9 questions you need to ask yourself…

24 02 2011

My good friend Matt Van Cleave spoke at Cornerstone Fellowship this weekend and posed 9 powerful, thought provoking questions. I’ve listed them below. If you would like to listen to Matt’s full message on grace, click here.

  1. Why would I live my life saying “I can’t” when Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”?
  2. Why would I live my life in worry when Philippians 4:19 tells me, “God will supply all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”?
  3. Why would I have fear in my heart when 2 Timothy 1:7 tells me, “God did not give me a spirit of fear, but one of love and power and self discipline”?
  4. Why should I lack wisdom when James 1:5 says, “God would give it to me generously if I just ask for it”?
  5. Why should I go around shackled in the chains of my past knowing that 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”?
  6. Why should I feel dead in my sin when Colossians 2:13 assures me, “God made me alive with Christ, for he forgave all my sins”?
  7. Why should I ever feel alone when Jesus plainly said in Matthew 28:20, “he would always be with me”?
  8. Why should I shrink back from doing what I need to do when Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for me, who can be against me?”
  9. Why should I complain when Philippians 4:11 says, “I can learn to be content in all situations”?

When teenagers rule the world (or weekend)…

23 02 2011

February has been an exciting month in HSM at Cornerstone Fellowship. We took a page out of the high school ministry at Saddleback and began a new tradition with “You Own the Weekend”. This series provides our students with the opportunity to run every aspect of the Sunday morning worship gathering. For the past few weeks our students have taught, played in the band, sung, led games and icebreakers, and guided their peers through some pretty incredible gatherings. There are a few blatantly obvious benefits we have seen through this series. Here they are:

1.) Students are inviting their friends. We have seen a lot of new faces come into our ministry on Sunday mornings. Actually, last week was one of the biggest weekends we’ve ever had and it was a holiday weekend. That’s crazy! Students are asking their friends to come and see them lead and to experience what we are all about. I love seeing teenagers use the same technique that Philip used with Nathanael in John 1. We are also noticing students coming through our doors that haven’t been there in a while. Word is getting out and there is curiosity and interest in what is happening in HSM.

2.) Students are supporting one another. I asked our Seniors a question the week after they led and I could not have been more proud of their response. My question sounded a little bit like, “So, are you here to compare yourselves to the Juniors?” The three girls I posed the question to looked up and one of them said, “We’re here to cheer them on, not compete with them.” Amen.

3.) Students are growing and gaining experience. If they didn’t know what it meant to prepare and stress out and trust God to bring something together before this series, they do now. Not only are the students who will eventually go into ministry gaining valuable experience, but everyone who is involved is truly growing. They are growing through their preparation and they are growing through the message they are hearing. The gathering is so applicable to them because it is being communicated by them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 200 students locked in to one speaker as much as these students are when one of their peers is teaching. They are so respectful, responsive, and ready to act on whatever they hear.

4.) Students are realizing their potential now. This is probably my favorite benefit that is coming from all of this. We tell students all the time about the potential they have. We tell them they are world changers. We tell them they can do something about the injustices and oppression they are aware of. And we always tell them this is who they are NOW. They have potential now, they can change the world now, and they can make a difference now. For some reason students think they have to wait until they are adults to put some of their ideas and thoughts into action. Unfortunately, those grand plans of action get muddled with aspirations of money, success, and status as we get older.

Our hope is for our students to understand the unlimited potential they have to make a kingdom impact on those around them RIGHT NOW. Jesus’ disciples were teenagers and they had a pretty big impact on the world. I have no doubts that our teens will do the same and hopefully we are putting them in situations to help them understand and act on their talents and abilities.

Needless to say, we’ll be doing this series again next year.

A refuge from bad religion…

18 02 2011

I meet with A LOT of people. I’ve been meeting with all sorts of different individuals fairly consistently for the last 4 years and I remember a lot of the conversations. Most of the time I don’t remember exactly what is said or discussed but I could give you an overall theme of the meeting.

About 3 months ago I met with someone that said something I will remember for a while. I was interviewing a potential volunteer staff and began to talk to her about her past experiences in a different church. At Cornerstone, we hear a lot about people who are recovering and healing from what someone else on my staff calls “church crap”. Actually, as we discuss our Core Values at Cornerstone I think this may be a huge part of it. Our leaders are constantly explaining that “We (Cornerstone Fellowship) are a refuge of healing for people who have been hurt by bad religion.”

Well this person was definitely recovering from “church crap” and “bad religion”. As she explained her experiences and hurt from a previous church/pastor she made the following statement:

“Some pastors don’t have enough charisma to be cult leaders so they become pastors.”

I was a little taken back by this statement, to say the least. After she said what she did, she quickly pointed out other pastors she has met who are great leaders and are doing exactly what God has called them to. However, the statement she made sat with me for a while and as I reflected on it and thought through it a bit I realized a few thing I am thankful for.

1) I’m thankful to be a part of a healthy church. Cornerstone is definitely a refuge of healing for people who have been hurt by bad religion. Our staff and our congregation are filled with people rehabbing from past church injuries and when you become a part of this family there is a definite sense of peace and restoration.

2) I’m thankful for the pastors and leaders throughout my life that have sought God’s heart and will as they lead. I feel privileged to know extraordinary pastors and leaders that live their lives as humble servants. They have surrendered their lives to God and unceasingly allow God to work through them. I was raised by pastors like this, I was mentored by pastors like this, and I get to work with pastors like this on a daily basis.

3) I’m thankful for the opportunity to change that perception. Everyday I understand more and more the responsibility we have as leaders and pastors. God is doing incredible work in the Church today and it is happening through selfless, humble, and faithful leaders and I hope we continue to allow God to lead through us and move closer and closer to the shepherds described in 1 Peter 5:2-4.

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” John 7:18

“Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.” Psalm 119:36

iPhone Present

11 02 2011

For the past year and a half I have had the pleasure of owning an iPhone 3G S while my wife carried around a Nokia Brick. Ok, her phone wasn’t that old but it definitely had it’s moments. The little ball on the front wouldn’t really work, the screen would freeze constantly, and it didn’t really like making phone calls or receiving text messages. It got so bad that I sent an e-mail out to our entire staff and asked if anyone had any old AT&T phones she could use (yeah, we don’t have service either). She had a replacement Blackberry for a while but it didn’t really do the trick.

Well, just this last week while we were visiting friends and family down in San Diego Amanda decided it was her time for an upgrade. That’s right, she bought an iPhone. She knows how competitive I am so she decided to go with the same model I have instead of one upping me. Actually, the 4G cost about $100 more but I like to think I was the focus of all her thoughts during this particular purchase.

We had planned to spend some time with her family before we left and as were sitting there talking I noticed something. Amanda was really quiet. Now, this comes as no surprise to those of you who know my wife, but she’s usually extremely talkative around her family. Not today. She was so locked in to her phone that she didn’t even know what was going on around her. I guess we could call this “being iPhone present”.

I’ve written before (read it here) about how the faults we see in others are really the faults we see in ourselves, and I’m not saying my wife has any faults (don’t want to come home to that train wreck… “hey honey, i read your blog post today…”), but this was one of the first times I noticed my wife not being fully present with someone as she talked to them. Her intentional presence with people is one of her strongest qualities and it’s something I wish I was better at. I can’t really blame her because come on, she just got a brand new iPhone, but I learned why it bugs her so much when I’m not fully present with her.

I’m horrible at this. I feel like I’m the king of “being iPhone present”. I always have my phone out and have a very difficult time giving others my full attention. When I don’t give people my undivided attention I know I’m communicating a few different things to them:

1) You’re boring. If you can’t hold my interest for a couple minutes then I’m moving on to something else. When I do this I’m showing people how selfish I am.  If you’re guilty of this some people will try and do or say things to gain your acceptance, while others shut down and write you off as a rude person that doesn’t have anything to offer.

2) You’re not as important as whatever is happening on my phone. People matter and ministry flows through relationships. When we invest more time into our phone then the people we are leading, counseling, or investing in then we’ve told them they don’t matter. We might as well put a little note on the back of our phones saying “I don’t care about you.”

3) I’m better than you. Not only are we telling people they’re boring and unimportant, but essentially we are communicating a sense of superiority over them when we don’t listen. I hope I’m not arrogant enough to think that God can not or will not teach something through a conversation with someone else no matter who it is.

Leaders need to be fully present with those they are leading. If we don’t know them how are we going to direct them? I’m sure I’ll get back from a mission trip or something in the near future and be even more disgusted with myself and this struggle, but for now I will work towards being truly present with those I come in contact with throughout my day.

7 thoughts about JHighers

4 02 2011

Seriously, Junior Highers are crazy. It’s been about two years since I last led a JHigh program and I’d have to say I didn’t miss it a bit… until last Saturday. Jayme Foulk and our Junior High Team took over 200 students and staff to Mt. Hermon for JHM’s annual Winter Camp and they ROCKED it. I took my two interns up for the day to learn how to run a camp, to learn about who Junior Highers are (the future of the High School Ministry), and to spend some quality time investing in them. I didn’t realize how big of an impact the day would have on the three of us. I thought I’d share a few things that Junior Highers taught us just from being themselves.

1. Junior Highers are accepting. One of the first things my interns talked about on the way home was how refreshing it was to be able to walk up to a student and talk to them without having to win them over first. When you want to spend time with them they love you. You have to be very cautious with High Schoolers or else you might ruin your opportunity to say “hi” to them. Acceptance truly is refreshing and all we had to do was be present with the students.

2. Junior Highers are curious. They want to know what’s going on with you, your wife, your parents, and your dog, even though they’ve never met any of them. They have a thirst for life and knowledge and understanding. Yes, this can get annoying, but they genuinely care because they want to get to know you. This leads into our next two:

3. Junior Highers have a GINORMOUS desire for relationships. Junior Highers are curious and accepting because they desperately want to be accepted. They want to be involved in what is going on and want to be connected with someone. With all the change and inconsistencies in their lives a consistent, real relationship means the world to them.  I think this is true for most people, it’s just a lot more noticeable with JHighers.

4. Junior Highers are genuine and sincere. I don’t really think they know anything different. They are authentic and sort of just wear their heart on their sleeve. There is a sort of innocence in a Junior High student that they haven’t figured out how to hide yet. This can be tricky because some of the older ones are getting to the “too cool” High School stage. However, if you have the opportunity to meet a student that hasn’t gotten there yet, they’ll definitely let you into their life. Talk about refreshing. I wish we could all be as open and honest as an 11-14 year old.

5. Junior Highers are awkward. I don’t really know what this taught me. I mean, we all knew this already. I guess I had a little bit of compassion stir up and that led to what I learned. I don’t know how you could feel like you wouldn’t go to war for an awkward Junior Higher. I’m sure Jesus had some of the same emotions when he said in Matthew 19, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

6. Junior Highers know how to have fun. 3 Rockstars, 2 Monsters, 6 Candy Bars, and a bag of Sour Patch Kids. BOOM. This may not be the best description of why or how junior highers know how to have fun, but who doesn’t want to party with a person who calls that their midnight snack? My interns were shocked by how much fun they had and I honestly believe it was because they got to be crazy (and not so intelligent) kids again. Basketball in the rain? Awesome. Full contact steal the bacon? Bring it. Ice cream pie eating contest? Yes sir.

7. Junior Highers know how to worship. This video speaks for itself. (Click the link)


Our team learned a ton from our time at camp and are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with Junior Highers and Cornerstone’s JHigh staff.

“Right the Future” Parts 1 and 2

1 02 2011

Videos for our “Write the Future” series called “Right the Future”. A little play on words. We get to see Jordan’s amazing creativity once again. And yes, we are driving a Delorean.

Part 1

Part 2