Speaking to the Wiser and More Experienced

Today, I had the honor to lead chapel at the Town and Country Manor, a Senior Living Retirement Center in Santa Ana, Ca. I felt so humbled to teach the Bible to people who have twice the life experience than me and who have seen God's faithfulness over decades and generations. If I was teaching anything but the Bible, it would seem like an impossible task to please and communicate clearly to people who are much older and wiser than me. But the awesome thing about the Bible is this... it has the power to speak to people in a way that you or I never could or will. My confidence as a teacher of the Bible is thankfully not in my creativity or oratory skills, but in Jesus Christ and His word!

I love this quote from Mike McKinley in his book, "Church Planting is for Wimps"

"Without God’s Word, a church has no hope as it prepares to meet this God who is to judge the living and the dead. It has no way to know the gospel in a saving way (Rom. 10:14; 1 Cor. 1:21). It has no way to grow in Christ. Without the Word of God, a preacher, especially a young preacher with little history, has no true authority. He might be able to woo them with the desires of the flesh just like any comedian or rock star. But without the Word he will have no true spiritual trust from his people.

Why would a church entrust its spiritual good to a know-nothing twenty-nine-year-old? Why would an older man who has been a Christian for twenty years, raised a family, and had a creer care what this twenty-nine -year-old says about marriage or children or money or taking up your cross and following Jesus?

But if that twenty-nine-year-old can simply open the pages of the Bible and explain what God himself says, then the church has something with which to work. Then the authority rests not in the preacher or his personal wisdom and experience but in the authority of God himself who has breathed his Word."
–Mike McKinley, Church Planting is for Wimps, p. 48
(from Ordinary Pastor Blog)

The Kimyal People Receive the Bible

This video tells the incredible story of gratefulness and joy the Kimyal People felt as they recently received the New Testament in their own language. Powerful video!
(from Joshua Harris)

Driscoll's Notes from Yesterday's Easter Sermon in Seattle

Mark Driscoll, a Pastor up in the state of Washington is my one my favorite preachers to listen to because of his passion for Jesus, his boldness in calling people to turn from sin and surrender to God and because of his hilarious sense of humor.

Go hear to read his sermon notes from his Easter sermon at Qwest Field before 17,500 people

and read my favorite part of his Easter sermon below...

"Who Is Jesus Christ?

He is the Maker of heaven and earth
He is the Alpha & Omega, the beginning & the end
He is the Son of God
He is the God man
He is the Humble Servant
He is the Man of Sorrows
He is the Good Shepherd
He is the Prince of Peace
He is the Wonderful Counselor
He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
He is the Dragon Slayer
He is the sinless Savior
He is the Resurrection and the Life
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
He is the sinner’s friend
He is the Great High Priest
He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
He is the Way, the Truth, & the Life

His love is glorious, marvelous, gracious, generous, matchless & priceless

He came the first time in humility, He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead & to establish a Kingdom that will never end!"

Here is the video of the above text remixed...

Easter and Mark 10:45

In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10, Jesus tells his disciples,

"45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Tim Keller writes in his latest book, "The King's Cross" about this line from the scriptures.
Keller notes, the word "ransom" is a word that we don't often use in modern language. When we do use this word, it is usually to describe the payment for a kidnapping. But in the original Greek language of the New Testament, "the word "ransom" is the Greek work "lutron" which means to "pay or buy one's freedom from slavery."

In our sinful nature, each human being is a slave to sin (Romans 8). Jesus paid for our freedom through his death on the cross at Calvary!

Keller goes on to highlight the word "for" which falls right after the word ransom.
"For" in Mark 10:45 is the Greek word "anti." It means, "substitute" or 'replacement" or "fill in." Jesus paid for our freedom from sin by becoming our ransom ("lutron") through His substitution ("anti") on our behalf for the penalty of ours sins.

What incredible love! This is why what we celebrate at Easter!!

Amazing Responses from our First Alpha Course

Last night, we wrapped up our first Alpha course at Calvary Church. Alpha began in England as a course designed for seekers, skeptics and nominal Christians to encounter the claims of Jesus Christ. It has spread to become an international movement as over 15 million people across the world have now been through an Alpha course. This past Feb. we began our very first Alpha course at Calvary Church. Last night as we closed our 3 month course, we asked people to give us feedback on what they thought. Here are some of their incredible answers!

Comments from Attendees:
"I needed to learn more about Christianity. I felt unjudged. It was a good place to ask questions."

"It gave me a purpose more than just going to church."

"It was a place of accountability for me. I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and acted totally differently because of the accountability of my table group."

"I liked that the speaker wasn’t always a Christian in his life."

"I have been in difficult times and found community here. Supported. Real-ness."

"I was encouraged in my prayer life."

"I got busy and kind of fell away from God and lost my Christian friends. But now I want to break out of that and live for God."

"I felt like I was going to church on Sunday not really understanding, maybe just going through the motions. Before I probably would have said I was a Christian but now I don’t think I was before. I am now. I am eager to learn and live the life God has intended for me."

"I was uneasy about the Christian faith, didn’t know if I was right for it. I’m more open to learning now. I’m hungry. "

"My faith is stronger."

"I feel stronger and more determined to stand for Christ. "

"I am new to the faith. I felt lost. Now I am motivated to learn more."

"My faith has always been strong but my will to reconnect with God and my spiritual needs was very weak. I feel more deserving of God and a closer bond to him. I have a greater will to live."

"My relationship with my husband has improved."

"I understand the Christian faith more now but I still disagree. (Note – he wants to join a LifeGroup)."

"I came full of questions. It helped me clear up some barriers to understanding Christian beliefs.
It gave me the ability to respond to others more biblically."

"My faith has gotten better just by taking this course. It has helped me understand more."

"I want to serve the Lord even more and not be lazy or afraid. At our table, we know what each other are going through, we’ve grown closer, we share trials, etc."

"I wasn’t a very religious person and I’m still not. But this course helped guide me to God. "

"I’m still not a Christian but I’m closer to God. "

"Before the Alpha Course I was less aware, less knowledgeable, and less excited about the Christian faith. Now, I’m committed. "

"I loved being able to share with each other. "

"Before, I was a Christian, but not totally connected and with recent circumstances I have needed spiritual comfort. I am growing in Christ. "

"I’m much more willing to openly share my faith. "

"I really enjoyed how Nicky Gumbel simplified what it means to be a Christian and what Jesus did for us. I am more knowledgeable of how to pray. "

"Before, my faith wasn’t as strong as it should be. I had a lot of questions and was unsure about things in the Bible. Now I am no longer unsure. I learned more Bible verses and could relate to many of the topics each time I attended. "

"It reaffirmed my faith. I loved seeing an Alpha helper holding someone else’s baby the whole time. I thought it blessed that family. I know it would bless me. "

"It reinforced that Christ is worth living for. "

"I am reminded to not waste any more time in my life on not being an on-fire Christian. I was able to be transparent and not be judged."

"Before I was not very devout. It answered many questions about Christianity. Now I’m more focused on further developing my relationship with Christ. I’m looking forward to discipleship. "

"I have been having a lot of questions about life and this course really came at a good time. I had a lot of questions answered. "

"I am more connected to other people."

"I feel more of a connection in my faith."

"Before I was unsure. Now I’m a lot better than before. "

"I am a very confused individual in search of answers. I have come to question my faith. I was skeptical even. I was catholic by faith before. Now, I’m a believer. Still with questions but it’s ok. It’s ok to have questions. I would have liked for the course to continue."

Parenting Genius

Sorry for the back to back parenting posts, but this Dad is my hero...(en espanol...)

(courtesy 22 words)

I Wonder If This Is How Chris Tomlin Started?

My 3 year old son was given a kid sized guitar by my parents last fall for his birthday. It was love at first sight and there has rarely been a day since when he hasn't played his beloved guitar.

His "guitar hero" is Victor Estrada, our worship leader at Calvary Church and one of my closest friends. Victor has hooked him up with guitar picks, replacement strings and most importantly inspiration. Victor takes off his shoes to lead worship in order to remind himself that he is on Holy ground in leading others in worshiping the Holy God. My son, Samuel in turn, takes off his shoes when he plays his guitar because "that is what Victor does."

This past week, our Preschool Coordinator at Calvary, Mary Jane Edwards (Who does an amazing job with our kids at Calvary), ran into us as we were walking through the Church campus and she sweetly suggested to Samuel that should play his guitar "sometime" for the preschoolers at Church. What she didn't realize was that Samuel took this to mean the preschool Sunday School needed his guitar skills immediately.

So he made sure to bring his guitar with him to Church today and even had a set list in mind ("Joy to the World"...see video below)

How did it go?
Before we got to Church, I talked to him about making sure he shared his beloved guitar with the other kids, letting them get a chance to hold it and play it, and from all accounts he did a great job of sharing. But as far as worship leading? His teachers told me he froze when it was his time to play his guitar, unable to overcome a sudden case of stage fright. But he seemed fairly positive afterwards, telling me, "they didn't have time for me to play worship when I wanted to."

I just love being a Dad and experiencing these type of moments with my kids.
Marie and I pray that we can be our kids biggest cheerleader and encourager as they discover what God has wired them to do for His glory.

I wonder if this is how Chris Tomlin started?

Here is a video from last Christmas...

A Quote that Brought Me to Tears Last Night

“You are not saved by the quality of your faith but by the Object of your faith."

-Tim Keller (Gospel Coalition Conference, April 12, 2011)

This quote pierced my heart last night as I listened to the audio from Tim Keller's Sermon on Exodus 14 from the Gospel Coalition Conference. It is such a true statement! Often there is a tension for Christians in saying we are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8).

Skeptics will claim, "but isn't saving faith/belief a type of work in itself?" This quote really nails it home for me. Faith in Jesus is required for salvation. However, Christians are not saved by how impressive and wonderful their faith is.

Instead we are saved by whom we place our faith in, which is Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the One and Only Savior!!!

Preaching Jesus From the Old Testament

If you find yourself preparing to preach a sermon series from the Old Testament in the next year,
you need to listen to this excellent Q and A session from this week's Gospel Coalition conference, "Preaching Christ in the Old Testament."

Easter Week in Orange County

Next week marks such a special time for followers of Jesus as we remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Alive!

This Easter Week I am trying to be really intentional in taking time to reflect and rejoice that Jesus has overcome sin and death and is alive!

I would love to have you join me in one or all of these ways next week...

Here is what I will be reading:
A Devotional Guide to Easter and Lent by Mark Roberts

Here is one way I will be reflecting:
Passover Sedar, 7pm/Thursday, April 21st at Calvary Church

Here is a Spiritual Discipline I hope to Practice:

Fastening from Food all day Friday + Saturday (to help me remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus paid for my sins)

Here is What I will be watching:

The Passion of the Christ at Calvary Church (4:45pm in the Chapel)

Here are (3) worship services I hope to attend before Easter Sunday:
Good Friday Service @ St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Newport Beach - 3pm
Good Friday Communion Service at Calvary Church @ 7PM in the Worship Center
Saturday - The Stirring w/Francis Chan at the Pacific Amphitheatre @ OC Fairgrounds - 6pm

Here is one way we are serving our local neighborhood around our Church:

Saturday - Easter Egg Outreach @ Cabrillo Park in Santa Ana, Ca (9am to 11am)

Easter Sunday (April 24th)
Easter Morning "Break the Fast"Calvary Church Young Adult Communion + Worship Time - 6:30am (Orange Circle, Orange, Ca)

Calvary Church Easter Services (8:45am and 10:45am)

What about you? What are some of the things you will be doing next week to make it meaningful?

Depeche Mode and Preaching

In the one and only time the 80's band "Depeche Mode" and the topic of preaching will ever collide, you must read Barry Cooper's excellent article below...


“Let me hear you make decisions / Without your television, / Let me hear you speaking just for me.”
"The line is from Depeche Mode’s Stripped, and I’m surprised it doesn’t turn up more often in manuals for effective preaching.

For a preacher, there are seemingly two roads into the hallowed courts of a person’s undivided attention.

The broad way, and many there are who find it, is to speak as often as possible about movies, music, books, websites, celebrities, brand names and catchphrases. How can I truly connect with my congregation, the reasoning goes, if I don’t namecheck the program's they watch, the celebrities they’re familiar with, the politicians in the news, the music between their earbuds?

The narrow way may be narrow, but it is much deeper. It passes through every human heart. It may make rare and passing reference to popular culture, but its main aim is to speak of the hopes and fears common to all human beings, and apply the gospel to them. The Puritan preachers did this beautifully, speaking more about the world inside their hearers than the world outside them.

The broad way is relatively easy. It requires no Scriptural knowledge, merely a capacious bottom on which to perch while gratefully soaking up the rays emerging from a nearby television.

The narrow way takes a little more time to find. But it has at least one clear advantage. Being less culturally shackled, it speaks more deeply to more people, from more diverse ethnic backgrounds, from a wider range of ages, regardless of whether or not they’ve watched this week’s episode of The Apprentice..."

(see the full post here on Barry's Blog)

Is Donald Trump a Christian?

David Brody a CBN journalist recently sat down with Donald Trump (who is considering running for President in 2012) to ask about his religious beliefs...Interesting responses from Trump.

I would be curious to hear what you think...Does Trump convince you he is a follower of Jesus in the following Q and A?

David Brody: You talk a lot about business obviously, but talk to me a little bit about how you see God. How you see God in everything from what happened to your brother (he died of alcoholism at the age of 42) to how your life is today.

Donald Trump:I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book. It is the thing. I was raised and I gave you a picture just now and perhaps you'll use that picture I found it from a long time ago. First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica queens is where I went to church. I'm a protestant, I'm a Presbyterian. And you know I've had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.

Brody: I understand a lot of people send you Bibles. Is that true?

Trump: Well I get sent Bibles by a lot of people.

Brody: Where are all those Bibles?

Trump: Actually, we keep them at a certain place. A very nice place. But people send me Bibles. And you know it's very interesting. I get so much mail and because I'm in this incredible location in Manhattan you can't keep most of the mail you get.

There's no way I would ever throw anything, to do anything negative to a Bible, so what we do is we keep all of the Bibles.

I would have a fear of doing something other than very positive so actually I store them and keep them and sometimes give them away to other people but I do get sent a lot of Bibles and I like that. I think that's great.

Brody: Do you actively go to church?

Trump: Well, I go as much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there's a major occasion. And during the Sundays. I'm a Sunday church person. I'll go when I can.

2 Unique Ways to Promote Our Easter Services at Calvary

Encouraging people to come to our Easter services on April 24th. Should we go serious or funny? Funny or serious? We couldn't decide, so we did both...

Easter 2011 from Calvary Arts & Media on Vimeo.

EASTER 2011 from Calvary Arts & Media on Vimeo.

"We are made for God and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in

- Augustine

"They didn't come to see you, they came to hear from Jesus."

-Message written on J Vernon McGee's Pulpit