Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Play A Part

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  See to it..." — Colossians 2:6-8a, ESV

I have received Christ.  He is a real part of my life.  Here's what follows receiving him, though.  WALK IN HIM.  It is not enough to "pray a prayer" and think that the simple recitation is all that is necessary for salvation.  The key to salvation is Christ.  First, his invitation.  Second, our response to that invitation.  And our response is this: complete and total abandon.  Galatians 2:20 says it this way:  "I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  I cannot claim that I personally have a life to live.  I don't.  I gave that life up.  I am completely changed by Christ, and my identity is completely wrapped up in Christ.  I am called to live, but I'm called to live according to Christ, not try to live my life as if he doesn't exist.  And the life I live: it must be worthy of the high calling that I have received ("...so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord...", Col. 1:10).

But here's the part where you play a part.  Notice the last three words of the passage quoted above (Colossians 2:8a).  See to it...  This was Paul's way of saying, "Hey you, Christian, pay attention and beware."  And notice what the warning was:  "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elementary spirits of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8, ESV).  This means that I am responsible to keep watch and pay attention.  I am responsible to spend time in God's word, both in order to spend time with him and to understand more about him and his ways.  There are tons of opinions out there.  There are tons of perspectives.  However, there must be a right one.  The Bible has proved true time and time again.  We as Christians need to be in the Bible as much as possible.  To claim to know Christ without spending time in that which he gave to us to describe him even more is ludicrous.  To be passive in this following of Christ rather than being proactive is a dangerous move.  I must strive to understand the core doctrines of the Christian faith.  I must strive to understand God and his character more and more every day.  I must be disciplined in my walk with Jesus.  I must SEE TO IT.

So remember (and apply this as needed): It is not the responsibility of my pastor to make sure that I'm growing in Christ.  It is not the responsibility of my parents to make sure that I know what I believe.  It is ALL MY RESPONSIBILITY to see to it that I do not fall away.  It is completely my responsibility to grow in my relationship with Christ.  It's mine.  I've been warned.  I must hang on and pull through.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prayer Update for This Week...

TO: My unbelievable prayer team.

Here's what's going on this week that you can be praying for:

1).  On Wednesday morning, I am speaking to the junior highers of Crossroads Christian School in Corona.  I always love getting to go out and hang with these students.  Please pray for direction for the message and for God's anointing as I preach it.

2).  This Wednesday night I am teaching at FLOOD at PFB.  We are starting a four-week series called, "The Reason."  It is based on this verse in Isaiah when he spoke about the coming of Jesus:  "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6; ESV).  We will be looking at one "title" per week and unpacking what that means to us during this Christmas season.  Please join is in person (PFB Church - 601 N. Garey Ave, Pomona) or live online (www.pfblive.tv) this Wednesday night at 7pm.

Thank you for praying.  I love you guys.

Thankful to Suffer

"I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you.  There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on.  I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering.  When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth." (Colossians 1:24-26; THE MESSAGE)

I read this and had to ask myself this question: "Do I even know what suffering is?" I went on to write this in my journal:  "An inconvenience is not the same as suffering.  I don't even know if a 'trial' is the same as suffering.  In what way am I suffering, and if I am, do I rejoice? Am I others-centered in my suffering?" I think the truth is this: I don't suffer.  In fact, the first inclination that I have when suffering approaches in any form is to do whatever is necessary to alleviate it rather than grow through and serve with it.

In reality, I'm a selfish man.  This is one of the many vices that Jesus is having to work out of me.  I'm selfish.  But when struggles or trials hit, I see ME!!! I get even more self-centered.  Yet Paul sees it differently.  Because of God's Spirit living in him, he sees times of suffering as opportunities presented by Jesus for him to serve others.  Look at it again: "...I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you,..."  To serve others.  Notice this:

Paul's perspective.  

Paul saw the suffering that he faced as a sheer gift from God.  How was Paul suffering? HE WAS IN PRISON BECAUSE HE LOVED JESUS!!! That's suffering, and yet he sees his time in the prison cell as a sheer gift from Jesus to serve the church at Colossae.  Jesus is the one who promised that we would have trouble and trials in this life.  "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, ESV).  He has warned us.  But we also must remember that he we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to see suffering as opportunities to serve others rather than to get self-focused and bitter.

The only way this makes sense to me is this.  So often I have prayed for my family and asked Jesus, "Whatever pain/sickness is supposed to come to them, give it to me."  I've often walked into my boys' room and asked Jesus to give me any disease that they are going to have to face.  Why? I love my boys.  I love my family.  So often while my wife was going through thyroid cancer treatment I asked Jesus to let me take it.  Why? Because I love her.  I want those things that could hurt those that I love to come upon me because I don't want to see them hurt.

Here's the problem though: that's not natural to me for every suffering that comes up.  When I do face tough times, I become very self-focused rather than others-focused.

I've got a whole lot of room for growth in this area of my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I was reading through some blogs to try to fall back to sleep (and I know that some of you ask why not just read your own to help with the insomnia), and I came across this one from Perry Noble.  I read it and it WOKE ME UP!!!! Totally defeated the purpose of me reading his blog.  It was absolutely incredible.  Some may say, "It's simple and I know all of that."  Maybe, but I definitely needed the reminder this morning.  Enjoy and be encouaged!!!

The Five Practices A Leader Must Be Willing To Pay by Perry Noble.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prayer Update for This Week...

Hi Prayer Team,
Thank you so much for praying for me last night and today (click here to read, "I'm Feeling It").  I should have posted later on last night what transpired from that post.  I went for a run (yes, a run - my year of P90X has allowed me to be able to run the 2-mile loop around my neighborhood, and I usually hate to run).  I went for a run/vent session with Jesus and it was awesome.  I went off on how I was feeling and frustrations that I've had and needed to deal with.  As I turned the corner for the last half of a mile, here's the passage that the Holy Spirit reminded me of:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31; ESV)

I'm not gonna lie: this is a pretty sweet passage to have pop in my mind as I'm finishing up my run.  Let's just say the pace on my last 100 yards was pretty ridiculous.  :)

Thank you for praying.

I have a much healthier schedule this week with teaching.

1).  Wednesday night at FLOOD, we are having a Thanksgiving Eve service.  Please pray as we come together to be very intentional about giving God thanks for all that he has done.  I'll be teaching at this service.  Please come and join us if you can (Wednesday night at 7:00pm).  If you can't join us in person, join us online (www.pfblive.tv).

2).  Sunday morning I get to teach the high schoolers at PFB Church.  This is always a highlight for me to get to teach this amazing group of young people (check out www.floodhighschool.com to see all that's going on with them).

Thank you again for praying.  I really appreciate it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm Just a Proud Daddy

I'm posting this just because I'm a proud dad.

And if I feel this proud of my boy (and Tyler, too, of course), think of how proud God feels about us as we continue to live for him.  Don't give up, friends.  Keep on.

I'm Feeling It

I am so stinking overwhelmed.  Seriously.  It just feels like everything is coming down on me at once.  From ministry at PFB, the teaching ministry that Jesus has called me to, and the nagging issue of selling and buying a home.  That's just to name a few of things.  I'm overwhelmed.  I'm tired.  I think what I'm feeling is the beginning of burnout - and honestly it scares me.  I know that Jesus has me, but that's not what I'm worried about.  I'm just tired.  I'm spent.  I know I must press on, but let's just say that my pace is starting to slow down.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel still seems pretty long.  And the worst part: I don't feel close to my Jesus.  Things need to change.  Jesus, help me hear what you have to say so that I'm living the life that you want me to live.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Teaching Update...

Prayer Team:

It's been a crazy few days.  I taught at Maranatha High School on Tuesday.  I went there with a specific passage in mind to preach, and Jesus totally changed it up when I got there.  When I showed up and heard about what everyone was going through and how God had been working over the earlier days, he put on my heart a totally different passage.  It was confirmed when after I was finished a young lady came up and shared with me, with tears streaming down her face, how that was exactly what she needed to hear and had been praying about.  That stopped me in my tracks.

On Wednesday night I spoke at FLOOD at PFB.  I taught out of Mark 5:1-20, looking at Jesus healing the man possessed by a demon.  The major theme in the passage was what does a person do when the crisis hits.  We have a choice: we can tell Jesus to go away or we can ask him if we can go with him.  It was a powerful night as about 10 people stood up and met in the prayer room with our prayer team to ask for prayer for healing from whatever they had been dealing with.

Yesterday, I spoke at Cal Poly for Campus Crusade for Christ.  The topic: JESUS IS RADICAL!!! I don't know if I have a more favorite topic to teach on.  It was a blast.  From there I went to APU and spoke to a classroom of graduate students about leadership and ministry.  It was an absolute blast.

Thank you so much for praying.  God is on the move.  I'm so glad I get to be part of it with you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prayer Update for This Week...

Happy Monday, Prayer Team.

Here's my schedule for teaching this week.  Thank you in advance for praying:

  • Tomorrow morning (Tuesday), I am speaking at Maranatha High School.
  • Wednesday night I am speaking at FLOOD at PFB.  I am very excited about what God has been showing me from Mark 4-5 the past couple of weeks.  
  • Thursday afternoon I get the opportunity to speak at Campus Crusade on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.  I've never had this opportunity and am so excited to partner up with them.
  • Sunday morning I get to speak to the high schoolers at PFB Church.
That's it.  It's a pretty busy week.  Again, thank you.  Love you guys.

Friday, November 12, 2010

God Reminded Me of Something Through MEGAMIND

I took the boys out tonight to see MEGAMIND.  Honestly, I liked it.  It was pretty funny.  But the part that I loved the most was being with my boys.  Seriously: this was the best part of the whole night.  There we were, with our snacks and drinks, sitting together enjoying the movie.

I found myself smiling as we walked out because I was able to hang with my boys.  And the joy for me: they enjoyed hanging with me.  That blessed me more than I am able to explain in any blog.  And then it hit me: Is this how God feels every time we enjoy him? John Piper is known for this statement: "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him."  It is when I enjoy God the most that he is most glorified in me.  But I would venture to say this: When I enjoy God the most is when I have truly blessed the heart of God.

What an incredible moment for me as a dad.  What an indescribable reminder to me as a child of God.

They Don't Look Very Cool!!!

I was reading Josh Husmann's blog this morning and came across this video.  Hillarious!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Update from FLOOD...

Hey all,
I just wanted to give you a quick update about what happened on Wednesday night.  IT WAS AWESOME!!! We started a new series called, "PUNCTUATION" (click here to see what it's about).  But here's the thing: God changed things up on me.  Last Friday, while I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, I was reading Mark 4-5.  JESUS ROCKED MY WORLD!!! As I read through it I knew that I had to preach what Jesus had shown me for the next few weeks.  However, this didn't fit with my new series.  And that's when it hit me: When God wants to change things up, he gets the final say, not my series plans.  So, we went with it.  The result: two young ladies stood up to surrender to Jesus.  And the truth: THAT NEVER GETS OLD!!!

God is on the move.  Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Real & Broken Preferred

"So they answered him, 'We do not know.'  And Jesus said unto them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'" — Mark 11:33, ESV

Here's a guaranteed way to make sure that you never get another answer from Jesus: be fake.  I was reading Mark 11:27-33 today for my quiet time.  The context is this: the religious leaders were looking for a way to destroy Jesus.  He had just finished jacking up their "worship service" by turning tables over and creating havoc with a whip.  The people right before that had been proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah.  The people loved his teaching and were blown away by his miracles.  So the religious leaders came together to come up with a question to trap Jesus so that they might have a reason to kill him.

However, before Jesus would answer their question (the question was one of the dumbest things that can ever be asked of God by anyone: "By what authority are you doing these things?" Just so you know, God never has to answer this and we should never be asking it), he wanted them to answer one of his questions.  Their response to this question had to be well thought-out.  The only problem is that there was no good way to answer the question (kind of like, "Did you know you're stupid?" :).

This was the response of the religious leaders: "We do not know."  Jesus knew that they had an opinion.  He knew that they were thinking something specific about him, but that they were not willing to share their opinion.  That's why Jesus replied by saying, "Neither will I tell you..."  He could of said, "Then I don't know either."  But he didn't.  He said, "Neither will I tell you..."  If they weren't going to answer his questions honestly, he wasn't going to answer there's at all.

Here are two thoughts that came to my mind while I was reflecting on this passage:

1).  When I play the part rather than be the person, Jesus will reveal nothing new nor answer any questions.  It is so easy for me to jump into the position that I have rather than the person that God has made me to be. When I forget that I am person before I am pastor, my times with Jesus are stale.

2).  Jesus prefers real and broken over fake and religious.  Look at these verses:

  • Psalm 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • Isaiah 57:15 - For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
  • Isaiah 66:2 - All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD.  But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Jesus is not longing for people to play the part.  He's looking for people who have been broken apart and in need of healing.  Jesus prefers real and broken over fake and religious.

To that I say: thank you, Jesus!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Natural To Follow

And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Rabbi, let me recover my sight."  And Jesus said to him, "Go your way, your faith has made you well."  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. — Mark 10:51-52, ESV

Here's the first thought that popped into my mind as I read Mark 10 this morning:  "The natural response of those who are given sight is to follow the one who gave it to them."  The response of Bartimaeus was to follow Jesus.  He was not asked to do so by Jesus.  He wasn't encouraged by anyone else to go with him.  Rather, all that the passage says is that Bartimaeus went with him.  That's it.  But why? Because it's a natural response - or at least it should be.

But here's the thing that really stands out since it was Bartimaeus.  Picture it: Bartimaeus is blind at the beginning of the day.  He meets Jesus and his whole world is changed.  He no longer needed anyone to help him get from one place to the next.  He didn't have to shuffle along, hoping not to knock anything or anyone over.  He didn't have to worry about tripping over something (unless he was a klutz).  He was free.  And the joy in that freedom was this: he could follow Jesus all by himself.  He didn't need any help from anyone else.  He could see Jesus and he could follow him all by himself.

Here's the correlation for us.  For those of you who know Christ let me remind you of this: before you heard Christ's call and surrendered your life to him, you were blind (as was I).  You were unable to see anything.  In fact, Scripture teaches that you were once dead in your sins (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV).  Dead means dead.  In the Greek language, dead means dead.  But, Jesus came and changed everything.  And the natural response for a person who has truly been changed by Jesus is to follow him.  Why? First, because we can see for ourselves who Jesus is and where he is going.  Secondly, because we are so grateful for the fact that he gave us life.

Remember: The natural response of those who are given sight is to follow the one who gave it to them.  And I can promise you this: Jesus loves the company.

Please pray...

Hey all,
I wanted to thank you again for praying for me while I was up at Gilead this past weekend.  It was truly an unbelievable experience.  I just got a message from one of the guys who was there.  Here's what he said:

"Mt Gilead was INSANE! God used you to rock my world!!!"

It was incredible!!! So thank you.  Here is what I'm asking for prayer for for this week:

1).  FLOOD this Wednesday night.  We are starting a new series called, "Punctuation" - click here for the details.  I've been studying this morning for the message and I have to say: I'M FLIPPIN' PUMPED!!! I haven't finished the message but I'm getting really excited about it.  Would love to see you join us at FLOOD.  If you can't be there in person, join us live online (www.pfblive.tv).

2).  This Sunday morning I get to teach the high schoolers at PFB Church.  

Thank you so much for how much you love me and support me by constantly praying for me.  I can't thank you enough.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Party's Over

Hi All,
Just wanted to give you a quick update that Jesus is awesome. :) The men's retreat is over and I'm sitting here in the aftermath of an amazing weekend. The theme was, "CONSUMED" and Jesus had some things to say. Thank you so much for praying. I'm blown away with what he said and how he said it. Here were some highlights:

1). Watched a young man with a physical disability singing with his hands raised, "It is Well With My Soul."

2). Listening to about 90 men singing praises to Jesus. Nothing is quite as awesome as hearing that.

3). The messages came up strong and to the point. The men were very receptive and open to this.

So thank you. I get on a plane tomorrow morning at 7am. I'll be back at PFB for morning worship services there. Thank you for praying.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Prayer Team:

OH MY GOODNESS!!! I can honestly say that I don't think that I have ever preached like I preached tonight.  Thank you so much for praying.  God is moving.  I'm left speechless tonight at the words that Jesus shared with me and the all the men up here.  Thank you.  I love you all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

You Are God's Masterpiece

REMEMBER: You are God's masterpiece.

The chiseling process may hurt at times,
but the end result is unbelievable.

God's first job in making you into a new creation is to destroy you.

What I Do All Day!!!! :)

Here's the stress that comes with my job.  HOLD ON!!! You'll never be the same. :)

What Does Brian Do All Day? from Brian Holland on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"...the God to whom I belong..."

...the God to whom I belong... — AWESOME!!!

Enjoy the truth of this statement: If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you belong to God.  You belong to him.  You are his possession.  And understand this: he sees you as precious.  Think about it: he paid for you with the precious blood of his Son.  You only pay top dollar for those things that are beyond value to you.

I read this phrase this morning and it blew me away.  I needed that reminder.  I needed to hear once again that I belong to God, that despite my shortcomings, doubts, and fears, I belong to God.

This truth: it should change everything.  If it doesn't, then it hasn't become part of you.  Oh how I pray that it does, because it definitely changes everything.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prayer Update for this Week...

Hey all,
Here are is how you can be praying for me this week:

1).  I get to preach this Wednesday night at FLOOD.  We will be closing up our two-week series called, "COEXIST."  Again, I invite you to come out and be part of it (7pm in the worship center at PFB Church).  If you can't join us in person, watch it live at http://www.pfblive.tv/.

2).  On Friday I fly up to northern California to speak at a men's retreat.  I am very excited about this opportunity to hang with and teach a bunch of guys.  There's just something about being with the brothers.  I'll be teaching on Friday night and twice on Saturday.  I'll then fly back on Sunday morning to make it back in time for worship services at PFB Church.

3).  My sleep.  For some reason I am in a season of not sleeping well.  I've tried sleeping pills, changing pillows, breathing deep, counting sheep, praying, trash-talking the devil... I'm just not sleeping well.  I know that in the big scheme of things this is nothing.  However, Jesus is so willing to hear all about the little things and do the incredible when he sees fit.

Thank you for your constant prayers.  I am so blessed by you.  Take care.

I'm In A Funk

I'm in a funk.  And honestly - it sucks.  This morning I got up early to spend time in God's word.  I read through my "scheduled" reading for today (which honestly, has helped me so much in staying true to being in God's word on a regular basis).  At the end, nothing.  I long to experience God's presence.  An absence of that is discouraging.  And yet, as I type this I am caught with this thought: my goal is to follow and obey Christ, no matter what the experience.

I heard this statement a long time ago during a quiet time: "Sometimes God will take away the emotion to make sure that you'll be obedient."  I'm exhausted.  I'm still not sleeping well.  The responsibilities that I am facing right now are many (which I'm sure so many of you can relate with).  I understand that right now I am in a season, one of which will have an end at some point.  The only thing: I don't like what it is doing in my intimacy with Jesus.

The main point for this morning in writing this blog: to be honest.  I've made a commitment to be real in my blogs, thoughts, tweets, etc... I'm tired of seeing posts written by followers of Christ who constantly portray how great everything is, yet remaining silent in their blog when times of discouragement and doubt creep in.  All the while so many others wonder if they are the only ones struggling through things.  I'm in a funk.  I don't like it.  But one thing I've learned through times like this: remain obedient.  Be faithful.  As I remain obedient, regardless of emotional stimuli, God will bless me with the awareness of his presence that I so long to experience in his perfect time.

So, no matter what you're feeling, be faithful.  Remain faithful.  Be obedient.  We were called to Christ, not just an emotion that comes with following Christ.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible, I may attain the resurrection from the dead." — Philippians 3:7-11

This is the passage that came to mind as I was typing the stuff above.  I want to know Christ.  I want to know him in every way possible.  So I wonder if there is a necessity in the process of knowing Christ more deeply that I must experience what it's like to feel like he's not close by.  In that time of "distance", I must press on to remain obedient, as that is what one's pupil will do no matter where his teacher may be.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I PRESS ON to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do no consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I PRESS ON toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:12-14

I feel like I'm in the midst of a lot of rambling.  I hope you don't mind my thinking out loud.  But honestly: this time of rambling has helped me get focused on what I want: Christ.  I want him.  I want everything about him.  I'm so thankful for times in the funk because they reveal the new heart's desires that Jesus has given to me.  Those desires of my new heart: my Savior.