Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Response to Pocono Record Article

Dear PCC Family:

I am writing to you today to clarify and correct the article in today's Pocono Record regarding our contribution to the American Red Cross's Run for the Red. Though I am not terribly concerned with what the world at large thinks, it is important to me that our church family knows my heart and the truth about what and why we give.

When we were approached last year for a contribution to the American Red Cross, I along with the rest of the leadership team thought it presented a great opportunity to share God's blessings with our community. While I did investigate the possibility of having the route for The Run For The Red changed a couple years ago, the gift, like all gifts was given with no strings attached. Contrary to what the article states, we have given to the American Red Cross in the past and in fact, have a long standing relationship with the American Red Cross. The year before last, I participated in the American Red Cross telethon and our church family gave $3,000 that year.

Furthermore, we've hosted American Red Cross blood drives throughout our church's eight year history. We've reported our gifts to the The American Red Cross in our Annual Report for all to see. We have nothing to hide.

So, while the Pocono Record is attempting to mischaracterize our church and its generosity (even though yesterday's article gave the reasons for the route change), the truth is that our gift is just another example of God using the PCC family to bless the Pocono Mountains.

Let's continue to pray and reach out with Christ's love as we create a culture of generosity in our community.

Together is better,

Pastor Dave

Monday, March 28, 2011

Drive 2011

This week some of my staff and key leaders are headed to the Drive 2011 conference in Atlanta, GA. Here are a few reasons why I like to go to conferences:

1. To grow. Leaders are learners. If you are going to grow to the next level in life and leadership, you have to expose yourself to new ideas, new people and new information.

2. To connect. Just getting away with your team creates opportunities to bond with each other and build team chemistry. The travel time and fellowship alone is a valuable investment.

3. To network. Every time I go to a conference I meet new people and make some new friends. These friendships have proved to be valuable assets to both my professional and personal development.

4. To dream. Conferences are like dream releasers. What a great way to catch a vision for what God could do in our church or ministry when visiting other powerful ministries that are full of vision and creativity. That vision is contagious.

5. To unplug. Conferences provide a unique opportunity to switch gears for a few days and be inspired and informed. It's refreshing to unplug from the daily grind of meetings, writing, sermon preparation, responding to email, etc.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Authentic Worship

In John 12 we get a glimpse of the great cost of worship. While in Bethany, Jesus is at a party thrown in His honor. He was having a great time kickin' back with his friends when Mary interrupts the easy-going evening as she takes a pound of expensive ointment and anoints the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.

This one act of worship changed the entire atmosphere as the sweet aroma spread throughout the room. Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, rebuked Mary for "waisting" God's money on such frivolous activity. After all, he reasoned, that money could have been used to feed the poor.

Here's a couple thoughts on this Scritpure:
  • Authentic worship requires sacrifice. If it doesn't cost you something, it's not real worship. Some scholars say that Mary's expression of worship cost her a years worth of wages. Have you ever given a years worth of your wages in one offering? Crazy, huh. Authentic worship could cost you your reputation, your time, your pride, your money...anything you that could potentially become an idol in your life.
  • Authentic worship honors Jesus first. Mary puts Jesus first while simultaneously disregarding the others in the room. Her one act of worship foretells the sacrifice Jesus would soon make on the cross. Often times, we try to create worship experiences that honor the unchurched over Jesus. While we need to make guests feel comfortable in our worship services, our first responsibility is to cultivate an atmosphere that honors Jesus first, thus creating an environment where His Spirit can cultivate life change.
  • Authentic worship changes the atmosphere. It releases faith. It compels an audience of spectators to become participators. It captures the attention of Jesus. Real worship changes stuff ... in our hearts, in our church and in our community.
  • Authentic worship will always come under criticism. Judas criticizes Mary for waisting money in her expensive display of worship. It's kind of like people who criticize a church for spending lots of money on reaching their community for Jesus with creative outreaches meanwhile they are robbing God by not even honoring him with the tithe.
  • Authentic worshippers will always be defended by Jesus. Jesus tells Judas to back off. Jesus knew Judas was a thief. He knew Judas didn't really care about the poor. Jesus also knew the true motivation of Mary's heart. Jesus and Jesus alone will ultimately decide what is pleasing to him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Over What

There's a leadership principle that basically says, "People need to know WHY you are doing something, not just WHAT you are doing."

So, instead of just saying WHAT you are going to do:
  • we are starting a second service
  • we are going to casual dress
  • we are singing contemporary music
Also, tell them WHY you are going to do it:
  • to reach more people for Jesus
  • to create an environment where lost people feel welcome
  • to connect with people in a relevant style, etc.
Here's an example of how we did this last week at PCC. This is a snippet of a video we did to tell people WHY we are pulling out all the stops this Easter with our Easter Outreaches.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Japan is experiencing the single largest recovery effort in its history since WWII. This country faces daunting challenges with the possibility of burying over 10,000 people lost in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Not to mention the fact that they are working tirelessly to prevent multiple potential nuclear meltdowns, providing food, water, electricity and other basic necessities to tens of thousands still experiencing physical and emotional aftershocks.

Japanese scholar, Fuji Kamiya described Japan's ability to recover from seemingly insurmountable obstacles following WWII with the word sokojikara: a reserve power to overcome threats to sustainability and preeminence. Japan's uncanny knack to demonstrate sokojikara amidst overwhelming odds stacked against them is something to be admired.

Potential threats in life come from a variety of places:
  • Uncontrollable situations
  • Unaccountable leadership
  • Ugly (negative) people
  • Unacceptable excuses
  • Unexpected problems
What do you do in times like these?

Philippians 4:13 reminds me that Jesus is my sokojikara - my reserve power who gives me strength in a time of need. We all need to plug into a power that is far greater than our natural strength. Supernatural power. Jesus is that strength. He's a reservoir of peace in a tumultuous times. A savior who rescues the perishing.

I pray that Japan will cry out to Jesus is their time of need. I pray that churches, pastors and people in need, wherever they might be, will find their strength and solace in Jesus - the sokojikara.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Easter Fast Challenge

Today, March 9th, is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. This next 40 or so days PCC is participating in a church-wide fast in preparation for Easter.

Fasting is simply abstaining from food for spiritual reasons. Jesus expected his followers to fast for a variety of reasons:

1. To give you more time to pray. Acts 13:2-3

2. To demonstrate a depth of desire for breakthrough. Joel 1:14

3. To release supernatural power in your life. Ezra 8:23

We see many Biblical examples of the importance of fasting. Moses fasted before receiving the 10 commandments. Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God. Jeremiah fasted before beginning a major building project. Jesus fasted prior to launching into his public ministry.

Fasting is simply carving time out of your busy schedule to feast on the word of God. It's denying oneself food for your body so you can feed your soul. It's getting in the presence of God and spending time realigning your life with His will.

To all those PCCers out there, please join with me as we fast and pray for our church, community and the unchurched this Easter. If you would like to more information on how to fast, please go to our church website.

For some of my favorite books on prayer and fasting, check out our online bookstore here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

When God Says No

King David thought he was going to build a house for God. It bothered him that he was chillin' in his own crib while the presence of the Lord rested in a portable tent. So David shared his plan with prophet Nathan. Initially, Nathan gave the King the green light saying, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." (1 Chronicles 17:2)

But that night God spoke to the prophet and told him that David would not build the temple. Instead, his son, Solomon would carry out the construction project. Nathan delivered the news to David saying, "It is not you ... you are a warrior not a builder ... your son will build the Lord a house."

Has God ever told you no?
  • Don't date/marry this person.
  • Don't take this ministry position/make this career change.
  • Don't buy this house?
Instead of crying and complaining and second-guessing whether or not he heard from God, David simply submitted and surrendered to the Lords will. In fact, he said, "Who am I and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?" In other words, "God, this is your house, this is your dream, this is your plan ... I'm just your humble servant and you know what you need more than I know what you need ... so I will just get out of the way and play whatever role you want me to plan in your great plan."

When God says no I have a couple options:
  • Resist God and plow forward and do my own thing
  • Run from God and have a pity party
  • Realign my plan to fit his plan knowing
God's plan is always better than your plan. God's plan is always bigger than your plan. The Bible says, "His ways are higher than our ways." God sees life through an eternal, heavenly perspective. He sees the big picture. The next time God tells you know, take a cue from take and simply realign your plan with His and understand that God knows best. He guides the steps of a righteous man. Trust him.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Weekend Highlights

This past weekend was jam packed with powerful ministry. Here are some highlights:

1. I started the weekend off by speaking at the New Jersey Honorbound Men's Ministry Retreat in Piscataway, NJ. What a great group of guys! Thanks so much Pastor Brian for the invitation. You and your team were terrific hosts.

2. I made it back to Pocono on Saturday just in time for our evening services and the kickoff of our new series, Famous Last Words. After Saturday night I was exhausted after speaking 5 times in less than 24 hours. Crazy but fun! Just to be in the presence of the Lord almost non-stop is an amazing feeling.

3. The new series, Famous Last Words, was simple, but powerful. We had 35 people give their heart to Christ this past weekend! It never gets old watching people respond to the simplicity of the Gospel.

4. We kicked off our annual Easter Fast Challenge this week with about 500 people signing up to participate in this time of prayer and fasting. This is a strategic time to being to prepare our hearts and church family as we get ready for Easter. If you would like to sign up and take the Easter Fast Challenge, go to poconocc.com.

5. Here are some of the things we are doing in preparation for Easter: Planning an Easter Egg Hunt with 100,000 candy-filled eggs that will be dropped from helicopters, Designing a brand new kids area with 3D artwork and murals called "PCC KidCity", working on the Easter theme called "Celebrate Easter in 3D" and much more. It's going to be an amazing Easter!

6. I'm looking forward to taking some time off this week and spending time with my wife and kids. It's been a fast-paced run for the past 8 weeks and I need a break.

7. One of the new students that has been attending PCC for the past few months gave his heart to Christ this past weekend. I think God has great plans for this young man. He's already brought one of his friends to Christ this week. I love this church!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Famous Last Words

This weekend we are kicking off a brand new series, Famous Last Words. For the next four weeks we are going to look at the famous last words of Jesus spoken moments before he died for the sins of the world. You don't want to miss it!

For This Reason I Bow

Great people are people of great prayer. Great prayer leads to great power. And great prayer always begins with great posture.

Paul prays in Ephesians 3:14-21, "For this reason I bow."

To bow or to kneel or to get low is the true posture of prayer. It's the practice of humbling ones body as well as ones spirit before the Lord. Humility captures the attention of God. It's a declaration of dependence. It's says, "God if you don't show up and help me I am undone." This kind of prayer flies in the face of self-sufficiency. It's power made perfect in weakness.

It's what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22 when it says he "knelt down" to pray and he prayed even "more earnestly."

What would our homes, churches, and schools look like if we made ourselves low before the Lord and prayed even more earnestly as Jesus did in the garden.

Perhaps you could pray this prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14-20

Jesus give me STRENGTH. (Eph. 3:16-17)
  • i can't do ministry on my own
  • i can't do life on my own
  • i can't do your will on my own
Jesus give me SCOPE. (Eph. 3:18)
  • to understand the depth of your love for all people
  • to comprehend the cruelty and compassion of the cross
  • to put aside my personal preferences and get a vision for the lost
Jesus give me the SPIRIT. (Eph. 3:19)
  • fill me with the fullness of the Spirit
  • to go beyond belief and receive the Spirit of Christ (Acts 19:2)
  • that Your power and presence may be with me
The result of this prayerful posture of body and soul is an immeasurable move of God in our day and generation.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hater Heyday

I'm a huge fan of Steven Furtick, founding pastor of Elevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in America today. Elevation Church is in the middle of a move of God and I celebrate with Pastor Steven and his team. Undoubtedly, Pastor Steven is an amazing preacher and gifted leader - truly a rising star in the evangelical community.

In his blog post today, Haters in the Church, Steven speaks passionately about those who criticize rather than celebrate the success, style and substance of other ministries in the broader body of Christ. While this video was designed for a new teaching series, Honorology, at Elevation, it's possible that its poignant release speaks to a much larger debate currently happening in the evangelical community - specifically the Rob Bell controversy.

The soon-release of Bell's new book, Love Wins, has spawned a hater-heyday among evangelical leaders and theologians. This twitter-sphere tornado - the likes of which only Charlie Sheen can comprehend, centers around a theological brouhaha regarding Bell's potential parting with the orthodox view of heaven, hell and universalism. The questions raised in the books promotional video seem to suggest to some that Bell has already said too much by simply posing provocative questions, indicating an obvious break with orthodoxy.

While I believe most have jumped the gun on criticizing, even convicting Bell based solely on what could turn out to be just a brilliant marketing strategy, I disagree with Furtick's assumption that anyone within the church body that challenges another be classified a "hater."

Consider this:

+Was Jesus a "hater" when he publicly denounced the Pharisees and called them a brood of vipers.

+Was Paul a "hater" when he challenged false teachers in the church and called them evil.

+Was Peter a "hater" when he disagreed with the church leadership at the Jerusalem Council.

I think not. In fact, these confrontation moments proved to define current church theology and culture.

I, too, believe in honor. Much like Furtick, I, too, want to be known more for what I am for, not for what I'm against. But it's equally important to honor the Gospel, as well. The fact of the matter is that there is a time to speak a word of challenge and confrontation into the lives of others, even church leaders. Why not call a spade a spade? Why not, when someone makes a clear break with orthodoxy, shouldn't others within the body of Christ call them on it in hopes of restoration?

It seems to me that this was the early practice of the New Testament church. History tells us that confrontation, even church confrontation and criticism can be constructive. The Bible clearly teaches that as "iron sharpens iron, so shall one man sharpen another." So when the sparks fly and the anvil heats up, something better can emerge.

You've got to rise above the cynics and critics. Don't stoop to their level and become a hater of haters. Love your haters. Learn from your haters. Lead your haters to Jesus.