God heals

This Sunday marks the beginning of an important season at Maranatha. I will be preaching on the subject called, “God Heals”. There is a lot of preparation that is going into these messages that help built anticipation in my heart. God cares very much for hurting people and He has the power to change circumstances.

Please, if you live in the area around Maranatha Church and if you or someone you know is dealing with a painful issue – body, soul or spirit, – I encourage you to attend these services. You may find details and directions at Maranatha Church.

God Heals!

what, do you think it’s your birthday or something?

It is. My birthday, that is. Well not until tomorrow, July 29. Letha and I have some very special plans to celebrate. We will start with an early banana and yogurt breakfast, I’ll hit the shower and be gone by 8:00. I have an all-day denominational meeting. During the day, I will grab a quick lunch and dinner with her and then be right back at it tomorrow night. We have a worship service to be at from 7:00 until around 10:00. In all, I’ll spend 12-14 hours doing church stuff.

Last year, I spent my birthday on Pike’s Peak in Colorado. That was one amazing trip. This year I am a church meeting.

That’s OK, I don’t mind. I get to see my wife a couple times during the day. I get to see some of my best friends. I even get to eat out for a meal or two.

Happy birthday to me!

Helping Haiti launch

We introduced our Helping Haiti project on Sunday. The people seemed excited about what we are doing. I am glad to report that nearly $2000 was given or pledged. And that is without any chance to prepare! We are expecting the church to respond well.

Maranatha Church is so generous, a truly missional church!

Help us spread the word and do what you can. See details here.

Enjoy a great week, everyone!


Sage part 3

Once again, Proverbs has proven too much for me to handle. I just can’t cover all the verses that need to be covered. In the conclusion of Sage: Activating the Book of Proverbs, we are addressing chapters 18-31. After reading the chapters over and over, I believe there are 3 major topics – we are looking at:
1. Destructive Behaviors to Avoid, 2. Taking Care of the Needy, and 3. Getting Family Right.

Below are the scriptures that address each of the topics. You’ll see why I did not have the time in our worship events to cover them all:

1. Avoid Destructive Behavior (4 things that will destroy you)

18:12 Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor. (CEV)
18:15 Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights. (MSG)
21:4 Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked— are just plain sin. (MSG)
27:1-2 Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. 2 Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips. (NLT)
27:21 Gold and silver are tested in a red-hot furnace, but we are tested by praise. (CEV)
29:23 Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored. (NCV)

18:9 Being lazy is no different from being a troublemaker. (CEV)
19:15 Lazy people sleep a lot, and idle people will go hungry. (NCV)
20:4 If you are too lazy to plow, don’t expect a harvest. (CEV)
20:13 If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat! (NLT)
21:25 Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. (NLT)
22:13 The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (NLT)
24:30-34 I once walked by the field and the vineyard of a lazy fool. 31Thorns and weeds were everywhere, and the stone wall had fallen down. 32When I saw this, it taught me a lesson: 33Sleep a little. Doze a little. Fold your hands and twiddle your thumbs. 34Suddenly poverty hits you and everything is gone! (CEV)
26:13-16 The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” 14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. 15 Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth. 16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors. (NLT)
28:19 Work your garden—you’ll end up with plenty of food; play and party—you’ll end up with an empty plate. (MSG)

20:1 Wine and beer make people loud and uncontrolled; it is not wise to get drunk on them (NCV)
23:29-35 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. 31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. 32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. 33 You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. 34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. 35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?” (NLT)
31:4-7 Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink. 5Drinking makes you forget your responsibilities, and you mistreat the poor. 6Beer and wine are only for the dying or for those who have lost all hope. 7Let them drink and forget how poor and miserable they feel. (CEV)

18:7-8 The words of fools will ruin them; their own words will trap them. 8 The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to gobble them up. (NCV)
18:21 Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (MSG)
20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. (TNIV)
25:23 As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger! (NLT)
26:20 Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. (NLT)

2. Take care of the poor

19:17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD— and he will repay you! (NLT)
21:13 If you won’t help the poor, don’t expect to be heard when you cry out for help. (CEV)
21:26 Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give (NLT)
22:9 The LORD blesses everyone who freely gives food to the poor. (CEV)
22:16 Whoever gets rich by mistreating the poor, and gives presents to the wealthy, will become poor. (NCV)
22:22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak, Because GOD will come to their defense; the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them (MSG)
28:27 Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. (NLT)
29:7 The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all. (NLT)
31:8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. (NLT)

3. Get family right
18:22 The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD. (NLT)
19:13-14 A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. 14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD. (TNIV)
21:9 It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. (NLT)
21:19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. (NLT)
27:15-16 A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. 16 Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands. (NLT)
31:10-31 a godly woman

Disciplining Kids:
18:19 Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives. (NLT)
20:7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.. (NLT)
22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (TNIV)
22:15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away. (NLT)
23:13-14 Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)
23:24 The father of a good child is very happy; parents who have wise children are glad because of them. (NCV)
29:15 To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (NLT)
29:17 Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did— they’ll turn out delightful to live with. (MSG)

Words to children:
19:26 Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace. (NLT)
20:20 If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness. (NLT)
23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not forget your mother when she is old. (NCV)
23:25 Make your father and mother happy; give your mother a reason to be glad. (NCV)
28:7 Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents. (NLT)

If you made it all the way through that, you deserve a laugh. Here is one of my favorite Proverbs (although I am not exactly sure what it means!):

Proverbs 30:33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife. (KJV)

Someday I’ll preach an entire series on that one!

Helping Haiti

In 36 days, 7 other guys and I leave for Haiti. We’re going to do our little part to try to make someone’s life better. We will be working on simple construction projects and taking supplies and funds to the hurting people in Port au Prince.

We are raising money to help fund these projects. We have committed $5,000 to build a prefab home for an elderly Pastor and family who have no place in which to live. We also plan to fund some minor projects that need to be done. Security walls need to be reconstructed, homes need to be built, churches need to be rebuilt. The need is major and I can’t imagine taking enough money to cover everything that needs to be accomplished. We can’t do it all, but we can all do something.

I am asking you for three things:

1. Would you consider making a donation? Just click here for detailed information about secure donations. I promise you, 100% of your donation will go directly to meet the needs of the poor people of Haiti.

2. Would you share this post with a friend; on your Twitter page, on your facebook wall or on your blog? You can just click on the links at the bottom of this post. Send a mass email if you have to. We need to get the word out in as many ways as possible. If you do not want to share my blog, please send your friends and family to Maranatha’s outreach website: wecanshareit.org.

3. Would you pray sincerely that this project will change the lives of people? I have no question that the lives of the team are going will be eternally impacted. We are praying that the Haitian people will see the love of God clearly demonstrated, that someone will find hope, that many will find Christ as a result of what you and I doing.

Thanks very much, I will keep you posted as the trip date gets closer.




Through the years, I have come across more than one leader who was stranded on the side of the road, leg entangled in an ugly trap. They were hurt and bleeding and their leadership was sidelined.

I have listed a few of these traps and have given some advice about how to avoid them. Honestly, I have a few scars from being caught in a few of these snares. Maybe I can help you to go around some of these:

Pleasing people: Don’t ever believe that you can make people happy, that you are responsible for the fulfillment of others or that they can count on you to make life work for them. It’s not true and trying to do so will only destroy your effectiveness as a leader. It’s OK if everyone doesn’t like you. In fact, unless someone is currently ticked at you, you probably aren’t doing a very good job leading.

Answering to only one (other than God): All of us need to be accountable but we need to give account to a multiplicity of people. Submitting to any one person alone creates unhealthy dependences. Obviously, we all bow to the Father.

Messiah complex: Unless you can walk on water, you are not Jesus. You are not indispensable. Don’t forget it.

Special interest groups: People with an agenda tend to want to force that agenda on you. Don’t let it happen. Stay clear of manipulators who try to attach your name/reputation to their cause.

Tolerating disloyalty because of talent: If a person is not loyal to you, they will cause you more harm than good – end of story. It doesn’t matter if they have mad skills, they will submarine you and you will regret trusting them.

Not reading:
Busy leaders have to make time to feed their minds. The least productive times in my life were the ones when I was too busy or too lazy to read. Keep a good book close by and read it.

Cynicism: Weary leaders often fall to the low level of cynic. Past defeats, let-downs and disappointments with people can bring about a skepticism that becomes cancerous to leaders. Stay fresh, take a break and keep your heart soft. Cynicism will destroy you.

Large donors: Don’t ever be under the control of large contributors. Once they have too much influence over you, they are driving and you are merely a passenger.

An undisciplined schedule: Empty spaces on the To Do List creates stagnation for leaders. Busyness for the sake of busyness is silly but a blank calendar is the devil‘s playground. Schedule productive activities.

Because I appreciate symmetry (and am a bit OCD) I can’t end on the number 9, so here’s one more:

Giving out more than you take in: Some leaders seem to have an endless supply of energy, enthusiasm and passion. Even these super-leaders have to take time to feed themselves. If you fail to do this, you will find yourself depleted and weak. Take the time to do something for yourself – those you lead will be glad, and you will be more effective.

Keep these things in mind. Stay out of the traps. Lead strong!

gearing up for Haiti

I am planning a long-anticipated trip to Port au Prince, Haiti from August 28-September 3. Just over six months ago, a devastating earthquake rocked the entire country and recovery is still in the foundational stages. With the help of a connection and friend there, a team of eight pastors (including J Simms, our Executive Pastor) will go to do hands-on ministry for one week. We don’t plan to preach or do pastor stuff. Our work will be manual labor. Since our construction skills are limited at best, I expect we will be digging foundations and carrying cement block.

Our church responded in amazing fashion immediately following the quake. We now hope to go the second mile and invest ourselves more deeply in helping Haiti.

In a few days, we will launch a fund-raising effort for this trip. Our tickets are paid for, so every penny that is donated will go directly to assist the Haitian people. We hope to take a good amount of supplies for those in need, along with money to help them with practical needs.

Will you be praying with me and listening for details on how you can get involved? I will have a lot more specifics later this week. Thanks so much.