Tuesday, September 23, 2008


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!


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!