Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back on the blog roll!

Stacie, Caedmon and I have enjoyed a quiet Christmas break. We have taken about a week to enjoy each other and prepare for 2009. Unfortunately Stacie and Caedmon have both been sick at points during this little break. I hope I am not next. As I look back on 2008 I am filled with joy and gratitude for all that God is doing in our midst. In the last week I've spent time reflecting on specific things God has done in our lives over the last 12 months and charting out specific goals that we would like to accomplish in the next year. I look forward to sharing more of this. Overall, it has been quiet around here and we've needed it. But, in conjunction with my goals... One of my goals for 2009 is to blog an average of 3 times each week. So, needless to say I am back in blog action! :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Much Bigger Than You Can Imagine!

I cannot get away from Ephesians 3:20-21 when the Apostle Paul says, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than you could ask or imagine. To Him be the glory in the church now and forever." It is almost like every time I get alone or pull away to hear from God he speaks this verse into my soul again and again. It is almost as if he wants to keep reminding me that what He has called me to is much bigger than I can wrap my brain around. His purpose and plan if it were completely revealed to me, I would not be able to handle it. He keeps asking me, "will you believe this verse?" "will you believe me to be the God who is able to do immeasurably more than you can imagine?" God grant me this kind of faith to believe you as the God who is able to do immeasurably more in our midst and through my life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This year for thanksgiving we will get together with some families who live out here in the Silicon Valley and celebrate what we are thankful for. This year I am especially thankful for the multitude of miracles God has worked in our midst during 2008 from helping us eliminate $20,000 in debt, to helping us sell our home in TX and move to CA, to helping us transition out of Breakthrough Church, to providing for South Bay Church, and the list goes on. I am grateful to be able to be married to the woman of my dreams! I still can't believe she was willing to marry me. I am grateful to be a father of the cutest 2 year old boy I know, I am grateful to have an extended family (mom, dad, step-mom, siblings, in-laws) who love me and believe in me, I am grateful to work with people I love and enjoy, I am thankful to live in one of the most influential and innovative places in the world, I am thankful to be able to live out my dreams as a pastor starting South Bay Church, I am grateful for all the delicious food I will eat today, and I am grateful that I no longer have affection for the Detroit Lions the football team I grew up crying over. The are horrible and will probably lose again this thanksgiving! What are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Deepest Level of Affection

Many philosophers ask the question, "what is the chief end of man's existence?" Many Christian theorists have coined a phrase that says, "the chief end of man's existence is to glorify God and enjoy him forever?" This is a very profound statement that seems illusive and is hard to understand. Which begs the question, "how does one truly glorify God?" I believe that this happens through a loving and obedient relationship with God. This flows out of affection for God. The last year or so I have spent considerable amount of time thinking about this question... what comes before me affectionately loving God? Another one of those illusive questions. I came to the conclusion after more thought that my love for God flows out of a heart of gratitude for who he is and what he has done for me. This may seem so stinking simple but when I realized this it hit me like a ton of bricks. Good bricks! This means that I must constantly be centered back and reminded of who God is and what he has done for me and allow this to lead to a heart of gratitude in my life. Gratitude leads to love, love leads towards an obedient relationship with God, and then ultimately an obedient relationship with God brings him glory. Now, I have to give credit for this line of thought to a guy named Jeremy Kingsley. He initially did a talk with a knowledge-love-obey-glorify continuum which lead me to more deeply investigate this question, "what leads to a loving affection towards God?" I truly believe that this concept of gratitude is the deepest level of affection in the life of a follower of Christ.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What makes a person successful?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Crossroads Church in Fremont. (one of South Bay's sponsor churches) I was given the title for the message, "Stolen by Success." I really started asking the question, "What truly makes a person successful?" It seems as though a whole message series could be done on this one question alone. It is a very strong question living in the Silicon Valley. The SV is probably one of the "most successful" places in the world. At the end of my reflection and preparation I came to this conclusion... success begins when I say yes to God. It seems really simple and trite. Ultimately there are so many things that are out of my control in life. Exactly how fast our church grows, how many people come through our doors, how much money I make, etc... You fill in the blank for your life. But the list goes on of what is out of my jurisdiction. Don't get me wrong, I definitely can have influence on those things, but God truly 100% controls the outcome. My commission is to be 100% obedient and faithful to what he has called us to as a church. I have to stay fully focused on the vision and direction God wants our church to go. I must reorganize my strategy to focus on what I can do to be faithful. What things are under my responsibility? How I treat my wife and son, how hard I work, how faithful and focused I am with the 50-60 hours a week that I work, how I treat our staff and lead them, how I handle our personal finances, how I eat (tough one for me), how often I workout, my schedule for rest and recovery... When I start to focus on what I have jurisdiction over the pressure truly is off but the responsibility is on. It gives me great peace, but also great challenge to know that God is the one to whom I must give an account. I cannot spin my wheels chasing this illusive image of what others define as successful. At the end of the day and the end of my life if I hear "well done good and faithful servant" from the mouth of God, I am successful! Success ultimately begins in my obedience and faithfulness to God!

Monday, November 24, 2008

You don't get what you expect

This may seem like a contradiction considering my post yesterday. I think that there is a second part of the toleration principle. I think it is this, your expectation in leadership must be coupled with equal levels of inspection. Meaning this... many times leaders give instructions and expect people to carry out these instructions to a "t" without ever checking in or following up on what was delegated. It is fully appropriate in leadership to set checkpoints along the way to make sure people are meeting the trajectory towards a goal. I believe that it is abdication and bad leadership to expect with out some level of inspection along the journey. I believe you help people to not feel micromanaged by clarifying on the front end that there will be a mid point inspection. For example, something is delegated on Monday that needs to be accomplished by the following Monday... You say, "I am going touch base with you on Thursday just to make sure everything is going according to plan and there is nothing you need my help with. I will call you on Thursday about this." And then you touch base on Thursday to make sure your help is not needed and that person doesn't need additional resourcing. I also believe that this goes two ways. I believe that we must submit ourselves as leaders and be accountable for projects we are trying to accomplish. On our staff we do this two ways... we each have "next steps" that we are responsible for following our monday staff meeting. We then meet just for 90 minutes on Thursday to follow up and give an update on the progress we've made. We affectionately call this Thursday meeting, "Staff inspection." Archie likes to call it "Staff infection." :-) In addition, each of our staff members brings a calendar to our staff meeting on Monday outlining their calendar for the week. This keeps us accountable for how we are spending our time, especially while we are mobile without an office.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You get what you tolerate

Sometimes in reading a book I will find one principle that is worth the cost of the book! This past week while finishing up "The One Life Solution" by Henry Cloud I came across an insight that was just that. He said... in life, in work, in relationships, you get what you tolerate. Let me say that again: you get what you tolerate. Both organizations and relationships have a tendency to go south without mid-course corrections. When we are willing to hold ourselves and others accountable for doing what is right our lives and organizations rise to the challenge. When we lower the bar everyone else will lower their work and diligence to hit the standard. When we fail to set boundaries in relationships people will walk all over us. When we remain healthy in interpersonal relationships and set boundaries people will respond (sometime begrudgingly). This is why as a leader I should never ask the question, "what do people want to hear from me?" rather I should always ask the question, "What do people need to hear from me?" The implications of this principle are huge... think about it: You get what you tolerate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bless Back Offering

Leading up to our first worship experience we sensed God leading us to give away 100% of our very first offering. For us as a church this was a huge step of faith, considering our situation as a new church. The church gave a total of $1682 this past Sunday. We will give this offering to two groups: first the family giving tree which is a local organization that works with under privileged families, the other half will go to our local organizations in the community. We will partner to give this money to our schools and locals who serve the schools. Thank you to all of you who gave this past Sunday. Sorry it took me a couple of days to get this post. I told all of you it would be here on my blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank You Crossroads Church

I wanted to add one thing to the news from yesterday. We had about 40-50 people from Crossroads Church in Fremont come out to serve. There is absolutely no way we could have done this without their help!!!! I was amazed by their diligence and servant hearts. Many of them arrived at 7am and some did not finish until after 3pm helping unload the trailer. I was once again blown away by these guys and their huge hearts. 4 staff members from their church came. One of them almost gave his whole day help load the trailer. Unbelievable. I have so much to learn from Crossroads Church and their love for God and their love for people. Thank you Crossroads Church...!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

WOW!!!


God just blew us away yesterday at South Bay Church's first monthly preview! It was absolutely unbelievable. There was such an excitement and sense of God's presence the whole day!!! We had 175 people present for this very first gathering! We had 5 people make a decision to follow Christ for the very first time. God truly gets all the credit. I am truly amazed by what happened.

So here our some of my bullet point reflections:
* Our team from Archie, Filipe, Stacie, Rebekah, Mandy and Renan did an incredible job. They busted their tails this last week. I was amazed at their faithfulness and diligence.
* Our launch team hit a home run. Many of them arrived as early as 7am to help with set up and stayed until after 1 cleaning up. It is unbelievable to see how God is pulling this team together so quickly.
* We had a mission team from rush creek church and about 4 people in town from S.C. to help with the Preview. They did stuff like pass out 3k door hangers, prayer walk our community, load the trailer, stuff programs, set up children's ministry and a ton more. they were awesome!!!
* I was able to focus on the message because our team did a great job, i did not have to worry about all the details. They get lots of credit for that.
* my wife Stacie planned our children's ministry, it made me want to be a kid again. she displayed a ton of leadership as well, she planned it and organized it and staffed it so that she could be in the main worship gathering for the adults.
* alot of people came from our mailers that we sent to the community. we sent out 32k to people who live in the area and did about 3k door hangers, this was a worthy investment of $$$.
* the music was incredible. i love the bass in our sound system, we want people to be able to feel the music!! our band did a great job of leading people in worship.

All I can say now is WOW!! Great job GOD!! You are worthy to be praised today for your good deeds. Great job TEAM! God blessed your hard work and diligence. I am proud to be your pastor and grateful that I get to serve alongside of each of you, being a part of the most worthy cause on the face of the planet. Looking forward to continuing to take our mountain... TOGETHER!!!

With love,
Andy

Monday, November 10, 2008

South Bay Prayer Chain

Starting on Friday morning at 10:30am (west coast time) we will have a 48 hour prayer chain leading up to the very first public worship gathering for South Bay Church. We are asking people to pick a 30 minute time slot between during that 48 hours and pray for the preview gathering. We will send out prayer requests for those who register. If you would like to participate here are the instructions...

Go to Google Calendar- www.calendar.google.com
Login - southbayprayer@gmail.com
password - prayforsouthbay

Find a 30 minute time slot that is currently free and place your name in that slot!! We would love to have every time slot filled. If you are a morning person on the east coast we would like to ask you to take one of the earlier times so we can get all 48 hours covered!! make sure to note that all times are west coast time!

Here are 3 things to pray for:
1. Pray that God would move in the hearts of people who have been invite and many people would respond.
2. Pray that God would tremendously bless the flow of the morning and that his presence would change people's hearts.
3. Pray that some people would experience God's love and begin a growing relationship with Christ that morning!

Thanks a ton!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Night Reflections

Tonight at our Launch Team we had a great meeting! We had 23 adults and 8 kids. We finished up our preparations for the First Preview Gathering this Sunday night. It is crazy to see this thing becoming a reality! God has blessed us with an amazing group of people with huge hearts and a willingness to serve. I am excited that we get to do this together! We have only 7 days until the Preview. The countdown is on!! This week we will be putting the final preparations together and trying to spread the word to as many people as possible! If you live in the Silicon Valley please help us get the word out this week. On Monday we will have a completely new website with a map and an easy way to invite people.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Day in Monterey

After casting my vote today I headed out to Monterey, Ca. One of the most beautiful places I've ever see in my life. I arrived here about 2:30pm, negotiated a reduced rate hotel price at a location on the beach and unloaded my books and clothes. I sat in the lobby and finished a book on leadership asking God to refresh and clarify vision and strategy for South Bay Church, following that I grabbed a bowl of claw chowder from a local seafood joint. I then proceeded to Starbucks and plowed through the first few chapters of Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll. I intentionally planned these two days to remove myself from the craziness of life and ministry to prepare my heart for our first preview on Nov. 16. We are only 12 days away from our first public gathering. I am praying that God would clarify the message he wants me to deliver that morning and touch my lips. It is great for me to pull away and be reminded of God's majesty and beauty and have my mind and soul refreshed, and my vision refocused!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Perversion of Justice

Tonight I went with a friend to see another movie with bad cops, "pride and glory." Another instance where justice is perverted and we are led to ask the question, "does the end justify the means?" when one utilizes a process that is unjust to achieve some form of justice does this make his or her actions right? in addition to creating corrupt processes for implementing justice this movie led viewers to believe that many times those who are supposed to uphold justice are in fact crooked themselves and unfortunately don't rule justly. unfortunately this subject is a tad bit complex and cannot be broken down into a small blog so I will just give my bullet point conclusions after thinking about justice for a couple of hours... :-)
* the end does not justify the means. if there is an unjust process that has a tinge corruption than at some point that corruption will come to the surface and not solve the problem, which is evil in the human heart.
* the justice system does not always work because of the impurity of the human heart. when anything is run or ruled by people with hearts intent on evil, the ultimate outworking will eventually be a corrupt system.
* the bible describes God as a just God, ultimately he will right wrongs and establish justice.
* the absence of complete justice on the earth does not reveal a lack of competency on God's part, rather the evil in the human heart.

That's all for now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Launch Team Reflections

last night we had 23 adults and 6 kids in our launch team meeting. We are 20 days out from our first preview gathering on November 16. It is amazing to see this church becoming a reality.

Last Night we look at Acts 2:42-47, Here are some thoughts I shared during the meeting:
* The church in Acts went from 120 people to over 3,000 people in just one day. The team Jesus developed was the launching pad for reaching thousands of people with the message! Our "Launch Team" is a launching pad that God will use to reach thousands of people!
* The church in Acts was ridiculously obedient! God blesses people who are willing to follow him wherever he leads. Part of the church's role is to help people take their next step in the journey of faith. To be like the early church we must have a bent towards obedience and action.
* The church in Acts was not asking, "How can I get my needs met." They were insanely generous, selling everything they own for the cause!
* The church in Acts was amazingly relational. That had a commitment to one another. The message spread quickly in the context of relationships.
* The church in Acts was externally focused. Very simple and obvious, but there is no point at which it is optional for us to become focused on our own needs.

Next week is going to be exciting. We are going to break into three teams: Bay Kidz, The First Impressions Team, and the Worship Experience team. It is going to be fun. I am so excited to see the team God is bringing together and excited about the launch of the church! It is such an honor to be a part of South Bay Church!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why I love the Silicon Valley

There are lots of reasons why I love the Silicon Valley, here are the top ten...
10. The weather is almost always sunny and nice.
9. You can find people from every where in the world.
8. The people are innovative, they think outside the box.
7. Stuff happens here... The world is advanced from the Silicon Valley
6. People are friendly.
5. Google and Apple both live here.
4. This is the place where young entrepreneurs come to chase their dreams.
3. Collaboration and working together to change the world is a key value.
2. I am never more than 5 minutes away from a starbucks or peet's coffee.
1. My wife and son live here.

Tomorrow I will talk about the funny things in the Silicon Valley.

Reflections on the week

I've had a very busy week. Archie and I went to Vegas to visit a partnering church on Saturday and Sunday. We did not get back until after midnight on Sunday evening and then hit the ground running with a staff meeting at 10am on Monday morning. It has been a very crazy week for me to say the least.

Here are some random reflections on my week:
* After starting Breakthrough Church five years ago I have forgotten how much time, money, energy, prayer, and tears go into the launch of a brand new church. I guess it is kind of like having a baby, you forget about the pain after the birth. This is season is requiring everything from me, my family and our team.
* Having a great team and a lot of external financial support does not relieve the internal pressures I feel as a pastor. In fact, it actually ups the intensity.
* Our team is working very hard and doing a great job of planning and meeting people, I am very proud of them.
* My wife continues to kick tail with building friendships. She knows like 80 moms now, and is regularly meeting people for coffee and hangout. I am a very blessed husband. She loves me, loves God, loves my son and loves the church. I could not ask for more than that.
* Ministry really is all about people. Changed lives is why we do what we do. If I ever lose site of this I have missed the point!
* Projects and planning never go as fast as I want... it took us lots of work to get the mailer nailed down for the first service. Bill Jones from UDFD Design did a great job! I can't wait to send it out! I think we are going to have a ton of people respond.
* Our location is nailed down for our previews and it is Don Callejon elementary right in the heart of the Rivermark master planned community.
* We are only 3 weeks away from our first preview gathering... details are coming together. the children's ministry is going to be kicking! archie has done a phenomenal job getting equipment and music lined up, and the message I am giving is burning in my heart already!
* I am very grateful for people who pray for me on a daily basis. I sent out a prayer update on Thursday in the midst of our toughest day yet in the valley and I literally had over 30 people who emailed back with encouragement. it was a huge lift and God is answering our prayers.
* We are making lots of progress with the gospel in relationships with people who are seeking.
* I am really praying that we have over 150 people at our first preview!
* Sharing from Acts 2 this Sunday at our launch team meeting. one of my favorite chapters in the bible. i am supposed to sit down because there are just over 20 people in the room, I don't think that will be possible!! The chapter on the birth of the local church... Get ready!

That's it for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What song are you singing?

Every night when we put Caedmon to sleep we sing an old song called, "Jesus loves me." It was really funny to Stacie and me when he began to sing this song all throughout the day. He says, "Jesus loves me, I know, Bible, I know" and that is about all he can get. I love the fact that that song is stuck in his head. It is funny how the songs in our heads shape the song of our lives. Sometimes we rehearse and rehearse negative thoughts over and over and over in our heads until it can't help but rob our joy and peace. In addition, I believe that lyrics are very subtle the way they work. For example you may have heard the popular song sung by a young girl that says, "I kissed a girl and I liked it." It is a song that is influencing and changing the way people think. You and I have to allow our thoughts to be framed and re-framed by what is true and what is noble and what is good. There is a verse in Romans that says, "We must be transformed by the renewing of your mind." When we allow the truth of the scriptures to shape our thinking it radically alters your life. the song in your head becomes the song of your life. make sure you are singing the right song!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fruit is a funny thing

Have you ever thought about the process of how fruit grows. We have a small orange grove next to our apartment complex. I run past it multiple times a week while out for a jog. I am absolutely fascinated by the fact that all kinds of beautiful fruit just hangs from the branches of these trees. I have become so accustomed to seeing tons of trees without fruit. Many of them are living, but they don't have apples or oranges hanging from their branches. Recently I was reading in Galatians and it says, "The fruit of the Spirit (meaning God's Spirit in the lives of Christ followers) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control." Meaning this is the kind of stuff that should hang on someone's branches when they are a Christ follower. This is such a funny thing to me, because I meet so many people who follow Jesus that don't fit this profile. What is even more funny is that so often I feel so defeated when it comes to my level of peace and especially patience. I can remember multiple times in the last couple days where my self control level was low, especially when Stacie made a pumpkin spice pie on Thursday. The funny thing about fruit is that you can't slap it on the branches, it has to come within the tree. I want to slap on the fruit of kindness or patience, but really what it requires is a change within. The more and more I yield my life to Christ and allow him to change my heart the more the fruit of my life will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. May my life grow in the fruit of the Spirit as I trust Jesus to change my heart!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get the right people on the bus

You may have read or heard of Jim Collins book called Good to Great. He has a chapter in the book about getting the right people on the bus in your organization... Meaning your leadership team must be top notch. When you have the right people on the bus there are very few limitations to where your organization can go! I just want to go on the record and say that our organization has the right people on the bus. We have some of the best staff anyone could ever ask for. The Jackson and Santos families who are on staff with South Bay Church are some of the best leaders I know. I've told Archie that I think he has the potential to be one of the best worship leaders in our generation, and Filipe has the potential to be one of the very best "executive/sidekick" pastors in our generation. I believe it will all of my heart. These two men are the kind of guys that you want to go into the trenches with. They are humble consistent followers of Christ, very faithful and loyal in their leadership, and so on. Not only are these two guys unbelievable but so are their wives. They are all sacrificially bought in to the vision of South Bay Church. They own the vision, they bleed for it, pray like crazy, serve diligently, and I could go on and on! In addition, I have one amazing wife who is one of the best people to have on the bus. She is faithful, loyal, humble, hospitable, trustworthy, committed, available and the list goes on. I just am one of the most blessed pastors I know because of who I get to labor with. Thank you God! I look forward to seeing how he grows our team and brings more people on the bus!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who sets the standard?

Have you ever realized that in every industry someone sets the standard. You can debate who actually sets the standard, but someone does. Now for search engines who can compare with Google? If you disagree just look at Yahoo's stock versus Google's stock... Sorry Yahoo gang. Apple is now setting the standard for innovation with personal computers. You have people who set the standard in fashion, in cars, in the media, and much more. Companies are constantly wrestling for the standard setting position because they know that this is where victory is held. I wonder though who sets the standard for our lives? Who sets the standard for what is excellent, what is noble, what is good and beautiful? I love a comment that David from the bible makes in Psalm 62 that says, "my victory and honor come from God alone." In essence he finds the standard for excellence and for success in God alone. I think it is helpful to realize that God ultimately sets the standard. He the creator sets the standard for what is good, he sets the standard for what is beautiful, he sets the standard for success and when I begin to take the cues regarding his standards I end up finding a whole new level of joy, peace, contentment and hope in life. When I look to him for my honor, my victory, my standard, my life is radically altered and tremendously more focused!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who is your God?

A couple days ago as I was running I was deeply inspired by this thought... The same God that revealed himself all throughout the scriptures... The same God breathed life into the first man and woman Adam and Eve, the same God that helped David defeat the giant Goliath, the same God that parted the red sea as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the same God that kept Daniel safe in the lions den, the same God that Elijah called upon to rain down fire, the same God that caused the sun to stand still for a full 24 hours, the same God that healed the eyes of blind men, the same God that touched the leper and made him whole, the same God that gave his life on a cross, the same God that rose from the dead... Is the same God that lives in me, around me and wants to work though me! WOW!!!! It was like a full on burst of energy for me in the middle of my run. Can you stinkin believe that? The God who created everything you can lay your eyes on loves you like crazy!!! The same God that stands above creation wants to live and reign in your life and make you whole! That same God wants to be your God today.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Perfect Peace

It is amazing to me how God speaks to us through reading the bible. This past week I was feeling anxious about some details leading up to the launch of our church. I shared all of this with Stacie on Wednesday night, the next morning as I did my daily reading in the bible I came across this verse from Isaiah 26:3-4, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you. All whose thoughts who are fixed on you! Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock!" I love it!! How do we find perfect peace, by trusting in the eternal rock. When my thoughts are fixed on God he somehow has a way of calming my anxiety and bringing peace to my chaotic world. As as husband, father, leader, pastor, friend there are so many things that get thrown my way. So many times the weight I carry feels overwhelming. When I am in this place I can always find perfect peace by relying on the eternal rock himself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

30 Days and counting

The count is on! We are less than 30 days away from the first public worship service of South Bay Church on November 16. I must say that I am crazy excited about this first monthly service!! I don't know if I've ever been more excited about something in my life as a pastor!!! The details are almost finalized on the location which is the PERFECT location for South Bay Church to meet, which I reveal once it has been finalized. We have just started the creative planning process last week for the theme, "Vintage Jesus." And we are going to have a kickin kids ministry. The response has been overwhelming as we meet neighbors and spread the word about the church! If you are anywhere in the area you don't want to miss out on this first worship service on Nov. 16 @ 10:30am. Mark your calendars!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Slow Drain

Recently I've been thinking about the slow drain. It is the thing or things in your life that slowly drain you. These issues are not necessarily the thing that screams or smacks you in the face, but they are more like the fly that lands on you in the middle of the night or the mosquito that continues to "drain" your blood. The slow drain is that 5 lbs you've needed to lose for 5 months, the electronic appliance that needs to be fixed, the drawer that needs to be cleaned, the stack of receipts on your desk, the email inbox that continues to pile, and the list goes on. The slow drain gets worse, ultimately because you get more drained as time goes along until the point where you explode and the drain drives you crazy. Somethings that have been a slow drain for me, my laptop battery has been messed up for four months to where whenever it unplugs it immediately shuts off, i've had piles of receipts with reimbursements (i hate receipts), in addition to this the dsl connection in our house only works in our bedroom. which means the dsl jack in my office is inoperable. half the time i can't get internet reception from my office because it is too far from the bedroom. oh the joys of the slow drain. so yesterday i went through my receipts, called the apartment to come fix the dsl jack, and ordered a new battery. i still need to lose the 5lbs but you get the idea. What is the slow drain in your life? what simple steps can you take to get rid of it. Hebrews says, "let us throw off everything that hinders and run the race with perseverance." What is slowing you down from becoming who God designed you to be?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Getting ahold of God!

This past Monday I had a phone appointment with a mentor and he said something that hit me... He said, "i know a ton of guys who know how grow a church but have no clue how to get a hold of God's heart." That really struck home, because sometimes I can be so focused on what i need to get accomplished in order to connect with more people, that I miss God's heart. to fight this, i am finding my time alone with God each morning to be more in more crucial, especially during this season of my life. Could you imagine how disgusting it would be to finish a life of serving God with never truly knowing the heart of the one you serve? That seems so sick doesn't it? it is like a husband and wife who live together, raise kids, go through difficult times, but when the kids go off to college they don't know each other. the bible says that God is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him! I want to know how to wrestle with the heart of God, understand his great love, and be infatuated with his majesty. I pray that I would not grow cold only knowing how to do the business of serving God. I want to stay tender in my love towards Him and continue to pursue knowing him with everything i have!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Potency Factor

I read a book in college called, "Contagious Christianity." The author of the book suggested that if followers of Christ wanted to influence those around them with the message of Christ there are a few ingredients that must be present. He says that "HP+CP+CC=MI" This means high potency plus close proximity plus clear communication equals maximum impact. It is much like the way infection works. I have thinking a lot about this lately in the process of starting our church. I think that many strategies for starting churches are often times very good at focusing on the clear communication side of things. We often times have very good strategies and formulas for success but the potency or the passion of our lives does not represent that of the gospel. Therefore our efforts often fall short even when we do all the formulaic things that are required for progress. When the hunger and fire for Christ consumes our lives people are much more inclined to be interested in what we have to say. When there is a sacrificial kindness towards others and compassion to help those in need, this is when things start to happen. When the love of God consumes us, then we are starting to get it. I want my life to be potent, I want others to see a zealous love for Christ ooze out of me!! Imagine what would happen if in the next 12 months every follower of Christ all over the world become 50% more in love with God and 50% more compassionate towards other? Let's ask God to increase our passion!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

South Bay Launch Team

This past Sunday night we had our very first launch team meeting. We shared the vision of the church with people and asked them to be a part of the vision. We had a total of 29 adults and 8 kids present. Archie did a couple of songs on the guitar, we had lasagna for dinner. It was a blast. It is exciting to see this vision become a reality. We are off to great start! Can't wait until our first preview service on Nov. 16, we almost have our meeting location nailed down. As soon as we do I will reveal it! I will post some pictures later!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enslaved!!

Proverbs 22:7 says, "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." This is an interesting proverb to think about. When you are in debt you're enslaved. We've all felt it when we get that bill in the mail. When you are enslaved someone or something begins to control you. Your decision making then is influenced and directed by that which is your master. It is difficult to impossible to have two masters. Those who live in debt live enslaved to their lender. Visa, student loan corporations, car companies and so on and so forth. At the beginning of 2008 Stacie and I owed $17,000 to South Carolina Student Loan Corporation and $2,000 to home depot. In addition when we sold our home we had to consume another $2,400 in debt just to get out of the house. I would like to rejoice in God's provision over the fact that we only have just over $200 remaining on the student loan and $1,600 remaining on the house loan. My goal, prayer and plan is that we will have this completely paid off by Dec. 31, 2008... Even if Stacie and I don't get to give Christmas gifts to one another. I fully have seen the power of this one verse and want to be completely debt free. When we have someone or something other than Christ as the master of our lives we are unable to pursue him freely. We must aggressively seek to rid ourselves of all debts so that we can be focused on God and his work here on earth. For more help on eliminating debt read Dave Ramsey's book- Total Money Makeover or go through his course- Financial Peace. Hope this helps!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

KC Barbeque Tour

This past weekend Filipe and I took a trip to Kansas City to meet with one of our partnering churches, Pleasant Valley. A group of folks from the church were kind to plan an authentic Kansas City Barbeque tour. We loaded up with one of the small groups from the church in an RV and went to Gate's, Arthur Bryant's and Smokehouse. 3 famous ones in town. I will let the pictures tell the story!
After our last stop at the Smokehouse we were both about to explode as the picture shows. I had a hard time staying awake on the ride home! Thanks to our friends who showed us a great time. We didn't need to eat again for almost a whole day!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Your Best Isn't Good Enough

You may remember when you were a little kid a teacher or parent may have said, "Just do your best, that's all you can do." Then as we go along in life we tend to use this old phrase as an excuse. "I did my best, and that's all I can do." Lately I've been thinking about the fact that there are times in life when your best effort just doesn't cut it. All your skills, talents, hard work and resources just aren't enough to get the job done. Lately, I've felt like this in the journey of starting a church. I think this is such a beautiful place to be. The truth is, when my best is not good enough I am forced to new levels of dependance upon God. When my best doesn't get the job done my prayer life grows, my willingness to ask others for help increases and things happen that would have never happened because I learn to stop relying on myself and start relying on God and the team around me. I think alot of the time we live in the safety zone where our best can get the job done and cower from the unknown where our best just isn't good enough. Maybe God wants you to see that you don't have what it takes... without his help! When our perspective and heart changes to realize our need, the resources to build his kingdom are right at our fingertips and more than we could ever ask for or imagine!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On the road again!

Today Filipe and I will travel together to visit with one of our partnering churches from Kansas City. Pleasant Valley will be partnering with us in many different ways over the coming months. It is a huge blessing to work with other churches to see the kingdom of God extended here in the SF Bay Area. I am looking forward to seeing a new city, I've never been to KC. Filipe and I will both miss our wives during this 5 day trip, but we are sure glad that we live just a short walk away from one another. I am sure that they will be doing some sleepovers with all the kids while we are gone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Love and knowledge

I went to seminary for five years. It was some of the most challenging times in my life. I honestly remember being repulsed by parts of the academic community. I had such a hard time connecting with alot of my classmates, and at times I felt like my seminary experience was not helping me become more like Christ or adding to my love for people... especially those who don't know Christ. I recently came across this verse in I Corinthains 3:1-2, "But while knowledge makes us fell important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn't really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes." Wow!! That really struck me when I began meditating on this verse in a fresh way. Last week as I was setting up my library it was almost amazing to look at how many pages of information I've devoured over the last 5 years going to school and leading a church. I began to think about this question, "how much of this knowledge is leading me towards loving God and loving people with a deeper level of zeal?" It is such a tendency when we get information to feel like we know the answers. Some of the most arrogent people in the world live in academia and at the same time some of these people are supposed to represent Christ and his gospel message. Now, I don't want you to hear me incorrectly. I want to grow in my knowledge and understanding of God, life, family, leadership, etc... But now I am asking God to use information and knowledge to work on my heart instead of my head. I want to become more tendered to his Spirit and more compasssionate towards people as I study and grow. I want to learn helpful information and grow in humility and teachability all at the same time. I want to fall in love with Christ over and over again! I want to be more consumed with him now than at any point in the journey. I want my love for people and for my family to be white hot! I pray that God uses his truths to shape my heart and allow me to become more and more like Jesus and do a better job of representing him and his gospel message. I want to grow in my love quotient in order to build up his church and reach people who are far from God!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Caedmon's Birthday

Today is Caedmon's birthday. It is hard for me to believe that he is already turning two. He is such a blessing and joy to our family. Today we will celebrate his birthday with our team and later I will post some pictures from his party. Today I am reminded of a couple of verses from the bible actually that Stacie called to my attention in a recent conversation... Psalm 127:3 says, "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from him." The other verse is found in Luke 18:15-17, "Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." I am grateful to be a father and it increases my understanding of God's love for me. If you would pray for my son today I would appreciate it.

Please pray for the following:
1. Pray that he would grow up to be a passionate follower of Christ.
2. Pray that God would guide his steps and allow him to make decisions that lead to a fruitful life.
3. Pray that as he grows God would give Stacie and I a great relationship with him!

Thanks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lean Into It

There are certain things that you want to avoid and certain things that you want to attack. I believe discouragement is one of those things you attack and lean into. Like I referenced earlier this week, Nehemiah had some thugs trying to frustrate the work of God in his life. They were in essence trying to discourage him. He writes in 6:9, "they were just tring to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So continued the work with even greater determination." What a brilliant solution!!! You are going to try and discourage me? I will just turn up the intensity of my devotion to God one notch! You can't shake this Nehemiah guy!! I want to be like that. What if every time I faced discouragement I just decided to follow Christ with that much more passion and hunger. Seems like a good solution. Probably not as easy as it sounds, but sure sounds like a plan to me!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Santa Clara Art and WIne Festival

Today is the beginning of a huge weekend for us with South Bay Church. This afternoon a group of folks arrive from Lake Pointe Church in Dallas. They will help us serve at our local Art and Wine Festival with the City of Santa Clara. Just in case any of you are wondering, we will not be serving the wine. But we will have close to 20 volunteers participating in the event to be a blessing to our city. I am praying that we are able to build lots of relationships with people who are connected in our city. I am also praying that we can love on and bless the people who serve our community with such diligence. Please keep us in your prayers and ask God to bless these few days. Also, pray that this is a tremendous experience for the Lake Pointe team.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Power of Focus

Last year I read a book titled, "The Power of Focus." I loved the title of this book. It talked about the difference between a lazer and a diffused flourescent light. A lazer displays the power of focus. I was challenged the other day by Nehemiah from the bible who was extremely focused. When persecuted by a couple of thugs named Sanballat and Tobiah he responded with such tact and reslience. They wanted him to come down from his mission of rebuilding the wals of Jerusalem. Nehemiah writes, (6:3)"But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: "I am engaged in a great work, so I can't come. WHy should I stop working to meet with you?" I love how Nehemiah said "NO!" and stayed focused on that which God had called him to. Recently this has been helpful for me as a husband, father and pastor. Asking the question, "What things are not leading me towards my mission or the call God has placed on my life?" Where am I involved and engaged in things that aren't helpful and productive. I want to be lazer focused like Nehemiah and able to say no to the things that don't move me in the direction God wants me to go! I love what the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 7:35, "I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Prayer and Action

I recently have been reading through the book of Nehemiah. Chapter 4:8-9 caught my attention. The Israelites were trying to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem and they were facing the threat of attacks from opposing nations. Nehemiah writes in his journal, "They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves." I love how Nehemiah says, "we prayed and we took action." In essence Nehemiah trusts God to help protect the city and at the same time he calls the people to action. I think that sometimes Christians have a tendency to think work is the antithesis to prayer. I believe the opposite is true. We must trust God through prayer and at the same time be diligent to actively extend his kingdom. I believe God honors our faith in Him often evidenced by how diligently we work. Contrary to some lines of thought, our work can be huge evidence of our faith in God. When we work diligently we say, "God I trust you to build what will last. I am going to be faithful and trust you for the increase." More to come on Nehemiah tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Landmines of Life and Leadership


In life and leadership there are landmines. It seems like alot of times we get a leg blown off by things we didn't see coming. I've been thinking about this analogy that few days. I have had conversations with leaders who say, "I never saw that coming." The other day I was getting a little fearful thinking about all of the landmines that may take me by complete surprise. So I was talking with a mentor of mine regarding this issue. I began to ask the question, how can I turn this around and use this insight for growth and progress?

So several thoughts I had...
1. I can ask God to give me extra wisdom and discernment to sense when landmines are coming. He is infintely wise and can help me have a heightened sense of wisdom.
2. I can ask other people who have gone before me... "what are the landmines that you've seen others get blown up by?"
3. I can more specifically study the bible asking the "landmine" question.
4. I ask for God's help to plan and avoid some of these landmines.
5. I can pray for God's protection.
6. I can ask our team to communicate with me when they see things approaching and to keep me in the light on issues effecting them and their area of our organization.

I thought these were some pretty good solutions. I know that it is not likely to be completely void of pain and unexpected things in life and ministry. But, I certainly don't want to step on unneccesary landmines just for the sake of being macho. I would rather keep my legs so that I can run faster!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Big Ask

I have been thinking lately about the importance of learning how to make the "Big Ask." So much of leadership and life is learning how to ask. Over the last year we've had to make alot of "asks!" We had to ask God to lead us in the process of starting a new church. We had to ask alot of churches to believe in the vision God gave us and come alongside financially and through prayer, we had to ask families to move across the country, we had to ask Hope Church to takeover Breakthrough so we could transition out of Texas, I had to ask my professors to let me pass so I could graduate from school :-), lots of asking. Now, since we have moved out here I will continue to make alot of asks. We will have to ask people to help us start the church. We will have to ask people on our team to contribute with their time, money, and energy. We will have to ask people to follow Christ with their life, and then ask them to get engaged in the vision of South Bay Church. As a leader and a pastor you don't do well if you don't learn how to ask with humility and with confidence. My confidence in asking comes from two places: first it comes from the fact that I know God has lead us to start this church. If I can stand before God with complete confidence knowing I am doing exactly what he has asked me to do, then I should be able to stand before everyone else I know and ask them to join what God has asked me to do. Secondly, there is no one else aside from God who is more passionately, emotionally, physically, sacrificially bought in to this vision. It is easier to ask people to sacrifice as a leader when you have already sacrificed yourself and you know that you are not asking people to do something you are not willing to do yourself. So I have learned that God provides through us learning to ask. Asking Him and asking others.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Necessary vs. Unnecessary Stress

I think that earlier in my life and in ministry I blamed a lot of the stress in my life on the fact that I was involved in vocational ministry. After living a little I believe that much of the stress I faced at a younger age was due to poor planning and a lack of wisdom on my part. As I travel through life I am learning that there are certain stresses of life that come as a result of being a Christ-follower and living obediently in relationship with God and there are stresses that come as a result of poor decision making. I am finding that it is important for me to separate and even analyze the stress that I face. Of the stress I am currently facing, which of this is a result of my lack of wisdom and which is a result of me choosing to follow Christ. As I separate these two types of stress I can go to work on that which is a result of poor planning. I can also plan in advance on events in my life and analyze potential stress points. I can then work on how to make those events just as purposeful but less stressful. This is one lesson I learned in our move across the country. There was no way to avoid the fact that we had to move across country if we were going to start a church in California, but there were some ways to make this situation the least stressful. So we raised money to offset some costs, thought through all the details and did everything possible to make it smooth. There were some minor challenges like movers not showing up on time and stuff getting broken because the movers didn't pack it correctly. But this is stuff that was out of my control. After all of this, because we planned and asked for God's help in moving efficiently and effectively we are focused and ready to get after it! So I wonder, of the stress that is currently in your life. Which of it can be removed by thinking strategically about your steps. Stop working in your life and start working on your life. Think about your actions, spend 30 minutes planning your days, spend time planning projects, calculate the costs prior to operation. As you do this more and more you will become better. Ask God to lead you in your planning and reduce some of the unnecessary stress in your life.

3 Weeks Later


So, I have been a very bad blogger lately. For those of you who read this blog I must confess my apologies. I had a study group of readers until I made the trek across country. Well today we finally got our house fully functioning and we are in business. So now I have no more excuse for not faithfully blogging. I must say that this has been the least stressful move of my life. It has been a ton of hard work and many long 12-14 hour days working to get things in order. But, God provided all of the resources for our move and then some to set up house on this end. We also had my mother in law Trish in town who worked around the clock for a whole week. She Stacie and I would take turns keeping Caedmon going as the other two worked. Tonight I sit in my own office that is neat and clean with all of the my books, my desk, my computer, my filing cabinet, my office supplies, printer, everything I need to be productive in one place. We are so excited to finally be settled and ready to get to work launching South Bay Church. Thanks for all of your prayers along the way!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can you see it?

Each person who follows Christ is given a Spiritual gift which is given by God through His Spirit for the purpose of building up the kingdom of God and extending the gospel. I believe that my strongest and primary gift is the gift of leadership. Honestly, I believe my spiritual gifts are very disproportionate. But this has given me such a passion to know more and grow in this leadership gift. One of the things that I've notice about people who have this spiritual gift see the world differently. When others see barriers leaders see bridges. When others see opposition leaders see opportunity. Leaders are typically optimistic in nature and are oriented towards vision and action. I believe one of the uniqe components of our journey to the Bay Area is that God gives me as the leader of South Bay Church the blessing of seeing things before they come into existence. He places the vision in my heart and then it moves into the hearts of our team and they begin to see it. So this morning as I was reading the bible and praying I was just rejoicing as I think of all the lives that will be changed in the coming months and years. I thought about the first time we baptize people at South Bay Church and was just thanking God for the people who will be the very first at South Bay who decide to follow Christ. I think of all the people who 12 months from now who will be eternally changed with the gospel. I think of the joy that will come as we see God establish a church from nothing in just a few months. I can see it! Can you? Ask God to help you see it today. Ask Him to show you the world and His kingdom as he sees it. Ask Him to help you be driven by a hot vision that comes from the depths of your soul. Ask Him to help you see the big picture as you serve. Ask Him to break your heart for all the people who need the hope of the gospel. Ask Him to give you vision. He will. He will move you from ordinary mundane living to the joy of his kingdom purposes and redemption of the world. He wants your life to be for more than just now. He wants you to be for something great! Something way beyond what you could ever ask or imagine. He wants to do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine with your life. Are you willing to ask Him to help you believe that today?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Minor Confession

So, part of my routine when I travel is to scout out all of the Starbucks along the journey. I will often stop for a latte like one stops for gas in fear of the next Starbucks being more than 500 miles down the road. So tonight at Starbucks I had an encounter that needs some reflection... After pulling open the door of Starbucks I was spotted by a group of Christian guys doing their bible study. For some reason just about every Starbucks in the bible belt has "that" group of Christian guys or girls. Most of the time they are somewhere in late high school or early college age. None of them seem to have jobs and they sit around at Starbucks discussing the bible all day long. They are carrying on a similar conversation to the last time I was in Starbucks. You know how I know, they are the loudest ones in the whole joint! Sometimes they are laughing in a way that makes everyone feel a little uncomfortable and just a tad bit excluded. I've also noticed their humble desire to witness to me. Usually their conversation will cease as I or others pass by... then the look comes, the "I am going to witness to you" look. You know it. I never want them to know that I am a pastor. So I scurry past hoping not to get into the conversation... I don't think about it in the moment, it is more intuitive... Tonight as I sat in Starbucks eating a sandwich and sipping a latte and reflecting on my experience I wondered why I as a pastor am repelled by these guys. I know they mean well, I am sure they are very nice. I guess I just would rather talk to the guy who sees the world a little differently. Something in me is drawn to the guy with tattoos who seems as though he is not carrying a pretense as we strike up conversation. I hope that when I meet others at Starbucks they don't think of me as "that guy." Rather as an honest, sincere, humble, non-pretentious guy who cares about others.

On the Road!

This morning I leave Columbia South Carolina for my one week journey which has me landing in the SF Bay Area next Monday afternoon. Today I will head out to Oklahoma City for a church planters roundtable with ARC. I will be apart from Stacie and Caedmon for two full weeks. This is the longest amount of time I have been away from either of them for a long time. Aside from my sadness there I am excited about finally getting to California. Today will be fun, I have downloaded Bill Hybels new book Axiom into my iPod and some other church planting training stuff. I am going to also listen to a novel by Francine Rivers titled "Redeeming Love." Thanks for all of your prayers for my family and our church. God is blessing and we are seeing a vision become a reality in our lives!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

10 days to go!

I am only two weeks away from heading to the SF Bay Area. i will arrive into the area on monday aug. 18. I will spend the next few days trying to find our place to live. Stacie and I have a specific part of town where we plan to plant our lives. We have decided based upon demographics where the greatest percentage of young adults and young families live. We are looking to live in the Santa Clara/Sunnyvale/San Jose part of the valley in the north close to hwy 101. As you think about us please pray that God would open doors for our housing. We are praying that we can find a 3 bedroom townhouse or home for rent in this area. We are looking for a location that will have room enough for parking when we have friends to our home. Please pray that God would give us favor to find something within the budget we've set for housing!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New South Bay Logo Has Arrived


After a long process and a handful of revisions we have settled on our logo for South Bay Church. We wanted something that looked: simple, clean, creative, inviting, and clear. I think we got it! The colors fit in several ways, first we will be near lots of water (hence the blue) and also blue represents something that gives life and refreshment!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Led by the Spirit or Led by Strategy?

I think many times we have a tendency to pit the Spirit of God and tragic leadership against one another. Often times we seem to think it to be unspiritual to create a plan and have specific goals, objectives and action steps. I on the other hand believe that this line of thinking is offensive to God. A written strategy is basically a step by step plan to get us from "what is" (current reality) to God's best for our lives. I believe it is honoring to God when we ask him to give us a clear picture (vision) for our future... When we ask him to help us see where he wants us to go and then when we specifically ask him for wisdom to get from here to there. I believe when we read books, seek wisdom from counselors and mentors, diligently study the scriptures, pray hard, blog time to plan, etc... that God is pleased. I believe when we trust God to give us vision and strategy it is very honoring to him. When we are a led by him in the process of planning I think this becomes a beautiful thing. It often seems like we think God can't lead us when we are planning and preparing. Now, I know that we must be flexible and be Spirit led and listen to God. I just think God speaks to us and many more ways than some times we can see! This is why we have a written strategy as a church to get us all out to the Bay Area and focused on the church and we have a written strategy to get us from there to the launch of the church in 2009. I want to be led by God, I thank for how he guides me in planning and preparation as well as spur of the moment stuff!

Friday, August 1, 2008

An area of growth for me

I have several mentors and coaches who I meet with on the phone to help me become a better husband and father and a better leader. Steve Stroope from Lake Pointe church is currently one of my primary mentors and Carl Martin from Crosspoint Church is currently a growth coach. Before each of my appointments with Steve I send about 2-3 pages of questions to walk through and in the coaching context with Carl I send him a S.M.A.R.T. (specific measurable attainable realistic and timebound) goal that I would like to work on. The point of a coaching relationship is to move toward action and coming up with very specific action steps. So for this most recent appointment with Carl I worked on a goal of: By September 1, 2008 I will weigh 190 lbs. Currently I weigh 194 lbs. I have set 190 lbs as a weight that I don't want to be higher than and so this goal with provide some context for getting back to or below my goal weight.

So here were my action steps:
1. I will create an excel template and write down my foods between now and my next appointment.
2. I will scale back from 7 desserts a week to 1 dessert a week.
3. I will run for 40 minutes 5x per week and do 200 push ups 5 days per week.
4. I will eat salads when I eat out at.

This may seem funny or weird to you, but it is a little insight into how I think and how I am motivated. Some of these action steps I am already doing like working out. This is just a way for me to take it to the next level and make sure I am honoring God with how I take care of myself physically.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Month of Craziness

So I have tried to explain my schedule for the next month to people. It is a little crazy so I thought I would just blog about it so I can refer people back whenever it is difficult to explain. Only 3 weeks and counting until we get to the Bay Area and here it goes...
Schedule:
July 26-28... Atlanta to meet with Johnson Ferry Baptist and Cedarcrest.
July 29-30... Charleston to meet with several churches and individual partners.
Aug. 1-3... Bluffton, SC to be ordained by Crosspoint Bluffton.
Aug. 4-6... Bluffton, SC- Leadership Development training.
Aug. 7-9... Myrtle Beach, SC for Family Reunion with my mom's family.
Aug. 9-11.. Columbia to pack.
Aug. 12-14... Tulsa for Church Planters Round Table with the Association of Related Churches.
Aug. 14-15.. DFW to pack moving truck and meet with Fielder Road Baptist. for meeting at FRBC
Aug. 16-18... Drive to CA (by myself)
Aug. 18... Arrive in CA
Aug. 19-22... Find house for family.
Aug. 23-25... Move into condo/apartment and get settled.
Aug. 26.. Stacie, Caedmon and my mother in law fly in from SC.
Sep. 2... My mother in law leaves.
Sep. 3... Filipe and Mandy Arrive.
Sep. 11... Mission Teams arrive for Santa Clara Art Festival.
Sep. 12-14... Santa Clara Art Festival Stuff
Sep. 15... Caedmon’s 2nd B-Day party.
Sep. 17-22... Kansas City to meet with Pleasant Valley Baptist.

WOW!! I will be traveled out and ready to stay in California!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

South Bay Miracles

At South Bay Church God's hand has been miraculously at work! I want to tell you what we've seen God do in our midst in just the last two weeks...
* Staff members Filipe and Mandy Santos sold their house and will close in about two weeks.
* Staff members Archie and Rebekah Jackson sold their house and will close in exactly one month.
* One church committed to give $24,000/yr.
* Another church $10,000 towards start up costs.
* A donor committed to give $25,000 towards our start up costs.

These are some pretty insane miracles. God deserves a ton of credit for his answers to prayer and faithfulness. We are over 80% to having our full South Bay budget raised. I have recently been challenged by James 1:16-17 which says, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." We have seen many gifts from the Father as we have been preparing to start South Bay Church. I ask and pray that he continues to place his hand on this church and receives lots of credit for his power and miracles.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fun In Atlanta

Last night I drove from Columbia to Atlanta to meet with several partnering churches. Stacie and Caedmon hung back to get some needed relief from all of the traveling! This morning I shared about South Bay Church at Cedarcrest Church here in the Atlanta area. The pastor George Wright and I met my first semester at Southwestern and have kept in touch since. He is a young guy (like myself) and is doing a great job leading their young church of just a couple of years. Tonight I will meet the elders from Cedarcrest and the missions team from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. I will be sharing about the vision of South Bay and more specific ways they can partner with the work. I am so grateful to God for all of the church parnters he has sent our way. There is no way we could be starting this church without the churches who will stand with us, pray for us, support financially and send teams to get this thing off the ground. Thanks to all of our partners! You are a tremendous blessing! Oh, and after church this morning I stopped into a little pizza joint close to my hotel. I got the opportunity to share the message of Christ with my waitress and how she could begin following him. She was very open and eager to learn more. I am praying that she can get connected at Cedarcrest. Looking forward to these types of conversations in the Silicon Valley.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why I love my wife!


There are lots of reasons I love my wife, here are just 10!
1. She loves God deeply...

It never ceases to amaze me how committed my wife is to following Christ. When I observe her life I challenged to love God more. She consistently spends time seeking to know him more by reading the bible, praying, journaling and much more.

2. She is generous...

My wife is one of the most generous people I know. If it were up to her she would give away everything we have. She has consistently displayed a desire to trust God by being generous with our finances and our lives.

3. She is one of the most compassionate people I know...

It is amazing to me how much my wife can be brought to tears over helpless people in a foreign country whom she has never met. When we discuss adopting a child or the aids crisis in Africa she is filled with love that makes her move to action. I am always amazed how people bear their heart to my wife. She is genuinely concerned about people and their lives. It truly amazes me.

4. She is an amazing mother..
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She is good from planning out meals for our son Caedmon, to playing with him, to training him on a daily basis. She is one of the most proactive moms I know and is doing a fabulous job creating an environment for our children to flourish.

5. She has a lot of faith...

I think that most women would have gone crazy if they were married to me. With all of the moves and huge visions we have taken on in the first five years of our lives. She is definitely the more realistic of the two of us, but she does a great job in her realism to never pour water on my dreams and visions that God has put on my heart. I have been amazed by her faith as we move forward in starting South Bay Church.

6. She is so much more smarter than me...

She thinks of things that would never cross my mind. For example when we went on our honeymoon she planned out each outfit to wear over the course of two weeks. I just threw almost everything I owned in a bag and closed the zipper. I am changing because of being around here. I must confess she has much more common sense and is way more intelligent than me.

7. She is very loyal and trustworthy...

You know if someone talks bad about others when they are with you, they talk bad about you when you are away. My wife does not gossip or talk negatively about people. In fact if I make negative comments about others she redirects or corrects me. She is a great confidant and does not violate people's trust. This is a great quality for a spouse!

8. She is proactive about growing...

She takes initiative to read in areas where she is weak. She charts a plan for growing and asks God to help her go to the next level in her life. She takes risks and wants to be used by God. She does not allow the circumstances of life to remove her passion or desire to make an impact.

9. She prioritizes our relationship...

With all of the busyness of life she prioritizes her attention and focus on me as her husband. As a young mom she is full of activity that comes from taking care of our 22 month old son, but she does not fail to show me love and respect as her husband.

10. She has a heart for the church and people who are far from God!

My wife has truly amazed me with her heart to extend the kingdom of God and proclaim his message to those who don't know him. I never feel like I am dragging her along, but rather I feel like she is a partner in the work of the church!

I am grateful to God for an amazing wife!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Decision Paralysis

One of the books I am reading this summer is titled, "Made To Stick." The question the books is asking is, "Why do some ideas stick and others die?" Great for communication and leadership. One reason ideas stick is because they are simple. The authors spend a whole chapter discussing this idea of simplicity. In their chapter on Simplicity they discuss how complexity makes it harder for people to make decisions. each leader and company should have a core message they are trying to communicate to their audience. The more information we give people the harder we make it for them to choose, the more clear our information and simple the easier it is for people to decide. Whenever we are helping or leading others we should ask the question, "what is the core of my message?" And then communicate from that core. I believe that when we lead and communicate like this we will increase the number of people who follow us and the impact of our lives!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ministry Partnership Development

Over the last 12 months our team has been raising financial support for our new church in the SF Bay Area. We have had a ton of help from many different people. One of my favorites is Rev. Charles. I wanted to let you see a little video. He is a great mentor of mine! :-) Oh, and he wanted me to tell you that if you would like to give to his ministry you can funnel it through South Bay Church.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A meeting with Bill Hybels



While we were in Michigan myself and the South Bay staff had the opportunity to meet with one of my all time heroes of the faith, Bill Hybels. This man has had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of many other leaders. Through a course of events we were able to spend about 90 minutes asking him leadership questions and getting his advice for the new church we are starting. I am attaching a picture for proof!

So after this meeting here are some of my big take-aways:
1. Never Forget the Importance of Relationships!
Bill mentioned the difference between being a parent and a grandparent. As a parent you often want your kids to progress to the next stage of development to the neglect of enjoying the current stage of life. As a grandparent people are often able to savor each season of a child's life with more joy. He commented on how so many pastors are like the over anxious parent, and they miss the joy of relationships in the beginning days of a church. He said that during the first couple years of a church you should be having two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners almost every day. Maybe this is why so many church planters put on weight. He commented on how if you are just about numbers people will begin to smell it! If we ever fail to have compassion for the one lost soul we will miss the point of Jesus ministry and the local church, which is changed lives.

2. Don't force a strategy
He challenged our team not to force a strategic plan. He said that leadership is very intuitive and requires leaders to listen to the Spirit and read the people we are leading. He said part of the challenge is to act at the right time. Not too quick, not to slow. He was saying this especially in relation to the timing of our launch.

3. Be careful of over-revving!
He said that one of the biggest struggles he sees in young leaders and leaders in general is a tendency to become un-balanced with overworking and ultimately mechanical in our work. Many leaders burnout because they have placed expectations on themselves and others that God did not place on them. We must have things that he calls, "non-negotiables" such as a daily time alone with God, date with your spouse, working out (for people like myself). For example, we would never go without a shower for a week. (maybe you would) But often times there are things that should not be negotiable in the Christian life but we compromise them. This was a great challenge to me to focus on my family and personal health. Bill said that when we get to this place we really must deal with the darkness in our hearts that has lead us to burnout. What need in my life is not being met that I am trying to fill with "ministry."

I could go on and on. I don't want to bore you! But I must say that I was very blessed by this time and count it a huge blessing from God. It was tremendous for our team and very life changing. It was especially that my wife got to meet his wife Lynne who was a part of our meeting for about 30 minutes. She gave us some great advice about protecting our wives and helping them get engaged in the life of the church.

Bill and Lynne, not that you would ever read this. But I am so thankful for your lives, your faithfulness to Christ and his church, your love for the lost, your investment in leaders, and much more. We are grateful for the little time we were able to share with you. You changed our lives!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Traveling... A lot like life!

So the last month has been filled with thousands upon thousands of miles in a car. From Columbia South Carolina to Detroit Michigan to the west coast of Michigan back to Detroit then back to Columbia to Charleston SC to Gainesville FL to Tampa to Orlando to Melbourne back to Gainesville down to Ocala, FL back to Gainesville and then up to Columbia again. Loading, unloading, and reloading a car with luggage, pack n' play, and much more. Each time we go somewhere we pack our car to the brim like a tetris board. Each time it barely fits. Each time I pack or unpack the car I think about how I am dreading the next time i have to do the exact same thing. Right now we have just finished a family reunion in Florida with Stacie's family. Also, we sandwiched this by meeting with ministry partners, old friends, potential church partners and more on both ends. We have basically drove back and forth across Florida three times now! I think my least favorite thing about traveling like this is the inconsistency in your schedule. Never going to sleep at the same time, never waking up at the same time, etc... I think that this reminds me about the rest of life. Sometimes life is just a little messy and requires some inconsistency with your schedule. We have had the opportunity on our trips to connect with some wonderful family members, old friends, new friends, pastors of some great churches and much more. I am reminded in the midst of my travels to give thanks to God for the relationships in life and be reminded that there are two things of primary importance to God, loving him and loving people. At the end of the day this is what he wants most from my life. I must not loose focus when my life is not as convenient as I wish! Just over 3 more weeks of this and I will headed to San Francisco! PS, this explains my recent inconsistency with the blog, also tomorrow I will tell of my trip to western michigan where I was able to spend an afternoon with one of my heroes of the faith.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Meet me at the gas station!

Church planters you will fully love and understand this! Church planters are classic for making use of whatever is available. For example, when you are a church planter a car becomes an office. A back pack becomes a store house for 10 books, 2 three ring binders, 13 manila folders, your bible, your journal and so on and so forth. Starbucks and any other place that has wireless internet is always on your radar and you are always on the move! At least when you first start. Not to mention all of the various places for staff meetings... Starbucks, McDonalds, Ruby Tuesdays, and this week was a first... A GAS STATION. Yes, you heard me correctly we had a staff meeting at a gas station. And no it is not because we were picketing gas prices. As you may know I am in columbia and the rest of the South Bay staff is in Charleston until we move out in August. So we have tried to find a meeting location right in between the two cities. And the best mid point was a gas station. So here we were at tables in a gas station with truckers all around us, while we planned, prayed, dreamed, laughed and much more. I am not sure if it was a little culture shock for the truckers to see a bunch of guys in "business professional attire" laptops and pda's. Nonetheless, it is a great memory. Archie, Renan, and Filipe, cheers to blazing a new trail. Staff meeting in a gas station!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stagnation Leads To Temptation

You may have heard the story of David and Bathsheba found in the bible in the book of Second Samuel chapter 11. One verse at the beggining of the story gives great insight into the process of David's fall and how temptation works in our lives... 2 Samuel 11:1-2 "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful."

How unspeakable, David is supposed to be leading his people into war and he is at home enjoying ultimate fighting, sportscenter, and naked women bathing on their rooftops. While the King should be sending his sword into the heart of the enemy he is being sent into the worst spiral of sin and temptation he would ever experience. David had lost his sense of purpose and his sense of mission. His desire and passion had waned and he was no longer focused on the very thing God had called him to do, LEAD! David drifted into stagnation.

Did you ever realize that stagnation is the beginning of your fall into temptation. Right at this very moment thousands of "christian" men are looking at pornography on the internet and sleeping with another woman in their heart. Right now there are men on business trips being lured into adulterous relationships, while their wives are at home putting the kids to sleep. Right now countless numbers of woman are in the process of moving into emotional affairs. The evil in our world, the evil in our lives and the evil in our churches is often so offensive and hurtful to the heart of God. And I increasingly believe it can be traced to the loss or absense of a God ordained mission.

How many men are truly filled with conviction about the purpose and direction of their lives? Where are the men of character who will fight for the hearts of their wives and children? Where are the pastors that will fight for the cause of the gospel, who give their lives to seeing their city reached with the message of Christ? I want to find the men and woman who will be pierced and persecuted for the name and mission of Christ. I bet my life this is where you will find holiness, where the fire of Christ burns so bright and strong that cares of this world and lust of the flesh is burned in the presence of the Lord Almighty.

That is where stagnation dies and temptation is choked out! Oh, we will fight and struggle for holiness, but when we are passionately pursuing Christ it is a different fight, it is a fight in the direction of the kingdom of God and mission of the gospel!

Is there stagnation in your life that is leading to your temptation? Are you hot in your pursuit of God? Are you giving your life sacrificially so that the message of Christ can get to the ends of the earth? This is how you fight your most fierce temptation, moving with the mission of the gospel and into the heart of God!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad

There are many things that I love and respect about my Dad, but today I want to write about just a couple of them in his honor.

1. My Dad goes for his dreams.
As I have watched his life over the last 27 years it seems like there is no dream or vision that is too challenging for him. Whether it is building a great company, building homes, purchasing properties, and many more things. As I have watched his courage and willingness to take risks it only makes sense to live this way. When I began sensing God leading us to start a new church it seemed normal to start something from scratch. I love that my Dad is willing to live out his dreams and go for it. This inspires me and challenges me to live up!

2. My Dad believes in me.
Growing up my Dad was always at my side at wrestling matches, football games, graduation from high school, college and seminary. He has always encouraged me by speaking hope into my life and challenging me to go for me dreams. Because he has believed in me I believe in what God has called me to be. The power of his words and encouragement has helped me to become a better man and go after the vision God has placed in my heart.

Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Facing My Fears

Lately I have been struggling with a personal area of fear. The wild thing is that this is an area of fear I thought had been conquered six years ago. Apparently I was wrong. So here it is... We are in the process of cultivating ministry partnerships for South Bay Church. Currently we are about 75% of the way towards our financial goals for the 2009 budget year. After departing Texas before heading to California we have been spending time with family and meeting with potential ministry partners on the east coast. In leaving Texas we've moved away from alot of our relationships and people who would be potential ministry partners. Since arriving in South Carolina Stacie and I have had to go back to ground zero and try to meet with folks to share the vision and ask them to partner both financially and through prayer. This has been a huge challenge for me mainly becuase we have not had contact with many of these people for over 5 years. Interestingly, we have done so much partnership development, literaly meeting with and asking hundreds of people to partner, I did not think this would be an area where I would feel stuck or afraid. Well lately I've felt a great deal of fear that has made it hard for me to call folks, set up appointments and ask them to give. Fear always causes you to check your convictions and deal with what is in your heart. Fear also challenges your asuumptions. It is a temptation when you face fear to change what you believe so that you don't have to face the thing you fear. So with the strength of God I have chosen to face the fear that lies before me and do what is right, and we are making progress. Here are a couple thougths and things God is teaching me through this.
* Just because you were able to overcome a fear in the past does not mean that fear is gone forever. You must continue to face it when it arises.
* Courage is doing what is right in spite of fear.
* You must not allow fear to change your assumptions about God and life.
* When you have an area of fear, the only way to overcome it is so bear up underneath God's strength, ask him to give you strength and with his power walk right into the unknown of that fear.
* Every new level in my life and leadership requires me to face some area of fear. If I don't face my fears I stay stuck and the organization I lead does not reach its full potential.
* My struggles with fear give me compassion to relate to others who face the same fear.

Here are some questions to ponder:
1. What is the biggest area of fear that you currently are facing?
2. Have you asked God to help you face your fear?
3. Do you allow your fears to change your convictions about what is right?
4. When will you face your fear?

Hope this helps you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Work and Play

Today I had a great day. I had a combination of great work and fun with some people that I truly enjoy. I spent the afternoon with the staff who will be moving west with us to start South Bay Church. Tonight all of our families and several others who plan to go ate dinner together and spent time hanging out. Today reminded me of a tendency in my life. I often times like to work, work, and work. Often times my choleric tendencies move me away from fun and enjoyment of life. Sometimes I find myself so focused on trying to reach a goal or strive for what's ahead that I can miss the current moment and what God wants me to experience at that point. This can cause me to miss times of laughter and joy with my family and people that are important in my life. Currently I feel like God is reminding me of the importance of balancing my work and focus with activities that help my mind relax and help me to enjoy life. I want to grow in ability to experience joy in each circumstance as it comes. May God give me the ability to enjoy this summer and times I will have to share with my family and other important people in my life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Giants!!

Earlier this week I was reading the story of David and Goliath from the book of first Samuel. I was thinking and meditating about these few verses:
I Samuel 17:34-39
But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off.

Every person and every organization has giants. Giants are people, problems, challenges or even tasks that stand between your current reality and where God wants you to go. Giants have a tendancy to mock God and his reputation, they cause fear in our hearts and most of the time prevent us from doing the very thing God desires of us and individuals and as leaders.

Here are some key insights thinking about this passage and giants that we face:
* One must face the giants with a passion for God's name and through His strength.
* If you face the small giants (bear and lion for david) you are more likely to face the big giants.
* Giants don't move if they are not removed.
* Facing giants requires skill.
* When the biggest giant is defeated the smaller ones run.
* You can't face a giant in someone else's armor.(credit to archie jackson)

Best insight of all:
The one who faces the giant and wins becomes the leader, the one who runs from the giant loses his or her leadership!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Loyalty and Disloyalty

Tomorrow we will have our very first South Bay Church staff meeting. As a part of our staff development we will read a book called "Loyalty and Disloyalty" by Heward-Mills, and share key learnings and insights with one another. I have very intentionally chosen this book to be the very first for our team. Here is why: I believe loyalty is one of the most significant ingredients to the strength and longevity of a team. Every pastor of a large healthy growing church that I have been around has a strong team of loyal followers. In addition I have handfuls of friends in ministry who have been burned time and time again by less than loyal people. So we will focus our initial times together on building trust and making sure that we are willing to take bullets for one another. The Kingdom of God is a dirty playing field. Everyone is going to experience pain and rejection as they lead, but I do think that we can make some specific decisions to emphasize the significance of loyalty on our teams and remove people who display any level of disloyalty to the leadership of the church. Pray that God would bless Filipe Santos, Archie Jackson and myself and we work together to build a strong nucleus in our church that is tremendously unified around the vision God has placed on our hearts.

A South Bay Church Miracle!!

So sometimes miracles are big and sometimes they are small, and our road to starting South Bay Church has been filed with both. I want to share with you our most recent miracle, but you must humor me and track with a little story so the miracle gets full effect!

So in the process of selecting a web address for South Bay Church it was very important to me and our team that we find a simple url. For example not something like, "www.visitmysouthbaychurch.org" or "thisismysouthbaychurch.com"... So on and so forth. Well when we began to look at web addresses earlier this year southbaychurch.org, .com, and .net were all taken. So knowing that I wanted an easy to find address I called the church who owned soutbaychurch.com asking them to give it up, they would not, and I called them again hoping they would forget I had called, after the 3rd time I figured I'd try for .org. So I entered into negotiation for southbaychurch.org. After having a "domain brokerage" company assess the site they determined that it was worth almost $700. Because this is such an important part of reaching people who are far from God we were willing to pay the $700 to get the site domain. Whatever it takes!! The girl who was working our account stopped returning my calls and emails... Because we were finishing up at Breakthrough and going on family vacation this administrative task was put on hold.

Yesterday after returning from vacation, I called the domain brokerage back to get the ball rolling so we could acquire the site. I finally spoke with a young man named Matt and he assured me that he would help me get everything finalized. Well, within an hour Matt called me back and said that the domain was now available and the company who previously owned the site had let it go! So, I hopped online and purchased the domain for $6.95!!! Don't tell me that wasn't a miracle. Say AMEN! Praise God right now where you are for that one! That was God's mighty hand saving us $693.05 so we could use it on something else to reach people who need Jesus!!

It is a great encouragement to me to see the hand of God at work! I hope you can rejoice with me as we see God grow South Bay Church from a handful of people and big vision to reach the San Francisco Bay Area!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The First In Flight!!

Last week while on our family vacation we took a trip to the Wright Brother's Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC. Just in case you don't know, the Wright Brothers are the first two human beings to ever fly make and fly in an airplane. So, as we visited the birthplace of mechanical human aviation I could not help but think of the endless leadership lessons from the lives of these two heroes. Here are just a few...

1. Innovation and leadership requires great persistence...

Did you know that the Wright Brothers would travel from Cleveland, Ohio. (a.k.a. as "The armpit of America") to Kitty Hawk North Carolina for several weeks-months each year to work on perfecting their airplane with the goal of being the first in flight. And, it took them not one, two or three but four years of persistence to get that airplane off the ground and that's after years of dreaming and envisioning.

2. Leadership and Innovation requires a clear vision and goal...

Make no mistake the Wright Brother's wanted to be the first in flight. At the time of their first flight they were racing the clock against another man (whom I do not know his name) who was also trying to be the first in flight. They stayed in Kitty Hawk an extra several months the year of their first flight so they could be the first. Nobody remembers #2! This all flowed from a clarity of what they wanted to accomplish. From a clear vision they developed a strategy and plan, and made values based decisions!

3. Leadership and Innovation requires a willingness to be persecuted...

Could you imagine how insane these men must have seemed to the people of their day. Now we jump on an airplane to head from San Francisco to Tokyo and don't think twice. In their day their was no Southwest if you wanted to "get away." Imagine leaving your family for two-to three months at a time to work on what may have seemed like a kite with a motor. Did you know that before the Wright Brothers made the first airplane it was scientifically proven that man would not be able to fly? Now we can put a man on the moon. Aren't you glad they didn't believe that lie! I am always amazed at the response I get when I tell people we are starting a church in the SF Bay Area. Everyone wants to tell me about a gay friend they have, as if everyone in San Francisco is gay. (that's besides the point) Actually it's 13% and that's the actual city! But also, I hear story after story of unsuccessful church starts in the area, and people give me the look, "and why do you think you will be different?" or "how do you expect to start a church that reaches thousands and most can even reach 50?" Over the promise of God and my dead body this church is going to reach thousands of people who are far from God!

4. Leaders and Innovators requires a willingness to stand on others shoulders...
As I walked the memorial I thought to myself, I wonder how many people came along after the Wright Brothers came along and thought they were better because they created a superior aircraft. Have you ever realized how much one innovation inspires the next innovation. If one leader steps out and makes it happen, walls are busted down, people get inspired and the impossible now becomes possible. In the midst of all this we must not forget that we stand taller because we stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before us! Don't ever forget that! We can get trace a man on the moon back to a couple of crazy heroes back in 1903, who were willing to risk it all for the impossible on a couple of sand dunes of Kitty Hawk North Carolina!

PS, I am the dork who bought the 200 page book from the gift shop, titled "Wind and Sand" (the tour guide said this is the best) and I will read it, and I will come up with 6 more leadership lessons from their lives so I can have 10, and maybe I will share it soon. Post if you have thoughts from these principles!