Monday, September 27, 2010

Mafiachurch.com Update- Team Work Makes The Dream Work!



Wow! What an incredible weekend we had in the life of our church! It was the biggest in the history of our church. (that I'm aware of at least) Here are some of the highlights...

-Michael Franzese did a fantastic job sharing his story. He's a such a genuine follower of Jesus with a crazy pill story that is really inspiring. The podcast will be up tomorrow & you can listen to the message by clicking here I also posted Michael's promo video & our promo video right below.

-The house was packed with over 1,000 people. 79 people watched online & 23 first-time visitors signed in (most normally don't so that was cool). Our church really stepped up & cared enough about their friends & family to bring them to the house to hear the good news of Jesus Christ!

-The new stage lighting was very cool, the worship team was tight & really created an atmosphere of excellence. Most importantly, they led us into the presence of God in a real & powerful way!

-We know that a number of people responded to receive the forgiveness & grace that only Jesus can provide! I don't have a definite count as of yet but many people responded & everyone heard a powerful message. I know that God is at work in the lives of so many. INCREDIBLE!

-Our teams of leaders that volunteer each & every week were absolutely FANTASTIC!! I was so proud of the passion & maturity of each & every one that served this past weekend. They represented our church & Jesus so well. Such an honor to serve alongside them.

It really does make teamwork to make the dream work! This weekend was a testimony of what can happen when a church unifies together around a vision & sacrifices to see it come to pass! The best is yet to come, we've only just begun! Way to go Freedom Lifers! It was so much fun... let's do it again this week!



mafiachurch.com from Freedom Life Christian Center on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who's Kidding Who? Pt. 2- The Kid Lid

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Part 2- The Kid Lid
“What’s Pouring Into Your Child’s Heart & Life?”
“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and
my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-17

*Click here to read PROVERBS 24:30-34- This passage is a reminder that if you're lazy, you'll experience poverty. This translates into parenting as well. If you're to busy to parent your child, there is a great chance that they will not become all that God has called them to be.

LEAD YOUR FAMILY. In the book of 1 Samuel we learn that Eli was a priest that did not lead his home. His children would follow his lead in stealing from God and not honoring Him with their whole heart. They had no fear of God which means they had no wisdom. They died early on in life & Eli’s family would be the only family in all of Israel that would not be blessed.

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” Proverbs 24:3

... TO HAVE A HEART FOR GOD- You teach what you know, but reproduce who you are.
“He (God) will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matt. 6:33

...TO HAVE A HEART FOR GOD’S HOUSE
"Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" Eph. 5:25-- Do you have a heart for God's House?
God, talking about His House (the church) "My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always."1 King 9:3-4 (MSG)
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1
 “The righteous will flourish... planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13

INFLUENCE INTENTIONALLY. (KEEP THE KID LID ON)
Influencers in your home include:
GOVERNMENT- enough said. (redefining the home)
EDUCATION- Sex Ed Guidelines (Sexual Information And Education Council):
• Ages 5-8 Taught Feels Good To Touch And Rub Body Parts
Ages 9-12 Taught Homosexuality Just As Satisfying
Ages 15-18 Taught Pornography Will Enhance Sexual Fantasies
MUSIC- Average teen Listens To 10,500 Hours Of Music From 7th To 12th Grade (Equivalent To 437.5 Days)
T.V. & MOVIES- Kids & Teens watch an average of 22 hours of T.V. per week.
“… children who watch a lot of TV with sexual content were twice as likely to start having intercourse during the subsequent year as those with little exposure to televised sex.” -Pediatrics Magazine
INTERNET- The largest consumers of internet porn are children between 12-17 years of age. 90% of kids ages 8-16 have viewed porn online while doing homework. 80% accidentally. (internetfilterreview.com) *If you love your kid, filter their internet!

HOW YOU THINK WILL DETERMINE HOW YOU LIVE.
Beliefs determine behavior. ----> Thoughts result in actions.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Prov. 23:7
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

3. DETERMINE THE ATMOSPHERE OF YOUR HOME.
DO THE ENTERTAINMENT CHOICES OF MY FAMILY MEET THE GUIDELINES OF PHIL. 4:8?
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
“I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.” Psalm 101:3
*see Col. 3:5, Rom. 8:6, 2 Tim. 2:22, 1 Cor. 6:18-20, Prov. 5:3-5, Prov. 13:20
DO THEIR RELATIONSHIP CHOICES ENCOURAGE THE RIGHT SPIRIT?
“So David decided not to move the Ark of the Lord... to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 11 The Ark of the Lord remained there in Obed-edom’s house for 3 months, & the Lord blessed Obed-edom & his entire household. 12 Then King David was told,“The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s household & everything he has because of the Ark of God...” 2 Sam. 6:10-12

APP- Invite the presence of God into your House & you’ll experience the blessing & favor of God!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How To Move From Kid CEO to Parent CEO, Pt.4

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Yesterday we learned that having consistent discipline is God's design for the family. One last time, the flow of the home looks like this: God --> Husband/Wife --> Child. We discovered that real parental love is present only where there is consistent discipline. The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 26:12, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Today, you need to develop a vision for your family with structure that is strategic! The final letter in the K.I.D.S. acrostic is "S" & it stands for...

Structure that’s STRATEGIC.

“He (God) will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matt. 6:33


Children scream for structure! According to family expert Gary Smalley, "Study after study has demonstrated that children need boundaries in order to grow up with a healthy sense of stability and security." In other words, good old fashioned rules still rule the house. When parents provide structure, they follow God's example and offer one of the greatest gifts they can give to their child.

Here's the deal, Parent-driven homes set the priorities PRIOR to activities. So how do you do that?
1. Give Your Kids Downtime. (Psalm 46:10) You must schedule your family/down time together. Free time is always free for others to take so be sure to put it on your calendar!
2. Give Your Kids A Set Bed-time. Here are some stats that Ed Young gives in regard to bed time that you don't want to be present in your home!
51% of kids 10-18 go to bed after 10pm
60% of kids 7-12 feel tired during the day
15% of kids fall asleep at school

3. Don’t OD on options. Consider not allowing more than 1 activity per child, per season. Don't put your family at risk by being overcommitted! (Luke 10:41-42) In this Biblical story, Mary ran around cramming and trying to get everything done, Martha sat at Jesus feet. Jesus told her that she did what was right.

The question is, are you choosing what is right for your family?

Remember, the Parent CEO driven household isn't a military academy masquerading as a home! It is a home that follows God's flow chart for the family and is based on structure and routine, a strong marriage (single parent- strong relationships), and a heart for God & His House!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How To Move From Kid CEO to Parent CEO, Pt.3

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As we discovered yesterday, having a parent-centric household with intentional intimacy is God's design. Remember, the flow of the home looks like this: God --> Husband/Wife --> Child. We discovered that we must keep doing the things that won our spouses heart in order to keep our spouses heart. This week we're using the ever-clever acrostic, K.I.D.S., to learn how to do just that. The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 26:12, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You need to have a vision for your family which means you need to have a plan for DISCIPLINE! The next letter in the acrostic is "D" & it stands for...

3. Discipline that’s CONSISTENT.
Discipline is simply correction driven by love. When it comes to discipline, it needs to be consistent and parents must be in agreement. The Bible stresses the importance of discipline over and over again. Here are two examples:

“Discipline your children while there is hope.  Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” Proverbs 19:18
“If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don't love them, you won't correct them. Proverbs 13:24

Here's the deal, if you won’t discipline your kids, the world will. Love your kids by disciplining consistently. Please understand that discipline does not mean humiliating them. In Ed Young's book, "Kid CEO," he shares 5 essentials for discipline. They are:

1. Draw Clear Lines. (they understand the rules)
2. Maintain Consistent Boundaries. (you enforce the rules consistently)
3. Present a Unified Front. (you stay in agreement as parents in front of your child)
4. Consider the Personality Factor. (you understand each kid is different and needs different things)
5. Build the Parental Portfolio. (consistent personal investment into parenting skills)


Keep winning the daily battles by giving love and appropriate discipline that is firm and under control. As you depend on God in prayer, He will give you the strength you need to eventually win the war of wills. Remember, the goal is an obedient heart, not a perfect child!

Question- Which of the 5 essentials for discipline do you do well with as a parent?

Monday, September 6, 2010

How To Move From Kid CEO to Parent CEO, Pt.2

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As we discovered yesterday, having a kid-centric household is not God's design. In God's design, the flow of the home looks like this: God --> Husband/Wife --> Child. We discovered that the foundation of the home is to keep our lives grounded in God's Word & His House. This week we're using the ever-clever acrostic, K.I.D.S., to learn how to do just that. The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 26:12, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You need to have a vision for your family which means you need a vision for your marriage! The next letter in the acrostic is "I" & it stands for...

I- Intimacy that’s INTENTIONAL.

Revelations 2:4-5 says, "But I do have something against you! And it is this: You don't have as much love as you used to. Think about where you have fallen from, and then turn back and do as you did at first.” While this scripture is in reference to a church that had fallen away from God, it is also an accurate depiction of what can happen in a marriage. With people divorcing at a 50% clip, couples need to be more intentional about keeping the relational fires stoked.

Here are 2 commandments for marital intimacy that you should consider introducing into your life this week.

1. Thou shall date your mate.
Dating teaches your kids that the marriage relationship is important. This breeds security for them and greater intimacy for you and your spouse. You can spend $40 every week or 2 on a date or $200 an hour to an attorney.
2. Thou shall keep your kids & technology out of your bed.
God's desire is that the marriage bed would be pure & active! That's difficult to accomplish if little Jimmy, your computer & T.V. are there night after night. Put your children to bed, in their own beds, and spend time together! Turn off the T.V., put down the computer and pay attention to each other, ALONE!

Remember, the best thing that you can ever do for your children is have a great marriage! If you're a single parent, the best thing you can do is have a healthy house and a heart for God's House.

Question- What are you going to do this week to be more intentional about intimacy in your home?

How To Move From Kid CEO to Parent CEO, Pt.1

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How to move from Kid CEO to Parent CEO, Part 1

Have you ever stuck your head out of the car window while driving 55mph? If you have, you now know that you were in for a really bad hair day! Not only that, you would be sucking in more oxygen than you could possibly handle all at once. You need oxygen, but too much can be bad and potentially suffocating! Parents, we need to give our kids attention, love, and care. In doing so, we need to make sure that they aren't the focus of the entire house. Having a kid-centric household is not God's design. In God's design, the flow of the home is God --> Husband/Wife --> Child.

The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 26:12, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You need to have a vision for your family. If you don't, you'll never experience all that God has for you & your children! One of my favorite leaders in all the Bible declared this, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) I want my kids to grow up and live big and expansive lives for the Kingdom of God. If our children are going to succeed, they need to be centered around God's plan and His purposes. Like Joshua, it is the parents responsibility to LEAD the family in the ways of God. This week we'll use the ever-clever acrostic, K.I.D.S., to learn how to do just that. Here are some tips to help you keep your kids from running your lives. Remember, if you allow your kids to run your life, you will ruin theirs. The essence of parenting is training and preparing your kids to LEAVE. That's a good thing! In order to help prepare them for their future, here's what they will need from you in the present...

1. Knowledge that’s GROUNDED.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” Proverbs 24:3
“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8
 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13

The scriptures above point to the way that we can help our kids become grounded. When they spend time in God's Word and with God's House (His people) they will acquire wisdom. Simply stated, wisdom is knowing what God wants you to do and choosing to do it. Much like you, I want my children to flourish & live purpose-driven lives. I desire that they will grow in the greatness that God has planned for them in Christ Jesus! (Jeremiah 29:11) If that is to ever occur, they will need large levels of wisdom. Children must understand that the universe doesn't revolve around them and that they were born for the purposes of God. I want to challenge you to help your kids live purpose-driven lives!

Listen, your children will grow up and face the issues of this life, such as: discouragement, job loss, sickness, relationship issues. Their knowledge of sports & culture will not help them make it through those days. If they are grounded in God's Word and His House, they will have the foundation that they need to succeed.

Question- What changes do you intend to make to your House this week so that your kids can receive the knowledge they need to stay grounded?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who's Kidding Who? Pt. 1- Who's In Charge?


Who's Kidding Who? Pt. 1- Who's In Charge?
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“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way that parents obey their children.”
Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor

This week we kicked off our new 3-part series on all things parental. This week I'll be posting a series of blogs in relation to that message. If you missed the message, I'll be posting all about it this week as we discover how to keep the right people in charge of your home. Who's in charge of your home? The Bible teaches us that God's family flow chart looks like this:

GOD’S FAMILY FLOW CHART
GOD- “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Eph. 5:1
Husband-Wife- “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25
Children- “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Eph. 6:1

God's the owner of everything & He calls the parents to be the CEO of the family. Unfortunately in today's culture, the family flow chart has been flipped upside down & the little guys have been left to call the shots & to set the agenda. The children have become the CEO of the family & whenever kids are at the wheel, you can guarantee the results are not good. How do you know if your children are the CEO of your home? How do you know if life revolves around them versus God's flow? Take this quick test to find out!

THE BALANCED FAMILY TEST

NEVER =1
SOMETIMES =2
ALWAYS =3


1. Do you go on a date with your spouse at least twice a month?

2. Do you eat dinner as a family around the dinner table at least three times
per week?

3. Do your children sleep in their own beds (not your bed) every night?

4. Do you and your spouse have TLC (touch, look, conversation) on a daily
basis?

5. Do you get away for a weekend alone as a couple (without your kids) at
least twice a year?

6. Do you have sexual intimacy with your spouse at least two times a week?

7. Do you and your spouse present a unified front when your children
question your authority?

8. Do you have a set bedtime for your kids/teens that is consistently
enforced?

9. Do you regularly evaluate your calendar to prevent ECA-itis (over-
scheduling extra-curricular activities)?

10. Is weekly church attendance a priority for you and your children?

This is a test, it's only a test! But, it can also help you see if your family flow is functioning the way God has designed. Join me tomorrow as we discover how to become parent CEO's of the household. Your marriage & your kids depend on it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wanna Go Deep?

I recently rediscovered this devotional that I had received from CreativePastors.com a number of years ago called- Deeper.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

Have you ever heard the following statement: “I wish the sermons at church would be deeper?” Maybe you have even said it yourself. Many times we feel like our study of God’s word is too superficial and that we need to study “deeper” material. But the question that we should really ask ourselves is, “What is deeper?”

This is an excellent question for those of us who seek to truly know the Bible and follow Christ. Too many times we simply don’t know how to articulate what or where “deeper” is. Often, we are really just looking for an emotional fix to our current life situation. The problem with emotional fixes is their inherent inconsistency. What does it for us one day may not do it for us the next. Our emotional responses change right along with life’s circumstances. What we need to remember when we start looking for something new is that we are often following a shift in our emotions, not necessarily our spirit.

This shift is very important to recognize because Satan can use it as a tool to drag you away from where God wants you to be. If you spend your life looking for a certain emotion, you will merely drift from one place to another, like a ship without a rudder. Eventually you will run up on dry land, trapped by the very shallowness you were trying to avoid.

To avoid drifting we need to follow the true “deeper” journey that is presented to us in the Bible. One of the greatest examples is the command that Jesus gives us in Matthew 22:39, “'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” This command calls us to accept another person, regardless of how we feel about them. Jesus was calling us to get outside of our comfort zone and to do life the way that he did. Jesus didn’t spend all of his time with his closest friends. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors while others disapproved. He touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable. It wasn’t easy, but it was deep.

The Bible and all of its lessons can take you as deep as you are willing to go – and beyond. But it takes work. You have to take the leap. Don’t follow your emotional tide. Put the lessons into practice – then try it somewhere other than your comfort zone. Take what you already know and apply it to your life. God will take you on a “deeper” journey than you ever knew was possible.

Unstoppable, Part 5

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Key Thought- Do not let the storms of life stop you from your destiny! Read Acts chapters 26-28.

Understand, like the NT martyrs, faith can get you into trouble but don't let the storms of life define your life. Below are a few things that we can learn from the storm that the Apostle Paul encountered, as well as the storms of life.

1. In a storm you find out what a PRIORITY is.
Acts 27:18-20, “We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. 20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved."

The economic downturn has forced many make difficult choices in their spending. Many of us have had to choose necessities over luxuries. The storms of life teach us to hold onto the most precious cargo & throw everything else overboard.

2. Don’t let storms determine your DESTINATION.  
Acts 27:22-25, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar..."

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Some storms you didn't start & some storms you can't stop.  God is with us in the midst of both. Don't let the things of life keep you from doing the thing that God has called you to do! If you have a plan B for God's call on your life, a storm will always push you to it.

3. Your destiny is always connected to OTHERS.
Acts 27:24-37, “ and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. ...34Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head...36They were all encouraged... 37Altogether there were 276 of us on board. (NIV)

God is passionate about reaching others through YOU! (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Peter 3:9, Acts 1:8) Just like Paul, you have a Rome to get to & a Caesar to stand before.  You must live with a sense of mission & purpose.  If you don't go, others may perish!

4. If you have unfulfilled DESTINY, you can't be stopped.
Acts 28:30-31, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31Boldly and without hindrance (UNSTOPPED) he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

If You’re In The Midst Of A Storm Today, Stay Anchored

1st Anchor- The Word of God.
“16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

2nd Anchor- Prayer
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

3rd Anchor- The House of God.
“The righteous will flourish... 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:12-13