Sunday, May 31, 2009

"IT." You Have To Keep It

Bookie from LifeChurch.tv on Vimeo.

Leadership Summit- Part 2, "It"



Our entire church leadership team will be going through a book called, "it." The book is written by one of my favorite Pastor/Leaders, Craig Groeschel, of LifeChurch.tv. Right now our church has "it," we are growing & significant life change is happening in the lives of those whom attend. There is a positive & life-giving atmosphere & the church is functioning as it should. (mostly :)) My passion is that our church will not only keep "it," but that we grow in "it" & give "it" away. Here are a few notes from what I shared. (adapted from the book "It")

How many of you have walked into a church experience and it was … “dead?” And we all can name churches that have “IT,” churches that had “IT” and lost “IT,” and many churches that don’t have “IT.” So what is “IT?” I don’t know. I believe that God makes “IT” happen. It is by Him and for Him, and we can’t create it, manufacture it, put it in the bottle and study it. Someone can bring it, and another could kill it. It’s not a system or a model. It’s not a “seeker-sensitive” deal or a “purpose-driven” deal. “IT” attracts critics. If you have “IT”, people will shoot at “IT”. You could say “IT” happens…but often “IT” doesn’t. Bad news is, if you have “IT,” that doesn’t mean that you can’t lose “IT.” If you don’t have “IT,” that doesn’t mean that you can’t get “IT.” The early church had “IT.” Acts 2:42-47

How do we get “IT?”
There are certain qualities that are most often there when “IT” is there.
1. LASER FOCUS. What can you be the very best at? In order to reach people that no one is reaching, you’ll have to do things that no one is doing. But in order to do things that no one else is doing, we can’t do what everyone else is doing. We need a uniquely focused set of ministries. Because of this, we (Freedom Life) have the margin to do these 5 things well,
a. Weekend Services b. Small Groups c. Children’s Ministries d. Student Ministries e. Missions
Question- What are you doing that you need to stop doing? You have everything you need to accomplish what God wants you to.
2. THEY SEE OPPORTUNITIES WHERE OTHERS SEE OBSTACLES.
3. THEY’RE WILLING TO FAIL. Those without “IT” play it safe. Some may say that “failure is not an option.” I agree. Failure is a necessity. Question- What has God called you to do that you’re afraid to attempt? When are you going to do “IT?”
4. YOU NEED TO HAVE IT FOR YOUR MINISTRY TO GET IT.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” -John Maxwell
Question- If you don’t have “IT,” what are you going to do to get “IT?”
5. YOU NEED TO GIVE IT AWAY TO KEEP IT.
“It’s not what you expect that gets done, it’s what you inspect!” -someone smart
1. I do IT 2. I do IT, you watch 3. We do IT together 4. You do IT, I watch 5. You do IT by yourself
Question- Who are you giving IT too? Who is helping & replacing you?
A FRANCISCAN BLESSING:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Leadership Summit- Part 1, "People You Can't Help"

This past Saturday we had our bi-monthly leadership summit. Below are the notes of what I shared with our team as we head to the next level organizationally & as a church. The first part is a reminder that as much as we want to help people, there are some people that you can't help.

1. You cannot help someone who does not believe that they have a PROBLEM.
Proverbs 26:12 (NIV) “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
2. You cannot help someone who believes that YOU are their problem.
(example- Pharisees & Religious Leaders that crucified Jesus)
3. You cannot help someone who desires a different OUTCOME then God does.
Jonah 1:3 (NIV) “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish...”
4. You cannot help someone who refuses a SCRIPTURAL solution to their problem.
Hosea 14:9 (NIV) “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
5. You cannot help someone who expects You to make a greater INVESTMENT in them then they are willing to make in themselves.
Joshua 1:8, (NIV) “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
6. You cannot help someone who consistently chooses RELATIONSHIPS that destroy them.
Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
7. You cannot help someone who leads others ASTRAY.
Galatians 5:9 (NIV) "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

So Who can you Help? HUMBLE PEOPLE (see Proverbs (NLT) 9:7-12)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Listen to the brand new Hillsong United Album!

The new Hillsong United album, “Tear Down the Walls“, released today. Listen to the album straight through one time for free on my blog:



This is an awesome album & you can hear some of these songs each weekend throughout the summer at our church, Freedom Life. I know that as you listen, you'll experience God's presence so quit reading this & enjoy!

Devotional- Home

I just received a great devotional from Ed Young Ministries about how to get to heaven. It's so easy to slip into the mindset that we can somehow earn God's love. The truth is that we can only come to God & please Him by faith. Enjoy!

Home

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Romans 3:28

When someone asks you the question, "How do you get to heaven?" what is your response? For many people, the answer is, "Just be a good person. Do the right thing. Keep your nose clean. And pay your taxes."
What they are trying to say, basically, is that you can earn your way into heaven. But that's the wrong answer - you can't earn your way in. Even on your best days, you will never be "good" enough to get into heaven on your own merit.
Thankfully, God has taken care of that for us. He knows that we've messed up. And that's why he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death, shedding his perfect blood for our sins. He then rose from the grave and conquered death for us, so that we could live in eternity with him.
The Bible gives us the one and only answer for getting into heaven. It says that when we place our faith in Jesus, our sins are wiped clean. Once we call on God's Son through faith, and put our life in his hands, all God sees is the perfect blood of Jesus on our lives. And that is the only way we will enter into our eternal home with God in heaven.

A Prayer for Today
Dear Lord, I know that there is no way I can earn my way into heaven. I can't do enough "good" things to earn your approval. And I know that you sent your son, Jesus Christ, so that I can live in heaven, my eternal home with you. Thank you for this indescribable gift. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The God Questions, Part 5 (cont.)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The Story that God is writing can be summed up in three Acts (as in a play). Each act tells one part of the story that God is writing. The great thing about God is that He tells us not only about the beginning, but he tells us what the end will be as well!

ACT I- PERFECT PARADISE
Why Didn’t God Create A World Without Evil & Suffering? Answer: He did
“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Gen 1:31
“...In the middle of the garden he placed (a choice) the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Gen 2:8,9; 15-17 (NLT)

ACT II- PERFECT MESS
When bad things happen, we always ask... Why Is This Happening To Me? Who’s To Blame?

Answer #1 * God's fault. Job 2:9-10 (NLT), “His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.”
Answer #2 * Own fault & or someone else's fault.
Friend #1- Job 8:3-4 (NLT), “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.”
Friend #2- Eliphaz-- Job 15:17-20 (NLT) “If you will listen, I will show you. I will answer you from my own experience... The wicked writhe in pain throughout their lives. Years of trouble are stored up for the ruthless.
Friend #3- Zophar-- Job 20:4-5 (NLT) “Don’t you realize that from the beginning of time, ever since people were first placed on the earth,the triumph of the wicked has been short lived and the joy of the godless has been only temporary?
ANSWER #3* God's Perspective.
God is all good & He is all powerful & He has a morally sufficient reason for the evil that He allows. But He doesn't always reveal the reason, He simply tells us to trust Him!
 “Then the Lord answered Job... “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.” Job 38:1-4 (NLT)

KEY THOUGHTS- Every Problem Has A Purpose. God uses problems to...
*Direct Me (Proverbs 20:30)
*Inspect Me (James 1:2-3)
*Correct Me (Psalm 119:71
*Protect Me
*Perfect Me (Romans 5:3-4)

God Promises To Walk With Us Through Every Problem.
“...The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” Hebrews 13:5

ACT III- PARADISE RESTORED
God has not promised that we wouldn't have any problems, but He has promised to make all things new!
 “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning... Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.” Job 42:12-16 (NLT)
”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Giunta's Story



Jon & Lauren are great friends of mine that have been severely tested by the issues of life. We shared their story this past weekend via this video and we closed the service with Lauren singing the song below.

The Desert Song by Brooke Fraser

This is my prayer in the desert And all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle And triumph is still on it’s way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ So firm on His promise I’ll stand

All of my life, In every season
You are still God, I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest, When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again, The seed I’ve received I will sow

Making Your Summer Count!

This is a re-post from edstetzer.com & is a fantastic reminder for every believer as we head into the summer!

A Summer that Counts, by Philip Nation

Seasons all have their official dates that are set by… well, I don’t know who sets them. But they all start on a specific day on my Blackberry. But then there is the other 99.9% of us whose lives are controlled by other factors.
For many, it is the school calendar. Right now, the spring semester is ending and it’s the start of summer vacation. It is the glorious time of the year when children are home all day, vacations are taken, pools are visited, and then we look for something to do on the second week.

Each spring, I hear people making plans for the perfect summer. They vow that this is the year they go camping with the kids, visit the grandparents more, and have more fun than anyone thought possible. Then the new school year rolls around and everyone wonders what just happened to the two months of perfection they had planned. Time seemed to slip away so quickly.

I want to challenge your thinking about summer this year. You can still go on a trip, play in the pool, and camp with the kids. But what if you decided to make it a missional summer? Instead of counting the days until it was over, I want you to make your summer count!

It all begins with the “why.” Why should I spend my whole summer or any of my summer on mission? That sounds boring. Even worse, it sounds like work. But if you want to have a memorable summer—then you have to get your mindset right.

When Paul was helping the Corinthian church understand their role in the world, he explained it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, 18 Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Our lives as believers are not about self; which is a tough concept when we are facing the summer months. It seems that summer is designed as a built-in “take a break” time of the year. Take a break from school, work, and even church stuff. But your summer can be the moment that you engage in the mission rather than disengage from the world. Let me give you 8 tips for making your summer count. And I promise that each one of them is possible! Click here to read the 8 tips!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How To Handle Discouragement


"For all of them were trying to frighten (intimidate) us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands. " Nehemiah 6:9 (NASB)

All of have dealt with times where we lacked courage (dis-couraged) because of overwhelming issues in our lives. Discouragement leads us to depression and ultimately defeat. What is the difference between discouragement and depression? Very simply, depression is discouragement that has won. You will experience many discouraging times in your life and how you handle them will be vital to you fulfilling your destiny. Discouragement is very common, it can be recurring, and is highly contagious. I want to encourage to read the story of Nehemiah today in your Bible and see why Nehemiah became discouraged and how he overcame it. Here are some of the principles from the story.

The reasons we become discouraged.
1. Just plain tired (physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted)
2. Frustrated (things aren't going well)
3. Failure
4. Fear

We overcome discouragement by...
1. Finding a better way to do something (reorganizing)
2. Remember the Lord (His goodness, that He is present & His power)
3. Resist the gloomy outlook (stay positive, find the good)

I've been through many discouraging times in my life, even over the last year. God has brought me through each and every one of them and I know that He will bring you through too as you trust Him!

Questions to ask yourself right now:
-Which of the 4 reasons of becoming discouraged affects you the most?
-What do you like to remember most about God when you're discouraged and how does that help you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Weird Al" Yankovic video about marriage!

This video is absolutely hilarious for all of you married people out there. Communication is a funny thing for married people. Weird Al is an icon, love his stuff! Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Have You Ever Wondered... ?

Have you ever wondered how the story and the gospel of Jesus Christ found it's way from a desert region to you right now? Whether you've heard the message of Jesus via radio, t.v., internet or a live service, it had to travel to you from somewhere! Take a moment to hear how this incredible story got from the middle of nowhere to you right now, click here. Don't ever forget that you are in the middle of history & the story that God writing at this very moment!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's A Girl!





I'm thrilled to announce that our new addition, arriving in late September, will be a girl! After 3 consecutive boys, the girls broke through once again in what will be the season finale. (in other words, no more children planned) My wife & I went in to get an ultrasound done this past Friday & we were hoping that we would be told to expect a "healthy baby girl." We doubted that it would be the case because I seem to be so good at making boys (FYI, it is the male that determines the sex). After receiving the news, we immediately drove to our friends house where our kids were anxiously awaiting the final verdict. I handed my daughter Mikayla a bag to open in front of the boys & we had a little girl doll & outfit awaiting inside. The kids were totally pumped, especially Mikayla, who is tired of not having a little sister! I love all of my kids dearly but I'm thankful that I will get one more little girl to enjoy! The pictures above are from those moments! God is good!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Will It Be A Boy Or A Girl?




Tomorrow afternoon we will find out whether or not our little shocker (#5) will be a boy or a girl! We are perfectly happy with whatever God gives us but I would love to have another little girl. My current little girl (Mikayla, 9) feels that same way! There is no Vegas line or over/under but I'd love to have your vote & you can win a million dollars! Okay, maybe not but go ahead make your selection. Check out the Poll to your right hand side and let your voice be heard...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

High School Flashback

aquila 1992088

I recently followed a link to my old high school year book online. I haven't been able to find my year book for years and it was great to look back and see how goofy everyone looked. Especially me, although I'm digg'in my old hair... Absolutely hilarious! Enjoy laughing at my pic!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Set Your Day

In honor of my good friend Butch (butchwise.blogspot.com), I am posting another Joel Osteen devotional. This is a great reminder that we choose the passion with which we live our lives! Regardless of what is going on in your life today, choose to have an attitude of gratitude & a heart of faith that the best is yet to come! Set your heart & mind today on the future & hope that God has for your life!

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE
“Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, AMP)

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Have you ever been laying in bed in the morning and out of nowhere you’re reminded of all the mistakes you made yesterday and all the problems you have in your future? That’s the enemy trying to set your mind for a negative, defeated, lousy day, but you don’t have to fall into that trap.

The Scripture says, “Set your mind and keep it set on the higher things.” This tells us that we have to be proactive. We have to stay on the offensive. When you get up in the morning, have the attitude that David did in the Psalms and say, “This is another day the Lord has made! No matter how I feel, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter what the medical report says, I am choosing to rejoice. I am choosing to be happy this day.” You know what you’re really saying? You’re saying, “I’m not going to let other people steal my joy today. I’m not going to let disappointments and setbacks discourage me. I’m not going to focus on my problems and my mistakes. I’m making up my mind to embrace everything the Lord has in store for me!”

A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father in heaven, I choose to set my day by setting my mind on things above. I choose to shake off the cares of yesterday and focus on everything You have in store for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

5 MOM’S, 5 STORIES, 5 THOUGHTS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR FUTURE!

Today I shared a special mother's day message with our church. We visited with 5 mom's from the Old Testament and imagined what they would say to us if we were able to speak with them today. I shared the verses that I believe would be their favorites and a thought that they would share with us if they had the chance. Take some time and check out some the stories of these amazing women and see what you think you can learn from their lives!

MOTHER #1- EVE (Genesis 3 & 4)

“BE CAREFUL HOW YOU THINK; YOUR LIFE IS SHAPED BY YOUR THOUGHTS.” PROVERBS 4:23
“THERE MUST BE A SPIRITUAL RENEWAL OF OUR THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES.” EPHESIANS 4:23

THOUGHT- BE CAREFUL OF YOUR THOUGHTS BECAUSE THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

MOTHER #2- JOCHEBED (Exodus 1 & 2)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." PROVERBS 3:5-6
"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." PSALM 55:22

THOUGHT- STOP TRYING TO FIGURE EVERYTHING OUT! LET GO & LET GOD!

MOTHER #3- HANNAH (1 Samuel 1 & 2)

“... he (God) will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair." ISAIAH 61:3-4
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ROMANS 8:28-29

THOUGHT- DON’T GROW BITTER, STAY IN FAITH! GOD CAN TURN YOUR SITUATION AROUND!

MOTHER #4- WIDOW (1 King 17)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” PHILIPPIANS 4:19
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” MATTHEW 6:32-34

THOUGHT- PUT GOD FIRST IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO & HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!

MOTHER #5- RAHAB (Joshua 2-5)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." ROMANS 6:23
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." JEREMIAH 29:11

THOUGHT- DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR PAST, GOD STILL HAS A HOPE & A FUTURE FOR YOU!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Today I turned 35 years old

Today was a big day in my life, I'm officially half-way to 70! I spent some time thinking about where I thought I'd be at 35. I've had a lot of dreams for the first half of my life ever since my teenage years. Here are a few random thoughts about what I thought my life would be like @ 35...
-I thought that I would have more hair
-I thought that I would have more money
-I thought that I would be more mature :)
-I thought that I would marry a hot, godly woman (& I did)
-I thought that I would have 3 kids (& I do, plus 1 & 1 more on the way)
-I thought that I would Pastor a relevant,vibrant & life-changing church (& I do)
-I thought that I would be playing a lot of basketball (not happening, yet)
-I thought that I would weigh less than I do!
-I thought that I would be helping people experience the love of God (& I am)

I look back over the last 35 years and I am thankful that God has allowed virtually all of my dreams to come to pass. I am blessed more than I deserve, seriously!!! God owes me nothing & I'm thankful for everything! I'm currently dreaming for the second half of my life and I've got some absolutely humongous, God-sized dreams. I'm believing for each of them to come to pass in my life! What are you dreaming for God to do in your life?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You Can Defeat Depression!

Here are some thoughts that I shared with our churches MOPS (Mother's Of PreSchooler's) group tonight. If you have ever dealt with depression, this is for you.

How can I defeat depression?

Don't ever forget, that you are not alone! You are surrounded by help! Isaiah 41: 10 & 13. “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand….For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear. I will help you.”
Don't ever forget, that God's grace is enough. You are surrounded by grace! Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.”

In the Bible a clear example of someone that was dealing with depression would be that of 'Elijah.' (read 1 Kings 19) He was a prime candidate for depression because he was physically tired, emotionally exhausted & someone was threatening his life. The Bible tells us that Elijah was a man just like us. (James 5:17) Meaning, we can experience the same miracles that he did and also the same discouragement. I want to encourage you to renew your mind (Romans 12:2) so that you can rid yourself of negative thinking and mindsets. A few tips for dealing with depression:

Tip #1- Focus on the facts, not on your feelings.
Tip #2- Don't compare yourself with others.
Tip #3- Don't take false blame.
Tip #4- Don't exaggerate the negative.


Elijah was guilty of each of these things in the context of 1 Kings 19. If we are honest, we have a tendency to do these very things. If you are finding yourself doing these things today, make a decision to stop. Of course the question leads to, "stop and do what?" Here are 5 things that you can do right now if you find yourself struggling with depression.

1. Take care of your physical needs.
2. Give your frustrations to God.
3. Get a fresh awareness of God.
4. Gain a new direction for your life.
5. Stay around encouraging voices.


Which of Elijah's mistakes are you most prone to experience in your life? What is a specific way that you can begin working on the first remedy for depression--which is your physical well-being?