#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. 

#650 - WHY I PRAY

In addition to preaching and developing a team of preachers, my secondary responsibility, as the Lead Pastor at theMOVEMENT Church, is to develop a culture of corporate prayer. 

It was about a year ago when I added this to my list of roles and responsibilities on my job description and it hasn't been easy. Though the "prayer temperature" at our church has definitely gone up a notch, maintaining momentum in the area of corporate prayer has been difficult. 

Very often, I feel like if I don't continue to make corporate prayer a priority, nobody else would see it as both beneficial and necessary. Prayer meeting attendance has been down. Energy around praying our corporate prayers has been low. And I have been discouraged.

With that in mind, prior to attending the corporate prayer meeting this past Monday (only 2 other people showed up), I had to re-visit why prayer (and corporate prayer more specifically) is a priority for me and why it should remain a priority for our church. Because motivations matter, I had to re-visit my "why." I came up with two compelling reasons.

GOD IS WORTHY.

God is worthy of our prayers. God is worthy of our praise. God is worthy of our adoration. God is worthy of our thanksgiving. God is worthy of us investing the time to, every time we gather, call out to Him to praise Him for who He is and to petition Him for what He has yet to do.

God is worthy of the time, effort, and energy that it takes to pray. God is worthy. 

I AM WEAK.

I am unable to move the mountains in my life apart from the powerful hand of God. I am unable to be the husband, be the son, be the pastor, be the preacher, be the leader, and be the man God has called me to be apart from God's strength bestowed upon me.

Apart from the mighty hand of God, I am unable to accomplish anything of eternal significance for the glory of God. I am weak.  

One final thought. I am compelled to continue to lead myself and others towards a lifestyle of dependance on God, evidenced by a strong prayer life, because of what it communicates to a watching world if prayer is absent...

ARROGANCE.

Arrogance that believes I am responsible for my blessings. Arrogance that has bought into the lie that I am entitled to what I see God doing in and through me. Arrogance that has forgotten that every good gift comes from above. Arrogance that assumes that apart from God's hand I can actually bring God's Kingdom to earth. 

Arrogance will not be the prevailing characteristic of my life or my church. Humility will. 

But, for this to be true, I must not grow weary in leading us to pray. I must keep believing. I must keep leading by example. I must keep the following thought in the front of my mind and in the front of the church's collective conscience:

GOD IS WORTHY AND WE ARE WEAK. THEREFORE, LET. US. PRAY.

#649 - WHY PREPARING SERMONS EARLY IS WISE

Today I finished 90% of my sermon for this Sunday. Not only have I thought through the message from start to finish, I have already created my Keynote slides as well.

Though I hate to admit it, I am never done with this much of my message by Thursday. But I need to be.

With the majority of the message done with 2 full days to go before I have to preach it, my mind is freed up from thinking about what I am going to say to how I am going to say it. 

Though I am confident that God has been faithful to use the messages that I have finished preparing just hours before they are preached, I also know He is honored by me not waiting till the last minute to finish them. God is honored by me stewarding my time more wisely. God is honored by me being more diligent in my study.

The big idea is this:

THE MORE I HONOR GOD IN MY PREPARATION, THE MORE LIKELY GOD IS TO BE HONORED IN MY PREACHING

#648 - WHAT MY LATEST DENTIST APPOINTMENT REMINDED ME ABOUT LIFE

Today, just one hour before my dentist appointment, I flossed my teeth for the first time in a long time 

Why is this significant?

It reminded me of a very important lesson that can be applied to many areas of life, not just flossing your teeth.

YOU CAN'T MAKE UP IN ONE DAY SOMETHING THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE DONE EVERYDAY. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.

#647 - THE NEXT GOAL

January - Beginning of February: Intentional extended fast.
End of February - Early March: Intentional 9 days in Georgia.
March - Mid April: Intentional 40 days of ministry.
April - Early May: Intentional 20 days of travel/ministry.

This has been my year in a nutshell. Starts and stops. Running then resting. 

Before my summer break from June 25 - July 29, there is a nearly 50 day stretch that remains. 

In addition to my work responsibilities, maintaining my routine of writing daily, my next goal during this 50 day stretch is to be intentional about developing a routine of exercising daily for at least one hour

I must make my health a priority in this next season. No excuses. 

Taking care of my health is an issue of stewardship. I will be held accountable. 

#646 - SHOW UP

Leader, show up.

You never know who is going to benefit. You never know who is going to be impacted. You never know who is going to be blessed by what you bring to the table.

SHOW UP.

Even when you don't want to. Even when attendance has been down. Even when you don't know who is going to respond.

SHOW UP.

One is worth it. Because to the one, you being there, is everything to them. Your ego may believe you are worthy of more than one, but the moment one becomes too small of a number, you have forgotten why you started doing what you do in the first place. 

SHOW UP. 

Because even if no one else does, showing up builds something inside of you that would not have been built if you had chosen to stay home.

#645 - THE PRIVILEGE OF PREACHING

That people would get up early on a Sunday morning. Get themselves ready. Get their kids ready. Drive to the church. Walk to the church. Take public transportation to the church.

PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE.

That many volunteers would get up early on a Sunday morning. Set up classrooms. Set up lights. Set up environments so guests would feel welcome. Play instruments. Sing songs. All so that hearts could be prepared to receive the Word of God.

PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE.

That people would open their hearts to what God would have to say through me. That people would open their ears and their minds to consider the words that are coming out of my mouth. That people would pay attention. That people would allow themselves to be influenced by my voice.

PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE.

That God would call me. That God would equip me. That God would fill me with His Spirit. That God would gift me. That God would use me in spite of my brokenness. That God would place words in my mouth that would impact people for their good and His glory. 

PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE.

I am undeserving. I am ill-equipped. I am in over my head. May the Holy Spirit always keep me sober-minded enough to know that....

BECAUSE PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE, PREACHING IS NOT MY RIGHT.

I am not entitled to do it. I am not entitled to anyone listening to me do it. I am not entitled to anyone responding to me do it.

PREACHING IS A PRIVILEGE.

And as long as God grants me this privilege, I will humble carry out the task to the best of my ability. 

#644 - THE TEMPTATION A PREACHER MUST NOT FALL INTO

You can't preach what you want the text to say.
You can't preach what the people want the text to say.
You can't preach what you think the text says.
You can't preach what others have said the text says.

You must preach what the text actually says.

No matter how difficult.
No matter what the cost.
No matter how inconvenient.
No matter how seemingly irrelevant.
No matter how hard it makes your study.

GOD DID NOT CALL YOU TO EASY PREACHING. HE CALLED YOU TO RIGHT HANDLING.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 TIMOTHY 2:15

#643 - RENO DAY 5

Last day away from home.
It's been a long trip.
Finished off-site with team from 9a-12p.
Though future planning can be arduous, it saves us future headaches.
Long drive home.
Before home, haircut.
It's amazing how good a fresh cut makes me feel!
In bed by 8:30pm.
Thankful for the opportunity to travel.
More thankful for a home to come back to.

#642 - RENO DAY 4

Brought staff Chick-Fil-A breakfast to get off-site started off right.
The primary word God gave me in terms of how to lead this off-site was to pray.
Found out it was the National Day of Prayer.
Spent first 2 hours of off-site in corporate prayer.
Prayer each element of Lord's Prayer with team.
So convinced that prayer is the work.
Spent next couple of hours listing how God has moved in our church over the last four months.
God has been so good to theMOVEMENT Church.
So much grace. So much favor. So much activity. So much transformation. 
We are in the MIDDLE of a movement!
Shared some ideas around what our next Thematic Goal should be.
Recorded a video testimonial for Living Stones Church. So thankful for their partnership and faithfulness in investing in church planting. I pray our church can support church planting to the depth that they do one day. 
Enjoyed lunch with staff at Cane's. Absolutely delicious chicken fingers.
Spent the next 6 hours of the day breaking down our goals for the next 4 months.
So thankful for Brook, Bekah, and AJ. 
The compound effect of working together with them every week over the last 2+ years is starting to show itself.
One of the evidences of God's favor in my life is the staff He has blessed me with.
Our church is blessed to be served by such committed staff members.

#641 - RENO DAY 3

Session 5 - Harvey Turner on Diversity. Love his pastoral heart. He's one of my favorite leaders and pastors. Hands down.
My wife was brought up in front of all 650+ attendees to be honored for her hard work and excellence in putting together the conference. I am so proud of her. So excited for how God is using her gifts to serve the big "C" Church. So glad she is getting the recognition she deserves. She is a real. deal. leader!
Session 6 - Michael Crawford on boldness, courage, and moving away from being a "domesticated" Church! Truly prophetic talk. So inspired. So encouraged. So committed to doing "hard things" for Christ's sake!
Ate all you can eat sushi with the team to debrief conference and enjoy one last meal together.
Church conferences are so much more enjoyable when a hungry (both physically and spiritually!), dedicated team joins you!
Cancelled evening off-site session with staff. My brain was fried. We'll get an early start tomorrow morning instead.
 

#640 - RENO DAY 2

Woke up early.
Session 3 - Brian Howard on Evangelism. Super practical.
Workshop 1 - Art Azurdia on Killing Ministry Jealousy/Envy. Hands down, the BEST workshop/breakout session I have EVER attended. No exaggeration. 
Lunch with the Acts 29 Bay Area Lead Pastors and Team Members. So blessed to be a part of this particular group within the US West. Looking forward to what God is going to do through us cooperating to plant churches in the Bay Area!
Session 4 - Eric Mason on Diversity. Anointed. Inspiring. Proud that we are seeing aspects of this type of diversity at theMOVEMENT!
Facilitated a workshop during workshop 2. // When the Church and the LGBTQ Community Collide - 5 Questions We Must Answer to Increase Our Capacity to Love.
In awe of the opportunity. Blessed to be able to serve the Church in this way. Thankful to be able to provide some practical handles for people truly desiring to love the LGBTQ community well. 
God is so gracious to me. I don't deserve to be used by Him in this way. God. is. good.
Enjoyed spending the evening with my church family.
Ate pizza. Lots of laughs. Played Laser Tag. More laughs. 
Watched the end of Warriors vs. Pelicans. Warriors win. STEPH IS BACK!
Going to sleep overwhelmed by God's goodness in my life. OVER. WHELMED.

#639 - RENO DAY 1

Took Merritt to doggy day care in Reno. 
So glad she's with us, and glad to be reunited with my pup!
OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED MY PASSION PROJECT - CALLEDTOPLANT
Attended Acts 29 US West Area Leads meeting.
Still can't believe I get to sit around the same table as such great pastors and leaders!
Attended Acts 29 US West Lead Pastor's Meeting. 
So blessed to be a part of such a great network!
Was recognized as one of the 15 church plants our network is supporting this year. GRATEFUL.
Session 1 - Ryan Kwon on Holiness and Humility. So good.
Had to miss Session 2 (Art Azurdia) to pick up Merritt from day care.
Definitely have to listen to audio. Heard it was FIRE.
So proud of my wife who has done an absolutely fantastic job coordinating all the logistics for this conference. Watching her thrive is a great joy!
Subway for dinner.
Finished up workshop handout and slides.
Tomorrow is going to be a good day. I'm nervous, but excited.

#637 - OKLAHOMA DAY 5

Slept in.
Pizza hunt for lunch.
Thought through message for wedding.
Privileged to officiate Brook and Stephen's wedding.
Beautiful day. Gorgeous backyard location. Sweet presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire occasion.
So cool to have a bunch of Movement folks celebrating this day together. I love the church family that I get to be a part of.
I am so BLESSED to be right in the middle of a move of God!
Enjoyed watching the Warriors absolutely demolish the Pelicans in Game 1 of the 2nd round of the playoffs.
My mind must now shift to thinking through and preparing for the workshop I'll lead in Reno in a few days. Definitely a bit nervous and in over my head. 
GREAT DAY OVERALL. GOD IS WORTHY OF MY HIGHEST PRAISE!

#636 - OKLAHOMA DAY 4

Slept in.
Requested late checkout. Packed.
Picked up from my hotel.
Took a 2-hour drive from OKC to Fairview, Oklahoma.
A town of 2,000 people with 2 stoplights.
Nothing like home!
Ate a gas station burger. Delicious.
Checked into a pretty old inn. They didn't have a computer!
Wedding rehearsal. Rehearsal dinner.
SHOT A GUN FOR THE FIRST TIME.
Pretty surreal experience.
Definitely miss my wife. Can't wait to see her on Sunday night.

#635 - OKLAHOMA DAY 3

Though I went to bed at 8:30a, I only slept till about 1:00p.
Continued work on "special project."
Introduced "special project" to a few close friends to get their input on it before I go public with it. 
Got some pretty good feedback on it so far. Very pleased with the progress.
Began thinking through Acts 29 West Conference Breakout Session I'll be leading.
Conference call with Johnson Ferry to discuss missions team coming out to serve and my future preaching assignment in Atlanta.
Showered.
Treated myself to Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner.
Watched The Quiet Place and Avengers. By myself. 
About half-way through this trip! 
Thankful for what has been. Looking forward to what will be!

#634 - OKLAHOMA DAY 2

Slept in. Past noon. Felt so good.
Spent some extended time journaling and read through the book of John. So thankful for Christ.
Handled some work stuff. 
Worked on my “special project.” 
Ate dinner at McDonald’s. Don’t judge me. First time this whole trip. 
Had the NBA playoff games on in the background while I worked on my “special project.” 
Lebron James is INCREDIBLE. So is Russell Westbrook. So is James Harden. Can’t wait till Steph gets back. 
Got a phone call from someone at the church who needed encouragement. So honored to be an extension of Christ’s love in circumstances like that. 
Worked on “special project” THROUGH. THE. NIGHT! 
When I’m inspired, I’m inspired! 
Went straight down to breakfast at 7am.  
Went to bed at 8:30am.  Haven’t done that in a long time!

#633 - OKLAHOMA DAY 1

Up bright and early. Flight out to OKC.
Slept my entire flight. 
Decided to take a taxi to my hotel from the airport instead of an Uber. Bad idea! 
13 miles cost $40! 
Thankfully, at the end of my ride, the driver only charged me $20 because of my sticker shock. I gave him $30 for the gesture. He really didn’t have to do that.  
Was able to check in to my hotel early. 
Slept.  
Walked to Chili’s. Ate dinner. 
Walked to the mall. Didn’t spend any money. Proud. 
Walked to Wal-Mart to pick up drinks for myself. Water. Gatorade. Peach Ice Tea. Vanilla Frappuchino. Dr. Pepper. Just a few of my favorites. 
Enjoyed watching the Warriors take care of the Spurs. The next round against the Pelicans is going to be good. (My wife actually alluded to getting me tickets!) 
Worked on my “special project!” 
I praise God for this much needed time to myself. 

#632 - TEXAS DAY 4

Slept in.
Hung out in the hotel by myself for much of the day.
Rested.
Ate Japanese food for a late lunch. (Spicy tuna is growing on me!)
Began reading Making Sense of God by Tim Keller. 
Went for a walk around the river by the hotel. 
Rested.
Went out to one last dinner with Rebekah's family. Dessert.
Enjoyed watching the Jazz absolutely handle the Thunder.
Packed.
Time in Houston with Rebekah's family was great. Looking forward to three days of silence and solitude in Oklahoma City.