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...
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..
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.