as a friend became a newborn Christian, giving their life to Jesus as their Savior and Leader for the very first time. Incredible moment, I will never forget it.
Here is the scripture that God used to convinced them to become a Christian: Romans 10:9
'That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
This is quickly becoming THE place I go for blogs, articles and news.
Check out the top news in Christianity at http://christianity.alltop.com/
(go here for thoughts on Catalyst West Coast - Day 2 )
Host: Mariner's Church, Irvine, Ca
Have you ever visited this Church? Incredible campus! The Church has its own lake, skate park, modern wood framed chapel, state of the art auditorium and a Student Center that looks like Vans Skate park at the Block of Orange. I have never seen a Church quite like this one. A few of us at Calvary are thinking about taking over this church campus "pirate style" and making it the new Calvary Church....Stay tuned.
Atmosphere of Catalyst: Encouraging, Fun
From the moment I arrived, I could tell this conference was going to be fun. As you walked into the main building, there were a group of "fans" and "papparazi" greeting you on a long red carpet...kind of cheesy, but seriously it was encouraging! And the end of each day, Catalyst volunteers were staged at the parking lot exits washing car windows, holding banners and just genuinly being excited that everyone came. In between arriving and leaving the conference had all kinds of fun suprises from free Chick-Fil-A (Andrew Cathy is my hero) to free thunder sticks at every seat and comedians to kick off various sessions like this guy:
Worship Vibe: Loud, Passionate, Hillsong!!!!!!!
Hillsong United kicked off worship at Catalyst with such humility, passion and musical chops...To be honest, I am growing tired of the Nashville produced, Goo-Goo Doll Hair Weaving, V-Necked T-Shirt wearing, Prom Songs to Jesus Styled Worship Leaders that seem to be filling Christian bookstores with CD after CD. Catalyst had a few of these types as well, but Hillsong brought it with such excellence and the ability to simply get out of the way and let people worship Jesus.
Here is a run-down of the speakers from Catalyst...God really used these men and women to grab my attention and remind me that I need to be dependent on Jesus Christ each day...
Andy Stanley - I have always respected Andy and I try to listen to his sermon podcasts from time to time, but his talk in session 1 of Catalyst made my respect for this man skyrocket. He talked about uncertainity and leadership. Here are a few quotables:
"The World is uncertain, God is not uncertain."
"I will always be uncertain in leadership, I am uncertain of it."
"When uncertainty goes away, leadership is not needed."
"Uncertainty is job security for leadership."
"Be honest with your leadership teams in times of uncertainty."
2 Things Andy retreats to in Times of Uncertainty:
1) Clarity - Goes back to the original vision God called him to. He tells his team what God has called them to and encourages them to trust God for what is uncertain.
2) Flexibility - Plans change in times of uncertainty, vision remains the same!
Great reminder from Andy's talk: The epic center of God's plan of redemption, the Cross looked so uncertain, out of control, yet God was completely certain and in control.
Guy Kawasaki - Guy is a former Apple employee, business tech entrepreneur and committed Christian. Check out his blog at http://www.guykawasaki.com/
"Don't be afraid to take a stand, you can't please everyone."
"Make a mantra, not a long mission statement." (2-3 words that define your Church)
"Don't be afraid to fail initially."
"10-20-30 rule of presentation: 10 powerpoint slides, 20 minutes for presentation, 30 font minimum." (Guy suggests the general rule of thumb is create a presentation font that is at least half the age of your audience, ex. speaking to 80 year olds...create a 40 point font).
Catherine Rohr - Catherine is a graduate of Cal-Berkley, a veteran of wall street and a prison teacher? Goes to show you that when a person meets Jesus, he wrecks them in all kinds of amazing and great ways...Catherine leads a ministry called Prison Entrpreneurship Program which has changed the lives of hundreds of prisoners in the State of Texas. The program is about to launch nationwide and as part of Catalyst they gave away 2 free trips to prison. And guess what? My friend Renate, who serves on staff with us at Calvary, won! So she and a guest get a free trip to prison to check out Prison Entrpreneurship!
Craig Groeschel - A pastor in Oklahoma, Craig has some great words for Church leaders..Here are the highlights:
"I am learning that Church needs to be dangerous, God is not safe."
"I used to think it was all about building my Church, now I realize it is about building the Kingdom."
"Build your Church not on what you don't do, but on what you do."
"We are s small Church with a mega vision."
Craig also described what type of Christian he is trying to develop at his Church. Level 1 Christians say, "I believe in the Gospel enough to benefit from it." Level 2 Christians say, "I believe in the Gospel enough to contribute to it." Level 3 Christians (the ones he wants at his church) say, "I believe in the Gospel enough to give my life to it."
Ravi Zacharias - The intellectual genesis of Christianity, Ravi said so many things that were deep and powerful, it is hard for me to sum them up in a few words, but here I will try:
"What is society asking us to celebrate these days?"
"We pass down to the next generation what we celebrate today."
"When you stand at the grace of a loved one you long for the reality of eternity."
Brian Houston - The Pastor of Hillsong Church in Austraila and the father of Joel Houston, the lead signer of Hillsong United, Brian pastors a Church of over 21,000 people, yet seems so humble. Pretty cool talk on the Church, where he said:
"I'd rather be an artist than an art critic. I'd rather be a Chef than a food critic. I'd rather make films than be a film critic. I'd rather build into the Church than be a Church critic."
"I love being part of the Church."
Nick Vujicic - The final speaker from Day 1 of Catalyst. Nick is from Austraila as well. He was born without legs or arms, yet lives his life with such a joy as he trusts in Jesus. He ver passionate about Jesus. Here is a You Tube scene of him speaking recently in Orange County:
I will review Day 2 Catalyst Speakers, Erwin McManus, Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Jud Wilhite and Perry Noble in an upcoming post!
This weekend was packed.
Catalyst conference, Birthday Party, Wedding Shower, Angel's Game, Homeless Outreach, Lincoln Elementary Outreach, California Pizza Kitchen, Sharing Jesus Without Fear Class, Polly's Pies, Church Today, House Chores, Pre-Marital Counseling, buying couches...The Doan family bit off a little more than we could chew this weekend. Still recovering...In the meantime, you MUST watch this video made by the highly creative folks from Mosiac Church Film Team..."Awakening The Hero"
14 of us from Calvary will be at the conference tomorrow and Friday.
Some great speakers (Francis Chan, Perry Noble, Dan Kimball)
and a great band (Hillsong United) should make this an encouraging and memorable couple of days. I am praying the Lord uses Catalyst to gives me a renewed vision for being a Pastor and deeper passion for the things of God. I will post some speaker notes and general impressions of the conference on this blog the next two nights.
Last Sunday our Church issued the Mercy Challenge. Based on the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, we asked folks to pick up a business sized card with a specific challenge to carry out an act of mercy. See the specific challenges here.
The cool thing is, we are starting to hear of what happened as people carried out the mercy challenge. One guy grabbed a card that said, "Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line at a coffee shop as an act of mercy." He carried out this challenge this week and it began a "Pay it forward" phenomenon where 54 consecutive people at a local Starbucks paid for the person's coffee behind them! Amazing!
You may be light years ahead of me on this one but just in case:
Did you know Google Books has tons of Bible commentaries available on-line to read for free?!! I have just discovered this tool.
You have to wade through some sketchy stuff and some books only allow a limited preview, but if you know your commentaries (and publishers) you should fare well.
Here is the link to get started: http://books.google.com/books
This served me well in my studies tonight on Isaiah 55.
Ironically, Townsend St. is named after Cameron Townsend. Cameron is the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, one of the largest missions organizations in the world. Cameron grew up in Santa Ana, attended my Church, Calvary Church, and began Wycliffe Bible Translators here in Orange County. His nephew Lorin Griset, later became a two time mayor of Santa Ana and has a junior high school right off of Townsend St. named after him, the Lorin Griset Academy. Both men were instrumental leaders in the development of Calvary Church.
I never had the chance to meet Eduardo, but apparently he had been attending our Church for the past few months before his death. His parents speak Spanish at home, so a few days after the tragedy, me and the Hispanic Ministries Pastor from our Church went over to the house to be with the family. Have you ever spent time with parents as they are in the initial stages of grieving the death of a child? There is nothing like it. It is so painful, so overwhelming, so intense for parents to bury a child, no matter how old the child was. I felt so inept to offer anything to the family as we stood in their living room. Pastor Armando and I simpy hugged the family, listened and prayed.
As we were leaving the house a City Parks and Rec worker pulled up to the house. The house is across from a city park our Church has adopted and apparently the shooters had hid in the bushes across the street from the house before their attack. The Dad had called the city a few days after the shooting complaining about the overgrown bushes at the park and asking for something to be done so another senseless act wouldn't happen there again. This is why the City worker showed up.
God's Incredible Timing
As we walked out, I realized the city worker was a friend of mine. As the community outreach pastor, I have gotten to know him over the last 2 years through our efforts at the Park. A few months ago, the Parks and Rec worker had opened up to me about the death of his son 10 years earlier, a victim of a brutal drive-by shooting. Even 10 years later as he shared with me, tears welled up in his eyes as he spoke about his son. I hadn't seen this guy in months but just as we were leaving the house, he was the city worker who randomly was assigned to answer the complaint. Incredible!
When we explained what happened, my city friend immediatly got this look on his face which showed he understood the pain. I explained to the Dad that they had both experienced the same tragic loss of a son. Then the city worker and the Dad hugged right there in the middle of the street. As much as I had tried to bring Jesus' compassion and comfort to this family, nothing communicated Jesus' love more than that hug in the street from a stranger who had experienced the same thing.
I have been reflecting on this experience the last few weeks and I have a developed a thought. God never wastes our pain. When we are hurting, I mean really hurting, sometimes the only people we will truly allow in to help us experience comfort are those who have experienced the same type of pain. This is one of the reasons Jesus is so amazing. In Hebrews 4 we read that Jesus can understand our pain because He has experienced it too.
"14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Everywhere you looked Sunday, there were visitors and prodigals spread throughout
the crowd hearing about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the power He has to change lives! I was moved to tears by the worship thru music.
Here was the Easter Set List:
1. "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" (traditional Hymn)
2. "Happy Day" by Tim Hughes
3. "Beautiful" by Phil Wickham (coming to Calvary this Thursday Night!)
4. "You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman
5. "Marvelous Light" by Charlie Hall (coming to Calvary this Thursday Night!)
6. "All Because of Jesus" by Steve Fee
The catalyst of the worship response was an worship element we called "Cardboard Testimonies." We based this element from an idea we saw here:
Pastor Dave delivered a passionate, very personal message based on John 20 (you can listen to the podcast here).
Ryan Rhoel, Trevor Behrns, Doug Brown and Anna Gold designed an amazing set for Easter. Tammy Harris put together the cardboard testimonies. It felt like a real team effort Sunday.
After the 1st service I had the honor to pray with a visitor who is caught up in a drug addiction. Right in the lobby of our church on a busy Easter morning, he, his girlfriend and I prayed for him and for Jesus to do a miracle in his life.
I walked away Sunday thinking, wow, that was church!
If you were at Calvary on Easter Sunday, leave a comment telling me what you thought.
If you were at another church on Easter Sunday, tell us how it went!
For some reason, although I never met Adenhart and hadn't followed his career very closely, this story has really affected me. Maybe it is because I was there to see him pitch Wednesday, maybe it is because it makes me realize the fraility of life. I can't exactly pinpoint it, but I feel really heartbroken about this.
But we are not left without hope.
The death of another hero, the Ultimate Hero, gives us hope that this life is not all there is.
Did you know, death is the very reason Jesus came into this world?
The Bible tells us, when sin entered into the world through the Fall (Genesis 3) death became a reality for all created things. Trees, animals, plants, and even people, all eventually die. In the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, Jesus comforts a lady named Martha who had just experienced the death of her brother by saying these words, "25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
How could Jesus make such a bold statement?
Jesus could promise Martha and each of us life beyond this earthly life, because of a death that would change everything. A death so significant, the world know marks history by its date.
Whose Death Changes Everything?
Today is good Friday. The day we celebrate the death of the ultimate hero
Jesus, fully God and fully man, came into this world to die for the sins of you and I. Jesus takes the punishment that we deserve. Our sin deserves an eternal punishment, because, our sins have been committed against an eternally holy God. Jesus sacrificial death on the cross, satifies our punishment against a holy God. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior and Leader, our sins are forgiven...Once and for ALL!
How can Jesus death lead to life?
Jesus overcame death and sin. The grave could not hold him. On the 3rd day in the grave, the Bible tells us, Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death and sin. This is what the Easter celebration is all about. Celebrating Jesus' victory over death, Jesus is alive!
Look at what 1 Corinthians 15 from the Bible says:
"3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." (Apostle Paul)
So we mourn for those who die, especially for those who die so young, but...
When we personally and individually place our trust in Jesus, the ultimate hero, we are given the promise that after this life ends, those who have trusted in Jesus, will have the guarantee of eternal life in heaven with God.
The Most Important Question I Will Ever Ask On This Blog:
Have you personally placed your trust in the Ultimate Hero, Jesus, for the forgiveness of your sins and the guaranteed promise of eternal life in heaven?
At Church today I tried a little personal experiment.
On a normal Sunday, I have between 100 and 150 individual conversations.
Today, I attempted to listen 10 seconds longer than I normally do in conversation.
As I spoke to people, rather than jump in and tell my own story to go along with there story, I simply tried to wait, be patient and listen a little bit longer.
How did I do?
You know what? It was difficult!
I wanted so badly in a few interactions to say something that I thought was really important, rather than "just" listen. In other conversations, I completely blew it and didn't listen at all, sadly dominating the conversation, steering in the direction I wanted it to go.
Listening as a Discipline
My goal for the next few weeks is to train myself to be a better listener, so that I can be a more effective Pastor/Friend/Husband/Dad/Jesus Follower.
Who I Have To Really Practice Listening To
Jesus. I must admit, I have been doing a lot of the talking lately in my day to day journey with Jesus Christ. It is time for me to rest, be still and become better at simply hearing from God thru His word, through the Holy Spirit, even through silence.
Are you a good listener?
If yes, how do you do it?
If no, why do you think that is?
Stand By Me from David Johnson on Vimeo.
Why is this so moving?