Monday, August 31, 2009


Have you ever noticed the difference between a rear view mirror and a windshield in a car? Most of us never think much about it, but the difference is very obvious and profound. A rearview mirror is small and is meant to see where you have been. A windshield is big and designed to be able to see clearly where you are going. Believe it or not, there are some great spiritual implications in this analogy.

In our spiritual life, only one person wants us to focus on what is behind: Satan. He wants to remind us how bad we were, how people hurt us, how we can’t measure up. In fact, the bible says in Revelation 12:10 that Satan “accuses us before God day and night.” He is constantly telling God how bad we are and how we don’t deserve God’s love. The great part about this idea is the very next phrase in this verse that says Satan “has been hurled down.” He is defeated and can no longer destroy our eternity with God.

God wants us to focus not on our past, but on our present and our future. God doesn’t condemn those who follow him, but instead he gives life and freedom. While Satan stands and accuses us, God pours out love toward us. “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16.

God wants us to focus our life on him. He wants us to look ahead and see his love and his deliverance from the trials of this life. He wants us to experience grace and mercy that come through Jesus.

The question is where is our focus? Are we looking in the rearview mirror or are we looking through the windshield? Are we more worried about what has happened or what God is doing?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Body in Times of Crisis

If you have been reading this blog over the past couple of weeks you have heard about the car accident of Jack Cerreta, Jr. Jack and his family are members of LifeQuest Church where I pastor, and they have been incredible friends and partners in the past seven years that my family has known them. I want to share some things that I have been leaning through the process of walking with this family during the last two week.

Jack was in a serious wreck with major head trauma. No one knew what to expect. He had drains put into his skull to relieve pressure, had surgery to remove two blood clots, went in and out of ICU and states of consciousness. There were days when things seemed incredibly positive and others when everyone was on edge.

Jack’s sister, Casey, is in the Marine Corps and is stationed in Okinawa, Japan. She was able to get leave and buy a ticket to fly home. She spent three days traveling and finally arrived to find her brother in Intensive Care. Needless to say this family was going through one of the most difficult times it had ever experienced.

Yesterday, Jack was moved to a rehabilitation facility. He is alert, walking, eating, talking and remembers most things. He does not remember the accident. Perhaps this is God’s provision. This ordeal is in no way over for the Cerreta family, but I want to share with you some things that God has shown me through the process.

1) The ministry of presence is the most important in a time of crisis.

Far too often we place more value on our words in tough situations. I have heard people say pithy cliches during times of trials. I have heard bible passages taken out of context. Somehow we think by talking we break the tension. Over the course of time Jack was in the hospital, so many members of LifeQuest were right alongside the family. There were times where no words were spoken. It was the presence of one another that brought comfort in the midst of pain. When Christians gather together, the presence of God is there and that is enough.

2) The ministry of caring is priceless.

This is an area where most churches do very well, but LifeQuest excels. The Cerreta’s have raved about how people have brought food, desserts and sent cards and letters. This has ministered to them in so many ways. It allows them not to have to worry about necessities but to focus on the care of their son. One thing that meant a ton to the family was that a lady in our church made a Cherry pie that they were able to enjoy. Simple gestures of love in the midst of crisis are extravagant representations of the love of Jesus toward one another.

3) The ministry of generosity is often overlooked.

I received calls every day for a week asking what could be practically done for the family. So many people wanted to do something but didn’t know what. One issue that was major for the Cerreta’s was that Casey had to get a loan to buy the ticket to get home. The ticket cost $1,600.00 and she was going to have to pay it back over a long time. In two weeks, our church collected the amount of the ticket. She is able to fly back to Japan with the money to repay her loan in full.

There are so many things that could be written about this situation. I am sure that this will not be the last post about Jack on my blog. But these are a few things that we should never forget in the times of crisis. It is in these moments that the body of Christ is able to shine at its brightest.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Night Update August 9

It was another great day at LifeQuest Church today. Here are a few thoughts as I wind down the evening:

• God constantly amazes me with the things he is doing in the life of people at LifeQuest. It reminds me that the work he is doing is not something we could do in our own strength.
• It never gets old seeing people make decisions to step across the line of faith. I love the passion of people who have found a new reason for life.
• It was so great seeing the Burnam’s and Nathan Young back from their summer mission trips. I missed them all!!
• It is so great to hear the news of the improvement of Jack Cerreta, Jr. It is so awesome to see him writing, laughing, and having conversations.
• We had some great topics and questions that came in for our “You Sermon” series. You can submit questions at church or on-line.
• Our children’s ministry area was full today. It is so awesome to see future generations being shaped by the word of God.
• God is doing great stuff. I can’t wait to see what is next in our future!!!

I hope you have a great week. Keep up your reading in the “One-A-Day” Proverbs reading challenge!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Leadership Summit Lessons

The last two days God has been showing me some amazing things about leadership, his will and desires, and my own struggles in each. As I have listened to men and women leaders from all walks of life I am incredibly challenged that I am not nearly the leader I desire to be or that God has created me to be. I want to share with you some “sound bites” that have been rocking my world this week and that I will be focusing on and that I will probably be writing about very soon.

“Storms often create the best conditions for change to occur.” Bill Hybels

“Sometimes what you see as the horizon is really only the top of your rut.” Gary Hamels

“We define neighbors as someone like us. We target our churches toward people who are like us. As such we have developed a consumeristic church.” Dave Gibbons

“The world notices when we can love someone not like us or someone who is un-loveable.” Dave Gibbons

“Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, or that it was okay and release from consequences of actions or reconciliation. Forgiveness means giving up the right for revenge.” Wes Stafford

“Reflect on what is happening by leaving the dance floor and going to the balcony.” David Gergen

“If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” David Gergen

I wrestle with these and many other thoughts. One that hits me is one of the very first words that Bill Hybels spoke in the first session that resonates with my life:

“The work I am doing for God is destroying the work that God is doing in me.”

Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I have witnessed more pain in the past week than I care to remember. There has been physical pain as I have watched Jack Cerreta struggle for his life and to recover his mental faculties after his car wreck this past week. There has been major emotional pain. His parents Jack and Michele and his sister Casey have been through hell this week.

The update on Jack is that he is out of ICU and is progressing. It is going to be a long and difficult process at times. Please continue to pray for Jack and his family. You can check back here for details.

Yesterday at LifeQuest was a great day. We had a great time worshipping God through music and fellowship. We saw new faces and the message seemed to connect with people on a personal and practical level. In the midst of joy and celebration there was still pain. As I reflected back on yesterday the picture of pain is the one that lingers in my mind.

When you speak in front of people regularly, you begin to see signs of what you are communicating through the eyes of the people listening. Some connect and give non-verbal indicators that they are engaged. They nod their head, they take notes or they simply get a look that tells you they are processing information. These are all positives for a speaker.

Yesterday, as I watched those listening to the message I saw pain. The face of one particular person keeps popping into my mind. Wrapped with hurt, anxious, doubting, wondering why they were there was what their body language gave off. It was tension, depression, and hurt all rolled into one. My heart broke as I tried to imagine what could cause so much pain.

Maybe that was you. Maybe it was the person next to you. I am not going to reveal who it was or put any pressure on anyone, but I have a very personal and direct message for that person:
You are not alone. God loves you. God cares. And we are here to help.

No one likes pain. It is not the emotion we seek. It is our desire to live our life free from pain. The reality is pain is a part of life. We can’t know life itself without pain. The very act of coming into this world is painful. We learn valuable life lessons through pain. We all learned not to touch the hot stove because of the sensation it gave our hands.

But physical pain is often easier to deal with than emotional, spiritual or mental pain. Often we are afraid to admit we are hurting. But God already knows. Often we are afraid to seek help. But God has already provided someone to help us in his church. Often we feel hopeless. But God is the God of hope.

I don’t like pain. I especially don’t like seeing others in pain. So, if you think I am talking about you, call and talk to me. If you feel any of the emotions I have described, I am here to help. If you think that you are all alone, God has promised to never leave you or forsake you.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Night Update

Today was a great day at LifeQuest. It has been a very difficult week for our church family, but God showed up in a powerful way today. Here are some Sunday night thoughts:

• The music part of worship was awesome today. It felt like people were singing with serious passion.
• It was great seeing so many new faces.
• The way that the bible applies into our life everyday always reminds me of how big our God truly is.
• I love the fact that people at LifeQuest hang around and talk after the service. That has to be a good sign!!
• I am really excited that our summer missionaries are coming home this week. I miss those guys.

I went to the hospital after the service to check on Jack Cerreta. Jack was doing okay and was talking, but the thoughts process is pretty difficult. Jack and Michelle wanted me to let everyone know how much they appreciate everyone’s prayers and support. If you would like to know how you can help, contact me at

God is up to some great stuff at LifeQuest. New faces are coming every week, people’s lives are being changed, and people are discovering that God has a plan and purpose for their lives. It is exciting and I want to encourage you to do all you can to be a part of this exciting time.