prognostications (not prophecies) for 2012

Because I am not a fan of getting stoned, I’m not going to identify what I am about to do as  “prophecy”. If you don’t get the reference, they used to stone to death prophets who mis-prophecied. I’m playing it safe.

Here are 5 things we have to look forward to in the next 365 days:

Americans will get all stirred up about the presidential election. Things will get ugly. But we will elect someone to be President. Half of the country will be sad, half glad. And little, if anything, will change.

The economy will recover, but only slightly. The recovery will be election related. Real jobs won’t be created and our country will improve financially, but only on paper.

There will be a major natural disaster. Lives will be lost. News coverage will be thorough; people will be shocked – for a brief period.

Scandals will surface regarding the behavior of well-known people – leaders and celebrities in our country. The general public will be surprised and disappointed.

Terrorism will be an increased problem. The Middle East will be rocked with violence. And chances are America will not be exempt.

Bummer, huh? In case you think I need to take a Xanax, notice the details of what I think will happen in the new year. It is the same stuff that happens most years. Nothing new. Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Now, let me predict with a little more certainty something much more important and relevant for 2012:

God will be good. He will be faithful. He will bless His people.

That, my friends, you can take to the bank! And if it makes you feel better, consider that a prophecy for 2012!

a different approach to worship

Our worship is sacred. Our methods of worship are not necessarily sacred.

On Sunday, January 1 at Cross Community Church, we are planning a completely different approach to worship. This is a one-time event and I am praying that it is effective and well-received.

Rather than a group of people sitting in rows of chairs watching people on a stage “do” ministry, we plan to engage people in ministry on an individual level. Picture this: People and families meet at the church building and enjoy elements of worship both individually and corporately. This is our plan for this coming Sunday.

Our Worship Center will be set up with stations all around the room. At one station, we will read Scripture. At another station, we will express our missional hearts by providing school supplies for needy orphans. At still another station, we will view a video message from God’s Word. Imagine music worship on the video screens, a table set up for Holy Communion, a station where one can receive anointing with oil and prayer and a table for tithing and giving. We will also have a time of challenge toward spiritual growth and discipleship development with our Next Steps process.

This describes our Open House Worship event! At our Palm Beach Shores location, this event will take place between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. At our Palm Beach Gardens location, this will take place between 9:30 and 11:30. Worshipers can come and go as they please and stay as long as they like at each station. We are encouraged to enjoy community time with friends in the Welcome Center at any time during the event.

Since we are still developing the concept, I’d love to hear your feedback on additional ideas. This is, as far as we know, an original idea. I’ve never heard of another local church event quite like this. Hopefully it will be successful and lives will change!

Join us for a day of Open House Worship!

not your usual warm, fuzzy Christmas greeting

I don’t want to be a downer – I want Christmas to be the happiest time of year for all of us. But an important part of a genuine celebration of the birth of Jesus is to consider the purpose of His birth. He was born to bring division, He came to redeem humankind. Jesus was born to die.

In Luke 2, the prophet, Simeon spoke words to Mary and Joseph that must have frightened them:

Luke 2:34-35 “Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” (NLT) How do you think these parents of an 8 day old Son felt about his words?  Gee thanks, Simeon for your encouragement!

Think that through. Some will love Jesus, others will hate Him. He is the Messiah but many will fight against Him. Mary, Jesus’ mother would suffer much pain because of the way her Son would be treated.

Not exactly the kind of Christmas greeting one would hope for. But it tells the rest of the story. And it explains why so many people today resist the real meaning of Christmas – and Jesus.

Merry (and contemplative) Christmas to you!

Is it Tim, football or Jesus?

When the Denver Broncos lose a football game, and they will soon, the devotion of millions of people will be tested.

Tim Tebow is a phenomenon. He has captured the attention of more fans than any other player in recent history. A big part of his popularity is his public faith in Jesus Christ. But that’s not the only thing rocketing him forward. There are plenty of NFL players who are outspoken about their faith.  He is enjoying great success against great odds. It’s a lot of fun to watch him and his teammates beat very good teams, week after week. The experts are flabbergasted, the cynics are frustrated.

My concern is, as soon as Tim and the Broncos lose, critics will have lots of ammo. And some “fans” will drop him like a hot potato.

So, what’s it gonna be? If you cheer for Tim Tebow now, will you cheer for him once the Patriots or Buffalo or someone else beats them … will you still cheer as loudly? If not, don’t beat yourself up – most people are fair-weather fans.

If he never wins another game in the NFL, Tim has held onto his integrity and faith under immense pressure. For that, I cheer him!

spiritual Kevlar

I have cop friends who wear bulletproof vests every day. The vests are made from a tough material called Kevlar. Ordinary bullets can’t penetrate Kevlar. They wear these vests because there are some crazy people out there who do not like police officers and would, given the chance, kill them.

I have some ministry friends who should wear bulletproof vests of a different kind.  They should do this because there are some crazies out there who, given the chance, will destroy them. The bad thing is, many of these crazies are in our churches. They are snipers – they hide out waiting for a chance to take a cheap shot. They lob grenades – “bombs” that blow up everyone in the vicinity. They lay landmines that unsuspecting soldiers step on – and lose limbs and lives. Ministry leaders need vests that preserve their spiritual and emotional well-being. The damage being inflicted is not physical, it is spiritual.

You won’t find spiritual Kevlar on

While it would be easy for me to go the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6) direction with this, I have a little different perspective this time. It is important that we know the most effective spiritual protection against the would-be assassins in the church. So what is it that will protect a pastor from the soul-ripping holes that some would wish to inflict on him?

The only thing that I know of that will make ministry leaders impervious to attacks from their foes is the conviction of calling. One must know that they are called by God to do ministry. Without a for-sure knowledge of divine appointment, the next sucker punch may knock you out. But if you know, no question, beyond doubt that God has compelled and required you to serve Him in this ministry capacity, no critic or saboteur can take you out. You take the shots and keep moving forward.

Hey ministry buddy, you’d better strap on your vest. Lots of ammo is flying out there! Don’t let some crazy turn you into just another notch on his belt!