Monday, October 19, 2009

God Can Handle It...

My wife Angela and I completed a five day cruise on Saturday. It was awesome! We thank God that He supplies the resources and the wisdom to manage those resources to allow us to pay cash for such a great trip. We are so grateful to have the opportunity.

I think what made the trip the most relaxing was not the pampering, the scenery or the time without our kids; it was the absence of a cell phone or internet for nearly five complete days. It took me a little while to stop feeling the phantom "leg vibrate" that occurs when you are so used to your cell going off in your pocket, but eventually, I quite enjoyed being disconnected. Not surprisingly, God was able to handle the world and The Pursuit without me for a week. I didn't even take any leadership books on the boat, just the Bible. It was great to feel like a child of God first and a husband second, without the role of "Lead Pastor of The Pursuit" there to compete with those greater priorities.

So here's my confession. I normally cheat on my days off. I always have my cell phone on (though I reserve the right to not answer it) and check and reply to work emails on my day off every week and every time I am on vacation. I think if God can handle it when I am gone for five days, He can handle it if I am "gone" one day every week. So here's the commitment, I am not going to answer my cell phone or check emails on my day off any more (from Thursday at 5:00 p.m to Friday at 5:00 p.m. to be exact!). I am hoping the staff will follow my lead. Maybe you can try it too. Don't worry. I think God can handle it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reaching Christians...

I don't know why any church would try to reach Christians. It amazes me how judgmental and argumentative they can be about what we are doing, even though they've never been to The Pursuit! We get second guessed on our motives and our ideas all the time. We could easily spend all of our time trying to convince Christians that they should come, but it isn't worth the energy.

We're trying to reach non-Christians. If Christians want to join us in that, they are welcome to come, but we refuse to get distracted from our mission which is to reach those far from God. In the midst of Christians who criticize us for taking the Bible too literally (How could we believe every verse?) or question our tactics for reaching the unchurched (even though God seems to be blessing what we are doing), we got an amazing email this morning from someone whose unbelieving family members came this past Sunday and are committed to coming back. That is why we do what we do. So let's just stay on course. It is worth it for sure!

Luke 6:26
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I have read Ephesians 4 on the role of pastors and teachers many times over—in fact I have it memorized. So when I was preparing for last week's sermon and looking at the passage one more time, I got hit with a pretty horrible thought. "We aren't doing this!" Big oops!

We have the iServe ministry that my wife heads up that helps get people connected to their right ministry and it has been very successful. We recently launched a more intentional leadership development plan that is inspiring and equipping current and future leaders. But what about the couple of hundred volunteers that aren't currently interested at leading but just want to do their ministry successfully? We are not doing a good job equipping them. That is about to change.

I had a thought today: what if every volunteer, no matter in what ministry they served, consistently thought, "I can't believe how well my leaders constantly equip me to do my ministry better and better!" I know some feel that way now, but is "some" ever the goal? I think God designed it to be "all." I want all of our volunteers to feel that way which is going to require a massive shift in how we view our ministry.

If we get this right, the sky is the limit for The Pursuit in this valley. Just to make sure we do, got has in the last week been assembling a team of people who just "happen" to be developers and trainers for their occupation. They are passionate about it and are equipped to help people get better at what they do. We're getting them together to get a plan. Look out you volunteers! You are about to feel more loved than ever!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Quite Heaven on Earth...

What an amazing day yesterday. It is such a privilege to do what I do and see what I see. Yesterday could not have been better at The Pursuit in my mind. As I walked out, exhausted after preaching for the last time, I said to a couple who was serving, "It shouldn't be this fun." (I've always said that our worship services should be the closest thing to heaven on earth. I think for many people church feels like 'the other place'!) We talked about how, believe it or not, heaven is going to be so much better.

I told them that the biggest difference for me will be that there won't be any pain between Sundays. This life is filled with trouble. The enemy is relentless in his attack. If you are struggling, know that heaven is coming soon. We will see that day when there will be no more crying or pain or tears. We echo the words of the apostle John closing out the book of Revelation, "Come, Lord Jesus."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deja Vu...

A couple of weeks ago, we had one of those "defining days" at The Pursuit. (I think this Sunday may be one as well for many of us!). We pour our hearts into the summer every year, knowing that our people are out inviting and new people are moving into the valley. It also helps us to hit the ground running for the fall instead of spending September "ramping up."

The discouraging thing is that we realistically are missing 30 to 40% of our attenders any given Sunday because Idaho is apparently too beautiful of state to resist. With the incredible feedback we got from the service from Aug. 2, and the knowledge that so many have missed it, we are doing our first "Deja Vu Service" on September 1 at 6:30 p.m. We are going to do the exact same service, music and all, for all of those that missed it.

I have no idea how many will come but this will be a great experiment for two reasons. One is that we may do these from time to time (or maybe just every fall with the top Sunday of the summer). It could be a great way to get us all on the same page. The other part is that we are fairly confident that we are going to run out of space with four services sometime this fall (in spite of my efforts to use challenging "hypocrite-repellent" messages of late). One of our ideas —to reach those that no one else is reaching, you have to do something that no one else is doing—is to do an additional service time on Tuesday nights.

There are a lot of people that work or are out of town on weekends. Would they come to church on Tuesday nights? Could we get enough volunteers to come back to run our Kidz and hospitality ministry? We have no idea. But, if there was ever a body of believers that would do whatever it takes to reach some more, it is our Pursuit family. We'll know more in a few weeks!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Defying the Odds...

I am currently on vacation in Winona Lake, IN, which is the town where I went to college and seminary. I was running tonight around the campus and remembered when I used to jog when I was in college. That was more than 15 years ago. Most of you probably would think that running was much easier then, but it wasn't.

Odds are, the older you get, the more out of shape you become. At 37, I am in the best shape of my life. My waist is smaller than it was in high school and I am stronger than I've ever been. I have been overweight my whole life and I am finally approaching the way I have always wish I could have looked and felt.

What changed? I finally really desired to be in shape. Oh, I assure you I had thought about it and made temporary attempts many times in the past. I'd try different routines, gyms, fad diets, but ultimately the desire for food and laziness always won out. Not any more. I am defying the odds.

Statistics say that the larger a church gets, the more inward focused it becomes. It doesn't have to be that way. As we get bigger, our chance for impact increases all the more. What do we need to defy the odds? Desire. We just have to want to reach the world more than we want to enjoy our own comforts. Let's not just "wish" that we could be a church that changes our valley and the world. We've got God living in us. Let's just go do it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gift of Evangelism...

I never thought I had it. In fact, I was pretty sure I didn't. God never seemed to use me to bring people across the line of faith. It is actually somewhat comical to me that people seem to give their lives to Jesus after they leave our services, not during it in response to something I say. I finally figured out that evangelism isn't just "closing the deal" so-to-speak, but it is any conversation or action that brings people a step closer to Jesus. I do have the gift of evangelism. God uses me to create space and opportunity for people to move closer and closer to a decision to follow Christ. It is rare for me to be a part of someone actually crossing the line, but I am grateful to play the part that I play.

My wife Angela, on the other hand, should be nicknamed "The Closer." Since we moved here to Boise, she has been able to walk with many as they get closer to that point and then be there to lead them in prayer as they turn their lives over to Jesus. She was able to pray with another one of our neighbors this past Thursday (listen to The Pursuit Podcast "Wake Up the World - Part 1" to hear the story. Keep a tissue close by!). The way God uses Angela is nothing short of amazing. But God doesn't always use her in the same way either. It is as if God is reminding each of us that it is all Him.

We were awakened by a phone call at midnight last night. Another girl that Angela has been pursuing and for whom we have all been faithfully praying crossed the line of faith last night! It was truly the perfect end to a perfect day. God used Angela's recent friendship and my message on Sunday to ready her and then prompted another staff member at The Pursuit to invite her out to talk after service where she prayed to receive Jesus as her Forgiver and Leader. There was another party in heaven for someone for whom we have been praying!

I don't care which part I play, whether it is a first, middle or final link in the chain that brings someone to Jesus. I just know I want to play a part. Any part. I just want God to use me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And It Did Not Rain...

I just got home from Merrill Park today after enjoying five hours of dry weather on a day that it was supposed to rain. God has been known to make it rain (or not rain) both in Scripture and in my life as a result of prayer. With our renewed emphasis on prayer of late, we really believed that God would prevent the rain as a result of our prayers.

As the week went on and the forecast continued to call for rain, we continued to pray. I refused to accept a "backup plan" insisting that God would allow us to have our Outreach BBQ. There were too many of us inviting unchurched people personally and I simply couldn't imagine how God would get the glory in letting it be cancelled. I even told one person I invited that we were praying that it would not rain. God's reputation with those that didn't know Him was on the line.

Last night at our God First Friday service, it poured. As we stood around afterwards we continued to pray. We said we would make a judgement call in the morning, but that if it was raining we should probably cancel. I woke up anticipating it being dry in faith, but looked out the window to see a steady rain. I looked on facebook and saw all of the "come rain or shine" invites and talked to the staff and we decided to go for it, even in the rain. I actually told my wife jokingly, "I guess prayer doesn't work."

On a day with a 60% chance of showers, it was dry for our entire event! It stopped as they finished setting up and was perfect weather for the entire time. It rained all around us, but Eagle stayed dry. I can't believe I actually doubted God, not that He had the power, but that He would answer the specific request. I figured that He let it go to the last minute just to see if we were willing to get a little wet to try to reach this valley, then He shut off the rain for us. Glory to God! Let's continue to pray and continue to reach out. By the way, just after everything was unloaded back into our building, it started to pour! As if we needed God to show us it wasn't a coincidence. We already knew it was all Him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Glad I Obeyed...

Yesterday marks the six year anniversary of the day God said, "Go." As a campus pastor in Moorpark, CA, I knew that someday I was to go somewhere where I didn't know anyone and plant a church. That was God's call on my life since reading The Purpose Driven Church when I started seminary several years earlier. My mentor frequently asked me, "If money were no object and you could do anything for God, what would you do?" My answer was always the same. "Go somewhere where I don't know anyone and start a church."

I had settled into my role as a campus pastor but had started to feel like I was delaying my call for no good reason. I was listening to Bill Hybels speak on May 19, 2003 in Camarillo and he mentioned that he was 51. That's the last thing I remember from his talk. God asked me if I was still going to be a campus pastor when I was 51. "No way, God. I'm not going to put it off for 20 years." He replied, "How about when you are 41?" I couldn't imagine waiting another 10. I heard very clearly, "Then go."

I got back to the office that afternoon, informed my mentor that it was time to go, and pulled out an atlas and laid it on my desk. "God, where in this country do you want me." By that evening, when I took my wife out to dinner to share what I was feeling, I already felt like the Treasure Valley in Idaho could be the place to which God was calling us.

What if I had said no? I can't even imagine what I would have missed being a part of. As always, I am glad I obeyed. It is always in our best interest, both in this earthly life and for eternity's sake, to do what God says.

"God, give me the strength to keep saying yes, no matter how challenging the call."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It Used to Be Enough...

Prayer has always been foundational at The Pursuit. When we started meeting in our house, I thought it would be cool to pray every week for every person that was coming. When I would meet someone that I invited or with whom I began a relationship, I would add their name to the excel spreadsheet. As we grew, I just never felt like it was okay to stop that practice. Now that excel spreadsheet has 866 households. The elders all share the load, but everyone still gets prayed for every week.

I've often wondered how much less God would have done here if we hadn't bothered to pray the way we do? But I don't think that the way we have prayed in the past is going to be enough for what we are asking God to do in the future. We need to pray more. We need to express our dependence on God more.

I am excited to preach on prayer for two weeks starting May 31. I don't want people to ever think that God did what He did at The Pursuit because of our talents and abilities. I want it to be an obvious work of the Holy Spirit. We're starting something new in a few weeks. God First Fridays. I can't wait.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Run to Win... Pt. 3

I can't tell you how prepared I was to run (with the exception of physically... oops!). I had purchased all the right gear and had it all laid out the day before so I wouldn't forget anything. I had my iPod with the songs strategically placed. My GPS watch had a fresh battery. My sunglasses were clean.

That morning I got up and stretched one more time. I measured my meals carefully, with every calorie consumed on a schedule. Then came the deodorant (which my wife expressed didn't take!), the sunscreen, and the vaseline on the rub-prone areas.

As I was doing all of this, I thought of the armor of God. What if we were this intentional about going into battle every day? I was fighting against a mountain, but we are fighting against the spiritual forces of evil. The stakes are too high for us to just wander into battle. Put on the full armor of God today. Don't be ignorant of his schemes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Run to Win... Pt. 2

It is Thursday night and my calves still haven't completely loosened up. Monday I could hardly walk they hurt so bad. I should have listened (to advice and to my calves).

I read a suggestion the day before the race that you should stop and stretch your calves at the top of the hill so that they don't cramp up on the downhill. After falling behind my intended time to the summit, I didn't want to take the minute or two to stretch my calves to lose even more time. The entire 4.5 mile descent, my calves were on the brink of cramping. I had to try to run with my toes lifted in order to prevent the cramping. Who knows how much it cost me by not stopping to stretch!

I think there are many times when we feel like we can't slow down (or stop) to tend to an issue that is starting to create problems. What is it in me that makes me think that if I just keep moving, problems will take care of themselves? There are times to run through the pain, but more often than not, the damage caused by ignoring an issue is greater than the damage caused by stopping to deal with it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Run to Win... Pt. 1

I've always read the apostle Paul's encouragement to "run in such a way as to win" and appreciated the parallels between running a race and living the Christian life. Although I've spent many years living the Christian life, I have not competed in a race until Saturday. I told my kids (who were very sad that I knew I was going to "lose") that I was only competing against the clock. I did Robie Creek, the toughest half marathon in the Northwest. It was way tougher than I imagined. I can't describe how my calves feel right now! There are so many parallels spiritually that came to mind, that I am going to spend the week sharing them here.

It was 25 days ago that a friend emailed me and said that I could buy their extra Robie number if I wanted. At first I thought, "No way, there's no way I could do it." But I decided that since I had already been in decent shape, I would give it a shot. I am planning on doing the Sawtooth Relay in June and so this winter I actually tried to keep running and am in the best Spring shape of my life. Since I was in shape, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity. (Right now my legs are wishing I didn't.)

We are talking about Stewardship right now at The Pursuit and I am a firm believer in following God's principles in our finances because we are prepared for whatever opportunity may come. How many of us, if we would have been getting out of debt and putting money into savings, would be able to take advantage of the buying (or giving) opportunities that are around us? If I hadn't been running and biking over the last few months, I would have had to let this opportunity pass by. Trust God. Do what He says with your money and the next time that perfect opportunity pops up, you might be able to take advantage of it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

He Still Trusts Us...

We had no idea what to expect for Easter. We always have a huge burst and many always return. Last year we hit 900 people at Easter, which was incredible. We averaged that in regular attendance by the following September, which is a pattern for us. Literally, every year I have prayed that God would show us at Easter what our normal Sunday attendance would be by the following September. It has always been on the dot.

If this holds true this year, we are going to have 1600 in regular attendance come the fall. This was our sixth Easter as a young church. Here are the attendance numbers for each year: 66, 225, 475, 600, 900, 1600. Does that give you chills like it does me? It is startling what God is doing but by bringing 1600 yesterday He is showing us that He still trusts us with people, but it also means that we are going to have to raise our level of commitment and leadership to make sure that we continue to care for people in the body and reach out to those who are far from God.

Praise God for the privilege of being used by Him! Let's continue to pray, invest, invite and serve to the glory of God. He is worthy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What is God going to do...

It is a question I ask every Sunday that I preach. I know God will move but I never know how. Today could have gone either way. In our worship concert, in response to Isaiah's "Here am I, send me", I challenged the congregation to live as "sent" people. For us right now, that has to include giving generously. The Pursuit continues to struggle. I shared that The Pursuit is like the Titanic: We are going down. Except, people keep getting on because they love being on it! I said we are like a search and rescue boat that is taking on water but is still going full throttle because there are so many people to reach.

I challenged those that believe in what we are doing to give 3% more of their income if their income hasn't been cut. I figure that if teachers and state employees are being forced to cut their income, maybe some of us could voluntarily do it to further God's work here. I announced that I decided to take a 15% paycut until The Pursuit's "recession" is over. I shared the generosity of our staff, ten households that give an average of $456 a month (that's 12.4% of our income). In fact, we pay for three of our staff salaries just by ourselves! I encouraged people to visit if they wanted to give but didn't come prepared to do so. It could have gone either way, but it was readily apparent by the way we sang "We Shine" after we took our offering that God moved.

It isn't going to be one day, or even one month, that turns things around for us. But as I said to a few staff in the office afterwards, "If there was ever a group of people that is so passionate about God that I would expect them to step up, it is the people at The Pursuit." It is such a joy to serve such a great family. People can keep getting on the boat. We'll keep moving ahead full throttle. We are the redeemed!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why do people leave?

I know that it is fairly common for people to leave their churches. Sometimes it is for a really good reason, but usually not. I wonder more about why do pastors leave churches? I was reading this week of a pastor who left one really large church to go pastor another one just a bit larger (and in a nicer town). I'm not condemning him at all, but I wonder why. I know "God called him" but why?

I was listening to a leadership talk by a pastor of a mega church and he was explaining that most of the staff that he's had at the church through the years were just there for a season. Most moved on after a few years or maybe a decade.

I can't help but think, even though I'd love to be wrong, that it is usually just moving for bigger or better or more money. I don't hear of many who go to smaller or worse or less money, other than church planters. Is this corporate America or the church? Why not try to make the church where we are bigger and better and just forget about the money part? That sounds like the bigger challenge.

If we tell our congregation that God has put us into a family, shouldn't we view ourselves as part of it? Maybe that's why so many staff positions turn over in churches. Maybe that staff that God has put together at The Pursuit really is unique. We see our staff as a family. We hang out after hours. We try to vacation together. As I shared my thoughts on this with the staff this week, all of us agreed, as far as it depends on us, we want to stay together. If we keep trusting God and passionately pursuing the people He cares about, maybe He'll let us!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It Shouldn't Be This Fun...

As I prayed with our team before The Pursuit P.M. this week, I prayed, "God, it shouldn't be this fun." It wasn't until I visited Cornerstone Simi ( in 1999 that I saw people at church who appeared to be there because they wanted to be—not because they were fulfilling a duty. That certainly characterizes people at The Pursuit.

Every Sunday I am just amazed at what God is doing. To see people so passionately in love with God and displaying that love to each other is just too awesome. I don't deserve this, but I'm enjoying every Sunday (and the days in between). God is indeed too good to us!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Give Up...

I am so saddened to read the story online of a capsized boat off the coast of Florida with four athletes on board. I am sure that most of you have heard at least something of this tragedy. One was miraculously rescued while three lost their lives. The waters were a chilly 63 degrees. All four were wearing life jackets. The waves kept coming. Eventually one gave up and removed his life jacket, allowing himself to be swept away. Soon another followed his friend, a victim of a relentless attack and dwindling hope. The third, likely disillusioned by hypothermia, believed he could swim to safety.

I don't know what you are going through right now, but the trials on this earth are indeed heavy. So many are currently living under an onslaught of waves, or better said, an onslaught of flaming arrows of the evil one. He is relentless and he wants you to give up hope and be swept away. Even though you may be in the valley of the shadow of death, remember who is with you. Keep your life jacket on. Keep clinging to the vessel that can save you. Rescue is coming!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Going Away for a While...

Okay, not really for a while, but it is for a day. I can remember going to a church planter's boot camp before we moved up here to start The Pursuit and them telling us, "You've got to block one day a month on your calendar to get away with just you and God." I committed to doing that to keep myself fresh and hearing from God.

Oops! I think it's been at least a year since I've gone away so tomorrow I am taking a bottle of water, the Bible on CD and my prayer list and going for a drive. I don't know what I'm expecting to hear but I am expecting to be refreshed and "let the Word of Christ richly dwell within" me. I am hoping to listen to all of the gospels in one day, something I have never done before.

It is supposed to rain, which is a bummer, but hopefully I can still see the Sawtooths, observe some wildlife and get recharged to come back for next week—after all, Evertything Changes March 1! I'm going to be ready!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here We Go Again...

The one time of year that it really pays to have very little income and three kids is tax time. It is like Christmas in February for our family. Thanks to the EIC and the Additional Child Tax Credit, it is usually nice chunk of change. I think it is the government’s way of saying, “I’m really sorry you have to try to live on what you make.” We actually feel pretty blessed because we try to live on as little of God’s money as possible and we have more than enough.

I believe strongly in having financial goals. Our short term goal, outside of giving, is to pay off our house sometime next year. That is a big step toward my long term goal of working for The Pursuit for free. (Last week I spent some time writing out a salary reduction plan over the next 35 years!) A big part of the house-payoff plan is to use our tax-time “gift” to put extra on the mortgage and then put a good amount in savings. After giving, mortgage reduction, and saving, we planned on spending a little of the money on ourselves, just for fun.

But here we go again. Giving at The Pursuit can't seem to get any momentum. Even though attendance continues to grow, giving is about 70% of what we were anticipating. We were already planning on giving a good percentage to God and suddenly it didn’t seem like it was enough. My flesh was frustrated. “Don’t we have a right to have a savings account? Don’t we have a right to spend something on ourselves?” And then in my spirit I thought about what is really the most important thing to me. My savings account? A new toy? No way! God has abundantly met our needs and I was reminded that we had decided a long time ago that the priority for our family is God and His work. We haven’t settled on a percentage, but we are excited to give again. Who can put a price tag on having a front-row seat to a movement of God? That is priceless.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Preaching to the Gentiles...

I am sitting here reflecting on yesterday's message as I am working on the one for this Sunday. I once again praised God for an email we received from someone who came yesterday who hadn't been to church in 10 years. It was exactly what she needed according to her. She is looking forward to continuing on her spiritual journey with us.

The Apostle Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles, that is, those that didn't grow up knowing the God of the Bible. I always said that I wanted to pastor like Paul. I was speaking of his passion, his devotion and his willingness to give up what was due him. But it just clicked in me that I am more like him than I thought. I feel called to make sure that no matter what someone's religious background is, that they would be able to connect to the word of God while I am preaching. I dreamed that this would be the case when we started The Pursuit. On July 19, 2003, I wrote, "What if seasoned believers could be challenged to grow and seekers could discover who God is in the same sermon?" This was one week after we had visited Boise for the first time!

I think God is allowing that vision to become a reality. I don't think any follower of Christ who was there yesterday would say that they were not challenged by the word. I know I was. I know that is my responsibility as a preacher—to preach the word clearly to those who follow Jesus. But I also know that I am called to preach to the Gentiles, those who are far from God. To my knowledge, The Pursuit has never held a service where there wasn't someone in attendance who hadn't yet crossed the line of faith. The first Sunday we had 10 adults and only 7 of those were followers of Jesus!

I pray that God continues to trust us with the people He is pursuing. The Pursuit really is a church for anyone. Keep on investing in the lives of unchurched people and inviting them to attend. We'll be ready. You never know what God is going to do!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Answered Prayer...

The 7 hour drive from Boise to Reno to get an In-N-Out burger is always a joy. The anticipation grows as we get closer and closer to taste bud bliss. I was apparently a little too focused on food upon our arrival. I turned off the car and attempted to pull out the key and it wouldn't come out. I realized that I hadn't even put it in park, I was so excited!

When we got in to order, I reached into my pocket to get my wallet and realized I didn't have any keys. I asked Angela if she had them and her facial expression told the story. She informed me that I pulled the keys out and set them on her lap (I didn't even remember doing it!), which is something I never do, and that she assumed that I must have had my keys, so she put them in the glove compartment. She wasn't too worried because she thought we had AAA. I informed her that the day before I had talked with them on the phone and declined renewing. I figured we probably wouldn't ever use them!

Angela called a lockout service and found out that it would be $55. We decided to give God a chance to work, so I explained to the kids that this was either going to be the most expensive In-N-Out of our lives or God was going to have to intervene! We prayed right there that God would send a police officer with a slim jim. About 10 minutes later, a police officer pulled into the adjacent parking lot. The kids were excited as Angela went over to speak with him. As she was talking to him, a tow truck driver pulled in to return a Red Box DVD.

It turns out that police officers in Reno don't carry slim jims as he was explaining to Angela as the tow truck driver was pulling in. Angela approached him and figured she would offer the guy $20 to get us into our car. He declined the money and even dinner but said he would love a diet coke! He opened our car for $1.59 and we got a chocolate milkshake to celebrate!

People wonder how we can make it on our limited income. God does stuff like that for us all of the time. It is really cool when He does it as an answer to a prayer that we prayed with our kids so they can learn to trust Him too. He sent us a police officer like we asked (even though he couldn't help) and sent what we really needed—a tow truck driver—and not just any but probably the only one in the country who wouldn't happily make an extra $20 on the side! Keep trusting God. He is worthy of it!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Danger of Rest...

We returned yesterday from a short family vacation to Reno—not for the gambling, but for the In-N-Out Burger and cheap hotels! It is a perfect drive for our family and the kids love hanging out away from home (I'll tell you a great story from our first night later this week). It was a quick trip, but it accomplished what we hoped it would—a break from the normal pace of life.

Rest is a great thing. I know people who need to get a lot more of it. God made us to include rest in our "diet." It has nothing to do with the Jewish Sabbath, but everything to do with a healthy pace of life, something we talk a lot about on our staff. In a ministry that God seems to always be expanding, it becomes even more essential if we want to be around for the long haul. 

Do you need to take a breather? If you find yourself feeling exhausted, either spiritually, emotionally or physically, maybe it is time to step off the merry-go-round long enough for your head to stop spinning. Do something that fills you, which may be using your vacation home or snow-shoeing or sitting on the couch with a book of fiction. To each his own. The point is that we really don't want you burning out. As I told one friend recently, "You're no good to us dead, you know." Rest really is a great thing.

But rest is also a dangerous thing. Why? Because we may like it too much. We may decide that God made us for resting instead of for laboring. My daughter said on Thursday, "I wish we could live in this hotel forever." How many adults live for the rest instead of for the reward of serving Christ? I know there are many with hearts that aren't with the kingdom of God but are instead with their time share or vacation home or hobbies. It is too bad. They are missing out. 

The big game is this Sunday. I can't imagine any player on either team looking forward the most to their time sitting on the sidelines. Can you imagine any player turning the coach down when he calls their number? "Sorry, Coach. I don't really feel like playing right now." Time on the bench is only to prepare for getting back on the field. If you've been enjoying an extended time on the sidelines, God is calling your number. It is time to get back in the game. After all, isn't that why He put you on the team? 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Still Building His Team.

We had our first church-wide leadership breakfast this morning. I am extremely passionate about finding and developing leaders and see this as a main push for 2009. We have so many gifted leaders at The Pursuit, it is overwhelming. Yes, I really believe God owes every other church in this valley an apology for how He keeps stacking our team with great people.

There were a lot of familiar faces. The staff of course was there to make breakfast for the 45 people that came. We were missing Adam who is now a married man! (We're anxious to have Kara out west to be a part of the team.) Gary was able to fly back to surprise him. We had many of our leaders who have been serving at The Pursuit for a couple of years. But the greatest thing about this morning was the fresh faces, people who are just stepping into leadership at The Pursuit. Even though one griddle broke and one was a no-show which made us a little frantic to start the day, the morning could not have gone better.

I drove away thinking that God is still building His team. He is still positioning us for greater ministry in the future. If God ever stops sending us people with a heart to lead and serve, maybe that will be the beginning signs that things are going to slow down. For now, He simply has brought too many great people under one roof. He is not a poor steward. I can assure you that if He is building this team, He intends to use it. I can't wait to see it all unfold. He is still building the team that He is going to use to change this valley. And yes, I am in total anticipation of what tomorrow is going to be!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So I am sitting here on Saturday night, going over and putting the finishing touches on the sermon for tomorrow. As it has been every Saturday night at The Pursuit, I just can't wait to see what God is going to do tomorrow. Who is He going to bring for the first time? How will they have heard about us? A friend? Car Stickers? The Billboard in Nevada? Who are we going to see that hasn't been in a long time. Who is going to have their life radically changed? What kind of conversations am I going to have with people in the lobby? I can't wait.

And then there's the pressure... Are we going to treat every guest with the love they deserve? Is the band going to be on? Is the equipment going to work properly? Am I going to be so distracted by the details that I forget to acknowledge the volunteers who make it all possible? Am I going to come across too harsh instead of as a loving friend?

I hope that Saturday nights are never too relaxing. I hope that I never feel like we have everything under control. I hope I never lose concern for each individual that comes through the doors. I hope that I never think I can handle it. The stakes are too high. The opportunity is too big. I'm ready to see what God does...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Can't Believe This is Happening...

I never thought I would blog, not because I don't have anything to say (I've never been short on opinions or thoughts), but because I am incredibly fearful of the "celebrity" status that is given to pastors who lead great churches in this day. This is definitely not about me. But through reading "Tribes" by Seth Godin, God convicted me that I should not be shrinking away from the opportunity to influence those that I diligently serve. The apostle Paul also said, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

God is doing something amazing here at The Pursuit. I can't deny it. I certainly don't want to hide it. He continues to assemble an amazing team of people. We have an incredible staff and a growing core of people who seem to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep reaching the Treasure Valley. My desire to "fly under the radar" so to speak has to be set aside in order to be the leader God has made me to be.

So, for the glory of God and the fulfillment of the vision that God has given The Pursuit, here we go...