Thankful for those who Serve

thank-you-31Gratitude emerges where entitlement ends.

As a leader it is important that I keep praying, thinking, creating and moving our church forward.  Being pastor of a large church with community influence and impact requires forward focus. The problem is: when we are called to move forward it is easy to not stop long enough to personally thank people who give their time and talents as an investment into the life of the church (or any organization for that matter).

Leaders enjoy forward motion and the demands of meeting needs and pressing forward can quickly fog the view of those who are doing so much and contributing.

For me, I could not do what I do without our staff, but beyond our staff, we could not do what we do without a volunteer cleaning team and worship team, and bulletin folders and office help and those who care for the kids and our youth and the list goes on.

If you serve in any way at LFC – Thank You.  And not just a blanket ‘thank you,’ but a specific thank you. For getting to church early, to coming down during the week and doing things behind the scenes, to cleaning, to sitting with others in need, to praying with those who desire a touch of God with skin on it, to some of the most wonderful servants I have ever known anywhere – Thank You.

I apologize for the times that we are looking forward to what is ahead and not stopping long enough to tell you how amazing you are.

Gratitude generates generosity.  While I am at it, how generous are you with your gratitude towards others?

If we don’t say “Thank You”, people will tend to believe that we could have “done it all on our own.”

Well, I know I could not do what I do without you, so Thank You!

Oh and by the way, Thank You!

Bernie

You are Valuable

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You are valuable: each of you.  You can tell someone that they are valuable and yes, you can even tell yourself.   As we grow forward in 2017,  hear my heart to you: No matter what has set you back, no matter where you have tripped up along the way….you are valuable.

It is easy to get caught in a trap of looking for certain people to affirm us and doing all we can to acquire their attention like a child jumping up and down saying; ‘pick me, pick me.’ With all our efforts to be affirmed by a select few and never receiving that affirmation, we could miss the affirmation and love of those who are giving it to us and ultimately miss out on God’s love.  It is time we rise up with hope realizing our value and stop listening to the voices of our past, of toxic and unsafe people and people who have no clue to the depth of our pain or what we carry.

We have all heard voices of doubt and discouragement and sometimes the voices come from within us. We can tell ourselves that we will never make it, or we go through the motions but deep inside we have a defeated attitude.

Someone once said: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ Well, I would surely like to meet them and tell them they were wrong. Actually sticks and stones are usually a momentary or a seasonal pain, while words can tear down in seconds what God has taken years to build.   You may have heard this (and I love it by they way):

Your value does not decrease just because someone
has an inability to acknowledge your worth.

The words that matter most are God’s words and God says: YOU are valuable.

 Read this out loud:

“God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life …. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began.” (1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT)

Something is as valuable as someone is willing to pay for it. Over the summer I attended the Mecum Car Auction in Monterey, California. It was amazing to watch the lights, hear the auctioneers and watch the prices of cars going up and up and up. My 30 dollar entry fee was all I was spending that day, but the entertainment and the amazing golf course full of cars for the four-day auction was worth the price. Since I like Camaros, I asked one of the car specialists there, what a certain Camaro would sell for. His reply was simply: “Whatever someone is willing to pay for it today.”  The value of something is truly based on what someone is willing to pay for it.

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Can you imagine anyone really paying a higher price for anything?  That is what God did with and for you! Ultimately, something’s value is measured by how much another person will give up for it. If that’s the measurement, your value is out of this world. The creator of the universe gave his only Son, Jesus for you! Once you grasp the truth that God sent his Son to die for you, you should never again struggle with self-esteem. God himself has eternally declared your value.

You were worth dying for. You were worth going through all the pain of the cross. You were worth having nails driven into Jesus’ hands.  You are worth investing in. If no one ever tells you how valuable you are – hear me say it.  You are valuable!  You matter to God and to us at Lompoc Foursquare.

It does not matter what you’ve done or how long you have done it. God forgives and extends grace and you can grow and move on. He cares about your future and He goes with you.  God sees you as valuable and desires to be with you:

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

God says your life has value.God has more for you: He is not through with you…..so keep going and don’t give up….you are valuable. Did you hear me?

the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)

God loves you and His love is not depleted it is everlasting and the God who loves you and sees you as valuable is faithful. The death of His son is proof!  His presence with you is proof!

Cheering you on,

Bernie

 

Growth for the New Year

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As I  have been praying and setting my heart for the books of the bible and biblical themes that God would prompt for me to guide our church in for 2017, I strongly felt it would be a season for growth. I know that LFC will grow in numbers, in influence, in ministry and mission. But the growth I believe we must zero in on is YOU!  God never called me to build a big church (though by some standards and measures we are a big church) he called me to build big people and of course the by product of big people is a healthy growing church.

This Sunday we will talk about the key focus to personal growth – focusing on Jesus and how he grew, and what he did to develop personally. I know it is weird to think that God in flesh developed but he did – and modeled for us how we should develop and grow.

Luke 2:52
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (NIV)

We will then launch a series I am calling ‘Pathways to Growth.” We really want to help you grow in 2017.  We want you to find places to serve as well, since serving is a crucial step to personal growth and development. We are not wanting to fill spots we are wanting you to be filled.  Of course there are other pathways to growth, so I hope you will join us.

One essential pathway: daily time with God and the bible. No way around it, to grow you must have a daily intake of the scriptures and time with God in prayer and the big question: “How will I live differently because of what I have just read?” Knowing the scripture is different from living it. Information is one thing, but transformation is the growth and change we are after. God’s word is transforming for sure. It is up to you and me and be good stewards of the words of God in our lives.

Our daily bible reading can be found here and instructions on how to use the S.O.A.P. method of devotions. Invest in your personal and spiritual growth.

http://lompocfoursquare.com/resources/daily-bible-reading

Helping you grow and growing with you,

Bernie

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Thank You

33720479-merry-christmas-and-thank-you-2-dec-2011

 

“Thank you very much!”

unexpressed gratitude feels like ingratitude. – Andy Stanley

Each of us grew up around people who modeled gratitude or the lack thereof. Some people are quick to say, “thank you” while others simply move on not thinking twice about showing gratitude for kindness, generosity, service and so on.

I needed to pause on the day before Christmas Eve and say, “Thank you very much,” to the wonderful people who allow me to do what I do and our church to do what it does. First, my wife, Debbie. What an amazing lady, servant, friend and committed wife, Mom and Grandma. She has and continues to do so much for me and our church, behind the scenes.

“Thank you very much,” to the wonderful people of Lompoc Foursquare Church who pray, serve, and give of their time, talents and finances that allow us to do all the things we do for our church, our community and our world.

“Thank you very much,” to our amazing leaders on our church council. A greater group of leaders you would be hard to find anywhere. “Thank you very much,” to our staff that works diligently and sees our ministry as a calling and not simply a job. “Thank you very much,” to our team leaders, our technical people (who serve and save us thousand of dollars each year) and of course our amazing cleaning and maintenance servants (who also save us thousands each year).  My list goes on and on…but I need to say;

“Thank you very much,’ to our military servants. We are so grateful for our military all over the world and in every branch of service. And what an honor to have many military families right in our church community.

“Thank you very much,” comes easy to many. But have you noticed your reaction when you do something for someone, . . . nothing? Don’t even acknowledge your kindness? It feels so odd. Gratitude carries weight. Watch your reaction when you say thank you to someone and they don’t acknowledge it. Andy Stanley teaches this principle: unexpressed gratitude feels like ingratitude. Even if you are not looking for or needing a ‘thank you,’ when one does not come, something is missing.  Our gratitude multiplies into others’ lives. It changes the culture of any family, organization and church.

 

 

So, as we move into 2017 and hopefully before, take a moment to be thankful. To stop and give thanks to the Lord for all He did for you in 2016, and give thanks to the people in your life, who added value to you, did something for you that did not need to be done, went the extra mile for you or simply remained your friend.

 

Friends…

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He came to see me…..and he simply vented.  He was frustrated and as you know, not everyone can handle or respond to the frustration in others.

Some people will listen to the ventor and the fired-up and some will even take it a step further and ask, ‘how can I help?’ while others simply push back or move on with things that they need you to do for them rather than taking the posture of a true friend.

You see everyone needs a lightning rod, someone they can have and just be real and raw with, someone they can trust.  Everyone needs a true friend. While I had moments where I wanted to brace myself from some of the things my friends was saying to me and of course to add my advise and input, I just let him go.  I just listened and showed that I cared. Afterwards I thought about the moments we had together (not the first time) and  I thought about the times in my life where I had people who got it – who understood as a busy leader with lots on my plate that I too had moments I just needed to understanding and support.   If you lead others, have demands and expectations placed upon you, then you get it.  What a gift for a person to feel safe enough to share their pain, hurts and frustrations. And what a gift to have a servant-friend listen and care.

If you are a servant, then you realize in moments of life, you have to put down ‘you’ and be willing to pick up ‘them.’ To live for the benefit of another.

Now not everyone can do that, nor do they chose to do that. They may not have the tools to do that or simply do not attempt to expand their tool box. Their plate may be too small, or their heart to self-focused.

Jesus was and still is the greatest servant of all.  In Philippians 2 when Paul describes Jesus being poured out and coming to Earth (Christmas) for us, he took on the role of servant (definition: living for the benefit of another).  So when my friend came to see me, at least this time, that is what I did.  I was living for his benefit and not judging him for his feelings or his intensity.

  • Who is close to you that needs your understanding and compassion?
  • Who do you have relationship with that could benefit from a safe place to share, vent or get grounded out?
  • Who do you have that you can go to and share your heart and feelings, regardless of what they might be?
  • Where can you learn the valuable attribute of growing vulnerability?

I just needed to write this even if the only person who read it was my friend. He would like it.

Grateful for friendships,

Bernie

 

Gratitude = Thanksgiving

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“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —William Arthur Ward

 

This past Sunday I taught and reminded our wonderful church congregation the values of a grateful heart.  I said that:

“Thanksgiving is the result of a heart that is grateful. Thanksgiving  flows out of a grateful heart as a normal and natural unforced response.”

I hope you have a moment today and this weekend to simply pause and grasp the many reasons for which you should be thankful, but more than that to work on your heart, to re-calibrate it to being more and more grateful. Gratitude is the appreciation before anything is done or given – it is a choice of your heart. No one can make you grateful or ungrateful, thankful or grumbling – the choice is yours.

No one was born ungrateful or grateful, it is something we learn and something we develop either way. Let’s be grateful not simply thankful.

My dear friend, Pastor Wayne Cordeiro says: “Your attitude is the most important thing about you. It is more important than your education, more important than your past, more important than your looks, more important than your money, more important than anything!” And I agree.

  • Each day I am so grateful that I matter to God and have been saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.
  • Each day I am so grateful for the wonderful wife and family I have been gifted with.
  • Each day I am so grateful for our amazing community and church.  We are not just talking about loving and serving God and others, we are living it out.
  • Each day I am grateful for the doors God has opened for me to serve and influence others for God and good.
  • Each day I am grateful for our staff, dedicated servants and the generous risk-taking people of Lompoc Foursquare Church.
  • Each day I am grateful for the gift of that day.

May we all chose this day and each day to see life as a gift and because of that choice, be thankful,

It is a great day,

Bernie

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us
from the prison of self-preoccupation.” —John Ortberg

 

God is >

greaterThere are people today who make sure that we know how great they are. Some cannot ever see themselves as mistake makers and thus never apologize for their wrong-doing. Everyone is good at something and talented in other areas but no one and I mean no one is perfect except God. But we must remember that He made us and we are created in His image.

When you remember that, it boosts your understanding of your own potential connected in relationship to His power and greatness. That fact changes everything! It changes why you exist, your personal significance, your purpose in life, and the way you treat others. When we consider God’s greatness, we need to remember that we’ve been created in His image to reflect and glorify Him.

Psalm 145: 1 – 7

I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

1/ God’s greatness must be praised!
(v. 1-2)

When you think about the greatness of God, you can’t help but be overwhelmed which should move us to gratitude and praise. Our God is all-knowing. He knows our faults, our weaknesses, our sins, and our rebellions, yet He loves us. Our God is all-powerful and so much greater than any of us, yet rather than crush us, He is here to help us.

Our God watches us, and is involved in all that we do. Yet, He shows grace and leads us in our lives away from spiritual and physical danger. When we think about the greatness of God compared to our sin, we cannot help but bless His awesome name!

God not only reveals His greatness to us, He also shares His greatness with us. God has created us in His image to reflect Him for His glory (Gen 1:26-28). This means that God has shared Himself with us, but we will never be God. Even though God can supernaturally empower us to do certain things at certain times, we do not contain His power at our control. He gives gifts to us! He flows through us!

Like the Psalmist David, Our worshipful response will be to praise our God forever.

Look for new and fresh ways to bless and praise the name of God for His greatness every day. Another way to make sure God’s great name is blessed forever and ever is by training children why and how to bless God’s great name. Get involved with them.

2/ If you search you will find there is no end to God’s greatness(v. 3)

We live in a world with chaos, confusion, weaknesses, breakdowns, expiration dates, and limitations. It is very difficult for us to imagine a being with no weakness, no end, no beginning or limits – a God with only truth and no deception and promises made that are kept. We could spend a lifetime naming off greatness to God and about God, adding more greatness to Him every day, and would never reach the end of His greatness. It is absolutely unimaginable (v. 3).

We applaud people and things all the time. We clap when we hear a great singer, or musician or an incredible stage performance. We roar with the crowd when we watch an athlete make an incredible move. God designed us to be aware of and to enjoy greatness. He created us the capacity to be moved emotionally when we sense or see something great. But we can miss giving Him the credit for the greatness we experience – the beauty of the sunset or the flow of the river or bird in flight. We can see an athlete or musician and applaud them and forget the fact that all we have that is good is a gift from a great God.

God has both revealed His greatness and shared it with humanity.

Look for God’s presence, greatness and power around you each day. 

Become even more aware of the wisdom, power, and presence He has shared with you to reflect His glory. Look for times to simply pause and praise Him. Kick it up a notch or two and praise Him even more.

God is great!  Praise His name!

Grateful for His Greatness,

Bernie