Monday, December 13, 2010

So Proud...

(Wow. I can't believe it has been so long since my last post-way too busy these days.)

I am going to use this post to brag about the people who are a part of the Bridge Church where it is my privilege to serve...

In a down economy and in a state with the largest unemployment in the nation, our people have stepped up their giving in some astounding ways. Many of the people who give have had a very tough year-some have lost their jobs, many have taken pay cuts and many are looking at having far less this year than in other years. Yet, they decided to make giving and sharing a top priority.

We have started a Community Food Pantry that is serving 100's of people. All of this is made possible through the generosity and service of the people here.

Dozens of people have received assistance with rent, utilities and other basic needs through our Benevolence Funds.

Yesterday was an amazing day as people brought dozens of packages and presents to give away to over 100 people in need in our Community. Check out this link.!/album.php?aid=258848&id=58282719234

I am so proud to be a part of a group of people who don;t make life about us but about others. I am so proud to be a part of a group of people who believe:

...for God so loved the world that He gave... So, we give!!!

What are you proud of? I'd love to hear from you....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Choosing to Obey...

I love the opportunity for new experiences. Last week I received a call from a friend who asked if I would baptize her in the river. I was a little surprised by the request because she has been a Christ follower for many years.

As we talked she told me that she had never been baptized publicly since she had committed her life to Christ and felt that it was time for her to do it. She wanted to be obedient to God's leading in her life.

So, yesterday about 20 of us went down to the Truckee River, in the pouring rain, and we witnessed her baptism. I must say that it was a new experience for me to baptize someone in the pouring rain. All of us were wet and cold but it was a great celebration.

I can tell you this, I will never forget this baptism. Partially because of the pouring rain but mainly because of her desire to obey God's prompting in her life. I went away thanking God for her example of obedience. And asking myself, where in my life do I need to choose to obey.

Where in your life do you need to choose to obey today???

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nothing to prove...

I had the privilege of being with a group of pastors earlier this week in a meeting with Larry Osborne-Teaching Pastor at North Coast Church. He shared a statement that had been passed on to him.

"You have NOTHING to prove and NO ONE to Impress."

This is something that I know but often forget. As a pastor and a person, I often struggle with living this out. I can get caught up in the following...
  • Trying to prove my value and worth by what I do.
  • Believing that the bigger the numbers we have the better pastor I am
  • Trying to impress people with my speaking skills
  • Wanting everyone to be okay with every decision we make
  • Letting some criticism wreck me
This truth is something that I need to be remember all of the time. My value comes from who I am a God's child. He loves me and I don't have to try to prove anything to Him or impress Him with my great abilities. I belong to Him and that is something that no one or nothing can ever take away.

So. today I can relax because "I have nothing to prove and no one to impress." By the way neither do you...

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Money, Money , Money... Whose Is It?

I began a new series yesterday called "Money Matters". I am trying to address some of the basic issues about money that we all face and the truth is that Money Matters to all of us. Money plays such a huge role in our lives and we need to figure out how to handle this issue well.

The most basic issue that we need to answer is the ownership issue. Whose money is it? Who owns it? I work hard for it, I sacrifice a lot of time energy and effort for it. It's mine and I should be able to do with it what I want to. Isn't that the way we normally? I know it is for me. I have struggled a lot with this issue in my life and I've made some bad financial decisions because of it.

King David understood who owned it:

O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. (1 Chronicles 29:16)

Two things to remember:

1. It all comes from God.

2. It all belongs to God.

One of the things that helps me remember this is to constantly ask God how I am to use the resources that He has given to me. I also seek to constantly focus on what I DO have and not on what I DON'T have. So, this week I will take a few moments each day to write down the things that I have that I get to use and enjoy and THANK God for His amazing provision in my life.

What will you do to remember that it is His? I would love to hear from you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Personal Confession...

I have a personal confession to make today. I've been doing a series on the Bible the past couple of weeks. One of the great things about teaching is that not only do you learn more that you teach but you are also reminded of the areas where you need to grow. I have been challenging our people to read the Bible for their own personal growth and relationship with God.

My personal confession is that I find it easy to read the Bible so that I can have something to teach and not necessarily for myself. I can sometimes go for days doing this and I find my personal walk suffering when i do. Can anyone relate to what I'm talking about????

Over the past few weeks as I have been preparing for this series God has helped change that focus. I have made some changes in my schedule and in my attitude to get back on track and this verse is helping to guide me.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

I am taking the first part of my day to get alone with God and spend time in His presence and in His word for me-not for teaching. It's making a difference in my life and I'm loving it. So, the next time you see me ask me how's my personal time with God going? I will do the same with you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Do it now...

Over the last several day on three different occasions a person or couple has came to mind that I had not seen or thought about for some time. My initial thought was maybe I should stop and contact them now. But I was so focused on my agenda that I just keep plowing ahead. I told myself that I would do it later....

The first time that it happened, I did nothing and forgot about it. But, later, I found out that this person was going through a very difficult time and was feeling very alone. I believe that God was trying to get my attention and wanted me to reach out.

The second time it happened, I told myself that I would deal with it later-but forgot it again.. But this time, my wife brought up the person and so we made contact. I was so glad that we did. This person was a dear friend that we had not talked to for several weeks. We were able to go see her and her husband. She had been battling a long term health issue and it was much worse. Turns out that this was the last time we would get to see her. She has since passed. I was so grateful that my wife was more sensitive than me.

Today, I had the same impression and stopped everything to contact the person. I was able to do so and had a chance to encourage someone who is going through a tough time. I was encouraged by our time together.

Is there someone on your mind right now? Someone you have been thinking about? Maybe you need to stop what you are doing and contact them. My advice is to DO IT NOW-don't wait.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Taking Charge of Me...

I have been doing some reading today and came across a great line from author/speaker Jim Collins that has given me much to think about. He said,

"Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to your self than on what the world does to you."

This reminds me of the fact that I must take care of myself. I am responsible for what I do with my life. I can't blame others or the circumstances that I face or the world that I'm in if I don't move forward in my walk with Christ and keep growing in my relationship with Him and in my role as a leader. I must take charge of me-no one else can. You must take charge of you-no one else can.

So, these are questions I must ask myself every day, several times a day is this:

What am I doing to take care of myself and keep moving forward? How am i changing both personally and professionally to make a difference? What am I doing to change the world instead of allowing the world to change me?

So, today, I take charge of my time. I take charge of my walk with Christ. I will take charge of my health and exercise. I take charge of my responsibility to keep growing in my life.

What will you do to take charge of You???

Monday, May 24, 2010

You Make A Difference

Believe it or not, you will make a difference today in someone's life. I know it's hard to believe that we actually do make a difference. Most of us are just trying to get by, doing the best that we can and we rarely stop to think about whether or not we make a difference. But, YOU actually do...

You are the SALT of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (Matt. 5:13)

Salt was extremely valuable and important when Jesus said this. In fact, salt was more valuable than gold in some areas. Why? Because it was used to preserve the food they ate. The presence of salt in the meat and vegetables kept it from spoiling-salt always makes a difference.

So, what difference will you make today or this week? I sometimes think that what I do doesn't matter or that I have to do something spectacular for it to matter. But, I've come to realize that most of the time it's the little things that matter most.

A phone call...
An encouraging email...
Meeting someone for coffee...
Cooking a meal for a family....

This week there are two people that I am going to try to contact to spend some time with them. I am going to reach out to them today and see what God does.

So, what will you do today or this week to make a difference? I'd love to hear from you....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Our Distinguishing Mark

Billions of dollars are spent each year by businesses and individuals trying to "brand" themselves and "distinguish" them from others. What is it the "distinguishing" mark for the Christian? is it the fish on the back of the car? The bumper sticker? Is it our great theology? (And we need to have great theology). None of these are what Jesus talked about. Here's what he said...

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).

We are to love others in the same way that Jesus loved. He is our example of what love should look like in this world. Jesus made it clear that this is what will tell others we belong to Him. Which also means that if we do not love others, they have the right to say that we are not his disciples. Kind of interesting, isn't it? This means that people who do not claim to follow Jesus can say that we do not follow Him if we aren't loving like He did.

So, the question you and I need to answer is this: Are we loving like He loved? Pretty simple to comprehend and yet very difficult to apply. Based upon words, actions and attitudes, what would others have to say about you and me? Would they know we are His disciples or not???

May we love others well as He loved others well....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Stand Up"

I don't know about you but sometimes I fell like I fall so short of what God wants to do in my life and how God wants to use me. Sometimes I get focused on my weakness and failures and feel that I have very little to offer to God or others. But then God reminds me that He chooses to use those who are weak and broken-those who have failed and will fail again. All He asks of me is to "Stand Up."

Peter had failed Jesus-he had denied him three times and deserted him. Peter had even gone back to fishing-but then He encountered the Risen Lord and Peter's life was changed. Peter was the first one to stand up and speak to the small band of disciples in the upper room (Acts 1:15). Peter was the first one to stand up and speak to the large crowd who had gathered on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14).

God chose to use a weak and broken man-one who had failed miserably. All Peter had to do was "Stand Up". When he did, God did some amazing things.

I wonder what God will chose to do today in my life if I am willing to "Stand UP"? I don't know, but I do know I will never know if I don't "Stand Up". So, today I will "Stand Up". What about you, will you "Stand Up"? Let me know, I'd love to hear what God is up to in your life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Real Life Change...

I love stories of life change.

I attended a Graduation Event at the Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission last night. All I can say is WOW and Praise God.

Eleven men and women had completed an intense, in-house recovery program that lasts anywhere from 13-16 months. And believe me, it is intense and comprehensive. What a great celebration of Life-change. It reminded me that it's never too late for real life change.

They shared story after story of addictions, ruined lives, guilt, shame and broken relationships that had been transformed by the power of the gospel and the commitment of the mission to address real life issues for everyone. A story of a broken marriage-put back together. A story of a mother who was reunited with her child. Stories of addictions that were broken and lives with no direction or hope filled now with both.

Some shared they came against their own wills and wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ. Some came because they were at the end of their rope and had nowhere else to turn. Everyone of them talked about how they had encountered Christ and He had changed their lives. That's the power of the gospel.

I can away energized about continuing to preach the gospel and being reminded about the Hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our lives to be transformed. Whatever challenges are in front of you, whatever personal battles or addictions you may face today, there is Hope for your life to be transformed by the power of the gospel and there is Hope for those that you love as well.

I don't know about you, but that excites me...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rocks or You???

How will you use your voice this week and where will you point others? Each and every day we make choices about what we say and how we will use our voices. We can choose to make a lot of noise about us, about others, the world we live in or the Savior that we know.

All too often I find myself focused too much on me or others or the things going on in our world and saying very little about the Savior that I know and love. I know that my life needs to back up what I say. But there are times that I need to use my words to point others to the one who can bring life.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowds went wild. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to make the crowds stop. Jesus would not and said,

"I tell you if they keep quiet, the stone will cry out." Luke 19:40.

If we don't the the stones will. I don;t know about you, I don't want to be outdone by the rocks on the ground. I want to use my voice to point others to the one who gave His life and rose from the dead so that we could have life.

What will you do??? Will it be the rocks or will it be you???

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I had a great discussion with some men this morning about the issue of significance. We all want to make a difference, we all want to do something of value that will last. The question is what does bring significance and value to our lives? What motivates us as we live?

One person has said, "Significance is not possible unless what we do contributes to the welfare of others." Jesus emphasized the same point when he said,

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

If this is true, then the question we must ask is this--How am I making a difference in
the lives of others? Am I serving others or am I really trying to get them to serve me? But, let's be honest, sometimes it is hard to know if this is happening or not.

As a pastor, it is much easier for me to measure my significance by things like:

Are more people coming today than last week?

Are we meeting our budget?

Are our small groups growing?

How many positive emails do I get as opposed to negative ones?

When I do this, I find myself getting too focused on me and what I am doing and I also drive myself crazy. I do believe significance is measured by my willingness to serve others. Maybe I should ask:

Whom did I seek to serve today?

How did I respond to the one who interrupted my schedule?

What sacrifices did I make to meet the needs of someone else?

So, what do you think? How do you measure significance in your life? When you go to bed at night, how do you know if you've truly made a difference in someone's life?

I'd love to hear from you...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Talk is Cheap-Take Action...

I am always challenged by God's Word as I teach God's word. Last week we dealt with James 2:14-26. It is so easy to get up and talk about something and so challenging to put it into practice. James emphasizes that real faith will always take action and not just talk.

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:17)

In the middle of my study last week, I received an email from a friend who was very upset with me. I had promised I would do something for him several months ago and I have not done it. My first thought was to be mad about what he was saying. Then I thought, I have plenty of reasons why I have not followed through...

I have been very busy.

He never followed up with me.

I simply forgot about it.

All are true, but none of them really matters. The truth is that I made a promise and have done nothing. As I think about it, I do that more often that I would like to admit. I say...

I will pray for you...

I will call you...

Let's get together for coffee...

And I never take action. Once more I am reminder that it's not what I say that matters, it's what I do...

So, today I am going to pick up the phone and call my friend and begin to take action on what I said. What action do you need to take today???

Monday, February 15, 2010

R U Lstening???

One of the biggest challenges that most people face is "Listening Well." At least once a week something happens that reminds me of the fact that I still have a long way to go on this one. On some level, I take comfort in the fact that this is not a new problem. It's one that the early church needed to deal with as well...

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

Here are a few things that I am trying to focus on to get better:

  • Give my full and complete attention to the person: Turn off the cell phone, close my computer, turn off the tv, etc.
  • I listen more and talk less. (This is a tough one for me because I have so much to say)
  • I ask a lot of question to make certain I am understanding.
  • I take notes.
  • I make certain I follow up if needed.

These things are helping me but I still fall short of where I want to be...

Do any of you have any suggestions that help you become a bteer listener that might help me as well? I'd love to hear from you...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How Do You Identify Yourself?

I am starting a new teaching series this weekend called "Life: Some Assembly Required" from the book of James. It's a great book with a lot of wisdom about how to live your life and I'm so excited about teaching it.

But there is one thing that jumps out at me in James 1:1 and it's the way that James identifies himself to his readers...

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (James 1:1)

He calls himself a SERVANT of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is quite amazing when you know who James really is. You see James is the brother of Jesus.

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Matt. 13:55)

Now if I had been writing this letter, I know what I would have said. I would have said, "Hey, my name is James and I am the brother of Jesus. I grew up with him. I got to see things you don't know about. I did not always get along with Him and I did not believe He was the Messiah. But, He appeared to me after His death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7) and I've been convinced ever since. So, since Jesus is my brother, you can trust what I am about to tell you because I am speaking with experience and authority."

BUT, James did not do this. He never tells us anything about his background nor about his family. He simply says, I am a SERVANT of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This makes me think about how I identify myself. Sometimes I want people to know who I am and who I know. I want people to think more highly of me because of who I am..I say thinks like ...

I am a pastor and I studied at...

I am the Senior Pastor at the Bridge Church

I know so and so...

I am a husband

I am a father, etc. etc..

All of this is true, but perhaps the best way to identify myself is to simply say:
I am a SERVANT of God and the Lord Jesus Christ... Maybe if I were to do this it would help me keep the right focus about who I really am and who needs to be in the spotlight. I don't know.

Tell me, what do you think??? How do you identify yourself?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Breaks Your Heart?

I am currently reading a book that is challenging me on so many levels. The title is "The Hole in our Gospel", by Richard Stearns president of World Vision. The book tells of his journey and how God called him from a very lucrative CEO position in the business world to lead the ministry of World Vision.

He quotes Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, who challenged others to pray with him, "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

I believe that God's heart is broken over the suffering and injustice that many face in our world today. God's heart is broken as we become more and more insensitive to the cries of the poor, those suffering from AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases simply because of a lack of drugs that we take for granted. God's heart is broken over the more than 26,000 children who die each day from starvation and the preventable diseases that are related to their poverty.

God is breaking my heart over the needs of the poor, the unemployed and those who are suffering in my own city of Reno where 95% of those living here are unchurched and thousands are unemployed and finding it more and more difficult to provide for their families. Jesus said...

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

The gospel requires that we do more than just preach the truth, we must act to help alleviate the suffering in this world. Our hearts be broken for those in need. I don't know what all that means for me today, nor for the Bridge Church that I am called to lead. But I do know that doing nothing is not an option. We are responding more today to the physical needs of those around us. We are helping to assist the local mission here, we are working with an organization that helps teen-age mothers and we are partnering with a local food bank. But, I believe that we are called to do more and trust that God will direct as as we seek Him and pray that we will be obedient to His call.

So, let me ask you: What breaks your heart and what are you doing about it?