Showing posts from 2011

On the Rocks

Welcome to the beautiful Judean Wilderness! It stretches for many miles out from the Dead Sea. There is little to no vegetation - a few small plants are all you see in this picture. And this desert is not covered in sand - it's covered in rocks. Not boulders, but not exactly pebbles. The ground is littered with rocks about the size of a loaf of bread. Just big enough to twist your ankle if you are not careful. This desolate wasteland is where David fled on multiple occasions. On one such getaway, David and his army are on the run from David's own son, Absalom, whose name ironically means "Father of Peace." Absalom had politicked his way to the top, going behind his father's back to gain a following in Israel. After four years, Absalom amassed an army, marched into Jerusalem, and usurped his father's throne. David and his armies escaped just in time, and fled to the Judean wilderness, along the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea. And it's here in

Psalm 63

O God, how awesome it is to call you My God! Though I have you, I want more Though you are mine already, I will pursue you Even to the ends of the earth My soul is parched My body aches As I wander through this spiritual wasteland And only you can satisfy I have a disease and the only cure is not more cowbell It's more you. I have witnessed your presence in my worship I have seen your power and glory at work around me And I long to see it again Nothing but praise will pour from my lips Because your amazing, unfailing, all-consuming love Is better than life itself! You've got me for life To you alone will I give praise To you alone will I lift my hands Because you are all I need You satisfy my soul more than a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham I will sing to you at the top of my lungs And I don't care who hears I lay awake at night and can't shut my brain off Because you are all I think about You alone are my helper, my guide, and my prot

Be a Man, Son

I've been reading through the story of David. His life is an amazing testament of what kind of great feats men can accomplish under God's power. And as a man, it got me thinking about what it really means to be a Man of God. One of my favorite side sections in the story of David comes at the end of 2 Samuel where we are introduced to David's "Mighty Men." Leonidas has nothing on these guys. Josheb-Basshebeth (leader of "The Three") killed 800 men with his spear. Eleazar (one of the three) stood his ground when all the other soldiers retreated. He slaughtered the Philistines until his hand froze to the handle of his sword. Shammah (the last of the three) took a stand against the Philistines in the middle of a field! On one occasion, the Philistine armies occupied the city of Bethlehem - David's boyhood home. While David and his armies were stationed several miles outside Bethlehem, David started feeling nostalgic. Almost dreaming o

Mid-Week Music Break

I first heard this song on a CD by the group Turning Point. You can hear their version here . But this is the original song with a touching music video. I hope it impacts you as much as it has me. Anyway , by Brad Reynolds

Communicating Truth in Love

In Ephesians 4, Paul writes: Instead, we will speak the truth in love growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of the body, the church. (Ephesians 4:15) Christians are to speak truth in love. And by doing so we become more like Christ. So...don't tell lies. Okay! Simple enough. Or is it that simple? It's a common experience to internet users that it is much easier to say some things through the digital media (email, blogs, Facebook, texting, etc.) than it is to say them face to face. Sometimes these are good things that we get too nervous to say in front of another human, like expressing our undying love to the one on whom we've had a crush for the last 3 years. More often than not, however, these things we say online but not in person are more likely to be hurtful, offensive, controversial, and utterly tactless. Someone makes us mad so we post about it. We disagree with what someone wrote so we leave an anonymous comment. If we don't censo

Evangelism: A Love Story

Everybody loves a good love story. Come on, guys, admit it. You don't REALLY mind it when your girl drags you to a chick flick. There's just something about seeing love blossom out of unexpected places. We watched Tangled  last night. Disney movies are especially good at telling unexpected love stories. The hostage princess falls in love with the fugitive thief. The beautiful peasant girl falls in love with the hideous beast. The Arabian princess falls in love with the "street rat." We love to hear a good love story. Let's think about this in relation to evangelism. To "evangelize" literally means "to tell the good news." Yet so often we think we have to have all these intricate doctrinal issues all ironed out before we can even mention the name of Jesus. We don't know enough about who God is, how Jesus is still living, or what the Holy Spirit does. We don't know the plan of salvation or all the arguments for or against predestina

High Five Thursday!

Yep, it's back. [And there was much rejoicing. "Yay..."] With the Harry Potter movie series closing its final chapters this weekend, this list is all about movie franchises. Top 5 Movie Franchises


The newest Owl City single,  Galaxies , is one of my favorites on the radio right now. The chorus is gripping, expressing both despair and hope, darkness and light, doubt and faith. How many of us have been to that place before where "the galaxies crossed and the sun went dark"? How many of us have experienced the world closing in around us with no light to guide our way? Like a sailor lost at sea, we've got to find that North Star and follow it, trusting that it will lead us where we need to go. When was the last time you truly took a leap of faith? When was the last time you took a step out into the unknown because that's where God was leading you? God is that only North Star that I would follow as far as I have already, and I will continue to follow him to the ends of the galaxies.


Did you know: The average adults is subjected to 600-625 advertisements every day If you live in a city, that number can reach upwards of 5000 ads Every day, you make thousands of decisions about your life There are literally thousands of voices yelling at you every second of every day. Each one of them is demanding that you buy a certain product, wear your hair a certain way, get this phone, buy this value meal. More importantly, advertisers are insisting that you think, behave, and believe just like they want you to. Marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Everyone from President Obama to Lady Gaga to the clerk in the supermarket is trying to get you to think, feel, believe, and act a certain way. We are bombarded with so many choices that sometimes it begins to feel like we don't actually have a choice!  Lady Gaga says I was born this way so I should just do what comes naturally. But my parents want me to think and act the way they do. And then my teachers are ch

"Fire Till Dawn": An Explanation

When YHWH led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, he went before them as a pillar of fire at night to light their way. When daylight came, he led them as a pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21-22). He was their light in the darkness. At sunrise there was plenty of light for them to walk by. The fire blazed before them until the dawn came. When Jesus came to this earth to lead all of humanity out of the bondage of sin, he came to show us life, true life, eternal life. "The life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has [neither] understood nor overcome it" (John 1:4-5). Jesus himself took on the roll of the fire pillar blazing in the darkness leading people until the dawn should come. When salvation came to mankind, those who chose to follow the light of Jesus became lights themselves. Jesus' followers are like a city on a hill or a lamp giving light to the dark room (Matthew 5:14-16).  One of Jesus' early followers, Paul, wrote to the Chr

Give Me Your Eyes

This song has really been on my heart recently. When was the last time you really stopped to take a look around. Every single person around you has a story, they have their own struggles and heartaches, they have their own issues, yet each one of them is extremely valuable to God. Even with the whole Casey Anthony thing, do we see her through our human eyes? Do we secretly hope that she gets what she deserves? Do we see a lying sociopath who miraculously got away with murder? Or do we see her through God's eyes? God sacrificed himself for her sake, too. She may or may not have murdered her daughter, but she definitely is guilty of being a horrible mother. But I believe God still views her as one of his image bearers who has become seriously tainted. Yes, she has some serious issues and needs mental help, but she's never going to live a "normal" life again. She may never even know love again in her life. The Lord does not delay His promise,   as some understand

A Perversion of Nature

That's me. A perversion of nature. least that's what I was . least that's what I thought  I was. And you were too! You can pretend like you weren't, but you were. Or at least you thought  you were. Because that's what you've been told. "You're not good enough/ thin enough/ tall/pretty/athletic/spiritual/holy/rich/smart enough." "You are weird/ a freak/ a perversion of nature." "No body would ever want you. I mean, look at yourself. Of course you should be insecure about your body!" "Buy this brand/ that car/ these pills/ those gadgets because your life is incomplete and meaningless without them." LIES! Every one of them. Nothing but lies. Yet we believe them! Every day we buy into the lies that we're not good enough. Even in the church we begin to believe that we're not holy enough/ faithful enough/ righteousness enough and that God could never love us just the way we are. I

Independence Day

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and yes, they DO have the fourth of July in Britain... In America we celebrate the day when our founding fathers rightly declared: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As inspirational as those words are, our generation may be more familiar with the words of Bill Pullman who played the president in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day . I still get chills. And then there are the words of Paul in Galatians 5: 1 For   freedom Christ has   set us free;   stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to   a yoke of   slavery.   13 For you were called to freedom, brothers.   Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love   serve one another.   Sure, we are living in a free country. We enjoy freedom and independence far beyond what most of the worl

I Shall Be Free

This song played before the drama performances this past week at Uplift. It's incredible! When was the last time we really loved without limits? Without fear? Are we really free to love whomever or do we shackle ourselves up by our own fears/ desires/ preconceptions?

Uplift of Bust

I'll be out of pocket for a week. I'm taking a group of teens down to Harding University for Uplift , a week long camp. I won't be updating during this time, but I'm sure I'll have much to talk about when we return. Until then, keep us in your prayers. Pray that God will use this time to move and work in the lives of these teens. "Okay, I love you, buh-bye!"

Saints and Sinners

In my teen class last night we were discussing holiness. What is holiness? What things/people are holy? What's the opposite of holy? Questions like that. And then I asked, "Do you feel holy?" As I looked around the room at all the shaking heads, it hit me. If we don't buy it for ourselves, how can we possibly convince others of it?? If we don't believe that we are holy and that we share in a holy experience through Jesus, how can we possibly take that message to others? Peter reassures us that we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy  nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  (1 Peter 2:9) When Paul addressed his letters, he often addresses them to the "saints" in a certain place (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). This word "saint" literally means holy one. T

Murderers and Human Traffickers - The Gospel is for Them, Too

Psalm 19 is a beautiful Psalm. In its 14 verses we see three distinct movements: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." The opening verses describe what some call God's "general revelation." What can be seen and known about God just by looking around at nature? Paul says in Romans 1 that God's divine nature and eternal power are clearly displayed in the creation around us. God has revealed a part of himself to the entire human race. "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." The middle verses (7-11) describe God's "specific revelation." The Lord had specifically revealed himself to a certain people at a certain time through a certain medium: the Law. If you wanted to know more about the one who created everything, you would then turn to the Law of Moses. God reveals his character - his love, his mercy, his com

(De)Constructive Criticism

[Seeing as I am a new, young minister, I am going to be studying a bit deeper into Paul's pastoral letters -- 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. I'll be sharing some of my thoughts throughout the study] 1 Timothy 1:3-7 When I was in 8th grade, I had an English teacher who was brand new to the school. She was also new to the type of English curriculum we were used to -- the good ol' Shirley Method. To make matters worse, she had somehow lost the teacher's manual (I think it was actually stolen...). So the entire year she was following along in a student book without the answer keys...and she was often wrong...and I often pointed it out. Yes, my little brainiac, smarter-than-the-teacher, 8th grade self would correct the teacher often. So often, in fact, that she sent me out into the hall for correcting her! Ha. As I got older I was not as quick to point out the mistakes made by my teachers, and when I did, I was much more polite and considerate. My concern became less abou

Where God Is

We've all been there. Standing on the beach, watching the sunset cast its brilliant reds and oranges across the sky. The sea breeze gently kissing our face. Gulls singing in the distance. The pulse of the waves as they roll in and then back out again. And then we think, This is the closest I've felt to God in a long time . This is exactly the type of place and time we expect to find God. But what if we were wrong? In the story of Jonah, the prophet decides to ignore God's command to go to the people of Nineveh. Who could blame him? That was the capital of Assyria, the largest empire ever known at the time. It was also home to the most ruthless armies ever known. Think Mos Eisley Spaceport: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." But worse. Much worse. Anger, violence, and death were a way of life for these people. If there were any place on earth where God would not  be, it was Nineveh. Rather than walk into what he considered to

Why did God do that?

In our Sunday morning youth class we've been walking very slowly through the opening chapters of Genesis. It's been 6 Sundays and we're just now into chapter 3. There's just so much there! Anyway, it's incredible how we often have those aha! moments in passages that we've read and read and read and have even taught and written about. I had one of those last week. I have often heard the question: Why did God put the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" there in the first place? The assumption is that the tree itself was bad. The first humans were not allowed to eat of it. Ever. Never ever were they supposed to touch or eat of this tree because it was bad. God must have put it there because there could be no free will where there was temptation, i.e. God created temptation...? But throughout the first chapter of Genesis, EVERYTHING God created was declared "good." In fact, the only thing that was labeled as "not good" wa

Greater Things

Who was your favorite teacher? Think back to your high school and college years. I'm sure there are 2 or 3 teachers/professors who had a profound impact on you. They didn't just tell you what to think, they taught you how to think. They shared their stories, their insights, their knowledge, even their lives with you. You view the world differently because of them. You wouldn't be the person you are today without them. Their influence doesn't stop in the classroom. Their influence reaches the farthest reaches of the world because of you. You take their teachings with you wherever you go. Their influence is in fact greater now than could ever be while you were still in the classroom. I'm sure there are things they taught you that didn't even make sense until later in life. Now that you have more experience and understanding, you really get what they were trying to do. A good teacher's influence is only constrained to the white board, the worksheets, th

You don't know me?

On Monday I will be celebrating my third wedding anniversary with my wife. It's crazy how time flies. It's even crazier how much has happened during those three years. But even before we were married, we dated for 4 1/2 years. So really, we've been together for 7 1/2 years. We've been friends for 8 years. And I would say we know each other pretty well. We may not be able to read each other's mind every time. And I still drop the ball on what she really wants sometimes. But she knows me better than anyone else on the planet and vice-versa. And I definitely know her well enough to know she's not a killer. A couple years ago a guy known as the "Craigslist Killer" was arrested for murder, robbery, and some other charges. All the while he was living with his fiance in a small apartment in the city. They had been together for over four years, and she didn't have a clue. She swore that he was the sweetest man she knew and that he could never hur

Way, Truth, Life

It has become less and less P.C. to speak about anything in absolutes. Good thing I follow a man who was absolutely not politically correct. Jesus would be the first to tell you that he's not here to tell people what they want to hear -- only what they need to hear. What do people want to hear? What's the latest PC move when it comes to religious and spiritual matters? You know the answer. If you listen to anyone who is not actually a part of any one religion (aka "spiritual but not religious") speak on religious matters they will tell you. All paths lead to God. Buddhism, Islam, Hindu, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, etc., are all different paths to the same god-reality. The problem? I can think of only one religion that would support that claim. It's called Ba'hai. You've probably never heard of it. Other than that, I've never heard a leader or fast follower of any other religion proclaim that all religions are equal. Show me a Muslim Imam who s

Place Prepared

Once again, human calculations and predictions about the end of the world, the return of Christ, the parousia if you want to sound fancy, have amounted to nothing more than hype and media coverage. And this Sunday I'm preaching on John 14. How fitting. Jesus has just dropped a bombshell on the dinner conversation. He's going to die. He's going to leave them and they can't come yet. What's more, Peter, the confession-giving, water-walking, sword-slinging disciple was just told that he will deny the very Christ he proclaims to defend. If Peter's faith will fail, what chance do the others have? But Jesus reassures them. "Don't let your hearts be troubled; don't fret; don't worry; don't let all this confusion and doubt stand in your way. You believe in God, right? Then believe in me, too. My Father's house has many room, plenty of dwelling places, and I'm going to prepare a place for you. Yes, you. So if I go and prepare a place fo

My Life in Boxes

Well, we survived the move. Mostly. We're making good headway at getting settled into our new house and getting familiar with a new city. Moving is always one of those strange times in life. There's the sadness of leaving a familiar place yet the excitement of discovering someplace new. It's leaving one part of your life behind and beginning the next part. It's an end and a beginning all in one. And then there are the boxes. My entire life - my clothes, my cookware, my books & dvds, my photographs & memories - all boxed up and loaded into a 22 foot truck. It's inevitable. Try as I might to pack boxes of similar items from the same room in order to make unpacking that much easier, by the end we were just throwing all sorts of randomness into the next freshly taped box. Kitchen, bath, living room, and master bedroom paraphernalia all sharing a moving box together which gets marked "garage." We all have boxes in our lives. Psychologists ca

Resurrection Changes Everything

There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain Then bursting forth In glorious day Up from the grave he rose again! "And if Christ has not been raised then your faith is worthless  and you are still in your sins." 1 Corinthians 15:17 Just take a moment this weekend to reflect on how different the world would be if Christ had not raised from the dead. Christianity itself would not be a major world religion. We would have completely missed the BC/AD cross over. And death would have won. Sacrifice we understand. From the beginning God required death to atone for human sin. But now Christ has died once for everybody. It is impossible for the blood of animals to erase sin for good. It had to be taken to the next level. Yet if He had stayed dead, then we would need more sacrifice. The resurrection means that not only are our sins erased for good they are also erased forever. "[T]he blood of Christ Jesus...continually cleanses us of all sin.


Hello all, My family will soon be moving to Moline, IL, where I will begin work as the youth and family minister. That being the case, my blog postings may be few and far between over the next few weeks as we make the move and settle in. But I hope to continue this blog as part of my ministry in the church. We would appreciate your prayers as we make the transition. We are very excited about this opportunity, and we feel like God is leading us on an awesome journey. Thanks for your continued support. Grace and peace, Daniel

Easy Green Tip of the Week

Plastic Bags I know there is a big push to get rid of plastic grocery bags, and rightly so. They are a nuisance when they are allowed to be blown around freely by the wind. AND they inspired an annoying Katy Perry song...ugh. So yes, when you can, I highly recommend switching over to the reusable bags. The only problem is that we often forget about them until we are walking through the automatic doors. "Oh no! We forgot the bags...Oh well." So if you find yourself with a small mountain of plastic bags shoved inside other plastic bags all shoved in your pantry, here are some tips to reduce, reuse and recylce ! 1. Encourage the bagger to fit a few more items per bag, and don't get bags for some larger items (like milk jugs) 2. Use the bags as small trash can liners 3. Scoop up pet waste (i.e. litter box clumps) into plastic bags (Just make sure they don't have holes in them) 4. Take your lunch to work or school in one - fashionable? Nope. Cheap? Totally

Christianity and Technology

I may have blogged about this before, but it's been on my mind again recently. It seems to me that the church is lagging behind in this technological age. There have been so many advancements, especially in the area of global communications (HELLO!), that it almost seems like many congregations choose not to keep up. What worked in the '50s and '60s works today, right? Maybe to an extent. But we need to start doing a better job at reaching people where they are. Facebook has over 400 million users. There are over 25 million on Blogger alone, not to mention Wordpress, Tumbler, etc. Twitter has grown exponentially in the last 2 or 3 years. And most churches can't even figure out how to make a decent website. Recent research has shown that more than 2/3 of first time visitors will visit a church's website long before darkening the front doors. Wake up call, anyone? But you may argue that the gospel message spread across the world centuries before the internet

High Five Thursday!

Have you ever been reading a story in the Bible and thought, "Man, if only I could have been there!" Top 5 Biblical Fly-On-The-Wall Moments Elemental Escape (Exodus 14:15-31) How awesome would it be to be standing in the crowd with God on one side in a blazing column of fire while Moses is on the other side blasting an interstate highway through the sea? The chaos, the terror, the power, the elemental forces being tamed and manipulated right before your eyes. It gives me chills just thinking about it. _______________ Now You See It... (Joshua 6) There one minute; gone the next. The impenetrable walls of the mighty Jericho stood before the Israelites in all their pride and glory. After some lovely afternoon strolls around the city, a bit of yelling, and some Louis Armstrong, Jericho was reduced to a pile of rubble and ashes. Well, except for that one brothel. Americans can't get enough of destruction films in which the White House, the Capitol Building, and


For you did not receive a Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!" Romans 8:15 This has been one of my favorite verses for quite some time. I love the contrast between those who cry out "Abba, Father" in this verse as opposed to those who cry out "Lord, Lord" in Matthew 25. But I have been a father for just over 6 months now. And let me tell you (just as any new parent would) that having a child of my own has illuminated this view of God. My son cries out, I come to the rescue. He hits his head, I comfort him. He smiles at me, and my heart melts. This is how God is with us. Jesus repeatedly refers to God as "Father," not just in the sense that he was literally God's Son, but in the sense that God is the Father of all those who would be his children. I can empathize with some of the fears, doubts, and frustrations that a new Christian might face. But God is

Easy Green Tip of the Week

Since having a kid, it seems our laundry has increased many times over. Which is fine now, but a few months ago, it was driving us crazy! Which leads me to this week's eco-tip: Clean Out Your Dryer Vent Our dryer was broken. Or so we thought. It was taking close to 2 hours to dry a load of wet clothes! It was frustrating to no end. Then one day I got the bright idea to check the hose. It was fine. But the vent was being choked up by about an inch thick layer of lint. Doh! Long story short, it took about ten minutes to correct a problem that had been driving us crazy for months. We were just a couple laundry days from going all "Office Space" on that dryer. Crisis averted. We are no longer wasting loads of energy and loads of time just to dry a load of laundry. You can have all the energy stars you want on your dryer, but if the vent is clogged, it won't make a lick of difference. Now that the weather is starting to warm up, take ten minutes to check your d


I've started reading the book God's Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer. The first chapter is called "The Eternal Continuum." In it, Tozer points out something that most Christians take for granted, really to our own spiritual demise. We get that God is the eternal I AM, as he told Moses back in the day. He was and he will be. He is self-created, self-sustained, and all-powerful. He always has been, and he always will be. This is easy for most of us to get. We can look into the past and see what he has done. We can see how he pulled us through that struggle or that hardship. He healed a grandparent, he protected our neighbor from the storm, he provided when there seemed to be zero resources. It's easy for us to retroactively see how God works in our lives. It's also easy to have faith that he will work in our lives again. He will get me that job, he will bless that mission effort, he will take us where we want to ultimately end up. We have no problem dreaming

Jesus Called Them One By One

My wife and I were talking the other day about how to make the Bible more relatable to teenagers. The go-to Characters seem to be Joseph, David, and Timothy. These three started out their journey with God early in their teen years. But after awhile, these stories tend to lose their novelty and their impact. Then we got to thinking, what about the apostles? Most of our lives, we have viewed Jesus and his apostles like this: Not only are they white (??), but they're all old. Two even have gray beards! But really, how old would the first disciples have been? Probably between 17-25. Barely old enough to have beards, much less gray ones! Peter and Matthew were probably the oldest, given that Peter was married and Matthew was an established tax collector. But the others were probably not much older than high school seniors when Jesus called them. Jesus himself was only about 30. Why would he go calling disciples as old or older than he was? Even Paul was probably not much olde