The ups and downs of ministry, in 4 days

It’s been quite a few days – the highs and lows of being a pastor. We had an amazing men’s retreat, and it was a dream come true to see so many CIL men engaged in community and Christian growth. It was also wonderful to have my two adult sons voluntarily attend with me!

Some long-time friends and ministry partners with CIL Church lost their one-month-old daughter after her brave fight to qualify for a heart transplant. Beth and I were with the family during this process, culminating with a Celebration of Life service at CIL on Sunday night. There were many heavy and holy moments these last few days.

I am so grateful for the church and its consistent testimony of Jesus each Sunday. My soul needed this Sunday’s service, and I was particularly touched when singing the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”



“Eternal Trinity, you are a deep sea…”

Not everything old is good. Not everything old is better.

But, something with age can bring comfort, bridging us to our ancestors and our shared humanity. This ancient prayer inspires me, reminding me that people seek the Lord in every generation. I want to be such a person.

“Eternal Trinity, you are a deep sea,
into which the more I enter the more I find,
and the more I find, the more I seek”
– St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Reset Your Alliances

Man, it was a good day at CIL Church.

The theme of Reset continues, as my teaching this week was titled “Reset Your Alliances”. Life is about relationships, so we constantly move in and out of relational alliances. I shared five different alliances that we need to evaluate by God’s vision and standards. Discover how you can reset your relationships with God’s perspective and blessing.
242 Small Groups launched Sunday night! I am so encouraged by the visionary way our 242 Small Group Leaders are viewing their ministry to impact the CIL family and their neighborhoods. I believe significant kingdom relationships are being established through our 242 Small Groups. God is going to impact our area and nation through these Kingdom relationships.
God is doing great things through Christ Is Love Church, and I am thrilled to tell you about it!


Discerning the Consumption of Thoughts

We purchase thoughts. Whether it’s tuition for higher education, a subscription to a streaming service, or the gas we use when driving to a podcast – thoughts cost us something. I challenge you to discern the consumption of thoughts. Ideas are not free; they cost you monetarily and take up space in your imagination.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit has given you discernment to evaluate an idea by Scripture and by the witness of the Spirit. Not every attractive idea is a beneficial concept. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in discerning the consumption of thoughts.

Colossians 2:8 (CSB)
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.

Three Streams School of Theology

I am thrilled to introduce the Three Streams School of Theology (TSST).

For several years, CIL Church has been offering theological training for those who want to go deeper but do not have the time or financial resources to use for formal seminary training. It’s been so rewarding to learn together in 12-week increments.

We have no prerequisites and no homework. We want curious learners who are hungry to grow together.

I will be joining Deborah Jackson and Jacob Bell to co-teach Church History, so I would love for you to take my class.

The cost is only $50 for the 12-week course, and classes take place at CIL Church. The course starts THIS TUESDAY, so there is still time to join. You have until Tuesday, January 24, to join the class. We’ll meet each Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

Here is the link to register:

To learn more about TSST and our philosophy, visit

Mid-January is great for personal vision

I have concluded that mid-January is an excellent time to start a vision and set goals for the year. By now, you are positioned better to be realistic with the hype of a new year fading.

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of experience, visualize the type of person you want to be months from now. Focus on characteristics that impact others – like kindness, friendliness, and consistency. As you see that God-inspired person in your future, you’ll find yourself moving toward that ideal as the year progresses.

Month by month. Day by day. Moment by moment. You are transforming into the image of the one who has called you.

Picture Creator: Trifonenko | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Copyright: Trifonenko

Lean into prayer, instead of guilt

We have had eight prayer gatherings so far in the CIL’s Week of Worship and Prayer. Some meetings have surprised us with the amount of participation, and others have been sparse. Regardless, they have all been good.

Gathering a church for corporate prayer has challenges previous generations have not encountered. Traffic. Entertainment options. The complexity of the overscheduled child. The awareness of social anxiety. These are just the start of the list. When I bring this conclusion to other believers, I immediately sense the guilt Christians feel from a lack of prayer. After all, one of the slam-dunk sermons to preach is the theme – “We should pray more.” That message will be effective every time because it’s true for every person. Easy preaching. 

So, this post is not intended to add guilt. I want to call myself and you to lean into prayer. Pray often, even if it is short. Pray with your heart, even on the go. Prayer is not an all-or-nothing experience. Prayer is a call to a conversation with God that will extend into eternity. He loves to hear us pray anytime a bit of our attention is directed toward Him. He delights even in our hurried prayers – what grace.

Prayer is friendship

The longer I walk with the Lord, prayer formulas keep fading in importance. In my formative years of walking with the Lord, several prayer formulas helped me. Most memorable are the ACTS acronym (I will not explain here) and the Lord’s Prayer, the model Jesus gave to teach prayer. These formulas have purpose, and I will use them again and teach them.

However, when I am at my best with the Lord, prayer feels like friendship, not a formula. Prayer is thinking in the presence of the Lord. Prayer is being with Him, which sometimes is not a list, but sitting in silence. When I consider prayer in these terms, I anticipate a lifetime of joy in prayer.