For the past 3 plus years I have served as the Pastor of Ministry Development at The Highway Community, which has been a great joy and honor. The Highway staff as well as the whole community is quite remarkable. It’s been a chapter of my life (our life) filled with tremendous blessing and grace. In the last couple months, God brought an opportunity to me (and my family) that was very unique, and intriguing to ponder. A friend of mine, Nancy Ortberg, introduced me to Ryan Ingram, the Lead Pastor of Awakening Church. In short, there were some challenges he was facing that she thought a dialogue between us could be helpful. As I began to meet with Ryan, a genuine friendship emerged as well as a deep sense of resonance with his passion and approach to ministry. Through a series of conversations, it became clear to Cheri and I, as well as to the Awakening leadership, that God was binding us together and solidifying a new partnership. So…this past Sunday I began in my new position as Executive Pastor at Awakening Church in San Jose. My family and I are very excited about this new chapter that is beginning. We have sensed God to be in this, and guiding us into this whole process. There has also been so many confirmations and affirmations that have been so evident to us.
The transition out of the Highway Community was smooth, and I am very thankful, especially to Dean, John, the Shepherds and really the entire staff team. It was an incredible staff that I got to work with. Cheri and I are eternally grateful for the years we spent at Highway, all the great friendships, and all the people that served our family and that we were privileged to partner with in advancing God’s mission in the world.
This month, I am beginning a new chapter, and a word that I sense God giving me is the word expectancy. This word has been settling into my soul and affecting the way I pray and live. And with this word, I have great anticipation of what will unfold in our lives together, both with my family and with the Awakening community.
It’s a great honor to join the staff and faith community at Awakening, and I can already sense what a special place this really is. God is at work. People are discovering and experiencing new life in God. People are growing. People are loving their neighbors and loving God. People embody this wonderful spirit of servanthood. I could go on.
So I am off and running here at Awakening, anticipating the meeting of so many new people, as well as anticipating God’s activity. Can’t wait to be more and more apart of this movement, to experience this community more deeply, and to help people who are really searching for God to find him. This year will be a year that I choose to live inspired. I hope you do too.Read More
If someone spent one week deliberately observing your life, what would conclusions would they make about the God you believe in?
– Where do you spend time, and who with?
– What do you laugh at, or even smile at?
– What brings you genuine joy? Would joy and laughing and smiling even be noticed as part of your everyday life?
– When and how often are you moody (i.e. in a bad mood, or one with a negative tone)?
– What do you allow to go into your mind?
The questions could go on.
Here are a couple questions I’ve been reflecting on this past week:
Are the things that are important to me also important to the God I believe in?
Do my priorities reflect God’s priorities?
Is the trajectory of my life moving towards doing what God does, feeling what he feels, seeing the way he sees?
Do I have compassion in my heart? How about generosity and a willingness to serve others?
The truth about me is this: There are HUGE discrepancies between me and the God I believe in.
BUT…as I invite God to increase my awareness of his activity in my life, he moves in humbly, he softens my heart, he opens me to listening to his voice, and ultimately I see and sense him working to change my heart. I find myself wanting. I find myself wanting to want God more, wanting more desire and hunger for him, wanting to know more of who he is as I strive to reflect who he is in my own life. I know it’s not about trying harder ultimately as well. I know it’s about inviting him to give me the power to do what I can’t do by myself. That’s God’s grace and power at work. My job is to put myself in a posture that is receptive – to hear his voice, sense his presence, do the good that is before me every moment that I can.
And in moments when I’ve done this well, man has God showed up. And I know he will show up in your life to. It starts with an invitation from you to God because he’s already invited you to walk near to him.Read More
No one really likes to admit they are addicted to anything. By doing so, you’re admitting to something having power of you. You’re also implying that you’re weak, or at least weaker than whatever it is that you’re addicted to.
So, I have an addiction.
I keep going back to it. I keep buying into it’s lie. I keep clinging to it because I believe somewhere deep down that it will make me feel alive, make me feel valuable and worthy. But you know what? It never delivers. And no matter how many times I keep going back to my addiction, it fails me every time.
I am addicted to performance and the feeling of achievement or success. And ok, maybe you don’t think you can be addicted to that, but give me a second. This has been a major issue in my life, one that God has worked deeply and routinely on because it runs deep.
I find myself getting my identity wrapped up into how I’m perceived by others. Do others see me as ‘accomplished’ or as ‘successful’ or with some kind of ‘status’ that makes me feel good about myself? Sometimes it leaks over into what others think about how good of a parent I am, or how well I speak or write or lead. And then throw in things like appearance, intelligence, my reputation, my achievements, how my kids behave, and all of these things become synonymous with my worth. In short, achievements add to my worth. And failure, or even the perception of it, deter from my worth. As a result I get addicted to performance and achievement because it makes me feel like somebody.
But it’s the journey of the false self. It’s a dead end. And like I said, even when I perform well, achieve something great, or succeed with flying colors, that good feeling only lasts a short while. Then back to the addiction because the feeling is gone and I need another hit.
Now, I’m not saying accomplishments are insignificant or shouldn’t be pursued. But, there’s a huge difference in finding pleasure in something we do and depending on it for worth, value and meaning. I don’t want to live my life giving all my energy to image projection, or “performing” for others. For one, it’s exhausting. And worse, it sucks me into living in my false self. It takes me away from the God life and keeps me clinging to the self-life or the me-life. That’s the great irony of the human spirit – when we try to consume for ourselves, thinking it’ll make us “happy” or “fulfilled”, it does just the opposite. And in contrast, when we live for something beyond ourselves, God, we find ourselves more deeply satisfied in our souls. Even in saying that, I “know this” but man it can be very hard to live it. So I continue to live in this tension, where God is patient with me, and reminds me of this deeper journey, a journey I’ve been created to be on. I want to disconnect myself from the hamster wheel of tireless and endless proving of myself, earning something from someone, running so fast and furious to keep up and keep a certain image. This causes me anxiety, fear, frustration, and outright exhausts my soul.
This brings me back to GRACE, something I feel I just never can fully get. But it keeps getting me. It keeps reminding me to cling to God, center myself in God, root my identity and worth in a deeper and deeper way…IN GOD. That’s how to break free from my addiction. And any addiction really. I am free – through the gospel of grace – from rescuing myself or proving myself or from carrying the burden of measuring up. And now, if I could just keep living in that truth the rest of my life…Read More
Aside from my parents, one of my first real mentors was my high school baseball coach. His mentorship of me revolved around skill development, namely baseball. However, it went far beyond that. What Coach Holder taught me beyond baseball has many layers, but begins with mental toughness and work ethic. He was a hard nose coach who didn’t let you get away with anything. No disrespect. No laziness. No giving up. We were challenged every day to focus on the team’s best outcomes, but part of that being you coming to practice every day to work hard, give your best, and focus for a couple hours the best you can. When that wasn’t the reality he saw, he stayed on our case very intensely. At times I of course HATED THIS, or even hated even dare I say (at these for the moment). But he pushed me hard and stayed on me to do things the right way, with the right attitude. Of course he intimidated me, but looking back, that was part of his strategy to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish with his players and teams.
I remember the days he would pull me aside (sometimes in weight training class). He’d throw me a tennis ball, mark off 60 feet and tell me to practice throwing the ball against the wall and getting it inside a little square every time I hit it. He would stand there and watch sometimes. And when I wasn’t hitting the goal, he would push me, challenge me, and sometimes yell at me. I felt the pressure. I was nervous, anxious, and sometimes flat out scared that I would fail. He stayed on me for years, literally. And it made me a better baseball player. More than that, he made me a better man. He taught me how to handle the pressure. He taught me how to discipline my mind and minimize distractions. He taught me to believe I could do, envision it in my mind, and then execute. Somehow in the midst of moments like these I knew how much he believed in me. He wasn’t pulling every player off to the side to push them harder, only a few of us. And essentially, best I could tell, it was those he believed in most.
From the perspective of a mentor, one thing I’ve always held onto was the power of believing in someone. That can play out in all different ways, but people sense it and see it when it’s present. The reverse is also true. When we’re trying to mentor people, or when we’re having the “developmental conversations” with someone, they know whether we believe in them or not. If we really do, and they sense that, they will be way more likely to open themselves up to us, receive our input, allow us to shape them, and ultimately they will become better for it. The question we all must ask ourselves about those we’re mentoring, or those we want to mentor, is: Do we REALLY believe in people? Do we see their potential? Do we envision them excelling or do we see them so critically that we end up so focused on what they don’t do well? Great mentors capitalize on who they are and invest in the development of people’s strengths. I was a left-handed pitcher, who had potential. My path to “success” (as a baseball player) was shaped by this coach of mine. I ended up getting a division one scholarship to the University of South Carolina, the best baseball conference in the country. There were many factors that contributed to this outcome, but Coach Holder stands at the center of my success. He mentored me into some level of excellence in the sport of baseball. And more than that, what he left me with was who I became because of his investment (and belief) in me. Who will you believe in, invest in, and help succeed?
I have a new book about Mentoring out if you’re interested – http://www.missiopublishing.com/protege/
The Psalms make up the authentic and profound hymnbook at the heart of the Scriptures. These 150 “chapters” have been the ongoing lifeblood of Jesus followers for centuries. Yet in modern-day Christian circles, the Psalms are either rarely used or they get reduced to a few verses to be recited as “filler” in worship services. Perhaps we don’t realize the depths of what we are missing.
“The failure to attain a deeply satisfying life always has the effect of making sin look good.” So true! Reminds me of the importance of joy and living a deeply satisfying life (and he’s talking about finding that IN GOD, not in other things)