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


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, "" or ""... So on and so forth. Well when we began to look at web addresses earlier this year, .com, and .net were all taken. So knowing that I wanted an easy to find address I called the church who owned 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 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!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Today I Experienced Elevation Church!

When I say experienced, I mean I experienced it. My wife Stacie and I spent the whole drive back from Charlotte to Columbia remembering it like a good movie. The South Bay staff (a.k.a. “the Dream Team”) and I arrived at Elevation this morning at 5:00am to be a part of “Backstage Elevation.” We got to experience a team of crazy committed volunteers who arrive at dark thirty with an optimistic attitude anticipating what God is going to do that day! Around 5:30 we were greeted by Larry Brey (Assimilation Pastor) who shared the Elevation story, vision, gave us an incredible tour of the whole experience and set up process, and graciously answered our questions. About 7:30am we skipped away for a quick bite to eat and yes a Starbucks! We rushed back to meet our wives at 8:30am as the Worship Experience started. My wife had already checked our 21 month old son Caedmon into child care with no mishaps (a rarity in new churches)! As we rolled into the parking lot we were directed with dozens of sharp signs, and a smiling crew in the parking lot who smoothly lighted the way to the nearest parking spot. As we walked back up to the building for the second time today we were greeted by layers of smiling folks telling us it was going to be a great worship experience and assuring us how glad they were we decided to come to Elevation. As we were ushered into auditorium I could feel a loud roar of worship that enveloped me as I got closer to the stage. I had already experienced Elevation by the time I got to my seat. The music was second to none, the transitions were seamless (pastors notice these things), and the message was clear. Pastor Steven Furtick preached a tough message on the “Altar of Repentance” from the story of Achan in the book of Joshua. He knocked it out of the park! I was amazed with the clarity at which he addressed issues of sin in our lives, yet at the same time gave such hope and inspiration towards living up. The teaching was biblically solid and very helpful for people at all points in the journey. I am encouraged by what God is doing through Elevation and have a lot of respect for their team and their pastor. As we move forward with starting a church in the San Francisco Bay Area it was great for our staff team to experience Elevation and be inspired by the possibilities of what God can do in such a short period of time!! Thanks Elevation, praise God! (ps, I just read on Pastor Steven’s blog 127 people decided to follow Christ for the very first time today, glad I got to be a part of it!) Praying for you guys, keep up the good work!