Growing up I was told over and over that church is people not a building. I was even taught a VBS song that reiterated this truth.
The problem is that the reality of what we lived was that church revolved not around the people, but instead the building and its other structures. It was almost a ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality that seems to have reached an apex in the last few years. Church was defined by nonliving structure.
In our first African mission in the small country of Togo, we struggled mightily against this ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. There were wins and losses. In the end it was more like a tie with us giving in to simplistic structures that provided them with some feeling of permanence and us with contentment that it was a model that could be duplicated naturally.
Now, in Rwanda, our paradigm has been tested. We were pushed into a non-structured role of service to discipleship. What a challenge it has been as we are forced to confront the question: can church exist without walls?
Many of you know that my job with Africa Transformation Network is that of being the national coach and technical director for the Rwanda Taekwondo Federation. I have worked over the last three years to train national teams, certify more than forty masters and start a grass roots sports movement. But, all along I have had to ask myself how that fits into the Kingdom Work that I feel called to and better yet, was sent to do.
The question, asked in a different way is: Can a Taekwondo club be a church?
Why not?
In fact it may in many ways it may become a better version of what Jesus wants a church to be than those that are defined by structure. It has the potential instead to be defined by its people and their love for each other.
So, that’s where we are at; serving through Taekwondo now around eight hundred Rwandans and training masters to be disciple makers that live out the commission of Mathew 28.
What a surprise for us to see God use something likeTaekwondo to serve Rwanda and to show us what we always knew.
Church is people.

We draw the air in without consideration. We exhale automatically. We typically don’t need training on how to breathe.
Then again, maybe we do.
Think about the times that you ‘can’t catch your breath’.
High stress, tragedy, bad news: these and many other events cause us a shortness of breath. The more deeply we are affected, the shallower our breaths become. Ironically, this actually increases our stress and prevents clear processing within our brains due to the lack of oxygen. The level of stress increases and is compounded by the fact that we breath less effectively in these tension-filled moments. Often as stress or anxiety persists, so does this shallow breathing; putting us in a downward spiral of oxygen depravation.
One of the first things we teach in Taekwondo is how to breathe. Funny, isn’t it? One of the great lessons of this dynamic martial art is spent relearning to do something that has been present for our entire existence. Our trainees learn to be still and breathe.
Take a deep breath right now. Use your abdomen to draw your diaphragm down and fill those lungs. Hold it a second and now exhale. Didn’t that feel good?
I heard recently that the Hebrew name for God, YAHWE, and the word for breathing in Hebrew sound really similar. That is something to ponder, that in taking that deep breath you said the name of God.
How often in situations of anger, tension, and stress are we reminded by others to breathe? Breathing is the stress manager. Now consider the numerous invitations by God to cry out to Him in our times of grief, stress, and anxiety and couple that with the action of deep breathing and its relaxing effects. YAHWEH.
Breathe deeply and say the name of God. Accept His invitation to give Him all your anxiety, concerns, fears, mistakes, grief, pain and remember to…


I know it’s an odd title for today’s blog, in the wake of this week’s tragedies in Boston and West, Texas. I have been musing over the emotions after the disappointments, though, that come in the response to God’s comfort. Thankfulness, I guess, is not an emotion but instead a state of being. In the comforting we are mindful of what we have and what we had, of importance. We assess our lives and changes, long needed, often come. The process is longer relative to the depth of loss, I believe. It has been nineteen years since the genocide of Rwanda. The loss of one million or more lives in one hundred days is staggering and unimaginable. All that I work with experienced loss and trauma from those horrific events. There is a memorial week for the Genocide that we just completed, but in reality there isn’t a day that goes by in Rwanda where you don’t remember those events of 1994 in some way. For most of those that I work with, who have gone through the grieving process and have a growing faith in Jesus, they live in a thankful state of today.
Anger and resentment are the natural responses, along with many other emotions, to such events. I am most intrigued, though, by thankfulness as a response to not just disappointments, but also tragedies. Could that even become a perpetual state for our lives? What if we rose to the occasion of the challenge in Philippians 4:4-6? I know that in some circles, Paul isn’t too popular these days, but what an incredible thing he wrote from a jail in Rome! Could we, would we dare to make such a statement for ourselves that we rejoice, always are rejoicing? May God’s inexplicable peace fill you today and cause you to not only be thankful but to also rejoice.

Me too. There are so many things that can go wrong in relationships and in our own actions before we even leave the house each morning that it is hard not to experience some form of disappointment on a daily basis. So, what is the source of your disappointment and how do you process it? For me, the character in my life that is usually the most disappointing is me. It may be the same or different for you. I am not really good at processing it, though. What I’ve noticed, instead, is that in the midst of my disappointment, I am comforted. It usually is a passage or story from the Bible that comes to mind or it is a song of praise. It has caused me to consider more seriously the word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit in the book of John in calling Him ‘the Comforter’. So, even in the midst of deep disappointment with internal or external origin, there is the Holy Spirit of God speaking the Word of peace over us or even, dare I say it, rejoicing over us with singing. So, the next time you experience disappointment, instead of reacting with anger or trying to process it by physical means, why not try asking God to comfort you?

Some would say that I am an “all or none” kind of man. Some who know me well would even say that I like to push the limits in most of the things I do. I would reluctantly agree. In truth, though, verses like Mark 12:28-30 really speak to my heart. There we are reminded that God isn’t looking for a half in half out kind of love. He is looking for lovers like himself. So, when we consider, and hopefully we do, being a better disciple of Jesus, what comes to mind? More service? More events? More worship? More church? I am exhausted just thinking of all the ‘more’ we could add. Instead of more, what if we just invited Him to invade what already is? What if we just practiced loving Him in what we already do and where we already are? Being completely His in each of our everyday’s? An everyday disciple? Let the musings begin, again.

So much of my life has been spent attempting to escape.  Either through entertaining and non-entertaining films, video games, the internet, or media in general I find myself being drawn away into this surreal neverland.  This desire to not think about work or not think about difficulties or not think about failures, has in common this desire not to think, this desire to disengage or disconnect from the real.  So, life passes quickly by as we slip off into a fantasmical land of pretend.  Our children grow up and opportunities are lost as we are lulled to sleep by the steady drum beat of mediocrity and the hypnotic glow from various forms of media.

Stem the tide.  Stay in the real.  It is uncomfortable, yes.  It is burdensome, yes.  It is unsettling, yes.  It is troublesome, yes.  But, it is life.  And in Jesus, it is peaceful.  It is good.  It is new.  It is full.  It is everlasting.  God made us with his own hands in Christ Jesus, to do good works.  How can we do the good he has called us to unless we engage the real.

Let’s commit to the real and disengage from the fantasy.

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