"We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, 

a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others." 

- Elisabeth Elliot

I love the local church.  The church is the beautiful Bride of Christ.  Unfortunately, she can be hurtful to people.  I understand. I have been hurt by the church many times.  But, I care deeply that the local church stops hurting and becomes healthy.  This is God's heart.  

Broken

If you have been around a local church for any length of time, you must admit there are some rough spots and she is not functioning like she should.  Many local churches are broken.

Happy 22nd Wedding Anniversary Laurie!  

I can't believe how good God has been to us.  I am incredibly blessed and grateful to have Laurie as my best friend and life partner. She makes me a better Jesus follower, husband, father, pastor and human being.   I love her for so many reasons!  

Let me count the ways...numbering 22 and counting...

I will write them to her...

You really love Jesus! You genuinely love others in practical ways! You "scatter joy" wherever you go.

Following Jesus is a full, satisfying and a great adventure!  But, it is never easy!  In addition to just the normal limitations and difficulties of being a human marked by sin, followers of Jesus must endure trials and hardships connected to being in relationship to Christ.  They come from the outside (other people and circumstances) and from the inside (our sinful nature and evil desires).  The Word of God has something to teach us about how to handle these trials when they come.

I spend a fare amount of time at Starbucks meeting with people, reading, studying, writing, planning, praying and I drink a few cups of coffee.  It is my office away from the office.  Don't tell anyone, but it might be my office. 

At one particular Starbucks, I have noticed a poster hanging behind the Baristas to remind them of their coffee impact. It says, “The deeper the roots, the higher the tree!” There is some truth there.  It got me thinking.

Think about that for us as Christ followers.

This world is not the way things are suppose to be.  Have you noticed? Our King and Kingdom are from a different place, but He is wanting to partner with us to set up his Kingdom on earth...today!  He taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 5). Our prayer should be to bring heaven to earth, Lord.

As we look at Matthew 13, Jesus would now teach with parables and only in parables (Matthew 13:3; 34).

What does faithful parenting look like today?

We must be committed - really committed - in four areas answering four questions:

First, we must be committed to a person.  This is commitment to our child(ren). Our children must sense our commitment to them.  This is important because their perception is reality.  They are not projects to work on.  They are a blessing from the Lord. We must love them and have their best interest in mind.

Let's talk politics.  This election year is out of control.  Have you watched a debate or interview with any one of the Presidential candidates?  I don't know what is happening.  I don't fully align with any political candidate or party. I am trying to figure out which political party is the best political party for me.  Maybe you can help me figure it out.  I have written about how to chose a President earlier here.

Which political party believes this complete list?

1.

I have noticed something in my years as a pastor. Are you ready? Here it is.

Most people don't want detailed doctrine; they want legitimate love.  Read that again in the details.

Before some of my friends push back, notice I used the adjectives "detailed" and "legitimate."

Let me explain.

Doctrine

Followers of Jesus looking for a local church home today tend to look past detailed doctrine like Calvinism, Arminianism, Creation and End Times Theology.

Where does morality originate?  

What does it have to do with our world and the presidential race?

The World

Our world is very corrupt, bankrupt and in disarray. Just a quick look at the last few days of news will tell the story. 

Terrorists attacked Belgium this week.  

ISIS is on the move with the purpose of taking over the world.  

Reports of 400 trained terrorists have been dispatched to Europe.  

Governments are ignoring countless millions need water and food around the world.

I have a confession to make. Many times my prayers do not line up with what I read in the Bible.  When I read Paul's prayers for the churches he planted and equipped, I see a pastor pouring out his heart for his people.  These prayers have challenged my heart and have changed the way I am praying for the church I lead.

In Ephesians 3:14-19, we have an example of one of Paul's prayers.  He is in jail, chained to a soldier.
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