Archive for January, 2014


Post Cards from the Edge

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This Sunday I begin a new sermon series on the 7 Churches of Revelation titled, “Post Cards from the Edge.” Each post card that John wrote and addressed contained a powerful word that was true for the church then and remains true for the church today. Here are the titles and texts for the series.

February 2 “Post Cards from the Edge” (Revelation 1:9-20)
February 9 “Love” (Revelation 2:1-7)
February 16 “Faithfulness” (Revelation 2:8-11)
February 23 “Truth” (Revelation 2:12-17)
March 2 “Holiness” (Revelation 2:18-29)
March 9 “Spirit” (Revelation 3:1-6)
March 16 “Opportunity” (Revelation 3:7-13)
March 23 “Passion” (Revelation 3:14-22)

If you do not live in central Iowa you can listen to the weekly podcasts at Of course I’ll be posting about each sermon during the days following each message.

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Barna Research has released a new study that ranks the “Bible-mindedness” of American cities. Check out the report complete with info graphic HERE.

Categories : Barna Group, Bible
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Here’s and interesting post on the recent trend of millennials leaving evangelicalism for churches with high church traditions. You can read Jake Meador’s post on Mere Orthodoxy HERE.

Categories : Church, Church Growth
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Pew Research has released a new study on the increased hostility toward religion and religious freedom around the world. You can view the study by clicking HERE.

Categories : Missions
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Why We Resist Change, part 2

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You’ve done the research. You’ve considered the options. You’ve communicated clearly and have covered all the bases. You’ve presented the benefits and the opportunities that the new change will provide and have given reasonable expectations for outcomes you hope the change will produce. It seems like a no brainer. So why is the recommendation met with resistance?

Over the last few years I’ve learned that sometimes people resist change, not because of the change itself, but because of the uncertain next step(s) that follows. The unspoken question among some congregants is, “If we do that, then what?”

If you present change as movement from point A to point B, not knowing point C will be a sticking point for some. Change for the sake of change uses a point A to point B with no certain following step(s). True transition is always a process with many purposeful steps. If you don’t have a point C, then maybe its best to wait on the change to allow time to develop clarity on the bigger picture. If you do have a point C, then I recommend letting your followers in on it, even if the picture is not fine tuned.

Categories : Church, Leadership
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Why We Resist Change

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I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently, especially wondering why people seem so swift to resist change. One reason I think we resist change at church is because of the chaos we have in other areas of our lives. We have unpredictable family members and uncertain careers. Our physical health is always in imminent peril and if we learned anything about our personal wealth in 2007 its that it can virtually vanish with one sudden downturn of the economy. Most areas in our lives are not in our control, leaving “church” as the one thing we can “control.” In turbulent times we look for security and predictability, and if our churches maintain the same week in week out, year in year out predictability, we can find comfort and tranquility. Therefore, even the smallest adjustments on the church landscape may be met with resistance just to maintain that one sacred space of sameness.

People may fight change in our churches simply because they cannot fight change anywhere else in their lives.

Categories : Church, Church Growth
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How to Handle Criticism

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I found this great article by Mark Altrogge titled 12 Things To Do When You’re Criticized on I found it beneficial and worth passing along. Enjoy!

Categories : Critics, Relationships
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Book Review: Sex and Money

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One of the best reads of 2013 was Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling. Based on the influence of that helpful work I purchased and read his next release titled, Sex and Money.

We live in a culture driven to find pleasure, observed most clearly in our preoccupation with sex and money. These two, sex and money are, as the book’s subtitle suggests, “pleasures that leave you empty.” Tripp’s observation is that sex and money are among the two most taboo subjects in modern Christianity. For too long the church has been silent on these topics, partly because of the awkward nature of the subject matter, and partly because pastors and teachers don’t know how to approach them in a healthy way.

The author has taken a thoughtful approach on these matters and has successfully deconstructed the pervasive behavior to get to the real root causes of our obsessions and our seeming inability to conquer temptations. By drilling into the root issues behind our unhealthy obsessions he presents a theological perspective on both accompanied by suggestions on how the gospel of Jesus Christ itself serves as our primary resource. I agree with his simple point: everything is spiritual. Until we are able to see pleasure, sex and money through spiritual lenses, we will continue to grapple with temptation and sin. Until we are able to see sex and money through spiritual lenses we will continue to focus on managing our behavior instead of allowing God’s grace to develop Christian character.

I can’t think of a person who would not benefit from reading this book. Its not just for adulterers and those whose finances are ravaged with credit card debt. Its for you and me. I would not only recommend it for personal growth, but would also recommend it for small group study. It’s honest, practical and biblical. And, by the way, helpful.

Categories : Books
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I can remember the first thing I ever wanted. I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. I don’t really know how I came to want what I wanted. It could have been that a kid in school had one that he proudly displayed. It could have been that I saw it in the Sears and Roebuck “wish book.” I don’t know where the desire came from, but I know what I wanted. It was a Mickey Mouse watch. It had a bright red wrist band with a clock faced that bore Mickey’s iconic image. I could see myself wearing it, watching as his gloved hands would move perfectly across the clock to report the time of day.

When Christmas time came, I was alive with anticipation. I opened my presents, looking for the watch. One box in particular caught my attention. I eagerly opened the package to find a Cinderella watch.

It wasn’t what I expected. The store had made a shipping error, and within a few weeks I received the Mickey Mouse watch but it wasn’t quite the same.

That memory came to me this year as I re-read the story of the visit of the Magi to see the baby Jesus. These far eastern astrologers had seen a star and made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the new “King of the Jews.” Upon their arrival in Jerusalem they made their way to the palace and then on to the throne room of Herod who received their visit. Imagine Herod’s surprise to hear of their inquiry about a new king. Imaging the Magi’s surprise to hear of his ignorance of such matters. Officials looked into the matter and discovered the prophecy that declared that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and Herod sent them on their way. When the Magi arrived they found a baby in a cradle, housed in a simple, small home. They followed a star, and at the other end of that star did not find what they expected.

We’ve all had those moments where we have followed stars and found cradles. Perhaps you followed a career path that looked promising only to have been downsized. Maybe you stood at a wedding altar with the love of your life only to stand before a judge’s bench. Possibly you ate in moderation and exercised regularly only to discover a threatening disease. You provided for and nurtured a child who wasn’t valedictorian, or captain, or homecoming queen.

What do wise ones do when they follow stars and find cradles? What did the wise men do?

First, when wise ones do not find what they expect they look for God. Wise men and women of every generation don’t panic when met with disappointment. They remain steady and say, “God is somewhere in this place.” Every major character in the Bible had the same experience that we’ve had. Remember, strong faith sees God in every situation be it good or bad. Weak faith only sees God in the good.

Next, when wise ones do not find what they expect they offer their very best to God. The wise men brought gifts for the new king. When the star led them to the simple home of a carpenter, attending to a young teenage mother and child, they didn’t withhold anything. They gave all without measure.

Finally, when wise ones do not find what they expect they change the direction of their lives. The story reports that the wise men returned home via a different route. And when we find God and give him our best, like the wise men we will discover that God will change the direction of our lives as well.

Categories : Advent, Christmas
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Happy New Year!

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2013 ended with a crash. Literally. My mother fell last weekend and broke her hip, resulting in surgery on Monday. With three major issues with her heart rehabilitation is going to be an uphill climb, but one thing I’ve learned is that you can never count out a depression era dutchman.

While she was in one hospital coming out from under the anesthesia, my father was admitted to a different hospital in a different town. He’s 90 years old, and has several health challenges as well, chief of which is possibly Parkinson’s Disease. So this week my sister and I have been going back and forth between the two, talking with doctors and trying to help them get situated for what we suspect will be a difficult, interwoven path into skilled nursing.

So for those of you who have been wondering where I have been and why the posts have been infrequent, that’s the explanation. I appreciate your support and interest in my blog. 2013 was yet another record setting year for site visitors. I’ve learned a lot this year and I’m excited to return to a regular schedule of posts that will cover a variety of subjects. For example, today I celebrate the 30th anniversary of being licensed to the gospel ministry. For the last year I’ve been developing an entire series of posts that reveal the 30 most important things I’ve learned in my 30 years of ministry. In addition, I hope to be more diligent about reading and posting book reviews on some titles I’m excited about.

Thank you again for looking over my shoulder, for subscribing, and especially for passing the word about this site. 2014 is going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Categories : Uncategorized
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