Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner to Go

I had an interesting Thanksgiving this year. I actually ate my thanksgiving dinner out of a to-go box alone. Sounds pretty depressing huh? We traveled down to LA on Wednesday to spend the holiday with Codies family at her uncles house. Five minutes after we arrived Jackson (my 2 year old) started hurling- not just a cute little throw up, like the... almost started going into some unnecessary gruesome details. So not only did he puke one he spent three days laying in bed getting up every 15-20 minutes for a good cry and another hurl. Poor guy was such a trooper- I would have called it quits after what he went through.
So Thursday for thanksgiving I sent Codie to spend time with her family and me and Jackson stayed in bed. Codie Did bring me a rather fantastic spread in the to-go box and although I ate alone it was great.
Anyway Jackson is finally feeling better, and I actually got a little sleep the last 2 nights.

A few things I am thankful for:

1. My Family- Healthy or Sick I am blessed
2. The Fact that God loves and uses "Failures"
3. a Great Church that loves to be the church rather than play it.
4. A great group of Friends who I get to do life with.
5. Kenny the Shark- Love watching it with my two boys, we laugh at each other more than the show.
6. Mac Computers. On the 8th day God created.... you know
7. Diet Pepsi
8. The experiences in life that helped shape and mold me
9. Humor: If it weren't for the ability to laugh life would be too serious
10. God's provision (I know trite cheesy spiritual quote- but extremely true.

hope you all had a great thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The endless routine

I can Identify with Paul in Romans 7 when he says "the things I want to do I don't, and the things that I don't want to do I end up doing." It is so easy to slip into auto pilot and allow life to happen to us rather than than to make the most of every opportunity. I love the Christmas Story Movie. Especially the part where Flick licks the flagpole in freezing weather. I remember being dared to do that as a child, never actually did it but got close. Sometimes I feel like I do things like that in life- only to find myself doing the same thing all over again on a routine basis.
What I find myself not doing is living everyday like Jesus is who he said he is, and that every promise he made he is good for. I tend to slip into the routine of doing things my way and all of a sudden a week or more is gone, my relationship with God is diminished to the prayers before meals and bed and my communication with him is doing that 10-15 minutes I am "supposed" to do as a a Christian to not feel guilty. Did I want this to happen? Absolutely Not! Does it happen? More often than I would like to admit.

If you read through chapter 7 and get to chapter 8, you find that we are actually closer than we think to getting out of this routine. Paul is actually saying there is nothing "you" can do about it! What he does say is the first huge step toward getting someplace in this spiritual journey is to come to the conclusion that we are helpless and as humans will always make mistakes. Chapter 8 begins to show us that it is the Spirit of God within us that has the only ability to get us out of these routines and spiritual funks we end up in.

The challenge is not to take the traditional approach to this, this being: feeling really guilty and falling into a broken heap on the floor lamenting on how big of a sinner we are and figuring out some sort of penance to alleviate the guilt. The way of letting the spirit lead is to look at ourselves and say "of course I messed up" "I was in charge, I was leading and I will always lead myself down a destructive path." So instead of wallowing in guilt- I simply get up off the ground and with confidence rejoin the journey and begin to look for areas to let the spirit of God lead me. And know I will mess up again, but if the spirit is leading me- I like my chances!

Its not about working harder and being more spiritual, its about recognizing my weakness and surrendering myself to a Holy God, who loves me with an everlasting love and wants nothing but the best for me.

So Hi, my Name is Joel, and I'm a mistake-aholic... and I'm OK with that.

Looking forward to what God has in store!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thankful- From Glen Bryant


Have you ever been in a group of people around Thanksgiving time and someone says, “Ok, let’s all share what we are thankful for this year”. The group usually starts to stir nervously, each one hoping that they aren’t the one who has to go first. I was one of those, I would hope that before it was my turn that maybe something would come to mind or someone would say something I could spin my answer off of. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t have things to be thankful for before, it’s more of a realization of what true thankfulness is. I mean it’s easy to look around you and say how you are thankful for the “stuff” around you…the roof over your head, the food in your cabinets, the car in the driveway, or the money in the bank…but I have found that none of that compares to the people in my life, the peace and joy in my soul, or the love in my heart. Wow, pretty corny huh? Think what you want…but it’s real and I figured it out…it’s a gift.

So it’s my turn to share? No problem…I’m thankful that God not only stepped in and kept me from completely destroying my life, but has turned around and made me worthy of being used to help others. There is no better feeling I have ever felt than to know that I can be used by God to help others learn and find the peace, joy, and love that I have found in my life. If you want to put it in “worldly” perspective…it’s like finding a big bag of money and handing out handfuls of cash to people all around you. But you can’t put a dollar value on what I got, and when the market crashes I don’t lose anything that I’ve saved in my heart and soul bank, and there is an unlimited supply.

Never in my life have I ever seen people lose so much of what they have made so important in their life. I imagine that this will be a difficult Thanksgiving for many families in America and I sympathize with them. People were fooled in to believing that “debt” was the path to true happiness and they put their necks in the noose and lost their life…at least what life was to them. When you stake your happiness on houses, cars, vacations, toys, and the like, it’s like standing on thin ice. People are angry and wanting everyone else to help bail them out. When are we going to start taking ownership of our bad decisions and quit blaming anything and everything around us?

I recently have an opportunity to go speak to a group of guys at the local rescue mission. You see these guys are homeless, and it’s not just because they made bad choices, but some are there because while America was busy buying homes they couldn’t afford and going in to major debt, the price of housing went so high that there just isn’t enough affordable housing left. It’s one of the leading causes of homelessness. Even rentals have gone so high that without assistance many can’t afford them. So when I went and saw how some of these guys, even in their poverty, were praising God, it confirmed what I already believed…you can’t steal the joy of the Lord from anybody!

There is a story in the Bible about a rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked what he had to do to gain eternal life. Jesus lists the commandments to him and the young man states that he has followed those laws since he was a small child. Jesus wasn’t done of course and told him that all he had left to do was to sell all he had and give it to the poor, then come follow him. The rich young ruler walked away very sad because he had so much wealth he couldn’t let go of it. Jesus went on to explain how hard it is for a rich man to go to heaven because of what they have…because of what they consider valuable. I would have to wonder if the rich man was seeking eternal life in heaven or on earth. Furthermore, I would guess that if he would’ve said yes to Jesus that he probably wouldn’t have made him sell all his stuff anyway…who knows?

I’ve been on the verge of homelessness before in my life. If it wasn’t for my mom and dad, I don’t know where I would be today…but I am more thankful for the prayers that my mom prayed for me every night than for any of the other help I received. You see, my mom didn’t pray for me to have money or things…she prayed that God would save me from myself. She prayed that I would see God for what He is, a good and loving God who wants the best for our lives. But even God knows we have to deal with our mistakes. He is not going to step in and do a “bail out” in our lives, we need to learn from our mistakes and make better decisions for our future. We need to quit blaming God for the way the world is, and start doing something to change the world for the better!

A few months ago I was in Sacramento at a youth workers convention, and as I was walking down the street I passed a homeless man on the street asking for change. I reached in my pocket and dropped some change in his hand and as I continued I felt drawn to turn around and do more for him. No, I’m not talking about giving him more money, because what I had given him was meaningless. I had something much more valuable that I had kept to myself. I kept thinking, “I got to go back “. Well, the place I walking to was closed (hummm?) so as I turned to go back the other way I got my chance. When I found him I stopped and told him “I gave you some change but I didn’t give you the most valuable thing I have”. I went on to ask him if he new about God and about what Jesus had done for us and only after our short conversation could I walk away feeling like I had really helped him. I give all the glory to God for changing my heart and making me see what is valuable and what we should really be thankful for.

So here’s something I realized…after I left the rescue mission the first time, my heart was breaking for all the people there. I wanted to dive in a help them all and then I realized this…if Jesus was to come back to earth today and start a new ministry…who would be willing to follow him? It occurred to me that those who have the least to give up, would most likely be the first to follow. These homeless people we look down on with pity are in better shape than we are! In fact when I spoke about this to the guys that night at the mission, one of them asked me to read Proverbs 30:7-9…

And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things before I die; don’t refuse me--
Banish lies from my lips and liars from my presence. Give me enough food to live on, neither too much or too little. If I’m too full I might get independent saying, God? Who needs him? If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.”

A perfect prayer for Thanksgiving this year, don’t you think?

By Glen Bryant

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hanging with the family today

Working at gleanings

It was awesome to work with the Gleanings crew. We spent several hours pulling apart bricks of dried peaches and packaging them in bags, placing them in containers to ship to starving people all over the world. It was humbling to be a part of something like this, Gleanings rocks. That place really has the presence of God showing all over it. we will do this again- you don't want to miss it next time.

Thanks Jerrod for making this happen, and letting me bail to go help coach the COS team. (we had a first loss of the season, now 4-1).

Working hard

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here a Couple of Psalms that people Wrote

God, my God.
You have heard my prayer,
you know my hearts desires.
Bring peace Lord
and know I follow you always.


"Roses are Red
Tires are Black
Like Jesus said..
'I'll be Back!"

God hold me.
Love me.
Show me.
Expand me.
So that I can be enough.
To your glory.

I will be adding more later. Thanks for getting involved I hope you are growing through this and enjoying the Journey "After His Heart"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Write your psalm

Tonight we talked about the psalms of David. The Challenge is to write a psalm. You can post in anonymously by clicking comment below, as well as to see what other have written. you can also email it to or
God bless and have a great night.

I have to approve the comments- because there are some people out there who enjoy posting sick stuff. So if it doesn't show right away I will get it posted soon. Thanks for your participation.

John at dollar dinner after elevate.

Parents hide the kids.

More cheese!

Say cheese!

Elevate rocked tonight

Actually its still rocking, I am doing this in service. Is that a sin?

After God's Heart

This is a Video I put together last week for Elevate. I had a privilege of going to the naotional outreach conference in San Diego. I interviewed a bunch of pastors about what they thought about David. The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart. We are going through a series in Elevate about the heart of David and what it means to pursue the heart of God. Tonight we are going to lok at the psalms of David and see how his honesty, his faith and his doubt built the type of character in him. David was definitely not perfect, but he had a deep passion for God. Hopefully by looking at the life of David we can experience the Grace and Love that David had, and we can begin to discover that type of passion in our own walk and journey with an amazing God.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Living a Fearless Life

This is a little video I put together for Sunday morning, the story comes from the book of Daniel chapter 3. This is one of those stories that is easy for us to dismiss as being merely a "Bible story" because it is such an amazing miracle. The faith these young teenage boys showed in their God was amazing. Faith is a missing ingredient in our daily walk, God sometimes is our last resort rather than the centerpiece of our lives. I believe God would still lvoe to do amazing miracles in our everyday life- his only requirement from us is faith.
I am challenged ths morning to truly live a life of faith.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cos girls game tonight

We have a game and then I have to run to elevate tonight at 7. Girls are 1-0

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tony doing a ittle Johnny Cash

At the elevate harvest bazaar at 210.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Francis Chan

Just finished the conference, Francis Chan spoke one of the most powerful messages I been a part of. He challenged all of us pastors to make sure and make our ministries about Jesus and resist the temptation to make it about ourselves. Jesus was never worried about how many people showed up, he said whoever wants to hear let him hear. God is an amzing God who doesn't need to us pleading on his behalf but rather to walk in confidence and show his power and live, teach, and relate like we believe in a powerful God.
Great stuff tonight very convicting and life changing.

Francis Chan

Check out the name of this session.

Don't think I need too much help, but who knows... There's always room for improvement.

I am filming today

I am taking some time to film peoples response to the question "what does it mean to be a person after Gods heart" as the bible says about David.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Night of comedy at conference

Morning in San Diego

Erwin Mcmanus

Last night Erwin Mcmanus was the speaker at our concerence. His message was about the spaces we create. Our tendency is to create spaces that are comfortable for people who are exactly like ourselves. That is the reason that churches are so segregated and lack diversity. It is also a major reason why the world think that church people or Christians are closed minded, jugemental, hypocrites. He used Pauls example of strategic spaces in Athens where he created dialogue. Eventually they invited him to their space because he met them where they were at. I was challenged to break out of the safe space I have created for people I am comfortable with and similar to, and begin intentionslb relationships with people who don't think or even believe the same as I do. The greatest quote he gave was "I would gladly receive the disdain of the entire religious community to reach one soul with
the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ." if we are going to reach people with Gods love we are going to tick off the religious community. The question should always be, "what is my motivation?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NOC conference in San Diego

The stage at the conference

Registration booth

This is the booth that I am manning today. I get to meet the speakers. Pretty cool!

Conference in San Diego

We are at the outreach conference this week. We are serving as volunteers at the conference, I am working registration from 11 to 3. Get to hear Erwin Mcmanus tonight.
Miss my family but having a good time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Thank God its finally over, the debates arguements and mass emails can finally stop. I guess our country can either continue to fight each other, or seriously make an attempt to heal and work together. To be honest I usually vote conservative, I feel a responsibility to respect and support a person
I didn't vote for. I read psalm 37 tonight. Some great words for uncertain and changing times.

Chipotle pizza ah yeah!

Dinner at CPK

Road to San Diego

We are travelling to SD for the outreach conference. Looking forward to a great week of conferences. I will be posting updates all week. Jerrod and Jonathan will be running elevate tonight.

Sunday, November 2, 2008