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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sacred Moments

Today’s blog is a little different it is focused on pastors, church planters, and leaders within the church. However, I believe that every single person who calls themselves a Christ follower has opportunity to share in scared moments. I just also believe that as a pastor I must make myself available to those whom God has entrusted to me. One of my greatest joys in church planting has been the opportunity afforded to me to live out my calling. I been been incredibly blessed to share Sacred Moments with God’s precious people not because I have to but because I want to. I do not wish to be a pastor by title my only desire is to shepherd the people God has entrusted to me. My desire is not to live my life as a career pastor my desire is to live out my calling as a pastor. I have been given the privilege of sharing in some of the most Sacred Moments in the lives of many throughout this city whether they be in my church or other churches. I highly value baptism and I have been privileged to share in corporate baptisms and home baptisms. I can not wait until Easter Sunday when we will share in Easter Sunrise Baptism Service for City on a Hill Church! It is going to be awesome. What a powerful Sacred Moment as people profess their allegiance to Christ and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism. Baptism should never be seen as “common” or “getting dunked” it is one of the ordinances of the church that Christ left for us and it is sacred. I have been privileged to share in the joy of Parent Commitment/ Child Dedications impromptu and organized yet sacred and significant. As a pastor part of my job is to equip people for acts of service in God’s kingdom the other part is to live out my divine calling by sharing in these sacred moments being accessible and reachable to the people God has called me to. Visiting the hospital and spending the last few moments with a faithful servant of the Lord and their family members as He calls them home is an honor. Spending a few moments visiting someone in the nursing home and sharing memories of a life lived to the glory of God is truly humbling and an awesome experience. I am so glad that I can lead by example and raise up a generation of pastors and leaders who will take up this gift given to us by God and be among the people whom God has called them to serve, equip, prepare, and love. I never want to be so busy doing church or leading the church that I forget the church is the people. Ministry is all about people. I know full well that I can not do all the pastoral care but I believe there is a reason they call it pastoral care. I am not in any way discounting lay ministry I place a high value on developing, equipping, and preparing people to be the church by loving God and loving people. Lay ministry in my eyes is every member of God’s family is a minister and missionary. We should visit the hospital, participate in baptisms, and baby dedications, and all the other sacred moments afforded to us by God. But it does not mean that I as a pastor should disconnect. My hope is to communicate that to a new generation. We must be among our people loving them, serving them, sharing joy with them, crying with them, celebrating them, and the like. I remember how blessed I was when Papi Dave and Sonia Melendez came and blessed our new home. That meant the world to Lorena and I! We shared a sacred moment with them that marked our lives forever. I have been privileged to do home blessings because what was given to me I want to give away. I know some young pastors will read this blog and become afraid that the demand will be too high or they will argue that we shouldn’t teach the people to look to their pastor in times of need. I say that is silliness. Do not allow excuses to keep you far from your people and responsibility. Always be training and equipping so as the church grows their will be more pastors ready to serve and equip God’s people while living out their divine call. Live out Ephesians 4 but in the process of living out the equipping do not forget that you have also been called to pastor. As a pastor I always tell people put their hope and trust in Jesus and not man because I will disappoint you at some point but Jesus never will. Just because there is a possibility that I might disappoint is no reason to miss out on all of the sacred moments God prepares for us in advance. My heart is not to lead an organization my heart’s desire is to lead people to Jesus. It is to Love God, Love People, and Preach Jesus. This is not my career it is my calling. If I am not among my people am I really their pastor? If I do not share sacred moments with the precious people whom God has called out of darkness into His marvelous light how can I profess to Love God and Love People? In the past 10 months I have shared in some of the most joyous sacred moments known to man and I have shared in some of the most tragic and heart breaking sorrows known to man. All are sacred in God’s eyes and in my eyes. I pray I never become so busy growing or building a church that I forget to pastor the people. God help me to remember these words in the days, months, and years to come so that I do not move from a calling into a career. I can tell you this I wouldn’t trade any one of those sacred moments for another meeting, or more message prep time, or more busy work. My hope is that other church planters, pastors, and leaders will read this blog and engage or re-engage with the people God has called them to love and serve. There is a warning for those shepherds who choose to ignore their responsibility in Ezekiel 34. [Please Read the Full Chapter it is life changing] Part of the three part calling of City on a Hill Church comes from this chapter concerning the wanderers who have been broken, abused, fleeced, and scattered. Our hope is to bring that back into safe pasture. My desire is to raise up pastors/shepherds to pastor and shepherd God’s people. My desire is that every member share in sacred moments inside and outside of the church. My desire is to be equally involved in the journey and to do my part. Ephesians 4 is not a loophole or an escape clause to dis-engage from our congregations as pastors it is mandate from God to fulfill our calling. It is not the total and complete list of our responsibilities as pastors and leaders in the Church. It is a command from God to prepare God’s people for acts of service so that the body of Christ be built up and lack nothing. Choosing to abstain from sharing in scared moments leaves us lacking and our people lacking. Sorry for taking so long to explain it is just in the past few months I have planted a church by God’s grace and my life has been filled with sacred moments. In that time I have still remained three full weeks ahead in message prep [not outside source reworked messages but prepared from my heart], reserved uninterrupted time for my wife and family, kept my Sabbath day holy, and shared in countless sacred moments. Do you know how that has been accomplished? By faith in Christ and by God’s amazing grace. Glory to God! What sacred moments are awaiting you today?

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? Ezekiel 34:1-2
 
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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in COAH

 

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Leadership Lesson: True Transparency

This past week had been a roller coaster ride of emotions. As I prepared to begin our new series RUN at City on a Hill Church I began to experience some really weird emotions and feelings. Saturday January 22, 2011 marked a full year since January 22, 2010 when I had purchased the domain name http://www.cityonahillchurch.tv as a point of faith after an intense defining moment in my life. It was a point where I was at my lowest and looking to run from my call not like Jonah, he ran because he didn’t want the Ninevites to be saved, rather my temptation to run came because I didn’t think I could win. I live by a core value that I will never lock eyes in this life with someone who doesn’t matter to God. Ministry had been transformed from a calling into a career and I didn’t feel effective or fulfilled any more. I wanted to run. My feet had almost slipped and I almost lost hope in the church and her mission. I needed a defining moment. I needed to come clean. I needed to be transparent. My wife came home one day last January and she knew something was wrong. She asked and at first I was tempted to stay frosted and tinted but my pain was too great. I broke down and told her what was happening. I told her how I felt. I told her I was defeated. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore I knew there had to be more to ministry than what I was doing and if there wasn’t I was done. I told her while teaching a men’s lesson I heard a speech that said, “Run and you will live for a little while. But one day while lying on your death bed you would be willing to trade every day from that to this for one chance to stand up and say you may take my life but you will never take my freedom.” This was my chance to stand up. It struck a cord within my soul. I opened up to her and shared my struggle. My transparency built a trust in her and she looked me in my face and said, “I will not stand by and watch you die slowly over the next 20, 30, or 40 years. You were made for this. You were made to be a pastor. I don’t care whatever it costs us I believe in you and the call God has placed in you.” We cried together because we knew the cost would be high. I learned a very valuable leadership lesson that day. True transparency will bring about trust and loyalty in those whom God has called you to lead. A few days later I purchased the domain name and began a season of prayer and fasting calling that which wasn’t, City on a Hill Church, as though it was. After all that is what faith is, isn’t it? Since that time I have continued to lead this church with the highest level of transparency. Not false transparency to get people to do what I want or to manipulate the hearts and minds of others but true transparency designed to bring about spiritual, mental, and emotional help and healing. You can’t fake authenticity you either have it or you don’t. Over the past nine months there have been times when I have had to call out things that many wouldn’t in order to maintain a high level of trust and transparency. If I see or sense a bit of heaviness or uncertainty I call it out and deal with it rather than denying it and letting it fester under the surface. It takes courage to exhibit true transparency but the benefits far exceed the cost. As a leader and a pastor I am not superman. Jesus is the super hero. Meekness is not weakness it is power under control knowing you have the ability to act and choosing how you will respond. This past weekend as I prepared to take the stage in our servant’s service I felt like I wanted to run. I felt like I had been running. I had a tough week last week dealing with all kinds of attacks from the enemy of our soul. It was so strange I didn’t feel like I could look people in the eyes and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without first coming clean. I have learned that once you have lived a life a true transparency nothing else will do. Every week since we started this journey I have looked men and women in the eyes and preached from my heart. This past weekend I was busted up inside and I felt it would have been inauthentic and plastic to preach without first trusting my leaders to carry this burden with me. So I stepped up and remained totally transparent before the people God has called me to lead and spilled the beans. I shared my struggles of the past week and month and put my heart out there. Many leaders say, ‘The people can’t handle that kind of truth.” I say that is a lie. Some say, “The people won’t understand you shouldn’t be so honest they might lose faith in you.” I say put your faith in God and trust Him. I am but a man. True transparency gives us the freedom to live the life God has called us to live and ability to be sure God gets all the glory due His name. Do you know what my reward has been for being so transparent? Since yesterday I have received numerous phone calls, emails, facebooks messages, and texts expressing a deep trust and love for me and the call God has placed on my life. Men and women have assured me that they are fully and firmly committed to seeing the vision of City on a Hill Church accomplished in this city. Let me assure you of one thing I know to be true, people can spot a phony a mile away. If we want to build God’s kingdom above our own empires we are going to have to walk the humbling yet powerful road of true transparency. If we want to be leaders that last we are going to have to create a culture of trust and transparency in our families, churches, businesses, where ever God has called us to lead. If you haven’t been living a life of true transparency maybe it is time to get out the windex and begin. The first step is always the hardest to the rewards far exceed the risk. I hope this helps someone this week. Blessings.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in COAH

 

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Where Never is Heard a Discouraging Word……

We kicked off the New Year in incredible fashion. God’s hand of favor and provision has rested upon City on a Hill Church and my life since the beginning. It is not bragging it is giving glory to God and recognizing His mighty power at work in my life and the life of our Church. I can not say it has not come without a heavy cost. It reminds me of the song, ‘Oh Give me home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.” That has definitely NOT been my church planting experience. One of the Enemy of our soul’s greatest weapons if not his greatest weapon is discouragement. To discourage means

1. to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit. 2. to dissuade. 3. to obstruct by opposition or difficulty; hinder: 4. toexpress or make clear disapproval of; frown upon

If we can be discouraged then we can lose hope and if we lose hope we quit. We give up and give in. Many times it isn’t in the big things. It starts in the small things. The things that don’t seem all that important than a culture of discouragement begins to develop in our lives. We quit in one area so it makes it easier to quit in another. We quit in the small things and it makes it easier to quit in the big things. It happens in our natural relationships and it happens in our supernatural relationship with God. We get discouraged and it shuts down our line of communication. We give up thinking that things can change or that our circumstance can change and we settle. We must be careful not to let a culture of discouragement develop in our lives.
Just last Thursday I got some news that was not so favorable. It wasn’t earth shattering but it would effect my quality of my life and add additional stress. At first I just threw my hands up and started to say, “Here it comes.” Whenever something is too good to be true it really is too good to be true. But then I remembered the last 9 months of my life! Whenever I tell the story of City on a Hill Church people sit starry eyed and amazed at an all powerful God. Do you know why? Because I refuse to give up or quit in the small things! I will surrender no ground to the enemy of my soul. My vision is to gain ground against the powers of darkness by the power of the Holy Spirit living in me. The same power that conquered the grace lives in me. So I broke out my journal and began to write out my prayer. I actually wrote, “I really don’t feel like praying right now. But I am going to anyway because I trust in You Jesus.” I refused to allow the Enemy of my soul to discourage me to the point of surrendering even in a small thing. Guess what the results were? Within four hours God had already stepped in and provided. Within four hours God was already at work in my life. This has been where I have been living this past 9 months! I have been resting safely under the shadow of the wings of God almighty. I can not say “where seldom is heard a discouraging word” because that has not been my truth. I have fought a battle with discouragement at least twice a week. I am talking about a full on all out attack because of the work God is doing in and through City on a Hill Church.
I refuse to surrender even a small thing to discouragement and I want to encourage you to do the same. I have heard it said, “If it is big enough for you to carry. It is big enough for you to give to God.” I am reminded of a song, Take it to the Lord in Prayer. Oh What peace we often forfeit and Oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God to in prayer. Let me ENCOURAGE you today is you are fighting a battle with discouragement take it to the Lord in prayer. Don’t give up or give in even in the small things. The Enemy of our soul is trying to create a culture of discouragement in your life. He is trying to disqualify us from the life, mission, passion, vision, and dream God has for us. He also understands how to eat an elephant, one bite at a time! Don’t surrender one bite or one inch of ground to him due to discouragement. Cry out to God. Pray, fast, surrender your cares to God. I can tell you this for sure our lives on this side of heaven will not be like a home where the buffalo roam where seldom is heard a discouraging word. We will face discouragement because it is one of the most effective weapons against us but listen to what God says about weapons formed against us.
Isaiah 54:17 (NIV) 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,”declares the LORD.
No weapon formed against us will prosper it won’t work! God is not a man that He should lie. [Num. 23:19] Got to go I think there is someone knocking at my door. Well honestly he has been knocking since last Thursday. What he doesn’t know is that I know no weapon [DISCOURAGMENT] formed against me shall prosper. One day we will have a home where NEVER is heard a discouraging a word and the skies are not cloudy all day. Until that time BE ENCOURAGED in Jesus’s name.
 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in COAH

 

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