#631 - TEXAS DAY 3

Woke up early. 
Fruit for breakfast.
Got on the road for the nearly 3 hour drive to San Antonio!
Stopped at Bucc-ees! Great beef jerky. A bomb sausage on a stick wrapped in a tortilla. Super clean bathrooms. Quite the gas station experience!
Made it to San Antonio by about 1.
Let in to AT&T arena at 1:30.
3rd row seats from the floor by the Warriors bench - INCREDIBLE!
Lotta turnovers. Klay was off. Spurs hit shots. Sat next to KD's personal security guard. Manu came up huge in the 4th Quarter. Crowd was going berserk for him! DUBS LOST. Great memory made with my wife. 
Drove to outlets. Returned a pair of shoes. (Proud of myself for doing this!)
Long drive home.
Heard service at theMOVEMENT went great. I am so BLESSED to serve with such a talented and reliable team!
Worked on my "special project" for several hours. Kind of hesitant about going public with it, but we'll see...
Another great day. 

#630 - TEXAS DAY 2

Slept in.
Checked out of our hotel in Galveston.
Went to the outlets.
Bought a Warriors cap for tomorrow's game! Can't wait!
Had lunch at Rudy's BBQ. SO GOOD! The cream style corn was DELICIOUS!
Checked into our hotel in Sugarland.
Napped.
Watched the Houston Rockets lose with my in-laws. (Sad for them. Good for me!)
As my wife and I were having lunch at Rudy's today, I couldn't help but reflect on how blessed we are. To travel. To eat good food. To have jobs we enjoy. 
Definitely undeserved. Truly unmerited. We are BLESSED.
I am, once again, convicted to steward these blessings well for the good of others and for the glory of God. 

#629 - TEXAS DAY 1

Didn't get to sleep in today.
Dante's Pinning Ceremony.
So proud of and inspired by his diligence and hard work!
Chick-Fil-A.
Found a great deal on Ticketmaster for tickets to this Sunday's Warriors vs. Spurs playoff game in San Antonio. 3rd Row from the floor! Right next to the Warrior's bench!
Dante's Graduation Ceremony.
Long. Really long.
Got a bit of buyer's remorse about the Warriors tickets. Put them back up for sale on Ticketmaster to see if I can turn a profit. If they sell, I'll come up close to $600! If they don't sell, my wife and I will get to see a great game up close!
Dinner. Mexican Food.
Cavs lost. (Happy about this.)
As I prepare to go to sleep tonight, I seriously wonder how much I could accomplish if I worked as hard as Dante had to over the last several years to graduate from his nursing program?!?
Thanks Dante for pushing me to be better.
 

#628 - CANCUN DAY 4

Slept in. Again.
Checked out at 1pm.
Ate one last buffet lunch.
Almost missed our ride to the airport. We thought we were leaving at 2:45. It was 2:25!
Driver sped us over. He educated us on Cancun. It's a city that's only been in existence for 50 years! I had no idea!
Flight was delayed.
Boarded at 6:30ish.
Final thought about Cancun - MUCH BETTER than Cabo. Cleaner and classier. 
Arrived in Houston at 8:30ish.
Just in time to watch the Dubs beat the Spurs on my TNT app!
Was picked up by my mother-in-law and nephew and drove to Galveston.
First meal in Houston - WHATABURGER! (The gravy is off tha' chain!)
Looking forward to celebrating my nephew's graduation from nursing school tomorrow.
Second leg of trip starts now!

#627 - CANCUN DAY 3

Slept in.
Ate lunch at all-inclusive resort next door - Secrets.
Their lunch buffet was better than the one at our resort.
Went to the beach and swam in the Caribbean!
Showered and prepped for wedding.
Officiated wedding ceremony for JR and Elsie. I am so BLESSED to be a part of people's lives in this way! I am not entitled to these experiences. It's all GRACE!
Ate. Danced. Celebrated.
Was still hungry after the wedding so...ordered room service.
Jaccuzzi'd.
Continuing to think through and plan my next "special project."
Soaking it all in. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. 

 

#626 - CANCUN DAY 2

Slept in.
Late Lunch at the Buffet. (It was so-so.)
Walked down to the beach.
Began working on a project I'm super excited about.
Attended and helped to facilitate the wedding rehearsal.
Enjoyed a great wedding rehearsal dinner at Tres Colores (Mexican Food).
Re-conneted with friends from college.
Enjoyed dinner (part two) at the Gaucho Grill Brazilian Steakhouse. (Not as good as Espetus though!)
Watched The Hundred-Foot Journey with my wife -  great film!
God is good to me!

 

#625 - CANCUN DAY 1

Airplanes. Two. Oak to Hou. Hou to Can. 
Beautiful all-inclusive resort. 
First meal. Dinner at Fusion. (Nikkei cuisine, Japanese-style cooking influenced by Peruvian ingredients, served a la carte with Hibachi tables and a Formal dress code.)
IT WAS DELICIOUS.
Miso soup had carne asada in it! 
Watched Dubs win. Klay is incredible.
About to soak in jacuzzi tub.
BLESSED.

#624 - THE 6TH DAY

Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to experience a much-anticipated and needed change of pace and rhythm to my schedule that will take me to Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and then Nevada over the next 20 days.

But before I could experience the beauty of tomorrow, I had to embrace the responsibilities of today!

And I'm so glad I did.

I preached, and I gave it everything I had. I led a meeting encouraging our church community to engage in one-on-one discipleship relationships. After that meeting, I even met briefly with a church planter planning to plant a church in Oakland to encourage him in God's call on his life. 

I also accomplished nearly all of the tasks that I set out to do at the beginning of the week in order to finish well. And after a pretty intense several days I can say with deep conviction,

I FINISHED WELL.

And in light of doing so, I am convinced...

It's worth it to finish well. It's responsible to finish well. It's God-honoring to finish well. It's satisfying to finish well. It's relieving to finish well.

I am so thankful the 6th day is through! The 7th day is tomorrow, and I am unashamedly going to follow God's lead and do exactly what He did after 6 days of work...

REST.

#623 - THE WARRIORS TAUGHT ME THIS

Today, the 2018 NBA Playoffs began. Though the Golden State Warriorsare the defending champions, unfortunately, in the month leading up to the playoffs, they have been playing "uninspired" to say the least. So much so that many people, me included, have been concerned with whether or not they have what it takes to repeat as champs.

But how I feel about their chances of winning the championship drastically changed after watching them beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 today.

They played hard. They played inspired. They played together. They played enthusiastically. They played intensely. They played aggressively. And they won...convincingly.

And I couldn't help but think as I watched them play,

HAVING SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR, CHANGES THE WAY YOU PLAY.

Because the Warriors are now playing playoff games. Because if they lose this series their season will be over. Because a chance to win 3 championships in 4 years doesn't come around often. Because they know that making it to the playoffs the next year is never guaranteed. Because they realize that every team and every player's "window" to be great is very small, It is changing everything about their approach to the game. For the first time in a long time, it looks like they are actually trying to play to their potential. 

And this got me thinking about what I think is a very important leadership lesson:

CLARITY OF PURPOSE IMPACTS INTENSITY OF PERFORMANCE.

The more clear a leader can be on what is "at stake" in their leadership, the more likely they are to lead with passion and commitment. The more clear a leader is on what can be "lost" if they don't perform well, the more likely they will perform well. The more clear a leader can be on what they can possibly "win" if they lead with everything they have, the more likely they will lead accordingly. 

The Scriptures teach us that, "For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross."

Christ was "playing" for our salvation. Christ was "playing" for obedience to His Father. Christ was "playing" for completing the very last detail what He was sent here to do. And that type of crystal clear clarity led Him to commit the most selfless act in the history of mankind. 

Motivations matter. 

WHAT ARE YOU "PLAYING" FOR? 

#622 - WHAT DO PASTOR'S TALK ABOUT?

The other day, I wrote about what pastor's do. Today, because I have a pastoral team meeting with the group of pastors I am privileged to serve with at theMOVEMENT, I want to share a little bit of insight in regards to what pastor's talk about.

The following is the agenda for tonight's bi-monthly pastoral team meeting. All leadership team meetings at theMOVEMENT (including pastoral team meetings) are outlined using the five values of the church as a guide.  

RESOLUTE GRATITUDE (Thanksgiving > Entitlement)

  • How do you see God moving powerfully in your life?
  • Where do you see God moving in a personal weakness or struggle?
  • How do you see God moving in specific people in the church who you are pastoring?
  • What else do we see God doing at theMOVEMENT that we are grateful for?
  • Financial Update. 

SELFLESS TRANSPARENCY (Truth-Telling > Image-Protecting)

  • My emotional and spiritual health
  • My marriage
  • Sexology Series Debrief

LIFELONG LEARNING (Growth > Complacency)

  • Baptism & Membership Discussion

EMPOWERING LEADERSHIP (Development > Excellence)

  • Pastoral Candidate Process Conversation
  • Current/Future Pastoral Candidates
  • Summer Pastoral Team Retreat 
  • Music Ministry Leadership Team Update
  • Vote on New Member Candidates

AUDACIOUS FAITH (Courage > Comfort)

  • Where the teaching is headed
  • Creating a Culture of Invitation Evaluation
  • Our next Thematic Goal
  • Enlarge Territory Corporate Prayer

#621 - WHERE I NEED TO GET BETTER

I wish it dawned on me earlier. I wish I would've had the humility to take this seriously sooner. Unfortunately, I didn't. It was not a priority of mine to get better in this area of my life.

And I think it wasn't a priority because it was and is an area that I believe I do well in. It is an area of my life that I take a lot of pride in. Actually, it is probably the thing that others would say I'm best at. And therein lies the problem. 

VERY RARELY DO WE CONSIDER STRENGTHENING OUR STRENGTHS.

I need to become a better preacher of God's Word. I need to become much better. More skilled. More proficient. More effective.

I need to interpret the text more deeply. I need to speak to the implications of the text more thoroughly. I need to apply the text more broadly. I need to do a better job of speaking both to the head, the heart, and the hands.  

I need to read more books about preaching. I need to watch and listen to effective preachers preach. I need to solicit more constructive feedback for my preaching. I need to, once again, make effective preaching a study.

Plainly stated: I need to become a better preacher.

I need to do this because I am convinced (and so was Marcus Buckingham!):

WE HAVE THE GREATEST POTENTIAL TO GET BETTER IN THE THING WE DO BEST.

Or stated another way,

WE CAN GROW MOST EXPONENTIALLY IN THE AREA WHERE WE ARE GIFTED MOST SUPERNATURALLY. 

Sure, there are certain weaknesses that deserve our attention. Yes, there are certain weaknesses in which we have to grow. 

But, I think we are missing out on experiencing our full potential in our areas of gifting if we "coast." The embarrassing truth is, that because I have been gifted to preach and communicate, it is also the area that I have placed the least amount of energy and effort into developing. That's poor stewardship. That's not stewardship.

The parable of the talents was all about stewarding what you have been given. It wasn't about maximizing what you haven't been given. The person who had one talent wasn't responsible for multiplying five talents. He was responsible for multiplying one

With that in mind, there are gifts that you and I have been given to steward. The question that we have to answer is, how are we maximizing and multiplying our gifts for the glory of God?

Grow your giftedness.
Strengthen your strengths. 

Don't you want to see how much you can develop what God has divinely placed in your hands?

I know I do!

#620 - 100 DAYS IN A ROW

For the first time in my life, I have done something for 100 days in a row! (Other than eating and going to the restroom!)

Unfortunately, I have not read my Bible for 100 days in a row, I have not brushed my teeth for 100 days in a row, I have not told my wife I love her for 100 days in a row, I have not exercised for 100 days in a row, and I have not done many other things which I probably should have done, by this point in my life, for 100 days in a row. But, I have done this:

I HAVE PUBLISHED A BLOG POST FOR 100 DAYS STRAIGHT.

Being that my "word of the year" is routine, this is a very big deal. But, instead of just celebrating the accomplishment, I want to reflect upon it as well. Here are 10 things I've learned as I have published a blog post to this website, everyday, for the last 100 days.

  1. Doing something for 100 days straight is possible.
  2. Writing everyday is a possibility when learning everyday is a priority.
  3. Writing to be responsible is a stronger motivation than writing to be read.
  4. Quality comes from quantity.
  5. To become prolific I must abandon perfection.
  6. Having written is 100x more fulfilling than thinking about writing. 
  7. Everyday, either my resolve muscle or my neglect muscle is being exercised. There are no neutral days.  
  8. My pacesetter (Seth Godin) set the bar for my potential
  9. Thinking critically precedes writing clearly
  10. Milestones motivate.

I hope you have been served well over these last 100 days!

On to the next 100!

 

#619 - WHAT DO PASTOR'S DO?

This past week one of the kids in our church asked me what my job was! Haha! Though he's only 8 years old, he does know that I preach on Sundays, but he didn't think that was enough to be my actual job.

But, I don't think this 8 year-old kid is alone in his thinking! Many people don't understand what a pastor does on a weekly basis. 

So in an effort to paint a picture of what a week in the life of a pastor looks like (and to list all the things that I actually have to do this week!) here is a list of many of the things that I will do between now and Sunday afternoon.

  1. Design/Send Out MovementWeekly (Email Newsletter)
  2. Send out Pastoral Team Meeting Reminder Email
  3. Prepare agenda for Friday's Pastoral Team Meeting
  4. Lead Friday's Pastoral Team Meeting
  5. Re-Design 1-1 Discipleship Relationship "Cheat Sheet"
  6. Prepare agenda for Sunday's Discipleship Meeting
  7. Lead Sunday's Discipleship Meeting
  8. Record Discipleship Meeting Video Invite
  9. Prepare Keynote Slides for Sunday's Message
  10. Preach Sunday's Message
  11. Book reservations at Reno restaurant for Acts 29 Bay Area gathering
  12. Send Email to Acts 29 Bay Area Pastors with info for Reno
  13. Facilitate group on Thursday
  14. Send out MovementMusic Leadership Team Email
  15. 1-1 meeting with a staff member
  16. 1-1 meeting with Principal of Elmhurst 
  17. Dinner meeting with 2 families who are new to the church
  18. 1-1 meeting with a ministry leader
  19. 1-1 meeting with a Bay Area Church Planter  
  20. 1-1 meeting with a former church member
  21. Phone call with a church member
  22. 1 Pre-Marital Counseling Session

Hopefully this list can help you see that pastoring is so much more than preaching a message on Sunday mornings!

Keep your pastor in your prayers! His list is, very likely, similar to mine! And, if you're reading this, and I'm your pastor, please keep me in your prayers! I would surely appreciate them!

#618 - 6 MORE DAYS

6 more days of focus.
6 more days of responsibility.
6 more days of effort.
6 more days.

6 more days till I can take a breather.
6 more days till I can take my mind off it all.
6 more days till I can disconnect. 
6 more days.

In 6 more days, a well-deserved change of pace and change of environment, for the next 20 days, awaits. 

Serve Faithfully.
Love well.
Finish Strong.

I will be held accountable.

#617 - SAD BUT TRUE

There are going to be some Sundays as a pastor where you're not going to be feeling it. Though you know God loves you. Though you know you should love others. Though you know you are called. Though you know your task is to serve. Though you know you are to work unto the Lord and not for man...

WHAT YOU KNOW AND HOW YOU FEEL WILL BE AT ODDS WITH EACH OTHER.

And no matter how much you pray. No matter how much you attempt to get yourself out of the funk. No matter how much you claim and proclaim every Scripture you know over your life and your ministry. No matter how much you cry out to God to change your heart...you still will not feel any better. 

So what do you do then?

Serve anyway. Love anyway. Preach anyway. Do your best and give your best anyway.

The sad but true reality is this,

WHO A PASTOR SHOULD BE ISN'T ALWAYS WHO HE IS, YET HE MUST SERVE ANYWAYS.

Now I'm not saying you should make a habit of this. I'm not saying this is healthy if this is a regular occurrence. But I do know this...

Today, this was me

#616 - HOW TO RE-IGNITE INTIMACY

After nearly 14 years of marriage and after counseling a countless number of marriages throughout my years as a pastor, I have discovered a very simple "fix" for re-igniting relational, emotional, and sexual intimacy between you and your spouse...

MAKE OUT.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that many married couples no longer kiss for extended periods of time. They may kiss each other on the cheek or lips before going to work and when seeing each other when they arrive home, but they don't make out anymore. 

Somewhere along the way, they just stopped. They don't know when. They don't know why. But, kissing ceased.

This doesn't work all the time. I don't want to over-simplify. Sometimes, the problems go a lot deeper, and cannot be fixed in this way. 

But, other times, kissing can actually be the remedy for a marriage that has lost its "sizzle."

SO KISS. FOR A LONG TIME. WITH TONGUE. 

The magic in your marriage may just be one make-out session away!

#615 - I MUST WORK FOR THIS

Fridays are supposed to be my day of rest. The one day during the week that for a 24-hour period of time I do not do anything work related. 

The problem is, this rest day will not happen on its own. Though I know it should happen. Though I know it needs to happen. Though my staff knows that this is when my day of rest is, unless I fight for my rest, rest will not take place. In other words,

I MUST WORK FOR MY REST.

Work to protect it. Work to take it. Work to ignore everything else. Work to be ok with disappointing people. Work to allow emails to go unreturned. Work to sleep and not feel guilty. I must work for my rest. Because the unfortunate reality is this:

IF I DON'T WORK FOR MY REST, I'LL NEVER REST FROM MY WORK.

And neither will you.

#614 - THIS EXPLAINS IT

Why do I care so much about the inner-life of a leader? Why do I care about their emotional health? Why do I care about the health of their walk with Jesus? Why do I care about their rhythms of rest? Why do I care about a leader's insecurities? Why do I care about their motivations?

Why don't I just let these things slide and concentrate on the work that needs to get done?

Today, I read this quote from Pete Scazzero that puts into words why, many times, I put an inordinate amount of attention on what's going on in a leader's heart, rather than what's going on with a leader's hands.

Minimally transformed leaders result in minimally transformed teams doing minimally transforming ministry.
— Pete Scazzero

In other words...

TRANSFORMATIONAL MINISTRY IS A BY-PRODUCT OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE.

With this in mind, we must no longer ignore the "seen" and the "un-seen" character deficiencies in our lives.

We can't ignore the pervasive anger.
We can't ignore the constant envy.
We can't ignore the irrational jealousy.
We can't ignore the petty attitude. 
We can't ignore the insensitive apathy. 
We can't ignore the negative demeanor.
We can't ignore the adolescent insecurity.
We can't ignore the divisive spirit. 
We can't ignore the deficient love.

If we think we can do effective ministry while ignoring these things, we are kidding ourselves.

We cannot lead beyond our own spiritual growth and development. We cannot help others address the darkness within themselves if we can't address the darkness within us. We cannot effectively extend grace to others in the areas where we have yet to receive it for ourselves. 

THE DELUSION MUST END. IF WE'RE NOT BEING TRANSFORMED, WE CANNOT BE TRANSFORMING. 

#613 - DRASTIC DISCIPLESHIP

Sometimes, baby steps aren't acceptable. Sometimes, a little bit of progress isn't enough. Sometimes, "I'm trying" doesn't matter. Sometimes, being on the right trajectory won't cut it.

When the idolatry is overt. When the sin is egregious. When the relationship is abusive. When the addiction is deadly. When the pride is undeniable. When the stubbornness is insidious. When the ministry is suffering. Drastic discipleship is necessary.

Drastic discipleship demands that the disciple take a significant step of obedience, immediately. 

Quit the job.
Pay the debt.
Delete the app.
Confess the sin.
Admit the wrong.
End the relationship.
Check into the program.
Change the living situation.
Step down from the ministry.

DRASTIC DISCIPLESHIP SAYS, "OBEY. TODAY."

If progress is being slowed down. If growth is being stunted. If movement is lacking. If potential is being forfeited. If other people are suffering as a result of one's disobedience. Do we really have the luxury of not discipling in this way?

It's not about being harsh. It's not about being impatient. It's not about being insensitive.

IT'S ABOUT LOVE.

The question is, "Do we love the people who we disciple enough to demand urgent obedience?"

If we are truly convinced that there is great joy in living a life totally surrendered to Christ, why would we not move people towards the type of obedience that would require complete surrender?

This isn't the type of discipleship approach that needs to be implemented at all times, but there are definitely sometimes when this is exactly the type of approach that is required.

After all, didn't Jesus model this type of discipleship for us?

“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
MATTHEW 10:21-22

One final thought, after strongly encouraging that the step of obedience be taken, it's up to the Holy Spirit to lead. It's up to the Holy Spirit to convict. It's up to the Holy Spirit to transform. It's up to the Holy Spirit to do the supernatural. But...

WE MUST NOT ABDICATE OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO IMPLORE FELLOW BELIEVERS TO PICK UP THEIR CROSS TO FOLLOW AFTER CHRIST.

#612 - BETTER THAN NUMBERS

As obsessed as pastors (including myself) can be about numbers (attendance, salvations, baptisms, giving, etc.), it's never the numbers that bring me the most joy. It's never the numbers that motivate me to persevere another day. It's never the numbers that reveal the transforming power of God. It's never the numbers that bring me to tears.

IT'S THE NAMES BEHIND THE NUMBERS AND THE STORIES BEHIND THE NAMES THAT ARE MOST MEANINGFUL. 

It's the story of the un-churched single woman who, for the first time, finds herself interested in a community of faith. It's the story of the de-churched young man who, for the first time in a long time, is giving church another chance. It's the story of the over-churched couple who is looking for a church where their faith can be revived, and they feel like they've found it in your church! 

It's the story of the marriage that is restored. It's the story of the sin that is overcome. It's the story of the step of faith that is taken.

It's the story of faith in the midst of struggle. It's the story of hope in the midst of tragedy. It's the story of joy in the midst of sadness.

It's the story of someone who was baptized in your church baptizing someone else! It's the story of someone who was saved in your church serving in your church! It's the story of someone you discipled, discipling someone who is discipling someone else! 

Stories matter. Stories inspire. Stories display the transforming power of God.

WE COUNT NUMBERS, BUT STORIES REMIND US OF WHAT COUNTS.

So, if you ever, like me, find yourself discouraged about the numbers, find a story. Find a story of life-change within your community of faith. Find a story of growth. Find a story of development. 

Find the story. Celebrate the story. Praise God for the story.

And slowly but surely watch your obsession over the numbers take up less and less room in your soul.