Update from Reno

View from the park last Sunday

So we moved here two months ago, it’s probably time to give an update. I will start with some things that I have learned about Reno since moving.

  1. People in Reno are friendly: I feel like I am greeted in some way by almost everyone I see. In the grocery store, walking down the street, at the park and even at the DMV people smile, wave or say hello.
  2. The weather is awesome (if you like warm sunny days): it really is about the same each day. It is warm and dry, and always a great time to go outside.
  3. There’s tons to do: From swimming, biking and hiking in and around the Lake Tahoe area to malls, parks, zoos and casinos everywhere. It seems we can always find something to do.
  4. There are lots of great Churches: we have had the pleasure of visiting quite a few great churches. Churches that  run a few hundred to a few thousand, they are all on mission with Jesus Christ. They are reaching the community, teaching people and just being the hands and feet of Jesus.

I get more and more excited each week about starting Desert Lake Church. As I mentioned, there are lots of great churches and they are reaching lots of people. But, I have not found any churches with the style that we are hoping for with Desert Lake. Also for every three people that are going to church seven people are not, or for every one family who goes two don’t. However you want to describe it, about 70% of people are not going to church in this area. That is somewhere around 280,000 people that are not going to church in this community. There is a place for another church a church that will strive to reach the 70%. We hope that Desert Lake will be that church, we hope that thousands of people will come and meet Jesus through Desert Lake Church. We don’t hope for this because we want a big church or so we can say “look what we did”. We hope for this because we know Jesus changes everything.  Because people are hurting and lost, because we want to make it hard to go to hell from Reno NV.

Our prayer is that we will reach thousands, even tens of thousands and that we will never say “look what we did” but instead “look what God is doing”.


The Insecurities of a Pastor in Training (Part 2)…

Do I feel called to start Desert Lake Church?

Absolutely.  Admits all of my insecurities I truly believe this is what I was created for.  Created to lead and direct people to find and follow Jesus Christ.  If there is one thing I have noticed when people come seeking who Jesus is, and who God is, there is nothing else I am more passionate about.  Helping people to understand the God of the universe loves them.  That He was willing to come to the earth in human form and literally pay the price for everything they have done wrong or will do wrong, through his death, is worth everything I have. 

Helping them to find the forgiveness and compassion which Christ gave to me is more important than anything else I could do with my life.  This is the realization God has been growing inside of me since I became a Christian.

Launching a church is such a huge responsibility.  I know it is never my job to save people (only Christ is able to do that), it is my job and duty to lead them to a relationship with him.  I wish nothing more than to honor God with every choice I make, and seek to make wise choices. 

Many of my fears rotate around the idea I will lead people in the wrong direction, but it is that same fear that motivates me to constantly be checking how I am interpreting scripture and comparing it to other trusted resources to make sure the message I am giving is in line with the teachings of Christ.

Although the gravity of this choice is monumental, it is because I know God is leading me to do it that I move forward.  Ultimately I have a choice to make:  I can let me insecurities of what I feel about myself stand in the way of what God is trying to do through me, or I can realize when God calls you to something your insecurities play no part in the calling because He is the one who strengthens you and gives you what you need to achieve his ultimate goals.


The Insecurities of a Pastor in Training…(Part 1)

Am I the best person for leading this church?

To be honest with all of you I don’t know the answer to this questions.  Am I the best educated?  Am I the most experienced?  Do I have what it takes to lead people in their walk with Christ?  To all of these questions I have to answer I simply don’t know.  Everything I’m feeling is telling me, no, I’m not and don’t. 

From the first time we went to Reno, and visited churches throughout the area I kept praying in my head, can I do this God?  Are you sure you want me to do this?  Isn’t there anyone better you could use?  I kept saying I will move out here and help start it just find someone more capable of handling this responsibility.  The funny thing is he hasn’t sent anyone my way. 

I keep going back to a moment I had praying for God to move me, to use me, and me simply saying to him I’ll do what it takes, and move where he wants me to move.  Not more than thirty minutes after saying this prayer Pastor Gabe came up to me and said I believe God is directing me to start a church, and I was wondering if you were interested in helping me (little did I know we would later decide I would be the lead.)

It seems every time I wrestle with these thoughts God seems to answer me with the story of Moses.  This is no joke, three of the four services we saw in Reno dealt with Moses.  Not to mention when we got back to Wisconsin, Dave’s message was about who?  You guessed it, Moses.  I can’t really tell if He is trying to show me something here?

Read Exodus Chapters 2-4 here:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+2&version=NLT

No matter how many times Moses pleaded for God to find someone else, God knew his choice, and he equipped Moses with what he needed regardless of his insecurities about his capabilities.  So in spite of these insecurities I’m moving forward.  I’m simply hoping and trusting God uses me to bring people to Him, and gives me the things I need to accomplish His goals for Desert Lake Church.


Welcome to my head…

Expressing my inner thoughts has been a difficult process these past couple months.  Half the time I feel my thoughts are so jumbled together I don’t know how to make sense of them, and when I do make sense of them I don’t like what I discover.  I honestly feel this has been a season of attack for me.  The Devil definitely knows how to use my fears and insecurities against me, or maybe I just have a bad case of indigestion, we will see. 

Through the process of trying to develop a team, plan for the launch and people starting to move their lives across the country many insecurities have been doing a number on my head.  So for the next couple post I will be addressing each of these.  So here is where I invite you all to the inner workings of my mind.


Vision…

So I sent an email to the team which outlined our mission as a launch team and I thought it was important to share with everyone; so here is our vision for Desert Lake Church:

One day we will have people make decisions which drastically change their lives, we will have the hungry receive food, the homeless find shelter, the brokenhearted find community, the lost found and the spiritually dead brought back to life.  They will be looking to us for guidance and direction.  This is our vision now.  I am only one person, but by us all coming together and each doing our part we can and will make this dream a reality with the help of our God who is bigger than all of this.  
Together we will create a church for people who want to see movement (community growth), experience change(life change), grow in character(becoming like Jesus) and reach out to others(Evangelism and Missions) risking it all for God’s Glory(Giving God all the credit).


A simple nudge in the right direction…

Throughout this past couple months I have been reading books on Evangelism.  So many times throughout our day we are given opportunities to reach people for Christ.  At one time I believed Evangelism was a gift God gave to only certain believers, such as speaking in tounges or prophecy.  What I have come to learn in these past few months:

First:  Evangelism is something God calls each and every follower of Christ to be a part of.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”   Matthew 28:18-20

Second:  You will not get everyone you meet to say the sinner’s prayer, but you can influence everyone you meet to either draw closer to God, or influence them away from him.

Bill Hybels’ book Just Walk Across the Room, describes it as a meter system which ranges from -10 to +10.  The zero point is where a person becomes a follower of Christ.  The positive represents moving into a closer relationship with God and the negative is moving away from a relationship with God.   What we as followers of Christ need to ask ourselves is do we take the chances and the risks to talk to others about Christ? 

All it takes is a nudge in the right direction.  What may be a simple act of showing compassion to someone and talking about Christ might be all it takes to send them in a path which will lead them closer to God.  So ask yourself are you willing to follow the prompting of the spirit when He asks you to reach out to someone?  Will you move when He nudges?


Tightrope walking…

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult.  The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in—it stirs us up to overcome.  Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory? -Oswald Chambers- 

I was reading My Utmost for His Highest today and Mr. Chambers wrote about the narrow road we as Christians walk on.  I think of all the things God has done in regards to this launch team.  The Grays moving to Reno alone and meeting people, the Mercados and Hoover being able to work from Reno when they move in August.   The soon to be Hills and Shipleys moving their life across the country, and possibly three more (still can’t mention them) doing the same.  Being a Christ follower means walking a tightrope, taking risks, and sacrificing because God is worth it.

I can’t help, but read his line:  the effort of worth and excellence are difficult, and the part about Christ salvation making us want to give our best for Him and His glory.  This is what is means to be a Christ follower.  To sacrifice for his kingdom so others can find the salvation we have, to be reconnected in relationship to our amazing Father. 

2000 miles is a long way for these people to pick up and move their lives.  Separated from their homes and families to reach the lost.  Can you think of a better mission to give your life to?  I can’t.  So I, along with my brothers and sisters will continue to overcome the obstacles in our way to make even the slightest impact for our almighty king.  It may be difficult, it may be near impossible but there is no way in hell I’m going to back down from the mission God has called us all to be a part of.   So are you going to stay on solid ground or risk walking on the tightrope?

Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.   Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:18-20