#571 - PERFECT TIMING

The helpful hand.
The harsh rebuke.
The desired result.
The financial support.
The loving correction.
The supportive friend.
The encouraging word.
The insightful resource.
The favorable outcome.
The pivotal partnership.
The desired opportunity.
The necessary connection.
The romantic relationship.

Whatever it is you need, God will provide it for you exactly when you need it.

Never late. Rarely early. But always on time.

If you knew everything God knows. If you saw everything God sees. If you understood everything God understands. You would comprehend why you don't currently have the thing you think you currently need.

GOD'S TIMING IS PERFECT.

Trust it.

#570 - A MILLENNIAL'S WORSE NIGHTMARE

I'm overlooked.
I'm undervalued.
I'm unappreciated.

I'm not new.
I'm not flashy.
I'm not cutting edge.

I'm present when everyone else is absent.
I'm working when everyone else is sleeping.
I'm going when everyone else is stopping.

Bigger and better doesn't impress me.
The latest and the greatest doesn't distract me.
My results compared to yours doesn't affect me.

I'm boring.
I'm mundane.
I'm repetitive.

But...

I REQUIRE COURAGE.

I don't just start well.
I finish strong.

I don't just make promises.
I keep them.

I don't just arrive.
I stay.

Through hardship.
Through difficulty.
Through turmoil.

I STAY.

Through criticism.
Through failure.
Through setback.

I STICK.

When the luster has left.
When the shine has subsided.
When the glisten is gone.

I PERESEVERE.

When all that is left is work.
When all that is required is sweat.
When all that counts is being able to be counted on.

I THRIVE.

Who am I?

I AM FAITHFULNESS.

And you will never know
success and fulfillment
until you know me.

#565 - WHEN PEOPLE LEAVE YOUR CHURCH

Over the last 5 years of pastoring in Oakland, many people have walked through the doors of theMOVEMENT Church and many people have walked out. Many people who I extended ministry to and did ministry with are no longer here. 

Some people have left for great and godly reasons while others have left for not so great or godly reasons (at least in my opinion). But regardless of the reasons for departure, they all are painful. 

I’ve actually come to realize that it’s one of the hardest things about pastoral ministry. After having loved people deeply, invested in them generously, and seen God move in them mightily, it is hard to watch them walk away from your community of faith and pursue what God has for them next.   

But with every person whose season ends at our church, I have a choice.

I have a choice in how I will respond to the news. I have a choice in how I will love them for the remainder of the time that they are here. I have a choice in how I will talk about them when they are gone. 

Unfortunately, I have not gotten this right as often as I would like to, but, in an effort to improve my ability to love people well as they leave, here are a few practical lessons I’ve learned:

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL

Though sometimes people will leave because of you, many times it will be for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you! Many times, God really does have something better for them elsewhere. Remember, it is Jesus, ultimately, who we want people to trust in and be tethered to, not us. Be sure that how you handle someone’s departure doesn’t become an obstacle to their future relationship with Christ and the Church. 

PASTOR THEM THROUGH THEIR DEPARTURE

If allowed the opportunity, pastor the person leaving on how they can honor God as they go. Pastor them in how they can honor the church as they go. Pastor them by affirming their gifts and contribution while they were with you. Pastor them by lovingly pointing out the ways in which you hope they grow in their next community of faith. Don’t be lazy in your leadership just because they are leaving. Finish well. You will be held accountable. 

HONOR THEM PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY

If the situation permits and if the honor is warranted, publicly honor them for their commitment and service to your community. Honor them before the group of people who was most impacted by their presence. God is honored by honor. But, don’t only speak favorably of them in front of others, speak favorably of them behind closed doors as well. God is dishonored by dishonor. People are watching. From how you handle the situation, you want people to see that your church is not only a safe place to come to, but it is also a safe place to leave from.  

MOVE ON

Too many times I've made the mistake of putting so much emotional energy into those who have left that I've robbed those who have stayed of healthy leadership. You must press forward. Being emotionally present with the people who aren’t a part of your community will cause you to be spiritually absent from the people who are, and that is a huge disservice to them. God has not called you to people who are no longer called to you. Discern the difference, and love and lead accordingly.   

FIND YOUR JOY IN CHRIST

No man, woman, or family should determine how confident you are in carrying out your calling. For too long, my self-worth and level of fulfillment was wrapped up in who was and who was not following me. What I’ve come to realize is that looking to someone in your church to provide for you what only Christ can provide is idolatry of the worst kind.  Christ alone. He is our joy. He is our reward. Don’t settle for the crumbs of man’s approval when God’s love is a banquet that you can feast from daily!

#564 - A VERY PRACTICAL LESSON I'M LEARNING ABOUT LOVE

You need love. You need to experience love. You need to feel love. You need to enjoy love.

This is the human condition.

When one doesn't feel loved, loneliness, depression, fear, low self-esteem, doubt, etc. are the unfortunate byproducts. In other words, nothing good comes from a life lived unloved

But, what I'm coming to discover in this season of my life, in regards to love, is this:

IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO COMMUNICATE HOW I NEED TO BE LOVED.

People can't read my mind. People can't read your mind. Though we wish others could read our minds, unless how we need to be loved is communicated, it is very unlikely it will be experienced

Shouldn't people know better? Maybe. Shouldn't people ask? Sure, that'd be nice. Shouldn't people just figure it out for themselves? I guess. Unfortunately 9 times out of 10, this just doesn't take place. 

With that said, I've come to the conclusion, I can't wait around for people to figure this out!

I must speak up!

If I need words of affirmation, I must speak up. If I need quality time, I must speak up. If I need physical touch, I must speak up. If I need gifts, I must speak up. If I need acts of service, I must say something!

Very often, the type of love I receive is very deeply connected to type of love I communicate I need!

If you need someone to listen to you, let them know. If you need someone to appreciate you, let them know. If you need someone to comfort you, let them know. If you need someone to give you space, let them know, If you need someone to take you out, let them know. 

People want to love you. Many times, they just don't know how.

Stop being so sorry for yourself. Be humble. I'll say it again, BE HUMBLE. Ask for the type of love you need. Be specific, and give the person you're asking the appropriate time and space to respond.  

What if the love you desire, is just one ask away?

#563 - BEACUSE I'M SCARED

On my "leadership horizon" are some decisions I must make that will require tremendous amounts of courage. Courage that, frankly, I don't feel like I have. 

But, I can't shrink back. I must lead boldly.

Here are some thoughts about courage that I am writing to encourage myself. Prayerfully, you can benefit from them as well...

Courage is taking actions that are uncomfortable. Courage is believing ideals that are unpopular. Courage is loving people that are unthankful.  

Courage is taking a stand that will expose you to criticism. Courage is the willingness to face the consequences for standing up for what you believe. Courage is putting yourself in a position where the possibility of losing is present. 

Sometime courage is speaking up. Sometimes courage is being silent. Sometimes courage is leaving. Sometimes courage is staying. Sometimes courage is starting. Sometimes courage is waiting.

Courage is obeying God and leaving the consequences of your obedience up to Him. 

Courage is faith in the midst of fear. Courage is hope in the midst of uncertainty. Courage is boldness in the midst of timidity. 

Courage is leaving your comfort zone for the benefit of others and the glory of God. 

Courage is a necessary requirement for leadership and a character trait that, if not developed over time, will cause people to second guess whether or not they should follow you. 

BE COURAGEOUS. 

The world needs your bravery. 

#562 - 9 CLUES FORGIVENESS HASN'T HAPPENED

Forgiveness is hard. Forgiveness is difficult. Forgiveness, at times, can be burdensome.

The hurt was so deep. The betrayal was so real. The pain was so lasting. The offense was so unexpected. The lack of remorse was so unexpected. The offender was so close.

But, as Christians, forgiveness is so...required

At the end of the day, forgiveness for others is really the litmus test of whether or not we truly have received the forgiveness of God.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of an infinite debt of sin against a Holy God, yet we cannot forgive a finite debt of sin committed by a sinful man? 

Forgiven people forgive people. There really is no way around it.

But, as much as I understand that truth, over the years, there have been many people I have struggled to forgive. From my personal experience, here is a list of "clues" that reveal that forgiveness, very likely, has yet to take place.

  • I want them to be exposed.
  • I want them to fail and struggle in life.
  • When I see them being trusted, I get mad.
  • When I see them enjoying life, I get frustrated.
  • When I see them making progress, I get angry.
  • I want them to hurt in the same way they hurt me.
  • I want someone to do to them what they did to me.
  • I want them to apologize to me for what they did to me.
  • I want them to apologize to others for what they did to me.

But what I've come to realize is that forgiveness isn't as much about them as it is about me...

  • Trusting the Lord.
  • Believing the best.
  • Absorbing the pain.
  • Releasing the vindication.

This isn't easy, by any means. But, it is necessary to live the life of freedom that God desires us to enjoy. It is necessary for the gospel to be displayed. It is necessary for God to be glorified. 

If you find struggling on this journey of forgiving those who have hurt you, I encourage you to pray this with me, daily, as the Lord instructs us to, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass over us."

#561 - TO THE TIRED LEADER

There will be days when you have nothing left to give - physically, emotionally, spiritually. There will be days when you will be weary, exhausted, and out of gas. Your brain will be fried. Your body will be fatigued. Your energy will be depleted.

Pay attention to the messages your body is sending you, and respond accordingly.

Rest. 
Let your team know about your fatigue. 
Change your pace.
Adjust your rhythm. 
Sleep. For an extended period of time. Like 10 hours.

Sometimes pushing through is the answer, but many times, it's not. 

YOUR TEAM DOESN'T NEED A HERO, THEY NEED A HUMAN WHO WORKS HARD AND RESTS WELL.

How do you need to take care of your body to joyfully be engaged in the work you are involved with 10 years from now? 

Whatever your answer to that question is, act on it today. 

The world doesn't need leaders who only start strong, the world needs leaders who finish well. 

#560 - MY ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY

It took a while. A long while. 10 years to be exact. From the time I became a "dreamer" to the time I settled into the "dream" God would have me invest the majority of my energies into, it took 10 years and many different iterations of the dream.

Here is a snapshot of my journey...

THE BUSINESSES

  • Pre-Paid Legal Services
  • Success Motivation International
  • Mona Vie
  • Designing Your Best Year Ever!
  • The Movement Church

THE WEBSITES

  • pazitiveimpact.com
  • inspireyourdream.com
  • designingyourbestyearever.com
  • calledtoplant.com
  • rescuingawe.com
  • edwardpaz.com
  • themovement.us

Many, many lessons can be gleaned from this journey, but here are 3 I find myself currently reflecting upon:

YOUR FIRST DREAM, WON'T BE YOUR LAST

The first grand idea for God's grand purpose for your life won't be your only idea. Much of life, especially in the earlier years, is about trying, exploring, and failing. Don't be discouraged if the first grandiose plan you set out to make a reality didn't come to pass. It rarely does.

EVERY PURSUIT BENEFITS THE NEXT

Though I "failed" in many of the endeavors I pursued, the skills, relationships, and experiences I had in each of them made me stronger, wiser, and better for the next opportunity. Most, if not all, of the many challenges and experiences that I had with starting multiple businesses became an asset to me as I became a church planter/pastor. 

YOU MUST COMMIT TO ONE

At some point, you must commit. ENTIRELY. At some point, all other ideas, aspirations, and hopes must take a back seat to the one thing God has called you to. The biggest obstacle to the fulfillment of your current dream is your next dream. See something through to completion. Your credibility depends on it. 

#559 - 4 MARKS OF A DEEP FRIENDSHIP

When it comes to friendship, no one wants fake. No one wants shallow. No one wants temporary. What you're looking for in a friendship is something that is real, meaningful, and lasting.

What you're looking for is depth, breadth, and width.

The problem is, these types of friendships aren't easy to come by.

After 35 years, I can count the number of these types of friends that I have in my life on one hand (and I wouldn't even have to use all my fingers!) 

As I reflect on what makes these one-of-a-kind friendships possible, I think of the following four marks:

LONGEVITY

Depth doesn't develop overnight. A friendship that has the potential for depth must be cultivated over a span of many years. Friendships that last for three years are a dime a dozen. Friendships that last for 30 years - rare.  

AUTHENTICITY

A friendship has little to no potential for depth if you can't bring your total self to the table. Likes and dislikes. Future hopes and past hurts. Successes and failures. Quirks and uniquenesses. The quality of a friendship depends on the freedom to be fully you.

TRANSPARENCY

A friendship can only be as healthy as it is honest. Lies erode trust, and without trust, friendship isn't possible. But it's not just lies that make for an unhealthy friendship, unrevealed truths don't serve the friendship well either. For depth in a friendship to be achieved, making yourself known must be prioritized. 

SPIRITUALITY

Is it possible to connect deeply with someone you don't see eye to eye with spiritually? Though I cannot speak for everyone else, I know that because my convictions about who God is run so deep, it would be difficult to have a deep friendship with someone whose convictions weren't similar. If we can't rejoice together in the joy of our salvation, the joy we could experience as friends would have a ceiling. 

Though there are many "ingredients" to a friendship that will go the distance, these four are a must a for me.

What are the musts for you? Are your friendships characterized by these marks? Can you see how if these four marks aren't present, deep friendship might be difficult to develop? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! 

#558 - YOUR SEARCH ENDS HERE

Relationships won't. Wealth won't. Influence won't. Sex won't. Power won't. Vacations won't. Clothing won't. Electronics won't. Success won't. Straight A's won't. Recognition won't. Religion won't. 

None of these things will fulfill, satisfy, and please you like you think they will.

They won't because they can't. 

But after 35 years of living, my search is over. Deep and lasting joy no longer eludes me. I have come to discover and believe with every fiber of my being:

All I've ever wanted, God has always had.
All I've ever needed, God has always been. 
All I've ever longed for, God has always held.

God's love will. God's peace will. God's grace will. God's forgiveness will. God's holiness will. God's righteousness will. God's strength will. God's wisdom will. God's mercy will. God's compassion will. God's discipline will. God's faithfulness will. 

God will because God can.

God, in His holiness - accessed solely through faith in Jesus Christ - will satisfy completely.

My search is over. 

#557 - KEEP PLANTING

It can be frustrating.

Serving. Giving. Investing. Volunteering. Risking. Sacrificing. Forgiving. Persisting.

With no visible return. With no tangible "fruit." With no immediate results. 

Sometimes you just want to stop. 

But, you can't.

If a "harvest" is what you want, a "seed" is what you'll need.

If you want the "harvest" of a healthy body, a passionate marriage, disciplined kids, good grades, thriving leaders, a fulfilling career, committed disciples, a profitable business, a strong organization, etc...

You are going to need to plant the "seeds" of time, effort, energy, work, consistency, showing up, love, long-suffering, practice, etc...

There's no harvest without the seed.

Don't grow weary. Keep planting.

#556 - ON GETTING BETTER

Whether it's something personally or professionally, one obvious (but many times overlooked) key to making significant improvements is this:

If you want to get better than you are, you have to get yourself around someone better than you are

Someone more experienced. More skilled. More savvy. More talented. More proficient. More gifted. More excellent. Someone better than you.

Humble yourself. Find a way to work your way into their life. Get close enough to observe. Get close enough to ask questions. Get close enough to be able to take notes.

Notice the nuance. Watch the way. View the variance. 

Though this will take intention, it will be worth it.

But, just in case you're not willing to put in the work and effort to position yourself around someone better than you, here is a picture of the alternative.

  1. You will hit a ceiling created by your own unawareness of how it can be done better.
  2. Then, you will get stuck doing it "the way you've always done it."
  3. Unfortunately, the people who need you to be better will miss out.
  4. Finally, your full potential will go unrealized. 

I don't want this to be me. I don't want this to be you.

Get around someone better, and get better.  

#555 - WHAT'S NEXT?

January is complete. I have led myself and our church through a 21-Day Fast that has been both eye-opening for me and fruitful for our church family. The question now is, what's next?

As I aim to make 2018 the most fruitful, productive, and God-honoring year of my life, I must be able to answer the question, "what's next?" with clarity and conviction. If I don't, focus is absent, days are wasted, and time is lost. As a leadership mentor of mine (Andy Stanley) poignantly states, "Leadership is a stewardship, and you will be held accountable."

Here are a list of questions (along with my answers) that I am asking myself that are helping me to focus that I encourage you to ask yourself as well. 

Next major, short-term self-leadership activity goal?

Blog, read Bible, and journal prayers of praise daily. 

Next major, short-term organizational leadership activity goal?

Diligently study/prepare for the 3 messages in our upcoming "SEXOLOGY" series. 

Next major, short-term self-leadership productivity goal?

28 new blog posts. Bible Reading Plan completed through Deuteronomy 20 and Psalm 59. 28 new journal entries. 

Next major, short-term organizational leadership productivity goal?

225 people at our March 11 Sunday Service for Part One of "SEXOLOGY."

#554 - HOW THIS LAST FAST REVEALED THE DEPTH OF MY DEPRAVITY

Many of the lessons I learned through my latest extended time of fasting and prayer are both damning and freeing to me all at the same time. Maybe I will take the time to explain these lessons in more detail in a future post, but for now here is an overview of some of my most significant "AHA" moments from the last 30 days. 

  • For a majority of my life, my actions, as a Christian, have communicated that I believe that God exists primarily for me. 
  • Over the years, my reasons for fasting have been primarily self-serving. 
  • I have believed, wrongly, that the more "extreme" of a fast I did, the more obligated God was to bless me.
  • I have fasted because I've wanted to put God in a position where He owes me. 
  • I have fasted more in an attempt to "unlock" the key to blessing rather than to bless God. 
  • In times past, I have been more concerned with how I was fasting than why I was fasting. (And when I have been concerned with why, those reasons, though on the outside may have seemed noble, were just veneers for my true selfish motivations.)
  • I was concerned primarily with "how" because the more "right" I did it, the more assurances I would have that it would get me the results I wanted.
  • God cannot be manipulated.
  • A god who can be manipulated by my actions is not God.
  • I don't want to serve a god I can manipulate. That's a weak god.
  • Because God's glory is the purpose of life, praise is the purpose of prayer and fasting.
  • God doesn't exist for me. I exist for God. 
  • Petition is the most common and comfortable way of communicating with God.
  • When I praise God more thoroughly, I find petitioning less necessary.
  • To praise God accurately, understanding His attributes is a necessity.
  • God is worthy of my praise.
  • Praise unto God is satisfying and fulfilling to the deepest parts of my being. 
  • Leading myself and others to praise God in spirit and in truth is the purpose of my ministry.
  • Ministry and discipleship that does not explicitly have as its end the glory of God will, by default, end up glorifying man.  
  • I would rather have my fast be "less extreme" and done unto the glory of God than "more extreme" and done unto the glory of myself. 
  • A life that is better for me void of a God that is beautiful to me is not a better life.  
  • If you got God to do everything that you wanted Him to, but you don't get God you lose. 
  • The main threat to the Christian life isn't "pagan" behaviors. The main threat to the Christian life is  "Christian" behaviors done with pagan motivations.
  • I don't just need God's grace for all the wrong things I've done, I need God's grace for all the "right" things I've done for the wrong reasons! 
  • I am a self-serving wretch. BUT...Jesus is my Savior!

#553 - A NEVER ENDING LOOP OF PRAISE

The purpose of prayer is UPWARD PRAISE.

  • Worship for who God is.
  • Thanksgiving for what God has done.

The benefit of upward praise is INWARD PEACE. 

  • Rest in God's character.
  • Satisfaction in God's blessings.

The outcome of inward peace is OUTWARD HOPE.

  • Confidence in God's consistency.
  • Expectation in God's faithfulness.

The impact of outward hope is UPWARD PRAISE.

  • Worship for who God is.
  • Thanksgiving for what God has done.

I encourage you to praise God Almighty with your prayers today, Put the loop in motion. Deep joy, fulfillment, and blessing awaits!

#552 - RIGHT NOW

Right now God is sovereign over all things. Right now God is working to accomplish His will in the earth. Right now, while you are working to accomplish one task (maybe two tasks at most), God is accomplishing an infinite amount of tasks. 

Right now, through faith in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven by God. Right now, through faith in Jesus Christ, you are justified by God. Right now, through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a child of God. 

Right now, you are unaware of all that God is doing to bless you, protect you, and make you more like Him. Right now, God is working on your behalf in ways you cannot even conceive. Right now, God is making moves to glorify Himself through you that you will never see coming.

Right now, you are known by God. Right now, you are loved by God. Right now, you are seen by God.  

Right now, there is not a single concern that you have of which God - the all-powerful, Maker of the heavens and the earth - is unaware.

With all this in mind, I encourage you, right now - REST.