Showing posts from 2014

The problem with Christmas is that we are so easily satisfied!

If you don't know, you are about to: this is my favorite season of the year. Actually, Christmas is my favorite holiday EVER! Growing up in Hawaii, I would admire pictures of snowy streets with kids throwing snow. With our first t.v., I watched "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is coming to town", dreaming of a Rockefeller Christmas. When we moved to the mainland, my dreams got bigger as I strung lights up on our house in Millington, TN. The feeling of a magical Christmas has always captured my heart. When Michelle and I got married, Christmas got better. I now had someone not only to share my Christmas dreams with, but also had someone to spoil with Christmas presents. When we had our kids, Christmas went to a whole new level. I continue to find myself swept up in giving to my family and enjoying their company during this incredible time of the year.

Before I became a follower of Christ, Christmas was really about me. I remember being so ungrate…

Thankful for the hardest 3 years of my life!

As I sit here tonight next to my mom while she preps Thanksgiving dinner for tomorrow, I am very thankful for the hardest 3 years of my life. It has been a joy to walk these three years under duress, stress, uncertainty, being crushed and being healed. One of my best friends and I sat today talking about the journey God has placed us both on. All I could do was be thankful that God still uses me and loves me. I have come to experience the incredible Grace of God while God moved us to Hawaii 3 years ago and then crushed me 2 years ago.

The man that God destroyed was a prideful, hurtful, critical pastor who thought he knew everything. I remember thinking that most pastors didn't have  vision or were just wimps that had given up the fight of the Gospel. How wrong I was and how it took My Daddy to change that. I grew up in 2013 and hope that I continue to grow up this next year.

Last year at this time, I was hurting incredibly. Michelle was really the only one that knew it. I didn'…

Where do we find time to do Christian things with our schedules so full?

This world is hard! Yes, I said it and so have you, "this world is hard". There is so much pulling at us and so much to do. We are overwhelmed with responsibilities and tangible things that pull at us constantly, hoping for our affection and time. As a Father; my family, my house responsibilities and my position within the church can become overwhelming. Where do I find the time to do everything I am responsible for and still find time to follow Christ's call?

I think the problem is really the last question! I see a ton of people that live very segmented lives; they have their Christian life (missions, church and bible reading), they have their family life and their work life. Sometimes they even find enough time to have a hobby or 5. I see people so busy with life that they are running non-stop, only to give me that "I don't have time for another church thing" look. You know that look, its the roll of the eyes when someone announces an opportunity to serve…

Week 2 and Satan gets kicked in the face!

Last week I had a blast challenging our church to know their primary calling and concentrate on being intimate with God. In God preaching His Word through me, I built a wall on stage to show some of the things Satan uses to keep us from intimacy with God. What I forgot to do was be ready for the attack that came this last week.

As some of you know, we are in the midst of getting our house on the market to sell so we can move to the McMurray, PA area soon. There is so much to do to get the house ready to sell, one of them is painting (oh how I hate painting). I am not a patient person when it comes to painting or remodeling. I tend to bite off more than I have time for and then whine through the process as I go. Usually I end up trying to do the job too quick and do a really poor job of remodeling. I am a slow learner when it comes to remodeling or painting. In the beginning of our painting process, I thought I was tackling a ton of it, only to find I had only hit a small portion of th…

Our first day here!

If you haven't heard by now, we are moving to PA. Yesterday was my official first day of being the pastor of Faith Community Church Lakeside. How awesome is our God! It felt so good to be back preaching God's Word to people who want to hear it. This church has treated us so well that I had to pinch myself last night as I thought "this might be too good to be true". I know that we will have trouble, but God has given us a great start.

Yesterday, 2 or more people stepped from death to life at the end of our service. One, a mother, came up to me after the service telling me she has never been to our church. She told me how she felt pulled to be here this morning and how she couldn't believe how much God loved her. She cried with joy that Christ lived in her and that she could talk to Him at anytime.

I met a family right before our service that hadn't been to our gathering in over a year. At the end of the service, their daughter said yes to Jesus. The dad was so…

McMurray, PA here we come?

I want to thank all of you for praying and encouraging us during our time back in Ohio. We have seen God do some incredible acts of Grace and Mercy toward our family. He has been so gracious to show me my idolatry and His wonderful kindness. We have learned so much in our time of waiting on God to assign us to the next part of our journey. 
Tonight, with great joy, I share that He is leading us to McMurray, PA. It isn't a done deal, however, God has moved some really big obstacles in getting us to our current place. He qualified me when I didn't qualify for the position. He has allowed me to be open and honest without scaring the pastor search team off. He has moved our hearts from Ohio to a people wanting an under-shepherd in Pennsylvania. He has done great things and we believe He is moving us to lead Faith Community Church Lakeside. 
I find it very ironic that as we were preparing to church plant in Hawaii, so many years ago, I felt an incredible urge to name our church pla…

When God crushes you: what a difference a year makes!

Last year on this day (Sept. 30th), I preached my last sermon in Hawaii, then we cleaned our rental house one last time as 12 of our friends drove us to the airport and we bid them farewell. The next afternoon we landed in Nashville, TN and began this part of our journey.

I had no clue what God was going to do with us this past year. I had a ton of thoughts about what God would do but none of those happened. I really thought I would be pastoring again at this point and that hasn't happened. I thought we might plant another church and that hasn't happened. I thought that I would finish school and that hasn't happened (I know it sounds depressing but just wait). What has happened is God showing us His incredible faithfulness and that He always has a plan He is working us through.

When I left Hawaii, it was overwhelmingly obvious that God has changed our course (not His course but where we thought we were headed). I had planned on us being in Hawaii for the rest of our lives,…

My need for intimacy through a full time job!

It has been a while since I have written. So let me just update you on our lives here in Lebanon, Ohio. On July 9th, I began working for an indirect dealer for Verizon Wireless called The Cellular Connection. They hired me as the store manager here in Lebanon and my assignment is to return the store back to profitability. The transition has been difficult, in that, I have not worked outside of the church full time for quite a while. However, God has given me favor and has blessed our store with some great opportunities. We are seeing God's hand in our sales and within conversations of those outside of the Kingdom of God. I have mostly enjoyed my time there(again, there have been some tough times) and learned much from God while working.

     God has made me very aware of the daily struggle many Christians deal with while working full time. I have had to be very intentional with my intimacy with Christ. I also run into many people who do not share my world view or my moral vie…

God's love is not dependent on your obedience!

One of the things I am learning through our recent journey is that God is faithful and He takes care of His kids. Time and time again, we will get a check from a friend or find a bill has been paid that month, as we have been without financial support. There have been days that I have felt God is blocking me from getting a job. It has started to get comical as jobs that have been offered to me don't start for weeks or months upon being hired. I am finding my God has an incredible sense of humor as I have tried to push past Him and His provision and attempt to make things happen on my schedule. Today I was offered a job that doesn't start til October ... really? Thankful that is not how I ended my day but with His nudging me to read a chapter of an incredible book by Major Ian Thomas. He used the chapter today to show me where I had been and where many Christians are walking currently.

      Imagine with me the scenery of the book of Numbers as the nation of Israel was wa…

There are days when my past still affects my present!

Rejection is not something we handle well. At-least it is something I have not handled well in the past. This week has felt like a week of rejection, in fact I just finished telling my wife how rejected I feel this week. Its funny how much I retreat into myself when I don't get affirmation I think I need or receive silence when I think I need an answer. I don't know about you, but usually when I get silence, it feels like rejection.

If you don't know, rejection has been one of the things I dealt with greatly as a child and youth. My real dad decided he didn't want a kid and left my mom. My adopted father left with my little brother without saying goodbye when I was ten. There were many men in my life that I would attach myself to only to find them no longer being part of my life for various reasons. This has haunted me throughout my whole life. There have been many men I have asked to disciple me as a believer or a pastor only to have them tell me they don't mentor…

Remembering Memorial Day and those it points to!

Being in Hawaii for those 18 months reminded me of the incredible sacrifice our military and their families make to protect our country. If you didn't know, I am an ex-military brat. My dad served in the Navy and my step-father served in the Marines. I remember in High School, when my step-father had to leave us for 3-6 months on deployment. He would come back with what I thought were pretty cool stories, but now that I think through them, he went through some tough stuff. It was hard on my mom not having him around for those months and sometimes harder when he came back, trying to adjust to all the new things and rules that had been established in his absence.

I have seen that last point recently with our friends who lived next door. The Hazelwoods paid a ton for their dad and husband to serve in the Army. There were tough adjustments while He was gone and sometimes tougher adjustments when He came back. My understanding is Captain Hazelwood was gone into combat for over 1 year. …

I hate Christian sayings especially one I say a lot!

One of my irritations is Christian sayings. As my wife and I talked last night about writing a book about our journey (btw, anyone willing to buy one if we write it?), Michelle told me not to put those stupid Christian sayings in our book. I know, I say stupid, but I am just being clear how I feel about them. I have such trouble with them because most of them are a flat lie! Many of them put the work of God on the essence of man or they lie about God. Here are a few that are flat WRONG!

"If God closes a door, He will open a window"

No where in the Bible does it say that God opens windows of opportunities. Jesus uses the word door because they are passageways to something else. Windows are letting the breeze in, helping someone escape or for burglars to break in. The devil steals and is a burglar, so maybe that open window was his doing? The only reason you will find anyone climbing through a window is because they are trying to escape whatever is in the house?

"God will…

I turned 40 today!

Well, it is that time again, to reflect on the past year and share God's triumphs and my failures, which became God's triumphs! This past year has been an amazing journey with God. There are times I have seen Him do the most incredible acts and there are times I have been the incredible act. Let's set the scene from last year at this time.

    Our family was living in Kapolei, Hawaii, attempting to plant a church. We had just begun meeting in a dojo every Sunday and had 21 people weekly. Our summer plans were coming together and we believed we would be within 50-70 people before the end of the summer. I had been spending a bunch of time discipling college students and having Gospel conversations with people at Starbucks. Nothing was getting in our way and I felt we were going to take the world! During the summer we enjoyed guest after guest staying in our home. We found ourselves being used by God to refresh the Ortegas, after their 6 months on the mission field. I ta…

When all hope is lost, remember it really isn't!

I have been in the battle of my life to trust God. There have been so many doubts thrown my way these past months, but especially this past week. Let me just list the thoughts that have plagued my mind:

        "God has forgotten you"          "You must have really messed up for God not to use you in ministry somewhere"         "You are not over depression because you suck"           "You can't be a pastor, you blew it"         "No on wants you around or to lead them"        "You are going to lose everything if you try to wait on God"         "He's done with you!"

That last one has been the ever present knife being twisted in my gut. It brings up so many questions like:

     "What is God waiting for"             "Am I missing something or suppose to do something"      "God why won't you just let me in on what you are doing so I can settle down"        "Are you mad at me…

The Law is not versus Grace but is needed by Grace!

I have been spending the last few months pouring books about Grace into my life and it is simply overwhelming. I am seeing the true power of Grace and how is doesn't demand change but still produces it. It has been and still is an incredible journey to be on, but still one I will be on for years to come. One of my struggles over the past years with Grace is the place of the Law. I have to admit that I have had very little patience with people that attempt to live lawfully and that they find their righteousness there. Although I have had little patience for those attempting to live by the Law, I have not recognized my own lawful ways that I have preached over the years until about 2 years ago, God began to change my view of His Grace. God has ripped this demanding heart from me and replaced it with a desire to see all people live in Grace.

One the problems I possessed was a wrong view of the Law. I have always (well, since I said yes to Jesus) seen the Law as necessary to show my n…

One calling in one purpose: To be with Jesus!

As many of you know I have been jobless for the past 5 months. This has brought an array of emotions and a fight to trust the things of God. I have been begging God for answers on the job front, our provision and our family dynamic. I have seen God answer time and time again financially. It seems as if He waits until our checking account gets low and sends another check. So far, only one bill has gone unpaid and that was the bill to keep our insurance. God has been incredible toward our finances. He has also been incredible toward our family. I have never had so much time to be with my kids and wife. I am afraid that when I do land a job, I am going to miss the mid day wrestling events with my boys and the coloring events with my girls. I have grown to love my wife more in these months by simply being around her more and looking for ways to love her. God has been so good to us within our family.

     However, there has been this gnawing feeling that has been growing. I have felt…

Has it become acceptable to Gossip!

This week, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire for a church position. In this questionnaire I was asked "if I heard people at a dinner discussing what they didn't like about a television pastor, what would I do?" That's not the question word for word but it is in the same thought process. Of course, I gave my answer and then realized I am probably part of the crowd that is discussing other pastors and their problems. It has led me to a bigger question, is it okay for us as Christians to openly criticize pastors whom we have a problem with or when they do something like buy a house worth $1.7 million dollars. Basically, is it okay for me to gossip as a Christian?

So many times before I have answered this in my pastor's voice and said, "yes it is, I am protecting my sheep". Today, I am not so ready to make that statement. Maybe, I have matured or maybe I take these few scriptures with a little fear and trembling:

"Do not judge so that you will no…

How much I have hated to wait for anything

One thing that I have struggled with these past months is not having a position or a place in ministry. This isn’t so much as not being a pastor but not being able to teach God’s word to people outside my family in a larger group gathering. Many times I have been tempted to start a church in my basement because I needed to teach (funny huh?). This time of waiting on the Lord has been hard but has been so good. God has been refining me these past months. 
Last month, I had the privilege to spend the weekend in Las Vegas and soak up time and cookies with the Gotthardt family. If their name sounds familiar it is because Paul Gotthardt has become a mentor in my life through this last year. One evening Paul asked me if I was okay with God taking His time in this journey. He then pointed me to chapter 2 of Miles Stanford’s book “The Complete Green Letters”. We had had this discussion before and as before I answered yes really meaning no. I was tired of waiting and felt ready to take the step…

When did rest turn into work?

No this is not a post fighting for all of us to quit working on Saturdays or Sundays (which is a good thing for you, your body and your family). I have been in a bunch of conversations with people recently asking me what my plan is or how will we make it without a job? I get the usual "do you even want to do ministry?" all the time when I talk about possibly finding work outside of the church. Believe me, there are mornings when I wake up panicking a bit over where our money is going to come from or am I doing enough to provide for my family. However, God usually steps in my life in these moments and reminds me that He has this and my only worry is to be with Him.

     In Matthew 11, Christ calls out to an overburdened crowd and proclaims this to them:

"Come to me all who are tired and overburdened, come to me and find REST for my teaching is EASY and my requirements of you are LIGHT" (My interpretation and emphasis)

     Christ called a people that were strug…