December 29, 2009

Between Decades

2009 closing. 2010 opening. Dec 29 in between.
A time to reflect in the morning darkness by the fire.
0 to 52 preparation. 52 to 100 incarnation.
I desire to be "the Word made flesh to my world".
I yearn to burn with passion for Jesus and people.
No circumstance can steal my oil - The Holy Spirit.
Only I can quench the fire that's in my belly and on my head (Acts 2)
Fill me. Spill me. Overflow.
Bless me more that I bless you and others more.
Abundance. Extravagant Grace. Life to the Full.
Adventures of living and loving.
Burn the recliner. Throw away the soft bed.
Plenty of time for playing it safe in heaven.
Reach. Stretch. Grow. Learn. Believe. Imagine.
Explore. Risk. Create. Belly laugh.
Flee sin. Follow holiness.
Prioritize friendships with only the brightest and best and the weakest and least.
Let doubts die the death of denial as they delay my daily destination.
Let blazing books and star-filled skies infuse my flame.
Let sunrises ignite me and sunsets sooth me as I invest each day as if it was my last.
Let my ineluctable destiny pull my vision upward beyond the fleeting facade of earth time.
Let the kisses of a gracefully aging wife enthrall me as if I had never tasted her lips before.
Let the variety of humanity, cultures and customs challenge my self-mindedness.
Let every person I meet fill my mind with the miracle they truly are.
Embrace moments, cherish minutes, treat hours as holy gifts, days as divine privileges.
Awaken my senses to fully taste the reality around me.
Surprise me. Startle me with your open doors and daring missions!
Alive! Singing loud! Dancing wildly! Laughing from my belly!
Celebrate! Rejoice! Cartwheels of Praise!
By your grace I live, for your glory I run the race, towards your beauty I progress.
This decade I decide to be delightfully devoted to a dangerous Savior!
May I be fully me to fully bless you!

December 16, 2009

Tiger on the Iceberg

Tiger Woods is falling faster than the thermometer in Minnesota in January. The problem is the difference between the public image and the private reality. We wanted to believe that the amazing self-control Tiger exhibited on the golf course extended to the interior of his home. Instead the public persona was a carefully crafted cover for the rampant self-indulgence that existed below the surface.

The iceberg analogy continues to be one of the most important to consider in life and leadership. Only one third of an iceberg is visible above the water line. But its the two-thirds below the water line that matters the most. What you can't see eventually determines what you can see. Thinking you can separate the two leads to a personal split that is self-destructive.

Private victories are always more satisfying and significant than public victories. You can win the Master's Tournament but if you can't Master your sexual desires, you end up a loser in life.

What I have found in life and ministry is that too often people's gifts and talents take them beyond where their character can sustain them. If the foundation is not well-formed, the building eventually tumbles, regardless how tall it is. It's not the height, it's the depth that counts.

November 28, 2009

The Majesty of My Thanksgiving

Somewhere between the Turkey and Sweet Potatoes, it struck me like a down pillow in a late-night pillow fight, "It just doesn't get any better than this!".

Envision what I was looking at...A stellar Southern California day coming to Michelangelo masterpiece sunset conclusion. A lazy ocean, like a mirror, reflecting God's artistry right on to our patio. A table decorated by Martha Stewart's twin, with autumn floral arrangements crowning the stunning Indonesian batik fabric. Candles flickering and bouncing light off the exquisite "Country Rose" china and creating diamonds of light in the Moonsplash Crystal goblets.

Ladening the table is turkey prepared with the love of my Father-in-law, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, Uncle Kenneth's amazing cranberry relish, three new heaven sent vegetable creations by Deb, Aunt Ella's delight, butternut squash soup, rolls, five tasty desserts, and sparkling apple cider bubbling with joy.

But far and away the most enriching aspect are the people. The lovely folks who scoop the delicacies into their grinning mouths. Bill - wild Bill, his first Thanksgiving in his 80s, a father-in-law who loves me. Aunt Ella, a dear old lady eating her second Thanksgiving since Tony, her husband of 52 years, has gone. Marvelous, that is actually a proper name of one little 3 year old who is experiencing her first American thanksgiving far from her Nigerian homeland. Her dad John with his mile wide smile illuminating his dark face. Sitting beside him is his wife, Joy, in her traditional Nigerian dress and then the childlike sparkle emanating from Miracle and Victory, Marvelous' 6 and 4 year old sisters.

Rudy, the fire chief of great distinction, yet wearing his continual humble quiet smile. My sister-in-law, Donna, the ageless wife of Rudy, with her dazzling green necklace shimmering next to her perfectly matched blouse.

Molly and Stephen, the seminarians, recently returned from the remote villages of Africa, where their youthful strength is being spent to lovingly serve those forgotten by the world but remembered by God. Their friendship with my daughter is a treasure to her and thus to me. Molly's three cousins provide the giggling teen element to the table.

Then there are a Dad's pride and joy... My birth daughter, Lindsey, doing what she does better than anyone I know - lighting up a room with her infectious joy. This Thanksgiving she is beaming brighter than usual with her ruggedly handsome, almost fiancee beside her. TJ is like a son, and probably will be a son-in-law soon. His solid character and deep love for God and Lindsey will be a welcome addition at many Thanksgiving's to come. The lovely olive complexion of Anjelica graces our table for the third time but it is the first time she sets there as "my daughter". How honored I feel as I watch her dark eyes dance with moments of joy as her gorgeously thick black hair falls down her back. I am sad for her first Thanksgiving without biological family but thrilled that God has given us the joy of her presence.

The Master of the Feast, the magical architect who is able to creatively build an ambiance that is beyond comprehension sits there effervescently holding all things together. Stunningly beautiful in her dark black dress, covered with a spectacular apron that declares the reality - "Queen of Everything".  Her thick blonde hair, perfectly styled, bounces on her shoulders as she efficiently orchestrates the evening like a symphony conductor coaxing other worldly music from the various elements. The fact that she is in love with me makes the awe of the moment beyond believable.

I stop and listen to the laughter, the voices of love. I feast my eyes on the scene, drinking it in and wanting to freeze the moment forever on the front page of my mind. And as I listen, I hear the Spirit say, "Son, this is only a sliver of what I have prepared for you. Wait until you sit at the ultimate Thanksgiving feast in the kingdom of heaven. It will thrill and fill your heart in ways you can't even imagine now." I lift my eyes to the bright moon and the first star that is now shimmering in the sky above. I let out a silent but loud, "A Billion Thank Yous to You Great God of LOVE!" 

November 06, 2009

52 Candles

I remember my 10th birthday. I had always been able to blow out all of the candles on my cake in ONE breath. But when I looked at all TEN of those candles I panicked. This was going to be a two breath birthday cake!!

Today is going to be tough. 52 Candles. That will probably be like 5 breaths, especially since my wife often gets the candles that come back to life. I hate those!

Someone has said that "life is not a matter of how many breaths you take but how many moments take your breath away" I have so many of those, like 2 or 3 a day, that I am often left breathless. Blowing out candles is certainly one of those breathless moments!

One of my favorite quotes is, "Live so your life demands an explanation!" I want to live that unique, daring, creative, passionate, impactful adventure that people look at and say, "Either Jesus is real or Larry is crazy!"

Today I will write down 52 things I am thankful for at the end of this blog, in small font. For the one person who will read them MOM!

Today I will run on the beach, lift at the gym, spend time in the Word, write on a sermon, spend time with family, laugh, write in my journal, pray, kiss my wife, dream of this coming year, read a good book, taste some good food, dance vigorously before the Lord, and sing Alleluia.

Today I will freshly commit myself to God's purpose and call on my life. I will delight myself in HIM!

I am thankful for God's love, God's word, the Cross, the example of Jesus, the beauty of creation, the promise of heaven, the help of the Holy Spirit, my church family, the church of Jesus Christ worldwide, my wife, my birth daughter, my new daughter, TJ, mom, my brother, sister, all my in laws, my close friends, my other friends, my staff, my health, my house, my job, my place in Silver Star, my country, my freedom, my wife's healing from cancer, my education, my mentors, our non-profit LIME, our worship leaders, my friends in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, and Indonesia, my strengths, my talents, my spiritual gifts, my personality, my destiny, my neighbors, my cars, my aunts and uncles. my office, my executive assistant, my fellow pastors, my Free Methodist family, my our business partners Dwight & Shelley, the joy of the HS, the peace that passes understanding, my boat, and LIFE!

November 05, 2009

Run, Larry, Run

"Run, Forest, Run." The great line from Forest Gump has become a classic in our house. I read a original and insightful book last week called "Born to Run". A study of the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon in Mexico. They are known as the "Running People". 80 year old men can go out and run 30 miles.

After loving running and running in marathons, I had not run distance in 10 years due to the absence of knee cartilage. It was biking  and elliptical machines in the gym for me. Running even a little distance would create knee and back pain.

However, the book advocated a different form of running. Small strides, landing on the ball of the foot, running barefoot or with only light shoes. Run easily, lightly, smoothly, uprightly, joyfully. The author says, "if you are working hard at running you are running too hard. Running should be natural."

This book was so inspiring to me that I began running barefoot on the beach...(handy have a beach in front of my house.) In just two weeks I am running over 2 miles, with NO back or knee pain so far. What's even more amazing my wife Deb has jumped on board and she ran 2 miles last night barefoot, without pain.

I am so excited and waiting to see if I keep running free or if I run into trouble.

November 03, 2009


B...O...R...I...N...G!! That's just what this three year old tow head said. He was walking through a fun filled pumpkin patch with rides and games and looked up at his dad and said..."boring!"

I was thinking about his remark and about so many people in our great nation. With more entertainment than ever, with 239 channels from Direct TV, ipods, flat screens, mobile apps, cell phone, blue ray hi def, etc. we are more bored than ever. What gives? 

I believe boredom is a result of one or two realities or a combination thereof. Either you love the wrong things or you have not found enough right things to love. 
Consider the first. When you love the wrong things, you spend your energy on that which ultimately leaves you empty. Like eating lettuce, you lose more calories chewing than you gain by swallowing it. Your mind says "I ate", your body says "huh?" When you love emptiness, you end up bored.  

The second consideration is different. You love the right thing but you don't have the variety of right loves. I love reading my Bible, running, lifting, biking, journaling, reading books, writing, playing games with wife and kids, watching old movies, praying, visiting churches, drinking coffee with friends, and the list goes on and on. Now I don't always feel like doing all of those, but I almost always have a choice between at least four things I love doing and I feel like doing at that moment. People who only have a few loves are frequently bored. 

Predictability is another cause of boredom. If you always know what's next it's easy to be bored. But when you are following an unpredictable leader you never know where he's going to take you next. You don't know what's around the corner. Jesus is in many ways an inscrutable leader who always leaves you guessing about the next bend in the road. Jesus said, "No one knows where the wind is blowing to but we see it's effect". We never know where the Spirit will take us each day is an adventure. 

May God deliver us from a "boring" life. We are walking with our Father through the pumpkin patch of life. What a hoot!! 

October 21, 2009

World's Greatest Athlete

I used to dream of being the "world's greatest athlete". When I dreamed, I pictured myself as a "6 foot, 4 inch, hunk of herculean steel carved into rippling muscles". What a picture I had in my mind!

I went on to be a decent athlete getting football scholarship offers to several schools. But I never came close to being the "world's greatest athlete".

I recently had dinner with the REAL "world's greatest athlete". Bryan Clay won the silver at the 2004 Olympics and the GOLD at the 2008 Olympics in the decathlon! As I met Bryan and spent the evening with him I kept thinking...he's not the picture I had in my mind.

Don't misunderstand. Bryan is sinewy, lithe, and toned. He is good looking and genuinely nice. But he is not even 6 feet tall. His muscles don't ripple largely under his clothes. I would never have looked at Bryan in a mall and said, "Hey, he might be an incredible athlete".He's not what I imagined, he's more ordinary looking than I thought.

My POINT? Amazing people are often disguised in ordinary packages. You look in the mirror and think I don' t look like a Greek God, I could never be amazing. But the truth is if you have VISION, DETERMINATION, and hours of DISCIPLINE then you could could be amazing at about anything you put your mind to. (Bryan trains about 8 hours a day).

There is a 20,000 hour principle. Take one thing, focus on it, get great coaching about, have a little natural aptitude for it, and then spend 20,000 hours on it and you will be better than 99.99% of the world in it.

That's 40 hours of practice 50 weeks a year for 10 years. If you can only practice 20 hours a week it will take you 20 years. That's just 3 hours a day. If you are 30 now, you can be one of the best in the world by the age of 50. The best lawyer, author, preacher, piano player, artist, real estate agent...whatever!

Don't let your preconceived ideas about what greatness is, stop you from being great! You can do it!
But on the flip side, you must ask if that is what God wants for you. Usually God wants you to live a BALANCED life rather than a "world record" life. By the way...Bryan is a good dad too.

October 19, 2009

Cancer Answer

The answer to Cancer is the power and people of Jesus Christ!

If you are like me you know more and more people who are facing the curse of cancer. I personally have ten friends and family members fighting cancer.

I hate cancer. It took my 82 year old grandmother and my 8 week old friend,Shamya. It doesn't care whether you are rich or poor, old or young, atheist or Christian. Often without rhyme or reason, cancer just sneaks in and starts spreading its death.

Cancer is powerful but cancer can not steal faith, hope, laughter, friendship, heaven, or love. Cancer CAN NOT!

When cancer comes it must be confronted. My wife, Deb was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. It was supposed to kill her quickly. But we launched a counter attack. We sent prayer requests around the world. We went to the best oncologist we could find. We started claiming scriptures over her day and night.
In her case God did a profound miracle so that she is now cancer free for the last four years.

Not all cancer stories go this way. My friend Steve was not healed here. He was healed there.

I often tell Christians who are attacked...God is going to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. You will walk through it to healing or to heaven. But you will walk through it.

So again the CANCER ANSWER is the power and people of Jesus. The power of Jesus to heal, to comfort, to strengthen, to give hope, to open our spiritual eyes, to impact our spirit's with indomitable courage. The people of Jesus to hold our hands, to lift us up, to walk beside us, to surround us with their faith, to speak hope to our hearts, to love us with God's love and theirs.

I pray for break throughs in Cancer...but until that happens I encourage any one confronting find the answer in the power and people of Jesus.

October 13, 2009

Financial YeeHaw!

Being from Kansas when I got out of elementary school for our summer vacation, I shouted one big "YeeHaw!" I was free from daily grind of worrying about homework, grades, tests, and pop quizzes. There was still a lot of work to do during the summer, after all this was the farm. But all the stress of fretting and worrying about tests, etc. was gone! 

I believe the God wants his people to live in Financial Yeehaw! The world wants to teach us to live in the elusive chase to "keep up with" or even "beat" the imaginary Jones' family. The world wants us to attach our significance, self-image and satisfaction to our bank account. The world wants to lead us away from the idea of "God being our true source".

Listen to Jesus: "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." Matthew 6:32. Don't chase stuff or it will steal your YeeHaw! It will robl your contentment. Trust God's provision.

Obviously this doesn't mean sit on your butt all day and wait for the Reader's Digest Sweepstake check to magically appear in your mailbox. But it does mean do what you can, then rest in God's love and then live in Financial YeeHaw!

Randy Alcorn makes a profound observation...

Many people misunderstand the idea of financial freedom. They see it as meaning financial independence, applying it to people who have built up enough  assets or income stream to work when they want, vacation where they want, and buy what they want. I’ve observed, however, that a person can be financially independent without being content. Conversely, a person can be content without being financially independent.

Besides avoiding the potential confusion between financial freedom and financial independence, I prefer focusing on contentment because that is the word the Bible uses. Here are a few notable examples:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

God knows how to free us from fear and worry and give us a "Financial YeeHaw!" 

October 12, 2009

Salad Bowl Love

I believe God is tossing the salad, not melting the metal. Salad bowl love is laying down our lives without losing our identity.

When different metallic elements are melted in a pot, alloys are formed which have different properties from the original elements. In a salad, a tomato slice doesn't become a radish.

In a melting pot, people lose their individual identity and try to become the same as everyone else. In a salad bowl, people keep their identity but blend together to create an overall nutritious and tasty new product.

I grew up singing, Jesus loves the little children of the world,  they are precious in his sight...
Jesus loves them just as they are because he created them just as they are. Yet he calls them into unity.

Oneness is not sameness. Unity is not loss of identity. It is much more difficult to rejoice in our ethnicity, yet lay down any superiority, for the greater citizenship and the higher cause of the kingdom.

Theologically, Revelation 7:9 makes clear that even before the throne of God, in our perfected state, there are ethnic distinctions...and perhaps even different languages. Perhaps the praises of God will be multi-lingual. We will all speak the common language of heaven but retain the language of our culture.

One of my most heavenly moments was a doctoral class with 9 different "heart" languages present in the room and Richard Foster had us sing, "Yes Jesus loves me" in our "native tongue".  

Yesterday in my office for our newcomer's "pizza with pastor" time, we had natives from Colombia, Panama, Trinidad, Mexico, Nigeria, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, with a Kansas farm boy like me. As one of the newcomers to church said, "I believe heaven will look like this". So do I.

October 10, 2009

Oil and Fire

Oil and Fire. Follow my reasoning here. It's clear from scripture that the Holy Spirit  is pictured as both oil and fire.

Zechariah's vision of a menorah, a lampstand with two olive trees beside it shows just one of those links between oil and fire, the Spirit and light. And that's why the Lord says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord". Zechariah 4:6

In Acts 2:3,4 we see another connection when the Holy Spirit fills the believers and the flame rests on every head of disciples. The oil and fire.

One time John Wesley was preaching outside in a field in the cold of winter. He had a large crowd listening to him. Meanwhile in the warm cathedral nearby, the bishop had only a handful of people listening to him. He could take it no longer and went and asked Wesley why the crowds were gathered to hear him. Wesley's response was, "I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn!" There was an oil and fire connection here.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 says "Do not put out the Spirit's fire".

Oil speaks of fullness, source, power. Fire speaks of energy, light, ability, passion, purity.

My prayer today and everyday..."Fill me with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so the fire of God may shine through me"

October 06, 2009

Godly Athiests

In my world travels it is interesting to observe the devotion displayed to false gods. Muslims bowing down for prayer on trans-pacific flights, Hindus putting their daily worship sacrifices out for their gods, animists building their little altars to the river god or mountain god, witch doctors fasting and cutting themselves to coerce the spirits into action.

But when I begin to observe a majority of American Christians there is nothing to see. Except for occasional Sunday church attendance, there is no place to view their devotion to their God. Their theology is invisible. They believe in God in intellectual ways that don't visibly alter their lives. They mentally ascribe to a "God belief" but functionally they are atheists.

Now I praise God that we are New Testament Christians unencumbered by the necessity of daily sacrifices. I thank God that our walk is by grace not walking up to Mecca. I bless Jesus that if I forget to pray for a few days, he's not ticked off and withdrawn.

BUT a living faith demands something observable and different. An integration of God into our daily living that is tangible. An adoration that treats God like He's real and like He's really here and really hearing.

Folks that I see worshiping their false gods appear odd and different to me. That's the way I should appear to those without a living faith in Jesus. They should say, "Hey, why do you do what you do?".

Why are you kneeling? Why do you pray before you reach for an aspirin? Why do you carry that little book around? Why does your checkbook have a weekly check to church? Why do you look for the hurting to help? Why don't you rent the raunchy movie that Hollywood says is so cool? Why do you dance around in your living room to worship music? Why do you take expensive trips to 3rd world places that are so poor they turn your stomach?

I don't want merely a "doctrine" of God, I want a "doing" for God! I want to act different by faith and because of faith. No functional atheism for me!

October 05, 2009

Have it Norway!

With my apologies to the old Burger King commercials,"Have it your way"...I was shocked to discover that Norway has been ranked as the best place in the world to live. Norway! (

Norway...where six months out of the year the average temperature is below freezing. That may be "your-way" to live but it's "no-way" to live for me.

Based on longevity, educational system, safety, and earnings per person, Norway came out on top. Of course...they are frozen half the time, they are inside studying, people are too cold to commit crime, and there is nowhere to spend your money.

Give me Southern California, palm trees swaying, warm sand under my toes, people from around the world, average temp 70 degrees, and Disneyland. Come on people.

Just pray that my wife doesn't read this...she's full on Norwegian...I will take my Norwegian but I will take her to So.Cal! No way, Norway!

By the way...Iceland was #3!! Iceland!

September 28, 2009

Lettuce Spray

The second pastor I worked for was a jokester. At a banquet he was introduced to say the prayer before the meal. As he stood he produced a head of lettuce and spray bottle and he held it up. The looks of befuddlement that appeared were answered with his announcement\invitation, "Lettuce Spray" and with that he bowed his head began to pray.

Lots of folks treat prayer like lettuce obligatory religious exercise that is more for the good of the person praying than for the impact on the situation prayed about.

But if you are serious about God's Word, there is no denying that the first and most powerful place to address any circumstance is by saying, "Let Us Pray!"

"Let us pray" is the invitation for you and someone else to join your faith before the throne of the living God of the universe, the real one, the listening one, the loving one, the mighty one. Together, whether with two or two thousand, you lift up your faith to the Father and "make your requests known to God with thanksgiving" (Phil 4:6)expecting in faith for your prayer to actually impact the situation you are praying about.

Praying alone is powerful also but there is no doubt that the text and the example of scripture is that US is stronger than ME. (Matthew 18:19,20)

What a powerful privilege this phrase, "Let us Pray"...much more effective than LETTUCE SPRAY.

September 25, 2009

Fios Minus TV

They thought I was crazy.
"You want FIOS, you want internet and phone but NO TV? Do you understand TV is included? Everybody loves TV!"

When I told him we had been TV free all of our married lives and for now our intention was to stay that way...he fell over the rest of the way.

I have to say I was tempted this time. "Tempted" is not the right word because I am convinced it would NOT be a sin for me to have a TV. I have a TV in our vacation home. I never have one second of critical thoughts about those who do have TVs.

But I was "tempted" in the sense I thought it might be nice to have a new friend in the house. This friend could be there to "veg" with me when I was tired, "inform" me when I was feeling out of touch, "educate" me with the history channel, "entertain" me when I was bored, "school" me so I would know what was cool and how to pronounce "Pelosi". I could really use a friend like that.

But then I hesitated. "Would my new friend be true to me?"
OR Would they end up robbing me blind, like a repairman who seems to be a help and ends up scooting out with your diamond necklace?

What if they stole my time?
What if they mesmerized me into inactivity and love affair with the recliner?
What if they lied to me and convinced me of what I knew wasn't true?
What if they attacked my family and tied up my time, my heart, and isolated me?
What if they said no more scrabble or dominoes with the kids?
What if they rolled seductive pictures in front of me and made me covet a woman other than my wife?
What if they convinced me that I needed a newer car, a better computer, a bigger TV? What if they made me miss an unrepeatable sunset or a moonlight walk with my sweetheart?
What if they talked and talked and talked and talked and never listened, filling my home with meaningless words and silencing Bach or Jazz or conversations or the beauty of silence?
What if a great idea for a sermon or book or ministry was lost because I was empty mindedly watching someone else's bright idea?

TV, even on a big flat screen, even on FIOS ended up sounding more like an enemy than a friend. With those kind of friends, who needs enemies?

To a few of you I would say...
"Get out of jail, Kill your TV!"

September 24, 2009

Trash Can Habits

Change for humans is initially hard.

Habits are semi-automatic behaviors which we default to unless a strong compelling motivation and rigorous self-discipline consciously break the ingrained pattern.

Habits can be the path to abundant living or the quickest way to no where.

We love ruts. Someone has said, "A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out." But ruts can actually be a path to efficiency. Wagon trains moved much faster because of ruts. BUT if the rut is going the wrong way, you are in a bad way. If your rut is even slightly misdirected, if you don't get out of it, it will trap you in the wrong place.

A few ruts are fine. If you are a stagecoach, ruts are fine. But ruts can be traps that keep you from exploring the wonders of the country around you. If you are a four wheel drive, you don't want a rut, you want the open country.

My wife moved the trash can in our bedroom. Since we first moved in, the trash can has always been in the same place. But now it's not. Several times now I have tossed my trash in the wrong place because it's the usual place.

At first I was ticked at my could she move the trash can and mess up my life? But then I realized...the new spot is actually a much better place for the trash can than they old spot. The problem is with me not the trash can placement. I have to get out of my rut, break a habit...and make a new one. But it's better than the old rut\habit.

A simple trash can move has launched me on a new adventure of challenging every rut and habit in my it building me up or tearing me down? Is it efficient or limiting?

I think this old dog needs to learn a few new tricks.

September 20, 2009

Bob and Grace

Bob is my friend. Without a miracle, Bob may die soon. Bob has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the doctors say there is nothing more they can do for him.

I think of Bob about once an hour during the day. I wake up and pray for Bob during the night. My wife is fasting and praying for Bob.

If anyone deserves to live and beat cancer, it's Bob. He is a servant, a man who lays his life down to bless others.

But life doesn't work on a "what you deserve" basis. None of us deserve a miracle. Every miracle, like every breath, is simply a gift of God, an expression of His grace. Sometimes God heals us here, and sometimes He has a higher plan.

God is teaching me about to pray in faith but then to receive by grace. If God answers my prayer in the direction I was pleading...then that is grace. If He doesn't seem to respond, there is a different grace He is seeking to manifest. The question is, "Am I open to receiving it".

Paul said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." He was saying, I will receive grace if I live and I will receive a different grace if I die.

The just shall live by faith, and those that live by faith receive great grace.

God, multiply grace on my friend Bob. I am believing for the first grace!

September 19, 2009

Where's my Empty Nest?

I always wanted a family of five. Instead I had one daughter who loved her mom and I very much...but who couldn't wait to move out of the house. Upon high school graduation she was gone.

Her vibrant laughter and innumerable friends no longer reverberated off the walls of our small home. Of course she did show up now and then, sometimes with as many as 45 friends to spend the night (true story).

But for the most part the house was quiet and the nest was blissfully and mournfully empty. Deb and I love each other deeply and were enjoying the time. We began shopping at Trader Joes instead of Costco.

But then something happened. Our daughter graduated from university, moved back home, found a boyfriend whose mom lived in Alaska, and we adopted an 18 year old who had lost her parents.

Suddenly we had our family of five, the home was rocking louder than ever and our food bill had quadrupled. We were shopping at Costco again and the thoughts of an empty nest were faint memories.

But I am not grieving the empty nest, it's not gone forever. It will too quickly return.

For now I am reveling in the laughter, the music, the meals, the movie nights, the family games, the bike\skateboard trips with five of us in a pack, the prayer around the dinner table, and silly celebrations.

The nest is full and so is my heart. God is good...whether the nest is empty or crowded. After all, His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

September 16, 2009

I Left My Heart in the Jungle

It is a dangerous thing to love deeply as it positions you for much pain...but there is no other way to live greatly. I choose danger, pain and the adventure of love.

My recent trip to the depths of the jungles of Kalimantan (Borneo) was an adventure to be certain. To minister among the former headhunters of Borneo, the Dayak Tribe was an honor.

What I discovered deep in the jungle was the commonness of human heart...not common as it plain or invaluable...but common as in shared and unified. The needs, the joys, the fears, the sin, the potentials, are common to me.

My wealthy, S. California, beach lifestyle and the impoverished, jungle reality of my friends does not create an uncrossable divide of difference. On the contrary. The sharp distinctions in our realities of living underlines the commonness of our hearts.

I rode on the back of a motorscooter with a 50lb suitcase on front and my 220 pounds on the back and a small Dayak pastor piloting in the middle. Amazing.

I submerged myself in the quick flowing river as the only air conditioning available for miles.

I hugged orphans, prayed for needs, sweated through translated sermons, awoke to the sounds of children worshiping at 5am, strategized about future ministry, hiked jungle paths that were like tunnels of green, prayed over property claiming it for the kingdom, ate strange but delectable foods, sang and danced with children, and most of all dispensed and absorbed as much LOVE as possible.

There was one leader who was key to our trip...during the time we grew close. He confessed to me something I am not sure that he has told any one before. His father had never hugged him or blessed him. When I was preparing to leave, I did both in the biggest ways possible...and meant it deeply.

Then I left the jungle....and a part of my heart. But the expansion of the human heart only comes by stretching it through vulnerability. The loss was offset by the gain.

August 05, 2009

Preaching to the Almost Dead

I had a very difficult experience this Sunday. I was preaching to a person whom I knew was going to be dead soon. They were taking themselves off of dialysis and would be dead four or five days later. There are many extenuating circumstances as to why they are making this choice but I still pleaded with them to change their mind. I want them to stay around.

At the altar kneeling down before I preached I wondered, "How can I preach when I am so consumed with the pain of seeing my friend in church for the last time?"

I cried out to God for strength. Oddly enough I was preaching on Romans 8:28, that grand promise that our God can do amazing things with awful circumstances.

My friend is believer in Christ...solidly. They have searched the scripture to find a prohibition for the removal of their own life support. They feel confident in their decision. I can't make a convincing argument to them and I certainly would be the last to condemn them to hell for giving up on life in anticipation of heaven.

But the more I thought about it, every week in a church our size I am preaching to someone who will be dead within a month. And all of us in the sanctuary will be dead within a few short years.

So I am always "preaching to the almost dead".

Today I did a funeral for a woman who never came to our church except one time. She is the mother of our newly adopted 19 year old daughter. It was Palm Sunday and we had many things going on and I had considered not giving an altar call that service and wait until Easter Sunday. But I then I sensed that is not what God wanted.

So I gave an altar call and to everyone's surprise, Darcy boldly raised her hand and then also courageously walked to the front to make a public profession. She was the only one who did so.

She had to work on Sunday for the next four weeks and on Mother's Day she had a sudden heart attack and died in her daughter's arms.

I am reminded of the urgency of the preaching of the gospel. I close this blog with another historical piece on the subject.

The same day the great fire raged throughout Chicago, the city’s most popular evangelist was preaching his heart out at Farwell Hall. D.L. Moody had established quite a following in the Chicago area, and on that infamous night he was preaching to a large congregation.

Moody dismissed the crowd and asked them to evaluate their relationship with Christ and return next week to make a decision for him. The crowd never returned, though, because the city was destroyed.

After the incident, Moody made a personal commitment to never again leave a church congregation without calling them to make a decision for Jesus Christ.

July 30, 2009

Thanks TOM...I feel Younger!

I am NOT a GOLFER but the lessons in this article were TOO GOOD not to pass along, especially if you are over 50 like me! Worth the read.

59 Is the New 30 By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (July 29, New York Times Op Ed)

"....Indeed, I have been struck at how many golfers and non-golfers got caught up in Watson’s historic performance — tying for the lead after four rounds at Turnberry, but losing in a playoff to the 36-year-old Stewart Cink. I was not alone in being devastated that Watson was not able to par the last hole and clinch the win. Like millions of others, I shouted at the TV as his ball ran across the 18th green — heading for trouble — “STOP! STOP! STOP!” as if I personally had something at stake. Why was that?

Many reasons. For starters, Watson’s run was freaky unusual — a 59-year-old man who had played his opening two rounds in this tournament with a 16-year-old Italian amateur — was able to best the greatest golfers in the world at least a decade after anyone would have dreamt it possible.

Watching this happen actually widened our sense of what any of us is capable of. That is, when Kobe Bryant scores 70 points, we are in awe. When Tiger Woods wins by 15 strokes, we are in awe. But when a man our own age and size whips the world’s best — who are half his age — we identify.

Of course, Watson has unique golfing skills, but if you are a baby boomer you could not help but look at him and say something you would never say about Tiger or Kobe: “He’s my age; he’s my build; he’s my height; and he even had his hip replaced like me. If he can do that, maybe I can do something like that, too.”

Neil Oxman, Watson’s caddy,... said to him, ‘For a lot of people, what you’re doing is life-affirming.’

Also, as Watson himself appreciates, the way he lost the tournament underscored why golf is the sport most like life. He hit two perfect shots on the 18th hole in the final round, and the second one bounced just a little too hard and ran through the green, leaving him a difficult chip back, which he was unable to get up and down. Had his ball stopped a foot shorter, he would have had an easy two-putt and a win.

That’s the point. Baseball, basketball and football are played on flat surfaces designed to give true bounces. Golf is played on an uneven terrain designed to surprise. Good and bad bounces are built into the essence of the game. And the reason golf is so much like life is that the game — like life — is all about how you react to those good and bad bounces. Do you blame your caddy? Do you cheat? Do you throw your clubs? Or do you accept it all with dignity and grace and move on, as Watson always has. Hence the saying: Play one round of golf with someone and you will learn everything you need to know about his character.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with. Also, pro golfers, unlike baseball, football or basketball players, have no fixed salaries. They eat what they kill. If they score well, they make money. If they don’t, they don’t make money. I wonder what the average N.B.A. player’s free-throw shooting percentage would be if he had to make free throws to get paid the way golfers have to make three-foot putts?

This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.”

So Tom Watson got a brutal lesson in golf that he’ll never forget, but he gave us all an incredible lesson in possibilities — one we’ll never forget.

July 28, 2009

The Crystal Ball

I am juggler by profession. I have all different sizes and shapes of balls that must be kept in the air at all times. But sometimes I drop the ball or more than one ball. I am not too worried about that unless it is a crystal ball.

Most balls in life are rubber. They will bounce back. You can pick them up and start juggling again. Maybe they got a little dirty when you dropped them but it's no big deal.

But a few balls in life are crystal. If you drop them they don't bounce, they shatter. Sometimes you can glue them back together, but they aren't really the same.

Wise people know which few balls in life are crystal. They would drop all the other balls before they would drop one of those handful of crystal balls.

Those crystal balls must be concentrated on. The eye must stay trained on them.

Life can get going so fast we mistake cheap balls for crystal balls. We take our eye off the priceless balls.

Most crystal balls are relationships...Relationships with God, with family, and with one or two friends.

As you juggle in life are you keeping your eye on the crystal balls?

July 23, 2009


Here's one club I plan on joining (see article below)....I figure it this way, I have goals, dreams and plans to last until I am 100 and I am going to be in heaven forever. So 100 years is just about right for me.

This means I am a year over half way...I like that. It also means I have to stay really fit and eat really well and keep my brain really stimulated and hang around 20something's and keep from getting RUTITIS...stuck in RUTS that age me.

Now, Jesus, please don't misunderstand. You can come back anytime you want...the sooner the better for me...MARANATHA...but if you don't, I'll stick around and work for you for another 50 years!

Here's the article about the club I am joining!
In 1950, the number of centenarians was a few thousand, but it has jumped to more than 340,000 worldwide today. The highest concentrations are in the U.S. and Japan, according to the latest Census Bureau figures. Their numbers are projected to grow at more than 20 times the rates of the total population by 2050, making them the fastest growing age segment. [The Associated Press]

I say, Why NOT ME?

July 20, 2009

Angry Email Pain

I got an email from an angry newcomer today. We had an amazing service yesterday with several new people raving about what a warm friendly loving caring church we are. I am floating, thinking life is great, God is great, our church is great and then BAM...someone punches me in the heart. Ouch!

But I have to credit the guy...he signed the email. I have a healthy habit of trashing all the notes and emails that are not signed. If someone is not brave enough to sign it, then I am not interested enough to read it. I don't have time to guess who wrote it. So the guy gets one credit.

After that it's all down hill. He verbally vomits and in the process gets most of his facts wrong. But emotions are such tricky things...we don't see reality, we see our perception of reality and when we are wearing blue spectacles then, my golly, the world is blue...for a fact it's blue.

I really feel bad for the guy and hopefully if he reads my blog he won't know it's him that I am talking about. His initials are H.U.R.T. I know that for a fact.

And here's the big truth you must never forget.....drum roll please....HURTING PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. That truth helps me a lot...they are mad at me...but not really...they are mad at life and their pain is so heavy they must try and transmit as much of it as possible to others.

So here's how I handle it:
1. I look for any truth in his words.
2. I pray for him and his pain.
3. I write a soft reply (a gentle answer turns away wrath the Bible says).
4. I seek my next opportunity to love a man who thinks he is my enemy.
5. I focus on the positive comments that far outweigh the one bad.
6. I remember even Jesus had a Judas who was a BIG critic.
7. I drown my pain in a Root Beer Float. (jk)

July 18, 2009

Body, Souls, Spirits - New Adventures

A BODY needs food and clean water.
A SOUL needs education and care.
A SPIRIT needs Jesus, truth, and love.

My life is committed to making an impact in the lives of others in all 3 arenas.

This week our non-profit ( launched a new initiative that will be headed by Denise Keller. It is to bring a life-giving, significant size water well to the needy in the remote village of Bita Genet, Ethiopia. The diseases contracted from the unfit water that is being scavenged from gross puddles are killing many, especially children.

Also we are going to build a school in that village. Bita Genet has 80% unemployment and 80% illiteracy. The gift of being able to read will be a huge blessing to children.

JR Rushik, leader of Storehouse Church in Philadelphia is partnering with me and Light & Life Christian Fellowship to build a new and significant church building in the village of Bita Genet. We want to introduce people to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ and see their spirits set free to soar in God.

An amazing thing happened this week: A Dutch-Indonesian pastor sought me out and wants to integrate his small church into Light & Life. He is almost 70 and looking to retire but wants to provide for his flock. The church "City of Praise" also has a dynamic work in Indonesia on the island formerly known as Borneo.

City of Praise in Indonesia includes a school, an orphanage, micro-enterprise, a church, and more. Another way that we may end up touching hundreds of lives in Body, Soul, and Spirit.

I need prayer and wisdom and resources to pursue these incredible open doors of ministry.

Love a Dog But Love a Kid More

Growing up on the farm I have a different view of animals than the urban pet owner who has only seen their animal through eyes of friendship. But I believe that the following article from Christianity Today makes a very valid point about "the higher value of humans, the kindness toward animals, and the unlimited capacity for compassion within the human heart that is filled with the Holy Spirit:

Not One Sparrow
We can be 'speciesists' and show compassion for animals.
A Christianity Today editorial | posted 7/13/2009 10:33AM

In a recent post on Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today women's blog, Saddleback Church's Kay Warren shared the story of being emotionally duped, then angered, by a heart-tugging television ad about suffering animals. As someone who has seen Rwandan children orphaned by hiv and surviving on dirt cookies, Warren urged readers to remember the chasm between humans and animals, and the respective dignity that chasm confers. "Only people have a spiritual dimension," she wrote. "Jesus didn't die for animals; he gave his all for human beings."

Warren's post received many thankful "amens." Her frustration resonates with many Christians who are concerned with appeals for animal compassion when so much callousness toward human suffering persists. Such concern is rooted in both Scripture's witness and the intuitive knowledge that, while animals and all of non-human creation are not disposable, neither do they have the same worth as humankind. It was the first human's nostrils into which God, in an embarrassingly intimate act, breathed life; it was the human patriarchs and their families whom God called into covenant relationship; when God chose Mary, a Jewish teenager in a backwater of the Roman Empire, it was human flesh he chose to take on. And though Paul writes in Romans 8 that God will usher the entire creation into freedom in the age to come, he also says that humans alone were chosen "before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless … to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:4-5).

Given the highlights of God's story of redemption, Christians cannot help being a bit speciesist, a term coined by psychologist Richard D. Ryder for "the widespread discrimination … practiced by man against other species" and popularized by Princeton philosopher Peter Singer.

But while Christians happily acknowledge the charge, we misstep when we brush off animal cruelty with nonchalance. Showing animal compassion does not de facto assign animals the same worth as humans. It merely acknowledges that animals have worth and dignity—something plainly assumed in biblical passages like Exodus 21-22:14 and Deuteronomy 25, which outline upright ways to handle livestock, and Proverbs 12:10, which praises the righteous man who "cares for the needs of his animal." The church has traditionally interpreted Isaiah 65's well-known apocalyptic imagery of lions and lambs not as a cozy metaphor of human community, but as a picture of fully restored creation, people and animals. And while Luke 12:6's five sparrows sold for two cents usually refer to God's sovereign care for us in our daily lives, it's remarkable that those five sparrows aren't forgotten by God, but are part of his sovereign care as well.

Instead of leading us down dangerous paths toward secular humanism, animal compassion becomes part of our privileged role as custodians of the creatures in which God delights. In fact, C. S. Lewis, who wrestled in many essays with the seeming senselessness of animal suffering, argued that it was precisely because humans are higher than animals in creation's hierarchy that they should oppose animal cruelty. Our very superiority to animals, he said, ought to motivate us "to prove ourselves better than the beasts precisely by the fact of acknowledging duties to them which they do not acknowledge to us."

When we hear about dogs being hanged or drowned for not performing well in dogfighting rings, or about legitimate hunting turning into mere slaughter, or when livestock are killed in ways that prolong their suffering, what usually erupts in us is an adamant no! We do well to pay attention to that no!, because it tells us that something has gone horribly wrong with the world, something Christians believe traces back to man's enmity with God.No! is also our response, of course, when 8-year-olds are forced to prostitute themselves on Cambodian streets, or a doctor admits to having aborted a child one day before he was due. But we need not worry that our no! about cruelty to animals will lessen our response to wrong done to humans.

Compassion is not a zero-sum game. Compassion begets more compassion, though channeled into different responses and for different ends. The most famous evangelical animal activist, William Wilberforce, publicly opposed bull-baiting (a spectator sport where dogs attack bulls) and co-founded the first animal welfare group out of the same vision for Christ's kingdom that led him to support public Sabbath observance, fund evangelism to Indians, and work to overthrow the British slave trade, among countless other initiatives.

It's our recognition of Christ's reign over all things—even the sparrows—that compels us to proclaim our no! about animal cruelty in the public square, and to make our yes! about the worth and dignity of all God's creatures a joyful witness to his coming kingdom.

July 13, 2009

African Village Recalibration

Upon return from three weeks in remote villages of Africa, I appreciate so many things, so very much.
I get RECALIBRATED every time I spend time in 3rd World Poverty.

I have new found appreciation for:
Paved roads, green grassy yards, curbs, ICE, choices in food, vehicles with all the floorboard in place,running water, toilets, napkins, dogs without mange, boundaries for farm animals (not in house), emission controls, stoplights and stop signs, sewer systems, bug control, washing machines, ICE, electricity, democracy with only minimal corruption, hospitals, ambulances, medical centers, recliners, tap water, tap water, tap water, art, parking spots, stores with parking lots, unemployment rates below 20%, literacy rates above 50%, smoke free cooking (except when I cook), libraries, theaters, ICE, mattresses with springs, dressers, and much much more.

Things I miss when I return home from African villages:
Time for friendships, slower pace of life, deeper connection with nature, joy found in simple things, the priority of family life, the dependency upon God, the joy found in God's presence, the uncomplicated truth about life, the lack of pretense and play acting, the freedom from multi-tasking.

June 08, 2009


A friend of mine gave me a quote recently.
"Enough is always better than too much".
"Enough" is plenty. "Too much" is problematic.

The writer of Proverbs agreed. Listen "If you find honey, eat just enough - too much of it, and you will vomit." (25:16)
In the USA we live in the land of honey and there is a lot of vomiting going on.

Of course the question is "What's enough?"

For the apostle Paul it was "If I have food and clothes, I will be content".
That's a little different than saying "If I own a home, two cars, a closet full of clothes, some jewelry, a lap top, a vacation plan, a big screen tv, and a Costco Membership...I will be content".

The enemy of "enough" is "MORE". More stuff, more gadgets, more money, more success, more power, more status.

The enemy of "enough" is "BETTER" Better stuff, better gadgets, better house, better cars, better skin, better breasts, better clothes.

The friend of "enough" is "CONTENTMENT"...Content with what we have, who we are, where we are, whose we are, what we are doing.

The friend of "enough" is "FREE"...Free love from God, free truth, free friendships, free creation to enjoy, free places to explore, free laughter to share, free service of others, free family time, free worship encounters, free church services, free exercise, free time, free imagination, free books from the library, free lots of things!

Our pursuit of "more" and "better" is often the BIG thief of "CONTENT" and "FREE".

The Bible teaches us a lot about "enough" but our consumerism blinds us to much of it.

For example we all LOVE the prayer of Jabez...MORE BLESSINGS! MORE TERRITORY!
I like that prayer and use it but if I am not careful it can become self-serving consumerism!!

BUT how many copies would the prayer of AGUR sell?
Listen to his prayer: "...Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 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. (Proverbs 30:8,9)

That's the prayer of enough...may God help us learn this prayer so we can be CONTENT and FREE.

May 28, 2009

The Big Red Snoz Reorientation

"Snoz" is slang for "nose", but of course if you remember Jimmy Durante you would know that. His nasal capacity was capable of hiding small warships. But he turned his snoz into a big part of his fame.

Currently my SNOZ is Durante size, "Rudolph" red, flaking like mom's pie crust, and as ugly as an old horse's backside.

I look in the mirror and say, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest snoze of all?" and my mirror cackles back in glee, "You are oh great olfactory one".

The other day my wife said, "Stop being so nosy, Larry." She actually meant, "Can't you do anything with your snoz?"

The problem is I have been rubbing chemo creme on my facial appendage both morning and night. It has swollen and redden and dried my nose beyond recognition.

Small children now point at my snoz while running in terror to their mothers.

I used to be the guy who gets stopped on Rodeo Drive and asked for my autograph..."Richard Gere, can we have your autograph" (Of course I sign it, take pictures, before saying, "My real name is Larry").

But not any more. I walked through Nordstrom's and all 12 fragrance models refused to squirt me with their smell good juice! You know you are looking ragged, when that happens.

But it has been good for me (in a kind of masochistic manner of speaking). My pride in my looks has been replaced with empathy for those who get "looked" at everyday... those who have ailments, disfigurements, abnormalities, that cause people to do a double take before trying to look like they aren't still looking.

It's reorienting me. It's challenging how much of my confidence is in how I look...or how much of my self-value is in how others look at me. I want to call out, "hey wait! Get to know me before you dismiss me because I look like a Rudolph stand in!"

My value and security are in how Christ views me...not in the views that others have of me.

The Snoz joked his way to Hollywood fame...I don't know if that's because he was secure and could laugh at his snoze size or because he was insecure and had to joke to hide his pain.

I want my temporary snoz to do permanent work in my heart. "Oh God may I be so secure in you that, my appearance does not affect my all out living for you! Reorient me to your opinion alone!"

May 25, 2009

Islamic Demographics

Because I so frequently minister in Islamic regions (I leave for Jimma Ethiopia in 4 weeks...Jimma is the Al Queda headquarters of Ethiopia) I wanted to share a blog by a fellow pastor\leader that is a BALANCED understanding and response to Islamic Demographics.

James Emery White writes:
The Challenge of Muslim Demographics
You may be among the over six million, to date, which has viewed the startling video on YouTube titled Muslim Demographics. If not, you will soon. It is spreading virally with blinding speed. The link is offered below.

Here’s the short version: the birth rate of non-Muslims, compared to Muslims – coupled with immigration – will result in Muslims taking over the planet. We’d better start having babies, and amp up our evangelism. And, if I got it right, probably in that order.

It is a disturbing video. It is designed to alarm, and it does its job well. As you would imagine, the video has already been taken to task for fear-mongering and truth-distortion, and to a degree, rightfully so. But it does raise a significant cultural challenge: Islam is on the rise, and its rise is a challenge for Christians throughout the world.

There are two equally mistaken reactions to the relationship between the cross and the crescent.

The first is to panic over Islam’s muscular, aggressive growth. We’ve been panicking about this since the crusades. Some of it is certainly warranted, as Islam has expanded by force at various times and places throughout its history, and as Samuel Huntington has written, there is clearly a clash of civilizations taking place between Islam and the West. Huntington even predicts that Islam will come out on top due to its willingness to be aggressive and even militant in exporting its views. Yet the danger of giving in to panic is that the relationship between Christians and Muslims becomes one of us vs. them, good guys vs. bad guys, white hats vs. black hats. In short, they become the enemy.

The second reaction, equally mistaken, is to say “peace, peace,…when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). There are some who seem so intent on making up for the widespread post-9/11 caricature of an entire religious population that there is little, if any, acknowledgment of the deep differences between Christianity and Islam, and the need to robustly convey the distinctive message of Christ to the world.

As Timothy George has posed, “Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?” The answer, George writes, is surely Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that the Father of Jesus is the only God there is. He is the Creator and Sovereign Lord of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, and of every person who has ever lived. But the answer is also No, for Muslim theology rejects the divinity of Christ and the personhood of the Holy Spirit - both essential components of the Christian understanding of God.

Yes, the world is changing. Islam is growing while Christianity, in many quarters, is waning. The best response is to neither demonize Muslims nor deny the differences between Christianity and Islam. The best response is to know what we believe, why we believe it, and then carry that message to the world.

And maybe have some more babies.
To watch the “Muslim Demographics” video:

May 18, 2009

168 Hours and Our Orphans

168 hours ago, one week was very different.

Most weeks in my life are somewhat exciting. I choose a life of adventure instead of routine. I create opportunities to bust ruts and blaze paths.

But this week was new in a unique way. We inherited two orphans, at least for a time. Two wonderful inner city teens suddenly lost their only guardians. Mom, a friend of ours had a heart attack and died. She was only 45. Earlier her husband had been killed by a drunk driver. Alex and Anjelica are with us now.

Our home has been filled with comforting the heartbroken, and scaling the rock wall of social services, death certificates, and memorial details.

We love our new kids and life is very different now. Back to helping with homework, enforcing chores, monitoring internet, and laughing with "our kids".

As Christians we do not know what the Lord may ask us to do next. Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said, In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (Prov 16:9)

If we live with a "YES to ANYTHING YOU ASK, LORD" attitude, you never know what 168 hours will bring! Ask Job, ask Paul, ask Abraham, ask Joseph... LIFE IS NOT A LAP DOG TO BE CODDLED, BUT A LION WITH A TAIL TO HANG ON TO!

May 10, 2009

She Held Him Close (A Mother's Day Poem)

She Held Him Close

She held him close,
her living breathing miracle baby,
His wailing softened, his face relaxed, peaceful sleep came,
Finally she wrapped him in linen clothes
And tenderly laid him in the feed trough

She held him close,
her rambunctious, energetic toddler,
He clung to her and his tears from his scraped knee began to dry
Finally she kissed his owie, washed it off
And gently laid him in his bed.

She held him close,
her growing, school boy
He hugged her and his heaviness began to lift
The boys who had called him names began to fade in his mind.
Finally she squeezed him one more time
And lovingly led him to his room to nap.

She held him close,
her strapping teenage son.
His muscles rippled as he hugged her back
It was the brief hug of a teenage boy but a strong hug nonetheless
Finally she let him go
And laid out a large plate of figs and nuts.

She held him close,
her carpenter man.
His sweaty robe was no offense to her
He held her tight in a Mother’s day hug,
Finally he let her go because she could not let go,
And headed out on his Father’s dangerous mission.

She held him close,
her crucified boy
His wounds gaped open, but his eyes were closed.
Her tears washed his bloodied face
Finally she let him go
And carefully she laid him in the clothes of the grave.

She held him close,
her glorified savior
His wounds visible but transformed
His mission accomplished, His smile a mile wide,
Finally her old, weary arms let him go
And carefully he laid her down
Soon to see her again face to face
Where he would forever hold her close

- Larry j. Walkemeyer (all rights reserved)

May 08, 2009

Which Way is Forward?

Which way is forward? 

I saw my friend Neil today. Neil is the most influential leader in America in the house church movement. 

Yesterday I talked with my friend Dwight, a mega, mega church pastor. 

Both are tremendous men of God and both have a very different approach to ministry. 

Which way is forward? 

I talked with a highly influential friend today, her heart is foreign missions because America has so many social programs that can help the poor. 

Yesterday I was with a contractor whose heart is helping locally because God has planted him here and he wants to address the brokenness in his own city. 

Which way is forward? 

One of my friends is full on into evangelism believing God will keep those who respond to salvation. 

Another of my friends believes that evangelism is irresponsible without intense discipleship to ensure that the convert survives and grows. 

Which way is forward? 

A close brother of mine believes you influence by holding small relational training groups that multiply. 

My other brother believes you influence by holding conferences for 1000's who catch the excitment for ministry. 

Which way is forward? 

One friend says, improve the current denominational system. 

The other friend says, blow up the denominational system and start over with the pieces. 

Which way is forward? 

Forward is listening to heaven and responding from who I am and where I am. 
Forward is opening UPWARD to all that God is saying by His Spirit to my heart. 
Forward is focusing UPWARD to keep the eyes of all who follow me gazing at His face. 

May 04, 2009


After a long blog hiatus I am back to the blogosphere

I have pretty much lost my voice...again. Overuse. It's frustrating to have thoughts and feelings and ideas and have to sit there silently because talking is so difficult or even impossible at times.

As I was sitting silently this morning I thought of all those in the world who don't have a voice. Who would like to speak up but can not. Who have ideas, and thoughts, and input, and dreams, and insights but they are so disempowered or oppressed that they live in silence. 

Stephen Covey, the famous author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", wrote a book entitled, "The 8th Habit" and simply stated that habit is to "Find our voice and inspire others to find theirs". I personally think it's a good book and great quest. 

If Ephesians 2:10 is true, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared long ago for us to do" then every person was created to have a voice. To contribute, to make a difference, to add their voice to the creative choir of praise that God has assembled through humanity. 

Those who have been so abused, oppressed, ignored, deceived, or ridiculed that they have lost their voice MUST have help discovering it and using it. What a worthy mission to use our voice to help others find theirs. 

God, I want to spend my life in the voice development department! When each person finds their unique part and begins to sing unabashedly what a glorious choir that will be! 

Ira Sankey, the great song leader for the Dwight Moody crusades, awoke one Easter morning with no voice. Someone said, "It must be terrible not to be able to sing God's praises this glorious day." Sankey wrote a reply, "Yes, but much more tragic to have a voice but no desire to sing." God give people a voice but especially a heart to sing! 

April 07, 2009

A Brief Original Ode to His Fall and Rise

Into the darkness with uncertain fear,
traveling deeper than imagined,
breathing shallow as the pressure increases,
embracing pain not as a friend
but as an enemy that must be held close,
being dragged down and down
further into the cave of death,
wrapped tighter and tighter,
all breath being squeezed out,
immovable, helpless, trapped,
closeted into a total blackness,
until I am gone, stepped over
into the realm fully opposite of me,

nothing, nothing, nothing,
empty, empty, empty,
silence, silence, silence

Tiny ember... A word spoken!
I hear it! Listen...
Yes...there it is...
piercing the darkness and deafness,
Spark! Spark! Spark!


March 31, 2009

Don't Play Soccer on Sundays

In Nehemiah 13 the Israelites were marrying pagan women and adopting their worship practices. So in Nehemiah 13: 24 God describes the problem this way... "As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah..."

God has commanded us this - "Remember the sabbath to keep it holy"...or don't trade the sabbath for a soccer game.

I disagree with the Seventh Day Adventist on the subject of the sabbath. I admire them in principle but disagree with them in particulars. Oh that we would honor the principle of the sabbath the way they honor the law of the sabbath.

Because we don't honor God enough to give him our attention for a day or at least a morning, we are teaching a pagan language to our children. They don't speak the language of Judah...the language of worship, the language of the church, the language of scripture.

Instead they speak the language of soccer, softball, water polo, and other club sports that flagrantly, unabashedly and shamelessly lay claim to Sunday morning.

When I was growing up no sport team dared to practice or play on Sunday morning....That belonged to God whether you believed in God or not; whether you were waking up early for church or waking up late from a hang over...Sunday was OPEN SPACE.

There is no OPEN SPACE in our lives anymore. No quiet time to pull up to the stop sign and just sit there for a couple of hours and let LIFE get quiet again. And because there is not this time, the language of Judah is becoming extinct.

Parents want their kids to grow up and love God and the church, but then they make gods of sports and activities and academics, then they wonder why their kids are growing up without an appetite for God or his church. Wake up and smell the spiritual learn what they SEE not what they HEAR!

We must stop marrying the pagan practices of the world and carve out a weekly time of modeling "God attention time" and then prioritize that in a way that our children learn again the language of Judah!

March 27, 2009

Living Forever in Weird Houses?

As Resurrection Sunday (Easter) approaches  I could not resist quoting in full Albert Mohler's blog: 

Transhumanism Trips on a Ponzi Scheme?

If this article had appeared in a newspaper less illustrious and authoritative than The Wall Street Journal, I would have assumed it to be a hoax.  Evidently not.  It seems that a couple of intrepid transhumanist artists have lost their funding, thanks to the fact that their investments had been managed by Bernard Madoff, the investor who just admitted to running what may well be the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Transhumanism, you may recall, is the movement that is determined to reverse aging and to extend the human life span indefinitely.  What does that have to do with art?  Funny you should ask.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Arakawa and Madeline Gins are artists who have committed their energies and art to the quest to make human beings immortal.  Arakawa (his entire name) and Madeline Gin base their artistic quest for immortality "on the idea that people degenerate and die in part because they live in spaces that are too comfortable."  Seriously.  Their answer is to "construct abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged, and feeling anything but comfortable."

Arakawa insists that living in these disorienting spaces can make one "become like a baby."  As the Journal reports, "They build buildings with no doors inside. They place rooms far apart. They put windows near the ceiling or near the floor. Between rooms are sloping, bumpy moonscape-like floors designed to throw occupants off balance."

The whole idea throws me off balance.  The world of modern "art" is littered with nonsense of limitless variety.  These artists have built nine "reversible destiny" lofts in Japan at a cost of $6 million.  The lofts are shaped like spheres, tubes, or cubes and are marked by odd features, misshapen floors and walls, and uneven floors.

One Japanese loft tenant, Nobutaka Yamaoka, claims to have lost both weight and his hay fever after a couple years of living in the loft with his family.  He admits that he isn't sure that the loft had anything to do with these achievements.  He can't buy furniture for his loft because of the uneven floors and his wife complains that she hits her head trying to crawl to the outdoors through a window, but Mr. Yamaoka is undeterred.  Ms. Gins told the Journal that crawling out of the low window in order to hang up the laundry is "one of the exercises."  Obviously.

Here is my favorite part of the article:

"Their research is a milestone in the history of conceptual art," says Alexandra Munroe, senior curator at the main Guggenheim Museum, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where the couple's work is currently on display. She says many of their supporters don't literally accept the couple's message on immortality but appreciate it in a "metaphorical" way.

To the artists, eternal life is a real possibility. "This is a great chance for the human race," says Ms. Gins.

Well, this "great chance for the human race" is endangered by a lack of funding, given the fact that these artists lost their funding to Bernard Madoff's scheme. "Here was someone we thought was a supporter of ours, and he pulled the rug out from under us," said Ms. Gins.

Other transhumanists were quick to distance themselves from the odd theory of age reversal advocated by this artistic couple.  Ray Kurzweil, identified as "a leading transhumanist figure in the U.S.," dismissed the theory of Arakawa and Ms. Gins and offered his own, presumably less odd theory of age reversal.  Kurzweil told theJournal that future human beings will have small cell-regenerating robots in their bodies.  He evidently thinks that robots inside our bodies would seem less odd than the idea that we are dying because our living spaces are too comfortable.

Just last week TIME magazine reported that "amortality" is one of the "Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now."  Meanwhile, the Journal cites a professor of aging who called the promotion of longevity "the second-oldest profession."

The great quest of transhumanism is to defy death and to redefine what it means to be human.  But death will not forever be defied and those who live in uncomfortable houses are not likely to live much longer than those who reside in (apparently) deadly comfort.  God is not mocked.

This is an idea that ran out of sense long before it ran out of money.

March 13, 2009


The following words from Jim Liebelt deeply trouble me:

The image was blurred and the voice distorted, but the words spoken by a young Ohio woman are haunting. She had sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent them to other high school girls. The girls were harassing her, calling her a slut and a whore. She was miserable and depressed, afraid even to go to school.

And now Jesse Logan was going on a Cincinnati television station to tell her story. Her purpose was simple: “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this again.”

The interview was in May 2008. Two months later, Jessica Logan hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 18.


Our sex crazed society is paying for its sin in increasing measure. If the church does not raise the banner of the pleasures of purity and the destructiveness of porn, we will be living in a unstoppable cesspool of anguish and addiction. Sexual addiction is destroying lives...teens, marriages, men, families, leaders, women...lives are being impaled on the strippers pole that promises pleasure but ends up peircing the heart with death.

Church arise with grace, love, truth and the REAL alternative lifestyle that brings the greatest joys and pleasures!

March 12, 2009

Rethinking Money - Rich Dad, Poor Dad?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad...the book by Robert Kiyosaki has some wisdom and foolishness in it. The veracity of the author has been questioned. But the idea of two dads dispensing divergent advice is an accurate metaphor for the theological scene in America.

Is God helping us be healthy, wealthy, and wise? If we are deeply plugged into the Holy Spirit will our coffers fill and our possessions increase? Is he Rich Dad?
Is God helping us be sacrificial to the point of poverty, generous to the point of simplicity, amassing our treasures on the other side instead of this one? Is he freeing us from the corrupting influence of the American dollar?

I recently had a conversation with a man in our church who wanted to tell me how rich Jesus really was. He listed a litany of reasons that Jesus was wealthy. The same week I read the blog of one of my church members who had just returned from the slums of Haiti and was seeking to awaken American Christians to the deception of consumerism.

Some bottom lines for me:
1. Money is far more deceptive and destructive than we realize.

2. Money is not a neutral medium. There is a "god of mammon" at work.

3. Money's power can only be controlled through radical generosity to the kingdom and the poor.

4. Scriptural principles of hard work, disciplined spending, simplicity of desires, wise investing, savings, tithing and alms giving, prayer for divine favor, and clean living all lead to overall prosperity and financial blessing!

5. Jesus is not a communist. His desire is NOT that all people have the same amount. Even in heaven this won't be true. His desire is that people have plenty for all their NEEDS.

6. Jesus does not deal the same with every person...some he calls to voluntary poverty, others to great wealth with great generosity.

7. We must be led by the Holy Spirit in our financial journey.

8. Our hearts must break with what breaks God's increase our lifestyle dramatically without increasing our generosity more more dramatically is deception. To put it more bluntly: The wealthier you become the higher percentage you must give away.

Our RICH DAD above wants to bless us BUT he is wise enough to know what a SMALL part of true blessing MONEY really is. He doesn't want us to "have" money if money is going to "have" us.
He calls us to HIMSELF, to know Him, and to share His heart for the hurting, and to walk free of the "love of money".

March 09, 2009

Cars , Crowbars, and Calling

Due to the significant repairs needed on our 8 year old car, I bought a new car...slightly used but a 2008 car, same color and make as my last one. I picked it up on Friday evening and drove it to Men's Breakfast on Saturday morning. While I was praying for some men over breakfast, some angry person was taking a crow bar to my new car's trunk.

When I found it, I was obviously upset but two other reactions quickly shoved the anger out of the way.
First, stuff is just stuff, even when it's new stuff. I think I heard the Spirit whisper, "it's only a car, it's only a car".

The second thought was, "I can't imagine how broken an angry that person is who attacked my car simply because it was shiny and new." My car with the dented trunk was probably ten times nicer than anything they had ever owned.

Third, "how safe is the neighborhood I minister in?" Not all that safe. In the past 18 months robberies, multiple murders, and various other crimes have occurred within a small radius of our church. Which simple means this...we are at the right place. We are where the gospel is needed. We are called to reach, teach and mend a broken neighborhood because that's what Jesus would do.

Events like this can make me pine for a nicer suburban church, such as the ones I have turned down on multiple occassions. But these events can also make me more resolved to remain where I am "for the good of the hood". Amen! "For the good of the hood"