Total Dependence – From Trials To Triumph

There is a HUGE tree in my back yard that I love because of how tall it stands.  When I look at it I see a beautiful creation of God that has taken decades to build strong.  What makes it so strong?  An extensive root system that is a complex interweaving of the underground part of the tree you never see.  This has always fascinated me about trees.  You can gaze upon how majestic it climbs to the sky, but really what makes it grow is what you never see below the soil.  The same is true for our character and dependence Character is NOT about what everyone sees, it is about what is driving you that often no one ever notices.  “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season...” Psalm 1:3


The essence of religion consists in the feeling of an absolute dependence

Friedrich Schleiermacher

Gospel Dependency

The harder the trial, the more you find out what and who you are depending on.  Not too long ago my root system was challenged. Because I am intuitively a doer I want things to be, well, done. Before I knew it, all the tasks of leading the church, preaching, doing weddings, performing funerals, visiting the sick, making phone calls became a sick progression self dependence.  After a three year season of planting the church, I realized subtly I had become dependent on my behavior and my routines and not the Gospel.  As the days went on and on I became more dependent on the external factors of performance rather than the internal reality of being.  My trial was one of perfectionism and performance based evaluation through the approval of others.  As we live in the power of the Gospel and suffer, we realize His perfect story.  The miracle of His creation, our rejection of Him, our redemption through Him, and now our approval by Him is His perfect plan for restoration. His resurrection changes everything!


Knowing – Being – Doing

One day, while going about my business, the weight of the following verse came crashing down on me. It was like the Word of God opened up and my life and future became clear. This was my dependence manifesto that was to mark me:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10

I had to realize my first role was to be his disciple.  There are three clear things that jumped out at me.  These three things were working together to make me a disciple of Jesus fully dependent on Him.  Struggling through trials requires a dependence on a knowledge of His will for my life.  The trial I am traveling through may or may not have been created by me, but it has been determined for me.  This is usually almost impossible to see when you are progressing through a difficult season and many times you will need someone else to point out the “point of it all.” Knowledge of suffering and Jesus on the cross helps us put in proper perspective our own suffering and trial.

Because of this knowledge we can then surrender our agenda and – just – be. I love how Being works in harmony with knowledge to give wisdom and understanding through a situation.  During my season of reflection I realized that I needed to just be and STOP DOING.  For me, this revelation was like a slap in the face.  Being needs to be daily, weekly and routine.  Most of my being time now is not spent trying to gather knowledge, but rather to gain wisdom and understanding through his friendship. I want to feel God.

Only when we learn to know and be, can doing be the pleasing evidence of a life well lived.  I am sure you have heard of the saying,  “too much of a good thing.” Well, I had too much doing and not enough being. In order to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord bearing good fruit I had to pause and make sure my life was in balance.  To this day it’s not something that comes easy, but dependence is a DISCIPLINE.


The Triumph – Total Dependence

Most of us would say we want to have deep dependence on God. But sometimes deep character can be illusive through trial because of our blind spots and our bad experiences.  But even so, here are some ways you can develop deep dependence on God in your life no matter what situation you find yourself in.  And keep in mind, we develop strong character in order to stay focused on the mission God has for us.

  • Stay in the Word – We can too easily forget the foundation of dependency starts with our relationship with Jesus.  We must INTENTIONALLY make time to get away with him.  I was just talking to my friend the other day and he told me he is taking a mini 12 hour retreat Sunday.  Another friend is actually quitting his job for four months to be with God, pray, fast and learn to depend on Him more. Get away from all your distractions and be shaped and steadied by your time with Jesus.  Let him root out destructive habits and incorrect thinking.
  • Be Humble – If you have to take credit for everything good that happens in your work, family, etc. you have a problem.  Pass along the credit and promote others.  Do you always have to be right?  Always have to have the last word?  Always interrupting people to get your point across?  Yep, that’s pride.  And by the way, the moment you think you are humble you are most likely not.  It is when you realize your pride when your character is deepened.
  • Serve Continually – Every chance you possibly get you need to serve.  Considering others’ needs will give you a strong root system that can’t be compromised.  You can’t just serve when it feels good, but when it hurts.
  • Select Friends Carefully – You need friends that will build into your character not tear it down.  I’m not at all for isolating yourself from others who don’t believe the same way as you, but we must be careful who we bring close to us that INFLUENCES our thinking.
  • Hold Your Tongue – Nothing will destroy your influence and character faster than a hasty, harsh word.  The words you use define what you believe and who you depend on.  The next time you want to say something brutal, slow down.  Don’t make excuses for yourself either.  NO ONE gets a free pass by saying, “that’s just the way I am.”  If you want to deepen character it’s time to address the problem, your mouth.  Quick to listen, slow to speak.


Questions to Consider

  1. What knowledge to you need from God in order to put in perspective your current trial?
  1. What is God saying to you about your being? Are you comfortable being with him and depending on him for friendship, forgiveness and your future?
  1. What about your doing? What do you need to do NOW, TODAY that God has told you to do, in order to prove your dependence on him and live by faith.

From Trials to Triumph

“Turning Deep Wounds Into Great Impact”

Full Book Releasing January 19th 2015 –


Josh is the lead pastor at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Starplex Cinemas in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit for more information.

5 Ways To Become A Person of Action

I have a confession to make.  Yesterday I had an idea to bring my wife flowers.  What a guy! But did I do it?  Brace yourselves, NO.  Therefore, the idea, although a noble one and one that would bring joy to my beautiful bride of almost 18 years, DIDN’T EVEN MATTER.  (As a matter of fact when she reads this, it might work against me). We have all been in situations when we wanted to implement a GREAT, sometimes world changing idea.  But if we don’t do it, the idea is worthless.  Our best intentions without ACTION equal frustration.

How do we become people that ACT and LIVE our best intentions?

Start button

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22

Initiating IS NOT easy.  We have many things to overcome in our lives: Fear, laziness, poor planning and doubt can keep us from starting something.  But we are to be people of ACTION!  If you fail to start, you have already failed.

5 Ways To Become A Person of Action

#1 Believe in Your Idea – Many of us second guess our ideas way too much.  Someone needs to feel and sense the outcome of your initiation.  Many of us have had a GOOD idea for way too long but we don’t believe in the idea because of perfectionism, some a lack of confidence and others just are insecure about what others will think.  NEVER LET FEAR OWN YOUR FUTURE!  I’d rather get it wrong then passively sit on the sidelines.

#2 Plan it Out – The best idea that doesn’t show up in your calendar probably won’t happen.  The reason the flowers didn’t make it to the table yesterday?  I had no plan to get them so it just didn’t happen.  The bigger the idea, the longer you need.  Write it down, plan it out, and stick to your guns/schedule and make it happen.

#3 See The Outcome  This is the fun part.  If your actions are motivated out of love, it will MOTIVATE you to get busy.  When I teach, I often visualize the way someone might feel when hearing the material, this encourages me to act in boldness and say what I need to say.  Imagine how people will feel and the value you will have added once the task is complete.

#4 Share Your Idea – Nothing is quite as powerful as someone encouraging you in your idea.  I spend a lot of time bouncing my ideas off my co-workers family and it actually lets me know if my idea is any good! In addition, they make my ideas better.  Once I tell someone I am going to do something, it helps me initiate.

#5 Get off The Couch – Okay, I know this is obvious, but the only way to do it is to, well, DO IT!  This means you have to do whatever it takes to start!  Eat a big breakfast, run a mile, go to sleep early.  In short, No one can make you do the idea, but you know it needs to happen!

Don’t beat yourself up, we have ALL talked too much about what we were GOING to do. Forgive yourself!

Alright, better get the flowers!  What do you KNOW you need to do?  COMMENT BELOW… I’m interested to know some things that we have all been procrastinating.


Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit for more information.




On Mission

We have a very exciting weekend coming up at 217church! We get to hear from lead Pastor of Element church Matt Murphy. After finishing out a series on worship and how we live our lives as a response to a God who is pursuing us, Pastor Matt will be preaching on what it means to “to be on mission.” We are thrilled to hear from Matt as he shares the message God has put on his heart for this weekend!

I remember when I was a kid I would have hundreds and hundreds of toys in a toy chest that was the shape of a giant football. I grew up with two older brothers, which meant we were always working together to have the most fun. Toy City 217church Hamilton NJ

Every once in a while when we had a nice long, free day from school or activities, we would spend all day making what we called “toy city.” Toy city was when we took every single toy we had including action figures, cars, buildings, legos, etc. and we created a massive city in which all the toys were in and played a specific role in. We were on a mission to complete a bigger and better city than the last time!

I remember the feeling when we were finally done designing and building it all that it was if we had conquered the world. Then we would continue to play for the rest of the day in “toy city.”

When I remember my brothers and I being on a mission to build this “toy city,” I also think of Nehemiah in scripture. Nehemiah was called to rebuild the walls of the great city of Jerusalem. That was his mission. And Nehemiah was focused on that mission with an extreme amount of passion. Wherever he was, he was thinking about and carrying out his mission to build the city walls and raise the city up.

God is calling us to be on mission wherever we are. We as Christ followers are called to “GO” and tell the world about who Jesus is! We share the same mission, but the way it is carried out for each of us is different.

Here are 3 things we need to have to carry out our “mission.”

Vision: What has God put on your heart? Who is your heart broken for? Our vision as Christ followers must first come from God. He is the one that gives us the heart for certain people along with the gifts and passion we need to reach them! God broke Nehemiah’s heart for the city. Scripture said Nehemiah wept over the city and received vision from God to rebuild the city before he was sent!

Intentionality: What are you doing every single day to be on mission? How are you working towards accomplishing your goal daily? Intentionality is the “how”. Nehemiah presented a plan, he assigned specific families to build specific gates, he took a census, he even counted the animals! Nehemiah didn’t just have a vision, but he had intentionality behind that vision.

Means: What are the means to you accomplishing your goal and making your vision a reality? Nehemiah’s “means” were shovels, swords, and people! Leaders are the best learners! What resources out there can you read or study to inspire you to run towards your goal with even more passion? Do you have everything you need to get there? Healthy community is a “mean” for every Christ follower!

This weekend we will ask ourselves, “What does it mean to be on mission?” I pray that as we ask ourselves this question, God would give us vision, intentionality, and a means to accomplish all that He is calling us to!

– Pastor Kevin


Discover your mission by joining us this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 am at the AMC 24 Theater in Hamilton, NJ!  We are a unique church in Central Jersey dedicated to restoring lives and rebuilding and renewing the community around us.  If you life in the Mercer County, Burlington County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA area, learn more about 217church by clicking HERE


Praying Desperate Prayers

We just celebrated 17 more baptisms at 217church! That makes 167 total baptisms in the history of 217. God is on the move and we continue to ask Him to have His way. From the very beginning we have prayed this simple yet bold prayer, “Not our will God, but your’s be done.” It has been amazing in the last 3 years to see what happens when God answers that prayer!

Have you ever felt like your will was getting in the way of God’s? As if maybe your plans weren’t God’s plans? It is very difficult to deal with that moment. It takes faith, courage, boldness, and most of all willingness to realign yourself with what God is doing. Following God’s plan for your life is not easy. Jesus knew this more than anyone.

Jesus finds Himself facing the hardest moment of His entire life while here on earth. He is about to go through with the crucifixion. If He continues to press forward it means imminent death on a cross, excruciating pain, humiliation, and suffering. It is His purpose for being sent to the world but it is extremely difficult for Him as He faces the reality of His circumstances.

Jesus tells the disciples that His soul is sorrowful; even unto death. But even in Jesus’ most desperate moment, He sets an example for all of us as Christ followers on what we need to do in the face of difficult circumstances.

Here are some practical ways we as Christ followers can go to God during tough circumstances.

1.  Find a place of prayer 

In numerous places in scripture it says that Jesus went away to pray. Jesus was always getting away from the commotion, the chaos, the noise, and the busyness of life. Jesus had a hectic schedule. He went from town to town on non-stop travel teaching the word and ministering the Gospel to the people. While it is clear that Jesus was always on the move, we also see that Jesus had a strong discipline of rest. For Jesus, the place of prayer was in solitude and silence on a mountain side or in the woods. Where is it for you?

 2. Come as you are to God

When you read Jesus’ prayer in the garden, you can almost feel His emotion. Jesus doesn’t shy away from the fact that He is afraid, unsure, and nervous. Jesus doesn’t go to God pretending or hiding how He is really feeling. He tells the God of the universe to consider another way of saving the world! That’s how real Jesus was when he went to His father. He was even more bold to say “not my will but yours be done.” God already knows how you are feeling. He knows you don’t know the answers. He knows you feel lost at times. God wants us to come to Him broken, so that His restoration power can begin to work in our lives!

3. Ask Him to take over  

Finally, Jesus leaves it up to God. He basically says “Ok God. I am willing.” He puts his faith in God and presses on. The second Jesus left that garden, there was no stopping Him. Why? Because when faced with a difficult circumstance, Jesus went to the Father and was assured that the Father was with Him. The less time we spent with God, the harder it will be to give things up to Him. The more time we spend in prayer with God, the easier it will be to put our faith in Him. Lay it all at His feet!

My prayer for you today is that you would go to God like Jesus did. Find a place of prayer. Come as you are to God. And let Him take over.

What’s Your Dream?

Stare into this man’s eyes long enough and he will inspire you to believe in something much bigger than yourself.  This week, we celebrate his birthday and his selfless work for ALL marginalized people.  Born in Atlanta in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King was in the prime of his life and impact when he was murdered on the balcony of a hotel at the young age of 39.  He transformed the landscape of our country.  We should not seek to idolize King, but we should learn from him a lesson that has eternal ramifications.  Make your DREAM worth it.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”  Joel 2:28

Dreaming is dangerous as well as powerful.  When you dream you not only take a risk, but you will probably alienate people.  Some of us don’t feel like we can dream anymore, but THERE IS HOPE.  Dreaming isn’t just for the young, it is for everyone.  Let this post cause you to listen for a new dream from Jesus himself.

Getting a Dream Worth Dreaming

1. Ask What Breaks God’s Heart?  Dreaming starts with the Gospel of Jesus, not a self-help book.  The reason Jesus came to a broken world was not to leave us where we are, but to bring His kingdom here in all its fullness.  The good news is he chooses to use us through listening to HIS dream.  He is coming back for us.  But before he does that, there is work to do and dreams to fulfill.  To find out what breaks God’s heart, here are a few simple things I am learning to do:

  • Seek scripture – What has God already told us to do that we don’t have to really think about or question?  I remember 7 years ago sitting on my back deck reading this scripture from Isaiah 61:1:  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”  This is as clear as it gets.  You never have to ask Jesus if it’s okay if you visit a prison.  It’s right there in black and white!
  • Observe culture – Look around and see how people are suffering.  It doesn’t have to be food and clothing, but it should be a problem that needs addressing.  Teen suicide, slavery, teen pregnancy, child abuse, domestic violence, the fatherless, sex trafficking, education, special needs children, mental illness.  There is no excuse not to have a dream and if you aren’t helping others, you aren’t living a God-dream.

2. Ask What Breaks Your Heart? – Certain people are drawn to certain causes for a variety of different reasons, but if you are willing to ask God to break your heart for something, watch out!  A dream and a vision is coming that you will carry for the rest of your life that will drive you to wake up in the morning as well as keep you up at night.  How do you know what your heart breaks for?

  • Look at your scarsYou will minister most out of the pain in your life.  Maybe it is something you endured 10 years ago, but in season, God wants to redeem that pain to progress!  I have seen over and over again people who have been through excruciating pain and suffering, turn it around to benefit others.  DON’T WASTE YOUR SUFFERING!
  • Look at your skills  God gifts you to use your talents to increase the care and compassion to a hurting world.  If you are gifted at something, start now in using that gift to minister to those who are heartbroken.
  • Deal with what scares you – Fears often turn into huge areas of impact and great ministry.  Do you think MLK was never afraid of what might happen to him?  I think not.  He was no doubt at one point a bit afraid of his dream, and I wonder how long it took him to get over his own fear.  My wife and I are adopting from Uganda in the next 18 months, and it took us a while to activate our faith in God’s dream simply because of fear. 

3. Ask Where Is The Greatest Need? – If you have to have an event or a feel good moment to activate a dream, let these words be your permission to receive the dream God has for youSee the need and seize the moment!  I want you to pick one thing and just DO SOMETHING!  You need to realize that no dream is too small.  It doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing for the rest of your life, but if you are willing to be faithful with a little, God will expand your influence and give you a dream worth dying for.

My Conclusion This is room for more like Martin Luther King Jr.  I believe there is a generation rising up that will activate God-sized dreams and usher in great hope for a hopeless generation.

Let these words from Martin Luther King Jr’s last speech inspire your dreams…

“And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight.  I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…

May your dream be inspired by the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus for the Lord is coming.



P.S. I would love to have you join me, as I will be speaking at the Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Thursday, January 17th at 7 PM at Faith Baptist Church in Hamilton.  Directions Here


I wanted to QUIT today

There I said it, I am normal.  If you are anything like me, the feeling comes and goes periodically.  It was around mile 4 of my 10 mile run and my body just didn’t feel right.  Every step was a struggle, a labor, and my legs felt so heavy.  I was out of breath and began to ask myself, “do I really need to do this run today?” I wasn’t even half way done and my body was telling me, QUIT, GIVE UP, STOP!  I just wanted to be done with this work out.  EVERYONE has wanted to QUIT something at one time or another, and it was time to see how serious I was about training for this marathon.

Wanting to quit is normal and even healthy.

Have you wanted to quit lately?  Maybe you have wanted to quit your job, your marriage, your workout plan, your day, your week.  Wanting to quit can actually be a sign of great self-awareness and can be a powerful revelation of deep purpose and progress in your life.  It may get tougher before it gets easier, but know that perseverance is where the power is…

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”            James 1:12

How To Cope With Wanting to QUIT

1. Remember The Vision –  When I want to quit I visualize myself crossing the finish line.  I cannot tell you how many times in ministry, exercise, marriage, parenting or other big project, I have used this tactic.  The finish line is a POWERFUL motivator in my life.  It lets me know that pain is temporary, but pride is forever.  I am talking about good pride, not self-indulgent arrogant pride.  The self-satisfaction in knowing that I crossed the finish line and I did the best I could on that day propels me forward.

If you don’t have a vision, you better get one. How?

  • Evaluate – This is where you compare where you are to where you want to be.  You can’t get to where you want to go until you are honest where you are.  I read scripture to understand what God wants from me.
  • Motivate – What will propel you forward?  For me there is always scripture behind everything I do.  A HUGE motivator in my own life is 1 Timothy 4:12, “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  I make OTHERS a key part of my motivation.
  • Activate – You must be clear about the major action steps you need to accomplish in order to reach the vision.  A good vision should be action oriented.  By the way, if you can get there on your own, you may have what you think is a good vision, but it probably is not a GOD-VISION.

2. Retreat from Everything – When I want to quit, I get away and reevaluate.  Let’s be honest, you need a break and probably more than you know.  Many of us run a breakneck speeds and wear out ourselves and all the people around us.  It becomes even worse when we have unrealistic expectations of the people around us.  I DEMAND that my staff takes all their vacation time during the year.  If they don’t, they don’t get to wear it as a badge of honor and hard work.  I see it as a sign of life mismanagement and immaturity.  If you feel like quitting, you better take a break in a hurry.  How do you take a meaningful break?  

  • Disconnect from the technology – Laptops and phones are perhaps the biggest evil in our world.  you can now take your work home with you.  Somehow, we thought that was a good idea.  being ALWAYS ON leads to being overwhlemed.
  • Decompress emotionally –  Exercise, take a walk, watch a TV show, put your feet in the sand, do a service project but  don’t be s person who thinks you can run and run and run and never stop.  You are foolish.  The first thing that Adam in the bible experienced was God taking what is called a “Sabbath.”  Learn to sabbath well!
  • Deal with unresolved issues – What is the elephant in your life that you don’t want to deal with?  Maybe you need to see a counselor?  If you are one of those “guys” who is self-reliant and prideful, maybe it is time to man up and talk to someone about your issue.  Put it off and the price to pay goes up and you will eventually pay it.

3. Refrain From The Guilt – When I want to quit, I remember Jesus Gives 2nd Chances – and third and fourth and fifth.  We tend to beat ourselves up at the first hint of failure, which tends to come from our family of origin.  Most of us who deal with major guilt issues never had a father who believed in us, much less encouraged us to go forward.  When we give in and QUIT, we give away the victory. God is not into beating you up over guilt, he is into building you up through grace

4. Rely on Your Friends – When I want to quit, I think of my friends, those who have my back.  The power of others is the untapped secret of success in your life.  If you continue to try and accomplish things on your own, you will only go so far. If you will submit yourself to a team of people who encourage you and hold you accountable, you will be unstoppable!  God gives us each other for a purpose, and you can’t do it alone!  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

After mile seven it got even harder, but my perspective had changed.  I knew there were only a few minutes left of the run.  The last two miles I was able to run faster than I have all season in training.  I completed the workout and was exhausted, but knew I was preparing for something with much more meaning, RACE DAY.

God is preparing you and testing you now for a future with more purpose and meaning than you can possibly imagine.

God NEVER gives up on us. Don’t quit!



Back To Work

It’s Back to Work!  The parties are over, the break is done, and for most of us today signals going back to work and school. After much needed time with family, friends and some people we wish we could have avoided, the new year demands productivity.  I wanted to drop you a few ideas about WORK in the new year.  We spend so much time in our week working and thinking about work, why not make the most of it?

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

I remember my first day of official work.  I was so excited and motivated to make money.  C’mon, we all know why you applied for your first job, but since then my motivations have changed.

Why Work?

1. Bring Honor To God – Remember you don’t just work for your boss, but you are representing Jesus to all of your co-workers as well.  Maybe you have seen the bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.”  Okay, it’s a bit cheesy, but if you work to please Him, I can almost guarantee honor, character, and reputation will advance you.

2. Bring The Gospel to The Workplace – It cracks me up when I hear of workplaces banning talk about “religious topics”.  As if we shut off our character and life purpose while we work.  What boss wouldn’t want employees to follow at least the 2nd of two commandments Jesus told us to live out?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Or how about other commandments, “do no covet, do not steal, do not bear false witness.”  (Exodus 20)  Sounds to me like the best place to work, ever.

3. Bring A Listening Ear – How do we bring the Gospel to the workplace?  Talk less, listen more.  It all starts with caring about the people you work with, and then when the time is right, the opportunity will come to listen, serve and even pray with the people at your work.

Remember, above all else, you are there to bring glory to God.  Work hard, make him look good, make her succeed, and in the end, you will have done your job.

Work hard!


Finish Strong

Running is a hobby of mine that has grown on me since I ran track and cross country in high school and every race is an experiment.  I still love the sound of the starting gun and the anticipation of lining up before a race, but one thing has changed for me: I run more against myself than I do against other people.  One of the ways to achieve “PR’s” (Personal Records) is to finish strong.  This simply means run your fastest miles towards the end of the race.  This is a difficult art to master.

Ashton Eaton crushes the world record in the decathlon at the U.S. Olympic Trials
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

    Finishing well in life is not about how fast you start but how intentionally you finish.

    Some of my favorite people are senior adults!  Part of the joy of being a pastor in a multi-generational church is that we have the privilege of honoring senior adults among us.  217church is not just a church full of young people; but also those who have been around the block a couple times and are finishing strong.  Why? Let’s break it down with seven keys to finishing strong.

  • Intentionality – Discipline is the one thing that intentional people have.  They are looking for certain outcomes and have the fortitude to order their schedule to invest in high impact activities.  They don’t “retire”, but view their advanced years as the most productive and meaningful years lived.
  • Perspective – Finishing strong means you know that it isn’t about you.  Whatever your passion and purpose, it’s ultimately about passing your skills, ideas and wisdom on to the next generation.  If what you discovered dies with you, what’s the point?
  • Experience – Not just experience but evaluated experience.  Get as much experience you can in what you want to excel in.  Finishing strong means you learn not only from your own mistakes but from the mistakes of others.  This is an art that if you master can serve you well.
  • Focus – By the time you are in your sixties and seventies, you not only know what you are good at and not good at, but you no longer desire to be all things to all people.  You also know what is important, not important and have the FOCUS not to simply talk about it, but to do it!  One of my character mentors, who is eighty-five years old, arises at 4:30 am every morning and prays for 2 hours.  HE PRAYS FOR ME EVERY DAY.  As I am writing this, he is just finishing up his prayer time.  He gets it. He defines finishing strong!
  • Family – NOT hobbies, yes I said family!  Hobbies and pleasure are not bad, but they become subversive when they inhibit relationships. People who finish strong will do anything and stop at nothing to propogate a healthy generational legacy.  I recently heard of grandparents that moved far away from their grandchildren to live the good life in Florida because they “deserve it.”  Now they see their grand kids once a year.  They chose pleasure over purpose.  I hope you enjoy your golf outings, your grandchildren will miss you.
  • Clarity – The older I get the more I find I am telling it like it is. (that’s scary)  I think almost everyone has witnessed grandma or grandpa sharing truth at the Thanksgiving table and cutting right to the point.  In essence, finishing strong means you can’t worry what other people might think or say about you.  Be clear about what you are about.
  • Character – It is not about the outward appearance, but what happens when no one is looking.  Those who finish strong don’t have a public performance mentality; they are performing for an audience of one.
    I am learning more to have long term perspective and I am looking forward to aging with intense focus!

    What about you? What would you add to this list?  LET’S FINISH STRONG!


Keep on Pursuing

My son Titus has a new hobby, collecting baseball cards.  Over the last few months a day has not gone by when he has not talked about his new favorite hobby.  He is living, eating, and breathing baseball.  Statistics, rookie cards, hall of fame induction dates…If this keeps up, in a few years, Titus will be a walking baseball encyclopedia.  Something happened and I’m not sure what it was, but ever since the day he received his first cards, the boy won’t stop asking for more.  It doesn’t matter where we are: Vacation, Target, heck we could be in the car in the middle of the desert and Titus sooner or later would ask me, “When are we going to get more cards?”  At first it annoyed me, but now, it just reminds me that my son is intensely pursuing a vision.  To know everything possible he can about baseball and to acquire as many cards as possible.  He is PURSUING me relentlessly for MORE CARDS!  I mean really, it is quite amazing.

Titus’ latest acquisition / Jim Rice 1975 Topps Rookie Card

If there is one thing I need to hear and sense on a daily basis, it is that God Is Pursuing Me.  He is always trying to communicate with me, always trying to help me see things from His perspective and always willing to listen to where my heart is.  He is constantly asking me to take more risk, change something and come alongside Him in what He is doing.  As a matter of fact, my biggest fear is that I would lose touch on how to listen to God. 

His faithfulness to us is NOT dependent on our faithfulness to Him.

When you feel helpless and even like God has given up on you, try this…

  • Wait on the Lord – STOP!  Wait!  You have to calm down and realize that your timeline is not God’s timeline and it won’t be.  Stop freaking out!  The closer you get to God the more you learn to be faithful in the little things and will wait for him to do the work in the big things.  Learn the discipline of sacrificing short term instant gratification for long term gain.  There is something to be said for waiting a VERY long time for something. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “God hasn’t moved YET, so it must not be His will.”  maybe God is saying “NOT YET”  GOD IS PURSUING YOU!
  • Hope in the Lord – I have seen so many young pastors, leaders give up on ministry, their families and their calling.  They live with this idea that they have to be in control and after a while they lose hope!  Things are probably not going to go your way 100% of the time!  But don’t lose hope.  This scripture once got me through a time of despair and doubt:  Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Seek the Lord – Don’t stop asking!  Be persistent and beg God for His plan for your life to come to it’s full fruition.  This means you will probably have to listen like you have never listened before.  Cut out the distraction, think like you haven’t thought before and lean on His understanding. Go ALL-IN with GOD!  Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

This Sunday 217church is all about a God who is faithful and PURSUES US! (Lamentations 3:21-23) Even when we absolutely ruin our lives and deviate drastically from his plan for our lives, HE STILL PURSUES US!  This is crazy, I would have given up on me by now, but God hasn’t and He won’t.  He won’t give up on me, His church and His plan for humanity.  If we pursued God like Titus is pursuing baseball, wow! We would be closer to His heart for us!

Today, live in the reality GOD IS PURSUING US

Getting Healthy – Spiritually

Do you want to be healthy?  Yes, of course!  It’s a no brainer.  As a matter of fact, The question is not whether or not we want to be healthy, but will we make the tough choices in order to be healthy.  As we enter into the Easter season in a few short weeks, I want to take time to introduce you to four key areas of health we will be tackling through the Live Differently series.

What does spiritual health look like?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NIV)

Going to Dr. Isn’t fun.  As a matter of fact I avoid him at all costs.  But it is something I need to do from time to time.  During this series we will introduce the concept of a Life Transformation Vision. (LTV)  Writing and implementing a LTV will be like a prescription for health God writes for us.  In each area of health focus you will have the opportunity to listen to God and write a vision that will inspire you to be healthy.  A vision that will lead your life guided by the Holy Spirit that lives within you and encouraged by those in your small group.  As a matter of fact, we want EVERYONE to be in a 217group throughout this whole 50 days of Live Differently.  How will you make the most of each Life Transformation Vision?

Be Honest – You can’t get to where you want to be until you have an accurate picture of where you are.  Take a snapshot of where you are and then move on. God wants us to grow and be connected to his vision for us.  (John 15)

Be Open- Never stop learning what God’s word says.  Be humble and yield to what God’s would say to you. Listening is a powerful too increase your health.  Immerse yourself in God’s Word and he will surprise you with a fresh vision and renewed calling.

Be Proactive- Take a risk and make something happen.  Start a habit, but whatever you do, be bold.  Our bold steps of faith will lead to health.  No one gets healthy by continuing to do what they are doing. (I think they call that “insanity”)

Spiritual health is not an option, its a requirement of those who want to follow Jesus

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that (A)we may present everyone (B)mature in Christ. 29 For this (C)I toil, (D)struggling (E)with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.  Colossians 1:28-29