Monday, March 9, 2015

A Recipe For Rest

Happy Monday Morning!  For some of you this week will be no different than any other.  For others of you this week is SPRING BREAK.  I hope you have a rest-filled week.

Yesterday we pressed on in our series Living for the Glory of God.  Our focus, A Recipe For Rest, seemed to resonate with many of you with whom I have spoken.  Apparently, I am not the only one who tends to say yes to too many things, put too much on my plate, and run myself into the ground. It is my hope and prayer that we will all reclaim a sense of balance in our lives.  Far too many of us are exhausted and worn out, not just mentally and physically, but also spiritually.  How did we get this way?  Simple.  We are TOO STINKIN' BUSY

If Satan can't get you to sin, he will just try and get you busy.  He loves it when Christians are worn out, stressed out, burned out.  Remember what it means to be BUSY?


I really hope you will pick up Kevin Deyoung's book Crazy Busy.  I know I mentioned it a great deal yesterday. This short read has helped me immensely.  Another great book (which I am reading now) is called Boundaries by Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

So how we do take back our lives?  How do we gain a sense of equilibrium? Yesterday we picked apart Luke 10:38-42.  This text gives us a front row seat to two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Martha is the high strung go-getter who can't sit still.  "Mellow" Mary is calm and not at all concerned about her to-do list.  Luke gives us a side-by-side comparison of these two sisters who have welcomed Jesus as a guest into their home.  In perfect contrast, Martha models those of us who live in the crazy and Mary those of us who live in the calm.  This passage of scripture, although concise, offers us a prescription for taking back our lives from the clutches of craziness. Let's revisit the recipe for rest.

While Martha is distracted with all of the preparations of hosting Jesus as her guest, Mary is doing the opposite.  Seemingly, she is doing nothing.  But that's actually not the case.  She is SITTING at the Lord's feet and LISTENING to His words.  No activity.  No hustle and bustle.  She is just sitting and listening.  She is being still.  She is drawing close to the Lord.

If you find yourself overwhelmed and worn out today, here is the takeaway.  STOP DOING AND START SITTING.  Get in a quiet place free from distractions and just sit and listen to the Lord.  Let him renew your soul with his peace.  Remember our Lord's invitation to us in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest...for your souls." 

Our lives would change dramatically if we would develop a CONSISTENT HABIT of drawing close to the Lord.  Getting alone to pray, worship, and study the Word.  Consider Kevin Deyoung's words:  “A few unhurried minutes are better than a distracted hour, and a consistent habit is better than a sporadic burst of fits and starts."

Have you ever paused long enough to ask yourself why you are so busy?  Is it possible that busyness is a symptom of a deeper issue in your soul?  Martha was consumed with having everything perfect for her guest.  Her identity rested in how well she threw parties.

Maybe your GREED drives you to work long hours because you are not content with the things you have.  You have to have more, so you have to work more.

Maybe your SELF-ESTEEM comes from what you do.  You take on all kinds of tasks because it's connected to your IDENTITY.  When you are blowing and going from sun-up to sun-down you feel like you matter.

Maybe busyness and activity are the way you NUMB the deep hurts of your soul.  When you slow down your pain rises to the surface like a submarine from the deep.  Rather than confront the issues and walk through the pathway of healing, you keep yourself distracted by activity.

Maybe you live to PLEASE PEOPLE.  Often times those who are over-extended in their commitments are people who are afraid to disappoint others.  When our approval comes from the affirmation of others we became slaves to them.  

I encourage you today to pray David's prayer in Psalm 139:23-24.  "Search me, O God, and know my heart."  Are you willing to lay your soul before the Lord and invite Him to show you your own brokenness?  Often times our busyness and chaos is the result of what we refuse to confront within ourselves. 

Martha was so consumed about all of the details of that day.  But Jesus told her that when it's all said and done "only a few things are needed."

Our lives get crazy when we try to be all things to all people, when we try to do everything.  People who are balanced and healthy are people who have set healthy boundaries in their lives.  They have discovered that only a few things truly matter, and they have built their life around those things.  Setting a boundary is like building a fence.  It's a clearly defined marker of what you should and should not be responsible for.

If your family time truly matters to you, then set up boundaries around it.  Don't be checking email or scrolling social media when your spouse or children are needing your undivided attention.  

You are one person who can't do everything.  Put boundaries on your time.  It's okay to say no to people who ask you to assist with this or volunteer for that.  Thank them for asking, and then politely say no.  

Another challenge is determining which people are worth your time.  If you let them, there are people who will absolutely drain you of time and energy.  You have to set boundaries with people like that.  Be gracious but firm. 

Read Mark 1:35-39.  Jesus lived His life with boundaries.  He set time to get away from others. He went into isolated places to pray. He left villages when there were still people waiting for Him to come and minister to them.  Jesus was very intentional about how he spent his time. Maybe that's why it took him only 3.5 years to change the world.


The challenge we all face is determining what things and what people to say yes to.  Jesus told Martha that her sister had "chosen what is better."  They both had a choice.  Martha chose what was good, but Mary chose what was best.

How often do we miss out on what is BEST because we CHOOSE what is GOOD?  And it is just that, a choice.  Mary had to assess what was most important and so do we.

I once heard someone say "if everything's a big deal, nothing's a big deal."  What does that even mean?  Think about it.  Everything can't be important.  If it is, then nothing is truly important.  It's the same way in our lives.  We can't make everything a priority.  We are limited in our time and energy.  You must constantly weigh all of your activities and busyness and make sure they are what is MOST important in your life.

While much of that you will have to determine on your own, I will say there are some general ones that apply to all of us:

CHURCH / SMALL GROUPS.  Church should be a priority in your life.  Connecting with the people of God to worship, pray, study the Word, fellowship, etc. should not be something you do if it fits into your schedule.  NO.  Make your schedule around your commitment to God and His people.  "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

YOUR FAMILY.  Your family is the only group of people who will permanently be in your life.  You need to make sure you are keeping those relationships strong, especially if you are a SPOUSE or a PARENT.

YOURSELF.  Take time to invest in yourself.  Exercise.  Have a hobby.  Go grab dinner with an old friend.  Do things that will rejuvenate you.  You are no good to others if you are not good to yourself.

I hope this week you will take the challenge to slow down.  It's hard being a Mary in a Martha world, but it's a choice I am determined to make.  My hope is we can do it together. I love you guys! 

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shades of Grey

It was a cold day yesterday, but the rain and ice couldn't keep us from coming together, and what a GREAT DAY it was.  A special thanks to Andy Henderson & Colbi Mouser for stepping in and leading worship while Pastor Spencer took a much needed weekend off.

Yesterday we continued our series Living for the Glory of God.  In this series we have sought to simplify our faith walk by filtering our words, thoughts, attitudes, and actions through this one question: DOES THIS GLORIFY GOD?  In our time together we had a real life conversation about the fact that not all the decisions we face in this life are as simple as being right or wrong.  It would be nice if everything checked out as being black or white, but sometimes life is grey.  There are some issues that the Bible doesn't specifically speak to. 

So how should we respond? How are we to navigate the grey?

Some people navigate the grey with LEGALISM.  They respond by hunkering down and creating their own set of rules and regulations.  Not only do they (attempt to) abide by them, but they expect everyone else to do the same.  So even though the Bible doesn't forbid specific things, they do.  And they forbid you as well, often employing guilt and shame as a means to modify your behavior.  And while they may look "holy" on the surface, people who are legalistic tend to be incredibly prideful and arrogant.  Even their shadows cannot stand being around them. 

And at the other end of the spectrum you have those who practice LICENSE.  To this crowd, God is purely "tolerant" and "loving" and therefore man is free to live how he chooses.  So why not party it up?  God's grace will cover your sin. Go for it, right?  WRONG.  To not take sin seriously is to not take God or the Bible seriously.  Those who attempt to abuse God's grace and freedom show that they really do not understand the work of the cross.  Jesus died to save us from sin not to sin. Licentious people may bear the name "Christian" but they have no real intentions of surrendering their lives to Christ.

So how do we stay balanced?  How do we navigate the grey? Things like drinking, music, television, movies, tattoos, gambling, etc.  How do we live for the glory of God in these areas?  Yesterday we closed out with three questions to ask yourself.  These are three check points to help you know how to respond in a balanced and God-honoring way.  Let's look at them again quickly.

First off, don't call something grey that God has called black and white.  Example: while drinking is not necessarily a sin, getting drunk most certainly is.  Drunkenness is black and white, just like lying or stealing.  So don't justify drinking when your desire is drunkenness.  Remember, God cannot be mocked (see Galatians 6:1).  Before you act, consult the scriptures to see what God commands. 

If I do something that will push a non-believer away from God, I can know with confidence that this choice is NEVER God's will.  Is there a specific verse in the Bible that says "Thou shalt not go to a club?"  No.  But I told the story yesterday about being at a club when I was in college.  I ran into someone I had shared my faith with many years prior, my old friend Jimmy Perez.  He was totally disappointed in me and with the fact that I was there. Even though he did not believe in my God, he had believed in me.  And in one moment I failed him.  I can still hear his words ringing out in my mind.  Before you do something you think is harmless, take inventory of those around you.  Will your actions bring them closer to God or push them further away?

The majority of our message yesterday was spent addressing this issue.  As followers of Christ we must not live only for ourselves.  We must think about the good of others, especially our Christian brothers and sisters (see Philippians 2:4).  So while we may not personally have an issue with something that is grey, we should refrain from it if it will cause one of our brothers or sisters to stumble.  Let's say you and a friend grab a bite to eat one Saturday evening.  After dinner you suggest taking in a movie.  Your brother or sister says they are not comfortable with going to a movie.  They confess to you that they have struggled a great deal with profanity, and they know most movies (even with a PG-13 rating) are gonna have bad language and crude humor.  They just don't feel it wise to walk into a situation they know could influence them negatively.  Your response?  Even though you don't struggle with cursing, you decide not to go to the movies for the good of that brother or sister.  Can I tell you that when you do this it HONORS GOD BIG TIME?!?!?  Kudos to those of you who are already living this way. 

I hope these reflections are helpful and encouraging you to you all.  I am seeking to keep us all connected; growing and learning together.  If you ever have a question, comment, disagreement, etc. shoot me an email.  Would love to hear from you.

Below are some passages you may wanna check out this week as well as the link to this sermon series.  Hope your Monday is awesome. I love you guys.

Grace and peace,

Romans 14
1 Corinthians 6:12 
1 Peter 2:16-17 
Galatians 5:13-14 
Matthew 5:14-16 
Romans 2:17-24 
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Automobiles are a necessary evil.  You have to have one, especially living in DFW. Life without four wheels (or two wheels for all of you moped lovers) is tough. Transportation is essential for life.  How else would you get to work, school, or (my personal favorite) church?

So while being mobile is great and owning a vehicle is even better, the downside is all of the maintenance and upkeep.  Keeping "your baby" running can be costly. Oil has to be changed. Tires have to be replaced. Filters. Plugs. Gaskets. Give them time and they will all wear out.

We launched into a brand new series yesterday entitled Living For The Glory Of God. I shared an illustration about my beloved Swagger Wagon (don't you dare call her a mini-van).  About a month ago my wife and I bit the bullet and paid to have our power-steering pump replaced, and it weren't cheap (you like that Texas grammar?).  While I did not want to pay for the repairs, I was instantly glad that I did.  We had been driving for several months with no power steering.  Do you know how HARD that is???  I was getting an upper body workout just backing out of my drive way.  And you can forget about trying to park!  It would take me two or three rounds of turning, stopping, and backing up before I centered between the lines (when you do this in a crowded Wal-Mart parking lot it causes less-than-patient people to tell you that you are "number one" in creative ways). 

While my vehicle was technically functional, every turn and maneuver was a real struggle.  Driving without power steering gets old in a hurry!  The moment we left the repair shop was heavenly.  I got in my vehicle and the steering wheel loved me!  She didn't fight me any more.  The craziest part was that I had forgotten that driving is actually pretty simple.  It's not supposed to difficult.  Amazingly, I had just gotten used to having no power. 
Did you know that many believers are navigating their Christian journey the same way?  Scores of saints are struggling to steer on the highway of faith. Every turn is a battle. Each detour and zigzag is WAY harder than it has to be: 

Praying = struggle.
Studying the Bible = struggle.
Sharing your faith = struggle.
Giving = struggle.
Serving = struggle.
Resisting temptation = struggle.

And while so many feel frustrated, they have gotten used to having no power.
Does this describe where you are?  Let's do something right now.  Can we pop the hood and take a look at the engine in your soul?  I am just wondering if your "Power-Steering" source is functioning properly.  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to empower you for Christian living?  Or have you been trying to accomplish this in your own strength? Remember that your flesh cannot give birth to spiritual things (see John 3:6). 

When you trusted in Christ, God deposited the Holy Spirit inside of you.  The Spirit has taken up residence in your life for the purpose of giving you the strength to live a life that glorifies God.  Romans 8:11 says that "the same spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you."   Think about that!!!  Talk about some horse have an infinite source of might at your disposal.  Why in the world would you want to live this life without letting His power work through you?

Let me close by saying that many believers know all about God the Father and Jesus the Son.  But it seems the Holy Spirit has been forgotten in so many American churches.  Don't be guilty of that!  He is the Advocate and Helper that Jesus promised to send you (see John 16:7-11).  If you have never read "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan you should definitely check it out...INCREDIBLE resource! You will see that the Holy Spirit is essential for us to "live for the glory of God." If we are going to bring fame, honor, and praise to God we must have the Holy Spirit working from the INSIDE OUT. 

This week I encourage you to daily acknowledge Him in your prayers, asking for His power to work mightily in your life. Call Him by name in your dialogue with heaven. Remember faith is simple--WHATEVER you do, do it for the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). The Spirit will help you to do this if you allow Him. 
Love you guys!  Be back next Sunday for my message "Shades of Gray"

Grace and peace,

Saturday, January 24, 2015



And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

I love this verse from the Apostle Paul. As he wrote to the believers at the church in Philippi he had a deep confidence that the Lord would continue the work He had begun in each of their lives. As I sit here at my desk penning this final devotional, I feel the same way. There is no denying that God has started a good work at Casa View in 2015...and as a student pastor I have had a front row seat!

Verve Youth Church returned last Sunday from our annual Winter Chill retreat. We took almost 90 students and leaders! And man did the Holy Spirit work powerfully! God wasn’t done at Winter Chill though...this past Wednesday in our midweek service we had 12 young people give their lives to Christ! Can I say it again...God has started a good work!

So as we come to the end of this twenty-one day journey, I want to express what a joy it has been. Just a few short weeks ago we resolved that 2015 was going to be more than the changing of the calendar. We declared that this year is going to be the changing of a season. Just like the earth has seasons, sports have seasons...this is our season for experiencing God in an unprecedented way. As a church we resolved that we would yield our lives to God in a way we never have before, going ALL IN with the promise that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (see James 4:8).

So the question I want to leave you with is this—SO NOW WHAT? Will you go back to “business as usual” or will you continue to remain ALL IN? We have been repetitious in stating that the goal of the ALL IN campaign was to “jump start” a new journey of faith for us as a church, and for you personally. Pursuing God like never before. Having faith for the impossible. Connecting intentionally with our church family. Releasing our talents and finances for the glory of God. My hope and prayer is that you would not look at this three week journey as something you can now check-off of your “to do” list. Instead, choose to view this time we have had together as a catalyst to ignite a deeper level of dedication and passion.

Since I will not be sending out daily readings each day, I would like to make you aware of some resources to keep you going on this exciting new journey. I know some of you access your devotionals in different ways. I am hopeful that one of these three options will get you going!

If you are “old school” and like reading from an actual book that you hold in your hand, here are some great daily devotionals:

The One Year Bible
Jesus Calling (Sarah Young)
My Utmost For His Highest (Oswald Chambers)
Experiencing God (Henry Blackaby)
Sieze the Day (Dietrich Bonhoffer)
Unto The Hills (Billy Graham)

If you prefer reading devotionals on your computer or laptop:

If you have a smart device and wish to use an app:

Lucado Life Lessons Mornings With Tozer Streams In The Desert Jesus Calling
Daily Bread

I hope this helps you! Remember...the Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Run to win! Make every step count! I will see you out there on the road. Love you guys!

Friday, January 23, 2015


MATTHEW 6:19-21
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

MARK 10:25
“In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Today I am going to talk about a subject that makes many Christians uncomfortable—money. This topic has become “off limits” in many American churches. You can preach on heaven (and sometimes even hell). But don’t talk about money! This is interesting considering that Jesus taught more about money than heaven and hell combined. So why don’t churches talk about it? Why is it so taboo to talk about money? I have a few thoughts that come to mind.

People have seen the corruption in the church involving finances. It has left a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. You have seen this, right? Some slick-backed hair televangelist insisting that God wants you to be rich. All you have to do is send in your $1,000 “faith offering” and the miracles will be released into your life. So there is a widow lady on a fixed income who is barely making ends meet. She desperately desires a miracle. So she sends in her mortgage payment believing that God will honor her faith. The miracle never comes and she is worse off than she was before. But at least the TV preacher has a new Jaguar to drive.

Many churches feel that to be culturally relevant they cannot talk about money. To do so would require “turning off” the “seekers” who are visiting the church. We don’t want people thinking we are just after their money, right? So in an effort to not offend, some churches side-step the money conversation.

I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but I think some Christian leaders are simply ignorant on what the Bible says about money. They don’t realize the importance that finances play in both the Kingdom and the life of the believer. It’s not on the radar, so it never gets brought up.

Let me say a couple things before we continue. Our church will survive whether or not you give. How do I know this? Because it’s not really our church. It’s His church. God will supply and take care of what is His. So if you think I am writing this today because we are nervous about making the mortgage this month you would be mistaken. “So why are you writing this?” you may be asking. Fair question—let me answer. As you know we have been on a campaign these past few weeks to go ALL IN. ALL IN in our pursuit of God. ALL IN in our faith. ALL IN in connecting with others.

What I have found to be the case for most Christians is that the last area of their life they are willing to go ALL IN on is their finances. We love Jesus. We will pray and read the Bible. We will go to church. We will volunteer and serve. Heck, we might even show up at a home group. But don’t start talking about money! Like Linus with his blanket, we will not let go! We will gladly relinquish our time and talent, but don’t try and touch our treasure.

Some of you reading this right now are getting uncomfortable. Even agitated. My question to you is why? Why does it bother you to hear me talk about finances? I would suggest it’s because your money has become a god in your life. Rather than being a tool to serve you, it has become your master. Have you ever considered maybe that’s why you are so defensive and protective? Have you ever thought this was what Jesus was addressing when he said “You cannot serve both God and money”? Riches have the potential to become our god. And when push comes to shove, many want that god rather the God. Jesus’ analogy is interesting—“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

In Jesus’ time, most cities were surrounded by a giant wall, which fortified the city. This kept the bad guys out and the good guys in. There were small openings in the wall that allowed people to enter in and out of the city. These “gates” were somewhat oval-shaped, quite similar to the eye of a needle. When someone came to the city and was traveling by camel, getting through that wall was no easy task. They would have to remove everything off the camel. They would then have to get the camel down on its knees. Then they would have to lead the camel through the “eye of the needle” in the wall. Talk about difficult! Jesus used an example that His listeners no doubt could understand. That camel only gets through the wall if it is stripped of everything, placed in a lowered position, and willing to come through the gate.

Do you see the parallel? If we wish to enter the Kingdom of heaven, we must strip off everything. We must humble and lower ourselves. We must come through the gate, Jesus. This analogy is timeless. Jesus is teaching us that most people are not willing to give up everything to follow Him. And one of the hardest things to let go of is money. Our human nature is greedy. It is counterintuitive to let go of something everyone else is chasing after.

So here is the perplexing dilemma, the questions we have to raise—is money bad? Is it wrong to be rich? NOT AT ALL! The Bible talks plainly that we have to have money to live. God is pragmatic. He knows you need clothes and food (see Matthew 6:31-33). Furthermore there were people in the Bible who were freakishly rich! Read it for yourself (see 1 Kings 10:23). Money is not bad. Where we get in trouble is when we love money more than we love God. As Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:10), “The love of money is the roots of all kinds of evil.”

So here is the perplexing dilemma. We have to have money to live and yet we are not supposed to love money. So how do we balance these two? The answer is simple—YOU GIVE! Generosity is the cure for greed. By honoring God with the first ten percent (called the tithe) of your earnings, you are declaring His lordship over your life. By releasing the tithe to the Lord, you are safeguarding your heart against money’s corrupting power. By releasing the tithe, you are allowing our church to grow and expand our ability to more effectively reach our community for the Gospel. Our ministries can be well-equipped when the people of God invest in the Kingdom. And beyond this, you are storing up treasure in heaven. Jesus admonished us not to invest in things “here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” Your spiritual 401-K is eternal! Why not invest in it generously?

Here’s a final encouragement to give, this time from God Himself in Malachi 3:10—“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse... If you do...I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adopted By God

ROMANS 8:15-16

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

I love the beauty of the Gospel message. The “Good News” that can transform lives. As I said this past Sunday, the Gospel is not about slapping Jesus’ name on a group of people who already have everything in common. The Gospel is powerful in that it can take people who have absolutely nothing in common and unite them under the banner of God’s relentless love. So while we may come from different backgrounds and ethnicities, we are all part of the same family. Paul declares that we have all been adopted by God. The Apostle Peter says it this way in 1 Peter 2:10:

“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

Isn’t that beautiful? We were lost and living apart from God. Orphans with no identity. But God who is rich in mercy loved us and adopted us. He called us His own. And now we call Him ABBA (Aramaic for “Daddy”). That means we are family. We don’t serve God out of fear (we are not slaves Paul says). No. God is our good and loving Father. We serve Him and love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It is a gift to live in community because it constantly calls us back to what God has done for us. When you look at the face of your brother and sister from your church family, may you be reminded of God’s gracious act of adopting us into His family.

Today I want to do something different. Rather than have you read a lengthy spill about God calling us His sons and daughters, I want to share a video with you. I have two good friends that are a part of this story. Chris Lindberg is the pastor of Life Fellowship Church in Allen. He is a phenomenal leader who has greatly influenced my life. Chris and I have been friends for more than thirteen years. One of the members of Chris’ church is a man named Bill Wegener. I have known Bill for close to fifteen years. He has one of the most amazing life stories you will ever hear! Will you take six minutes and watch the Vimeo video link below? I promise that you will be blessed by the testimony of this dear brother in the Lord. I shared it with our students last night at Verve Youth Church. The impact was visible.

Maybe you are reading this today and you are not a Christian. Maybe you have been curious about God but have never entered into a personal relationship with Him. Maybe the scars of life have left you feeling like God would never want you. Will you please watch Bill’s story? If you have questions after watching, please contact me at my personal email

Grace and peace to you today.