Monday, December 30, 2013

Shifting and Settling

The last few months have been challenging and a bit difficult to say the least. Jesus' Outsider episodes have been hit or miss (at best), writing has been almost nonexistent, and progress on anything important has been at a complete standstill. A lot of unexpected adjustments had to be made. However, like a simmering pot, apparent inactivity has not been without results.

There have been many issues and decisions that needed to be reevaluated or reset. A lot of prayer has been happening as well as thinking and finding wise counsel. Several things have happened, many of them personal, that have changed our direction or sharpened our vision. Two major decisions were made after a lot of prayer and deliberation.

The first is that we are feeling lead to change the location of Freedom Church. From the inception, we believed that we were to plant in Peoria or, perhaps, East Peoria. However, events of recent weeks and input from prayer partners have caused us to seek the Lord's face to make sure we had heard Him correctly. Instead of Peoria, we believe we are to start in the Sunnyland neighborhood of Washington. Like the initial areas we had investigated, it is a largely blue-collar area populated by factory workers, tradesmen, and others not normally comfortable in a typical suburban, middle class church. They're good people who are not currently being reached by any of the  local churches. It is ripe for the Gospel to be presented in a unique way.

The other is that we have not been public enough with the vision and goals for Freedom Church. So, we are correcting that. Within the next couple of weeks, a website will be set up, even if we only have limited content at first, Twitter account created, and the full vision made available to anyone who wishes to read it. Another blog, Freedom Church Chronicles, will be the new home of updates on our progress. As time allows, the previous updates from this blog will be transferred to the new one so that everything will be in one place.

This blog will return to what it was originally intended to be, my personal blog attached to the Jesus' Outsider program and for anything else it strikes me to write. Who knows what may pop up on this page?

More will follow soon! Check both blogs for updates!

Monday, December 2, 2013


On November 17th, shortly after 11AM, the small Illinois community of Washington was devastated by an F4 tornado that cut a diagonal path across the length of the town. The destruction was tremendous. In the aftermath, many people were asking questions, "Why would God allow this?" and "Where was God?" These questions and others do have answers.

Check out this episode!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sex and Freedom

In a world gone wild, freedom has been redefined by the sexual rules of the flesh. This affects not only the current political realm but Christian liberty as well. The church has done a poor job of handling the issue. In the light of real liberty, how is sex to be handled? Can we help the culture shift without destroying the people we need to be helping?

Check out this episode!

Monday, October 7, 2013


"Where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom." We sing it all the time, but do we really understand what were saying? Do we live it? What would it look like if we did? What exactly are we free from, anyway?

Check out this episode!

Monday, September 30, 2013


To everything there is a season. The old song says, "No change is permanent, but change is." That means that nothing in our lives are permanent. There is a time for everything, some longer than others. Change isn't easy. When we reach a crossroads of a change in life, how do we know which way to go?

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Words and Identity

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Knowing the difference between correction and attack is essential to protecting your heart. More importantly, there is a great responsibility for the words we speak. What is our part of the equation? Where does our responsibility end? What happens when truth collides with deception?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Great Challenge

I knew this wasn't going to be easy. In fact, I expected an enormous amount of work and difficulty starting a unique church like Freedom Church. The vision the Lord gave is very different from the norm of the mainstream church. Opposition and criticism are to be expected. Finding people who understand and are mature to help was expected to be difficult. I didn't know just how difficult it would be. It is turning out to be the biggest challenge of starting up.

I freely admit, we need help. Between my wife and I, we have a lot of gifts and experience we bring to the table for a variety of ministry roles. However, there are a lot of things we just can't do. Trust me when I say this, you really don't want to hear me lead worship. The experience would be horrifying enough to inspire a Roger Corman film or Stephen King novel. We wouldn't even make it to the end of the first song of the first service. Not a good way to start.

We've had more than our share of setbacks. Those are to be expected. We've had a number of people we'd hoped would help that have backed away or felt lead to engage in other ministry activities. Some of them have expressed that they would be on board for months and even years that have backed off. Granted, a few of them are not right for the changes to the vision the Lord has given but some could adapt. However, The Lord's will must be supreme, not mine.

Finding leaders is extremely hard anyway. One of the challenges is dealing the accusation of "stealing sheep." I have heard that accusation leveled against several prominent pastors and larger churches and, ironically, used by many of those same pastors. I have to admit, the statement has never entirely made sense but I understand the sting of it. It hits at the need for acceptance and approval from authority figures that almost all of us deal with to one degree or another. The problem is that no one can actually "steal" anyone (unless of course there's kidnapping involved). Asking someone to help with a church or ministry puts the ball in their court. If the Lord leads that the question be asked, it is up the Lord and the person asked to make the call. People have free will and it's the Lord's will that matters most.

It's hard to build and keep a congregation together. Any departure can affect a pastor, some more deeply than others.It's especially true when that person or people are in key positions or actively serving. I believe it is this sense of loss along with an out-of-balance approach to leaving a church (see Leaving a Church in the Jesus' Outsider Archives) that contributes to the accusation. Again, I understand it but fulfilling a vision from the Lord and obedience to His word outweigh injured feelings or fear of loss.

The greater problem is born out of love. As I look at the people and pray about who to ask, they are all serving in a variety of capacities in churches and ministries I have great love and affection for and do not want to see them short-handed. Loyalty to beloved congregations and their leadership is a far greater hindrance that I could have ever anticipated. While I do not fear the sheep stealing accusation, I do struggle with feelings that I am raiding churches for their best, their mature, and talent. It has kept me from approaching a number of people over the last several months that I should have.

Most of those whom I've talked to about leadership are ones who've been cast-offs from other churches. Wounded leaders shut down by circumstance, politics, or, in some cases, their own shortcomings they have yet to see. My reasoning was that since the Lovely Bride and I are outcasts in many regards, that's where we should look. The results have been something less than spectacular. It's left us at essentially ground zero with leadership.

The ones who have come to us are not in any capacity ready to lead. Most are seeking a position for the sake of the position, have serious doctrinal issues, or are not yet in a place in their walk to lead. The latter category we can work with and help them mature, but the others are ones whom we cannot risk taking on at the beginning. For leaders, we need mature disciples of Christ ready to hit the ground running.

Shaking this handicap off is very difficult. Only recently have I approached someone who is actively serving. The Lord led them elsewhere, but I was able to overcome my hesitation and make the ask. I don't want to leave any church hurting for leadership, helpers, or musicians. The latter is particularly difficult because there is a small pool of musicians and vocalists able to pull off the type of music we'll be doing at FC and all of them are playing worship in one church or another. Love is getting in the way of the ask.

I am praying about taking a different approach. Thus far, we have kept the vision in house and only made it available to advisers and those we have asked to help. The Lovely Bride is feeling led to just put it out there for all to see. Her belief is that as we make it more public, we will inflame the passions of the right people and they will find us. There will still have to be a vetting process but it does seem like wisdom especially since I'm not sure who to approach at this point.

So, very soon, I will be putting the whole framework online. I don't know where I'm going to post it yet, but I will get make it available as soon as time allows. In the meantime, I have begun converting the Christ's Embassy Facebook page to Freedom Church. Over the next couple of days, I should get most of that process finished. To stay on top of things, please "like" the page. I will post there as often as possible.

Your prayers are appreciated and, if I may, solicited. God is leading and He is taking us on a path apart from all the well-laid plans. I'm nervous and a little scared, but I have to trust that He knows better than I ever could.

Monday, September 16, 2013


It's good to be back on the air! To kick it off, we're looking at the power of words. James spent a lot of time on the subject and there is a thread running through the rest of the Scripture on the same topic. Words can give life or can bring death. The effects can last long after they're spoken. What's been spoken over you?

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Challenges & Funks

We are finally in the new house with the new studio. It's not completely done yet but the main living space is ready and the studio is almost done. I expect to be back on the air very soon, possibly as early as Monday, September 16th. It all depends on getting the rest of the room set up enough to break up any sound not caught in the panels. It's a sound geek thing.

When the studio is done, it will no longer be "The Ugly Little Studio." The Lord has blessed us with a great home and, with a huge thanks to my friend Alan Schoenbein and ABC Construction & Restoration, a fantastic studio. Only a few pieces of furniture survive from the original studio are being used and some of them are going away as soon as finances permit. It will also double as the office for Freedom Church until we have a permanent home.

I find myself with a challenge. Because of the Lovely Bride's and my injuries, the move, and an assortment of other issues, we are way behind on Freedom Church. We are still have an issue finding the right people to form the core leadership for the plant. Many people have crossed our path that are well qualified spiritually but can't connect with the vision God has given us. We've had a lot of challenges with others who don't possess the qualifications needed to lead in a new church, some not qualified to lead at all but believe they are. Some I had hoped would be a part of the church have backed off from initial commitments or interest. Others have remained supportive but stopped short of expressing a desire to help. Finding the leaders has proven to be one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced in ministry.

When combined with some professional setbacks in my day job and a couple minor issues at home, I feeling a little discouraged. Okay, I'm feeling a lot discouraged and fighting a serious funk. There's really no other way to put it. I feel drained physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have no energy at all and feel myself not caring very much. I'm fighting it through prayer but I'm still very down.

I don't discourage easily. The Lovely Bride and I have fought through far worse than we are facing now. We know we are called to do this. We know we are called to reach a challenging group of people that few others have a desire to reach. We expected challenges and difficulties and other junk from the enemy trying to stop us. Even though I knew these days would come, I still feel very ill-prepared for them now that they are here. I understand Elijah when he was in hiding better than I have before. Great triumph that was followed by deep fear and depression. Fear isn't the issue for me. I'm not scared of continuing nor do I fear the enemy and his direct attacks. His approach is different with me.

I know what's happening is his attack. Direct attacks fail with most of us so he's hitting me through doubts, past issues, and negative words from people I respected. I keep hearing whispers in my ear telling me to give up. "No one cares if you do this," the voice says, "If they cared they'd do more to help. They'd join the team." Other times it says, "No one believes you can do this. Look at all the respected leaders who've told you that you're not qualified and you can't do it. How could they be wrong?" These voices are strong in all of us at different times. Past failures and negative words have stopped many people from achieving what the Lord has called them to be. Long after the words are spoken, they linger in our minds and hearts continuing to do damage to our present and future.

These are easy to dismiss when things are going well. After all, what better way to silence them than success? It's when the storms hit, plans go awry, or people abandon you that they ring with great power. With the challenges with finding leadership combined with a rough month at my day job (a serious financial hit), the enemy's voice in their harsh words are hitting harder than normal. I am pushing them aside with the Word and with reason. Most of the words spoken were said either from shallow relationship or ones that only know my past mistakes and not my growth from them. The Word reminds me of who I am in Christ and that I can do all things through Him. Fortunately, there are those who do speak encouragement into my life who know me better and believe in the vision the Lord gave me. Their words break through the funk.

As you can tell, in writing this out, the Lord has been helping to push through my funk and help me find peace again. I am encouraged by the recent support and His Spirit. I am doing much better. I understand David's psalms. Most of them started out pretty rough and ended in David expressing a renewed trust in God. That's where I am right now.

Perhaps the Lord allows us to experience these times to grow us and remind us of Who exactly is in control. The voices are dropping to a powerless whisper as I am reminded of my purpose to glorify Him and not heed the falsehoods of men. Yes, even the most respected men and women of God can be wrong about people. No one always hears the voice of the Lord with perfect accuracy. If we listen to people who do not see the best the Lord has for us and allow them to dictate our actions, we are not allowing the Lord to be on the throne. We're putting them there.

Please note that I am not talking about receiving words of correction or discipline. Such words are not meant to injure but to heal. In this situation, the words are "not yet" instead of "never." True words of rebuke are redemptive and lead to a path that will bring about the changes the Lord desires. The words spoken to me and, I suspect, many of you had no redemptive value. They were wounding and often shaming. Think of the conversation between Nathan and David. (2 Kings 12) Nathan definitely corrected the king after his affair and murder of his paramour's husband.  Although it was painful for David, the effect was to bring about repentance. Real words will produce good fruit even when painful. They do not lead to shame, guilt, or depression. It may take time and does require that we receive them, but the fruit is evident in the long run.

Maybe this helps you, maybe it doesn't. I appreciate you allowing me to be transparent with you for a little while. I told all of you that when I started to blog this journey that I wouldn't hold anything back. I will be posting more soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Unscheduled Breaks

Breaks happen. Sometimes, one break leads to another. In this case, my lovely bride's broken ankle in the midst of preparing for a move. Trying to keep up with my stuff, her stuff, taking care of her, and trying to keep up with my broadcast schedule has proven to be impossible.

I am putting the show on hiatus until after we move into our new home at the end of the month. I just can't keep up with it while packing. I suppose I could do a program, but it would not be up to the standards you've come to expect. There would be little or no prep time and only limited spiritual preparation. In good conscience, I cannot give the Lord a substandard offering. There's no glory for Him in a mediocre program.

The upside is that when we have moved, I will have a new and much improved studio. It won't be called "The Ugly Little Studio" anymore. Over the next few months, I will be making several more updates and improvements. The "Big Boy Mic" will have a new home.

As of right now, I am planning to resume broadcasts after Labor Day. As time permits, I'll keep all of you posted through blog posts. Stay tuned, gentle listener. Jesus' Outsider will be back very soon.

For those of you following the progress of Freedom Church, we will be starting further leadership recruitment once we've moved. It's not just the string of injuries we've been dealing with that has lead to this decision. There are some internal challenges that need to be addressed first. A couple of them will be accomplished by the move. We need a more accommodating space for meetings and gatherings. The new house will provide that space nicely.

For now, my studio/office will serve as the church office as well. We'll be able to use it for more private discussions and pastoral counseling. Privacy is key for most people to be comfortable sharing personal details and feelings. We can also do some leadership and media training there as well. I don't want to be the only media person in the church. In fact, other than the podcast, I would love to hand those responsibilities over to others. It's fun, but there are other things I will need to spend my time on.

Stay tuned, keep reading, updates will happen as we make progress.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Entitlement Spirituality

America is a land of entitlement. At least, that's what it has become. We expect that we will have everything from money, nice things, and even our health with little or no work on our part. I'm generalizing of course, but the spirit of entitlement is strong and its taint affects all of us in ways we may not realize. It has given rise to one of the most destructive doctrines ever concocted in the pit of hell.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Name Emerges

It has been a while since I've had the opportunity to update this blog. Physical infirmity has impaired my writing. It's not easy to blog while laying flat on one's back. I assure you, I tried. The fail was spectacular.

Not long after I started to recover, the Lovely Bride fell and injured herself, breaking her left ankle and spraining her right. This is why broadcasts have been hit or miss for the last few weeks. Even as I write this, she's in surgery having the broken ankle repaired.

Despite the lack of communication from us, God has been far from idle. He has been shaping us and preparing us for the major work that is to come. Prayer and reflection have been a huge part of the last coupe of months. We've been lead to discuss all of our past experiences in the church, both the good and the bad. Our motives have been examined again to make sure that there is no spirit of bitterness involved in the planting and that past hurts have been properly dealt with and understood for the lessons learned and not emotional scars. It's a process we needed to go through in order to be ready to begin.

What the Lord revealed is a passion for the hurting and rejected. We have experienced so much pain and rejection in our own lives that we understand the impact they have on people's lives. It can leave a person in chains, bound by emotional and spiritual scars that hinder all relationships including and especially with the Lord. Often, people bound by these chains feel rejected not only by people but by God. Many of the have been cast off by the church and feel that God rejected them. They are in a prison.

We also have a passion for those trapped in sins that the church often has a hard time ministering to, such as sexual sins, women who've had abortions, criminals, and other similar situations. Many of them are dealing with deep and hidden shame that they only admit to themselves in the dark watches of the night. By day or in the company of others, they put on a happy or normal face, but it's only a facade.

All this and more you've already read here and heard on my program. We really are starting a church for people who don't know how to do church. The unchurched, the dechurched, and anyone else who doesn't feel like they belong anywhere can join us. It will be a safe place for anyone to come and cast off the chains of sin, guilt, and shame and find true freedom that can only be found in Christ Jesus.

From this truth comes the working name for the church: Freedom Church. Our passion is to set people free from their chains and help them find acceptance and liberty in Jesus. This freedom can only come from a right relationship with Jesus through prayer, worship, community, and faithful teaching of the Word of God. The truth of the Living Word will do the work as people come to know Jesus. Jesus accepted and loved the scorned, rejected, and outcasts and through His love and acceptance, their lives were transformed. Freedom comes from transformation of the person through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Very soon I will be making the framework, the skeleton if you will, that those whom the Lord raises up to help us build the church will help us flesh out. It will be a hidden link on the Jesus Outsider site and my personal page, I am nervous but also very excited about what the Lord is doing through us and those who are already eager to help. Several things have already fallen into place and more are coming together each week. Please, even if you're not in the Peoria area, commit to pray for us and those who will come that the work will progress an bring glory to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Real Power

Every day we are bombarded with the world's garbage. Sexual immorality, violence, and more darkness are becoming the norms for our society and the church appears powerless to stop the decline. Can things be changed? With real power that comes from a greater source than politics, opinion polls, and protests. Wanna change the world? Here's where you start.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Armor Up!

We're told to put on the Full Armor of God but do we really know what that armor is? There's a lot of bad teaching out there when it comes to the pieces of the armor. It's time to cut through the junk and get down to the truth. What did Paul mean?

Check out this episode!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Churches

Just before recording, I went for a walk to pray and clear my head. On the route were three churches, each from a different denomination. The Lord spoke to me as I walked and told me to pray for each of them. What the Spirit had to say to them has benefit for us all as it gives insight into His heart. I share mine with you as well. To understand the direction the Lord is sending me and the message He has given me, tune in to this episode. You may find a touch of His call yourself.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I'm all about breaking barriers. Racial, economic, denomination, I'll break almost any barrier you got. I'm in favor of breaking the sound barrier. There are some barriers I won't break. Too much danger lies beyond the one that must not be broken.

Check out this episode!

Monday, June 17, 2013

State of Things, Pt 2

Where is the church today? That's some of what the Lord laid out for me when I was flat on my back. Today's episode picks up where we left off with the real State of Things. What does the Lord have to say to us for the days we live in?

Check out this episode!

Monday, June 10, 2013

State of Things Pt 1

While on my back, the Lord and I spoke often. In fact, He did most of the talking. I wrestled long and hard with all that He showed me and said. I've already shared some of what He said and State of Things is revealing more. He opened my eyes wide to the reality of the church today, where we are, and where we are going. The beginning isn't pretty but don't despair. Not yet, anyway.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time to Reflect

These last several weeks, I have been out of commission with a very painful hip injury. However, the time away from the mic was fruitful. While flat on my back, the Lord had much to say. Tonight, I share some of it with you.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ignorance Ain't Bliss

(From The Foundations Archive) Ignorance is bliss, or so the old expression goes. Is there any truth to it or is ignorance a path to destruction?

Check out this episode!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Service Evangelism

(From The Foundations Archive) It has been said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." The Gospel is inherently verbal but there is some truth in the statement. To reach the world with the love of God manifest in Christ Jesus, we will need both words and deeds.

Check out this episode!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fruit & Nuts

Everybody loves nuts, right? Peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and more are all yummy treats. However, there are nuts that are destructive, creating an allergic reaction that could be fatal. When fruit is what we need, what happens when nuts are thrown in the mix?

Check out this episode!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Upside Down & Backwards

The memes, oh the memes! All sorts of them are floating around the internet but a few that have stood out as questions about the state of the world. People are trying to make sense of the world around them and wind up making or re-posting memes while scratching their heads. Logic doesn't seem to apply. Perhaps Scripture does.

Check out this episode!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Planned Revivals & Unscheduled Grace

How arrogant we humans are! So often are we caught up in our expectations and schedules that we miss what's right in front of us. In Part 2 of Scheduled Miracles & Other Madness, we continue to look at things the modern church does that conflict with God's ways out of our good intentions and desire to see His glory on Earth rather than open rebellion. We also seek to find the Lord where He actually resides.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Scheduled Miracles & Other Madness

In what turned out to be part one of a series, we look at some of the bad (and mostly unScriptural) habits the church has fallen into. If the truth be told, some of these have really been bothering me for a while and, if I read some blogs correctly, I'm not alone. Some of these are specific to certain movements within the church but a lot of them apply to everyone.

Check out this episode!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Culturally or Biblically Relevant?

Is it possible to be culturally relevant and still be true to the Word of God? That question has been debated for a very long time. Some fall to one side and some to another. How did Paul handle this situation? For that matter, how did Jesus?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When The Well Is Dry

What happens when the well is dry? Perhaps the better question, how does the well go dry in the first place?

Check out this episode!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Render Unto Caesar

It's Tax Day! Midnight tonight is when all that fun and exciting paperwork has to be turned in to our wonderful government! Wheee! Okay, maybe this isn't everyone's favorite day of the year but it is important. Many of us struggle with paying our taxes for a variety of reasons from disagreeing with how much we pay to taking issue with what the government spends the money on. Some have even gone so far as to say that Christian's shouldn't pay taxes to what they call a corrupt government. What does Scripture say? Does it make allowances for the kind of government we have?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dealing With Mental Illness

(From The Foundations Archive) Mental illness impacts more people than most of us ever realize. It creates a lot of interesting issues for the Church of Jesus Christ including debates as to its spiritual nature. How do we handle something we don't often want to even talk about? What can we do to overcome the stigma?

Check out this episode!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Outrage to Action

There will always be things that happen in this world that will outrage us. Anger can be a strong motivator. Politicians on both sides of the political debate count on it. When our goal is participating in what God is doing to build His Kingdom, is anger what we  need? Can it be counter productive? What is the root of right action in the face of depravity and sin?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Oversexed and Underage

Victoria's Secret has the worst idea in the history of the company and you will hate it. Universities and colleges are in the act too. There are times that when the world acting like the world happens in ways that even the unchurched wind up shocked and scratching their heads. Our role is more important than ever.

Check out this episode!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Upside-Down Love

According to the Beatles, "Love is all you need." The question is, what is love? After several incidents this week that have sparked brought this issue to a head for me, I couldn't help but discuss it with you.  I've seen love turned on its head, upside-down if you will, but that's not what we really need.

Check out this episode!

Friday, March 29, 2013


(From The Foundations Archives) Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with us! We've got music, joy, and the fullness of the Gospel in a unique presentation of the events of that fateful Passover almost 2000 years ago.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Divide

Once again, the Lord intervenes. After preparing a program for today, the Holy Spirit lead me to change it at the last minute. Reading Facebook posts on the cultural topic of the day as it became heated arguments caused me a grief unlike anything I had felt after reading anything on social media. How do we approach this line in the sand and still fulfill the ultimate law of love? Where is Jesus in all this?

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 25, 2013

You Might Be a Pharisee If...

How do you know if you're dealing with a Pharisee? More importantly, how do we recognize the Pharisee in the mirror? Breaking this stronghold we all must deal with can dramatically change how we approach disagreements and change within the church of Jesus Christ.

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Alternative Means

There are times when the old, tried and true methods fail us. Actually, it's more often than not that how we've done things for years are not connecting with people anymore. Without tearing down traditions, is there a need to communicate the Gospel differently? A profound experience at church service the weekend served as a reminder of just how important it is to find a way to reach the unchurched and the de-churched who are not able to connect with more conventional styles of "doing church."

Check out this episode!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Free Exercise!

(From the Madman in Crazytown Archives) Free Exercise! No, this isn't about the latest weight loss scheme or a gym membership. Our Constitutional liberties as Christians are under assault. One of the few programs from MiCT that dealt directly with faith, this show is as timely now in the growing oppressive culture as it was when originally broadcast, perhaps more so. Remember what the Constitution actually says and Who we actually serve.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Intentional Hospitality

One of the essential ministries of any church is hospitality. Making people feel welcome, whether they've been there for years or are first time visitors, needs to be a focus of every congregation. If people are not feeling as though we want them to be there when they come in, they are much less likely to see Jesus when they come in our doors.

As we prepare for the church to start, a decision to be intentional in our hospitality and creating a warm, inviting atmosphere so that anyone who comes through the door will immediately find something of the love of Jesus to hold on to before the service begins. Some of what we feel lead to do should be obvious to anyone who cares about the mission of the church but not all of it. Our hospitality takes a long term approach to not only welcome visitors but help them build relationships that will help them grow in Christ and remain with us.

Relationships, more than anything else, keeps people attending church or drives them from it. One of the most common complaints I hear from people coming through our doors is that they've been in a church for weeks/months/years and don't feel like they have any friends or relationship connection to the congregation. While some may take the responsibility on themselves to integrate themselves into a congregation, most people do not have the personality or networking skills to do that effectively. It's not comfortable for the majority of people to come into a new social situation and make themselves part of a group. It's our job to recognize that and take deliberate steps to help them make the transition and find relationships.

Hospitality starts the minute people pull into the lot. If parking lot attendants are in use, they need to be the most upbeat, positive people available for the job. A smiling face directing traffic is important. Also, they are the first line of greeters anyone will see on a Sunday morning. Cheerful "Good Mornings" as people walk from their cars to the building can start to break down the walls visitors may have erected before arriving.

In the doors, carefully picked greeters are the front line in the "love offensive" we are going to undertake. Mature Christians who ooze the love of Christ are the best choices. Most churches start new people on the door, but this can be a mistake. Willingness is fantastic, but usher and other behind the scenes ministries are better opportunities for new converts and new members. Greeting is too essential a ministry and needs to be considered a position of honor. Elders, deacons, pastors, and ministry leaders are actually great people to fill these roles. People will feel important if the leaders of the church are the ones to welcome them when they walk in. It also keeps the leaders humble and helps connect them to the congregation they lead.

Of course, everyone is greeted exactly the same no matter what. Appearance, clothing style, and even foul language cannot shock or offend the greeters. Love is the rule of the day every service, every time. People in suits need to be treated with the same respect as someone with piercings, tattoos, and outlandish clothes. Avoiding favoritism toward any group is a Scriptural mandate. God is no respecter of persons. Everyone, and that means everyone, is a unique creation of God that He longs to bring into a relationship with His only Son, Christ Jesus. Talk to people on their level, but treat them all with respect and love. Let the Holy Spirit do the changing if you disapprove of their lifestyle. It might be you who He changes.

One important statement that cannot be expressed strongly enough. There will be NO hand sanitizer at the doors. PERIOD. Germiphobes do not need to be at the door. Old fashioned, common sense like washing hands before and after greeting people is enough for anyone. We lived for centuries without trying to kill every germ we might encounter as soon as it might have hit our hands.

The reason that it's banned is very simple: it will offend people if you shake their hands and immediately reach for the sanitizer. It sends a clear message that "I'm telling that we're happy to have you here as long as I don't have to touch you." We might as well be shouting "UNCLEAN!" every time we hit that pump. I get offended when someone does it to me and I'm willing to bet that I'm not alone. It really is offensive and anything that might create a barrier between someone and coming to Jesus needs to be removed. Let's not give the enemy a foothold right at the beginning. If you're a hand sanitizer devotee, remember, Jesus and the early church touched lepers and lived. They didn't even have an antibiotic wipe. Love and common sense trump all. However, if they pull out the sanitizer, we can't be offended. We're there to serve and love them, not the other way around.

I also like the idea of a free coffee bar. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and other similar beverages along with lemonade, water, and other cold drinks available when people come in is a great way to help them feel welcome. It is essential that most of what's available is free. There are churches out there that have Starbucks or a similar coffee chain in their foyers or their own in-house version that charge for their drinks. I understand the thinking behind it, but I don't share it. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have a drink whether they can afford it or not. A lot of people, especially as the economy continues to turn south, simply do not have the money for a cup of coffee. There is also something to be said for the smell of fresh brewed coffee in creating an open, welcome atmosphere. Only baking cookies or bacon are better.

Our intent goes beyond that just the welcome at the door.  Building relationships is absolutely essential for the ministry. The book of Acts is full of examples of thriving communities of believers. They were marked by their love for one another and their generosity towards their brethren. The fact that they were able to help those in need meant that they knew who was in need. That meant relationship.

Small group leaders are the best people to accomplish intentional relationships. However, inviting people to a small group is not the first step. For some, that would be a fairly intimidating situation. If the visitors do not know anyone, the leader can invite them to sit with them or, if there are no openings, introduce them to someone they can sit with. Even a brief conversation on the first couple of visits can make someone feel a connection to the congregation. Again, love is the rule of the day.

After service is over, that leader touches base with them again. Don't trap them, but have a conversation. Offer them a phone number. Being willing to share contact information even if they never call shows a level of trust not common in this modern age. Put that first contact in their hands. If they continue to come, the leaders can begin to introduce them to other people and start a relationship with them.

Getting to know new people and visitors and helping them know us is so basic that we should do it automatically. But, just as it can be difficult for a visitor to open up and meet people on their own, it isn't really natural for us to reach out in the ways I intend to do. Most people either pounce and scare visitors off or offer an awkward handshake or head nod. Prayer for wisdom and for the ability to love people not only with the depth of Christ but with His wonderful ability to talk to anyone. The Holy Spirit is there for us if we allow Him to be.

In all of it, love trumps all. We need to remember that Jesus delights in us even when we are in out sin and His delight only grows as He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. When someone enters Hell, He weeps. Hospitality in our churches will help open hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pave the way for eternal life. It's a seed that we can plant and water. If we are privileged to harvest, then the Lord has once again provided the increase. It's His church and kingdom and He will build it. We just get to be a part of what He is doing.

Feed Me!?

One of the most common reasons people give for changing churches is that they, "didn't feel like we were being fed." The question is; are we eating well, bellying up to the buffet, or snacking? What defines real food?

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Booze Cruise

Alcohol and the Scriptures? No, this isn't the Gospel according to Jack Daniels or Anheuser-Busch. We do need to have a very serious discussion about the consumption of alcohol in the church in this country. The debate may have consequences that are more than you expect.

Check out this episode!

Friday, March 8, 2013


(From The Foundations Archive) We're at war and have been for a long time. The lines are clearly drawn. But are we ready to fight? Are we prepared for the battles as the war intensifies?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Freaks & Geeks: New Directions

In addition to Jesus coming to me for a reset on my current ministry efforts, He's been talking to me about the character and nature of the church we are planning. Specifically, He's been speaking to me about the people we need to work to reach.

The first and foremost function of any congregation is to fulfill the Great Commission. Nothing else really matters if we fail at that one task. We can have worship that takes us to the very throne of God, preaching that convicts and challenges, and prayer that moves mountains if we are not leading people into a saving relationship with Jesus. If we are not conveying the love of God to the unchurched and dechurched then we are not doing all that Jesus commanded.

The question isn't whether or not to build a church around reaching the unchurched but who amongst the unchurched does the church's makeup give you a unique ability to reach? This is the question Jesus asked me that I'm wrestling with and I confess I don't have a complete answer for yet. I do think I'm on the right track.
In this process, Jesus has asked me several times to evaluate myself not only my relationship with Him but my own strengths, weaknesses, passions, and who I am. Who am I gifted to reach? Outsiders and outcasts have always been my passion, having been one myself most of my life, but which ones?

From the beginning of the planning, I knew we would be a church that will be unique in this area. I'm taking the best from places I've served and attended and pulling them into a blend that's similar to a couple of them but not complete like them either. The church my wife and I have been attending for the last couple of years is one we'll be drawing the most from as we plan since it is one of the most successful at reaching the unchurched that we've been privileged to be a part of. Our focus has always been to reach the lost that the mainstream church often ignores or overlooks.

At first, because of all the years I spent in a church that was very good for regular, blue-collar guys and bikers, that I would be engaged in similar ministry and that may still be a part of it. However, as the Lord has been leading me to assess who we are uniquely gifted to reach and who the people in our circles are, the answer has been changing. The people who were in my notes as secondary are moving to the primary. I admit, it's a more difficult group to reach than my original focus.

I've been feeling like the Lord is shifting my focus to, well, people more like me. That may sound absurd but, believe it or not, reaching people like me is out of my comfort zone. I've spent most of the years I've been in ministry reaching people who are nothing like me. Most of the last seventeen years were spent in inner city ministry. I grew up in an upwardly-mobile, white collar, middle class household. Most of my family on my father's side were farmers including his parents. I enjoy being in the woods. I almost always wear cowboy boots. There's nothing about me or my life that says "inner city pastor." Yet, that's what I spent fifteen years of my life dedicated to doing. That's my comfort zone.

Going in a different direction is a little scary. I'm actually from a couple of the most challenging groups to reach with the Gospel, the geeks, rockers, and creative/artistic people. However, these groups along with their various subcultures, who often overlap, are some of the people the church is poorest at reaching.

When it comes to artists, musicians, and others, they often feel that the church stifles or ignores the fullness of their talents. I can't tell you how many performers of all types have expressed that they felt they the churches they attended didn't really appreciate themselves. Some have even said they held back for fear of be thought to be "showing off" or "trying to be the center of attention." This is a long-standing gripe of mine as I've seen and experienced this first hand. I've done several episodes over the years in almost all of the incarnations of my podcast about the need to remove the restrictions from our musicians, performers, and artists. The creative personalities of all types have always been on my heart as people I need to make sure are not only shown the real love of Jesus but to unleash them to use their talents and gifts to their fullest for the Glory of God.

Another group that has been on our hearts from the beginning has been sex workers. Strippers, prostitutes, call girls, and others in the sex trade need someplace safe to go and hear the love of Jesus preached without condemnation. If we accept people where they are and let the Holy Spirit do His work to lead them to change, we will do more to reflect Christ than we could ever imagine.

Shifting the central focus to people that have long been outcasts in society as weird, nerdy, or other reasons fits but is a little scary. Most people of the broad spectrum that the rest of the world calls geeks, weirdos and other names are usually the most wounded but the sting of rejection. I know. I remember my days as a young, science fiction loving, roleplaying gaming, comic book fan were like. Heck, I'm still most of those things just not as young anymore. I have also tempered my tastes a lot over the years but I'm still the same guy. I remember the ridicule and rejection. I was never part of the in-crowd no matter how much I might have wanted to be. My hobbies and interests separated me from most others around me. I was different from them and they barely tolerated me if they tolerated me at all.

There are a lot of times when I go into churches that I feel very out of place. Many of the churches I've visited and even been a part of always felt like they were for the "cool kids" and they were tolerating a socially acceptable outcast. It seemed like almost everyone had been the star quarterback who married the head cheerleader or had been a part of that circle. The one group I knew I could never be a part of when I was younger or even now. I know that the truth is a little different than that, but I cannot deny that's how I felt. Many times, even before the first handshake, I felt ready for rejection. All to often, I wasn't disappointed. I was cast off more than once and left with the other rejects.

If I felt that way, how many people feel the same? The people I now see the church reaching out to are the rejected and cast off not only from most of the mainstream church but society at large. The tattooed, pierced, and freaky along with other freaks and geeks will be welcome. This will require an entirely different way of doing things that the Lord hasn't fully revealed as of yet. I'm seek wise counsel from others either from that background or that are reaching out to them now.

Going after people like me is more challenging than I could ever expect. While creativity is a huge asset for the Kingdom, there are times that a good imagination can get in the way of receiving the Gospel. Paul reminds us that intellectuals often see the Gospel as foolishness. I know I did before I accepted Christ. We may start with those who already follow Jesus, but we need to be able and ready to reach out with the love of Jesus beyond our walls. We must fulfill the Great Commission.

Bottom line: Geeks, rejects, nerds, dweebs, Marvels, DC's, goths,  emos, punks, Whovians, Browncoats, Trekkers, Jedi, and Sith; You will have a home with us. Strippers, hookers, sex addicts, drunks, and others who feel like reprobates; You are welcome with us. Jesus is real for you too and loves you in all your uniqueness.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Willy Wonka Christianity

While watching Willy Wonk and The Chocolate Factory (The original), I was struck by how similar the children are to how Christians behave. Each of them, extreme though they may be, is a fine example of a bad example of how we view church and one another. If we really want to face the truth, there's a little of each of them in all of us.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Christ, But Out of The Box?

The last several days I've had to face some very challenging realities. I am in a place where the Lord is driving me to reevaluate everything to make sure the I am on His course and not my own. Anyone who is genuinely engaged in the Lord's work understands these times as one of testing, challenging, and growth. No one can call them comfortable or entirely pleasant. The time with Jesus is wonderful but what He says in those times is not always so wonderful. Everything is on the table and up for evaluation.

When the Lord began to challenge me about Jesus' Outsider, I must admit I was more than a little shaken up. Doing a podcast has become such an integral part of my life that if He told me to put it down I don't know if I could without a gut-wrenching struggle. Between Jesus' Outsider, A Madman in CrazyTown, and Foundations, I've been broadcasting almost continuously for nearly five years. The only time off I've taken has been to shift to a new program. I truly enjoy sitting behind the Big Boy Mic and spending time with my audience, striving to proclaim truth to them. As the Lord whispered to me about the program, I finally laid it fully on the table. If He told me the season was over, it was over. I would stop. This is one of the reasons there weren't any new programs for the end of last week (2/27 & 3/1). Until I had a resolution, I would not broadcast.

As I prayed this week, the Lord did give me clarification on what He was trying to tell me. He asked me some very powerful questions. The first thing He asked me was, "Are you drawing your self worth and measuring success from how many listeners and followers you have or from Me?" Ouch. I was forced to admit I put huge stock in the number of listeners, followers, and Facebook fans and measure more by those numbers than I should. What's really sad is that I've been here before and laid it on the altar before. It hit me very hard that I had fallen back into a trap I had been in before. I measured the success or failure of the program on these numbers more than obedience to His will and His message. If an episode had below average listeners I felt a sting of rejection.

Jesus' next question built upon the first, "How has this affected the program?" Double ouch. He struck me to the core with that one. I prayed more and asked the question back to Him, begging Him to reveal the answer. When He did open my heart to my folly, I almost gave up the program. He revealed that I had begun to change the content of the episode and even make topic choices based on not offending listeners or on what they would find interesting to catch their eye. I was drawing on my experience as a broadcaster more than going to Jesus' in prayer when making programming decisions. Years of studying media and how to build an audience was working against me. The desire to have a popular program with the associated rush of acceptance that comes with it had become an overpowering part of my life. I looked back over the last six months of episodes and saw fewer and fewer topics that would be considered controversial, challenging, or possibly offensive to potential and existing listeners.

The final question Jesus asked was the kicker, "What did I give you as the purpose and vision for Jesus' Outsider? Are you still 'In Christ, but out of the box?'" I was hit with how I was missing what the Lord had called me to do. In the beginning, when I only had a handful of listeners to each episode, it was so easy to follow the Lord's guidance for the program. Topics were unusual and frequently very edgy. the content of each episode was full of straight forward truth and humor. I was joyful sitting behind the mic. I had to admit to myself that doing the show wasn't as easy to do as it was in the early days. Even though I still enjoyed doing the program, it was becoming a chore. The quality had really slipped from the first several months. I was preparing less for each episode than I used to and was thinking more about the numbers. I had lost focus. If I can't overcome this now, I will never be able to pastor a church that challenges the status quo as Jesus' Outsider is supposed to do.

A couple of weeks ago as I sat in the services where we are attending, the Lord spoke to me very clearly that the program's tagline/motto was to be the same for the church we are preparing to start. To do that, I had to remember what it means to be "in Christ but out of the box." If the last several months of Jesus' Outsider is any indication, I had lost a lot of that in my life and in my message and the Lord is convicting of that loss.

When Jesus' walked the earth, He embodied that principle. At every turn, Jesus challenged people's preconceived notions on religion, faith, and, most importantly, who the Messiah really was. The religious authorities that strove to put man-made restrictions on God's people felt the brunt of His correction and challenges. Many of the people who followed their teachings without question were presented the opportunity to accept the words of Jesus or continue with the Pharisees and Sadducees. While we know about all the ones who followed Jesus, we often forget how many chose to reject Him and remain in their traditions, regulations, and the other religious instruction of the day. They chose to stay in the box.

To be 'in Christ but out of the box' means to be faithful to the Word of God without compromise. The truth of scripture must always be paramount in the minds and hearts of all who seek to follow Christ. The Gospel hasn't changed since the beginning and we have no right to change it now. Sin is still sin and must be addressed even when the sin is popular with the masses and will offend people. "The Cross is an offence to those who are perishing." (I Cor 1:18) We cannot forget that. If we do, there are people who will find themselves in Hell that we might have been able to share the Good News of Jesus with and give them the opportunity to choose eternal life.

The other side of that however is to be willing to challenge any tradition, method, or model that can get in the way of people coming to Jesus. There are no sacred cows in following Jesus. It's too easy to fall into old patterns and methods because that's how things have always been done or it worked in the past. It is possible to be fully obedient to the Word and still culturally relevant. There will be criticism and people will be resistant to the idea of change. It has always been the case. We cannot be afraid of being opposed, ridiculed, or unpopular.

Jesus had to remind me of that. I'm still learning to walk in this lesson. The course correction needed for the program and me personally will take some time but I know I don't walk in it alone. I will continue to produce programs through the journey and work to restore the Lord's original intent for the program. I hope you'll walk with me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Praying with Authority

Years ago, I remember hearing on the radio ads in the guise of programming for a book called "Prayer Secrets." In a deep southern drawl, a nationally known preacher would claim to know the secret of getting prayers answered. Was he right? Or perhaps there's something more to praying with authority than some religious formula.

Check out this episode!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bein' All Things

(From The Archives) Paul strove to be all things to all men in order to reach some. Paul's effectiveness isn't in doubt so perhaps we need to do the same. With a vastly diverse culture, how can the modern church effectively work to the same goal?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Leaven of Herod

(From The Archives) As we move to becoming the church that Jesus wants us to be, we need to consider His warnings. What exactly is the "Leaven of Herod" He tells us to avoid and how can it destroy the church and us personally?

Check out this episode!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rightly Dividing

The Word is powerful, of that there is no doubt. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy for a finite, fallen human being to interpret. Today's program tries to give you a few tools to make the task easier so we can all be diligent to be "workmen approved by God, rightly dividing the Word of truth."

Check out this episode!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Inward Bound

(From The Foundations Archive) Introspection isn't all bad. It's necessary at times. The problem comes when we look inward too often and our gaze never looks outward. We can even start to think it's the point. When the church is only focused inward, the consequences can be grave.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Moving Forward

It's been a while since I've had time to update this blog due to a series of situations ranging from family to work related that have taken away the time I would have normally dedicated to keeping you, my gentle readers, in the loop. As I promised, part of this blog is going to be the journey as we take the next major steps in the ministry the Lord has laid before us.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working diligently to pull all of my notes together into a single, semi-coherent document. When I sit down to look at the volume of notes I've made and finally see them all in one place, it's a little intimidating. Even in an outline form waiting for the full details to be fleshed out as the Lord provides the leaders to help, the church we are planting is an overwhelming task. What we will be doing is so different from what most other ministries do that it almost feels like we're reinventing the wheel. If we didn't have a model to work from and wise counsel, I would feel like the task is too much.

However, I trust God to send us the help we need. There is no way we can accomplish such a sweeping vision on our own. We need leaders, workers, and other visionaries to come along with us to build upon the skeleton we have at this point. I have been long determined that while I may have been given the initial vision, I will not be the sole driving force behind the ministry. One of the many lessons I've had to learn over the years is to make certain that other people are given the opportunity to contribute to the overall vision and take stewardship over the ministry.

Very soon, likely as soon as March, we will be starting to hold prayer gatherings for interested people and anyone who just wants to come pray with us. I am convinced that starting with a foundation of prayer is absolutely essential to our success in accomplishing the mission that we've been given. I felt impressed to start with prayer rather than Bible studies to begin our journey. Yes, we will discuss the Word, but seeking the Lord's face and His guidance is the main purpose.

I have also been forced to make some very difficult choices. One of the main ones is that I need to entrust the selection of most of the pastors and ministry leaders to the elder board. I have only offered one position to one person that has been on my heart for that role since this was first laid on my heart. I will select the first elder after prayer and fasting, but all others will be by consensus with the rest of the board. I have made my share of mistakes over the years and have seen the results of not only my choices going wrong but also the unilateral selections of others. I do not want to make those mistakes again.

At this juncture, I need to express something. I expect some resistance to what we are doing from within the local church community. As I said, I've made my share of mistakes in ministry, perhaps more than my share. Because of these, I know that there will be people who will not support us in planting a new church. I have grown a lot these last several years out of necessity and deliberate efforts in prayer and study. I am convinced that the time we have taken to rest and not be involved in ministry other than Jesus' Outsider has been greatly beneficial to both the lovely bride and me.

For many years, I was frantic to serve anywhere and everywhere. I made a lot of mistakes out of zeal and allowing my wretched excess of personality to push aside wise counsel and often go my own way. I found myself outpacing God's plan for what I was doing and thereby not accomplishing much of anything. Maybe that's why I'm proceeding at a very methodical pace despite my growing sense of urgency. At each step, I am asking the Lord if I should lift my foot or set it down. I am trying to balance my zeal with wisdom. I pray that I am succeeding.

I know the road ahead is a difficult one. I expect that starting a church will needing to work full time will be a strain and more stuff will have to be taken off my plate, at least for a season. The one thing I never want to do at any point in this adventure is to neglect the most important ministry I have been given; my family. If they are left in the dirt, then all my efforts are not of the Lord and are vanity.

I have the notes pulled together. If anyone is interested, let me know in the comments or drop me an email.

Twisting Scripture

Deception is far too common in the church. Scripture is often twisted, distorted, or otherwise misused within our walls. Three common errors and misuses of the Word and their dangers are the subject of this episode.

Check out this episode!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Michael Jordan didn't become Michael Jordan by practicing double-twist, black flip, reverse layups. He shot free-throws, layups, and from different points on the court. If we want to be successful as the church, we need to get back to the basics starting with the first pillar, the Word.

Check out this episode!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Foundational Introductions

It's time to move from assessment and obstacles into the goal. What does the church look like when she's functioning as the spotless bride of Christ? The Pillars of the church must be explored, shored up, and set if we are to see a healthy body and a strong Kingdom.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Overcoming The Opposition

The specifics of the attack may change, but the source and the strategy don't. We're back in Nehemiah again to find out how he dealt with the the opposition he faced in building the walls. There are some very real lessons we can learn from how he dealt with Sanballat and his cronies that we can apply to our own battles.

Check out this episode!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Behind The Opposition

Lincoln can teach us a lesson or two about handling opposition and warfare. When we start to do the work of restoration of the Body of Christ, we will face a lot of opposition both from within the church and from the outside. If we are to win this war we find ourselves in, we need to handle it right. Victory hangs in the balance.

Check out this episode!