Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lessons from Memphis

I have been extremely grateful that the Elders, staff and church family have given me this extended time away, to be refreshed and renewed by the Lord. It truly has been a huge blessing to my heart and spirit. For the last few days I have been in Memphis with one of my good friends Nathan. Nathan and his wife moved to downtown Memphis a couple of years ago to plant a church. As a church planter I kind of had an idea of what that entails and the sacrifices that go into such a work, but after being here I have a new profound respect for their obedience to the Lord. Nathan, and his family along with the other pastors are ministering in a very impoverished and crime infested area, and in obedience to the Lord and in the step with the Holy Spirit they have moved right in to the center of this dark region in hopes to bring the light, hope and love of the Gospel. On the surface and in the natural, you can't help but to say and think, what in the world are you doing? Are you crazy? Do you want to get shot? But, the reality is when we read the words of Jesus, when we study the Bible, we see that this example is pretty normal. I was at Grace Church this weekend and Pastor Jordan delivered a powerful and God honoring word. One of the questions he posed was this, "Are our lives and faith a seamless transition from the lives and faiths described and depicted in Hebrews chapter 11?" Many of us know Hebrews chapter 11. It has been deemed by many as the "hall of fame" of faith. But it was never meant to be treated as a memorial that we read and look at and just move on, our lives should reflect that heart and desire to sacrifice and follow God at any cost for His glory. The problem is, we as Christians have made the glory of God, the Words of God more about our comfort than God's fame. We have bought into sermons and books that tell us God wants us to be happy. Whenever my happiness becomes the center of God's glory it will always be a slippery slope to a man-centered theology. And once I arrive at that place, the truths of the Scripture will never make sense, because the truths of the Bible are NOT about me, they are about God. The Gospel is definitely about a person, it's just not you or me, it's about Jesus!

Now, before I go any further, I am not saying that what is happening here in downtown Memphis is what every Christian is called to do necessarily, but what I am saying is that sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the glory of God and for the sake of the good of others, is the normal and plausible response to those of us who have truly tasted and seen the goodness of God. Being here these last few days has been a beautiful and convicting display of what it means to truly own the lostness of our community. Being here these last few days have reignited my heart to the importance of trumpeting the Gospel, because the Gospel is in fact every man, woman and child's greatest need. Being here these past few days has once again confirmed that what we are striving to do in and through Summit is right on point and we actually need to be willing and ready to take deeper and more profound strides as God leads us to. I am praying for myself, my family, my friends, our staff and our church that we begin to posture ourselves in asking God to prepare us more to sacrifice in such a way that our lives don't make sense in the natural, but in the spiritual realm it is but a reflection of the call of God in His Word. I am praying that their grows an ever burning and committed desire to God's glory above any other possible competing force. I pray that we grow in our understanding that if we don't become consumed as Christians with God's glory, than what is at stake is our joy, not God's glory itself. Jonathan Edwards to me stated it best "when God gets His glory, His people get there joy!" David Platt in his book "Radical Together" puts it this way, "Gospel-filled obedience, produces Gospel-filled joy!"

The beauty is that God has made His power available to us through His Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes. So may we abide, rest in that power and find our joy solely in Him. When we do that, then and only then could moving into a less desirable neighborhood, or down sizing, or living below our means to free more assets up for God's work, or serving in some capacity that actually takes us out of our comfort zone, will actually "make sense and feel normal." Just a rambling but I do hope you'll join me in praying to this end.

"Brothers my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." Romans 10:1

Monday, June 27, 2011


"You made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until it finds its place in you." Augustine

Augustine would make this a part of his daily prayers. Interesting that in this fast paced world that we live in, this world that we have pretty much everything at our disposal, that there is still one thing that trips us up and that is rest. Even with all of our technology and digital advancement, it is rest, that is still one of the most elusive things in our culture and in our lives. Rest, a four letter, simple, yet profound word, that we have for the most part neglected. Rest, something that we all need, yet try to get by without. Rest, the thing that God set in place that we all would need, but we try hard to deny. Rest, the thing that may be the wisest thing we could do to find, yet we act as though it is the weakest thing we could do. Most of us won't be active in seeking this rest out, until it is prescribed to us by a doctor or a counselor or some other trained professional. Interesting that the advancements made in society have not freed us up as much as they have in some sense burdened us more. Amazing how sovereign and omniscient God is, that from the beginning of time He knew we would struggle with rest, so much so that He not only commanded us to do it, but also gave us an example.

We read the creation story and we see that God created all things in 6 days and on the seventh He rest. God, the almighty, all consuming, all knowing, sufficient in Himself God, just chills. In a world that celebrates and cheers people for burning the candle at both ends, God would have us to remember that He instituted rest, because He knew we would need it. God does cheer our burn out, He would see it as yet another form of idol worship. It doesn't matter how gifted, how skilled, how awesome you may think you are, if you are cheating yourself of rest, you really are just building your life on sand and living on borrowed time, because eventually that lack of rest will catch up to you.

Tomorrow I enter into something I have never done before and that is take a sabbatical. I am looking forward to this time to step away from my position as an Elder and Teaching Pastor and just be. One of the hardest struggles in ministry at times is to not allow the doing to overshadow the becoming. I am grateful for this given time away to be renewed, refreshed and reacquainted with the importance of rest. I am looking forward to what God will do in me and through me during this time. Just another rambling, but I do pray we will find our rest in God, because the absence or failure of that can be quite detrimental to our souls and lives.

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


For the last couple of years my wife and I have been navigating through the journey and world of Autism Spectrum Disorder as we have seen our son, Max, struggle and strive with it. There have been lots of low moments, tears, frustrations but also lots of victories and shouts of joy. Through it all we have seen the goodness and faithfulness of God. One of the things that autism has done for our family is, it has given us a new perspective on the importance of celebrating everything. The celebrations are milestones for us, they are reminders and markers of the goodness of God. We celebrated Max's first words which we thought would never come. We celebrated his first sight word, his first non-scripted conversation and the list goes on and on.

This past weekend we witnessed and celebrated his accomplishment over winning over his fear of water slides at Aquatica. Max was like a champ not just going down the water slide and plunging into the pool and exiting on his own, but even the fact of him standing in line waiting patiently for his turn is a crowning achievement. It was absolutely awesome to see his excitement and his joy. There are still many many miles for us to travel on this journey and many hurdles to overcome, but today I can rejoice that in it and through it all we can remain confident in the goodness and the grace of God, who never disappoints.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things that I am enjoying right now

Five things I am really loving and enjoying in this season, not in order of ranking, just random thoughts...

#1. My wife! I have been blessed with such a wonderful woman who is a great mom, friend and partner to me. I have been amazed in this season to watch God's activity in her life. Her passion for Christ, challenges, convicts and encourages me. I love that God has given me a front row seat to see His glory shine through His daughter. It's incredible and I am humbled.

#2. My kids...I have been blessed with two rug rats that have a way of bringing a smile to my face and driving me crazy all at once...This season has been so great as God grows them in stature and understanding. I have enjoyed the conversations that I have been able to have with them in this season about everything from God, Jesus, creation, to heaven. It is amazing to see how a 4 year old and 5 year old mind process things.

#3. The Yankees...yes, major league baseball is back and with it comes one of my great passions, the New York Yankees. I am hoping for another championship and a lot of lively discussion and ribbing with my misguided Red Sox friends...

#4. The Church...not only am I enjoying the great church I get to be a part of Summit, but I am enjoying seeing God's activity in His CHURCH. It has been great to hear stories of God's provision, movement and breakthroughs in the life of the churches we have the privilege to partner with. One church can not do it, we need the every expression that stands on the Gospel to reach it's highest God potential for us to see substantial movement for the Kingdom of God. I am really enjoying watching God's undeniable activity in the lives of His people at Summit in this season.

#5. Reading...I would have never thought I would ever have said that, because I read more out of necessity because of the nature of my job, but this season has been different. I have really enjoyed the latest books I have read and have taken a lot away from each of those books. If you are looking to some books to dive into, I would highly recommend Greg Gilbert's "What is The Gospel? and John Piper's "Think", are two of some of the books that have challenged me in this season.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Working on my memory

It is amazing how easy I default back to living essentially like a practical atheist. Now before you jump to conclusions to soon, please give me a minute to explain. I love Jesus, and I am fully convinced that there is only one true God that exist in three persons. I believe there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. I can give you another ten evangelical doctrines that I believe and am fully resting and trusting in, but even in all of that I can say that there have been lapses in my walk with Christ that I suffer from some sort of "spiritual amnesia". You see stating belief in these things is not so much for me the hard part, the part I get tripped up on is actually living them out day by day, consistently. I can honestly say that there have been lapses of time in my life that I walk, think and live as a practical atheist. No I would never consciously deny the existence of God, but in my flesh and fallen nature, it sure is easy to live as though He didn't exist. Now, I am not talking so much about open defiant sin, though I know those things can and do occur. I am more talking about those moments, when we live as though we were in charge, as though we were the ones who were omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Those moments in our lives where we fail to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over our lives. Those moments where we place more trust in our plans, than God's will. Those moments where we are quicker and more diligent to run to everyone for advise rather than go humbly to our Wonderful Counselor. Those moments when our faith went from believing God spoke the world into existence. parted the Red Sea, sent Jesus to defeat sin, death and the grave, and yet now we don't have faith enough to believe He can meet even our basic of all needs. What a paradox we find ourselves int those moments. But the truth is God is God, whether I forget that fact or not. He's in charge whether I fail to realize that or not. But the danger is that when I am sleep walking and suffering from "spiritual amnesia" I usually end up seeking to place my trust in other things or other people. That eventually puts me in danger. The Psalmist wrote in chapter 146..."Put NOT your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish."

You see the outcome is never to bright when my hope and faith is in anything less than Christ. Later on in that same chapter the Psalmist gives this challenge..."Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, who keeps his faith forever." Praying I don't forget the reality of God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praying my faith is not one that just rest in doctrine, but my faith is one that lives in light and reverence of the Truth. Just a rambling, God bless you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heart Check Time...

This month we have had our people at Summit reading through the Psalms with a focus on thanksgiving and praise. Yesterday's assigned reading really challenged me. The verses were not ones that you would necessarily gravitate towards, but definitely verses that convicted me. The verses were from Psalm 106..."Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord." You see what I mean, not necessarily verses you will be using on your next prayer gram or birthday card you send out, but verses that are critically important to our spiritual walks nonetheless.

This Psalm speaks to the journey of God's people out of slavery and bondage from Egypt. These individuals witnessed first hand the power and love of God, as He led them by day through a cloud and at night through a pillar of fire, they tasted the very provision of God that rained down from heaven, they saw countless miracles and yet here we see that they still were not satisfied and not grateful. Now before we cast judgment on the Israelites, we need to take a minute and examine ourselves. I know if I were honest, at times my life and attitude can reflect the heart of the people in this passage. You see I too have seen the marvelous power of God as He has delivered me from the bondage of sin, continues to lead me through the power of His Truth and the illumination and conviction of His Spirit. I continue to see countless miracles performed through and around my life and yet at times I complain like a spoiled school-aged child. I am sure that if you have stumbled across this blog, you probably have never suffered from moments like that...(please sense the sarcasm...) We all can agree that there have been times when we have been tripped up by this type of attitude.

How do God-fearing, God-loving, humble followers of God find themselves in these types of seasons of ingratitude and ungratefulness? There could be tons of reasons, but here's one that the Lord laid on my heart. It's when I set the "blessing" or ascribe more worth or affection to the "blessing" over the BLESSOR. Whenever we set the blessing over the Blessor, we run the risk of heading down a slippery slope of ingratitude and ungratefulness. The reason I say that is because the blessing was never meant to make us eternally happy. The blessing was never meant to be a replacement for the only thing that brings eternal joy, which is God Himself. He alone is the ultimate gift of the Gospel, that has been accomplished for us by Christ. When I set all of my affections and attention on the "blessing", I may run the risk of attaching God's worth to the blessing. God's worth is not in the blessing, we may see some of God's goodness in it, but the fact remains, God is good and He is worthy of my praise, apart from His blessings. He stands alone as supreme! My heart as a worshiper must be similar to Job's who in the midst of losing all, stated "the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord..." You see as Christians, we always have a reason to be grateful, because we have already been given and entrusted with the greatest gift, Christ, and His Gospel. Does your life reflect gratitude today? Are you thankful for all that God has done on your behalf? And all that God is? If you are, take a moment to tell Him, and you may even want to include in that time a prayer of forgiveness for your murmuring. Just another rambling...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gospel

Below is the Gospel statement that was written by Jamin Stinziano, one of our Elders, with the support of the rest of our Elder Team and Senior Staff. This doctrinal statement has been reviewed and shared with pastors from around the country that we respect and hold in high esteem. It is not our intent to make the people of Summit memorize this statement, but it is our prayer that our people grow in their understanding of the Gospel.

The Gospel Message:

The one and only God, who is Righteous, created us to love, know, and represent him. We made a choice, however, to violate God's righteousness with our sin and thus we are unable to love, know, and represent him on our own. Our sin and lack of righteousness deserves a punishment, the anger and judgment of God. Because we cannot bear this punishment on our own, God sent his Son, Jesus, who was both fully human and fully God, to live a perfectly righteous life and to die on a cross that he might save us from the punishment that our sin deserves. After three days, Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father had accepted the sacrifice of the Son, Jesus, on behalf of his people. And now, God calls us to trust in Jesus - to have faith in the sufficiency of his work on the cross and to repent, changing our minds about the sufficiency of our old way of living. When we trust in Jesus, we are forgiven of our sin, credited with Christ's righteousness, adopted as sons and daughters, and given new and eternal life. We also receive the presence of God's Spirit in our lives, thus producing the fruit of the gospel and enabling us to love, know, and represent God as we were created to do.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I am currently reading John Piper's latest book "Think". I love the challenge and aim of this book, which is to awaken our minds and exercise them in light of God's Truth. Piper's challenge is to be committed to Jesus' command in Matthew 22:37 "And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

The mind and the heart are to work in tandem and are to serve as vehicles to an ever growing, deeper relationship with Christ. I loved this quote from the book...
"The mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart. The apex of glorifying God is enjoying him with the heart. But this is an empty emotionalism where that joy is not awakened and sustained by true views of God for who he really is. That is mainly what the mind is for."

I resonate with this so much, because I desperately as a follower of Christ want to think rightly about Him, knowing that everything else in my walk with Him will flow from there. I think if we are not careful a lot of our walk and relationship with Christ can flow out of sensationalism and emotion and not be grounded in Truth. There are so many dangers in that, one of which, we may lend ourselves to creating a God of our image, also we can become easily swayed by the ever changing circumstances of our lives. We can become as James said, "double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways."

Exercising our minds, not out of arrogance, but out of a true desire to know God rightly and out of an understanding that in turn it would fuel our worship, is a commitment that I want to have a goal that quite frankly all believers should be committed to. If we allow our minds to grow dormant, we run the risk of worshipping God from a shallow and maybe even hollow base. So may we allow the Spirit of God to stretch us and fuel our passion to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind! Just a rambling. God Bless You.

Monday, January 3, 2011


"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
Points of Focus...
#1. Spend time praying for yourself. Ask God to reveal any unconfessed sin. Pray that God would continue to fuel your passion for Him. Pray that God would continue to give you the discipline to pursue Him and spend time with Him in the Word and in prayer. Pray that God would reveal to you any specific goals for 2011 or ministry opportunities that He would want you to pursue or participate in.

#2. 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.

#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. Please pray specifically for our mission partner, Mission of Hope Haiti, and our upcoming construction trip in February. Pray that all the details will be worked out for this trip and for the building project they will be engaged in.

#4. 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. Pray that God would stir in the hearts of more people to get involved and serve especially during our “Heart of Service” emphasis.

#5. Pray for our Recovery Ministry that will be launching on January 11th. Pray for Todd Wermers, our Pastor of Recovery and all of the leaders who will be serving in this ministry. Pray for those who maybe struggling with hurts, habits or hang-ups to find healing, hope and reconciliation in Jesus through this ministry.

#6. Pray for our newest staff member David Gold and his family. Pray for their transition and for the four children. Pray for David as he assumes the role of Life Group Pastor.

#7. Pray for our ministry as a whole. Pray that God would bless our church and expand our influence in this coming year. That the mission of presenting the Gospel to every man, woman and child would stretch even further and produce more fruit for God’s glory in this new year.