Seasons and Times

The practical wisdom of The Preacher reminds us that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1 ESV). In praxis, this truth is challenging because the Father has fixed seasons and times by His own authority (Acts 1:7). Waiting for the fulfillment of a season or time, especially one that has been proclaimed by prophetic utterance, can make us prone to doubt that the word truly came from God, or even push the word from our cognitive memory. Such was the case with a prophetic word regarding our eldest son, Chris.

When Chris was about eleven years old, my wife and I took him to a revival meeting in our home city. The evangelist who spoke that night had a strong prophetic anointing on his life and called Chris out of the crowd. The word he spoke over our son was short and simple, yet carried a “seasons and times” implication, given his age.

“I see you standing in front of thousands of young people leading worship.”

Chris, every bit eleven at this point, snickered at the word and said nothing to us about it. He had barely picked up a guitar at that point in his life and had shown little interest in any kind of worship music. As a Pastor’s kid myself, I had received my fair share of prophetic words in my youth regarding my future. Thus, I purposely chose not to press the issue with my son, but rather let the seasons and times work out in the Father’s authority.


Around the age of thirteen, Chris started honing his guitar skills and singing around the house. Soon, he was asked by his youth pastor to lead a song for the weekly youth service. From there, of his own accord, Chris began listening to worship music and participating at a deeper level in his youth group. My wife and I never mentioned the prophetic word from two years earlier. In fact, it was slowly fading from memory as the times and seasons passed.

By age sixteen, Chris started rotating as a guitar player for our main worship team, occasionally being asked to lead a song for the congregation. Like most teenagers, however, he hit a faith wall in his latter high school years and started to go off the rails in his journey with God. By his senior year he was questioning everything about God and faith, hanging around with atheist friends, and it was in that moment that the prophetic word from years earlier came back to me. I told my wife, Gwen, that as his parents, we had a responsibility to steward that prophetic word in prayer. Further, we were to position our son for his destiny, whenever the Father would deem the time and season right for fulfillment.

We sent him to a youth camp in Southern California where he was invited to help lead worship. During those two weeks of camp, God showed up in Chris’ life and when he came home, he was a different young man. He had purpose and direction and while he was still wrestling with his questions, he had encountered a living God who was positioning him for the destiny that had been prophesied years earlier.

In the fall of 2012, Chris enrolled at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix as a Christian studies major. He auditioned for the chapel worship team and his first year he played guitar only. By his junior year, he was chosen to be one of the chapel worship leaders, and what happened next brought everything full circle. Gwen and I went to his first chapel service as a worship leader and the GCU arena was packed to capacity with over 6000 students in attendance. Chris stepped to the microphone and led the student body of GCU in worship. I turned to my wife and said, “do you remember the word he got at that revival meeting when he was eleven? It’s being fulfilled right before our eyes.” When the service was over, I hugged my son and asked him if he remembered the word. He didn’t, but it didn’t matter. God, in His perfect timing, had brought us through many challenging times, difficult seasons and fulfilled His promise. Always remember this when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit:

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)


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Expectant Hope

It’s Christmas time, my favorite season! I love everything about it and always have – the lights, the music, the festivities and at this point in my life I can even tolerate the heart-warming, predictable Hallmark Christmas movies. My wife, Gwen, is a brilliant decorator and always makes our home a bastion of Christmas tradition and warmth, the kind that makes me never want to leave the house. Her creative genius also fosters a sense of expectancy in our family that builds from Thanksgiving all the way up to the morning of December 25th when the kids and grandkids arrive and the presents are opened. There is an element of the Christmas season, however, that I missed as a child yet discovered as an adult and now have grown to love that brings a true richness to this time of the year.

Several years ago, I introduced the congregation I was Pastoring to an expression of Christmas that was not observed in our expression of Christianity called “Advent” which, this year, starts today (November 28th) and truly speaks to us about this idea of expectancy.

Advent simply means “Coming” or “Arrival” and in Christian tradition, the Advent season leading up to Christmas is designed to build into our hearts a sense of expectancy for the Advent (arrival, coming) of the Savior into the world. Some people try to find a way through Christmas for a variety of reasons, but Advent is designed to have every heart prepare Him room – to prepare room in our hearts for His coming and remove us from the variety of excesses we see around us during this time. These excesses of life are nothing new. Nearly 500 years ago, Martin Luther pined for people to change and move out of these excesses.

There has never been such building and planting in the world. There has never been such gluttonous and varied eating and drinking as now. Wearing apparel has reached its limit in costliness. Who has ever heard of such commerce as now encircles the earth?… Everyone must see and say either ruin or a change must come. It is hard to see how a change can come. Day after day dawns and the same conditions remain  (Martin Luther, 1522)

In the four-week celebration of Advent, we think our way back to the ancient people of God, to the call of Abraham and his family as the start of God’s rescue operation for a world in ruins and a human race in chaos. Advent follows the trajectory of Israel’s unfailing hope that refused to die in the face of unspeakable adversity – a hope that became incarnate with the birth of Christ. 

With the first advent, it was clear that God’s rescue operation was started, but not completed. When Jesus came the first time, He launched the kingdom of God on earth as it was in heaven. Yet it was clear that this kingdom was purposed to make its way through the life and service of Christ’s followers as an almost imperceptible mustard seed (Matthew 13:31) until the second advent – the time when Jesus will return to make all things right, to banish evil and death forever and unite heaven and earth as one. Thus, in Advent we look back to the expectancy of the ancients, allowing God to fill us with the same expectancy that just as He came the first time, He will come a second time without sin unto salvation.

I remember as a kid in church, nearly every service brought a mention of the second coming of Christ. We lived our lives with a great sense of anticipation and, unfortunately, that has eroded somewhat over time. When that day comes, however, it promises to be the greatest day in the history of the universe, because the same Son of God who came as a baby in Bethlehem will return as a King to clean up this mess once and for all.

In the meantime, the expectancy of the Advent season can fill us with renewed strength to live out the reality of the Kingdom on earth. My prayer is that we would truly become “Advent People” – people who bring light to a dark world; people of hope in times and places of despair; people who truly follow Jesus.

Part of the Advent celebration is the Advent wreath which has four candles of various colors, depending on the tradition, representing hope, love, joy and peace. Many Christians place the wreath in their home and light the candle at night, reflecting on that week’s aspect of the celebration. The first candle, a purple one, is the candle of hope, representing the expectant hope of the coming of Christ. When we light this candle, whether a physical candle, or one in our hearts, we use the light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ into our current reality. As we do, we receive God’s light as we meditate on the words of the prophet Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

I would venture to say that most of us are waiting on something and for some, this waiting is so difficult, it is boring a hole in your life. You’re waiting for the check to come, the healing to be realized, the injunction to be resolved. You’re waiting for your children to come back to faith or for the relationship to be restored. Whatever it is, in the midst of this, what you are really waiting on with expectant hope is for the Savior to come and burst into the darkness of the situation, breaking through with the light. Simply put:

Advent is Knowing that Jesus is Coming

It’s expectant hope that He is going to come through, though it may happen in unexpected ways. My encouragement to you is to celebrate Advent in some unique way in your life this season, opening up to the hope, love, joy and peace that only Jesus can bring.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own peopledid not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13 ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12 ESV)

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Lead The Way

A little over a year ago, I transitioned out of my role as a Senior Pastor and into a new role as the Lead Pastor of “GROW” at Pure Heat Church in Glendale, AZ. In essence, I now oversee all things related to discipleship and spiritual formation – Life Groups (both on campus and off campus), Pastoral Care, Health & Wellness, and digital discipleship processes such as the weekly podcast and (now) ZOOM groups which are defnitiely a work in progress. {Side Note: we all should have bought ZOOM stock a couple of months ago} I have a phenomenal team of high capacity leaders to work with which makes all of the parts work together AND, as an added bonus, we have fun doing it.

As a leader, I am continually evaluating what we do in light of what I see as our central focus: Equipping people to live the way of Jesus. In essence, I along with my team have to “Lead the Way”


The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated a great need for the body of Christ to live differently, not in the sense of attitudes and actions that taint our witness in the world but rather, those attitudes and actions that align with the way of Jesus. It is no accident that the first followers of Jesus were actually called “The Way” (See Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14). They understood that living the way of Jesus (John 14:6) was counter-cultural, but it was truly a better way to live. Our discipleship efforts have to focus on equipping people to live the way of Jesus, and as leaders, we must move forward and lead the way.

I recently read Paul’s letter to Titus. Paul had left Titus in Crete to set the churches in order and appoint Elders in all of the cities on the island (1:5). Cretans were self-described as liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons (1:12), so those coming to faith had to learn the way of Jesus. They had to be discipled on how to live in the new family of God. So much plays into this. People who come to faith in Jesus today have a past that has shaped them. Families of origin have deeply influenced their world spiritually, emotionally and relationally. These are the old things. We know that in Christ, old things have passed away and all things are being made new (2 Corinthians 5:17) but it takes time. Discipleship is slow and messy, but the way of Jesus is truly the better way and as leaders we are tasked with demonstrating this to those we are discipling. Again, we have to lead the way.

Paul told Titus to teach in accordance with sound doctrine and to model the way of good works, living in such away that no one on the outside could speak evil of him as a leader. I see Titus 2:11-15 as a mandate for this idea of leading others in the way of Jesus. Further, as a discipleship Pastor, I see this as what we need to order our teaching and programming around.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15 ESV)

Equipping people in the way of Jesus involves training them to renounce ungodliness & worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. It is truly a better way to live, counter-cultural, yet life-giving and totally zealous to do that which is good. As a Pastor, I am challenged by this for my own life to always be leading the way.

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Leading With Limits

Many years ago, while Pastoring my first church, I preached a message called “Life Without Limits.” Truth be known, I “borrowed” the message from another preacher and reworked it, but that’s another story for another blog. (Maybe I will title it “Pulpit Plagiarism.”)

Anyway, I digress…

The gist of the message was simple: God is unlimited, and we are created in his image, therefore, we have unlimited potential and can soar to unlimited heights in our life with Him. After all, one can never receive enough of God’s love, joy, peace, etc…. It was a message that aligned perfectly with my Pentecostal upbringing where I was constantly challenged to pursue more, stretch out my tent stakes and enlarge my territory. (Anyone remember the Prayer of Jabez?)

Along with this “no limits” mindset, I was raised with an eschatology that focused on the end of days and gave little to no room for wasting time. After all, the rapture of the church could take place at any moment, and we had to make sure we were busy about the Master’s business when the trumpet sounded. Phrases such as these thundered from the pulpits of my youth:

  • “Time is short…redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
  • “No man who putteth his hand to the plow and looketh back is fit for the Kingdom of God,” (Somehow, 400-year-old English sounds more intimidating and ominous)
  • “Work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when no man can work.”

While the intentions of such phrases were good and called for balance in light of the entirety of scripture, I carried them to the extreme in my life and over time, they developed into unhealthy practices that nearly cost me everything. I never learned this valuable principle:

Great Leaders Lead With Limits


While it is true that there are no limits to what God can do in and through us, scripture shows us that limits are good. We see this in the creation story. Adam and Eve, walked in the perfection of God with the freedom to eat from every tree in the garden, yet they were given limits to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (See Genesis 2). Their failure to embrace God’s limitation cost them, and the entire human race, dearly.

God is God. We are not. He is infinite. We are finite. There is a finiteness to what I can do with my aging physical body. There are limits to the number of meaningful relationships I can engage in and the amount of time that I actually have to accomplish what God wants me to accomplish. My failure to live within God-given limitations depleted me severly to the point where I could no longer function at a healthy level as a husband, father, and leader. It affected my judgement and decision making on multiple levels at home and at church. In many ways, I became like Moses.

Moses was a leader who was called by God to carry a huge assignment, yet tried to do it all and it almost took him out. His life became totally unmanageable and it affected not only the health of his soul, but also the health of his family, even threatening the spiritual health of the fledgling nation he was trying to lead. At one point, his leadership lifestyle was so out of control, he had to send his wife and two sons to live with his father-in-law. Ironically, it was his father-in-law, Jethro, who came back, intervened and taught Moses how to lead with limits.

“Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV)

After confronting Moses on the problem at hand, Jethro helped his son-in-law develop a strategy to lead with limits. If I had learned this principle earlier in life, I would have avoided a world of heartache. When I bottomed out, I was the Senior Pastor of a mid-sized church teaching 45 weekends a year, plus doing a majority of caregiving and leadership development. I was chairman of 2 boards (gotta love the mid-sized church with so many layers); corporate secretary for my denomination and working on ministry development strategies for that same movement. I was an instructional assistant for on-ground classes at a local university plus teaching classes online for two other schools. Oh, by the way, I was trying to be a husband, and father of 5. “I can handle it” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” became my war cries. I ignored every warning sign and actually believed I was going to be the exception to the rule of limits, be able to do it all and live to tell about it. Along the way, I was very quick to make my own plans and ask God to bless them rather than lean into him and ask this vital question:

God, what are you asking me NOT to do?

If you have never asked God that question, you need to. Trust me, it’s not worth going down a road with no limits. I learned the hard way that limitations are actually a gift. God can do more with our limitations than we can possibly imagine. I still fight the urge to do more, and chart my own course, but I continually remind myself of Paul’s take on this subject.

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us… (2 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

Learn to live with limits. It’s actually liberating.


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