Saturday, November 29, 2008

3 People Dead

Yesterday, Black Friday, three people were killed while shopping!
  • A WalMart employee was trampled to death when the doors were opened.
  • At a Toys-R-Us two men got in an argument at the check-out counter, went outside, pulled their pistols, and shot each other to death!

This is the nature of the beast.

Revelation 17:8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is

Friday, November 28, 2008

This Sunday is Going to be Amazing!

Just got done previewing the video we are showing Sunday. This film clip consists of people from our church family involved in a variety of activities. It also includes a couple of heart-felt testimonies. Who knows, you might even see yourself on the big screen.

The message for this Sunday is entitled "God's Gift of Abundant Life" and what it means to have it.
The music will be heart-felt, and the worship vertical.

The greatest thrill you will ever experience in your life is bringing someone to church.... watching their eyes light up.... silently praying for them during the message and during the invitation.... and then watching as they cross the line of faith... receiving Christ and securing their place in heaven. Oh, the joy to have a part in that process.

THAT is going to happen this Sunday.
In fact, the next five or six weeks will be life-changing for some people and will be YOUR OPPORTUNITY to get your friends in church.


If you read this blog I assume you are a fan and supporter of what God is doing at PCC, so I am asking you to intercede in prayer for us – our church family, our leadership team, and the Signs of Life series. So much hinges on the next ten weeks that we are desperate for your prayers. We are believing God to touch and change lives like never before, and give our church family a vision like they’ve never seen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

PCC, we have a lot to be thankful for. God is doing great things among us, in us, and through us, and I’m very excited about 2009.

You have a lot to be thankful for too. You have God, eternal life, a good family, and a good church to belong to. These are the things that make life real and give us meaning.

Renae and I will be spending time with our families today eating a lot of food, catching up with each other, and probably watching some football. I will probably gain 3 ½ pounds today too.

I hope you have a relaxing day with your family, being thankful for all God has done in your life and PCC.

I am thankful to God for His many blessings... And I am thankful for Pace Community Church.

Happy Thanksgiving.

PS – I may post again later today, and certainly will tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Too Much Noise

Aren’t you sick and tired of the non-stop, in-your-face, never-ending cacophony of noise?

When in my car, I listen to the radio, absorb the opinions of talk-radio hosts, worship music, leadership lectures, or talk on my cell phone.

When at work, the phone on my desk is constantly ringing on one or all of the three lines coming in to the church. Then of course there is e-mail – my mail box is always full and I have to navigate my way through the junk. I process some ten-thousand e-mails per year when I’m not answering the phone, leading meetings, making decisions, and trying to be productive.

I get home in the evening, and it starts all over again. Music is in the background from multiple sources. Someone has a CD player up too loud, another is playing a screaming guitar. There are four television sets in my home – usually on. There are five separate phone numbers in my home (four cells, and one land line) and at any given time one or all are ringing or someone is already talking on their phone.

I plop down in my easy chair and now it’s my turn to watch television – usually one of those twenty-four-hour-we-make-up-the-news channels. I have more than one hundred channels and I usually can’t find anything of interest (or decent) to watch. With the push of a button I can learn about war, automobiles, the stock market, the economy, Obama, or Pamela Anderson. With another push of the button I can learn how stuff is made, how stuff works, how broken things get fixed, how to kill a deer, how to catch a fish, how to lose weight without exercise, or how to clean out my colon.

Beginning the next day, it starts all over again.

Noise. It never ends. This kind of noise affects quality time with your family and it drowns out the voice of God.

1 Kings 19:11-12 says "....but the Lord was not in the wind.....and after the fire a SMALL STILL VOICE." Some translations say, “God was IN THE SILENCE.”

I’m evaluating myself on how I can reduce some of the noise in my life so that I can hear the sounds that really matter, and I've decided I’m going to make the necessary adjustments....

....that is, right after I check my e-mail again, answer the phone, and spend some more time blogging.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PCC Stories...

Here are some excerpts from recent testimonies I have received from members in our church family. They are fantastic! Plus, there's more to come.

James says….
I started attending
PCC Christmas Day December 2005. I must say that God is already working in our lives, and I’m not really sure what to expect now. I’ve gotten more involved in hearing and reading the Word of God. In August 06 Pastor Ron gave a message and tells the congregation that sometimes you have to just pull the trigger, get up off your knowledge, and get moving! That message struck a cord with me. Two months after hearing that message I resigned from a career of 28 years and started my own business. We are two years into this business and are well on our way to being successful in this endeavor. We have a million dollar business deal, and I now realize now it was a God thing! We have made a lot of new friends, given more than we have ever given, tithed more than we have ever tithed, helped more people than we have helped, cried more than we have ever cried, and gave thanks to God more than we have ever given thanks before. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t personally see God’s hand in our lives.

Evelyn says….
God has used Pace Community Church to encourage and strengthen my walk with Him. When it seems like all hope is gone, through PCC, God has let me know that He still has genuine people. It makes people like myself want to come back and hear more and more of God’s Word. It’s so encouraging to hear a pastor speak to God’s people in way that’s in our best interest and not just for self gain. Plus, I’m glad the services are lively, and not like a funeral.

Sandy says….
When Brad and I started attending PCC, my joy came back. I began to pray and get into the Word more. We started attending a small group. The Holy Spirit told me to say something to my oldest son and sparked him to call his brother and now they are talking again. Life can bring us many obstacles, but the funny thing is that God is always there. He sends the right people at the right time. He speaks to you through His Word – just what you need at the right time.

Paul says….
The bonds I’ve developed in my church family are different and deeper than many others I’ve had in my life. I share their joy, hurts, disappointments as intensely as in my own natural family. They have shown up in places and situations, outside of the ordinary, and provided support that they were unaware they were doing. In the spring of 2002 I asked the Lord to forgive my many and great sins. In July 2002 I was baptized, and with God’s help I have been able to depart with my destructive ways.

What an awesome God we serve!

Monday, November 24, 2008

You NEED Enemies in Your Life

Enemies can be beneficial for you. They cause you to grow and develop depth of character. Better yet, when enemies create problems for you, God steps in and increases His blessings on your life.

For example. There were two ladies in the Old Testament, Rachel & Leah. They were sisters and married to the same man, Jacob. Jacob loved Rachel, but did not love Leah. She became despised and rejected in the eyes of her husband and sister. The Bible says, "AND WHEN THE LORD SAW THAT LEAH WAS HATED.... He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren" (Genesis 29:31).

When God sees you are hated, He will BLESS YOU MORE than He intended to in the first place! Adversity increases your blessings!
  • You're having trouble at work? Something better is coming
  • Someone is trying to block your advancement? You'll get the promotion anyway
  • You were misquoted and misunderstood? God will confound your enemies
  • Hated and despised? God sees it and will respond with fruitfulness.
BTW - There is a reason why PCC is so fruitful and fertile - we are blessed by God. Enemies cannot destroy us. In fact, the opposite is true - the are partly responsbile for our success.

"And when the Lord saw Leah was hated.... He opened her womb..."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Notes

  • Today was one of those days that you’ll always remember. A complete change in the format. It felt pretty good.

  • Two opening songs… a 15 minute sermon (see “Why I Am Thankful for PCC” below)… Communion… more worship… and the baptism video.

  • The baptism video was awesome to me. I love water baptisms – it’s a major turning point in peoples lives.

  • There were a lot of “God moments” in the service today.

  • The whole day was a memorable experience that people will talk about

  • One of our small groups (PCC Women of Purpose) gave away 29 Thanksgiving Baskets today – boxes full of food and a turkey! Wow! Great job ladies.

  • Another small group is hosting a Christmas party at Berryhill manor in the next week or two – and a children’s worship team is going to sing for the residents. Wow! Great job everyone.

  • A group is going Christmas caroling again this year – in December.

  • Stuff is happening at PCC.

  • God is doing stuff in people’s lives too.

  • Thanksgiving is this week – my favorite holiday.

  • 24 comes on television tonight. Jack Bauer is going to save the world….. again.

Why I Am Thankful for PCC

Philippians 1:3 (KJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…

The apostle Paul loved his congregation at Philippi - so much so that he thanked God every time he thought about them. As a pastor I can fully understand why Paul felt this way about his church family; there’s a special affection that pastors possess for their flock.

Four reasons why I am thankful for PCC:

  • I am thankful for your love
  • I am thankful for your flexibility
  • I am thankful for your generosity
  • I am thankful for your faith

Like Paul, I can sincerely say, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mens' Breakfast

It was a cold morning, 26 degrees. But 35 men/sons turned out for free food.

Click Pictures to Enlarge.
Then backspace to return to blog.

Why I Am Jacked Up Right Now!

Signs of Life
begins this Sunday.

We’re taking Communion this Sunday

We are showing a video of recent baptisms this Sunday

People will be saved this Sunday

Thanksgiving is next week… it’s going to be food, family, friends, fellowship and football for me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Worthwhile Quotes

“Right voices equal right choices”
– Jentezen Franklin

Jentezen is a pastor from Gainesville GA. I've been to his church. This quote got me to thinking a lot about who I allow to speak into my life, and how frequently. I just don’t listen to potty-mouth negativity; no matter who it is coming from. If I can surround myself with the right kind of people, I’ll make better choices with my life. Who is speaking into your life? What are they saying?

“If someone can walk away from you, let ‘em walk” – T.D. Jakes

Never beg people to stay. If they can leave you, it means they are not truly joined to you. If they are not joined to you, no one can make them stay. Your destiny is never tied to anybody who left you. Their part in your story has come to an end, and you now have new chapter in your life to write.

Your Future Begins in the Now

Today was once the future from somewhere in your past. There was a time in your past when you looked forward wondering what you would be like or doing right now. Yet, here it is. That day has arrived. Is your present reality in alignment with the dream you had?

The Bible says, “Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).

The regrets most people experience in life come from failing to act when having an opportunity, or failing to create their own opportunity. Instead of spending so much time dreaming about the future, recognize that a little of it arrives every day.

BTW, Noah didn’t wait for his ship to come In – he built one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When the Fire Falls

“…The god who answers by fire… he is God” (1 Kings 18:24).

What do you do when you need rain, but instead God answers by fire? In 1 Kings 18, Elijah declares to the people that God is going to show up and prove Himself after 3 years of drought. And God does exactly that.

But instead of sending rain, God sent fire. Now you would think that after a 3-year drought that God would send water to the land – not fire on an already scorched earth. Right? I mean, what is God up to?

Are you praying for one thing, but something else comes?

  • Praying for God’s provision, but your bank account gets smaller
  • Praying for a new job, but you lose the one you’ve got. Now what?
  • Praying for God to heal your marriage, but more unresolved conflict rises to the surface
  • Praying for a door to open, instead they all slam shut

It can be difficult to trust the intentions of God when He is forecasting more fire at a time when you really need rain.

Remember this. God did eventually send rain to Israel, but it was only after His fire fell. Through fire He established His sovereignty over Israel and idols were destroyed in the land.

God may be sending fire into your life to purify you… to incinerate your altars of idolatry… and to burn away the false securities we tend to place our trust in. That way, when the sky finally opens, and the rain begins to pour, it falls on fertile ground – your purified heart.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reframe Your World View

The economy is on the mind of everyone these days. It dominates the headlines on radio, on television and in the newspaper. My email box has been full of questions and prayer requests from those in our church that are reeling from the news of the last few weeks. And the news isn’t good news. Words like recession, depression, downturn and uncertainty dominate the discussion.

I’m not a fortune teller, and I cannot predict the future. But I am a life-long student of the God’s Word. Based upon the truth of scripture, here are FOUR TRUTHS you can build your life on in uncertain times and regardless of economic news:
  • God is still in charge
  • God will give you peace if you call on Him
  • God will give you all you need if you put Him first
  • God will use you more in a time of crisis than in a time of calm

Anyone can have “sunny day” faith, but it doesn’t hold in difficult times. Throughout the ages, it has been during times of crisis that Christianity and God’s people have had the most impact.

You can live your life by the latest report from the News Networks, which change on a daily basis, or you can live your life trusting in God’s unchanging Word and the God who is in control of it all.

Whatever you do, fill your mind MORE with the WORD OF GOD than you do with the DAILY NEWS.

Let God's Word reframe your view of the world. The best is yet to come.

How to Teach Doctrine

Is doctrine important? You bet it is. Doctrine is a collection of beliefs, or a body of teachings that identifies Christianity’s belief system. Doctrine keeps the church on the straight and narrow way. Knowing doctrine helps us to easily identify false doctrine.

Biblical doctrine should be taught.

Man-made doctrine is evil.

Some examples of Biblical doctrine:
The Trinity.... The Virgin Birth.... Fall of Man & Sin.... Deity of Jesus Christ... Salvation.... Judgment of God... The Holy Spirit.... Sanctification...And a whole lot more.

We teach Biblical doctrine all the time. We teach it in our Sunday services, small groups, in our teen and children’s classes, and every other teaching venue we have. That’s why PCC is so well-grounded in God’s Word and our people are not easily deceived by the sleight of men.

When we teach doctrine, we keep it interesting. Here’s how:

1. Doctrine should be in a relational manner. One of the big mistakes some Bible teachers make is presenting doctrine as only a proposition or a statement. That gets boring pretty quick and is always very dry. Rather we should understand that all doctrine originates from God, who loves every person, and that is relational.

2. Doctrine should be taught as a narrative. We often present doctrine as an abstract statement that exists outside of time and history. But doctrine comes from good theology which is the re-telling of the story God's search for man. Plenty of stories abound in God’s Word that illustrate doctrinal truths. Teach doctrine in a narrative format (the telling of a story) and people will be captivated – plus they learn better. This is how Jesus taught.

3. Doctrine should be interesting. When you present sound doctrine based on a theology that is relational and narrative people will engage. It is inexcusable to make the Bible boring. When Bible teachers/preachers make the Bible boring, the unlearned believe God is boring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

4. Doctrine makes for great discussion. You ought to be a fly on the wall in some of our small groups. The discussions are great. Additionally, our teenagers have been systematically going through the books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel this year, chapter by chapter. They talk, are engaged, retain truths, and enter eagerly into the discussion. Yet, they are learning doctrine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Memo

Yesterday was a solid day.

We had a couple of bumpy places in our transitions, but we glided right over and never missed a beat.

Attendance was good yesterday – 445. That’s a good attendance considering we had about 13 families out.

A lot of people said they were inspired and provoked to deep thinking after hearing the morning message, “Playing it Safe or Taking a Risk.” I’m glad it had that effect, because I struggled a little bit in the first service – I was distracted. Nailed it in the second service.

The Sunday morning children’s ministry and teen ministry are really growing. New teachers to the team are a great asset.

The Wednesday night children’s ministry and teen ministry are growing too and the kids/teens are going deeper in the Word. It is amazing to see the learning that is occurring in these young people.

After church yesterday, Rick H. hosted a youth-workers lunch at his home. Very nice. Must have been around 30 people there (i.e., the workers, their spouses and families). He served beef brisket. Good fellowship, hang-time, and great food. This appreciation event was a good idea.

Seminar 201 was last night, and it was one of the best we’ve ever had. Almost 50 people took the seminar and of those, almost all signed and turned in the maturity covenant card on the spot! Amazing. By signing this card they were making a commitment to the five basic habits of a disciple, which are – Spending time in God’s Word… Developing an active prayer-life…. Learning to adore God through worship… Tithing… and Committing to fellowship.

The volunteer support team that helped me last night was, without a doubt, first-class. There were about 10-12 people on this team who set-up and decorated the tables, prepared a giant meal (of chili, salad, side items, deserts, coffee, tea, sodas, etc), served the meal, provided child-care, and “worked the room” during the breaks by engaging everyone in friendly conversation. You people are champions.

I must say, the last year has been perhaps the best season in our Discovery Seminar history. The people who have been taking these classes are excited, enthusiastic, and eager to learn more. They are happy with their church and want to deepen their involvement. What’s not to like about that?

This Saturday is Men’s’ Breakfast. I think it’s 9:00 AM. Will have to check the bulletin to be sure. Tell your old man to get up and come… and bring the son along too.

Next Sunday morning is Communion. It’s going to be deep and heartfelt. Be there.

We also begin the new series “Signs of Life” next Sunday. Actually, it will be the introduction to the series. What’s it all about? The “Signs of Life” series will be combined with a special Christmas offering that we will receive in order to underwrite some our ministry initiatives for 2009. This will be an opportunity for you to designate your offering to a specific area. More details about this later in the week. This is really going to be a God-thing.

At PCC, our hearts are pure when it comes to making disciples. We want more people to find eternal life and be in a relationship with God. We want more people to attend our Sunday service. We want more people to attend our classes. We want to see more people active in small groups. We want more students to show up. Just so you know, I happen to be in the camp that believes that more is better when it comes to people hearing the message.

Jesus said, “Go… and make disciples.” That’s what we do.

I do my best to keep my nose out of other church’s business, but honestly I can’t believe how poorly some are being operated.

We had two new musicians on stage yesterday. Did you notice them? They both did an excellent job. BTW, one of them was a student from the teen ministry.

Yesterday I talked so much that by the time I got home late last night, I was sick of listening to myself. Two sermons and a four-hour seminar later…. I told myself to stop talking – I’ve heard enough already! Plus, my throat was RAW. It still is. I guess I won’t be doing much talking today. This will make Renae happy.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Five

  • It’s Friday morning and I’ve already put in 50 hours this week. Think I’ll knock off a bit early today.
  • The new James Bond movie opens today. Can’t wait to see it.
  • Visited another small group last night. Glad I did. Enjoyed the hang-time with everyone.
  • Still have a few more to go.
  • I’ve got computer issues. It will probably take about 2-3 days to resolve.

The Kind of Pastor (and churches) I Would Avoid

I am a pastor, and have been most of my life. I love the calling. It’s a privilege and honor to serve in this capacity. The office is a special one. Personally, there’s no greater honor when I hear someone say, “This is my pastor.”

Pastors are good people. They are highly trained, dedicated, and live sacrificial lives. They are constantly growing, giving, and laying down their lives. There are more good pastors than there are bad ones. In fact, I have met only a few in my lifetime that I would consider to be off their rocker.

Surveys reveal that one of the issues that rates highest in influencing which church people will choose to attend is the pastor. What is he like? What does he believe? What is his doctrine? What is his personality like? Do I like the guy? Etc.

Like it or not, great churches usually have great pastors - not committees.

Having said that, here are 4 kinds of pastors I would avoid:

1. I would avoid any pastor who tells me who to marry. That is way too much intrusion into your life. No “good” pastor wants to make that decision for you. They want to help you get married well so that you can have a long, happy life; and they will guide you by the scriptures.

2. I would avoid any pastor who tells me what my standard of living is supposed to be. It’s not a pastors job to tell you what kind of house you are supposed to live in, and what kind of lifestyle you can afford. However, it is the pastors’ job to teach you the Scriptures and what they say about managing finances.

3. I would avoid a pastor who is mean. Mean preaching fills churches up with mean people.

4. I would avoid a pastor who has a new revelation or special insight. There are some preachers & teachers who exude this aura that they have the inside scoop to God, while they rest of us do not…. and we need THEM to give it to us. They lead you to believe that their train of thought is a cut above the pew level. It could be a certain doctrine, a theology, or a prophecy. Such people are dangerous. They are pinheads. You should avoid them like the plague. Whatever God wants you to know is plainly written in the scriptures, and “even a wayfaring man, though he were a fool, will not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8).

5. I would avoid a pastor who has a long list of dos and don’ts. No amount of moralistic ranking and raving makes a person a Christian or changes ones heart. It’s about seeking truth, and true seekers ultimately find The One Who IS Truth. Jesus said, “I am way, the truth, and the life.” When I seek truth, I find Christ. When I find Christ, He changes my heart. When my heart is changed my behavior changes. Don’t allow another person to conform you into a disciple made in his own image – his personal convictions are not to become yours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do More Outreach

This week we started filming testimonies, and receiving them via email, in preparation for our Signs of Life series. Listening to these stories has moved me deeply.

This reminds me and confirms that we must do more outreach and never slack up. Why? Because the focus is never about the person who left - it's about the person who is not in our church yet or who just arrived. The more time I spend obsessing, the less time I have for the new people who can't wait to be part of our vision and our church. Meeting two or three new people who are excited to begin a journey of faith makes up for a lot of pain. It's even better when they bring a fresh perspective to the table of what God can do in our church. It's downright encouraging!

What to Do in Times Like These

1. BECOME MORE GENEROUS, NOT STINGIER. Most people think the way to wealth is to spend less and save more. That’s true and very sound advice. But it's only part of the picture. If you want God to bless your financial situation, then you need to become a generous person. The Bible says that God LOVES a cheerful giver. Jesus Himself said that our finances were connected to our heart. Paul challenged us to excel in the grace of giving.

I know a lot of people that are struggling with their finances… and yet they do not tithe. Surprise! In contrast, those who tithe never wind up in financial trouble. Why is that? First of all, God blesses their faithfulness; a guarantee of Malachi chapter 3. Secondly, those who tithe (10%) are exercising financial discipline and are better stewards of their resources.

Generosity a faith issue, not a financial issue.

2. GET MORE INVOLVED IN CHURCH, NOT LESS. If God’s people stepped up and shouldered their God-given responsibility, then we would take care of people, provide clean water to parched lands, feed people who needed food, and so much more. But the biggest need is to help people find salvation through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus left planet Earth, He left behind the church and commissioned us all to go and make disciples. That’s our mission. It’s not making money so we can have a full barn. It’s spreading the gospel. You need to leverage your time, energy and talents in the Kingdom of God to make a Kingdom difference. That’s storing up treasures in heaven, where moth, rust and the stock market can’t take away!

3. STOP EXPECTING SOMEONE ELSE TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLMES. It troubles me to encounter so many people who believe the government should provide for all their needs. I’m all for social justice, but it’s not the job of the government to take care of every want and need in your life. The Constitution of the United States guarantees you the pursuit of happiness in our free society…. but nowhere does it promise you happiness provided by the government. To pursue happiness means you have to get out there and earn your own living, work hard, and enjoy the fruit of your labor – not someone else’s.

Instead of relying upon entitlements, go back to school, learn some new skills, work overtime, take a second job, start your own business, and get off your blessed assurance.

4. GET SERIOUS ABOUT GOD. Read your Bible everyday in a quiet place. Start a journal to write down your thoughts and reflections. Become a deep thinker. Join a Bible study group to hear the perspective and insights of others on the Christian life. Talk to God. More importantly, listen to Him. Practice His presence. See Him as your constant companion. Grow in knowledge and faith. Become deeply spiritual.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guest Blogger - Renae Christian

Goodbye Daniel & Paige Quesada

I would like to introduce you to Daniel & Paige Quesada, and son Armando. Daniel, who is a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and his wife Paige first began attending PCC in October 2006, and by Christmas of that year had decided to make Pace Community Church their church home.

I had the distinct privilege of getting to know this couple well in the Fall of 2007 when they began small-grouping in my home (along with 26 other people – talk about a FULL HOUSE!). They had signed up for the small group I was facilitating called IGNITE. Those in that group made a journey together to explore what our lives would look like if we TRULY believed that God was in control of our lives and that He was working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). We were seeking for our faith to be IGNITED in such a way that it could never be snuffed out. Thus began a spiritual journey for Daniel & Paige that would dramatically change their lives.

Through the discipleship offered in that small group, Daniel & Paige discovered what authentic Christianity was all about – it was NOT about man-made rules, it was about a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with Christ. They made a journey that led them closer to God, and they became willing to be obedient to His Word in areas of their lives which they had not yet completely surrendered to God. They sought wisdom for clarity on things they did not completely understand, were lovingly lead by their group & this small-group leader to the Word of God to find the truth, and began to make decisions aligning their lives with those
truths, thus putting themselves in God’s favor.

They will tell you that their lives began to change in ways they had not expected. God’s blessings began to be poured out on them in countless ways. By the spring of 2008 they were maturing in their Christian faith & actually hosted a small group in their home, leading others on a journey toward authentic Christianity. This semester, Fall 2008, they again grouped with me. I can not begin to adequately convey what a JOY it has been to see them advancing in their faith. In this new small group they yielded yet another area of their lives to Christ, and found the power of God ADEQUATE to break strongholds & empower them to live FREE.

Now this precious couple is leaving us. Daniel has new orders – to go to California & fly Cobra helicopters. We will miss them so very much, but are SO HAPPY that we are sending them off to their new location as maturing believers, Christians who have set their home in order & who have had their lives turned RIGHT-SIDE UP while here at PCC. Daniel & Paige, you have been a JOY to group with. Your contagious smiles & warm hearts have been bright spots in ministry for me & for your Pastor these last 2 years. You guys came to us as “un-churched Sam & Pam”, and you depart from us as Christians mature in your faith and with much promise for continuing to advance the kingdom of God in your new location. YOU are a PCC success story, and it has been a joy to have made this journey with you. We love you & will miss you in a HUGE way.


Renae Christian
What a JOY it was to be your Small Group Leader!

Stop Grieving & Be On Your Way

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV) The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

No doubt it broke Samuel’s heart to realize that Saul’s reign as king was coming to an end, even though it was for the best. When God brings a season to an end, or even a relationship to an end in our lives, it can be painful - even if it’s for the best.

If God is currently bringing something to an end in your life, your church, or your business, consider what God said to Samuel: Fill your horn with oil and be on your way. Move on. Quit lamenting the past. Receive a fresh anointing and continue making progress.
  • You lost a staff member? Learn from it, grow, and be on your way.
  • You lost your job? Adjust the family budget, draw near to God, overhaul your outlook and be on your way.
  • A relationship came to an end? Maybe he/she just wasn’t worthy of you…delete their phone number off your cell and be on your way.
  • A friend of yours left church? Make a new friend and be on your way.

The oil of God’s anointing flows freely to those who make a conscious decision to stop mourning over what God has rejected. So fill up, and get moving.

There are some things in your life that have came to an end by the providence of God. Recognize it & accept it.

Be on your way today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Musings

  • Yesterday was a good day.

  • Gene Tharp, Associate Pastor & Church Administrator, preached Sunday. He did an excellent job, teaching from Revelation chapter 4, talking about our dedication to God.

  • About four people committed to Christ.

  • Gene’s preaching was an enormous help to me… I needed the break just to get my head above water. It is taxing to give, and give, and give all the time, w/o ever taking a break. Several people told me they thought he did an awesome job.

  • I enjoyed hanging out in the atrium today. Talked to lots of people.

  • The music was very good yesterday.

  • I understand there is some frustration in a church down the road from us….

  • James Bond is coming out this Friday. Can’t wait. Jack Bauer (i.e., 24) is coming back to television in two weeks. Jack is going to save the world again…. perhaps this time from our “untested” President.

  • Cathy Denny has a good post on her blog about the Children’s Ministry. You can see it here. BTW, she regularly posts good devotionals that are worth your time to read. Give her site a visit…. just click her link on the left sidebar of my blog.

  • If you are not absolutely passionate about your role at PCC, please step down today. Someone else who is passionate can take your place.

  • I believe the work we are doing is critical to the lives (and eternal destinies) of thousands of people. There is a certain “urgency” associated with the work of the ministry that requires a team (and every individual on that team) to be fully engaged. We cannot afford to empower people who wish they were someplace else doing something different. You can go to work at McDonalds and flip hamburgers if that is your ambition – but if you serve at PCC we are going to require more out of you than that.

  • I have stepped up my workout routine in a major way. Pretty soon I’ll be singing, “Can’t touch this.”

  • One of our goals for 2009 is to directly penetrate 20,000 homes with a message of hope from our church….. at least two times! More of this will be revealed in the SIGNS OF LIFE series coming in two/three weeks.

  • I will never apologize for being pro-life. The Bible instructs us to be a voice for those who have no voice, and to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Abortion is wrong… in spite of what Whoopee Goldberg and the Supreme Court has to say about it. The ONLY opinion that matters to me is God’s.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Future is in the New

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV) Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.


At least nine times the Bible says sing a new song to the Lord. God gives us the new covenant, the new birth, a new name, the new man, new wine, a new heart, a new spirit, a new creation, a new commandment, and new tongues. Eventually He will create a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem. Wow! That’s a lot of new stuff!

In Isaiah 43:19 (above) God declared He is doing a new thing…. and when it happens there will be some people who will not even recognize it…. “do you not perceive it?” That is, they are so locked into “the way it has always been,” that they do not recognize what God is doing NOW.


New churches, news classes, and new groups always do better, grow faster, and are more effective than old ones. Older established churches have a tendency to get set in their ways and resist change. Established classes plateau and can't break through. Established groups become impenetrable to outsiders. That’s why RENEWAL is always essential. New is always fresher and more effective than old.

At PCC, every member needs to experience personal renewal to restore our spiritual vitality. We need corporate renewal so that it might affect the entire church body. And we need organizational renewal so that our church systems stay lean and are able to respond quickly to change.

For the last year PCC has been going through renewal. It has been totally a God-thing. God always “purges His floor” before a new wind of the Holy Spirit blows. Death always comes before life. The seed must fall into the ground and die, before new life springs forth. For us, it has been out with the old and in with the new.

In a staff meeting earlier this year I shared with the team that I felt deep down that God was preparing us for something BIG, something NEW. And God has been doing some stuff…. mostly performing spiritual surgery on us with His “two edged sword” which is the Word of God. Surgery is painful, but it has given us a new heart.

On the human side, we’ve been preparing ourselves for God’s move, so that we might be “in position” and able to “perceive” this new thing. We’ve changed staff, changed some staff roles, developed new leaders, launched new groups, started some new ministry teams, recruited new volunteers, and even tested the waters on some new ministry ideas. All of these endeavors have helped strengthen our faith to prepare us for 2009.


We’re not looking back, but forward. Next year will be a year of spiritual breakthrough…. Our spiritual “content” will go off-the-chart and we will experience a move of God in our midst unlike anything we have experienced thus far.

Beginning the week of Thanksgiving we will start a new series entitled, “SIGNS OF LIFE,” which will continue through the month of December. In this series we will be able to show you much of what God has done in our midst in 2008. This in turn, will give a vision of what God is going to do in 2009.

God is about to shake things up!

I would love to outline everything right here, but this post is already getting too long. But for now, would you join me in prayer about the future of PCC and what God is going to do?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jesus in a Picture Frame

“…. I will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

Is God real to you, a living One near at hand? Or is He more like a picture on the wall, a motto, a doctrine, a theology, something wonderful to look at, but still in a frame?

Is Jesus in a picture frame – lovely and wonderful to think about – but He stays up there on the wall? Is He real to you?

In the above verse He said He would come out of the picture frame. Open your Bible and read the verse in its entirety. In it Jesus says those who obey Him prove their love by their obedience… and to THOSE PEOPLE He will come and manifest (reveal) Himself.

You trust and pray, but have you obeyed? When you do, He will come out of the picture frame and make Himself real.

How Should a Church Respond to Culture?

This is a debate that affects a lot of churches. There are two extreme positions on this question – imitation and isolation.

Those in the “imitation” camp believe that the church must become just like our culture in order to effectively minister to it. Churches in this group sacrifice the Biblical message and the mission of the church in order to blend in with society’s culture. They get caught up in fads and fashion. In an effort to relate to today’s culture they compromise the message and lose all sense of being separate. They are likely to endorse worldly values such as wealth, materialism, radical feminism, relaxed sexual standards, and even homosexuality. They might also sacrifice sound theology, doctrinal distinctives, and especially the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the other extreme is the “isolation” camp. This group retreats into isolation from today’s culture. While most do not go back as far as the Amish have, many churches seem to think that the 1950s was the golden era, and are determined to preserves that era in their church. This group insists that we must avoid any adaptation to culture in order to preserve the purity of the church. They fail to see the distinction between the sinful values of society and the non-sinful customs and styles of culture. They reject new translations of the Bible, current musical styles, and any attempt to modify their man-made traditions. Isolationists often have a dress code, and a list of what is permissible and what isn’t regarding issues that the Bible is silent on. They will erect theological walls to defend their personal preferences.

Our approach at PCC is infiltration. We go "into" the world, but we are not "of" the world. We are serious about doing ministry, not just theorizing about it. Therefore, we are willing to live with the tension of an “ambidextrous calling” (i.e., both left & right handed). On one hand we have to remain faithful to God’s unchanging Word. On the other hand we must minister that Word in an ever-changing world.

There is a way to minister in our culture without compromising God’s Word. The solution is to simply follow the example of Jesus Christ. He never lowered the standards, but He always started with people where they were. He was contemporary without compromising the truth.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Thoughts on the Presidential Election

Okay, I’m coming out of the closet on this. As you know I have made very little mention of the presidential campaign and the candidates. The reason is simple – God has called me to minister to His people, and His people come in all forms of political persuasions. I have to minister to people on both sides of the isle. As a pastor, I represent a Gospel Community of God-called, God-ordained ministers of the gospel and that identifying mark about me must remain crystal clear to the people I am seeking to reach or lead into a fuller knowledge of God.

Having said that, there are a few observations I want to share with you now that the election is over:

1. Barack Obama is our president-elect. As such, he deserves the prayer, support, and respect due to anyone who fills that office. Paul commands us to honor and serve our rulers as the ministers of God (so far, of course, as conscience allows) Speaking slanderous of them is an offense against God and a bad testimony to the Name of Christ. (1 Peter 2; Romans 13). Barack Obama is our next president and should have our prayer and respectful support. No matter where you stood on Election Day, TODAY everything has changed. No bad mouthing, no slandering; just clean hands and a pure heart.

2. Abortion “on demand” is still legal, and will probably remain so under Barack Obama’s Presidency. I have a problem with this. The horror of abortion is unrecognized by most Americans. It is the unmitigated killing of the weakest among us, and a worse scourge on our country than anything else in our history. More than 48 million babies have been intentionally terminated and disposed of since Roe v. Wade in 1973. God still “hates hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16-17), and if blood cries out from the ground for justice, there is a thunder in the ears of God that He will judge our nation for. I am troubled by Obama’s stand on this issue; until now he has been the most pro-choice member of Congress & the most pro-choice candidate ever to run for President. My hope is he will have a change of heart on this matter.

3. Always remember that our citizenship as Christians is not just in the United States, but in heaven. Our hope and highest loyalties ultimately rest there. The work God has given us (the spread of the gospel) is not dependent upon who is in office. It depends on the God of heaven who is in control of the nations. I love our country, but I care a lot more about the spread of the gospel, seeing sinners saved and believers grow. Government cannot save you, only God can.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Driving Away the Fowls

And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away
(Genesis 15:11)

God instructed Abram to offer a sacrifice, which he did. But once the animal was slain and placed upon the altar, buzzards came. Not visions, not revelations, or blessings – but buzzards!

Did you think Christianity would be easy for you just because you sacrificed to God? Did you expect something wonderful to swoop down and take over? Always remember - somebody or something is always there to steal your offering of dedication to God.

Drive them off. Stay by the altar. Even though it’s a struggle to do so, fight for what’s right.

You can’t stop vultures from hovering overhead, but you can prevent them from landing.

Ministry in a Changing World

Charles Hadden Spurgeon
was a great Baptist preacher in the 1800’s. He pastored one church for thirty-eight years.

When he first arrived at this church (it was called “Park Street Church”) he was only 19 years old. The church had a seating capacity of 1500, but only 200 or less were attending.

Under his leadership the church began to grow. Nine years later he built a new sanctuary, gave it a new name (Metropolitan Tabernacle), established a school for pastors; and a business was started to print evangelistic booklets. Attendance grew to over 6000 and the church had 14,000 members!

Clearly, this was one of the most prominent churches in the 1800’s – even by today’s standards.

But in 1972, seventy-five years after Charles Spurgeon had retired, a group of pastors visited this same church and they counted ONLY 87 people in the morning worship service.

What happened? To put it bluntly, the Metropolitan Tabernacle simply had not changed with the times. London had changed. The community had changed. People had changed. But the church’s approach to ministry had not changed. As a result, the church was no longer effective in reaching people for Christ . . . and a once great work was now only a hollow shell of what it had been.

This explains why churches today can sit on a major highway with thousands of cars passing by each day, and be virtually ignored by the community. They are locked-in to yesterday’s methods in today’s world. And it has nothing to do with “remaining faithful” to Biblical orthodoxy. It has everything to do with being stubborn and not willing to change!

Let me be clear….
  • Christ didn’t die for the King James Bible
  • Christ didn’t die to keep drums off the stage
  • Christ didn’t die for Sunday night church services
  • Christ didn’t die for Sunday School
  • Christ didn’t die for man-made dress codes
So why do churches keep dying for these things?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Backside of the Desert

It is on the backside of the desert that we come to the mountain of God – on the backside of self, ambition, and worldly pursuits is where we really meet God.

When Moses first took upon himself to deliver the Hebrews from slavery, he attempted to do it his own way (Exodus 2:12) and actually murdered a man. But when God has HIS way in Moses’ life, He sent him to the backside of the desert.

Moses had some lessons to learn.

What a demotion it must have been for Moses. He started out in the courts of Pharaoh, but now is in Midian, on the backside of a desert herding another man's sheep – not even his own, but his father's in-law. He carried in his hand a shepherd’s rod, a fit symbol of humiliation. And God demanded that EVEN THIS be THROWN TO THE GROUND (Exodus 4:3). But when Moses took it up again it was called the “ROD OF GOD” (4:20).

Oh, the works of transformation God can bring about in our lives if we will let Him lead us to desert places.

If God has brought you to the backside of a desert, and you are being reduced down to a shepherds rod, cast even that at Jesus’ feet. God will restore it back to you in His power. With that you will be able to "endure, having seen Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).

Should Church be Fun?

Absolutely! Church should be fun! No doubt about it. No, I don’t mean shallow, silly, or unscriptural. But it should be enjoyable, edifying, uplifting, and encouraging. Joy and laughter are permitted too. There is no text in the entire Bible that states church services (or the pursuit of God) have to be somber all the time.

The Pharisees had a theology that stated – if you are happy, you cannot be holy. To them, spirituality meant being strict, legalistic, and pious.

Sadly, many churches are discouraging.

I read an article once that stated 70% of Americans who attend church on Sunday morning, leave church FEELING WORSE than they did when they arrived! Why? Because the sermon was boring, mean, or condemning. It was too academic. Too somber. Or because the church members were unfriendly. This is NOT a good testimony.

Fortunately, this does not describe Pace Community Church.

A while back I was listening to a man preach. He said, “If I get to the end of my sermon and you are still taking notes & enjoying yourself, then I have failed.” Say what? Where did that philosophy come from? Whose books has this guy been reading anyway? To him, grinding people down in condemnation equaled success. I suppose encouragement and edification have no place in the church either. What a suffocating ministry - it just squeezes the very life right out of you! Dark clouds of gloom hovering overhead. There's too much condemnation. It’s a burden too heavy for people to bear.

People always vote with their feet.

In the Bible, people left the Pharisees and followed Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was a teacher of “good news.”

There’s a lot more to Christianity than simply “teaching truth.” It must be tempered with grace, encouragement, and hope.

"The kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and JOY in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).

The High Cost of Legalism

What is legalism? It’s trying to spiritually perfect yourself through man-made rules, traditions, or special revelations.

One of the tragedies of legalism is that it gives the appearance of spiritual maturity, when in reality, it leads the believer back into a second childhood in the Christian life.

Let me explain: Before we get saved, we were children of bondage – bound by sin and elements of the world. After we experience salvation, we became children of God and are set free from sin. But when we try to perfect ourselves (or our salvation) through legalism, instead going deeper, we actually go backwards, into bondage again. But now it is a religious bondage.

You want to know why some churches can never grow? It’s because when some poor sinner accidentally happens to show up to their church, instead of pointing them towards the Cross of Jesus Christ and Christian liberty, they point the poor soul to some GOOFY RULES that won’t help or save the sinner anyway!

A man wrote me a letter a while back. He said he was, quote, “hungering for deeper meat”, unquote, and that he now found a another belief system that would lead him to that deeper place. (BTW, is “hungering” even a real word?). At any rate, he found what he was looking for and is now under the heavy wooden yoke of religious bondage. Church is a drudgery for him. There’s no joy left, and his family doesn’t like all the new rules and dress codes they have to abide by. Instead of going deeper, they have entered a second childhood. They have all turned into cookie-cutter Christians. This novice believer became beguiled from the simplicity of the gosel and went off the deep end.

This was the very reason Paul wrote the book of Galatians. He said, “YOU FOOLS! You have left the simplicity of Christ and thought you could perfect yourselves by some other means. You have been BEWITCHED. Are you SO FOOLISH?” (Galatians 1:6; 3:1,3). The Galatians believers had become fascinated by the arguments of some false teachers and Paul compared it to falling under a spell.

Church legalists will try to convince you that something is MISSING in your Christian life. Not only that, they will try to convince you that THEY are the ones who can fill in the missing pieces. They are the self-appointed ones. Ignore those people. They will lead you back into a second childhood.... of bondage.

You did run well; who did hinder you….? Galatians 5:7

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Morning Recap

Yesterday was a good solid day. Attendance was up, giving was strong, all our Sunday morning ministries ran smoothly, and the weather was great. It was a good day to be in church. It felt like we were in a groove.

Sunday’s message – “Sinning Against Light” – We looked at Abner from the Old Testament. I think the scales fell off our eyes concerning a few things.

The music sounded good… and it felt good.

I think the best days of PCC are ahead of us. Perhaps, just around the corner.

It’s neat to see how long people hang out after church services are over.

We have seen God move in a lot of lives the past couple of weeks. It amazes me the things God is doing.

Our Youth ministry and Children’s ministry is off-the-chart right now. They have gone to a whole-nutha-level.

Yesterday, a teenage boy WALKED to church. An unchurched teenager. He started attending the Wednesday night youth group, and has gotten so well connected there that he decided to come Sunday. He got out of bed by himself, dressed himself, and walked himself to church…. without his parents help or any transportation. He walked about two miles. God is doing stuff when you see things like this happening. What would cause a teenager to do this?

Our small groups are working like a well-oiled machine. People are going deep in the Word, deep in the discussion time, and deep in their relationships with each other.

I’m visiting different small groups each week, and hope to visit the majority of them before the semester is over. Dropped in to a ladies group last week, and it was a lot of fun.

Another small group had a pretty intense conversation last week about “judging others.”

A certain lady in our church was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday. I went to visit her on Wednesday. By the time I arrived, she had already been visited by four members from her small group! How great is that? Do you know what that is? That is the mutual ministry of the body to itself. This is how the church is supposed to work.

I am especially pleased to see the long-term friendships that are being formed in our small groups ministry – these friendships continue long after the semester has ended. My instincts tell me this is how it is supposed to be.

I was made for this.

Our current small group leaders are real champions – simply the best. They are humble, gifted, loyal, teachable, and most importantly, being used by God.

The holidays (November and December) are going to be very enjoyable this year at PCC. We’ve got a new series planned (that is going to knock your socks off), a men’s breakfast, communion service, fellowship parties, and the works!

Have you noticed how many NEW PEOPLE attend PCC? Wow!

Finally, I will be posting A LOT of entries on my blog this week - sometimes more than one a day. Check back often.