Monthly Archives: December 2013

Are you being stretched by the new?

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When it comes to really old stuff, there are two kinds of people, those who love antiques and those who don’t. Which are you?

Admittedly, this certainly isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

Feeding the hungry matters more.

Clean water for the billions who don’t have it matters more.

Putting an end to sex trafficking matters more.

Antique Sign

Antiques are cool (guess you know which group I’m in), but they’re still just temporary things destined for eventual destruction.

Something struck me today while reading this passage: “No one pours new wine into old leather wineskins; otherwise, the wine would burst the wineskins and the wine would be lost and the wineskins destroyed. But new wine is for new wineskins” Mark 2:22 (CEB).

Apparently, God is more into the new.

It’s not that the old is evil, but just because it’s old doesn’t make it sacred.

wineskins old new

The religious men Jesus first spoke these words to in Mark believed their spiritual practices and traditions were above all. Regular fasting (with an audience) and all of their Sabbath customs mattered more to them than truly loving God and loving people. In fact, Jesus scolded these supposedly holy men by telling them, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27 (CEB).

God always puts people first. Rather than things or customs or traditions…being fresh and fully alive matters more to Him, and evidently the Father loves the new.

In Lamentations 3:22-23 it says, “God’s mercies are new every morning.”

Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new command I give to you: Love one another.”

The Apostle Paul called our life as believers “a new way of the Spirit” Romans 7:6 (CEB).

Perhaps the best news of all is that we can become new in Christ. Again, Paul wrote, “…if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB).

Let’s be honest, some of us hold on to our old ways, our traditions, and the familiar with a death grip. We get terribly frustrated when something we hold dear is altered.

“Why didn’t the pastor read the Christmas story from the King James? It’s so much more poetic!”

“Live drama in church is way more effective than one-dimensional videos.”

“I prefer taking communion from a common cup rather than those cheesy plastic ones we use now.”

“That worship leader had the audacity to change my favorite Christmas hymn to be more contemporary. What’s wrong with the way we’ve always done it?”

death grip wire

Here’s my gentle push-back…

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the old, but it’s good to be stretched by the new?

Maybe something fresh keeps us fresher?

Maybe we should zoom out and see the bigger picture? Is the new way more effective? Does the new approach connect better with our rapidly changing culture? Is there really anything wrong with new and different rather than the old and familiar?

Let me go on record: I have no beef with the old (I am, after all, much older than I used to be). I have my own favorite traditions, too. I understand.

grumpy old large

But I’d rather grow old and stay flexible than grow old and become rigid. It seems that there’s something inherent in the new that keeps me humble and dependent on God. The new does stretch me, and if I’m not careful, my old wineskins might burst.

The solution?

I ask God to keep my heart new. On a regular basis, I ask Him to help me embrace the new with a different and better attitude. I’ve determined to renew my mind daily so that His new wine has room to expand in my life.

The alternative is messy.

So let’s embrace the New Year, new challenges and new opportunities, and God’s “new wine” in the months to come. Rather than fight for our comfort zone, let’s accept this reality: New might be hard, but if it keeps us growing and becoming more like Jesus, it’s good.

Antique Typewriter

I’m not rejecting the old. I still love antiques and my sometimes-antique ways. But I’ve come to learn that I follow a creative Creator who is constantly calling me to something fresh, something innovative, and something new.

How about you?

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11 Responses to Are you being stretched by the new?

  1. I enjoy antiques we can actually use and white gold goblets that don’t absorb bacteria like those dinky plastic cups. :)Traditional forms of poetry often show more care and poetic flair than the prose poems I sometimes write to exercise other aspects of creativity and to stay attuned to the literary world. We’re a sensory people! And I wonder if eclectic tastes reflect spiritual tendencies too. May God help us in the coming year to loosen our hold where needed and keep us open to Christ’s ongoing presence in our lives.

  2. I, too, love the old stuff — just look at my closets. Here’s what I’d like to see. Jesus came not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. Let’s not throw out the old stuff that is truly good, like hymns, psalms and spiritual songs, live drama, old noels. Let’s just embrace the new that is truly good, and be ready, as with the old, to send the new stuff that is only new, not necessarily good, to the Goodwill along with that old junk that is someone else’s treasure.
    Thanks, Kurt, for bringing this up. It’s something I’m dealing with right now. [Something with which I am dealing?]

  3. Thank you so much. Been holding on to the past and so much of it that’s it was making me very bitter and depressed. I didn’t even think about anything new or even feel I was worthy. Thank you again for reminding me everyday is new just as his forgiveness is daily. That just maybe I’m worthy and God has something wonderful in store for me and my life.

  4. I have heard it said that if one waits long enough, the old becomes new again. Changing the cadence and presentation of a song does not alter its meaning. Refurbishing something old does not alter the fact that it is still usable AND old. Appreciating the intrinsic value of “things” does not alter the fact that they are still things. Reading old words, from an old Bible does not alter the fact that they are the LIVING WORDS OF GOD, meant for us to ponder and live out. Old, new, continuous upgrading or degrading to suit our needs. We live until we die, then as God promised, we spend eternity with Him. He has lived forever, so when we get to be new, we will be old beyond measure. And, it will feel GREAT!!! Thanks again Kurt for your wisdom, and insight, and thought provoking commentary!!!

A Christmas Gift

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Manger Cross 3

From the rustic manger
To the rugged cross
He came to give
And suffer loss

With me in mind
And you in heart
He came to free
And bridge the dark

His life for us
His joy now ours
His gift divine
Beyond all powers

In Him we find
The hope we need
The One who came
Is ours indeed

So on this Christmas
Morning fresh
Remember God
Who became flesh
Remember joy
And peace and sin
For all we have
Begins and ends
with Him

manger and cross 2


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15 Responses to A Christmas Gift

  1. Beautiful word picture, Kurt! Thanks for allowing Him to use you to encourage & inspire. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Thanks, Kurt.
    I love to see how that which God gives to you flows out to others.
    Merry Christmas – one day after!

Something Special for Christmas!

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Epic Grace Reader

The more I know, the more I realize how little I actually do know. When I was a young man, I was convinced I was smarter and wiser than most. Now I know, on my best days, I’m just a recovering idiot!

I’m so grateful God is patient and kind.

Speaking of knowing…

Did you know my book, Epic Grace ~ Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot is impacting thousands of lives? The emails I’ve received have been overwhelming and humbling.

shadow coupleHere’s just one I received after someone watched me on television being interviewed about my book:
“We are watching it for the second time now…when I heard your testimony from the other room…it stopped me dead in my tracks. It was as if God stopped me and asked me to consider showing my husband the same grace He has shown me. I am really hurt by him (my husband), but I love him more than I hate his behavior. Thank you for sharing your heart.”

Did you know that this week only (December 22-28), the e-book version of Epic Grace is available as a Christmas special for only $2.99? Go here for the special deal:

Did you know that signed paperback copies of Epic Grace are available at the Valley and Northtown Barnes & Noble and the Valley Hastings? It’s a great and potentially life-changing gift you can give to someone this Christmas.

Did you know I’ve committed 90% of the proceeds from this book to the Kingdom? It never has been about money for me. Read here why I shamelessly promote my book:

Rachel WojoDid you know you can read a wonderful review of Epic Grace by an amazing author and blogger, Rachel Wojnarowski? Find it here:

Did you know one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a recovering idiot is there are always greater lessons to learn? Life is a journey. I hope your journey in 2014 is full of grace!

My prayer for you and yours this Christmas is simply,

“Father, show us all again how to celebrate the greatest gift ever given, the gift of Your Son, which is the ultimate gift of epic grace!”


Epic Grace Journey 2

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Are you a loser too?

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Lotto Balls

True confession: I bought a Mega Millions lotto ticket this week. It was kind of embarrassing. I walked into Chester Store and said (somewhat sheepishly), “I want to buy a lotto ticket.”

She said, “Great, which one?”

“A winning one, of course!” I said with a dumb and dumber smile.

She gave me that look that said, this guy is an idiot (how did she know?) and then proceeded to give me her canned speech about the variety of lotto opportunities available.

I asked, “How much to play Mega Millions?”

“A buck.”

“Perfect! I’m in! Give me that favored-by-God winning lotto ticket!”

She was not amused.

Next thing I knew, I was walking out of the store with my winning ticket!
06  31  33  60  74  &  05  (The last number is the Mega Ball for you uninitiated.)

I was giddy all day. What if I win? I mean, somebody is going to win, so why not me?

I’d tithe.

I’d give extra to my favorite charities.

I wouldn’t quit my job and go buy an island.

I’d probably help fund cancer research or some other great cause.

When interviewed on thousands of television stations worldwide, I would give God all the credit. He would be the hero of this story.

Seriously, why would God let anyone else win?

At 8:01pm I logged on and went to the Mega Millions website. My hands were shaking in anticipation. I just KNEW I was a winner!

What? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Those aren’t my numbers!
Lotto Ticket 1

FOUL! What the lotto? This can’t be right. I refreshed my screen (must be a system problem), and I put my good reading glasses on to double-check the numbers.

Nada. Walang anuman. Ничего. Zip. Nothing!

This is crazy. Why wouldn’t God let a nice guy like me win?

Then a few things dawned on me…

•    I probably wasn’t the only person praying for a winning ticket.
•    There are no easy paths in life for 99.999999999999% of us.
•    I don’t need money to be happy.
•    In God’s economy, the way to win is to lose.

One of the greatest truths of our faith is found in these profound words of Jesus, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” Matthew 10:39 (NIV).

Maybe, just maybe, there’s more to life than winning the lotto.

Maybe joy and life—true life—don’t come from the things we think they come from.

Maybe the path to winning and living is losing and dying.

How about you? Where are you looking for life today? Remember, it’s only truly found in Him.

For the record, I’ve bought my last lotto ticket. I don’t want to waste even a dollar or a moment on something so temporary.

But still…it would have been nice to have at least won my buck back.


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11 Responses to Are you a loser too?

  1. So, for the first time in MANY years, I go and buy a Mega BS ticket and give it to my daughter for her Birthday. We prayed, and asked God that if He was for it, well, we had done our part. As above, He would be the winner. Alas, that didn’t happen, but I am happy that the winner did. Will I buy another? Maybe. Depends on circumstances. Do I depend on it??? Never. I am on the path, and am happy to be alive, but looking forward to that last step here and the next with Jesus. He promised it. I am taking Him up on His promise. Would have been nice though to make sure my Family, Friends, and Church would be taken care of financially forever!!!

  2. Have you ever thought about the chaos that would be created if you won the lottery? People would quit tithing because they wouldn’t need to. In their thoughts, they are not cheating God or themselves or others because, well, Kurt is taking care of the church! It would no longer be East Point Church. It would be Kurt’s Church. In fact, it would no longer be about God – it would be about Kurt.

    I did not buy a ticket this time but I have in the past. Of course I would tithe. But I also know that I’m pretty fond of my hard-earned money and my thoughts would not be ones of cheerful giver. So, once I find out I didn’t win, I thank God for that blessing of keeping me closer to Him.

    You are a great pastor and I love reading your blogs.

    Thank you,
    Mary Ann McKnight

  3. I’m in such a fog that I didn’t know the lotto was all that high until my girls asked if I was going to buy a ticket. My response was that I didn’t want to drive to Idaho to buy a ticket. They laughed because I didn’t know that Washington sold tickets for big lotto games. I set my sights a bit lower. I bought $5 worth of tickets and put them in bins at the Davenport for the Christmas Elegance trees. Well, I didn’t win a tree either and the odds were a ton better. Guess that makes me a loser too. But I’m okay cause I already had my tree up at home. It would have been a drag to have to take it down to put up one that I won. I’m saved that particular challenge. God is good!

  4. How right you are ,I said the same things about winning the lottery ,I would do this and do that ,it took my focus off of what is really important thank you might be a loser in the lottery but a winner in my life.

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