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Showing posts from 2013

Bring on 2014

As I sit here in bed wide awake an hour and 40 minutes into the new year, I am reflecting back on the past year and all that God brought us. Isn't that what philosophers usually do, think back before moving forward? Well, this guy is and I am thankful for a year that was one of my hardest yet one of the best. Here are just a few things God did in our lives this past year:

1. 2013 started with a bang - literally. Last year at this time I was getting ready to head to Ko'Olina Lagoons and watch the fireworks with my family and a couple of thousand people. I remember being in awe that God would let us be in Hawaii and how much I loved being outdoors in the winter time (without being cold)

2. I realized that I had depression. I still don't know how long I have lived in depression but 2012 and 2013 brought it to a head. For the first time I realized that I was in trouble if I didn't get help.

3. I got help! That help came in form of a man named Paul Gotthardt and Doss Estep.…

It would not surprise me if Duck Dynasty gets cancelled!

I know many of us have an opinion on A&E's suspending Phil Robertson and you have that right. What has taken me back is how angry we "in Christ" are getting toward A&E. I am pleased at the blessings people are putting on Phil Robertson's Facebook wall but I think we are missing the real point of what is going on in America:

"We are no longer the majority"

Christianity has become a minority in our culture. How else can we explain the need for churches to be planted, people to be sent out into their community and for the Gospel to be heard. In our city there are about 22,000 people (I believe this to be correct). The last time I heard a stat on churches there are 34 churches in Lebanon. That is 1 church for every 647 people. However pastors in Lebanon continue to say that less than 10% of Lebanon's population goes to church. That tells me that Christianity (at least in my city) is a minority. Can we grasp that? Can we realize that this world is no…

Intimacy is not for animals!

Over and over throughout scriptures I am seeing one theme! We were created for intimacy with God our creator. In Genesis chapter 2 the creation of man is shown in a special way. God stoops down and breathes into us. Why is this so important you might ask? Well, for once we don't see Him stooping down when animals or anything else is being created. He just speaks animals and other things created into existence, but not with man. The scriptures give the creation of man special attention in God stooping down to earth and breathing into a form of clay. This alone puts man as highly created over all other earthen things created. But that's not even the best thing about God creating man. He gives man something that is not given (spoken through the word about) to anything else created - His Spirit!

   God breathes Himself into man and what comes alive was always to have this special connection that no other created being can enjoy - INTIMACY! God breathed into Adam and created a b…

God doesn't waste our suffering!

As I was reading Philippians chapter one, something continues to ring in my head: "God doesn't waste our suffering". In fact, God doesn't waste a thing He allows or does. Paul had written to the Philippians and one of the first things Paul says is that the Gospel is growing because of His suffering and trials. Tons of people were hoping in Jesus because God put or allowed Paul to suffer imprisonment. God had not overlooked the fact that Paul was hurting, but instead lived His life through Paul and the Holy Spirit showed even the Roman guards that they needed Jesus.

    Many times in my life, I have begged God to relieve pain and suffering. Heck, there are times recently that I begged God to stop with the waiting games and give me a job. I know being jobless right now is not suffering, but it is the same mindset I had when I went through depression, struggled for significance in ministry and dealt with rejection. God has never wasted my suffering, even when I infl…

God justifies, sanctifies and glorifies the believer ... so what is our responsibility?

The last year has been one glorious journey in seeing my relationship with Christ become intimate. As I am not currently in a ministry position, I am taking the time to prep sermons just in case the Lord journeys me back into church leadership. I have decided to study Philippians for sermon prep and for my personal growth. I am only 2 days in into Philippians and am having a sweet time in the first 6 verses of Philippians. Today, I am both persuaded and being persuaded that Christ is not only the author and finisher of our faith, but He is the one who brings fruit. It is Christ that accomplishes the middle process.

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian once said in his sermons through Colossians, "why do we as followers of Christ try to earn the right to keep our salvation when we never earned it in the first place?" (okay he might have said it differently but the thought is along the same line). Many of us (including me for many years), live in a way that we believe that we must make …

That moment where your past legalism meets your present freedom!

So I am reading a book by Bob George called "Jesus changes Everything". I know what you are thinking: who is Bob George? He is an author recommended by one of the mentors in my life. His book is about the New Covenant of Christianity and how to live in the truth of this covenant. As I read chapter 3, I was confronted with my past legalistic teachings.

Ever have that moment where you say to yourself: why did I teach that? I feel the need to call the hundreds of students I have taught and beg them for their forgiveness in adding weight and confusion to their lives. I am thankful for the grace God gave me during those times but am haunted by the thought of people walking away from their life in Christ because of foolish teaching on my behalf.

One of the truths I was confronted with was this: that my relationship with Christ will never be lost, even if I sin! I had taught many times that we are completely forgiven but that our prayers would not be heard if we sinned (quoting Psa…

We only have one job in this whole Christian thing! Get it wrong and well ...

The last two years have been an incredible journey of heartbreak, sinful stupidity, stubbornness and being absolutely wrecked. I would not trade these last two years for anything (and for that person that said to my wife "welcome back from your vacation", I pray you don't have to go through what we did to learn what we did). It was a necessary two years of leaving a ministry that felt so successful and a church that we loved and adored so much. Both of those things, though good, had become idols in my life. I became so obsessed with results and Urbancrest that I was living a life that was not Gloriously exalting to my Savior, King, Lord, Daddy and Lover! I lived as though I was created to be a pastor and lead people. I acted as if I didn't get to do that, I was worthless and being what I am created for. How wrong I was and I apologize to all that I taught legalistically by adding to your life more weight instead of helping you rest in Christ.

It has become strange to…

Homeless, jobless but not Christ-less!

Well, we are back in Ohio. Oh how I have loved this place, I mean love this place. It has been very apparent that my life has changed these past two years and others have too. We went back to Urbancrest to see so many kids that have now become adults, adults that ... well have become older adults. We saw new people everywhere and miss some of our friends that have moved on. We were blessed by our advocacy team and Urbancrest with a welcome back lunch. It was a blessing to see so many familiar and some not so familiar faces. We feel truly blessed to have a church family that takes care of us.

As Michelle and I drive around: looking for furniture, checking out things we use to do and taking in the landscape; we have been able to talk through some of our struggles and challenges. I am so glad that we were not coming back thinking everything would be glorious and roses. It has been good, but we also have some challenges now and ahead. As many of you know, we are still without our home. Ou…

What am I doing? Oh yeah, walking with Jesus!

We are back on the mainland soil (and for those of you in Africa, Hawaii is a state). I woke up this morning much earlier than I thought I would and was reminded it my Savior wooing me to spend time with Him. Such a sweet time it was this morning, thanking Him for being gracious to us on the flights, the car ride, through our first full day in Memphis and through reminding me that coming back was not a mistake. There have been a few moments when I thought "what am I doing, leaving this place? who is going to lead our group?". Then I realized Jesus is our leader, my job was to be connected to Him and lead others to do the same. Our time in Hawaii has changed us. I would like to share a few things that I learned from our time there and also what's next for our family.

1. My (and all of ours) primary calling is to be intimate with Jesus! I can tell you how wrong I have lived this truth out in the past. I believe that part of God taking us to Hawaii was to break the prideful…

This Face says it all, we are heading home!

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This face says how my whole family feels about our move back to Ohio. Oh whoops, did I not tell you the news. After months of praying for God to add to us, stop taking people away and reopen doors that were closed to ministry, I have resigned as the pastor of The Church at Kapolei and we began to move our people to another church plant. For a while this decision was killing me. Every time I tried to stay and make a plan, frustration would meet me. During counseling with another church planter, our prayers shifted from "God help us to be here or send us home" to "God, I'm good with whatever you want. I am willing to stay, just help me stay near you". At that point, we (Michelle and I) both felt the Lord leading us back to Ohio. I began to worry about my kids and they became excited about heading home. I began to worry about the organizations that were backing us, but they affirmed the decision with grace. Then I began to worry about where we would live and God …

5 individual characteristics that my children have that I share with them and the lessons I have learned!

About 2 years ago I was asked to speak at a men's event here in Hawaii. I remember while speaking on character, I reflected on the characteristics I see in my children and what I learn from them. While at dinner that night, one of the men asked me how I knew my kids so well. I told him that I am an observer of people and practice that with my kids. In parenting, it is a must to observe and to think through how our children's character is being formed. This morning I woke up thinking about that conversation and reflected on current struggles I have had with my children and the revelation of some of their character. But before I talk about their character that I struggle with, let me brag on them. I am a blessed man by my kids. When I come home everyday, they leave whatever they are doing and run to me yelling my name. They burn for passion to be with me. They fight over who gets the next one on one daddy day. They show me their accomplishments and brag on what they have done fo…

God knows what I need when I need it (if I could remember this I would be better off)

For many of you, you know our struggles while here in Hawaii. You have walked with us, prayed with us and loved us through the unsure times and the great times. You are our family and we are so blessed to know that God has put people around us that truly love us. I start this way because I feel you all have been put in our lives because of the need to know God's love. Today, God made this very real.

This morning I woke up a little later than normal (due to some cute little 2 year old and his desire to play at 2 am in my bed). As I struggled to get out of bed this morning I had a great sense to meet God in my closet (where I do my time with our Lord most mornings). Most mornings I will head downstairs, get a quick bite to eat and then head to my closet to try and wake up before I meet with My Daddy in heaven. As I laid there this morning, struggling with words and wandering thoughts, I asked My Daddy if I could even call Him that this morning. I have not felt so lost in my thoughts…

Sealed for Jesus, once and for all!

Last week, I began studying Ephesians for my quiet time. I began just to blow through it and read all of the chapter then go back and do partial chapter studies but soon found myself just wanting to go verse by verse. I thought I would share part of what the Spirit showed me while studying the Aorist Tense verbs in Ephesians 1:3-14.

I know many people struggle with the thought once and for all saved. Last year I learned that an Aorist Tense verb in the Greek meant that that action was once and for all completed and done. Compare this to Colossians 1:12-14 when Paul writes that the Colossians are once and for all: Qualified, Transferred, Rescued, Given Redemption and Given the Forgiveness of sins. All 5 of these words indicate that as a believer in Christ Jesus, I cannot lose these actions given to me at the moment of my salvation. All 5 show us that these action are bestowed on us through the Grace of Christ and we cannot loose these.

Today I saw the same theme in salvation. It all ha…

Sadness of Paradise

One of the constant battles we have faced in coming to Hawaii and recruiting others to join our journey is this stereotype that we are coming because of Hawaii (vacationing the rest of our lives). I have gotten all sort of responses when telling people about our journey here like: "oh I bet you are suffering in Hawaii aren't you",or  "Mission trip to Hawaii, oh course we want an easy vacation", or "really tough living in Hawaii isn't it". We get all sort of responses. The other day all of them came to an overwhelming flood of emotions as I began to do research for our summer church hangout.

I was looking up the rules of one of the beach areas (what is allowed and what is not). As a church, we like to grill out and we thought taking a Sunday to worship together then hangout together would be a great way for us to grow together. As I looked for the rules on taking a grill to Ko'Olina (a beach resort area that we go to as a family) I was shocked …

Lord our God! His name is Jesus!

As I sit here tonight, I am very thankful that God brings people into my life at the exact time I need them. This past week Josh and Kari Ortega blessed us with their presence for 9 days. At first Michelle and I were worried about what we would do with them (entertain them). We are in the middle of some serious spiritual battles, we didn't know if we even wanted anyone in our house again for at-least another two years. as we have done with God so many times, we swallowed our struggle and welcomed Josh and Kari into our home. We were weary and tired but we looked forward to a time being challenged by them and their trust in Jesus (they just spent 2 months in India living out of suit cases, washing their clothes in a bucket all to tell people about the incredible Jesus we serve). What we didn't expect was to be used to bless them.

Josh and Kari had just come off of 2 months in India, 3 months training on the Big Island. They have been away from their home in Ohio for 5 months an…

I am guilty of Copy Cat Christianity!

As I am sitting here in Starbucks right downstairs from the room we rent each Sunday to grow as a group of Jesus followers, it has struck me that I am Guilty. What am I guilty of? Being a copy cat christian! Many times I have fallen into the trap of the "be like me" success in Christianity and church leadership. Before you start throwing Paul's words at me "follow me as I follow Christ", let me make one thing very clear. Paul was following what Jesus told Him to do. This was Paul's mission to live Paul's mission. It is not my mission to live Paul's mission. My mission is to live the mission Christ has invited me to while on my journey with Jesus. Too many of us are trying to be another pastor, leader or christian. We are playing a dangerous mimic game that has us trying to be someone else and not what God has called us to walk in. God did not wire me like you and you are not wired like me (if you are run, run away!) God wired you and I specifically …

"It's too late to apologize" a little bad theology in a broken world.

So I woke up singing "it's too late for pumpkin pie" this morning with this tune I knew I had heard before. As I searched the Internet I found it "Apologize by Timberland featuring OneRepublic. I have to admit I really like the guys voice, he has incredible control and sound for a white guy.

As I am becoming addicted to this song, I began to listen to the message it seemed to portray. I have watched a couple of different videos on this song and have come to the same conclusions.

(a little legal note: I have not researched what the author says the meaning of this song is and will not assume that my definition of this song is the intent, I just see a few messages this song sends besides the awesome sound)

1. (and this one is true to many times) We humans think it's too late to apologize when we do something wrong.

How many relationships have we lost because of a lack of humility or concern for others. Never mind the fact that we might be dead wrong and be hurting …

Does Jesus get angry with Christians?

You bet! Wait, I know what is going on inside of you is something like this thought: "if Jesus is the all loving God, then how can He get angry?" or "it isn't nice to be angry?".

First, let me point you to a passage that while in my quiet time today God pointed out some issues in my own life.

"But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God"
                                                                                          Mark 10:14

The word indignant means "I am Angry", incensed, or greatly displeased in the Greek. So Jesus' reaction to the disciples not allowing the children to come to Him resulted in Jesus getting angry at His followers for not getting it and getting in the way of it. What is "it", well I will answer that in a bit. If you read the passages before and after, you will see that the disciples were getting …

39 and something is still kicking me

Wait, that was Nathan this morning in my bed. He tends to sleep sideways thinking that our bed is big enough for him to sprawl out. And right now he is right, as long as he stays on his side of the bed. Well, I thought after scaring everyone with my last post about my struggles, I would write about what God has done in my life this past year. Hold on, this might be long...

1. He has shown me that I take on too much. I don't mean projects or events. What I mean is that I usually carry the burden of making ministry happen. Through a few friends named Paul, Vance, Mac and Aaron, God began to show me that it is not my job to grow the church or ministry but to stay connected to Him and allow His life to live through me. So many times I get overwhelmed at what I think needs to happen and I begin to carry the burden of making those things happen. But that's not what God has asked of me (or you). He asks me to stay connected to Jesus and allow the life of the vine to give me the beari…

TN was warm, Ohio was cold and Christ is still supreme!

I have had a great a refreshing time in TN and OH. I feel as Job did at the end of the book of Job: I may have lost temporal communion with those we left to move to Hawaii but I am one blessed man. So many people in my life have been an incredible blessing. Although our time here in the mainland is coming to a closure, I am excited about the road ahead. God has used this trip to both refresh me and refresh those I once was in constant fellowship with. Here are a few things the Lord did in and through my life!

1. Vance Pitman preached three time during Urbancrest's missions conference and here are the three things that the Lord taught me while listening:

a. We don't pray before the work, PRAYER IS THE WORK, then GOD WORKS!

I needed to hear this. I have been asking God for months now for how He is going to use us and He answered through Vance's preaching 1 Timothy 2:1-8. We are going to be a praying people and allowing God to join us to His activity in our lives, in Kapolei,…

Christ's Nature within me lives naturally out of me, my flesh hates it!

Today, as I was struggling through my Christ Walk (funny how I can struggle with Christ while walking with and in Him), I stumbled across a verse that is very freeing. As I challenged you in my last blog, I have been taking each few days to study the scriptures in the New Testament that have "IN CHRIST" within them. The study has been rocking my world and I am loving the freedom from the flesh and from worrying. Alongside this study, I have been reading "Walking in the Will of God" by Steve McVey (I suggest everyone read it, unless you like to worry and struggle with life). Today, as I was finishing chapter 4, Dr. McVey challenges the reader to study a few passages. As I read one of them, I almost jumped out of my seat and began to dance on the table here in Starbucks ( maybe I should have!) Here it is and here is what I saw!

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and…

Something God is teaching me right now!

The past month and a half have been an incredible roller coaster of emotions and events. I have gone in and out of depression, seen people leave our ministry, watched our core team grow spiritually and have come to a place of total insecurity. It has been amazing what we have been through and what God is directing me in. Since I finally admitted to a few people that I suffer from depression, Paul Gothardt; the pastor at Life Baptist Church Las Vegas, has been counseling me. Really I feel more like it is discipleship. I thought Paul would talk about my history, analyze my childhood and come up with a few techniques I needed to get through the depression. However, he has taken a totally different approach which I am finding incredibly freeing. Instead of working on my past, he is pointing me to God's present and what it means to live the "Christ life". He wrote a book called "8 Questions" which I believe everyone that is a believer needs to read. He al…