December 14, 2009

Who Said Anything About Fair?

This afternoon I was headed back to the office from a lunch with a new friend from church. I stopped at an intersection near my house (heading West) and a police officer arrived at the stop sign at the same time (heading North). After I stopped...I turned and went. He followed. And then the fun began. The lights came on. I was being pulled over - BUSTED! I quickly reconciled that I was finally going to get punished for my out-of-date Kansas plate. Surely that was it. Right?

The officer approached my car and informed me, "I pulled you over b/c you failed to come to a complete stop at Gillespie and Balch." Instantly I thought, "WHAT? Are you crazy? Were you actually THERE?" Notice at the beginning of my story I said I "stopped" at the intersection. I've gotten pulled over before. I've had tickets for speeding. Most of which I simply paid b/c I knew I was wrong and that was that. But this was absurd. I know what it means to stop and I was stopped! What kind of insane world are we living in anyways?

Allow me to vent. I think it should be explained that there's a difference in NOT STOPPING and NOT WAITING YOUR TURN! I'm not sure if the officer was mad or upset b/c I cut in line and it was his turn, but my understanding is that if you arrive at a Stop sign simultaneously you yield to the person on the RIGHT - thus the term "RIGHT of way". And even if he was there before me, I waited for him to go and he just sat there. I turned. But before any of this yielding, turning, cutting - whatever you want to call it took place - I STOPPED! This is just plain flat unfair!

This is the point where a question entered my mind: Who ever said anything about being FAIR? 

I know I wanted personal justice here - I wanted this duty-inspired Deputy to acknowledge that I hadn't done anything wrong. But my justice was being handed back to me in a counterfeit IOU. It wasn't coming! And as I drove away I started thinking about this story of a man in a garden in the dead of night. His friends were about to abandon, betray and deny him. He was overwhelmed with the grief and burden of knowing that he was about to be arrested, beaten, whipped, mocked, spit on, stabbed, and nailed to a cross to be crucified...all for things that he had never done. He didn't run the Stop sign! The crimes weren't his! He was paying a debt for the crimes, passions, rebellion, and sin of everyone who would ever live. Except himself. Not guilty - yet bearing the burden of ALL guilt. And I began to wonder, "Did it ever cross his mind to think, 'This is simply not FAIR!'"

Who said anything about being FAIR?

I emphatically without a doubt did NOT run this Stop sign today. But I've run one before. Probably more than once. And never got pulled over. So this is where I close my mouth - breathe in very deep - and allow the overwhelming grace, mercy, and unconditional love of my Savior to wash over me and remind me that my life is not about fair. Because if things were fair and God gave me what I deserved...I would be desperately begging for a whole new meaning of fairness. 

Sometimes you should just pay the ticket - close your mouth - and look and listen for what the Lord is trying to tell you!

2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 2:18-25

December 7, 2009

The Pastor Who Spoiled Christmas

Well, so far I haven't received any hate mail for calling Santa out yesterday. (It's early in the week, though) As we began the Advent Conspiracy, we talked yesterday about the struggle to keep our lives, hearts, and families bowed at the feet of the King (as the Wise Men did) while trying to play along with the rest of the world waiting for Santa to come down the chimney. Whether we like it or not, we have made Christmas about what we WANT! (It's not called a "Wish List" for nothing!) And I'm just wondering, when's the game finally going to end?

First off let me say that parents have to be the ones to decide when & how they're going to have this conversation with their kids. What may be simple and direct for some parents may be long, drawn out and complicated for others. (Libby asked - we told her the truth. On to the next subject. That was when she was 3!) That being said, it still leaves me wondering: PARENTS - When are you going to stop playing the game?

Are you really thinking & praying over the long-term effects of Santa, his "lists", and Christmas being about our materialistic wants & wishes?

Have you asked yourself how you'd feel if the day we should be celebrating YOUR birth we were all running around like mad buying crap for each other?

Do we have ANY objectivity in this mess anymore? Seriously?

While I'm glad that I haven't been called the "Pastor who spoiled Christmas" yet, there's part of me that hopes - if you're still letting Christmas be about anything other than the birth of the King of Kings and the hope that it brings - that I'm a rotten egg in your Christmas!

If you want to see Jesus this Christmas....SEEK HIM!

Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.....

December 1, 2009

Where's Your Sword?

This past Sunday we wrapped up our series "Weapons". There was no better way to close this series than to look at the weapons we have at our disposal to fight this fight against our Enemy - you know, the one who would love nothing more than to "devour us". If you're unfamiliar with the Armor of God - especially if you're a Christ-follower - you need to get quickly and deeply acquainted with the resources at your disposal. Check out what God has given you in Ephesians 6:10-18.

I wanted to highlight - or maybe a better word is obsess over - one of these weapons, the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God". I think that a quick read often leaves people mistaken, thinking that the Holy Spirit is the sword. Not true. The Spirit of God empowers and equips us to USE this sword when it's in our hand. The sword is THE WORD OF GOD! The big question for you is, are you holding it in your grip? Is it strapped around you, ready to be drawn at any given moment to do battle with the Enemy? Where is your sword right now? Polished and ready....or rusting and collecting dust? Think about it. Contemplate the question in plain English: WHERE IS YOUR BIBLE?

Hebrews 4:12 takes Paul's description of this "sword" a step further and explains that "the Word of God is full of living power...sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." This weapon is not simply for fending off the Enemy - it has business to take care of with US as well. This sword cuts deep into my heart and exposes me for who and what I really am. It opens my eyes and pulls back the veil and shows me where the Spirit of God needs to clean house and refine me. It's not only the weapon I need to fight the battle, it's the weapon the Lord uses to prepare, equip, and ready me for the fight. I cannot stand without it! And maybe this is why we find ourselves at times empty-handed, with our sword resting neatly on a shelf: we don't want to be exposed. Maybe it's not that we're unaware or ignorant to the Enemy, maybe it's US that we're not wanting to do battle with. Maybe we're just not ready to do the business we know the Lord has in store for us to actually ready us to stand up and fight. Is that you? Have you become your own worst enemy? If so, it's time to make a decision. Are you going to stay in the foxhole...or are you going to climb out and take a stand?

I believe that as you examine the Armor of God you will discover that if you are constantly carrying and handling this sword, the other pieces of armor will come naturally. They will simply fit. Period. So, what are you waiting for? Pick it up! It will change your life!

Dig Deeper:
Isaiah 40:7-8
Psalm 119:9-11
Matthew 4:4
1 Peter 5:8-9

November 25, 2009

Stop the Madness!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time to think of all the things we have to be grateful for in our lives. A chance to eat together - to eat a little bit more than would be medically advised. All in all, an opportunity - if I may keep this simple - to give thanks! And then comes the day after.....

What on God's earth has happened to us? Right now, as I sit here plotting out my study time for the day, there are people all over this great nation who are mapping out their tactical plan for the invasion of Walmart and Best Buy, who are (ironically) baiting and luring them in like zombies. And every morsel of reason at the root of this mayhem is the distorted understanding of what Christmas is all about. As the Day of Destruction & Debt approaches I encourage you to rethink WHAT the heck you're doing and WHY you're doing it.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. How would you feel if - on your birthday - people all over the world trampled each other, spent money they didn't have, and significantly raised their stress level and blood pressure...all for the sake of buying more crap that they didn't really need?

Are you a Christ-follower? If so, why would you continue to foster and nurture the idea in your children that Christmas is about THEM and a ginormous list of things they WANT? Is it not time to STOP the insanity? 

Before you head out of your house on a mission this Black Friday - or the days after for that matter - I encourage you to RETHINK CHRISTMAS! I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about the consequences and ramifications of being a tool of materialism. Join the conspiracy to take back Christmas! Take a few minutes and check this out:

Christmas Can [Still] Change the World!

November 23, 2009

The Right Thing To Do

Ah, Christmas. Typically at this time of year we're thinking through the question, "Who will we give to this year?" We pinpoint as a church a cause, organization, or charity that we ask our people to direct their attention and money towards in an effort to love others in need and to bring the Kingdom of God to those who don't know Him. Again, that's typically what happens.

During the month of November we've traveled through a series together at The Brook called "Weapons". We've been talking about tools and devices the Enemy loves to use against and sometimes (sadly) deceives us into using against each other. But yesterday we turned a corner and confronted a weapon that we seem to use against ourselves: DEBT. We're the ones who pick up the shovel and we're the ones that keep digging the hole...even when we can't see the light of day anymore. We are exhorted throughout scripture (Romans 13:8, Proverbs 22:7, Matthew 6:19-24) to a better way of living. This wasn't just a sermon about our individual credit card debt - it's about the fact that WE - as a CHURCH - are in DEBT. And it's time to put an end to it!

December 13th will be "Erase the Debt" Day here at The Brook. I have asked our people to spend the next 21 days praying about what the Lord would ask them to give to "Erase the Debt". I believe the Lord is leading some of us to fast over these days - leading us to get on our faces and seek His direction. I am praying that many of our people will feel called by the Lord to give in a way that almost seems ridiculous to them at first - that He calls us to a generosity we didn't even know resided within us. We are very well aware that this is not something that's going to "feel good", like giving to Blood:Water Mission or Habitat for Humanity or Samaritan's Purse. This is probably not going to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy for Christmas. But that's not why we give it?

This is what the Lord is calling us to do as a church. This is the right thing. This is biblical. And NOW is the time!

If you're a member of The Brook, please join us in asking the Lord what He desires you to give to "Erase the Debt". If you're not a member of our church, please join us in praying that the Lord will faithfully help us overcome this minor obstacle and wipe it out - so that we can begin to serve & give wholeheartedly as His people.

If you missed the message yesterday, I encourage you to check out the podcast:

"My God shall supply all your needs according to HIS riches in Christ Jesus". Philippians 4:18-20

November 16, 2009

The Painful, Ugly Truth...and My Son

I had a message from Morgan today saying that she needed to tell me about the conversation she had with Nathan's teacher. You have to understand the fear this struck deep in my soul because - heaven help this boy - he is MY son! But I really thought we'd make it out of preschool before this started. Seriously!

Well, it turns out that what happened was Nathan's teacher began reading a story and talking about Santa Claus. Nathan at some point - burdened that all children be set free from tyranny and that the Lord had appointed him Paul Revere for his class - began telling everyone (excitedly I might add) that "there is no such thing as Santa! Christmas is Jesus's birthday!" This apparently made quite a few other 5 year olds upset. Their worldview had just been shaken to the core! 

[Pretty sure at this point Nathan was taken to a corner by one teacher while the other teacher did what we'll call "diplomatically rectifying the situation"]

This evening I will be looking for that open door to have a conversation with my son about tact and sensitivity and "letting other kids parents be the ones to break the bad news to them" when they deem it the right time. We'll talk about reserving that type of excitement for a time when the school is on fire or someone's about to walk in front of a moving bus. At the same time, there's a part of me that's proud - not that my son is a liberator, but that he is listening. 

One of the reasons we named him Nathan is out of great endearment for the prophet who called the King out in his sin. So I guess if my son's first "episode" in school is that he decided to call out the painful, ugly truth about the fat guy in the red suit.....I can live with that.

November 10, 2009

Act NOW!

Let's jump straight to the point: there are over 145 million orphans in this world. On this planet - the one that God created - there are millions of children - the ones that God created - who are fatherless, alone, abandoned...orphaned! 

Here are more numbers to chew on:

  • There are 100,000+ children in the US waiting & ready to be adopted & rescued
  • There are 300,000+ churches in the US
Don't these stats tell us that something can be done? That the people of God could be taking the lead at eradicating this crisis? 

God has made very clear His heart about this matter. All throughout scripture He reveals His mandate for WHAT and HOW His people should be responding to the timeless tragedy. James 1:27 tells us that "Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans...." In Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Amos...all through His Word He has mandated: My people will rescue the orphans!

So the million dollar question is: Why aren't we rescuing the orphans?
What are we doing as the Church to fulfill and pursue and bring hands and feet to the heart of God? This isn't a suggestion on His behalf, or some third-rate, low tier priority on His list. The call of God - the mission and message of Jesus Christ - is to bring His Kingdom to those who are lost - to rescue and defend and help the helpless.

Want to know how you can get involved? Want to refuse to be ignorant & apathetic any longer? Want to know what YOU can do to make a difference and an impact? Visit any of these organization's websites and BE the change:

NOW is the time for the Church to step forward, to forsake convenience with courage, and to rescue the helpless. Remember, YOU have been rescued! Forgotten? Spend some time meditating on these scriptures:

Colossians 1:13-14
Ephesians 1:3-8, 2:12-13
Romans 8:15-17

Act NOW!

November 2, 2009

Words Are Weapons

"Words are weapons, sharper than knives. Makes you wonder how the other half dies." - Michael Hutchence (INXS) from The Devil Inside.

James 3:2-10 tell us with brute force that our words - our tongue - can wreak havoc, destroy someone's reputation, ruin someone's day, and break a heart in two. Our WORDS ARE WEAPONS!

At the same time, there's a great possibility that we do more damage and destruction through the things we WON'T say. We don't want to further complicate things or make someone feel uncomfortable. We just refuse to be the one to humbly say, "I was wrong". It takes courage to speak up and love someone enough to refuse to remain silent any longer. Do you have courage?

If you missed the 1st message in our new series "Weapons", take a few minutes and listen:

Your WORDS ARE WEAPONS! The question is, what are you going to use them to fight against? Will we use them to encourage, affirm, confront, apologize, and breathe words of life.......or will we be a tool in the enemy's hand, and use our words to tear down, tear apart, and destroy? As followers of Christ, we must decide. Just remember, "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say." And it also determines what you DON'T say!

Dig Deeper:
Proverbs 10:31, 15:31, 17:10, 25:12, 27:5
Matthew 5:23-24
Luke 17:3, 6:45

October 27, 2009


In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul reminds the Corinthians that we are not in a war of flesh and blood, but wrestling and fighting a deceitful spiritual enemy. In this exhortation he proclaims, "We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods. We used God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds. With these weapons, we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ." (vs.3-5)

What's interesting (maybe frustrating is a better word) is that our enemy lives and moves and breathes and finds his satisfaction in discovering new ways to deceive us into using these weapons for harm rather than good. Often as Christ-followers we find ourselves with the tables turned against us - we've somehow allowed the enemy to convince us to use these weapons against each other! 

We have been called and equipped by God to fight this spiritual battle against the author of lies and deceit. He has given us ALL we need! So we must make sure that we aren't misusing these weapons - that we learn to handle them correctly - and that we don't allow the enemy an opportunity to turn them against us or each other.

This November at The Brook we begin a brand new series, "Weapons". Come join us as we expose the lies and tricks of the enemy and as we discover how to "use God's mighty knock down the Devil's strongholds." If we don't remember who we're fighting against - if we foolishly wage war with each other - these weapons are useless. As Christ-followers we've got to know which weapons to aim & fire...and which ones to lay down. "We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods."

Who are you fighting against?
Who are you fighting for and with?

2 Corinthians 10:1-8
John 13:34-35
Ephesians 6:10-18

October 22, 2009

The Sabbath

As I'm hoping most people realize, for those of us in ministry Sunday does not usually serve as our Sabbath. In fact, I'm usually more wiped out by Noon on Sunday than I am after a 12-hour Wednesday. So as a Pastor part of leading by example is making sure that I fully embrace and protect my Sabbath. For me, this happens when the sun goes down on Friday night.

I'm sharing this for a couple of reasons. First off, to give you a couple of specific things I'm feeling convicted need to happen for me to more fully follow this biblical mandate. And second, in sharing this it opens the door of accountability. Once you share it with the world, there's no going back!

One sore spot I have felt the Holy Spirit pressing His finger in on lately is my time with my face planted in my MacBook. Mainly, checking email. Part of my Sabbath is fully enjoying and taking time with my family. So many of us are so guilty so often of "being there" physically, while mentally our mind is somewhere a million miles away. I want to BE THERE! I want my kids to know that if I'm throwing the baseball or bouncing on the trampoline with them that I'm not daydreaming about that meeting I'm having next Tuesday. They need me and my attention. And I need them. My wife needs to know that I am more devoted to her than I am to my Gmail account. So, if you ever need me on Saturday (which may happen) - if there's an emergency or it's urgent - you're going to need to call me. I won't get your email. (Not that day anyway)

[Please hear this: If you need us, call! Sometimes things happen out of our control and that's OK.]

If you're like me and you haven't really been honoring the Sabbath the way the Lord intends you to, it may be time to think through your priorities and WHO or WHAT is really in control of your life. The Lord's not messing around with this - He's serious! He knows that you and I are in desperate need of rest. And try arguing with that last statement.

Dig For Yourself:
Exodus 20:8
Isaiah 58:13-14
Mark 2:23-28

October 19, 2009


Pastors & leaders,

There is much to do. Meetings for you to lead. Vision for you to cast. People you need to go to lunch with to encourage to take steps of faith. Other leaders to cultivate. Sermons you need to plan, map out, and study for - you better be studying! There is much to do!

In the midst of the busyness - if we're not careful - we can actually start thinking that it all depends on us. US! Are we serious? Not intentionally. But yes, we actually start thinking this somewhere down in the depths. As if we are the last great hope of actually communicating the Word of God and the single-handed catalyst that will unleash the Spirit of God on our people. Or the flip-side is that we begin feeling like we are the most incapable, ineffective leader to ever walk the planet. We begin feeling like every last ounce of creative juice inside of us has been squeezed out like a Florida orange and we have nothing left to give. Ever been there?

Most often - when we find ourselves floating on the seas of ineffectiveness - the hard cold reality is that somewhere in our life we have removed the Word of God from it's place on the priority list. I know it's painful to hear this - argue with me if you like. But when a pastor or minister or leader begins to substitute anything for the Word - meetings, creativity, vision, events, books, hanging on the word of some other leader you are NOT called to be - it will inevitably lead to a place of disappointment.

The other morning I was reminded of the most important thing I can ever remember as a pastor. In 2 Timothy 2:9, Paul proclaims to his young disciple that even though he has suffered for the Gospel and is in chains, "...the word of God cannot be chained." Read it again. You CANNOT chain or tie down or paralyze the Word of God! Not you or anyone else. It is sharper than a sword, it is perfect for training and correcting and encouraging, it is the strongest foundation anyone has ever built upon, and it endures forever. It cannot be chained!

So when you begin feeling incapable, inefficient, unmotivated, scatter-brained, or like you couldn't possibly lead anyone because you're living in a fog yourself, my encouragement to you is...remember where the POWER is truly found! Remember that it's not about your strength or charisma or persuasiveness. Remember that when the Word of God and the Spirit of God are leading the way, you will be the leader that He has called you to be. The creativity, the vision, the words of encouragement, the passion - they will come. But there are times when they will run dry, disappear, or become chained. And you will have to wait on them to return. But not the Word of God. It CANNOT be chained! It is what our people need more than anything! And if the Lord has called you to preach and proclaim His Word - eat it, breathe it, meditate on it, talk about it, memorize it, and live it! Unchained!

Dig Deeper:
2 Timothy (yes, read the whole book)

October 8, 2009

Making the List

Warning: Once in awhile I get a little fired up. This is one of those times.

Recently I got my latest copy of Outreach Magazine. Somewhat confused when I received it, I thought I must have accidentally gotten a previous copy or edition. This couldn't be a NEW issue. Hadn't I seen this front cover 12 times before? Once again Outreach was asking me to spend my time reading about the churches that they had strategically pinpointed as the Top 100: the biggest, the fastest growing, the most strategic....the bestest, fastest, mostest, coolest! Seriously?

Let me say right out of the shoot that I hold nothing against any of the churches mentioned in any of Outreach's top anything lists. So many of the churches identified and highlighted are bringing and growing the Kingdom in their communities and are seeking - above everything else - to "make disciples". But that's just it. Isn't THAT what we're in this for? Making disciples? Leading people to an authentic life of following Christ? Aren't we in this (as pastors and leaders and churches) to put ourselves at the end of the line, remove ourselves from ANYONE'S pedestal, and humbly love the lost and preach the Word?

How does this edify the church?
What does a Top 100 list do for the sake of the Kingdom?
I know for many - probably thousands of pastors and leaders everywhere - it does one of several things:
  • It gives us the idea that we must become like someone else's church rather than what & WHO Christ has called us to be
  • It puts misguided goals in front of us - not that we would admit it, but come on, we're freakin humans with egos - that to truly "make it" we've got to "make the list"
  • Many start buying the lie that "Well, if it works for them it will work for us!"
  • It puts leaders who are already at war with their flesh and their pride into an even more ferocious battle for humility
  • It sets some of the most precious, unique, gifted, and wonderful people up for failure that they never deserved or asked for
Maybe you're thinking, "Brian, you are WAY overblowing this!" Maybe. But probably not. And if you're tempted to think (or say) that, I would bet you're either a) fooling yourself, b) currently following someone on the list more passionately than you're following Christ, or c) new to the list and haven't figured out all the crap & baggage that's going to come along with your newly found status. 

I know, we're in a time of strategic movement and courageous leadership and innovative presentation and yack yack blah blah. Jesus Christ made it very clear what it means to follow Him and come after Him. And as pastors, if we're not setting that example, who is? And if what we're reading and buying into is pumping our heads & hearts full of false ideals, why not everyone else? Is this ridiculous ranking not something that Christ would (and did) preach against?

I write this mainly for anyone out their who's been discouraged, misled, or disappointed because you're not someone else or you didn't make the list or because the person you lofted too high finally fell back to earth. You are not called to make a list! You are not called to status! You are not called to amass 10,000 followers on Twitter! You may one day - but God help you if/when you do! There are very few who are actually CALLED to be in that position. And of the few who are called, even fewer actually survive what it will cost them.

Hey Outreach, I love you! You've done some great things for the church and for leaders. But please stop kicking the masses in the gut to loft high the select few. I know this is NOT the motive - but it's the end result for many. And I know, there are some "nuggets" in there for us to learn from. But you've got to start being real about what it's doing an a subconscious level to so many who are fighting to humbly walk and serve and lead. 

Go out - get really stinking dirty - and get in the trenches with the unknown guy who's faithfully leading his 100 to take their community for the Kingdom. That's the guy I want to read about! The leader out their washing feet, not getting his shoes shined!

October 5, 2009

Forgiveness is FREEDOM!

Yesterday at The Brook everyone who entered into the Worship Center was given a penny and told to hold onto it. "Can I put it in my pocket?" No. Hold it in your hand. "What's this for?" You'll find out. "What in the world is the Pastor up to now?" Curiosity was about to kill the cat. And dog!

The sermon began with a drama on "The Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor" from Matthew 18. In the end, the debtor who was granted grace, yet couldn't extend the same mercy to his own servant, was ordered to pay back every penny and was hauled off to prison.

We asked a couple of very important questions during the message:
  • What is Christianity without forgiveness?
  • What is a Christ-follower who can't forgive?
The answers we came up with? Pretty simple. "Christianity" without forgiveness is NOT Christianity. And a "Christ-follower" who can't forgive is NOT a Christ-follower. Period. Let's do the math: Jesus Christ calls us to "come and follow" Him - to pursue Him and live, walk, talk, give, serve, and FORGIVE as He did. If we claim to know Him and be His "followers", by nature we are going to desire for our lives to be a reflection of His. This isn't always easy, but it's something we choose to do as His disciple. [See Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:31-32, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Romans 12:17-20]

At the end of the message everyone still had their penny in hand. (I should note that I preached both services with a penny in my hand - making it extra fun to hold my Bible). Thinking about the debtor who held his servant's debt over his head, I asked everyone to prayerfully consider releasing themselves from the slavery & bondage of bitterness - to finally surrender the right to get even or repay the offense. And yes, forgiving someone releases YOU from slavery, not the other person. Forgiveness is FREEDOM! It changes things. It changes YOU!

"...not forgiving is like drinking rat poison & waiting for the rat to die." - Anne Lamott

I encouraged everyone - if they were ready - to respond to the Lord by bringing their penny to the front and dropping it into a glass bowl. [To hear the sound of pennies - one after another - clanging in the bowl was worship!] But if they weren't ready to forgive - if they just couldn't take that step - to have the courage to keep that penny in their hand until that time had come. Yes, KEEP IT IN YOUR HAND! While you're driving. In the shower. On the phone. Brushing your teeth. Keep it in your hand! And then of course we acknowledged how difficult it would be to carry on - to function - to truly LIVE while trying to hold onto this penny.

I love the "A-ha" moment.

When we hold onto bitterness - when we're unwilling to forgive - our grip (and our heart) has no ability to truly reach out to the heart of God. We become consumed and paralyzed. We throw ourselves into prison. The shackles around our feet are self-imposed. We CHOOSE slavery! We hold it over our own heads. No one wins. But when we have courage - when we trust that the Lord is good and faithful - when we surrender to Him and release it - everyone wins!

Forgiveness is FREEDOM! It changes you.

September 28, 2009

There Is NO Substitute!

There are some things in this world for which there is just no substitute. For instance, when I was growing up and my mom would try and buy the generic version of A1 Steak Sauce and put it in a real A1 bottle. The next time we had steak, she was caught red-handed! There are also many things which have no shortcut or "easier way". Flossing your teeth, for instance. And if you think you've come up with one, I don't want to hear about it.

As we approached yesterday's message, "Jesus Is a Servant", we racked our brains trying to figure out, "Is there something today, in our culture and times, that we could do to parallel this - something more relevant to our lives now than washing other people's feet. Anything?" We brainstormed. Prayed. Brainstormed even more. I was almost injured from thinking so hard! And still, nothing. The conclusion I reached was painful but simple: there is no act of humility or service in our culture or any other that compares to washing someone else's feet. Period.

You could see many different expressions on people's faces yesterday as they entered the worship center and noticed the basins of water and fresh white towels. There wasn't much wondering what they were there for. Still, I know many were probably thinking, "Surely they won't ask us to do THAT!" And as my friend shared with our Men's Group last night, "I was shocked!"

Yesterday morning in our 2 services we decided that we were going to take Jesus seriously - that when He said, "Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet", He actually meant what He said. It was powerful and moving to see a husband wash the feet of his wife, a parent wash the feet of their child, a stranger to wash the feet of another, and friends getting on their hands and knees and humbly speaking words of encouragement to each other. This kind of radical obedience changes things. It changes people. It changes US!

There is no substitute for washing someone else's feet. There is no shortcut on this pathway of servanthood that Christ calls us to. And I know we search high and low for cheap replacements all the time - anything to avoid that kind of raw humility! But if we're going to call ourselves Christ-followers, why not simply follow Him? 

John 13:1-17
Want to hear the sermon? Check it out:

September 21, 2009

The Other Side of the Lake

There are days when I dig into scripture and come away wondering, "Is this really what the Lord wanted me to see & learn? Or am I just one of the weirdest people alive?" I am fully aware that the 2nd question is not limited to this incident, but there are times that I see things - something stands out - that I know can't be the BIG "spiritual" nugget that God had in mind. Or could it?

This morning I continued reading in Luke. I noticed in Luke 8:22 that Christ told the fellas, "Let's go to the other side of the lake". Then what followed is the "Wind and Waves" story where the sea goes nuts and Christ is asleep in the front of the boat. They wake Him up, freaking out, "We're all gonna die! Don't you give a rip!?" Jesus speaks. Everything calms. Then a little further on in Luke 8:40 - after Jesus is affectionately run off from Gerasenes for killing a whole herd of pigs - it says "On the other side of the lake...." And that's where I stopped.

"On the other side of the lake...."

Do you know how many stories about Christ start this way? Do you know that while one group of people couldn't wait for Jesus to get the heck out of their neighborhood and leave their farm animals alone, there were people on the other side of the lake who were desperately waiting for Him? A woman comes and has the faith to believe, "If I can just get my hand on Him - if I can just touch Him - I'll be healed!" A man comes believing that Christ can heal his daughter - even after she's pronounced dead! There is always someone "on the other side of the lake" - someone across town, in another city, in another country, or maybe even down the street from you - who is desperate for Jesus. You might not have met them and it may all be "old news" to you, but someone out there is hanging on to their last thread. And they don't care if pigs get run off the side of a cliff, if they have to sell their car, if they're forced to downsize their home - whatever it is, BRING IT ON - I just need God to come through for me on this one! Parents who would gladly take that illness from their child. People broken because their spouse decided, "I just don't want to do this anymore." People. Hurt, broken, fractured, desperate people.

I don't know what's going on where you are - what "wind and raging waves" may be rocking your boat - but I do know that somewhere...."on the other side of the lake"....someone feels your pain. Someone else is desperate. Someone else is waiting on Christ to finally arrive and make it all better. Maybe waiting on me & you to finally cross the street and let them know that there's a God who cares for them. After all, we are His hands & feet. And maybe He takes us through our storm so we can help them sail through theirs. 
Whatever the circumstances are for you right now - no matter what's going on in your life - remember, there's someone else "on the other side of the lake". What are you going to do about it?

Dig Deeper:
Luke 8:22-56
Romans 10:14-15

September 17, 2009


Isn't God amazing? I am constantly in awe of His handiwork - by how His power, creativity, and love of the unique are everywhere around us. And to go further, when you realize that the same God that spoke the universe into existence and knit you together in your mother's womb also loves you with an unshakeable love...that should leave you nearly breathless. From the stars to the trees to the oceans to the Psalms, His praise is resonating all around us! Now let me see if I can make you're head spin around with this next one.

Are you amazing? Have you ever left God speechless? Do you think that the Creator ever paused - stopped - and took notice of you? You might be surprised.

In Luke 7 there's a story about a high-ranking Roman officer whose slave was very sick - on the verge of death. He heard Jesus was nearby so "he sent some respected Jewish leaders to ask Jesus to come and heal his slave." Jesus is on the way there and the officer sends some friends out to tell Jesus, "Lord, I'm not worthy of such an come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed." The next part is where it gets really insanely cool!

"When Jesus heard this, He was amazed."

Jesus stops dead in His tracks and tells the crowd around Him, "I tell you, I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!" And when the officer's friends got back to his house, the slave was completely healed. 

I'm floored! This man's faith - his complete trust and belief that this man Jesus Christ was the Great Physician - his faith that the love of God is an indescribable thing - amazed Jesus. Amazing! This is what I want my life and my faith to look like. This is what I want my heart and my decisions and my character to do to my Savior. I want Him to take notice! Not so I can have a grand pat on the back or a shiny medal, but because we have to know that when we live a life like that, it's going to eradicate the darkness and reveal the love of God to those around us. It changes us! It changes others! Faith changes things!

Are you amazing? Not sure how you answer that question, but you need to know that as a follower of Jesus Christ, you can be!

September 14, 2009

Jesus Was A Man

Jesus is a man. 100% human. How does that sit with you?

Yes, He's 100% God - the "Word became flesh" - divinity clothed in humanity. But we have to come to grips with the fact that "it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful high priest before God." Jesus BECAME one of us!

As we kicked off our new sermon series "Rethinking Jesus", we asked the big question, "Why is it so uncomfortable for so many of us to grab hold of this? Why is it that we're OK with Jesus being God - being holy & perfect - Almighty King - but we just can't bear the idea of Him being ordinary?" There are probably several reasons behind this, but I think one stands out above the rest:

If Jesus was a man - if He was just like us - then He set an example that we can actually follow.

We have no problem worshiping Jesus - with revering, adoring, and loving Him for saving us - but we DO have a problem with following Him.

Check out Luke 5:1-11. Jesus gets in a boat to teach, tells the fishermen who own the boat to "go out where it's deeper and let down your nets and you will catch many fish." The fishermen responded, "We tried that all day yesterday and got nothing! But if you say so, we'll try again." You know the rest. They caught so many fish that it ripped the nets. Another boat full of guys had to go out and help them haul it all in. Amazing! But what happens next reveals our natural tendency:

"When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, "Oh Lord, please leave me - I'm too much of a sinner to be around you." Peter's natural tendency was to grovel. Then Jesus looks at him - much like the first day He had called him (see Matt. 4:18-22) - and said, "'Don't be afraid. From now on you'll be fishing for people!' And as soon as they landed, they left everything and FOLLOWED JESUS."

To be a Christian is to be a "Christ-follower".
I know it sounds ridiculously elementary, but we seem to have trouble grasping this at times: to be a "Christ-follower" means that you're FOLLOWING CHRIST. You are pursuing Him - longing to be like Him - desperately desiring to say what He would say and go where He would go. "Come and follow me." I don't know that He's really interested in us "worshiping" Him today. But He is still calling us to "follow Him". And when you follow - when you consider your obedience is much greater than your sacrifice - worship will just happen.

"Come and follow me."

Go Deeper:
Hebrews 2:16-18, 4:14-16
Matthew 4:18-22, 16:24-25
Isaiah 58

September 10, 2009

The $10 Challenge

$10 = lunch @ ATL Bread Co. or 2 visits to Starbucks.

$10 x 200 = $2000
$2000 = Clean water for 2 villages in Africa (or) the funds to train, equip & encourage 100 leaders in your church (or) groceries for 10-15 families in need.

It's time to take The $10 Challenge!
We're asking everyone at The Brook to prayerfully consider giving $10 more a week than they do right now. We wonder, "What good can MY $10 do in the grand scheme of things?" Honestly, I'm not sure. But when many of us make the determination that Kingdom-sized things are going to take priority over a turkey bacon club or 2 Venti Caramel Lattes (I know...don't mess with your Starbucks!) the Lord can take that money and multiply it beyond our comprehension. He's into doing things like that, you know. Like bread & fish. Remember that story?

Maybe you don't go to The Brook. Who cares?! Take this challenge to your friends in your church in your city. I don't know, maybe you're loaded. Go crazy. Make it $20! Just don't start running through the house with a pair of scissors!

Will you join us in stepping out in faith?
Will you sacrifice a couple of trips to Sonic?

Now's the time. Now's your chance.
Just see what God will do. I dare you!
Take The $10 Challenge!

September 5, 2009

I Don't Mean To Be Ugly, But...

I have an awesome neighbor. I'm pretty sure he has every tool known to mankind - most of which I have no idea how to use. And he'll let you borrow any of them, anytime, for any reason. He's also been mowing our other neighbor's lawn for the last month as they've been overwhelmed with a family member battling cancer. And did I mention that he's at least 70. At least!

One thing I've noticed though, when I'm having conversations with him, is this one particular thing he likes to say. It typically precedes some sort of criticism or cheap shot aimed elsewhere. It goes something like this: "I don't mean to be ugly, but...." After I heard this a few times I started wondering, "But what?" It's become apparent to me that when I have to begin my next statement with a disclaimer, there's a chance I should probably just keep it to myself. If what I have to say is constructive, encouraging, beneficial to the ears (and hearts) of those who will hear it, it probably doesn't need verbal justification before it exits my mouth.

Proverbs 16:2 tells us that we "may be pure in our own eyes, but the Lord examines our motives." And in verse 13 Solomon goes on to tell us that the king "loves those who speak honestly". We can give all the disclaimers we want, but the reality is that the Lord is seeing through all our smokescreens! He knows our motive, our intent, and our heart. And He never desires for our words to become weapons. Not even subversive, tongue-in-cheek weapons.

As a Christ-follower I have this growing desire to know that my motives and my intent are pure - not just "in my own eyes", but as the Lord is examining my heart. I believe this will typically mean that if "I don't mean to be ugly", then I'll probably be better off just keeping my big pie-hole shut to begin with. Save the oxygen. Examine the motive. Think before speaking! It's a novel idea, I know. And thankfully, there's a much better alternative:

"A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook." Proverbs 18:4

September 4, 2009

This All Happened On Friday...

"This all happened on Friday.... Joseph from Arimathea, who was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come, gathered his courage and went to Pilate to ask for Jesus' body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth, and taking Jesus' body down from the Cross, he wrapped it in the cloth and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus' body was laid." (Mark 15:42-47)

There is not much known about Joseph from Arimathea other than that he was a member of the high council - the zealous religious law-abiding army that contemptuously debated Christ and later persecuted His followers - and that he was a rebel. Yes, a rebel. There was a quiet burning rebellion going on in the heart of this man. And while Christ's life was not enough to unleash this fire, and His words were not enough to set it off, it was His death that finally grabbed a sword and drove it through the heart of this man. Joseph's life was changed by Christ's death. [Read that again and let it soak in.]

It's also interesting that when you read this account in John 19:38-42, you find that Joseph is being aided by another man named Nicodemus. The same teacher of religious law - member of the high council - who had come to Jesus under the cover and darkness of night to ask, "Are you really the One?" We have no evidence that Nicodemus left that night decidedly moved, shaken, and determined to follow Jesus. There is nothing that gives us any idea that he joined the crowd of followers and began to hang on every word that Christ said. But what we do know is that Nicodemus' life was changed by Christ's death.

The humble, brutal, sacrificial death of the Messiah unleashed the inferno within them that said, "Enough is enough! I will no longer stand in the shadows and pretend that my heart has not been ravaged." Reputation no longer an issue. Social status among their religious counterparts no longer a care. Death brought life. And when someone finds life - realizing they didn't deserve it or earn it - they are changed.

My life was changed by Christ's death.
It still is. Every day.
Is yours?

"This all happened on Friday...."

September 2, 2009

Crowd Pleaser?

Mark 15 wrecks me every time I read it. I don't know that you can be a follower of Christ and escape that. The pain He endured - the humiliation He suffered - the patience He exercised in not coming down from the Cross and silencing the mockers there & then. I seriously think there are days that we completely forget that this story - HIS story - is everything. EVERYTHING! If we leave this out - if we forget that it all begins there - what are we left with?

Jesus paid it all.

This morning as I was reading this story I was especially distracted by Pilate. This guy really had no idea what hit him. To say he was unprepared for this moment is an understatement. When the crowd begins shouting for Pilate to "Crucify him", giving their specific demand of what can be done with Jesus, his first response to them is "Why?". He even begs the mob to explain, "What crime has he committed?" But then - after one more angry wave and chorus of shouting rushed over him - Pilate became "anxious to please the crowd". And that's where I had to stop.

"...anxious to please the crowd."

We hate Pilate! We loathe him. We call him a coward and a spineless poser. But I guess I wonder, if I am ever deterred or phased or motivated by what others think - if I ever become "anxious to please the crowd" - how am I different from Pilate? And to go a step further we have to keep in mind, Pilate didn't know Christ. He had no idea that the Magnificent One, the King of ALL Kings, was standing next to him. He had never been asked or answered the question, "Who do you say that I am?" as Peter had. As James and John had. As I have.

Have you answered that question? Jesus asks the most important question in the history of the world: "Who do you say that I am?" Have you answered?

My answer is Peter's answer: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And if this is my answer - if this is your answer - may we never be found "anxious to please the crowd"! The only affirmation, attention, or applause we should ever be living for is from the One who has given us true life and set us free. May we be anxious to please Him!

Or Christ-follower.

August 31, 2009

Reckless & Beautiful

Many of us are currently watching every penny. We're in a time & a place where we have been forced to be very intentional & purposeful with our money. This is probably a really good thing for us. Consequentially, this has put us in that same place as churches - analyzing every cent that's spent. On some levels this is a good check of our stewardship. But from the other side, we have had to cut loose some of the things we believe are worthy of our attention & resources. This is where we are.

As Christ-followers we have to be careful that the times we're living in and the state of the things around us don't move us from the standard that Christ has set for us - a heart and movement of generosity, selflessness, and love.

This morning I read the story in Mark 14:3-9 about the woman who anoints Jesus with the bottle of expensive perfume. Reading that she "broke the seal" reveals that she had not used one drop of this perfume for her own benefit - it was being saved for something special. Some of those dining with Jesus - namely Judas - were livid. They were "indignant". What they were was greedy! On the surface they tried to gloss it over as if their "righteous indignation" was aimed at the fact that the perfume could have been sold for a small fortune and the money spent on the poor. I read this and immediately judge these men. But if I'm being honest - and maybe you fall into this trap as well - in this day & time & circumstance we're in financially, there is a temptation to judge and hold in contempt anyone who appears to be giving recklessly to the Lord. We scratch our heads and whisper to each other, "I can't believe they wasted that money. Don't they know that we have other more important needs?" Maybe you don't fall into this trap. Maybe I'm the only lowlife who would do such a thing. Maybe. Maybe not.

If we are so overwhelmed by the Spirit of God to give of something we have been given - to give back to the Lord - in a way that may seem reckless to others, we have no choice but to give. I would dare say this woman didn't consult any of her friends or acquaintances about whether or not they thought this was a wise use of her perfume. That would have belittled the gift. It would have tainted the heart with which it was given. When we begin to allow the opinion of others to dictate WHAT or HOW we give, it starts to become more about us and less about the one it's given to. This is why Christ said to do things like "give" and "pray" in the secret. This is why Christ said it is so hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.

I want to give like this woman! I want the very best of what I've been given to be poured out at the feet of the One who's so generously given it to me in the first place. And I want to be free from the judgement of scrutinizing everyone else's gifts and offerings. God does NOT go through recessions! God's "economy" - if you will - does not ebb & flow with our current financial crises. Be careful how you spend, how you give, how you judge, and how you live.

"I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be talked about in her memory."

August 29, 2009


At The Brook we've spent the last month teaching on our Core Values. We believe that to not only be a member of The Brook, but to be a Christ-follower, there are some simple things the Lord asks of us: to worship, grow, and serve...together! I'm very excited for us to move into this new season as a church, to see what the Lord has in store as we very intentionally simplify WHAT we're doing and HOW we're doing it. Great things are ahead!

Last week we finished this series by talking about the "together" part of our Core Values. One of the points we highlighted is the temptation to think that "together" is just a necessary thing to stick on the end to make it more, well..."churchy". This could not be farther from the truth. The New Testament makes it clear that this is an essential part of WHO and WHAT Christ desires us to be and do as His people. Take a look:

In John 13:34-35, Christ tells His disciples that "Your love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." He goes on in John 17:20-23 - as He is praying for those of us who would choose to follow Him - and says to the Father, "My prayer for all of them is that they will be ONE, just are you and I are one." Christ is direct and clear. His desire for His people is that we walk through this life and journey toward Him TOGETHER!

In Philippians 1:27, Paul exhorts the church to be "standing side by side, fighting together for the Good News." He tells them that "We are in this fight TOGETHER!"

TOGETHER is not an afterthought.
TOGETHER is not a really nice practical ending to some a more powerful biblical principle.
TOGETHER is an essential! It can't be compromised! It is part of the DNA and character of the church of Jesus Christ.

God's people are called to FIGHT FOR UNITY! It doesn't just fall out of the sky or magically come to us. We fight for it! This takes work. It takes loving those you might not find to easy to love. It's messy. It requires patience and persistence. And with everything it costs us and demands of is worth every bit.

Worship. Grow. Serve. TOGETHER!

August 28, 2009

Much-Needed Therapy

I headed out of town Wednesday for a "study break" of sorts. A friend of a friend allowed us to use their lake house as a retreat. The last 2 days have been filled with productive times of prayer, study, planning, unwinding, and even just sitting aimlessly. Maybe the most therapeutic part of the experience was being forced to disconnect. I made a conscientious decision to stay off Twitter & Facebook for at least a day (I decided on a day & a half) and we had no internet connection where we were. I never thought I'd say this, but it was glorious! We'd only been there about 3-4 hours and I said to Josh (Britt) as we were sitting on the dock, "I haven't been this relaxed in months!" I'm quite grateful to my family, my friends, our church & staff for allowing us to take this timeout!

Looking forward to sharing much of what we learned & experienced in the days to come.

August 20, 2009

Scum Scum Scum...Go Back From Where You Come!

Get in your car. Get out on the main road near your house. Look around (keeping your eyes on the road, of course). As you set out ask the Lord to do this: "Lord, open my eyes to where the 'scum' hang out."

In Mark 2, immediately after Jesus has called Matthew, "Come and be my disciple", Matthew decides to throw a party at his house. He was a tax collector. He hung out with other tax collectors. He also hung out with "many other notorious sinners". And apparently, they were "scum". They were all invited! And so was Jesus. Jesus got invited to the keg party. And He went. This evidently didn't go over very well with the uptight, high-strung Pharisees. Mark actually describes them as the "teachers of the religious law". They were Law Men (enter Western music & tumbleweeds). They were self-proclaimed finger-pointing judges. And they weren't going to let anyone off the hook.

The Pharisees asked the disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"

Don't you want to just punch them in the face? Hard!
Who do they think they are calling other people scum? Booze hounds maybe. But scum? Come on.

But let's ask the question: If you and I never go to the people who are in need of Christ - if we never intentionally love and touch and reach out to those who are truly in need of a Savior - aren't we acknowledging the Pharisees' claims? Aren't we calling them "scum" without ever opening our mouths?

"When Jesus heard this, He told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."

If you choose to take that drive - and pray that prayer - you better pray something else first: "Lord give me the heart to GO to those who desperately need you!" And if we're being honest, you don't really have to get in the car. Just walk up & down your street. Talk to your neighbors. They're there - waiting to be acknowledged and loved. Waiting to know that they're worth something. Waiting. Waiting for you to quit walking by with your head down and say, "How's it going?" Waiting on an invitation to that block party (that you should be planning right now). Waiting for someone they barely know to show up and say, "Hey, we made some cookies and thought you'd like some!" Who wouldn't want homemade Toll House?

Will we risk our reputation? Interrupt our busy schedules?
Will we set the table for the "uninvited"?

Will we eat with scum?

August 13, 2009

Free? or FREE-FREE?

Things seem to be a bit broke right now, right? The economy is trying to crawl out of the tank. Someone you know - or maybe you - has lost their job. Times are tight. But times are good! These times are when we get creative, innovative - when we start simplifying again and asking, "What is truly essential and important?"

As I've thought & prayed over this for awhile now, I've come to at least one conclusion: the basic gifts & freedoms of our faith do not depend on the economy! While I'm very aware that our salvation & our faith came at an enormous price to Christ, the very basic freedoms we have b/c of it don't cost me a penny. There is no one waiting to charge me for reading my Bible. I don't get a bill for my prayers - the more you pray the more you pay. (That was a catchy slogan though!) The most basic beneficial gifts I have in my everyday life from the Lord - to commune with Him through His Word and in prayer - are free! Period.

Oh, but wait. I stand corrected. It will cost me some time. Possibly I'll have to turn off the XM in the car. Might have to give up some time watching TV or playing Wii. But come on - we don't seriously even consider this a viable argument. Do we?

I think we're also skeptics. There's nothing out there FREE today! There's a catch to everything - the fine print. We've moved into double-word territory. You know: Free? Do you mean FREE-FREE? or just FREE? Yes. I mean FREE. Take it. Run. No one will chase you. It's yours.

This goes back to these same age-old questions that we seem to be asking over and over - from one generation to the next. We grow so weary of having someone ask us if we're spending time in the Word. But maybe our annoyance stems from our disobedience. Maybe we get so sick of hearing that we need to pray b/c even though we know we should - and we even know that WE would benefit from it more than anyone - we continue to ignore the ache. We've rationalized that what is probably the pull of the Holy Spirit is just the annoying nag of my pastor. Will he ever shut up about this?

I'm pretty sure you know the answer to that one!

If you're so thankful for your freedoms - if you're patriotic - if you're grateful for the freedom of your faith and to pursue the God that created you - I would ask you: ARE YOU EXERCISING YOUR FREEDOMS?

If not, get off your dead butt and do something! NOW!
That is all.

Psalm 119:9-11 (Actually, just read the whole chapter!)
Hebrews 5:11-6:3
Matthew 4:4
Philippians 4:6-7
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Luke 18:1-8

August 10, 2009

Break the Silence!

Silence. We're schizophrenic about it. While most of us are scared &/or repelled by it - spending most of our time submerged in noise - we also pick and choose when silence will be our friend. Yet, at other times we embrace silence, choosing to simply keep our mouths shut. "This is just not my business or my problem" we think. "It's just not my place to say anything". "What if I offend him?" And we definitely don't want to offend anyone! Right?

So...we befriend our enemy. Silence.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the deadliest choices and temptations we face as the Church today is our silence - the things we won't say!

Have you ever loved someone who made a mistake and you just wish they had come to you beforehand – given you some kind of indication they were about to make this life-changing mistake – so that you could stand in front of them as a brother or sister and say, “Not on my watch!” Why don’t we reach out for accountability? Do we just not want it? Does it take too much effort? Or do we just not want to admit the foul things taking root deep inside us? Maybe a little of all of the above. But James tells us to “confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that we may be healed” (James 5:16). I think we have completely missed the point that the urgency of this is “so that we may be healed”. Not from cancer or influenza or a bad case of dandruff, but from the sin that is digging deep into our soul and plotting to destroy us. James is saying, “Get up, find a brother, cry out loudly and demand that you will not face this monster on your own. You cannot and you will not!”

Consider this: what if David had seen Bathsheeba naked, stepped off that roof, called upon a friend like Nathan or Jonathon and confessed, “My eyes, my mind and my heart are in the gutter. Pray for me and protect me.” Can you imagine? He might have avoided envy, adultery, lies and murder in one moment of confession. And in contrast, what if Paul had not taken the steps to heal the fractures between himself and Peter or himself and John Mark? Would the church have suffered? Would Paul’s ministry have been as effective? Without question, something and someone would have suffered. Most importantly, the Kingdom.

Why is honesty so hard for us? Are we just petrified of offending someone in our politically correct world? Does that pounding in our heart at the thought of confrontation or confession scare us so badly that it paralyzes our whole life? Whatever the case or the cause we have to begin to demand “honesty from the heart” (Psalm 51:6). David had to practically wreck his whole life before he discovered this. What will it take for you?

Here are some things that only the courageous will say:

"I need you to know that way you talk to your husband is belittling him, damaging your marriage & your witness, and impacting your children."

"I've seen the way you look at her. As your friend I need to ask you, 'Are you thinking things that is damaging your heart & could destroy your marriage?'"

"When you said that to me I need you to know that it hurt. I know you probably didn't mean it that way, but that's how it came out."

Here's one ONLY for the brave: "I NEED HELP!"

What is it that you just won’t say? What is it that you’re ashamed to confess or just don’t want to bother the other person with? What words have you anchored to the shore because you just refuse to rock the boat? Whatever it is, ask God to give you the words and the courage and spit it out because quite possibly, if you don’t rock the boat, you’ll just go down with the ship!

Take courage. Be brave. Break the silence!

Dig Deeper:
Matthew 18:15-20
Proverbs 16:13, 19:1, 28:23
Ecclesiastes 4:12