#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. 

#665 - A SIMPLE BUT PROFOUND LEADERSHIP SHIFT

Developing Leaders > Recruiting Volunteers

Recruiting Volunteers is an event.
Developing Leaders is a process.

Recruiting Volunteers requires management.
Developing Leaders requires leadership.

Recruiting Volunteers takes care of the present.
Developing Leaders prepares you for the future.

Recruiting Volunteers is more about the organization's need.
Developing Leaders is more about a person's potential.

Recruiting Volunteers is much needed.
Developing Leaders is more necessary.

#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. 

#660 - A PRAYER PREACHERS SHOULD PRAY

Heavenly Father, please give those of us who have the honor and privilege of preaching your Word insight beyond our intellect, anointing beyond our ability, and power beyond our preparation. A move of YOUR Spirit is what we long for!

A few thoughts on why you should pray this prayer...

Pray for insight beyond your intellect because interpretation of the Scriptures is a spiritual endeavor. Our intellect is physical, therefore it is limited. Insight from above can transcend what our intellect can't comprehend. 

Pray for anointing beyond your ability because like intellect, ability is physical, therefore it is also limited. Anointing on the other hand, can cause ears to be opened that otherwise wouldn't be. Anointing can cause walls to be broken that otherwise couldn't be. Anointing can cause miracles to take place that otherwise shouldn't be!

Pray for power beyond your preparation because no matter how thorough you are in your preparation, preaching void of the power of the Holy Spirit is merely a speech. Both believers and unbelievers alike don't need another well put together talk, they need a powerful one!

#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?

#657 - FLEE

Pastor, leader, husband...this is for you. This is for me. This is for us.

When certain temptations come your way (you know what it is for you), you shouldn't "hang around." You shouldn't "wait and see." You shouldn't "stay just 10 more minutes." You shouldn't "be nice." You shouldn't "try not to be rude." 

YOU SHOULD FLEE. IMMEDIATELY. 

Get in your car and leave. Ask for a ride home. Leave. Run. Get out of there.

Staying, could cost you everything. 

#656 - GRACE AND GRIT

Ministry requires so much grace.

Grace to forgive. Grace to love. Grace to lead. Grace to discern. Grace to preach. Grace to confront. Grace to ignore. Grace to promote. Grace to decrease.  

But it also requires a helluva lot of grit. 

Grit to persevere. Grit to push-through. Grit to overcome. Grit to endure. Grit to last. Grit to show up even when you don't feel like showing up. Grit to engage even when you don't have the emotional energy to engage. Grit to lead even when you don't know where you should be leading!

For me to do a 30 year run (which is my goal) as the Lead Pastor of theMOVEMENT Church in Oakland, I am convinced...

GOD'S GRACE MUST BE PRESENT, AND MY GRIT CAN'T BE ABSENT.

But as daunting and exhausting as that may seem, I am also thankful of this:

Even my grit is a gift bestowed upon me because of His grace!

So in the end, it's ALL grace.

#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.

#654 - A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON GOD'S LOVE

God loves you.

Just like anything else, when you hear something over and over again, it can tend to not have the same effect on you that it once had.

But the other day, as we were talking about the holiness of God in our prayer meeting, a few thoughts about God's love dawned on me that has given me a much deeper appreciation for the love that God has for me!

God’s LOVE for you isn’t just a by-product of His GRACE, it’s an extension of His HOLINESS. In other words,

GOD'S LOVE FOR YOU ISN'T PITY, IT'S PERFECT. 

God loving you isn’t the NICE thing for Him to do, it is the RIGHTEOUS thing for Him to do.

This is key in our understanding of God’s love for us because it has a direct impact on our ability to respond to His love. Remember, NICE love doesn’t cast out fear, PERFECT love does!

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

#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. 

#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.