A Sense Of Urgency?

I’m reading a challenging book today called Endued With Power: The Holy Spirit in the Church. I just read a thought-provoking quote from the book:

“If the church that is claiming to be Spirit-filled is not a missionary community that is living with a sense of urgency, then its members will be caught up in the rush to respectability and social accommodation” —Steven J. Land

(1) Do we have that sense of urgency? Are we living and working and sharing like today is the day Jesus could return?


(2) Or are we more concerned about what is socially acceptable and politically correct? Are we just playing church?

I pray that I am leading our church always into that first category. I pray that I personally am always living with that sense of urgency.

Once An Arafat Man (book review)

Tass Saada’s story reads like a screenplay for an upcoming movie! Once An Arafat Man is such a page-turner, that I could hardly put it down.

In a nutshell, Tass’s story is this: He was born in the Gaza Strip, but his family had to relocate to Saudi Arabia due to the turbulence in Gaza. The Saudi government, like many Arabic governments, talked about supporting the Palestinians, but they were more concerned about self-preservation; as a result, it was just talk and very little action. Tass became a disgruntled, disillusioned young man. As a  teenager, he had a chance to meet Yasser Arafat in Qatar and was enthralled with this dynamic Palestinian leader. So mesmerized, in fact, that Tass ran away from home to join Fatah with Arafat.

Once he was accepted into the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Tass was trained as a sniper. His mission: assassinate Jewish targets. He even served as Arafat’s personal chauffeur. But once again the unstable political and military conditions caused Fatah to pull out of Jordan and eventually Tass ended up fleeing to the United States of America.

Once in the US, he didn’t want to be forced to leave, so he married an American woman to get his green card. While working on his career, something Tass never expected happened: he became a Christian. As his friend Charlie was sharing with him from the Bible, Tass wrote:

Before I knew it, I was on my knees. I didn’t consciously decide to kneel; it just happened. I lost all awareness that Charlie was even in the room. A light came into my field of vision–a talking light….

The light said in an audible voice, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me….”

In this indescribable moment, I knew something else: the triune God existed—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I knew that God loved me. “Oh, Jesus, come into my life!” I blurted out. “Forgive me and be my Lord and Savior!” I felt as if a heavy load went flying off my shoulders. A sense of peace and joy rushed into my heart. The presence of God was so real it seemed I could almost reach out and touch it.

Thus began a new journey for Tass, one of reconciliation. His wife and children eventually accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior too. But Tass’s family back in Qatar is a different story: they denounced him as an infidel

Tass felt compelled to take the good news of Jesus back to his family and to the very leader he used to work for: Yassar Arafat. The story of how God opened doors of opportunity, and provided supernatural protection, and allowed for reconciliation to occur is amazing.

Read this book. You will be blessed by this incredible story!

I’m a Tyndale book reviewer.

Campfire Stories

Have you ever just sat around a glowing campfire with your friends? During those times I’ll bet that some cool conversations took place.

  • Maybe you heard a story about a friend that you had never heard before.
  • Perhaps you got some insight into someone’s way of looking at life.
  • Or maybe you had a chance to share something that had been on your heart for a while.

Last night in Impact we had a great campfire time. We didn’t light any wood on fire. Actually, our worship time was really passionate and intimate, so the Holy Spirit lit a fire for us. Then instead of our usual setting with all our chairs facing the speaker on the platform, I asked everyone to turn their chairs into a big circle.

To wrap up our Be You series, my favorite guest shared. (Hint: she’s my first and only girlfriend.) We heard a great reminder that it’s our job to prepare ourselves to be ready to walk through the doors that God opens for us. Betsy reminded us that God isn’t going to open a door that we’re not yet ready to walk through. So we study, and pray, and prepare, and get degrees, and take classes, and stay ready. Then when God says, “Go,” we can say “Yes!”

I loved our campfire last night, and I’m definitely looking forward to more times like this.

An Extra Hour Of Sleep

I’m a morning person. I absolutely love getting up early and spending some quiet time alone with my Bible. This is the time of day I most absorb all that God is saying to me. It’s my most creative time too. In fact, I so love getting up early that most mornings I’m awake before my alarm clock goes off.

But not this morning.

Today my alarm clock began playing Way-FM and I felt like I was in a fog. It took me a minute or so to even open my eyes and sit up.

I was about to press ahead with my morning, when I thought, “I should sleep some more.”

You see, I’ve learned a few things about myself. When I’m tired…

  • I have a shorter attention span.
  • I’m not as creative.
  • I’m not as patient.
  • I am more prone to give in to temptation.
  • I make decisions that are too short-sighted.
  • I’m more susceptible to colds and flu.

So I re-set the alarm and slept another hour.

Sometimes a little extra sleep is one of the most important things you can do to improve your physical health, your emotional stamina, and your spiritual maturity.

UPDATE: In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I have five chapters about a leader’s health—mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health is vital to a leader’s effectiveness and longevity.

Welcome Home, Vietnam Veteran

I was very honored to be asked to serve on the committee to help bring this very worthwhile event to West Michigan.

This is the “Welcome home!” that many of our Vietnam veterans never received. It is high time that we honor the men and women who served us. I know the Vietnam War is still a sore point for many. But as the saying goes, “Hate the game, not the player, baby!” The Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors who served you and I deserve our honor and our thanks.

Please help me in spreading the word. All of the details can be found on the LZ Michigan website.

Knowing What To Look For

On Sunday afternoon Betsy left our house to meet with our KidZone team. She had only been gone for a few minutes when she called me. “I just had to pull over to the side of the road,” she said. “It sounds like something is dragging underneath my van.”

I quickly threw my coat on and drove to meet her. Sure enough, as I pulled up behind her van I could see something hanging down. I laid down next to the van to look underneath and discovered that the band which holds up the gas tank was missing a bolt. I’m not a mechanic, but even I know that’s not a good thing!

I called a friend at church who’s got a lot of hands-on experience with cars. He said, “I’ll be right there.” He arrived quickly with a metal coat hanger, which he used to take the place of the missing bolt.

We turned around to head back to my house. Jeff was in front of me and had only driven about 150 feet when he jammed on his brakes, pulled to the side of the road, and leaped out of his car. I then watched as he ran across the road, bent down, and picked up the missing bolt!

When we got back to my house I said, “You must have the eye of an eagle to spot a rusty bolt on wet pavement.”

“No,” he said, “I just knew what to look for.”

In Genesis 45, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Twice he tells them, “Don’t be afraid. God sent me here.”

“Wait a minute,” you might protest, “God sent him to Egypt?! I thought his brothers sold him as a slave. God put Joseph in the position as prime minister of Egypt?! I thought his special dream-interpreting skills did that.”

Joseph went from a prince in Jacob’s family, to a slave in Egypt, to comptroller of Potiphar’s affairs, to a falsely-accused rapist, to a prisoner, to a prison trustee, to a forgotten man, to Pharaoh’s dream interpreter, to Egypt’s prime minister.

Joseph knew what to look for along the way. He knew God had given him a direction for his life, so he was constantly looking for it.

Prayer does this for me, too. I may know verses like

  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • Before I was born, God knew me.
  • All things are working together for good for me because I love God and called me for a purpose.
  • I should rejoice in my trials because God is developing something in me.

but it’s only when I’m praying these verses that the Holy Spirit trains my eyes to know what to look for.

God was placing Joseph and preparing Joseph to be just where he needed to be, at just the right time, and with just the right skills.

God is doing something with me: He’s preparing me and placing me in His perfect timing to fulfill His perfect plan. When it seems my life has become derailed, I need to know what to look for. Prayer does this: Prayer trains my heart and my mind and my eyes to know what to look for.

I can also assuredly tell you that God is doing something with YOU: He’s preparing YOU and placing YOU in His perfect timing to fulfill His perfect plan. Prayer will help you know what to look for too.


Sometimes only a big word will do. Specificity means something particularly fitted to a use or purpose. In pharmacology terms, it is a remedy intended for a particular ailment or disorder, or the selective influence of one substance on another.

In other words, the medicine is targeted for a selected pain or disease.

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God we heard a powerful word from our guest speaker Jeff Hlavin. But one thought from Jeff has been particularly working on me. He said, “The enemy fires his darts at your most vulnerable places.” Or said another way: the enemy is specific in his targeting.

My defense against the attack of the enemy is prayer. But my best defense is prayer with specificity.

Perhaps something like this:

  • In praying for Bethany, I’m not just praying for healing from cancer, but healing from neuroblastoma.
  • In praying for Brody who has Pierre Robin Syndrome, I’m praying with specificity for his lower jaw to continue to grow to its proper size. And in the meantime, that he will not experience any problems with choking.
  • In praying for friends whose marriage is in trouble, I’m praying specifically for healing from past mistakes, for open lines of communication, and for a willingness to seek out professional counseling.
  • In praying for a young man who is in a soul-searching time, I’m targeting my prayers at the low self-esteem issues he’s battling.

Let’s not just pray; let’s pray with specificity. The devil is targeting his attacks deliberately; let’s target our prayers just as deliberately.

Points Of Power (book review)

Since you’re reading another book review from me, you probably know that I love to read. I’ve got wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in my office, just brimming full of books. Once someone asked me, “How do you read so many books?” To which I replied, “One page at a time.”

This is how most healthy growth takes place: one step at a time.

  • We lose weight one pound at a time.
  • We advance through school one class at a time.
  • We grow in our relationships one conversation at a time.
  • And we develop a greater love for God one principle at a time.

This is what I enjoyed about Yolanda Adams’ book Points Of Power. A total of 37 power points are spread out across 10 chapters. Each of the chapters zero-in on a different power point:

  • Faith
  • Love
  • Forgiveness
  • Confession
  • Praise
  • Confident Assurance
  • Prayer
  • Peace
  • Protection
  • Victory

In each power point, Yolanda deliberately leads us through the principle, a passage of Scripture, a prayer, and ten pensive points. I especially enjoyed the pensive points, as they challenged me to think more deeply about each power point.

This book would be excellent as an individual study, or as a group Bible study. One step at a time—one principle at a time—your reliance on God will grow.

I am a Faith Words book reviewer.

Video Scavenger Hunt

Tiger Woods & I Have Something In Common

One part of Tiger Woods’ statement stood out to me this morning:

“I knew my actions were wrong, but I had convinced myself that normal rules did not apply … I thought only about myself…  I thought I could get away with anything I wanted to. … I thought I was entitled….”

This hits me right between the eyes. Because that sounds like… me.

And probably you, too.

I think the biggest stumbling points into sin are:

  • “This won’t hurt me.”
  • “I can handle it.”
  • “I deserve it.”

Tiger’s fame magnified what he did, but only in the eyes of our media and culture. In God’s eyes, my sins are just as painful as Tiger’s. In God’s eyes, my sins hurt my relationships with Him and with others as much as Tiger’s. But here’s the great truth for Tiger Woods, for me, and for you:

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL wickedness.

I’m glad that I can be forgiven!

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