Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


I pray that each of you who stumble across these ramblings have a wonderful and blessed Christmas. I pray that each of you enjoy the time with family and friends and in the midst of all it not miss the significance and power of this time. May Christ be and continue to be the greatest gift your treasure and worship.

Last night we held two Christmas Eve services. We were blown away by the response. Both services were packed and there was such a great spirit. We had six individuals trust Christ as their personal Savior. It was truly a wonderful time. Please pray for these individuals as they begin this new journey with the Savior, Jesus Christ. Our Naples Campus held their first ever Christmas Eve service and it was also well attended. Hats off to Crossroads Church for allowing us to use their facility for this service. We appreciate their Kingdom mindedness.

As I write this I am enjoying time away with my family in Miami. In just a few moments we will be gathering around the table for a special Christmas meal and then we will move into the family room where Papaw, as the grandkids love to call him, will read the Christmas story, and then we will tear into presents deep into the night. You have never seen so many gifts. Papaw and Memaw begin buying gifts December 26th and store them through out the year. It is quite the sight. Whatever your traditions are I wish you a blessed Christmas.

My son, Max, and I just returned from the park. A park that I spent a lot of time myself at as a youth. As I chased Max around the park I began to think about how much I miss the diversity of this city. My family and I love living on West Coast but it doesn't have the flavor of Miami. The diversity is certainly one of the things that I miss about this coast.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What is God Teaching You In This Season?


Today we had an extended leadership team meeting. Because of the craziness of our individual schedules we have not been able to sit, discuss, dream and plan as a team for about a month now. One of the things that we talked through today is the fact that God has definitely been revealing a lot to us individually. Some of the things are extremely exciting, some are a little scary and all of it is going to stretch us and require faith. We challenged each other to take the next couple of days to sort it out and do our best to jot our thoughts down on paper. I personally feel like God is doing something new in me in this season. I am excited to spend the next couple of days sorting out what I feel God has been revealing to me in regards to my life, my family and my personal role in ministry.

Spending the time to be still before the Lord is worth the investment. We are quickly coming to the end of another year and it may not be a bad exercise for you to take an extended time to sit and reflect on what God is teaching you in this season of your life. What is it that God has been revealing to you about His plans for your life in the coming months and days? What types of things does He want to strip and chisel away from your life? What are the things that He desires you to pursue in this season with wreck less abandon? What are the things that He is asking you to trust Him with? So here's my challenge grab your bible, your journal, your pen and a couple of coffee and begin reading, praying, listening, meditating, and writing down some of the things God is revealing to you. I guarantee you it will be worth the investment of time.

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Are You Adding to Your Faith?


I am currently reading through 1 & 2 Peter. This morning I read a few verses that truly challenged me. I thought I would share them in this post. I pray that these verses would cause you to reflect on your life and personal walk with Christ.

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.


I love these verses because it is a great reminder that the life God desires for us and calls us to live, He Himself will empower us to achieve it and enjoy it. But there is a responsibility that I must take seriously and it's to continue to add to my faith. I love the things that Peter challenges us to add to our faith, check this list out: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love!

So, here's the deal what have you in this season been adding to your faith? What is missing in this season? I know God revealed some areas that are currently deficient in my life and this morning was a time of refreshing confession and repentance. Adding these qualities to our faith can only come through our personal pursuit of God. These characteristics are found foremost in God revealed to us in Christ and our Father desires that we reflect them.

So if it's self-control that your lacking in this season, kindness or perseverance ask God to give it to you, ask God to add it---the truth is that He desires to do just that. God Bless You!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Serious Mind Dump

Just got back from vacation with my family. Five days of Disney...yup just have me committed now. It wasn't much a vacation for my wife and I from the sense that we did not get much rest or time alone, but we did have an incredible fun time with our kids. There is something so special experiencing Disney from the eyes of your kids. Max and Emily had a blast. And of course, Little Miss I am not scared of anything Emily, would not go near one of the characters. She absolutely loves everything Disney and she was so excited when she saw all of the characters from afar, but as soon as it was her turn to pose for a picture, the girl went bazerk. It was quite funny. I am truly blessed with a amazing wife and wonderful kids. I pray that we have many more times away as a family. Thanks to Scott and Naomi for the great hook up on a place to stay-you guys are awesome.

Vacation is over and tons to do. We have our Christmas Eve services, that I still need to write out a sermon for, we still have to move out of our current offices and into our new one by the end of this month. I still have tons of work to do to get ready for another launch of small groups in January. I still have a ton of work to recruit new leaders. I have meetings every day next week and a wedding to do in Miami next weekend. It never stops, but God is good.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking through the next stages of ministry for Summit and for me personally. I believe 2009 is going to be a huge year for our ministry. I think God is going to really stretch our faith and leadership in this next year. I am believing God for another campus by the end of 2009. I also believe we will probably have to add a fourth service at the University Campus by February. I am believing and trusting God to provide a permanent space for our Naples Campus in 2009. I truly believe that our Naples Campus is really going to take off in the next few months.

I really want to spend more time this next year connecting with more local pastors and local ministries in our area. If we truly want to see every man, woman and child have the repeated opportunity to see, hear and respond to the Gospel than that is going to be a huge component.

Lastly I have just over a month to continue my training for the Miami Marathon and to complete my fundraising efforts for the Organization for Autism Research. It is going to be a jam packed month. My wife and I are committed though to not allowing our business to take away from this special time of year. After all its Christmas and as followers of Christ don't we have so much to be grateful for...

God Bless.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is Your Love Active?...

I am continuing my study through the book of Romans and I really felt God challenge my heart with this question..."is your love active?" Seems like a weird question and it may even sound like an easy one right. Sure, my love is active. I mean I love my wife, I love my kids, love my job, love my friends, love the Dolphins, and the list goes on and on right. But God's picture of our love being active is quite different. You see I think my love is more selective than it is active.

Active defined is...something or someone that is marked by energetic activity, involving direct participation, not lying dormant, and producing an intended action or effect. Now keep that definition in mind, and keep the question "is your love active?" as you read the verses below. This is what love in action looks like...

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Now just one more question, how are you doing in the area of demonstrating God and living out God's love? I was convicted this morning because I realized that there are many areas of my life that my love is certainly not active, definitely selective, but far from being active. I was reminded of one my favorite cartoons growing up as a kid, Super Friends. Do you remember it? It was the collection of the greatest super heroes coming together to form the Justice League, it was awesome. One of the heroes of the Team was the Super Twins. Can you picture them yet? The sister could turn into any animal and the brother anything related to water-I always thought he got ripped off...Anyway before they could release their power they had to touch hands and they would say "wonder twin powers activate!"

What Paul outlines in Romans chapter 12:9-18 can not happen apart from Christ. If we want love to be active in our lives then we must stay connected to Christ and grow in our intimacy. Our hands and heart must touch his for His love to activate in our lives. May your love be active today and may Christ be glorified as a result. God Bless You!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Running for Max



So the countdown is on for my first ever marathon. On January 25, 2009 I will be participating in the Miami Marathon with over 9000 other people. At the beginning of the year I began running. Running has always been something I absolutely hated, but over this past year I have grown to love it. The mornings I spend running have become a true spiritual experience for me. I have found that time to be a great opportunity to pray, meditate and reflect on what God is teaching me. Mid-way through this year I felt as though I wanted to run a marathon and run it on behalf of my son Max. Over the last year and half since our son's diagnosis of autism we have seem him fight and strive. I wanted to do something to honor his fight, and so that is where this crazy idea of running a marathon came from. So on July 7, 2008 on my son's birthday I signed up.

I have not stopped running or training, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried about this endeaver. As part of this race I am working of raising money for autism research through a great organization called Organization for Autism Research(OAR). If you get a moment, please check out my page at http://www.firstgiving.com/orlandocabrera. I would ask that you prayerfully consider being a part of our TEAM and in so doing stand with our son Max and the many like him who live with this disorder. God Bless You.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Glory in our sufferings???

I am currently reading through the book of Romans. The book of Romans has always been a challenging and convicting book for me. It deals so straight forward with sin, it's power, destruction and consequence and yet reminds us of the power of God's grace and the victory we can have over it.

This morning I read chapter five and was so encouraged by the first five verses. I actually quoted some this verses this past weekend and God brought them right back to me this morning.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

As followers of Christ we have so much to be thankful and grateful for. We do not need a date on a calendar to remind us to be grateful. We need only to remember what we have in Christ. Through Christ we have been justified, meaning we have a right standing with God and therefore we have continual access to God's grace. That is a benefit that is truly out of this world. Paul says we can boast in the hope of the glory of God, but he reminds us that we can also glory, praise God, be thankful even in the midst of our sufferings. If you grew up in the 80's this a total "whatcha talking about Willis?" moment. (I know pretty cheesy but I was a big Different Strokes fan, come on...) Back to the point, if you are like me, we don't usually glory in our sufferings, we usually wallow, complain and grumble. But Paul reminds us here not to look get sucked in to looking to hard at our circumstances but to focus on God's activity.

Christians are not immune to problems, heartaches or struggles. I am pretty sure if you've stumbled across this rambling you are walking through a few storms yourself, but Paul reminds us here to glory. Glory in what? Well, first don't forget as a believer a true child of God, you have peace with God therefore you will also have the peace of God. Because of what Christ has done and because of our standing with God thru Christ this is the ONLY HELL we will ever know...glory in that.

But also, glory in what God is doing in you through your circumstances. He is maturing you and growing you. Your circumstances is producing perseverance, and perseverance character and character hope and hope does not put us to shame. Glory in that. That as God is allowing tension and pressure He is not allowing it without a purpose and without hope. Don't give your circumstances so much audience that you lose sight of what God is doing. Remember that chapter 8 of this same book, states that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Press on and may you experience God's love that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit in fresh and encouraging ways today. God Bless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

List-o-mania

It's been a while since I did a list, so I thought I would list the things I am thoroughly enjoying in this season. These are in no specific order...hope you enjoy and I would love to know what you are enjoying right now as well.

#1. The Word of God...now I know that sounds extremely cheesey and even churchy, but let me explain before you go on judging me...As a teaching pastor it is easy to fall into the trap of reading the Word just for the sake of the next sermon. That trap tends to lead you to frustration and staleness. My speaking schedule has not changed but God has certainly changed my heart. God in this season is removing me further away from what I do and pulling me closer to who I need to be. In this season of insurmountable pressure and decisions it has been refreshing to read the Word for all it's worth and find the encouragement and strength I need.

#2. My family...if you frequent this collection of ramblings you have probably read my posts lately concerning my time with my family. Again, in ministry if you are not careful your family can take a backseat to the "doings" of the job. Right now God has me focused and I pray it stays that way on my amazing wife and beautiful kids. I am truly enjoying the "snap shot" moments I get to spend with each of them. I feel so blessed to have such an incredible family and every moment we get to spend together is awesome!

#3. The Dolphins...that right baby. We are 6-4, a long crawl from the 1 and 15 we posted last year. By this time last year I was upset and uninterested, but today I can say playoffs and Dolphins in the same sentence without people thinking I am crazy. That is a huge step in the right direction. I know there is a lot of football to still be played, but I am enjoying my Fins right now. And I will tell you right now, there is plenty of room to get on the band wagon...


#4. Kodiak Cakes...if you don't know what those are, it's probably because you are a normal human being who is not on the Hallelujah Diet. This discovery has probably saved my marriage...I am kidding of course. You see my wife has us on this life style which I have come to respect and enjoy, because we should be good stewards of our bodies, but I can tell you at times I do pout because I miss certain foods. Well, Kodiak Cakes are Hallelujah approved pancakes, which in fact are one of my favorite foods. My sweet wife, Pam, is so awesome that
she even makes these delicious creations for me for dinner, that's right for dinner! Aunt Jemima has got nothin' on my Kodiak Cakes! Can you smell 'em?

#5. The Worship Services at Summit... I have always enjoyed the weekend services at Summit, but I truly feel God is doing something very fresh and real in this season. You can honestly feel the Spirit of God at work in and through the lives of our people and the fruit has been obvious. It has been encouraging that even in these tough times our people are still seeking to live missionally, as demonstrated in their willingness to step up to the recent challenges whether it be the Walk Now for Autism Event, our Food Pantry Drive or our Safe House adopt a child program. God is good.

#6. My friend, Jamin...the last time I blogged a list he was ticked that he didn't make it, so Jamin here you go...no, but seriously Jamin is my neighbor, co-worker and a good friend, who makes me laugh. Jamin's office is also next to mine and the continual shananigans that go on between our walls helps to keep my stress level down and my gut busting from the laughter. Jamin if you are reading I do hope that you make the two man luge team, I know it is a dream of yours.

#7. The thought of going on vacation...it may sound stupid because it has not happened yet, but you have no idea how much I am enjoying the thought of getting off of this treadmill of life in a couple of weeks and getting away with my family. Even though that at times can be crazy, there is quite no refuge like the one of being with my wife and kids, and to top it off we will be at the happiest place on earth for five days...yup, Disney World. Right now my daughter Emily is absolutely addicted to Mickey and Minnie so I am enjoying just imagining what her face is going to look like when she sees them...that is priceless.


Yup, life is good and the reality is that all these things aside, God is good, thus I have so much to be thankful for, but that's another post. Hope you are enjoying this season of your life as well. God Bless You!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pump It Up












Pam and I took the kids to "Pump It Up", an indoor inflatable bounce house, fun land. Once a month "Pump It Up" has a special sensory night for children with special needs. Our kids had a blast and I would be less than truthful if I did not say that I enjoyed it as well. By the time we were done I was exhausted and the kids looked like they had not broken a sweat. It was again one of those times where I just had to step back and acknowledge the faithfulness and goodness of God. Months ago our son would of never been able to adjust or function in a place like Pump it Up, but on this day, Max enjoyed the play-land just as much as any other three year old would of. The picture was an attempt to capture him coming down this two story slide like a bullet. It was just a great night.

Weekend in Miami...

This weekend, Pam and I and our kids were able to get away and go back home to Miami and see our folks. It was a great time for us. Our kids love their grandparents, both sets, probably because with them they can do no wrong...It was truly a nice break and a great time for us to not only connect with our folks but also connect as a family. On Sunday we took the kids to Aventura Mall to see Santa and their amazing train display. Emily was not wanting anything to do with Santa, she found that joker to be totally scarey. Max on the other hand loved Santa and especially loved pulling on his beard...a trick his Uncle Rick taught him a couple of weeks ago. Poor Santa, I am sure he did not sign up for that part of the gig. This weekend reminded me of the importance of just maximizing the time you have with your family. Every smile, every laugh, every silly moment was priceless. I could not help but to think, I better eat this up because the day will come when my kids will no longer think sitting on Santa's lap or riding in a train in the middle of the mall is fun anymore.


I thank God for my family and for the gift that they are to me. I pray that He will continue to give me wisdom and strength to steward them wisely. If you've stumbled across this rambling, I pray the same for you. Don't squander or leave those special moments to chance. Relationships be it with your spuse, kids, family or friends are a gift, so steward them wisely. Make it a great week. God bless you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

YMCA Prayer Breakfast













This morning I went to the YMCA prayer breakfast. The Summit Band provided the music and as always they did an awesome job. This year the YMCA did not hold the breakfast in a country club as in years past but they held it in an airplane hanger at the Naples Airport. It was a pretty cool ambiance. I kept waiting for the Back Street Boys to come walking out because it looked like something straight out of a music video. The reason for the venue was because the keynote speaker was none other than three time world strongest man, Bill Kazmaier.

Bill did a good job sharing his story and the miracles that God has done in his life. The highlights of the day was when Bill rolled a steel frying pan like a burrito in about four seconds and then he closed the event by pulling a leer jet, it was pretty cool.

Click this link and catch a quick story about today's breakfast...

http://www.naplesnews.com/videos/detail/worlds-strongest-man-vs-plane/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's Love Got to Do with It?


What's love got to do, got to do with it? If you've been around as long as I have and you just read that line, then your mind had to quickly go to that old school jam by Tina Turner...come on now. She was the bomb back in the day. Whenever she wasn't dodging punches from her broke down husband Ike, she was making hits. But, this post is not about Tina, her life or her music. This post, this jumbled rambling of thoughts does have to do with love and that question.

My Life Journal reading plan had me in 1 Corinthians 13 this morning. It's a very familiar passage that most of us know and are probably tired of hearing read at weddings, and yet it is that type of familiarity that can cause me to forget that the Word of God is alive and active and sharper than any two edged sword. This morning I got to be honest I was not thinking that there would be anything earth shattering that would jump out to me, but I was wrong. I could not get past the first three verses. The Apostle Paul before he gives some of the attributes of love states the fact that even if I can do great things like speak with angelic tongues, or uncover and explain deep mysteries or even have faith to move mountains, if I do not have love, I am nothing! Paul goes on to say that even my generosity and hardworking service is nothing without love!

So of course this got me thinking and thinking specifically about what Jesus said was the greatest commandment, "loving God and loving others." Basically what I was left with today was the reflection that I better make sure that the things I do, I truly do out of a sincere love for God and a genuine love for others. God is not impressed with my doings or my stuff, He is far more concerned with the sincerity of my heart. So anyway a great litmus test to use would be to honestly answer this question repeatedly, are the things I am doing being done in love? If there not I better quickly check my motives. I don't even want to know how many things we do in the name of Christ that when we truly take a deeper look at it, we find it wasn't for Christ at all...yikes. My hope is not to allow that sad fact to become a pattern in my life. Let love for God and love for others be the reason behind the things you do, because if it's not, well it basically means squat. Just a rambling. God Bless!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prayer...

This morning I was reading in Matthew 6 and I was so encouraged as read through the Lord's prayer. God reminded me of the simplicity of prayer and about it's raw unmatched power. Prayer is not us bending God to our will, but God bending us to His. Prayer helps us to put everything in proper perspective and that is in the perspective that God is King and He will never give that place up. I was also reminded that God is not impressed or moved by my form or my words, He desires honesty and humility from my heart. I love that Jesus says in verse 8 don't pray like these clowns who essentially make it about them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask Him! So before I close this rambling with Jesus' words let me challenge you to take a moment and reflect on the fact that your Heavenly Father knows what you need, so go to Him, not with your religion, or your righteousness, but go to Him in humility and in faith that He will act according to His will. Take a moment to pray and reflect on the heart of Jesus' words...

9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Great Weekend...



This past weekend was so encouraging for me on many levels. This weekend was the Southwest Florida Walk Now for Autism Event at the Estero Community Park. It was a great turn out and a wonderful day. There were in the upwards of four thousand people that came out. As a dad of a child with autism it was truly an encouraging day. It was a pleasure to meet other families who are walking a similar path. It was a joy to watch my son and daughter enjoy all of the games and bounce houses. As a pastor I was once again amazed by the people of Summit. We had over 300 of our people participate. Many walked, many gave and many served. It was incredible to look across the park and see so many yellow Team Summit t-shirts. It was wonderful to see our people live missionally and serve our community. I feel so humbled and blessed to be a part of a church that gets it. Team Summit also raised just over $20,000 for autism research. Money aside I was just so proud of our people.

The good stuff did not end there. We had a great weekend of services. God was moving in such a powerful way in each of our services. I was reminded of what C.S. Lewis said "the perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of, because our attention would have been on God." I felt like that this weekend. I truly could sense that people were focused on God and were enjoying His presence. This weekend we also had the privilege for the first time ever to baptize folks right on our property. The church purchased a baptismal pool and we were blessed to baptize nine people in it this weekend. It was a blast. I also got to baptize a 7ft giant of a man, who in turn baptize me by pulling me down with him...it was hysterical. God is so good. I pray that as a church we will continue to keep Christ as our ultimate priority, our greatest need and our greatest delight. I pray that the mission of presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child never grows cold in our hearts, but that as followers of Christ we would strive to live loudly for God's glory. Make it a great week...God Bless You!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Emotions


There is no doubt that as I sit and write this blog my emotions are many and my heart is torn. The votes have been counted and America has clearly spoken...today we have a new president, he is not the candidate that I voted for, but nonetheless, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of our great United States.

My emotions are mixed because whether you voted for Obama or not your heart had to be moved by the fact that our nation has made history by electing it's first ever black president. That in so many ways is a milestone and a great turn from some of the ugliest scars of our nations' history. We are forty years removed from the assassination of one of America's greatest heroes Dr Martin Luther King and you can not help but to be happy as an American to see how far we have come. This election will stand as monumental moment in history, not just for democrats and even republicans who ended up voting for Barack but for every American, because last night history was made.

All that being said, as much as I can be happy as an American to see history be made and hopefully see a path to even stronger race relations for this nation, my heart is still heavy, because the some huge issues are still left on the table. When we look at how strong the Democratic victory was, we can not help, but to see how dramatic the political landscape of our country is going to change. Just quickly think of some of the issues that are on the table, the voice for the unborn just got a lot softer as we have just elected a president who by his own admittance declared his intent to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. We saw in Florida that Amendment 2 passed, praise God, but with the election of this president we can also see that biblical marriage will still be attacked as we have heard Obama say on numerous occasions he will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. All the way down the line you can see that the issues that should be central to every born again believer hang in the balance with this new president.Yet God is still in control and He is sovereign. As Christians we can not lose sight of that.

As Christians we must continue to pray for our leaders and our nation. The thought that God arrested my heart with this morning was this; now more than ever followers of Christ must allow their LIVES to be heard. Now more than ever we must incarnate the Gospel and do everything we can to move God's Kingdom forward. There is no time to hang our heads and whine about who won this election, Barack Obama is our president and we still live in a great nation. Now more than ever we must seek God in prayer. Now more than ever we must beg God to send His reign and blow fresh wind and fire on our nation. Now more than ever we must be committed to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and have no rest until the whole world hears. Now more than ever it is time that the people of God be the church and stop hiding in one. Now more than ever it is time for followers of Christ to stop complaining about the lack of change and get busy being a part of it.

There is no doubt that as evangelicals our fight just got harder, but we take heart in the fact that God's grace is sufficient. So let's pray for our new president elect Barack Obama, let's pray for his wife and two precious girls. As Christians let's do everything we can to make America one nation under God. Avoid godless chatter and aimless disputes. Thank God for the privilege in living in such a free and blessed nation and seek to strive to make it better.

God is on the throne and He will never relinquish that spot. God is still good. God bless you and may God bless America.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Knowing Christ Produces Generosity

This weekend we continued our series entitled "Knowing Christ". Originally this series was designed to be an in depth look at the book of Philippians. This weekend as a Leadership Team we decided to go away from that particular book and use 2 Corinthians chapter 8 as our text. Our aim this weekend was to challenge our people to be generous. Knowing Christ should produce generosity, considering that stewardship is a direct response of Lordship. We had a shortened service with a 20 minute message and instead of responding in worship as we usually do, we asked our people to respond in a different way. We handed out a food list to every person, and on it were the items that the local food pantries that we partner with both around our University and Naples' campuses were in need of. We had trucks and trailers waiting at Publix and asked our people to be generous and seek to be a blessing. It was AWESOME!!! I was absolutely blessed to step back and watch our people "be the church." It was incredible.


Once again I was so amazed and blessed by the people of Summit. They knocked it out of the park. At the University Campus alone we filled two trailers and two trucks and together with the Naples Campus we were able to fill four food pantries. God is good! Our prayer is that as a church even in spite of a down economy we would continue to be generous and in doing so, show the love of Christ to our community.

"But since you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in love we have kindled in you-see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (2 Corinthians 8:7)

Here is a link to the piece that NBC-2News did:
www.nbc-2.com/articles/readarticle.asp?articleid=22735&z=3

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Emily...



Today is our little girl, Emily's, 2nd birthday. So in honor of her birthday I thought I would write a special post to my little Queen Bee.

Dear Emily,

Happy Birthday! Your mom and I feel so blessed to have you in our lives. You are such a joy. We know that God has great plans for your life. As much as we pray for your health, well being, protection and future, we pray even more for the ever most important decision of your life and that is Jesus Christ. We pray that as you grow, your understanding of who Christ is would grow as well, and we hope that at an early age you would place your faith and trust in Christ. Our hope is that Christ would be your greatest need, your greatest desire and your greatest pursuit.
Proverbs 30:31 states "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." May you grow up to be a woman who always fears the Lord.

We look forward to see what God is going to do with your dare-devil attitude, joyful smile and outgoing personality. I am already praying for your husband, not only that he would be a godly man, but also a strong man who could handle a pistol like you...just kidding.

Watching you grow Emily has been such an amazing experience. I feel as though I get to see God's activity daily in your life. You get smarter and prettier by the day. I enjoy every moment I get with you. The scarey thing is that I think you already know that you have me whipped, that's something I will need to work on...I hope that as you grow you will come to discover and know that your mom and I love you very much and we will always be here for you. We pray that we will be able to live out Christ in front of you and we pray that our relationship would always be one that is centered and grounded in Truth. Happy Birthday Emily, we love you. I want to leave you with this prayer that I pray over you every night...

"The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Intimacy with God


I began reading the Book of Mark this morning. I love reading through the Gospels because no matter how many times you read through them God always seems to show you something new. This morning I got to verse 35 of chapter one and it got my mind racing..."Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you."

The God Man, Jesus, in his humanity made it a priority to draw away from the crowd and commune with the Father. What I love about this is that the disciples say everyone is looking for you and yet Jesus knew that even the demands of the day or the needs of the people could NOT trump His personal time with the Father. Jesus knew what many of us fail to understand and that is what we do can not take precedent over who we are to become. So many times I jump into my day without realizing that the best thing I can do for my spirit, mind, soul, and life is to start the day pursuing intimacy with God. It is amazing how my responses, my perspective, my sensitivity to the people around me, my heart set, is so different when I don't spend that quality time with God through His Word and in prayer. I pray that pursuit of God and my discipline to seek a solitary place to commune with God in prayer and His Word would always be from a heart that is desperate for Him and not out of religious guilt or monotonous routine. Our guest speaker from this passed weekend said something that I thought was great and that was "we do not read the Bible to finish, we read it to change!" Don't allow your personal time with God to just be something you check off your to do list.

If you have not spent some time this morning or today with the Creator I would encourage you to invest the time. May God always be your greatest need, your greatest desire and your greatest pursuit. Fight for that solitary time and may the Lord increase your view of who He is and may He give you and even a deeper hunger for His Truth. If Jesus withdrew from the crowd often how much more do we need to...just another rambling. God Bless You!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Prayer is Pure...

My reading plan has me currently reading through the Book of Job and the Book of Acts. Today I was reading in chapter 16 of Job and I was floored. If you are not familiar with the Book of Job, I would encourage you to read it some time, especially in light of all the problems our nation is currently facing. There is no doubt that we have problems, but when you read the book of Job, God has a strange way of bringing things into proper perspective. You see Job was a man who had it all and lost pretty much everything except his own life and his wife. His belongings were all taken from him, his children this guy with from sitting on top of the hill to being underneath it. But all the while God was present and even in the darkest and the hardest of times Job holds fast to God. In Job 15, Job again is taking a barrage of assault once again from so called friends and nay-sayers, and in chapter 16 we see his reply. What I love about his reply is that you can fully see it comes from a heart that lives in deep intimacy with God. Job recants the things that have happened to him and how they have made him feel...so much so that this is what he states in verses 11 & 12; "God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. All was well with me, but He shattered me; He seized me by the neck and crushed me." Wow! Have you ever felt like that. Like some how God has allowed your walls to come crashing down on you. But here's what you got to catch. Job, never loses sight of who God is and never allows his heart to lose reverence for the almighty. The key verses for me that showed me the depth of Job's heart were at the end of the chapter. Catch this...

My face is red with weeping,dark shadows ring my eyes;
yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure.
"Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!
Even now my witness is in heaven;my advocate is on high.
My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a human being he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.


Job says even in spite of the hill of crap that I have had to go through my hands are free of violence and my prayer is pure! That is a heart that is centered and connected to God. Too many times I allow my circumstances to define my reality and because of that I miss the joy that can only come from Christ Himself. There is no doubt that in this life we will have problems, but Jesus said to take heart for He had overcome the world! May your prayer stay pure and may your heart find rest in God's grace and God's provision. God Bless You.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Do You Really Believe?


This weekend we had a guest speaker, Jeremy Kingsley, speak at all of our services at both campuses. Jeremy is an author, a true evangelist and the founder and director of One Life Ministries. Jeremy speaks to hundreds of thousands of people every year around the globe. He is one of the key speakers for Compassion International and he has a huge heart for God and a deep brokenness for the lost. Jeremy challenged our people to search their hearts and answer the question; do I really believe? Jeremy spoke from John 3:14. A really cool verse that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. I have heard many evangelists use John 3:16, but this was the first time that I heard one use this verse and tie salvation in with the story of God's deliverance of His chosen people the Israelites out of Egypt. I encourage you to go to www.summitlife.com and take a listen. It will be well worth your 30 minute investment.

Our staff and ministry council were fasting and praying this week for Jeremy, for our services and for all those who do not have a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. It was awesome to see the fruition of our prayers as many gave their lives to Christ this weekend. The Spirit was so thick and so powerful in each of our services. It was so awesome to see God move in and through the lives of His people. I left so encouraged and so thankful that we serve a God who is so merciful and so gracious that He desires that none should perish, no not one. I ask that you pray for all of those who made decisions this weekend. Please pray that God would continue to work in and through the lives of these individuals. Please also pray for our ministry that God would continue to lead us to fight for the hearts of every man, woman and child.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cool Moments...


If for some reason you are a person who has stumbled across this blog due to extreme bordem or unability to sleep you may have read at times my challenge to enjoy the snap shot God moments that unfold right before our eyes. This morning when I got back from the gym was one of those moments. Usually when I get home the troops, Mom, Max and Emily, are still in bed. This morning they were all in the kitchen. My kids were sitting at their table coloring in their books, yeah, that right, in their books, not on the wall, not on the cat, in their books. That wasn't the best part. The best part was my wife, just racing around the house with them because they asked her. My super wife, is not only an incredible friend to me and amazing support, but she is an amazing mother to our two kids.

Everytime I see my wife, Pam, with our kids it is a powerful reminder of how truly selfless and loving she is. Even at 7am with sleep still in her eyes she can lose herself and serve our kids, just because they asked her to race and she knew it would make them smile. The snap shot came in the realization that she has and continues to do that for me. When I told her God was calling me into full time ministry she quit her lucrative career job and became a teacher so that she could have the time to be more involved in my ministry. When I told her that I felt God was moving us away from the only place she ever knew as home, she encouraged me to follow God's leading. When I told her that God was telling me to leave the highest paying securest job I ever had to start a church, she said let's go. These are just some of the moments, there have been too many to list, but today when I heard my wife respond to our kids request as hard as it may be to believe I thought of all the times throughout our marriage, that in my own way, I have said "let's race", and she confidently grabbed my hand and we were off. To my beautiful wife, in the words of Max, let's race...I love you!

So if you are not asleep yet, and you're still reading let me encourage you once again to enjoy those snap shot God moments. I am telling you they are a jolt to the heart and fuel for the soul. Just a another crazy rambling! God Bless.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Ups and Downs and In-Betweens...


This morning I was reading in the Book of Acts. It's a great book. I always enjoy reading through Acts and seeing the movement, passion and zeal of the early church. This morning I was reading through chapter 14 and in that chapter Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra and when they arrive they see a lame man who had been that way from birth. The man was so in tuned to what Paul was speaking and in a quick moment Paul makes eye contact with this gentlemen and says "stand to your feet." Could you imagine that. This man has never walked before, and he was probably seen as an outcast and yet in that moment, through the power of God he jumps to his feet and begins to walk. Now you can just imagine the amazement on the faces of those who were there to witness this. They were so amazed that the crowd begin to chant "the gods have taken human form and have come down to us!" Yeah, they totally miss what has just happened, but it doesn't stop there. They begin to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes and they want to now offer sacrifices to them.

Now you would think this is pretty cool right, wrong! Paul and Barnabas tear their clothes run out into the middle of the crowd and try their best to instruct the crowd on where the attention needs to go, but even after their strong words of instruction it was difficult keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. If that wasn't bad enough a group of Jews show up win the crowd over and they go from cheering Paul as a god to stoning him and dragging him out of the city and leaving him for dead. I would say that is some serious ups and downs. But I love verse 20 "But after the disciples had gathered around him, he(Paul)got up and went back into the city."

Here were the take homes for me...

#1. Even in our successes don't allow people to raise us up. In all that we do we must make sure that all the glory goes to God, He is the only one that is worthy of it.

#2. Don't get caught up in the applause of me, because the very people that applaud you today can be the same ones that stone you later... It is much better to live for the audience of one!

#3. Even when we get knocked down we must be willing to get back up. Whatever it is that God has called us to we must remain undeterred and confident that "He who has begun a good work, will complete it! Don't give up!

Just some ramblings! Hope you have a great day and remember that in the ups, down and in-betweens God is there and He reigns. God Bless You.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween is not looking so good...

My friend Mike sent me this comic strip. I thought it was hysterical. Enjoy!
God Bless.

Halloween just may suck this year...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

TODAY...

This weekend was an absolute whirl wind of emotions. On Saturday morning I did a funeral for a 39 year old woman; faithful wife and mother of three. I received a call from her a couple of weeks ago asking me to speak at her funeral. She was very exact on what she wanted. She wanted me to clearly articulate the hope she had because of Jesus Christ and her deepest desire that her loved ones who had not come to know Christ would not wait another hour. She wanted every person who would attend her funeral to hear the Gospel and have a chance to respond to it.

It was incredible to me that this woman who knew her hour was fast approaching because of the brutal attack on her body due to pancreatic cancer, was concerned about her loved ones. She knew her future had been decided and she knew first hand that as the Apostle Paul stated to “live is Christ and to die is gain.” All that being said it was still tough to stand up at that pulpit and to see her youngest child just sitting on her daddy’s lap and weeping profusely and at the same time wipe the tears away from her dad’s eyes. It was a scene that just struck my heart profoundly. My heart and prayers go out to this family. May God’s grace that is sufficient for every circumstance comfort and strengthen this family during this time.


Four hours later I was marrying our pre-school director, Katie. Katie is not just a co-worker; she has truly become a part of our family. My wife has spent the last year and a half mentoring and pouring into Katie’s life. Katie has become like a big sister to our kids. It was a pleasure to marry Katie. We are so thrilled for Katie and Rob and I know God will do great things in and through their marriage.

Truly a whirl wind of a day. These two occasions got me thinking about how quick our time here on this earth can go. The Bible does state that tomorrow is not promised, that our lives are like vapor, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to take root, for some reason we live our lives as though tomorrow will be there and I will be around for years. I’m not saying this to scare us, but to wake us up. Today is important.

Today I must make sure that my wife knows that I love her more today than the day we stood in our home church exchanging vows. Today is the day that I make sure that I maximize every hug, every playful moment, every push on the swing with my kids. Today is the day that my family knows how blessed I feel to be a part of our their lives and how blessed I feel that they are a part of mine. Today is the day that my friends know that it is a privilege to share life with them. Today is the day to get on with what God has called me to. Today is the day to not miss the opportunities that GOD WILL present to me to be His extension and tangible expression of hope, grace and love.

What’s your today look like? I challenge you not to miss TODAY. I would not want to take this moment for granted by not telling you this, the greatest thing you can do with your today, is settle the issue of eternity. God loved us enough to send Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and be our sacrifice. If TODAY, you haven’t settled that issue, TODAY is the day of salvation. Grab Jesus today and let Him fill all of your TODAYS!

In first 1 Samuel chapter 20 it states this “Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between us and death."

Take a step TODAY toward Christ!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red-Neckin' It


I love my Fridays because it is usually the day that I just get to hang out with my wife and kids. Even though at times my kids can get crazy and loud and even annoying I love that Fridays we just get to hang out as a family. Today while my wife and daughter were shopping, my son, Max, and I went over to the wonderful outdoor world that is Bass Pro Shops. He absolutely loved it. He had a blast looking at all the fish in their giant fish tank. He went bonkers each time one of the fish just stopped right in front of him. It was awesome to see my son's face light up at the sight of these freakishly looking creatures. If that wasn't enough we ventured up to the second floor and played around in their tents. I was just waiting for it to collapse on us. Yup there we were ruffin' it. There is nothing like enjoying the great outdoors in the comfort of some nice cool AC. As we are laying in the cots in the tent a thought did pop into my mind; what if when Max gets older he actually likes this outdoor stuff then what? I am a city kid, I know nothing about fishing, hunting or camping, nor do I have an interest. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it, for now Bass Pro Shops is our place for some great outdoor adventure...Next week we're gonna see if they will let us test drive one of their four wheelers through the store and grill some dogs!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Calling ALL Prayer Warriors...


The below announcement and challenge will be shared this weekend at Summit. As a Leadership Team we felt that God was calling our people to a time of prayer and fasting. I hope that you will consider joining us in this time of personal renewal and corporate pursuit of God. Blessings to you!

Calling ALL Prayer Warriors…
We are in the midst of one of the most crucial times in our nation’s recent history. We are seeing all around us the effects of the stock market, job market, real estate market, and an overall down turn in our national economy that has not been seen since the days of the great depression. With one of the most important elections of our life time quickly drawing close it is so crucial that we as a body of believers seek our God in prayer on behalf of our nation.

Regardless of your political views or stance, we all can agree that what we need is for God to send His grace and mercy to heal our land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 states this “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That is exactly what we are seeking, healing for our nation and spiritual revival to sweep across our country for sake of the Gospel and for the glory of God.

Therefore, the Staff of Summit Church would like to encourage you to participate in our 10-4 FAST…

Beginning on Saturday, October 25, 10 days before the election and concluding Monday, November 3rd, the day before the election on the 4th we are hoping to have at least 10 people fasting and praying each day during this time. If you are physically able we would love for you to consider signing up and committing to fast and pray on one of these days.

Please stop by the Connection Center today sign up and pick up your prayer guide. We will gather at the University Campus in the main auditorium as a corporate body on Tuesday, November 4th from 7am to 8am to pray as a church. We serve a God of prayer!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

This morning I was reading through chapter 8 of Nehemiah and a verse jumped of the page and jolted my heart. I knew God wanted me to share it with my lovely wife and I did, but I began to meditate more on the verse as the day went on and what God showed me was incredible. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."

God desires that we experience His strength as we delight in His joy. That sounds so simple and yet so many times I lose sight of that. I fall victim to the business, the stress or just the general noise of life that chokes out or suffocates the joy that God desires that I delight in which would give me the strength to endure and win over these very things that seem to press in on me. The joy of the Lord gives us strength again it sounds so easy, but what is about us that does not believe this or does not live in this truth daily? I am not sure what it is for you, but for me it at times can be the trap that I am too busy doing for God that I miss just being with Him. No amount of doing will ever compare to just being, truly just being still and KNOWING that He is God.

Psalm 16:11 states this "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." God wants to lead us to the place of joy which is His presence and give us eternal pleasures that are at His right hand. That is awesome stuff and great truth that we as followers of Christ need to hold on to and baste in daily. Again, I know I am being redundant here, the joy of the Lord is your strength. As I meditated on that today here is one thing God said to me about delighting in His joy and therefore experiencing His strength...here it is. Don't miss the God moments!


I know that may not seem profound, but it encouraged me. I run almost every morning and as I head back home I see the effects of the sun rising in the east...that is a God moment...joy...strength. The same God who created that sunrise and causes that to happen daily, holds my life. This weekend my son, Max, initiated play with his sister all weekend long for the first time...God moment...joy...strength. A reminder that God is at work in my son bringing healing to his body and no diagnosis is going to trump God or rob my son of God's glory being seen in His life.

I'm telling you the list goes on and on and I know it does for you too. So here it is, yes once more, "the joy of the Lord is your strength." Did you catch that? It is your strength, not could be or it should be or even hope to be; no it is, but the fact is we must each experience this joy that leads to strength for ourselves. So my prayer for you is that today you would not miss those God moments. Just another rambling. God Bless!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things that are on my mind...


I have been truly slacking on my blogging as of late. My schedule the last couple of weeks has been insane. I thought I would blog about some of the things that have been on my mind these days. These are in no particular order...

#1. The Presidential race. To be extremely honest I am not really excited about either candidate. There is just something about each of these gentlemen that rubs me the wrong way and that leads me to believe that what we see is not really the whole truth...that's just my opinion. In any regard I will take full advantage of my right and privilege as an American and cast my vote. I hope you will too.

#2. The ever increasing down turn in our economy.
I have seen so many families in our church lose their jobs and homes as a result of our dying economy. I have been praying that God would use this time to bring about spiritual revival. It is usually in times like this that people begin to discover their desperate need for God.

#3. My kids...every day it seems like my children are changing more and more and growing up faster and faster. I can't help but to think about their future and about God's plan for their lives. I can't help but to think about my role and responsibility as their father. I desperately want to be a consistent model of God's heart and character to my kids.


#4. The Dolphins...that's right we're 2 and 2...because we're the Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins #1...we're in the air, we're on the ground, we're always in control and when we say MIAMI we're talking SUPER BOWL!!!

#5. Vacation...my family and I are scheduled to get out of town to enjoy a few days at Disney and attend the candle light vigil at Epcot. I also want to get away for a couple of days with my beautiful wife without our kids...oh, that would be nice right about now.
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#6. The future of Summit Church and my own role in the mission and vision of this ministry. God has done some amazing things in our short five year history and He continues to work in these recent days. I believe that the best and most effective days of our ministry are ahead of us and I believe that God is calling us to a greater commitment and greater dependency upon Him. It is going to be crucial in the next couple of months to get more of our people fully involved and engaged in the mission. It is really important to get more of our folks from being just spectators to being devoted players in this journey. I praise God and thank Him for all He has done, but there is still so much to do for the Kingdom and for God's glory.

#7. My personal walk with Christ...
the last few months God has really been dealing with my heart and expanding my mind. I feel as though God is truly molding me in this season and preparing me for the next leg of the journey.

15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." 16 This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Praise God...

Yesterday, while I was out of town, I received an email that was just one of those shots in the arm that can only come from God. It was a powerful reminder that God is alive and at work in the hearts of His people. It is things like this that give me such a great joy and remind me what a privilege it truly is to serve at Summit. There is still much to be done for cause of Christ and for the sake of every man, woman and child, but we would be remiss if we did not at times stop and celebrate and thank God for what He has done and is doing!


I don’t know what you all are doing at your church, but whatever it is, it’s working! You should be extremely proud of the members of Summit Church. We had 30 people show up, in the pouring rain, for the orientation class last night! 19 families signed up for MAPP class! And I don’t think that is going to be the final number. I just got off the phone with a member who said that they were not in a position to foster, but wanted to buy clothes and shoes for foster kids when it was needed! (I have chills and tears in my eyes as I type this.) Last week as we prayed for the weekend we prayed Ephesians 3:20 – that our God would do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we could even ask or think of. He did! I’ve been around churches all my life – my dad was a pastor, I served as a youth pastor for 10 years - & let me tell you something pastor, churches like Summit Church are few and far between. It is obvious that the membership understands the concept that “church” is so much more effective when it moves beyond the physical walls of the building. I’ve done church work long enough to know that the membership mirrors its leadership. If you have ever doubted the effectiveness of what you and your staff are doing, this response and outpouring should put that to rest. I truly believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. You should be very proud and very humbled by how your church has responded. Please share this with your staff. We look forward to a long & blessed partnership with Summit Church! To God be the glory!!

Chris Green
Director of Regional Ministries
Florida Baptist Children's Homes

Way to go Summit and way to go God!!! I pray that our people would continue to be faithful and obedient to the cause of Christ and to the mission that He has given us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In ANY case...

"In any case..." those are the words of Jesus that jumped off of the page this morning as I read Luke chapter 13. Jesus is going through the town healing and teaching and of coarse his enemies once again are not happy about the attention and acclaim that is coming His way. In verse 31 it states "At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to Him, 'Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.' Jesus replied, "God tell that fox, I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today, tomorrow and on the third day I will reach my goal. verse 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day-"

I just loved that response. Nothing could deter Jesus from His God-given goal. Jesus knew His mission and no amount of threats were going to keep Him from fulfilling His destiny. I looked at that and thought, I must become unswerving in the things that God has called me to do. If the Lord has spoken and the goal and mission is His than I must press toward the mark regardless of opposition and hardships I may encounter. The Lord is with us therefore we have no cause for fear.

Surely, today we are not being threatened by death over the things God has called us to, at least not here in the west, but what are some of the things we do face. Fear, doubt, faithlessness, discouragement, nay-sayers, and the list goes on, my prayer would be that in those moments and in every moment we would continue to abide in Christ, because in Christ we have the strength to do all things. So today, remember the words of Jesus, "In ANY case, I MUST press on today..." The Lord bless you and fill you with His presence and power. Keep pressing!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are You Blessed Today?

I am in the airport in Atlanta waiting for my connecting flight to Nashville. I spent some time this morning reading in Luke chapters 11 and 12. In the ending verses of Luke chapter 11 Jesus cast out a demon and the religious leaders of the day begin to accuse him of essentially being a demon himself. Jesus in a way that only He could do, quickly address the outlandish remarks by presenting truth and turning the tables on them. He turns their comments into an opportunity for his accusers and nay sayers to examine their own hearts. As a result of this exchange that Jesus is having a woman who is watching all of this go down yells out from the crowd..."Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." Jesus repled, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!"
I love that Jesus always points us back to the essential truth which is obedience. Hearing God and obeying Him is what leads to a blessed life. The Bible is consistent in this theme of hearing and responding to God, yet we struggle so much with this...well maybe you don't I know for sure I do. Why is that? There can be an exhaustive list of reasons why this is true, but I felt strongly that God revealed a couple of reasons to me this morning:

#1. I spend more time analyzing and justifying why it may be okay not to obey immediately to what God has spoken. It as I reason God's Word right out the window. How stupid is that? But when you read the Scriptures you see quickly that many of the men written about did the same thing. To no effect mind you.

#2. I read God's Word consistently but do not invest enough time internalizing it, processing it, meditating on it. To many times I read as a practice or a tool of study or even worse I read it and feel as though what I have read was clearly for someone else. Again, I know, I know, how stupid is that? Read John 21 and again you will see that I am in pretty good company when it comes to this brutal mistake.


#3. I do not take the time to see the pain that can come from my failure to obey God immediately. Let's face it how many of us ever think about the ticket we will receive if we break the law by speeding. That thought doesn't come to our mind until we see the lights behind us and we see the officer approaching our driver side window...yup been there too many times.

Again I could have listed many reasons, but these were the ones that God truly laid on my heart this morning. So, here's the question how are you doing in responding to God's Word? Are you obeying immediately? Are you still trying to reason it away? Well, I can't say it better than Jesus..."Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." If you've stumbled across these ramblings my prayer is that you would be "blessed" today. God Bless You!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy Week


So it has been an extremely busy and full week. Things at Summit continue to roll and there never seems to be a dull moment. Today was a great day of services, a little bitter sweet though. Jamin Stinziano, who is on our Leadership Team and is one of our Teaching Pastors will be moving to Naples with his family to help give leadership to our Naples Campus. It was a little weird not having Jamin lead worship today. It has been great to work with Jamin each weekend, God has truly formed a great partnership there. That being said I am extremely excited to see what God is going to do through this transition. I believe whole heartedly that God has some big things in store for both our University and Naples Campuses.

By the way if you haven't checked out our new website, please do so now: www.summitlife.com. We are still putting the finishing touches on the site but I am really happy on how it turned out. I would write more but the truth is I am exhausted and Milby and I have an early flight to Nashville today and for some stupid reason we thought it might be good to get one last 5am run in before we leave...yeah that's what I thought. Please pray for my fam. while I am away. God Bless You!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great Weekend


Well this weekend was a first of sorts for me. This weekend my wife taught with me in all of our services. We were in part two of our Desperate Household series and we were looking at the roles that the husband and wife are to play in the context of marriage as designed by God. As a teaching team we thought it would be great if Pam could speak to the role of a wife. It sounded really good in our meeting, but then I had to convince my wife. She handled it like a champ. This truly stretched her out of her comfort zone. Even though my wife has been blessed with an incredible voice and even though she is a part of our worship band and leads worship each week, she absolutley hates being in front of people. She tried hard to get out of it, but when it came time, she step to the plate and hit the long ball.


God anointed her and used her mightily in all of our services. I was up on stage sitting next to her just beaming, not because she did so well, but because I knew she is so passionate about living out her role as God's suitable helper and I know that she seeks to provide an environment where I feel respected. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible wife. She truly is a gift and I pray that God would help me to steward the gift and honor that gift accordingly. Pam, I love you and I feel so blessed to call you my wife. Thanks for teaching with me this weekend, but above that thanks for sharing your heart and life with me. You're an amazing woman, a wonderful wife and a terrific mom! Let's worship!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Celebrating Life Change


Sunday was our Beach Baptism. It is always a wonderful time as we gather and get to celebrate life change that could only come through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On Sunday we were blessed to baptized over twenty people. Every individual had a wonderful salvation story. It is always an encouraging time for our staff and for our church. It is a powerful reminder of what this ministry is to be all about. Baptism is this beautiful picture of the fruit of the mission of "presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child." I received this picture and email from one of the couples that were baptized on Sunday...

What an amazing day for us!! I can't put it into words really. I do know that I am very Blessed and thankful that we are a part of Summit. It's hard to think about what my life was like for the 25+ years I lived prior to coming to Summit last Fall. WOW is all I can say...and that is all thanks to my Savior Jesus Christ. Chris and I both have changed so much...when people ask what is different the only thing we can say is that we have Jesus. Well thank you again for everything. We are so excited about the new life we have been given and what is in store.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Awesome Day...


This morning was Summit's First Autism Speaks Golf Tournament. It was an awesome day. A small group of unbelievable kind hearted people along with my wife, Pam, worked hard for three months to pull this golf tournament off. They did a terrific job. Last year our church participated in the Southwest Florida Walk Now for Autism event. We had over 400 volunteers and walkers. Through God's grace and generosity we were able to raise over $25,000, but above that we were able to be a visible representation of God's grace to our community. Well our team believed having a golf tournament would be a great way to kick off our team and extend our influence into our community. We had over 120 golfers, 32 sponsors and God was gracious enough to allow us to raise over $10,000. It was a beautiful day of golf on one of Florida's toughest Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses, Old Corkscrew. As a dad of a child with autism and as a pastor I once again stood in awe of our people being the church. It continues to be an extreme privilege to be a small part of God's mission and vision of bringing the Gospel to every man, woman and child. It truly was a great day, even though my team was by far one of the worst out there...Jeremy, Jorge, Loren, you guys are awesome...on behalf of my son, Max, thanks for playing, in fact thanks to everyone who played, gave and continues to pray. May God return it to you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Convictions...


My bible reading plan has me reading through Daniel now. I read Daniel chapter one and two. A few months ago we taught through the first 6 chapter of Daniel in a series we entitled "Stand". As a staff we felt as though it was a good series for our church and for us personally. That being said it was good to start reading through this book again. What jumped out at me in chapter one is the very familiar verse that many of us know; verse 8 "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself..."
I love that. Daniel decided to take a stand. Daniel decided that it would be better to trust God with his life and follow the Lord with all his heart. That is essentially what this verse is saying. Daniel in the most challenging of circumstances decides to stand on what he believed. He had conviction and commitment.

A lot of times in the Christian faith we say we have some convictions, but what it turns out is that we have some legalistic stance or jargon that if the truth be told we would compromise at the drop of a hat. I know at times I can be guilty of that. Conviction in the Christian faith I believe should be so much more than just my stance in opposition to something, but moreso my belief and trust in someone, that someone being Jesus Christ. I think that is what maybe missing in our society. Our "conviction" speak louder to what we are against rather than point to who we serve and worship. I want my convictions of course to line up with biblical principles but I also want them to lead to life change and point people to Christ. I want my convictions to be so rooted in who I am that I won't compromise them for anything. I want my convictions to be fueled and sustained by the ongoing presence and power of the Holy Spirit and not a week to week sermon or gathering. Daniel stood on God and he was willing to face the consequences. You could take the man from his homeland but you could not strip him of his commitment to an almighty God. That is awesome! So today I pray that God would help me and cause my heart to "resolve not to defile myself..." If you've stumbled across this rambling, I hope you will pray the same for yourself. Don't settle for religion, that will never lead to a life of commitment, but to a life full of compromises. My friend, Todd, always says there is no power in a compromised life! God Bless You.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weekend in Review


This weekend we had Nate Larkin the author of the book "Samson and The Pirate Monks" as our guest speaker in all of our services at both of our campuses. Nate did a great job sharing his personal story of addiction and the power of God's redemption. He talked about the danger of living in isolation and he challenged our people to understand that Christianity is a team sport. It was a powerful weekend. We had a special gathering for men on Sunday night that we encouraged our men to come back for. In that setting Nate had the freedom to speak more openly and frank about his personal battle with addiction and the dangers of addictions in general. I was so encouraged to see so many of our MEN come back. We had roughly 250 guys show up. That wasn't the most encouraging part, the best part was that we had over 70 men sign up to be a part of a Samson group.

Over the last two days we have had several men call, email and come by and say they no longer want to live in the dark. It has been amazing. God is moving and people are responding. We have challenged our people and have told them that Summit is and will be a safe place and I have been encouraged by how people are putting us to the test. I know this is only the first step, but nonetheless it is a step and I pray that this would be something that leads to life change, freedom and God's ultimate glory. I am so tired of the enemy sniping out and nudering our men. If we our going to see a move of God in our community and in this generation then we need some men to get the stones to deal honestly with their junk, pick up their cross, die to their crap and follow Jesus with tireless vigor. Please join me in prayer to that end. Just a rambling, but one full of conviction and expectation. God Bless!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Snap Shots

This week I have been blogging about some of the awesome God stories of the past year. So here is another one of my personal favorites from the last year.

Walk Now for Autism...Last October one of small groups got together and decided that they wanted to do something to live missionally. One of the ladies
in the group heard that the annual Southwest Florida Walk Now for Autism event was coming up and she thought it would be great if they all participate. They also wanted to walk in honor of our three year old son, Max, who is living and fighting with autism himself. When my wife and I were informed of this we of course were overwhelmed and felt extremely blessed, but we thought it would be more appropriate if the group would walk in honor of the other eight families in our church that have a child with autism.

From there a lady in the group thought it should be a church wide effort. Well in a few weeks we had over 400 of our members volunteer and participate in the walk. They also raised over $25,000 for Autism Speaks. It was awessome to see our people serve our community and be an expression of God's hope and love. My wife and I were certainly blessed and so proud to be a part of such amazing people who strive to live missionally for sake of the Gospel and for the glory of God!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Look Back Continued...

Yesterday I made reference to the fact that Septemeber is the start of a new calendar year for our ministry and that this weekend we will actually celebrate our five year anniversary. What I wanted to do this week is just post about some of the amazing God stories and snap shots of God's faithfulness over this last year. It has been a joy to serve God at Summit and be a part of this incredible journey.

At Summit Church we have four core values: God, Truth, Love and Mission. Our hope is that our people would truly embrace and center their lives around these values. We believe that as we do that their will be five outcomes that will be evident in our lives and will flow out of our lives. Those outcomes are; Intimacy with God, Qualitative Distinctiveness, Grace Story, Spiritual Giftedness and Stewardship of Life. Back in October we did a series entitled "Hi Def" where we spent time explaining and unpacking each of these outcomes. It was a great series and we had a great response.

During the week we were teaching on Stewardship of Life, we received a phone call from one of our local ministry partners, Interfaith Caregivers, that there food pantry was extremely low and they were in desperate need of help. What we decided to do at both campuses was end our services early and tell our people that today was an opportunity to be the church and to live out the outcome of Stewardship of Life. They had no prep, no warning. Every person received a list of items needed. Well the people of Summit responded. We cleared Publix out! It was awesome. We not only filled the food pantry for Interfaith Caregivers but three other local partners as well. Our people invested over $30,000. The managers at Publix were absolutely blown away. That one act has opened up a great door with Publix for future community outreaches and it also served as a statement to our community that we truly do desire to be a blessing to our community and an extension of God's hope and grace.

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God...Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share." 1 Timothy 6:17-18