• 5 Things to Consider When Searching for a New Church Home

    As a pastor I have come across a lot of people who are in search for a church home and who frankly, really struggle with the process. It can be a really difficult and scary journey, one that seems never ending for some. I thought it would be really helpful to a lot of people to jot down a little encouragement for those who are searching for the right church home. 

    5 Things to consider when searching for a new church home

    1. The perfect church doesn’t exist.

    We are not the exception to the rule despite what we will try to convince you over your first month. The perfect church doesn’t exist because the church is made up of people and no perfect people exist. So the question isn’t whether you will find a perfect church but once you find the place you feel God has planted you in, will you stay when you are often reminded of the imperfection of your brothers and sisters? Will you love them still? Also, good churches have bad days as do good people, so don’t toss the baby out with the bath water. That’s a ridiculous old saying (who would do that?!) and have no idea where it comes from but it sure does apply to a lot of situations in life. The truth is that its really hard to know the heart of a house in just one visit. 

    2. Consider how God might be starting a new work in your life.

      To everything there is a season. Once I heard a wise teacher say that every person has 1-2 church moves in their lifetime within the same city, so he was not counting those that have to move often for work and thus find a new church at each stop. 1-2 moves within their lifetime! We live in a much more transient day and age than ever before. Job mobility is a major deal in the 21st century job market. And people church hop like crazy. Some “shop,” some “hop.” That conversation is for another day. Nothing wrong with looking for the right church home but I worry that we do harm to the plant that is trying to grow by regularly uprooting it. As you move into a new season, be ready for God to do some new stuff in your life. I believe God will allow you to tap into and release new spiritual gifts, unlock new passion and ultimately meet the needs of the new body you are connecting yourself to. 

      3. Strong and meaningful relationships take a long time to develop.

      I recently read a study that talked about meaningful relationships in our lives and specifically about how long it takes to develop them. The average amount of time it took for a person to move from being an acquaintance to a casual friend was about 50 hours of quality time. To move from a casual friend to an actual friend was nearly double that at 90 hours. And to move from a friend to someone you consider to be a close friend was roughly 200 hours of quality time. I think of this in terms of the church world and I totally agree with the time. There are 52 Sundays in a year. I think after the first year at a church you can become casual friends with everyone with a mild involvement of showing up most of the weekends in a year, even though I wouldn’t classify a Sunday morning worship gathering to be quality time, though God might multiply our closeness through the Spirit. After nearly two years people start to feel like friends and after close to 4 years you can call these people your close friends. If you really want to develop meaningful relationships then you just need more time. Be intentional to water your relationships with quality time wherever you find yourself planted.

      God has designed the church to be a living, moving and breathing organism of spirit-filled connectedness with a singular focus and goal, to glorify God by building one another up and pointing others to Jesus. We cannot do this apart from loving relationships. The organization is a necessary skeleton to provide structure for the body but it is loving relationships that provide the meat and muscle on the bones. 

      4. Know what’s open handed and close handed

      Ever watch one of those shows where the couple is about to buy a house and they have all these “must-have’s”? The realtor tells them that their list is totally unreasonable based on their budget. Isn’t this a little bit how we approach finding a church? We have our list of “must-have’s" When each one of us step into a church asking ourselves, "is this the place for me?" we come in with a list of close handed items which are important to us and a list of open handed items of which we value less. Having a clear picture of what’s open handed and close handed will actually make the decision making process much easier and I encourage you to do this with your spouse if you’re married. As you begin to think about your open handed list and your close handed list I encourage you to consider that some of the items on your lists may be in the wrong list. When we do this we come face to face with our long list of preferences. We should never allow our preferences to be honored above God’s word nor the places he chooses to plant us. I have honestly grown so much in churches that didn’t meet all my preferences. I didn’t worship or serve because of the music or the style of small groups I preferred. I did so out of love for God and His people. This is the purity of heart that God desires and will always allow us to be led by God to His perfect plan for our lives. 

      5. Pray about it

        Rocket science right?! How often do we reason within ourselves and don’t submit it in prayer. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Doesn’t have be confirmed 32 times over. Sometimes it's just a peace inside. Other times its looking at the fruit of the impact already in your life and knowing you’re in a place that is going to help you grow in your faith and in friendships too.  

      1. 3 Building Blocks to a Culture of Empowerment

        Every leader is tasked not only to set a course for the future but to develop and empower those they are asked to lead. Here is a straight forward look at what I teach our leaders at Fathom Church. 
        3 Building Blocks of Empowerment
        • Authority: The right to lead - not just manage.…TRUST is vital.
        • Responsibility: The weight of authority - not just tasks….INITIATIVE is necessary.
        • Accountability: The environment of healthy teams - the expectation of progress. GOALS & REVIEWS are essential.
        4 Steps to Empowering Your Team
        1. Put it on paper. Map out where you are and where you want/need to be. It makes it so much easier to think about how to get from point A to point B when you can visualize the process. 
        2. Talk it out with a trusted leader. This doesn't have to be your direct report. In fact, I believe you will enjoy the conversation more if it isn't your direct report.  Decide who you want to talk about it with and set up a time. It won't happen unless you schedule it.
        3. Schedule facetime with some people you want to be a part of taking the next step. This isn't a big all call meeting. This is 1, 2, or 3 people within/ or not yet within your department that you like being around and think would add a lot to the team at a larger capacity. You often think to yourself, "Man, they could add a lot to the team" or "If I could only get them to do more..." Well there is a decent chance they are just waiting on the opportunity to do more. Have a written down agenda that they know nothing about. Let them know why you are having the meeting because you trust them and you need help taking the department to the next level. Let God lead your time together. 
        4. Pray for the right timing. Timing is such an interesting topic when it comes to leadership because God's timing is always so unique and His is perfect. Pray for the right timing to hand off authority, responsibility and begin a goal setting and review routine. We shouldn't delay in making these decisions nor rush them. Its all about God's direction and timing.
      2. 3 Things You Have to Know to Overcome Your Anger Issues

        This weekend I am starting a series called “Seasonal Emojis” and it got me thinking about an old sermon I preached that I feel needs to be heard far and wide because everyone is dealing with anger. I’ve basically modified my sermon notes to be a little more user friendly for a Bible study. I hope this helps many of you.
        Ephesians 4.26-27  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. 
        Anger can easily lead to sin
        • In Eph. 4.26-27, Paul is quoting a Psalm of David (Psalm 4). Paul is reading the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which says “In your anger, do not sin." 
        • Psalm 4 gives us some beautiful insight on how to defuse our anger
          • v.1 David talks to God “Hear me oh God of my righteousness.."
          • vv.2-3 David talks to people “How long oh you sons of men?"
          • vv.4-5 David talks to himself - He calms himself before the Lord
            • Be angry and do not sin.
              • The Hebrew verb here is ragaz meaning to "stand in awe" (could be fear or rage). Have you ever been here? If anyone ever had a right to be angry, it was Jesus. Jesus endured gruesome persecution and torture yet He remained without sin. 
              • What this textual reference tells us is that its ok to be angry but we can’t let it allow us to sin. 
              • You are never permitted a license to sin. If we do so Paul says we take for granted the grace of God. The intense version of that is we “spit on the cross"
            • Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still
              • Christian meditation is different than eastern meditation
                • In Christian meditation, we fill ourselves with God’s truth.
                • In eastern meditation, we empty our heart and mind, leaving it open for deception.
            • Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and Trust in the Lord
              • Religious action doesn’t replace trusting in God.
              • Trusting in God is followed by walking in the way of the righteous.
          • vv.6-8 David receives blessing from God
            • You have put gladness in my heart
            • I will lie down in peace
            • You make me dwell in safety
        Work to resolve it quickly
        • Don’t let the sun go down on you.
          • Here this should be read in the straight Greek context of the word as Paul is writing in Greek here, not referring to the Hebrew text. The Greek word used is orgizo which means "to provoke or to arouse anger.” This is so appropriate regarding anger because unresolved anger only provokes further the longer it is left unresolved. If you find yourself looking at your spouse, a child, friend, boss or even God with hate and resentment, chances are huge you have a ton of unresolved anger.
            • Go back to the Psalm 4.4 passage and remember that he said to mediate on your bed Before you go to sleep. Meditate on your bed. He’s continuing to make this connection here. 
          • There is a fine line between doing it in the moment and doing it after the moment has passed. Don’t deal with it in the moment while you are mad, but don’t wait until you have dealt with this completely on your own either.
            • If we wait until the moment has passed we will convince ourselves that we resolved this anger when in reality we only filed it away for safe keeping. We stuffed it. Its like compressing the trash down. At some point the bag is going to bust and there will be crap everywhere. The clean up is much harder at that point. 
        • A few verses earlier in Ephesians 4.22, Paul basically says this is not the way you were taught or "put off your old self."
          • The old self is characterized by... Ignorance, futility, deceit, impurity and lust
          • New life characterized by holiness and righteousness
          • Our MO becomes whatever we were taught by our upbringing. Christ transforms us into the new self. If mom and dad screamed, then you scream it out. If mom and dad stuffed, then you probably are a stuffer.  Even when you put your foot in the ground and say I’m not gonna deal with it like that, you find yourself doing it. It is a long process to unlearn habits then to relearn new ones. 
          • In Romans 12.1-2, Paul tells us that our mind needs to be renewed. Here are three prayers to help you sort through this. 
          • Renewing of the Mind Prayers
            • Identify: Holy Spirit help me identify the root causes for my anger.
            • Unlearn & Heal: Holy Spirit heal the hurts of my past and make me whole.
            • Relearn: Holy Spirit help me walk in and cling to Your truth for my life.
        It has far greater ramifications than what you think
        • "Don’t give the devil a foothold.” In other words, don’t give the devil a seat at the table. Don’t give the devil an opportunity to foster hatred or pride. There are people who’s anger of the injustices in this world led them to do horrendous things. While we are working to minimize it, the devil is working to maximize it. We don’t want to minimize it though, we want to resolve it. We can resolve anger with far less energy than we spend managing it. What is the real reason you are angry?  The anger we have is rarely only about the person we are directing it towards.
        • What about righteous anger? Is there a place for that? Yes. "If our anger motivates us to seek solutions, address injustices in a productive way, and heal the damage that has been done to a relationship, then that anger can be both righteous and healthy.”
        • What about God’s anger? God’s wrath is just. J.I. Packer summarizes: “God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil” (Knowing God, 151). God’s wrath is satisfied in Christ.
          • Romans 5.6-9 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 
        It would be easy for each of us to leave this post feeling regret about times we’ve been angry and said or done things in which we are not proud of. My hope is that God might redirect our anger to the things that make Him angry. My prayer is that God would heal today the hurts of the past and make us whole. My desire is that we would not give the enemy an opportunity to attack what God is doing in your life, your family or our church family. 
      3. Pastor Kyle's Tips for Reading the Bible

        The Bible.
        Isn't it amazing how just the title of it brings a response in your own mind and emotions?
        Peace. Guilt. Anger. Frustration. Joy. Comfort. 
        You might have felt a few of those all in one big wave. A few weeks back we did a small group study on reading the Bible and I weanted to share the notes with everyone out there that might be struggling through the same stuff. 
        The truth is that sometimes we as Christians don't own a Bible, don't like reading it or just are struggling to find time to read or relate to it.
        Here are just a few of my simple tips that my help jumpstart a rather lackluster part of your spiritual journey. 
        Quit Faking It
        • We act like are master theologians on scriptures we have never read and we've certainly never cross referenced anything.
        • We quote scriptures that we are simply regurgitating from our favorite message like 2 years ago. 
        • We make excuses for why we don’t make it a priority in our life.
        • —> Start reading the scriptures in humility and honest desire.
        Quit Reading it Alone
        • Holy Spirit
          • If prayer is not a vital part of your study life. Your study life probably sucks. 
          • I encourage everyone to Pray before, Pray during, Pray After. Prayer should become like breathing. You shouldn't start and stop it. An awesome prayer to pray before beginning to read is located in Ephesians 1.17-23. Paul is praying this for the church at Ephesus.
          • The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth about about Jesus. Jesus is speaking in John 16.12-13 and says...“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
        • Brothers & Sisters in Christ:—> Start asking questions to yourself, to God and to those mature in the faith. 
          • Ask questions to those who lead you in the Lord and those that have a stable base to bring wisdom from.
          • There is wisdom in counsel. Why struggle all by your lonesome with something you are struggling to comprehend or work through when God has put the body here for this very reason; so you wouldn't be alone.
        Quit Being Afraid
        • Afraid of our own Ignorance: We don't open the Bible ebcause we don't know enough about it. That's like a student saying, "I'm new to this subject, therefore I'm not gonna open the book." Hmmm...Yeah, that doesn't make sense.
        • Afraid of correction: Sometimes we don't open the Bible because it convicts us and we know that there are areas of our lives that are not submitted to Christ. 
        • Afraid of God (based on bad understanding of God’s character): Some of us just have a flat out bad understanding of the compassionate and benevolent God we serve. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. Don't be afraid to come to the Father. 
        • --->Start letting the perfect love of God cast out every fear so that you may approach the Scriptures with a proper view of who God is. 
        Finally, I found an awresome resources from John Piper on understanding that the scriptures demand a response. 
        Reading & Study Seeks a Response (Communication is Two Ways)
        • If God indicts us (2 Cor. 7:8–10), we respond to him with sorrow and repentance.
        • If he commends us (Ps. 18:19–20), we respond to him with humble gratitude and joy.
        • If he commands us to do something (Matt. 28:19–20), we look to him for strength and resolve to obey with his help.
        • If he makes a promise (Heb. 13:5–6), we marvel at his grace and trust him to do what he says.
        • If he warns us of some danger (Luke 21:34), we take him seriously and watch with a thankful sense of his presence and protection.
        • If he describes something about himself (Isa. 46:9–11), his Son (Mark 1:11), or his Holy Spirit (John 16:13–14), we affirm it and admire it and pray for clearer eyes to see and enjoy his greatness and beauty.

        I pray these resources help you in your journey to study the beauty of the Word of God.

      4. When church doesn't feel right anymore...

        As a pastor, I have a sincere desire for every person that walks through our doors on Sunday to grow in their relationship with God and the church. I am keenly aware of the struggle that so many of us battle in understanding the Church (global), the church (local) and our place within it. Some of you have been around the Church a long time, many great experiences and probably a little heavier baggage mixed in there as well. For others, your relationship with the Church has just begun and you are still figuring all of this out. I want to share a few pieces of advice from my own personal experience and struggle with my relationship with the Church and the local church.
        When church doesn’t feel right anymore...
        1. Talk to God about your motives. The first bit of advice is probably the hardest. It hits us dead in the eyes most of the time because very few of us take the time to slow down and recognize selfish motives that have permeated our hearts. Our culture screams at us to have it our way all the time, and the Scriptures scream just the opposite. Culture beckons us to become our own god and the Scriptures call us to bend our hearts in submission to God. Very simply, this life, church included, is not all about us. Rather, God adopts us into His family and calls us to a life for His glory and renown.
        Here are a couple Scriptures to bring this home. 
        Psalm 51.10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
        Phil.2.3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
        2. Be more intentional in your relationships. Many of us long for meaningful relationships but never make any effort to have them. We pray for Biblical community but never have a meal with anyone in the body of Christ. We complain about feeling disconnected but show up once a month and don’t allow relationships beyond the surface level. The early church gathered daily to pray, break bread, fellowship and learning from the apostles teaching. Most of the time when we are struggling to find our way, fit in or just make it through the week, we go into hiding. The Christian faith is meant to be lived alongside one another striving for the same goal, to be made into the likeness of Christ and to live for His renown. One of the biggest hurdles I have overcome in my Christian walk is engaging intentional relationships that I know are good for my journey. Don’t avoid them or wait on them to come to you. Be intentional. You’ll be glad you did.
        Acts 2.42 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
        3. Embrace what God is teaching you in this season. I have always been a little bit of a weird bird in that I embrace the uncomfortable. When awkward things happen I pride myself on not being shaken but learning from them. I titled this “When church doesn’t feel right anymore…” for a reason. When most of us are in this place, the first thing we want to do is bolt. We cry out, “God, get me up outta this season! I don’t care what you gotta do but get me outta here.” The longer I’ve walked with God, the more I realize in every season the Lord is teaching me something new. The longer I keep hitting the eject button, the longer I will have to keep repeating the same lesson until I learn it. God wants to prune your heart in this season. Just let Him. 
        Daniel 2.21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
        Here is a few simple prayers if you find yourself in a similar season...
        1. God create a clean heart in me. Fix my eyes on you and away from my selfish desires.
        2. God open my eyes to the people you’ve placed in my life to build me up and bring comfort and joy to me. Help me to be real and be a godly influence on others.
        3. God help me to rest in this season I am in right now. Help me to embrace your goodness in every season and to learn what you are teaching me through it. 
      5. Prove Yourself

        The temptation of Jesus in Matthew chapter 4 is the first thing that follows His baptism. The beginning of Jesus' ministry started with temptation and testing. The Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness and the temptation from the devil was to prove Himself. "Turn these stones into bread." Prove yourself. I feel the large majority of humans don't wake up with a nagging voice saying, "Go prove yourself", though I know for a fact some do. In fact, I know that every human has within the desire for human applause. The desire to be recognized, affirmed and praised. Every human wants to prove their worth, their value. 

        Many of you reading this are young, as am I. Others of you are less young. (Isn't that such a nice way to say it?) At first glance the idea of proving one's self is a youth struggle but I would beg you to glance again. The desire to prove one's self, for earthly applause is natural, earthly natural. Jesus' response leads us to our path, a spiritual satisfaction that does not come from earthly applause. "But He answered and said, it is written, "Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  Jesus is providing an example to us that we must find life, substance, worth and satisfaction from the mouth of God - not our performance for men. 

        I share this scripture and encouragement as one who has had the Lord recondition my heart to be motivated by His applause and unwavering despite the silence of those I desire praise from and focused on His words despite the noise of my critics. I speak from life experience. I encourage you to find tune your ear to the voice of the Lord and allow Him to speak to you your worth, not your performance, not the voice of your critic. 

        May we be fulfilled by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

      6. Lead Quietly

        Are you feeling it yet? Not the four on the floor bass drum, not the change in weather but the pressure.
        Do you feel the pressure? To talk louder so that they’ll hear you. To go bigger so they’ll notice you. To be edgy so they’ll talk about you. Do you feel that? Well, I have. The Christian social media world is as damaging as the rest of it. And not just to the sheep but also to the shepherd. Bombarded by everyone else’s conference schedule, attendance numbers, stage design and who they are rubbing shoulders with digs down in our heart and posts up on the adirondack chair seated in our need to be noticed, and more deeply, respected. We have some incredible instruction in 1 Timothy 2.1-8 for the beast inside that envies, schemes and lusts over what is not yet and what is not ours.

        Paul is pouring into Timothy here…

        "1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."

        So much to say, so little time. Let’s dive in for a moment together and I want to touch on a few keys to leading quietly. You’ll also notice some references to the Sermon on the Mount throughout that support this understanding on 1 Timothy 2. I think ultimately Paul’s instruction here is to raise up humble leaders, for it is only in humility that God can be glorified through our ministry. Did you see where it started?

        1. Have an Outward Focused Prayer Life
        (v.1-2) Pray for all people and especially for all the leaders in our life. Become the intercessor you want for your own life because God (through Christ & the Holy Spirit) is our intercessor. The pressure that we earlier spoke of leads us to bring more attention to ourselves, our brand and our movement when our hearts should be centered on bringing attention to Christ. We know in our hearts are pure and when we have crossed over into the dark side or the slightly shaded areas between marketing, evangelism and vanity. The truth is that we are a lot less broken than we feel when we are outward focused in our prayer and thought life. Granted, we’re usually more exhausted because of the constant pouring out and a disciplined Sabbath life becomes all the more vital, but we aren’t as broken as we feel. And then again, sometimes we are just as broken as we feel. I forget who said it but they called Sabbath, the discipline of rejuvenation. Schedule it. Do it. Love it. Praying for others, especially adversaries and other leaders, wrings ours hearts of sour emotions and un-dealt with anger and jealousy (Matt. 5.43-44).

        2. Be Better in Private
        (v.2) What if we were most godly and holy in private? In Paul’s time there was much persecution for the cause of Christ that praying for leaders was so that they could continue in public ministry without being taken to jail for it. Paul says that “peaceful and quiet lives” “pleases God our Savior”. It breaks my heart every time a Christian wants to pick fights with people who disagree with them. They want to pick public forums to shame others and convince them they are wrong. Has this ever worked in the history of humankind? Yeah, I don’t think so. It usually just makes things worse. That is why Jesus instructs us to give quietly, pray in secret, to fast and not tell anyone about it (Matt. 6.1-8). We don’t give often enough to be pleased with doing it quietly. We aren’t disciplined nor intimate enough to pray in secret because its easier to do it publicly when others are around. Based on my readings on this text as well as the Sermon on the Mount reference text, I don’t believe God is impressed with what we do publicly. It is holiness and godliness when no one is watching that He is impressed with.

        3. Repent Often
        (v.8) Repentance used to be something we heard from a lot of Christian preachers and teachers back in the day but not so much anymore. I think many of us as leaders don’t model it so it makes it pretty difficult for us to teach on. Paul’s encouragement is to not allow yourself to enter into prayer with ridding your heart of anger, envy and relational strife. Jesus was pretty hardcore in Matt. 5.14-15  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I dare you to confess. To boast in weakness on a daily basis (2 Cor. 12.5). I dare you to send some apology letters, texts and calls to leaders, students and friends. I dare you to start a message with what an ignoramus you can be at times. Its actually endearing to people and it is obedience to Christ. It frees our heart of pain, our mind of stress, models Christ to others and, most importantly, draws us nearer to Christ.

        May we pray outwardly, worship privately and repent often that we might please the Lord and others would be drawn to Christ in us.

      7. Faith and Fruit

        Does anyone else love the ability to stream whatever they want wherever they want? I know I do. We have access to everything from anywhere today. It's a pretty cool world we live in. But its also dangerous.

        When I say the phrase "microwaveable meal" or "TV dinner", what comes to mind? Instant. Easy. Low nutritional value. Might kill us.

        When I say the phrase "harvest season", what comes to mind?
        We might imagine a field but many of us will go straight to thinking of a grocery store where we can pick it up. This is the instant world we live in.

        We are missing the process. We want the end results. We want the product. But we don't want the process. We don't want to be near when the field is plowed, seeded, watered, weeded and picked. We just want the fruit (or veggies). The hard work can be left to someone else. Let me know when its time to show up and celebrate.

        The same is true of our faith. We want the "fruit of the Spirit".

        Gal. 5.22-23
        22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

        We want each of these amazing qualities in our life but we have trouble connecting ourselves in faith to the Spirit that brings these characteristics out within us. Because that's the hard work. That's choosing to go out and water the field when it is so hot, dry and miserable outside. That's choosing to weed the field instead of complaining about the weeds in the garden. And from this place, this place of faith and connection to the Spirit, comes fruit. Real, tangible, life-giving fruit. The stuff we've dreamed that we could possess, the characteristics we've failed at time and time again and felt guilty for it, the kind of life that makes people look twice and reflect on their own life...we now possess. Not by popping it in the microwave or showing up to the store to grab a few pieces when we need it. But flowing. Flowing from the depths of our souls as we have connected ourselves to the Spirit that brings life, not death. There is no law against these things. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

        I pray that we would be set free from our desire for instant gratification.
        I pray that we would find hope, rest and purpose in the process.
        I pray our lives would be built firmly on the solid rock that is Christ Jesus...

        and from this place let fruit come forth.

      8. The Mission of the Church

        Recently I was asked to email a short response to this question by a friend working on some school work. What is the mission of the Church? I responded with this short, uncomprehensive, emotional response to what God is speaking to me currently for our church. Thought I would share it.

        "The mission of the Church is more deep than it is broad. I believe the American Church has gotten these two backwards. It has attempted to offer a surface level understanding and message of Jesus in many superficial programs and ministries rather than embracing the words of Jesus to live out the love of God as a faithful Christian community. At Fathom Church, we have simply enabled the Great Commission (Matthew 28.19-20) as our "mission statement". Go! Go out. Go upstream in your field of calling; your field of harvest. Go obey. Go point people to Jesus. Go radically obey in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let God supernaturally redeem your family, your office, your community by acting as a very practical vessel of His all sufficient mercy and grace.

        Shut down the programs. Shut down the busyness. Shut down the idea that we have something to give the world. And resurrect Jesus. Resurrect His simple message. Resurrect the truth that He is all we will ever need.

        In this the Church finds truth, mission, purpose, passion, compassion, true grace and real rest."

      9. Why you hate bigots, racists and hypocrites and probably are one

        Do you ever have so much to say that you choose to say nothing because you fear you don't have enough time or knowledge to finish it?
        Well I do. My heart is broken and troubled though over so much I see in the world that it's utterly overwhelming to a caring soul like mine.

        In the months leading up to our American presidential election, my awareness of our fraudulence as a people is at an all-time high. Our "best candidates" skew facts for their own good. Possible quality candidates will never be given a shot because of the culture/system we have created. And the wisest of our possible candidates will choose a better life for themselves. But I digress. This discussion isn't designed to be about our candidates or politics but really to be about you and me.

        What I'm just flat over is people who claim to hate racists, bigots, and hypocrites yet are some of the biggest ones I know. And before you jump on a bandwagon or start throwing stones, just stop for a second. Come down from your mighty place of wisdom, pride, and apathy and listen to yourself. Realize that you aren't who you think you are. You don't believe what you think you believe. For those of you that are believers in the way of Christ as I am. You(we) are the worst.

        You are idol worshippers. You have created a god that serves you. A god that you can be comfortable with and control. A god you can use when necessary.
        This is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is worthy to be loved and trusted with one's whole life. To be given control. To move us from our place of comfort. God is in all of your life and wants to be in all of your life.  

        Let me be more specific if you are having trouble breaking through my frustrated tone.

        To those who find themselves on the left end of the polarized political spectrum. You call the religious right bigots. You are what you despise. Some days you are worse.
        To those Christians that claim to follow Jesus, when is the last time you really loved your enemies and prayed for those who persecute you? Do you really believe in grace, in mercy, in forgiveness? You better hope you do. Because you will need it, just as we all will. It is our only hope.
        To those that claim to believe in equality, put it into action. Do something that would give someone else the same shot you had.

        We only want equality as long as we get our extra piece on the side.
        We only want freedom for everyone so long as everyone agrees with us.
        We only want to help people as long as it doesn't hurt us.

        You hypocrite.
        You bigot.
        You racist.

        You say you are one thing but you aren't.
        You don't believe and you don't live like you believe.

        From one caring soul to another, be honest with yourself and everyone else too. Honesty is where healing begins.