Month: July 2018

The Challenge of Change

Becky and I were out walking the other evening. Our conversation was not a new theme. It is one we have processed for many years. Becky, as a counselor and therapist who helps people deal with the problems and crises of life, and I, as a pastor and mentor who wants to help people move to new levels of capacity and competency, so they can make a greater difference in the world around us.

Our conversation centered around this question:

What motivates people to change?

I think about that question a lot. We both do.

Change is hard. If it were easy, we would all be changing all the time. We would all lose the weight we want to lose. We would exercise more. We would do less binge shopping.

We would stop those bad habits and we would start good ones. We would keep all the New Year’s resolutions that sound like good ideas, but when the reality of January 4 finally hits us, we give up.

If change was easy, we would be more disciplined, more patient, more loving, more serving, and more of anything that matters to us.

Isn’t that the mystery? Even on the things that …

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How Hope is Sustained || guest blog by Connie Milchling

As we conclude our four-part series on the Gift of Hope this may be the most important lesson. Most people wonder: How can we possibly sustain hope with all that’s going on in our world today? It seems as if every waking moment of every day we are inundated with news that has the potential to tear us down, wear us out, and cause our caring hearts to crumble.

But hope can be sustained. Not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who God is and what he has done, and is, doing.

Join us Monday evening, July 30 or Wednesday morning, August 1, as we look at one focused verse that has the potential to revolutionize the way you view hope and discover how hope will always be closer than you think!

To learn more or register please go to:


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A Final Word on Disruptive Prayer

July has come and gone. The month started out hot and dry. It ended being the rainiest month on record for our area!

As I look out my patio door, everything is now lush and green and the sun is shining (a bit). The grass glistens with moisture. Fresh, vibrant, alive.

That is what prayer does for us. It makes us fresh, vibrant, and alive.

Pastor Garrett, Pastor Aaron, and I spent five Sundays in July talking about what prayer does. Prayer changes things. Prayer disrupts the status quo and invites God to make all things new. Prayer longs for the Kingdom of God to come into our lives on earth, as it is in heaven.

Whether we pray for local or global needs, for our friends or enemies, daily bread or looming mountains, in private or in a group, whether healthy or hurting – prayer changes things.

The final message in the series focused on praying when we are healthy and whole and praying when we are hurting. I had a little model of core words that can be the stepping stone to powerful prayers.

Here is a diagram that will remind you how you can pray when you …

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Breathtaking and Beautiful

The Better You That Lies Ahead

Here is a great way to think and to live.

You are not yet who you will be one day. Nor are you who you once were. God is at work. God knows his plans for you. God knows what you will become and what you will do. God’s grace is the power that makes all this possible.

he Christian faith is relentlessly and vitally optimistic about redeemed humanity. Breathtaking is a good word to describe the true you, the real you, and the person you are becoming. “A little lower than angels” is worth using as well (Psalm 8:5).

With this foundation and framework of God’s sovereign work taking place within you, there is also work for you to do in this endeavor.

Paul tells you to continue to “work out your salvation” because God is at work in you to make all things possible (Philippians 2:12). Paul says he wants to know Christ, but he is not yet at the point he wants to be, and there, Paul presses on, even striving to reach new heights of maturity in Jesus (Philippians 3:10-14).

Paul then offers a bit of a “zinger” when he …

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Becoming You

In The Potential Principle, Mark Sanborn talks about the problem of comparison and the need for comparison. Here is my take on that idea.

The problem is when we compare ourselves with others. That is usually a painful and futile path. We suffer as a result of those comparisons. We experience twinges (or more) of envy, jealously, and insecurity. We are disappointed. Frustrated. Even angry. Or perhaps, depending on the direction of your comparison, you feel superior and proud. Not that most of us would admit to these feelings.

That’s the problem of comparison.

But there is also the need for comparison. We need standards and examples and models that inspire us. We need to appreciate quality. We want to admire what is good, beautiful, and true – and to aim to become that. Hebrews 11 is called the Hall of Faith and, in part, it is provided to inspire us to a life of faithful followership.

Here is the “secret” that makes comparison powerful and good. It is when you compare who you currently are to the person you can and will become. You see where you are right now, and you envision your potential. You see what …

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What I Am Reading These Days (Late July)

When I was in Amsterdam doing a leadership retreat, one idea we talked about was:

Speed of the leader, speed of the team. Heart of the leader, heart of the team. You can’t take people to places you have not been. The organization cannot rise higher than the leaders are going.

I am constantly paying attention to my own speed, my heart, my journey, and what is stimulating my mind and filling my heart. Reading is a core pathway for my own personal growth. So, here is what is on my mind and heart through good books.

The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways Jesus is the Way by Eugene Peterson

I was given a pre-publication copy of this book by my good friend Byron Borger. While I have read hundreds of books on leadership, this one was a game changer for me. It helped my discover the radical way Jesus led. Guess what? I lent out my copy and I cannot remember to whom. So I bought a new copy. It is some of the reading I am doing preparing for our upcoming sermon series: Lead, Love, Serve: The Jesus Way.

Here is a killer quote from Peterson. …

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Why Hope is Needed || guest blog by Connie Milchling

In his widely acclaimed devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) writes about Gracious Uncertainty, declaring:

To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.”

Does that describe your life? Uncertain of the next step? Could you say you are certain of God, or would you like to be? Throughout Scripture we find story after story of people who have stepped out in faith with breathless expectation of what God will do with their life, even in the midst of uncertainty.

So, why is hope needed? That’s the topic we will explore week three of our four-part series on the Gift of Hope. Join us Monday evening, July 23 or Wednesday morning, July 25, to dig into God’s Word and discover how hope is vital for life.

Learn more or register today!


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The Art of Loving Others

Five Ways You Can Make a Difference Today

People. Life is about people. The Christian faith is about loving God and loving others. Life is essentially relational in makeup.

I am just back from overseas. I read a lot on planes. I picked up a book, The Art of People by Dave Kerpen, that looked interesting and easy to read. I can’t read dense with ideas kinds of books on planes. I need lots of short chapters; something practical with a  flowing writing style. Nothing really new. But at this age in life, it is harder to find really new stuff. I just need to be reminded of the really good stuff, which Kerpen does so well (and I recommend his book to you).

Here are five things about people worth reminding and remembering.

ONE: Seek to be interested in others more than being interesting.

Why? Because people are, fundamentally, most focused on their own needs. They are not (first) interested in you telling them all about you! They are interested in talking about their own life, their needs, their problems, their interests. So, be interested in them. If you are, you will always be delightful to have around. Therefore, …

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A Splendid Torch Burning Brightly Each Day


George Bernard Shaw was not a Christian, but rather, an atheist. He and the marvelous follower of Jesus, G.K. Chesterton, had a lifelong delightful battle of wit and wisdom. They deeply respected one another and maintained a kind but vigorous public debate.

Here is my favorite quote from Shaw. Even though he says he has rejected the Christian faith, it is easy to see that his words are rooted in the wisdom and ways of Scripture. In fact, I think every sentence, phrase, and word could be applied to Jesus.

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no

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Life is Beautiful, Today is a Gift, So Seize the Day


One of my favorite lines of contemporary poetry is from Mary Oliver’s poem, Summer Day:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life?

Life is wild and precious. Life is beautiful and life is challenging and life is hard and we only have one life to live.

Jesus came so you would experience life abundantly—so you would flourish. To flourish you must engage with life. To engage with life means you must see something that captures your heart and soul.

That is what we seek to do at Living Word, week after week, day by day, to help you see something that seizes hold of you, that captivates you, that moves you, that fills you, that blesses you…

We want you to see Jesus. To see the heart of Christ for you (and the world he loves). To discern the ways of Jesus that are full of meaning and purpose. To live with faith, hope, and love. To enjoy deep connections with others who are on the same journey.

I recently came across another thought from Mary Oliver:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was

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