The Sunday That Was (October 30)

Yesterday, I got to do something I have never done in 5 years as pastor of the Suncoast... I got to go to church like "everyone" else!!!

Cheryl and I were gone for a long weekend trip up to Georgia to see some fall foliage and we got back in town Saturday night. So, Sunday morning I slept in to about 7:30am or so. Actually had breakfast WITH Cheryl on a Sunday. Got ready and waited for her to finish getting ready... this is why we never fight on Sunday's, we never ride together! It was strange!!! We pulled in the parking lot and were greated by Henry and Christopher. Then greated by Rita and Marge. Then greated by Angel at the door. Got my program, checked out the coffee and donuts, found a seat in time for the countdown clock. "Worshiped" with Cheryl, actually filled out a Communication Card during the Need to Know, my first time. Watched the cool "Lord's Prayer" video which was awesome with the three screens. Then took some notes listening to the final message in the prayer series. When the service was over, I talked with some people, finally got the donut, and then we just left... THAT WAS HARD! Seeing everyone doing tear down and just walking out was the hardest part of the day for me.

SO, thank you staff and thank you volunteers for keeping the church going even when the pastor is just a spectator! I love my church!

It is not too late to do Halloweenie at your house tonight. Take the grill out front and give out some free hot dogs and invite cards for the new series, "CHAOS" that begins this Sunday! E-mail me if you need some invite cards,

Take a look at the new series:

CHAOS from Church of the Suncoast on Vimeo.

The Sunday That Was (October 23)

I never know how to start these weekly Sunday recap posts since I changed up my blog's direction this year. There is, "Yesterday..." or, "This past Sunday at the Suncoast..." I don't know?

On Sunday, October 23rd at Church of the Suncoast :-) we talked about the mystery of unanswered prayer in our, "Prayer" series. You can watch the message here on my blog to the right OR head to the church website and get the podcast. OR!!! Get the church of the Suncoast App for your Driod, my fav!

We started the service with a really honest video about what it feels like when God is silent and we have been desperately seeking Him. I know I could relate to it! There have been many times in my life when God seemed deaf to my request. Have you ever felt like that?

The band did a great job on Sunday I thought. We were missing a few peeps but you guys stepped up. We had one of our high school students, Josh step up and play electric, and he rocked it. Great job guys. Steve led us in a time of prayer after the set and I loved the honesty of his prayer. He said there are things he has been praying about for 20 years and still it doesn't seem like God has answered his request. Thanks for sharing man!

The message had a lot of content and really looking back I should have broken this talk up into two seperate messages, but I just had so much I wanted to share about what I have learned when God says, "No" or "Wait" or just seems to say nothing at all! And, when I say the things I have learned I should really say learnING because I still don't have all the answers to why God doesn't answer some request for healing, or for a marriage, or for our kids. The bottom line, where we landed yesterday, was can you still trust God? Fill in the blank with the thing you have been praying about and still nothing... Got it? Now, can you trust God despite what you feel and see right now? Can you trust that He is still writing your story and the last chapter has not been written yet? Can you trust Him and His plan even when you think yours is better? Can you trust your Heavenly Father BECAUSE maybe, just maybe, that is the point to prayer in the first place. That is what part 3 will be about this Sunday.

After the service a handful of Suncoasters joined Cheryl and I out at the Villiage Lakes plaza in Land O' Lakes off SR54. For a couple years we have been trying to get this plaza to lease to us and every time we meet with them they say, "NO" because we are a church. There were some issues with Wal-Mart and Sweetbay but now both of them are gone, the plaza is sitting empty, I called one more time and they took it before their "big cheese" and they said no once again. BUT, every time I drive by there I can't get it out of my mind. It might be God, it might just be me, BUT either way a group of us went out there and prayed for God to open doors at that plaza or clearly show us what is next for the Suncoast. If it is to stay portable for the next 5-years, fine. If it is a storefront, fine. If it is some other building, great... we just want to make sure we have the faith to ask and trust and not just lean on our own understanding. SO, the next time you drive by the Villiage Lakes Plaza just past 41 on 54 say a quick prayer for God to open doors or show us what is next as we wrap up this year and start looking to 2012, crazy, where has this year gone!

One last thing, THANK YOU to the crowd we had help out at the West Pasco Pregnancy Center on Saturday! Huge blessing to them!

Prayer in MY Life

This past Sunday at the Suncoast we started a new series on prayer simply called, "Prayer". So, today I thought I would share a little of my own prayer life with you guys. Again, my disclaimer on Sunday... I don't think I am that great at it and I have so much more to learn, but here is what I have found along the way:

Write them down...
For about the past 7 or 8 years I have been writing down my prayers. The first go around I created a Word document and just kept adding to it for an entire year, then I would print it out and start a new one for the new year. That was good because it kept me focused, but I got bored with it. I am, dare I say it... a bit "artsy" so I got a journal and started writing down my prayers for an entire month at a time and then some daily ones as well. I also write down thoughts and impressions I get, AND any ways God has answered those prayers. Yes, and I can doodle!!!

Pray the "P's"...
Somewhere along the line I was studying the, "Lord's Prayer" that Jesus taught His disciples to pray and I found a way to remember the basic ingredients of what Jesus teaches. This is not the "right" way to pray. This is just what works for me and keeps me from always praying about myself!!!

Praise - start out by praising God for who He is and what He has done. The longer you spend here the bigger God gets and the smaller your problems get.

Purpose - this is where you surrender your will to God's will. Before you even get to your laundry list of request, you submit to His will. If you cannot get past this point then don't! Wrestling through this part of prayer is more important than anything else!!!

Pardon - this is where you confess your sins and ask God to create in you a clean heart and you declare your dependency on Him and Him alone for your salvation.

People - who do you know that needs some prayer, needs God to move in their life, this is where you bring them before God and pray on their behalf.

Notice we have been praying for a while now and still no mention of all the things we want from God... exactly!!! The FINAL part of prayer for me is:

Petition - what are your concerns, what do you need, what are your wants... ask your Heavenly Father here. You don't have to hide them or not pray for them, most of us just need to pray for them less! Praying the "P's" helps you do that.

Pray for someone now...
The final thing I want to share from my personal prayer life is when someone asks you to pray for them, or you tell someone you will be praying for them, do it then! It might only be a one line, simple prayer, but do it then OR ELSE YOU WON'T. Trust me!

Hope that helps. Hope Sunday's message gave you some hope and freedom. Don't miss this Sunday as we talk about the mystery of unanswered prayer.

What can I pray for you? Let me know! Hit me up with a comment, facebook, twitter or e-mail.

The Sunday That Was (October 16)

Yesterday we opened up our new series called, "Prayer" with what else but Bon Jovi's 80's hit, "Livin' on a Prayer". We even gave the band some 80's rocker hair to jam with... they had just a little fun with it! This was my view from off stage looking at Josh, Meredith and Rayzor. You never know what might happen next at the Suncoast.

Here are some random thoughts from the first talk in this 3-week series:

Prayer is an interesting, confusing, even at times offensive subject. It is also powerful, many people rely on it for a sense of peace, and studies have even shown it has many health benefits. It is at least a topic we are interested in and curious about no matter where you are on the spiritual spectrum.

A lot of people don't pray more because they just don't know how!

We also don't pray more because we get bored or distracted when we pray. The office next to ours at the Warehouse has a guy that cusses like a sailor almost every day when I pray... it is a little distracting!

Many of us don't pray more because we think our request are too small to bother God with.

Others of us don't because we are not sure our prayers make a difference!

The bottom line is prayer is simply communication with God. David asked God in Psalm 5 to consider his SIGHING! David felt like he was so close to God that even a sign could be a prayer. It is a lot different than we think!

IF you let yourself break out of your preconceived ideas of what prayer is you can find a lot more creativity and effectiveness and meaning!

Try: Talking to God with gut level honesty, about everything that matters to you, continually (don’t pray for long periods of time, but never go long periods of time without praying) and finally we must learn how to listen for God's response.

Five years from now, your life should look radically different because God wants to say something to you TODAY that could change the course of your life, the life of your family, maybe the course of generations to come. Will you learn to listen for His response?

This Sunday we will dive into the mystery of unanswered prayer. I hope if you are reading this then you will be there this Sunday. I hope you will pray about someone to bring too!!!

I wanted to let you know two vision pieces of what is going on right now at our church. One is THIS SATURDAY at 9am a bunch of people will be showing up at the West Pasco Pregnancy Center for our NEXT Serves project. We want to make Pasco County a better place! We want to serve our community. Service is a big part of the Suncoast from Sunday mornings to service opportunities like this. This Saturday we will help do some landscaping and building maintenance so wear some old stuff and meet at the center at 9am. Marge is leading the event and her e-mail is Everyone is welcome to help make a difference and here is the address and map:

West Pasco Pregnancy Center

***NOTE: There are no NEXT Groups this week so we can serve on Saturday!

The second vision piece I want to mention is this week our church is giving back thousands of dollars to local ministries that help people in need from Land O' Lakes to Ybor City. We are also setting aside some money to help those in need at our own church! As a church we believe the Bible teaches to live on 90% of what God has blessed us with and give back to Him 10% called the tithe. From day one of the Suncoast we also believed if God asks us as Christ-Followers to follow this command then we as a church, as an organization, need to follow it as well. So we "give back" 10% of everything that comes in each year. To date we have given back over $75,000 in the past 5 years!!! As this money goes out this week pray that God blesses and multiplies it and that it is used to bring even more people to Jesus. Stay tuned for updates.

Don't miss part two of "Prayer" this Sunday guys... it will be good stuff and I will try to have my "A" game back. Felt like I only brought a "B-" this week.


Neglect... [why you might need this Sunday]

This morning I was reading in Hebrews chapter 2 and the Apostle Paul warns us with this:

"This is why it’s necessary for us to pay more attention to what we have heard, or else we may drift away..."

In my years as a pastor, and as a follower of Christ, I can say without a doubt the number one cause of spiritual problems and issues is NOT failure or sin, it is neglect. We neglect our faith and when we do it suffers, we drift, we fall into temptation, we feel empty. Paul warns us we need to pay more attention so that we don't drift away. Meaning, we need to read the Bible, pray, worship, serve, give, and spend time enjoying other Christ-Followers. All the personal things we do to keep our faith fresh and alive.

As your pastor as I take the temperature of our church I think many of us would say our faith is a bit flat right now... could it be because we have neglected it like a pound puppy!

So, this Sunday we are starting a new message series on prayer. For the next three weeks we will talk about what prayer is, some of the common frustrations, and we will look at how Jesus taught His followers to pray (which might shock you how much we miss the point of prayer). If your prayer life, and faith, could use a boost then please be here this Sunday. I have been praying for exactly that!

For more info click here:

Ye Ole Book

When I got home from church on Sunday I found a really thoughtful gift in my mailbox... no it wasn't a bomb! Marlene gave me this REALLY old book:

The book is an Episcopal Church book or prayers from get this 1898!!!

It was regifted to Lois for "Faithful Sunday School Attendance"

AND, inside were these newspaper clippings from the 1940's where you could get a car for $10 down and $7 a week!

Thanks for the great gift! Had to share about it.

The Sunday That Was (October 9)

It rained... A LOT!!! Thanks to our unnamed tropic low that spun up over us this weekend we got soaked. The set up people got soaked. The amazing greeters who helped people inside with the umbrellas got soaked. I saw tons of kids walking in soaked. The tear down peeps got soaked. And, yes... I got SOAKED on multiple occasions Sunday. Thank you guys for being a, "Whatever it takes" kind of church. Summer sun OR tropical storm, God's house gets set up and church happens, lives are changed! I love my church.

Saw some of our students sitting up on the front row again, you guys rock! Keep it up! Show us "old" people how it's done. The band rolled out a tough new song called "Magnify" and with not a lot of practice you guys pulled it off. Thanks for giving new things a try. We never grow if we don't! You guys are hard workers, thank you!

We celebrated communion and dropped our F-bombs too... We do communion different ways at the Suncoast. Sometimes the ushers pass out little waffers and cups, and sometimes we have everyone come up front and rip and dip the bread and juice. This past Sunday we ripped and dipped and asked everyone to come forward. Then as they were making their way back to their seats we had a basket where everyone could drop their "F-Bomb." My message ended with me asking everyone to write down the biggest offense they had to forgive someone for right now in their lives. After communion they dropped them in a basket and this week we will burn them as a visual tool for the process of forgiveness many of us are on now because of this series. Powerful stuff! I would love to hear your stories!

I HIGHLY reccomend watching or listening to the past two weeks if you were not at the Suncoast! Look, I am not dumb. I know no one wanted to talk about the topic of forgiveness. No one ever does! I didn't want to, that is why this series sat on the back burner for months... BUT, I am telling you as a church WE NEEDED THIS SERIES! So much freedom and liberation when you can swallow your pride and wrestle with the pain and work the process of forgiveness. So on your own, at your pace, watch or listen. You will be blessed because if, "you got it, then you give it."

This Sunday we start a new series on prayer called... "Prayer." We got creative with the title. Don't miss it if your prayer life could use a boost!

Don't Miss This Chance!

To all my friends at the Suncoast... DON'T MISS THIS CHANCE! As this week has gone by I get a stronger and stronger sense God wants to move in BIG ways this Sunday at the Suncoast. What does that mean?

I think marriages will start down a path of healing. I think students will find freedom from some past hurts. I think those of us with a low grade fever, an anger, a frustration that lies just below the surface will be released to new joy! I think many people will finally forgive themselves and those who have held them in a prison of emotional captivity...

BUT, MOST OF ALL I BELIEVE DOZENS OF PEOPLE WILL FIND THE FORGIVENESS OF JESUS FOR THE FIRST TIME! Don't miss the chance to be a part of this, and what God wants to do in the lives of the people all around you at work, in your family, and in your neighborhood. Invite like a person possessed by the forgiveness of God and can't wait to share that with others!

E-mail me, tweet me, or facebook who you are inviting so I can be praying.

I love my church!

The Sunday That Was (October 2)

It was a struggle... the portable church demons were out in full force yesterday! We had our monitors go out so the band could not hear themselves for the most part, not to mention they all had sinus infections! We had two of our VGA cables that take the signal to the projectors short out or something so we were down one video screen. Half of the video and media files got corrupted somehow when we transferred them off the portable hard drive. So, with less than an hour before church started I made a mad dash for my laptop while the guys finished set up and fought all these other issues. We got everything going at about 10:15am just in time to open the doors so we didn't get to rehearse the service before going "live" and had a few hiccups. Like I said the portable church, wear and tear, nothing is the same week to week demons were out doing all they could to keep us from experiencing this new series on forgiveness.

BUT, God won! He pulled it all together and the service was really powerful I thought! It might not have been perfect, but it was powerful. I got to pray for our band before they went out on stage, something I get to do every once in a while when I walk in on them backstage, but I prayed the only thing I knew to pray... "God if you show up and your presence fills this place then all this stuff doesn't matter."

I was also jacked up when I came out because a bunch of our middle and high school students were filling up the front row! Awesome to see you guys sitting together and being the church! Loved it!!! Keep it up, show us adults how it is done!

We started a new series called "F-Bomb" that I have been wanting to bring to you guys for a long time. I felt over a year ago that forgiveness was going to be something our church needed to wrestle with in 2011 and the only thing I am bummed about was the number of people who missed out one of the most powerful talks I have ever been able to preach. I didn't feel like I brought my "A-game" but the content and what God did made up for it! Guys I hope you will do everything within your power to help pack the house this Sunday! If there has ever been a time our church and our community needed to hear something it is this series! I actually wrote a handwritten letter to some friends inviting them to this series, I have never invited someone like that, but I just felt I needed to put into words why I was so passionate about this. So no excuses, be there this week and bring some friends.

Normally, I would leave you with some thoughts from the message, but I want you to watch or listen to the message if you missed it. It is worth the time investment, again not because of anything I said, but because forgiveness is that powerful and most of us don't really know why, or have been misinformed about it. So watch or listen and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your stories about how God is using this series. In fact you can share them here:

A couple "announcements" to leave you with that I am also excited about from Sunday:

For the past 4 years we have done something as a church that has become a favorite for Cheryl and I each year. Halloweenie is where we take our grills from around back and put them in the drive way. We put signs (that the church provides) out the week before, and we grill hot dogs for all the people out trick or treating. We give out from 100 - 125 plus each year and then we give them an invite card for the new series we usually start that Sunday. The past couple of years we have had our NEXT Group help us and it is always so much fun! The signs will be available the next few weeks at church and from there it is up to you how big you want to make it!

On Saturday, October 22nd at 9am we are also meeting at the West Pasco Pregnancy Center to help them with some basic maintenance and clean up. Our NEXT Groups will be helping and EVERYONE is invited to help us make a difference in Pasco County. E-mail Marge to let us know who is coming:

I love my church!