Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things That Bug Me - Part 4

Well, let me give you a few more things that bug me as we close out this weeks blog topic.

1. Emails written in ALL CAPS. Just a word to the wise ... using all caps is the equivalent to yelling in cyberspace.

2. People who blow things out of proportion. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. Be realistic.

3. Indecision. Flip flopping on issues. People who can't make up their mind. That's why I'm excited about this weeks message, "Overcoming indecision." When you are indecisive it causes fear in your heart, instability in your relationships, and it stunts your spiritual growth. The quality of your life will be determined by the decisions you make. Get God's wisdom and go for it.

4. Parents who don't discipline their kids. Man, this really bugs me. The Bible literally says that if you don't discipline your kids, it shows that you really don't love them. The next time your kid acts out, smarts off, or generally shows you some disrespect, show them how much you love them and put them on the naughty chair, or on a time out, or better yet give them a good old fashioned spanking. Of course, never discipline out of anger and always give them a word of encouragement and pray together afterwards.

5. Pop up windows. Spam. Emails from Nigeria promising me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy 10th Anniversary

Okay. I have to interrupt this weeks blog. My wife, Bekah, and I are in New York City celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. I'm actually blogging today from the Apple store in Madison Avenue. What a cool store. You've got to come to NYC and see it.

I love my wife. I can't believe we've been married for 10 years already. Holy Cow! I guess time really flys when you are having fun.

Bekah and I came in to the city last night and had dinner with some friends. We're just hanging out today and enjoying a little getaway. We're reminiscing about the last 10 years and laughing a lot about our shared experiences. Tonight we are going to go see the hot Broadway show, Wicked (it's about the Wizard of Oz).

Anyway, before we get back to shopping and eating and walking, here are a few thoughts about reaching 10 years of wedded bliss:

1. Love is a decision. After the honeymoon is over, along comes morning breath, back hair and kids and the stresses of life. Love is a committment and a choice that you make every day. It's more than a feeling.

2. Learn to focus on your own personal growth, not your spouses. I remember saying when Bekah and I first got married, "I'm going to learn how this girl ticks. I'm going to learn all kinds of stuff about her - what she's like, her personality, her stregnths and weaknesses, etc." It wasn't too long until I realized that marriage forced me to learn more about me than her - like how selfish, impatient, critical, etc. that I can be. A strong marriage is only made possible when you focus on changing yourself, not your spouse.

3. Laugh a lot, especially at yourself. Bekah and I just love hanging out and enjoying one another's company. Much of our time is spent laughing at the silly things we do or the crazy things our kids do. Laughter is like medicine, it takes the pain out of life and makes you feel so much better.

4. Let Jesus be the center of your life. Our marraige is built on Christ. He's the foundation. He determines who we are and thus how we treat one another. It's not about us, it's about Christ and what he wants for our lives.

Well, there's a lot more I could share but I want to go spend time with Bekah.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things That Bug Me - Part 2

Here are some more things that really bug me.

1. Almost any email with a FW: in the subject line.

2. Gossip. This is perhaps one of the most lethal tools of the enemy. It creates disunity and division in the body of Christ. Here are couple defintions so you will know it when you hear it: 1)Hearing something you like about someone you don't; 2)When you are neither part of the problem or solution; 3)Sending a "letter of concern to a friend and never signing it." Don't give in to gossip. If a gossiping person calls you on the phone "to pray" about something, just hang up the phone.

3. Legalsim. This is the pinnacle of religiosity. Legalism is when you define your faith completely on what you do and not on what Christ has already done. It's when you place your personal convictions and standards of holiness on someone else. Legalism is cleaning the outside of the cup without cleaning the inside.

4. Traditionalism. Now, don't get me wrong, I love traditions. My family has plenty of them ... like opening at least one of our presents on Christmas Eve. I love that tradition. Traditions build stability, consistency, and comfort. But, traditions have a downside, too. They can get us into ruts, especially in the church. Always remember, every tradition you hold dear was once a cutting edge idea that broke with previous standard operating procedure.

5. Joy suckers. These are people that constantly complain and never have anything positive to say. They suck the joy right out of me and they really bug me. There is enough negativity in the world, I don't have to dwell on it even more. We are supposed to think of what's good, noble, and right. Don't be a joy sucker. Be a smile maker.

6. Uncommitted people. It takes commitment to building something of great value. You can't build a great marriage without commitment. You can't build a great business without committment. You can't build a great church without committed people. When people don't show up and you are counting on them to be there it is very disspointing and even demoralizing. It's like they are saying, "I just don't care." Eventually, everyone becomes the sum total of their committment in life. What are you committed to?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Things That Bug Me - Part 1

At the risk of sounding negative, let me share some things with you this week that really bug me. Why, you ask? Well, if you really want to get to know someone, you have to learn what they like and also what they don't like.

Here are a few things about life and ministry that kind of get under my skin.

1. Anchovies on pizza. Disgusting. Fish on pizza. Come on!

2. Waiting in lines. Any line.

3. Laziness. Most of life boils down to hard work. It really bugs me to be around people who don't know the value of an honest days work.

4. Know-it-alls. These "Cliff Clavens" of the world irratate the snot out of me. These people seem to know everything about everything but NEVER DO ANYTHING!

5. People who are rude to waiters/waitresses. I used to be a waiter. That's how I put myself through seminary. It's an incredibly stressful job. Everybody wants something and they want it now. What really used to bug me when I was a waiter was someone who would be rude to me and then leave a track on the table with a lousy tip.

Tomorrow's topic: religion, legalism and traditionalism!

Friday, June 22, 2007

What I'm Excited About - Part 5

5. I'm excited about our current sermon series on James that we are calling "Do It."

This is my first-ever verse-by-verse book series. It's been really cool to study and preach on the most practical book in the Bible - James. We called the series, "Do It" because the key verse in the entire book is found in James 1:22, where it says, "Do merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

James coined the phrase, "just do it" eons before Nike. You see, James understood that most Chrsitians are educated way beyond their level of obedience. Most Christians don't need another sermon, another Bible study, another opportunity to pray - they simply need to put into practice what they already know to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for prayer, studying the Word and small groups and discipleship - but not at the expense of actually putting into practice what I already know I should be doing for Christ.

If we are going to grow in Christ, reach this mountain with the gospel, feed the hungry, visit the widows and those in prison ... than we just need to get out there and DO IT. I'm excited that PCC is an action-oriented church becuase we serve forward-moving Savior.

I'm excited about PCC and our faith. I don't want to just talk about it. I want to DO IT!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What I'm Excited About - Part 4

4. I'm excited about our new church building.

For the past 4 and half years we've been meeting together as a portable church. We've met in homes, hotels, community centers, fire halls and high schools. Now, we stand at the threshold of building a home to call our own.

Here are a few thoughts regarding our building:

*a building will simply help us be more effective at reaching the lost and equipping the believers

*buildings don't reach people ... people reach and grow people

*i don't want to build a monument for God, i want to build a movement based on the extravagant love of Jesus extended towards a lost and hurting community

*our church building will be functional - each space will be designed for multiple uses - it's a stewardship issue

*our new church building will help us be more creative - just think what we can do if we actually had access to a facility for more than 4 hours a week

*buildings cost you something - the lessons we will learn in sacrificial giving will build our faith and prepare us for even greater works of God's grace in this community.

*i'm excited about the first prayer meeting in our new facility. Jesus said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer."

*i can't wait to see the first person respond to an invitation to accept Christ in our new facility.

*i'm excited to see the first new believer baptized in our new facility

*i wonder who will be the first to be married and join thier lives together in our new facility

*i'm excited see lots of kids in our new kids area dancing, worshipping, learning and having fun in church

Click here to see pictures of the new building.

What I'm Excited About - Part 3

3. I'm excited about our church.

I love our church. There is no greater organization in the world other than the local church. The church has the only answer to the problems of this world - that is Jesus and the fact that He lives. The church is a place where the lost can be found, the hurting can be healed, the gospel can be preached, the saints be equipped, the hungry be fed, and the lonely be embraced into community.

There is nothing in this entire world I would rather spend my time doing that building the church. I've dedicated my life to this noble endeavor. The picture of a church operating in the context of Biblical community is my dream for PCC. It's the picture of an Acts 2 church.

Here ares some specific things I'm excited about PCC:
*we love one another regardless of color, socioeconomic status or ethnicity
*we love the lost and are intentional about winning souls for Christ
*we embrace change and don't have any sacred cows
*that we are going to have a building to call home one day soon
*we know how to laugh and throw a good party
*we have a great team of volunteers who work tirelessly every weekend
*we are blessed with a wonderful pastoral staff that enjoy being together
*we value prayer and small group environments to foster spiritual growth
*i'm excited about this fall and kicking off a church-wide spiritual growth emphasis

I know we are not a perfect church. As long as I'm the pastor, this will never be a perfect church because I'm a naturally flawed and imperfect human being. But I have a desire to make my life and minsitry count for Christ. And as I seek God and his direction for the future of this church, it is my prayer that we continue to grow deeper in his Word, higher in his praise, and wider in his love to a lost and hurting world.

What do you love about PCC?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What I'm Excited About - Part 2

2. I'm excited about my family.

I love my wife. Bekah is an amazing woman of God. She loves the Lord and has a heart for lost people. She is a great mom and a wonderful friend. I married way above my head when God blessed me with her. She grew up on the mission field and knows what it is to sacrifice for the Lord.

I love my little girl. Kate is the joy of my life. She has such a great spirit. Kate has an iron will and a soft heart. She loves her mom and dad and little brother very much. No one brightens up a room when they walk into like Kate. I can't wait to see what a wondeful women of God she is going to become.

I love my little boy. David is a so much fun. He makes me and Bekah laugh all day long. He's so laid back and just smiles all day long. He rarely fusses or throws a fit. He defintely takes after his mother's personality.

I love my little baby that is on the way. I'm so excited about being the father of three kids. What a blessing. Of course, Bekah and I are going to have to go to zone defense, but we will manage. The Bible says that children are a heritage of the Lord. What an awesome legacy and responsibility. To much is given, much is required.

I love my parents and family. I talk to my mom and dad almost on a daily basis. They are such an encouragement and support to me. I don't know where I'd be without them. I'm also blessed to have a great friendship with my brother and sister and their families. I'm blessed to have a grandfather who is my number one fan in life and ministry. He prays for me everyday and for that I'm eternally grateful. I'm also blessed to have a loving and supportive extended family on Bekah's side. They are all missionaries doing a great work for God all over the world.

Perhaps you should take some time and put down in words all the people in your family that you are thankful for. It will do great things for your soul.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What I'm Excited About - Part 1

This week I want to spend some talking about the things in life and ministry that really rev my engine. So, let's kick it off.

1. I'm really excited about my walk with Christ.

I know that my sound like some cliche, especially coming from a pastor. After all, pastors are supposed to be excited about Christ. We are the "paid professional Christian - the hired holy men of God." But my relationship with Christ is much deeper than my profession.

In the past few months I have been sensing a deep move of God's Spirit in my life. A move towards personal renewal and times of refreshing. As I have been studying and reading the Word and journaling about those quiet moments I have experienced an intimacy with Jesus unlike any other time in my life.

We've been singing this song at church that says, "Falling in love with Jesus was the best thing I've ever done." That's how I feel right now in my faith. And I know that as Jesus takes me one step closer to Him and into deeper deminsions of my faith and spiritual maturity, it is just a matter of time until the PCC family gets there too.

Here's some practical advice on fostering a relationship with Christ that will flourish:
*spend time in God's Word daily
*keep a journal - write out what you're learning and your prayers
*fast and pray weekly
*read some books on spiritual growth or leadership (I just finished rereadig Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley and Courageous Leadership by Bil Hybels.
*share your faith regularly

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dream Team - Courage

The last criteria for the PCC dream team is courage. Here are some thoughts regarding this element for a successful team.

5. Courage

*it takes courage to do whatever it takes to reach the lost
*it takes courage to work hard and make many personal sacrifices to build God's kingdom
*courage is moving ahead in spite of your fears
*it takes courage to outlast your critics
*it takes courage to invest in relevant ministry
*it takes courage to face your failures in ministry and rebuild
*it takes courage to challenge mediocrity and status quo mentality
*it takes courage to let others receive the credit for success

So, that's the dream team criteria. Hopefully, you can apply these elements to any relationship - your marriage, family, work colleagues or ministry partners. Please let me know if this weeks blog topic was helpful to you. Look forward to hearing your comments.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Building A Dream Team - Chemistry

4. Chemistry

The third criteria for a drem team is chemistry. Since PCC is team led, I feel it is absolutely necessary to find people whose personality and temperment compliment one another. In other words, we have to have good team chemistry.

Here are some thoughts on why chemistry is so important on our teams at PCC.

*life is too short not to enjoy those you work with
*teams that laugh together get more work done
*chemistry builds team morale
*ministry is tough - we need solid friendships on our team - people who not only have impeccable charcter and road-tested competency, but people who will encourage one another and pray with one another in the face of adversity

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Building a Dream Team - Competency

3. Competency

The next crucial element to building a dream team is compentency. In his three "C's" of team selection, Billy Hybels says that he looks for people whose spiritual gifts have been refined over the years and fit the needs of the organization.

At PCC, we have a job to do - win the lost at any cost. We need people on our team that can get the job done. The abilities and giftedness that each team member brings to the table is crucial to reaching people and builidng the kingdom of God in the Poconos.

Here are some thoughts on competency ...

*i want to surround myself with people who are much brighter and more gifted than me
*team members should share my desire to become an "expert" in their field
*compentency comes from a teachable spirit
*growing churches need growing leaders
*i won't apologize for expecting the best from myself and others that are on our team
*you've got to have the right people on the bus if you are going to make it to your destination

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dream Team 2 - Character

I'm in Sprigfield, Missouri this week co-presenting at The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary with Dr. Stephen Lim. I have been spending some time with 16 doctoral students in a class called "Leading Missional Ministry." The class was awesome today. We talked a lot about developing a church planting and evangelism strategy. Please keep me in prayer tomorrow as we will be discussing small groups and discipleship strategies.

Now, back to our conversation on building a dream team. The second most important criteria in a team member is ...

2. Character

Character matters. The best definition of character I ever heard was, "it is who you are when no one else is looking." There is no substitute to character. You can fake a lot of things in life and ministry, but you can't fake character. Who you are on the inside will always be revealed publically.

Here are some thoughts on character ...

*it defines who I am in Christ
*it builds or destroys team unity
*character determines my level of loyalty
*it influences my work ethic
*it shapes my relationships
*it reveals my commitments to the spiritual disciplines

Building A Dream Team

This week I want to spend some time sharing with you the core values of a great team. These values are the most crucial elements to any team, especially our pastoral staff here at PCC.

Please keep in mind that these elements or qualities are ranked according to importance.


You have to be called to be in full time ministry. I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.

Here are some thoughts concerning the call:

*irresistible urge to love God and others
*sustains you in ministry once the honeymoon is over
*it's uniquely personal - between you and God
*leaves you no other option in life but to serve God by serving others
*nurtured through personal intimacy with Christ
*views every ministry assignment as important
*more than a feeling - it's a "knowing" in your gut that this is what you were put on this earth to do
*it grows with you

So, what are you called to do? Post a comment and keep the conversation going.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Church That God Blesses

I want to be part of a church that God blesses. Nothing is more important in the Christian walk than to have the blessing of God in your life and upon your ministry.

As I was reading through the book of Acts which chronicles the early days of the New Testament church, I came across some key elements that demonstrate that kind of church that God blesses. Here are a few of them.

God blesses a church that ...

1. Prays together. Acts tells us that the church was birthed out of a prayer meeting. The early church understood the importance of prayer. They understood that nothing happens without it.

2. Grows together. Early Christians devoted themselves to the teachings of the Apostles and to the Torah. God blessed their love for truth and His Word.

3. Gives together. They all took care of one another's needs. Of course, this didn't come without some work. See Acts 5.

4. Worships together. The early church met weekly in the temple courts and also in smaller home groups. They understood the need for worship and community.

5. Reaches out together. Acts 2 comments that God added to the church daily those who were being saved. They understood Jesus' commission to reach out with his love.

I don't know about you, but that's the kind of church that I want to be part of.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Weekend Update

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I'm going to be in Cincinatti, Ohio speaking for my good friend, Brad Rosenberg at Tri County Assembly. Brad is cutting edge leader with a creatively wired church that is just off the hook. He's asked me to come and speak for their Master's Commission students that are graduating and also to speak Sunday morning at his church.

And next week, I'll be at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary co-teaching a class on evangelism and church planting. Please pray for me as I a share the story of our church plant and help other pastors and leaders capture a vision for leading missional ministry.

Rudy will be speaking this weekend on "The Secret Revealed - Part 2". He's going to share some practical insights on how we can build a relational bridge with our friends and share Christ in a powerful way. I know it's going to be great. We just finished putting together a little video that we'll show you all on Sunday, too.

I hope you have a great day and look forward to hearing from you on the comments page. I'll do my best to respond to your comments.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Saying Good Bye

Life is full of good byes. We say good bye to the life in the womb when we enter this world. We say good bye to our parents on the first day of kindergarten or in a college dorm room. We say good bye to the single life while we are walking down the church aisle. We say good bye to our loved ones as we place a final kiss on cold lips that cannot kiss in return. Life is full of good byes and the reality is that it's hard to say good bye.

Yesterday, we said good bye to our youth pastor and his wife, Danny and Rhonda. I was so proud of our entire church family that rallied together during this time of transition. What a tribute to the spirit of community at PCC as we packed the junior high school last night to honor Danny and Rhonda and equally important - to support our kids and the student ministry.

As your pastor I want to thank you PCC for coming together during this time of transition. Please continue to pray for Danny and Rhonda and the church family as we look forward with great expectation for all that God has for PCC. I am confident that "he who began a good work will be faithful to bring it to completion." I love you guys and I know that God will be with us and the best is yet to come!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Bekah and I are having another baby! We love being parents and look forward to the new little life that will soon be joining us in the world. Please keep us in your prayers, especially Bekah. She's been really tired lately and has been experiencing a lot of sickness. (I told her that if Eve would have just keep her sticky fingers off that apple she wouldn't have to go through all this : ) ) Just kidding, ladies!

Anyway, I've just been thinking about PCC and our church family a lot lately. I was reminded that it was two weeks after we had our first service that Kate was born. Then, after going through the great disappointment of a miscarriage and further surgeries for Bekah and continuing health problems (three years later) David III was born. Now this big news of God's blessing through a third child. No one can argue that we're not doing our part to grow the church!

It's been really special to grow with you and the PCC family. I kind of feel like Paul when he said to his church plant that "not only did we share the Gospel with you, but our lives as well." Friends, that's what church is all about. It's about doing life together. It's about going through the good times and the bad times. It's about celebrating our victories and comforting one another in times of despair. Perhaps you won't remember the sermons I preached, but you will never forget the memories we have forged in the crucible of life.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Let's Ride

Just a reminder that today our children's pastor, Josh, will be riding his bike from historic Philadelphia to the new church property. That's about 100 miles. Josh felt the Lord put this on his heart while teaching the children about discipline and making sacrifice for Jesus. The children have been watching Pastor Josh train and prepare for almost 6 months.

Let's all plan on being at the new church property at 4:30 PM to welcome Josh home. He plans to arrive just before 5 PM. Perhaps you might want to make a banner with your family today and bring it with you to add to the excitement of the day. The children's ministry has also set a goal to raise $5,000 for the new children/youth theatre in the new building. They've already raise about $1600. We are praying for a miracle this weekend to help these kids meet their goal.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why I Take a Break

Ministry is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging pursuits in life. Here are some reasons why I disengage periodically from the all-consuming life in ministry.

1. Recharge my soul. In a nutshell, ministry is giving your life away. You invest your time, energy, emotions in an an effort to help others heal from their hurts and accomplish their God-given potential in life. That process is exhausting. Preparing sermons, counseling those in crisis, raising the necessary finances and leading staff and volunteers will suck the life right out of you. The bottom line is that I have to take a break from my schedule because it will eventually break me. I need to get alone with Jesus and let him speak to my heart and energize me with his Holy Spirit.

2. Rekindle my marriage. The sad truth is that many ministers focus so much on building a strong ministry that they end up losing their spouse and loved ones in the process. I made a commitment early on to not sacrifice my marriage on the altar of ministry. I need to take a daily time with Bekah to talk about our day, a weekly 24 hour period to just hang out and spend time together, and an annual getaway (without the kids) to invest in our relationship. My marriage and family is my number one ministry.

3. Refresh my vision. When I get away it helps me relax. When you relax and loosen up in life, it generates Theda waves in your brain which are responsible for creative thoughts and ideas. That's why when you are taking a shower or sitting on your lawn mower and just relaxing while you mow your lawn that you will often times have the most creative ideas. Creativity refreshes your heart and soul.

Are you do for a break?