so, what would you pray?

As I am prepping for the series that I discussed on Thursday, I am curious what you would ask God for. If God would answer one prayer that you could pray, not for yourself or your family, but for the church, what would you pray? Can you take a minute to share some ideas? Launch from the idea of “God, make us ______.” Fill in the blank and provide a little insight. No need to be profound, some simple answers would be great.

I really would like to hear back from you so give me some feedback. If we use your material in one of my messages, we’ll be sure to give you a cut of the proceeds. OK, I will at least mention your name. First name. Or initials.

Everybody have an awesome Memorial Day weekend and remember those who gave so we could be free!

What would you pray if God would answer One Prayer for the Church at large?

Craig Groeschel from LifeChurch.TV has developed another great idea to unite the body of Christ. One Prayer is a 4 week series combining churches all over the world to pray one strategic prayer for the Church at large. At the time of this post, over 1000 churches around the world are joining in. “God make us ______.” is the approach we will be taking. Respective churches can pick from a line up of speakers and topics to show during the 4 week series or they can deal with their own topics. Check out the One Prayer blog.

Maranatha Church
will be participating in this historic moment. We are launching this series one week early, beginning on May 31/June 1. If you are in the area, come on over or listen online.
It is very exciting when the body of Christ comes together like this for any purpose. When unity is the focus, look out!

If you lead a local church, consider being a part of this movement!

remember Your people

Two related passages are bouncing around my head this week.
Romans 5:20 “… where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (NIV) The Contemporary English Version says, “ … where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” (NCV)

Without launching into a theological treatise, there is a need for us to process this. This is an especially troubling time in the earth. Earthquakes in China, typhoons in Myanmar, tornadoes in the Midwest. And people are dying.

Friends of ours lost their little son this week. A youth pastor we know left his wife and child this week. A close friend shared with me yesterday his lack of emotional and mental stability because of the pressure he is facing.

Is God’s grace really enough to handle this stuff?

Over the weekend at our worship services, we sang, “Your Grace Is Enough”, written by Chris Tomlin. Knowing a little about the gravity of the situations faced by some people, I was choked up while we asked/reminded God: “remember your people, remember your children, remember your promise, O God”. A good song and a good prayer.

It is true. No matter how bad things get, God’s mercy can handle it. When people hurt, God’s love can cover them. For purposes of clarification, I am not connecting Romans 5:20 with the idea that God has brought the people mentioned above tragedy to punish them for their sin. We know that all bad things are a result of sin in the earth. But the innocent people, especially children who are dying, have hurt no one. I mention this because I heard a woman say this week that the earthquake in China was because they (the Chinese) had killed some Christians. This twisted view of justice is common among American Christians. If God responded to our sin this way, none of us would be left. I think I’ll take this up in another post.

How can we sure? What does grace looks like? Sometimes it may appear to be insufficient. Well grace doesn’t mean we will not have tough times. It means that, in those tough times, God will be with us and we will get through it. “Getting through it” is relative, I know. Some people lose their lives, so how can this be identified as “getting through it”?

When all the dust settles, God is there. And we can be with Him. That is His promise. That promise alone is what grace is about. In a million years from now, when all of the difficulties we are facing are gone from our memories, we will be with God. That is forever grace.

By the way, good things also happened this week. Healthy babies were born, people found hope and peace in Christ, families were reunited. Let’s not let the pain of the day cloud our vision of reality.

God’s grace is sufficient:
For China, for Myanmar, for Jose and Luz, for Emily, for me and you.
Remember your people, O God.


Our friends lost their six year old son today. He got choked on something on Saturday and never regained consciousness. This tragedy is a reminder of how precious and fragile life is. It is impossible to discuss it without being cliché, so I won’t even try.

Pray for Jose and Luz. Pray for the church they lead. Ask God to, in this dark time, bring glory to Himself and bring people to hope.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is doing a very cool thing. From his website: Riding a Bike Across America “On June 5th, I will be riding my bike from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. with a team to raise awareness about the need in Africa for fresh-water wells. There are a number of ways you can get involved. You can host the team as we pass through your town, or join us on one of three city-wide rides we will host in Dallas, Nashville and in Washington. You can also donate to sponsor me or any other rider by visiting All of the proceeds will benefit my friends at Blood:Water Mission, a not-for profit begun by the band Jars of Clay that has already drilled many wells and has the ambition of drilling one-thousand in total.”

Take a look at the video and get involved if you can!:


At $4.00 a gallon, gas is like gold. I catch myself being careful to not spill a drop when I tank up.

Fuel for the vision God has given us is much more valuable than gas for my car. In order to see something great accomplished in life, you have to possess a never-say-die vision and some system of keeping that vision moving forward. The system is what I consider as the fuel.

Some things that motivate and nurture my leadership vision are:
• Team members who share the vision and participate in its development and fulfillment.
• Sound bites of people affirming the possibility and necessity of the vision.
• Glimpses of success: considering my vision includes positively impacting the lives of people, I get a charge out of seeing individuals and families making progress.
• Hearing about others who are fulfilling a similar vision. If they did it, we can do it.
• Stories of people overcoming obstacles similar to the ones we are facing.
• People who are willing to sacrifice; blood, sweat and tears, to see the vision succeed.
• Mile markers: signs along the way that let us know we are going the right direction and making progress. These are the little victories that make up the bigger vision.

This is my fuel, high octane and super high grade.
Without it, I have a tendency to lose sight of the vision, become discouraged and run out of gas. With it, I can go for miles.

What is your fuel? You had better have a full tank as you move forward.
Be motivated today.
And take time to motivate someone else.

When you get a chance, check out It features a compelling little tool called the world clock. It measures events in the world, as experienced in a specified amount of time.

In the time it took me to write this post, (as fast as I can type) the following events took place in the world:
Births: 644
Deaths: 289
Abortions: 249
Cancer incidents: 67
Marriages: 269
Divorces: 55

Sobering. Makes me want to get on with getting something done. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Ephesians 5:16 (The Message)

The parking lot nazi

I went to the dentist yesterday, I hate the dentist (not the guy, the experience). His office is part of a larger medical office group that shares a common parking lot. The doctor’s office next door is having problems finding spaces for their patients to park, so they hired an old guy to chase the dentist’s patients off. If you pull up on their side of the lot, he runs up to your car and starts harassing you until you move, no exaggeration. It is quite a sight to see. He sits there in his little lawn chair under an umbrella reading a book. Just act like you are thinking about parking on their side of the lot and his ears perk up. He starts licking his chops because he can see an unsuspecting dental patient coming his way. He springs into action. Like a lion on his prey. And he is effective. The kill is merciless and swift.

The last time I was there, I had a run-in with him. I did wind up parking in his “no parking zone”, but it came at a cost. I left feeling less than good about my exchange with him. This time, I didn’t even think about it. As soon as I saw him, I lowered by head and drove to the other end of the lot. I had to walk about 100 yards to get to the dentist’s office.

As frustrated as I have gotten with this guy, and as ridiculous as the whole idea is, there are several things about him that I respect:
He is consistent. He loves his work. He is good at his job. He loves his work. He is diligent. And did I mention that he loves his work?

I would like to do my work with the same enthusiasm that this old guy does his. He is so passionate. He doesn’t care what people think, he has a job to do and he knows how to do it. He has an insatiable desire to control his parking lot. He can’t be deterred.

I don’t have his job. I couldn’t make a living nagging people into moving their cars. My work is different.
But I wish I could exhibit the same energy and passion that he does. I wish I was as effective as he is.

Through the challenges of this week’s responsibilities, I am praying that God will refresh my energy for His work. I want my work to be more than responsibility and obligation. I want it to be heartfelt and passionate. I want to lick my chops, ready to pounce on the next opportunity.

Here are some ways that I (we) can make that happen:
Maintain a balanced focus: big picture/small picture. This is difficult. The temptation is to fall on one side or the other. Check in often with the idea of leadership equilibrium (future blog topic).
Make time for spiritual nourishment. Pray, read, meditate, isolate, fast. I know that this is Leadership 101, but you can’t give out what you haven’t taken in.
Grab time off. Too much work and not enough play will sour you. Again, balance comes to mind.
Take advantage of colleague interaction. There are things that can be shared only between those who walk the same road. Be sure to interact with friends in the same or a similar field of work.
Understand your Divine purpose. Rick Warren has thoroughly covered this topic but it is a worthwhile consideration for the leader who hopes to hang on to motivation. Know who God made you to be, and be that person.
Keep it simple. Uncomplicate the processes in which you are involved. It is easier to develop inspiration when systems are slick and unencumbered.

These are really just a few simple insights into maintaining motivation. I hope you can plug them in and benefit from them. I will continue to try.

My next dental appointment is in four months. I have no idea what my dentist will say or if I will need to have some work done. I may have a clean check up or I may have a cavity, we will see. But one thing I do know for sure, I will be parking in the correct location.

Beware of the parking lot Nazi.

200 year old people!

Last Thursday, at the University of Tennessee’s Master’s Graduate ceremony, I heard the featured speaker, Dr. David W. Schumann discuss the incredible advancements that are taking place in science and in the technology of human development. He stated that, due to the increase in the capabilities of implantable micro chips in the human brain, not only will our intelligence level increase drastically in the near future, but we can also expect the average life expectancy to increase to 150-200 years! Pretty cool thought.

Think of the possibilities!

You would feel like a teenager until you were 50.
If you had children at age twenty five, your children did the same and so on, you could be a great grandparent x 8!
You wouldn’t be considered middle age until 100!
With your AARP membership awarded at age 50, you could save millions on senior’s discounts at local restaurants.
Think of the money to be made on the stocks of drugs like Viagra!

Your face would still be breaking out at age 50.
If you retire by, say age 75, you would need to have enough money to live on for another 100 years!
Shuffleboard would become an Olympic event.
Mic Jaggar and The Rolling Stones would have another 100 years of rockin’ left!
Traffic in Florida would REALLY be nuts with all of the 175 year olds doing 45 on I-95!
Plastic surgeons would…well, you get the idea.

I think I prefer things the way they are.

Mom’s Day

To all the Moms out there…we love you and are thankful for you.

I appreciate my mom, my wife and my daughter (not yet a mom). I hope you all have the best day ever.

tragedy in Myanmar

The tragedy in Myanmar continues to unfold. The devastation from the cyclone is unimaginable. Because emergency relief supplies are being delayed by politics, the death toll could rise above 100,000.
I suggest a couple of things: pray and give. Because this is an extreme emergency, do what you plan to do now.
Pray for the survivors. Pray for relief to reach them, pray for the prevention of disease. Pray for hope.
Give to a reputable relief organization. I have listed several options below.
God bless the people of Myanmar.
The following aid agencies are accepting contributions to help those affected by the cyclone in Myanmar, according to InterAction, a coalition of aid agencies.

ADRA International Myanmar Cyclone Fund 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904 (800) 424-ADRA ext. 2372

Action Against Hunger 247 W. 37th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018 (877) 777-1420

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JDC: Myanmar Cyclone Relief P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd St., New York, NY 10017 (212) 687-6200

American Jewish World Service 45 W. 36th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10016 (800) 889-7146

American Red Cross International Response Fund P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013 (800) HELP-NOW

American Refugee Committee 430 Oak Grove St., Suite 204, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (612) 872-7602

AmeriCares 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902 (800) 486-4357

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team 6810 Tilden Lane, Rockville, MD 20852 (301) 984-0217

Baptist World Aid Myanmar (or Burma) Relief 405 North Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 790-8980

CARE 151 Ellis Street N.E., Atlanta, GA 30303 (800) 521-2273

CHF International 8601 Georgia Ave., #800, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (866) 779-2CHF

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) 2850 Kalamazoo Ave., S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49560-0600 (800) 55-CRWRC

Church World Service 28606 Phillips St., P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (800) 297-1516

Concern Worldwide U.S. 104 East 40th St., Suite 903, New York, NY 10016 (212) 557-8000

Direct Relief International 27 South La Patera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93117 (805) 964-4767

Episcopal Relief and Development 815 Second Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017 (800) 334-7626

Food for the Hungry 1224 East Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034 (800) 248-6437

Habitat for Humanity International Cyclone Nargis 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709-3498 (800) HABITAT

International Medical Corps 1919 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 400, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (800) 481-4462

International Relief Teams Attn: Myanmar Cyclone, 4560 Alvarado Canyon Road, Suite 2G, San Diego, CA 92120 (619) 284-7979

International Rescue Committee P.O. Box 96651, Washington, DC 20090-6651; (Note on checks: Myanmar) (877) REFUGEE

Latter-day Saint Charities 50 East North Temple, 7th Floor, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 (800) 453-3860, ext. 23544

Lutheran World Relief P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832 (800) 597-5972

MAP International Donor Member Services Myanmar Assistance P.O. Box 7020 Albert Lea, MN 56007-9931 (800) 225-8550

Operation USA, Memo “Myanmar Cyclone 3617 Hayden Ave., Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232 (800) 678-7255

Project HOPE 255 Carter Hall Lane, Millwood, VA 22646 (800) 544-4673

Relief International 1575 Westwood Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 478-1200

Save the Children USA 54 Wilton Road, Westport, CT 06880 (800) 728-3843

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) #3019674 Myanmar Emergency, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087 (800) 554-8583

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, UUSC-UUA Burma Cyclone Relief Fund P.O. Box 845259, Boston, MA 02284-5259 (800) 388-3920

U.S. Fund for UNICEF 125 Maiden Lane, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10038 (800) 4UNICEF

World Concern 19303 Fremont Ave. North, Seattle, WA 98133 (800) 755-5022, ext.7706

World Emergency Relief P.O. Box 131570, Carlsbad, CA 92013 (888) 484-4543

World Vision P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063 (888) 56-CHILD


Our daughter, Jessica graduates today with her Master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Tennessee. She has worked very hard for several years to accomplish what she has. We are obviously very proud of her.

I think one of her greatest assets is her dedication. She is a hard worker. Although she is very bright, it takes a tremendous amount of commitment to finish a Master’s degree by age 24. We believe that it is this dedication that will allow her to continue to succeed.

She and her husband Josh are moving to Guatemala in June to serve as missionaries at Casa Shalom orphanage. This is a very cool thing. We are excited for them and know they will do well there.

Just wanted to give a big shout out to them as they move forward in their lives.

Jesus, the center

I was reading Alan Hirsch’s blog, The Missional Musings of Alan Hirsch and was reminded of some things that he spoke about at a recent conference. I was not able to attend the exponential 08 conference but lots of people are blogging on the topics covered there.

Hirsch discussed the necessity of maintaining, or recovering Jesus as the centrality of our faith. According to Alan, our Christology is the very heart of spiritual renewal. So much of the time in ministry, we get very busy working for God – so busy that we forget the work of God in our own hearts.

In my small group on last Wednesday, someone was addressing this very thing. Too busy doing, no time for being … in the presence of God. Jesus loses His rightful place, as the King of our hearts. He has been dethroned, strangely, by His work.

Listen leaders, we can’t do the work of the Lord if He is second or third in our lives. Let’s set our priorities right: God first. Family second. Ministry third. Fourth – who knows? golf, fishing, Wii?

Hirsch is right. It’s all about Him (not Hirsch – Jesus!). Colossians 1:18 He is the head of the body, which is the church. Everything comes from him. He is the first one who was raised from the dead. So in all things Jesus has first place. NCV

By the way, I recommend Hirsch’s book, The Forgotten Ways.


I downloaded some great new music from Chasen, a group out of South Carolina. The project is called Shine Through the Stars and it has some great tunes on it. I especially enjoyed the fifth song, Doubts or Disbelief. It is a simple performance but the lyrics are powerful and heartfelt. Take a look and listen and see what you think. Doubts or Disbelief


Letha and I had a laugh at Chipotle on Friday. We had dropped by to enjoy a few lunch tacos and there were 10-12 “twenty-something” guys having lunch, all of them obvious employees of the same company (their logoed white polos and company van gave them away). Not only were their shirts all alike, they were all wearing baggy cargo shorts, nice white tennis shoes and everybody had a Bluetooth device attached to their ear or an iPhone hangin’ on their hip. They were all Caucasian, all had the same haircut and all had that “I’m taking the technology world by storm” look in their eyes. It was weird. I don’t know if their job required them to look like clones or what. It was very strange. I had a good chuckle.

I also wondered how we are perceived by our community. By “we”, I mean believers in Christ. Obviously, we don’t all dress alike or look the same but I am wondering if those who drive by our church have a certain perception about us. Do they think we all are robots without the freedom and ability to think for ourselves? Do they do what I thought at Chipotle? Do they snicker and think we look a bit silly?

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us, “…you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (NLT) Hebrews 13:7 tells us to imitate our leaders. I hope we understand the necessity of finding a healthy pattern of living and following it. We all know the value of a mentor. But I also hope we understand the necessity of individuality. If we are going to be effective in finding the lost, we have to respect the concepts of diversity. I think it is a mistake if we all listen to the same music and like the same artists and hang out at the same places. If we are all reading the same authors and attending the same conferences, we are getting a bit too predictable and boring. True, the road to salvation is narrow and straight. But once we are on that road, Christ never condemns individuality.

If you are a progressive leader, you are familiar with the list. The hot bloggers, the writers who are selling a ton of books. The conference speakers and pastors who have a thousand groupies following them around the country. I say, think a little for yourself. Go ahead and break out of the mold that has dictated what everyone else is doing and saying. Try something new.

Take a look around your church. Is everyone white? Is everyone rich? Is everyone young? If your answer is yes, then probably you are not doing the best job in reaching your community (unless everyone in your community is white and rich and young). How about your friends? Do they all talk and dress like you, have the same opinions as you? Do they all vote like you? If so, you are all missing a great opportunity to expand and grow. You may also be missing some chances to reach others – who are unlike you.

It’s a big world out there. There are lots of awesome people in it. Most of them are different from you. How ‘bout making a connection with a few of them today? It may be a little scary at first, but most of them don’t bite.

The evidence of The Spirit

Since Pentecost Sunday is right around the corner (competing with Mom’s day – I think the moms will win!), I thought I would try to take a fresh look at what it means to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What is the real proof that we are empowered by Spirit? As much time as I have spent as a believer, one would think that I have it down pat by now. You would think that we would have it down pat by now. Not so fast.

I took a novel approach – I went back to scripture. Acts is a fascinating book to say the least. I read through the passages about miracles and signs and wonders and all the cool stuff that happened at Pentecost, and still should be happening in Spirit-filled communities. I remember many of the sermons that I have heard and preached, saying that this is exactly what we need today. But as I re-read Acts, something else jumped out at me that I see as a real evidence of the infilling of the Spirit.

These people gave. They gave up their own stuff and gave to others. They sold what they had to take care of the needs of the community. The people in the church of Acts got what it meant to be so influenced by the power of the Spirit that they had no problem reaching out to the needy around them.

Check out Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (NIV)

The DNA of the Spirit at work in the people of Acts is identified in their helping, their giving, their sharing, their feeding of the hungry, their clothing of the poor, their getting involved in correcting social injustices. As one with a Pentecostal heritage, I think I can offer a healthy criticism of our current operation. We have made Pentecostalism a style of worship. The Bible never does that. Pentecostalism is first and foremost a set of convictions that demands compassion by those who wear the label. A truly Spirit-filled person will get involved in efforts to address the needs of the less fortunate. A Spirit filled church really can’t be one unless they speak out and act on behalf of those who need help. Agreed, being Spirit filled it is about the manifestation of the gifts, no problem with that. It is about the unprecedented unity that they enjoyed, no doubt. But it is also about making a difference in the lives of hurting people. Not just praying for a miracle for those who are hungry, but creating a miracle by feeding the hungry. That is the work of the Spirit. That is what will make a difference in our world

In my opinion, many of the reports of revival in various places may be merely reports. My experience is that many of these events center around the church building, with believers coming together to “get blessed”. While this may not be a bad thing, I think that there is more to being revived by the Spirit than for already-blessed people to receive more . One of the indicators of true spiritual renewal and revival is the church reaches out to help, in practical ways, those who need it. When there are no more hungry people, we can rest assured that the church is revived.

Do you want to be a part of an Acts church? You have to give of yourself. You want to be a part of a truly Pentecostal group? Go out from your fired-up worship service and help somebody. It’s what they did in Acts. It’s what we should do.

If this happens, we may see a re-identification of those who are Spirit filled. Instead of us being, “the crazy folks who expend lots of energy in their worship services”, we may become better known as, “those crazy people who love you so much, they actually show it”!

Let Nothing Disturb You

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
Christ has no body on earth now but yours;
no hands but yours;
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes
through which the compassion of Christ
must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet
with which he is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands
with which he is to bless his people.

—-St. Teresa of Avila

National Day of Prayer (as if every day shouldn’t be a day of prayer)

AW Tozer said:
“When I am praying the most eloquently, I am getting the least accomplished in my prayer life. But when I stop getting eloquent and give God less theology and shut up and just gaze upward and wait for God to speak to my heart He speaks with such power that I have to grab a pencil and a notebook and take notes on what God is saying to my heart.” (Success and the Christian, 46-47)

I thought I would just offer a prayer today. Let’s keep it simple.

Let me hear from you, let me be still enough to sense you.
Let me be close to you.
Help me with my sin: Forgiveness for yesterday, strength for today, protection for tomorrow.
Change me.
Help me to obey you, whatever you say, detail by detail.
Help me to bring honor to you.

In the name of Jesus.

The necessity of Joy

I think that joy is an indispensible asset for every leader. It is so easy to get caught up in the intensity of our responsibilities. The weight we carry will, if we are not careful, sink us. I kind of consider joy to be my life vest. When the waves get too high, I hang on to joy for dear life! It keep me floating.

Joy will …
Keep you focused when things go wrong.
Provide the courage to stay with it until the job is accomplished.
Make you aware of the simple blessings.
Help you tell better jokes.
Promote peace of mind, well being and balance.

Without joy …
Life will get you down.
The mole hills will become mountains.
You lose sleep.
You’re no fun to be around.
Your smiles are fake – and people know.

Nehemiah 8:10 “Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.” (NCV)

My Top 10 Leadership Challenges – in no particular order

Maintaining focus in face of criticism.
Impatience when there is no perceivable progress.
Limited resources (money, time, people).
Dealing with uncommitted people.
Being too influenced by negative people.
Getting bogged down with minutiae.
Impatience with slow adapters.
Arrogance that I have the answers.
Keeping people (or getting people) motivated.

OK, I know that’s only nine, but I am enjoying an especially good day!