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Days of Preparation

March 21, 2016


Different style of music—same message. Different vocalists—same message.

Watch Eddie and Ben take an operatic form and stoke the fires of our worship all the more in this memorable presentation from last year’s Good Friday service. Read More

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Jerry Falwell, Jr., Donald Trump, and the Crisis at Liberty University*

January 29, 2016

*Note: title may be designed to ignite people’s fondness for negativity /controversy.

I was hosted this past Wednesday by the incredible David Nasser at Liberty University for what he called a “One Day Revival.”

Liberty 1

I was privileged to stand in front of nearly 12,000 students and proclaim, “Revival Part 1: Seeing God for Who He Is” from Isaiah 6. More than half the students returned for the voluntary evening session, “Revival Part 2: Seeing Myself for Who I Am,” a truly incredible day—more on that in a minute.

Let me just say, what God is doing at Liberty University is absolutely mind boggling. What must be more than $500 million of buildings under construction, with a similar amount completed since my last campus visit three years ago—just a massive wow—with 3,600 freshman alone and nearly 10x the applicants for each of those spots. The quality of the vision, the incredible favor of God upon all they are trying to build and be . . . just astounding. But then this, as I made my way to Liberty, the announcement rolled out that Jerry Falwell, Jr., had endorsed Donald Trump for president, and the internet was blowing up with a plethora of opinions on that decision.

As a pastor, I don’t endorse candidates. Last week, I spoke at a caucus event for Dr. Ben Carson in Sioux City, Iowa, but I was very clear before accepting the invitation that my speech would be biblical, direct, and non-partisan. See if you think I hit the mark. My point is that I don’t think pastors should be endorsing any particular candidate, so they don’t alienate the members of the congregation who see these non-eternal issues differently. Further, I don’t believe ‘who a Christian should vote for’ is nearly as obvious or simple as some of us try to make it. Read More

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Preachers, a President, and the Damage Done By Equivocation

December 08, 2015


For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? (NKJV)

Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (NIV)

The context of this wonderful verse from 1 Corinthians 14:8 is the spiritual gift of tongues. Whatever you may believe about that personally, the passage is clearly stating that words spoken with understanding will always be more powerful than words that carry no understanding. Read More

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A Compelling State of Affairs

December 03, 2015

Leaders don’t spend a lot of time on things that are going well. Leaders look for underutilized resources, for new talent. They are constantly on the search for what could improve—and into that, they are speaking a compelling state of affairs.

The subject of leadership is so massive in importance, we dedicated two days this week to training our pastors, staff leaders, and future church planters in an offsite Leadership Bootcamp. Here is a clip from the close of our first session, which illustrates the point above. I hope you find it helpful. Read More

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Happy Birthday, Luke

November 22, 2015

Today our oldest son, Luke, turns 30 years old. Happy Birthday!

Dear Luke:
I remember the first time I heard you sing — of course, we had sung kids’ songs together many times, but you were really singing . . . In was the summer of 1998 on family vacation, and you were in the back seat belting out the words to Chris Rice’s “Deep Enough to Dream.” Everyone stopped singing to hear the wonderful voice God had given this adolescent, and we all marveled.

James_LukeOn your 30th birthday, I want to talk about the deep, unspoken dreams that I have had for you. Now having three amazing sons of your own, you are in a better position to understand the dreams I have had for my firstborn son. In and around all the laughter, teasing, and immense fun we have together, my dream for you has only been for you to worship God sincerely, love our family loyally, and stand with me personally.

I really must praise the Lord that you continue to surpass my dream for you in each of these. Your passion for worship appeared while you were in high school, first fiddling with a guitar on Monday night dinners when Andi came over. The voice and guitar were put to great use for many unseen years in children’s church and youth group, refining your heart and preparing you to stand before His church. It has been awesome to see the Lord grow you beyond worship leader, to leader of worship leaders, visionary and tireless servant for Vertical Church Band, and cheerleader for other worship leaders across our fellowship of churches and beyond. Your mother cried tears of joy as she read the book your amazing wife Kristen put together from friends, coworkers, and neighbors who have been impacted by your testimony of faith — you truly love God “with a pure heart and sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

I don’t see how you could be more loyal to our family. In the toughest of times, with cancer, crisis, or catastrophe, in every season you have been faithful to your siblings and your parents, and our extended family on both sides. Read More

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Unapologetic Preaching and Raising Your Voice

October 30, 2015

“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…” (1 Corinthians 2:4).

Preaching—true biblical preaching, heralding the message as Scripture commands—is becoming less and less common as the anti-authority, “God is my life coach” spirit of the age becomes more and more common. Read More

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