Friday, April 30, 2010

Update from Thursday and Friday Night

TO: My Amazing Prayer Team.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I don't know what you're doing or how you're praying but I am freaking out right now with how the messages have been coming out of my mouth these last few days.  I wish I could say that I have mastered the art of public communication, but NO WAY!!!! I cannot tell you what God is doing.  I seriously have never preached messages like this.  Keep praying.  I'm praying for big things this weekend.  More updates to come.  Right now I'm just too excited to keep typing about it.  :) Thank you so much for partnering with me in this ministry.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update About San Juan Capistrano

TO: My prayer team

I wanted to give you very quick update to let you know that God did some sweet work this morning.  How do I know? Because the word of God was taught (see Isaiah 55:10,11).   I taught on the passage about the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-31).  Pretty powerful passage.  If you have time, go and read it and see if anything has replaced your first love for Jesus.

Thank you again for praying.  Please pray for tomorrow as I teach at Upland Christian High in the morning and Crossroads Junior High in the afternoon.  Thank you.

First Things First

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures... (1 Cor. 15:3-4; ESV)

First priority: ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES... This means that Scripture pointed out the plan of God from the beginning.  It was not a surprise that had never been revealed.  Rather it was an event that had never been discovered in Scripture prior to Jesus fulfilling what Scripture said.

First priority continued: According to the Scriptures, Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.

That's the priority.  Jesus' death.  Jesus' burial.  Jesus' resurrection.  And these are the things that Paul first received (if it works for Paul, it works for me).   In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul stated that "...we preach Christ crucified." Paul's main message was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  Shouldn't that be our main message still today? How often am I focused on teaching about things that are secondary while neglecting the things that are of primary importance?

Jesus - Please help me teach ONLY the things that you want me to teach, no matter what. I'm convinced that if the primary things are focused on, everything else will be worked out as your Holy Spirit leads and guides.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Expected

What then, brothers? When you come together... (1 Cor. 14:26; ESV)

Paul is writing to Christians here.  When he mentions about them coming together for worship, he uses the word "when", not "if".  There was this expectation that those who follow Christ would be part of worship together on a regular basis.  It wasn't a question, it was expected.  It's just what they did.

So here's my question: Why is it so popular today for many who proclaim themselves as followers of Jesus to not get involved in a local church? I know that there are plenty of reasons.

  • "I don't have to go to church to be saved." (Honestly, true. But Paul is not talking about salvation here.  He's stating what we as Christians should be doing when we go to worship)

  • "I have a problem with 'the church'." (Well tell me how not going actually helps bring about any change that truly may be necessary).

  • "I don't get fed at my church." (Well that's just crazy.  Do you say the same thing about the food you eat all week.  Do you eat once per week, and that one time expect someone else to feed you? When did it become the church's job to take sole responsibility of the feeding of every sheep.  There's a word for those who hold to this view: lazy. That's it.  Lazy.)

  • "It's a personal thing for me." (Very true, but we were also created to be in relationship with each other.  The early church [Acts 2:42-47] made getting together a top priority.  There is no such thing as a Christian hermit.)

  • "Churches today are just about the money." (Are there some? Absolutely. Every single one? I see it as kind of presumptuous and arrogant to conclude that every single church is led by money-hungry wolves).

  • "Churches are filled with hypocrites." (This is true. Guilty as charged. But here's the thing: our schools and neighborhoods are filled with hypocrites.  Movie theaters and restaurants.  Our homes are filled with hypocrites as well.  And honestly, if all of us are really honest, one of the biggest hypocrites at times is the one staring us back in the mirror).

These are excuses, not reasons.  And I know that there are plenty of other ones out there.  However, how does that change the idea of coming together as Christians on a regular basis that seems to be throughout the New Testament? I mean - half of the New Testament is written by a man who wrote to churches about how they should be conducting themselves.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Please Be Praying...

TO: My amazing prayer team.

It's going to be one of those weeks.  :) It's one of those weeks where you look at everything that you've got to do and wonder how it's going to get done (I know you know what I'm talking about - I hope I didn't just cause a bunch of anxiety to flood your heart and mind).  I would appreciate your prayers in my teaching ministry this week for the following:

  • Wednesday morning. This Wednesday morning I will be speaking at San Juan Capistrano Christian.  I will be speaking in their high school chapel.  The last time I was there God rocked our faces off.

  • Wednesday night @ PFB. Please pray for the Wednesday night worship service this week.  We truly want to see God continue to run free in that service.

  • Thursday morning. I will be speaking at Upland Christian high school to close up their spiritual emphasis week.  In fact, please pray for Pastor Glenn (speaks on Tuesday) and Jarret (speaks on Wednesday) as well.

  • Thursday afternoon. I will be speaking to the junior high students of Crossroads Christian School in Corona.

  • Friday - Sunday. The family and I will be traveling out to Cathedral City (sounds like we will be meeting Dorothy and her little dog Toto doesn't it?).   I will be speaking all weekend to a group of young people who have a ministry to middle-eastern people here in the states.  This is my third year speaking for this group and it is a wonderful time away.

Thank you so much, once again, for praying.  You are so amazing.  I am beyond thankful for you.

    Pursue Love

    "Pursue love..." - 1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV

    Pursue - dioko

    • metaph., to pursue.  To seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire.

    Love - agape

    • brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.

    I am to chase after this love, this agape love, rather than settling down for a love that is superficial and fickle.  As I look at those two words above, my mind went to the call of husbands to love their wives.  So I looked up Ephesians 5:25.  Husbands, [agapao] your wives just as Christ [agapao]  the church and gave himself up for her. This is the type of love that I am to pursue.  I am to pursue the kind of love that is of Christ.  In order for me to love like Jesus, I must be connected to Jesus.  He said it himself: "Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide, in me" (John 15:4, ESV). So, if I want to love as Christ loves, I NEED to remain in him.  How do I remain in him? OBEY (see John 15:10).  I am to obey Christ in order to remain in him.  In order to live the life that Christ has for me to live, I must abide in him.  The key to abiding in Christ is to obey him.  So, it must be remembered by all that the life that Christ calls us to live cannot be achieved or lived out by anyone on planet earth without being connected to Christ.  It is impossible! This should not frustrated anyone.  Rather, it should bring relief.  I am not expected by Jesus to live for him without him.  In fact, I am excitedly welcomed by Jesus into this relationship where I rely on him.  I've read atheists who say that Christianity is a crutch for the ungodly.  I would disagree with that.  Honestly, Christ is a cot that I completely rely on, not just a crutch that I lean against.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010


    "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully; even as I have been fully known." - 1 Cor. 13:12 (ESV)

    HAVE BEEN fully known.  It is not that God is getting to know me.  It is not that God is finding out things about me as I go.  Rather, I HAVE BEEN fully known.  He knows every thought.  He knows every motive.  He knows every temptation, sin, struggle, victory, defeat, pass, fail, etc...

    I have been fully known.  David's response to this in Psalm 139 is this:

    "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it" (Ps. 139:6).

    Too wonderful? Really? How do I get there? I have shame.  I have disgust and embarrassment.  How do I get to it being "too wonderful"? Answer: Start accepting that God loves for me is based entirely on his character rather than on my conduct. It is easier said than done but this is the key to freedom from condemnation.

    "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect, has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let s then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16, ESV).

    Jesus knows and understands that we are tempted in EVERY WAY! Because we are tempted in every way, he sympathizes with our weaknesses because he too was tempted in every way, yet was without sin.

    JESUS — I can't believe it! You are indescribable! You sympathize with me in my weakness.  You know that I will be tempted and you sympathize with me.  Thank you. I'm humbled and encouraged.  You have spoken to me today in a most personal and intimate way.  This is exactly where I have been struggling.  Please make what you've shown me today the constant reality of my life.

    Psalm 103: 14 — "For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Updates from the Past Couple of Days

    TO: My amazing prayer team.

    I am so sorry that this has taken me so long to get out to you.  It has been a whirlwind of a week (which I'm sure you've experienced your own storms as well).  Here's a recap of the week:

    • Wednesday night. AWESOME! God is continuing to confirm that he is leading this movement on Wednesday nights.  And again, Jesus allowed us to see the miraculous happen as a man, who was probably in his sixties or so, stood up to surrender to Jesus.  It was incredible! All I did was ask him to stand, and he did.  The place went nuts (by the way, I'm convinced that anyone who has a problem with shouts of joy and celebration in church really have a problem with heaven and won't like it much when they get there).  Everyone was screaming and yelling, celebrating like all of heaven does (Luke 15).  And then as I spoke to him the words of Romans 10:9,10, he walked up and stood with me.  People continued to celebrate.  He then went off with our prayer team and they prayed with him and explained even more the decision that he had made to surrender to Christ.

    • CMTA. I taught a couple of seminars yesterday at the CMTA Convention in Pasadena.  I taught a seminar on how to develop a leadership team and  another one on the need to disciple students.  It was a blast.  I love getting to hang with other youth workers and "talk shop."  It was a blast.

    Today, Kelley and I are going to the wedding rehearsal of Jake Ebersole and Meghan Burns.  I have the privilege of marrying them tomorrow.  It is always a huge blessing to me to marry a couple who loves Jesus with everything and who love each other.  I would appreciate your prayers for this.

    Thank you again for everything you do for me.  God is firing me up and I'm excited about what's coming.  Hope you have a great weekend.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Please Pray This Week


    Please pray for me this week as I teach and share in different places:

    1. On Tuesday night I get to share with a group of grad students in the Business Department at Azusa Pacific University.  It's something called SoulQuest that I'm involved in, where the school takes a proactive approach in investing in the spiritual needs of its graduate population.

    2. Please pray for WEDNESDAY NIGHT.  We saw six people surrender to Jesus last week.  They are being followed up with and being encouraged to take the next step in baptism and to get involved in a LifeGroup.  Please pray for God's Spirit to move again this Wednesday as we come together.

    3. On Friday, I will be teaching a few seminars at the CMTA Conference.  I'll be speaking to youth workers on a few different subjects.  I love getting to share with other youth workers.

    4. I'm performing the wedding of Jake Ebersole and Meghan Burns this Sunday.  I am so excited.  What an amazing young couple.

    That's it for this week.  Thank you so much for your faithfulness.  Updates to come throughout the week.  Have a great week.

    What a ride,

    My Student Leaders ROCK!!!!

    This will not be a long entry but I just felt like I had to mention this:

    MY STUDENT LEADERS ARE AMAZING!!!!! They love Jesus.  They give feedback.  They are ready to serve.  They take constructive criticism and give it as well.  They make me laugh and make me think.   They have great ideas.  They want to try new things.  They truly want to see high school students come to Jesus.  They are teachable.  They are fun.

    They are a huge encouragement to me.  I am so proud of them.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    You Have To Get On Your Knees

    "A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus.  Behind a high altar in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.

    "You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church.  You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King.  There is one stipulation, however,  You have to stoop.  The door is so low you can't go in standing up.

    "The same is true of the Christ.  You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees."

    — Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, pg. 68

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    The Message Is Clear

    "As long as Jesus is one of many options, he is no option.  As long as you can carry your burdens alone, you don't need a burden bearer.  As long as your situation brings you no grief, you will receive no comfort.  And as long as you can take him or leave him, you might as well leave him, because he won't be taken half-heartedly.

    "But when you mourn, when you get to the point of sorrow for your sins, when you admit that you have no other option but to cast all your cares on him, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on him, for he is watching in the midst of the storm." - Max Lucdo (The Applause of Heaven)

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Thoughts From Wednesday Night


    What better line could I start off than that we had people surrender to Jesus? One of them was a high school girl who has been attending Wednesday nights for a little over a month.  Also, there was a young adult couple who came to Wednesday night last night.  It was their first time, and they surrendered their lives to Jesus.

    I'm telling you: God is doing something unbelievable on Wednesday nights and in the Next Generation ministry.  You know what we've done to see this happen: I HAVE NO CLUE!!! Honestly, it's just us relying on Jesus.  I read a tweet this evening by Perry Noble that said, "Vision from God should not cause us to be overwhelmed... but rather reminded that we cannot do it without Him!" God has brought an amazing team together that loves him and understands the need to rely upon Jesus to see the impossible happen.  When I say "team", I'm not only speaking about the people on staff in the Next Gen ministry, but rather I'm speaking about every single person who is part of Wednesday nights.  He's brought people into the ministry who believe in the ministry and want to be a part of what God is up to.  It's an explosive time and I am so thankful that I get to be a part of it.

    Keep on praying.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    That Seems Pretty Arrogant

    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. - 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)

    This just seems like a pretty arrogant thing to say.  Can you imagine if I walked up to you and said, "Hey, just do what I do and you will be living the way Jesus wants you to."  That comes across as a pretty arrogant statement.  But if you think about it, is it really? If you're a Christian, you are usually looking for someone who has gone through life with Christ more than you have in order to be mentored by them.  Paul is speaking to a church in the city of Corinth, telling them to imitate him as he imitates Jesus.  He is acting as a mentor; he's just making it known to everyone.

    But here's the other thing that stood out: Paul was living it out.  Paul was not just an apostle who would preach one thing and then live another.  He wasn't a hypocrite.  He actually lived out this walk with Jesus in a way that he wanted to see all followers of Jesus walk.  Again, I know, it sounds arrogant, but I am so thankful for Paul's example to be willing to be an example.  He was saying, "Do as I do and say as I say."

    So it makes those of us who are investing in the lives of others stop and ask this question: Am I living my life for Christ in a way that I want those following me to imitate? So often I answer with, "No way - I want them to surpass me."  But here's the problem with that: why am I being so lazy and not moving even further ahead? Why am I settling for where I'm at while wanting others to experience more? I should want ALL OF JESUS and EVERYTHING THAT COMES WITH HIM!!!

    Even though it may seem arrogant, it's refreshing and inviting.  Oh how I desire to be able to live my life for Jesus so that I too can say to those that I have the privilege of pastoring, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ."

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    It's True: I'm Nothing, But God Is...

    "But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?' He said, 'But I will be you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.'" - Exodus 3:11-12, ESV

    God missed his opportunity to build up Moses' self-esteem.  Here God has called Moses to the greatest liberation "project" ever.  God tells Moses that he is going to send him to the Pharaoh in order that he might bring God's people out of Egypt.  Moses' first response: "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh...?" Can you see the self-esteem of Moses not registering on the esteem gauge? Moses does not believe that he is able to accomplish this great task.  As he said, "Who am I," I can picture his head drifting downward as if in total self-defeat.

    Moses is feeling horrible about himself.  God has the perfect opportunity to build Moses up.  He has the opportunity to encourage Moses, telling him that he can do anything that he sets his mind to.  He can pump him up for "game time", telling him how vital and valuable he is on the team.  And God's first words are, "But I will be with you..."  In other words, God says, "You're right, Moses.  You can't do this."

    We are called by God to go.  He sends us out, but he promises to be with us.  Our goal is not to accomplish but rather to obey.  We are called to trust rather than take control.  We are sent out by a God who knows our weaknesses and insecurities, and yet he still sends us.  And the main thing we are to hold on to in our discouragements, battles with low self-esteem and doubts is this: God is with us.  We focus on God, not on ourselves.

    So when you stand there explaining to Jesus why you just can't do what he is sending you to do, maybe instead of imagining him telling how amazing you are, you should start with the fact that GOD IS WITH YOU.  Anything about you after that truth just doesn't matter.  Remember: no matter how many you face, you plus Jesus is ALWAYS the majority.

    When Tempted, Look For the Escape Hatch

    "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13

    Here are the things that stood out as I read this this morning:

    1. Temptation is expected. I remember reading a phrase back in the day that helped me in my battle against legalism.  What is it? Jesus knows that you'll sin more than you think you will.  When I'm tempted, Jesus isn't shocked.  He knows.  He knows when I will be tempted.  He knows what I will be tempted about.  He knows.

    2. Temptation cannot go further than what God desires. The word for temptation can also be translated testing.  In either case, God only allows it to go so far.  Job was tested, but only to a certain point.  Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, but only to a certain point.  We can hold that the same is true for us as well.

    3. I'm not alone. The temptations that I'm facing is not unique to me, but rather common among others.  Isolation is one of the greatest tools that the enemy uses to frustrate and defeat Christians.  If we can accept the fact that we all are tempted, admitting that we struggle with stuff, we would be much better off.

    4. There is an escape hatch. God has provided a way out of every temptation.  We just need to get our eyes off of the temptation and get them back on Jesus.

    5. GOD IS FAITHFUL!!!! No matter what, God is faithful.  He is not asking us to go through all of this by ourselves.  Rather, God wants us to rely on him and see his faithfulness.

    Be encouraged: you will be tempted, but God is faithful.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Jesus, Pull Up A Chair...

    I have read this following story over and over.  I have heard it told in sermons many times.  And honestly, it still gets me.  Oh how I pray that I can rest in Jesus like this:

    "I read recently about a man who had breathed the summer air.  His trips up the trail began early in his life and sustained him to the end.  A few days before he died, a priest went to visit him in the hospital.  As the priest entered the room, he noticed an empty chair beside the man's bed.  The priest asked him if someone had been by to visit.  The old man smiled, 'I place Jesus on that chair, and I talk to him.'

    "The priest was puzzled, so the man explained.  'Years ago a friend told me that prayer was as simple as talking to a good friend.  So every day I pull up a chair, invite Jesus to sit, and we have a good talk.'

    "Some days later, the daughter of this man came to the parish house to inform the priest that her father had just died.  'Because he seemed so content,' she said, 'I left him in his room alone for a couple of hours.  When I got back to the room, I found him dead.  I noticed a strange thing, though: His head was resting, not on a pillow, but on an empty chair that was beside his bed.'"

    — Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven

    Please Pray...


    Just wanted to ask you to be praying for the following things coming up this week:

    1).  Continue to pray for WEDNESDAY NIGHTS.  God is moving and doing amazing things.  Please keep that up.

    2).  Please pray for me as I prepare this week and teach on Sunday morning to the high schoolers (continuing through the book of Philippians).

    Thank you so much.

    The Upside-Down Prayer

    Let me learn by paradox

    that the way down is the way up,

    that to be low is to be high,

    that the broken heart is the healed heart,

    that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

    that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

    that to have nothing is to possess all,

    that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

    that to give is to receive,

    that the valley is the place of vision."

    --Arthur Bennett

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    What's My Excuse

    "I have everything I need for joy!" Robert Reed said.  "Amazing!" I thought.

    His hands are twisted and his feet are useless.  He can't bathe himself.  He can't feed himself.  He can't brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear.  His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro.  His speech drags like a worn-out audio cassette.

    Robert has cerebral palsy.

    The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk.  But it didn't keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin.  Having cerebral palsy didn't keep him from teaching at a St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.

    And Robert's disease didn't prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.

    He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972.  There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese.  He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.

    Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ.  Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.

    I heard Robert speak recently.  I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform.  I watched them lay a Bible in his lap.  I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages.  And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces.  Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite.  He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, "I have everything I need for joy."

    His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy."
    (Max Lucado, "The Applause of Heaven")

    So... what's my excuse.  What's yours?

    How He Loves Us

    This morning during my quiet time I really struggled with the fact that I am truly loved by God.  Why? Because I know me.  I know how often I fail.  I know how often my motives are not right.  I know me.  And yet, during worship this morning at church, we sang this song to close the service and I wept over the truth found in these words.  And then the words switched, in my mind and heart, to be a personal song from Jesus to me and I was blown away I pray that if you are struggling with the truth of God's love for you that this song is a freeing song for you to hear. O How He Loves Us!

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    The Cross Always Takes Center Stage

    Last night I went to the Rock and Worship Roadshow featuring The David Crowder Band and MercyMe (and was introduced to Family Force Five, who rocked my face off by the way).  During MercyMe, a group of people were directly across from us (in the nose-bleed section of the arena).  They had these glow-wands (that probably cost a few bucks to make).  While MercyMe was performing, with hundreds of thousands of dollars at the disposal, these handful of glow-wand owners were making their own messages, using the wands to come together to make words and shapes.  They wrote "Hi" (first thing I saw) and showed an arrow pointing up.  But at one point in the concert, they made a cross.  When they did that, the arena started cheering.  I'm sure some down below thought it was for the music, but it was for the cross.  It just reminded me: nothing compares to the cross.  One of the students that I went with said that he saw Bart Millard (lead singer for MercyMe) look up to the right, noticing the cross, and then smiling.

    The cross: precious, scandalous and beautiful all at the same time.  It was proven once again last night.  Thank you Jesus for your cross.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Thoughts From Wednesday Night

    If you were to ask me my thoughts about Wednesday night at PFB this morning, it would have been totally different than right now.  Last night we started our new series called, "REVELATE."  It's a five-week look at the key pillars to what Wednesday nights and the Next Gen department at PFB are all about.  The first one: WHITE-HOT FAITH.  The message: it was a tough one.  I honestly felt like a prophet who had to bring it to the people.  It was a message that I believe God wanted shared to ignite the Luke-warm and defrost the "frozen chosen."

    The response after the message was incredible, but during the message my mind was all over the place. The Enemy likes to play with my mind.  I heard things like, "YOU SUCK AT TEACHING!!!" "No one is paying attention." All of that kind of stuff.


    Tonight I'm texting students and I come to find out that a young man in our high school ministry brought a friend with him who has never been to church.  He told me that when I asked people to stand to surrender to Jesus, she was just a little too nervous to do so.  He told me that they talked for a couple of hours after the worship service, and then SHE SURRENDERED TO JESUS!!! I almost jumped through the ceiling in my office at home as I read that.

    So here are the highlights from last night:

    • There were probably about 40-50 people who came forward to confess something that was holding them back from living a life of faith (myself being included - mine was insecurity).  Instead of just standing there though, we had them write that thing down on a piece of paper, walk over to a cross and nail it up there.  POWERFUL STUFF LET ME TELL YOU!!!!

    • High school girl surrendered to Jesus (as mentioned above).

    • Jesus was exalted and lives were changed.

    An amazing night!!! Can't wait for next Wednesday, but there's a whole lot of worshipping to do everyday from now until then.

    And one question for you: What's holding you back? I dare you to write it below in the comments section of this blog. :)

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Celebrate Because He Was Sacrificed?

    "...For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival... (1 Cor. 5:7-8a)

    I know.  I couldn't believe it when I read it either.  Celebrate because Christ was sacrificed.  That is not the first response that comes to my mind when I think of Christ's sacrifice.  The first? Guilt. Shame. Then it moves to gratitude and thankfulness.  But celebrate the fact that Jesus was sacrificed seems so awkward.  And then you start thinking about it and begin to see that to continue to feel guilt and shame is not to worship Christ in the manner that is fitting for a gift that is so precious.  Look at these verses:

    • Hebrews 12:2 - ...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    • Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

    The joy set before Christ as he hung on that cross was the great cloud of witnesses, of which we are a part of, that would have access to God because of his sacrifice.  Jesus' prayer in John 17:24 would become possible and answerable because of his sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus wanted us.  He loves us (read about his amazing plan of salvation in Ephesians 1:3-10).

    Think of it this way.  It pleased Jesus to save us.  It was his pleasure to do so.  Can you imagine him throwing a party for everyone that came to know him (I guess this could be heaven)? When you arrive, you see Jesus laughing and celebrating, walking around and greeting all of his guests.  Then you look over in the corner and there is one person ignoring Jesus, ignoring everyone, and obviously distraught at the scene.  They are depressed and covered with shame and guilt.  The party goes on but they continue to sit in their guilt.  That's the picture that comes to mind when I don't celebrate in the sacrifice.  When I sit in the corner, sulking and pouting over what Jesus willingly took upon himself, I am not giving him worship that is worthy of him or his sacrifice.

    So, CELEBRATE today!!! When you feel guilty, STOP IT! Kool and Gang had it right: CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Please Pray!

    TO: My Amazing Prayer Team

    I would appreciate it if you would be praying for me this week for the following:

    1. Please pray for Wednesday night. God's been doing some crazy things at our midweek worship service.  We are praying that he continues it.  We are starting a new series this Wednesday called, "RELEVATE."  Please pray that God uses everyone this Wednesday night for amazing things.  If you've got time on Wednesday at 7pm, please come by and join us for worship.  If you can't get out to PFB, you can watch it online (click here to watch).

    2. Sunday morning with the high schoolers.  We are continuing through the book of Philippians.

    3. This Sunday morning is Baptism Sunday. Please be praying for those getting baptized, and praising Jesus that they are doing so.  This is such an amazing day to be a part of.

    Thank you so much.  I love you all.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    12 Rules for Cyber Safety

    I read this article (source unknown) which gave the 12 rules for cyber safety that parents should pass on to their teenagers.  Here they are:

    1. Always solve problems face to face.

    2. Assume that all messages you send can and may be read by anyone.

    3. If you are being bullied online talk to an adult, and take it very seriously.

    4. Keep webpage private and never share your password(s).

    5. Don't give out ASL (Age/Sex/Location).

    6. Never post anything online that you don't want the world to see.

    7. Never make a threat over the internet, even as a joke.

    8. Print out any threats you receive or see online and show them to an adult.

    9. If someone says something to make you uncomfortable, sign off and block them.

    10. Never meet anyone in person that you met online without parental consent.

    11. Avoid chat rooms and never go private session with a stranger.

    12. Keep your web cam unplugged when not in use.

    I'm A Temple?

    "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" - 1 Cor. 3:16 (ESV)

    How often have I heard people refer to the church building as God's house? A lot.  In fact, you may be a person who is reading this who does that very same thing.  However, is it true? I read this out of 1 Cor. 3 and see that God's temple is me.  God's temple is in believers - that the Spirit of God dwells in those who follow Jesus.  In other words: God's Spirit is in The Church.  What I mean by Church is not the buildings that Christians worship in.  Rather, when I speak of The Church, I am speaking of the body of believers across this planet who call on Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

    So here's what hit me: God's Spirit is inside of me.  How often do I live my life as if this were NOT true? How often am I making decisions without keeping this truth in the forefront of my mind? How often am I caving to temptations in the name of, "I can't help it"? Look at what Jesus tells his disciples in the book of Acts about what accompanies the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..." (Acts 1:8a; ESV). POWER!!! God enables.  God empowers.  God sustains, guides, and cares.

    Are you living as one who has the Spirit of God in you? Am I? If you see the church building as God's house you're probably missing the working of God's Spirit in your life.  My body is God's dwelling place.  You too, if you have Christ.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Thoughts About Mexico

    It's Friday, 5:30am. Today is Good Friday. As I lay here and think about the time, I am reminded that 2,000 years ago Jesus was awake, going through the horrendous experiences that led to his crucifixion. He died on the cross so that I could know him. He rose from the dead so that I might be free. And this week, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Jesus showed me that he is alive and well, working in the hearts of people to bring them into a reconciled relationship with God.

    Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

    • Every time that a chance to publicly surrender to Jesus was made, someone did. I would estimate that between 30-40 people surrendered their lives to Jesus during the chapel times over the week.

    • On Thursday night, the closing praise and worship time blew my mind. We couldn't get them to stop. Ryan Hall was leading our closing worship time that night. When he "finished," the students just kept on worshipping. They continued singing. They raised their hands. They began to cry out to God on their own. They prayed together. It was awesome. This lasted for about twenty more minutes. We were all in awe of this special time.

    • I was able to go out and see the teams in action at their ministry sites. I was so touched. I was able to witness first-hand the Church in action as everyone used their gifts for Jesus.

    This week of ministry was unbelievable. Praise Jesus for all that he accomplished. Thank you for praying.