Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Book List

Here is my first attempt at making a reading list for 2008. These are books on my "short" list. There are two without links because they will be released some time during 2008. I know there are other books that I will read that I currently have on my book shelf. These are the ones that I will be buying some time in 2008.

  1. Bring Out the Best in People by Aubrey C. Daniels
  2. The Power of a Positive No by William Ury
  3. Leadership on the Other Side by Bill Easum
  4. The Dip by Seth Godin
  5. Board with God by Shawn Dunn
  6. The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Bradman & Rod Beckstrom
  7. This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley
  8. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Pat Lencioni
  9. Beyond Megachurch Myths by Scott Thummar & Dave Travis
  10. Overcoming the Darkside of Leadership by Gary McIntosh & Samuel Rima
  11. Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  12. The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
  13. Chazown by Craig Groeschel
  14. Confessions of a Pastor by Craig Groeschel
  15. Going All the Way by Craig Groeschel
  16. Sex God by Rob Bell
  17. Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
  18. To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller
  19. Let Story Guide You by Donald Miller
  20. The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch
  21. Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley
  22. Creating Community by Andy Stanley
  23. Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley
  24. Go Big by Bill Easum
  25. unChristian by David Kinnaman
  26. Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll
  27. Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham
  28. Wide Awake by Erwin McManus
  29. The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
  30. Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I hope and pray that you will experience the miracle of Christmas today, tomorrow, and every day of your life. May you receive the greatest gift ever given. May you live for the One who was born of a virgin, lived life to the very fullest, was betrayed, tortured, crucified, died, and on the third day rose from the dead that you may spend eternity with God.

He is JESUS!

Everything Changed

"The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Rembrandt.
In the midst of the darkness God sent his Son Jesus as the hope of the world. His light beats back the darkness of sin and brings salvation to all who will follow as his disciples.
Rembrandt doesn't paint Jesus as an angel with a halo. He is a human baby. Rembrandt doesn't follow the other Renaissance painters and have the light of heaven shining down on Jesus. Instead he has the light coming from Jesus.
The ladder and the roof's crossbeam foreshadow the coming cross for Jesus. It is difficult to see it in this picture, but there is a rooster near the ladder - betrayal awaits this child when he becomes a man.
That first Christmas - everything changed. Alleluia!

Book #19 - When Necessary Use Words

The year is coming to a close and I am trying to finish up my reading list. I know I won't read everything I wanted to for 2007, but the last week of the year I am on vacation so I will be able to put in more dedicated reading time.

Anyway, I finished reading my 19th book of the year - When Necessary Use Words: Changing Lives Through Worship, Justice, and Evangelism by Mike Pilavachi. I was challenged earlier in the year to read a little bit outside of my "normal" reading patterns. I was specifically challenged to read about justice issues and racial issues. I picked up this book in order to be faithful to the reading about justice issues.

This is the line that really grabbed hold of me - "Sometimes we have to be good news before we earn the right to preach good news." That's good stuff.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at Charter Oak Church this year is a great opportunity for you to invite your friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers. People are more open to an invitation on Christmas Eve than any other time of the year. Our worship times and styles are...

5:00 - Traditional Carols and special music by children's choirs

7:00 - Traditional Carols and special music by adult choirs

9:00 - Contemporary Music

11:00 - Traditional Carols and Communion

Last year the 7:00 worship service was completely full and the 5:00 worship service was just about full. If you are bringing guests, please come at the time that is most convenient for them. If you are not bringing someone, it would be great if you attended one of the later two worship services.

Christmas Eve is a time of rejoicing and worshipping the risen Savior. I am looking forward to seeing you here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Imagine this...Christmas Love instead of Stress

This is the podcast of the third part of the Imagine This...Christmas series.

Click here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Book #18 - Reveal: Where Are You?

There has been so much buzz about the study that was performed at Willow Creek Community Church that I decided I had better read the book written by their executive pastor Greg Hawkins. The book is called Reveal: Where Are You? By the way, you can't purchase the book anywhere except from Willow, at least I couldn't find anywhere.

First of all, let me say how disappointed I was that the book cost $12.99 and the amount of information could have fit into a 20 page .pdf. Instead it is a 100+ page book that is mostly white and very little type. It is a huge waste of resources.

But once I got past my disappointment in the design of the book, I really enjoyed the content. Willow Creek knew they needed to ask some really difficult questions. They didn't just beg off because they are seen as "successful." Instead they went deeper and asked questions we all need to be asking about our church.

The thing that I really liked was that Willow Creek didn't stop by surveying their congregation and six other congregations. They used that information to help shape a new strategic plan for their congregation going forward.

As Charter Oak Church begins the process of forming our strategic plan in 2008, this book is extremely helpful to me and will be for the process. If you are ready to ask some tough questions and really get to the heart of where your church is, then read this book and put it into action.

Just as a side note...when I went on to Willow Creek's website I found out that the name of their sermon series this Advent is "Imagine." Our series title is "Imagine this...Christmas." I couldn't believe how close they are. I would love to be able to take credit for the title of our series, but it came from Cindy Jonczak. Maybe Willow Creek called her too - it wouldn't suprise me.


I never thought I would be so happy to see rain on a Sunday morning, but that is what we have and I am excited. With all the sensationalism lately with the weather, I thought that the world might just be ending this weekend. All kinds of reports about ice, sleet, freezing rain, and snow. I woke up this morning and it was 38 degrees. I was cracking up because everyone who was reporting the weather said today's high is 36 degrees. They don't even want to admit that it is warmer than it actually is.

I'm so thankful that it is raining today.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Imagine this...Christmas Joy instead of Stuff

This is the podcast of the second part of the Imagine this...Christmas series

Click here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Unspeakable Joy

This weekend at Charter Oak Church - The Christmas Cantata - Unspeakable Joy

In a world whose headlines scream of war, disease, homelessness, crime and financial disaster, where is the hope, the healing? In a world awash in worry, doubt, dread, and loneliness, where is the word to life the weary heart?

"The angel said to them, 'Do not b afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great JOY which will be for all the people." Luke 2:10

Good news of a great joy! This joy, this bounteous, contagious, and overflowing joy is what has been captured in the musical "Unspeakable Joy". It is the joy of Christmas. The joy of knowing the One who was born at Christmas. It's the joy of each believer discovering the love of Jesus Christ for himself, for herself.

What will make this work a Christmas favorite is the way the theme of "Unspeakable Joy" is so warmly woven throughout the musical. The story of the stable and the star, the angels and the shepherds, the baby on a bed of straw, is delivered with the power to amaze us with its mercy and fill us with a joy unspeakable.

Job Opening

We have an employment opening at Charter Oak Church for an Office Manager. I have copied the short version of what the responsibilities for the position are. If you are interested please give Cindy Jonczak a call at the church or email her at

Office Manager is responsible for overseeing all the office functions of the church. Ordering supplies, managing office equipment, preparation and publication of all communications including the weekly worship folders and monthly newsletter, maintaining and managing the church's database, scheduling and calendar management.

The Office Manager is responsible also for the front desk including answering phones, greeting visitors and being a presence as the first voice and face of COUMC.
Volunteer team development and leadership as needed including training and overseeing a receptionist staff.

Skills necessary for the position are: Proficiency in Microsoft Office including Publisher. Organization and attention to detail, people skills and ability to recruit volunteers and manage their schedules and tasks. A detailed job description will be available upon request.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Podcast of Imagine This...Christmas - Peace

This is the podcast of the first part of the Imagine This...Christmas series.

Click here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Book #17 - Rules for Revolutionaries

This weekend I finished reading Guy Kawasaki's book Rules for Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services. Guy was with Apple Computers very early on and has become a guru on thinking differently in the marketplace. He is at Garage Technology Ventures now. What most people don't know is that Guy is a follower of Jesus. He "steals" biblical words and infuses them into the business world.

There are three sections to this book - Create like a god, Command like a king, and Work like a slave. I really liked this book a lot because I read it through the eyes of someone trying to change the culture of a church and possibly a denomination that is used to doing things the way we have always done them. Guy writes the book for people in those positions in business, but I filtered it through the Church. Good book for revolutionaries.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Imagine this...Christmas

This weekend we kick-off a brand new series called "Imagine this...Christmas." It is so easy to get caught up in all of the chaos and craziness of this season. However, we are supposed to be using this time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
What would happen if we tried to imagine living into the real point of this month? This week we will look at moving from the chaos put on us by culture and living into the peace of Christ.
This is a great time to invite those people in your circle of influence at work, school, or your neighbor. People are more open to attending a worship service during Advent than any other time of the year. Take a risk and invite someone to join you this weekend in worshipping God at Charter Oak Church.

Different Way of Thinking

As I work through Dallas Willard's book The Divine Conspiracy, I am struck time and time again with a different way of thinking about God, the Bible, and my role in the whole Kingdom of God. Here's what I was reading this morning that really grabbed me...

"A short while ago the Hubble Space Telescope gave us pictures of the Eagle Nebula, showing clouds of gas and microscopic dust reaching six trillion miles from top to bottom. Hundreds of stars were emerging here and there in it, hotter and larger than our sun. As I looked at these pictures, and through them at the past and ongoing development of the cosmos, I could not help but think of Jesus' words before he left his little band of students: 'In my father's house there are many places to live. I go to get some ready for you.'"

My small thinking of what Jesus is preparing for me and for you has just been blasted out of the water!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November 2007 Worship at a Glance

November 3/4 - Dave preached
694 in worship (8.4% increase from 2006)
279 in Sunday school (2.2% increase from 2006)

November 10/11 - Mark preached
718 in worship (19.9% increase from 2006)
256 in Sunday school (.7% increase from 2006)

November 17/18 - Mark preached & Youth Musical
1038 in worship (63.2% increase from 2006)
163 in Sunday school (57.6% decrease from 2006)

November 24/25 - Dave preached
694 in worship (2.4% increase from 2006)
256 in Sunday school (18.5% increase from 2006)

Our year to date average attendance is 21% higher in 2007 than the year to date average attendance for 2006. That's 40% growth over the last two years!

Keep inviting your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. They matter to God!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Book #16 - Mavericks at Work

Over Thanksgiving I finished reading Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre. I loved this book because it pushed me to think - really, really think about being different. In a world of churches that all look exactly the same, and is often more interested in copying other churches, how can we stand apart and do only what God is calling us to do at Charter Oak Church? What would happen if we started thinking differently about how we fulfill the call God has placed on our hearts? What if we believed - really believed - the transformational truth of Jesus Christ was to be made available to all people no matter what? What if that call burned passionately within us to the point that it was the only thing we could think about?

These are the questions that began to form in me as I read this book. Good stuff.

Gospel of Sin Management

As I was reading The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard this morning, this really jumped out at me.

"The current gospel then becomes a 'gospel of sin management.' Transformation of life and character is no part of the redemptive message. Moment-to-moment human reality in its depths is not the arena of faith and eternal living.

What right and left have in common is that neither group lays down a coherent framework of knowledge and practical direction adequate to personal transformation toward the abundance and obedience emphasized in the New Testament, with a corresponding redemption of ordinary life."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 6 - Thursday

Thursday was a big coffee making day! Our team ordered over 150 pounds of coffee that was grown in the Harmons community. Part of Wednesday and all of Thursday, and in to the night, was devoted to making coffee. A group of Jamaican men cooked the coffee right in front of us as we finished up the last details of putting the green house together. You have no idea how good roasting coffee smells! A group of ladies from Charter Oak Church helped to cool, bag, and sew on the labels of the coffee.

The final details were also being completed on the house we were building, a group went to the local elementary school and actually taught because a couple of teachers didn't show up for work, and the medical team open the clinic at the Harmony House for the very first time.

After lunch, everyone went to the house dedication. We all climbed up to the top of the mountain and dedicated the house to the glory of God and handed over the keys to the owners. We presented them with a Bible, a bag of rice to share with their friends, a flashlight, and a weather gizmo that would warn of coming storms. (The house we built was to replace the one the family lived in that was destroyed by a hurricane.) This is a picture of Woppy, the owner of the new house. BTW, that night we celebrated his birthday and my birthday.

Thursday night was dinner at a Jamaican's house. We were divided into groups of about 5 or 6 people and were sent to have dinner in the homes of some local Jamaicans. The food was sent by Won by One to Jamaica ahead of time. The host family prepared the food the way they wanted to and then we all ate together. The group of people I was teamed with went to the home of a single mom with one teenage son. She had a small house that was constructed a few years ago by Won by One to Jamaica. The Americans sat at a kitchen table, but our host had to sit on her bed because there wasn't enough room for her at the table and she refused to let us squeeze her in. The food was very good and it was awesome to spend some quality time building a relationship with her. She was laughing when she found out that I am a pastor. She said, "I always get the pastors!"

After dinner we had a powerful closing time that brought closure to our time in Harmons.

Day 5 - Wednesday

Day five we continued to work on the green house, building the walls of the house we were carrying all of that maul up to, other odd jobs, and the medical team also saw between 125-150 people in the morning. We worked until about 1:00, took a break for lunch, then we headed off to the Infirmary.

Every time I have been to Harmons and have gone to the Infirmary, it has been the most intense part of the trip for me. The Infirmary also called the Poor House is where people are placed that have no one to take care of them. It is a very large, one level structure made of concrete block painted white. It is very institutional looking. Most of the people are either elderly or mentally unable to take care of themselves.

We were there to spend time building relationships with people who don't have anyone else in their lives. Some on our team sang songs with the residents. Some read scripture. Some prayed. Some even handed out candy (that was very popular). As I watched our team serve "the least of these" my heart was filled to bear witness to the fact that they were way outside their comfort zone and right in the middle of God's will.

I spent my time with two elderly gentlemen. Talking about the love and grace of Jesus and reading scripture with them. I was blown away by how much they knew by heart. I don't really know if I added any value to them, but I know that they did to me. I was blessed to sit with these two men for the cause of Jesus.

Wednesday night was ladies night. They invited the local Harmons women to come and be pampered by the ladies from our group. Men were not allowed. It was a great opportunity for our ladies to build one on one relationships as they did their hair, nails, etc.

What I learned on Wednesday...
  1. It is very hard to really get out of our comfort zones, but it is when God takes over and we live right in the middle of his will - there is no better place, scary, but good.
  2. When a group of God's people live in this zone of the unknown and allow God to work through them, the potential is limitless.

Op-ed Piece in the Post Gazette

Here's a link to an article written by a woman who is a relatively new member of Charter Oak Church. My favorite line in the article is "Underneath the shiny surface, what the people at my new church do right is Jesus."

Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Book # 15 - Resurrecting Excellence

I am very shamed to type that I finally finished my 15th book of the year - Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faitrhful Christian Ministry by L. Gregory Jones and Kevin R. Armstrong. I have been asked to join a Leadership Incubator for our denomination and this was the required reading. The book was fine. It isn't something that I would read on my own. I liked the section on the intersection of our faith and what that means for me as a pastor. Here's the quote...

"Resurrecting excellence in ministry happens in intersections, and the pastor leader is not simply a crossing guard. The pastor is an artist of the intersection, seeking connections among the often paradoxical dimensions of life - ancient texts and current dilemmas, inner experience and public responsibility, what has been an d what yet might be."

Even though I haven't finished any books lately, I am reading four books right now. I am almost finished with Mavericks at Work (love it!) by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre. I just started reading Rules for Revolutionaries:The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing new Products and Services by Guy Kawasaki. I am also reading The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell. And I have committed to taking a year to read The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard as an act of faithful discipleship to take my spiritual journey to another level. I hope to get the other books finished by the end of the year.

Day 4 - Tuesday

On Tuesday I was assigned a new project once again. This time Rusty and I were given the task of building a green house. This was such an incredible project. The green house we were to build really is very different than the ones that are built in the US. In America, green houses are constructed to keep the heat in. In Jamaica, we were building a green house to keep the heat out. The material we used was a white mesh that would reflect the sun and let the wind pass through. One other very important component - we had to build it so that when a hurricane or tropic storm hit the island, it had to be able to be torn down quickly.

Here's the really cool part of this project. The green house will be used to grow tomatoes and peppers to be sold at the high end restaurants in the resorts on the north shore of Jamaica. Won by One to Jamaica will employ single moms (who typically are the last to get employment) to raise the crops and do all of the work within the green house. The proceeds from the sale of the vegetables will be divided up to pay the single moms a living wage, pay for the running of the green house, and to do more ministry in Harmons. What a great vision to impact a region!

After working all day our team came together to talk about what God thinks about the poor. It was a great conversation.

What I learned on Tuesday...
  1. Cast a big vision and empower people to complete it. The green house project will have far reaching implications for a long time.
  2. I'm still afraid of heights. I hated being up on top of the green house.
  3. Listening to everyone's thoughts on the poor really opened my eyes to how people think and it caused me to think theologically about where I really am on my understanding of the poor and what is God's call upon my life and Charter Oak Church in response to that call.

Day 3 - Monday

We carried maul all morning long! It was my job to shovel the maul from the huge pile along the road into the burlap bags to be carried up the hill to the house site that we were building. It was some where between 90 and 95 degrees that morning.

We stopped for lunch and I was given a new assignment - build a wall at the Harmony House that would close off a space that was going to become the storage area for their coffee production. Just as we were starting to get to work - the power went off and stayed off, all afternoon and into the evening. We started up the generator and had to share power with a couple of other people who were also working at the site. It wasn't exactly the fastest work, but we make good progress.
Monday night was men's night. We played dominoes with the local men, both teens and 20 somethings. I had never played before, so I received a quick lesson and then went to playing. We were paired up - one American and one Jamaican against the same team set up. Our team won the first game, then we lost the next 15. During those games, I finally learned the strategy, I guess I'm a slow learner. Then our team won the next 15 games. It was a great night to get to know a couple of Jamaican guys and to build a relationship with them.

I Broke It

Here's a picture of the x ray of my broken foot.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 2 - Sunday

Did you know that roosters in Jamaica don't know the difference between dawn and 3:00am? It's true. Did you also know that dogs don't like to be awakened in the middle of the night? They don't and they let everyone know about it. I'm very thankful that I took ear plugs.

Sunday we began our time in worship with Mark and Emily. This past summer Mark and Emily moved to Harmons to live for as long as God wants them to be there. They are a young couple who love Jesus and love the people of Jamaica to such an extent that they left everything in America behind to follow God's call upon their lives. That's some serious faith!

After worship our team took a walk around Harmons. For people who had never been to Harmons before, this was a major shock as they witnessed the living conditions of the people of this small community. We talked to people living on the side of a mountain. We handed out candy to small children. It was our first time to have our hearts touched by the great need we were sent to aid and to start building relationships.

After lunch, the medical team began sorting all of the meds we brought down and the rest of us went down the road about a mile to start hauling maul. I'm not sure if that is the correct way to spell it or not, but it is the sand-like substance that is used to mix with cement to build the house we were task with for the week. We carried 10-20lbs bags of maul with out team for about 3 hours in the 90 degree weather. The work was at hand! We carried these bags about 300 yards - all up hill. There was one hill that was probably at least a 45 degree slope. There was a second hill that we could not scale, someone had to stand at the bottom of the hill and throw the bags up about 20 feet to the top. It was intense work. But good to work out the kinks of the long flight the day before.

After dinner, we had team building and then we turned up the music in the courtyard and spent the rest of the evening getting to know the locals. What a great day!

What did I learn on Day Two?
  1. No matter how hard the work - when you are working with a team of people, it is always much, much better.
  2. I love Jamaican food.
  3. Our experience in Jamaica was well put together by Won by One to Jamaica.

Day Two complete.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 1 - Travel

We met at 3am in the parking lot of Charter Oak Church to carpool to the Pittsburgh Airport. When we arrived at our gate, I was extremely surprised to meet a very good friend of mine, Rusty Orner, from when I was serving as a pastor in the Du Bois area. The day was starting off in the right way.

We flew from Pittsburgh to Houston, Texas. It was a 3 hour flight and they actually gave us real food on the flight! Way to go Continental!

We had a quick layover in Houston and then on to Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was a three and a half hour flight so we had real food again and then we were able to watch the latest Harry Potter movie.

When we arrived in Montego Bay, we went through immigration and then on to pick up our luggage. One small problem, our luggage didn't make it. It took our team two plus hours to get all of the paper work filled out. Without luggage it was very easy to go through customs!

After all of the airport stuff we met Josh, Henry, Lloyd, and Leslie the team of leaders from Won by One to Jamaica and the other half of our mission team from the Kansas City Area.

We all jumped on to one of two buses and we started the four hour drive through the mountains of Jamaica to get to Harmons.

We arrived without any problems and we started to unpack and get settled. My head hit the pillow at about 11pm and I was one tired puppy.

What did I learn on Day One?
  1. A simple meal on an airplane makes a lot of people happy.
  2. Customer service or lack thereof can make or break a company or church's reputation.
  3. There's nothing better than good friends.
Day One complete.

Jamaica Recap

Unfortunately I was not able to blog while I was on my mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica. The power was spotty and the Internet connect that was at the Harmony House was by satellite and it rained every day. So over the next few days as I re-enter the American mindset, I will try to capture what happened while we were on our trip.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I just read this blog and I had to copy a section for you to read. Check this out...

Audacity is a practice, not a quality
There are fewer prerequisites for achieving your goals than you might first think.

You don’t need to be a great writer, or an expert at creating posts that get Dugg. You don’t need to have a network of influencers, or dozens of killer posts, or years of experience, or formal credentials.
In fact, I’m beginning to think that audacity is the most important habit a blogger can develop.

If you’re not afraid to be rejected, you keep putting your hand up. If you’re not afraid to be ignored, you keep putting yourself out there. If you’re not afraid to be criticized, you do exactly what you want. If you’re not afraid to make contact with someone more successful than you, you’ll create your own opportunities.

Whenever you find yourself thinking: “I’m just not good enough,” replace that sentence with “I’m just not being audacious enough.”

The best thing about audacity is that it’s not a quality you either possess or you don’t. It’s not the same as beauty, or a gorgeous singing voice.

Audacity is a practice. Do audacious things, and you become audacious.

The audacity of… failure
Part of being audacious is being ignored, or rejected, or brushed off, or criticized. You will sometimes fail. You’ll certainly make mistakes. I’ve experienced all of those things, and if you’re audacious, you will too.

Thankfully, both Albert Einstein and Michael Jordan (strange bedfellows, no?) have a few words of wisdom on that point:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”– Michael Jordan

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”– Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I was watching the end of the World Series, the analysts were breaking down the final game, then A-Rod's agent made the announcement that A-Rod would not be returning to the Yankees next season. The ESPN baseball analysts were livid to say the least. They could not believe that such an announcement would be made on such a historic night as Boston winning the World Series.

As I listened to them and as I heard the anger in their voices, I was reminded of how important communication really is. It is very important to get information out to people, but the when and the how are sometimes just as important if not more so. A-Rod's announcement could have been done any time over the next 10 days, but they choose, for whatever reason, to do it then. Strange, but true.

How often do we think through the process of communicating information? I think it is important to communicate the right information, at the right time, for the right reason. It should be clear and concise. Simple is better. How many times would a problem have been resolved if we just communicated in that manner?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Going To Jamaica

This Saturday morning I am leaving with eleven other members of Charter Oak Church on a mission trip to Jamaica. We will be building a house and doing medical work (well, I will be building a house and definitely not doing medical work, we are trying to add value, not hurt people).

The group we are going with is Won by One to Jamaica. The leaders of the group are the same people that led the group to Jamaica back in 1989 when I first went to Jamaica and met Jesus and Kelli. Josh and Erin are awesome followers of Jesus and I look forward to serving with them again.

There is a tropical storm getting ready to hit Jamaica, so please pray that we will not be delayed and there will not be any problems due to the storm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Staff Must Ask

I was reading an article by Bill Easum this morning, you can read it here. The part of the article that really resonated with me was the "staff must ask" section. Here are the questions...

Staff must ask, not "What must I do today?" but "Who will I mentor today?" not "What is my job?" but "Who will I discover?" not "How much can I do?" but "How many others can I equip?"

Those are great questions. It is so easy to get caught up in the doing of church that we miss out on the opportunity to partner with the entire Body of Christ to fulfill the call of God upon our church. What would happen if we really started asking ourselves these questions? What would happen if we insisted that both paid and unpaid staff asked these questions?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Climbing the Ladder

This morning I was re-reading a section from Marcus Buckingham's book First, Break All the Rules. He wrote that the vast majority of employees today have a drive to be at the next rung up on the ladder. He asks a great question though - why? Why would someone want to go up to the next level when he or she is doing the current position with great excellence and getting a great deal of satisfaction from doing it? Why would someone want to go into the unknown - wouldn't know if he or she could do the position with great excellence, wouldn't know if he or she would get a great deal of satisfaction?

Why not set people up to succeed where they are for a very long time? Here's a quote from the book from an employee who had this happen to him...

"I love my role. I'm the best in the company at it. I am making a lot of money doing it. And I am having more of an impact than I ever thought was possible in my life. So I said to my boos, I said, 'your one objective with me is to see to it that I am never promoted again. If you can do that, you have me for life.'"

How does this apply for you - at work, at home, in school, in sports, at church?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How are people equipped to serve?

I was reading an article by Alan Nelson earlier this week. You can read it here. He asks the question about how people are equipped to serve. He has four phases of spiritual development and personal growth. They are Education, Inspiration, Application, and Manifestation. Here's the quote that has really got me thinking this week:

"Most Christians are far more informed and inspired than transformed."

I'm thinking that when I stand before the people of Charter Oak Church and preach I am providing the pathway for education and inspiration to occur. It is up to each person to take what I am saying and bring the third phase - application. But it is the last phase, manifestation, that takes both of us to accomplish. Manifestation doesn't just bring ministry by addition, but by multiplication. It is taking what is learned, becoming passionate about it, then applying it to your life, and then finally living it in such a transformational way that others want to do the same thing.

What will it take for more people at Charter Oak Church to move from the education and inspiration phases to the application phase? What will it take for more people at Charter Oak Church to move from the application phase to the manifestation phase?

Friday, October 12, 2007

From Andy Stanley's closing @ Catalyst

I have been reading some posts about the variety of speakers from the Catalyst Conference. Here are some questions from Andy Stanley that have got me thinking about what we do at Charter Oak Church and why we do them.
  • What are the behaviors we want our people to do?
  • What is one thing we are doing to encourage those behaviors? What are we doing in the rhythm of our organization to motivate that type of behavior?
  • List the things you are doing, maybe inadvertently, that encourages the opposite behavior.

If the behavior we want from the people of Charter Oak Church is to become more like Jesus is every aspect of our lives, down to the last detail. Then what are we doing or not doing to encourage that?

Just something I am pondering at the end of the week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

September Worship at a Glance

September 1/2 - I preached
588 in worship (5.5% decrease from 2006)
220 in Sunday school (9.8% decrease from 2006)

September 8/9 - Dave preached
678 in worship (16.9% increase from 2006)
314 in Sunday school

September 15/16 - Dave preached
660 in worship (15.6% decrease from 2006)[Consecration of New Building in 2006]
345 in Sunday school (19% increase from 2006)

September 22/23 - Dave preached
627 in worship (5.2% increase from 2006)
303 in Sunday school (11/4% increase from 2006)

September 29/30 - Dave preached
661 in worship (11.8% increase from 2006)
299 in Sunday school (17.3% increase from 2006)

For the first time we are having attendance numbers to compare from for our new building. We continue to see growth from the previous year, even with the spike we had last year with moving into our new building. It amazes me that we are having double digit growth and I am not satisfied. There are 33,000 people within a five mile radius of Charter Oak Church that do not have a church home. The reality is, it shouldn't just dissatisfy me, but I should be driven to lead the people of this church to bring their un-churched friends, family, and co-workers to meet Jesus.

I am very excited that we are having double digit growth. I am very excited that we received 37 new members on Sunday and over half of them were by profession of faith. I am very excited to hear the stories and to be involved in the lives of those people who are being transformed. I am very excited that God has positioned Charter Oak Church in this place and that He has placed a call upon us to help people find their way back to Jesus and to develop them into fully devoted followers. That's why we do what we do. I am very excited by what is happening, I just know that there is so much more to do.

Monday, October 1, 2007

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Last night at the men's small group that I am in, we talked about discipline. We are reading Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes. The scripture that really jumped out at me and has caused me to go back to it this morning is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Here's the NIV version, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Paul really has me thinking about my daily walk with Jesus. Yes, I try to order my life each day around the will of God. I begin the day very early with God in prayer. I read and study scripture.

But what is really getting at me is the time in between the practicing of the spiritual disciplines. I don't want to run aimlessly. I don't want to be disqualified for the prize. I want to run in such a way as to get the prize.

I started coaching soccer because I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The reason I was called to coach was to add value into the players and their parents lives. I wanted to be someone they could look up to as a great example of a follower of Jesus. But I have this problem, it can be good, but it can also be bad - I am very competitive. VERY.

I am now wondering and praying if my competitiveness is disqualifying me from the prize of being the hands and feet of Jesus in these boys' life. Yes, Paul writes to run to win. But for me, the real point isn't to win soccer games (as good as that is), the win is to develop character. I changed the win and I didn't even realize it, until maybe it was too late.

Here's something for you to think about today. What is the win God has called you to? Have you changed that win? Has that caused you to be disqualified for the prize? Can you make some changes today that will put you back on the road that you were originally called to?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

October Newsletter Now Available On-Line

You can read the October Newsletter on-line by clicking here.

New Sermon Series

Here's the image for my next sermon series...

There is only one way to escape gravity: speed. To break free of the earth’s invisible arms, an object needs to be moving into the air at seven miles per second. This required initial speed is called the escape velocity.
God is the author of the cosmic creation of gravity. The force to leave the grasp of gravity is incredible. However, as the creator, God’s gravity has an even greater force. And yet we choose to resist and even walk away from God’s gravity.
This series will explore the pull on our lives in four different areas that define us as members of Charter Oak Church and what happens when the influence of God’s gravity is greater than any other pull in our lives.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Continuing with this week's theme of what I am learning from other leaders, here is something I read this morning from Wayne Cordeiro from New Hope Christian Fellowship. Check it out...

The 5% only you can do
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro

As leaders, we must develop excellent skills in four areas. If you develop two or three skills, it is not enough. We need all four. It’s like the four corners of a table. If you remove one, you can still have a semblance of balance but any little bit of weight will toss you over. These four skills are:

  • Organizational skills
  • People skills
  • Personal skills
  • Communication skills

For most of us, organization is not a native talent. It’s something we will need to develop. I had to work on my organizational skills. A lot of pastors never develop this, and the result is a warped ministry. A lack of organization is what’s going to kill us unless we develop ourselves.

Psalm 50:23 says, “To him who orders his way aright, to him I will show the salvation of God.”

There has to be a sense of organization and discipline.

Eighty-five percent of what you do, anyone can do. For example, anyone can return phone calls, have a job, attend meetings and interact with customers. Ten percent of what you do, anyone with some measure of training can accomplish.
But…5% of what you do, only you can do!

Only you can be the father or mother to your children. No one else.
Only you can be the spouse God expects you to be.
Only you can keep yourself healthy.
Only you are responsible to keep yourself inspired.
Only you can decide your attitude and disposition toward life.

This 5% is what’s most important! This is what others will remember about you. This is what God holds us responsible for.

Take time to decide five or six things that are most important in your life. Here are examples from my life:

  • A deep and growing relationship with Christ.
  • A healthy marriage.
  • A wholesome and close family.
  • A healthy ministry that resources others (I am a pastor and an author)
  • Keeping physically fit with a soul that’s creative.
  • Taking time to enjoy life with family and friends.
  • Make a list and decide what your 5% is. Yours may resemble these in part, but it must reflect what God is asking of you for this season of your life.

The 5% may also include:

  • Something you need to improve.
  • Something you need to develop.
  • What do you need to research?
  • What do you need to prepare for that is coming up?
  • When was the last time you exercised?
  • Do you need to get counsel from anybody? Counseling on:
    Ministry. Do you need to get any counsel on that?
    Children. When was the last time you did anything with your children?
    People under your care. Is there anyone you need to touch base with?
    Recruiting. Is there anybody you need to encourage into ministry?

Remember, God will not hold you accountable for what you’ve done as much as He will hold you accountable for how much of what He has asked you to do that you have done. This 5% is the tip of your leadership.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blogs I Read

A couple of days ago I posted that my leadership development grows daily because of the blogs that I read. The people I read each day are priceless to me. I am challenged, inspired, pushed, pulled, and often times led into God's presence. I give God great thanks for the following people and what they bring to the leadership table.

Tim Stevens - Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church. I was able to spend the day with Tim earlier this year. His stuff is always good.

Craig Groeschel - Senior Pastor at Life Church. If this guys isn't on your must read, put him at the very top. What Craig is able to accomplish is mind blowing. I don't know of anyone who has greater leadership gifts than this guy.

Perry Noble - Senior Pastor at New Spring Community Church. I read Perry to inspire me to take the next step and not listen to the nay sayers. He gives me an infusion of courage to begin the day.

Tony Morgan - I'm not sure his title, but he is a leadership giant and on staff at New Spring Community. I love the variety of his posts - he hits on so many subjects.

Scott Hodge - Pastor of The Orchard. He helps me to think creatively.

Steven Furtick - Pastor of Elevation Church. This is a new church start that is about 18 months old and broke through the 2,500 in worship barrier this past weekend. God is all over this guy. You want proof that God is working major miracles, read this guys blog.

I also read a few others who don't post daily, some of them are really good and I wish they would be more consistent, but I can't really complain since I'm not that consistent myself.

If you had one blog you absolutely had to read, which one would it be?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just Read This Quote

Yesterday I posted that I daily read some blogs that pour into my leadership development. Here's proof of some of the really good stuff I get to read everyday. This is from Scott Rodgers...

It is from a Franciscan Benediction…
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

How is God blessing you?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Proverbs 17:2

As part of my early morning time with God, I read the Proverbs chapter that corresponds with the date of the month. This morning as I read Proverbs 17, I read verse 2 and the note in my Bible that went with the verse.

"A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame, and will share an inheritance among the brothers."

Here's the note from my Bible: "Our influence has less to do with our position or title than it does with the life we live. The key word is credibility. We gain credibility when our life matches our talk and when both add value to others. Answer the following vital questions:
  1. Consistency: Are you the same person no matter who's with you?
  2. Choices: Do you make decisions based on how they benefit you or others?
  3. Credit: Are you quick to recognize others for their efforts when you succeed?
  4. Character: Do you work harder at your image or your integrity?
  5. Credibility: Have you recognized that credibility is a victory, not a gift?"

Those five questions should be asked daily by every leader.


I had to fill out a form the other day as part of my annual review by our denomination. One of the questions was about my continuing education. I knew the reason for the question was for accountability for taking classes and going to events that issued continuing education credits. I've been to many of those type events so that I could write on that form that I had done what was required of me. But to be honest, the majority of those of events were anything but educational.

I believe leaders are called to be learners. I read as much as I can. On that same form there was a place for the books we have read recently - there were six lines. Does that say that there really isn't an expectation that our leaders will be readers and learners?

One of the most productive learning things I do is daily read a handful of blogs by leaders who are ahead of me in their leadership gifting. These are men and women who are in the local church and in the business world that I learn from every day - not once a year at a conference or event, but every day they pour into my ability to be a better leader and pastor. The thing is, that kind of continuing education is not what that form is looking for. And that's too bad.

I have worked with some pastors of mega churches this year. These men took time out of their extremely busy schedule to spend time with me! Yet, this isn't what fulfills the desired input for that form. I learned more during those meetings this year with those pastors than all of the "official" continuing education events I have ever been to in my life.

If you are reading this and you are from Charter Oak Church, I want you to find ways to learn to be the very best you have been created to be. I want you to find ways to become a great leader. I want you to dare to get outside the "normal" and expected ways of doing church and instead be the church that God has called us to be in this time and in this place. And here's the thing - do it every day.

Friday, September 14, 2007

August at a Glance

August 4/5 - Dave preached
641 in worship (30% increase from 2006)
161 in Sunday school (5.2% increase from 2006)

August 11/12 - Mark preached
589 in worship (7.5% increase from 2006)
181 in Sunday school (16% increase from 2006)

August 18/19 - I preached
630 in worship (5.7% increase from 2006)

August 25/26 - I preached
603 in worship (19.4% decrease from 2006 - 1st service in new building in 2006)

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Series Kick-Off

Pastor Dave starts a new series this weekend called Relationships Interrupted: Troubled Relationships.

We are very excited about the launch of our fall season. We now have a second hour of Christian education for children at 11:00am. We have small group opportunities for adults during all three worship services on Sunday mornings. Our student ministry kicks-off this Sunday night with a vision casting message by Pastor Mark.

We have over 20 new small groups you can sign up for this weekend if you haven't already done that. As we continue to grow bigger and bigger, we want to get smaller and smaller through small groups. Next Saturday, September 15 we have a church wide serving morning that will be happening every month. Make sure you sign up this weekend.

There are so many opportunities for people to get connected to God and each other at Charter Oak Church. You certainly should not try to do it all, that's not what it's about. Instead, find those places to plug in that will help you to take your next step in your faith journey and that will help someone else take their next step with you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

We've Been Nominated

I received an email last week telling me that Charter Oak Church as been nominated for the America's Most Innovative Churches of 2008. We are #39, but I don't think they are ranked right now - just listed. I think we do some pretty cool things around here. There are two things that we have done in the last year in particular that have hit it out of the park.

Our First Impressions ministry has changed the connectional culture of our congregation. People are genuinely excited to see and talk to people. We have a parking team that is the most creative and fun loving people ever to stand on blacktop. When you walk in our doors, we have the traditional greeters who are incredibly authentic in their greeting. But after you pass the greeters we have a core of people who do something that no other church I have been in on Sunday morning do - they walk you there. What I mean is that if someone enters our church and asks for directions, we don't point - we walk you there. In the time of walking to the destination that First Impressions person will engage the person, get to know them, and often times will follow up with that person afterward. I was recently told by a new person to Charter Oak Church that the reason she came back was because of the person walking her to her destination called her later that evening to follow up on their conversation. This isn't something that we teach, it was this person being prompted by the Holy Spirit and saying yes. The First Impressions ministry has contributed in a huge way to our growth at Charter Oak Church.

The other ministry that has hit it out of the park was started this summer. We called it Sizzlin' Saturday. After worship on Saturday night we rolled out the grill, put meat to fire, and we ate. The head of our food services, Brenda, did a great job putting together a team of grill masters to pull off one of the best summers at Charter Oak Church. Attendance was up on Saturday night by nearly 70%. Yes, I said 70%. Our total increase in worship for the summer was 25%, but Saturday night was just plain awesome. Here's something that blew all of us away - it didn't rain one time on a Saturday night all summer! Sizzlin' Saturday provided the environment for people to connect and build community.

As I look at the list of the churches who have been nominated I know we aren't worshipping 7,000 or 25,000. But we aren't using that as an excuse. We are doing our best to respond when God prompts us by the power of the Holy Spirit to obediently follow His leading. If we make the final list of Innovative Churches isn't important. (I do like being on the list, though.) What's most important for us is letting people know they matter to God and we are here to help them to become more like Jesus.

Monday, August 27, 2007

One Year Announcement from This Weekend

The following is the announcement made following a video - year in review - of our first year in our new building during worship this past weekend. I hope to post the video with blogger's new video add-on.

It’s been one year. It’s been one awesome year for the people of Charter Oak Church. It was one year ago this weekend that we moved into our current building. But you know what? It has never been about the building, it has always been about the people. What you just witnessed is a very small snap shot of our year in review. You caught glimpses of lives who have been touched by the love of Jesus. The words that Bishop Bickerton spoke a year ago continue to ring in our ears – people matter to God.

In the video you saw people of all ages and in all stations of life. We are in the people business – pointing people back to a relationship with God through Jesus. That is what drives our decision making process around here. It is why God choose to put the people of Charter Oak Church on this hillside for such a time as this.

The bishop was also correct – we have not arrived. A year ago we took our first steps into this building. We have grown a lot – both spiritually and numerically. And now we are beginning to take our next steps. That’s what we said would be our focus in 2007 – taking our next steps in our growing relationship with Jesus. No matter who you are there is a next step for you as you seek to become more like Jesus.

When we began the process in 1996 of listening to God’s vision for the future of Charter Oak Church, we knew that the fulfillment of that vision would take many building phases. We are ready for our next step at Charter Oak Church. I am here today to announce to you that we are putting into motion phase two of our multi-phase building project.

We have nearly ten acres of land that God has providentially placed under our stewardship.

As we narrow our focus on phase one, you can see our current building. On the upper level we have the Christian Life Center, Administrative Wing, Frye Chapel, the Rush Room for students, and a variety of classrooms. On the lower level we have many classrooms for children’s ministry. Guess what? We are running out of space. We have more and more children and youth wanting to know about the love of Jesus. They need a place to learn. We have adults who are finding their way back to God and need a place to grow. We have engaged couples seeking a special place for their wedding. We have families who want their love one memorialized in a larger traditional space.

Because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the realization of the demands on our current building, we are moving forward with phase two.

Phase two will complete the two side wings that face Frye Farm Road. The east side wing on the upper level will accomplish two purposes – a larger chapel and a larger connecting area. The east side wing on the lower level will bring more children’s classroom space. The west side wing will expand the Administrative Wing with more office space.

The completion of these two wings is absolutely critical because of the design of the Worship Center.

Phase three will complete the Worship Center.

Will there be a phase 4 or phase 5 or beyond? The bishop said that he hopes so. What the leadership of Charter Oak Church commits to you is that we will seek the face of God and will do our very best to be obedient to His will.

Are you ready for year two? We are. We are also ready to start the process of making phase two a reality. On July 17th the District Superintendent and Charge Conference approved our new building team and have set their course to begin the next step in our journey toward the fulfillment of all that God wants to do in and through each of us at Charter Oak Church.

Year one was awesome…the best is yet to come.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Soccer Begins Today

I'm in the office early this morning to get a few things done because soccer practice begins this morning from 7:30am-11:00am. This week of practice before school kicks off is an intense time of training. I love the promise of a new season with new players. At last count we had 25 players with a few others who may join us. It will be a very big team. I have an awesome coach helping me - Rob Reed. He's a great friend and coach.

Coaching gives me an opportunity to work on my ability to bring the best out of people. Every player is different. I should never treat every player the same. Some need more coaching, some need to have more encouragement, some need to be inspired. Each one is different, just like at Charter Oak Church. There is no way I can treat everyone the same. Coaching soccer helps remind me of the importance of how I treat each person.

One of my favorite authors is Patrick Lencioni. He has a new book that was released this past weekend. The reason I bring him up now is because he is also a soccer coach. Here are a couple of posts that he has on his website about his coaching. It is really good stuff.

Let's go Latrobe!

Home Again

Thanks for the prayers for my trip home. I was able to bump up to first class and was able to get enough sleep to make at least some sense when I preached on Saturday night. I don't know how anyone can take the red-eye on a regular basis. But it is sure is good to be home.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Flying Home

It's about 6:30am here. I am packing up my suitcase and stuff to come home today or tomorrow, however you want to think about it. You see after a full day of the conference I am flying home on the red-eye flight. I leave LAX at 11:00pm west coast time and arrive in Pittsburgh at 9:00am east coast time (after changing planes in Atlanta). I am doing this so I can be home in time to begin my new series on character.

So I am posting this request now, will you pray for me? I am hoping to be able to move up to first class so I can sleep on the plane or at least sit in the emergency exit aisle. I want to be completely energized and focused as I stand before God and the people of Charter Oak Church this weekend. So I am asking you to surround me in prayer over the next 24+ hours.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thoughts on the Saddleback Church Campus

I think that one of my biggest surprises this week has been the Saddleback Church campus. The Worship Center is totally multi-purpose. The chairs are not comfortable. They are the plastic kind that stack out of the way very easily. There is carpet that is just laid out on top of a poured concrete floor that can be removed if needed. The sound and lights are top notch, but the building itself is not all that impressive.

They have a ton of classrooms that are all modular. It looks like they just throw them up whenever they need more space. There are a couple of large tents. Now when I write tents, these things seat about 1,000 people, they have a/c and heat, they have a stage, sound system, and lights. The largest one is used by the student ministry.

They are currently building a brand new student ministry building. None of the buildings are connected. Each one has its focus. There is an incredible three story children's ministry building. Each floor has a large group worship/teaching room for different age groups - 1st floor - first and second grades, 2nd floor - third and four grades, and 3rd floor - fifth and sixth grades.

There is also an administrative building that I was told was the original worship space that has been converted to offices. I haven't been in that building. There is also a nursery building dedicated to very small children and babies.

The grounds are extremely incredible. There is a man made creek that runs along the main side walk to the worship center that is fed by a waterfall that runs between the double set of stairs that leads up to the worship center. Did they have to build this? No, but they have created an outside environment that draws people to stay and building relationships with people. There are three different baptismal pools that are beautifully designed. There are paths that are carved out of the landscape for people to walk along.

I was very surprised how far you have to walk to get from the parking lot to the worship center and other buildings. The administrative building is almost a mile from the worship center. This place is huge and they are building more with plans for more. It is obvious that the buildings that they build that they label permanent is done at the highest level of creativity and excellence. The buildings that are not permanent are cheap and serve the purpose for that time.

There is a definite strategic plan for what they are building and when they will do it. It helps them to keep their eyes focused on the main thing. The campus serves the work of making disciples of Jesus. The point isn't the campus, it's Jesus. Good, good stuff.

Celebrate Recovery - Day 2 Overview

The Celebrate Recovery Summit continues in beautiful southern California. I don't think I have actually seen a cloud the whole time I have been here. It is hot, but beautiful.

Today we heard a little bit about the youth and children's version of Celebrate Recovery - Life Hurts -G.O.D. H.E.A.L.S. Of course it is another acrostic, but if it works, I guess Saddleback believes you keep using it. This looks like an incredible ministry opportunity.

Then we heard from John Townsend - the guy who wrote the Boundaries books. He talked about hope and moving from defensive hope to genuine hope. Having genuine hope is one of the greatest aspect for healing in our lives. Great communicator.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Celebrate Recovery - Day 1 Overview

Celebrate Recovery Summit kicked off with some great worship and the testimony of the pastor of Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Community Church. Henry Cloud spoke at the first session. This guy is an incredible communicator. After lunch, Rick Warren showed up "unexpectedly" and spoke for over an hour. Rick was so transparent about his own journey of recovery. I never expected him to be so open and truthful. It was very inspiring.

Right now I am sitting in a brand new component of Celebrate Recovery - Celebrating Pastors in Recovery. Holy cow!! Pastors actually getting together to work on their hurts, habits, and hangups! Dang! The possibility of actually doing this at Charter Oak Church for the pastors of our region gives me goose bumps.

I'm going to stop now and actually listen. During our next break I will try to blog more fully on the first three sessions.

One final word, the Saddleback Campus is beyond anything I could have imagined. More later...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Next Sermon Series

I am starting a new series on character this weekend. As followers of Jesus our character matters. The things we say and the things we do will either attract people to a relationship with God through Jesus or repel them.

There are caricatures of the Charter Oak Church staff hanging throughout our building. We will have an artist here throughout the weekend drawing caricatures of people from our congregation. This looks to be a very fun learning time for all of us. I hope that you will find a way to carve out some time at the end of your summer to be in worship throughout this three week series.

My Wife Is Always Right

Last night I posted a picture of an airplane crash landing at LAX because I thought I was flying on that carrier. Kelli saw it and asked if I was really flying Jet Blue. I thought I was, but she didn't. I looked it up, and I'm not. I still like the picture, but I am flying Air Tran. Oh well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Leaving for Los Angles

I leave tomorrow for Los Angles. This is a picture of the plane I will be taking. Do you remember all of the video footage that was shown when this plane "safely" landed at LAX a few months ago? That's my flight!

I am going with a group of eight leaders from Charter Oak Church to Saddleback Community Church for the Celebrate Recovery Conference.

I have never been to LA. I hope to rub elbows with members of the LA Galaxy soccer team, especially David Beckham. I'm sure he will make some time for me.

Soccer Camp

A week of soccer camp! (I am on the far left, fourth one in - no hair.)

Part of the things I do in order to be faithful to God's call on my life is to develop as many relationships with people in this region as I can.

The number one way I do that is through coaching soccer. God has opened some incredible doors for me to meet people. I don't ever want to be one of those leaders who stays in his office and never really connects with anyone outside the walls of the church.

What are you doing to meet people in this region and develop relationships with them, so that when God prompts you by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can have a spiritual conversation with them? For me, it's about loving people right where they are, not being a preacher, but a follower of Jesus.


I am so blessed to be at a church that I am able to take two weeks of vacation. Man, did I need it. Kelli and I dropped off the kids at her parents house and headed for Berkeley Springs, WV. We stayed at the Highlawn Inn. All I can say to all of you husbands out there - find a way for you and your spouse to get away for a few days. It was fantastic. We went horseback ridding, hiking, walking through the town, we drank from the springs, we went into nearly every little shop in town, and we ate like there was no tomorrow!

There is a reason why God gave us the gift of the Sabbath.

Book #15 - God's Gravity: The Upside Down Life of Selfless Faith

While on vacation I read Craig Borlase's new book God's Gravity: The Upside-Down Life of Selfless Faith. This was a great book. I was challenged on the size of footprint that I am making in my everyday, ordinary life and what I can do to make that footprint much smaller. I think most followers of Jesus don't even have this kind of mindset on their radar screen.

One of the things I really liked about this book was that Craig didn't just call people a bunch of jerks for the way they live. He gives the evidence and then he actually partners with the reader to help the reader to be a part of the solution and not just the problem. Good stuff.

I am trying to read and listen to podcasts as much as I can on what it means to be "green." The more I learn, the more I am feeling compelled to live differently and to lead the staff and people of Charter Oak Church to live in such a way that it leaves a smaller footprint. It has to start with me and my family first. Kelli is way, way ahead of me on this. She was a Greenpeace supporter long before it was cool.

I've Dropped Off the Face of the Earth

The title aptly describes how I feel in the world of communication right now. Since I finished my sermon series on prayer, I have gone under the radar. My good friend Greg sent me an email and so inspired me to get back to my blog. So I will try to put together a series of posts on what has been happening in my life lately and what is coming up.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Book #14 - The Gospel According to Starbucks

A few months ago I received a shipment from the Relevant Network. The usual stuff - five or six books, four or five CDs, a handful of Relevant Magazine and Radiant Magazine, and a DVD. After reading First, Break All the Rules, I needed something a little bit light. So I picked up The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet. This book arrived in the Relevant Network shipment.

Leonard Sweet tries to tie together to community and connections that are built at Starbucks to the need for the Church to embrace the same drive. It's definitely not the deepest book I have ever read. Sweet makes some good points. There is nothing earth shaking new here. If you are in a church that doesn't do community well, this may be a good book to pick up.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Guest Blogger

It's been a while since I last posted and our Senior Management Team is leaving this afternoon for a retreat together, so I will not be posting for even longer. In the mean time I asked our Pastor to Student Ministries to if I could share his devotion (powerful stuff) from our last staff meeting. Here it is...

Sometimes I’m fascinated most by what the Bible doesn’t say…Part 2:

I wonder what thoughts raced through David’s mind as he raised the severed head of Goliath. Were they thoughts of confidence and victory; or awe and wonder; were they thoughts of accomplishment, achievement, and celebration; or was he so dedicated to simply serving the Lord that the severed head of Goliath felt in David’s hands to be more like a quote “reasonable act of worship”? I just wonder…

I wonder about the Shepherds who had been watching their flocks by night. I wonder what kind of conversation they had during their visit at Bethlehem’s manger. Were they apprehensive at first? Did they sing Him a lullaby or touch His little toes? Could they even speak when they saw the precious baby Jesus asleep on the hay? And I wonder if we’ll ever really experience that at Christmas?

I wonder about Bartimaeus. He cried out to Jesus, over and over and over again, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even after being told to be quiet, he shouted all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And, oh, how I wonder just how cherished he felt when the disciples finally responded to him saying, “On your feet. He’s calling you!”

I wonder about the Samaritan woman at the well. After meeting Jesus that day, I wonder if she continued her mid-day trips, or was just one taste of Living Water enough to redeem a sense of worth great enough to come, instead, at morning…After all, it is for freedom which Christ set us free…And I wonder if she ever drew water again without praising the name of a Jew who was willing to look beyond His own nationalism…the name of a God who was willing to look beyond His own holiness… For the record, I really, really hope that she went back to the well at morning, and I pray that we are building a ministry that is so full of grace and invitation that the “mid-day crowd” starts getting their water a little earlier… Can I get an “amen” to that?

I wonder about Moses. I wonder if he was ever truly able to appreciate the warmth of that pillar of fire by night or the shade of that pillar of cloud by day. I wonder if he ever ate a single piece of manna without dreaming of the day…that glorious day when he would finally dine on milk and honey…because, quite frankly, I’m grateful for my daily bread, but my heart sure longs for Canaan-land…

I wonder what emotions Noah felt once it finally started to rain.

I wonder how the heart of worship looked in the bleeding woman once her bleeding stopped.

I wonder if the man who was born blind was ever able to see a mud puddle without being reminded of His goodness.
I wonder…what was the look on Mary and Martha’s faces when they saw their dead brother Lazarus walk out of his grave?

I wonder about the boy who sacrificed his 5 loaves and 2 fish unto Jesus…Did he have any clue how history would be impacted by such a humble sacrifice? And could it be that God is using our humble sacrifices the same way?

I wonder what Paul said to Stephen once he got to heaven, or better yet, I wonder what Stephen said to Paul…

I wonder what John felt as he lived through the martyrdom of all of the rest of the Apostles.

But most of all I wonder if we don’t spend the lot of our days taking all of this for granted. Jesus has paid the price of our sins. He has beat the hell out of death. He sealed our victory, and promised His assistance every day of our lives. The Bible says it like this, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God; the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint. For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you do not fear.”

So could it be that today you and I would all take the time to read between the lines of our faith and take the time to recognize our role in the great eternal act of His story…making the most of every opportunity to see the unseen; to embrace the eternal; and to fill in the gaps that so many are content to leave empty. Amen

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

June at a Glance

June 2/3 - I preached
656 in worship (60.4% increase from 2006)
230 in Sunday school (27.8% increase from 2006)

June 9/10 - Dave preached
638 in worship (54.9% increase from 2006)
212 in Sunday school (39.5% increase from 2006)

June 16/17 - I preached
548 in worship (54.8% increase from 2006)
192 in Sunday school (23.1% increase from 2006)

June 23/24 - I preached
584 in worship (75.4% increase from 2006)
219 in Sunday school (13.8% increase from 2006)

I am blown away by the percentage increase in attendance this year. We have had a definite drop off in worship attendance because of summer vacations, but to compare the numbers from last year is just incredible. I hope and pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will continue to dedicate themselves to being in worship every weekend they are home and will continue to have the courage to take a risk on someone in their circle of influence and invite them to worship with them. The month of June was great. All praise goes to God Almighty!

Book #13 - First, Break All the Rules

I finished my 13th book of the year, Marcus Buckingham's First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. This is a great book. As I am finishing the book I am already planning on going back and typing all of the notes I have from the book. There is just so much that can be gleaned from this book. One of the best take aways for me was the process of how great managers think differently about each employee.

I could take months digesting the full impact the principles of this book could have on what I am called to do at Charter Oak Church. If you can read through a very business focused book and pull out great principles, I would highly recommend this book.

Tough Times

I started studying a new book of the Bible this morning - Jeremiah. This guy had one of the most difficult assignments ever given by God. The thing is, he was obedient to the call, no matter what the circumstance that he was in. He went through some of the most tough times ever. His response was always, whatever God wants.

The Bible I use to do my early morning Bible study has this in it...

Jeremiah endured several occasions to practice the law of sacrifice
1. He was called to a ministry of opposition (1:18, 19)
2. He was not permitted to marry (16:1, 2)
3. He was beaten and put into stocks (20:1-3)
4. He was publicly disgraced to depict the judgment of Israel (27:1-3)
5. He was imprisoned in a dungeon (38:1-6)

Then the Bible commentator asks this question, "Do you suddenly feel a little better about your plight as a leader? Jeremiah faced horrible odds, yet never walked away from his message or his call from God."

I know there are some people at Charter Oak Church who are going through a very difficult assignment from God right now. I know you are struggling. I know you are questioning God.

Here is what I want you to hear...don't give up. God is at work in your life. God is on your side. He is cheering you on. He is pouring into you. God loves you. God is doing a work in you right now that you may not understand, but your role is to be obedient to him in all things.

Keep looking to God!

Monday, July 2, 2007


A couple of notes from worship this past weekend, especially for those of you who attended Saturday night and didn't get the PowerPoint because of a little technical problem that I take responsibility for, sorry about that.

Exodus 3:1-5
Exodus 3:13-15

LORD - Yahweh - YHVH

Breathing - Yod Heh Vav Heh
If the name of God is the sound of breathing,
how does that change the way you view your prayer life?

First breath - Genesis 2:7
Last breath - Mark 15:37

The way we expect God to show up in our lives is not always in line with God
1 Kings 19:11

Never, ever forget the promise of Romans 8:34

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Final message in the series next week. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Great Night

Last night our family spent a few hours with some friends of ours who are missionaries in Australia. They are only able to get back to the States about once every five years. I am blown away by the fact that we can only see them that often and yet because we have the same DNA as followers of Jesus, we can re-connect with them as though we just saw them last week.

I loved sitting out in the yard, cooking on the open flame, and hearing Chris talk about what he does with Youth with a Mission. He is an incredible leader and servant of God. As I listened to him talk, I was pumped up. This guys is on fire for the Kingdom of God. He has given his life to raising up leaders that will be sent all over the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. As we sat there talking, without even knowing it, he poured energy and passion into me. I love being a part of something that is bigger than I can ever comprehend. It bring Kelli and me such joy to partner with these great friends.

As we were preparing to leave, I gave them a check from our congregation that was a nice chunk of change. I told him that it was just for him and his family to have fun with. He said that so often when people and/or churches send him support money it really has chains attached to it. Rarely does someone give them money for fun. I loved it when Kelli told them to go on a date. The look on Gina's face was priceless. I could tell it had been a very long time since that had happened.

I can't express how awesome it is to be at a church that gets it when it comes to missions. I knew I didn't need to take a special offering or to ask permission to do this. I knew I could confidently bless this family with the complete backing of our congregation.