Hurts So Good

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:6

What do we need most in life? I'd say tops is Jesus transforming us from the inside out. Right behind that is spiritual allies. Allies are those unusual friends who help, prod, encourage us and wound us - wait...what?! Yes, wound us. Allies are mutually honest even if it causes pain.

I both hate it and love it! My bride is my friend, lover and a wounder. Yes, Junanne loves me enough to tell me the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. There have been a few critical moments inI've benefitted from several friends who knew the need to speak the truth in love and run the risk of wounding me. You need this as well.

Wise people know those true friends don't sign off on everything. If you’re asking your friends to sign off on your decisions, wink at sin in your life, or not talk with you about an area that is “off limits”…you’re asking your allies to become your enemies!

If you allow no one to speak truth to your life where it’s needed most, you might find a few fans but you have no friends, let alone allies. 

Fans kisses leave us sick. Allies wounds make us well. It hurts so good!

Live Fully in the Present and Relax about the Future

Day-tight compartments. That's a modern phrase for what Jesus spoke of 2000 years ago. We don't need to worry about tomorrow because today has enough challenges and God has us covered anyhow (Matt. 6:25-34). One of the most staggeringly profound truths of our God is that as his kids we have access to his comfort and provision – Daily! God is our provider. Period. Full stop.

Yes, we can live fully in the present and relax about the future. Now here's a good one. The University of Cincinnati did a study on worry and their finding are awesome. Here's just a piece of what they found:

It turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.

So how much more should we as God's kids be assured of God's provision? Add God's love to any equation and what we have is something extraordinary. Live fully in the present today! Because we can.

I want to extend an invitation to you. We are building a strong core at a new church in the west loop – God is doing something truly amazing and I'd like for you to pray about visiting us and maybe joining this new ministry. Just click here for directions. See you Sunday!

God's Vision is Great...Get a Little Fired Up!

Our emotions need to catch up with the vision God has for our lives. Any vision from God is not ho-hum. When Nehemiah shared God's vision to build a city where God's kids could live and thrive, this is what they said, "let us rise up and build"! What's not felt is the emotion in their response. The language indicates intense passion. When you get God's vision, get little fired up!

No matter what we may think at any given moment, God's truth trumps our thoughts. It's never too late, we're never too old. We're never too worn out, or too worn down. We're never too lost, or too far gone. We're never too battered, never too shattered, for God to pull it all together. God can do more through our frailty than we can ever pull-off through our efforts of sheer humanity.  If we can take a breath we have a life that needs to be fully lived. Don't let the dream die!

God can do more in the eleventh hour than we can do in the ten prior. There's a debilitating lie that roams around boardrooms, whispered in small groups, and wages a private war against our minds. This lie pushes God-given potential and endless possibility further into a dark hole of discouragement and defeat. And here is the subtle killer..."Past performance is the best predictor of future success", or "your current situation will never change". This is a grand lie! It denies that we were all made "in the image of God". It overlooks endless the biblical stories of redemption, often built on multiple layers of perceived failures. It ignores the passion of God to change a life and His power to do it. It reduces the "good news" to a myth and leaves Jesus dead in a grave. We can't let the dream die because God is alive!

God loves to give vision to His kids. He loves to show himself faithful when we feel frail. Any notion that God paints a general picture of a richer future and then abandons us to stumble along is flatly untrue. This is certain: Nothing gives God more joy than moving you from where you stand today, taking courageous and bold steps tomorrow, and ultimately realizing the vision and dreams that God gave you – so get fired up!

Nehemiah 2:18, Genesis 15:1-6

We're building our core team and I invite you to join us. This Sunday I'm going to send you away with hope and passion from the book of Nehemiah. Join us by clicking here!

180 Wall-Builders

In the first six chapters of Nehemiah, we find an epic story of love, courage, and victory. The task was huge – a wall extending over 12,000 ft., nearly 40 ft. tall, over 12 feet wide, more than 30 watchtowers, and 7 enormous gates. The timeline was tight – 52 days! 

But the purpose is often lost in the magnitude of the task. It was to create a safe place where God’s kids could live and thrive. It’s this purpose that paints a perfect backdrop for the church today. The church needs walls, not to keep people out but to allow God’s kids to live and thrive. 

At 180 Chicago, a new church in the west loop, we’re in a season of building walls. We need people who are committed to the principles outlined below. I’m teaching through these 13 truths. This next week we’re on principle number 4. Our hope is that we grow strong and provide a place where anyone seeking shelter in a relationship with Christ will live and thrive.

If you’re looking for a place to stand shoulder to shoulder with other broken people who are hungry to honor God, you’ll want to check us out. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have wall-builders who have no agenda but to honor God and seek him through dependent prayer. This is a church that will stand strong so many will come to Jesus and find a place to live and thrive.

I hope to see you Sunday if God is prompting your heart. Click here for meeting times and location.

  1. We must be broken over the condition of Chicago and it’s people. 
  2. We must ask God for favor with leaders and people of influence.  
  3. We must expect spiritual opposition no matter how noble our vision.
  4. We must assess the condition and needs of the people we want to reach.
  5. We must allow ourselves to get a little animated over the mission.
  6. We must remember that any great work is God’s work.
  7. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with each other.
  8. We must guard our minds as evil will attempt to mock us off mission.
  9. We must have a mindset that views work as a way to honor God.
  10. We must know that any progress will be met with fierce resistance.
  11. We must be eager to rally support and help each other out.
  12. We must expect leadership to serve alongside and not burden us.
  13. We must give all glory and honor to God in every victory.

Hate Helps

Hate is not commonly seen as a virtue, but it is. Proverbs 6:16-19 outlines six things God hates. Romans 12:9 tells us to abhor or "hate what is evil".

Hate actually helps us "cling to what is good" (v.9). Without the hating of evil and sin we diminish our ability to love. Love without a sharp contrast of what we need to hate just dulls the definition of love and our passion to love. To "let love be genuine" (v.9) we need to hate some things deeply.

I've been searching the scriptures and find that our love for righteousness can be stoked by hating anything that flys in the face of truth. Hate in the hands of people who don't know and trust God turns into self loathing or taking vengeance into our own hands. But hate turned over to God is a breeding ground for love.

Hate helps us deal a blow to sin in our own lives. Think about that sin that keeps creeping up on you. Instead of winking at it or dumbing it down - hate it. We don't like holding onto what we hate so give it a go. Hate helps and love conquers all!

Stop "Try-ing & Should-ing" - Start Living

When Jesus transforms our life it's more than redirecting our life, it's about filling our life with his life. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me..." (Gal. 2:20). This means we can stop try-ing and should-ing – we can start living!

This miracle of new birth is something to be grasped and never surrendered. All the forces of evil and many well-meaning people want to drag us back to living in our own strength (or theirs) and in our own wisdom (or theirs). This all boils down to living from the inside-out and not the outside-in. When we draw our strength and wisdom from our spiritual center we can walk in freedom. When the noise of the outside is our focus we find ourselves striving in our own strength an performing for the eyes of others.

You may be feeling like you've slipped back into outside-in living or you've never experienced living from the inside-out. Today is filled with new mercy. God wants to live in and through you!

Here are a couple ideas:

  • Have a conversation with God today. Talk with him throughout the many movements of your next several hours. Ask him to give you the inside scoop on life. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth so take a listen to the conversation – talk with God.
  • Resist living by shoulds and oughts and stop trying. Literally live from the center out. This means taking time to put space between opportunity and decision. It requires that we not live to please people. It involves God in all our decisions. 

Try-ing and should-ing is exhausting. Start living!

When Someone Shames You

He did it – Jesus "despised the shame" and ran to the throne of God. He won the prize so we could win as well! But what kind of shame did Jesus despise? Well, since he was sinless it couldn't be the shame from his own unconfessed sin. The shame was shame heaped on him from others. This is hugely encouraging to anyone who has been shamed in any way – Jesus shows us how to deal with it!

Our natural tendency is to shrink under shame. Standing tall under the daunting taunts of anyone is tough. Even those whispers from rumor mongers are tough and maybe more challenging because it's a shaming campaign behind the scenes. 

Like you, I've been shamed by outside forces. It's daunting at times, isn't it? We tend to go into fight or flight mode. We want to take on our shamers and show them for the fools they are. But fighting gets you nowhere – never mix it up with mockers.

But flight is even worse. We emotionally allow the shamers to bury us. We shrink back because the blanket of shame placed on our life is just too much, even though God says "that's not how I see you, kid". Shame kills.

So how did Jesus deal with shame and his shamers? He ran right through it all! He didn't stand around to argue or discuss. He didn't fall off the cross in a heap of insecurity and tears. He despised shame and blasted through it. You can too! When someone shames you stand tall in the power of God and keep moving toward your calling and the prize. When someone shames you, run in such a way as to win the prize!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Move To The Center

A good friend reminded me yesterday of something that tormented me as a kid. I couldn't do a flip, spin or somersault without losing my lunch. The doc said it was something to do with my middle ear. There were literally rocks loose that shouldn't have been. My wife could have diagnosed that and I'd of saved the deductible.

But the story shared with me was about a Merry Go 'Round. I remember those well. Nothing sent my head to spinning and stomach churning like a few laps on one of these beasts.

I still remember the day I was trapped. The beast was spinning and the kid keeping it going wasn't going to stop no matter what I said. I don't know what led me, it was possibly God himself. But with eyes closed, I strained against the centrifugal force to pull myself to the very center of this hellish ride. With my head over the center of the beast, I found enough relief to wait out the spinning – I moved to the center.

With every head spinning, stomach-churning relational, emotional, medical or vocational challenge we face the answer is remarkably the same – move to the spiritual center.

One verse in the Psalms captures this perfectly: "In the multitude of my thoughts within me your comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19

The thoughts referred to here are those that discourage, divide, and perplex the mind. The solution is to move to the center and draw our strength from our soul. It's in our soul that experiential truth slows the spinning and comfort of God's promises stills the churning.

If you find yourself spiritually disoriented and not feeling too well. Bring to mind God's faithfulness of the past and search the scriptures for God's promises for the future. Move to the center!

Amazing Grace - Prayer Changes Things

God is so good to his kids! When we were living apart from God, because of our sin, we experienced Common Grace. CG is a theological term that refers to God's great love for all of mankind, that no matter where we stand with God we get a taste of his goodness. Through creation, relationships, commerce, travel, etc..., God is giving a glimpse of grace – common grace. Wow!

But when we are snatched out of the darkness and saved by God, boom, we step into amazing grace! There are many facets to God's amazing grace but one is that our prayers can change the course of our lives and those around us. Yes, it's true. Why pray? God loves to grace us with answering those prayers and change things. Read the list (thanks to Michael Bronson) below and take your prayers to God with confidence and dependence. Prayer changes things – maybe your day or even your life. 

  • 1 Chron. 5:20 - God responded to Manasseh’s prayers
  • 1 Kings 9:3 - God responded to their prayers
  • 1 Samuel 1:9-23 - God answered Hannah’s prayer and she gave birth to Samuel
  • 2 Chron. 1:11 - God gave gracious favors in answer to people’s prayers
  • 2 Chron. 32:20 - God answered Hezekiah’s prayer while in battle
  • 2 Chron. 33:19 - God was moved by Manasseh’s prayers
  • 2 Chron. 7:12 - God responded to their prayers
  • 2 Kings 20:5 - God responded to Hezekiah’s prayers
  • 2 Samuel 21:14 - God answered prayer on behalf of the land.
  • 2 Samuel 21:25 - God answered prayer on behalf of the land
  • Acts 10:31 - Cornelius’ prayers were answered
  • Acts 10:4,5 - Cornelius’ prayers were answered
  • Acts 28:8-10 - Paul healed people through his prayers
  • Deut. 9:18, 20 - Aaron’s golden calf greatly angered the Lord. As a result of Moses’ prayer, God didn’t destroy a large number of people.
  • Ezra 8:23 - God answered Ezra’s prayers
  • Genesis 25:21 - The Lord answered Isaac’s prayers
  • Isaiah 38:4,5 - God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life in response to his prayers
  • Job 42:8, 9 - God accepted Job’s prayers for his friends
  • Joshua 10:12-14 - Joshua prayed and the sun stopped moving
  • Luke 1:13 - Elizabeth became pregnant (with John the Baptist) because of Zechariah’s prayers
  • Mark 11:24 - We will receive whatever we ask for in prayer
  • Mark 9:29 - Certain kinds of demons can only be cast out with prayer
  • Matthew 21:22 - We will receive whatever we ask for in prayer
  • Proverbs 15:8 - Prayers of the upright please God
  • Psalm 102:17 - God will respond to the prayers of the destitute
  • Psalm 6:9 - God accepted David’s prayers
  • James 5:15 - The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well
  • James 5:16 - The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective

Let us pray! 

Organic Churches Thrive

There's nothing quite like the dynamism of watching a church thrive. When new people are streaming into worship experiences, friends are hugging and back slapping, and the singing sounds like we're about to lift off – there's nothing like a thriving church. But every blessing is met with a challenge and churches are not immune – they may be at the bullseye of the target.

Today's thriving churches face a challenge much like the early church. With every spurt of growth in any church, needs arise that exceed the capacity of the current leadership. Leadership is faced with the question of how to address the need without leaving their post. 

In Acts 6:1-6 we find a powerfully relevant example of a church in growing pains. A group of people (Hellenistic Jewish widows) was being overlooked and missing out on essential needs by no fault of the leadership as much as the consequence of rapid growth. The apostles did something amazing. Instead of leaving their post of prayer and the word or setting up a fancy structure for which people could apply and be trained for leadership, they put the ball back into the laps of those who saw the need. They instructed the concerned folks to select godly men that met basic criteria and they would then commission these qualified leaders. What happens next is simply awesome, "the word increased..disciples multiplied...and many priests came to faith". (Acts 6:7)

The church thrived when it stayed organic!   He's some observations I have from Acts 6 and life as a pastor and leader:

  • Some structure is needed but too much structure stifles growth and flexibility. 
  • When leadership creates programs we often box people in and box others out.
  • Empowering people to create gives a deeper sense of ownership.
  • Organic creativity puts responsibility in the hands of the people who know the need.
  • When we give authority to people we also embed them with a sense of holy responsibility.

I've learned that God trusts his kids sometimes more than we trust each other. When leadership is willing to resist too much structure but bring order to organic – churches thrive!

Join us this Sunday 10 am @ 180 Chicago Church. Click here for details

When beat up by losers...think like a winner!

I worked at a lumber yard with a man who beat me over the head daily, and it almost killed a dream. The mind games he shot at me were, in retrospect, evil. He mocked the way I walked, my hair, the way I worked (because I could work laps around him), and the even my manhood. I was in the final year of preparing for the Iditarod and this dude who turned out to be one of the biggest losers, was actually in deep pain and wanted the world to join him – one soul at a time. People who are losing can't handle winners or anyone who is winning. It's the nature of lostness!

How do you deal with these people who live in pain and want you to join them? Think like a winner! I'm not suggesting mind games, I'm championing God's truth that's marinating in our minds. Thinking on transcendent things isn't playing games, for God's kids it's our calling to think like a winner..."For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God". What a God, he's constantly coaching, directing, correcting and inspiring us to get our lives aligned with the spiritual reality that we are brand new in Christ and we GET to live like it. We can't afford to get sucked into a losing mindset because what rolls around in our brain in the morning will likely be rolled out in our life by evening. The cause and effect of our thoughts and its direct impact on our lives are undeniable. There is no time to waste on this one. It's time to think like a winner. Not to prop up our self-esteem, but to honor God and get in the streams of His life and our joy! This is the only way to deal with the bully's who want to beat us down.

You gotta get your head around this staggering vision from God: The direct impact of rehearsing God's truth over and over in your mind produces awesome results in your life..." like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers". This isn't a pipe dream or reserved for "super saints", this is God's unblushing promise for you! Please make a note: The flip side is ugly. Hang out with gossipers, mockers, small-thinkers, crass-jokers, downers or holier-than-thou'ers and life ain't gonna be pretty, because over time they get in your head. It's'll start drinkin' and thinkin' from the same bath water..." futile thinking...darkens hearts". But note this little nuance: The absence of right thinking isn't necessarily neutral thinking. It can be setting us up for negative and destructive thinking. My co-worker is a metaphor for the spiritual Committee (Satan and demons) loves to fill empty spaces. So let's get our thinking aligned with God's winning truth.

Col. 3, Ps. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:21

This weekend at 180 Chicago I'll be inspiring you to defend your God-given vision. Join us...(CLICK HERE)

Church Unleashed

I've been a part of some great works of God. When God's kids get a vision of life in Christ, the Holy Spirit can launch something truly amazing. 

One of the challenges is discipleship. How do we help people grow in a world that is loaded with distractions and many opportunities – even good ones? While we are overstimulated in this tech saturated world people are as lonely as ever. We need relationship – to know and be known. 

What if we dared to let the church be the church? What if we trusted God to raise up a passion for impact in the hearts of people? And then what if we managed this passion rather than creating too much structure that ultimately stifles the power of the church as an organism? 

This Sunday I'm going to cast a vision for something that's potentially more dynamic than any structure we could as people to fit into. Come get a taste if you're able.

Walk in Truth

Truth is the anchor of substance. Without truth, there is no baseline or starting point. People who can't speak or live the truth are in a race to the bottom - and there is no bottom.

We've all seen that people who can't be truthful or persist in embellishment for their own ends are bound by the law of bravado and movement. They race to diminish one person and soon move on to the next big thing. Drama becomes the necessary mode of operation. Noise is the friend of liars. Quiet reflection on communication is too risky - it may result in the need for confession.

What should we do? Truth telling must begin "in our heart". A heart that is hurting needs to be tended to by God. The unattended or unnurtured heart perpetuates the very pain they've encountered. But here's the real danger – a heart that is not in step with the Holy Spirit will serve almost any other spirit. From the overflow or abundance of the heart, "the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

I have a close friend who saw a need to break the habit of lying and twisting the truth. This happened shortly after they surrendered to Jesus many years ago. They decided to double back and correct any falsehood or half truth immediately upon realizing that they had not been truthful. It took some people off guard and blew away others with their candor. But soon lying or twisting the truth was no longer a part of their life - the pain of confession was replaced by the habit of truth.

Truth is solid ground. We sleep better in truth. The need to justify and dramatize dissipates - peace fills the void. Truth is the bedrock of hope. Truth is the launching pad of a healthy legacy. Walk in Truth!

Who gets to sleep is a sacred tent or live on a Holy Mountain? "He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend." Psalm 15:2-3


Pray "In the Spirit"

Praying "in the Spirit" is mentioned 3 times in scripture. It's not about the style of our prayers but rather, the means of our prayers. To pray "in the Spirit" is the intention to open the sails of our soul to hear from God and be fully lead by him. 

The Holy Spirit is not as mysterious or spooky as many believe. God's Spirit is an essential person of the Trinity and to neglect is dangerous. But the Spirit's work is both practical and tangible. Helping in "our weakness", "leading us into all truth", and giving us the "power" to live radiantly.

The need we have is simple but the fix is not easy and the war is raging – we must be still and quiet enough to hear the Spirit and not ourselves. As Watchman Nee taught so beautifully, "our outer man must be broken so that the Spirit can be released". Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit so we must invite God to break our outer man (our humanness) so the Spirit can take full control of our lives, direction, decisions, and conversations. Prayers can be prayed and life can be lived "in the Spirit"! In quietness, power is born anew. We surrender control, see our messes and our misses, confess our need, submit our will, and allow him to shape our spirit into a sail for the Holy Spirit – pray "in the Spirit". 

Keep spreading the word about a new church, 180 Chicago, on the near west side. We're already seeing God do some amazing transforming work at a heart level. Join us this weekend. Find all the info you need to know at this link.



Chivalry is Alive! (I'm sharing a biblical vision of manhood this Sunday)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13-14

Okay, men here’s the good news…chivalry still gets style points! In a world where the distinctive line blurs between male/female, women still love their men to be manly. The plain truth is that women and men need the seasoning each gender brings to the table. We are completely equal and yet totally different. Real men love to have their life flavored by a good woman. And women need their man to be THE man - it’s a required spice of life, just ask most women. 

There is a "code of conduct” that became popular as the Titanic was sinking into deadly waters. The mad scramble on its listing decks was to get as many women and children into life rafts as was possible. The code is branded into history - “Women and Children First”! This code of conduct that played out on that fateful night of April 14, 1912, is what makes the story epic. Imagine if it was “each man for himself” or “each man did what was right in his own eyes”. This would just be another tragic watery grave of shame. But the Titanic lives on because of heroism, valor, and chivalry, more than almost any other reason.

This code has roots that reach back thousands of years. The code of chivalry and respect for women and children was cooked up by God himself. It’s the rightful order of things. And when we get the order out of whack, we lose a wonderful story and gain only shame. We need a revival of the code. And that revival needs to begin with you - soon you’ll have an epic tale that someone else will tell.

Chivalry is not Dead! Women still love men who are leading/loving servants. This Sunday I'm going to share a biblical vision for manhood and how women can help men get a win. I believe everyone will walk away encouraged.

Be our guest this Sunday, share this post, and bring a friend. Chivalry lives! See you Sunday.

Grace - Safety Net for Sin and a Whole Lot More

When Christians think of grace it's often assumed that Grace is God's favor to us and that this favor is unmerited. But we tend to think of Grace only being leveraged when we're losing not when we're winning – Grace becomes the safety net for sin. There is more, a whole lot more!

God's Grace was so overflowing in Stephen that it gave him an uncommon power to proclaim the gospel. For Stephen, Grace was so powerfully at work in him that it cost him his life – he would say the tradeoff was worth it as many surrendered their life to Christ and the gospel spread like wildfire. 

But the power to share the gospel is just one of the many ways Grace is at work in our life. Justin Holcomb, an Episcopalian professor from Knox Seminary, has assembled a comprehensive list of the ways God's Grace works in our life. Here's a look at the list:

"God’s grace grounds and empowers everything in the Christian life. Grace is the basis for:

  • Our Christian identity: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
  • Our standing before God: “this grace in which we stand.” (Romans 5:2)
  • Our behavior: “We behaved in the world … by the grace of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:12)
  • Our living: those who receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ,”(Romans 5:17) by the “grace of life.” (1 Peter 1:7)
  • Our holiness: God “called us to a holy calling … because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 2:9)
  • Our strength for living: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1) for “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” (Hebrews 13:9)
  • Our way of speaking: “Let your speech always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6)
  • Our serving: “serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” (1 Peter 1:10)
  • Our sufficiency: “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:9) “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 2:8)
  • Our response to difficulty and suffering: We get “grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16) and when “you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace...will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 1:10)
  • Our participation in God’s mission: As recipients of grace we are privileged to serve as agents of grace. Believers receive grace (Acts 11:23), are encouraged to continue in grace (Acts 13:43), and are called to testify to the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you” (John 20:21). God’s mission is to the entire world.
  • Our future: God, and his grace, is everlasting. “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
  • Our hope beyond death: “grace [reigns] through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:3)."

Yes, when we sin, Grace, is there to pick us up. But Grace is whole lot more. Grow in the grace of God today. I've learned that humility is the posture of receiving in the kingdom of God. Humble yourself under his hand and watch you life grow.



To Us & Through Us

Everyone shares something in common. We have been burned by others and we've burned others. It's the later part of that sentence that makes us healthy or not. Owning our own stuff makes us much healthier with respect to the bad stuff that's been done to us.

I've noticed something about people with self pity. I've seen this in myself in certain seasons and I don't want to ever go back – none of us has to. The common trait of self pity is that we can easily see the wrong that's been done to us but are reticent to acknowledge that we have, in fact, done harm to others somewhere along the line. Whether willful or subconscious recklessness, we have done injury to others, many who we love. 

There is a classic verse that wise people will never forget, "we have all sinned..." Romans 3:23. Somewhere, some time and probably more recent than we'd like to admit, we have hurt someone deeply. 

I've also noticed something about people who have been burned deeply yet stand in incredible strength. Strong people can hold two things at the same time. 1. Painful things have happened to us. 2. Painful things have happened through us to others. It's not about trying to measure who inflicted the most pain. It's about the reality that people hurt each other.

When we can hold both in hand we can then deal even more confidently and courageously with pain. We can own our own stuff and also draw definitive lines for others who have injured us and intend to do it again if we let them. The truth is the strength! Be strong on this issue today and you'll treat people more lovingly and you'll even have stronger boundaries for those who are still weak – be strong nonetheless. 

This is just a small slice of a message I'll be sharing this Sunday at 180 Chicago. You can find out about us at or just click here for directions and information on free parking. I hope to see you Sunday!



Bandwagoning & Rumormongering - (I believe it now more than ever)

Sometimes the impact of a writing comes back like a boomerang. That's the case with this blog. On Monday I wrote the blog below and posted it on Facebook. On Tuesday I did the very thing I despise. On the radio, I made a comment about Tiger Woods. My comment made the assumption that Tiger must have been drinking because he sure looked like he had in his mug shot. Well, within a few hours there were reports that Tiger blew 0.0 into the breathalyzer. 

Now I'm the illustration for my own blog! Please accept my apologies for being so quick to do the very thing that has devasted me personally in the past. I feel like God has used this in my life most which is always his intent. I praise God for his grace and believe every word you're about to read. Like never before.

We live in a speculative and rumormongering world. There is a bandwagon for anything. If you want to dislike someone or something - you can always find circumstantial stuff to support it...always!

This soul-sickness is what afflicted those who crucified Jesus. Anyone can condemn but fewer run to believe the best - saving runs counter to our nature of condemning. Just a few may drive the judgment train, but many join it because the fear of being left out of the gossip or standing alone is just too much to take. But one thing to remember: Someone always pays for cowardice.

I've witnessed this from both sides. I've made broad conclusions only to find out it was based on twisted truth or outright lies. I've also had the same occur toward me. This is the way of our world but we don't have to get sucked into this downward swirling bowl.

God didn't send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). If you lean toward condemnation you've turned and are leaning away from God. The only solution is admitting it all - times of refreshing will come. God will fill the sails of what has become the doldrums. We can be freed from trying to convince ourselves and others that we're okay.

I now trust almost nothing I hear or read until it can be substantiated with credible evidence. Even then, there is very little worth being consumed with unless we have the ability to effect change. And when our focus is directed toward belief and transformation, it is truly the way to honor God and impact the world.