Thursday, January 24, 2019

Our "One Word"...

For the past several years I have chosen one word that I believe captures and symbolizes all that God is going to do in my life in the coming year.  I try to pray through all that I believe he will teach me and what he’s calling me to both in the life of my family and my personal goals as well as my hopes and dreams for our church.  In reality, it’s almost comical to look back on my “one word” at the end of the year.  All that I thought it was going to mean is seldom what it actually means and I find that God has taught me infinitely more than I could have ever imagined.  

My word for 2019 is “BUILD”. On January 8th, when I felt confident that was the word God had for me, I had no idea that just a few days later I would be asked by our church leadership to be the campus pastor at our North Fort Worth campus.  Literally.  No. Idea.  You see, in my mind, I felt like we were going through a time of transition as a worship ministry and I was really wanting to lay the foundation for where we were going in the future.  We were going to reestablish some foundations that we’ve had and then build upon those processes in even greater ways that we had before…and we are still going to do those things!  

Like I said before, I had no idea that God was working a plan to change my role and solidify a calling and passion that He had been growing in my heart for several years now. But here’s the thing, God totally knew. He knew the he was placing in my heart a word that would capture where not only I was going, but that our campus and church was going.  BUILD. I wrote in my journal, “Build – To form something larger by ordering and uniting smaller pieces by a gradual means. To develop according to a plan and with purpose.”  

I am so excited about this new chapter for me, my family, and our church family!  (That’s each and every one of you!)  I believe wholeheartedly that God has great things in store for our North Fort Worth campus.  I believe that "BUILD" is not only my one word, but OUR one word.  I believe that he wants to use us to BUILD HIS kingdom here in NFW.  He wants to BUILD our relationships to be stronger than they ever have been.  He wants to BUILD our faith in Him and strengthen our connection to Him.  He wants to BUILD on the foundation laid by our Senior Pastor, Doug Walker and our Executive Pastor (Congrats!!), Jay West.  

In the message this past weekend I shared that we should not be afraid to dream big, God-sized dreams, but that we shouldn’t be afraid to start right where we are.  I’ve prayed for many, many years to be a part of something so amazing that the only explanation for the results would be that God showed up in an awesome way.  We can see that!  It starts right here.  It starts today.  It starts with each of us taking one step toward what God is building and doing it together.  

Hebrews 3:4 says this, “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” We each have a part to play, but in each step we will give glory and honor to God - for every guest that walks through our doors, for every marriage we see restored, for every orphan that finds a family, and for every person that finds the real hope of Jesus.

I am so blessed, honored, and excited to be your campus pastor!  I can’t wait to see how God uses us to BUILD something great here at FOTP North Fort Worth!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Why...

I can be a stubborn and prideful guy.  I never intend to come off that way.  I'm also very passionate about the things I love.  Things like, my wife, my kids, my friends, and my church.  I tend to act with a sense of urgency.  I see something that needs to be fixed or made better and I want to move on it quickly.  I tend to think my decision is the best one and right, not because I'm coming from a place of arrogance, but because I care deeply about whatever "it" is and I want it to be amazing.  I want it to be amazing because I want it to reflect my passion and love.

That's how I am with most things surrounding church.  Worship, sermons, production, student events, you name it.  I want them to be incredible because I want them to reflect the love I have for our people and most of all for my Savior.  I think all of us as church leaders would agree to that statement.  We pursue excellence, ultimately because God deserves it.  Excellence inspires people and it eliminates distractions.

I'm going to give all of us as church staff and ministry leaders (occupational and volunteer) the freedom to be honest for a moment.  At times, it is so easy to be so focused on working on things and working toward excellence that we can forget the whole reason for why we were pursuing it in the first place.  We can become so distracted with the what that we can lose sight of "the why".

"The why" is what inspired us to move.  It is what grabbed our heart of stone and transformed it into a heart of flesh that then enabled us to freely choose the amazing, life-giving grace of Jesus Christ.  "The why" is what moved us to want to share the Good News with our family, co-workers, and neighbors.  It is the reason that many leave lucratively paying jobs in order to devote their time and energy to the work of ministry and seeing people become fully devoted followers of Christ, true disciples.  "The why" is the overwhelming feeling that first caused you to lift your hands in worship and be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit to the point of tears because you were so taken a back at Jesus' crazy intense love for you.  "The why" is the key reason we are in church leadership at all.

"The why" simply put, is God.  God is the reason that we gather.  He is the reason that we sing.  He is the reason that we host community outreach events so people will be drawn to our churches and be able to hear the Gospel preached and sung.  God is the reason that we sing, to know Him more fully and to make him known.  God is the reason that we spend hours working through ministry strategies to most effectively help our people grow as followers of Christ and to empower them to do the work of His ministry.  He is the reason that we as worship leaders, musicians, and artists spend countless hours rehearsing and creating so we can most accurately reflect his glory to those we lead and so we can experience it ourselves.  God is the reason that volunteers gather at your church every weekend to get marker, glue, poop, paint, and goldfish all over them so children can know the love of Christ and know more about His Bible.  God is the reason that your teaching pastors spend hours praying and combing over notes and Scriptures in order to fully relay to us the power and knowledge found in the Holy Word.  God is the reason that there are meetings to discuss what worked and what didn't in the weekend services.  God is the reason that our executive pastors stare at numbers, spreadsheets, and construction drawings, so more people can know Him fully and so we can be good stewards of the resources He has entrusted to us.

All of us start with the foundation of God being "the why".  In reality, He never stops being "the why".  It's just in all of our work on the church it is easy for us to lose connection with the reason we started doing whatever it is you do in the local church to begin with.  It's the reason there are so many burnt out men and women in ministry now.  It's the reason so many leaders (volunteer and vocational) in church take a step back from ministry and never return.  It's a sad truth.

I don't believe that loosing our way in this is sin.  Our motives are pure and our desire is to see people grow in their faith and take a next step in their journey.  We want to see God high and lifted up.  It's just easy to get distracted.  In the book of Revelation, chapter 2 verses 4-5,  the church of Ephesus was told to "return to the love they had at first".  "The why" is what started all of us on the road to salvation, much less church leadership.

The best way for us as church leaders to combat this issue is to be sure that we are not neglecting our personal relationship with Christ.  It is easy for us to use our work as the means to our relationship.  However, we can not show up on the weekend hoping for a meaningful encounter with God when we haven't pursued him during the week.  Pursuing the works of God is not the same as pursuing God himself.  When we pursue the work only, we will end up burnt out and frustrated that we aren't feeling God move in our ministries and churches.  It is important for us as church leaders to lead from the overflow of our hearts and spirits.  We must continually be spending time in prayer and studying the Bible with intentionality.  When we are growing personally in our walks with Christ, "the why" is at the forefront of our heart and minds and makes staying on our foundation much easier.

For the church leader, thank you for doing the work of ministry and working hard to train the church in holiness and righteousness to pursue our Great God.  Thank you for your diligence and devotion to excellence for the sake of God's glory and making him known.  I encourage you to pursue Him with your heart, mind, and strength, knowing that it is only by His power, will, and favor that we will accomplish the great task that lay before us.  Lead from the overflow of your heart and spirit.  Pursue a relationship with the Almighty and we will fight the burn out of ministry and distraction of loosing focus of "the why".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

God really hears us...

The definition of "pray" is to make devout praise, thanks, petition, and offering to God.  Prayer is something that so many of us do.  In fear of a test, in blessing for food, for safety, for healing, for praise.  How often do we really soak in the fact that God truly hears our prayers?  

Psalm 3:3-5 - But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.  I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.  

We can find such great comfort in this verse.  With great confidence we can know that the Lord hears us.  We cry out to the Lord and he answers.  He hears.  How amazing is it to think that the God of all creation hears me and cares about what I have to say to him.  No matter what we may be faced with, we can know that God hears our cries and he is powerful enough to protect us and to sustain us.  To sustain something is to hold it up, to keep it going, to provide.  God holds up and helps us keep going when we have absolutely nothing left.  He is our strength and we can find rest in knowing that he hears and that he will lift us up.

Having confidence that God hears you can radically change your prayer life.  Pray with a joy of knowing that God is listening to your prayers.  Rest in the fact of knowing that he hears you.  In the midst of those days when you feel like you can’t go on, cry out to the Lord and trust in the fact that he will lift you up and keep you going. 

Worship loudly.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Where I Don't Belong

Matthew 5:6 - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

There is a song that we’ve done at FOTP for quite some time now called “Where I Don’t Belong”.  The bridge of the chorus says, “Everything in me yearns for everything in You”.  Our student/teaching pastor, Jamie Pope, told me one time that he never sings that line.  He told me that in his sinful flesh, he doesn’t believe that he can fully sing that line and mean it with all of his heart.  However, he said that he knew that one day, when he sees his Savior face to face, he will be able to sing it and with that glorious revelation he can sing the following line, “Hallelujah”.  

Theologically speaking, it is true that every part of us will not be able to fully long for Jesus on this side of eternity.  There is always a war within us between our revived spiritual side and the sinful nature that we were born with.  When Christ transforms our heart and calls us into a relationship with him, we begin that process of longing and yearning for all that Jesus is, to know him, to be loved by him, to be strengthened by him.  This verse in Matthew tells us that those who hunger and thirst for the pure and perfect righteousness that Jesus provides will be satisfied.  Jesus must be the primary focus of our thoughts, energies, and affections.  When we yearn for him, long for him, and pursue him, he will not disappoint.  He will open up the doors of wisdom, love, grace, might, and acceptance and welcome us in.  We will be satisfied in Christ.

I pray that God would place in us a great desire for Him.  David referred to it as a deer being parched and longing for water.  May we rest in the fact of knowing that God is enough.  Chase after Him, yearn for Him…and you will be satisfied.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Almost a year ago, I was sitting in my office and our student pastor, Jamie, was sitting on the couch and we were talking.  The couch in my office is a dark grey/black and Jamie was wearing a black hoodie.  At some point during our conversation, I noticed that I couldn't tell where his jacket ended and the couch began.  I realized that I needed to suck it up and go to the eye doctor.  Long story short...I now have glasses that...(hang on a second), I am wearing right now.

In that moment, I wasn't able to focus and distinguish between the objects in front of me.  My focus was out of place and not where it needed to be in order for me to see clearly the world in front of me.  Our spiritual lives function in much the same way.

Colossians 3:1&2 - If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

At some point or another we have all dealt with a struggle, habit, sin, or attitude that has not been the optimal way to experience life.  We can easily become consumed by those struggles.  We think and focus on how not to be defeated by them, how not to fall to temptation, and how to “beat” whatever it is.  Here’s the kicker…when we are trying so hard to not do those things and to defeat them, they are our primary focus.  We are focusing on the problem instead of the one who can solve the problem.  

This passage in Colossians tells us to set our minds on the things that are above, not on things here on earth.  We read in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  When God is our primary focus, our struggles and attitudes seem to fall in line.  That’s not to say that it is easy, it is still a challenge for sure.  However, when we are focusing on God and his glorious might, those other things fade in comparison to him.  It’s a simple, focus on the positive, not the negative scenario.

I pray that God would help us to focus on Him and his glory.  As a Christ follower, our pursuit of God and the knowledge of who he is one of the key steps in our continued growth and maturity.  Another step is engaging in telling God’s story.  Instead of focusing on the problems, struggles, and sin…focus on God and take those struggles to him and find great rest, strength, and peace from that.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chasing Wisdom...

Proverbs 4:20-27 - My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape form your sight; keep them within your heart.  For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.  Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.  Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.  Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

There are a couple of takeaways from this passage.  This whole chapter is really good and I’d encourage you to read it on your own.  You can follow the link here for the whole chapter…Proverbs 4.  The first several chapters of Proverbs, are Solomon’s instructions to his son to pursue wisdom and to follow God.  If you read through Chronicles and Kings in the Bible, you’ll see that, sadly his didn’t follow his instruction and it went badly for him and all of Israel.  That goes to show that sometimes, we can do all we can as a parent, but ultimately the choice is made by the individual what decisions they will make…but that’s another topic altogether.  

First, we can see that Solomon (the writer of Proverbs), cares about his son and wants him to be wise and follow the Lord.  He knows that if he will follow the instruction of God, he will have a more fruitful, happy, and productive life.  For those of us that are parents, it is paramount that we continually point our children to the Lord.  By our actions we show them just how important God is to us.  We can talk about it and tell them to do the right things all day long, but if they don’t see us living it out, it simply won’t take root.  The example can hold true whether you have children or not.  We are to set the example with our lives to the younger generation and always point them to the amazing goodness that is Christ.  They need to see and know that we live an believe the things that we tell them.  Wisdom and the love of God are firm foundations to build life upon.  

Second, we can take these things to our hearts as individuals.  We can apply these teachings to our lives and pursue godliness, wisdom, and life.  As I said previously, when we pursue these things personally, it makes teaching them easier, because the student, child, intern, whatever can see that we truly believe the things that we are teaching.  In other words, we must always be sure as Christ followers to “practice what we preach”.  

Pray that God would help you to share and impart the wisdom that He has given you to the next generation of leaders.  I pray that God would help each of us to continue to seek to know Him more and to walk in the wisdom that he has provided for us in Scripture.  May each of us relentlessly chase after wisdom.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where will we turn?

We've all been in situations where we've felt, maybe even known, that the odds were stacked against us.  In those moments, we make a decision...Where will we turn?  King Asa was in an overwhelming situation and his response is a great example to us.

2 Chronicles 14:11 - And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude.  O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”

Back story…Asa is the king of Judah.  At this point in time, Israel and Judah have split into two kingdoms with 2 tribes in Judah and the other 10 tribes in Israel.  During this time of separation, there were many kings that would follow after other gods and not follow after the way of the Lord.  However, Asa, “did what was right in the sight of the LORD and followed in his ways”.  Asa, followed God and trusted him to help him lead the people of Judah.  God gave Judah ten years of peace during his reign.  After that ten years, a huge army from Ethiopia came up to attack Judah.  Before battle, the king would always call out to God in a prayer; verse 11 is that prayer before this battle.  God went before the army of Judah and destroyed the entire army of the Ethiopians.  So…

It would be quite easy to see that Asa felt overwhelmed by the challenge that was before him.  He had some great and mighty warriors on his side, but he was facing a massive army, almost two times larger than his own.  All of us, at some point, have felt the weight of being overwhelmed by the situation(s) in front of us.  In those moments, we make a pivotal decision…Where will we turn?

When we make the decision to turn to our vices, our own strength, or whatever brings us some sort of temporary comfort, we fall immediately to defeat.  I’m sure that Asa had a plan and had his men set out strategically.  We read in verse eight that he had a lot of men of might and valor…these were words used to describe the baddest of the bad in biblical warrior terms.  However, plans and preparation are not where Asa placed his complete trust.  He placed his trust in the LORD.  

“O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you…”  That last phrase is so powerful!  Our every breath is reliant upon God’s power to sustain it.  We are held together by his very will.  He is unstoppable.  Nothing is impossible for him.  He is our greatest source of comfort, strength, and peace.  He is the first place that we should turn when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, whatever they may be.  “…we rely on you…”  What an amazing cry for help and a comforting place to find hope!

Pray that scripture this week…pray it everyday!  Especially in the moments that you feel overwhelmed.  “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you…”   I pray that each of us would look to the Lord for our strength and our help; for truly, he is the only source that really works.