The Risks of Going Viral

We have this expression these days: “going viral.” It means when something on the internet attracts an enormous amount of attention such that thousands or even millions of people click in to watch. Babies or puppies or kittens are likely subjects. Or a compelling speech like the post-game interview with high school football player Apollos Hester. But when some things “go viral”—like an actual virus—there is nothing entertaining about it.


In West Africa today there are 6,000 confirmed cases of the monster virus Ebola, 3,000 people having already died.

John Stott’s Final Public Address

[I have given copies of this to many leaders, and have had leadership groups listen to the audio in groups. This is a seminal address. Every Christian leader should read this!]

John Stott Address at Keswick
Dr. John Stott – ‘The model – becoming more like Christ.’ Sermon delivered at the Keswick Convention July 17th 2007.

I remember very vividly, some years ago, that the question which perplexed me as a younger Christian (and some of my friends as well) was this: what is God’s purpose for His people?

Christmas Greeting to All of Humanity

On December 24, 1968, three astronauts gave a Christmas greeting to more people on earth who had ever listened to a broadcast in history, as they orbited the moon. Here are their exact words:

Bill Anders
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

Africa for Norway

Here is a great tongue-in-cheek video (explanation below)…


From Radi-Aid website:

Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway” video and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?

If we say Africa, what do you think about? Hunger, poverty, crime or AIDS? No wonder, because in fundraising campaigns and media that’s mainly what you hear about.

The pictures we usually see in fundraisers are of poor African children. Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. But while these images can engage people in the short term, we are concerned that many people simply give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on.

The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.


Rivers of Living Water

Several countries in Southeast Asia celebrate the regional new year with a water festival. Traditionally, people sprinkle each other with water as a sign of respect and blessing, but many people intensify it with wild, joyful, boisterous dousing of anybody and everybody with water. Walk or drive down the streets during those days and you might be accosted with garden hoses, water cannons, water pistols, or even bowls and cups filled with water. It is raucous. It is fun. It is vivid. Everyone knows it is out with the old, in with the new.

Expand your world…


**********  TONIGHT! **********

Expand your world… by hearing from our special guests for this year’s International Center session in a special open forum, Wednesday, October 17 from 6:30 to 8:15 in the Chapel.

Join Mel Lawrenz who will draw out the stories of our guests from Malaysia, Nepal, India, Rwanda, Cuba, Paraguay, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil, Belize, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHAT: International Center Open Forum (free and open to the public–hear compelling stories from around the world)!
WHEN: Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 to 8:15pm
WHERE: The Chapel at Elmbrook Church, 777 South Barker Rd., Brookfield
WHO: Mel Lawrenz moderating panel of guests from around the world
WHY: When your world gets bigger, your heart gets bigger! Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from these special people!

Please use the SHARE links below to let others know.

Is It Naive to Be Optimistic?

A while back a colleague put me on the spot in a group by asking me: “why don’t you tell the folks how it is that you stay optimistic even in the face of great difficulties.” I instantly felt unusually self-conscious. My first instinct was to say, “because the alternative is unthinkable.” But then I thought, that is merely wishful thinking, and I hope I have something more substantial to go on in life. Wishful thinking is pitiful. It has a short shelf life. It’s not much better than buying a lottery ticket.


As a young adult my optimism may have been based on wishful thinking. Not that I hadn’t been through difficulties, like the death of my father when I was four. But most of the time things seemed to work out in life. That is how a lot of people stay upbeat–their trials have not been bone-crushing. Yet.

“Knowing Him – An Easter Devotional”

Friends — We will be sending out the three-week daily email devotional “Knowing Him” beginning March 18 and going through Easter Day (April 8). These twenty-two readings are like the sample below.

If you’d like to receive them, just click HERE. (If you get the message “Update Your The Brook Network Profile,” just follow the steps it indicates.)

NOTE: You have permission to copy and post these readings on your own blog, send them to your own email list, or whatever. Free and open access. Pastors– use them for your church. Bloggers– use some or all 22 of them for your site. Bible study leaders– send them to your group. Use some or all in whatever way you want, with attribution to, please.

(sample: Day 20 of Knowing Him: An Easter Devotional)

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Matthew 27:33-37)

Now came time for the clash between good and evil, heaven and hell. The crucifixion of Jesus is both the most horrific moment in human history and humanity’s only hope. That’s why we call the Friday before Easter Good Friday.

Jesus’ followers were still too weak to understand and so they scattered. The religious elite played out their plot; the political leaders passed the buck and in the end discarded Jesus for the sake of convenience. The crowds gawked. Two thieves hung on either side of a man whose crime was hard to comprehend. The placard above his head announcing with biting sarcasm “King of the Jews,” must have attracted some attention.

We know of seven things Jesus said from that cross including a pronouncement of forgiveness for soldiers, provision for the care of his mother, a plea for something to wet his parched mouth. But the last words on that last day of his natural human life were the most important: “It is finished!”

That was not a cry of resignation, not capitulation or surrender. It was the shout of victory that all that God—Father, Son, and Spirit—had planned for the restoration of sinful human beings was accomplished. Now there could be justification! Redemption! Reconciliation! All that needed to be done for the debt and scar of sin had been done. Now forgiveness was free. All that remained was for Jesus to step out from the shadow of death, which he would easily do after a couple of days. But first, disciples had time to search their hearts for how something good could be seen in something so bad, while the enemies of God disappeared into the darkness of their own duplicity.

Ponder This: How does the crucifixion of Jesus most powerfully impact you?

Bible Reading Plan

I’m going to do the Bible in 90 Days reading plan starting in January. These accelerated reading plans can work out well. You read 12 pages a day. Here is a PDF of the schedule in case you’re interested. And, if you like audio, you can get the Bible in 90 Days audio program in 13 segments at (You can also get the audio through iTunes. Just search for “Bible in 90 Days.”) Thirteen weeks, one 6-hour audio per week. Here is other info about this program.

Christmas Joy

I really enjoy talking to people in the weeks leading up to Christmas about things like joy, peace, Immanuel, shepherd, Magi, Mary, star, flesh, virgin, counselor, and many other meanings of the coming of Christ. We’re releasing the 25-day devotional for the days of December called Christmas Joy in two forms:

1. Get daily readings delivered to your email box (free of charge) by going to Bible Gateway’s newsletters page and sign up under the “Christmas Devotionals” section on the right side of the page. Look for “Christmas Joy by Mel Lawrenz.”

2. Or, you can acquire the Kindle version of Christmas Joy and have the whole devotional on your computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or Kindle reader (device info HERE).

Christmas Joy Cover

Bigger World, Bigger Hearts

It has been exciting to get to know our sixteen guests from fifteen different foreign countries for this year’s International Center session at Elmbrook Church. They are leaders from Romania, India, Lebanon, Myanmar, Viet Nam, Malawi, England, Nicaragua, Argentina, Ecuador, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, the Philippines and Nepal.


They are great people, with compelling stories of faith and a perspective on God’s work in the world that will grip your heart.

I will be drawing out their stories in two open forums this week. I hope you can come. Because when our world gets bigger, our hearts get bigger.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 2   7:00-8:15PM
THURSDAY, NOV. 3   7:00-8:15PM
free and open to the public

Spiritual Growth for Men

Registration opens soon for the upcoming No Regrets men’s conference with this year’s special speaker, Dr. Tony Evans and great seminar options. You can attend in multiple locations in the greater Milwaukee area at Elmbrook Church, Westbrook Church, New Testament Church, or at other locations throughout the country. It is also not too late to check out how to become a host site.