Category: Christian Life
March 21, 2014
Hey Pastor: Maybe in recent years you’ve fallen prey to the false dichotomy of worship vs. evangelism—the idea that if you really want to reach lost people in your weekend worship, you have to get all topical and catchy and felt-need about everything. Not true.
February 17, 2014
Ok, here’s the truth. I was a really skinny kid. To look at me now you wouldn’t know it, but my arms were like pipe cleaners and my legs like pick-up sticks. Really. I was embarrassed at swimming parties and felt ashamed to wear my basketball jersey ‘cause my shoulders could barely keep the straps …
January 10, 2014
Allow me to date myself by quoting a line from a song by the Imperials (a popular CCM group before the dawn of time): “Now in my house there’s been a mercy killing, the man I used to be’s been crucified,
November 14, 2013
Keep your heart alert to the powerful stories of God at work in your church. As the Spirit moves and changes lives you will serve your church well by building a team of people, volunteers at first, who can grow their ability to tell those stories well.
October 23, 2013
Incredibly blessed to host Harvest University at our church this week, with more than 2000 church plant and ministry leaders from 15 countries around the world.
October 04, 2013
Dear Pastor Friends: God is faithful, His promises are true, His ways are just, and our trust is rightly placed in Him. For this reason milestones in the life of a ministry matter
September 12, 2013
Love, love this video below from one of our young, passionate Christ followers. Watch until the end for a fun surprise! :) Click here to see the story of how he found Christ. As exciting as that story is, I find it even more praiseworthy to see how Christ has continued with Anthony, as He does with …
August 15, 2013
Jesus is the Good Shepherd—He lays down His life for the sheep. And as His child, through faith in Him, He owns you, too.
June 12, 2013
Hebrews 6:10: For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.
May 31, 2013
A few years ago a TV network news program did a five-night feature on evangelicals. I just had to watch and find out what they think about me and my friends. As you might guess, they totally didn’t get us.
May 02, 2013
It’s the National Day of Prayer, and our country and its president have never needed our prayers more. Please pray for my friend @GregLaurie, and for his courageous stand in the face of intimidation not to pray before the nation at this event in Washington. I respect his courage, rooted in the story of Daniel …
April 05, 2013
In John 9, the disciples wanted to debate with Jesus about the source of a man’s blindness—when Jesus saw him much differently. Not as an issue to discuss, but as a person to help. Why do some Christians see everything so differently? Possibly they have become consumers of spiritual content vs. disciples who are not …
March 08, 2013
I love this: “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When I was a kid, I memorized this verse in the King James Version as “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Actually, in the original Greek there’s just one word. It’s a compound word that means cut it straight. Don’t you love that …
February 14, 2013
My heart goes out to the family that is in a downward spiral. You know what I mean. Whether they live in the same house or come from the same parents or worship at the same church, ‘families’ can fall into bad patterns that become very hard to break. Where every step forward is quickly …
January 23, 2013
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2) What a great Scripture to put into practice, especially following the swearing …
December 04, 2012
Today is not a rehearsal for anything. Today is your life. It’s who you are and who you’re following and what matters most and where you’re headed…today.
November 07, 2012
Paul discussed the connection between truth and family relationships in 2 Timothy 3:14–16. First, there must be a relationship with the learner. Here’s verse 14: “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” Take a moment and read that verse again.
October 31, 2012
Upon moving into our Elgin campus, we made an amazing discovery. In a random filing cabinet drawer buried beneath boxes and trash, we found a stack of paper three inches thick, bound together with rubber bands.
August 07, 2012
Today, I invite you to pray for the Vertical Church Tour, as we finish loading and set out for the first of 40 events throughout North America. Pray that God would be glorified in every city as His Word is proclaimed and His Son is exalted (Ephesians 3:21).
July 10, 2012
A real encounter with the living God changes everything. First it magnifies the Lord, and then it puts me and my ego and my sin and my burdens, that moments ago seemed so big, all in their rightful place.
July 06, 2012
Church was never meant to be safe. Or comfortable. Or predictable. God isn’t any of those things.
June 19, 2012
It was a real honor for me to preach for the third time at the Southern Baptist Convention last night in New Orleans. I felt very small, sandwiched between Dr. Jack Graham
May 03, 2012
Today I commend to you this guest post from Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr., Teaching Fellow at Ligonier Ministries. I hope you find it helpful and encouraging. It takes two to tango, and that doesn’t even include the band. Our choices, our behaviors,
March 09, 2012
God commands you to serve. This is your 24/7/365 card-carrying-follower-of-Jesus-Christ-member-of-the-family-of-God duty. Don’t say, “We should serve. Let’s pray about it.” Don’t pray about it—just do it. Find a job. Roll up your sleeves. Do it forever!
March 02, 2012
How many of us have launched out to serve the Lord with an expectation of how it’s going to be, and found it’s not like we thought?
February 23, 2012
The goal before us in ministry is to finish strong—to persevere. So we can say at the end of our lives, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.
February 02, 2012
While it’s exciting to hear what people have to say about the Bible, I don’t think there’s any better way to appropriately understand what we’re holding, than to look at what God’s Word has to say about itself. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is …
January 19, 2012
Authentic isn’t just something you feel; authentic is something you do. People who have authentic faith do certain things—they develop the disciplines of a sincere faith. Start with this question as it relates to your prayer life: Is my prayer real? Is it genuine, is it sincere?
January 13, 2012
Nothing is more essential to success in the Christian life than perseverance. It’s the ingredient you have to have. Faith gets you started; perseverance keeps you going. Jesus said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). That ought to cause us some concern. He who endures to the end will …
December 20, 2011
The Hebrew shalom is a universal greeting; it means “peace, a complete state of well being.” But the New Testament significantly expands the concept of peace.
December 16, 2011
Again, consider this amazing verse of Scripture that tells of Jesus Christ and what He came to accomplish. Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder:
December 13, 2011
I love my children, and they love me. I love my father, and I have always known his love. But hear this: No human can fill the Father hole in the human heart. A good father helps, but
December 09, 2011
Consider again Isaiah 9:6, overflowing with a richness of depth and dimension about our Savior Jesus Christ: “Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be
December 06, 2011
You know you’re talking to a wonderful counselor when they open the Scriptures and speak the Word of Christ into your life. Find people who will go against the grain of what you want (counseling to your flesh) and speak the Word into your life that you need.
November 23, 2011
Like you, my thoughts are turning toward Thanksgiving Day. Turkey, family, football, mashed potatoes, friends, and maybe a nap! Oh, and remembering to thank our great God
November 02, 2011
Amen? That’s it? You’re going to close your prayer with an abrupt “AMEN”? What about the Savior? Aren’t you going to say the name? And you preachers, lower the “God talk” and say the name! Everyone says the G-O-D—there is nothing in that to denote your loyalty or demarcate your distinctiveness.
October 27, 2011
I have had to apologize a lot through the years—for things I did, for things I should have done, or should have done better. I have been back at it in recent days, and a couple of weeks ago I shared with the church family what I have learned in Apology School.
October 25, 2011
Sometimes I get weary of people arguing for one side as though the other does not exist, when in reality it often does. Some arguments involve absolute truth and have only one side. But most division (outside what the Scriptures prescribe specifically) involves matters of
October 13, 2011
A few weeks ago, we rushed out of church on a Saturday night and headed to downtown Chicago for an important youth event at our Harvest Cathedral in the heart of the city. What a joy to proclaim the incredible truth of Psalm 27:4
October 11, 2011
There are seasons of incredible joy in ministry, and there are inevitably seasons where conflict rears its ugly head and needs to be dealt with. I have come to believe that failure in the season of conflict—failure to deal with it, failure to learn from it, failure to move beyond it—prevents entrance into a new …
October 03, 2011
The job of the church, the Great Commission, is what? To make disciples. Not just more disciples, but better disciples—authentic followers of Christ who are
September 20, 2011
This weekend we began an expanded, updated version of what I believe is the most impactful teaching that we’ve ever done at Harvest. We’re calling it, “Lord, Change Me.” Because faulty, man-centered methods for change will always
September 14, 2011
Thoughts on preaching, continued… 3: You must be in God’s Word for yourself, every day. Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy
August 24, 2011
If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious.
August 17, 2011
Rest is the God-given capacity to have peace, even when the circumstance that would burden your heart is not resolved. Okay, this one will be brief, because I believe its power is in its simplicity.
August 04, 2011
The key to life change is forgetting, not remembering. Try remembering that next time you are sitting with a friend or counselor who is digging deeply into your past in the hopes of impacting your future for good. Consider the life of Joseph. If anyone was a candidate for ten years of therapy
August 02, 2011
In a Vertical Church, the “summa cum laude” is God’s glory coming down. That is what we long for more than anything else, to see God manifest His presence in our midst and do for us what we could never accomplish on our own. That is the goal of every service
July 19, 2011
Summer is prime time to bring our focus back to our families and strengthen them in the truth. If building your family on the truth were easy, everybody would be doing it—but many aren’t. Diligence and persistence are absolutely necessary. In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul was writing to a young pastor …
July 12, 2011
Look at Romans 6:10, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all. But the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Some Bible teachers argue that change is all about God and not about us at all. All we really need to do in order to experience the transforming …
July 05, 2011
Nothing is essential but God. Nothing material can ever take His place. Covetousness is allowing your heart to desire something as essential—and then expending your best energy getting it.
June 23, 2011
In Psalm 46:10, the Lord exhorts us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s counsel I need to heed more frequently, and you probably do too. So whatever else you are doing right now, STOP. Cease striving. Take a few minutes for this account of God’s unconditional pursuit of one young man. …
June 20, 2011
I have the tremendous blessing of being surrounded by a highly-motivated and highly-competitive staff, numbering some 400+. What I have observed is that if we are not intentional about selfless relationships that bless and encourage, we can find ourselves ‘writing checks’ we can’t cover and overdraft with the very people we care about most.
June 03, 2011
The psalmist said, “I have been young, and now am old . . .” (Psalm 37:25), and that is how I feel. “Fifty” is not over the hill, but it is surely down the road—and now that I am down that road I see
May 31, 2011
Been thinking a lot lately about the disasters that keep raging around us, the tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and devastation that have brought a tragic end to so many lives…
May 24, 2011
Have you ever gotten a glimpse of God’s handwriting? Ever been caught off guard by the revelation that God Almighty is far more visible and near than you have recognized in a long time? That’s where I’ve been lately—undone by the nearness of His glory.
April 14, 2011
God’s Word has a lot to say about the reality of hell—regardless of popular opinion or current trends. Here’s an entire message that I preached at our church called What’s Down with Hell?
March 29, 2011
So much emphasis today is on the power of personal persuasion in sharing the gospel. What to say, how to say it. Reasons to believe, proofs for the authority of scripture -methods for gaining credibility blah blah blah. It’s always helpful to hear an actual testimony of how someone got saved.
March 25, 2011
March 22, 2011
After last week’s blog on how a wife can change her husband I got requests for equal time. So here’s the other part of the picture. This will preach—but you’d better live it first! “Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel and, as being …
March 17, 2011
Now there’s a book title that women would buy! And it’s actually a plan a lot of women try—without much success. Here’s the deal: Changed women help God change husbands. 1 Peter 3:1-6 includes four traits of a godly, changed woman and how they are powerful instruments for change in her husband’s life.
March 01, 2011
The word ‘WOW’ is a great word. It is especially helpful as an exclamation when people do or say things that just floor you. Like, “WOW you’re really going to eat that ’cause it has to be about double your daily calorie allotment and you just told me your were trying to lose weight?”
February 07, 2011
It was a shrapnel of Twitter lodged in my soul. Piercing deeply, I hardly knew it was there, until at 4:30 a.m. in post-Super Bowl euphoria, I awoke with a start and felt the wound in my conscience. After 20 minutes of wrestling to remove it, I knew I was altered by a word that …
January 26, 2011
Vertical Church: Why did you call your blog “Vertical Church”? James: I have searched for some time for a word to aptly summarize our convictions about what the church should be. Vertical is a term that reminds us that the church is a place where what happens is mainly for God. Everything that happens at …
May 10, 2010
I hope you are having a great week. I have been too busy–which in this case was not really avoidable. Up early and in God’s Word, I was reminded of a passage of Scripture from John 11 that always kind of rattles my windows. He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” …
March 25, 2010
I want to talk to you about the ways that we get a word from God, how frequently those different things happen, and how you can test and know that it’s really a word from God. Are you ready? Watch this. You can download the chart in the video at this link or find it …
February 22, 2010
I was doing an interview for the Chicago Tribune recently regarding Churches Helping Churches. The interviewer asked me if I observed in people a ‘compassion fatigue?’ As it was discussed, I learned that she meant the condition of caring so much about so many things that you are dulled in your capacity to care at …
February 11, 2010
Hey: Thanks for coming back to this blog again and again; our audience is really growing. One of the things I want to accomplish here is to encourage pastors to keep “preaching the Word.” Popular today is the notion that to really reach people you have to some how ‘get beyond the Bible.’ We have …
January 07, 2010
It’s hard for me to start a new year without thinking of the phone call that I received in the early hours of 2005 about one of the founding Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. Let me tell you about a man who was gripped by Jesus Christ, my friend, Roy Gromke.