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Lost in Transition

Waiting on God isn’t to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan.

For the child of God, waiting isn’t simply about what I’ll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I’ll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what He’s promised.

Through the wait He’s changing me. By means of the wait He’s altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait He’s causing me to see and experience new things about Him and His kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in His redemptive hands.
What are you waiting on?

Tears are Tears…

Watching people grieve, feeling overwhelmed by people’s pain, hearing about the funerals of others–these have all brought me face to face with a specific calling we have as followers of Jesus: “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (see 1 Thess 4:13-18).

The instructions are very clear, but not overwhelmingly helpful. What does that look like? Tears are tears. There’s no sign that appears over the heads of grieving Christians that says, “Mourning with hope, just FYI.” Even Jesus’ weeping, I imagine, outwardly looked the same as everyone else’s. Bystanders at the scene of Lazarus’s death, for example, noticed that Jesus was crying but saw no sign of hope in his tears, no rosy glow emanating from him that prompted them to hope for a miracle. If anything his tears seemed to bring about a new wave of grief for Lazarus’s friends: they lamented that Jesus hadn’t gotten there before Lazarus died, when he could have done some good. Now, they assumed, there was no hope for their friend who’d been dead for four days already.

What I’ve come to think is that our call to mourn with hope is fleshed out in what Jesus does after he weeps, in the midst of the weeping around him: He speaks the truth. Specifically, he calls people to believe. He acknowledges that his Father has heard him. And he speaks directly to dead, embalmed Lazarus, because he knows the life in the Son of Man is stronger even than the death that had temporarily claimed his friend. We mourn with hope when, in the midst of our tears and in defiance of the despair that tries to overtake us, we speak the truth about what should not be (cancer, heart failure, senseless shootings) and what is: Jesus is alive. His Spirit is continuing to restore his creation and bring his kingdom to earth. He has defeated death. And what should not be one day will not be, as Christ will be crowned the full and final victor over death and sin.

Where do your thoughts go? How do you find your comfort?

Difference Makers

This past weekend we had to opportunity to share a few small moments from our recent trip to Uganda, Africa. My favorite part was hearing from some of the young people that went and how it changed them!

One of the things I am most passionate about is Child Sponsorship… it is an easy way to be a DIFFERENCE MAKER in a child’s and even family’s life!

Sponsorship is a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between you and the community in which you are helping to create real and lasting change. It provides more than the satisfaction that comes with aid for improving the health and well-being of children; it delivers a special opportunity to witness young lives lifted over time. To bring hope and necessary care to kids through dignity, health, joy & love.  Through child sponsorship, two lives are changed forever: yours and the life of your sponsored child.
I am so thankful to God that this weekend we had the chance to be just a little part of true Religion…

James 1:27 (NIV)

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

And blessed to see 84 new children sponsored! If you are interested in being apart please go to the Hope 4 Kids website at the bottom of this web page and sign up today… you can be a difference maker for CHANGE!

This Sunday will be PERFECT

The team that went to Uganda, Africa with me the last two weeks are now home and mostly, kinda, pretty much, maybe back to normal.

One of the first things I got to do when I came back to the office this week was visit a friend that had just had knee replacement surgery. While I was there visiting I was introduced to the Dr. that had just walked in to check up on things. As I was introduced, the Dr. was also informed that I had just returned from Uganda.

The Dr.’s response with out even looking at me was quickly “well I think there is much we need to do here”. I gave a kind smile behind his back and did not feel as though he was interested in a response nor would he be ready for one.

It made me feel very defensive, but what am I defending? People in Africa? People in California? Myself and MY decisions?

One of the things that can be most paralyzing to me when I am preparing to share is the awareness of my own imperfection. It can downright cripple your ability to believe that God can use you to do anything of substance in people’s lives.

But what I have to remember is the reality is you still have a message to deliver. And it’s the most relevant and powerful message in the history of the world. People desperately need it and you can’t afford to hesitate to deliver it.

I regret saying nothing… something simply could have been “God loves the people of Africa too”…. or “Its not the kind of trip your thinking of, you should come this weekend as we share about this journey”.

Never the less… People desperately need Christ, and you can not afford to hesitate to deliver HIS message.

So I ask… Join me this weekend as we testify what God is doing and did in Africa during our time there, we have opportunity to play apart , and we share the most powerful message in the WORLD!
And please one up me… invite someone else to come along…its just too important not to!

We will be sharing this Sunday Aug. 12th at 9am and 11am

So You Say God Can’t Use You…

So You Say God Can’t Use You…

Moses stuttered.
David was too young.
David’s armor didn’t fit.
David had an affair.
Jeremiah was depressed.
Jacob was a liar.
Jonah ran from God.
Miriam was a gossip.
Elijah was burned out.
Abraham was too old.
Solomon was too rich.
John the Baptist was too poor.
John Mark was rejected by Paul.
Timothy had ulcers.
Peter was afraid of death.
John was self-righteous.
Thomas doubted.
Martha was a worry-wart.
Lazarus was dead.

Your Plan ‘A’….. there is NO plan ‘B’…

For more check out “Whats Gods Will?

Addiction is a good thing…

Addiction is a good thing. If you’re addicted to the best thing.

Colossians 1:28-29
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in me.
When it came to the Gospel, Paul went beyond his limits and tapped into the very energy of God.

Can you even imagine “struggling with all HIS energy?”

I can…. I want more… Once you taste it you can get enough…. what do you think about being obsessed with and addicted to the Gospel?

The Hangover

Recently, I was hanging out with a friend… he quoted a movie and thought it was the funniest thing… “you know what movie that’s from right?” He asked “No… I don’t…” I said. He responded enthusiastically, “Have you seen The Hangover? It may be the funniest movie I’ve ever seen!” Excited about a potentially great comedy, I asked a couple of my staff members about the movie. They too had seen it and said it was a riot and must see.

Since I wasn’t sure what The Hangover was rated, my last check point involved doing a little research to see if this was a movie for the whole family or one just for me and my wife to watch together. What I discovered floored me.

According to, this comedy has more than its fair share of non-family-friendly scenes, intense language, and sexual situations. The rough spots include 91 different variations of the f-bomb (apparently it can function as noun, verb, adjective—maybe even a conjunction for all I know), 41 excretory words, 14 references to a person’s behind and nine slang terms for male anatomy. To top it all off, this hilarious movie has 31 different versions of taking God’s name in vain.

When I told my friends and staff members that the movie had 91 f-bombs, which averages out to approximately one version of the “f” word per minute, they were all shocked. “Really? I didn’t even notice” was the most common response. Or “but its really funny….”

Really… you didn’t notice one “f” word each minute?

Please understand that I’ve seen my share of The Hangover-ish movies.  It’s not that I’m particularly proud of this cultural education, but I’m no tee-totaling separatist who only watches Veggie Tales.

You might be like a lot of people who say, “Profanity, violence, and sex in the movies don’t really bother me. If it doesn’t bother me, it must not be that big of a deal.” Remember—I used to think this way, too. If you’re a Christian, though, wouldn’t you agree that there has to be a boundary somewhere? A way to discern what pleases God and moves us closer to him instead of farther away? And can we trust our own sensibilities to know what’s truly best for us? Can you really endure an onslaught of “f-bombs” in a movie and not get wounded?

Consider, for example, if I dropped 91 “f- bombs” in my sermon on a Sunday, do you think that no one in my church would care? Chances are good that I’d stir up a bit of controversy to say the least. So if you agree that 91 is too many f-words for a Sunday sermon, then how about 50? Or 23?

What’s the magic number? Most people in my church would say that even one f-bomb would be too many—much less taking God’s name in vain. Yet the majority of them paid good money to be entertained by some form of media containing the same language or much worse within the past thirty days.

So let’s wrestle with this subject. If it’s not okay for me or you to say certain words or make particular jokes or references in church, then why would it be right for Christians to pay their hard-earned money to be entertained by something similar?

I agree that context makes a difference. You attend church (I hope) to worship God, hear his Word preached, and fellowship with others—not to be entertained. Similarly, you go to the movies or download Netflix to escape and enjoy yourself, not to meet God and get spiritually nourished.

There’s only one problem with this line of reasoning. Our lives are not so neatly compartmentalized just because we’re in a different setting for a different purpose. We aren’t machines with software programs that can sort and file things away, separate from all the other parts of the system. It’s tempting to think that what we watch on TV, see at the movies, listen to on our iPod, play on our gaming systems, and read before bedtime doesn’t affect us.

But they do. Each image and message we ingest may be a germ that will make us gravely ill, especially when combined with the many other sensory germs we’re taking in. If we’re serious about our spiritual house cleaning, then there must be no exceptions.  We must take the images, language, and stories we allow into our minds and hearts very seriously.

If you don’t think there’s a problem with all the cultural influences that invade your life daily, chances are that you’re interpreting right and wrong through a distorted lens. People who shoot video start by holding up a white piece of paper in front of the camera before starting. This shot is called a “white balance.”

They do this each time because the camera can’t interpret all the colors until it sees true white. Without a white balance, a blue shirt could look grey or a red flag could appear orange. Once the camera sees true white, then it knows how to discern all the other colors.

Our approach to movies, TV shows, and the culture around us should follow the same pattern. Once you see pure white—or truth—suddenly you can see clearly that so much of what we take in is hurtful to us and displeasing to God. Instead of blindly absorbing whatever media you encounter, allow God’s Word and the guidance of his Holy Spirit to reset your white balance, to re-adjust your standard of right and wrong, and to live in a manner that brings glory and honor to God.

Read for the week – Soul Detox

Summer is Coming

I am starting to see people start on their summer separation from church already…

I hope after all these years of teaching that people remember that you cannot take a break from God and His people without it affecting your spiritual safety. The less time you spend without God, the Word, and His people, the more unlike Christ you look. When you don’t look and act like Jesus it affects your relationships… it affects your peace level in your heart…I pray that you (everyone) presses into Jesus even in the summer –the world is so crazy and in many ways the battle to remain in Christ is so intense that we cannot afford to forget who and what we are for a minute.

Ever Bought a Home

Ever bought a home…. My agent, sold me my house 7 years ago, never said thank you or recontacted with me past the day he handed me my key.

People will come to church if you invite them, but only once if you drop them after their first or second week to hang with your church buddies. Caring isn’t inviting them to church, it’s inviting them into your house, life, family, failures, and world. I have seen so many shallow church “Programs” trying to coax and trick people into coming to church, only to drop them after arrival.

Its not just and invitation, its an investment into others lives. The problem we have with that is time, it always seems to be the excuse…You are RIGHT… that is all that it is… an excuse… What else is more important, REALLY?!?!

We live in a time in which Christians are more afraid of being called “religious” than they are of seeing their generation go to hell, or just out of time because stuff is just more important…

God gives us all the time in the world… how is your (time) stewardship… do you know how much time you have left? How much time those around you have left… INVEST your time, INVEST yourself, there is NOTHING more important.

All about the Numbers

I have been thinking about this for some time now and have been setting up “new things” goals as we come up on our Annual Members Vision Meeting on June 10th… is all about the numbers.

Let me just clarify something: 
Northgate is all about the numbers.

The number of lives that Jesus can permeate and penetrate with the gospel.
The number of relationships that can be restored.
The number of people following the Lord.
The number of depressed people that can find hope in Jesus.
The number of hurt people that can find healing.
The number of people who will learn to order their lives by the Word of God and start prioritizing their lives accordingly.

What else matters? What else should we be about?

This might come as a shock to a lot of people, but measuring numbers and putting an emphasis on them isn’t a new phenomenon. 2000 years ago, Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote:

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day…47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
 Acts 2:41, 47

Apparently God is all about the numbers. So I want to be, too. And so should you.

It’s unacceptable to me as a pastor that we would stop growing when the Lord wants to add to our number daily those who are being saved. And in order for that to happen, we need to track every scrap of statistical data at our disposal. We’ve got to make sure we’re measuring ministry numbers to measure our effectiveness and enlarge the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to waste a single dollar or second on a program, piece of equipment, or ministry position that isn’t the best option for reaching the most people.

You might be averse to numbers for a number of reasons.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of big crowds. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t have liked the New Testament Church. And you really won’t like heaven.
Maybe you think it steals away from discipleship. It’s possible. But it’s just as possible for that to happen in a church of 10 people as it is in a church of 10,000.
Whatever your reason is, remember: every number is indicative of a story.

Personally, I don’t want to put a cap on the number of stories God wants to redeem. Especially when I read this:

9 I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God.”
Revelation 7:9-10

Now that’s a number worth shooting for. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until I die to see this. I want to see this partially fulfilled in my lifetime. More people worshiping Jesus than I can count.

I want to see a little heaven on earth through Northgate. Through every church. I think it’s what God wants too.

And that’s why we’re all about the numbers.

I ripped off that phrase-be a bringer- from @KevinGerald. He uses it to remind his church of their responsibility to be witnesses for Christ. Not only should we invite people who are far from God to come to church-we should bring them with us. We should do whatever we can to compel them. Because there is a great chance their life will be changed in the presence of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare and get ready for our weekly Sunday worship experiences, we need to be putting a lot of effort into motivating our people (you) to be bringers. Northgate is not only for you, but for someone in your life who needs to find hope in Christ.

We’re going all out to present the Gospel. The opportunity is great. The need is urgent.
And although public worship gatherings aren’t the only way someone can come to Christ, we’ve seen thousands respond to Jesus in this environment. We believe God moves in a special way when His Church comes together. Not just in our church, but anywhere the Gospel is preached.

Believers all over the world, let’s be bringers this season.
You never know the impact your invitation could initiate.

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