Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pray for Allie

Allie goes in Monday to have her right hip repositioned. Her hip has migrated out of joint because her bones grow faster than her muscles. So, like a bow string pulled tight, her bones have too much tension on them.

What the doctor will do:

1) break and re-position her femur.

2) break her pelvis and re-shape her hip joint socket to receive her hip bone.

Allie had this operation done six years ago on both hips. Read this to learn about Allie's first go 'round with this operation. -->

To learn more about Allie, read this -->

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Future Christlikeness Right Now

“And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”1 Corinthians 15:45 (NKJV)

As I write this, I’m a little under the weather. My little girl brought home a bug from school, and it has been incubating and multiplying in our home, inflicting us with scratchy throats and sneezing noses.

So much of our time, energy, and resources go toward maintaining, feeding, clothing, housing, and pampering our bodies. These bodies decay. There’s no way around this fact—no matter how much we try to condition, exercise, or get nipped and tucked.

The Bible says that not only is man longing for the return of Christ and our redemption, but all of creation is waiting for this as well. When man fell, creation fell with him. Now, man is at odds with creation and it won’t be until everything is fully delivered that God’s original intention for true harmony will be restored. Every tree and plant that is so pleasing to the eye—if left on its own—will fall over to die, decay, and dissolve back into the earth.

As beautiful as creation is, it is subject to death.

There is a drastic contrast between “a living being” and “life-giving spirit.” The former rots. This is not news to any of us. The latter will never die. In resurrection, our bodies will be, in a sense, raised—animated by the Spirit of God. This is the kind of body Jesus has, and this is the kind of body we will one day have as His follower. When the spirit creates our new bodies, they will never wear out.
This is Christlikeness. If we follow Jesus now in a body that is subject to corruption and degeneration, we will follow Him in our soul’s restoration and have the same kind of heavenly body He has. That is the result of knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him. This is our future in the likeness of Christ.

What if we started living our futures now? And what if we decided to scale back the time, energy, and resources that go toward pampering and improving the “self” that’s dying, and repurposed those resources toward the healing and redemption of the people we interact with in our world every day? For us, the future is now. There’s nothing like the present to be Christ-like.

This Daily Devotional was originally published at

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

How to Find and Keep Practical Discernment

“To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding . . .”—Proverbs 1:2 (NKJV) 
When my son was a toddler, just learning to stand up on his own, all he wanted to do was run. He didn’t want to walk. He ran. He had no fear. He didn’t even have the smart kind of fear. This was scariest when we were at the beach. We’d be setting up our umbrella and picnic blankets, and he’d sprint for the water having no concept of swimming or drowning. He needed to learn a little bit about healthy fear.

One has to learn how to fear God.

In the Old Testament, the fear of God was a guiding principle for every aspect of life for as long as one lives on the earth.

This verse and verses that follow give the purpose and payoff of Proverbs. It’s an intensely practical book, applicable to every aspect of your life. It’s intellectual. It engages and exercises your brain. It’s moral. Justice, equity, and righteousness are constant themes, because they make sense. There was as much of an appetite for this in the ancient world as there is now. They flow from the heart God, into, and through His people.

Proverbs features three conspicuous characters throughout its pages: the simple, the fool, and the wise. The simple man doesn’t commit, he’s easily misled, and doesn’t apply himself to discipline. This person needs to get Proverbs up and running in his life. The fool is opposed to God’s covenant, resists forgiveness, is a dangerous influence, and causes grief to his parents. The scary thing about the fool is that he moves freely among God’s people. But, believe it or not, he is not beyond hope. The wise person embraces the principles learned in this book. He makes good progress and is an example worth following. God desires that you be a wise person. That’s why He made sure this book has found its way into your hands.

Proverbs begs to be probed, searched, and questioned closely. Proper relation to God involves trying hard to understand His truth and applying what you’ve learned. This book is not written for learning how to live life so that someday you’ll go to heaven when you die. It is written to teach you how to live in the fear of God, in the here and now, until you are present with Him in His kingdom.

Now, go equip others to do the same.

This Daily Devotional was originally published at

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Evangelism: From the Street Corner to YouTube

Photo Credit: Justus Martin Photography

There’s an up and coming evangelist that is widely believed to be well on his way to being the most prolific gospel preacher of our time. Nick Vujicic (pronounced VOO-yee-cheech), affectionately known as the guy with no arms or legs, is on a mission to spread a message of hope. He’s consistently packing out stadiums, school auditoriums, church sanctuaries, and headlining conferences and special events all over the globe. Nick is unique in his disability for sure, but he isn’t the first imperfect man to make evangelism his life’s work. He follows a well-worn path that has been paved by many great men before him.

The street corner evangelist has always been a peculiar character. He was bold and, seemingly, anti-social. He lacked polish and decent manners, but was passionate and wild-eyed—creating discussion around subjects that would guarantee the disruption of a polite dinner conversation. He didn’t seem to care what people thought about him.

John Wesley was one such character. He had bricks, eggs, and rotten vegetables thrown at him with regularity by haters and hecklers as he preached the gospel on street corners and in city centers. He and his brother Charles founded the Methodist movement in England and exported it to America, but they were constantly at odds with one another, cutting short their endeavor as American missionaries. Despite their rocky ministry relationship, their influence left a legacy. In the nineteenth century, the Methodist church was the largest Protestant denomination in America.

Preacher John Cennick, a man influenced by the Wesleys’ ministry, was antagonized with gross brutality as he preached at a rally in Swindon, England in 1741. Catapults were filled with raw sewage and muskets were fired over his head. When one family opened their home to Cennick as refuge, an effigy of the preacher was burned in front of the house, while rocks smashed through the windows. But John Cennick went on to write and publish hymns that have been sung by multitudes of believers over the past couple of centuries.

Charles Spurgeon made earnest appeals to massive crowds, urging them to repent and turn to Jesus. In London, he was targeted with intense slander and scorn. His health was poor; he was afflicted with gout. He experienced intense anxiety, bearing the weight of many souls. During one event where twenty thousand people were present, a brigand shouted, “Fire!” Seven people were trampled to death and twenty-eight were hospitalized in the panic that ensued.

Spurgeon is remembered for his commitment to sound doctrine and theology through a particularly tumultuous period in the late 1800’s when false doctrine, skepticism, weak theology, and atheism were all becoming entrenched in Western culture. His life and body of work continues to influence young preachers and church planters who have a passion for preaching Christ, the purity of the gospel, and the urgency of living a repentant and humble life before a watching world.

Over the last century, preaching and evangelism evolved from the street corner to massive stadium venues where people gather around massive sound systems and giant high definition monitors. The endless visibility that modern technology provides has produced a crop of media savvy men with polished, high-impact presentations. Stadium evangelism is an industry. It was pioneered by baseball player Billy Sunday in the early part of the twentieth century and perfected by Billy Graham throughout the rest of the twentieth century.

Early in his ministry, Graham had an associate, Charles Templeton, who partnered with him at evangelistic rallies around the country. Despite success and an incredible ability to influence people, Templeton, plagued with doubts and questions, grew skeptical and had a crisis of faith. Unanswered questions left him in a vacuum of doubt so great that he would no longer preach a Bible he couldn’t believe. This shook Graham to the core. He couldn’t answer Templeton’s questions and couldn’t persuade him to come back to the faith. Yet, even as he wrestled with tremendous doubt in those early years, it is widely believed that Graham has preached to more souls around the world than anyone in human history.

The influence of Billy Graham’s ministry produced a pack of Baby Boomer preachers who have become household names. Luis Palau, Greg Laurie, and Billy Graham’s son and successor, Franklin, have filled stadiums around the world for decades. Now, there’s a crop of young, hip, upstart preachers that we’ll be hearing from in years to come. Levi Lusko and Carl Lentz are well on their way to becoming household names, should they hold true to the course. Their stories are yet to be written.

And then there is Nick Vujicic who is, by far, the most fascinating young preacher filling stadiums and mega venues right now. Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare congenital condition. Growing up, the only thing he ever wanted was to be like the other kids, but bullies relentlessly targeted Nick. Loneliness, depression, and suicidal thoughts plagued him until he came to terms with his disability. At the age of seventeen, he founded the non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs.

Vujicic has a body pre-made for victimization, yet he uses it as a platform to bring his anti-bullying and suicide prevention message to students around the world. He knows firsthand how cruel the world can be, but Nick remains convinced and drives home the message that all people are fueled by a deep need for Jesus, even if they don’t know it yet. This is what compels him to carry Christ’s message of hope, forgiveness, and mercy to anyone who will listen.

Vujicic’s delivery of the gospel is absolutely one-of-a-kind. His online presence is viral on every social media platform. He’s appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was recently the subject of the TV special Born Without Limbs, which aired on The Learning Channel earlier this year.

Nick Vujicic stands on the shoulders of the imperfect men who went before him. Their struggles were real, their heritage rich, and their accomplishments covered with the fingerprints of God. As diverse as this group of ancient and modern day preachers is, they share one common bond: they all bet their very lives on the most binding and timeless miracle in world history—the saving truth of the gospel.

This article originally appears in The Good News of South Florida under the title Nick Vujicic Draws Crowds like Great Evangelists Before Him

Friday, December 18, 2015

Good News of South Florida: Fort Lauderdale Missionary Serving in Syrian Refugee Crisis

I've been able to spend some time with my missionary friend Lisa Collins who is visiting for the holidays. I wrote this article about her and the work she's doing in Hungary.

Syria is experiencing the biggest exodus of people since the Rwandan war 20 years ago. While the brutality of the war in Rwandan was horrific, thanks to the Internet and ISIS, the atrocities of this war in Syria come to us via graphic social media images of beheadings and drowned children washed up on European Mediterranean beaches. It will take some time to forget the pictures we’ve seen. At least we should pray it does. But one Fort Lauderdale resident, Lisa Collins, who is serving as a missionary in Hungary, has witnessed the human struggle first hand as part of a team from Calvary Chapel Budapest.

Streets crowded with refugees in Budapest. photo credit: Facebook
The multitudes
Although it has only recently received media attention, the Syrian war is entering its fourth year. Over 23 million people have been uprooted. Six thousand people a day flee. Syria’s neighbor, Lebanon has taken in over a million displaced Syrians (that’s 220 refugees for every 1000 Lebanese residents according to the United Nations Refugee Agency) but has closed it’s borders. They can’t take any more refugees. Jordan has taken in another 630,000, but, overwhelmed, has also said, “No more.” Egypt has taken 133,000, Iraq a quarter of a million, and Turkey 1.8 million. Sadly, nearby oil-rich nations Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, while they’ve donated some funds, have officially taken in zero of their neighbors in flight.

By October 2015, applications for asylum in Europe exceed 507,000, 47 percent of applicants are bound for Germany.

One family-of-four paid $6,500 to board a three-man raft with eight other people to travel from the shores of Turkey to Kos, Greece. The family moved into a ferry boat set up by the government of Greece to temporarily house refugees. For some children, the flight from war has ended with them drowned, washed up on Turkish beaches short of their destination across the Mediterranean Sea.
Thousands of refugees make it across the Mediterranean Sea and travel to countries like Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and Hungary.

The massive migration of refugees has overwhelmed services as crowds have migrated through European streets. Public transportation has been totally choked and shut down. Collapsed.

No place to go
Police in body armor and lexan shields roll out razor wire along the border between Macedonia and Greece to stem the flow of migrants across borders. Time stands still as refugees are held in limbo sequestered at borders. In Germany, the intended destination for the refugees, bus loads of immigrants are pelted with rocks and bottles while across town counter pro-migration protests are held where banners fly saying “Refugees Welcome Racists Not.”

Angelina Jolie, the actress and humanitarian who acts as a special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, shared these thoughts in a recent speech:

“Who can blame them for thinking that we have given up on them? Only a fraction of the humanitarian aid they need is being provided. There has been no progress on ending the war in Syria since the Geneva process collapsed 12 months ago. Syria is in flames, and areas of Iraq are gripped by fighting. The doors of many nations are bolted against them. There is nowhere they can turn.”

The struggle in Hungary
Once in Greece, the journey to Germany takes travelers through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. The Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary, was shut down as it was overwhelmed by the flood of refugees travelling from Hungary to Germany. Hungary issued an order to churches threatening punishment if they gave quarter to refugees passing through.

“They’re not refugees. This is an invasion,” said Bishop László Kiss-Rigó, whose dominion stretches across the southern reaches of this predominantly Catholic nation. “They come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over.”

Refugees camp out in Budapest train station. photo credit: Facebook
Fort Lauderdale area resident Lisa Collins lives in Vajta, Hungary, as a missionary. She said she hasn’t witnessed anyone trying to take over, but she did see thousands of people in need. She, along with members of the church she attends, was at the Keleti train station when it was shut down under the crush of the multitude trying to get to Western Europe. A team from Calvary Chapel Budapest and volunteers were there daily passing out water and food to travelers in need. Church members and community volunteers also traveled to quickly constructed, make-shift refugee camps on the Hungarian border with Serbia to disperse food and water and help people get out of the cold. As camps were shut down, the team helped refugees get on buses to get registered for travel to other destinations outside Hungary.

Collins and her team continue to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of refugees hoping for passage out of Hungary. “Six refugees got baptized yesterday,” Collins said. “Their hunger for the Word is contagious. We gave them Bibles Saturday. One guy held his up and said, ‘in my country I’d be put to death to have this in my home.’”

I asked Collins how one prepares for such a massive migration of people in desperation. She said, “From my perspective, in this current situation, the need is beyond overwhelming–financially, emotionally and spiritually. So what you do is simply love on the one right in front of you.”

This article originally appears in The Good News of South Florida

Saturday, November 28, 2015


“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.”—1 Peter 1:2 (NLT)

Vietnam. This is one of the first words I remember hearing my mother speak. I clearly recall other words, too, that all had to do with Vietnam.

“It’s a very bad war.”
“That’s where Dad is right now.”
“Yes, he’s fighting there.”
“He’ll come home as soon as he can.”

In the first decade of my life, Vietnam was in the news, and it was Dad’s work through the late 1960s and early 1970s. During his time in the U.S. Marines, he carried out orders in combat missions, administration, supply, and support. Vietnam was discussed daily and I was constantly anxious because of it.

Most memorable was our move to San Diego where new Marines were trained. In school I became friends with kids who were refugees from Vietnam. They were boys and girls my age who had fled a homeland ravaged by war. I was fascinated by their lives because they lived in a very in between place. They were living in between an evacuation from their country of origin and a future they hoped to build in an unfamiliar place.

There is a theme of in between-ness repeated throughout the New Testament. Over and over, we’re reminded of Old Testament stories, including the exodus from Egypt. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were set free from slavery and given grace to live in their wilderness wanderings—a place in between their former lives as slaves and their future lives in the Promised Land. The Israelites were set apart from all other ethnic groups and God miraculously provided for them in very public way. The Bible also tells us that it gave God pleasure to do so.

God has foreknowledge of every single person He chooses to call to Himself. This is a mystery that is never fully explained. Instead, the Bible focuses on what we’re supposed to do with the knowledge of God’s foreknowledge: obey Him; serve Him; get in on what He is doing in the world as His will is done “as in heaven, so on earth.” We should be patterned and shaped after Jesus, the true image of God.

God never guaranteed your safety while you live in the in between. But He picked you and provides everything needed for your mission while journeying to the Promised Land.

This Daily Devotional was originally published at

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Too Busy to Be Thankful

I can’t believe I’m seeing Christmas trees going up already. I must admit: it gives me a little bit of that humbug feeling. Seeing those trees makes me think of everything I have to do, like make extra purchases for parties and gift exchanges, and be on my best behavior around extended family and people I don’t see very often. The holidays are always a lot of extra work. Sadly, I’ve realized with Thanksgiving coming up this week . . . I’ve forgotten how to be thankful. I’m too busy.

Complaining comes easily. But you need a plan for thankfulness. Being thankful takes intentionality. Included below is encouragement for and examples of biblical gratitude. Read some of these verses to yourself, then pick a few and make time to read them with those you gather with for Thanksgiving.

Exhortations from the Bible to Be Thankful

“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.“—Deuteronomy 8:10

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”—Psalm 100:4

“And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”—Psalm 107:22

“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”—Colossians 1:12

“Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”—Colossians 2:7

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” —1 Thessalonians 5:18

Examples of Thankfulness Shown in the Bible

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”—Psalm 68:19

“At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.”—Psalm 119:62

“To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”—Daniel 2:23

“And he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”—Luke 17:16

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.“—1 Corinthians 15:58

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”—2 Corinthians 9:15

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service . . .”—1 Timothy 1:12