I’m Writing A Book…

For the past month I’ve been a part of a social experiment initiated by one of my favorite bloggers & authors, Jon Acuff. The basis of the experiment was to gather a collective of folks that want to punch fear in the face and take a risk.

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I welcomed the challenge & began the journey of writing my first book. My specific risk was outlining the creative work that I desire to write.

The working title for my book is Continue reading “I’m Writing A Book…”

Calling > Critics

Acts

I’m an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills in Aliso Viejo, CA & oversee the Middle School Ministry — IGNITE. Below is a summarization of my message this past Sunday…

A lot of times, we are criticized for the decisions we make. The places we choose to move to… the people we choose to be friends with… and activities we choose to participate in. Either people think what you are doing is wrong and/or try to persuade you to change your mind with regards to something you are currently pursuing…

And a lot of times, this isn’t a big deal. It could be that maybe they’re right. Or maybe they’re just controlled by fear & worry. Or maybe they’re jealous… there’s a myriad of reasons why people feel the need to contribute their two cents.

But the only time when this really makes a difference is when it interferes with following Jesus. When other people’s influence draws you away from God — now we have a problem.

Scrutiny can come from many different standpoints. In Acts 21, we see Paul’s fellow friends trying to persuade him from going to Jerusalem. We also see a group of Jews in Jerusalem opposing Paul because of a lot of misconceptions concerning his ministry to the gentiles.

Even more so than Paul, Jesus received LOADS-O-CRITICISM during His 3-year ministry on the earth. The Pharisees hassled Jesus throughout the entirety of His ministry… to the point that they plotted His crucifixion. We read in Matthew 16 (verses 21-23) where His boy Peter rebuked Jesus when He predicted His death & resurrection.

In both Paul & Jesus’ situations, they didn’t waiver from the path that God has placed them on… one would end up in Jerusalem & be extradited to Rome; where he would write a large portion of the New Testament… the Other would end up on a cross to die for the sins of the world; to rise from death as the ultimate Hero of all-time.

So whether you are being scrutinized for the things God has called you to accomplish, or you are one that is doing the criticizing – we need to come to the point, like those in verse 14 of Acts 21 (as well as Jesus in Luke 22:42), where we choose to say “The will of the Lord be done.”

Gospel-Driven Community

Acts

I’m an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills, and oversee the Middle School Ministry — IGNITE. Below is a summarization of my message this past Sunday…

I grew up in church. When I was 10 years old I ditched my 5th grade mid-week class & snuck into youth group. For the next seven and a half years I was immersed with campouts, retreats, all-nighters, scavenger hunts, milk chugging contests, and a couple of really awkward altar calls. It truly was the pinnacle of my adolescence.

My knowledge of God & relationship with Christ were at times overwhelming, yet exactly what I needed to persevere some tumultuous teenage years. I formed dozens of friendships with guys and gals that I still stay in contact with to this day.

Four of my closest friends were a result of such a dynamic youth group culture. All four of them were groomsmen at my wedding. (One of which was my best man.) We got into all sorts of crazy trouble, but Jesus was always with us — caught up in the mix of the madness. We traversed thru puberty in the abundance of God’s grace, mercy, and love.

I feel bad for kids that don’t have that same opportunity to experience the roller coaster ride of radical times we call Student Ministry. A healthy youth group (as well as a healthy church) should continually leak “Gospel-Driven Community” from every pore of its body.

We all need community. Even the most reclusive introverts NEED community. And the community that we all absolutely need should be gospel-driven.

When we look at chapter 20 of Acts, we find that community was essential for the early church. (And it still is today.)

15 Examples of Gospel-Driven Community Found in Acts 20:

v.1 – embrace our fellow brothers/sisters in Christ

v.2 – encourage our fellow brothers/sisters in Christ

v.7 – ‘together to break bread’

v.10 – embracing the fallen

v.11 – hanging out all night

v.12 – ‘not a little comforted’ (A LOT comforted)

v.18 – ‘lived among you’

v.20 – ‘holding back nothing that was helpful’

v.21- refusing to exclude anyone from the great gift of the gospel

v.23-24 – knowing full well that there is a price to pay for the sake of the gospel

v.25 – the importance of the WHOLE counsel of God

v.28-31 – tend to the flock | watch out for creepers

v.32-33 – Commend one another & DO NOT covet

v.34-35 – Take care of one another | support the weak | listen to Jesus

v.36-38 – GOSPEL-Driven Community cultivates deep relationships

 

Do you see the evidence of these examples in your own culture? You are called to be actively implementing these things into your daily life. Without community, we are alone & grow desperate for for a substitute that is unable to satisfy like Jesus does.

If the gospel is what is driving the fabric of our community & is the catalyst within our lives to worship/glorify God — I truly believe we will see revival. First, within our own lives & then spreading like wildfire to reach the lost and lonely.

Hey, who forgot the unicorns?!?

Throughout the summer, our middle-school group (IGNITE) is making their way thru a “choose your own adventure” bible study. Each week, the students have an opportunity to choose next week’s lesson via voting for their favorite of three taglines.

Last week’s winning tagline was “Hey, who forgot the unicorns?!?”…

No, my lesson wasn’t regarding C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”… but as some of you might have guessed, the lesson was about Noah & the ark.

Here were just a few of the points we touched on…

Noah/Ark = EPIC Apocalyptic Story (way cooler than the Cusak movie ‘2012’)

The Lord was sorry that He had made man . . . He was grieved in His heart“: God knew all along how things would turn out, yet our text tells us loud and clear that as God sees His plan for the ages unfold, it affects Him. God is not emotionless in the face of human sin and rebellion.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord“: No one earns grace, but we can all find it bestowed within the eyes & open arms of God.

Romans 5:20 — “…sin abounded, grace abounded much more…” — though the world was on route to hell in a hand-basket, God’s grace superseded sin & made a way… ULTIMATELY making a way for Jesus to come down the road.

The ARK — 450 ft long (1.5 football fields) x 75 ft wide x 45 feet high

Then Noah built an altar…“– Noah’s first act after leaving the ark was to worship God…

The Lord smelled a soothing aroma“: Noah’s costly sacrifice pleased God. It was as if God smelled the great aroma of the roasting meat (indicating that God loves a barbecue)… — this was an ANTHROPAMORPHISM: attributing human characteristics to God…

— Don’t compromise || STAND UP 4 CHRIST

— stop justifying what you do just ‘cuz it looks cool…

— We CANNOT save ourselves… only God can do that.

— Noah walked w/ God… do YOU walk with God?

— The movie “Evan Almighty” doesn’t compare to the time, effort, and obedience that Noah invested in building the ark…

— Matt. 24:36-44… the End of Days will be much like the days leading up to the flood…

— God is CERTAINLY a God of second (third, fourth, fifth, etc) chances…