Sunday, January 31, 2010

Students Are Better At Ministering to Students, So Let Them Loose

I was so pumped up today after my meeting with our student leaders. We had a great time planning out the upcoming retreat, sharing stories, and sharing our quiet time lessons. These students rock!

However, after the meeting Erik, one of my volunteer crew members, told me about three high school guys in the ministry who were interested in student leadership but really wanted to meet with me to talk about taking a true leadership role in the ministry. My reaction: I WAS SO STINKIG PUMPED UP! Students are the best ministers to students.

As youth workers, we should be encouraging students to dream as big as Jesus is and then give them the reigns to make that God-sized vision become a reality. Of course we guide, but that is not synonymous with control. Everyone wants to live for something bigger than themselves. We can keep doing everything and we will continue to produce consumers or we can encourage students to truly follow Jesus so that they can experience the abundant life that he came to give.

Thoughts About Sunday...

What a fun day.  Things at PFB ROCKED TODAY!!!! Here were some highlights:

  • Preached at all of the morning services at PFB.  Taught on principles that are necessary when seeking consultation (from 1 Kings 22) when making a decision.  The key: ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT!!! It seemed like God had some things to say and that the message was received.  I'll have to trust the Holy Spirit with the results but I believe that I was faithful to BRING IT!!!!! :)

  • Mentioned that I've neglected my relationship with the Holy Spirit for the past 35 years.  I love Jesus.  I am overwhelmed with my Abba-Father relationship with the Father.  It's time to get very familiar with the Holy Spirit.  The thing is: I'm convinced that he will freak me out very often.

  • Had a great time with of prayer with Kimberly Gunderson.  She is awesome and has such an incredible heart for the students in the neighborhoods around our church.  Prayed for big things, because we either pray big or go home.

  • Met a high school girl, Rebecca, today.  Was excited to see that she might to go on our high school retreat at the end of February.

  • Talked with another high school girl, Christina, after the third service at PFB.  She came up in tears and shared that she doesn't usually sing during the worship time.  However, after the message, she took on Jarret's challenge to not dog it during worship and she BROUGHT IT! She said she sang out to Jesus and it was amazing.

  • Had a great chat with Rob & Bekah about marriage.  I love those two.

  • I had an amazing time with the high school student leaders.  What a great group of students.

  • Ended the day with pizza with the family.

A great day!!! I'm exhausted but what a ride

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bonita Update...

TO: My heroes who faithfully pray for me

I wanted to thank you for praying.  God has been doing a work in my life, encouraging me to continue on in what he wants me to do.  It actually started last night on my drive home from the Los Angeles Campus of Azusa Pacific where I serve as a chaplain for the degree completion and grad students enrolled there.

I sat in my little office waiting for students to come in, wondering why I was feeling so dry.  It then hit me: when I'm driving, very often I just put on talk radio and hear the same stuff over and over.  I then remembered that Francis Chan came out with a book that was also for sale in audio format called, "Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit."  So, I bought it.  I listened to it the whole way home and OH WOW - the Holy Spirit did some work in me on that drive home.


Today, I shared with a group of about 35 high schoolers at the Christian Club of Bonita High School.  I also met the youth pastor of Grace Church of La Verne, Barry Bishop (THIS GUY IS AN ABSOLUTE BLAST and boy do I look forward to getting to know him).  I taught out of Matthew 17, when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John.  The passage pretty much takes us through the holiness of God and the care of Jesus.  Then it asks us the question: is Jesus really enough? If you have nothing and no one else, is Jesus really enough.  It really was a powerful time with those incredible high school students.

A great time.  Thank you for praying.  I would appreciate your prayers as I continue to prep the message for the Sunday mornings services at PFB.  I love you all.

"Don't Forget the Spirit" - A.W. Tozer

"You may think it out of place for me to say so, but in our churches today we are leaning too heavily upon human talents and educated abilities.  We forget that the illumination of the Holy Spirit of God is a necessity, not only in our ministerial preparation, but in the administrative and leadership functions of our churches." (Jesus Is Victor, p. 48)

I have been so convicted of this as of late.  To cry out for the Holy Spirit to invade a setting or to change a heart, to help me prep a message and to run a meeting.  EVERY ASPECT of my day being in step with the longings and wishes of the Holy Spirit of God.

Holy Spirit - RUN FREE IN MY LIFE!!!! Whatever that leaves me to be I trust and leave with you.

"Apathy & Activity In Faith" - A.W. Tozer

"In only one field of human interest are we slow and apathetic: That is the field of personal religion.  There, for some strange reason, our enthusiasm lags.  Church people habitually approach the matter of their personal relation to God in a dull, half-hearted way which is altogether out of keeping with their general temperament and wholly inconsistent with the importance of the subject.

"It is true that there is a lot of religious activity among us.  Interchurch baskeball tournaments, religious splash parties followed by devotions, weekend camping trips with a Bible quiz around the fire, Sunday school picnics, building fund drives and ministerial breakfasts are with us in unbelievable numbers, and they are carried on with typical American gusto.  It is when we enter the sacred precincts of the heart's personal religion that we suddenly lose all enthusiasm." - A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men, p. 8

What Are We Calling Them To?

"Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.  He calls them to forsake the world; we assure them that if they but accept Jesus the world is their oyster.  He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords.  He calls them to spread themselves like green bay trees or perchance even to become stars in a pitiful fifth-rate religious zodiac.  He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers." - A.W. Tozer, Warfare of the Spirit, pp. 83-84

Tozer has a way of smacking me right in the face.  As I read the quote above, I wrote this question: "What are we calling people to?" When I'm calling people to a saving knowledge and relationship with Christ, what am I saying in order to "make the sale"? This quote made me stop in my tracks and reassess the motivation of my heart and the methods that I use in calling people to abandon and surrender their lives for the sake of taking up a cross and following Jesus.  A life with Christ is the ultimate life.  I will not deny that.  However, I must be honest in presenting what this life requires of me and to those who choose to follow Jesus.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jesus' Disciples That Couldn't Do Anything...

"And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." - Matthew 17:16 [ESV]

Is there anything more painful to hear? Whether you're a disciple of Jesus, or Jesus himself hears it, isn't the sentence above one of the most painful things to hear? For Jesus, it means that his disciples could not do that which Jesus had empowered them to do before.  They couldn't help.  To the disciples, they couldn't do anything to help the boy.

I don't know about you, but I'm so scared of falling into the mediocre and predictable of Jesus.  I want the stuff that leaves me speechless.  I want the stuff that makes me wonder how in the world that ever happened.  And the thing is, the amount of faith that I need to see the miraculous happen is the faith the size of a mustard seed.

FAITH: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1 [ESV]

What does faith look like your our lives? I'm guessing that a life half-lived doesn't require a faith that is absolutely necessary.  A life half-lived is a life that can be "controlled" - or at least maintained enough to be working.  However, a life that is committed to following Jesus NEEDS faith.  It is not an option; it is a necessity.

So what do we do? We ask Jesus to help us in our unbelief.  We ask him to increase our faith.  However, be prepared.  The method and tactics used in increasing one's faith have nothing to do with comfort.  Comfort does not lead me to need Jesus.  Struggle does.  Just make sure you know what you're asking for when you ask for Jesus to increase your faith.  But also, please know that the life that he will give you will leave you in awe and amazed, unable to explain in word the miraculous that you see happening around you.

May we always strive to live lives for Jesus that resemble him so much that we are able to accomplish the same things for him and by him that he accomplished while he was here.  May we never hear anyone ever say of us, "I brought him to your disciples and they could not heal him."  Remember: our inability to do anything is a direct reflection of what others think about Jesus.  If Jesus wants to do the impossible, we better be prepared to be led to the impossible only to see it become possible.  Enjoy the ride.

Teaching Update (1/28/2010)

TO: My unbelievable prayer warriors.

I'll be honest: speaking today was a challenge.  I had a few hecklers in the crowd of 200 junior highers that seemed to need some attention for some reason.  That just never sits well with me.

I would appreciate your prayers.  I honestly feel like last night at ELEVATE was 1 Kings 18 (Elijah's triumph on Mt. Carmel) and today feels like 1 Kings 19 (Elijah's discouragement).  I'm hanging in there.  I just do not like this feeling.  Prayer is appreciated.

I speak tomorrow at Bonita High School.  I also need to continue prepping the message for the morning services this Sunday at PFB.  Thank you so much for praying.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming!!!

OH MY GOODNESS!!! Jesus at ELEVATE tonight was INSANE! I'm serious. I do not have the words to describe what I saw happen. And this is a huge answer to prayer.

On Monday night, our prayer group met and I prayed this prayer: I prayed that God would do something so incredible at ELEVATE that we would leave speechless. Friends, he did just that. I shared for about 15-minutes a message titled, "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming," a message encouraging people who are going through tough times (Friday) to hang in there because Sunday is coming. OH MY WORD - I still can't believe what Jesus said to us tonight. Here are some of the things that students and staff said about ELEVATE:

  • "He made me look to Sunday! He showed up HUGE in my life tonight." - Hannah

  • "It was craaaaazy incredible! Best one of the year yet!" - Laura

  • "Tonight gave me a little piece of heaven on earth." - Rachel

  • "God really loves us no matter what we do. We can't earn his love. It's a given. Realizing that we need him to survive is the most comforting realization! Tonight rocked my face off!" - Elle

  • "He made me feel better inside and not to doubt him and to be afraid of his power." - Hunter

  • "Wow. It's hard to even explain how much love was being felt tonight at ELEVATE. Love for Jesus. Love for each other. And love being given by Jesus. Amazing." - Daphne

  • "Tonight really changed my outlook on life, at a time where things aren't looking so good. I really needed this." - Mariah

  • "Tonight I felt like I worshipped God more than I ever have before. I closed my eyes and sang and I felt like a spot light was on me and the Trinity and all the angels were watching me and I was the center of the Lord's attention and I performed my best for Him. It was incredible." - Selby

  • "Unexplainable. It was an awesome night of just hanging with Jesus." - Hillary

  • "He told me that I need to keep being a light for others. He also is telling me where in life I am headed with my ministry and walk and that he has it all planned so don't worry." - Kyle

  • "I'm in a Friday right now but I know Sunday is coming and God is the only way to get there. And, that I need to make sacrifices." - Cosmo

  • "He reminded me that he is coming back and that he keeps the promises he makes! I realized that I have been so selfish to not be heaven minded and I am so changed. New perspective here I come." - Aubrey

  • "I felt in awe when I left." - Sarah

  • "Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be in this city!!!... I'm all in!!" - David

  • "Wow... Jesus BLEW MY MIND TONIGHT! Worship was more radical than I could've imagined!!" - Andy

  • "Wow! Tonight was freakin' amazing! I am so thankful I am part of this ministry!" - Courtney

  • "There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a ton of kids lifting their hands in worship. I wish I could get through one Wednesday night without crying." - Ashley

At the end of the our worship time, I was closing in prayer. In the back was a young man who was just crying out praises and worship to God as I prayed. It was so powerful. It was incredible. Something happened and Jesus was honored. "I felt in awe when I left," is what Sarah shared above. And that is exactly what I prayed for on Monday.

Come on, Jesus. You've only just begun and I'm so excited for what you still have in store.

Elevate Starts in 90 Minutes

To: My beloved prayer warriors

Thank you for praying.  Please keep it up.  I'll be honest: I've had a hard time so far this week focusing during my study times.  Please pray that God would help me, by his Spirit, to focus on his voice as I strive to teach what he wants taught.

ELEVATE starts in 90 minutes and I am so pumped up.  I'll send an update tomorrow about what God accomplishes.  Please pray as we come together and worship Christ.  Pray as I share a short devotional with the students.  Thank you so much.

What a ride,

The Experience Of A Lifetime: Part 4

"But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise and have no fear."  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." - Matthew 17:7-8 [ESV]

What a night Peter, James, and John have experienced.  They saw Jesus' face shining like the sun while he stood and chatted with Moses and Elijah.  Then, a cloud descended and the Father spoke to them from the cloud.  Their response to all of this:  "When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified." TERRIFIED!!! What a crazy evening!

So, Jesus does what he knows he needs to do in this moment: he goes to the disciples and tells them to not be afraid.  Isn't that amazing? We do not worship a God who lets us freak out just so we'll freak out.  He is quick to come and reassure us at the perfect time.  He will allow us to go through some scary stuff because he has something to teach us through those experiences, but when we have seen and learned what Jesus wants us to, he will come to us and tell us, "Don't freak out. I'm right here."

But then notice this last verse: "And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." Here's my question: Is Jesus enough? No face shining like the sun.  No prophets from days of old.  No Father of heaven speaking to you from a cloud.  No crazy experience.  Just Jesus.  If at any point "just Jesus" feels like you got the short end of the stick, there's a problem with your view of Jesus.  May we come to the point where "just Jesus" is the greatest thing we could ever want.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Is The Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" - [Matthew 18:1, ESV]

I'm convinced that this question still rings true from the heart of Christ's disciples today (including myself) because so often we want to know that we are important and valued - that we truly are treasured and adored, because we struggle with accepting this truth.  However, this question also stems from our love for power, of being in control of life.  As I read this verse this thought came to my mind:  "If this question is in my heart, then MY kingdom is at the forefront of my mind."  As long as I am asking who is the greatest, I am not worshipping the One who truly is the greatest.

Jesus' response to their question: this little kid.  He then says, "...unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4, ESV).  A child understands his role in the family - he/she is the kid.  Their job: to play.  They are not consumed with competition (watch 3-year-old basketball games and you'll will see that competition really isn't driving them).  They are merely living, trusting that those who are over them can do anything.

As a Christian, I am to know my place.  I am a child of God and my Father in heaven is the greatest.  But Jesus does say that those who humble themselves like a little child are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  How can this be? I wonder if it's because when I take on a life of humility it is then that my character resembles the character of Jesus—the highest and the greatest.  If I am driven to be the greatest it is then that I am no longer interested in God's kingdom but rather my own.

Jesus - Please help me become less "grown-up" and more childlike in my walk with you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update From The Rising...

Last night I taught at the Rising.  The topic: a leader needs to be a person of integrity.  We looked at 2 Samuel 11 (story of David and Bathsheba).  I'm not gonna lie: it was a tough topic and a pretty hard-hitting message.  However, I do believe that it was well-received and that God did some great works in the hearts of those who were there.

Please pray for those who were there and for those who may hear the message down the road.  We are called to be different (set apart).  To ignore that call is to make Jesus look like a hypocrite as we fake to follow and represent him to the world.

I appreciate your prayers.  Thank  you so much.

The Experience Of A Lifetime: Part 3

"And [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light." (Matthew 17:2; ESV)

What a sight!!! The Jesus that they had been walking around with did not look the same.  That night, Peter, James and John saw Jesus in an absolutely amazing new way.  Peter was so terrified that he offered to build three shelters because of what he witnessed (one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah).  He just kept talking about it because he was too uncomfortable to keep quiet.  But then the Father interrupted Peter's offer with these words:

"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

In other words: "You know this Jesus that you have been walking around for months? You know this Jesus that you seem to have gotten a little bit used to, being that you couldn't stay awake and pray? You see this Jesus with his face shining like the sun? THAT'S MY BOY!!!! So do me a favor, Peter: be quiet and listen.  He has some things that you really need to hear"

Have you gotten used to Jesus? Has he become a regular attender in your life rather than the Almighty God in total control of all of life? Is the Jesus that you hang with the tame and mild one in the Jesus pictures we are so used to seeing, or is he the God who measures the universe with the span of his hand and who spoke light into being merely be speaking the word, "Light"?

There is a need for us to go with Jesus to a quiet spot in order that he can reveal himself to us again in a way that will leave us with weak and knocking knees, and with an inability to speak because we are in complete and total awe at just the sight of our Savior.  And the benefit about not being able to speak is that we are finally able to truly listen.

It's Time to Pray...

TO: My amazing prayer team.

I need your prayer as I prepare to teach in different places this coming week. Here is my schedule:

1). ELEVATE (Wednesday night; 7pm)
2). Crossroads Junior High (Thursday; 1pm)
3). Crossroads High School (Friday; 9am)
4). Bonita High School Christian Club (Friday; 12pm)
5). PFB Worship Services (Sunday; 8:45, 9:45, & 11:11am)

Please pray as I prepare. Please pray as I pray. Please pray as I preach. Thank you so much.

Congratulations to Rob & Bekah

Last night, Rob Schwandt dropped to one knee and asked Rebekah Tenney to become his wife. WOOOOOO HOOOOOO! I absolutely adore these two people and am so thankful for their service to our high school ministry. They have impacted so many young people for Christ's kingdom. I cannot wait to see how God uses them as a married couple.

Congratulations to you, both. Love you guys. Take care.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Please Be Praying...

To: The awesome people who make up my prayer team.

Would you please pray? I am studying for tomorrow night's message at The Rising.  I'm teaching on the necessity of integrity in leading.  If we as Christians are going to lead others, especially lead others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we need to be people who are committed to integrity before God—making him our standard rather than making other people our standard.

God lead me to 2 Samuel 11—the story of David and Bathsheba.  I'll be honest: tomorrow night's message is a straight-for-the-jugular type of message, and I've had to get real and honest before God tonight before he will allow me to bring it tomorrow (repentance is so healing).

Please pray for the following:

  • That I would preach boldly with compassion and love (this is going to be a tough message).  I do not want to come across as superior or having it all together.  However, I know I must bring up the truth—that truth that God brought to my face tonight as I studied.

  • That all of us at The Rising would be responsive to God's message for us the same that David was responsive to God's message for him (see 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51).

  • That the Holy Spirit would move among all of us and, 1). Bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus, and 2). Bring a spirit of conviction upon all of us so that we might truly live for Christ, leading others toward him rather than away from him.

Thank you so much.  You all are amazing.

The Experience of A Lifetime: Part 2

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light." - Matthew 17:1,2 [ESV]

Can you imagine how often Jesus would take these three disciples on their own personal adventures with him? And I can't help but think that they had gone off with Jesus many times to a solitary place in order that they could "pray" (and when I say pray, I mean Jesus would pray and they would pray in their dreams).  Question: Do you think that these three ever got tired of going off with Jesus late at night to pray? Do you ever wonder if they thought of it as being the same thing over and over - nothing special or impressive? Can you imagine what they would have missed if on this specific night they asked Jesus if they could just stay behind instead of go up on the mountain with Jesus? What may have seemed like the same old thing became the experience of a lifetime.

I would say that most of the Christian life is doing the stuff—doing the mundane and ordinary, watching Jesus turning it into the extraordinary.  I'm convinced that Jesus wants to do the miraculous, to show himself as extraordinary and beyond ability to explain in human language.  However, he will probably take you through many months/years of the "mundane" to bring to the point of seeing that aspect of himself that will leave you awestruck and speechless.  Remember: if you're not willing to do the ordinary, you probably will never see the extraordinary.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Experience Of A Lifetime: Part 1

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves." - Matthew 17:1 [ESV]

Look at the list.  Look at it again.  Do you see it? It nailed me.  Three people accompanied Jesus on this life-changing night.  Two brothers, James and John - the sons of Thunder - were there.  And then there was Peter.  The thing is that Peter had a brother.  Andrew.  The other thing is that Andrew is the one who introduced Peter to Jesus.

"One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said, 'So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas' (which means Peter)." - John 1:40-42 [ESV]

Did you notice that Andrew was not listed in the group of brothers? James and John were there, but Andrew was not invited.  And here's what hit me: Jesus does what he wants.  In my mind it seems only fair that Andrew should have been invited before anyone else because he was the first to follow Jesus and then invite Simon to meet him.  However, Jesus did not let Andrew come with him for this awe-inspiring and terrifying experience.  But why not? Answer: because Jesus didn't want him there.  If Jesus wanted him there, Andrew would have been there.

What does that mean for us? This: Jesus has a plan for each of us, but it's not based on what's fair but rather on what Jesus wants.  If all that we do is look at what Jesus is doing in and through others, we will miss what he is doing in and through us every single time.  God will use me in ways that he won't use others.  God will use others in ways that he doesn't use me.  My first desire should be Jesus, enjoying that relationship that I have with him.  After that, my desire should be his will, even if that means that I get left out of the experience of a lifetime.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time To Step Out

Can you relate with this? It's weird.  I have a shy side.  Seriously.  I know I'm outgoing, but all of a sudden this shy side will show up and I become totally content in being by myself and saying absolutely nothing to anyone.

Tonight I went to Tyler's school for a pizza/bingo night (and a PTA meeting that Kelley "forgot" to tell me about - but it's okay, I made a second on a motion presented to the people there.  I felt very powerful but I still do not know what I gave a second to).  When I walked in I became that quiet guy ready to just sit down amongst a group of people and say nothing.  These people I was sitting with were the parents of kids that are in Tyler's kindergarten class.  However, there was just something in me that made it uncomfortable to be quiet.  So, I started making some jokes.  I started talking to the people around me.  I started playing with their kids.  Why?

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

It is so easy to be a light at church.  However, a light stands out better in the darkness.  I don't have a clue as to whether those that I sat with tonight know Jesus.  However, I should be living my life for Christ no matter what as if every person I meet needs a relationship with Jesus.

So, how was your day?

Update from ELEVATE last night

I want to thank you for praying for last night.  Jesus had some things to remind us of last night.  First, he reminded us of our "Father-daughter/son" relationship that we are invited into with God.  However, he also reminded us that GOD IS MASSIVE!!!! When praying, we mush elevate his "Abbaship" as well as his "holiness" and "majesty."

We saw two students raise their hands to confess that they had been wandering away from God and were wanting to come back into fellowship with him.  It was awesome!!! The place went nuts.  The praise and worship time was explosive.

Thank you for praying.


Thank you so much for praying.  My time with children's pastors today was a joy for me to be part of.  I sat at a table with five children's pastors and one new junior high director and chatted about the transition that comes between elementary and junior high.  Thank you for praying.  It was a great time.

Next time teaching: this Sunday morning with the high schoolers and then Sunday night at The Rising.  I'd appreciate you praying for me as I prepare for both of those messages.  Thank you so much.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Am I Following?

"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" (Matthew 16:24)

Jesus is speaking to his disciples, those who claim to be followers of Jesus.  Every person who claims to have a relationship with Jesus is to be a disciple of Jesus, one who follows.  And in this verse Jesus lays out the requirement of being a follower.  It's not a life of expecting but rather of giving.  It's not a life of luxury but of cross dragging.  It's not a life of getting everything that you want but rather striving to meet the needs of others for Jesus.  It's a life not about selfishness but rather of selflessness.  It's a life that requires us to give up our dreams and take on the dreams of Jesus.  It's not about saying a prayer and then waiting for heaven.  Rather, it's about surrendering to Jesus and living for him.  Philip Yancey says it this way:

"The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong.  Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass."

The cross is not comfortable, so my life should not be about striving to be comfortable, but rather to be used by Christ to be a comfort to others.

As I read this passage, I had to ask myself these questions to Jesus:
1).  Have I done this? Am I doing this?
2).  When you look at my life, am I resembling a true follower of you?

Jesus, I want to be your follower.  Please teach me and direct me to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you.  I am yours.  Please work in me that I am a worker approved for service to your kingdom cause of the gospel.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

San Dimas High School Update

I wanted to thank you for praying. Had a great time with the Christian Club of San Dimas High School. I spoke about the size and holiness of God, encouraging them to remember that his glory and enormity gives us comfort because God is able and has already lived through everything that we are currently going through. I look forward to getting to hang out there more. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing.

Please pray as I prepare for tomorrow night's message. Thank you so much.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Please be praying...

This week is a busy week of teaching.  Here are the teaching opportunities that I have coming up:

1).  San Dimas High School Christian Club (Tuesday, 1/19; 12:00pm)

2).  ELEVATE (Wednesday, 1/20; 7:00pm).  We start a new series called, "Going Vertical" this week.  It's an indepth look at the Lord's Prayer, breaking it apart part-by-part to truly understand what Jesus said when he taught us how to pray.

3).  CCMA (Thursday, 1/21; 11:00am). I will be sharing with childrens pastors from around the area about the transition between children's ministry to junior high ministry.  I'm so excited about this opportunity to learn from children's workers and to share with them the demands of student ministry as well.

4).  High School Worship (Sunday, 1/24; 9:45am).

5).  The Rising (Sunday, 1/24; 6:15pm)

The schedule is pretty crazy this week.  For those on my prayer team, please be praying for me as I prep these messages and as I teach: that I would teach with power, speaking the truth in love, and that lives would be changed for Jesus.

Thank you so much for praying for me so much.

Can You Sign This?

“... I stand here to tell you that I’m a nonconformist, twice born, and a rebel and I will not conform to the times.  Up to now I’ve been able to get a hearing and refused to conform to the times.  Up to now I’ve been able to get a hearing and refused to conform to the times.  But if a day ever comes when to conform to the times is the price you have to pay to be heard, then I’ll go out and start where I started before on the street corner and preach there.  But I won’t conform to the times.” - A.W. Tozer

Signed:  Brian Holland (1/2/2010)

The Question That Changes Everything

Matthew 16:13-20

So often I have used this passage as a passage to call people into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ - to introduce non-believers to their Savior.  However, tonight, something different showed up like never before.  These things popped out of the page:

1).  Jesus asked HIS DISCIPLES...

That’s right.  Jesus asked his disciples what other people thought about him.  But then, he asked THE question to them, “But who do you say that I am?” This was not a question that he asked the crowd.  This was a question that he asked his disciples.

The same is true today.  Jesus asks his followers, “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” Why would he ask us this question? We have “prayed the prayer” and “made things right” so that we can go to heaven.  I mean, isn’t this all that the Christian life is about? I’m guessing not.  Because what follows the response that Jesus hears does not start off with salvation.

2).  Only One Answered Jesus...

I’m sure that you’ve seen it before, but it’s worth repeating.  All of the disciples piped in when it was time to share the town gossip that they had heard about Jesus.  They were quick to point out what others thought of him.  However, when it came time to get very personal and to share their own opinion, they all fell silent, except one.  Simon was the only one who answered, proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of the living God.

Why would the others stay silent? Why wouldn’t they proclaim their faith in him? I think the answer follows:

3).  Peter’s opinion about Jesus was GIVEN to him.

That’s right. Peter did not come up with that idea all by himself.  Jesus tells Peter, “...flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  Peter replied to Jesus’ question because the Father gave him the answer.  The other disciples remained silent because they didn’t know the answer.

4).  How you answer Jesus’ question will RADICALLY AFFECT YOUR LIFE.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Peter’s life would be RADICALLY AFFECTED by his acknowledgement of who Jesus was.  And Jesus will RADICALLY AFFECT each person who proclaims him as LORD GOD.  Notice that Jesus tells Peter about the mission without mentioning anything about his salvation.  I do believe salvation is huge in God’s redemptive plan of his people, but the call to a mission that is bigger than ourselves, and one that comes with the authority of heaven, is also part of that salvation message.

I wonder how many “Christians” today would not answer Jesus’ question if he asked them what their opinion of him was.  The reason: a whole lot of life change would be happening—radical life change that leaves a person changed forever.  For me to proclaim Jesus to be Lord means that my life better follow exactly what I’m proclaiming.

The question: What about you, who do you say Jesus is? Beware: answering this question will change everything.

"We've Always Done It That Way..."

Matthew 15:1-9

It is so easy to turn my own personal preferences into God’s objective and revealed will.  I can have preferences and opinions, but God’s word and will stand alone.  To automatically hold that my opinion is God’s will is pretty arrogant when looked at objectively.  That’s why God’s written word is so important.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

When I teach my own opinions as God’s commands, when in reality I didn’t base my opinion on God’s opinion, I am wasting my time.  I don’t want to look back over my life only to find nothing to show for it.  I may preach thousands of times, but if I preach my own personal opinions, it will be as if I never said a word.

Jesus - I pray that the only opinion that I have is yours.