Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"By Faith..."

This morning I spent my quiet time with the Lord reading Hebrews 11, a very familiar passage, deemed by some as the "Hall of Fame of Faith." The writer of the Book of Hebrews list some of the giants of the faith who in the Old Testament were used by God in some amazing ways. The introduction to each of the different men and women listed start with two simple yet profound words "By faith...". I spent a good portion of the morning reflecting on those two words, "by faith...". Faith, a great word, a word that is essential to our walk with the Lord, a word that as Christians we would say is crucial we embrace and yet on so many different occasions in our lives we abandon. Now we don't abandon it entirely per say, in the sense we don't have faith any longer, we abandon it, in the sense that we misplace our faith.

The key to the success of those written about in Hebrews chapter 11 is that their faith was in the Lord. In the midst of prosperity or in difficulty they remained steadfast in the promises of God. Now don't get me wrong, they failed, they were at times tripped up, but in the end they centered themselves in God.

By faith...I just continued to allow those two words to sit on my heart and mind and I began to reflect on this season of my life. What is it that God is calling me to? What mountains are currently standing in my way? What dreams and visions are at risk of not coming to fruition in this season of my life? And above all of that, what will be my response to these things? Will I cash in, give up, seek to place my faith in something else, or will I hold on to the promises of God. By faith...the Bible says.

I have been doing some serious praying in regards to our church and ministry lately. Six years ago a small remnant of people by faith...stepped out to start a church that would engage the culture and the world. God quickly grew that remnant and after 2 and a half short years by faith...300 people sacrificed their own resources to build a permanent facility that would serve as a launching pad for greater ministry. Shortly after that a small segment of people by faith...set out to start another campus in Naples. Since day one by faith...the leadership of Summit, thought it was as important to be committed to the world as it was to their own four walls, so from day one has decided to give a large portion of their resources to expand the vision of every man, woman and child in many different formats. In so many different ways and in responses to so many different what seemed to be overwhelming challenges, the people of Summit Church, by faith...acted in response to God's leading and saw the move and the glory of God in amazing ways.

Today our ministry stands at yet another crossroads with another challenge in front of us...and my prayer is that just like in our history that in our faith...we will respond. By faith...we will not shrink back! By faith...we will continue to pursue God with reckless abandonment. By faith...we will continue to partner with existing churches in our area and plant new churches and campuses to reach every man, woman and child. By faith...I pray that we will continue to strive to be a generous church, that holds ALL of its resources with open hands, sharing it as God leads us to. By faith...may this expression be defined and be led.

The fact is God's Word states, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

I challenge you to take a spiritual inventory and complete this statement for yourself and for this recent season of your life..."by faith________?" What do you need faith for right now? What is it that God is calling you to do? And is your faith truly in the One who called you and who has saved you? Just a rambling, but worth a thought. God Bless.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Truly a great night with the fam. Saw Santa, had dinner, raised havoc. Max did such an awesome job. Love those snap shot moments. Autism sucks but God is good!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Going Away Party

Yesterday the staff of Summit threw a going away/appreciation party for my wife, Pam. Since day one of Summit my wife has played a huge role and an integral part of this ministry. In fact outside of the members of the Leadership Team up until yesterday, she was the longest tenured employee we had. And as grateful as I am for her hard work in keeping up with and maintaining the accounting for our ministry and for the many ministries we are connected with, I am much more grateful for a wife who has always supported me and encouraged me to do what God has called me to do.

The office for me will not be the same, but I am absolutely ecstatic that my wife will have the liberty and margin to be more engaged in the lives of our kids, in our community and in the lives of the women that God has placed in her path. I am so thankful for a godly wife.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's My Name?

So the other day my wife and I were laying in bed with our kids getting ready for the day and I turned and asked my son, Max, "what's my name?" and he replied "HUN!" My wife and I laughed and laughed. Over the last couple of days I have reflected not just on my son's response, but more so on my wife's amazing influence and example over our children. Why did my son respond, with "HUN" because he has heard his mom call me that throughout his life span. Now before you cast that off as no big deal, think for a moment. There are many wives out there that do not honor their husbands and I have been blessed with one that does. Just as easy, my son's answer to the question, what's my name?, could have been, chump, idiot, loser, good for nothing, but the fact remains he has copied his mom's example. Now at some point we'll have to tell him that my name is actually Orlando, but for now I celebrate the blessing of a wonderful life whose life speaks loudly to our precious kids.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Emily!

Happy Birthday Emily!!! Today you are three and yet it feels like yesterday that your mom and I were driving you home from the hospital. You were God's divine yet unexpected blessing to us. After your brother's miracle adoption we thought maybe it would be awhile before another door like that would ever open again. Boy were we surprised that after only 15 months God would bless us again with you. Your birth parents made a courageous choice and for that they have our respect and gratitude and one day when you are older I am sure they will have yours as well. My prayer for you and Max is that you would always see your adoption as God's story, because it is and He has some amazing plans for your life.

Emily, I have nicked-named you the Queen Bee, because you command attention. You have so much personality and spunk in that little body of yours that it keeps my mind running on what God is going to ultimately do in and thru you. You are an absolute joy for your mom and I. You keep us laughing and smiling and every time we have the opportunity to hold you and be still our hearts and amazed by the goodness of God seen through your little life. I pray every day for your salvation, your future which God holds, your husband who better not be a chump and your kids who I hope I will still have energy to spoil, but as I do that I pray daily that God would cause my heart not to miss a moment!

I pray that as you grow you would understand the depth of God's love for you and the amazing salvation that He has provided for your soul. I pray that God alone would shape you and mold you and that He would give your mom and I wisdom to raise you rightly and grace to live out His character in front of you. We love you very much. You are an incredible blessing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Greatness of God

I have a friend who constantly challenges me to not miss the greatness of God around me. As followers of Christ we know that we serve a God who is most passionate about His glory and loves to display it to all humanity. It is as we gaze on the glory of God that we discover our depravity and begin to understand that nothing or noone can satisfy like God. So this morning I began to just reflect on the greatness of God and how in this recent season He has been positioning me to see and experience His glory. I was overwhelmed.

My wife, Pam, and I had the privilege to lead a team of 14 others on a mission trip to Iquitos, Peru. This is my 3rd trip in 9 months and every time I am there I see God's hand at work in amazing ways. This trip was no different. In the midst of deep poverty I saw the power, the beauty and joy of the Gospel. I talked with families that from a worldly perspective have absolutely nothing, but have found Christ and have joy that nothing in this world can compare to. I was so convicted by the evidence of the Gospel in these individuals who have discovered the true meaning in Psalm 73:25 "Whom have I in heaven, but you O God and I desire nothing on earth more than You!" That is the greatness of God.

This past weekend we ended all of our services early at both locations and we challenged our people to "be the church" and go to Publix and shop for groceries in an effort to help stock the local food pantries in our area. I was overwhelmed by the response. Our people invested over $35,000 and helped to stock four food pantries. That is the greatness of God...His activity in the lives of people, creating movement for His mission.

There was so much more that God brought to my heart and mind this morning and the challenge was clear, don't sleep walk! Be aware and attentive to my activity, to My greatness, to My glory! I pray that you will see the greatness of God today...don't sleep walk! Just a rambling. God Bless!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Prayer of Thanks

God I thank you for Your continual grace and mercy. I thank You for the many who made decisions this weekend to trust You as their Lord and Savior. I thank You for the amazing stories of life change. I thank You for the many men and women who partner with us in this mission. I thank You for their willingness to lay down their name and lose themselves in Yours. I thank You for our staff and for their humility, burden for the lost, passion for Your glory and commitment to Your Truth.

Father I pray that for those who accepted Your free gift of salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that You would continue to show them Your reality and grow them in their new found relationship with You. I pray that we as believers would steward the gift of grace well and seek to dispense grace in the lives of those you allow to cross our paths.

Father I am amazed at what You are doing in and thru Summit Church, but I pray that we never forget that its not about our church, but the Your Body. I pray that we do not forget that its not about filling a building but fueling a movement of people that live on mission. I thank You Lord for allowing us to finishing our fiscal year ahead of budget. Thank You for Your incredible blessings. You are amazing. Father may Your people continue to steward their resources faithfully and may we as Your church continue to use all You have given to us in a manner that reflects You and furthers Your Kingdom. Father I am so excited about the days ahead and I pray that You would continue to pour out Your Spirit and lead us on to Your agenda. You are mighty to save Father and I thank You for continuously moving the mountains. I love You Lord. Amen.

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just Thoughts...

My lack of discipline in updating my blog, is not due to having nothing to say, but due to not having the time to write it. And since I am at the mechanic for the third time in five days, I thought I would take the time I would spend sitting frustrated and use it to post my frustration...just kidding! These are just random thoughts, there is absolutely no rhyme or order to them, they are just the thoughts of a husband, father, pastor, friend and follower of Christ...

- I am absolutely in love with my wife. Every season of our lives together gets sweeter. I love watching God work in her and thru her. I love that she loves of kids selflessly. I love that she supports me in ministry. I love that she is quick to give me grace. I love the way she loves her friends. I love how she pretends to be interested in the Yankees simply because she knows I am.

- Speaking of the YANKS- I love that they are playing better, even though they had a tough lost last night. I love that their high price tagged players are starting to come through. It should make for an exciting fall.

- I love my kids. My son and y daughter are an absolute joy. I love how they can make me laugh, cry, drive me crazy all in the same moment, but I wouldn't trade a thing. I love spending time with them together and individually. I love watching them and wondering what God's plan for each of them are.

- I love the team I get to serve with at Summit. I love the fact that they are committed to the mission, to their call and to one another. I have never been around such a wonderful group of humble and hungry folks that care so much about the lost and about the glory of God.

- I love my friends. I love the guys that I get to do life with, that care genuinely about me, my family and my walk.

- I have a big problem with people who talk behind my back but share it as a prayer request...that's just lame.

- I love the people of Summit. My heart leaps for those who are running hard after Christ and my heart breaks for those who continue to be enslaved by their sin.

- I love the fact that our church is growing...that is awesome, but I can't help but be cautious, because the growth that we are after goes way beyond how many people are sitting in our seats. The reality is that any monkey with a suit and charisma can draw a crowd, but only the Spirit of God can bring life change and create movement.

- Pray Lee County has been a personal blessing to me and I have loved hearing the stories of others who are committed to praying for our city over 40 days.

- I am extremely restless about the future of our ministry. We have a huge God-given vision and we will be facing some God-sized challenges in this next year. And I am praying that our faith will remain in God and not in ourselves.

- I love that the Leadership Team of Summit is staying hungry for the future and are not desiring to pull back or even worse stop because of uncertainty or worse fear. I love these men's courage, leadership and faith.

- I am broken for the marriages that I continue to see that are in trouble, and I stand in amazement of the ones God is bringing restoration and healing to.

- I am grateful that God continues to break me and expose me to my sin, my pride, my faithlessness, and my hurts but it is so needed.

- I love that this weekend I get to do the wedding of a young couple who attend Summit and on the same weekend do the renewal of vows of one of my good friends.

God is good...and I pray that He is at work mightily in and thru your life. God Bless.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Running for Max

I wanted to take this moment to once again thank all of you for your support of me running in the New York City half-marathon in honor of my son, Max. Your prayers, encouragement and donations to Organization for Autism Research mean more to me than I could ever express. After my son's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder two years ago I took up running as a form of great meditation, prayer and reflection. I felt strongly that I could take my love for my son, Max, and my new found love for running and do something proactive with it. I discovered the Organization for Autism Research and the awesome work they are doing in funding research, helping families and bringing public awareness to this growing epidemic. Today 1 in 150 kids are diagnosed with this disorder. Two years ago our little boy did not talk and lived in a world of his own, today with treatment, the love and support of friends and the grace of God, our boy, Max, is enjoying life as a toddler should. We have a long way to go, but we are grateful for God's grace and the progress we have witnessed.

Your financial support, however large or small, is helping change the lives and future of thousands of kids. I may have been the one running, but WE were making a difference for the cause of autism. Pam and I are extremely grateful to each of you for your continued prayers and support of our little boy. The bible says that "he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed...", you have certainly refreshed us and we pray that God in His grace will in turn refresh you. I will keep on praying, continue running and continue believing that God is not done working in and through the life of our son. If you do not mind I would love to keep you informed of future races, and as always please feel no obligation to contribute, but please do keep the prayers coming. We love you and thank God for you. God Bless You.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Real Man

This week has been absolutely crazy. Trying to catch up from being gone has been nuts and in the midst of all that striving to get ready for this weekend's teaching has been challenging as well. This weekend in our G-3 series we will be dealing with men and talking about stewarding our roles as husbands. I have enjoyed studying, reading, praying and meditating over this topic. I feel as though God has really been exposing my heart to certain areas of deficiencies as well as showing areas of His grace and glory at work in different areas of my life. I am praying that God will speak thru me this weekend and that men are ready and willing to receive what He has for them.

A verse that God has really used this week to shape my heart, meditation and preparation for this weekend is 1 Corinthians 16:13...
"Be watchful, stand firm in faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."

Man, I have been meditating on that verse all week long. I want to live like a real man, I want to be a man who stands firm in his faith and does everything out of love for Christ and genuine love for others. When I think about my precious, beautiful, amazing wife and my two precious kids, I can't help but believe that they don't deserve anything less. My wife and kids deserve a REAL MAN for a husband and a father and sure the world has polluted what a real man is, but the Scriptures are clear...a real man looks lives and loves like Jesus.

That's my prayer...God cause my heart to live and love like your Son. Grow me in every way, shape and form to live and act like a REAL MAN. May I abide in you and may my wife and kids benefit from the overflow of who You are and what You are doing in my life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week in Review

Extremely thankful for the time away with my family. The vacation could have not come at a better time and even though I am seriously going to pay for it this week, it was well worth it. Our time in Deepcreek, Maryland was absolutely enjoyable. So grateful to our friends, Kelly and John for opening up their home and making it possible for us to get away. The kids had a blast. It was awesome to see Max and Emi on the tube, and for their first plane ride they did amazing.

White water rafting, tubing, knee boarding, laser tag, we had a full week of fun. My body is so sore, but my spirit and mind feel extremely refreshed. I am grateful for a wonderful family and "super friends" that I get the blessing to do life with.

God truly spoke to me during this time away and I am still processing all that I believe He has revealed, but one thing is for sure, this fall is going to be quite a ride. I am glad that today is Fast-Forward, Summit's church wide prayer and fasting day, because it gives me yet another opportunity to pray and reflect on what I believe the Lord has spoken to me about. What I believe at this point is that there are going to be significant strides in my family, in Summit and in my personal call. I pray that my faith will be ready for the challenge and my heart willing to make the needed sacrifices.

This morning during my quiet time with the Lord, I read this verse which I thought was extremely appropriate...
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

So I have committed to actively wait for the Lord to reveal the next steps and have asked Him to continue to mold my heart to say yes. The journey is worth it and the view of His glory as we engage fully in God's activity is always life changing. May your waiting lead to engagement. Just a rambling...God Bless You!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sitting @ the food court of the Carousel Mall in Syracuse, waiting for Pam to finish shopping. Its been a great trip. Jordan & his kids are doing well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Max!

Happy Birthday Max! What a joy and gift you are to us. We can not believe that it's been four years since we have brought you home from the hospital. We continue to stand in awe of God as we watch Him write the script of your life. From the very beginnning when we got the incredible call from your eight and half month pregnant birth mom who asked us if we were interested in adopting you, to your finalization when we were awarded full and final custody of you up until today everyday has been a powerful reminder of how blessed we are to have you in our lives.

Max you have brought so much joy to our lives. You have taught me so much about the love of God, the glory of God, the goodness of God and the faithfulness of God. There have been so many twists and turns over the last four years, yet through it all God has shown us that He is mighty. In April of 2007 your mom and I took the longest two hour drive of our lives as we drove home from All Children's Hospital after your diagnosis of autism. It shook us to the core. I remember taking you to the park when we got home and pushing you in the swing and just weeping as I looked into your eyes and saw that huge smile of yours. I can't believe how much God has done in you and through since that time. Your progress, your development, yourgrowth is nothing short of a miracle. Autism sucks but Max our God is good. The reality is that no diagnosis could ever rob how special you are.

When you were in delivery your mom and I waited in prayer and great expectation. On the day of your birth the Lord led me to Acts chapter 17 where it speaks of the Apostle Paul and Silas being men who literally turned the world upside down for the cause of the Gospel. I felt in that moment that the Lord said to me, that the same would be true of your life and Max I have seen that to be the case in so many ways. Your story, your heart, your life has touched many and has created movement for the cause of Christ.
If nothing else, know this Max, your life has changed mine completely. You, have caused me to look at God differently, to examine my life differently, to measure success differently, to prioritize my time differently and you Max have caused me over these last few years to celebrate everything in my life and recognize it as the very blessing of God. Max, you are so special, not because you have been diagnozed with autism, but because you were created by Almighty God and because He has a huge divine purpose for your life. I look forward to seeing how all of it unfolds. Your mom and I pray for you every day and we feel extremely privileged and blessed to have you in our lives. Happy Birthday, we love you!

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10

Monday, June 29, 2009

Birthday In Review

Yesterday was my birthday. It is amazing how quickly time flies. It felt like just yesterday I was a youth pastor in Miami telling my seniors that I wasn't that far removed from where they were and now I'm 36 and far from cool, not that I ever was. I'm not hung up on my age at all, because God thru recent events has been really showing me the importance of celebrating today and maximizing the moments He gives us. I got to say that yesterday was one of the best birthdays I have had in recent memories. Not because I got an expensive gift, or because there was a huge party thrown for me, but because God reaquainted me with how blessed I truly am.

I have been blessed with Godly parents, who kicked off my birthday singing to me over the phone, not a little happy birthday jingle, but a Christian blessing over me. They both shared how daily they pray for me and my family and for God's will to be done in my life. They shared with me how proud they were of me. As I drove to church I realized how blessed I was to have the parents that I have. Parents that love and model Jesus. They were and are not perfect, but I'm telling you that I never saw two people sacrifice more for their kids than my parents. Barely a high school education between the two of them, yet they never complained. Worked hard every day to insure that my brother, sister and I could have every opportunity available to us.

I went to church and for the first time in some weeks I was able to sit back and worship. I did not have to worry about having to bring a message, but I had the opportunity to just sit under the authority of God's Word and be convicted, refreshed and challenged. In that moment I realized how blessed I have been to be a small part of such a wonderful, thriving and amazing ministry. I have been so blessed to be a part of a Team of men and women who love Jesus and who are so willing to lose their names to live for His. God you are so good.

All day yesterday, I received calls, text messages, twitters, facebook posts, from people wishing me a happy birthday and some sharing some kind words that just humbled me. I had students that I taught when they were just in 5th grade who are now in college, students from youth ministries that I pastored over, students that my wife and I coached in cheerleading, friends from long ago, new friends, church partners, family members and some kind words from some of my closest friends. I was absolutely blown away and blessed. I realized how gracious God has been to allow me the opportunity to share life with so many different people and learn so much from so many of them.

Lastly, I got to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids yesterday. They continue to be the greatest blessing in my life aside from my salvation. It was awesome to see my kids tear into the gifts that their mom had purchased for me. It was so funny to read my wife's ridiculous card, and because I know minors read this blog, I will have to save you from the details...just kidding. The topper of the day was the last gift my wife gave me. They were pictures of her for my new office. She had done a photo shoot with a young lady who is like a daughter to us. Man, I was so blown away on so many different fronts. First, this is not like my wife at all. She does not like to stand out in any way, shape or form. She would much rather be in the background. So for her to do this for me, I truly felt loved. The other thing that got to me, was as I marveled at her outward beauty, I was tearing up just thinking of how beautiful she is inside and out, and how blessed I am to share life with my best friend. It has been an incredible 12 years with the woman of my prayers. I continue to be amazed by God's activity in and thru my wife. She has sacrificed so much, given of herself in so many different way and has been so selfless that I pray daily that I never take her for granted, but receive her daily as God's gift to me.

Yesterday, was not about gifts, it was about reflecting and celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God. Truly a wonderful, wonderful day, even if I am one step closer to hair in the ears, chester draws and my hair falling is ALL GOOD!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Long Day At Animail Kingdom

It has been a great day at Animal Kingdom. It felt like 100 degrees outside, but it was awesome to have the time with my family. Emi and Max had a blast! They are quick out the gate, but they don't have much stamina. They were both out once we got them in their strollers and headed to the car. Besideds the blazing heat, it really was a wonderful day. I have been so blessed with two wonderful kids and an amazing wife. I love these opportunities to get away and connect as a family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"YES, Lord!"

This past weekend I was given the privilege to teach as we continue our series entitled "Mixed Up, Messed Up, 'Fess Up-The Kingdom and The Book of James." It has been a great study for me personally and I believe that our church has been really challenged by level of application in this Book and the urgency of it as well. This past weekend we concluded chapter four where James gives a strong word against making plans without acknowledging God. James gives a strong challenge to all of us to consider the time that we have been given and to recognize that our lives are nothing more than vapor. The reality that we live in each day is that tomorrow is not promised and so as Kingdom Citizens we need to maximize the moments God has given us. We need to live each day in appreciation, and in obedience. The challenge we threw out to our people was to over the next seven days wake up each morning and tell the Lord "YES". To declare to the Lord that whatever He made lead us or command us to do our answer was "YES!" We challenged our people to commit Isaiah 26:8 to memory..."YES, Lord walking in the way of Your Truth, Your glory and renown are the desires of my heart."

The text messages and emails have not stopped since the services ended. People have taken the challenge seriously and many have already experienced the blessing, pleasure and power of surrendering each day to the Lord and saying "YES" to Him. For my wife and I it happened just hours later as we felt God's leading to be His extension of grace and blessing to a friend in need. The stories that I have heard so far have been awesome. I pray that we will continue to strive to use the moments that God gives us to glorify Him. Have you told God "YES" yet this morning? Don't delay, tell Him that your life you willing place into His hands for His service. Don't miss out in experiencing the pleasure of is amazing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great Weekend Away...

I enjoyed a great weekend away in South Carolina for my niece's graduation. I wished my wife and kids could have joined me, but I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with my folks, my sister and brother. I haven't seen my brother and his family in over a year and the same goes for my sister and her family. It was great to hang out and enjoy each other's company. One of the things that I love the most about my family is that when we are together you can always bet there is going to be a lot of laughing. The family that laughs together stays together, that's not biblical or tested but its worked for us. Having times like we did this weekend have been less frequent than any of us would want or hope for, but I was glad that we did maximize this wonderful reunion. I am grateful for godly parents, a wonderful older sister and a great big brother.

I am proud of my niece who graduated high school this past week and whose
accomplishment brought us all together. I pray that God will continue to move in and through her life. As she begins this next chapter of her life, my hope is that she will hold fast to Christ and allow Him to guide her steps daily. My nephew also graduated middle school, which if you remember that time in your life is no easy feat. I look forward to see what God does in his life, I can't help but to believe ministry is going to be a part of his future. His heart is bent towards it, it is truly awesome to see. I am also blessed with a five year old niece, who is hysterical. I can not believe how big she is getting. She is so smart, beautiful and has such a wonderul personality. I enjoyed my time watching her play, listening to her talk and interacting with her. God may you continue to bless my little niece.

It was a great weekend and again I thank God for my family. I know at times it is so easy to over look or even take our families for granted, I would challenge you not to. Enjoy the times you have with them and make sure you tell them how much they mean to you. Just a rambling...God Bless!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Things I am Enjoying...

I am sitting at the airport right now with a great fear that my plane is delayed. So with this new found time that God has given me...(that's my spiritual way of not trying to get upset at the fact that this plane is late)I figured I would throw up a quick blog. So here are a list of things that I am enjoying right now...

#1. My Family...I thank God for my amazing wife and beautiful kids. I am in awe of God's activity in my wife's life in this season. Every time I turn around I see more of His grace and heart pouring out of her life. Her growth, hunger and passion for God challenges me. I love watching her lead God's people in worship because I know it is not show, but an overflow of her own desire to sit and baste in the presence of God. A year ago my son was communicating thru signs and had a limited vocabulary, today he is using 4 and five word sentences and is more and more apart of our world. Autism you suck, but my God is good and He is bigger!!! My daughter is an absolute pistol. I can watch her play for hours. Her imagination and spirit for life is contagious. I can't wait to see what God does with our little fire cracker.

#2. Reading...I am not a good reader, but I understand the
importance of it to my personal growth, so I try my best to remain disciplined. The last three books that I have read have challenged the heck out of me. Currently, I am reading "The Real Church" by Larry Crabb, great book! My time in the Word has been fresh as well. God continues to wreck me with His Truth and remind me of my absolute need for Him. I am praying that God would continue to give me a pure hunger for His Word.

#3. Kodiak Cakes...yup, Hallelujah Diet friendly good it'll make your tongue slap your brains two times. My wonderful wife, made them for dinner the other night and I can tell you it is almost idolatry for me. I am trying to get her to make a Kodiak Pact with me that states that we have them every Monday night for dinner...I'll keep you posted.

#4. Ministry...things at Summit continue to move forward, because of no other reason than God's grace. God has really been working in the lives of His people in this season. The stories of life change have been so encouraging, and our staff continues to gel and work as one unit, with one heart and one aim. I personally feel God is currently stretching me and preparing me for something new. I have no idea what it is, but I continue to ask God to prepare my heart for it.

#5. The Yankees...come on you knew it was coming. The greatest
baseball team with the greatest history is back in first place with a share of the leagues' best record. I don't know about you, but it seems to me like all things are now right in the world...just kidding. I don't know what it is, but I have already been able to watch more Yankee' games this season than I did all of last year. I am blessed!

Ramblings of a man stuck at the airport...I pray that you are taking time to enjoy the many blessings in your life and thanking God for His grace and goodness in the midst of all of it! God Bless.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Celebrating the Wins!!!

As many of you know I am a blog stalker...I love reading blogs of people I respect and leaders I learn a lot from. This past week, one of the blogs I frequent, Craig Groeschel, shared about the growth that has taken place in his life as a leader, pastor and follower of Christ. One of the things he humbly blogged about was the complete change in his attitude and outlook on how he measures success in ministry today. If you know anything about Craig Groeschel, than you probably know that he is a gifted communicator, innovative leader, really good author and one of the voices that God is using to bring effective change to today's church culture...and to top it off he leads a HUGE church. But, what I respect above all that is his humility. I have read every book Craig's written, I have listened to several of his messages and have even been at conferences where he was one of the premier speakers and I have always sensed a humble spirit. In his blog he wrote about how today he is not measuring success by how many people show up on the weekend or how much money came in the offering but how many lives are being transformed and how they are investing back into the Kingdom. As I read that I began to think about what were the success markers that I could be celebrating and thanking God for today. The key here is these are the things that I see God doing in the lives of His people and in and thru His Church.

#1. There are two guys at our church Joe and Mike who lead a Samson group every Thursday night for men. Every time I have sent a guy to that group I quickly get a response from them about how these guys have been a blessing and real help to them. Men pouring into the lives of other men and living below the surface...yeah, I'm going to say that's a win! Praise God.

#2. We have a retired couple that instead of spending their lives on themselves they would rather invest their time and resources on those in need. So what they have done is mobilized our people to give of their resources to bless the ever growing transient migrant community that live just south of our church. Every other weekend this couple Rick and Mary Alice deliver items and invest themselves in this community...anytime people see the needs of others as more important than themselves, yeah that's a win!

#3. We are in the midst of doing an overhaul of our college ministry, it is going to be awesome. One of the things that we are going to go hard after is have Life Coaches for our college students that want to truly grow in their faith and walk in Christ. Right now we have over 30 adults going through training this summer to be prepared to disciple a small group of college students...anytime people recognize the potential in the up and coming generation and desire to be a conduit that God can use to help this next generation reach their God-potential, I'm going to say that's a win.

#4. Our ministry gives away a quarter of its income to ministries outside of ourselves and has no intention to stop growing that percentage...anytime a church cares more about what God is doing to build His Kingdom and has a stronger desire to be a part of that over building their own kingdom, than yeah I'm going to say that is a win.

#5. My wife and I have personally seen a handful of marriages in the last seven months be absolutely resurrected from the dead. When most women would of turned and run and understandably so, these women have chosen to forgive and to allow the Spirit of God to work, restore and redeem. And when most men would continue to hide, justify and even blame, these men have owned their stuff, humbled themselves and have found the power of true repentance. We have seen the body of Christ actually be the body and help these couples get back to the place God desires them to live in...couples seeking reconciliation instead of a bail out plan and believing that God can breathe life into what seemed virtually dead...yeah, I would say that is a win.

I can go on and on, but the point is to recognize the wins and celebrate the goodness of God as a result of it; because the bottom line is, NONE of those wins would be possible without the Spirit of God and the grace of God. It's not our plans, it's not our efforts, it's God! So celebrate the wins and thank God for them!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Incredible Day Yesterday!

What an incredible day yesterday! Yesterday at Barefoot Beach we gathered as a church and celebrated life change. We had the privilege of baptizing 25 people who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. As one of my friends told me, yesterday was a great victory for the Kingdom of God. It is unexplainable the expressions on peoples' faces when they come up out of the water. There is an expression of joy that can only come from the Lord. Every time someone came up out of the water we cheered and went crazy. We celebrated the goodness and the grace of God dispensed and showed to each of these individuals. Yesterday was a powerful reminder to us of why we do what we do. We state it all the time, Summit Church exist to glorify God through presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child and connecting them into loving relationships with Jesus Christ and with others. Yesterday in part we saw the fruition of that. I thank God for His activity, for His grace and for the opportunity to be a small part of what He is doing here in SWFL.

Today as a church we are getting to move the mission forward as we participate in our FastForward initiative. The first Monday of every month we challenge our people to fast and pray, for our ministry, our community and for the mission God has given to us. I always enjoy to hear the stories from people of what God revealed to them during this time. I am praying today for those who are participating and for Next Level Church, who are also fasting and praying today. God is at work in this region.

"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 heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

God may You bring revival and may You bring glory to Your name!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Babe!

Yesterday was the anniversary of my wife's 21st birthday...there is no way I would post my wife's age, I don't have enough lives to do something that stupid. The reality is it doesn't matter how old she gets, she is still as drop dead beautiful as the first day I met her. I enjoyed a long morning of shopping for gifts with my son, Max,. Although, he didn't chip in a dime, he was a huge help believe it or not picking out some stuff for mommy. The best thing is that Pam actually liked the things we got for her. I still have a few gifts to give her and if you are wondering why I have not given Pam all of her gifts, its because she has this running joke of May being her birthday month, so this year I decided to honor that and spread her gifts out...I'll keep you posted on how that goes!

Last night we went to Carrabba's with our good friends Jamin and Vicky and had a
great time. We always seem to laugh a ton when we're with them, which is pretty shocking since Jamin is really not that funny... I am so grateful for the friends that Pam and I get to do life with. I am grateful for a godly wife, who is amazing in so many different ways and who is a blessing to me that I certainly do not deserve. Pam, I love you and thank God for you. Happy Birthday and may the Lord continue to bless you and show His heart to you daily.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Twelves years ago I married my best friend and the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. It has been an incredible journey and I continue to see the goodness of God through the eyes and life of my wonderful wife. She is an amazing wife and incredible mom to our two kids. When I look back over the last 12 years I can not help but to think of all of the sacrifices that she has made for our family. I can't help but to think of all her continued support that she extends to me as I pursue God's call. I can't help but to think of all the laughter, tears and special moments we have shared together. I can't help but to think of all the crossroads we have experienced and storms of life we have endured through the grace of God together.

My wife is such a refuge for me. She makes our house a home and a place I can not wait to return to after I leave for work. Pam's smile, her genuine faith in the Lord, her concern for others are only some of the things that I appreciate about her more and more with every passing day.

I love that my wife allows me to be me, but loves me enough to never allow me to settle. I love that my wife believes as I do that God is our greatest need and our greatest treasure so we should make Him our greatest pursuit. I love that even though she is extremely busy she always has time for others. I love that she never tires of getting down on the floor with our kids to play and be silly with them. I love that even when I fail to see God's beauty in a situation she can quickly remind me of it. I love that regards how hard or difficult a sacrifice that we need to make to follow God's leading she has always been willing to follow me. I could go on, but I'll just say I am so grateful to God for His wonderful gift. I look forward to the days ahead...Happy Anniversary Pam! I Love You Crazy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Four-fold Franciscan Blessing

Many of you asked about the prayer that I shared to end yesterday's sermon with, so I figured I would put up on my blog. May we continue to strive to be an aircraft carrying church that continues to care about the sufferings of others and lives bare before the Lord in all things and in all ways. Have a great week. God Bless.

A Four-fold Franciscan Blessing

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you this day and forevermore. AMEN.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jesus was amazed...

At times as you read thru the Gospel you will come across the phrase “they were amazed”. And most of the time it is referring to the fact that those who were present during Jesus’ earthly ministry were amazed by either His teaching, His confidence, His miracles, His love. And every time I come across that phrase I think, yeah, absolutely I would totally be amazed also if I was there and saw and experienced these incredible things first hand, yes certainly amazed would be a great description for me. Or I reflect on how God is amazing me today through His teaching, His revelation, His power, His miracles, His love, but this morning it was a little different. The phrase was a little different this time in Mark chapter 6.

This time the phrase was not in reaction to Jesus but the phrase was used to describe Jesus’ reaction to the people. You see in Mark chapter five Jesus had just healed a demon possessed man, than He heals a woman struggling with an issue of blood and then He brings a little girl who had passed away back to life and yet there were many who were saying, who is this guy. He is just a carpenter, He is just the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. In other words they were saying what is so special about this guy, in essence they were trying to say He is no one. And the verse that jumped out at me this morning was Mark 6:6 “He(Jesus) was amazed at their lack of faith.” I was floored by that this morning. It is easy to criticize that crowd and say what are you thick in the head or something- this is Jesus! But as soon as those thoughts quickly passed the Spirit convicted my heart with this question “what about you?”

It seems at the surface to be a simple question, but the more the Spirit pounded on my heart the more I realized that the question had depth to it. As I unpacked that question I realized that what the Spirit was trying to get across was this; would that be Jesus’ reaction of me today? Would Jesus say wow, I am amazed by your lack of faith. It was a humbling thought. I began to reflect in what areas and in what ways does my life reflect great faith in a great God and in what ways does my life reflect a lack of faith. It was a painful but a very helpful exercise, I challenge you to try it. Ask yourself the question “what would Jesus’ response be to my faith in this season? Then let the Spirit reveal those different areas of your life that God wants to break in and break thru. Just a thought and certainly just another rambling. God Bless You.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fast Forward

Today is Summit's church wide prayer and fasting day. As a Leadership Team we decided to make the first Monday of every month a day where our church rallies together and fast and prays for the needs of our church and community.

"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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

We understand and recognize the importance of prayer and yet as believers we do not put this much needed discipline into practice. Prayer is not bending God to our will, but God bending us to His. Prayer is our proclaimation of dependence upon God. Nothing of eternal worth or weight will happen absent of prayer. We pray that this prayer initiative will awaken and stir our hearts to be more vigilant prayer warriors. Below are the points of focus for today and this month. God Bless You!

#1. Pray for our community, specifically for those who do not know Christ. Pray that God would continue to draw those who do not know Him into a loving relationship with Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

#2. Pray specifically for those in your Circle of Accountability who do not know Christ. Pray that God would continue to give you access and influence in to the lives of these individuals. Ask God to give you continual opportunities to share the Gospel both in word and deed.

#3. Pray for our mission partnerships and missionaries around the world. Pray that God would work in mighty ways in and through these different organizations that are striving to bring the Gospel to every man, woman and child. Ask God to continue to meet the ever growing needs of these different organizations.

#4. Pray for our latest church plant, Legacy Church. Pray that God would continue to give the Leadership Team wisdom as they seek God's guidance for this new work. Pray that God would continue to develop a core group of people that will be instrumental in the launch of this church. Lastly pray that God would provide the initial financial resources needed for the start-up.

#5. Please pray for our age appropriate ministries, Big Enuf, Kid Zone, Reality, Crave and Ignite. Pray that God would increase the faith our students and move mightily through their lives. Pray for all of our volunteers that serve faithfully in these areas of ministry.

#6. Please pray for the families of Summit Church who are hurting financially as a result of the economy. Pray that God would meet their needs and pray that they would hold fast to Christ during this time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Call To Die

I and the two guys that I meet with each week for accountability have recently completed the "Love Dare". If you are married, could I suggest picking up that book today. I guarantee you that God will use that tool to help shape and refine your view of your role as a husband or wife as well bring a deeper level of intimacy into your marriage. There probably will not be anything in the 40 day "Love Dare" challenge that will be new for a married person, but it is the powerful day to day reminder of what God wants for our marriages that makes this little tool so effective. It is a small investment in time that can breath new life into your marriage.

Well, since we have completed that and as we strive to not allow the "Love Dare" to be just a 40 day challenge that you do and put away, but a practice to implement every day in our marriages, we decided we would go through "A Call to Die". This is another 40 day challenge to do exactly what the title says "die". Not literally die, but to die to ourselves, to die to our pride, our sin, our lust, our selfishness and anything else that is trying to rob and kill the life that God longs to give us through Jesus Christ. I am in my first week of the challenge and it has been awesome. I am being reacquainted with Jesus' words that "those who lose their lives for His sake will find true life..." I am being reminded that the motive to dying to myself daily must be to glorify God! The study thus far has been a powerful reminder of the fact that I must kill this flesh daily and I must deal ruthlessly with my sin, because my sin does not deal gently with me.

The Scripture verse that the study had me memorize this week is John 3:16, yeah that is what I thought...come on, challenge me here. John 3:16 like that is the Christian gold standard. I bet some Christians memorize that verse as if it is a part of the membership into this Christian society or something, but once again in my ignorance, God gripped me and showed me the power of this TRUTH.

For God so loved the world (the world, that includes me) that He gave His one and only Son, (God didn't give a second rate gift, He gave His best, He showed in this act that He does not hold or hoard from me) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (God did not leave me in my state of depravity, but instead He sent a remedy and built a bridge) but have eternal life. (God has given me life eternal, abundant life, real life, joy that can not be quenched, a life that is now worth living)

God did all this for me, not because I was worthy, but because He is merciful, good and gracious and if I am truly appreciative of this unbelievable act of love, then my only response would have to be to die to myself and live for Him. Now that sounds easy enough, but the reality is that it is not, but we have a God who is faithful and who offers His grace to us daily. Have a great day and may you answer God's call to die today! God Bless!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blessed Be The Name

Today my wife and I took our amazingly beautiful little girl, Emily, to the neurologist. This was an appointment that had been made months ago at the request of our pediatrician. Emily has not been on a growth chart yet. She is this little fire ball, with a strong will and a lot of personality. Our pediatrician has been a little concerned and suggested that we have her checked out to make sure she does not have microencephalus, which is a fancy way of saying small head syndrome. Like I mentioned before, this appointment had been made months ago, so it's been one of those things that you didn't want to think about too much or for too long. We have just been praying and trusting that all of this is in God's hands and we know that and do believe that. Well today the doctor told us she is fine, in fact her head size is actually on the growth chart, barely, but its there. There was this huge sigh of relief for my wife and I as well as just an attitude of gratitude for God's grace.

When I got back to my office, I began to reflect on what had just happened and in a matter of seconds it felt as though I had been hit with a two by four of emotions repeatedly. I was relieved that everything was okay, but at the same time I was broken because good friends of ours were in the middle of the state at a neurologist appointment for their unborn child and the news they received today was not good. My heart breaks for this couple and what they are facing in this moment and in the months to come. I reflected on the fact that the same God that steered my daughter clear of harm today, is the same God who is allowing our friends to go through this storm. And once again I came face to face with the reality that whatever the news regarding Emily had been GOD IS STILL GOOD and He alone is worthy of all my life. It is one of those things that is easy to say, easy to hear in sermons, great to sing in Christian songs, yet we don't fully understand until we are faced with the reality and the profoundness of that TRUTH.

My prayer is that heart would be ready to say as Job did though he slay me, yet I will praise Him...because the truth is that is the surrendered life Christ calls me to. It is one thing to sing "blessed be your name" on the weekend and sing it in the midst of our storms, in the midst of our crisis, in the midst of those moments when God's ways don't make sense. I long to live there, but I would be less than honest if I did not say at times it is tough. And in those moments I am thankful that God is forgiving, God is patient and God is willing to grant me His grace. I know that this is a rambling of all ramblings but I leave you with this challenge and this question...Do you truly believe today that in your heart of hearts you can say "God is good" even when His ways don't make sense or worse, even when His ways may hurt? The answer to that question isn't in a song, a sermon, a great quote, it comes only from our intimacy with God. It comes either from our lack of or richness in our relationship with the Father. May we live so connected to Him, that regardless of where our journey with Him may take us, may we sing and live loudly the truth "He gives and takes away,blessed be the name of the Lord!" A crazy rambling, I know, have a great week just the same. God Bless You.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Psalm 104

This morning I was reading Psalm 104 and I was confronted with the true majesty, power and sovereignty of God. I was reacquainted with the fact that everything I see is sustained by God and for God.

27 All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. 28 When you give it to them,they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are terrified;when you take away their breath,they die and return to the dust.30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works— 32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,who touches the mountains, and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.

As I mediated on these verses this morning I was convicted by the fact that I fail a lot of times in recognizing the manifestation of God's glory and power around me. Whether it is in a sunrise, a sunset, a conversation, my interaction with my beautiful wife or amazing kids or evidence of life change in those I minister to, I miss a lot of what God is doing. There are countless reasons for my ignorance or inability to recognize God's beauty and activity, but none of them are justified before a Holy God and I was powerfully reminded about that today. My honest prayer this morning was "God let me rejoice in you and let me not squander the opportunities that you present before me to delight in your beauty and participate in your activity!" If you get a chance read and meditate over Psalm 104, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. I pray that you also will desire not to miss the beauty of our amazing God at work all around us. Maximize the day and ask God to set your feet in the cleft so that you will have a front row seat to the display of His glory-what's better than that? Just a rambling from someone on the journey. God Bless You!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Big Weekend

Alright attention all Summit Church attenders, this weekend is a huge weekend for our church. It is a great opportunity for us to partner with God in reaching our community. According to a recent study done by George Barna 83% of people will say yes to an invitation to church when invited by a friend, co-worker or family member. I like those odds...We are praying for God to move mightily in our services this weekend.

Everything gets kicked off tomorrow with our Good Friday Services at 6pm and 7:30pm. There will be programming for pre-schoolers birth to 5yrs old at the 6pm service only. Our Good Friday Service is an extremely reflective and experential service. It is the perfect environment to truly relfect on the magnitude of Christ sacrifice for us. You will not want to miss this service. I guarantee you will leave blessed. Then we will have 5 Easter services. Two on Saturday night at 5pm and 6:30pm. We will have free Chik-Fil-A following each of the Saturday Night Services. Sunday we will have services at 8:30, 10 and 11:30am. We will have an Easter egg hunt for kids after every service. So let me challenge you to invite a friend or two and join us in praying for a powerful and life changing weekend. It is going to be awesome!!!

How's Your "I"?

Over the last several weeks God has been wrecking me with His Truth and it has been so liberating, humbling and encouraging. One of the things that God has been revealing to me in this season is the detrimental destructive power of the word "I" in my walk with Him, in my relationships, and in ministry. One letter, that forms one word can truly hinder and destroy all that God desires to do in and through your life and mine. Let me explain what I mean by that.

The word "I" in so many different ways and forms can put me in the center of everything. The word "I" can easily fool me into believing that some how I am the most important thing on God's mind. The word "I" can mislead me into thinking that somehow I am more important than others and that somehow "I" have become the center of God's universe! Now I know as you read those statements you must be thinking that is a little much. That is not what happens, that is not what "I" or others believe when we are, well for a lack of better phrase, "in love with myself."

Now I am not saying that we can never use the word I, that would be ridiculous. What God has illuminated and convicted me of, is the danger of failing to recognize who I am in light of Christ and what God has called me to be and reflect.

Let me give you some food for thought here...when I am consumed with "I", I will always struggle to live out the biblical mandate of Phil. 2 which commands me to look out for the interest of others. Whenever I am locked in on "I", I will always struggle with Jesus challenge in John 13 when after He washed the disciples feet He said "go and do likewise." As a husband if I become blinded by the distortion of "I", then you better believe that I will also struggle to be the spiritual leader that Ephesians 5 commands me to be to my wife. If my heart becomes clouded and darken by the trappings of "I", then you can bet that I will never be the friend that God desires me to be to those in my circle of influence. You see whatever way you slice it, "I" can be a slippery and dangerous slope to self-destruction. I mean the Bible is pretty clear that "pride goes before destruction."

Being in ministry can be a double whammy...and as a pastor a constant chant should be no whammy, no whammy, no whammy, right, you maybe too young to remember that game show. Ministry puts a person in the lime light and in ministry you can easily become attracted to the praise of men, just being honest-it happens to the best of us. The danger is that the more you listen to the "press" of people's delusion of how great they think you are, you just may start believing it and once that happens, watch out. The next steps that follow are statements and beliefs like this ook at what "I" have done", that was an awesome sermon "I" preached, "I" built this church from nothing, "I" saved this number of people and so on and so on it goes. Now most pastors are good communicators so it may not be as blatant as I just described but if you listen close enough, it's there.

These are the some of the things that God has been convicting me and stripping me of. In short I am hearing God's small still voice shouting hey buddy "get rid of the "I" and remember who you are in light of who I AM. It has been a wonderful ride and I pray that God would keep His mighty hand on my heart and continue to purge my soul of this little destructive word "I".

Here are the "I"'s that God has been reacquainting me with...they are powerful. I encourage you to try them...

"I have sinned." 1 John 1:9

"I can do nothing apart from you, God." John 15:5

"I need you, God." Psalm 73:25-28

"I am wrecked!" Isaiah 6

"I am just a voice." John the Baptist John 1:23

"I press on towards Christ." Phil. 3:7-14

May our prayer echoes John the Baptist, may "I" decrease so that the Lord could increase in and through my life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Doers of the Word...

It has been a crazy two weeks. My computer crashed while I was in Peru so I basically have been working off of my Blackberry. So needless to say I am pretty behind in keeping off with my blog. So here is my attempt to capture some of the cool God-events from the last few days.

This weekend absolutely rocked!!! Through the servants of Summit Church we were able to moilize the largest group of volunteers Habitat for Humanity Lee County has ever had. We had over 150 of our people serve this past Saturday to put the walls and trusses up on four houses in a low income area of LaBelle. It was absolutely awesome! I was so proud of our people. They never cease to amaze me.

This past weekend we also continued our series through the book of James entitled "Mixed Up, Messed Up, 'Fess Up". It was a really great weekend, for no other reason then God's Spirit was at work. On Saturday night, right before we were going to close the service down I felt God telling me to present the body with an opportunity to be doers of the Word, which is what we talked about. I have got to be completely honest I was as hesitant as all get out, but one of things God convicted me of while I was in Peru was being a man of complete obedience. When God speaks I want to act and when God tells me to say something I want to say it. So anyway before the close of the service I told our people that I had been contacted by the Fort Myers Soup Kitchen and that they were need of men's tennis shoes and bug repellent. So I asked our body this question, "what would it look like if we the body went to Target and bought a pair of shoes or a can of bug repellent?"

The response absolutely floored me. I will tell you in a moment the totals, but here is the cool part. As soon as I walked down of the stage a lady came up to me and said you won't believe this but on my way to church I felt the Lord leading me to stop and buy a pair of men's tennis shoes and bring them to church...YUP! That's exactly what I thought, NO WAY! She handed me the box of shoes and every hair on my arm was sticking straight up. God is so good! Through the generosity and obedience of the people at Summit and God's amazing grace we collected 300 pairs of shoes, close to 200 cans of bug repellent, globs of toothpaste, tooth brushes and soap. It was so amazing, and thanks to the kindness of some friends we were able to sort it all on Monday night and thanks to some good buddies of mine it is all being delivered today. Every pair of sneaker was stuffed with a new testament bible, track or personal encouraging note from one of the great people at Summit!

"Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says...Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look out for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:22 & 27

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just A Rambling

I am still processing all of my thoughts from our trip to Peru and I still have not downloaded my pictures from our trip, so I am not quite ready to share about my experience and our time. So instead I thought I would drop the Truth that God revealed to me this morning from Psalm 119:33-35

33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight

Currently we are engaged in our new series studying through the Book of James entitled "Mixed Up, Messed Up, 'Fess Up". I love this book. Scholars say that the book of James is probably one of the least theological books in the entire New Testament. It's not that James was not interested in theology, but he was much more interested in the practice of our faith over the profession of it. This week I have been hammered to the core as I have been studying the remaining verses from chapter one that I have to teach on this weekend. James talks about that we need to make sure that we are not just hearers of the Word but doers!

So the questions that continued to rise up in my heart and mind were, is God's Word truly being seen through my life? Is the Word of God so implanted in me as James states that it is truly making a change from the inside out? Then I read this passage this morning and what God illuminated for me, was this, I need to be very careful not to read God's Word to finish, or even read it as a form of study, but to truly read it because it is my delight. Read the Word, come to the Word, study the Word because as I do my heart is filled, my life is strenghten and my joy is found.

I think a lot of times as Christians we do our devotionals as though it was a rote thing, or something to check off our to do list. And the danger in that is that we miss the wonder and the awe of coming before God and we may even lull ourselves into not expecting God to reveal His glory to us. The Word of God is active, alive, sharper than any two edged swords, and so much more and with that it should be our greatest need, our greatest treasure and our greatest delight. Good reading to you today...God Bless You!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Peru Trip

I am currently sitting in the Lima airport waiting until our next flight into Iquitos, Peru to depart. Since I have three hours I figured I would throw up a quick post. I have had the privilege of going on several mission trips. I am so grateful for Summit's commitment to bring the Gospel to every man, woman and child and because of that I have been able to be in some great places to see God's activity up close. For the last ten or so months I have been specifically praying that God would give me a specific area of the world that me and my family could adopt. An area of the world that my wife, my kids and I could pray for, invest in and visit.
Most of the partnerships that Summit is currently involved in are literally half way around the world. I wanted something close, that I personally could visit more than just once a year, an area of the world that my kids who are two and three could visit with us within the next year. This has been something that has been extremely heavy on my heart. Two years ago I went on a mission trip to Boma, which is a village deep in the woods of Dominican Republic. The poverty that we saw and experienced was almost unbelievable. We slept on the floor, went to the bathroom outside, bathed in a river, drew our water from a well that missionaries had dug years before our visit to that area. We were literally dropped off and had to hike 2miles with our backpacks into this remote village. It was an incredible experience. At the end of the week, the town mayor, the man of peace, addressed our team and said this..."this experience for you has been like going to the moon, but let me remind you that the world you live in is not the world, this is the world. The majority of the world lives like this. We ask not for your pitty, but for your commitment to not forget this fact, fight to remind those in your circle of influence of this fact that you have just experienced." I am telling you that I have never forgotten that man's words.

Those words have stuck with me and have affected me to the point that not only do I not want to forget them, but I want my kids at a very early age to understand the plight of the world and the personal and global need for the Gospel. So this trip to Peru is huge for me. I have been praying that God would show me if this is the place that He would have us give our lives to. I have been so focused on this that I asked my wife, Pam, to accompany me on this trip. Which by the way is no easy thing. My wife hates to fly and absolutely loves being a mom, so leaving our two precious kids and facing her fear is a huge ask. Yet, she was willing...I am so blessed for a godly wife. I wanted Pam here because I really want God to speak to her as way. I would love for God to speak to us and for God to show us His will. I know this a pretty long rambling, but if Pam and I come to your mind over the next couple of days, we would covet your prayers and please pray for our two little ones Max and Emily. I thank you in advance. God Bless You.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By Faith...

This morning I spent time reading and reflecting in Hebrews 11. Many have labeled this chapter of Scripture as the "Hall of Fame of Faith" because it list some of the men and women that God used mightily in the Old Testament. Before each of the individuals names are the words "by faith". Everything that these individuals were able to accomplish done because of their faith. It wasn't "their" ability, their knowledge, their plans, it all centered and stemmed from their faith in God! Their faith in who God was, is and what God had told them to do propelled their life into action, that in some regards transformed the landscape of human history. May your faith in God lead you to become fully engaged in God's activity. I will leave you with the a few of the last verses found in Hebrews Chapter 11. May God jolt your heart with these words like He did mine. Just another rambling. God Bless You.

32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend in Review...

I had a busy but extremely fruitful weekend. On Saturday night, I had the privilege of marrying one of my son's teachers. It was a great honor to perform their ceremony. My wife and I appreciated the time we got to enjoy during our pre-marital counseling sessions with them. We have been asking God to give us opportunities to share our faith and lives with these teachers who have given so much to us and have done so much for our son, Max. Saturday night was a great opportunity and on top of it my wife and I enjoyed ourselves at the reception...

This weekend we also started our new series entitled "Mixed Up, Messed Up, 'Fess Up". We will be going through the Book of James and looking at what it means to live as a citizen of the Kingdom. Jamin was kind enough to fill in for me on Saturday night and from all reports did an excellent job as always. Sunday I had the privilege to share God's Word. God was faithful and the Spirit was truly working in the hearts of people, I know He was working in mine.

Later that afternoon, my wonderful wife and I took the kids to Disney Playhouse live. Our kids loved it. It is always a joy to see my kids smile and laugh. I loved watching them call out to Mickey and Goofy and wave to them. It was awesome. The best part is that they actually made it through the entire show...what a God thing. It truly was a great weekend.

Hope you enjoyed yours... Make it a great week. God Bless You.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quick Re-cap of the Weekend

Here's a quick run down of the weekend. Mission Uganda at our Naples Campus went extremely well this weekend. We got 83 of the 100 children sponsored for the Home of Champions orphanage in Nabukala. We are confident that we will get the remaining kids sponsored hopefully by the end of this week. If you are a part of Summit and would like to get in on what God is doing to bring relief, education and hope to the kids in need in Uganda, please drop Jamin an email at The Bible says that true religion is taking care of widows and orphans. I am so proud of our people for desiring to be a part of God's amazing love and grace.

The Legacy Church preview weekend also went extremely well. I think there was a general excitement about what God is leading us to do. The reports I received yesterday and today were all extremely positive. I think our people got a fuller picture of why we need to continue to plant churches even within our own circle of accountability. Hopefully this weekend will be a good momentum boost for Legacy Church as we continue to build a launch team and look forward to our official launch later this year.

Lastly, the duathlon was a lot of fun. I appreciated Jay pushing me to do it. We essentially did everything wrong leading up to this event. We spent the two days prior to the race at amusement parks in the hot sun and essentially ate anything and everything but nutritional stuff. All that being said, I wouldn't of changed a thing and I know Jay feels the same way. The time with our wives and kids was priceless. We truly had a blast and some how God gave us the strength to finish the race. Jay finished third in his age group for the triathlon and I finished first for my age group for the duathlon. It was an all-around great weekend. God is good!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Huge Weekend For Summit

This weekend is going to be a pivotal weekend for both of our campuses. At our University Campus all of our services will be led by the team that will be giving leadership to our newest church start Legacy. Nolen Rollins who is one of the guys on our Leadership Team will be leading this effort. Within a five mile radius of our University Campus there are over 46,000 people and we are committed to our mission of "glorifying God by presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child" and giving them the repeated opportunity to see, hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ. We know that one church is not going to be able to accomplish that mission, that is why we strive to partner with the existing churches in our area as well as start new churches. Legacy Church will have the same mission, vision and values as Summit but they will be strategic in targeting a different demographic within our Circle of Accountability. Our hope is to officially launch this church this fall. Thus far we have over fifty people committed to this new work. We pray that as a result of this weekend more people will catch a vision and heart for what God is calling us to do. Please lift this weekend and this new work up in prayer.

I am also excited about what is going to be taking place at our Naples Campus this weekend. This Sunday is Mission Uganda weekend. A few months ago our Naples Team Leader Jamin Stinziano took a mission trip to Uganda and was absolutely broken over what he saw. As a result of God's leading, Jamin and Jay Richardson, another key Leadership Team member who gives primary leadership at the Naples Campus, felt like God was calling us to respond. So this weekend we will be challenging our people to adopt an orphanage in Nabukalu, Africa. The orphanage is called "Home of Champions” which I believe is so providential because if you saw the faces of these kids you would quickly realize that they truly have all the potential to be just that. The statistics of children without parents, without food, clothing, decent shelter and hope is staggering. This weekend we get the opportunity to partner with God in striving to be a part of the solution and an extension of His grace. The orphanage currently houses 100 children through shelter, food, education, and discipleship. Another great thing about this orphanage is that it has a strong partnership with a church in Kampala who are fighting hard to bring the hope of the Gospel to that impoverished area. This weekend our people will be challenged to hear from God and consider adopting a child from this orphanage for just $34 a month. I believe whole heartedly that we will get these children sponsored. If you by chance would like more information about the "House of Champions" check out this link or drop Jamin an email at