Thursday, May 28, 2009

In you, then through you.

Recently I was challenged by this thought from Rick Warren, "Everything God does through us flows out of what he does in us." Wow, everything God is doing in my life is flowing out of my relationship with Him. I had another mentor who said, "The greatest gift you can give the world is your intimacy with God." That means that God is going to great things in me before he does great things through me. So, this leads me to the thought that God really used to smack me upside the head... :-) I felt a very clear prompting from God's Spirit with this thought, "what if you spent as much time thinking about the growth of your character as you think about the growth of the church?" That kind of hurts doesn't it. I think God used this to renew my hunger to continue to pursue the growth of my character and private life with God. My pursuit of God and the health of my personal life is never a waste of time and energy. If I am connecting with God and growing in faithfulness to Christ my outer life is going to be an expression of that inward transformation. As I allow Jesus to change my heart, my character, my thinking, I will be more fit to be used by Him to do great things in His kingdom!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do I really believe this?

Ephesians 1:18-20, I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

Could you just read that one more time. Think about what this verse is actually saying to those who are Christ followers. The Apostle Paul is praying that this group of Christ followers would have opened eyes to understand the power that is theirs. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available. Think about that for a second... Every moment throughout the day today there is available to you the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. For your relationships, for your confusion, for your pain, for your momentary lapses of weakness with your flesh. The power of the resurrection is there right in front of you... All you have to do was open your eyes to see it! This power is incomparable, it is unmatched! Imagine how this would change our homes, our churches, our cities, our world if we all started living this out and opened our eyes to the truth that God's power is available right now, the power that raised Jesus from the dead! I am really wanting to have such an increased awareness of His presence throughout my day. He is with me as much as the skin on my bones. May I have the eyes to see Him and commune with Him throughout the day!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't mess this one up!

Today I had a thought during a conversation with our staff. "The organization/institution of the church exists to serve the gospel and not the other way around." The whole reason for an organization or institution is to serve the mission of that organization. Every system, structure, strategy, plan, goal, budget, staff, and program is there merely to accomplish the mission of that organization. The mission of our organization is to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth and make passionate followers of Jesus who say yes to God with their whole lives. Whenever we start to make the mission slave to the organization we have missed it! Whenever we sense the prompting and leadership of the Spirit of God and can't move that direction because our organization won't allow it we have a BIG PROBLEM! This is the reason we have so many dying churches and denominations, because they became about the protection of their institution and organization. Whenever a Christian organization starts to propagate its institutional agenda over the gospel it starts to head towards extinction. I don't want to be the kind of leader or church who is always trying to push some kind of organizational agenda on people every conversation I have. I want to be the kind of leader that is radically in love with Jesus where the potency of my life is contagious. I want every conversation and interaction to be about challenging people one step closer to living God's best for their lives. I don't want to be the kind of leader who looks at every person and thinks, "how can I get this person to accomplish ___________ task for me?" I want to be the kind of leader that looks at people and sees the potential God has placed in that person and inspire it out of them!!

One more thought and I will get off my soapbox for the day, every organization must consistently and constantly be renewed around its mission. The organizational values drive the change of structures and systems, while heading in alignment towards a vision that is God given and centered around the Great Commission given by Jesus to his disciples! Let's renew ourselves to the cause of the gospel and getting this message to the ends of the earth. Let's build our churches, our businesses, our families, and our man made institutions around the cause Jesus has already given to us and not give up and till we finish the call!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Purpose Driven Summit

This week I will have a huge opportunity to be a part of a teaching team leading a breakout at the Purpose Driven Summit at Saddleback Church. Three other guys: Ron Sylvia, Hal Mayer, and Dave Page and myself will teach a course on planting churches from scratch. This is a huge honor for me for several reasons: these guys have been in vocational ministry longer than i've been alive, they all three have mentored in many ways, and rick warren is one of my heroes. I was very humbled when Ron asked me to help with this event several months back. If you read my blog and pray please pray for me. Pray that I don't make a fool of myself next to these giants. Pray that God would help me be an encouragement to some guys who are about to start churches, pray that I could share our story and what we've learned passionately and represent Jesus well, pray that God's Spirit would really bless this seminar we are leading. It is amazing to me to think that a number of the nations next church planters will be in this room! I also want to use any influence I have to honor these men who I am teaching with. They have really paved a path for many other church planters.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections (on monday)

* Preached the toughest message I've preached in my life. Tried to address the truth about Jesus being the only way to God very lovingly, compassionately, truthfully with hope and conviction. Preached my guts out. Glad I was faithful to the message God laid on my heart, exhausted because I felt like I was in a fight all week getting ready for the message. (pastors you know what I mean)
* Today I am as grateful as ever that Jesus made a way for us to know God and crossed the great expanse to take on human flesh. Amazed that he loves me enough to leave his throne in heaven and be born into a virgin's belly.
* Worship attendance was 147 today. Seems like we have leveled out around 150 after Easter. Lots of new faces coming and many people don't normally go to church. We are reaching the people we moved across country to reach. Glad to see people's lives change.
* Met a good number of new people today. We are having a steady flow of first time guests, this is a good healthy thing. Proud of our people for inviting their friends and those who are intentionally spreading the word to our community.
* Great worship set today that really fit with the message. Archie did a great job selecting songs that fit the essence of the message I shared today.
* Showed Oprah in church today. Said that we are going to watch Jerry Springer next week. Was just kidding! Looked on five fatal assumptions we make about the questions is Jesus the only way:
1. What the majority believes is truth.
2. All religions are the same.
3. Jesus came to propagate a religion.
4. We can ascend to God.
5. God doesn't care.
When we clear up erroneous conclusion to these statements we find out what Jesus really meant when he said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Message should be posted in the next few days if you want to listen.
* Was greeted at South Bay by the best parking lot guys in the world. We have some of the best volunteers. They make coming to church a joy. I am really honored to be the pastor and leader of such an amazing team of people.
* Thought a number of times in the last week how grateful I am that God has given us a staff of men and women who believe in the vision God has placed in my heart. I don't have to fight them to take ground for the kingdom. They are all passionate about reaching the SF Bay Area and people who are far from God. This is a real blessing to me.
* Our team laid hands on me this morning during our tech run through, this was a huge boost to me. Felt like God really used people's prayers to strengthen me while teaching this morning.
* Teaching at the Purpose Driven summit church planting breakout session this week. Looking forward to teaching with some great guys: Ron Sylvia, Hal Mayer, and Dave Page. It is my first time doing something like this and a real honor. Please pray for me!
* Glad I have such a wonderful wife who has a heart to build the kingdom of God and loves our church. She amazes me with her support and desire to see God's love extended the ends of the earth.
* Went to Freedom Summit on Friday night, 27 million slaves world wide, half are children. The church must act and get involved in God's work of justice all over the world. I feel like we are seeing God birth a movement of justice in our generation. Don't want to miss what it is that God wants to do in our midst.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Oprah thinks about Jesus

Thought this was pretty interesting video. Undoubtedly Oprah is one of the most influential people in the world. Here is what she thinks about the question... Is Jesus the only way? Come to South Bay tomorrow as we discuss some fatal assumptions we make about this question. I will post my message outline here tomorrow after the service.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Early to bed! Early to Rise!

I am learning a new little trick about life. I am dense so sometimes it takes me longer to figure things out and this one might be a little obvious but it is helping me so I am going to say it! :-) So, I've timed my morning routine, for me to have a good quiet time, workout, pray, eat breakfast, shower and get ready it takes me 2.5 hours without any wasted time from wake-up to the office. About one hour for quiet time, 45 minutes for workout, 15 minutes for breakfast, 22 minutes for getting ready and about 7 minutes from the door of my house to the door of the office. Do I sound anal? Well, I want to be to the office by 8:00am each morning so that I can get home with my work done by 5:30pm. Two days a week I meet with some men from South Bay Church at 7:30am. All of this to say, in the past I would get up at 5:30 and kick myself because I couldn't do it more than 3-4 days in a row. I am learning that a part of my morning routine is really protecting my evening routine. So this means that after Caedmon is put to bed at 8pm Stacie and I spend the next 20-25 minutes getting everything for the next morning ready. Clothes for work day laid out(for me), coffee grounded and ready to go, workout clothes laid out, faces washed and teeth brushed (yes I brush my teeth before bed). After that I have about 30 minutes or so that I can either read a book, pray, watch an episode of the office or talk with Stacie. If I don't protect my nights I am in trouble for disciplining myself in the morning. If I am rigorous about my evenings it is much easier to be disciplined with the start of my next day. I want to also say, there is a difference between being disciplined and legalistic. This is not legalistic, because I am doing it out of a desire to honor God and make the most of my week and my life! Anyways, may seem overly simple but this line of thinking is helping bring discipline to my mornings and my desire to honor God with my time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Urban Legends

This Sunday at South Bay Church we launch a brand new series titled, "Urban Legends." Thanks to Pastor Craig Groeschel and we as a new church plant were able to use their graphics and a ton of their sermon ideas to help us connect with our community.

Here is a short description of the series:
Do you know someone who's seen Bigfoot's tracks? What about Nessie in Loch Ness? Of course, almost every kid has learned that there really are alligators in the sewer. You know how it goes: someone sees something and tells someone who then tells someone else. On and on and on it goes until it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. This doesn't just happen with alligators and Bigfoot... it happens with spiritual truths as well. Join us as we separate fact from fiction and debunk spiritual myths.

I am excited about this Sunday as we deal with the question: "Is Jesus the only way to God?" This is a very controversial topic that I think people want answers for. I hope that you will make sure to join us and not miss out on this exciting new series. I believe God is going to do some incredible things in our midst over the coming weeks.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Staying Fresh

I find one of the biggest challenges to a busy life is staying fresh. I recently heard a talk from Rick Warren where he said he, "diverts daily, withdraws weekly, and abandons annually." I found that advice to be extremely helpful but often times I find it hard to disengage my mind with only one day a week off. Like today is Friday my day off. I spend all week running at break-neck speed and than almost come to a halt for my sabbath day. I typically fill my day off with a longer quiet time in the morning, a little longer of a run during my workout, hangout with stacie and caedmon (typically going to a park), lunch at in-n-out, nap in the afternoon, reading after my nap and chill in the evenings either going on a date or watching the santos kids while they go out on a date. I had a conversation this week with a mentor asking him how he disengages and he challenged me to take up the study of great leaders in the past- George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Churchill, Ghandi and others. So today I purchased a copy of 1776 about George Washington's life. Anyways, all of this is a little ramble. I guess the conclusion I am coming to is this, it is very important for me to stay fresh as a husband, father, leader, pastor, friend and more. I want to live passionately for Jesus until the day I die. I think that sustained impact in life will require me to more diligently pursue mental, emotional and physical health.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections

Okay, so the best day in the history of South Bay Church is drawing to a close so before I fall out I wanted to write down some reflections from the day and celebrate what God did in our midst!
* We had our first ever baptism celebration as a church. Everything was built around this celebration from the song choices to the message to the baptisms at the end of the service. We challenged people to step up and be baptized on the spot. 18 people took the plunge!
* It was exciting to me to see people that I have prayed for for months display their faith in Christ. It was so exciting to watch people obey Jesus and respond to him. There were a handful of people in tears as they wrestled with God and then let Him win. This is one of the best things to watch!
* God showed up, I could sense His presence all over the day today from the worship set through the message and during the time of baptism. He flooded the room with a huge sense of His joy. People were clapping and shouting and hollering like the 49ers had just won the super-bowl. It was incredible.
* 169 people total were present, this is the biggest non-easter/non-launch Sunday of local people from our community. It is so exciting to see the church gain momentum coming out of Easter!
* Our staff and volunteer team did a great job planning all of the details of the baptism from purchasing clothes and the transitions during the service. Their hard work made it easy for people to focus on the most important part... changed lives!
* We finished our Upside Down Life series today. My message was strictly about baptism and the change that baptism represents. Next week we will have a special mother's day message and then the following week we will start a series called, "Urban Legends"
* Praise God for all that he did in our midst! I am so proud of the 18 people who responded to God's call to be baptized!! I am attaching a short video with a couple of the stories. There are so many more, but this is just a taste of the lives that are being changed at South Bay!

Baptism 09 from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

A Short Video

Baptism 09 from South Bay Church on Vimeo.