Author Archive

Identity Theft…

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

identity-logo-copyIDENTITY…when you read this word, what comes to mind? God tells us in his word that when we become a follower of Jesus, our identity is in HIM. No matter what is in our past, what family we come from, what struggles we might still have, we are no longer defined by these things. Our new identity is in Christ.

I think most people know this truth (or at least have heard it a few times), but recently I have seen so many people struggle with personal identity. I have friends that get caught up so much in what others think of them that they can’t focus on the important things of life, while others struggle to break free from their past, and still others struggle with appears to be an identity crisis trying to find their way. All of these things are completely normal. In fact, I would say that most of us have been in one of these categories at some point in our lives. However, this is not what God would have for us!

This is what God says about it in 2 Corinthians:

“17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Did you read that? The old (worldly defined self) is GONE and the new IDENTITY in Christ is here! Will we have struggles, doubts, insecurities about it at times? Sure! But my prayer for all of us is that we do not allow the enemy to steal our identity (or even our view of it). We must not dwell on ourselves, but rather Christ IN us! If we truly believe that the holy spirit dwells inside of us, then this worldly measurement called Identity will soon disappear. If we focus solely on our relationship with God and what HE can do through us, it takes all of the pressure off of us as his followers to measure up to anything except for a humble servant of the King.

So what about you…

*What are your struggles with Identity?

*Are you dealing with Identity Theft, and Identity Crisis, or even a False Identity today?

*If so, how can you allow the power of Jesus to change this for you?


Being REAL like Jesus…

Posted: August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

REALI have been in church my entire life. Literally since I came out of the womb, my parents took me to church. Until I was about 12 years old, we went to a traditional baptist church. You know the kind…Sunday school at 9 and Worship at 11. We had RA’s & GA’s, a church softball team, an adult & children’s choir, and a pastor who was always dressed in a suit and tie for every occasion. We sang hymns out of a book & took “the lord’s supper” about once a quarter. This was what I knew as “church”.

When I was 12 years old we starting attending what was at the time called “Grace Fellowship Church”. We were non-denominational, which meant that we were “basically baptist”. We believed in salvation, baptism, & took communion (aka the Lord’s supper) every week. We had a full band & sang new songs from a projector on the wall. This was a totally new definition of “church” for me. I can honestly say that this was the most impactful to me as a pre-teen looking for spiritual direction & of course to be in a band 🙂 I started playing in the youth praise band shortly after learning to play guitar & my faith started to grow as did my ability to play.

BOTH of these scenarios for me were crucial to who I am as a follower of Jesus & as a minster. I can appreciate parts of both and see both as totally useful today. However, today I’m not going to talk about church. Church is just the beginning for me. Church is where I get together with my brothers and sisters every week. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE both the “THE Church, as well as ECC, but God has called us to BE the CHURCH that the world needs to see. You and I are called to shine HIS light to others. Without judgement, reservation, or concern about our personal comfort or security.

Right now I am still at the same church that I started attending when I was 12. It is now called “Eastridge Community Church”. My wife and I have been on staff for over 9 years. We have seen God break down so many walls in this community as we all have committed to step out of our comfort zone and be REAL with one another. We have always been a strong body of believers, but now more than ever we are pushing for everyone to OWN their faith in their homes, at the work place, in their neighborhood, etc. We are seeing such fruit of this movement to “Reach the World” through personal discipleship.

Beyond denomination, style, preference, strategy, etc is the challenge to simply be REAL. The most impact I have ever seen within our congregation is not because any WOW factor in the music set, sermon delivery, or personality. It is when we are all HONEST about the fact that despite our very best, we are still human. It is the fact that without the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we are nothing. The thing that people need to see in all of us as followers of Jesus, and especially ministers of the gospel is that we are all in this faith journey together. We all need Jesus! I think the most attractive thing about Jesus was that he was always REAL. He didn’t go to people in the highest places and worry about what people might think about those he ministered to. In fact, he seemed to migrate to the “least of these” and made God’s name great through the transformation of their lives. I think we can all learn alot from this.

What matters is not how we dress, the music that we play, or the style of sermon we deliver. What matters is that we are REAL with others about who Jesus is and the fact that we would ALL be completely lost without him being in control of our lives.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  John 15:5

*When is the last time you were REAL with a brother or sister in Christ about your own life?

*Are you more concerned with how things “look” in the outside rather than your relationship with God? Moreover what people will think if you reach out?

*How can you take a step today to break down the walls of religion and show the love of Christ to someone who may not know him?

Worship IS…

Posted: March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageWe have been working for over a year on changing the usage of the word “Worship”. For most of us (at least those of us in the bible belt) this word probably means for you a time in the week where you sing songs together with your church. We say things like “our Worship services are at 9 & 10:45” or “man Worship was really great today”. Until this year, we even called our department the “Worship Arts” department. There is certainly nothing wrong with saying these things, there is just simply a better way to look at it (I think).

God has called all of us to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” in Worship to Him (Romans 12). Notice he didn’t say “offer your vocal chords once a week” or “offer your service at 9 & 10:45” or even better “only offer these things when you get together with fellow believers”. For those of us who are true followers of Jesus, it should not just be what we do, but rather who we are. Everything in our life should be an act of Worship. I believe with all of my heart that if we do this, our lives (and the lives of those around us) will be forever changed!

Just think about this…what if we went to the doctor with a mindset of Worship. Now, instead of thinking about all the germy kids (and the flu that you might get), or the bill, etc you can be have very intentional conversations about what God is teaching you, or about salvation, or even pray with other parents who might be struggling.

This blog is entitled “Out of the Overflow” because I truly believe that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. If we view our lives as an opportunity to constantly Worship God in ALL things, it can change EVERYTHING. Please hear my heart on this, calling your sunday experience “Worship” is not wrong, just simply incomplete.

I would challenge you today to change your thinking on the word “Worship”. Do you REALLY believe that we are to offer EVERYTHING we do as an act of Worship? Would the way you live your life, the verbiage you use to describe it, and the actions you take in response tell the same story?

What do you think?

Musicians Wanted…

Posted: October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last week I had a random phone call from a church across town. They prefaced the conversation with this statement “I know most churches are very territorial over their musicians, but I was wondering if you guys had a drummer that could possibly fill in for us”. My answer was of course, that we are NOT that way at all about our musicians. In fact, I was able to find someone on our team to fill in for them. He was floored at my response & was very grateful for my help.

Here’s the truth: THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE! God didn’t give us time, talent, or treasure to keep to OURSELVES. He called us to GIVE these things back to HIM. I would say that the same is true of our churches. God has blessed us with very talented musicians, tech team, speaking pastors, greeters, etc. While some of these members serve every week, some only serve once or twice a month. We currently have as many as 4 musicians per instrument (and now expanding with 2 campuses), so there are certainly some off days built in for everyone. So why in the world would I be territorial about our volunteers?

Here’s the rest of the story: No sooner than I sent a musician (drummer) to my brother in need, I got a text with contact info on another drummer who had been visiting our church. This guy was a very seasoned veteran that has played Worship music for over 10 years. I believe with all of my heart it was God reminding me that we are to be generous with everything (and everyone) he has trusted us with! I was able to give him a call and he is set to come sit in on our next practice.

Here’s my question: What would have happened if I had been “territorial” with my musician friend? What if I thought that my job was to hold on to everything & everyone for OUR church’s sake? I have certainly been guilty of this before!

This can also be our mentality not only as Christians, but as churches. We think it is about US, OUR CHURCH, & OUR PEOPLE. As long as this is covered, we are good (no matter what it looks like for the rest of the Worshiping community on that day). God called us to be UNIFIED as THE CHURCH. We are called to be the BRIDE OF CHRIST, & THE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS. That, in and of itself, means to GO when he calls us, to STAY when he calls us, to SHARE our resources with our brothers & sisters, & to BE Jesus to everyone around us (including other Churches!).

I believe that one day we will turn this world upside down for Christ, but it will not be until we truly understand our calling as believers. We are to make disciples who follow JESUS CHRIST, NOT who follow our individual establishments we call churches!

Living in God’s Rhythm…

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Lately I’ve really been trying to get my life in “balance” in terms of time, energy, focus, etc. The truth is that sometimes I feel good about it, and other times I feel like this balance is nowhere to be found. There are nights I go to bed absolutely exhausted from the day and feel great about the things I’ve accomplished for the kingdom, and other times I just simply go to bed exhausted for what feel like no reason. I think this frustration comes because that was never God’s intent for us to be balanced at all.

There are seasons of business and seasons of rest. There are times for new/exciting things (the church going multisite, God blessing us with another child, etc.) and times for hardship (mourning with friends through the loss of a loved one, dealing with difficult personalities, etc.).

Here is the truth…God doesn’t expect us to have a balanced spreadsheet for our life! We all know that there is a natural ebb and flow. I think there is a better way to think about it…

God is constantly providing a rhythm for our life (for musicians we use a click track or metronome). He is moving in such a way as to accomplish HIS will. He is always moving at a steady pace and he has impeccable timing! Sometimes this rhythm is loud and clear in our lives, and sometimes it is simply in the faint background. We are not always ON rhythm, but as long as we hear it, we can adjust. There are times where we have to rest a minute until the next measure comes around, times to be loud, and times to be quiet. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we are always listening for that rhythm.

Adding “click track” to our music has made a world of difference. When the band is ON it, we are tight, and there is a noticeable difference. Simply put, it just feels right to all be in sync! It is very intentional and very rewarding. Without it we can play music, but there is an obvious lack of control over the outcome.

This can also be very true in my spiritual walk. Sometimes I get ahead of God and need to slow down in order to let him lead, and other times it seems he is having to pull me along. No matter how far off the rhythm I get, I know exactly how to get back on track. I just simply stop and listen to that constant voice and he always let’s me know what to do. This seems to be a much easier task than trying to find the perfect balance of God, Family, Work, etc. There is simply no such thing.

So the next time you are feeling worn out, run down, or stressed out about the lack of balance in your life, just remember that the best thing you can do is stop and listen for the rhythm that God has already laid out before you. Only HE can bring sanity to us in the midst of this crazy life!

I don’t know about you, but I spent a good portion of my life trying to be “good.” I followed in my parents footsteps in faithfully going to church, trying to watch my language, and in my most rebellious moments, at least acknowledging right from wrong. These are all positive “good” things to do as a follower of Christ. We MUST give God our absolute BEST effort to follow Him. However, it can never become about WHAT we do, but rather WHY we do what we do. None of us deserve to go to heaven, or to live a life free from guilt and shame. The truth is we all deserve to go to hell for our sin.

BUT…here’s the good news. God did not die on a cross so that all the “good” Christians could go to heaven with him. In fact, it’s more likely that a “bad” person with a true heart of repentance and humbleness will be with Him in the end. There are NO amount of good deeds, NO good track record, or church attendance worthy of going to heaven. While these things should be present in our life as a result of following Jesus, we can never get the “What” ahead of the “Why”!

The older I get, the more I see God’s character present in those who are forgiven, and drastically changed for the better. They are so realistic about the fact that they would be a mess without the Holy Spirit leading their life (the same is true for all of us!). They are also so appreciative of the undeserved grace given to them. It’s not at all that it’s impossible to have the character of Christ without a past! In fact, there is a testimony of God’s grace in that as well. All I’m saying is that regardless of how we came to a place of following Christ, we must never loose sight of the fact that we are sinners saved by grace. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, healed the sick, & gave sight to the blind is not only available to us, but essential for our salvation.

*To quote Andy Stanley is his book How good is good enough…”The good news is that good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do.”

So…what about you? Are you more focused on your “good” track record, or the fact that you are “forgiven” by a God who has done so despite all of your worldly shortcomings?

Adding to the Noise…

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have recently been thinking a lot about how “noisy” my life has become (again). I feel like there are more than a dozen initiatives both work and non-work related that are all going on simultaneously. Some days I lay my head down feeling like I really have a grip on these things, and sometimes I feel like I’m nowhere close. I spent a good part of last year coming up with a “stop doing” list, as well as a “continue doing” & “start doing” list. This proved to be most helpful in prioritizing all areas of my life based on doing the things that only I could do, and things I could be the BEST at. However, when these things were completed (or delegated, or stopped) I really feel like I went back to living my usual day-to-day busy life. So, now it seems I’m back to the drawing board again with my time/priority management.

This reminds me of a theory that I think stands true for everyone. We are ALL surrounded by noise coming from all over (culture, media, work, family, etc). There is NO possible way to constantly be “adding to the noise” and expect to have a clear vision for what God would have us do. So I think before we add anything else to our life, we need to decide what is MOST important in the grand scheme of God’s plan. Secondly, we need to ask this question: What can I remove (or say “no” to) that will allow me to give my ALL to what really matters? My theory on this is actually based on stage lights (hang with me all my non-tech friends). There is really no amount of colored light that can truly penetrate with the desired intensity when mixed with the same amount of “white” light. The only real way to create this amazing colorful display is to actually remove or relocate some of the white lights.

I think this theory can directly apply to our lives. The more we try to be “all things to all people”, the less we are to everyone. The more we try to read all the latest books/blogs, the less we derive from each one. The more information we give to people form the platform (not talking about the sermon, I’m talking about information, announcements, etc.), the less they really hear. As leaders of God’s church, I think this theory is especially true for us. We need to remove the unnecesary “noise” in our own lives, and focus on the calling that God has place on our lives with ALL that we have! Secondly, we need to be very strategic and respectful in how we relay information to the congregation on Sundays. Less is certainly more, and simple (even though harder to pull off) is better. (We all know people check out after a couple of sentences anyway right?)

This is NOT to say that we need simply say “no” to everything either! As Craig Groschel says in his book Weird “we must say no to the GOOD things, so that we can get to the BEST things”. If my wife and I need a date night, then I might have to say no to a double date with friends (even if it is hard to do). The problem is not in the tension itself, but rather in how we manage it. Every decision (including time) should be a spiritual one. God has called us as leaders to be able to discern what things are BEST and what things are slightly less important in the grand scheme of life. We must also figure out what is the MOST important information to share with our congregation. There is a point we can end up saying nothing at all without including some details, but we can obviously overwhelm them to a point where our voice is also silent just as easily.

So…where do I go from here? I’m not sure about you, but the first thing I’m going to do is pray that God would show me these key elements:

1-What are the most important things to God, and how can I help with these initiatives?

2-What are things in my life currently that are not essential to carrying out God’s call on my life?

Lastly I’m going to compose a new “Stop, Start, Continue” list to “remove the noise” from my life.

*What about you…

1-When is the last time you examined the “noise” in your life?

2-What has became so LOUD in your life, that it has taken president over the most important things?

3-Could you benefit from a “Stop, Start, Continue” list?