Monday, November 21, 2011

Not HOT?

The comfort zone, just coastin, just rollin along. Sounds like a trip to the Big Easy, not much required not much given. Wow, wouldn't  it be cool, just chillin. Although, this sounds like a great vacation its the slow death to spiritual growth. 

  • I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
  • So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Now, you may have been in a church where you were beat over the head with this scripture or felt the flames at your feet.  However, please note the words of Jesus, “I wish”, two words that speak of his heart in wanting something better for the church at Laodocia.  And that heart is the same for us, the very love of God constrains him with a consuming desire to see us always feed the flame of the gift he has put into our lives. 
We see a picture of this in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 6:3, “a perpetual fire shall burn on the altar; it shall never go out. So here we are in a different dispensation, one so much greater and our God still wants the fire burning hot, its warmth to change us, it light to leads others to Him.  The Hot can be summed up in three words, hungry, open and tender. 
Hungry:  The deep part of man calls to the deep part of God. Our Father's passion is that we are always reaching deeper into His heart the depth of which we reach lies in us. What we do in public will be the result of what we hunger for in private and what we do in service will flow from what we hunger for in intimacy. It is no wonder that the flame in us is fueled with hunger and as it burns hot it changes us   and everything around us

Open: Let us allow ourselves to live with questions, always inquisitive. Our encounters with God will
always  leave us wanting more and sometimes even scratching our head. Is it not good to live in wonder, amazed by a God who's manifold grace enthralls the human heart. If this not the heart of a child, a kid in the Kingdom, compelled to explore by his sense of wonder.
I once heard it said that  an open mind is like a window with no screen that let the bugs in, however, a closed mind  will shut down a open heart,  a closed heart is like a moat around the castle to protect the ill conceived bastions of thought. Castles of captivity. (be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind)  a surrender heart will always result in arenew mind and will always fill both mind and heart with wonder.

Tender: Centered in grace, rooted in love. Tenderness of heart enables us to come into the realm of revelation and unlock the mysteries of God. It is not in seeking the mind of God that we understand and gain wisdom, it's rather from seeking the heart of God. Tender to tender. Jesus said “ learn from me I am gentle and humble in spirit”. I think of that green pasture in Psalm 23, I can picture going there to meet a loving God and with all the things on my mind,  I hear the Father tenderly saying, “I am just glad you are here” How can the  tender love of God not  inflame passion and passion inflamed will always burn HOT.

What thought, what promise helps you keep the fire burning?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Small Group are you leading next semester?

This is an e-mail from one of our small groupleaders to the people in his group encouraging them to lead a small group. Figured it would make a greatblog. Enjoy!

What small group are you leading nextsemester?

Tis the season for some last minute encouragement,what small group are you going to lead this next semester? All of youhave skills and passions. Throw Jesus in the mix and BOOM, you got asmall group. Even if you aren't good at anything, you can lead a"I'm not good at anything small group". You can sit around withother people who aren't good at anything either and do nothingtogether. How awesome would it be to do nothing with other people whoenjoy nothing? Party.

Ok, that may have been an extreme example, butit could happen. God has given us all abilities to do somethinggreat. Your talent or ability is just as good as the guy/galnext door. Your unique gift might just be the somethinsomethin that turns someone's life over to Christ........and then thedominos start to fall. There are people out there that are hungry forwhat you have to offer no matter how special, unique, different, weird, andinteresting it may be. Different strokes for different folks.

Take some time and think about what youare good at. You probably will come up with several ideas.....put oneinto motion. Sure, you will have to put a little time into it, maybespend a buck or two, but seeing someone's life change is priceless.

As the townie told Bobby Boucher in Waterboy,You can do it!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Imaginations played forward

Proverbs says, “do not fret it only leads to evil” so how does that work, it seams to be a big jump from fretting to evil. Fretting the process of anxious thoughts played forward.  How is this the arena of the enemy? Figment of you imagination, I remember the purple dragon from Disney call figment, cute and innocuous. However there is another dragon, slew foot master of lies but void of substance. It is in this area of fretting, the imagination played forward, that he does his greatest work and weaves his lie.

Remember Jeroboam, yes he was the King who took over Israel at the split of the Kingdom.
I King 11:29-30 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.”

Wow, didn't see that coming, what an incredible promise, God was going to establish Jeroboam over the 10 tribes of Israel.  1 Kings 37-38,  I will take you and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 

Well, is not God faithful, does he change His mind, will He not accomplish that which He proclaims?
Are not God promises sure? Yes, Yes , Yes.  I am glad you said yes, for as God is true to His word he establishes Jeroboam on the the throne as King of Israel. So what does Jeroboam do, he says to himself
1 Kings 12:27  "If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah ; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah." Wow what a thought, however it had one major problem, it did not align with the promise. It was a lie. It was an imagination played forward with a devastating effect. 

The result of which caused Jeroboam to set up a idol (go his own way) at Bethel, the house of God and the place of God's promise to Israel. This is where the big slide began and Israel never recovered. 
We are God's possession, children of the inheritance and  heirs to his promises. They are sure for you and those you are praying for. The enemy always starts with the most innocuous lie. “if”.  
We don't live in the land of “if”.  God's word to Joshua “be courageous”, for He who promised is faithful. WE are, “more than conquerors in Christ” 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


One thing I miss about New England is the seasons.  I would see the most beautiful leaves in very vibrant colors.  On the flip side, I do not miss scraping ice off my windshield and driving in the snow. 

Just like the weather, we go trough seasons in our lives as well.  There are seasons of plenty, seasons of hardship, seasons of great joy and sometime seasons of sadness.  No matter the season in your life, be encouraged to keep yourself deep in the Word of God. 

I love the description of the godly in Psalm 1: 3: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” 

Here are some practical steps to be like that tree:

1) Stay in the Word of God and Prayer
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

2) Plant Yourself in the Church   
That means be faithful to attend and to give of yourself where God is leading. 
Psalm 92:12-13  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree… Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

3) Be Accountable to Friends Who Will Encourage You in Your Faith in Christ

4) Rid Yourself of Harmful Influences

I encourage you to be like that tree the yields its fruit in its season, whose leaf doesn’t wither, and prospers in everything.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrate the Process!

A surrendered heart will always lead to a renewed mind. It is always the matters of the heart surrendered that transforms the mind. Deeply realizing that God is always more interested first in what he does in us than through us. Look at the words of Jesus “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” So whatever we would aspire to do for God , must be first done in us. 

As coaches and small group leaders we can sometimes press and strive for external change in people. Even though we realize the importance of the inner work we may not allow for it. Even in our own lives we quietly think why did that take me so long for me to see that, why am I so slow to change sometimes? These questions can be understood by embracing the valve of the process. If we in our own lives value the process of inner change we will be ultimately more patient and deeply attached to that process in the lives of those we lead and touch. 

The heart of Jesus, humble and gentle, he knew how to make the process easy, lift the weight which allows the growth. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I can't help to wonder what is the burden that God would put upon us if  it were not the wonderful burden of sharing His heart for those we see, touch and for those we lead. Sharing His burden will never weight us down, it will impassion, and inflame us burning within us the very heart of God. 

Enjoy the process in your life and celebrate it in others. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have a 2 year old, Bella, whose favorite word it seems is NO.  She seems to even revel in saying it.  Here’s a challenge for you – know what you are called to and what you are not and use the word “No.” 

It has been often said that the enemy of great is good.  It’s so easy to say yes to things.  Someone asks you to volunteer for something you think – sure I can “squeeze” it in.  Soon you are squeezing so much in that you don’t have any time at all.  Then add your family member’s responsibilities to your calendar that your week gets so crazily busy that you hardly have time to breathe between events…  Life becomes a blur.  

Think about your children.  Often the amount of time you spend with a child communicates something – if you never have time for them, it is time to revisit your schedule and your priorities.  It’s time for change.  Do you want to be remembered as a good or great parent! 

It’s the same with ministry within the church.  If you spread yourself out too thin among a lot of different areas you may actually short circuit what God has called you to.  Take a look at your life and become more focused.  Focus on what matters, focus on what you are called to do.  

If we are doing too much instead of having a focus on what God has called us to, we may only achieve good.  If we concentrate on a chosen focus – instead of volunteering for everything – we may actually achieve the great result we want in life. 

Say no to some things and revel in doing God’s will! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comfort or Call?

Why is it easier to connect with someone a half a world away with no sphere of influence, yet inside our sphere of influence there is a difficulty connecting with people?

A few weeks ago, I went on my first mission trip to Peru. While I was there, I met Lizandra, a 13 year-old Peruvian orphan.  Probably, one of the smartest young women I have ever met.  On the second morning, God placed her on my heart during my quiet time.  I wasn’t entirely sure why.  As the day progressed, I spent more time with her.  I felt God giving me a message to give to her.  By the end of that night, I was able to sit down and speak with her.  Through broken English and broken Spanish, we were able to communicate and connect.  I was able to share with her the understanding of Christ.  I was able to go outside of my own comfort zone in foreign country where no comfort zone was to be found.  It was probably one of the most memorable experiences I have had in my Christian walk so far.  The remaining time I was in Peru, I was inspired to bring back that fire that I had experienced there.  But when I came back I found it difficult to connect with people inside my own sphere of influence. 

I know Christ has called us to go and disciple all nations as well as find his lost sheep.  I know God loves us all equally, so what is the difference between a lost sheep in Sarasota, Florida and a lost sheep in Lima, Peru.  There is no difference, but I changed.  I stopped, and suddenly there was a wall up.  What was stopping me?  My pride, insecurity, fear of rejection, fear of what people would think about me and maintaining respect, acceptance and influence.  I was letting myself get in the way of doing Christ’s work.  Instead, I was putting my comfort over my call.  How are you any different? 

We are trained from a young age to leverage our influence to manipulate people to get what we want.  For example, when a child determines which parent is the “soft one” he will use that influence.  Rather than asking the parent whose answer would be no to a specific request, he leverages his influence over the other parent, so they will move on his behalf to get what he wants.  We do this so naturally for our own benefit and wants.  Why don’t we do this for the expansion of the Kingdom?  So, my question is this… How are you going to leverage your influence for God’s Kingdom?

By Jim Angus
Small Group Leader – Unleash Your Untamed Faith

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Believe well

It is not so much about faith in God as it is what we believe about Him that determines our faith.
Job, said these words, “what I have feared has come upon me”. What an awesome guy, God's own testimony of him says it all. “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”

Yet deep in his heart he yet needed to learn something of his Father. Was it all too good to be true?  Can God really be as beautiful, wonderful and loving as I hoped?  Job's own fear allowed the enemy to come before God and test Job. It was a fear based in the question of the character of his heavenly Father.

Job was already blameless and upright, shunning evil. So, in what way was he tested? His ultimate test was in what he believe about his God. Was he truly all that he wanted him to be, was he really that good? Was the Father's love beyond reproach?  Job's answer “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job realized that the God he served was ultimately good even beyond his comprehension. “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. “

God's promises are based in His character, if we will believe well of Him we will stand strong in what we believe from Him. For it is not the things in His hand that changes us it is that which in our Father's heart that make us truly rich. All flows from the wonder of who he is, the unchanging, ever loving character of our God. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Life-Giving Leader Knows that Pain is Part of Leadership

     A life-giving woman knows that pain is part of leadership, and she understands the necessity of guarding her heart. Proverbs 4:23, says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. “ A position of leadership puts you out front for all to see, watch, and judge. I enjoy horse racing, and used to attend the races at Keeneland in Kentucky. When a horse would come out of the shoot, my eye would always follow the horse that was out front and in the lead. John Maxwell, the guru of leadership books, writes in his book, Leadership Gold, “When you get kicked in the rear, you know you’re out front.” 

     A life-giving leader knows that she doesn’t have the luxury of “closing up shop and going home” just because she gets, “kicked in the rear,” her feelings get hurt or she gets criticized. The challenge is to resist quitting the race but also to resist hardening your heart. The tendency is to give up and stop engaging life. We want to put our jammies on, curl up in a blanket and eat chocolate when we are struggling and defeated, but the life-giving leader presses into love, takes another risk, and embraces another relationship. 

     One of my pastor friends experienced a great deal of relational pain when several of the members of the church where he served, became critical of the church and left. When I was talking with him about how he was handling the heartbreak of several members leaving, he said to me that although it was very painful for him personally, he would not stop loving others and engaging in people‘s lives. In other words, he didn’t take himself out of the game.  He pressed into love, and continued on with his race.

     The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you to stop loving others, stop ministering to others, and to retreat to where it is safe…out of commission, and out of life! John Eldredge writes in Desire, “Do we form no friendships because our friends might be taken from us? Do we refuse to love because we may be hurt? Do we forsake our dreams because hope has been deferred? To desire is to open our hearts to the possibility of pain; to shut down our hearts is to die altogether.” 

     In order to keep your heart soft and life-giving, you must maintain a forgiving heart toward others. Jesus said in Mark 11:24-25, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you hold a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (NIV). The writer of Hebrews warns us, “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you for as it springs up among you it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15 (LB).  “Express. Don’t hold it in. Talk about it. Because if you don’t get it dealt with now, if you let it begin to boil, it will be harder to deal with later.  Emotional anger unexpressed will lead to sinful bitterness.“ [Joe Champion, Rocked, pg. 27].

    Remember, no matter your circumstances, the state of your heart will determine the direction of your life and your leadership. Guard your heart!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Hole Nother World

The avoidance of faith is unbelief.  

Start with the very reason God sent His Spirit into the world; to convict the world of sin, the sin of unbelief. 

As the wonder of salvation has crashed into our world, we now stand in the conflict and it is in this conflict that we suffer. It is the conflict of two worlds colliding and God's Kingdom invading this earth. We are now challenged to live in a different reality, in this reality we can no longer avoid faith. 

It is a reality that calls us to deny the circumstance of this world and stand firm in the Kingdom that contains no lack, no sickness, no need. In this contradiction we understand that our Father's will is not fully realized in this world as it is in heaven. The wonder of God is that he has commissioned us to extend his kingdom in this world. I was recently asked do we stand on the track while the train is coming? Our temptation is to take the realities of the world to avoid faith, rather than taking faith to overcome the world with greater reality of the Kingdom. Father, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, a place with no lack, no sickness or need. 

The greater question is where will we choose to live. In God's kingdom “iron floats” And trains will not run over his children. And the giants are placed in the promised land only for one reason, to be slayed. Avoidance of faith would have us wait, for what God has already provided and is eager to do. 

The excitement of stepping out and extending God's Kingdom now is the place we are called to live. 

It is in embracing this truth that the suffering heart is set free to live at a HNL (hole nother level)...

 ...pardon the mistake its really a HNW (world).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Do You Take Your Coffee?

How do you take your coffee?  Do you know certain people well enough to be familiar with how they take theirs?

People are looking for a place where they belong - where they are known.  There’s a certain comfort in having leaders who know and believe in you.  As leaders we should aspire to really get to know the people God sends our way.  We should aspire to know them to the point where they are comfortable sharing their struggles and successes. 

Maybe even get to know how they take their coffee… 

In Acts 2:46-47 the believers, “worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.  And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.” 

What an awesome picture of reaching people through small groups! A  coach recently shared a testimony of a lady who was attending a small group.  She was amazed at the love and the bond the people shared, and she got born again during one of the meetings!  That is New Testament evangelism at it’s best!  Small groups provide the perfect opportunity to get to know someone deeply and lead them to a life-giving relationship with Christ.

In the superficial world we are all living in, there are a lot of people out there looking to meet someone who truly cares about them, who is even interested in the little things like how they take their coffee.  I have a question for you.  Who has God sent to you?  Do you take the time to find out what is going on in their lives and share the hope they have in Christ?  In this fast paced world, that’s the challenge isn’t it?  Small groups give the perfect setting to complete that challenge!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Passion vs. Capability

Sitting around the conference table was a group of capable women leaders each with tremendous responsibility: family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and ministry responsibilities. The agenda for the meeting had been completed and each was eager to move forward with their day.

And then the Holy Spirit “interrupted” their schedule and showed up at the meeting as only He can.

Just as the meeting was about to close, the facilitator asked each woman about her passion…what makes her heart jump…what does she pray for in her quiet moments…what spurs her on. 

One by one, each woman began to weep as she shared the dream of her heart. The facilitator observed the tears and wondered what had touched each woman so deeply to evoke such an emotional reaction.  And then it occurred to her, she had touched upon that which was most precious to each woman – passion.  Each woman in this group was a great leader not because of her capability but because of her passionate love of Christ!

A woman that is fulfilling the call of God on her life and living in the passion zone is a woman that is most fulfilled. Some of these women were living in the passion zone and some were awaiting the dream to come to fruition.

Leadership skills can be taught, but passion is ambiguous and intangible.  It is a beautiful commodity that resides in a person and creates enthusiasm that can spread like wild fire.  Peter was a man filled with passion which at times got him into tremendous trouble with Christ.  Up until the book of Acts, the reader sees Peter in blunder after blunder after blunder which culminates with denying Jesus three times. BUT Jesus loved Peter and after His resurrection fully restored him to full fellowship (John 21:1-23). In Acts from Pentecost on Peter is a leader. All the passion he had for Christ was channeled into leadership that impacted the world and continues until this day.

So the question becomes, what is your passion? What evokes tears within you? What spurs you on?  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Gift of a Day

Life in the desert, at first glance it is austere and dry and without life and hope. It is those times in life, the unforeseen the unexpected the unplanned, events all in the tenor of  a life that  happens. We wonder how did we get here and how will we get out. It is at this very point that the gift of  a day and one step at a time become the most relevant. We can't survey the future for we are exhausted in the how, while looking back reminds us of what was lost. What is left but the day.

The day is the  most basic increment given to us by God. We know the ill comfort of the trite phrase take one day at a time. But what we need to see is the wisdom, purpose and fatness of one day at a time in Him. The other basic increment is the step. The day and the step, every restoration every retro redemption of things past and each deep and powerful work is built on the foundation of these elements. God has given us the day and he will always provide revelation as to the next step even if it is resting and waiting. “ He makes us lie down in green pastures”.  If you are in the desert realize that it is pregnant with purpose, Hosea 2: 14,15 NIV.  It is in the gift of a day even if that day is in the desert  that He speaks tenderly to us, He re-establishes His provision and turns the valley of trouble into a door of hope. 

Remember Israel walked in a incredible display of power, received daily provisions and the shoes on their feet didn't even wear out and yet they focused on what they didn't have. Thankfulness in      the desert will always focus on the testimony of  what God has done for the purpose to say that he will do it again. It frees us to walk the day and fulfill the words of Jesus,  “Don't worry about tomorrow it will take care on itself. “

Monday, October 24, 2011

Keep It Simple

What I find so interesting these days is how elaborate presentations are when you attend weddings, showers, birthdays and other celebrations.   There is so much effort in making a “statement” and having themes to events.   I appreciate the time and effort it takes to create these environments.  

Not that a small group is not an event of some sort in your home…but it certainly is not ranked up there with those celebration parties, where it is about food and fun.  Not to say that a small group isn’t about fun.

This summer, I was challenged to think about what a small group IS.   I do not recall that any answer was given.  But the challenge was to think about the value of a small group versus any other gathering of people that someone might arrange in their home.   Why small groups?  Why have them?  Others have get-togethers and socialize and get to know one another, even serve one another and “feel the love.”  

Really I am not overflowing with too many answers here. But one thought has crept to the top of my list:  the concept of being “IN HIS NAME”.   The simplicity of “where 2 or 3 have gathered in My Name, there I am in their midst.”  So Jesus is a guaranteed guest.

So what happens when Jesus shows up?  Good question.  I am searching the gospels even more for the answer.   There is power, healing, fellowship, connection to God.   Life change.  Food. Cannot forget that!  Jesus was not just there with the scrolls laid before Him speaking the Word.   He was touching people and loving on them as well as teaching the Word.  

So do not be intimidated by what you might think it means to lead a group.  Follow in Jesus’ footsteps, keep it simple, keep it about His presence, invite Him to show up, He will and it doesn’t matter what snacks are on the table.   When hearts speak to hearts, the things of the world fall to the side and the Holy Spirit ministers to each believer mysteriously.   And all you did was run the vacuum!  

Now I know there is much more that you as a small group leader do than just run the cleaner, to love on each member.   I do not want to undermine that at all.  But the simplicity of devotion to Christ and each other is what comes through and is noticed the most.

Thanks small group leaders for all you do!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From the Place of Peace

The place of peace is the place of power.  In a world where will live by the rule of "what can go wrong will go wrong" and "what goes right you have to put your shoulder to and push".  We naturally learn the act of striving. Striving is the spiritually useless activity of anxious effort rooted in our own strength. It is not the place of power. 

We in Christ are invited into a special place. “ a green pasture” “ still waters” Psalm 23. It is the place of rest where we are made to lie down and our soul is refreshed. It is a place of peace. And here is the wonder of it all, something we are not used to. It is the place where God brings us things. “He prepares a table in the midst of our adversity”, what a beautiful and powerful picture of what God does when the storm is raging. The table is the place we sit at and rest while he brings us that which we need.  I submit to you it is the place of power. It is the sabbath day rest pictured in Hebrews, it is meant for the here and now. We will never change this world running anxiously along side it. 

James, was just put to death by Herod and Peter was in prison awaiting the same fate.  And here he was chained in the inner cell between two guards while several more stood watch. And what was he doing, “ he was sleeping”, say what!  I don't know about you but sleeping is something that I would find hard to do considering the pending circumstances. Then it occurred to me Peter was able to sleep in prison because he saw Jesus sleeping in the boat while the storm was raging. What an awesome picture of where we are invited to stay in God. Note the place of power,  the prison was shaken the chains fell off and when Peter got to the gate it opened by itself .

I am not against momentum or getting out of the boat, however there is one place our heart should never leave and it is the place of peace. It is that which will bring power and give hope to a tired and weary world ground down with the pursuit of empty temporal things. In Romans Paul ask this question,  “God who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Good question!  Where would you like to reside, green pastures and still waters will always be the place of power that will overcome the circumstances of life and give hope to those buffeted by the storm. We can change the world from the place of peace.

The fruit of trust in peace, take the time now, a green pasture and table prepared await!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Good Listener

Wisdom comes to he who listens

Who doesn't like a good breakfast or lunch with a brother or sister, love exploring the treasures in a persons life or unearthing the gifts that are within? There is nothing like setting the prisoner free and removing thoughts that create captivity. And I always consider a meal eaten while listening a success, for if my plate is empty and my brothers is half full I have met my objective, to listen. However, a meal consumed is just the beginning of the benefit.

Talking birthed in the arena of listening will always have a greater impact. I used to get somewhat anxious when I was going into a situation and did not know the person or had no idea what to say. Yes I love depending on the Holy Spirit for the words to say  however, how much more should we depend on Him to have ears to listen. It has occurred to me that not knowing what to say may well be the best start to any conversation in helping and pastoring people. The need to listen and listening is the area where we hear the need, as well as the Holy Spirit. 

Seeking to listen and asking questions to understand continue to keep us in a place to hear the important and the relevant. Guiding in helping people process and understand the solutions to the challenges they face can always be best accomplished by asking questions and listening. Some people are looking for advice, more often they just want someone to listen and at other times they just process as they hear themselves speak. 

We will never have all the answers, nevertheless how often has the Father's presence in itself been the answer, simply to say its okay, your not alone. Seeking to have the heart of the Father is the first step in having the mind of the Father and expressing a wisdom not our own. However, it will always start with seeking to understand and listening. We all want the Holy Spirit to lead us, that is knowing what to say, but it is also knowing when to say nothing and just listen.

How can you better guide people by listening?

James 1:19  But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Bayside is a church of approximately 5,000 people and the 10th fastest growing church in the U.S.  So, what makes us so successful?  Is it the building, the strategy, the systems, the great music, etc.?  All those things are great and very much an asset to what we do here at Bayside, but there are three things that really stand out to me. 

1)    God.  I realize this is an extremely obvious one because without God none of this would be possible.  Let me explain a little further.  God births dreams and visions within us, his people.  Without the vision, there is no execution.  The Holy Spirit works in us so that we can do His work and follow the call He has placed on our lives.  The inspired Word of God is preached and is the basis for who we are and the leadership that is in place.

2)    Life-Giving.  You hear about life-giving a lot at Bayside because that’s what we’re all about.  Because death and life is in the power of the tongue and we are church who loves to give life.

3)    Accessibility.  I want to spend a little more time on this one.  One of the main reasons I believe that Bayside is so attractive is because of its accessibility.  From Pastor Randy and throughout the leadership, we believe in being accessible to people.  This is a value that we hold strongly to, because if we are a church who is seeking out lost and hurting people who don’t know Jesus Christ, then we need to be accessible to meet people right where they are.  Jesus was all about making himself accessible and available to people.  We should adopt that same mindset. 

I ask myself, where would I be without the people who made themselves accessible to me?  I know I wouldn’t be sitting at this seat, that’s for sure!

Ask yourself how can I be more accessible to those around me?  I challenge you to invite someone to your small group or to church this week.  Think back to your first experience with Bayside and how it changed your life.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mind programed for the Kingdom

We are from birth slowly programed to think temporal, finite and earthly. This is the result of the seed of sin which through Adam, permeated God's creation. How pervasive and complete was the effect of that event, how progressive the nature and the condition of a mind separated from God. It is in this context that the renewing of our mind takes on incredible significance. 

Hence, the challenge now is to completely revert that condition to think eternal, infinite and heavenly. I know that when we are born again there is an instantaneous and progressive result. We are made new, the work is complete. The challenge with the Holy Spirits help is to think differently about everything. Now to realize the pain we experience is rooted in our thinking, everything about the temporal, finite and earthly is external. It is the reality around us. It is however not the reality in us. 

As I sit here on this couch, which makes me comfortable, type on this lap top which I can touch and see, I hear the sound of the fan and feel the comfort of the cool air on my skin.  And here is the eternal reality of all the things described: they have an expiration date.  Here is the battle ground, its in the meshing of these worlds that our faith is tried. It is faith that sifts through that which expires and that which lasts. It is also faith that brings down the reality of a eternal kingdom.

A typical conflict  of faith and earthly temporal thinking, can be seen in the excessive "how". Faith tells us that God will do awesome things of eternal value, the promises of God set us free, they are Biblical fact.  However, it is not what we know it is what we experience. So, in the midst of this thought there is no lack in heaven, we pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven appropriately instructed by our Lord. Faith sees God's will, the earthly mind says, "how". Now I am not saying we should not be specific and intentful in prayer. What I am saying is we should avoid the how. Thinking is overrated and if we rest in the yes, we shouldn't stress in the how. God's ways are infinite, there is no recipe for manna and he does not need a play book.  If I were asked to find water in a desert I would not strike a rock.  Now I ask, how much time do we spend in the how? When we can rest in the yes?

2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Numbers 23:19 NIV God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

What promise has God given you, that has been buried in the how?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Increase

The increase is in our hands, no not of our hands but rather in them placed there by God according to His  pleasure. The only thing between the wonders of God and the release of his power is our thinking. Here I tread on an area of hunger searching myself to understand an apparent truth and to shake it from between my ears to experience it fully in my heart and hands. Let's take to heart Paul's prayer for the Ephesians,  “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saintsand his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 

This truth is related in the completed work of Christ. At salvation we are not invited to order off the menu ala carte nor do we go to God as we might go to Publix and pick off the shelf certain items.  The completeness of salvation is that all we need for the task at hand is completely given. Why?  Because we need it all to complete with passion the  purpose for which we are called. So why is this point important?  Simply this, we will never freely use that which we don't realize we have. See, an inheritance is something we do not have to work for.  It is given to us.  It gives us a head start to allow us to build on a foundation already laid. 

Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark tried to get his disciples to realize this when he looked at the crowd of people and said to them, “you give them something to eat.” Why after preaching the Gospel, casting out demons and healing the sick they still struggled to understand that the increase was in their hands,“ they asked are we to go and spend that much on bread”? Oh the distance between the heart and the head is both ever so short and ever so long. Jesus started with what the Father already provided as He broke the bread and the fish and gave it to his disciples, and as they distributed it, the increase was in their hands. Even now God wants us to realize, “the incomparable great power for us who believe”.

So what is the point?  Let us no longer wait for what we already have. God said to Gideon after he tested God and then God tested him, “go in the strength you have”.   Gideon was living in impoverished Israel, in the poorest clan and the least of which. Even the newest of Christians are completely endued with incredible power. All they need do is step out,  to go in the strength you have  is the show up strength, relying on the power of the Spirit in us. Peter got it, he said “ silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give unto you rise up and walk” Yes the first step in giving something away is to realize we have it. 

Now that I am done speaking to myself, I invite you to join me and step out in the power we have in Christ. Speak words of life, create life giving experiences and spiritually feed and heal the sick, the hurting and the lost.  

Let us remember when the disciples were straining at the oars and  Jesus was about to pass them by, they cried out. Jesus did not intend to get in the boat. Yes our Lord is always faithful and He hears when we cry out. But Mark 6 states “they did not understand about the loaves”. And what did they not understand was simply this, that the power they needed to calm the storm was in their hands. Our God  has not held back one thing but rather has provided all. 

Trust God, show up and step out, incredible things will happen ! 
Ask God in what ways you can step out. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forgiveness, My Testimony

On April 2, 2002 my life was changed forever.  I got a phone call from my dad, he was calling from the hospital with words I never thought I would hear.  My sister was in the ICU and my mother had died.  How could this have happened?! 

My 17 year old sister Stacy was in a coma fighting for her life.  Her head was fractured on every side and she had bleeding and swelling in her brain.  She had a broken arm and collarbone among other injuries.  The area of her brain affected was speech and memory.  Doctors anticipated that she would need a lengthy stay in a rehab hospital if she ever came to.  Stacy continued to sleep while we had my mother’s funeral.  One day her head swelled so badly she was hardly recognizable. 

Meanwhile, the man who caused the crash was being prosecuted by the state for negligent homicide because of how it occurred.  I started to look for revenge against this man who had caused the terrible accident that had stolen so much from me.  I was hurt.  I was angry.  I was confused.

But then 10 days after the accident Stacy woke up!  The first thing she did was to try to call our mother on the hospital telephone.  My father and a trauma counselor told her that mom had died.  On mother’s day that year she watched the funeral we had videotaped for her.  The one ray of light in the midst of this tragedy was the miracle God was doing with Stacy. 

In the beginning, the doctors had given her a 75% chance of having some type of brain damage.  They also said she would likely have to learn to cope with a speech impediment.  But after only one day in the rehab hospital it was evident that her speech and mental capabilities were rapidly improving.  She was discharged. The doctors called her the Miracle Girl!  A month to the day after the accident Stacy was back in school and got a 99 and 100 on 2 pop quizzes! 

I began a 2 year journey that brought me to the point of forgiveness.  In the beginning of this process I couldn’t fathom forgiving the man who had killed my mother.  I would drive by his street and think of ways I could get back at him. 

“Forgive and you will be forgiven…”  Those words haunted me daily.  I just wasn’t ready, so I got involved in the court process.  I learned that I couldn’t find justice in the justice system.  Of course, what I was really looking for was revenge.  God showed me that my heart attitude had to be right and not accusatory.  After a long battle within myself, I decided to let God be the ultimate judge.  If you seek revenge in your heart it will only turn into bitterness and hate, and thwart the calling of God on your life and your relationship with Him and others. 

I realized I had to let it go!  I had to get rid of the blame and the hate. To live with a pure conscience was of greater value to me than trying to avenge my mother’s death.  So I chose to forgive him.  When I made the conscious decision to forgive, my heart started to soften.  I was still hurting but the anger and confusion began to fade. 

Even though the process of forgiveness had started, something was holding it back.  I felt like I had to tell this man that I forgave him.  I did not want to!  In fact, this was the last thing I ever wanted to do.  At one of the final court hearings we were in a room with him and I talked to him and his wife, I held his hand and told him “I forgive you.”  It was by far the hardest thing to do but from that point on, my heart was free!  I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it is to live with a free heart – free of anger, hurt, bitterness, revenge and hatred.

When I was asked to share this testimony of forgiveness I realized that I did not even remember his whole name!  You can be free!  Forgive!  Life is too short and God’s plan for you is too precious to keep bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Restore Joy

Just recently I have entered into a new relationship and let me tell you, it’s absolutely amazing! I was thinking about that today and how “new love” is always so exciting and joyful. I began to think about our Christian walk with that parallel. You know how in the beginning when you first start running after God, it’s exciting and new. Then years pass and you’re still following God, but there’s not the same fervor or excitement that you had in the beginning. Do you ever feel like that? It’s not abnormal to feel that, but I do know that God does not want our relationship with Him or with others to be mundane and boring. It got me thinking about this verse that David wrote:

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
-Psalm 51:12

Sometimes we need to do just this, "restore to me the joy of Your salvation." Remember what it was like when your love for God was fresh and new. Draw upon that memory to restore the joy back into your relationship with God and others. Fall in love with Jesus all over again and walk in the love he has empowered you with.

Think of a few things you can do to restore joy in your relationship with God, others or life in general.

Monday, October 10, 2011

People Need and Encounter

People need an encounter.

Harassed and helpless, we owe people an encounter with God.  Jesus looked on the crowd and saw them as harassed and helpless. A world attaining and striving for the temporal, accomplishing much with no eternal value is sated with a blindness to its helplessness. For at the end of a day a man in his own strength may feel completely capable but is absolutely helpless to know God without an encounter.

God spoke of the people of Nineveh as not even being able to spiritually tell their right hand from their left. We are called to look beyond the shallow strength of worldly success and see the helpless masses and bring them not just a message but a message with power that affords the experience of an encounter with God, Hagar said “ I now see the one who see's me” 

We are the hands and feet of the kingdom moving forward, God doesn't  have a plan B. We are it, where we go the Kingdom goes. We are not waiting for heaven, the Kingdom of God is among us, no it is in us. Four words Jesus used to describe the crowds, harassed and helpless, ungrateful and wicked (NIV), all conditions overcome by God's love and a encounter with the Kingdom..... The Kingdom in us!