Thursday, April 16, 2015

Making Long Distance Relationships Work

Long distance relationships can be difficult, and if that is your current relationship reality keep reading, I've got good news; There are a few simple things you can do to make it work and you probably already know what they are.

First, I have to say that being in a long distance relationship in this age of crazy-awesome technology is far better than back 30 years ago, like when I was dating and all we had was the United States Postal Service! Gesh, I'm old! Ha ha!

7 Things To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work

1) Trust

This is the MOST important element that must be present for a long distance relationship to work, and work well. In fact, this may be the most important element needed for any relationship to work well and be healthy. Without 'trust' there will be constant discord in the relationship. Suspicions run high in relationships where trust is not present.

2) Communication

Text, email, phone call, messenger, letters (the old fashion ones). Of course communication is important in all relationships, but especially when you are far apart it must be intentional and frequent and consistent. Never leave each other hanging!

3) Daily Updates

Now with texting, facebook, snapchat and every other social network you can keep each other updated on the little happenings throughout the day. This keeps your partner in the know with each facet of your everyday life.

4) Be quick to forgive.

No one is perfect, so give your partner a break and be quick about giving forgiveness! You will need it soon enough, so be generous in giving it!

5) Be quick to say, "I'm sorry!"

I was taught growing up we should always be quick to say, "I'm sorry" especially if and when you are the one in the wrong. Make amends! There is nothing more toxic than bitterness, or holding a grudge. Apologize when you are wrong.

6) Trust

I believe there is only one option when it comes to trust, you give it until it is broken. When it is broken, then you must rebuild to a place of trust again (if you chose to walk that road), but that may take some time. And it will definitely take some hard work, oh, and patience!

7) Trust

Refer back to #1 & #6

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rest for the Soul

I was speaking to someone the other day who used to be a pastor. He said he lost his family, his church and is driving a delivery truck now all because he didn't take time for himself and his family. He said, "I worked all the time, and I didn't know how to slow down or say no. I was trying to be the 'pastor' everyone wanted. I tried to be all things to all people all the time and I ended up losing myself and my family in the process."

I do not think this "busy thing" is unique to pastors. I think this is a problem we all face in culture today, especially with the use of all the wonderful technology, which is a blessing AND a curse. 24 hour connectivity is great for those who need to get a hold of you, but isn't good for the soul.

Take (1) day of rest, a sabbath - Exodus 20:8–11

It's important to have (1) day you cease from your work. Do what you love to do. On that day do only what refreshes you, builds you up, encourages you and makes you smile. Make sure to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, smile and feel good about life.

I must warn you, guard this day with your life! And invite close friends and family to hold you accountable to it. People will try to steal it from you, not intentionally of course, but it will happen. You are often the only one who can stand guard over your life, do it with all diligence! Your Soul will be glad!

I read an amazing book that touches on this topic even more, called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, and I did a review here!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015 Reflection

I always enjoy Easter. It's when you can expect to see the whole church family on the same Sunday. It's like a huge "church reunion" of sorts. And this year was no different. The parking lot was full, the pews were packed, the energy was palatable, and most importantly the presence of God was powerful. Watch it HERE!

SPECIAL THANKS to all the wonderful, kind, compassionate and committed people at Mercy Church who served to make the day a success! You are the best!

Notes from Easter Message:

MEMORY VERSE: Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

MAIN TEXT: Luke 23:26-43

1) God hasn't FORGOTTEN you.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 “... anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (NLT)

2) You are FORGIVEN.

Romans 3:23-24 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (NLT)

3) God wants you to live FREE.

Romans 8:1-3 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”

4) NEW life is available through JESUS.

Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

(All Scriptures are New International Version unless otherwise noted)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

You Are Invited

Sunday, April 5 - 10:00 am

If you are in the Kansas City area I would love for you to join me at MERCY CHURCH for our Easter Service. Following the main service we will have an Easter Egg Hunt on the west lawn of the church for the kids!

Happy Holy Week! 

7457 Cherokee Dr.
Prairie Village, KS 66208
(913) 390-1200

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Hi to all my Russian readers! I just checked my stats to find out that I have almost twice as many people in Russia reading my blog posts as I do in the United Stated of America! And I haven't even been to Russia, yet! I am unsure if this is an anomaly, or legit. If you are in Russia and are reading my blog please COMMENT, thank you!

I would love to come visit Russia and speak! Thank you for reading!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Childhood Pastor - Phil Hollis

Rev. Phil Hollis
(April 23, 1950 - March 13, 2015)

Yesterday my childhood pastor died in a tragic motorcycle accident in Topeka, Kansas. Pastor Phil is responsible for my spiritual growth through my critical years of elementary and junior high school. I remember sitting in the adult service playing with my Matchbox Cars while listening to Phil's sermons. He is one of just a couple people, outside my family, that made a direct impact on my life which led me to becoming a pastor today. I would consider him my father in the faith.

I gave my heart to Jesus back in 1976, when I was just 7 years old, in the small Assembly of God church in Stanley, Kansas named Faith Chapel where Phil was pastor. He was very passionate in his relationship with Jesus. He would often go door to door around the church inviting people to church.

My dad served as the worship leader, and my mom served as the pianist under Pastor Phil's leadership at Faith Chapel for 5 years. It was a joy watching my parents serve as volunteers in key leadership positions in the church. Then many years later Phil's two kids, Jason and Brandon Hollis, would join me in starting Mercy Church in Kansas City, both playing critical leadership roles.

Pastor Phil would often tell me, even though I was just a little guy, that God had big plans for me and that one day he believed I would grow up to be a preacher.

The story I am going to share now is nothing short of a gift from God to me. I have been preaching a series entitled, To Infinity and Beyond at Mercy Church this month.  This week the theme is Living Beyond Yourself which is about the importance of leaving a spiritual heritage. While preparing for the message I called Pastor Phil to let him know how much I appreciated his investment in me as my pastor as a kid growing up. We ended up reminiscing about those early days in my life, 1978 - 1983. I hadn't spoken to him at any length for many years previous and getting to talk just two days before his passing was a gift. Pastor Phil, thank you for those minutes on the phone, you will be missed!

Please pray for Phil's wife, Sheila and his boys Jason and Brandon Hollis and both their families!

Saturday, March 7, 2015


We all need it. We all want more of it. It consumes most our thoughts whether we have a lot or a little. Even Jesus spoke of money in nearly half of all his parables. One in every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.

Why such an emphasis on money and possessions? There is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money.

It was Martin Luther who said, "There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook."

Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I truly believe we will never be truly free or experience God's blessing until we are obedient to God's call to give. Living an open-handed generous life is very freeing. Whether you call it a "tithe" or "giving" or "generosity" it's the same idea. Unfortunately when some people want to argue about the "tithe" not being a New Testament requirement it's just to justify their lack of obedience to God's word.

Let's not live in bondage to fear when it comes to money. Trust God with a portion of what He has given us the ability to earn!

I recently taught at Mercy Church on the subject of money, here are the cliff notes:


1) Our HOPE should be in God.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 

2) Being GENEROUS shows our gratitude.

2 Corinthians 9:11 “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

3) You will be BLESSED when you give.

Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'."

4) WEALTH comes from God.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

5) Giving is a matter of the HEART.

Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

6) GIVING helps us keep things in proper perspective.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I am always open to questions and feedback ... thank you!