Sunday, December 25, 2011

A thought from Pastor Jack Hayford this Christmas...

"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." 
Luke 2:10

A thought from Pastor Jack Hayford this Christmas...

When we hear people say, "Bah, humbug!" as Christmas approaches, we know what they mean: our world's approach to Christmas can seem commercialized, crazed, and even cold. Still, we can never forget the love, light, and warmth of God's Christmas Gift to us: His very own Son. And that is a Gift worthy of our celebration! Christmas provides a great opportunity to share the love of God. Even people who don't know Jesus celebrate the season, and I believe God honors that, wanting us to reach to them with His Spirit.

Years ago, I decided to freshly open to the Holy Spirit each Christmas, and to refuse the "bah humbug" or "Scrooge spirit" that dampens delight and diminishes joy. Today, let's welcome the Lord and His season. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Connecting with God at Christmas

Christmas is the perfect time to connect with God because its the moment God chose to connect with us.  “She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b  Let’s make the time to focus on God this season and follow the examples of the Bible characters in the original Christmas Story.

Listen & Obey - Mary found herself with an overwhelming calling.  Joseph found himself with a difficult decision.  Both listened and responded positively to God and His leading.  (Luke 1:38; Matthew 1:24)

Worship & Give - The Wise Men also listened and followed the leading of God both through the star and an angel.  Their journey of obedience ended with them worshipping and offering gifts to the newborn King. (Matthew 2:11)

Reach Out & Invite - Shepherds were considered the “least of these” in their culture.  Because of their status in society they weren’t even allowed to give testimony in court.  And yet, God chose them to be the first witnesses to the newborn Savior. (Luke 2:20)

Make time this Christmas to listen and obey, worship and give, and reach out and invite.  You (and He) will be glad you did.

Monday, December 05, 2011


We have entered the Advent season on the Church calendar.  “Advent” in Latin comes from a word that means “coming.”  We celebrate and prepare our hearts for the coming of our King Jesus.  We remember his coming in the past as a baby in the town of Bethlehem.  We celebrate the present as Jesus comes into our heart.  And we look to the future as He comes as King to establish His new Kingdom.

In the front of church we have an advent wreath with candles.  Each week we light a new candle which symbolizes the expectation of our coming Messiah.  

Week 1 - (Purple Candle) Represents HOPE, signifying the hope that we have in Jesus when we allow Him to lead us out of darkness into light.  

Week 2 - (Purple Candle) Represents PEACE.  Jesus came to bring peace.  From the words of Zecharias in Luke 1:79….”He will guide our feet into the way of Peace”.

Week 3 - (Pink Candle) Represents LOVE.  We are reminded that He is Love and that He loves us with an everlasting love and that we are called by Jesus to love others.

Week 4 - (Purple Candle) Represents JOY.  The angel in Luke 2:10, "...I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”  As the day of celebration draws close we become excited with anticipation and joy. We are reminded that a life with Him is one full of Joy! 

On Christmas Eve a final white candle is lit.  

This Advent let us all prepare our hearts for the coming of the King.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving & Christmas Season

The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is by far my favorite time of year.  Not only is a wonderful time to connect with family and friends, it’s the perfect time to connect with God in a deeper way as one year ends and a new year begins.

At Christian Life we want to help you in the connection process.  I want to share a number of very special events coming to Christian Life over the next several weeks.  These are outstanding opportunities to be blessed and invite family, friends, and neighbors to church.

Upcoming Special Events
  • 12/5 - WYLL Movie Night "Christmas with a Capital C" - 7PM
  • 12/7 - ignite Christmas Party - 7PM
  • 12/8 - Women’s Christmas Candlelight Tea - 7PM
  • 12/11 - Christmas Play... “A Christmas with CS Lewis” - 6PM
  • 12/12 SAGE Christmas Party - 9:30AM
  • 12/18 - Children’s Happy Birthday Jesus - 9:30AM
  • 12/18 - Christmas Choir Presentation, “Christmas Hope!” - 9:30AM
  • 12/18 - Community Groups Christmas Parties - 4PM-6PM
  • 12/24 - Christmas Eve Service - 6PM
  • 12/25 - Christmas Day Service - 9:30AM

These are just a few of the church-wide events along with various special ministry activities throughout November and December.

Be blessed and be a blessing this season of the year.  Mark your family calendars, pick up some flyers for these events, and then invite everyone you know to these incredible events. 

For more information about any events at Christian Life please visit

Words in Red (4)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Mark 1:35-39

Jesus begins a busy day with prayer.  He was intentional about his prayer time.  Early, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left, and went to a solitary place to pray.  Jesus’ prayer time got Him in tune with the Father and prepared him for His calling that day.  If Jesus exemplified the primacy of prayer in His life, even the most busy, significant person today should take time to be alone with God.

Jesus’ “words in red” reflect His calling as Messiah.  At this early point of His ministry Jesus is preaching and healing.  The cross reference for these words in red is found in Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”  Matthew Henry said it best, “Wherever Christ comes, He comes to do good.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Words in Red (3)

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" 
"Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 
The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. 
Mark 1:21-28

Jesus’ third statement in the Gospel of Mark was addressed to an evil spirit.  This evil spirit had recognized Jesus and gave testimony to Jesus’ identity.  Jesus would not accept the witness of this demon.  Jesus came to confront and defeat the enemy, so he told the spirit to be quiet and then commanded the spirit to leave the man. 

Whenever God is at work, the enemy is running opposition.  Jesus battled the enemy throughout His ministry and it is important to note that Jesus ALWAYS won. Whether it be overcoming a temptation or casting out a demon, Jesus was always victorious! The crowds marveled at His power.  These incidents are just a foreshadowing Jesus ultimate triumph over Satan and sin.  While believers still battle the enemy today, always remember the good news that Christ’s victory is our victory!

Each Thursday at 7PM I am teaching The Life of Christ class in the sanctuary at Christian Life Church.  Nursery and children's ministry is available.  All are welcome to attend.  In fact, why don’t you invite someone to come to class with you?

Words in Red (2)

The second “words in red” in the Gospel of Mark are these found in Mark 1:17, "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."  There are two necessary things we learn from Jesus in these words in red.

First, Jesus’ call in the Gospels is found in a simple two word invitation... “Follow me.”  Sometimes we can get overwhelmed when we look at the Great Commandment, Great Commission, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), coupled with all of the teachings, commands, and parables of Jesus.  Where do we start?  Is it even possible to do everything Jesus wants us to do?  Ultimately, Jesus’ call is a simple one, “Follow me.”  He doesn’t say, “Follow me perfectly.”  He knows we can’t.  That’s what His grace is for.  But Jesus does call us to do is follow.  And you will never go wrong when you submit and follow Him.

Second, Jesus invites us into a spiritual calling. Peter and Andrew were good fisherman.  It’s what they did for a living.  No doubt they continued to fish even after following Jesus to help provide for their families.  But Jesus had more for them than just a lifetime of fishing.  Their obedience to Jesus’ call allowed these simple fishermen to change the world.  Jesus has more than just survival in mind for you.  The abundant life He’s given you is meant to make an impact for eternity.

Each Thursday at 7PM I am teaching The Life of Christ class in the sanctuary at Christian Life Church.  Nursery and children's ministry is available.  All are welcome to attend.  In fact, why don’t you invite someone to come to class with you? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Words in Red

In many Bibles the sayings of Jesus are printed in red ink.  It’s not that these parts of the Bible are more important the others, its simply meant to draw our attention to the words of our Savior and Lord.  As modern day disciples (in the Greek meaning followers or learners/students), it is important for us to study what our teacher is saying.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ first “words in red” are found in chapter one, verse fifteen.  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Before Jesus reveals Himself through His life, teaching, and works; Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  This Kingdom is not a physical territory, instead it powerfully begins in Jesus and extends to and through His followers.  This Kingdom is spiritual, personal, internal (Luke 17:21).  God’s wants to establish His rule over the hearts and lives of His people.  While God’s Kingdom will eventually include the restoration of all creation, it begins with you and me allowing God to rule and reign in our lives.  What is our response to be at disciples?  Repent and believe.

Each Thursday at 7PM I am teaching The Life of Christ class in the sanctuary at Christian Life Church.  Nursery and children's ministry is available.  All are welcome to attend.  In fact, why don’t you invite someone to come to class with you?  

Sunday, October 16, 2011


“Follow me...”
- Jesus

Jesus gave us a mandate to “make disciples.” (Matt. 28:19)  Earlier this year at Christian Life we went through our discipleship program called Activ8.  In fact, the videos of these sessions are still available for you to watch online.  The name Activ8 came from a number of discussions within our church leadership on what it meant to be a disciple.  There were eight principles that kept coming up again and again in our talks, and it wasn’t good enough just to know about these eight principles of discipleship, we needed to be active in each of these as we follow Christ as modern-day disciples.  Here is the list of our Activ8.

  • Active Loving 
  • Active Attender 
  • Active Devotional Life
  • Active Learner 
  • Active Server 
  • Active Evangelism 
  • Active Giver 
  • Active Integrity 

Take time this week to do a discipleship check up on yourself.  Are you active in each of these?  Be an ACTIVE disciple!  To review any of the teachings you can view the sermon archives at 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Historic Moment

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

OCTOBER 10, 2011 WILL BE A HISTORIC MOMENT for our church as we launch our first full-length daily Radio Broadcast.  That means you-and potentially 12 million others across four states—can now tune in to our all new Christian Life radio program FIVE DAYS A WEEK, on AM1160 WYLL at 7PM, complete with sermons, special interviews, updates, and much more. 

I am very excited about this new radio ministry because it has the potential to minister to people we could never reach any other way—perhaps even your own friends, family, and co-workers.  This is a massive outreach far beyond our four walls to share what God is doing at Christian Life.  Radio combined with our newest LIVE streaming capabilities of all of our services are allowing us to sow much further than we were ever able to before.  More than ever we are on a mission to fulfill the Great Commission!

I ask you to join with us to pray, fast, and sow into this major expansion of our church ministry.  Share this good news with as many as possible and make sure to tune in on your radio or listen live online at at 7PM each weekday for our special half-hour broadcast.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

God Healed Me

“...I am the LORD, your healer.”
Exodus 15:26b

God healed my hip the other week.  It had been bothering me for awhile and was getting worse in the recent weeks.  It was becoming difficult to walk without a limp.

I was at a pastor’s gathering and after a time of worship, prayer, and the Word the guest speaker began to move in the prophetic.  I wanted God to heal my hip so I began to pray that God would speak directly to my situation.  The very next prophetic word given was that God wanted to heal someone’s hip.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you God healed my hip as I walked from my seat to the altar for prayer.  It was a incredible moment as God’s power was on display!  On my next day off I took off to Lake Geneva and hiked over 12 miles around the lake.  No pain.  And no pain since.  To God be the glory, great things He has done!

God is alive and active in our world today.  The Bible tells us in the verse above that God is our Jehovah Rapha, God our healer.  There are many names for God that speaks to how He is active in our lives.  It’s important to remember that God not just Yahweh, He’s MY Yahweh!  God is MY God.  God is MY healer, provider, strength, victory, etc.

Thanks for letting me share my testimony with you.  It’s important to share our testimonies.  Testimonies increase faith.  When we share what God is doing in our life it increases our faith and the faith of others.  It raises our expectation level.  When we gather together as the church come expecting because faith is contagious.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Love Grace

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16, 17

I love grace.  I need it.  We all need it.  The Good News is God loves to give grace to all who would receive it.  

We need grace because we’re not perfect. (Romans 3:23)  The Gospels makes it clear that Jesus came to be our savior.  We can access God’s grace because Jesus took the punishment for our sin.   Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross was the purpose for which He came.  Along with the above verses from John, look at Jesus’ purpose verses in the Synoptic Gospels.

Matthew 1:21 - “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Mark 10:45 - “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Luke 19:10 - “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Grace is available because of Christ’s work on the cross.  I love what Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  No condemnation!  All grace!  I love it!  We all need grace, but who gets it?  “Those who are in Christ Jesus.” Is your life “in” Jesus today?  Simply put, “No Jesus. No Grace.  Know Jesus. Know Grace.”

Click here to listen to a sermon Romans 8:1.

Monday, September 12, 2011


...perfect love casts out fear...
1 John 4:18

We live in a very different world post-9/11.  A lot has changed.  And while there have been some positives there is one negative word that I believe sums up the the mood since 9/11.  That word is “fear.”

Fear has permeated every area of society. Whether it be the economic world, politics, or even our personal lives it seems everything now is driven by fear.  Fear is a selfish, powerful emotion that can control and ultimately destroy us.    

When we are afraid we miss the opportunity love and enjoy life.  So many people are afraid they are going to lose their job, afraid their kids aren't going to turn out right, afraid their marriage isn’t strong enough to last.  When we live in fear we miss the opportunities to enjoy the God-given moments of life.  Instead of being afraid all the time be thankful for your job, enjoy your time with your children and your spouse.  Instead of living in fear, live in love and thankfulness.

Fear does not come from God.  Always remember, His plans for you are good! (Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28)  Take time this week to pray that God takes away your fear and replaces it with His love and then meditate on 2 Timothy 1:7 and experience God’s best for your life... “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Click here to listen to our 9/11 message about overcoming fear.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others... Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 
2 Corinthians 9:8, 11 NLT

We were checking out at the store and our youngest, Mark, was looking around at the “impulse items” near the register.  As we were moving up in line he asked if he could have a dollar.  Feeling rather generous I took a $1 bill out of my wallet and handed it to him and then waited to see what he was going to do with it.  He began to fold up the dollar bill.  Mark is our little saver so I thought he was going to put it in his pocket and then deposit it in his piggybank at home.  

Then came a welcome surprise.  Instead of putting it in his pocket he jammed it into a jar on the counter where they were collecting donations for a little boy suffering from cancer.  Needless to say at that moment I was both proud and a little chocked up that my little guy was moved by the plight of another youngster he didn’t even know.  Instead of a pack of gum or a candy bar he wanted the money simply in order to give it away.

What do you think I’m going to do the next time Mark asks for a dollar?  I don’t mind blessing my generous child.  I believe the Word teaches us that God desires to bless His children, but always remember that God blesses us in order for us to be a blessing.  I believe we serve a generous God that loves to see His children be generous. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Advice From Billy Graham

There is little debate that Billy Graham is the most influential evangelical leader of our lifetime.  His life and ministry is an example for us all.  In October 1959, Rev. Billy Graham visited Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. A report said he spent time with the students and faculty and shared the following:

  • Be sure you maintain a personal encounter with Christ. (The blind can't lead the blind.)
  • Be sure you've had a call from God.
  • Have systematic daily devotions. (You need at least a half hour alone with God daily, said Rev. Graham. At the time of the report, he was reading five psalms a day to learn how to get along with God and one proverb on how to get along with people.)
  • Have a consuming love for others. Show compassion by entering into their emotions.
  • Be sure you have a message to preach. With authority, simplicity, and urgency, preach to a decision.
  • Be an example. Back up your spoken witness with your life.

Timeless principles from a great servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't Waste Your Life

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:10 NIV

Our children start another school year this week.  Can you believe it?  What happened to this summer?  It seems like life is speeding up to the point that soon the boys will be raised and gone and Leslie and I will ask, “Where did the time go?”

This summer on vacation our family stopped by the small Friends Cemetery in Iowa where my Grandpa and Grandma Merrill are buried.  During our visit we all talked, cried, and prayed.  It was a moving experience for each one of us.  

To be honest, I have rarely visited their grave.  My memories of them are still strong even decades after their passing.  Their memory continues on in many lives and can still be found in that small Iowa town.  But it was good to visit their grave that day because it reminded me of the brevity of life.  As David illustrated, “We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow.” (Psalm 144:4)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my life, I want to live a life ablaze for God.  I want a supernatural blessing on all I do!  I believe the only way to get that sacred anointing is to let God be in complete control and do things His way.  

There is no point in striving and stressing through life.  Be smart enough to let God be in control.  Live according to His will.  Live your life His way.  

This week's verse to ponder... Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

Monday, August 15, 2011

More of God

"If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor." Exodus 33:13 NLT

Think about these words of Moses. Israel's greatest leader who saw the mighty and wondrous deeds of God first hand.  He wasn't satisfied.  He wanted more of God.  

Listen to Moses' words after God promises him "everything will be fine." Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place." (Exodus 33:15 NLT)

Moses wasn't content with a easy peaceful life, he wanted to see God.  

What about you?

An intimate deep relationship with God is what it is all about.  Our salvation is not just about getting out of hell.  It's all about enjoying Christ.  It's all about fellowship with God through the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus tells Martha, "you are worried and upset over all these details!  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42 NLT). What did Mary do?  All she did was sit at the feet of Jesus.  

I believe a lot of things we don't like or don't need happen in our life because we are not close to God.

It's not just about what He can do for you or what you can do for Him.  This week don't let yourself get too busy to take time to sit and enjoy at the feet of Jesus.  

Reflect on this verse this week... You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Christ

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.  
Romans 5:11

I am enjoying teaching our summer road trip through the Book of Romans at Christian Life.  One of the things I love most is discovering the new person I am through faith in Christ.  Recently I journaled some of the wonderful benefits I receive in my relationship with God.  I encourage you to do the same this week.  Allow me to share a portion of my list with you...

In Christ I am... 
joyful (Nehemiah 8:10; Philippians 4:4), strong (Exodus 15:2; Ephesians 6:10) , new (2 Corinthians 5:17), chosen (John 15:16), forgiven (Romans 5:1, 8:1), blessed (Galatians 4:6-7; Romans 8:17),  whole and healed (Isaiah 53:5), living abundantly (John 10:10), safe (Psalm 28:7), never alone (Hebrews 13:5), loved (Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:16), complete (Colossians 2:10).

Don’t wait enjoy what is already yours in Christ right now!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.
Habakkuk 2:14

As we hasten toward our Lord’s return, I believe God wants to reveal Himself in even great ways than in the past.  I look for this to happen on both a corporate and personal level.  I believe God wants to flood the earth and our lives with His presence.

As we took a road trip as a family earlier this summer we traveled through areas affected by heavy flooding.  The pictures weren’t pretty.  We saw acres and acres of planted fields turned into lakes. Roads were closed.  Homes under water.  For many, their lives would be changed forever.  Although they tried to control the spread of the flood once it hit it was devastating.  It seemed as though once the water started to come it just spread covering more and more.

What happens when God “floods” our lives?  That’s what we want, right?  We desire more and more of God’s presence.  But what happens when it starts spreading to every area of our life?  Will it be uncomfortable?  Will we lose some things?  Will it devastate certain areas?  What happens if it just continues to spread?  Could we handle it?  Deep down is that what we really want?  I don’t know, but I hope so.  There is no doubt that when God gets hold of a life it is changed forever.  It might get uncomfortable, but there’s nothing better.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Word From President Ronald Reagan...

To preserve our blessed land we must look to God... It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us... We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that "If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always.

The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America... Our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth.

If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we're so familiar with: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace...." And God bless you all.

President Ronald Reagan 
--From a speech to the American people, February 6, 1986

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Awhile ago I received this list from a member in our congregation.  I wanted to share it with you this Father’s Day Weekend.

Ten Commandments of a Successful Father

Thou shalt hold no other group more important than the family unit, in all thy ways being faithful to it.

Thou shalt teach thy sons and daughters to love, respect and obey their parents.

Thou shalt be a loving and considerate husband.

Thou shalt not speak in a manner unbecoming to a Christian gentleman.

Thou shalt, by example, make Sunday a special day set aside for God and for worship as a family.

Thou shalt provide for thy family – spiritually and physically –in an adequate manner.

Thou shalt promote and lead family worship in thy home.

Thou shalt be honest in all thy dealings.

Thou shalt respect the desires and freedoms of the family as individuals.

Thou shalt be the head of thy household, while ruling it with love.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I Don't Read My Bible

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  
Hebrews 4:12

Confession time... I didn’t read my Bible for about a year.  I took it out of my bag, put it on my desk, and haven’t read it since.  Shocking, I know, but it’s not what you think.  Last summer I purchased an iPad and when I got it I loaded a wide variety of study Bibles, different translations, Bible resources, and Bible apps that I have thoroughly enjoyed using over the last year, but my “old-fashioned” Bible that I read and studied had been put aside.  

Recently, Leslie and I went on a pastoral retreat where they frown on the use of electronics so I packed up my old Bible in my bag and took off.  I have to admit, while I didn’t have all the resources I’m used to with my iPad, I really enjoyed holding, turning the pages, reading, and highlighting my old Bible.  In fact, I’m finding myself using the old Bible more these days.

It’s important that we love the Bible.  It’s God’s Word to us!  It’s all He wants us to know about this life and the life to come.  There is nothing greater, no higher standard.  Read, memorize, study, listen to the Word of God.  Whatever you do, however you do it, make sure you get the Word inside of you!

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
Psalm 119:11 

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Be still, and know that I am God!  Psalm 46:10

A rest-less work style produces a restless person. We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it.  Gordon MacDonald

When asked how they are doing, many will tell you that they are “busy,” “behind,” “treading water,” or just “trying to get ahead.”  Chances are you have never heard anyone respond “I’m well rested.”  The rhythm of our lives seems to get faster and faster each passing year and yet in the midst of our crazy busy culture God commands us to “be still” and rest in Him.  At first when we are told in Scripture to rest at first it seems like just one more thing to add to our schedule.  But rest isn’t about adding, it’s about stopping what you are doing.  

Don’t ignore God and His commands.  You’re just not that important.  Jesus, the Son of God, was our example of rest.  Even with His limited time of ministry (3 years to change history), He frequently found time to rest.  Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31.

Truly resting fills us up physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  This weekend and each weekend find time to rest.  It’s God’s idea and you need it!  For more on the importance of rest and how it impacts your life, I encourage you to read Margin by Richard Swenson and Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Glamorizing Grace

I’m getting tired of hearing about grace.  (I know this post is going to get me in trouble.)  Recently I have been listening to people share their testimonies and watching a variety of TV preachers talk about the grace of God and instead of rejoicing I find myself getting haggard of hearing the message of grace.  This really troubled me.  I mean grace is the ultimate gift of God, right?  Grace always wins (Romans 5:20).  I love grace.  I’ve experienced God’s grace.  I preach God’s grace.  Grace is essential to the Christian experience.  Grace is unique to Christianity, the distinguishing mark among world religions.  So why this feeling?

When I took the time to meditate on my trouble with grace I realized the issue was that too often we glamorize grace instead of focusing our attention on the giver of the gift of grace, God.  Grace is simply a gift.  Grace (charis) is commonly defined as “unmerited favor.”  Grace is the ultimate expression of God’s love and generosity to those in relationship with Him.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God...” Ephesians 2:8

So why my angst?  Grace is a big deal!  But it is a result of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Every gift has a giver.  It’s the gift that follows the relationship.  I hear a lot of people talking about grace and other amazing gifts of God but they talk very little about an ongoing intimate relationship with the Lord.  I love receiving gifts, it’s one of my “Love Languages,” but if my wife Leslie gave me a gift and I was more excited about the gift than our relationship, there would be trouble.  

This is more than mere semantics.  The giver is always greater than the gift.  Without the giver there is no gift.  While we celebrate the gift let’s not neglect the giver.  It is my contention that we glamorize the Giver and then let Him offer the gift.  In other words, seek (and preach) Jesus first and His grace will follow.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Susanna Wesley’s 16 Rules of Parenthood

Susannah Wesley was the 25th child of twenty-five, and the mother of nineteen children, including John and Charles Wesley. Through much adversity, she dedicated her life to instilling a sense of Christian destiny into each of her children. Her children went on to change the world.

Here are 16 rules she laid down in her home.

  • Eating between meals not allowed. 
  • As children they are to be in bed by 8PM
  • They are required to take medicine without complaining.
  • Subdue self-will in a child, and those working together with God to save the child’s soul. 
  • To teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak. 
  • Require all to be still during Family Worship. 
  • Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.
  • To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.
  • Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
  • Never punish a child twice for a single offense. 
  • Comment and reward good behavior. 
  • Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.
  • Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
  • Strictly observe all promises.
  • Require no daughter to work before she can read well. 
  • Teach children to fear the rod.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Mark Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church, shared eight questions every Christian should ask themselves about money.  I thought they were excellent and thought I’d repost them here:

To whom do you compare yourself financially?  Specifically, this was an admonition to have some perspective and realize how rich we are as a culture.

Do you worship your money or worship with your money?

How do you worship/serve money in a sinful way?

What deep idols fuel your worship of money (status, comfort, security, fame, beauty)?

How do you define yourself by what you have and consume?

How has money enslaved you?

If Jesus set your budget, how would it be different?

Why is Jesus a better God than money?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Bell v. Hell

I've just finished reading Rob Bell's controversial new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011). Let me first say that I like Rob Bell. I read and watch pretty much everything he publishes. He is a gifted communicator and, whether you like him or not, one of the most influential voices in the church today.

Love Wins toys with a postmodern universalism/inclusivism where heaven is forever here on this earth, and hell is only temporary at best. I believe there are profound insights and yet deep flaws in Bell's book examining heaven, hell, and God himself. In this post I'll tell you what I liked and didn't like about the book. Then you can read Love Wins for yourself.

I liked the questions Bell asked--questions we have all asked, or at least should be asking. I liked the questions about heaven, salvation, the now and yet not-nowness of our Christian life. Bell is heavily influenced by the Christus Victor view of atonement and looks for creative, relevant ways to express to our culture what Christ has done for us. I even enjoyed hearing his questions about hell, including "Is it real and is it really forever?" My favorite question was "If God gets what he wants, and he desires everyone to be saved, does everyone go to heaven?"

I didn't like that he tried to answer all the questions as he did. He bit off more than he could chew in this volume of work. It's one thing to ask questions, it's another to answer them thoroughly. Great scholars take time to develop logical and conclusive arguments. You are free to disagree with them, but their work is solid. Bell's interview on MSNBC made it clear that while he was ready to ask the big questions, he wasn't ready to answer them. Bell is not a scholar; he is a pastor, and there is a big difference. I have forgiven him in the past for some sloppy scholarship, granting him artistic license as an author/speaker. But this time he sought to speak as an authority on the subject and came up short.

Personally speaking, I like the idea of universalism--the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved. The doctrine revolves around the philosophy that a loving God would not send people to an eternal punishment in hell. So either those who do not become believers during their lifetime are given multiple opportunities postmortem to choose Christ, or perhaps hell is not a real place, or perhaps hell is temporary, or perhaps there are other ways to heaven. Universalism includes a wide variety of views, but at its core is the premise that everyone is, as theologian Karl Rahner says, an "anonymous Christian" and thus with God in heaven forever.

I would love to be a universalist. I would love to be an inclusivist. I'm not just saying this, I really would.But I can't. It's just not biblical. It doesn't line up with what the Bible teaches. I'm not saying that universalists/inclusivists are not Christians. Many Christians, including a few early church fathers and great theologians, have been and are universalists. What I am saying is that it's poor theology, and Bell overstates its acceptance in the orthodox view of Christianity.

A big problem in the book is that Bell only takes time to discuss the passages that tell of God's love for the world, God's desire for everyone to be saved, and Christ's complete work on the cross. All wonderful and true passages. It's what Bell ignores that is problematic for his "Love Wins" premise. What about the passages concerning God's holiness, justice, and anger? What about the sacrificial system that is necessary for justification, redemption, atonement, and propitiation? Bell conveniently leaves these out of his argument.

But here's something I don't like: how Rob Bell is being viciously attacked by other Christian leaders as a heretic. It is relentless, Pharisaical, and mean. A lack of love and grace pervades the voices of many critics. Why destroy the man while attacking the message? Is there no room for reasonable discussion? Is this how we should treat a Christian brother? Is this what Christ would do?

I like how Bell is handling the opposition. Yes, in the book he can be condescending to his critics, calling those who disagree with him "misguided" and "toxic." But since the book's release Bell has seemed to stay above board. Even from his pulpit last Sunday (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.), he resisted retaliating against his detractors. "Love your enemies." Now that I know is biblical.

For full theological definitions of Christus Victor, universalism, inclusivism, etc. please visit For a better and more creative look at this subject, read The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

How You Think

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

God does not decide your thought life. How you think is up to you.  But luckily we are not left on our own.  God provides His Word to help in the process of renewing our minds.  

We must resist the natural temptation to allow your thought life to birth sin, stress, worry, panic, fear and the list goes on and on.

Spend time in God’s word this week and allow Him to renew your mind.    Here are a few verses to get you started.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (Isaiah 26:3)

"So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." (Romans 8:6)

"Those who love your instructions have great peace 
and do not stumble." (Psalm 119:165)

Psalm 119 is a great place to renew your mind.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Be Encouraged!

Be encouraged in the Word!

"Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." (Colossians 3:23)

"The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." 
(Luke 18:27)

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)

"Be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

"Rejoice in the Lord always, AGAIN I say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." (Philippians 4:4)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Expectation Matters!

“Ye have not, because ye ask not.”  James 4:2b

This weekend we welcome our special guest and friend Steve Sampson to minister at Christian Life.  A consistent theme of Steve’s prophetic ministry has been expectation.  Steve often says, “Our expectation puts a demand on God.”

I believe that miracles pass by millions daily because no one is expecting their arrival.  Satan has convinced many to "wait on God", instead of wrapping expectation around an already given scriptural promise.  

God is not only moved by our need, He is moved by our faith.  Our faith in His promises.  Our faith in His Word.  Our faith in our covenant relationship with Him.

The women with the issue of blood did not wait for an instruction, she simply declared her expectation... “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed." (Mark 5:28)

Faith always requires an action.

God is listening.  What are you expecting?

Say it often.

Say it aloud.

Say it with expectation!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Six Words

I received an email from Steve May to pastors that I want to share with you this week...

In the 1920s, someone bet Ernest Hemingway ten dollars that he couldn't write a complete story in just six words. Hemingway came back with: 

"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

He won the bet.

Last year Smith Magazine asked readers to sum up their own lives in just six words.  The results are now a book called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.

Here are some interesting entries:

  •  Head in books, feet in flowers. (Heather Thomson)
  •  Trust me, I did my best. (Ray Kemp)
  •  Married childhood sweetheart. Two kids. Content. (Steve McMullen)
  •  Partner, pension, motorhome, life is good.  (Bob Lindblom)
  •  Wasted my whole life getting comfortable. (Richard Merrington)
  •  Worry about tomorrow, rarely enjoy today! (Richard Rabone)
  •  Four Weddings, Three kids, then cancer. (Gillian Johnson)
  •  Not quite finished, tell you later. (Dave Nicholson)
  •  Really should have been a Lawyer. (Gules Fallan)
  •  Bored, so bored, so very bored. (John Doyle)
  •  Ditched the map, found better route. (Gillian Smellie)

Following this same idea, Jesus might have summarized his life this way: "To seek and save the lost." [Luke 19:10] or "To give abundant life to all." [John 10:10]

Paul might have summarized his life: "Tough fight, long race, won both." [2 Timothy 4:7]

Peter might have said: "Took chances, failed often, experienced power." [Matthew 14:29; Mark 14:71; Acts 5:15]

King David might have said: "The Lord is all I need." [Psalm 23:1]

How would you summarize your life in six words? 

Sunday, February 06, 2011


“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...”
Isaiah 1:18

I thought after our blizzard this would be an appropriate verse for this weekend’s Bible Blog.  It also got me thinking about my favorite quotes concerning God’s grace.  

Our heart is a Dixie Cup and God's grace is Niagra. We simply can't contain it all.

Disobedience happens, not when we think too much of grace, but when we think too little of grace.
Tullian Tchividjian

The law detects, grace alone conquers sin.

Let the scandalous grace of God offend your pride and restore your joy.
Darrin Patrick

Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.
Martin Luther

Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.
Jonathan Edwards

Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.
Benjamin B. Warfield

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.
Eugene Gladstone O'Neil

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
John Newton

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


This past December I took time to write down a number of personal, family, and ministry goals for 2011.  I was excited about the possibilities that the new year held.  The problem is... I forgot about the list.  Without thinking, life continued on as usual.  My life didn’t all of a sudden go bad, it just stayed to the same.  The purpose of the goals was to enhance the life and call that God had given me and my family.

Goals are an important part of life.  The help us to be good stewards of the life God has given us.  Now that I found my list of goals almost a month into the new year it’s time to get going!  I’m not going to lose them this time.  Each week I will take time to think and pray about my 2011 goals.

I hope you take time to set goals for your life.  Joyce Meyer, in an article I shared with our staff this week, writes about how to set SMART goals.  Set yourself up for success by making sure your goals are SMART goals.

Specific.  Be specific as possible.  Don’t say, “I want to lose wight.”  Write down how much weight in what amount of time.

Measurable.  Goals that are hard to measure are hard to meet.

Attainable.  Make sure the goals are reachable.

Realistic.  Dream big and aim high but don’t set yourself up for disappointment with unrealistic goals.

Timely.  Give yourself a deadline by which to accomplish your goal.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I Want The Good Stuff!

Don’t be drunk with wine... Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18

I recently heard that worship leader, Roger Hodges, said that “too often the church is accustomed to getting drunk on the cheap stuff.”  Pretty provocative statement, don’t you think?  His point was that we settle for too little in our worship experiences with God.   We’re satisfied with only a portion of what God really wants to give us.  We get so excited about and satisfied with the little that we have that we don’t seek God for more.

The Holy Spirit has been moving in a powerful way at Christian Life this year.  The power of God is evident each time we gather together in His name.  Each weekend I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in our midst.  I sense there is both an excitement and expectancy in our church.  I don’t want us to settle or feel like we have arrived.  Let’s press in and seek God!  

Let’s expect revival in our hearts and in our church!  Let’s believe God for even greater things!  Are you with me?  Let’s be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit!  I want the good stuff!