Thursday, July 31, 2008

Big Weekend

This weekend is going to be a busy and big weekend for Summit. For the last month we have been gearing up for Project Backpack. Through the grace of God and the generosity of the people at Summit we were able to collect enough funds to purchase and put together 750 backpacks full of school supplies. We plan on distributing some of the backpacks to the schools surrounding our University and Naples Campuses. A large portion of the back backs will be distributed this Saturday at our Back 2 School Bash event. We will have a couple of radio stations out at our property, 3 bounce houses, cotton candy machines, pop corn machines, ice cream, and tons of give-a-ways. It should be a really fun event. The best part is that it is all free for the community.

I am so proud of our church. Once again they stepped up in a huge way. I love that our people get it...that they understand that we are here to be a blessing and not a holy huddle. It is so good to be a part of a church that desires to engage the community and proclaim the greatness of God. We are praying that this event goes off well and that it truly is a blessing to the families in our community. Hats off to the wonderful people of all are amazing!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Please Pray

I just got home from the hospital a moment ago. I was visiting a young man who attends our youth ministry, Crave. He was in a serious motorcycle accident yesterday in Ft Myers. He is quite an impressive young man with a huge heart. He broke his fibbia and tibia and severed two of the three arteries in his leg. There is a strong possibility that they could end up amputating his leg just below the knee. I would encourage you to please pray for God's healing and God's grace to abound. Overall the young man was in very good spirits. He was pretty discouraged at the thought of not being able to join the Marines and serve his country. Even in the midst of all this you could not help but sense the Spirit of God in the room and in this young man.

During my visit a group of guys representing the Christian Motorcycle Association of Ft Myers showed up. They were all great guys and they were extremely encouraging. It was great to see the body of Christ be exactly that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

God is My Healer

Tomorrow morning my father-in-law will be having surgery to deal with his cancer that was discovered a few months ago. Anytime you talk about surgery there is always an uneasiness that can develop. No matter how much the doctors can say that the surgery is routine, the reality is that anything can happen, but of coarse we serve a God who is greater than any cancer, any illness or anything else that may threaten our lives. We know that because of Christ we are more than conquerers. The doctor's will have a better idea of what is happening once they do the surgery. We would covet your prayers for Pam's, father, Pierre. He truly is a godly man. He is a loving dad, faithful husband, an amazing grandfather (PawPaw) to his 6 grandchildren, a wonderful father-in-law and a powerful example to me. My father-in-law has taught me so much, especially in the area of being a dad. I love watching him interact with my kids and how quickly he would drop anything he is doing to chase my son around the house or give him and my daughter another "ride a little horsey ride" on his knee. He is even like that with my wife, not so much with the little horsey rides, but he always shows genuine interest in her life and he is always there to show his love, support and appreciation to her. He truly is a special man. We are trusting that God in His grace and power would reign over this situation and that in it as well as through it He would glorify Himself.

I spent some time praying for my father-in-law this morning and just lifting him up to our Great Physician, our God Healer. I know that nothing in all of creation can trump God or thwart His plans. This morning I was also reading someone else's blog and I came across this site Hillsong is coming out with a new album on August 5th one of the songs on the album is "Healer". The song is incredible and the story behind the song is powerful. If you have a moment it's worth clicking on the link and listening to the song and watching the video. It is a powerful reminder of the fact that God is our Healer! May we all take comfort in that profound truth, that God is our Healer. Whether it be cancer, sin, hopelessness, emotional brokenness, anxiety, depression whatever the case may be God is powerful enough to heal...God Bless You!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

God is My Salvation

Yes my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock and my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8

I spent my morning at the hospital sitting with the parent of one of our Summit members and a friend of my wife and I. This gentlemen is in bad shape and dying from an acute form of lung cancer. As a pastor these types of visits are always tough to make. You never really know exactly what you are walking into and even though you fully understand that God is sovereign and in control there is always still an ounce of trepidation at least for me. I spent about an hour reading the Scriptures and praying for this gentleman. They have him in a sedated state but I could see his heart beat rise as I read to him. I have never met this man prior til today and I do not know anything about his walk or standing with the Lord. As I sat by his bed side and prayed for him I pondered on how frail life truly is and how quickly it can pass. One of the Scriptures that I read to him was the one posted above Psalm 62:5-8. I could not help but to hope that these verses were part of this gentleman's life song. I also reflected on the fact that they need to be mine.

God is our only salvation and our only hope. He is the only rock and refuge that we can go to in the midst of life's storms. Trusting in God at all times is not just an option, but for the child of God it should be THE OPTION and it should be the posture of our heart and life. Reflect on these verses some more and if today you are in a relationship with God through the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, then thank Him for the hope, refuge, strength, and salvation that He alone provides and gives. If for some reason you stumbled across this collection of ramblings then my prayer is that you would discover for yourself the precious and power gift of God revealed in Jesus Christ. This life is frail, don't waste it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things I am not enjoying so much...

Being that today is Wednesday of aka "hump day" I figured I would whine just a little bit. A few days ago I listed some things that I am enjoying in this season of my life, well today I figured I would share some of the things I am not to crazy about right now. These are in no particular order. Enjoy!

#1. So called RAYS fans. The Tampa Devil Rays have always been one of if not the worst team in baseball since they joined the league. But all of a sudden they find themselves in first place and it's like a whole new band wagon of fans have started climbing out of every rock and want to talk smack to me because I am a YANKEE fan. Seriously!!! Let's get real, Major League Baseball doesn't give out mid-year trophies, banners or rings. Rays fans settle down and let's see how the season play it's self out. I'm sure in the end we will see why the Yankees have 26 rings and the Rays, well just suck...

#2. Pastors who preach and teach a distorted prosperity Gospel. I think these men and these types of churches and ministries have been one of the most destructive tools used by Satan to attack the move of Christianity. Now I totally understand that God has already won the battle and the war and that all victory is His, but this watered down distorted Big ME, little God Christianity that seems to be so popular is enough to make me sick. I am pretty sure that God has a special place in hades...for these imposters...

#3. Chick peas...sorry babe and by babe I mean my wonderful wife who has changed our lifestyle dramatically. I just can not get into the chick peas. I know they have tons of protein and their good for my body, but they look weird and they just don't taste good.

#4. Mike Savage...national radio host---who said on the air the other day that basically autism was pretty much a sham. Apparently Mr Savage believes that autism is a fraud! He believes autism is just being over diagnosed and families are just trying to squeeze money out of the federal government. ( Wow what a Beavis...Mr Savage do some research or better yet sit down with some families whose children live and suffer from this disease everyday. My wife and I can tell you first hand how real autism is and how little the federal government provides in way of assistance. I have a suggestion for Mr Savage, if you are running out of topics to talk about on your show, why don't you open up the air waves to the topic "why so many Americans think that you are an absolute *%$#@," well you fill in the blank. Just a suggestion, settle down... All kidding aside if you go to the link and listen to the blurb, you will see how desperately Mr Savage needs Jesus. My heart is more broken over that fact than it is upset over what he stated in what I believe is absolute ignorance.

#5. My Achilles tendon...I hurt my Achilles a little over three weeks ago. For fear of further injury I stopped running until recently. My runs have been horrible. I have lost a lot of time on my pace and I still do not feel very comfortable. It almost feels like all the training I have done to this point for the marathon has been lost. I am scheduling an appointment for an MRI and I'm praying that it will come back fine.

Now hear is the great thing, though these things and a whole host of other things bother me. God is still good! This morning I was reading in Psalm 84...
How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,...11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 LORD Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you.
So if you are having trouble getting over the "hump day" ask God to help you reflect on His goodness and grace today, and thank Him for it. Remember that because of what Jesus Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection we who have trusted in Him will only know the hell of this bring on the chick peas...just kidding. God Bless!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Great Sunday

Yesterday was a great day. We had a powerful time in our services. We are in week two of our series entitled "The Invitation". Our hope and aim for this series is to give our people a clear understanding of the mission that God has called us and invited us to. Our mission statement at Summit is..."Summit Church exist to glorify God through presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child and connecting them into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and with others." Last week Jamin unpacked and defined according to God's Word what the "church" is and also what the unique vision God has given to Summit is. Yesterday I spoke on "glorifying God". It was a huge challenge for me, because the glory of God is something that is so amazing and so huge that it is difficult to put into words. The bottom line yesterday was that God is most passionate about His own glory and our only plausible response is to live for His glory and reflect it to the world around us.

Last night we hosted a get together for about 60 men from the church to come and hear Nate Larkin speak. Nate is the author of the book "Samson and The Pirate Monks." If you are a male and have not read this book, do yourself a favor and go get it right now. In this book Nate shares his story and he is ruthlessly honest. I am not going to tell you too much about it because I do not want to spoil it for you, but in the opening chapters he talks about his experience the first time he picked up a prostitute...on the way to preach at his church's Christmas Eve candle light service. Yeah, it's that honest, and it maybe easy to read that last statement and think what a scum bag but the reality is that we all have sinned an fall short of the glory of God and we all are in continual need of God's grace. Nate's book will challenge you to take a long hard look at your life and at those sins that can so easily entangle us. I repeat if you are a man and have not read this book, go get it today or better yet drop me an email and I will give you a copy! Anyway all that being said, last night the thrust was to challenge men to not live in isolation but in brotherhood. A man who is not accountable to another runs a huge risk to fall into a whole lotta crap...It was really good to see and hear Nate share his story with such transparency, humility and conviction. Nate will be speaking at Summit the weekend of September 6th and 7th at both the University and Naples Campuses. We will also be hosting a dinner on Sunday night for men only where Nate will deal ruthlessly and openly on the subject of pornography, lust and sexual addiction. We are praying that God would use this weekend to draw men out of the darkness of sin into His marvelous light.

I was really encouraged to see our men engaged last night. Our prayer is that last night would serve as a strong springboard for the launch of some Samson groups, which are basically accountability groups for men. I have seen so many good hearted Christian men fall due to the lure and trap of sexual sin. What of the Scriptures that God has used in my life to remind me of what I am to do to stay on the path of holiness and not fall victim to sexual sin is 2 Timothy 2:22

"Flee the evil desires of the flesh and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

It's clear that God calls us to RUN FROM those things that are destructive and RUN TO those things that will truly satisfy as well as RUN WITH those who also desire to honor God with their lives. I am thankful for God's grace in my life and for those He has placed in my life to run this race of faith with. Hope you are running well today and I pray that you are running with others. God Bless!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

S.O.A.P. are you using it daily?

Here at Summit we have four core values that we pray as believers we would build and center our lives around God, Truth, Love, and Mission. We believe that as we strive to build our lives on these values there will be five natural outcomes: Intimacy with God, Qualitative Distinctiveness, Grace Story, Spiritual Giftedness, and Stewardship of Life. We know that as believers what is essential to walk and spiritual growth is Intimacy with God. Pursuing God as our greatest treasure and disciplining ourselves to have unhurried time with Him daily is vital to living a God-filled and God-centered life. We have challenged our people to start with spending 15 minutes a day three days a week in prayer and in the Word. Now that may seem like a low goal but it's not an ending point it's a start. We believe that as people engage God and begin to taste and see how good God is for themselves a natural hunger and thirst for the Word will develop.

Recently I have been praying hard for our church and praying that our people would truly engage God through His Word. I believe that whatever God is going to do in the world He is going to do through all of His people. If that is the case then we must strive to ensure that we are not growing shallow rooted and biblical illiterate Christians. Rather, Christians who think rightly about God and who have a true passion for His glory and His renown. I think it would be powerful if the people of Summit, those who have trusted Christ as their Savior, could say as Jeremiah stated "when I found Your Words, I ate them; they were my joy and my hearts delight, for I bear Your name, Lord God Almighty." (Jeremiah 15:16)

I know that reading the bible can be intimidating and even at times a little boring, but most of that comes from a lack of knowing where to start or what to do. This fall we hope to encourage our people to use a journal that will help them with a reading plan, as well as with bible memorization and also help them in walking away with daily application from what they read. I am currently using the Life Journal and I am considering suggesting to our Leadership Team that this be the journal we endorse and encourage our people to use. Each day I read two to three chapters from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. As I read through the passages I am encouraged to look for lessons to be learned, examples to be followed and promises to be enjoyed. At the end of the reading I am challenged to write down the main Scripture that spoke to me, then write down the Observation from that Scripture, then write down how I will be different today because of what I just read (Application) and then write our a Prayer. The acronym to use in remembering this simple system is S.O.A.P. Anyway here is my encouragement to you, if you are not currently consistently seeking God and engaging Him through His Word start today. Start small and ask God to give you the discipline, the desire and the faith to build on that. Every day we miss our appointment with God we miss the greatest thing of that day. Eat those Words and may they truly become the joy and delight of your heart because the truth is as Christians we do bear His name and that comes with a great responsibility and it is a huge privilege. God bless and good reading to you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What I'm Enjoying Right Now...

As I was driving my son to school this morning in a massive rain storm I was reflecting on some of the things that I really am enjoying right now. I thought I would capture some of those things in this post. These are not in any rank or order. Hope you enjoy.

#1. My time with God. I know that sounds churchy, or you may even say well he's pastor of course he is going to say that. But the honest truth is right now I am truly enjoying my personal quiet time with the Lord. I feel like God is really dealing with my heart on things in my life that need to change as well as showing me great things He desires to do in and through me. My time in the Word has been challenging, convicting and refreshing.

#2. My relationship with my beautiful wife. My wife, Pam, is absolutely amazing. She is wonderful in so many ways and I become more addicted to her as the days go by. One of the many and ever growing list of things that I love about our relationship is the laughter...

#3. My two kids Max, and Emily are a handful, but they are also a bundle of energy and joy that I can not seem to get enough of. Their smiles, laughs and even innocent cries just penetrate my heart. I love being a dad and I thank God for the amazing gift of children. It seems as though every day with them is a memorable moment that I don't want to miss.

#4. Hallelujah friendly pancakes...My wife has changed our life style completely. We are now disciples of the Hallelujah Diet, which basically means we hard core vegans. Yup, no meat, fish, chicken, dairy or refined sugar. It actually has been one of the best decisions that we have made. We both feel better than we ever have. That being said there are some things that I still crave and miss (almost like Pookie from the movie "New Jack City"). Well, my wife found Hallelujah approved pancakes...everything in my world is now different!!!

#5. My Job...not only am I blessed and privileged to be in full-time ministry, but I also get to work and serve along side of some of the best guys and gals I have ever had the pleasure to know. Working at Summit has been a phenomenal experience!

#6. Biking...I am sooooo addicted to biking right now, that I am even watching the Tour de France and actually enjoying it. One of the guys who are a part of Summit gave me one of his road bikes. A sweet Quintana Roo! It is a sweet ride and a great workout. I can not wait for my first duathlon.

#7. Tropical Smoothie...because of this new lifestyle change at times it is difficult to find places that we can eat and foods that we can actually enjoy. Well, God has provided Tropical Smoothie which is a stones throw from our offices. They have the best veggie veggie wrap and smoothies you have ever tasted. It is so good it will make your tongue slap your brain two times. I should buy into the business with the amount of jack I throw down in that place. I am pretty sure that by now I could of opened one myself. If you have not been to Tropical Smoothie yet, do yourself a favor and go right now!!!

Just some of the things I am enjoying right now. Life is good and God is great! Just a random blog. God Bless You!

Monday, July 14, 2008

God is SUPREME...

Colossians 1:15-23 (Today's New International Version)
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

This morning I was meditating over this passage of Scripture. It is one of the most vivid and strongest passages that depict the supremacy of Christ. SUPREMACY---highest in rank, order and authority. God is supreme, there is no debating that. He is the center of everything. He is the one that holds all things together. He is and forever will be King of all. Humbling thoughts, and the more I read this passage the more humbled I was in my heart that God in His grace chose to reconcile me back to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. He did this not because I was worthy of it or even deserving, but because He is merciful and loving.

God will never relinquish His supreme rank or authority. He is sufficient in Himself, He is glorious and He is mighty. Yet so many times in my life because of my flesh, my pride and my ignorance it's like I am wrestling God for position and for the right to sit on the throne. How stupid and how silly. All the idiotic decisions and mistakes I have made stem directly from the fact that I have failed to acknowledge God's Supremacy. I think about every area of my life as I read verse 17 "in Him all things hold together." I looked up the word "all" in my cool Greek lexicon and guess what it means "ALL". God holds every area of my life together, from my job, to my relationships, to my ministry, to my family, everything God holds together. To fail to acknowledge that fact daily is detrimental to my spiritual walk and life and I have already experienced the effects of such disobedience and sin. I know it sounds corny but He truly does have "the whole wide world in His hands." (come on now you know you want to sing it..."He's got the whole world in His Hands...")

I pray that God would cause my heart to acknowledge His supremacy and cause my heart to bow to it instead of bow up to it. If you get a chance meditate over these verses and may they challenge your view of who God is and may they help you in your daily walk and worship of Him.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesus was amazed at him...

This morning I was reading Luke chapter 7 and something just jumped out at me and got me thinking and reflecting on my walk with Christ and my faith in Him. The beginning of chapter 7 is about the faith of the centurion soldier. This man was well respected in Capernaum and a man of high authority. Jesus had gotten word that the centurion's servant was very ill and the people urge Jesus to go see the servant and beginning in verse 6 we see what happens...
6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." 9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Verse 9 just jumped out at me this morning...Jesus was amazed at him. What was Jesus amazed by? Well certainly this man's faith, humility and high view of who Jesus is had to be some of the things that had to catch the Master's attention. I couldn't help think about my life. In this season would Jesus be amazed by my faith and my view of Him. If we do live for an audience of One, shouldn't we strive to amaze, bless and honor our King? But, I guess the reality is that at times I'm too busy living for myself or living to impress others that I forget that fact. Pride and ignorance can be such a damaging thing and at times I struggle with both. I am grateful for God's continual grace in my life. I pray that the Lord would fill me a new each day and would cause my heart to try live for Him and Him alone. May my life in this season amaze Him. So how are you doing in amazing Jesus? Just a question, but a question that's worth reflecting upon. God Bless You.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


One of the greatest gifts that God has given to me aside from salvation has to be my spouse. I am so blessed to be married to the woman if my prayers, hopes and dreams. My wife, Pam, is an absolute joy. This morning I read an article entitled "What Makes A Happy Marriage?". The article was actually pretty good. It listed several components that contribute to a happy and healthy marriage. Obviously above everything else a blessed marriage is one that is centered and grounded in Christ. That should go without saying, but there were some other qualities that you can say flow out of that commitment that I think are important as well and that were identified in the article also:

Prayer...Prayer is one way to show our dependence upon God. God's wisdom, guidance and protection is so needed if our marriages are going to flourish as God desires. Praying for your spouse, praying for your marriage and of course praying with your spouse are all extremely beneficial practices that we need to be committed to.

Commitment...In this day and age where divorce has become the norm instead of the rarity we must fully understand that the vows that we made to our spouses we also made to God. We must recognize that we made a vow before God, and we must believe that God's plan is for us to remain together forever.

Laughter...The ability to laugh at ourselves or our situation allows us to keep things in perspective over the years. Sure we argue from time to time, but the overall theme of our marriages should be joy and laughter.

Talking...No doubt this may sound cliché, but the secret really is communication. Lack of communication at best says, We don't need to talk, we already know everything about each other. How arrogant! A lifetime isn't enough to fully understand each other. At worst it says, I don't think my spouse is worth the effort of trying to understand; I've given up. It's only a short step from there to, We have nothing in common; we might as well end it. So we must really make a point of keeping up the talking!

Forgiveness...The bible states that "love keeps no records of wrong". The unwillingness to forgive can become a huge deterrent to a healthy and happy marriage. Being willing to extend grace to your spouse can be one of the godliest things we can do in the context of our marriage.

Serve, Serve, Serve...Seeking to serve your spouse and meeting their needs before your own can bring a beautiful culture and climate into your relationship. If Jesus the Son of God served others, than how could we not be willing to serve the gift that God has brought into our lives, our spouse.

This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are a ton of things we could add, but it did get my mind thinking about my marriage this morning and about the areas I need to sure up with God's help. Our marriages have great purpose and weight to the Kingdom of God. Our marriages should be a declaration to the world about the power of the Gospel and the glory of God. This morning I could not help but to thank God for my marriage and to ask for His power and wisdom to strive to be the husband He has called me to be.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just Another Random Post...

Today in our staff meeting we had a wonderful time just sharing passages of Scripture that the Lord has been speaking to us through and shaping and challenging our hearts with. It was a rich time capped off with a time of worship. It was encouraging to hear what God is doing in the hearts and lives of the guys and gals I serve with. It is an amazing team that God has brought together here. I love that every person on our staff truly desires to honor God with their lives and does pursue intimacy with Him as their greatest treasure. One of the things that God is speaking to me about in this season is about emptying myself. Emptying myself before Him and understanding my dependence and my constant need for Him. It has been a humbling thing, but a refreshing time as well. This morning the Lord drew me to Psalm 18. David penned this after being delivered from Saul and his enemies hands.

"I love you Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise and I have been saved from my enemies."

My prayer this morning was that I wouldn't wait until I was on the run or in some cave or ditch to come to my senses and realize that God is my strength, my stronghold, my fortress, but that every day as I learn and pursue to love Him more I would live in that reality. I pray that I would recognize that every moment and every day of my life the Lord is worthy of my praise. God continues to save me from my ever growing list of enemies...whether it be pride, lust, disobedience, doubt, fear, you name it, my deliverer continues to show Himself mighty and for that and so much more I am grateful. Anyway, just another rambling, but ask yourself the question "what is God teaching me right now through His Word?". Don't keep it to yourself, share it with others. God Bless!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Max

Today is our little guy Max's third birthday. Happy Birthday Max! You are a constant joy to your mother and I. There is so much we hope and pray for your life. No greater prayer could we ever have at this moment for you than for you to come to know Christ as your personal Savior. We pray that as God grows you in stature and wisdom that He also grow you in love and understanding of who He is. We know that God has great things in store for your life. Your story though very early has been written and will continue to be written by God. A little over three years ago your mother and I were ready to go on vacation with your Papa and Memaw to New York City to be a part of Billy Graham's last crusade in Central Park. Just days before we were to leave we received a call from a very courageous 19 year old young lady who was willing to make one of the most selfless decisions, and that is place you in our lives in hopes to give you a better life. Words can not express how over joyed our hearts were. It was the answer to years of prayer. Your mom says it best "you were not made by us, but you were certainly created for us." We pray that as you grow you will embrace your adoption as God's story and you will come to realize that as children of God we all are adopted into His family.

We had just over two weeks to prepare for your arrival. What joy filled our hearts as we rushed around the city to get everything finalized for your adoption. The waiting in the hospital was absolutely crazy. Your mom and I prayed, we talked, we laughed, we cried, we could not wait to hold you, to take you home, oh and we also watched the Yanks who were playing the Indians that day and won...(don't worry you and I are going to spend a lot of time talking about Yankee Nation...). While we were in the waiting room the passage of Scripture that the Lord led me to was Acts 17 where it is written that Paul and Silas had turned the world upside down for the sake of the Gospel. One of my constant prayers for your life has been just that. That you would live a life as big as God is that will turn the world that God places you in upside down for His glory and His renown. Your name Eliott Maxwell has great meaning. Eliott means "close to God" and Maxwell means "righteous". May those be qualities that will always be seen in your life as you grow and mature into the man God desires you to be.

Max 18 months ago you were diagnosed with autism. It has been a long road for your mom and I, but God is faithful and we know that nothing in all of creation is greater than Him. We have already seen God's mighty hand at work in and through your life. Max, your life inspires your mom and I so much, and God has used your story in great ways. With everyday that passes we see more of God's healing and grace in your life. Your smile is contagious and your laugh fills our hearts. We will never stop believing that God will have victory in your life.
Today as you turn three and as the days to come follow we want you to know that we love you. We thank God for you and above all we pray that you will come to see for yourself that God loves you too and He has demonstrated that love by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for your sins. Happy Birthday Max!!! You are my best friend, try not to say that in front of Jamin too much, he's sensitive (don't worry we'll talk about that too...). My advise would be to be nice to Jamin especially since it is evident you have quite a crush on his daughter Ellie.

We love you Max. Thank you for teaching your dad so much.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace." Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Intimacy with God

This weekend I had the privilege to share God's Truth. We had a stand alone weekend in between two series and Jamin Stinziano who lays out our preaching schedule gave me the opportunity to just share what God was laying on my heart. Over the last several weeks now over 1200 churches across the country participated in the "One Prayer" series. Some of today's most respected and recognizable pastors in North America were asked to record one sermon that would explain what their one prayer for the church would be. I began to think about that challenge and I began to discuss that with some of the guys on our Leadership Team, and we were all in full agreement that our one prayer would be that those who have trusted Christ as their personal Savior would pursue intimacy with God as their greatest treasure and hold it as their highest value. You see everything in the Christian life flows out of that. I believe that the greatest benefit of the Gospel is not that we don't go to hell, although I am truly grateful for that, the greatest benefit is that we get to enjoy God forever! God is the gift of the Gospel and we don;t have to wait until we die to enjoy Him. Jesus in His prayer in John 17 said "this is eternal life that they KNOW the one true living God and Jesus Christ whom you sent."

The key passage that I felt God led me to was Isaiah 26:8 "Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for You, your glory and renown are the desires of our heart." It was a great time of study for me, because this is where I want to live everyday. A life that is surrendered to the will and purposes of God and a life that longs to bring honor and glory to King of Kings. I have been faithfully praying that God would give me a passion for His name and His presence and the discipline needed to pursue Him. David said in Psalm 27:4 "One thing I ask of the Lord and one thing I will seek that I may dwell in the house of the Lord and behold His beauty and meditate in His temple." Not sure where your walk with the Lord is today or how your heart burns for God's glory, but as I said my prayer for myself and for the church that we pursue intimacy with God as though it truly was our greatest need, our greatest treasure and our greatest delight. I'd write more but the Yankees are on...hey baby steps, baby steps...the Lord bless you.