Essay: The Beauty of a Falling Empire

Essay: The Beauty of a Falling Empire

This Empire will fall. All do and will. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.  There is a beauty of a falling empire.

So, what are you afraid of? A beheading or losing 70% of your savings in a fortnight?  I venture the former is less stressful than the latter. Your days are numbered.  The holocaust has peaked. You murdered your future.

There is a point of no return and your ship called ‘Folly’ has passed it. You are adrift.

I am encouraged by your predicament because people are going to finally realize what matters in life as first world comforts are stripped away like a winter wind removes the last leaves of autumn.  The entitlements vanish and we face the reality of life together.

Arm chair atheists and classroom relativists will find themselves searching for ultimate truth and meaning in reality as the prosperity preachers abandon their pulpits destined for the threshing floor.   The free ride is over and as you exit the train, you’ll find out what you owe. Your wealth, power and status were illusions. You are beyond bankrupt. Control is an illusion.

The bar is closed, your dealer won’t answer your call and there are no vacancies in any hotel in town.  The jester at the club gave you directions to a bogus after-party. The streets are empty.  As the snow falls and chill sets in, you arrive at the destination of everything you thought was important to find it meaningless. Everything you thought  was meaningless is held in honor.

The homeless man you ignored every day going to your office is at home with his family sitting by a fire and pondering his royal position. As you sink into the sands of a fallen empire, you ask the blind beggar on the corner, “Do you have any good news?” She replies, “I told you of the better country just over the horizon and you called me a fool.  You mocked me because I am blind yet I see and I live without a home.”

As you search for answers, your Ivy League knowledge leads you to dead end streets with names like ‘Arrogance’ and ‘Futility’.  There are no doors on any of the homes and the laughter of madmen loom from the shadows at night. Where is your friend, your brother?  Even the prostitute on Wall Street has gone to an upper room where she has been adopted like a little child.

A cold wind blows and your eyes water. Your teeth grind.

You once saw a brilliant sunrise painted in the sky as a child and you knew then who painted it. It was warm, remember?  It was perfect and beautiful.  It was given to you to have and hold forever. But you decided to paint your own version and put it on display in your temple. You loved it more than the real thing. Even as your temple fell, you stared at it.  Even as it burned, you believed it was there. Over a pile of ashes blown by the wind you stare into the darkness looking for the sunrise you painted for yourself. It was an illusion you admired.

“Do you have any good news?” you say.
“Why, yes I do indeed.  But, it’s foolishness to you.” Replies the blind woman.
“Who are you?” you say.
“I am Wisdom.” she says. “You have have been walking around with your eyes shut as if blind.  You loved darkness so, it was suited to you and formed for you.  It’s devoid of light, glory and power.”
“Can I leave here?” you implore.
Wisdom responds, “Actually, you want to be here don’t you?  This is where your path led. You chose it for yourself.  The poor leper is cleansed in the place of honor and your loving father is waiting with open arms. Do you want directions?”

A day in the life of a Local Outreach Pastor

A day in the life of a Local Outreach Pastor

May 15th will be the one year mark for me and my adventure in full time ministry. Yes, I am a Pastor, which is the last thing I thought I’d be at 40 years old. That is the beautiful thing about life. It is an adventure! When God calls, we can hang up, hang out or step onto the ocean and walk by faith, listening to God’s voice.

The #1 Question I get: “What is it like being the Local Outreach Pastor at Christ Chapel?”
Well, its a lot like surfing. Every morning I grab my surf board and paddle out into the waves not exactly knowing what to expect. Sometimes, I catch a wave and ride all the way into the beach. Other times, I take a tumble and get rolled by a few waves. Everyday is different. Everyday is a chance to take an adventure. I wake up and jump into the water! (more…)

God wants the best for your life

God wants the best for your life

I hear folks say, “God wants the best for your life” without telling you what ‘the best’ actually means. Many people have come to believe that “God’s best for your life” means material prosperity, happiness and comfort. This is a lie because it is unbiblical. There are a lot of ‘preachers’ who teach prosperity and comfort or if ‘you name it, claim it’. They are teaching rubbish and falsehood.

So what is ‘God’s best for your life’?

God’s sole purpose for your life (and mine) is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Salvation is stepping through the door to relationship and freedom. But, pursuing God with an all-consuming passion is completely different and requires abiding in Him. We must allow our will to be put under the bridle of the Holy Spirit, and we will be guided.  We ultimately become more and more like Jesus (conformed to his image).

Ready to be spiritually challenged?

“Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Ps 118:27)

Our relationship with God is rooted not in emotions but at the seat of our will (heart). When we yield our will to that of Jesus Christ, He will bring us through fire. That fire is a part of purification. Purification cannot be manufactured in the Flesh, it is a work of God (Holy Spirit). It is a deeper voyage into sanctification, being crushed and molded into Christlikeness. There is nothing ‘wimpy’ or ‘weak’ about the true Christian life. We are constantly being ‘poured out’ (2 Timothy 4:6).

‘The fullness of Christ’ (Eph 4:13) is experienced when we have ‘bound’ our will to ‘the altar’ and yield to the Spirit. Only then can we begin to experience the abundant Spiritual Life full of grace and true freedom in Christ.  God’s best for your life and mine is the process of becoming more like Jesus.

Are you willing to be bound with cords to the altar and go through the fire?

‘Be filled, abide and walk….’

Priorities – How I get things done

Priorities – How I get things done

As I have made the move from business to ministry in the last 10 months, I’ve found I battle three things. As Local Outreach Pastor (community outreach) at a growing church with 8000 visitors on any given Sunday, two campuses, thirty local ministries partners, hundreds of volunteers, large budgets, various events and personal ministry, things can get a little crazy. In fact, they can feel a bit chaotic and overwhelming. How do I (personally) get things done and stay on top of hundreds of moving parts?  How do I identify the most important priorities?

Well, I have a bunch of God‘s grace and an awesome team. I also have a tool that I’ve adapted from what I’ve learned from others and years of experience.

Are you looking for a better way of staying on top of things?

Know your enemy – Look in the mirror!
There are three things I battle. The first is procrastination. I am gifted at putting important tasks off by replacing them with non-important tasks or tasks I should not be doing. The second is being a slave to the urgent. Emergencies and urgent tasks happen in daily life. When they do, we have to stop what we are doing and engage in the urgent. Many times when I have procrastinated to do an important task, the task migrates into the urgent. The third is deception. This happens when I make an activity of low importance into high importance when that is not the case.

A few years ago, Dave Ramsey provided a helpful tool for establishing priorities. It contains quadrants of activity or tasks.

1. Important and Urgent: This is a crisis or emergency like your child is in the hospital.  This is also task where your immediate action is required or something will break.

2. Not Urgent but Important: This something that is important but not currently urgent like taking care of your body. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could potentially have a health crisis. This is where planning and cultivating relationships reside. This will also include personal growth and health-related activities. Spend your time in this area!

3. Urgent and Not Important: This is someone else’s crisis or activities that we mistake for having high importance and urgency. Responding to email as they hit your inbox lands here. This is something that seems really important but it can wait or be delegated. If there is a crisis, I will get a phone call (sometimes a text but I recommend a call). This is a danger zone as it interrupts important work.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important: There are activities like surfing Facebook or watching senseless videos on Youtube. Dave Ramsey includes gossip here as well.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Ps 90:12

Download a PDF of my Weekly Urgency Chart.

Enjoy the journey!

What I learned about materialism from car tires

What I learned about materialism from car tires

A few years ago, Kathryn and I owned a beautiful SUV. It was truly a work of precision German engineering. It was the top of the line of ‘top-of-the-line’ SUVs containing all the ‘bells and whistles’ one could possibly imagine in a fine motor car. It was stunning and impressive. The darn thing was expensive. The warranty expired and we learned that maintenance was darn expensive as well. The ‘special’ run-flat tires could not be rotated. They had to be replaced (usually two at a time). The tires alone cost $650 each and had to be replaced about every 10,000-12,000 miles. Do the math. That’s $2600 per year in tires! As a special bonus, we had the privilege of replacing a cracked wheel at the low-low cost of $900. In one year, we spent over $3500 on tires and wheels. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was beautiful, stunning and impressive?  You can learn something from car tires.

Materialism requires maintenance
Here’s the lesson that you should take away from my foolishness. If you place any of your personal self-worth on the stuff you buy, get ready to spin your wheels and work your arse off to maintain it. I don’t care if you have millions or billions, if you place your ANY of your self-worth on the stuff you can accumulate in life, you will live in a cycle of maintenance.  Take if from me, I’m a recovering materialist!

Everything we buy ends up in a trash heap somewhere. That expensive SUV we owned will eventually end up a rusted hunk of junk in a junk yard. That expensive home will eventually be torn down. All the stuff that we buy to impress others and/or make us feel better will eventually decay in some hole in the ground.

The material isn’t the problem, ‘Materialism’ is
Owning nice stuff is not the problem. The problem is when we tie our value to the stuff we own. When we love stuff and our capacity to attain more stuff more than we love God and people, we have exchanged that which is priceless for something with a price tag. Stuff can become an idol. Eventually, we run the risk of allowing that idol to rule over us and we eventually end up in bondage. The stuff owns us.

I’ve seen too many people end up with a pile of really expensive junk and massive bank accounts only to spend their last days completely alone in the pit of regret. They don’t even have anyone to share the regret with except those who they hire to maintain their stuff while they die alone.

You don’t have to get caught up in the nasty cycle of Materialism! Ponder this…

  • Order you life: Life is about relationships. Who would you trade all your stuff to save their life?
  • Motivation of the heart: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why’ before you buy?
  • Value: Do you attach personal value on things you buy? A little status, perhaps? Be honest.
  • Envy: When someone else buys something you desire to own, does it make you angry or bitter?
  • People: Who are the people you spend the most time with? Are they people who work for you?
  • Generosity: One cure for materialism is to give stuff away. Give something you love away (rinse and repeat)
  • Breaking the grip of Materialism: Read this post..
  • Cultivate Relationships: Seek time with God, family and friends.  This means reaping and sowing.  Do you invest in these three relationships? Are you generous with your time, talent and treasure?

What is true wealth?
“Add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.” -Pastor A. Rogers

Explore these passages.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” Mark 12:17

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22

Stop being a Punk in 8 steps

Stop being a Punk in 8 steps

I am a recovered punk.

So, I know one when I see one. A punk is a selfish adolescent boy living in a 25+ year old body who cares only about his interests. He pursues pleasure and instant gratification. If he seems nice, it was only a means to an end. The older the punk, the bigger the disaster the world must deal with.

Last Sunday, I had the privilege to hang out with abortion survivor, singer and speaker Gianna Jessen. This remarkable woman spoke four times at our church. I won’t go into her story here but I’ll put a link at the end of this post for you to find out more about her. She’s my wise little sister. Gianna challenged me and a couple thousand men to behave like the brave warriors we were created to be and reject the emasculation that plagues our culture. She had a special message to men, “Men, you are made for greatness!” In order to be great, you have to stop being a punk!

On behalf of all recovered punks everywhere, I am sorry. To those we mistreated and misled, particularly the women, I am sorry. We ‘should’ have been lifting you up and protecting you. We should NOT have given into passivity. We should have taken responsibility for our actions.

Now that I got that off my chest, I am happy to tell you I am years removed from my punk days. I may have my moments, but I know my wife, family and friends like the current version better than the old. So, I have some advice for my brothers today.

It’s time that men in this country stop being punks!

Why should you stop being a punk?

First off, because you are not a child and the world does not revolve around you (or me). Not only is a punk selfish and immature, he is a blight on society. A punk is a pimple on the ass of a generation and every generation has their fair share. Men, God did not create us to be punks. He created us in His image. We are to fight the good fight, defending women and children. We are to care for the weak and the needy. We are ordained accomplish big stuff and fight big battles. You can’t accomplish big stuff or win battles if you are a freakin’ punk.

How do you stop being a punk?

1. Admit that you are a punk and turn from your punkish ways.

2. Stop being freakin’ lame and passive. Tolerating every little nuanced proclivity in our culture to be seen as ‘cool’ by your lame friends is foolish and lame.

3. Take responsibility for your actions. If you screw up, own up to it and ask for forgiveness. Don’t do it again.

4. Stop using women. Be a one woman man. Stop worshiping porn idols.

5. Protect women, children and the weak. That means stand up against those who take advantage of them. Take a bullet or beating if you must.

6. Be chivalrous. Open any and every woman’s door. Start there and see if that improves your situation.

7. Clean up your language and your life. Stop behaving and talking like you are some kind of rapper. You are a punk and people think you are an idiot. (I’m not talking about the Ramones sort who played fantastic punk music).

8. Call your mom and apologize. She needs to hear it from you. She knows you are a punk and has been praying for you to stop being an idiot for years. Call her now.

In conclusion, the world needs us men to behave like real men not punks. In fact, the culture is crying out for it. When we take a stand for what is right, things will change.  Our relationships will grow and we will win back the respect we have lost over the last 40 years.

“Men, you are made for greatness!”

Learn more about Gianna Jessen here.
Watch her message here

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