Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Queen Bee...

Okay, seriously how adorable are these girls? My buddy Jamin sent me this picture the other day. The beautiful little girl holding the giraffe is my daughter, Emily and the other two precious little ones are Jamin's daughters Ellie and Cianna. Jamin is not only a close friend, and co-worker, but he is also my neighbor.

God in these recent days has me really praying specifically for my family. In fact I have a huge white board in my office and I have begun to make and keep note of the different passages of Scriptures that the Lord lays on my heart concerning my wife, my son and my little queen bee, Emily. And although my daughter is not even two yet, I was praying this morning for her relationships. I was praying for the friends that she would have and seek to make. I began praying that she would be catalyst in the midst of her friendships and I prayed that she would never allow herself to be swayed negatively.

As I prayed for Emily I could not help but to think back at my past and reflect on the many different occassions I failed to be a positive influence in the lives of those around me. I also thought about how weak I was in my character before I met Christ and discovered the life He desired me to live. If the world I grew up in was tough, what about the world that my children are going to grow up in. I know and believe that "greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world", I just pray that my kids would discover and experience that for themselves. Until then I guess I will enjoy watching my little girl run around in the yard with her other little friends...oh how I wish I could just freeze those moments, especially when I think about some punk kid showing up at my house to take my little girl out on a date---but that's a whole 'nother post!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If You Have Faith...

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20-21

My wife and I had a great discussion over this passage a couple of days ago and we both are still searching our hearts and the Scriptures to fully understand what Jesus was truly saying in this passage. If you are not familiar with this passage, here is a quick synopsis...A man comes to Jesus and ask Him to have mercy on his son who suffers the effects of being demon possessed. Jesus steps up, rebukes the demon and the demon comes out of the boy and the boy is immediately healed. The passage goes on to say that the disciples took Jesus privately and asked why couldn't we drive the demon out? Jesus' answer was simple, you lacked faith.

At first glance and first read it is a pretty simple passage, but if you stop and examine it and allow the Spirit of God to illuminate the power of this text, you may be surprised to what Jesus may show you. I have recently been convicted of my own lack of faith. I have been confronted with the fact that at times I can go through all the right and proper Christian disciplines and still lack the faith that truly declares that there IS a God in heaven who is mighty, glorious and is more than sufficient to meet me where I am. I am not exactly sure what the disciples did to try to cast this specific demon out, but one thing the text is very clear on is that Jesus said they lacked faith. I have been asking myself this simple question...where is my faith? I think at times my faith has rested in me and what I could do, I know that is a sad commentary, but it is true.

Jesus in this passage says that our faith in who He is what can move the mountain. I think I fall into the trap of trying to move the mountain on my own. What is encouraging is that Jesus states that faith as small as a mustard seed, not as large as a tree, or elephant, but even the smallest, sincerest and deepest amount of faith can yield great fruit. I guess my question to you, if by some chance you've stumbled across this rambling is, what mountain are you currently facing? Do you believe that God is who He says He is? If you do, then ask Him to move it? I can tell you that right now I am asking God to change my perspective of the mountains in my life. I am asking Him to cause my heart to see it from His view and His power, because I know when that happens these mountains that currently stand in my path will begin to look like ant hills. I'm not saying that I am fully there yet, but I believe God is causing my heart to make the proper strides. I am continuously asking God to increase my faith, who knows maybemy faith will one day GROW to the size of a mustard seed...a humbling thought.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another Addition to the Team

The staff and Leadership Team are really pumped as we believe that God has led us to the right man to join our team and serve as the Campus Pastor for our Naples location. His name is Jay Richardson and he comes to us from the great state of Texas. Jay is a dyanamic leader and a very effective communicator. He and his wife have two beautiful daughters. We are so thrilled to have Jay joining our team. They are in town this weekend hoping to find a home in the Naples area. Our prayer is to have Jay and his family here by April 1st. We believe strongly that Jay will help us to solidfy our Naples Campus and help us to grow our influence, presence and service in that community. Last week was the one year anniversary of our Naples Campus and we are truly grateful to God for the things that He has done in and through that ministry. God has brought together a wonderful team of lay leaders who understand and reflect the mission and vision of presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child. I am really excited to see what God is going to do in the coming months for His name and fame. God is so good!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I'm the Biggest POSER!

My trip out of the country has been a great one thus far. Our training of church planters here in country have been going extremely well. This group that has assembled here have come from all over the country to gather, to learn, be encouraged get connected and get send out to do the work of the Gospel ministry. I have been so impressed with the quality, depth and commitment of the leaders here. They are extremely genuine, passionate and humble. Yesterday I was with a group and we were discussing the difficulties, the oppression and the spiritual and physical attacks that these men have endured.

One gentlemen told me that just a few weeks ago as he was approaching his church some men who have hassled him for quite some time and who have set out to really disrupt what he is doing attacked him. They beat him with stick, cut him with a machete and threw stones at him as he was running away. As he was running down the street bleeding and in fear for his life, he felt as though the Lord was saying "you're running the wrong said your life belong to Me, you told me you would pay the cost to bring the Gospel to every man, woman and child." I know what you're thinking because my jaw dropped to the ground. So he turned around and told these men, if you need to kill me, kill me, but this service is scheduled to start in 20 minutes and I need to open the doors of the church and preach. The men left him alone. A few days later the same men gave their lives to Jesus Christ and are now worshiping and serving in that very church. At this point I was just sitting there thinking I am the biggest POSER...I'm here to do this these trainings and I have no idea truly what it means to risk all, leave all, give all for the sake of the Gospel. I can tell you that I am leaving this place with a deep conviction, brokeness and new understanding about the call to follow and serve Christ...I'll tell you more later!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Great Day...

Today we concluded our series entitled "In God We Trust?". It was a great day. The people were engaged through the time of worship and I was encouraged to see our people respond to the call to live lives of generosity. We asked our people to sign up to give blood next week as a tangible expression of living out the threshold of stewardship of life. Also as we closed down this series we asked our people to give to the clean water project that we are partnering with in Cambodia and in Kenya. For less than $20 we can provide a family with a filtration system that will give them access to clean drinking water. We have been so blessed in this country and it is so easy to take things for granted. You and I can go at any time of the day turn the faucet on and get clean water. There over 1.1 billion people in the world today that do not have access to clean drinking water and as a result 210,000 kids die each week because of mass malnutrition. Today we sought out to try to change those statistics by partnering with the clean water project. I was so proud of our church for responding so generously.

In 1 Timothy 6 it states...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, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

It truly was a great day and I would be less than honest if I did not say that I am pretty tired. Tomorrow I board a plane to an undisclosed region of the world to join a couple of other pastors from the US to train church planters and pastors. We can not disclose the location of this trip because the Gospel in this region has endured oppression and persecution, yet through it all God continues to move in huge ways and the church of Jesus Christ is powerfully advancing. I always feel privileged to be a part of trips like this, but my heart is always heavy because I hate leaving my wife and kids. I pray that God would give me a renewed sense of energy, I pray that our time there in country will be fruitful and I pray that my family will be safe while I am away. I would covet your prayers...The Lord Bless You!