March 30, 2012

Beyond Function To Intimacy In Prayer

Tonight we enter into night 13 or our 21 Days of Prayer "We Won't Relent" (you can tune in from now until April 7th from 7 - 8:30pm by going to "media" "Ustream). We have been seeing God move powerfully in the hearts of the congregation, our families & situations.

One thing that God has been speaking to me during this time is that we often trade intimacy in prayer for the function of prayer. When our focus is on the function of prayer it leads to legalism, work & fruitless striving. Yet, when our focus in prayer is seeking a deeper intimacy with God it leads to delighting in God's presence, longing for a deeper understanding of His heart & willingness to wait on Him.

I want to encourage you to delight yourself in the Lord today, to let your heart be set on drawing near to Him. Choose to shift the way you view pursuing God today. God's promises to us are,

"I love those who love me & those who seek me find me," (Proverbs 8:17) 
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart," (Jeremiah 29:13) 
"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near," (Isaiah 55:6) & 
"The lions may grow weak & hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing," (Psalm 34:10).

Let's seek Him with all that we are!

March 29, 2012

The Value of Family

Most of the kids that our local outreach team ministers to come from single-parent homes, resulting in a marred view and value of family. Fatherlessness is running rampant in our community, single-mothers are trying their best to be both mother and father to their children, homes are hostile environments, children are growing up with the lie that they are not valued, desired or secure and young and old alike are being trained to look out for self.

As a result, I have recently challenged our local outreach team to begin to think with a new paradigm, to transcend our culture’s dominant value of individualism, specifically when it comes to family. As a result, our team is intentionally working on allowing our ministry with kids, youth and families in our community to flow from our ministry among our own families.

In challenging our ministry to allow the value of family, community and shared life to become greater I have recognized that there must be a shift in thinking, believing and living. I have noticed that even in the church many Christians have the desire to grow their own spiritual lives, focus on their individual spiritual disciplines, but believing for and reaching out to their own families is not a priority.

However, according to 1 Timothy 5:8 caring for our family, especially for our immediate family, is an extremely foundational 
kingdom value; one that the church 
has swept under the rug.

Our team has to be sensitive to the different family and home cultures of the kids, youth and families that we are ministering too as not to judge, condemn or cause the single-parent mothers, fathers or grandparents to feel inferior. I have realized that to some on our team and those we minister too, the ideas of community, family (father/mother/children) and shared life are very foreign. However, on the other hand, I have recognized that some of those that we reach out to from different countries and cultures have such a stronger value of family then many Christians have. Therefore, I have been inspired to delve into scripture to gain God’s heart for family, as well as open my eyes to see how those we minister to interact with their families, understand why they guard this value so deeply and learn how they seek to maintain it.

As a result, I and our team have resolved to begin to work towards transformation in our homes, among our family members and among our relatives. I believe that as a kingdom value of family begins to overtake our hearts and is lived out among our immediate families then it will freely and uncompromising flow into the areas of ministry we are serving. My spiritual father Pastor Benjamin Robinson once said, 
“We have to be the most spiritual in our homes. We have to be more spiritual in our homes than we are in the ‘church.’” 

The point he was stressing was that when a kingdom value of family begins in our homes, our families and our churches, then cultural and community transformation cannot help but happen.

Too often we have sought to be more spiritual in the ‘church’ then in the home. As a result, we have great ‘church services,’ but our marriages, homes, families and communities are being ripped apart at the seams. It is time to see a paradigm shift. It is time for kingdom transformation in our marriages, homes, families and communities. It is time for us to gain greater value of family.

March 11, 2012

"Propelled By Appreciation & Honor"

So I just got up from a much needed nap and I was getting ready to work on a final paper as well as try to start study for a final exam. However, I was overwhelmed by such a great sense of love & appreciation I just needed to share it. Last night my home church, Living Hope Christian Center, had its first-ever Leadership Appreciation night & I was so overwhelmed by all the loving words, hilarious skits, wonderful gifts & beautiful presentation that were given to all the leaders from the members of the congregation (you can check it out by following the links, espcially the 1st one, lol:,,

I personally thought my Captain America shield was the best gift of the century and the Nacho Chesse was icing on the cake! But for real, the church and the Local Outreach team blessed me so much with a brand new pair of dress shoes, enough chips & nacho cheese for about 6 months and a number of other amazing gifts! If you know me I don’t usually go shopping much, so the shoes were amazing and all the other gifts just overwhelmed me & my wife. It made me think of how blessed & thankful I am to God for calling me to serve the people of Living Hope in the city of Emeryville, Ca.

Serving in ministry is not always easy, but there is nothing else I would rather do in the world than love Jesus & love people! There are times you get tired, frustrated or feel like you have nothing else to give, but when God’s love for His beautiful bride overwhelms you there is no way you can resist giving your all the way He did. And it is times like last night, times where believers join together to encourage, love, honor and appreciate you that refresh your heart, fuel your fire of service & remind you of how beautiful is the bride of Christ.

Reflecting on last night reminded me of the heart of God & what happens when we honor Him. God’s love for the world & the church is perfect, it never fails. And when we honor Him it just causes such a deeper sense of love to be poured out into our lives.

When we honor our Jesus it really flows right back into our lives.

Matter of fact, honoring was the first commandment with a promise by God! When a father & mother are honored by their children they have no problem sacrificing for them, no problem bending over backwards for them. Matter of fact, it usually compels them to do these things in a more significant ways!
 Honor breeds greater love, greater service, greater sacrifice and longer life! Not only is honoring our parents, leaders & one another a command, but I really believe it is a set up by God. Because those who love like Jesus loves will always allow being honored to lead them to a greater place of love for those they serve.

Honor propels your leaders into a great realm of love & service.

We have often shied away from honoring our leaders because it has only led to bigger egos & justified oppression. But, honor is never meant to simply elevate people to a greater place of status, it is divinely crafted to elevate people to a greater place of love, service & sacrifice. Not only so, but honor is meant to release you into a greater fullness & length of life. It is time we allow honor to be restored to our families & the church. It is time to release our parents, leaders & one another into a greater level of love, service, sacrifice & life through honor!

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Romans 12:10

March 3, 2012

"The Cry of a Fatherless Generation"

There is an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, destroying the very fabrics of our society, shattering our neighborhoods, deteriorating relationships and shaking the very core of our homes. This epidemic is drastically impacting our way of life and threatening generations to come. Fatherlessness… 
In America, “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families...

Those boys whose fathers were absent from the household
had double the odds of being incarcerated.

The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed 'greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.'"

However, does this epidemic only
effect our natural lives?

If the effects of fatherlessness impact our natural lives so drastically, how much more should would be concerned about the absence of spiritual fathers in our lives? How many sons and daughters are being birthed, but growing up as spiritual orphans?

There's a yearning that is tenaciously wrenching the hearts of children, a longing for fathers to take their place. But I truly believe there is also a cry from the hearts of the fathers. There is a father's cry that longs to see this epidemic vanquished. Fathers are longing to know how to father and they too are longing to be fathered. There is a cry going out from both young and old sons, the cry of a fatherless generation.

God promised in Malachi 4:6 that in the last days Elijah would come and,

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

It's time that we no longer close our ears to the cry of God's heart. It's time that we allow the turning of hearts to become a reality in our lives, homes, families and ministries.