Monday, March 28, 2011


Book Review: Chazown Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel does a great job at outlining the processes that help us to realize the vision for our lives. God has placed within each human heart a desire to seek out and find our purpose in this world.

One thing that I really appreciate about Craig in this book is that he outlines his own journey, along with some of his mistakes or failures on the way to finding and fulfilling his purpose and calling in this life.

By combining understanding the core values that each one of us have come to live our lives by and identifying the spiritual gifts that God has given us he helps to lead us on a journey of discovery of our personal vision. Without a vision, the people perish, the scriptures say and so it is in our own personal lives. We can list aimlessly without purpose and vision in our personal lives as well.

Craig also takes us into the practical of how do you live out your vision day to day. He outlines five areas that we have to become disciplined in if our vision is going to be effective and fulfilled: our relationship with God, our relationships with other people, our finances, our health and our work. I really appreciated this approach because I believe our faith is supposed to be lived out in our daily life, this is what it truly means to be a disciple. We must take what we believe, and apply it to our lives and the choices we make each and every day.

This is a good book for pastors to offer to those within their church who have leadership potential as well as those who are already leaders who want to sharpen their personal vision.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent Meditation

As Christmas approaches I've heard some really sad stories this year. I know of at least three marriages that are right now in the process of dissolving and some children will not have both parents at home with them this Christmas, maybe never again. I have friends whose family members are battling cancer and having surgeries for life altering illnesses. I have seen friends and acquaintances that are lonely this year and it seems that the holidays only amplify that sadness.

As I hear these stories and get into my car to go to work or the store, I flip on the radio and listen to the beautiful songs of Christmas, most with joyful, triumphant sounding lyrics and upbeat tempos and I wonder how these two realities can exist together, side-by-side. One story filled with grief, and yet the other with one of utmost hope and peace.

Then I am reminded that it is this very, very real world that Jesus was born into. He came on purpose to a broken, lost, sad world, desperately in need of a Savior. He came not as God riding in power on a White Steed to rescue the world from pain and heartache and war and fear, but instead, He came as one of us. One of us. The power of one of His names is most important this time of year: Emmanuel, which means "God with us."

He did not wave a magic wand and make it all go away, but rather He became one of us to walk with us in the midst of the pain and heartache, war and fear. This is the message of Advent, of Christmas, that God is not a distant, non-involved God who created us and walked away, but rather in great love and sacrifice to Himself, came and lived among us to reveal the Heavenly Father who desires to walk alongside us everyday.

He came into that depressed, war-torn, hopeless world to give hope, to show love, to be God among us. Today, He is still with us, now He lives in our hearts by His spirit to give hope, to show love and be God once again among us…but He does it through each of one of us. We call ourselves "His Body." Why? Because through our hands we can give help, through our hearts we can give love, through our spirits we can share hope. It is Him in us who does these things.

Can we let Him shine bright through us this Christmas? Find someone you can bring a smile to, share a laugh with, give some hope and joy. Let Him love them through you. May you be the Christ child coming to someone this Christmas.

Maybe you haven't met Him yet. Maybe you've not let Jesus walk alongside you yet. Maybe you are one of those who is lonely and sad, wounded and hurt this year. This Christmas, I ask you to simply invite Him to show Himself to you. Praying is talking, so simply talk to Him. I believe as you open your heart to Him, Jesus will become more real to you than you can ever imagine and even in the midst of pain and heartache and loneliness, you will find a reality of joy and peace that is beyond our understanding.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the imperfect

Old preacher joke (many of which I've been guilty through the years):

"If you find the perfect church, don't join it! The moment you do, it will no longer be perfect!"

Sounds funny, somewhat insulting, but very truthful. Except that we'll never find that perfect church anyway, so the point is moot. But still many of us that have been Christians for many years have sought to find that "perfect church." You know, the one that has the best praise and worship. Not too loud, not too long, and definitely not too much talking during the music set. A pastor that is young, hip, mature, sensible, has a perfect family, drives a new car and has the best clothes...and doesn't take a salary! (another bad pastor joke!)

But finding a church that is perfect is like breaking a glass and trying to put all the pieces back together again and make it look as if it was never broken. It can't be done, because we all bring our brokenness to the table. But that is what it's supposed to look like. Never once do we see things be perfect in the New Testament church either. There were problems from the get-go!

Still, in spite of these obvious flaws, the church still turned the world upside-down. 2,000 years later, we're still involved in this incredible community we call "church."

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 42:3 -

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;"

The Message Bible renders it this way:

"He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right."

Have you ever felt like the bruised reed or the burnt out wick? Know that today God promises he won't let you break or be "snuffed out," but that he will steadily and firmly set things right.

Church can have its share of heartache. And mostly, it because it's made up of us imperfect people. I hope that we can learn to own this fact, own our imperfection and begin to move beyond it.

If we can accept ourselves as we are, then maybe we can learn how to accept others as they are. Jesus said that we're to love one another as we love ourselves. Maybe the problem is that we haven't learned to love ourselves first. Maybe that's what is holding us back.

Love is what holds a community together, which is what a local expression of the Church is-a community of people who love one another and strive to live this journey of life for Christ together. And love though it accepts you where you are, it nudges you, pushes you, stretches you to become better than you are. It loves you enough to take you further than you ever believed you could go and dream and believe and live.

That's the kind of imperfect church I could live with. How about we make an imperfect church together?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

count for plenty

Working on my message for Sunday, and came upon this in the Message.  This says a lot to us about how we present ourselves to the world as Christians and leaders.  I want my life to count for plenty!
1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer.

 4-7"Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.'

 8-10"Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

 11-12"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Matthew 23:1-12 (The Message) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fat tuesday

Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Pancake Day.

Traditionally this is the day before the fast of Lent begins, which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately, some of have devoted this day, the day before, to celebrate all the worldly things they like to do before having to “give it up” for 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. But let us not focus on our faults and favorite sins today, but prepare our hearts for a journey.

Lent is historically a period of time which is set aside for repentance. For centuries, Christians were baptized on Easter, so this fast before was to prepare one’s heart and soul for baptism. But what is it that baptism represents?

It is representing that in yourself you are dying to your desires, and taking on Christ’s life. It is symbolizing your participation with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, claiming you believe and place your faith in what he has done on your behalf. This is why when one is baptized, they are laid back into the water, allowing the water to cover them as though they are lying in the ground, dying to self, and brought back out of the water, as though raised to a new life.

But it is more… Paul said you are baptized into Christ. It symbolizes the joining of a larger community. You become connected with others who represent Christ on the earth today. It’s throwing “your lot” in with others of like mind and like heart. It is no longer being an island to yourself, but finding purpose and relationship, inviting you into a family you’ve never met and caring about people who need your care. What stirs the heart of Christ, now stirs yours.

Baptism isn’t about the water, or dunking, or sprinkling, it’s about belonging. It’s about belonging to something bigger than you or me. It’s about becoming something bigger. Let this Lenten season be not just a focus on penance for sin, but be a preparation for something bigger…a baptism anew, into the family of God with fresh eyes, that on Easter we will be resurrected to new life as well and be able to draw new travelers into the journey of resurrection with us.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

it's go time

Last night, we had a renovate prayer event in which we participated in three prayer stations focusing our hearts and prayers on the future of renovate and the path forward. Afterward, we spent some time sharing with each other what we heard from God. Here are some of the things we heard:

Bec - “Welcoming others with open arms...”

Dave - “We are finished with the 'brokenness' of ourselves. It's time to rebuild. Identity (our previous church plant from a few years ago) had to die, so renovate can be birthed, but will always live in us.”

Kareen - “Community means that we need to trust each other completely. There is beauty in all of this. Everyone is a masterpiece even if we don't see it. This is our masterpiece.”

PJ – Felt like he was visiting the grave of Identity, but was stepping over it. Coming to the grave, but moving on, moving forward, leaving the past behind.

Brian – 1 Corinthians 1:3-11 - “Comfort – we have been comforted so that we can comfort others who come to us.”

Stephen - “Time to move on; prepare, start doing things. Saw a pitcher pouring out. We need to start pouring out, but at the same time remembering to continue being filled up so we don't dry out/burn up.”

Bec – (Referencing the painting we all took part in at the preparation stage) “There is a vibrant, red-orange circle in the middle. We need to keep ourselves centered in God.”

Kareen – (Referencing the painting also) “I can see dark and light at the same time in the painting. There is light in all the dark times for us to find.”

Jennifer - “It's time to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. Each one of us have new things to do and to try.”

Stephen and Kareen both felt drawn to the front of the building to look outside of the church and to pray.

Brian wrote some things down for us:
“God has said, 'Do not wait on the perfect time for things to come. God is NOW and IS perfect.”
“Just as something like a small outlet on the wall can keep the music from playing...our church is still perfect without it.” (By the way, that was a test!)
“Don't worry about the little things that may not fit right away.”
“This 'church' is and will be built on trial and error.”

David also felt that those of us who were a part of Identity had been discovering our identity and that without us finding our identity we could never have “renovated” anything.

Needless to say, it was a great, productive night. To sum it up, I think God is saying to renovate:
It's time to go!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a working God...

"Behold, I am making all things new!"  (Revelation 21:5)
What a statement of victory, a statement of confidence. This is the message that Jesus brings to us in this New Year: I am making all things new. How many of have entered 2009 hoping for a new slate to make things better than last year? How many of us have entered into "resolutions" with ourselves that we won't eat that piece of candy or that we will get up earlier and exercise?
A new year is flush with new excitement and possibilities, but usually as the winter settles in and the days remain dark for a little longer, our enthusiasm wanes. But the message of Jesus still the same: I am making all things new.
Grace is the essence of that message. A new start, a "re-do" as we used to say when we were kids and the game we were playing just didn't work out right. Grace is the place we find ourselves in when all the other options just don't work anymore. Jesus says, it's okay, let's start anew.
We read the story of creation and how God created and worked and spoke for six days and it was all done, and then on the seventh day how he "rested." And somehow, maybe it's through the voice of circumstance or the words of others around us or even our own sense of inadequacy, we believe that God is still resting and that he has "quit working." But nothing could be further from the truth. For God, our loving, grace-full God, is a working God.
Paul declares it to the Philippians and it breaks into our private moments of defeat or boredom, "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."  (Philippians 1:6)  He hasn't stopped. Creation is still happening. Even in the deadness of winter in the seasons around us and in the seasons of our souls, there is still creating going on and if you listen you can hear him say…"I am making all things new."

Today we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, a new era in our nation's history is about to begin and a fresh expression of God's church is coming over the horizon. There is freshness in the air if you will feel it. There is a clear sound in the soul if you will listen. He is making all things new…and he wants us to participate in it. He invites us to go on the chase with him.

The Celts used to call the Holy Spirit, "the Wild Goose." Have you ever tried to catch something that is elusive, wild and free? This is a wild goose chase. And this year I believe God is asking us again to go on a Wild Goose chase, following his spirit leading us right into what is new, fresh and free.

As we focus on the chase and getting closer to that elusive, attractive grace that has touched our lives and ran ahead bidding us to come after it, God goes to work, shaping our character and our spirits into his image. He works his image into us. While we focus on the chase, we'll soon find that the work he has been doing in us is more and more complete, without us even knowing! Why? Because as our focus is on him and living into this amazing grace, his focus has been on us, drawing us and conforming us so we can experience more and more of him.

Will it be an easy year? We can pray so, but sometimes the chase will take us into unknown parts that might cause us to take pause, but don't quit, press on into the chase. The real question isn't "will it be easy," but rather, "will I be alone?" And the answer to that is no, for he who sets us on the chase, runs with us and promises to bring us to the finish line with him.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I can't believe I've been so lax about writing in my blog. This summer has blown by and now we're at the end. I will miss it, though I love fall. And this fall should prove to be an exciting one, with the election and all.

Renovate continues to mature as a church lead team. I'm proud of the people I am working with and we are looking toward early next year to make our church "public" even though we keep getting many people who are interested in joining our services already.

Sarah has started the fourth grade and if you know me, you know that the first day of school has always been hard for me, because it's a reminder that this beautiful kid of mine is not going to be a kid for much longer!!

Joanne is busy once again with babysitting, loving spending time with our friend's son, Kiernan.

Its been a busy one, but God continues to prove His love and grace to us again and again around every corner. And I'll try to write more!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

two years

Two years have passed. 


I've written a bit about our journey through this blog and now we're at a two year mark since we walked away from all that we knew because it was no longer healthy (emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially) for us to stay in the CLB. 


Days like today, the wounds are still tender, some times they feel raw. 


But so much good has happened since we walked away.  Our rhythm of life is much healthier, our spirits are freer, our family is stronger.  I've had two really great jobs, making steadier, better money than I have ever before, with insurance!  God has supernaturally provided for us in ways I've never experienced in the last two years.


Our revelation of God's goodness and grace is stronger than I ever thought it could be.  I've watched as God has provided for every need and become an intimate partner with us. 


The friends that surround our lives now are real.  They have been tested and pulled through the ringer with us.  They have stood faithful to us as only true friends can.  We have definitely learned what friendship really is and we are more appreciative of our friends than ever before.


We've watched this seedling of a church begin.  Our little group has bonded and is working toward developing a community of faith that will make an impact on our community and walk alongside others on their faith walk and assist them as they seek out what it means to have faith in Jesus. 


Today is more bittersweet then, as I find myself between grieving the loss of friends or who I thought were friends, the old familiar places and faces, and finding thanksgiving for the future unrevealed in many ways but shrouded in promise of adventure and exploration into the heart of God.


I find myself returning to the scripture that gives our church its name, its focus, its purpose:  "You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again."  Isaiah 58:12, The Message


Make it so, Lord, make it so.