalism

I dare you to read this book! It attacks many sacred cows and challenges us to rethink what is going on in the church in America.

I am not yet finished with Soong-Chan Rah's book "The Next Evangelicalism", but to this point it has been engaging, convicting, enlightening, confusing, and many other things. This book is prophetic and bold. It is a needed voice to the evangelical world which often ignores some of its most powerful and needed voices.

Rah confronts the false gods of materialism and consumersism, racism, white privilege and the pride that goes with it, and offers a starting point to understanding a more wholistic theology.

The Next Evangelicalism is a must read for anyone serious about growing God's kingdom effectively in the years to come. So get it. Read it. Talk about it. Learn from it.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I am excited to be preparing the PURSUE PRO-AM! This event will provide networking for our students, expansion of awareness about Pursue, and fundraising for our scholarships.
If you golf or have friends who golf, help me get the word out about the first annual PURSUE PRO-AM. It is a great opportunity to come and enjoy yourself while supportuing a great cause.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The power of words

Vice President Joe Biden stated yesterday on the Today show "I would tell members of my family - and I have - I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway. So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation.

"If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it's a different thing."

If the VP of the country is saying that he would tell his family not to go one a plane, a subway, a car, then don't you think that he believes that no one in the country should be doing that? Wasn't Biden essentially suggesting that it would be best if all planes, trains, and automobiles were shut down until furthur notice.

He is either right or he is so clueless to the importance of his own words. He is contradicting the president, the national health organizations, and everyone else. But there is little talk in the media of his careless words.

I find it suprising that he is not being raked over the coals for his careless use of words. Maybe it is because the media doesn't like to make this administration look bad.

What do you think about the importance of words? Do you think that Biden was being reckless to make such a statement? Why is noone listening to him?

Monday, April 27, 2009

7th Annual Church Retreat

Each year since the our church began, we have taken an all church retreat. It has always been a fun time. Everybody pitches in to make the weekend happen. Some people put in a lot of work.
We stay up late.
We play games.
We walk a lot.
We have a popcorn campfire.
Children get sick and there are many minor injuries.
Teenagers get loud and competitive.
Adults get worn out.
Memories are made.

Each year it is a blessing to spend time together being challenged spiritually and growing in our relationships with each other.

I thank God for the church family that He has blessed me with. It is good to know that you are not alone.

What do you appreciate about your local church?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kingdom Minded

Our family doctor is a Christian. She opened her own private practice as a ministry. It is called Cornerstone Family Health. The office is a distinctively Christian setting and all of her employees are believers. After each visit she offers to pray for her patient whether they are a believer or not. The local newspaper recently wrote an article about her unique practice.

It is encouraging to me to know people who use their vocational calling as a direct ministry to others.

How have you seen people using their profession to glorify God?

Monday, April 20, 2009


Yesterday at church, we were challenged by Deshaun to be thankful. I know that this is something that I consistently feel God calling me to. This is also something that Lisa and I have been teaching our children over and over again.

I don't like it when children whine and complain about every little thing. Unfortunately, my children are still learning in this area. The sad thing is that many adults have this same problem. They always see the cup as half empty. They always see the 5% that is wrong instead of the 95% that is going well.

What a miserable life they have chosen for themselves.

One of the things that Deshaun said yesterday was that many people like to "compare and complain". He pointed out that often people look at others and complain about how their life could be better. He also pointed us to three things to be thankful for: relationships, our church, and our salvation.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life Video

I know that I want my life to matter. Don't waste your life. Make your time count!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This topic alone makes many of us interested. Most of us like to eat.

Have you ever wondered what God thinks about food? What is it's purpose? Why does it exist? Some things are obvious, but not all.

To survive
To give us energy
For nutrition?
To enjoy?
To foster relationships?
To share?

For many in the world, food is only for survival. People hope to get just enough to keep them alive. Should this fact affect how we perceive food?
Is it wrong to enjoy eating food that we like?
When does food become an idol?

We know that gluttony is a sin. Do you know what gluttony is? When does eating become gluttony? Is our thinking about food more defined by our culture or by God? Where does God talk about food and what does He say?

Any thoughts?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I must admit that Lisa and I are both huge fans of Chick-fil-a. If we could open one up in Chicago, we would be interested in making the investment. So we both really enjoyed this song.

Legacy Conference 2009 - Don't miss it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is Jay Cutler the answer?

For the first time in my lifetime, the Bears have a legitimate Pro Bowl quarterback. The QB position has always been an issue for the Bears. Even with the Bears great defense and the up and coming Matt Forte, I still wonder whether getting a good quarterback is all the Bears need. I am wondering: who will he throw the ball too and who will block for him? These are still concerns.

Do you think that signing Jay Cutler makes the Bears a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Matthew turns 4

Today is my youngest son Matthew's 4th birthday. Here is him with his brother playing with his present.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is being anxious a sin?

Is being anxious always a sin?

Is it always wrong to worry about bills that you don't have the money for? How about being anxious about public speaking or a big test? What about anxiousness about a new job or a new school? The list could go on and on.

Phillipians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So what do you think.
Is being anxious always wrong?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Album release

I wanted to mention the release this month of my guy Kareem's debut album. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Urban Churches

I get excited about urban churches that have a special focus on evangelism to the younger generation. I know of two such churches that are in the early stages. Epiphany Fellowship in Philly is a few years old and has established a solid foundation for the future. Blueprint Church in Atlanta is just getting started, but has a committed core and the type of leadership to make a difference.

If you have any interest in churches reaching out to make disciples for Christ from the "hip hop generation", then these churches should be an encouragement to you.

Grace and peace to the brothers and sisters in Philly and ATL keeping real for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

What churches are an encouragement to you?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Part of the platform of President Obama is to reduce abortions. This has never made sense to me why someone would say that abortion is not wrong, but we need to get rid of as many abortions as possible. Mixed messages.

These mixed messages are not producing a reduction in abortions according to the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune reported today that "Planned Parenthood of Illinois says that in January it performed the highest number of abortions in its history".

When you tell people that abortions need to be reduced and you also say that there is nothing wrong with abortions and it is just a choice people make then we should not be surprised by the results.

This would be sad if this were just another political issue that we disagree on. Instead it is a tragedy because we have seen a drastic increase in the death of children.

Do you feel that the President is sending mixed messages about abortion?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Buying Black

The Chicago Tribune reported today about John and Maggie Anderson who live in Oak Park. They have made a commitment to shop and spend money at only African-American owned business for a year. They say it is their way of investing in the Black community and they are encouraging others to do the same.

Some have accused them of racism. Others feel that it is a great idea.

Do you feel that there is something wrong with intentionally buying goods from only one race?

Would this be looked at differently if a family committed to intentionally only buying from caucasion owned businesses?

Do you have other suggestions for economic investment in African-American communities?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A leader is a servant

I was reading the other day in the book of Matthew and came across Jesus giving some specific teaching about a quality of greatness. In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus reminded his disciples that the greatest would be a servant to all. This was a good reminder to me of a truth that I have known for a long time.

If I want to improve as a leader, than I need to continue to commit myself to serving others. I have so much to learn about being a person who serves people.

It is also a good reminder to me about teaching others how to be leaders. Many people, especially young people, want to lead. What they really often mean is that they want to be in charge. They want authority. They want to make decisions. They want others to follow them. But when it comes time to do the dirty work, the volunteer list can be short.

It is my observation that a lot of people are critical of leaders, but few people are willing to pay the price of leadership. Many people desire a position, but few are willing to walk the path of humble service.

Most of what I know about being a leader has come from observing and listening to humble servants of God who modelled good leadership. My challenge to those who desire to be a leader of others for the glory of God: Start serving people!

It is my prayer that God would help me to be a better leader. It is also my prayer that God would continue to develop more and more servant leaders for His kingdom.

Who is someone who has been a model of leadership for you?
What have you learned about leadership?

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Race was a factor"

Illinois senator, Dick Durbin, admitted that race was a factor in the decision by the U.S. Senate to seat Roland Burris despite concerns that he was appointed by Governor Blago.

I think that we all realized that already, but it becomes more interesting when we actually talk about it. Isn't race always a factor in politics?

Does the fact that race was a part of the decision to seat the Senator from Illinois make a difference to you?
Will we ever be at a point in America when race won't have to be a factor in decision making?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You gotta see this!

This a serious brother- Dwayne Tryumf. When he stayed in my home last summer during the Legacy concert, I was blessed by his humility and love for the truth.

And he sure can rap too!!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Bride of Christ

I love the church. It is one of the things in life that I get excited about. One of my passions is to see the church being all that God called her to be. The church is so important because it is the main way that people see Christ in the world. When someone who doesn't know God wants to see Him, they look to the church. Sadly, this is why so many reject Christ. They have seen an image of Him that often doesn't represent him very well.

I always enjoy reading biblically based books about the church. Right now, I am reading Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears. If you enjoy reading about the church and what it is meant to be, then this is another resource that points you in the right direction.

Anyone else who loves the Church? What excites you about the church?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Are you in Christ?

"you can be baptized in the church, raised in the church, confirmed in the church, serve in the church, marry in the church, die in the church, and have your funeral in the church and still wake up in hell if you are merely in the church and not in Christ".
Mark Driscoll, Vintage Church

Many who have gone to church throughout there life may be surprised when they die.

Do you think that there are a lot of people who go to church, but don't know Christ?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to our home

How often do you welcome people into your home?

I believe that the idea of hospitality is often missed by today's church. Obviously, I am a strong believer in the significance of hospitality. That is part of why we host church in our home. I believe that welcoming people into your home can communicate so much about love, relationship, acceptance, etc. It is an evidence of Christian love. It is a valuable tool for reaching the lost. It is a loving way to care for the distressed. It is a powerful place for Christian discipleship to take place. It is a prerequisite for leadership.

So here are some tips that I would give to help you to be a good host as you seek to show hospitality:

• Be friendly (sounds obvious, but it's not)
• Invite someone into the house
• Ask people questions, make them feel welcome
• Take peoples coat
• Offer glass of water, food
• Offer a seat (the best seat)
• Be ready for people to arrive, be in the room
• Porch light on or entry light
• Straighten up, maybe light a candles
• Turn on the lights
• Introduce people if they don't know each other
• Don’t have too many rules (don’t touch, etc.)
• Be willing to love people more than your stuff (things will get broken, dirty, lost, stolen)
• Don’t expect appreciation
• Don’t expect help cleaning

I think that to be hospitable it takes intentionality. Many people think it is a good thing, few practice it regularly. So plan to invite someone to your home this month or even this week.

Does anyone else have any tips about being a good host? What are barriers to being hospitable?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Words of wisdom

Proverbs 30:8,9
"give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."

A good reminder to be content.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Lord's Supper

Have you ever notice that I Corinthians 11:17-34 is all about the church being unified? This is the classic passage about the Lord's Supper. It is used whenever communion/Lord's Supper/Eucharist is observed in churches. Paul is addressing the Corinthians behavior while observing this ordinance, but his challenge has to do with how they are treating one another.
The Corinthians were dividing over class. The rich were eating a lot and leaving the poor without. They were disgracing the unity that comes from the cross. They were more concerned about their appetite than about there brother and sister in Christ. This was a disgrace to the "Lord's" supper. From verses 17 and 18 to verses 33 and 34, Paul is talking about sharing with each other without divisions.

Verse 29 says "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself". Makes me wonder if the "body of the Lord" is talking about the other believers. Maybe the warning is about acting like you are the church, but not really being considerate of the other members of the body.
It seems that the Christian life was meant to be lived in the context of community and not in isolation. It seems that the Lord's Supper has a lot to do with Christian community and not just personal reflection.

Just some things I am have been considering. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Redeeming the time

"We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end".

Changing the world

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself".
Leo Tolstoy

Monday, February 2, 2009

George Bush - All religions have the same God

George Bush was asked on Nightline if he believed that he prayed to the same God that Muslims and those of other beliefs do. His answer: "I do, I do believe that there is an Almighty that is broad enough and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people". (As reported by Christianity Today)

For all of the good that we saw in former President Bush's personal faith, it seems that he believes in the same universalism as President Obama and many other leaders of our time. Bush also stated that the Bible is probably not literal, but that you can learn a lot from it.

What are your thoughts on the many today who claim that all religions pray to the same God?

Super Bowl Ad that NBC Rejected

I found this to be a powerful message about the positive side of choosing life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama tells the truth - UNFORTUNATELY

This week, President Obama kept one of his campaign promises. His administration struck down a rule that banned our tax dollars going to agency that support abortion. Now your tax dollars can (and will) be sent to others countries to help support abortion.

This is a part of Obama's public policy that upset me during the campaign and now he has proven to be a man of his word and followed through on his promises to promote an agenda that allows (and promotes) more abortions.

One thing that frustrates me about it is the lack of logic used to promote it. Obama said this is a "political wedge issue," adding that he had "no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate." It is treated as if everyone must see it his way or else. Differing opinions than his are just for politics and fruitless.

President Obama presents himself as someone who listens to all and seeks to help people respect differing opinions. But when it comes to abortion, there is no room for debate with him. We all need to quit debating and see it his way.

If it wasn't a matter of life and death for so many innocent people, it might be simply ironic to see his completely different character on this issue.

I personally view abortion as not only murder, but also as a fundamental issue of justice. Justice for those with no voice who are being killed. The injustice that blacks in America are disproportionately targeted for abortions.

Heaven helps us to repent of our continued sins of injustice as a nation.

What are your feelings about Obama's stance on abortion?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Psychology and "Christian counseling"

Something that I have thought about for a long time is: "What role does the science of psychology play in Christian counseling?" I am in a class in my grad program right now and reading a number of varying views on this question.

The extremes go both ways. One extreme says that all psycho or emotional problems are spiritual and should be "treated" only with the Word of God. The other extreme takes the science of psychology so seriously that the spiritual nature of many issues are not even considered. There are many different ideas in the middle. I have some thoughts on this, but I am wondering what some of you think.

How much should Christians use the knowledge gained from the study of psychology?

Can the Bible and psychology both be used to help people reach emotional and spiritual health?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The power of prayer

If you believe that God works through the prayer of His people, than this is for you.

A friend of mine, Shayla Johnson, is involved in organizing a web based prayer initiative for President Barack Obama. IN PRAYER 365 asks you to sign up to pray for the president for a ten minute time period. Whether you believe in the President's public policies or not, we can all agree that praying for him is a valuable use of our political energy. So join in and sign up to pray for President Obama.

Do you believe that prayer is a powerful way to affect things on earth? Do you trust God enough to spending time communicating with Him?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Double Alley-Oop Dunk

This is an incredible basketball play!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Computer Humor

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, God said, "THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job."

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.
They faxed.
They e-mailed.
They e-mailed with attachments.
They downloaded.
They did spreadsheets!
They wrote reports.
They created labels and cards.
They created charts and graphs.
They did some genealogy reports
They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off …

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:

"It's gone! It's all GONE! I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work…

Satan observed this and became irate.

"Wait!" he screamed. "That's not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don't have any?"

God just shrugged and said,


Keeping your word

"Better to under promise and over deliver, then to over promise and under deliver"

I found this a good reminder to not write checks with what I say that my body will not be able to cover. I think we need to be cautious with what we tell people that we are going to do.

Does anyone else have concerns about over committing themselves?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why do we suffer?

Have you ever wondered why something bad has happened to you? I know that I have experienced some very difficult things in life. One response can be to get upset with God. I could tell God that he doesn't know what He is doing as if He is not all knowing and in complete control.

I have been thinking about the purpose for our suffering lately. Peter addresses this issue a lot in I Peter. Studying this book has given me a greater understanding of the purpose in suffering and also how to respond to suffering.

But the most encouraging scripture to me is in II Corinthians 1:3-7 which states:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."

This is powerful stuff! God is the God of all comforts!! He comforts us in our trouble so that He can use us to comfort others in their trouble.

Do you see the difficult things that you have faced in life as something that God allowed so that you could be useful to others?

How have you seen God use your trouble to be a comfort to someone else?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Legacy Promo 09

I hope that everyone is planning to attend the Legacy Conference this summer.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise".

I found this in a fortune cookie at a restaurant in Disney World, but I thought it was quite profound none the less.

I pray that I will be wise enough to be willing to learn from anyone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I will admit that I am an internet addict. I appreciate the tremendous resource and speed of information. Sometimes, I waste time on the computer.

I'm sure that no one else does.

I had the privilege of spending the last two weeks of the year in Florida with my family. What a blessing. It was great to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. The 70 degree weather every day wasn't bad either.

One bonus was that I disconnected. I was off line for about ten days. No e-mail. No facebook. No news. No sports updates. No blogs.

It was good to be away. But I am glad to be back too. Life is not meant to be lived disconnected from people.

Anyone else ever feel that they need a break from the internet?