Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Approaching the Miracle of Miracles Season

I know we've just finished Christmas and New Year's, but get ready! Easter is just around the corner! The Miracle of Miracles ... Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, is the celebration of all celebrations.

This year, it falls on Sunday, April 8. Really only 2 months away ... unbelievable, but true. Maybe it's all the years of pastoring, but already I am feeling the anticipation.

I am also sensing something quite different as we enter the season. I'll be talking about it in February. The traditional Church has always had a 40 day season of heart and life preparation approaching Easter, called "Lent".

Some will remember it from their days of Catholic catechism. (Not to worry, I'm not going over the edge here! My experience in Catholic school in 2nd or 3rd grade will always be sure of that!)

Sometimes, when it comes to older church traditions, those of us in the "contemporary" church movements/preferences can seem to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are some powerful things to be learned and received through the observance of seasons like this.

All in all, through these teachings, I'll be calling NewHeart toward a 40 day season of preparing for Easter. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Simi Valley makes the big time!

OK ... any 24 fans out there? Simi Valley hit the jackpot by being featured on tonight's episode of 24! Albeit, not for the best of reasons, as we happened to be the location of a business tied up in the terrorist act of a nuclear bomb that exploded last week in Valencia.

As a citizen, and as a member of the Simi Valley Police Department (I serve as 1 of 5 Chaplains), I take pride in our having been the Safest City in the nation about 7 of the last 10 years. Sure hope this doesn't bode badly against our standing!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Impressed and Humbled!

I am both impressed and humbled by our congregation! This morning, at both of the services, we walked through what I call some "family business".

Have you figured out that STUFF HAPPENS? Well, it does, and when it does, we have to sometimes deal with it. I have found that most churches aren't honest with the STUFF that HAPPENS, preferring to sweep it under the proverbial rug rather than be honest when we sin and blow it.

This was one of those days where we had to be honest. A young man who had been a student leader in our Youth Ministry, and whom we laid our hands on to send him to Bible College last August, confessed publicly this morning that over the Summer, he had engaged in a sexual relationship with his girlfriend. A couple weeks into his first semester, he found out she is pregnant.

We had talked about this day for some time with he and his parents, and the day finally came, though it wasn't long planned for. The Lord ordered the previous few days that it was just time to do it, so we did. I honestly didn't know how everyone would respond, but just knew we were to do it.

When we came to the point where he had confessed and asked for forgiveness of the congregation, I wasn't really expecting anyone to answer. I thought it a more rhetorical question. Well, the Church didn't!

One by one, people began to stand and proclaim their forgiveness of this young man. It was powerful as we prayed over he and his family. That was the 8:30 service.

For the 10:30, I didn't tell anyone what I observed. I thought I'd just wait and see, and sure enough, the exact same thing happened, and it was again, powerful.

I know people have, and knew they would have, all kinds of thoughts about what we were doing and how we went about it. And they did. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that, in reality, the Church is meant to be the reflection of what and who the Kingdom of God is. And today, it happened.

This young man, repentant of his ways (believe me, I've spent enough time with him to know he is ... and not just because he "got caught"), was embraced with a firm and loving acceptance, not for his sin, but for what Jesus did for his sin.

One of those things that words will never express ....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Great Word for our Men!

Spent this morning at our Men's Breakfast. It's been a long time since we've had a men's event. Thanks to Dan Behr, Jim Jackson, Charles Southcott and Ray Tschaeche for making it happen so well. And to Sean Smith, Joe May and Charles Southcott for some rocking good worship. There's just something different about a bunch of men signing their hearts out to Jesus!

It was a highlight to hear the message from Bob Penberthy, a personal friend and past co-worker. Today, Bob is the Pastor of NewLife Christian Center, the Foursquare Church in Upland. Bob and his wife, Lisa, have been faithfully leading that church for about 5 years through many past challenges. How's this for a challenge? Having no Sanctuary building because it was torn down IN HOPES that the insurance company WOULD HAVE wanted it re-built after the earthquake damage? Yeah, you read me right ... nobody gave the Pastor who tore it down permission to go ahead and do it! YIKES!!

Anyway, Bob was our Associate Pastor back in 1999-2000. I love this guy! His word was powerful this morning. He talked about what courage requires, challenging our men to be willing to do what it takes to build a ministry of men reaching men. It was powerful!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

EHS Group starts

Just started a new Emotionally Healthy Spirituality small group this morning. I am privileged to have been asked to lead this group that comprises the team of people that work at our Foursquare Pacific Arc (Administrative Resource Center), which is located in La Crescenta - about 45 minutes east of Simi Valley.

There are 3 "ARC"s - Pacific, Central (Colorado) and Atlantic (North Carolina). Each ARC serves a number of Districts as just what they are called ... Administrative Resource Centers. Their goal is to primarily release District Supervisors (most of whom also serve as local church Pastors) to do more ministry and less administration.

Anyway ... Rick Trimble is the Pacific ARC Lead Administrator, and he has been touched by the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality material. We first met about 10 years ago when I interviewed for a position as District Youth Representative in Northern California. Over the years, from his position as a District Administrator back in those days, he would call once in a while asking us to consider pastoring a church in his area.

We became re-acquainted at an EHS event back in April, and in December, he called wanting to know if I'd be willing to lead his team through the Emotionally Healthy Church Workbook as a small group. So, starting today, I'll head to La Crescenta once every 2-3 Thursdays for a morning of interaction with them and the material for 8 sessions total. It went great today and I'm looking forward to the additional times together.

Additionally, I am very excited that this material is finding increased influence in our denomination. Foursquare is bringing Pete Scazzero out on March 10 for their 2nd annual "Foursquare Live" Leadership Training Simulcast. I'm hoping to be able to pick him up at the airport and take him back when he's done.

I am also making plans to be in New York again for New Life Fellowship's Pastor's Conference on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. My goal is two-fold ... to learn and glean more myself, AND to represent to West Coast at the Conference. Hoping to network with more Pastors while there and also hoping that some from the West Coast will go to experience it.

I continue to receive calls from Pastors who have heard of my journey through burnout and depression. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality has been, and continues to be, such a powerful tool that the Lord is using to grow my relationship with Him and others. I am excited to watch what He is doing with it!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let me know ...

24 days into the New Year, and they (whoever THEY are) say it takes 21 days for a new habit to kick in. Anyone want to be honest and share with us a habit or two that is still in the "wanting" stage for you?

I'll start ... at the beginning of '07, I said to myself, "Self ... enough people have said they enjoy connecting with you when you blog that you ought to do it more frequently." Well ... here we are on Day 24. No TV show pun intended, though a friend of mine from Valencia told me today he received an email from a geographically distant acquaintance asking if he and his family are OK ... gotta be a 24 fan to understand that, which my friend is NOT!

Anyway, it's Day 24 and here is my first post. I still resolve to blog more if you'll resolve to connect. Do more than read the blog ... let me know you were here by posting. That would be helpful for me. If I know it's having an impact, Ill share more with you. If it's not, I'll put the time and thoughts to better use.

Let me know, would ya?