> Get an easy to read Bible like the New Living Translation (NLT).
You can get them at any Christian book store, online, or even at Wal-Mart. I like having online tools like www.YouVersion.com BUT to me there is nothing like my old red Bible full of my notes and highlights over the years. So get an easy to read Bible like the NLT.
> Read a chapter a day from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
You can even read less than that, but a chapter a day is a good idea of what to read. Have a pen or some different highlighters with you and mark whatever jumps out at you. YES YOU CAN WRITE IN YOUR BIBLE! I have no idea if my family will leave me any inheritance but what I most want is their Bibles. For years they have marked and made notes in them from before I was even born. Do the same thing. As you read just mark what seems to speak to you. Some days you will get a lot, some days you won't mark anything. But, mark it so you can come back to it and see how God has moved in your life.
> Journal your prayers and thoughts.
I don't claim to be great at this, but I have a couple journals filled up over the last 11 or 12 years of what God showed me as I read the Bible, what I was praying for and how He answered some of those prayers. Writing it out just helps you stay focused. So, write out your prayers, write them like you are writing a letter to God. Write down what you read about today. And, be still long enough to see if God doesn't impress upon you a thought or reminder of His love or peace.
That is how you have a basic quiet time. This is the number one secret to gaining margin in your schedule. Can't tell you why, but it does. Give God your first minutes and see how He blesses the rest.
I would love to hear what God is showing you as you do this! Leave a comment to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sunday we baptized 3 people and dedicated 3 awesome kids. We also had 3 people accept Christ and we continue to have lots of guests. Keep serving to create those environments for God to work Suncoast! Keep inviting because YOU NEVER KNOW when those invites will pay off. I love my church!
One story that I just have to share... Our band was praying before they went out and as they prayed for that time, and the rest of the service, someone said, "And God help us to just have a kick-ass service!" As your pastor Suncoast I love that for several reasons. It was honest! It wasn't fake! It was passionate! It was bold. I would much rather have someone step up and pray that kind of prayer in front of their friends and fellow band members that some canned, flowery, nice little prayer that wasn't from the heart. I'm glad we have created a church where people can be the same when they pray as they are when they are hanging out during the week.
If you missed the message Sunday it will be up Monday afternoon and you have to watch it! We played a little trick on everyone at the beginning of it. Good times. Here are a few notes, talking about margin in our schedules:
1. Your time is limited
2. All your time will be spent doing something
3. Someone will choose how you spend your time
"The urgent things will always push aside the important things"
So how do we do something about it?
1. Recognize your days are numbered
2. Prioritize accordingly "Is this the wise thing to do?"
3. Make time alone with God number one
4. Schedule intentional times of rest
This Sunday we will hit week 3 of "Life at the Redline" and we will be talking about creating financial margin. I am telling you if you really "get" what we are talking about this coming Sunday it will change your life. Not hype! Financial issues are ultimately not about dollars and cents. It is about the man or the woman in the mirror. Change that person and your money will take care of itself. Don't miss it. I know it is Labor Day weekend, but DON'T MISS THIS SUNDAY!
The first thing is, if you have never been baptized as an adult, meaning you were old enough to know what you were doing and meant it, if you have never been baptized then bring a towel and a change of clothes and tell everyone you have DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS! I know it might seem a little scary, and what will people think, and I don't know, and what about my hair, and I am not sure I am ready and... Look, YOU WILL NEVER BE "READY". If you have accepted / trusted / believed in Jesus to be your Savior in your heart then you are as ready as you will ever be! You might still have some questions, you might still have some doubts, you might not understand it all. Fine. In the Bible, someone made a decision to follow Jesus and they were baptized that day!!! No waiting. Have you decided to trust in Jesus, then you need to follow in obedience this Sunday. This Sunday is YOUR TIME. Don't let fear keep you from obeying Jesus. The step of faith will be rewarded and you will experience what it is like to go public with your faith. No turning back! THIS IS YOUR SUNDAY! I believe that will all my heart and I have been praying for you!
If you are a parent of a birth - 5th grader then I would also challenge you to dedicate your child THIS SUNDAY! This is a simple act with profound implications. You are publicly telling everyone that you are wanting to raise this child in a Jesus-centered environment so that one day they will make the decision to follow Jesus as well. You are publicly saying you need God's help and the church gets to commit to YOU in helping with that process. Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9 That is your goal and commitment as a godly parent. That is what this Sunday's dedication is all about, creating that kind of environment.
The second thing I am asking you to do is pray for this Sunday. If you have already been baptized then pray for those that will be taking that step this Sunday. Pray for courage and boldness. Pray God's blessings over them as they obey and follow Jesus. Pray this Sunday is even more epic than last Sunday!
If you are getting baptized, during the final song at the end of the service on Sunday, I will ask you to slip back to the restrooms and change. If you are dedicating your kids go and get them from the Coastal Kids area during that time too. THEN, we will all meet at the Guest Services Kiosk in the back for some final instructions and prayer before we head out to the baptismal kiddie pool.
IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!
Praying for you.
It was an awesome day at the Suncoast and a great way to kick off the fall around here. The day started out with a lot of hard and really hot set up work. I have said this before, but the set up guys and gals are my church hero's. By 9:30am when things were getting close to being done I think we all were soaked, gross! The local Corvette Club showed up a little before 10am and we pretty much lost all the men from that point on :-) Thanks to those guys for bringing over a dozen cars! If this means anything to you we had several Z06's and Grand Sports, way cool.
As people started to arrive there was a huge "Wow" factor with the Vettes out front, the R/C car track for the kids and the new stage design. The countdown clock ended and the band rolled out some old school Alabama "I'm in a Hurry". We had two more songs that got everyone focused on uniting around Jesus, what this is all about, and we rolled a hilarious video showing people freaking out with stress. Then, I got up and preached my guts out (more sweat) on the insanity of our "Life at the Redline." Here are a couple main thoughts:
We are living at an unsustainable pace!
We don't have any margin in the major areas of our life.
Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary.
The best things in life happen in the margins!
If Satan cannot make us really bad, he will be happy to make us really, really busy.
When margin decreases, stress INCREASES.
When margin decreases, relational intimacy decreases!
AND, then I gave everyone your homework... for 5-minutes a day, each day this week, unplug 100% from EVERYTHING and just be, just sit, don't think or produce anything, be a human-being not a human-doing. Why? Because we don't know how to do this verse:
"Be STILL and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
We ended the service with a prayer time and two people accepted Christ, go God! That is what our church is all about. That is why we try to be creative, that is why we sweat the details (literally). That is why we have fall launches!
I saw huge wins all over the place Sunday. We had a great crowd (highest since Easter... and our highest non-holiday service since last May), we had tons of guests, a TON of kids... OMG! During the prayer most of you said you would try the homework, most committed to come back for the rest of the series, and I can't wait to see what happens this Sunday with baptism's and child dedication. New people were exposed to Jesus, you guys "went fishing" and our volunteers did a great job creating a relevant environment for God to work, and He did! Win!
So, take a minute today (not one of your 5 from the homework) and thank God for what He did. Take a few more minutes and keep inviting people for THIS Sunday, and I hope you will take a next step and get baptized THIS Sunday the 28th! To get more info let us know: email@example.com
Be BOLD guys! Sunday is coming.
On Tuesday I walked into our landlord's office here at the Warehouse to drop off the rent check and I just laid it out there. "What are you guys doing on Sunday... Come to church! We are talking about how we don't have any time and money and sanity these days. Not that you guys deal with any of that as small business owners... Here is a card. Come to church this week!"
Last week I was e-mailing with the printer who does all our printing for the church. We have talked about church before and I know she is not a Christ-Follower. Went bold on her! Asked her if she can come this week. And, she said she could. Praying she does.
Also, praying for the people you are going bold on! Sunday is coming!!!
A few highlights from Sunday:
- The story in 2 Kings 7:3-16 is not one you heard in Sunday school but it put a period on our series because the 4 guys HAD TO GO BACK and tell the others about the GOOD NEWS.
- With great discovery comes great responsibility!
- BE CAREFUL: The longer you are a Christian the easier it is to allow our time and lives to be so absorbed with what God is doing in and for us that we forget to go back to those we left behind.
- We have a tension... will we go back to some of the people and places we used to know?
I also shared 10 questions if we really buy into anything we have talked about over the past 6-weeks, if we really thought we had to fish:
- Who would you make time for to invite to lunch?
- Who would you buy your next random gift for?
- Would you do anything different financially?
- Who would you have over for dinner?
- Who do you need to invite to church THIS WEEK?
- Would you change where you workout / shop / get your hair cut?
- Would you change where your kids play sports?
- Would you change your golfing / shopping partner?
- How would you pray different?
- Who would you adaciously pray for until they accept Jesus?
I hope this series has challenged you to rethink your faith and even how you live out your life with Christ. ONE OF THE BEST THINGS WE COULD DO now is get out there this week and make sure people come on Sunday because of us! We have a great fall launch planned and a new series called "Life at the Redline." It will be the perfect environment for someone to just "Come and see" like we talked about. I know you are busy and have all kinds of things to do this week. But, lets not miss this opportunity to "Go Fish" and introduce people to the God in this song...
This was our communion song from Sunday:
Helping people take their next steps with God
And, specifically what we are trying to do is:
Create relevant environments in which God can work
Over the next month everyone will have the chance to take at least one BIG next step at the Suncoast. Here are a few of them:
> Bring someone for the Fall Launch (Aug 21)
Every year we hit the reset button and launch into the fall with hopefully lots of momentum. It is back to school time, and back to a routine time for most people, and that means getting back into the church groove. We start a big new message series about a highly practical topic for believers and non-believers. And, I am personally asking you to make sure there is another person there because of you on August 21st. We have been talking about "Go Fish" for 5-weeks now, let's do it!
> Sign up for a NEXT Group
Starting this Sunday the 14th we will be signing up for our fall NEXT Groups. NEXT Groups are smaller groups of people that meet for 10-weeks in homes on various nights of the week. During that time you will be diving deeper into Sunday's message, talking, sharing, praying for each other, eating, having fun, serving the community and giving to a cause your group chooses. Pick a group with some friends or make some new ones. Group sign ups will go until September 11th. I know this is a BIG next step for some, but don't let your fear keep you from something amazing!
> Baptism and Child Dedication (Aug 28)
When a person became a Christ-Follower in the Bible their next step was to "go public" with their faith and be baptized. On Sunday the 28th you will have the chance to follow Jesus in obedience. If you were baptized as a child I think this is for you too because there is nothing like letting people know you are one of His followers! To sign up e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org If you are a parent of a birth - 5th grader and would like to have them dedicated then we will also be celebrating that on the 28th. For more info e-mail Crystal at email@example.com
> Step up and serve
Right now we have a chance for you to serve God, and His people, and those who are coming to experience Him for the first time this fall! We have 2 - 4 spots in our Coastal Kids Ministry in the Beach (elementary age). We have 2 spots on our set up team. We have 2 spots on the greeting and usher team. AND, we can ALWAYS use more hands tearing down the school after church is over each Sunday. Investing in Wall Street is a crap shoot right now, investing in God's kingdom ALWAYS PAYS DIVIDENDS!
So, no excuses Suncoast. Now, is the time to take your next step. Sometimes the biggest things in life come from taking small steps of obedience. Again for more info on any of this, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought the service was really good Sunday. I saw a lot of wins and it spilled over into our Coastal Kids Ministry where Crystal told me a whole list of REALLY cool things that happened back there this Sunday. Speaking of our kids ministry. We have been busting at the seams all summer I think. AND, we need two more Beach volunteers. The Beach is our environment for the elementary age kids and is a lot of fun. It is a once a month commitment and we will train you and make sure you are comfortable before we turn you loose. For more info e-mail Crystal (our kids director) at email@example.com By the way, you work as a team so you are not in there solo, FYI because that would be nuts!
This week we got one step closer to wrapping up our "Go Fish" series, and I said this before we started this journey, I think this has been the most important series we have ever done at the Suncoast in our brief 5-year history! There is so much in this that changes the way we see life, prayer, even how we see God! If you have missed a week or two PLEASE watch the messages here on my blog at the upper right. Here are a few thoughts from part 5:
- Fishing is simple (watch the video and message to the end)
- Fishing for people should also be simple because the message is so simple.
- We have made the message complicated as pastors and Christians.
- A lot of people have rejected Jesus not because of the real message of salvation, but because of a distortion we have made out of it!
- The two things a person needs to KNOW to become a Christian is: God loved and God gave. God loved, and God gave, that is it!!! Really!
- The two things a person needs to DO to become a Christian is: Believe and receive.
- We said it like this (all from John 3:16): GOD LOVED. GOD GAVE. and if we BELIEVE we RECEIVE. That is it. You don't have to know about creation vs evolution, you don't have to know Old Testament Law, you might have objections with Paul and some of the things he wrote, you might not buy into the Book of Revelation. Fine. The issue, the Gospel, is God loved, God gave. We believe, we receive.
- So as fishers of people let's make sure if someone accepts or rejects Christianity they are accepting or rejecting the true message of salvation.
- Our job is to live it out, and lay it out when the fish are biting!
After church was over a bunch of the faithful people that help us teardown all went out to eat and had a good time, which is another reason you should stick around and load the trailer with us...
Make sure you are inviting everyone you can for our fall launch on August 21st! I will share more on that later this week.
Everyone likes to be on a winning team. When the Rays and Bucs win, the stadium fills. When they don't, it is empty. Everyone likes a winner. In the church world the same thing applies but how you measure a win is much different, AND if left unspoken you guys will fill in the blanks for yourself and often that is butt's in seats. Which is an important measurement for wins because numbers are people, BUT they are also so fickle! So here is a quick list of some things to look for to know if we are "winning".
- If you see even one face you don't recognize then that Sunday was a win. We are here for those not here yet and even one guest means we won.
- If you see someone new serving, greeting, cafe, band, kids... if you have not seem them doing that role before then it was a win because they are helping to create a relevant environment for God to work. AND taking a next step by getting outside of themselves!
- Any Sunday (since we are portable) it all gets done and the video, lights and sound are right on it was a win because those guys and gals try really hard!
- Any Sunday you have a moment in the music/prayer/communion when you forget, even for a few seconds, that you are in a school cafeteria and all you are focused on is our God and His amazing love for us... WIN!
- When you see someone take out their program and take some notes during the message... WIN! When you do it... BIG WIN!
- When we have a baptism and child dedication Sunday like we do coming up on August 28th and even one person takes their next step of faith and gets baptized then that Sunday was a win and the angels throw a party in heaven! When even one family dedicates their child and says, "God help us and do something amazing in this kids life"... WIN!
- When you see people hanging out after the service and talking and laughing and enjoying being in the house of God then that Sunday was a win! When you head straight to the car and bolt, we lose...
- When your kids can't wait to get to church and don't want to leave, win! When they get you out of bed and they are the reason you came that week, yep WIN!!!
- AND, when people get their on time (that would be in the cafeteria by 10:30), when the seats are all full, and you see the ushers taking out more chairs, yes that is a win, and we should celebrate it!
Hope this list helps, obviously when someone accepts Jesus that is the ultimate win and it doesn't matter what else happened that day, but you don't always know when that happens like I do. Just know every month we have people do just that and we should be excited about that.
See you all Sunday, will we win?
Sunday was (what I thought) going to be the most important message in our "Go Fish" series. I was pumped, I was excited, then I walked out to do the welcome and OMG! Can anyone say July vacation? Thank you guys for showing up and being such good sports, but dang! I was not ready for the empty seats. It filled in some as the service went on and I know God used the message and He knew who would be there and was not shocked. One of these days I will be able to better express the dynamic I go through personally when the room is full vs when the room is not. But, it does dramatically (in my mind at least) change my mood, my preaching, and even my recovery time post service. Again, today is Tuesday and I know it was July and I am fine. Just letting you into my head and my passion and the church behind the curtain.
If you missed the message... check it out here on my blog to the upper right. It is well worth the time investment! I know it is not urgent, but it is IMPORTANT! We talked about having a "fishing partner" in the church. That one of the best things we can do as we "Go Fish" is to just get people into a Sunday service to come and see, come and see, come and experience Jesus in this place. AND, the week I am asking you to pack the house is our fall launch on August 21st.
We are planning a lot of fun and creative stuff to "Wow" the people you bring and we are starting a new series called "Life at the Redline" all about the lack of margin in our lives these days. It will be the perfect introduction to the Suncoast and to what this place is all about. So grab lots of invite cards and "Go Fish" over the next few weeks.
Bottom line: some good things happened on Sunday, some small wins, so don't mistake this post for something it is not. Just sharing the real life stuff with my church friends and family. Don't miss this Sunday as we hit part 5 in "Go Fish".