Anchors for the New Year

Anchors.  Every boat has an anchor.  The purpose of every anchor is to stabilize the vessel so that it doesn’t drift by a current or high winds.  Anchors are heavy, made of solid metal and strong enough to keep a boat secure.  I wish I could say I have sailed the high seas and am familiar with using an anchor, but I’m not.  However, there is one anchor I’m familiar with.  That anchor is Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews 6:19 it says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  I absolutely love this verse.  The author of Hebrews is giving hope to his audience by leaning into the promises of God.  God gave us a promise, and since He does not change and He does not lie, His promise is still good for us today.  His biggest promise is His son Jesus.

Here’s the question: how do leaders, pastors, believers keep from drifting away from Christ?  How do we remain secure and safe when the storms of life come?  We see it all the time.  Christians (even national leaders) who get taken by the storms of life and aren’t anchored into Jesus Christ.  If it can happen to others, then it can surely happen to us.

There are three things that I do as a leader that keep are vital to my emotional, physical, and spiritual health.  I call them anchors.  They keep me tethered to the One who gives me life.  I believe every one who calls themselves a Christ follower must identify a few anchors in life to keep them grounded.  Here are my anchors in life:

  1. Daily relationship with Christ.  This is huge.  This is why I do what I do.  Without relationship with God I’m dusty and dry.  As a pastor, I preach out of the revelation Christ is doing in me.  Therefore, I must stay fresh, and the only way is time with God.
  2. Quality time with family.  When I went to Bible college they always said, “your family is your first ministry.”  A nice idea, but when I became pastor it wasn’t modeled.  Thankfully, things have changed and more and more pastors are putting a priority on their family. 
  3. Exercise. It’s a proven fact that exercise relieves stress.  And if you’re not getting stressed out in ministry you’re doing something wrong.  Exercise is some of the best medicine for our fast paced lives. 

These are the anchors that keep me grounded in life.  I wish I could say I do them all the time, but the reality is, I don’t.  It’s a challenge and it takes discipline and commitment.

Here’s a few final thoughts about anchors.  First, I don’t think everyone has the same anchors.  Each person must identify their own.  Second, I believe anchors change in life.  You may have a lifeline that keeps you balanced now, but may be obsolete in the next stage of life.  And lastly, I think the biggest anchor must be belief in Jesus Christ.  He is our hope.

So in this next year ahead, let’s develop some anchors that keep us safe and secure in Jesus Christ.

RE:CALL – God is recalling our model of church

Graham Cooke did a conference at East Hill Church this last week.  You can check the Wednesday night message here and the Thursday night message hasn’t posted yet but will soon.  We had a three hour staff meeting with Graham.  Just about everything he says is worth quoting but one thing he mentioned I can’t get out of my mind.  It’s been messing with me all week.  He said “God is recalling our model of church.”

Just the other day my wife found out that our crib has a recall on it.  The crib we used for our first two kids and plan on using for our next one.  Something is faulty with the railing.  The interesting thing about recalls is when a company finds a defect on one they recall every single model.  In this case, several million cribs.  The same thing happens when a car manufacturer finds a defect on one of their cars.  They have a recall on all the cars and you can take it to the dealer to get if fixed (even if it’s not broken!).

As a church leader I’ve spent a lot of timing trying to figure out what “works” in ministry and what doesn’t.  There are a lot of churches doing a lot of different things.  Especially in youth ministry.  There are a ton of books about best practices, principles, models and methodologies.  I’ve tried a few of them.  Some worked, some didn’t.  But what I’ve found that what works in ministry has always worked: the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Leading people into a true encounter with Him is the best attraction we can use.  One of my mentor’s always said “what you catch them with, you will keep them with.”  It’s certainly holds true in my limited experience.  So I ask the Lord, “Recall anything in me that doesn’t line up with Your character and replace it with more of Your Spirit.”

RE:STORE

Have you ever gotten into a car accident?  I have.  When I lived in the LA area in college I got in three accidents in three months.  It was a record!  I had never been in an accident prior and have never been in an accident since.  It’s an awful feeling.  My heart sank each time I crashed into another car.  I still remember it like it was yesterday: the glass on the road, the angry people I hit, and the cop looking at me with his stern, intimidating face.

After all was said in done, I took my car into the body shop for estimate.  There was obviously body damage, but what I couldn’t see the damage beneath the exterior of the car.  Trying to get away with the cheapest fix I remember asking, “Can I just fix the outside and not worry about the structural damage?”  The mechanic was emphatic.  “Sure, if you want it to fall apart on the freeway!”  I was more concerned with what my car looked like on the outside, than how it ran and operated on the inside.This makes me think of how God is more concerned with our heart and our soul, than He is with our outer behaviors.  Don’t get me wrong, God cares about our actions, but not if our heart isn’t right.  You see, we’ve all been in a collision with sin and although we want a quick fix, what we really need is an overhaul of our heart.  When we take our broken down life to God, He’s the ultimate mechanic.  And He’s more concerned with what’s under the hood of your life, not the paint job.  You see, God’s in the restoration business.  Think about this….

In Genesis we see this personal, intimate God create a perfect world in order to dwell with humanity.  This perfect world consisted of a garden we can only describe as paradise.  It’s a world where our best descriptions and words can’t even begin to paint an accurate picture of its beauty, magnificence and brilliance.  And in the center of all created things, the reason all things were created, is man; considered the “crown of creation.”  God is pleased with His creation, and walks in perfect unity with him.  But then it all falls apart….

You know the story, Adam and Eve sin and all relationships begin to disintegrate: relationships between man and God and man and others.  As the rest of the story unfolds, we see a loving, gracious God that makes a way for His people to enter into relationship with Him.  Sometimes man takes advantage of the opportunity, sometimes he doesn’t.

When we look at the end of the story, in the last chapter of Revelation, John writes down a picture of what the new heaven and new earth look like.  It’s uncanny how familiar it sounds.  It’s beautiful, it’s magnificent, and it’s brilliant.  It’s the garden.

So here we have the story of God start in the garden of paradise and end in the garden of promise.  And in the middle there is a process.  It’s a process of God passionately pursuing a relationship with humanity.  In this process is a God who restores.  The process of restoration is taking us back to what life was like before sin in the garden.  God wants to restore us, which is restoring the beauty of Him inside each one of us.  Restoration is uncomfortable.  It takes bending, hammering, sanding and repainting our lives.  But in the final conclusion of the story, if we let God restore our lives, we end up where God started.  In the beginning….

My Very First Blog

This is my very first blog.  After reading several blogs of friends, family and fellow youth pastors I felt like I wasn’t very “progressive.”  So I decided to join the rest of my contemporaries in starting a blog.  So here it is; my first blog.  I plan on expressing my deepest values and commitments in life and everything that pertains to it.  So what are those values?  It’s quite simple.  My love for family, my love for Jesus, and my love for the church.  I told you it was simple.

I have an amazing wife, Brianne, and two incredible boys, Joseph and Jack.  And of course, my daughter, Sophia, is still being formed in her mother’s womb – set to come into this world on February 1, 2011. 
I love Jesus.  I’ve dedicated my entire life to loving and serving him.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  And last, I love the church.  In all it’s glory and in all it’s dysfunction.  It is why I’m a pastor and why I serve students at East Hill Church. 

So there it is.  My first blog.