Thursday, September 29, 2011

Love Story

Being in love with someone is all-consuming. You think about them constantly-the things they have said to you, the things you have shared together, and how they make you feel. You find yourself looking at the clock pining for the next time you can be together. Neither one of you wants to be apart from the other one and when you are  in each other's company it makes you feel complete-as if a part of you that has been missing is finally back where it belongs. If you are in a passionate, committed relationship it is part of you all day long. It wouldn't be something you relegated to one day a week-not if it was important to you.

When we limit our worship of God to one day, one hour and four songs a week we aren't in a committed, passionate, personal relationship either. We're treating a church service like a conjugal visit.

God isn't okay with that and we shouldn't be either.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Baptismal Truths

We are eagerly praying for Sunday, October 9th at Northridge as we make a big emphasis on baptism. The message that day in our "All In" series is titled, "Go Public." We are already praying for 50 baptisms to take place and are asking people to join us in that prayer.

I pray that people understand the power in baptism and the steps that follow.The video below is from Granger Community Church and is a powerful teaching on the significance of baptism and our obedience in following through. I pray it answers questions and inspires.

Monday, September 26, 2011


The Christian life is not always easy and neither is the calling to serve in ministry. There are trials and difficulties that pop out of nowhere and some that are created by the choices that we make. I am still learning that sometimes the hardest work that takes place is within ourselves. Closely examining who we think we are, who we are actually becoming, and the person that others perceive us to be can be quite painful in the revelation. It leads to a fork in the path that we travel and a decision that must be made. Will we forge ahead down the road that is filled with potholes and hard work or will we choose the path of least resistance and stay the course we are on no matter how wrong that course might be? Making the right decision will build a bridge of maturity and painful growth that will be worth the rewards on the other side of it-especially if we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit through it all.

You would hope to learn valuable lessons from finding that forked path so that you wouldn't repeat the same mistakes, but perhaps the willingness to see the mistake and react by turning to God is progress in itself.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Believe It or Not

In Reggie McNeal's book Missional Renaissance, he makes this statement, "To practice the blessing life, you will need to believe God, not just believe in God. There's a huge difference between the two."

There is tremendous power in understanding that declaration. If you asked most people they would probably tell you that they believed in God. Numerous Christian researchers have proven that to be true-that somewhere between 75-90% of people say that they believe in God. The dilemma lies not in an understanding that He exists, but in believing that what He says and does is true. 

If we trust that God is exactly who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, it will cause us to live our lives differently. It will determine the day-to-day decisions that we make and how we view people around us. Believing God will bring greater significance to what Christ called the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. 

True Christ-followers cannot be content with just believing in God's existence. It's time to live with bold confidence in the truth of His promises and the purity of His character and daily do something with it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Working the Plan

I was on the road last Friday and drove by a church sign that said, "Goals without a plan are wishes." Most church signs aren't worth remembering, but this phrase hasn't left my mind all week.

There are a lot of things that I want to do in my life. I want to be a better Christ-follower, husband, father & pastor. I want to achieve and maintain better physical health. I have a goal of leading a church. I want to live my life with a purpose instead of just shuffling along with the flow of the day. None of that is possible without a plan to make it happen. I sometimes forget that in the busyness of life's details.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Want It Now

It is often said that we are a society focused on instant gratification-the desire for things to be delivered to us quickly without having to wait. We get impatient waiting two minutes for the microwave to deliver hot food to us. We get easily frustrated waiting five minutes on hold for an answer to a problem. We will switch aisles at the grocery store trying to find one that is moving faster. I am as guilty (if not more so) than the next person.

Even if this desire for the instant results causes agitation, I really believe that a more accurate description for this syndrome is present gratification. It isn't so much about wanting something instantly as it is our willingness to shortchange our future for immediate pleasure and fulfillment of desire. It is the root of the destruction of relationships (friend & marital), the cause of financial ruin and the explanation behind the shallowness of Christianity as a whole. 

We want things to happen right now, but aren't willing to invest the time, energy, finances and discipline into the process of building it up. It is in the labor of working towards these future goals that our character and reliance on God are developed. It won't happen in one day or one church service, but is the result of daily trusting God and working hard to increase our faith and dependence on Him. 

We have to be willing to wait for the results God has for us and make the hard choice of delayed gratification to receive the greater reward that waits.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wise Investments

When I taught high school my main subject was Health. I spent the first four years of teaching fixated on the idea of getting my students to remember all of the important facts about their health decisions-leading causes of death for age groups, the dangerous chemicals in tobacco, signs of alcohol abuse, STD statistics, etc. I figured out after those first years that no one really remembered any of those details and that my opportunity to have the greatest impact wasn't in the regurgitation of facts. I then spent the next five years teaching the importance of decision making and understanding that what we decide to do today will have short & long term benefits and consequences.

That is true of more than just a health class. We are making an investment each day in our future and not just in a financial sense. What we commit ourselves to today will determine where we end up. If we are wise with our finances we have the ability to be generous when God presents the opportunity. When we will engage and talk with our children even though we are tired at the end of the day, we are building a bridge for a deeper and meaningful relationship when they are older. If we will take the time to make sure that our spouse knows we love them today in a simple way it builds a foundation for a relationship that will endure tough times. When we make the commitment to healthy eating and exercise it creates a lifelong discipline that avoids the start & stop exercise regimen that most of us find ourselves in. If we are willing to step away from the computer or television so that we can intentionally engage in prayer and Scripture we develop a reliance on God that will strengthen our commitment to Him in good times and in bad.

Even as adults we need to see that what we do now is making an investment in our future. Our vision for that needs to be lived out in the decisions we make today.

Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Desiring God DVD Series

I just recently watched a DVD series of teaching from John Piper based on his book Desiring God. I admit that I haven't read the book in its entirety yet, but gained a great deal from the DVD sessions. There are ten sessions included in the two DVDs which are in-depth enough to challenge viewers, but also broken down into manageable time frames.

The basic premise of Desiring God is that we are called to live a life of Christian hedonism based on the principle that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The principles that Piper shares are supported heavily in Scripture and through other Christian authors. Piper challenges us directly to believe the words from Scripture and that the alternative is not desirable for any of us. He points to the full glory of God in the created world around us, through Jesus Christ and in the way that we choose to live our own lives. It begins with the plan to save the world from sin and then continues as we are made more into the image of Christ.

Piper speaks with a passionate intensity throughout all of the sessions and it is easy to see that he is confident in what he is sharing. There are many times where he was on the verge of tears as he shared the truth from Scripture. He surprised me with his sense of humor in the midst of heady topics and his ability to not let it distract him. He was obviously very comfortable with the material (which he should be as the author of the book) but still spoke with an ease to his presentation that made you feel that you were talking over a cup of coffee as well. This is not just a matter of increasing sales of his book by attending the seminar or watching the DVDs. He has a deep conviction for our need to pursue satisfaction in God and to be changed by the revealing of God's glory that will take place as this happens.

I would recommend this as a study for those looking for a much deeper challenge to their Christian faith, but would suggest that it be done with a group instead of just as an individual. The depth of teaching and the amount of information in the short sessions will be better absorbed through group follow-up and conversation after watching the DVDs. It is a worthwhile investment for a small group setting or for a challenging series for somewhat larger groups as well.

I received this DVD series for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Get to It

In John 13, Jesus is sharing His last meal with His disciples and shocks them all by His actions before they begin to eat. Verses 3-5 share this: "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." 

Jesus had a complete understanding of His position in relation to God and what God was going to do, and His immediate reaction was to get up and serve. I don't believe this is written this way by accident. It reveals the model of servant leadership that Christ set for us and the example that we are called to follow. When we begin to gain a glimpse of God and His work in us-even if it is a small glimpse-it should spur us to get up and get to work as well.

That act of serving extends beyond the church and the local & global mission fields. As a father & husband my calling is to serve my wife and children and the rest of my family. I am to serve my neighbor and the people in our city that are in need. I am to serve with the resources I have been blessed with including money, time and energy. Most importantly, I am called to serve God no matter where He sends me or what He asks me to do.

This isn't an obligation for any of us. It's a response forged out of love for God and the confidence that we will one day be returning to Him.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Purpose

In John 12, Jesus is predicting His death to His followers and says in verse 27, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour?' No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour."

Obviously Jesus is God and has a greater understanding of things than we do-even in His human form-but it is the dedication to His true purpose that stands out to me. Even though what He was about to endure was going to be the most difficult thing He had dealt with, His commitment to fulfilling that purpose was greater than the temptation to walk away.

What about our purpose/calling in life? Are we willing to pursue it even if the journey is difficult? Do we even have a clue what our true purpose is? Do we have the disciplined obedience to stay true to what God has revealed to us in the midst of trials?

I don't have all of the answers (obviously), but I know that God has called me to be a follower, husband, father & pastor. I forget how important that calling is and allow the distractions of the mundane to pull my focus away from it. I let tiredness seep into my daily routines and neglect to keep my eyes intently centered on the prize of pursuing Christ in this life.

I pray that I stand firmly on my calling and see that it was for this reason that I have come to this time & place.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


In John 6, Jesus has fed thousands of people with a sack lunch and then walked on water during the night to head to Capernaum. The next day some people show up on the side of the lake where Jesus had been and realize that He is not there. Scripture tells us that they then got back in their boats and went to the other side of the lake to look for Jesus and the disciples.

The persistence of these people in searching for Jesus is significant. They had heard about Him, the miracles He was performing and the truth He was teaching and were desperate to experience it. When they arrived where they thought He was and found that He was gone they didn't give up. They continued to search in the next place in hopes of finding Him.

I admire their tenacity and willingness to make an effort to find Christ. It is an example for us to do the same today. We can't simply show up on a Sunday/Wednesday and then walk away disappointed that it wasn't a mountain-top experience. I think we too often sit back with an attitude of "show me Jesus" and then criticize when it doesn't happen. The responsibility lies with each of us to search for Him with fervor and passion and to be committed to searching with all our hearts to find Him.

Maybe we don't seek for Him with all our hearts because unlike the crowd in Scripture, we don't really want to find Him.