Saturday, December 12, 2009

Χριστός and Xmas

There is much unwarranted fuss about Xmas as 'taking Christ out of Christmas." Let me explain. In Greek, the language the New Testament was written in, the word for Christ is Khristós, (Χριστός). As you can see, the first Greek letter in the word Christ is a "Chi" or an "X". For centuries Christians have used the "chi" or "X", as shorthand for the whole word, Christ (Χριστός). So does everyone who writes xmas understand this? Probably not, but now you know and can explain it to them.
Merry Christmas/Xmas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Come here, 1,2,3...

How many parents have said this to thier running toddler? "Come here, come here, okay that's it, 1...2...3...4...4 1/2....4 3/4..."

Today I read Hosea 11.1-2 and it reminded me of a stage my son was going through a few years ago. There was a time when he had about 5 months of walking under his belt that he enjoyed running away from us. He thought it was funny. He especially liked to go to the end of a long aisle (like at a supermarket) and play run around. When we'd go one way he'd go the other. HE thought it was funny, we thought it was VERY frustrating. It can also be a very dangerous game. I remember vividly a time when he was in that stage that we were leaving a restaraunt on Virginia Beach Blvd, a very busy street, and as soon as we walked out the doors he took off toward the street. He was laughing and thought this was fun to run from Dad. The more I called the faster he ran, until I took off running. His foot was about to step off the curb and down onto the blacktop, when I reached him and snatched him back. Cars whizzed by.

"When Israel was a child, I loved him...the more I called them, the more they went from me....Yet I was to them like those who lift infants to thier cheeks." I am reminded today of how much God loves us, and how uninformed and immature our running from him truly is. Instead of running from, today I choose to run WITH him!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Falling Into Mercy

Okay so this morning I'm reading about David in the OT (1 Chron. 21). And he messes up and takes a census of Israel. Presumably an excercise of doubt, which neither David's right hand man Joab, nor God found appropriate. So David must choose his punishment for disobedience- three years of famine, three months of being overcome by the sword Isreal's enemies, or 3 days of plague (sent by the LORD). David takes no time in choosing the 3 days of the Lord's 'sword' saying, "Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but let me not fall into the hands of men."

I can relate to David at this point because I've found that God is alot more merciful than human beings are. Some people are kind and compassionate, but many can be quite vengeful and uggg-ly! I get David... he's like, given the choice I'll go with the mercy of God everytime. It's not worth the risk. I'll go with the One I know is consistently loving and merciful and good. I'll go with falling into the hands of God. Trusting some people is like a Benny Henn altar call gone bad, when you swoon you think they're gonna catch you, but to the floor you fall like a brick. I choose the mercy of God.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Baking Story

Matthew 13:33 He told them still another parable, "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough."

The Kingdom of Heaven is a baking story. It permeates, like yeast in dough. Case in point, the number of Christians in Africa in 1900 AD only 9 percent of the whole population. In the year 2000, it was the largest segment of the population, 48 percent of the whole population of Africa claim Christ.”

God is at work all of the world, bringing his purposes and plans to fruition. His Reign, The Kingdom of Heaven, is expanding and it will not stop until the ancient prophecy, penned by the old Testament prophet Habakkuk, 2500 years ago is fulfilled.

Habakkuk 2.14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

So does it matter? It is it worth to live this life, to share this message of Jesus Christ. Yes indeed it's worth it. It is worth it because God will not stop until this world is made right, until justice flows like an never ending stream, until goodness and grace permeate the whole world. He will not stop until every wrong is righted, until every bruise is healed, and every broken heart mended. He will not quit until every suffering is turned to joy, until every impoverished stomach is filled, and every good deed done in his name is rewarded.

Justice and truth will prevail, as surely as yeast permeates a loaf of unleavened dough. The Kingdom of Heaven will permeate the world. It is worth it, the Kingdom of this world is winding down, but God’s Kingdom will never end!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Misguided Concern

"Should I not be concerned about that great city- God." (jonah 4.9) This rhetorical question is really resonating with me today. It speaks of what is important to God and should therefore 'concern' his people. If you know the story, Jonah was far more concerned about his personal comfort than he was for the 120k souls who were completely unaware of the love, grace, and justice of God. In fact what triggered Jonah's anger was not the prospect of judgment falling on this sea of wayward husbands, wives, children, grandfathers and aunts...but rather he was infuriated that he would not be comfortable WHILE they were reduced to soot.

What a selfish mistake it is in the church when we get most outraged by our lack of comfort (it is not the music style, decor, dress codes, etc. that makes us comfortable)! It is sad but true that many churches spend the bulk of their energy and resources making themselves as comfortable as possible for the "light show." Instead of really have a concern for the poor, the lost, the lonely, they fret like an unruly guest at a customer service desk-demanding 100% guest satisfaction. Today I'm reminded that God's concern is more for the lost of the world, than he is about my personal 'comfort.' In fact it isn't even close.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Surprise Doping Test

I'm following Lance Armstrong's tweets. During this 2009 TdF, this has provided an interesting perspective on the anti-doping methods of pro cycling. For example, one tweet describes Lance and the Astana team eating breakfast, the next moment he's peeing in a cup for a screener. Interesting after each test, Armstrong says of these random screenings...this is good. He says that in light of the horrid reputation cycling has had with performance enhancing drugs, well cheating. So to that degree it's good, to keep people honest. This got me thinking about what it would be like if Christ followers, those claiming to be competing on Jesus' team...what if we were random screened to see if we were for real or not. Are we really living out this life we claim to live or are we cheating. I mean the church too has been blemished through the years by people cheating. So random testing..who knows this could be good. Problem is there's no one qualified to give the test, because we've all cheated at one time or another...all of us except one.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Game Changer, Play of the Decade

The Game Situation.
The Canaanite king- King Jabin and his commander, Sisera were kicking the Israelits butts- intensely, regularly. Brutalizing them. It was not good. And this had been going on for some 20 years. For some two decades Sisera had been just beating the Israelites down. Until the day God said to Israel's commander, “Go! This the day the LORD will give you victory...the LORD has gone ahead of you.” So Barak and his ten thousand men went down and defeated the Canaanite army. But Sisera the evil commander escaped (crap).

But there was someone waiting on Sisera...Jael stood at the entry of her tent and invited Sisera in, he assumed, for protection. She comforted him and told him not to be afraid. When he asked for water, Jael went the extra mile and gave the commander milk. Sisera felt safe, and so tired from battle he fell asleep in Jael’s tent.

Jael picked up a hammer and a tent stake and drove it right though his temple -dead. (insert ESPN music here) That was the GAME CHANGER PLAY OF THE DECADE. Now let’s see that again in super slow motion.

This was the turning point for a generation. “On that day God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king, before the Israelites. And the hand of the Israelites grew stronger and stronger against Jabin, the Canaanite king, until they destroyed him.” Judges 4.23

This is the kind of fun stuff I get to talk about this Sunday! I'm fired up about it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Irony about Living

What if the health of a person was directly proportional to their willingness to die? What if a church's health was directly proportional to its willingness to die? Here's what I think...I think both statements are true. The most alive people, the most spiritually alive persons are those who are willing to lay thier lives down for that which ultimately matters. Churches that are laying themselves down are the most vibrant communities on earth- feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, sharing the gospel, healing the hurting. Show me a sick, self-consumed (i want to be comfortable and happy), enemic, impotent church and I'll show you a church that has stoppped giving itself away. THey have shifted into survival mode. Here's what I think, I think we have been tricked. Tricked to believe thier really is a survival mode. But I don't really think there is a survival mode. Perhaps survival mode has really been mislabeled all along. Survival mode is more appropriately called burial mode. Here's the irony- be willing to die to yourself and live, or continuing living for yourself and you will surely die. Same for individuals, churches, communities, nations, ... Oh it's what Jesus said(ref. Matthew 16.25).

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bible 101: a sin ISN'T a sin

a sin is a sin, right? well no. this common quoted statement, "a sin is a sin" is false or at the very least misleading. i heard a woman say recently, doesn't the bible say that a "sin is a sin." to which the preacher's daughter to whom she was speaking speaking responded, 'yes.' hmmmm, where does it say that? i don't know of a single verse in the bible that says a sin is sin. people use this phrase as a way of saying there are no big sins and little sins. but i've got be honest, i totally disagree with that. while the BIBLE does teach that the RESULT of all sin is seperation (rom. 3.23 and 6.23) from God, i do not think it is true that a rolling stop at a country intersection is the same as premeditated murder. to say they are the same is an affront to common sense, and densies the obvious and differing scale of impact. i mean come on! all sin seperates us from God, true. but the folk religion that teaches that all sins are totally equal is misleading and perhaps even heretical. there isn't a single verse in the bible (i'm still looking) that says 'a sin is a sin.' it's just not there, maybe because the statement isn't true.
okay...i feel better now. you can tell me what you think...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

healing and Jesus

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus does not heal impersonally or arbitrarily, but relationally and personally.

Have you ever wondered why there are no records of Jesus randomly emptying out hospitals or asylums with the wave of his healing hand? The reason is because God does not heal arbitrarily or impersonally. God’s healing is the result of being in relationship with him. The great physician heals us, the closer we get to him the more whole, thus healed we become. That is why death for the follower of Jesus is a great victory. It is the ultimate healing for the believer- because it presents the opportunity to be the closest to God.

Friday, March 20, 2009

an experience, not a title

I ordered a new Smartphone last week, and I asked if there were color choices for the phone. "Yes", i was told by chirpee (his/her chat name) "you can have the phone in any color you would like as long as it’s black."

Jesus once told a man that no one will see the kingdom of God unless he/she is born again. There really isn’t any other kind. I suppose its unfortunate that this phrase has become so distasteful to so many- the phrase born again. I must admit I don’t use it very often.

When someone says 'born again Christian,' thoughts of some loony, bizarre, dogmatic, judgmental person stock piling explosives waiting to blow up an abortion clinic after Wednesday night study on the book of Revelation comes to mind.

But like the phrase or not, there is only one type of Christian- it’s the born again ones. Maybe you’ve heard this- “I’m a Christian but I’m not one of those born again Christians.” That is kind of like saying, I’m a guy but my feet down smell. It’s not really possible. Or like saying I’m from the south and I don’t like tobasco sauce. Not possible.
You don’t have to call yourself one, becuase Jesus wasn't giving out titles, he was describing a requisite experience. To be a Christ follower one need not use it (born again) as a title, but you gotta have the experience. (rf, John 3.1-21)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mixed Feelings

I've heard people say, in justification of their actions, well it feels/felt like the right thing to do. I've done that, and said that myself before. But here's the deal...sometimes our feelings are right and led us to right actions. But sometimes the heart is wrong, leading to disastrous results. It’s not that we are bad people, it’s just a fact that the heart is not always a trustworthy source of truth, of what is right. The heart gets mixed up. The heart is filled with mixed feelings. When it comes to living what is true, we need something more. We must look UP, not IN for truth.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

the difference making conviction

When I read the epic MADE story of the book of Nehemiah it seems that on each page (at times plainly written and other times you just feel it there)is this passion. In the backdrop of this extraordinary story is a passionate conviction, and that conviction keeps them moving forward, keeps them in the game, keeps them working and pressing on, fuels their pit-bull like tenacity.

I think when we have this same conviction, then it will do wonders for us too. The conviction that stood as a backdrop to Nehemiah’s work; the gut level, the heart level belief was this- this was God's work!

I really don't think its possible to overstate how critical this is. When we know that we are doing the work of God, when God is in it, it makes all the difference in sticking with it and following through. Nehemiah and the people were absolutely convinced this was the case in their work on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and they finished the work- in 52 days!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

influence is up close

A good coach gets close. It has been said you can impress from a distance, but influence happens up close. The people of God in the 5th century BC needed to be MADE. They needed a coach. Nehemiah was their chosen coach. He might have wooed the people with his grand vision for Jerusalem from a 1000 miles away in Susa, but to really influence the work and influence the people so that they captured the same vision that captured him, he had to be close to do that. Near the people. For any dream that we have, any area of life we want to see made over, it would serve us well to do the research ourselves about what it will take to do that. Not just hearsay.This principle of leadership applies to all relationships as well. If you want to know what the real condition of something check it out yourself. If you want to know if the car needs an oil change sometimes you’ve got to go pull the dip stick out yourself and look at it. Check it out for yourself.

A good coach gets close, s/he may impress from a distance, but influence happens up close.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Beginning on March 22, 2009 Breiel Church of God is making a dramatic shift in the way it approaches worship. For years Breiel has offered a blended worship experience.

Understandably, if you haven’t been around church the term “blended” sounds like something having more to with a frozen beverage than a worship experience. Basically the blended service has been the Christian Church’s attempt to mix traditional with modern elements of worship. Across America churches have had varying degree of success (and failure) with this approach. Honestly, Breiel has done better, for longer than many. But we want to do better, and we are certain we can do better. We be honest we want to be the best in the WORLD at offering our community HOPE. It is this calling that has convinced us that now is the time to become a church that will reach more people by giving persons a choice between two experiences.

So beginning 3.22.09 at 10.40 am we begin the adventure of faith. We will begin offering simultaneous yet totally unique worship services.

The Experiences

#1 The Annex will be our more laid-back worship environment. This venue will be located in gym, have a coffee bar and chair seating, with music led by our rockin’ house band. Worshipers are free to enjoy some coffee or snacks during service.

#2 The Sanctuary will be a top quality worship experience utilizing an array of traditional elements. Musical selections include choir pieces, classic hymns, gospel favorites, and cherished choruses. This worship venue is located in the main sanctuary.

If you’re tired of the same old, you have found a community that shares you’re feelings. If you think it is absurd that grandparents can’t worship at the same church as their grandkids, we’re with you. If you think the argument over what is appropriate to wear to church is a tired, irrelevant, and annoying discussion, we’re with you. If you just want to seek God without the drama, then we’re with you. If you don’t like church, but think Jesus is pretty cool. We understand. And we are with you.

You are invited to join us on this journey, be a part of the next chapter of Breiel Church. Let’s all see if we can become a community of unparalleled hope and optimism. Prepare for launch, 3.22.09!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

guinea pigs with capes

my preschool son loves this nickjr show, he watches its regularly. i on the other hand, am rereading a good little book called the way of the shepherd. in the book the authors point out that there are two main questions followers ask of their leaders. 1. does s/he know what s/he's doing (knowledge and competence)? 2. Can I trust him/her? People will forgive a leader who fails from time to time with the first, but failure to establish and maintain the second (trust) means a person's leadership is basically over. Of course trust and competence are connected. if a leader consistently proves to have knowledge and skill, then trust goes up in thier ability to deliver. if on the other hand the leader can cast life-like vision, but doesn't deliver the goods, then it won't take too long before the vision stuff starts to sound like a Wonderpets episode. "wonder pets, wonder pets, we're on our way to save _________ and save the day..." blah blah blah i suppose the point is that a leader without competence and trustworhtiness is little more than a guinea pig with a cape.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

its just that simple

i think it’s a consistent human mistake to make simple things overly complicated while complicated things overly simple. nowhere is this more applicable than to the issue of poverty and wealth. as Christians, our theology has to be sufficiently inclusive (complex) to see God’s special love for the righteous poor, and the special place the righteous rich play in God’s plan as well. it seems to me that it is too simple (and untrue) to believe that God loves the poor and hates the rich, or that God loves the rich and that poverty is God’s curse. That’s too simple.

the gospel is good news for all people. good news for those who work under me, and for those who sign my paycheck. the gospel is for those who can afford a Bently and is equally extended to the one who peddles a bike with a basket, on a dirt road. Christ is good news for stock broker on Wall Street and the stock boy at Walmart; the employer, the employee; the underemployed, and the unemployed. The gospel is for broke carpenters and raw and uncultured sheep herders, and the gospel is for powerful kings and prosperous magi. The gospel is for the outcast and for the privileged, its just that simple.

from a weekend service at

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

chip, remember the block

all who hope for deliverance-all who seek the LORD! Consider the quarry from which you were mined, the rock from which you were cut (Isa 51.1-2). remembering where you're from is important don't you think? i mean most folks think so. as a chip, its helpful to remember the block. you can tell a lot about a person by discovering where they come from. but not everything. some times people surprise us. i had a friend one time, he was really down to earth. as young boys we played sports together and hung out at school. i went to his house one time for a was a very big house, biggest house i'd ever been in. i would have never guessed where he came from, but then again at 7 years of age a pedigree wasn't that big of a deal to me (except for our doberman pinchers, we even had a blue one). i guess the point of this passage of Scripture is to remember where you came from, and remember that God can make more out of our lives than we could imagine for ourselves. that's God's point to Isreal. Abraham was alone, pretty much a nobody. God blessed him, and he became the father of a great nation. Pretty cool, huh?

it's amazing what God can do, i mean it wasn't until i was 22 that i lived in house without wheels. living that long on wheels does something to a person, it's got to. i don't know what it does but i'm pretty sure it messed me up somehow.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Destructive Impulses

Four destructive (leadership) impulses

1. the impulse to believe the doubters

When times are tough, the voices of the troublemakers in our lives seem to get louder. When things are hard, it is good to know when to just ignore the criticism, the critics, the nay-sayers. When an area of your leadership or life is struggling, and the nay-sayers are telling you to throw in the towel, to give up, to quit, you have to know when its time to ignore them. Even, especially if the source of those voices comes from somewhere inside of you.

2. the impulse to make things happen

Have you ever had the pressure to make something happen? During difficult times, especially if you are in an area of leadership or responsibility, you feel the pressure, the expectation to make things happen. Do something. What are you waiting for? Just go. And people will even say, we don’t care what the rules are, just do something. Just go ahead. Avoid the impulse to make something happen.

3. the impulse to delight in another persons failure

In today’s economic climate there are many people who are suffering, who have lost jobs, lost positions, lost homes, lost pension. A lot of losers and not many winners in today economy. A sure way to displease God is to delight in someone’s failure or loss.

4. the impulse to make up (create) a word from God

During difficult times we must be careful because our internal fears and doubts, and static can interfere with our hearing from God. We can want God to speak on a particular issue so bad that we start creating a word from God. You want a certain job real bad, and all of sudden you hear God say, “yes that job is yours.” Or you want a certain thing or gadget real bad, “and you start hearing God say yes go get the iphone :) ” Or you want a certain outcome so desperately, you start using spiritual words to defend your very human desires. God told me… God wants me….God has promised me… God spoke to me. If untrue it can be destructive.

from a weekend message at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

character barks

have you ever had an annoying cough, that tickle in the back of your throat that wont go away? yes...i've got one of those right now. and i've been playing this little game this morning... a little war between me and my cough. (i'm wierder than you think) this the game: i see how long i can keep from coughing. limbs squirming... eyes watering... neck pounding... it a sick and painful little game, and i'm really irritated because the cough always wins. doesn't matter how long i hold out the cough EVENTUALLY yells "i win" in the tone of a bark.

but i was thinking, our character is kind of like that cough. we can try to choke it back, hold back what's inside , but it will eventually come out. some folks are good at hiding it for a very long time, but good (and bad) character always finds an escape point. character barks!