It’s All About His Presence

“It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in their personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into him, that they may delight in his presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God himself in the core and center of their hearts.”

Aiden Wilson Tozer
Chicago Illinois
June 16, 1948
From the Preface of: The Pursuit of God

What do you think the application is?

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Faith, Intimacy W/God, Leadership, Pastoral Care, Worship, 0 comments

The Way Out is Through

Don’t spend one second worrying about yesterday.

William Durant said “Forget past mistakes, forget failures, forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.”

If you like what you hear please share.

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Posted by Gary in Faith, Leadership, 1 comment

Where Are You In The Process?

I have been asking God to give me a glimpse of where I am and where He is taking me, and yesterday He showed me something amazing. It may not be just for me so I wanted to share it. I pray it will be helpful to you.

In Ezekial 36 from verse 16 to 20 we hear about the nation of Israel acting badly. I don’t want to draw any conclusions as they apply to me or to us.  I merely want to make the observation that Israel was not repenting or crying out to God. They were behaving badly.

God says in verse 22 when people see you they know you are my people and because I have concern for my holy name I will do this:

  1. I will take you from the nations and bring you into your own land.
  2. I will sprinkle you with clean water and cleanse you from your filthiness.
  3. I will give you a new heart and a new spirit.
  4. I will cause you to walk in My statutes and keep my judgments.


  1. You will dwell in the land you will be my people and I will be your God
  2. I will deliver you from all your uncleanness
  3. I will call for the grain and multiply it and bring no famine on you.
  4. I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.

There are several observations and applications I could make but I just want to make four:

  1. The nation of Israel was not being good, spiritual, repentant, or anything else worthy of God’s favor. He did it merely because they were His people and He wanted the nations all around them to know “that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate” vs 36
  2. Everything happened because God did it. Israel did nothing. (don’t take this too far)
  3. When you read; commandment, covenant, statutes, judgments etc. insert faith. We are under the new covenant. (again, don’t take this too far. keep it simple)
  4. Once He has done these things and caused us to live by faith. Then we will inherit the land and be blessed.

In order for this to be a theological piece it would have taken many more words than this and I’ve already abused the boundaries of a blog post. So please take some time to read Ezekial 36 and consider where you are in the process and thank God for the coming multiplication of grain and fruit. Then thank Him for His mercy, His long-suffering, His loving-kindness, and His grace. Submit to the process, He is good.


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What Happened?!?

Never in my lifetime did I believe I would see the church in such a state. I’m talking about the capital “C” church here. Certainly there are churches making a huge impact on people’s lives for the Kingdom and the cause of Christ but the universal church is struggling at best.

My heart is breaking for the bride of Christ. We don’t have to look far to see the church today in serious trouble. We’re increasingly viewed as irrelevant and out of touch. The majority of Americans view the church as nothing more than a social organization that does some good things, maybe, but really has no relevance in today’s world.

How did a group of people 2000 years ago without advanced degrees and none of the resources we have today impact the entire known world for the cause of Christ? And why are we viewed as irrelevant when we are equipped with seminaries, mass media, marketing, and vast resources. Why are we viewed as a nice subculture by most and downright evil by some.

I came across two articles one declaring “More Americans Say They Have No Religion”, and another with the headline “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”.

What has changed? Where have we gone wrong? What must we do to become again the Church Jesus planted?

I have written a book called “A Broken House”. It has been sitting in my computer for almost 3 years and I would like to walk through it with you over the next little bit. I would love to discuss it with you and get your feedback before it goes to print.

Please comment and invite anyone who you think would add to the conversation.

Also I will release my E.P. “I Will Sing” on October 16th. The next few weeks will be a mixture of this conversation and song stories from the E.P. I can’t wait for you to hear it!  You can listen to the first cut here.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Leadership, Personal, Practical, 2 comments

Is Style In Worship Really The Issue?

Recently Glenn Packiam cut through the noise and nailed the heart of the issue regarding style in worship.

If you read this space with any regularity you know I have a great deal of respect for Glenn. He is someone who is absolutely brilliant yet does not live on another planet. Glenn has the unique ability to speak to issues from a place of experience and integrity.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a friend about style in worship. He and a friend were discussing how our contemporary worship style has led to a flippant attitude toward God. I immediately dismissed the idea that our style, necessarily, leads to a flippant, casual, or “Jesus is my homeboy” attitude.

Then Glenn, as he often does, shook me awake.

Glenn asks the question: Do the words we use in worship and prayer really matter?

The very first shot out of the gate redirected my attention:

“Worship songs” are not just “expressions of our hearts to God”, they shape what we believe about God.

He is absolutely right. When I do retreats I teach this. We often forget much of the message we heard by Sunday afternoon but were still singing the songs we sang in worship on Wednesday. We as worship leaders hold a very powerful and potentially dangerous tool in our hands. We can use it to build up or tear down. And dare I say your intentions are not the issue. God is very specific about how we should approach Him. As Glenn points out in his response to the statement “its the heart that counts”:

Tell that to Nadab and Abihu– you know, the guys who offered a “strange fire” and got struck down in Numbers 3. Or Uzzah, the guy who struck dead for touching the Ark that was sliding off a cart it should never have been on because David did not “seek the Lord about the prescribed manner.” Where did we arrive at the notion that God does not care about the way that we worship? Or that all that matters is our heart?

Glenn asked the question in a video response to questions asked through “The Worship Community Blog“:

If someone were to get their view of God solely from the songs you’re singing this weekend, what would that “God” look like?

This question should challenge us right down to our shoes. What are we teaching those entrusted to us in the songs we sing and the prayers we pray? I make the case in my retreats that we have more influence over the congregation as worship leaders than the Pastor on Sunday morning.

Its way past time to stop arguing over style. Don’t misunderstand me; style matters but only to those God has called us to reach. It’s not about my preference. It’s about speaking to those God has called us to reach while being unapologetic about proclaiming the truths of God the church has been declaring for two thousand years.

It’s about learning to worship in “spirit and in truth.” The uncomfortable truth is that “the way we worship and pray is the way we believe is the way we live” (or, in Latin, if you prefer: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.)

If we will stand on truth and proclaim it loud and proud. God will build His church. When Jesus said in John 12:32 “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me”.  He was talking about His death and if we will lift Him up in praise, in Spirit and in Truth, He would draw all men to Himself.

Let us never get so caught up in anything that we miss proclaiming the truth of God, which is the power of God for righteousness.

Click through and read the whole thing: Do the words we use in worship and prayer really matter?

Also check out: Video response to Worship Community questions and On the Theology of our worship services.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Worship, 1 comment

He Chose To Go

Happy Good Friday,

The pinnacle of Holy week is just three days away and today we remember what Jesus endured for us over two thousand years ago.

So many thoughts run through my mind. Messianic prophecy for one. The fact that without God the odds of all the prophesies about Jesus coming true are 1038 (1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion).

But what is taking up most of my headspace today is the fact that Roman soldiers did not put Jesus on the cross and it wasn’t the nails that held Him there.

Over the last several years I have been engaged in conversations with those in and outside the Church who tell me its barbaric to believe a loving Father would  send His son to be brutally beaten and murdered in the most horrific way to glorify Himself. This line of thinking is based on a faulty premise. Which is the case most of the time in these conversations. We need to be careful not to accept a premise without consideration. Most of the time the question is irrelevant because the understanding behind it is flawed, as in this case.

The Father and the Son are not separate but with the Spirit are one in essence. Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. They are three in one.

God chose, by Himself, to pay the penalty for sin so we can come boldly into His presence. Ephesians 2 explains that because of Jesus sacrifice we are seated in heavenly places with Him so that for all eternity He can point to us as an example of His goodness, grace, and mercy. God made a good world, we rebelled, but God had a plan. He chose to go the the cross and endure what He endured on Good Friday because He loves us.

It was sin that put Jesus on the cross. Not an angry Father or Roman soldiers and it was love that held Him there.

The mystery kept hidden for generations is now made known to the saints and the mystery is this; Christ in me the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)

See you Sunday. He is Risen!

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Posted by Gary in Faith, Intimacy W/God, Worship, 1 comment

A Spirit of Power, Love, and Sound Mind

I’ve never seen 2 Timothy 1:7-8 in context before.

It says:

7. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.

I know I’ve read this passage dozens of times but I’ve never seen it this way before.

God has given us a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind so we would not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. In other words. We should not be fearful of sharing the gospel.

It is the proclaiming of the Word of God that, protects the truth, drives out heresy, and disciples believers.

Don’t be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Declare it boldly. God has equipped you to do it.

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To All People and For You

Two years ago almost to the day I had a small post entitled “To You“. Those words come back to me again this year.

The word “people” literally means “a people” which differentiates it from the word meaning “one’s own populace”. Jesus was born for everyone not just the Jewish Nation. He was born to be King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior of the whole world. And He was born

“To You”

I think of the scene in Aladdin toward the end when the villain is gaining power and Genie reminds him he still doesn’t have the power of a genie. He realizes this to be true and for his final wish he wishes to be an “All Powerful Genie!”. Instantly as he feels the power well up inside him he is sucked into a bottle. To which Genie states.

“Phenomenal Cosmic Power!! itty bitty living space”.

Jesus is the creator of the Universe yet He chose to leave the splendor and 24/7 365 worship directed at Him to be born in a manger. The manger speaks of the very purpose He came. To be the lamb of God. He was born to die. Simply because of His love for you. There was absolutely nothing in it for Him but relationship with you.

Tomorrow as we begin to wind down from the hectic pace of Christmas and look towards the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities remember. Jesus was born for all people. But most importantly He was born to you.

Merry Christmas.

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Posted by Gary in Faith, Intimacy W/God, Worship, 0 comments

The Love of God

Recently I’ve been struck by the love of God.

I’ve always known He loves me but the last couple of weeks as I’ve meditated on it I realize not only that He loves me but how much He loves you.

Again not that this is a great revelation it’s just that I’ve been thinking about how much He loves you and what that should mean for me.

I can get so frustrated with people. There are times when I’m behind someone on the on ramp to I-25 and they’re trying to merge with 75 mph traffic at 45 mph while talking on their cell phone and I just want to scream. Sorry if that shatters your opinion of me it’s just the truth.

However as I’ve been thinking about how much God loves all people and how He longs for everyone to know Him and walk in close intimate fellowship with Him it changes my reaction. I also realize He is my rear guard and I don’t have to worry about being crushed by the 75 mph traffic coming behind me.

C.S. Lewis in his sermon “The Weight of Glory” says we have never met a mere mortal. It is impossible to think too much about the potential glory of our neighbor and the weight of their glory should be placed upon my back. A load so heavy only humility can carry it and the backs of the proud will be broken. Everyone on earth is either an everlasting splendor or an immortal horror and all day long we are helping each other to become one or the other of these.

Everyone has a story. They are coming from somewhere and going somewhere. Before we make any judgments we need to understand their story and make sure we are helping everyone become and everlasting splendor not an immortal horror.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, Intimacy W/God, Personal, 0 comments

Healthy Things Grow

This morning I ran across an article in response to the question “What do you think of the Purpose Driven model?”.

To their credit they didn’t attack Rick Warren or Saddleback rather they chose to outline from their perspective what a “Biblical local church” looks like. Here it is in part:

First and foremost, a Biblically successful church has zero to do with the size or growth of the congregation. The Bible does not implore pastors to grow their churches. Rather, it is God who adds to the Body of Christ (Acts 2:47). If a pastor waters down what he teaches, or avoids teaching certain things like sin and repentance, regardless of his sincerity or motivation, it is called “tickling the ears” and is wrong (2Tim. 4:3). It would be far better for a Believer to attend a small church where a humble pastor knows everyone’s name and spiritual gifts while making it his priority to nurture individual’s spiritual growth and formation. On Judgment Day (Rom. 14:11) pastors will not be judged according to how large their churches were, but for how well they Biblically armored His flock for service (2Tim. 4:2)

Therefore, regardless of the size, the purpose of the local Church is:

To equip Believers for service (2Tim. 3:16; Eph. 4:12)

Armoring Believers, not evangelism of non-believers, is to be the focal point of the local church. Individual Believers are instructed to exhibit God’s love and be used by the Holy Spirit to evangelize the community (2Tim. 4:5 ). All examples of early church activities have believers doing the evangelizing (Acts 4:1-2, 13:5, 17:2). Therefore, the focus of the pastor and his number one priority should be the equipping of those the Lord has put under his ministry. From the Sunday sermon, youth activities, home Bible studies, to miscellaneous activities, ALL should be focused on the Believer and his/her spiritual armor and growth in God’s love. It is not the church’s purpose to attract non-Believers for evangelism and growth.

It’s a fairly lengthy post. I don’t disagree with all of it. Mostly the foundational premise that “a Biblically successful church has zero to do with the size or growth of the congregation.” and how that translates into Sunday morning should be “focused on the Believer and his/her spiritual armor and growth in God’s love.”

I’ll post a rebuttal in the comments later but wanted to hear your thoughts on the bit above. You can tell by the title of the post a little bit about my response and the angle I’m coming from.

Thanks for commenting, I appreciate this community.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Faith, 1 comment