Thursday, May 31, 2007


This past weekend was just plain incredible for me. We had our all time highest attendance on a Memorial Day weekend - 150 more people than last year! The drama was great. The special music was right on the mark. I had the privilege of talking to husbands and wives about their relationship with God and with each other. Man, it was a good weekend.

I know I promised to blog about the "big event" at the 11am worship service. I wanted to include pictures and video, but since I was gone for a couple of days that just isn't going to happen this week - maybe next week.

So what happened? We did our first adult immersion baptisms! Three people who have recently given their lives to Jesus went under, died to their old selves, and were brought up brand new! They were so excited. When I asked who wanted to go first, Angela practically dove into the pool.

I have to tell you, my heart was racing so fast. Sunday was one of those moments that just defines why I do what I do. The look on each one of those people's faces as they came up out of the water was perfect.

I'm telling you, if you are part of Charter Oak Church this should absolutely set your hair on fire for Jesus. There is nothing more important that we can be doing than helping people find their way back to God through a relationship with Jesus. There are 31,000 people with a five mile radius of Charter Oak Church that do not attend church any where!!! God loves these people. God wants to spend eternity with these people. I believe God is asking the people of Charter Oak Church to step up and love God and love these people so much that we can't help but build relationships with them so we can show them who Jesus truly is.

I love my job!

It's All about Leadership

Pastor Dave and I spent all day Tuesday with two members of the Senior Management Team at Granger Community Church. We could pretty much ask them anything and they did their best to answer all of our questions. I very quickly realized that the reason that GCC is growing and making such a huge difference for Jesus is because of the leadership of the people on their Senior Management Team. These guys are the real deal.

GCC is much, much larger than Charter Oak Church so we are not going to be doing the same things that they are doing. That wasn't the point of our time together. I really wanted to take away the "why" behind what they are doing. What it comes down to is strong, godly leadership. They are more interested in doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason than anything else. They think strategically. They have very, very high expectations of every person on their staff and in their congregation that is a member.

I took a couple of hours yesterday and typed up the notes that I took and I also took the time to reflect on some of the bigger ideas that they shared about why they do things. When I finished I had nine pages of notes that I know I will read and re-read many times. The principles and leadership elements that I learned from Tim and Mark will help shape me for a very long time.

I give thanks to God for people who he has raised up as great leaders who are willing to take time and pour into me so that I can pour into others for the building of the Kingdom of God.

Attitude Toward Worship

Devotions for May 31, 2007

Proverbs 31
1 Corinthians 11
I Stand Amazed by Chris Tomlin

"If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:16)

Paul begins a section on public worship. It seems that the real point of Paul's teaching here is about attitude in worship. He writes about covering your head if you are a woman and not covering it if you are a man. He writes about the authority of God. He writes about what he hears is happening when the Corinthians sit down at the Lord's Table.

The Corinthians are more interested in doing whatever they want to do in worship. They don't consider anyone else. Because of this attitude in worship it is causing some to not be able to worship and others not to even follow Jesus. In essence Paul is teaching that it is not about you. It's about making sure that everyone who wants to worship God can do so.

I wonder how many times people in the church create barriers for others to worship God? When do we put our own created expectations into our worship that just keeps others out? We do it when we use language that is only familiar to us. We do it when we use music that is outdated and has nothing to do with authenticity. We do it when we make it about us.

The Church is the one organization that was created for those outside its membership, but we bring an attitude in worship that it is all about me. At Charter Oak Church we seek to create an openness to the moving of the Holy Spirit as we turn our full attention to God in all we do and say. Yes, we all bring our expectations, but I hope that we ultimately bring an attitude to worship the King of kings and the Lord of lords and nothing else and no one else. He is on the throne and we are not.

Almighty God, forgive us when we choose to make worship about us. Forgive us when we put our expectations and wants above you. It's all about you God. We worship you for who you are.

I pray that we will authentically worship you all of the time, not just on weekends. Give us hearts that hunger and thirst after an intimate relationship with you through Jesus. God, I love you. I praise you. I glorify your holy name. In Jesus Christ's name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On the Road with PD

Pastor Dave and I left for the state of Indiana yesterday. I have never seen so many state troopers in my entire life! Jim G. - I am very happy to tell you that we didn't get pulled over! I love you man, great job behind the drums on Sunday!

We are spending the day with some pretty incredible people from Granger Community Church today. I listed Tim Stevens as one of those guys I would love to be mentored by. Well, I took a chance, sent him an email, and now we are going to meet with him and Mark Waltz this morning and maybe some others on their staff this afternoon. How cool is that?

Granger Community Church is a mentoring church for Charter Oak Church. We have been sending people to their Innovative Church Conference since it first began. Thanks to the time, energy, and passion the people of this church has poured into leaders we have brought from Charter Oak Church we have been able to grow in a much healthier way.

Today we get to have one-on-one time with these incredible leaders. I am stoked up!

If you are checking here for an update from Sunday morning. You will have to wait a couple of more days. Sorry about that. But let me just say, it was better than I thought it would have been. I am blown away by the awesome privilege to serve the people of Charter Oak Church.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

11:00am Worship this Sunday

Don't miss it.

I'm telling you if you can be at the 11:00am worship service this Sunday, be there. This may be one of the most powerful worship services I have ever been a part of in my entire life.

I'm not going to spoil the surprise, but you will absolutely want to be there. It will be different than all of the rest of our worship services. Be there. Don't miss it. Lock it into your calendar. Write it on the tablet of your brain.

I'm pumped!!


Devotions for May 24, 2007

Proverbs 24
1 Corinthians 7

"The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:3)

Paul makes a change of style in his letter at chapter 7. He now begins to answer questions that the church at Corinth obviously sent him. He begins with marriage. Paul would rather men and women did not get married. He would like them to spend the energy, passion, and devotion on Jesus than on their husband or wife. However, Paul admits that the sexual pull on us is very strong and would rather people get married than to live in sin. Not that sexual pressure is the right reason to get married, but it is better to marry the right person than to burn with passion.

Paul also addresses divorce. Paul strongly cautions against divorce. If two believers are married and living out the character of Jesus there is no reason why they would end their marriage. Paul goes so far as to tell husbands and wives that if their spouse is an unbeliever, it may be their witness that turns them to Jesus, so with that hope and prayer, stay married to them.

The whole point of Paul's call not to get married is about a commitment to Jesus. He wants to remind his readers that the point of our existence on earth is to do life with Jesus. He knows the reality of marriage and how easy it is for our attention to be focused on our families first and then God.

The best scenario is to love our spouse with the love of Jesus so that in every aspect of our marriage God is present. When the point of our marriage is to please God then we will have the most incredible marriage possible. When we choose not to be self-centered, but Christ-centered both the husband and the wife win and God is honored.

I know that there are marriages at Charter Oak Church that are on the brink of disaster and there are marriages that are one with God. My hope and prayer is that every marriage will be centered in Jesus. I want my marriage to Kelli to be the absolute best that it possibly can be. I honor her by deepening my relationship with Jesus. I fall more and more in love with her and my intimacy with God is enriched. I am more in love with Kelli than I have ever been in our almost 16 years of marriage. Every moment, every day, every week, every year gets better - and it was pretty awesome before today. The reason it just keeps getting better and better is because I am more devoted and obedient to God than I have ever been. Every marriage finds its strength in Jesus.

Thank you God for the gift of marriage. I pray that my focus in my own marriage will be centered on Jesus first and foremost. I pray that I will choose the character of Jesus for my life and that will overflow into my marriage with Kelli. I pray you will give me eyes that are only on you and her. She is your beautiful bride long before she was mine. I pray that I will always give myself to you fully that I may give myself to her out of that relationship.

I pray almighty God for the marriages of the couples at Charter Oak Church. I pray that you will encourage those who are going through difficult times. I pray that they will put on your grace and forgiveness so that reconciliation may occur.

I pray for those marriages that are strong in you. Continue to fan the flame of commitment to you and to each other in them.

I pray for those who are married to an unbeliever. I ask that you will soften the heart of that spouse who needs you. I pray that you will give them a glimpse of your love through their spouse. Please help that believing spouse to have the patience to wait for their spouse to turn to you and give their life to Jesus.

God I love you, I praise you, I glorify your holy name. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It Ends Tonight

My favorite show ends tonight. Lost is by far my favorite. 24 is a close second, but Lost takes first place. It's too bad so many people stopped watching, but I have stayed faithful throughout the season.

One of the students at Charter Oak Church put together this video to say goodbye to the season. Check it out here. I think she is one of the most talented video producers I know.

When Problems Arise

Devotions for May 23, 2007

Proverbs 23
1 Corinthians 6

"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Paul jumps from disunity right into the belly of lawsuits among believers. Obviously there were a bunch of lawsuits being brought against fellow followers of Jesus. I love how Paul asks how believers can ask unbelievers in Jesus to make judgments about their disputes. How can followers of Jesus expect those outside the faith to have the same biblical worldview? He says we can't expect that, so don't take your disputes there. In fact, if you truly are a believer and you are arguing with another believer then the power of the Holy Spirit should allow you to reconcile your differences.

Paul gives us a list of immoral behaviors that are unacceptable. But he also reminds us that all sin is equal and this list of higher profile sins should not be called out with any more fervency than any other sin. We are all sinners. We have all come from the same beginning. But as followers of Jesus we have been washed in the blood of the sacrificial lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. We should live into that redemption.

However, just because Jesus died for our sins doesn't mean that you can do anything you want. The freedom that Jesus brought was to bring us to true life based on the character of Jesus not the character of sin. The sins that Paul listed are flesh oriented. So he reminds us that our bodies are not our own, they are the temple of God. I love the analogy of the end result of what is really happening when someone has sex with a prostitute. It's not just an act of the body, but of the soul as well. When we choose to live outside God's design with our actions, it also has ramifications on our souls. Jesus died to set us free from this kind of living.

I know we want to categorize sin. We have our top ten list of the worst sins. And yet, we choose to turn a blind eye to other "lessor" sins like over-eating, greed, and self-centeredness. I don't know how that happened, but it has the same affect on the bride of Christ as a groom sleeping with a prostitute on his wedding night. It all breaks God's heart and it separates us from him.

I need to work on my interaction with fellow followers of Jesus who I disagree with. I need to man up and put on the love of Jesus and go to the person I am in disagreement with and have the character of Jesus as I interact with that person. I have a very strong anger streak that I hate. It often keeps me from doing what I need to do to be in community with others. However, I want to be a witness to this region that the love of Jesus compels me to be in unity with others, no matter how difficult that may be, so that we can be one together with Christ.

O God, I confess that I fall very short of your desire for me to live into the character of Jesus. I categorize sin and often times don't even know it. I am a sinner in need of grace and forgiveness. Help me to look at every person I meet as a child of God who is no different than me.

I pray that when disputes happen in the relationship between people at Charter Oak Church that they will put on humility and grace. I pray that they will seek reconciliation as quickly as possible. I pray that our congregation will be known for their love for those outside our walls. I pray that we will be known for what we stand for than what we stand against. I pray we will remember that we have been justified and sanctified in the name of Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book #9 - Spiritual Leadership

I just finished reading Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby. This was the third time I have read this book. I have read it once at each of my appointments to churches in Western PA. This time the book grabbed me in more powerful, convicting ways than before. I took tons of notes. I started blogging my journal of my Bible study. I am being more disciplined about my daily spiritual habits. God has used this book in incredible ways to challenge me to step up my commitment to be a true spiritual leader at Charter Oak Church.

I think this book also scared me a little bit, honestly, maybe a lot. As the Blackabys taught on leadership practices, they also gave the dark side of not practicing these principles. I don't want to go down that road. I don't want to be on the long list of pastors and spiritual leaders who have failed.

I want to be right in the middle of God's will and I want to partner with the people of Charter Oak Church to help them to get on to God's agenda for their lives. This book went a long way to helping me to zero in my focus with laser beam intensity.

Discipline Among Believers

Devotions for May 22, 2007

Proverbs 22
1 Corinthians 5

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." ( 1 Corinthians 5:11)

First Paul dealt with the problem of disunity that was occurring because of the divided following of different spiritual leaders. Now, Paul turns to an even more difficult teaching on how to bring discipline among believers. There obviously was a problem with incest and no one was willing to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, people were boasting about it. Paul says kick those people out of the church. No questions asked. No mercy talked about. Just kick them out.

The reason Paul gives for this hard line is that when unrepentant sin continues within a community of believers, it will grow in other areas. He writes that Jesus didn't go to the cross for this. He was sacrificed to bring us new life, not death through sin.

Finally, Paul writes that he is clearly teaching about believers. He is not condemning those outside of the faith. His finger is pointing at followers of Jesus who choose to continue to walk in sin. No matter what the sin is, if it is an ongoing, unrepentant sin, kick the person out.

This is some really tough teaching from Paul. None of us are perfect. All of us sin. But here's the thing, I believe we are more interested in being liked by other believers than truly loving them. So we don't speak the truth in love. We see someone who is walking in an ongoing, unrepentant sin, but we don't say anything because we don't want to look like we are judging them or being closed mind. Paul says that it is our responsibility to judge that behavior and call each other on it.

If we don't step up our call and emphasis on personal holiness then that sin will begin to grow, it will spread into other areas. The point of our community of faith will no longer be obedience to God, but our own pleasure.

This is an incredibly difficult road to follow. But the reality is, this discipline among believers is all about love and obedience to God. This is a powerful teaching that we need to find a healthy way to embrace in the Church today.

Holy and Everlasting God, I know you are perfect in every way. I realize that you cannot have sin near you because of your perfection and holiness. I admit that calling sin a sin in someone else's life is extremely difficult. Help me to see my own sin and repent of it. Help me to love the people of Charter Oak Church so much that I am willing to speak the truth in love to each one of them. Give all of us a teachable and humble heart that will allow us to hear what you want in our lives. I love you more than I love my bent for personal pleasure. I want to be obedient to you in all aspects of my life, down to the last detail. Send your Holy Spirit to guide and direct me according to your ways. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Observations from This Past Weekend

Saturday night before worship I was pacing around. I was nervous. I have been nervous for both of the messages in this series so far. The first week because I knew that what I was going to say would be very emotional and I knew that what I would be saying had been the culmination of weeks of prayer and study. The nervousness I felt the first week was more excitement for what I believed God would do through that message.

This week I was nervous because I was stepping into people's living rooms and asking them what influence the media that entered their homes was having on their children, on their marriage, on the way they do life with Jesus. Most people don't want you to mess with their TV.

I have to admit that I was blown away by the way that people responded. I expected to see arms crossed, people drawing on their worship folders, or just getting up and leaving. I couldn't believe it, but just about everyone was totally dialed in to what I was saying.

I didn't tell people to go throw away their TV sets, or to never go to the movies again, or to cancel their Internet subscription. Instead, I challenged the people of Charter Oak Church to start thinking theologically about what they were allowing in to their homes. What is it doing to the way that their daughters look at themselves? What is it doing to the way their sons will look at their dates? What is it doing to the depth of love between husbands and wives?

I hope and pray that the message this past weekend will lead to some great conversations between parents and kids about what they are watching and how it is influencing them.

Servants of Jesus

Devotions for May 21, 2007

Proverbs 21
1 Corinthians 4
Our God Reigns - Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, David Crowder

"Men ought to regard us as servants of Christ." (1 Corinthians 4:1)

Let's just put it all on the line here - Paul calls himself a servant. He calls Peter, Apollos, any one who is in spiritual leadership a servant of Jesus. When Paul makes this statement it removes all doubt about the whole argument that was going on in Corinth about those spiritual leaders that people were following and wanting to put on a pedestal. Paul makes it crystal clear that those leaders are to serve the people but to be obedient to God. The Corinthians no longer need to boast about which spiritual leader brought them to Jesus. The point is Jesus, not the spiritual leader.

I love the way Paul sets Timothy up here. He has spent the last few chapters telling the Corinthians where they have gone astray and it has brought division. Now Paul is sending Timothy, a young pastor, who will speak and teach on his behalf. He in essence says that when Timothy speaks, he speaks for me. This is a great way to introduce a new leader.

Since there are three pastors at Charter Oak Church it can become very easy for us to fall into the same trap that the Corinthians did. Pastor Dave has been here for fourteen or fifteen years. I have been here for almost two years. Pastor Mark has been here for a year and a half. Each of us have brought people to Jesus. We each have our own style of leadership and pastoring.

Here's the thing, all three of us are called to be servants of Jesus. We love the people of Charter Oak Church. Our joy comes from seeing people "get it" and follow Jesus. I don't want any credit. I don't want people to tell me that they like me better than anyone else. I want us as the spiritual leaders of this church to help people to find their way back to God and love him with all of their heart, all of their mind, all of their soul, and all of their strength.

The main thing is pointing people to Jesus, not who gets the credit.

My God and King, forgive me when I make it about me instead of you. I don't want any credit. I want to boast in Jesus and in him alone. I pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will see me as an obedient servant of Jesus and that will draw them into a deeper, more intimate relationship with you. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spiritual Growth

Devotions for May 20, 2007

Proverbs 20
1 Corinthians 3

"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? "

Paul had no problem sharing his disappointment with the church in Corinth. His expectation was that the followers of Jesus there would have started the spiritual growth process of becoming more like Jesus. However, there is great division within the church. The people are more oriented to the human leaders than they are toward God. Paul reminds them that the human leaders are nothing compared to God. It is God that is the author of all.

Paul uses a great analogy about building - the use of poor building materials that creates an unstable temple. The wood, hay, and straw are metaphors for the immaturity and vulnerability to wrong doctrine that describe people of Corinth. The building is only as strong as its foundation. Jesus is the only foundation that will last for eternity.

I often feel that we get distracted by all the wrong things. It is easy to argue over controversial issues. Followers of Jesus will get so caught up in these arguments that we miss out on what it is that we are supposed to be doing - making disciples of Jesus.

Our goal is maturity - to become more like Jesus in every aspect of our lives. We don't need division. We need unity. I don't want any credit for the growth at Charter Oak Church. I want God to receive all the praise and glory, for it is he who makes us grow. I am God's fellow worker. I want us to be mature, open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and sold out to the teaching of Jesus.

Almighty God, you are the author of life. You are the one who sent Jesus to give us true life. We have traded true living for trivial arguments and inferior building materials. Help us to set the world's way aside and place you at the very center of everything we do and say. Forgive us when we long for milk instead of solid food.

I pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will mature in a healthy development of following after Jesus. Help us to keep the main thing the main thing. Help us to be a church that plays for an audience of one. Give us all servant hearts that it will never be about any of us, but always all about you, God. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

God's Secret Wisdom

Devotions for May 19, 2007

Proverbs 19
1 Corinthians 2

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

Paul continues the conversation that was started in chapter 1 about the distinct difference between what people bring to the table versus what God brings. The Corinthians obviously placed the wisdom and power of man as most important to them. It was all about power, self-reliance, and prestige, not so different from today. Paul stands in stark contrast and declares that it is only God who reveals true wisdom.

The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. Those who are not of God cannot possibly understand the things that come from the Spirit of God. Paul calls us to put on the mind of Christ.

How do we put on the mind of Christ? I think it is a dedication to practicing the spiritual disciplines. We cannot possibly know the things that come from the Spirit of God if we do not know the Holy Spirit. We must develop an intimate relationship with God through Jesus. We do that through studying the Bible, prayer, time alone with God - listening, and through worship.

I want to be disciplined to practice the presence of God. I want my drive for a relationship with God through Jesus to be stronger than any other pursuit in my life. I want to have the mind of Christ.

Heavenly Father, I know that often times I value the standards of this world over the foolishness of the cross. Please forgive me. Help me to hunger and thirst for the wisdom that you seek to pour out into those who love you and follow hard after you. Help me to put on the mind of Christ.

Open the minds and the hearts of the people of Charter Oak Church so they too may see that the wisdom of this world is nothing compared to your great love through Jesus. I pray that each person will choose to be in your presence and learn from you each day. We want more of you. We want the fullness of your glory revealed in and through us. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's About Jesus

Devotions for May 18, 2007

Proverbs 18
1 Corinthians 1
Center by Charlie Hall

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

I love the way Paul begins this letter to the church he founded. He knows that there are some problems going on in the church, especially with the leaders. He doesn't jump right into the confrontation, he begins with affirmation. Paul finds the good that God is doing in and through the people of Corinth. He shows his pastor's heart and love for these people, his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul then turns his attention to the division within the church. Some people are committed to Paul, others follow Peter, and some follow Apollos. I love Paul's statement - it's not about any of these men - it's all about Jesus. Paul didn't come to baptize, but to preach the gospel. He knows what it is that God has called and gifted him to do.

Then Paul turns to one of my favorite parts of all of his letters as he writes about the foolishness of the cross. I love verses 18-31. Every thing that Jesus did flies in the face of what was expected. Jesus didn't fit into any box that tradition created. Jesus came for sinners - to bring eternal life to those who would follow him - our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!

We all need accountability. It is very easy to focus in on the confrontation first and miss the opportunity to bring affirmation. We need to celebrate the good things that are happening in our families, at work, at school, and at Charter Oak Church. We also have to speak the truth in love about the things that divide us and take our attention and devotion away from Jesus.

I want to be obedient to Jesus. I don't care if that looks foolish to those on the outside. I want to love Jesus with all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul, and all of my strength. More than anything else I want to boast in the Lord. It's all about Him.

Father, I give you praise and honor. You choose a sinner like me, the weak and lowly of this world, to shame the world. I am in awe of you. I stand amazed at your glory. I pray that I will never make my work here about me. I ask that I will always have a humble heart and spirit. Help me to always make everything I do and say to be about Jesus. Please bring unity to Charter Oak Church. I love your bride. May I present her to you spotless and blameless for your glory, honor, and praise. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thoughts from This Weekend

This past weekend was incredible for me. We launched a brand new series called Intimacy: A Look Beyond the Covers. I started by talking about Intimacy with God. I have spent a ton of time, energy, and passion putting this series together. I wrote a study guide to accompany the series. I have spent countless hours in prayer. The payoff was incredible - at least for me.

As I looked into the faces of each person from Charter Oak Church as I talked about loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, I couldn't help but get emotional. I saw people whom I love and for whom I feel extremely honored to serve beside. As Mark sang Give Me Jesus, I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like if our entire congregation lived out those words. I imagined what it would look like in our community if we decided we were really going to love Jesus with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

As I sit here today, I think about the impact we could have in this community and around the world if we lived out our love. I can only imagine what it would be like if the people of Charter Oak Church decided to love God and build a relationship with God through Jesus that permeated every aspect of your life.

Here's what I think will happen - the 31,000 people in a five mile radius of our church who are do not attend worship with any kind of regularity will see Jesus in us and will be drawn to him. That's my biggest prayer right now. The people of Charter Oak Church will live their love for Jesus so loud and so authentically that the people who don't know Jesus or who have stepped away from him will be compelled to seek him.

God has strategically placed us on this hill, in this location, at this time for a reason. God has placed a huge call upon the people of this congregation to reach these 31,000 people. I am pumped up about what I know God is doing in our people and what he is going to do in even greater measure in the future. The best is yet to come!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Summer at Charter Oak Church Just Got Better!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Discussion Guide Available

As we prepare for the beginning of Intimacy: A Look Beyond the Covers, I want you to know that I have written a Study Guide to accompany the series. The Study Guide is a small bound booklet that has the sermon notes, scripture references, and discussion questions. It is written for small groups, couples, families, and/or individuals to work on throughout this four week series. You will be able to pick one up free of charge at the ipod this weekend. My hope and prayer is that the Study Guide will help you take your next step in your development as a follower of Jesus.

Intimacy Series Kick-Off

This weekend I launch a brand new series called Intimacy: A Look Beyond the Covers. I know a ton of pastors are talking about sex or have recently done a series on sex. Some of them have been incredibly successful.

I will be honest with you, I strongly considered doing a sex series too. After spending time in prayer, I began to sense from God that I needed to speak about intimacy with God. There are so many couples at Charter Oak Church and couples in our circles of influence that are struggling with their marriage right now. Most of them have decided in one shape or another to not have a Jesus centered marriage. There are other relationships in our lives that are in the same place.

The point of this series is to love God first - to love Him passionately. When we love God with that kind of intensity it will overflow into our other relationships. If you know someone in our community who needs to hear about how to have phenomenal relationships, invite them starting this weekend as we begin with Intimacy with God.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Who Would Be Your Mentor

I was asked earlier this week if I could meet a couple of times a year with someone as a mentor, who would it be? Wow! The names of so many people ran through my mind. Here are some names and why I would choose each one:

  • Tim Stevens - He is the executive pastor at Granger Community Church. I read his blog daily. I learn so much from him. Dave and I get to spend a full day with him and Mark Waltz at the end of the month, just the four of us. I can't wait.
  • Andy Stanley - He is the senior pastor at North Point Community Church. He is the best communicator I have ever heard.
  • Perry Noble - He is the senior pastor at New Spring Community Church. This guy is not afraid to do what God is calling him to do. He is sold out to making disciples of Jesus.
  • Dave Ferguson - He is the senior pastor at Community Christian Church. He is the leader in going to multiple sites as a church. He is the big idea guy.
  • Aubrey Daniels - He is a leadership guru.
  • Rob Bell - He is the pastor at Mars Hill. He is an author and creator of the Nooma series.
  • Jim Collins - Author of Good to Great.

Who would you pick if you could be mentored by anyone in your field?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thoughts on Expectations

I just posted the attendance for the month of April. We are four months into 2007. Our average attendance for April was 795 people up from 591 last year. That's 204 more people or a 26% increase. Our average attendance for the year is now 744, up from 576 last year. That is 168 more people or a 22.5% increase.

I am excited to see so many new people becoming followers of Jesus. The momentum is growing. Last night at our Leadership and Servant Training, I asked Andi Farrell to share some emails we have received from people who are new to Charter Oak Church. The stories were awesome! Lives changed. I may post some of those quotes Andi shared later this week.

I have shared with the Senior Management Team and the leadership of Charter Oak Church that I believe we have the potential to have 1,000 people in worship by the end of this year. I thought we would hit the 800 mark in September. We nearly hit it in April. I am blown away by what God is doing in the lives of the people He is bringing here. I am so thankful that I have the awesome privilege of being here.

I hope and pray that God will not stack the odds in our favor, but that we will have to rely on Him and only Him for our future. I pray that God will do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine to build His Kingdom in this region.

Roll up your sleeves, put patches on the knees of your jeans, and get ready for what God is going to do this summer at Charter Oak Church.

April at a Glance

March 31/April 1 - Mark preached
792 in worship (34.5% increase from 2006)
313 in Sunday school (34.9% increase from 2006)

April 7/8 - Dave preached
1127 in worship (37.6% increase from 2006)
180 in Sunday school (12.5% increase from 2006)

April 14/15 - Dave preached
669 in worship (7.6% increase from 2006)
229 in Sunday school (9.9% decrease from 2006)

April 21/22 - Dave preached
717 in worship (20.6% decrease from 2006)
251 in Sunday school (88.7% increase from 2006)

April 28/29 - Dave preached
672 in worship (40% increase from 2006)
270 in Sunday school (16.4% increase from 2006)

Thoughts I Shared with Staff Yesterday

2 Samuel 23:20-21, “There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. Another time, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.

It’s easy to read verses like this in the comfortable confines of your home or office and totally miss the monumental acts of courage displayed by Benaiah. Have you ever heard of someone chasing a lion? Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. But Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. Normal people run away from lions. Benaiah chased the lion.

I am convinced that God is in the business of strategically placing us in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. But here’s the kicker – the right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time, and the right reason often seems like the wrong reason – at least to us.

2 Samuel 23:23, “David put Benaiah in charge of his bodyguard.” Benaiah wasn’t just chasing a lion; he was chasing the opportunity to be put into a position in King David’s administration. Here’s the point: God is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those God-given opportunities often come disguised as man-eating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges. Or we can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.

As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I’ve learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all. When I was in college the safe option for me was to get a job in computers making very good money, instead I went to Duke. It was one of the most dangerous decisions I had made to that point in my life in following God’s will to go into ministry. In my first appointment out of seminary I challenged my churches to chase after the biggest lion they ever saw in their lives and they did for a while, but then they noticed the high walls in the pit, the snow falling all around them, and the size of the teeth of the lion – so they ran back to safety.

I think my biggest fear as a follower of Jesus is to seek safety. There is a hymn that says something like “safe and secure from all alarms.” I don’t want that. Yes, I want to be in the arms of Jesus, but desperately holding on because I can’t do it myself. I want my drive to be out where God does His best work to be stronger in me than my desire to please people and seek safety. It’s not my job to make people happy; it’s my job to be obedient and to get the people of Charter Oak Church on to God’s agenda for their lives – that will mean chasing after lions.

There is a pattern repeated throughout Scripture: Sometimes God won’t intervene until something is humanly impossible. God loves impossible odds. Let me tell you something – God wants and deserves full credit. Too often our prayers revolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. We want everything in our favor. But maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.

I don’t want us as a staff to go into the summer months and press cruise control. I don’t want my handicap on the golf course to get better. I don’t want to improve my tan. I want to be a part of something this summer that is humanly impossible. I want each of you to have the odds stacked against you so that you can experience a miracle of divine proportion. I want you to live and pray prayers that are outside of our comprehension.

2 Kings 6:4-7, Can you have the mindset that would believe an ax would float? Are you ready to pray this kind of prayer?

If you work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God, there is no telling what God will do here, as the odds are stacked against us, as we are driven to our knees in desperation, and we get out into the open water where God does his best work. I want this to be a monumental summer at Charter Oak Church!