Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just Don't Want to Miss A Thing...

Yesterday was a great day. We took the kids to the Miami Seaquarium. It was our two kids, our three nephews, our niece, my in-laws and my wife's younger sister. It was really a lot fun., honestly. That morning I had enjoyed some really good time alone with the Lord. I began to pray about the things that I am believing God for in 2008. (I will share some of those things at a later date.)

Ephesians 3:20 states "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

I began to let that verse and many others just soak in and I began to think through what I am trusting and believing God for in this upcoming year. During that time one thing that I felt the Lord wanted me to know is to have my eyes and heart open to His activity. God is at work all the time and I am so guilty of repeatedly missing His activity. I really felt as though the Lord was saying don't miss anything, not a second from the smallest thing to the simply unexplainable; it's all Him and it all points back to Him. I felt as though God was saying "don't become so self absorbed, so consumed with work, so anxious with the things of this world that you miss the beauty of what only I can do."

So here we are that Seaquarium and in a way like only God can I was brought right back to that truth. There we were sitting in the dolphin theater after a long day, enjoying the show, and as the evening came to a close they shot off a very impressive fire works show. My son, Max, was sitting on my lap just smiling from ear to ear, clapping his hands, moving his head from side to side trying to capture the view from every angle; to the right of me was my little girl, Emily, sitting on my wife's lap and her smile was just as big and she was just loving it!!! And in that moment I just thought, man I am so blessed. It was one of those moments that I could really see all that God has done for me and my family. It wasn't too long ago that the thought or discussion of children would leave my wife and I heavy hearted and yet in 15 months God allowed us to adopt two beautiful kids. Just seven months ago my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and a fireworks show like the one we experienced last night would have gone virtually unnoticed by him. God has done amazing things and He continues to show His power and glory. Unfortunately I tend to miss it. I fail to recognize that the smile of my children, the embrace of my wife, the moments that we share as a family are all tangible ways that God is revealing Himself. I say I am always looking for the next big thing, but the truth is I probably have missed my fair share of them because I fail to realize that everything in my life is a big thing because it comes from an even bigger and infinite God.

I do have some big things that I am trusting and believing God for in 2008, but as I wait upon the Lord I hope and pray that I will not miss a minute of His power and presence in the everyday. In fact I pray that for you as well. I challenge you to dream dreams that are as big as God is and pray prayers that are as big as He is as well, but keep your eyes open to the ways He is at work in your life every day. The truth is the greatest fireworks display in the world could never compare to the beauty of the glory of God when it is revealed!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve Services

Last night we had our first ever Christmas Eve services in our new facility. It was a wonderful turnout and truly a spirit-filled time. The band did an amazing job leading our people into the presence of God through singing traditional carols. Jamin, our Worship Pastor, did a super job of reminding our people that there was nothing routine and rote about what we were doing. He challenged them not to just enter into the time with a mindset or heart set of thinking that well it's Christmas and this is what we are supposed to do. Instead he truly made clear the fact these songs that are typically reserved for Christmas communicate truth about our Savior, King and Treasure, Jesus Christ.

The hope for last night was that everyone would leave understanding the personal nature of Christmas. That we would recognize the power and significance of this time and understand that though this story is over two thousand years old the events and the meaning of this story still have great meaning to our lives today. "For unto you a Savior is born..." What was amazing is that last night there were folks who accepted that truth for themselves. Last night there were people who took God's greatest gift, Jesus, and for the first time in their lives they trusted Christ to be their Lord and Savior. God is so good. It is always a joy to see God draw people to Himself. We continue to pray that the Lord would use our ministry to present the Gospel to every man, woman and child in our community. If you have happened to come across these ramblings today, then I do not want to waste the opportunity to tell you that God loves you and He has demonstrated that love by sending Jesus. As this Christmas season comes to a close I pray that you would search your heart and consider whether or not you have personally received God's gift, Jesus Christ. It's the greatest gift that you could ever receive...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just Funny Stuff...

So my trip to Israel was amazing and I will post another blog soon about the lessons I learned from that experience. Today however there is nothing spiritual about this blog, it is just one of the many funny situations I find myself in with my buddy, Jamin. I arrived from Israel on Tuesday and on Wednesday my wife was hosting a party for close to 50 people in our home. It was a great time. When everyone left my wife and I and Jamin and his wife Vicky who happen to also be our neighbors were unwinding out in our yard in front of our fire pit. I had placed the fire pit on top of this nasty brown patch of grass that is in Jamin's yard. We were enjoying the fire until suddenly we realized that the flames were not only growing higher but the grass around it was now also engulfed...

Jamin quickly jumped into action and began to try to blow it out...I kid you not. The fire is now spreading, so we run towards his hose. The hose was in a box and we could not get it out. At this point my wife springs into action and gets our hose, that is fully equipped with a Tickle Me Elmo head on it. Needless to say after several minutes we were able to put the fire out and I happy to report that no one was hurt. And now instead of a brown patch of grass in Jamin's yard there is a huge black charcoal circle. After it was all done, we did have quite a laugh.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Battle Site for Armageddon

This is a view from Mount Megido. You may not recognize that name but if you have read any or all of the book of Revelation you may be interested in this spot. This is where the Battle of Armageddon is to take place. Revelation chapter 16 describes the scene of the events that are to happen on this mount. Here is a quick cliff note version: the nations of the world will try to come against Jesus Christ and He is going to open up a serious can of......well you know, and He will judge the world. The view from here was amazing but my mind could not even begin to try to imagine what that day will be like. I am just happy to know that I'm on HIS SIDE!!! We had a time of worship and prayer on this mount and we prayed for those who are still not yet on His Team. No one knows the day nor the hour of the Lord's return, but I got to tell you that standing up on that mountain, I could not help to believe that it will be soon.

"Then I saw heaven opened and a white horse was standing there. its rider was named Faithful and True, for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war." Revelation 19:11

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Missing Home

I am so ready to come home! As powerful and life changing as this trip has been for me personally, I am so ready to go home. I love my wife and kids so much and to be away from them is to truly have something missing. I spoke to my beautiful wife earlier and she put the phone to my daughter's ear and it took everything I had not to try to jump through the phone to pick her up and kiss that beautiful, tiny little face of hers. My wife said that my daughter is really getting the hang of this walking thing and this week my son spoke three new words. God is sooooo good and I am so thankful that He reveals His goodness to me through my amazing family! Two more days and we begin our journey home...PTL. It could not come soon enough...

"The Bob"

Today we toured around the beautiful city of Haifa. The scenery is just amazing and the people have been so accommodating and gracious to us. One of the places that they took us to was the Holy Garden, a 350 million dollar landmark. The botanical gardens are just pristine and the view from this mountain is amazing. At the center of this garden is the Bahai temple. The Bahai is essentially a cult. What they have done is taken bits and pieces of the different major religions of the world and mixed them together. Their original prophet is known as "The Bob", no joke! He was executed in the early 1800's. What struck me is how willing people are to serve and follow something and yet miss what is right in front of them that could truly satisfy their hearts.
What is interesting about this structure is that not to far from this beautiful landmark, is where it is believed that God's prophet Elijah put a major whooping on the false prophets of Baal. Now I understand that this may be a totally different era, scenario, and circumstance, but isn't the bottom-line the same: man's heart is wicked and empty and man will turn to something that they think initially will satisfy and complete. Yet all too often, sadly they discover that the way they have chosen only leads to destruction. I know that for me that is where my life was headed. Now I didn't pray to or bow to "The Bob", but I did serve other idols that in God's eyes were just as filthy. But I thank God for drawing me to Himself and leading me into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. My prayer as we traveled down through this marvelous landscape was "Lord please remove the blinders from these people's hearts and may they see Your light and understand Your Truth." As I prayed that for the Bahais I could not help but to pray that for the people of the city I live in and for the people I do life with.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Plea from The Chief Rabbi...

Yesterday we met with the Chief Rabbi for the nation of Israel. This position would be like the pope is to catholics. It was very interesting to listen to him speak. He was a very gracious and articulate speaker. There was one thing that he said that stuck out to me. He pleaded with us to please tell everyone of our experience in the Holy Land. He encouraged us to take advantage of sharing all the things we had seen and experienced with every person we had influence with. His motivation in saying this was that he believed if we truly shared with others the truth, as he put it, of the beauty of Israel and it's people, then we could begin to change the opinions that people have of this country that have been primarily formed by what they have seen on CNN.

It was not too hard for me to bridge the connection between what he said and the call that we have as Christians. Imagine the difference we could make in our circle of influence, in the world that God has us, if we would share with others the experiences we have had with Christ. If we would just share about the joy and peace that He has brought to our lives. Imagine what difference the TRUTH can make in the lives of those we encounter if we were just more willing to share it. Now I have to be honest with you, I did not need any rabbi to tell me to share about the experiences I have had here. In fact I am biting at the bit to get back home to share it, hopefully not to nausea for those who I do life with. But the reality is that as beautiful and majestic as this land is and as wonderful as this experience has been, I should be far more excited about sharing about the One who gave His life for me. The reality is that at times I allow other experiences to trump the greatest experience of all. So I hope and pray that I would take the words of this Chief Rabbi and put them in the right perspective of the True Chief Rabbi, and Master Teacher Jesus Christ...who said "you shall be my witnesses" to every man, woman and child. Keep sharing and keep telling, it will make a difference.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Garden of Gethsemane

Today was another incredible day in Jerusalem. We had the opportunity to visit the Mount of Olives and walk down the path that Jesus took as He made His triumphal entry into the city. On our way down we stopped in the Garden of Gethsemane and it was incredible. We were told to just scatter amongst the trees and sit and spend time meditating, reflecting and praying. Without sounding to extreme it was literally one of the most moving spiritual experiences I have ever had. I truly felt as though my heart and spirit connected with God.

I began to reflect on what Jesus must have felt that night He took His trusted disciples to that place when He prayed. I began to imagine the agony He must have felt. I began to truly think about the fact that Jesus was about to take on the very thing that His Father found repugnant; sin. The One who knew NO sin became sin for us the Bible tell us. That came alive for me today. My mind began to visualize Christ's agony as He prayed Father if it be Your will, let this cup pass from Me, but if not may Your will be done! Imagine that, the Father's will being that His Son, the spotless, sinless Holy One become the spotless lamb for us. As a pastor I have often challenged people not to take on cheap crosses or minimize with their lives the price Christ paid. Today I in that Garden I was told the same thing. Jesus Christ suffered and died for me, my only reasonable response is to live for Him. And I am not talking about going to church or checking off my list that I have read my Bible and prayed, no today I was reminded that I am called to die to myself and live for Him. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

I pray the same for my family, friends, co-laborers in in the Gospel, the people God has called me to minister to and any who may by some chance stumble upon these ramblings. May our hearts' cry be that we want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jesus Paid It All

Today we completed our first day of tours in Jerusalem and the sights were just overwhelming. There is something so special and majestic about this place. From the moment we arrived and began to walk through this holy city I was just blown away at all of the historical sights and the significance behind each one. Every mountain, hillside and valley came alive in my heart and mind, but nothing really compared to what I experienced at the Garden Tomb. As we walked through the garden I was captivated by the stones and all of its surrounding beauty. Then we came to a spot where the tour guide stopped and said behind us is the place where many scholars and theologians believe Jesus Christ was crucified: Calvary, Golgatha, the Place of the Skull. And all of a sudden there was a hush and we all could do nothing but stand in awe. Our minds and hearts were left to wonder what agony, what pain the Son of God must of felt. If you look closely at the rocks you will see that they actually look like a skull. The spotless lamb of God died to give men life. Being at that sight did not make it more real for me, but it certainly did impact my heart in a powerful way.

What stood out to me is that right below that spot where Jesus is believed to have been crucified is a huge Muslim tower that sounds the call throughout the day for muslims to pray. As we stood there meditating and praying the sound went off and my spirit was literally grieved. There is still so many who have not come to know the TRUE Messiah. In a fresh way I got a look at every man, woman and child and I pray that it would not leave me any time soon.

As we continued the tour we came to the place where it is believed that Jesus was buried and rose again from. It was amazing to see such a long line to enter a tomb to see nothing...for He is not there here has risen! I sat for a moment and began to pray and a song that we sing at Summit often welled up in my heart..."Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain but He washed me white as snow." It truly was a wonderful day, one I will soon not forget. Like I said coming to Jerusalem does not make what Jesus did anymore real, so whether you get to travel to this great land or not, I pray that you will not forget the fact that Jesus did pay it all. Walk worthy, walk loudly and may your life tell the story of the transforming power of Jesus Christ! Shalom.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Today at Summit we began a new series that will take us through what we recognize as the Christmas season. I am really looking forward to this series and I believe today was a great start. I strongly feel that God does have a destiny for each and everyone of us. Today one of the things we discussed was the fact that if we are to be people of destiny, people who seek to fulfill God's purposes then we must be confident that God has a purpose for everything.
At times the pressure, disappointment, frustrations of life tend to keep us from viewing our circumstances from God's perspective. At times the pressures become so pressing that we fail to view our circumstances in light of the eternal. This is something that God has really been teaching me. I would of never have chosen to have a child with autism, but my wife and I are realizing more and more that God has a greater plan and purpose, and though this journey has been quite tough for us, we would not want it any other way. The closer we get to God the more we realize that He does have an eternal plan and purpose for my son and for us as a family. I would of never been connected to the people that God has led me to cross paths with as of late. My wife and I have been introduced to a whole new world, with new people who need to know about the love of Christ.
God is definitely stretching us and we are learning daily to look from God's perspective and to believe that God is working in the midst of our circumstances to bring about a greater purpose. I pray that I would seek to be a person of destiny...a person who is fully surrendered to God and who is confident that God does have a purpose for everything! The next time you find yourself in a tough situation I pray that you will step back and ask "God how do you want to glorify Yourself through this?" and then commit yourself to walk through it in response to Him. That's all I want now, because I know God is fully worthy of it!