#720 - FAVOR > COST

The New Home of the Golden State Warriors!

The New Home of the Golden State Warriors!

I had absolutely no intentions of going to this game.

It was the very first NBA basketball game to be played in the new Chase Center in San Francisco, and though it was a preseason game, tickets were still crazy expensive. I was fully prepared to enjoy the game on TNT.

Then, less than two hours before tip-off, I get a call from an old friend who is a VP for CLARK Construction. This friend of mine played a major role in facilitating the deal between the Golden State Warriors and CLARK Construction to work together to build the arena. Not only did he help facilitate the deal, but over the two years that the arena was being built, he also oversaw the project in a major way as well.

He tells me that the people he had invited to go to the game bailed, and he asked if I was interested in going. I said, without hesitation, ABSOLUTELY!

Then, I found out he had theater box seats! FREE full buffet. FREE cocktails. FREE tickets.

Favor also means feasting!

Favor also means feasting!

The game was great. The arena was beautiful. The opportunity to catch up with an old friend was priceless.

But tonight, I was reminded of a truth that God has revealed to me time and time again (and hopefully it’s a truth that you can be encouraged by as well!):

Cost can price you out, but the favor of God can get you in!

You can take that to the bank!

#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)

#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

#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!

#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.

#610 - MY SHAMEFUL CONFESSION ABOUT THE RESURRECTION

For far too long, I have appreciated and praised God for Christ's death on the cross, but I have not been in awe of and worshipped Him for His resurrection from the grave.

I have not lived my present life in light of my future resurrection.

I have lived short-sighted. I have lived more for the temporary than for the eternal. I have not been utilizing the single, greatest resource for hope ever given to mankind by God.

But, as I prepared and preached my Easter message, I found myself with a new found appreciation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This appreciation comes not only for how the resurrection of Christ will impact my eternity, but for also how it will impact my life now! I hope you will join me in praising God for his resurrection power! 

Because Christ rose again, I will rise again. And because I will rise again...

IN REGARDS TO MY STORY

  • The best part will be the end.
  • Everyday, I get closer to the best part.
  • "Happily every after" does not only happen in fairytales. 

IN REGARDS TO HARDSHIP

  • Every difficulty is temporary. No hardship is final.
  • Even if sickness or tragedy were to take my life, it will usher me in to my very best days.
  • No relational, financial, emotional, mental, educational, physical, or spiritual challenge I face can threaten me ultimately being resurrected with Christ. 

IN REGARDS TO SUCCESS AND FAILURE

  • No earthly success or failure will define me.
  • Every earthly success will be outdone in the end.
  • Every earthly failure will be undone in the end.

IN REGARDS TO PURPOSE

  • There's more to life than enjoying the "middle chapters."
  • There's deep motivation to spread the gospel so that more people will have hope during their "middle chapters" and experience the "ending" that I am anxiously awaiting.
  • There's urgency because the end is drawing near.

IN REGARDS TO HOPE

  • I have it. Always.
  • I can give it. Anytime.
  • I can access it by simply beholding my resurrected Christ!

"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:21-23

#601 - THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THIS

Don't allow yourself to be fooled. 
Church isn't and neither is community.

Don't allow yourself to be distracted. 
Blogs aren't and neither are books.

Don't allow yourself to be tricked. 
Work isn't and neither is worship.

Don't allow yourself to be deceived.
Prayer isn't and neither is a preacher.

Don't allow yourself to be confused. 
Service isn't and neither is sacrifice.

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE SCRIPTURES.

There is no substitute for the truth that comes from the Scriptures. There is no substitute for the revelation that comes from the Scriptures. There is no substitute for the Voice that comes from the Scriptures.

It's in the Scriptures where...

God's story is written.
God's love is revealed.
God's gospel is displayed.
God's commands are given.
God's Son is resurrected.
God's return is foretold!

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE SCRIPTURES.

Read them. Study them. Enjoy them.

The life that can be found in them is nowhere else to be found. 

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

#597 - 25 SOURCES OF REST

In this fast-paced world that we live in, rest is a luxury. But it's not just rest for your body that people long for, people also long for rest for their minds, their souls, and their spirits. I know I do!

What that in mind, and with Easter just a little under two weeks away and a message this upcoming Sunday that I am pretty anxious about, I figure it would be a very beneficial thought exercise to remind myself of where my rest (mind, body, and soul) comes from:

  1. There is no good I can do that could make God love me any more.
  2. There is no bad I can do that could make God love me any less.
  3. I am declared righteous in the sight of God.
  4. God loves me just as much as He loves His Son, Jesus Christ.
  5. I am infinitely loved by the Infinite.
  6. My sins are forgiven.
  7. God is with me. 
  8. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave (Holy Spirit) lives within me.
  9. My work for God doesn't determine my worth to God.
  10. Christ will build His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
  11. God loves His children more than I ever could or ever will.
  12. I am just the messenger. I am not the message.
  13. God was at work in the world long before I got here, and God will be at work in the world long after I'm gone.
  14. God will get me what I need, when I need it, in the way I need it.
  15. God is holy, righteous, and sovereign, and I am His child!
  16. God's presence is His greatest gift, and I already have that!
  17. God knows what I need before I even ask Him.
  18. God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
  19. My job is to plant and water seeds. God's job is to make them grow.
  20. God's faithfulness to me isn't predicated by my faithfulness to Him. 
  21. God's plans for me are far greater than anything I can hope for or imagine.
  22. While I am sleeping, God is working.
  23. I am not the solution. God is. 
  24. God doesn't need me. 
  25. Christ will return, and I will spend eternity in the physical presence of God Almighty!

Knowing, believing, and trusting in these truths gives me a rest and a peace that surpasses all understanding. Now if God would just give me the grace and wisdom to remember them!

Before moving on with the rest of your day, I'd like to make 2 requests of you..

  1. Pick one or two of the truths above and meditate on it until you really are put at rest. 
  2. Please feel free to share in the comments below your sources of rest.

#596 - THE PRICE OF DISOBEDIENCE

Though obedience to God comes at a personal cost, I’d rather pay the price of obedience than forfeit the peace of mind that comes from knowing my life is surrendered to Christ.

Obedience costs me my comfort.
Obedience costs me my familiarity.
Obedience costs me my control.

But, disobedience costs me so much more.

Disobedience costs me my peace. 
Disobedience costs me my confidence.
Disobedience costs me my joy.

OBEY.

You can either bow to God in obedience or bow to yourself through disobedience. 

CHOOSE GOD.

You're not worth being bowed down to. 

#592 - THE PSALMIST'S SPIRITUAL MATURITY

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
Psalm 69:13

For all of my prayers. For all of my concerns. For all of my desires.
The Psalmist gives me an appropriate and spiritually mature mindset for all my requests unto God.

ANSWERED PRAYER

He will answer.

ABUNDANT LOVE

Because He is loving.

ACCEPTABLE TIME

When He sees fit.

God's acceptable time is the appropriate time.
TRUST.

#590 - UNDER-APPRECIATED PLEASURE

The pleasure of a good meal.
The pleasure of a compliment.
The pleasure of a good night's rest.
The pleasure of an unexpected gift.
The pleasure of a new pair of shoes.
The pleasure of an extended vacation.

I can go on and on about the various, more obvious pleasures of this world that I enjoy and look forward to.

But as great as the above pleasures are, I have recently become more and more convinced that there is a pleasure that I have under-appreciated though it has been available to me for as long as I've been a follower of Christ...

THERE IS GREAT PLEASURE IN PRAISE!

Like for real. Not because I'm a pastor. Not because I have to say it. Not because I want people to believe it. But, because it's true.

There is great pleasure in praising the Maker of the heavens and the Earth. There is great happiness in hallowing the name that is above every name. There is great bliss in blessing the One from whom all blessings flow. There is great delight in declaring unto God His matchless wonder and power. There is great ecstasy is exalting the King of King and the Lord of Lords. There is great gladness in glorifying the God of infinite grace and mercy. There is great wonder in worshipping the Lion and the Lamb.

THERE IS GREAT PLEASURE IN PRAISE!

The pleasures that are experienced in praising God are far greater than any other pleasure that can be found in this world! It's better. It's better. It's better! He's better. He's better. He's better!

And here's one last thought to make the pleasure of our praise unto God that much more satisfying...

GOD IS PLEASED BY THE PRAISE THAT GIVES US PLEASURE!

#562 - 9 CLUES FORGIVENESS HASN'T HAPPENED

Forgiveness is hard. Forgiveness is difficult. Forgiveness, at times, can be burdensome.

The hurt was so deep. The betrayal was so real. The pain was so lasting. The offense was so unexpected. The lack of remorse was so unexpected. The offender was so close.

But, as Christians, forgiveness is so...required

At the end of the day, forgiveness for others is really the litmus test of whether or not we truly have received the forgiveness of God.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of an infinite debt of sin against a Holy God, yet we cannot forgive a finite debt of sin committed by a sinful man? 

Forgiven people forgive people. There really is no way around it.

But, as much as I understand that truth, over the years, there have been many people I have struggled to forgive. From my personal experience, here is a list of "clues" that reveal that forgiveness, very likely, has yet to take place.

  • I want them to be exposed.
  • I want them to fail and struggle in life.
  • When I see them being trusted, I get mad.
  • When I see them enjoying life, I get frustrated.
  • When I see them making progress, I get angry.
  • I want them to hurt in the same way they hurt me.
  • I want someone to do to them what they did to me.
  • I want them to apologize to me for what they did to me.
  • I want them to apologize to others for what they did to me.

But what I've come to realize is that forgiveness isn't as much about them as it is about me...

  • Trusting the Lord.
  • Believing the best.
  • Absorbing the pain.
  • Releasing the vindication.

This isn't easy, by any means. But, it is necessary to live the life of freedom that God desires us to enjoy. It is necessary for the gospel to be displayed. It is necessary for God to be glorified. 

If you find struggling on this journey of forgiving those who have hurt you, I encourage you to pray this with me, daily, as the Lord instructs us to, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass over us."

#558 - YOUR SEARCH ENDS HERE

Relationships won't. Wealth won't. Influence won't. Sex won't. Power won't. Vacations won't. Clothing won't. Electronics won't. Success won't. Straight A's won't. Recognition won't. Religion won't. 

None of these things will fulfill, satisfy, and please you like you think they will.

They won't because they can't. 

But after 35 years of living, my search is over. Deep and lasting joy no longer eludes me. I have come to discover and believe with every fiber of my being:

All I've ever wanted, God has always had.
All I've ever needed, God has always been. 
All I've ever longed for, God has always held.

God's love will. God's peace will. God's grace will. God's forgiveness will. God's holiness will. God's righteousness will. God's strength will. God's wisdom will. God's mercy will. God's compassion will. God's discipline will. God's faithfulness will. 

God will because God can.

God, in His holiness - accessed solely through faith in Jesus Christ - will satisfy completely.

My search is over. 

#554 - HOW THIS LAST FAST REVEALED THE DEPTH OF MY DEPRAVITY

Many of the lessons I learned through my latest extended time of fasting and prayer are both damning and freeing to me all at the same time. Maybe I will take the time to explain these lessons in more detail in a future post, but for now here is an overview of some of my most significant "AHA" moments from the last 30 days. 

  • For a majority of my life, my actions, as a Christian, have communicated that I believe that God exists primarily for me. 
  • Over the years, my reasons for fasting have been primarily self-serving. 
  • I have believed, wrongly, that the more "extreme" of a fast I did, the more obligated God was to bless me.
  • I have fasted because I've wanted to put God in a position where He owes me. 
  • I have fasted more in an attempt to "unlock" the key to blessing rather than to bless God. 
  • In times past, I have been more concerned with how I was fasting than why I was fasting. (And when I have been concerned with why, those reasons, though on the outside may have seemed noble, were just veneers for my true selfish motivations.)
  • I was concerned primarily with "how" because the more "right" I did it, the more assurances I would have that it would get me the results I wanted.
  • God cannot be manipulated.
  • A god who can be manipulated by my actions is not God.
  • I don't want to serve a god I can manipulate. That's a weak god.
  • Because God's glory is the purpose of life, praise is the purpose of prayer and fasting.
  • God doesn't exist for me. I exist for God. 
  • Petition is the most common and comfortable way of communicating with God.
  • When I praise God more thoroughly, I find petitioning less necessary.
  • To praise God accurately, understanding His attributes is a necessity.
  • God is worthy of my praise.
  • Praise unto God is satisfying and fulfilling to the deepest parts of my being. 
  • Leading myself and others to praise God in spirit and in truth is the purpose of my ministry.
  • Ministry and discipleship that does not explicitly have as its end the glory of God will, by default, end up glorifying man.  
  • I would rather have my fast be "less extreme" and done unto the glory of God than "more extreme" and done unto the glory of myself. 
  • A life that is better for me void of a God that is beautiful to me is not a better life.  
  • If you got God to do everything that you wanted Him to, but you don't get God you lose. 
  • The main threat to the Christian life isn't "pagan" behaviors. The main threat to the Christian life is  "Christian" behaviors done with pagan motivations.
  • I don't just need God's grace for all the wrong things I've done, I need God's grace for all the "right" things I've done for the wrong reasons! 
  • I am a self-serving wretch. BUT...Jesus is my Savior!