#678 - THIS KEEPS ME HUMBLE

  • God created me.
  • God blessed me with good health and a fully functioning body.
  • God gave me parents who introduced me to Jesus.
  • God revealed Himself to me at a young age.
  • God saved me.
  • God stayed close to me even when I didn't want to be close to Him.
  • God gifted me.
  • God called me.
  • God surrounded me with people who believed in me.
  • God placed opportunities before me I could have never created.
  • God filled me with His Holy Spirit.
  • God delivered me from sin I could never deliver myself from.

But it's not just about what God has done that keeps me humble. It's also about what He continues to do!

  • God authorizes whether or not I take another breath.
  • God brings provision into my life.
  • God speaks through me when I speak for Him.
  • God makes it possible for me to think and act in a coherent way.
  • God forgives me of my sin.
  • God extends grace to me day after day after day. 
  • God blesses the works of my hands.
  • God loves me.
  • God upholds me.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing about me that is self-made.

I am God-created. I am God-ordained. I am God-sustained.

TO HIM BE EVERY OUNCE OF GLORY, HONOR, AND PRAISE THAT I AM CAPABLE OF GIVING, FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN!

#676 - ANOTHER BLESSED SUNDAY

Over the church planting journey, there are many Sundays that go by where it feels like just "another Sunday." There are also some Sundays that go by where it is a "rough" Sunday. Then, there are days like today, where I am reminded that God really is involved with what we're doing!

A few highlights from today included:

  • Feeling obedient to God in how He led me to prepare and preach the Word.
  • Extending public gratitude and honor to the 3 full-time staff members of our church.
  • Welcoming and publicly declaring our support of the Westbrook's who will be planting a church in Oakland in 2019.
  • Leading a discipleship training after church with over 50 people! Seeing God move amongst our 1-1 discipleship relationships is a beauty to behold!
  • Spending time with one of my disciplees after the discipleship meeting and being in awe and wonder of how God is transforming him from the inside out!
  • Running 12 miles with my dad! (Nothing to do with church, but still a blessing to be able to do!)

What a day. God is gracious. And I am BLESSED!

#672 - THE POWER OF 15 TIMES

Maybe you haven't been working out like you committed to. You haven't been spending time with your kids or your spouse like you promised to. You haven't been eating healthy like you should. You haven't been keeping up with your spiritual disciplines like you feel convicted to. You haven't been using your creativity like you desire to. You haven't been managing your finances like you set out to. 

WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE.

I was there just two months ago. It's embarrassing to say, but it was the end of May, and I hadn't exercised at all in 2018. Not even once! But, with the Oakland Half-Marathon less than 75 days away, I knew I had to start running again.

I WENT ON MY FIRST RUN, AND IT WAS EMBARRASSING.

3 miles took me 34 minutes and 5 seconds. That is a pace of 11 minutes and 21 seconds per mile. I don't remember the last time it took me that long to run 3 miles. And it wasn't just the time. It was how I felt too. I was breathing heavy. I was aching. It was bad. 

On that day, I briefly wrote about it here, and decided that things needed to change. 

Over the next two months, I ran exactly 15 times. An average of once every 4 days. Not a super consistent amount of times, but consistent nonetheless. 

And after just running 15 times, I am proud to share that last Saturday (my 15th run), I ran 10 miles in 1 hour and 28 minutes. That is a pace of 8 minutes and 52 seconds per mile.

I HAVE NEVER RUN 10 MILES THAT FAST IN ALL OF MY LIFE!

Though I'm older than I've ever been. Though I'm heavier than I've ever been. After just 15 times, I am faster than I've ever been!

The moral of the story is this:

WHAT IF 15 TIMES IS ALL YOU NEED TO GET BACK ON TRACK?  

With your health. With your relationships. With your disciplines. With your creativity. With your dreams.

Not 100. Not 50. Not 1. Not 7. But 15.

I think many times, we get overwhelmed by what is required of us to get "back on track." So we never do. We either overestimate how long it's going to take (and don't get started) or underestimate how long it's going to take (and quit too early).

15 TIMES.

Pick a discipline, pick a habit, and over the next month or so, commit to executing that habit 15 times. More may come of it than you might think!  

If you feel so inclined to, hold yourself accountable to what you're going to do 15 times by dropping a comment below! I would love to support you in your endeavor!

AUGUST 2018

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (JULY 2017)

  1. Enjoying Haig/Ruth's wedding with Movement Church family.
  2. Vacationing with Romero's in Kauai, Hawaii. 
  3. Going to Giants/Cubs with Colton and Giants/A's with Rabuco's.
  4. Experiencing mud baths in Calistoga with my wife. 
  5. Running 10 miles at an 8:52/mile pace.

4 GOALS (AUGUST 2018)

  1. Run Oakland Half-Marathon in 1 hour, 57 minutes or less.
  2. Lead an engaging and empowering Staff/Spouse Retreat at Jenness Park.
  3. Read/Take Notes on Preaching/Preachers D. Martyn LLoyd Jones.
  4. Compile Called to Plant mailing list and send first email.

3 HABITS

  1. Fix bed daily. (31x)
  2. Post to edwardpaz.com daily. (31x)
  3. Floss 3x week. (15x)

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No clothes/shoes shopping.
  2. No soda.

1 COMMITMENT

  1. I run the 2018 Oakland Half-Marathon in under 1 hour and 57 minutes.

2018 MID-YEAR REVIEW (MEMORABLE MOMENTS)

This is one of the ways I remember and reflect on the grace and goodness of God in my life! 

JANUARY

  • Officiated Potts’ Wedding
  • Completed Fast
  • Led Devotional at Mega Metro Missions Conference
  • Brought onto City to City Bay Area Church Planter Incubator Faculty
  • Preached in Texas at Propel Conference

FEBRUARY

  • Appointed Acts 29 Bay Area Co-Lead
  • Preached Compelling Prayer Series 

MARCH

  • Spoke at Main Session for MOVE Conference
  • Developed friendship with Kyle/Lolly Collins
  • Enjoyed trip to Savannah, GA with Rebekah
  • Obedient to God in preaching SEXOLOGY Series

APRIL

  • Experienced an incredible Easter Sunday
  • Officiated Francisco/Harney Weddings
  • Enjoyed trip to Cancun with Rebekah
  • Launched calledtoplant.com 

MAY

  • Led LGBTQ Workshop at Acts 29 US West Conference
  • Enjoyed Acts 29 Us West Conference with 11 of our church leaders 
  • Officiated Laurence/Vanessa Wedding 
  • Blogged everyday for 5 months straight

JUNE

  • Enjoyed Weekend to Remember with 16 couples from theMOVEMENT Church
  • Officiated DeLafuente Wedding
  • Preached at JFBC Sunday Services 
  • Swam with Merritt in Lake Nottely in Georgia

#671 - WEEKEND TO REMEMBER (DAY 1)

On the first day of the Weekend to Remember marriage conference I am attending with several other couples from our church, my big takeaway was this:

RESPOND TO FEELINGS WITH FEELINGS AND RESPOND TO FACTS WITH FACTS.

This was a principle given during the session on communication, and I can see how this can be super helpful to how my wife and I communicate moving forward.

If she shares feelings with me, I need to share feelings with her. If she shares facts with me, I need to share facts with her. Nothing is worse than having your feelings responded to with facts, and your facts responded to with feelings!

So simple, yet so helpful!

#669 - A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER

In 2 days we will take 17 couples from our church to A Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference in Burlingame. 

To think that over 5 years ago we started the church with 20 people and now we are taking nearly that many married couples to a conference to invest in our marriages is a blessing. 

I am excited. I am expectant. I am praying. 

I am praying God speaks to us clearly. I am praying the Holy Spirit convicts us deeply. I am praying that Jesus meets us intimately. 

I am praying that during this time away from the normal routines of life that God would give each of our couples a renewed sense of intimacy with and passion for each other.   

I am praying that not only our marriages would be strengthened but that, also, the relationships and bonds between the married couples in our church would be strengthened and deepened as well. 

Marriage is to be a reflection of God's covenant love for His people and His people's covenant love for Him. May the married couples at theMOVEMENT come back from this conference being a more accurate reflection of that love!

Heavenly Father, do a deep work in our married couples this weekend. A work that is marked by the power of your Spirit. A work that transcends conference information. A work that can't be explained by anything else than Your sovereign hand. Do it Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

#668 - RUNNING AGAIN

Today, I did a timed run for the first time since I ran my last marathon in December of 2017 in under 5 hours.

3 miles in 34 minutes.

I am not a fast runner by any means, but this was particularly slow for me. (This is what happens when you don't work out for a while! "If you don't use it, you lose it!"

But, with 74 days to go (Sunday, August 12) before the 5th Annual Oakland Half-Marathon, this was a good reality check for me. My goal is to run my fastest half-marathon yet, and to do so, I've got a lot of work to do! 

I'm inspired.

LET'S. GO!

#667 - MEMORIAL DAY

The freedom to sleep in. The freedom to enjoy good food. The freedom to buy new furniture for our home. The freedom to be entertained by NBA playoff basketball. The freedom to enjoy a good movie.

These were the freedoms that myself and many others enjoyed on this Memorial Day.

Honor, respect, and gratitude are due to those who died to make these freedoms possible.

Thank You. 

#666 - THE JOY OF DEVELOPMENT

Today I had the privilege of, once again, sitting under the teaching and preaching of someone who I've had the opportunity to disciple and develop over the last 5+ years. 

I laughed. I cried. I learned. I fell more in love with Jesus.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again...

THERE IS MORE JOY IN DEVELOPING THAN THERE IS IN DOING.

To pass down your love, skills, and motivations to someone and then to be able to watch that person take what they've learned to impact others for the glory of God, in ways you never could, is an incredible feeling. 

So satisfying. So fulfilling. So meaningful. 

There are very few things that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning like developing leaders does. With this in mind, to play a small role in the "shine" of another leader is a thing I pray I never grow weary of doing. 

#664 - THE PASTORAL LEGACY I LONG FOR

"He walked with me."

When I was skeptical...He walked with me. When I was ready to make Jesus the Lord of my life...He walked with me. When I was hesitant about being baptized...He walked with me. When I had trouble understand the Bible...He walked with me. When I grew weary of believing...He walked with me. When I committed one of the most shameful sins of my life...He walked with me. When I was ready to repent...He walked with me. When I sinned again...He walked with me. When I didn't want to repent...He walked with me. When I repented again...He walked with me. When I began to enjoy some of best days as a follower of Christ...He walked with me. When I began serving in ministry...He walked with me. When I contemplated marriage...He walked with me. When I started a family...He walked with me. When I struggled in my marriage...He walked with me. When I got a life-threatening illness....He walked with me. As I found myself on my deathbed...He walked with me.

May my pastoral legacy be, walking with others, in the same way, Jesus Christ - the Good Shepherd, walks with me.    

#663 - THE BENEFITS OF NOT PREACHING

Due to someone else preaching this Sunday, a cancelled service next Sunday, and the week after that me being out of town to officiate a wedding, I am not going to be preaching for the next 3 weeks. 

Though I absolutely love to preach, four days into the week, I'm already starting to see the benefits of getting a preaching break. Here are a few:

  1. I can focus my thinking and work on other aspects of pastoral ministry. During any given week my thoughts and energies are on my upcoming message for at least 30 hours. I am so grateful that this week I am going to be able to spend many of those 30 hours thinking through and working on our leadership development process - another very key element of growing a healthy church! If I didn't take a preaching break, where would I have found the time to put this much intentional thought into such a critical piece of the pastoral leadership pie!
  2. I can give others who are gifted and called to preach the opportunity to do so. Though it may seem obvious, it must be stated: If I don't ever take a break, when will others get the opportunity to take a turn?! I love that taking a preaching break doesn't only give me rest, but it also frees up the platform for others to step up and into what God has called them to do!
  3. I can experience a Sunday from the vantage point of someone who attends. This Sunday I look forward to sitting in our service to experience and enjoy it without the thought of preaching on my mind. I look forward to singing without worrying about preaching. I look forward to interacting with the others who attend. I look forward to receiving from the preaching. It's gonna' be great!

I praise God for the blessing of serving alongside other gifted communicators of God's Word! Not every pastor has the luxury of feeling comfortable with other people in their church preaching on a Sunday, but that's not me! I. AM. BLESSED!

#662 - NEW FRIENDS

Tonight my wife and I had the opportunity to go on a double date with a couple from our church. We went to the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco and had a great time. We then shared a meal together at a ramen restaurant close by and it was delicious. 

As I reflect on the events of the night, a few things comes to mind:

  • One of the ongoing joys that my wife and I get to experience as a result of starting theMOVEMENT Church is meeting so many great people from various walks of life with various stories and various backgrounds. If we never took the step of faith to start the church, we would've missed out on meeting so many awesome people!
  • Shared experiences (especially new ones) are strong catalysts for developing new friendships. The laughs, the memories, the conversations that take place over a meal - all go a long way in strangers becoming friends. But, this requires intentionality. This shared experience happened as a result of us reaching out for this couple to join us. Very rarely do strong friendships develop on accident. 
  • Because my wife and I have developed friendships with people in our church before who have gone onto leave us (and sometimes hurt us in the process), there is a certain hesitancy about investing in new ones. I hate that hesitancy and hedging is present, but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't. But, I can't stop trusting people with my time, effort, and emotions just because others have abused it in the past. I must continue to trust that long-lasting friendship with others is possible. Never trusting again is never a good idea. 
  • God is faithful. He gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. My wife and I needed a good time out with people who we could be ourselves with. And we got it. God is good.

If you are a church planter in particular, I recently wrote a related post entitled: 5 Relationships Every Church Planter Needs to Thrive. 

#658 - BOWLING

Today I bowled for the first time in a while. 

124. 137. 158. 169.

I was definitely reminded of how much I love it, but then I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. I want to "get back into it." There is a deal right now for 3 free games every day from now until mid-September for only $40! There would be no better way to improve my game than by taking advantage of that deal!

But, I don't have the time. 

Unfortunately, bowling doesn't provide very much exercise, and I need to exercise! If there is anything I should be doing with my spare time, it's starting to run again. 

I have the type of personality that if I get into something, I go "all-in." I can't just bowl every now and then. If I start bowling again, I'll want to take it seriously and get better. Same with running. I can't just run to run. When I start running again, I'm going to be working towards running my fastest half-marathon time yet. 

These are all thoughts you probably don't care about, but I find it interesting how my brain works in this way!

Do I bowl? Do I run? Do I do both?

Or do I just come to the realization that time doesn't always allow you to go "all-out" in everything you do?

#655 - GOD DID IT AGAIN

For over 5 years now, God has brought EXACTLY the right person at EXACTLY the right time to fill the EXACT need that theMOVEMENT Church has had. 

  • When we needed an infusion of fresh leadership He sent Bekah, Brook, Melissa, and Chris.
  • When we needed additional pastoral leadership and design help He sent Christopher.
  • When we needed a drummer He sent Haig.
  • When we needed a Principal to catch our vision for serving schools in Oakland He sent Kilian. 
  • When we needed help with service programming He sent Tawnee.
  • When we needed a Worship Pastor He sent Alex.

Well tonight, as our church is in the middle of working towards a complete re-brand of our organization, for our 5-year anniversary, I believe God has done it again. God has sent EXACTLY the person we need to help us see our re-brand vision come to fruition.

Though I do not know exactly how this particular story will end, I am very optimistic. 

God has done it before, and I am convinced that He's done it again!

The right person.
With the right gifting.
With the right heart. 
In the right place.
At the right time.

GOD. IS. FAITHFUL.

#653 - AN UNEXPECTED ASPECT OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY

Tonight as we were in our prayer meeting, it hit me. As I was praying, an element of spiritual maturity dawned on me, and I had never thought about it in this way before.

It wasn't Bible knowledge. It wasn't church attendance. It wasn't evangelism. It wasn't giving. It wasn't serving. 

ONE OF THE GREATEST INDICATORS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS CHILDLIKE FAITH.

This hit me while I was praying because I realized that I do not pray as audaciously as I should because, over the years, in some ways, I have lost my childlike faith in God. 

Why do I believe in Him for salvation, but I do not call out to Him for healing? Why do I trust in Him for forgiveness, but I do not petition Him for revival? Why am I sure that I am justified, yet I am unsure of whether or not He can still perform miracles? Why am I confident that He will return, yet I am hesitant to ask Him to do the supernatural in my midst.

It almost seems as if, over the years, as I've grown in my ability to explain God, I've lost my ability to believe God. What a tragedy!

Here are three ways that I know my faith has shrunk that I hope to reverse and I pray you'll avoid!

MY PRAYERS WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS ACCURATE RATHER THAN AUDACIOUS.

One indicator of this might be if you always feel the need to say in your prayers, "If it's your will..."  Only you know whether or not that is a necessary statement in your prayers or if you are using it as a way to guard your ego if the prayer is not answered. Audacious prayers requires childlike faith.

MY PREACHING WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS PRACTICAL RATHER THAN PROPHETIC. 

Did God call me to preach just so that people would have a few "to-do's" to try during the week? I don't think so. God called me to preach so that His truth would be proclaimed. He called me to preach so that darkness would be exchanged for light; so that death would be exchanged for life! Prophetic preaching requires childlike faith.

MY LEADERSHIP WOULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS CALCULATED RATHER THAN COURAGEOUS.

The local church doesn't need another calculated leader. That might be what a business looking to turn a profit needs. But, the body of Christ needs a courageous leader who will boldly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit regardless of the cost. Courageous leadership requires childlike faith. 

Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with accurate prayers, practical preaching, and calculated leadership. It is when these things come at the expense of childlike faith where I believe one's spiritual maturity must come into question. Enough is enough.

Would you join me in maturing our ability to believe God like a child?

"For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom." Matthew 18:2-4 (MSG)

#652 - A WORD TO MY MOM ON MOTHER'S DAY

So much of my strength. So much of my stability. So much of my sense. So much of my discernment. So much of my faith. So much of my honesty.

So many of the positive character traits I have as an adult, are a result of the investment my mother made in me as a child. 

The older I get, the more I am convinced -

I AM NOT SELF-MADE; I AM MOM-LOVED.

Time. Money. Effort. Prayers. Discipline. Encouragement. Challenge. More discipline. For over 35 years, my mom has loved me deeply and thoroughly. 

And what I am most thankful for in this season of my life is that she has not allowed my becoming an adult to stop her from continuing to be my mom. She still asks hard questions. She still makes sure I'm ok. She still encourages me. She still wants me to be wise with my money and kind to my siblings. She still expects me to and drives me to be the best man of God, husband, and brother, that I am capable of being. 

God has been so gracious and kind to me in this way.

I must not take it for granted.
I must not forget why I am who I am today.
I must not cease giving thanks.

I must become a great return on her investment. For her joy and God's glory. 

I love you mom. Happy Mother's Day. 

#651 - SICKNESS

Sickness sucks.

It's Saturday night, and I have never felt this under the weather before having to preach. Ever. I have been in bed all day trying to sleep it off and recover, but it just doesn't seem to be going away.

Feeling this way reminds me of how important taking care of my body is. No matter how many dreams, ambitions, goals, plans, and aspirations I have, if I do not have my health, none of these other things can become a reality. 

Health truly is the first wealth.

Heavenly Father, please heal me as I lay my head down to sleep tonight. Give me the strength to serve You and your people well tomorrow morning. I trust you. In Jesus name, Amen.