#502 - 7 YEARS. 7 COMPLETIONS.

This month (March 2017) marks 7 years since I responded to God's call on my life to vocational ministry. The time has flown by so fast, and I could have never known that walking forward for that invitation would have led to the following events that would take place in the ensuing years:

  • March 2010 - Said "Yes!" to God's call into vocational ministry.
  • August 2010 - Hired as the Interim High School Ministry Director at Crossroads Church in Fremont.
  • January 2011 - Promoted to be the Full-Time High School Ministry Director at Crossroads Church in Fremont.
  • October 2012 - Ordained as a Pastor.
  • March 2013 - Transitioned from my role as the High School Pastor at Crossroads Church to the Lead Church Planter/Pastor of theMOVEMENT Church in Oakland.
  • September 2013 - Launched theMOVEMENT Church in Oakland at Mills College. 
  • March 2017 - Prepared theMOVEMENT Church for its first major relocation to Elmhurst Community Prep in East Oakland to take place on Sunday, April 9, 2017. 

Being that in the Scriptures the number "7", many times, represents "completion" and something being" finished," I wanted to take some time to reflect on the things that I am absolutely convinced of after 7 years of serving God in this capacity. If I was ever asked the question, "What has God completed in your life up into this point?", this is how I would answer:

1. MY CALLING IS SURE.

Though there have been many joys over the last 7 years, there also has been much pain and heartache. For me to even desire to continue to be involved in pastoral ministry after some of the rough experiences that my wife and I have had to go through, I must be called to this work! No one in their right mind would subject themselves to the spiritual and emotional weight and responsibility of this type of work if they had the choice to do something different!

2. MY WIFE IS A GIFT.

I could not have lasted seven years in pastoral ministry without the love, support, encouragement, and friendship of my wife through it all. She has celebrated with me during my wins, consoled me during my insecurities, and mourned with me during my losses. My wife is an absolute gift, and if I am ever put in a position where I have to choose between her or the ministry, I will choose her

3. THE GOSPEL IS POWERFUL.

I have no job if there is no Gospel. The good news that Jesus Christ saves sinners is the news that initially saved and continually sanctifies me, and it is the only news that has the power to save and sanctify others. Time and time again I have seen the gospel penetrate the hardest of hearts and set free the most despondent of souls. There is no doubt in my mind that the gospel is the power unto salvation for everyone who believes!

4. GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY IS PERFECT.

Sovereignty to give blessing. Sovereignty to take blessing away. Sovereignty to provide resources. Sovereignty to withhold them. Sovereignty to grow the congregation. Sovereignty to decrease it. Sovereignty to bring workers. Sovereignty to remove them. Though I may not always like God's sovereign decisions, I have learned to trust them. In my life and in my ministry, God's sovereignty is my security because it is His will and His will alone that is worthy of my complete trust. 

5. VOLUNTEERS ARE PRICELESS.

There is no church if there are no volunteers. But more specifically to my role as a pastor, I have no sanity if there are no volunteers! Volunteers not only do the work of the ministry day in and day out, but they free me up to focus on the areas of pastoral ministry that I am uniquely called to: preaching and prayer. Though volunteers may work for free, their contribution is priceless. I am convinced that if appreciating and honoring volunteers is not my priority, frustration will be my reality!  

6. PARTNERS ARE INDISPENSABLE.

From day one, every aspect of my pastoral ministry has been supported by Church partners from all across the country. From the churches I had attended, to my sending church, Crossroads, to the Church partners who have invested in us directly, to the Church partners who have invested in us indirectly through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program, without Church partners pastoral ministry would be an impossibility. There is such beauty in the unity of the Body of Christ, and I have, without a doubt, been a beneficiary of such unity.

7. THE PAYOFF IS WORTH THE PRICE.

The unchurched falling in love with Jesus and the local Church. The dechurched returning. The overchurched finding their joy in Christ and the local Church again. The city being served. Disciples making disciples. Marriages being restored. Relationships being renewed. Community being formed. Leaders being discovered, developed, and deployed. The payoff of lives changed is worth the price of a life invested.   

Though there is much that is "unfinished" in me and my ministry, it is my hope and prayer that what God has completed in me up until now would remain with me until my life of pastoral ministry is complete and I hear the long awaited words of my Heavenly Father, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

#501 - 10 BLESSINGS EXPERIENCED AND 10 LESSONS LEARNED DURING MY 40-DAY FAST

From January 4 - February 12 my wife and I engaged in a 40-day liquid only fast. Also, from January 22 - February 12, I led our church to engage in a 21-Day corporate fast. In an effort to celebrate what God did in my life and in the lives of the people in our church during this time, here are just 10 of the blessings I experienced:

  1. Attending prayer meetings filled with people who were hungry for God.
  2. Seeing dozens of people who fasted for the first time finish their fast with joy.
  3. Receiving $45,000 in additional financial support from our church partners.
  4. Connecting with the principal of our next potential meeting space.
  5. Increasing my hunger for God and decreasing my hunger for the delights of this world.
  6. Watching God reveal and uproot hidden and avoided sins in many lives within our church.
  7. Participating in a filming of My Giant Life and meeting Alicia Jay.
  8. Being filled with fresh and exciting dreams and visions for theMOVEMENT Church.
  9. Persevering and sharing in the fasting experience with my wife.
  10. Enjoying being honored and appreciated for my leadership by theMOVEMENT Church family at the conclusion of the fast. 

In an effort to capture the lessons that God taught me during this fast, here are 10 random thoughts I have upon the completion of the fast:

  1. My primary pastoral priority must be my personal spiritual vitality.
  2. My personal hunger for God is the thermostat by which the spiritual temperature of theMOVEMENT will either rise or fall.
  3. Fasting, as a spiritual discipline, must be an integral part of theMOVEMENT's discipleship process because it teaches the principle of denying yourself to follow Christ like very few things can. 
  4. Every time I engage in an extended fast, I wait on the Lord and expect the supernatural to occur to a greater degree than I do when practicing other spiritual disciplines. 
  5. If we don't take fasting and prayer this seriously, who else will?
  6. Understanding why we fast is 10 times more important than understanding how to fast.
  7. Providing the leadership, support, encouragement, teaching, and resources to finish a fast is 10 times more important than only providing those things to start a fast.
  8. Pastoral leadership is, first and foremost, spiritual leadership.
  9. Fasting deadens my delight in the trappings of this world and heightens my hunger for the only One who can truly satisfy - Jesus Christ.
  10. In my experience, corporate fasting and prayer creates spiritual momentum in an individual and in a church, in a way that no other church program or initiative can.  

There is so much more that God did in our lives through this fast and so much that God did that we are, very likely, unaware of. There is also so much more that He taught that I am hoping will be revealed in due time! 

If you are interested in abstaining from food for the spiritual purpose of increasing your hunger for God, visit the following page on our church's website.

I encourage you to strongly consider engaging in a fast. God will be honored, His name will be glorified, and you will be blessed!  

FEBRUARY 2017

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (JANUARY 2017)

  1. Added Gamma and Bred XI's and True Blue III's to my Jordan collection. 
  2. Dedicated Mateo and baptized Rochelle and Lorena.
  3. Started personal 40-Day Fast and 21-Day Corporate Fast.
  4. Connected with Principal Betlach at Elmhurst Middle School
  5. Enjoyed first Movement Group in our new home!

4 GOALS (FEBRUARY 2017)

  1. Lead myself and the church to finish our fasts well.
  2. Complete Acts 29 Application.
  3. Sell one of our cars to reduce debt.
  4. Start tax revision process with Clergy Advantage.

3 HABITS

  1. Journal to Jesus 20x.
  2. Complete 7 Air Alert 4 Workouts.
  3. Fast (only water), every Monday, from sunup to sundown. 

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No fast food.
  2. No games on phone. 

1 COMMITMENT

  1. Complete Acts 29 Application.

JANUARY 2017

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (DECEMBER 2016)

  1. Raised $20,000+ for Be Generous and distributed $10,000+.
  2. Enjoyed our first Christmas Eve service at theMOVEMENT.
  3. Shared the devotional at Rebekah's family Christmas Eve gathering.
  4. Picked up 3 pairs of deadstock Jordan XI's (Space Jams, Legend Blues, Cool Greys).
  5. Facilitated my very first Facebook Live Goal-Setting Workshop.

4 GOALS (JANUARY 2017)

  1. Have conversation with Clergy Advantage.
  2. Complete Acts 29 Application.
  3. Create 2017 Budget.
  4. Lead 21-Day Corporate Fast.

3 HABITS

  1. Post 100 words to edwardpaz.com 20 times.
  2. Pray with Rebekah 15 times.
  3. Write $25,000 Formula for work 12 times. 

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No fast food.
  2. No games on phone. 

1 COMMITMENT

  1. Read/Journal through Read Scripture Bible Reading Plan 31x.

GOAL-SETTING RESOURCES

From 2007-2011 I was the Executive Director of a Non-Profit Organization by the name of Designing Your Best Year Ever! The mission of the organization was to make goal-setting a consistent practice of the majority of people around the world. In the years the organization was in existence, we facilitated goal-setting workshops and began "goal-setting communities" in schools, churches, businesses, civic organizations, and anywhere else people wanted to live a life "by design."

The two tools we primarily used are available as a free download below. Enjoy!

  1. Designing Your Best Year Ever! Goal-Setting Workshop
  2. Designing Your Best Month Ever! Goal-Setting Workshop

#500 - 500 POSTS WRITTEN. 5 WRITING LESSONS LEARNED.

1. HAVING WRITTEN > BEING READ

Though I have yet to develop the writing habit I one day wish to have, I am convinced that the satisfaction that comes from "having written" far exceeds the satisfaction that comes from having your writing read.

Though people's comments on how your writing has impacted them can be fulfilling, it does not compare to the fulfillment of knowing that you have consistently committed yourself to your craft regardless of the size/response of your audience. 

2. QUANTITY > QUALITY

Inspiring, poignant sentences don't just happen. They appear after many uninspiring, bland sentences have been written first. Coherent, cohesive paragraphs don't just happen. They come to fruition after many incoherent, jumbled paragraphs have been written first. Shareable, relevant content doesn't just happen. It gets created after much unshareable, irrelevant content  has been written first.

My best writing has never been a result of me trying to produce quality writing. My best writing has always "risen from the ashes" of the quantity of bad writing I have produced!

3. RE-COMMITTING > QUITTING

I have quit writing more times than I have quit anything else in my life. I have been consistently inconsistent in my quest to become a committed writer. I have fallen short of my writing goals so much so that I'm not even sure if I believe that I am capable of reaching the goals I continue to set for myself. 

But what I have found to be true is this, what makes you a writer is not whether or not you quit, what makes you a writer is your resolve to re-commit  after you quit. What makes you a writer is your decision to start writing even though 3 months have passed without you writing a single word. What makes you a writer is the inner voice that tells you,  "You will try again because if you don't you will be neglecting not a hobby, but your responsibility." 

4. LESS > MORE

When I use 15 words to communicate something that can be effectively communicated with 5, I force the reader to work harder than they should have to.

Use less words. Communicate more clearly.

 (I want to write more about this, but if I did I'd be violating my own lesson!)

5. FOR ME > FOR OTHERS

Though I hope you get something out of this post, I wrote it primarily for me. I wrote it so I could process and synthesize the lessons I've learned through almost 10 years of writing.

I have found that writing "for me" has made it easier for me to write over the years. Writing what I am learning. Writing what I want to remember. Writing in a tone that I am comfortable reading. Writing about experiences am having.

Though this may seem self-absorbed, selfish, or inconsiderate, when I take this approach my writing becomes most natural. It flows. It's real. It's honest.

Every time I become overly concerned with what others will think about what I am writing, I tend to lose my way. I tend to lose myself. 

Write for you. You'll be surprised. It will end up serving others as well because more people are like you then you think! 

 What lessons have you learned about writing? Please leave your comments below. I'd love to learn from you! 

#499 - DEADLINES INDUCE DISCIPLINE

I wish I didn't need them. I wish I was more motivated without them. I wish I could be committed in spite of them. But the reality is, I can't.

I need deadlines. 

Deadlines hold me accountable. Deadlines increase my sense of urgency. Deadlines set the boundaries for how I will invest my time. Deadlines keep me focused. Deadlines force me to prioritize.

Deadlines induce discipline.

The discipline to start. The discipline to persevere. The discipline to finish. Deadlines bring out my most disciplined self.

With that in mind, being that it is December 1, there is a deadline that is hanging over all of our heads: the end of the year.

How will you leverage this deadline to finish the year strong? What disciplines will the deadline of "by the end of 2016" induce? What will you complete by the time the year is up?

I encourage you to write a couple of things down and see if the deadline of the end of the year doesn't add extra motivation to complete something you've started. 

DECEMBER 2016

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (NOVEMBER 2016)

  1. Celebrated with family and friends at Christina's wedding.
  2. Enjoyed seeing church flourish "without me" (VMA's, Christopher/AJ Preaching, Brook's encouraging word at Discipleship Meeting).
  3. Completed my first Spartan Super with Mervin.
  4. Enjoyed time with family over Thanksgiving holiday (This Is Us, Finding Dory, Basketball, Family Walk, Warriors Game).
  5. Settled into new home on 66th!

4 GOALS (DECEMBER 2016)

  1. Make calls to 10 potential partners.
  2. Complete Acts 29 Application.
  3. Host fun/memorable Leadership Team Christmas Dinner.
  4. Raise $25,000 during the Be Generous Giving Initiative.

3 HABITS

  1. Post 100 words to edwardpaz.com 20 times.
  2. Fix bed 20 times.
  3. Write $25,000 Formula for work 12 times. 

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No games on phone.
  2. Be in bed by 10pm.

1 COMMITMENT

  1. Complete Acts 29 Application.

#498 - LEADERSHIP PIPELINE: TEAM LEADS (BE)

Our leadership pipeline "levels" at theMOVEMENT are Team Members, Team Leads, Ministry Leads, Department Leads, and Organizational Leads.

At every level we have a "curriculum" of "Who You Need to Be" and "What You Need to Do" to succeed at the current level and be considered for advancement to the next level. 

For the purpose of this post, here is a snapshot of the "curriculum" for Team Leads. 

WHO TEAM LEADS NEED TO BE

  1. Humble - Willing to deal with insecurities?
     
  2. Hungry - Willing to increase involvement?
     
    • Are you willing to serve at least 3 times a month?
    • Are you willing to invest a minimum of 5 hours a week into the building of your team?
    • Are you a MOVEMENTMAKER, following through on the covenant's commitments?
       
  3. Smart - Willing to improve interpersonal skills?
     
    • What are your interpersonal weaknesses?
    • What are your interpersonal strengths?
    • What is the interpersonal skill that, if developed, would have the greatest positive impact on your role as a Team Leader?
    • Resources:
  4. Healthy - Willing to pursue intimacy with Christ?
     
    • Are you hungering for God's Word?
    • Are you trusting God with your sin?
    • Are you enjoying the beauty of God's gospel?
    • Are you offering God your worship?
    • Resources:

#497 - AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FUTURE BROTHER-IN-LAW: DONAVAN DOAN

Dear Donavan,

In a little more than 24 hours, you are going to marry my one and only baby sister Christina Paz. Though she grew up with three brothers and a father, who love her with all of our hearts, after tomorrow, you are going to be THE primary male voice, influence, spiritual leader, and friend in her life. So it is with that in mind that I want to share a few thoughts...

  1. Christina is a reader. Please make sure she always has a budget for books and nice bookshelves where she can store them.
  2. Christina is a writer. Please make sure she always has a Macbook. Not the latest one necessarily, but definitely not one that is super old. Writers write best on Apple products.
  3. Christina is a romantic. Please take her on dates that make her feel special, and binge watch the sappy shows/movies with her that have guys in them taking their girls on dates that make them feel special. 
  4. Christina is a Giants and Warriors fan...for life. Don't try to con her into becoming a fan of any Los Angeles sports franchise. Notice I didn't say please. 
  5. Christina is a leader. Please create the proper space for her to exercise her leadership gifting within your home. Also, please do everything you can to encourage her to lead outside of the home as well. 
  6. Christina loves her family. Though she is "leaving" us and being united with you, please make an effort to reunite us often. Her heart is filled after time spent with her family. Also, our times of laughter, joking, and sarcasm just aren't the same when she's not there. 
  7. Christina loves Jesus. Please give her plenty of reasons to love Jesus more. Love her like Christ loves the Church. Sacrifice for her like Christ sacrifices for the Church. Forgive her like Christ forgives the Church. Extend grace to her like Christ extends grace to the Church. Bless her like Christ blesses the Church. 

Now if that all seems like a bit much, here's what you need to know Donavan: If anyone can love my sister in all the ways that I've just outlined above, it is YOU! I choose YOU Donavan Doan! And if you had a twin, I would still choose YOU!

You are PERFECT for my sister. 

Donavan, you are a man of integrity. You are a man of high values. You are a man of character. You are patient. You are kind. You are compassionate. You are responsible. You are wise. You are diligent. You love the Lord. You fear the Lord. You trust the Lord. 

Donavan, I believe in you. 

You will lead your family well, and you will help my sister to become the woman of God that she was originally created to become. I can trust that you will do this because I know that you trust that Christ will do this through you!

Though you are blessed to have Christina as your wife, she is blessed to have you as her husband, and we are blessed to have you join our family. 

Tomorrow is surely going to be a day you will remember for a very long time. I can't wait to celebrate with you. I love you Donavan. 

Your brother, 

Edward

#496 - 10 TYPES OF FRIENDS I JUST REMOVED FROM MY FEEDS

Every day you and I consume content. Much of which comes through the "feeds" of our various social media platforms. And whether we know it or not, our "feeds" are indeed feeding us!

News. Satire. Opinions. Videos. Links. Pictures. Memes. GIFs. Blogs. Music. Etc.  

Every person, business, and organization, with the content that they are producing, is not only encroaching on your time, but, for better or for worse, they are influencing your life. 

With this in mind, in an effort to "eat healthier" from the table of social media, here are 10 "types of friends" I have recently removed (unfollowed) from my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.

  1. Negative Nancy's
  2. Seductive Sally's
  3. Political Paulie's 
  4. Fault-Finding Frankie's
  5. Ranting Randy's
  6. Egotistical Eddy's (I understand if you feel you need to unfollow ME!)
  7. Annoying Angie's
  8. Salesman Sammy's
  9. Pet-Obsessed Petey's
  10. Weight-Lifiting Wally's 

Here are the 4 "types of friends" I found myself keeping in my feed...

  1. The Encouragers 
  2. The Inspirers
  3. The Informers
  4. The Humorists

There is too much purpose, passion, and legacy you have been created to contribute for you to have your time wasted by unnecessary, distracting, distasteful, and disrespectful posts to your various feeds.

Take action. De-clutter and detach.    

Why? Because the old adage is as appropriate here as it is anywhere else...

You ARE what you EAT. 

NOVEMBER 2016

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (OCTOBER 2016)

  1. Enjoyed Leadership Pipeline Conference in Nashville with Staff Team.
  2. Disciplined myself to not post to social media.
  3. Posted to edwardpaz.com 18 times.
  4. Received keys to new home in Oakland!
  5. Went on first 3-mile run with Merritt!

4 GOALS (NOVEMBER 2016)

  1. Make calls to 10 potential partners.
  2. Complete Acts 29 Application.
  3. Complete Super Spartan Race.
  4. Complete "Just 6 Weeks" 100 Push-Ups Program.

3 HABITS

  1. Post 100 words to edwardpaz.com 20 times.
  2. Write 20 Thank-You Cards to Various Volunteers.
  3. Run at least 3 miles 15 times. 

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No shoes/clothes shopping.
  2. Be in bed by 10pm.

1 COMMITMENT

  1. Complete Acts 29 Application.

#495 - LEADERSHIP PIPELINE: TEAM MEMBERS (BE)

Our leadership pipeline "levels" at theMOVEMENT are Team Members, Team Leads, Ministry Leads, Department Leads, and Organizational Leads.

At every level we have a "curriculum" of "Who You Need to Be" and "What You Need to Do" to succeed at the current level and be considered for advancement to the next level. 

For the purpose of this post, here is a snapshot of the "curriculum" for Team Members. 

WHO TEAM MEMBERS NEED TO BE

  1. Humble - Coachable?
  2. Hungry - Available?
    • Can you serve 1-2 times/month?
    • Can you be inconvenienced to serve if there is a "call out?"
    • Can you put thought/effort into the role during the week?
    • Resources
      • Book Excerpts
        • Bill Hybels on Volunteering (The Volunteer Revolution)
           
  3. Smart - Personable?
    • Are you kind?
    • Are you caring?
    • Are you calm?
       
  4. Healthy - Spiritual?
    • Are you seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ?

#494 - LEADERSHIP PIPELINE: WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

As we build out the "leadership pipeline" at theMOVEMENT we intend to provide knowledge, experience, and coaching for every level of leadership within the church.

Our leadership pipeline levels are: team members, team leads, ministry directors, department directors, and organizational leads. 

In the area of knowledge our goal will be to provide training around two specific questions:

  1. Who do I need to be?
  2. What do I need to do?

For the sake of this post, I want to think through the second question for each of the levels of leadership.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

FOR TEAM MEMEBRS

FOR TEAM LEADS

  • Have Monthly 1-on-1's with Team Members.
  • Observe/Assess/Schedule Team Members.
  • Pursue/Protect vision of the ministry.
  • Engage in a discipleship relationship.

FOR MINISTRY DIRECTORS

  • Build a Productive Leadership Team.
  • Recruit Team Members.
  • Envision Team Members.
  • Equip Team Members.
  • Duplicate Yourself.

FOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS

  • Coach Ministry Directors.
  • Assess Ministry Directors.
  • Report on progress of Ministry Directors to Organizational Lead.
  • Ensure alignment amongst Ministry Directors with organizational Mission.

FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS

  • Seek first the Kingdom of God.
  • Engage the Leadership Team with the Mission/Vision/Values.
  • Reinforce the Mission/Vision/Values often.
  • Value the leaders you serve alongside.
  • Evaluate progress.

#493 - LEADERSHIP PIPELINE: WHO DO I NEED TO BE?

As we build out the "leadership pipeline" at theMOVEMENT we intend to provide knowledge, experience, and coaching for every level of leadership within the church.

Our leadership pipeline levels are: team members, team leads, ministry directors, department directors, and organizational leads. 

In the area of knowledge our goal will be to provide training around two specific questions:

  1. Who do I need to be?
  2. What do I need to do?

For the sake of this post, I want to think through the first question for each of the levels of leadership.

WHO DO I NEED TO BE?

FOR TEAM MEMEBRS

  • Humble - Coachable?
  • Hungry - Available?
  • Smart - Personable?
  • Healthy - Spiritual?

FOR TEAM LEADS

  • Humble - Willing to deal with insecurities?
  • Hungry - Willing to increase involvement?
  • Smart - Willing to improve interpersonal skills?
  • Healthy - Willing to pursue intimacy with Christ?

FOR MINISTRY DIRECTORS

  • Humble -  Committed to dismantling pride?
  • Hungry - Committed to deploying people?
  • Smart - Committed to developing patience?
  • Healthy - Committed to discovering peace?

FOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS

  • Humble - Passionate about empowering leaders?
  • Hungry - Passionate about equipping leaders?
  • Smart - Passionate about engaging leaders?
  • Healthy - Passionate about enjoying grace?

FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS

  • Humble - Resolved to create and sustain a culture of humble leader development
  • Hungry - Resolved to create and sustain a culture of hungry leader development?
  • Smart - Resolved to create and sustain a culture of smart leader development?
  • Healthy - Resolved to create and sustain a culture of healthy leader development?

#492 - NO SHORTCUTS

You may have heard it said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well today, I heard someone say...

The longest distance between two points is a shortcut.

So poignant. And, in my experience, so true.

When it comes to the fulfillment of your purpose, calling, or any other major goal you may have, the shortcut is the long route.  The shortcut is the poor choice. The shortcut will cause the most delay.

Why? Because shortcuts sabotage.

Shortcuts sabotage the process. Shortcuts sabotage growth. Shortcuts sabotage maturity. Shortcuts sabotage development. Shortcuts sabotage learning.  

In the end, a shortcut will sabotage your ability to sustain the thing you took the shortcut to obtain.  

If you want to obtain good health, but don't want to sustain it, take a shortcut. If you want to obtain wealth, but don't want to sustain it, take a shortcut. If you want to obtain a leadership position, but don't want to sustain it, take a shortcut.

But, if you want sustained health, wealth, influence, and impact, say "no" to any shortcut you may be tempted to take and say "yes" to the process.

Say yes to earning. Say yes to deserving. Say yes to enduring. Say yes to experience. Say yes to withstanding the test of time. 

Your destination will be far more gratifying and longer lasting when you do. 

#491 - I AM ONLY A WINDOW

I am only a window.

And my desire is that, through me, you would see the Son. 

As a window, If I'm doing my job correctly, through me, you will see the beauty of the Son. You will feel the warmth of the Son. You will experience the nourishment of the Son. It is my desire that, through me, you will fall in love with the Son. You will desire to worship the Son. You will long to be with the Son. 

I am only a window. 

I was created for the sole purpose of giving you a clear view of the Son. I'm just the humble means to a glorious end. Though you may appreciate me for revealing the Son to you in a way that the Son had not been revealed to you before, please keep your eyes on the Son.

If you take your eyes off of the Son and start to concern yourself with the window, the window will always leave you disappointed. The window will always leave you wanting more. The window will always leave you unfulfilled. Only the Son can satisfy.   

I am only a window. 

I will do my best to keep myself free of blemish and stain so that your view of the Son can remain unobstructed. I will do my best to remain clean and clear so that your enjoyment of the Son can remain unhindered. I will do my best to widen and grow so that your understanding of the Son can always be ever increasing.  

At the end of the day though, you must remember, I am only a window.

I am breakable. I am finite. I am limited. And there will come a day when my ability will wane and you will no longer be able to see the Son through me for I will be no more. 

But, the Son will remain.

And another window will appear....

#490 - MY SOURCE OF LEADERSHIP CONFIDENCE

My personal obedience to God - that's where the confidence to lead someone else to be obedient to God comes from. My confession of sin. My repentance for wrongdoing. My steps of faith. My acts of obedience. My sacrifice. My surrender. Without it, I'm a fraud. 

My spiritual leadership is only as legitimate as I am obedient.

I cannot lead someone, with integrity, to trust God if I am not trusting God. I cannot encourage someone, with authenticity, to confess sin if I am not confessing sin. I cannot direct someone, with authority, to take a difficult step of faith if I am not taking difficult steps of faith.  

I cannot lead someone, with urgency, to do the last thing that God is leading them to do if I have not done the last thing that God has led me to do. 

The Church doesn't need another leader who is talking the talk but not walking the walk. The Church doesn't need another leader who isn't first leading themselves. The Church doesn't need another leader who has no personal experience with the Gospel in which they are leading people to receive.

The Church needs leaders who are, first and foremost, recipients of the grace they are distributing. The Church needs leaders who are well acquainted with the joys of following the commands they are encouraging others to obey. The Church needs leaders who are more committed to their sanctification than to the sanctification of others.

With all this in mind, if you are a Christian leader, I encourage you to be obedient God.

Whatever He is leading you to do...do it. Today.

The integrity and authenticity of your leadership is depending upon it. 

  

#489 - THE AMAZING THING ABOUT GRACE

As I was reflecting on God's grace today, one thought made this grace that is already so beautiful to me, even more glorious than it already is. Though this already may be obvious to you, the thought was this: God does not owe me this grace.

This grace that created me. This grace that provides for me. This grace that sustains me. This grace that saved me. This grace that forgives me. This grace that sanctifies me. This grace that gives me a purpose. This grace that gives me gifts, talents, and abilities to carry out my purpose. This grace that promises to reunite me with Him. God does not owe me this grace.

I have not earned it. I have done nothing to deserve it. Absolutely nothing.

Yet He gives it to me anyways.

What I have earned is death. What I have merited is separation from God. What I deserve is punishment for sinning against fellow image-bearers of God and for sinning against God Himself.

But what I'm given...is grace. 

Though there are countless implications for how this amazing grace that I have received should impact how I treat others, the one at the top of my mind is this:

Grace is most authentic when the recipient is least deserving.

#488 - THIS MAKES WORRY IMPOSSIBLE

You can't simultaneously worship and worry. You just can't do it.

You can't be in awe of God's mercy towards you and worry about your money.
You can't be amazed by God's grace towards you and worry about your goals.
You can't be astounded by God's love towards you and worry about your living.

When being perfectly loved and accepted by the Infinite is real, being stressed out and worried about the finite is rather ridiculous. 

When enamored by the epic truth that you are God's creation, you will cease to worry about whether or not you are under God's care.

When enthralled by the sovereign reality that God opened up your eyes to your need for a Savior, you will cease to worry about whether or not He can open up the doors to fulfill your need for a salary

When enlightened by the glorious fact that God has forgiven you of your transgressions, you will cease to worry about whether or not He will with you in your transitions.

You can't simultaneously worship and worry.

So worship God today. For what He's done. For who He is. And for where He has brought you. Thank Him. Reflect on His goodness. Praise Him for His faithfulness to His promises. Lend your best words, thoughts, and emotions towards making much of the only One worthy of making much of. Do this.

And watch your worry disappear.