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


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

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Look Back...

Today is September 1st and today marks the first day of a new calendar year for Summit Church. Yesterday Jamin wrapped up our eight week series entitled "The Invitation." Throughout this series we have been walking through God's mission and vision for Summit Church. Jamin did a great job of closing down the series and challenging people to consider what their response to God's invitation would be. He challenged people to send us an email if they were in and ready to go. It has been encouraging to read some of the emails that have come in thus far. It is always awesome to see and hear about what God is doing in the lives of His people. This weekend will mark the 5th year anniversary of Summit Church. It has been an incredible journey. My wife and I feel so blessed to be a part of this ministry. God has taught us so much through this journey. As I look forward to another year and as we believe God for some big things in this new year I can not help but to reflect back on this past year. I thought I would share some of my favorite snap shot moments of the past year of our ministry...

* The first Sunday in our new facility! Back in September of 2008 we moved into our own facility. Before we ever had one official service,
Summit was given ten acres of prime realestate to build a facility on. We thought it would be years before something like that could ever happen, but God had other plans. In just four short years God made a way for us to build our own facility. We have always down played the building in hopes that our people would never see the facility as a destination or they forget the fact that the church is NOT a building. It has been great to see our people not lose their missional mindset and heart as we have made the move into our own facility. The building has been a true blessing and the reason why it will always be a powerful and memorable snapshot for me, because it will always serve as a reminder of God's faithfulness and amazing provision. Many thought we were crazy to begin a stewarship campaign only a year and a half into our ministry and many thought we were just plain stupid to think we could raise essentially 3 million dollars with just over two hundred people to get the project started; we thought we were just being obedient. It was amazing to see God's people respond and to see so many give sacrificially for the sake of the mission and for the glory of God.