A few months ago I made a statement in front of our church community as I said goodbye to my 18 year friend, co-leader and confidant, Rory Tongg. It was a statement which stayed with me for 48 hours, so I knew I needed to think through it some more.

As I held back the tears from flowing in front of the packed house, the words that came out of my mouth were to this effect, “I’ve always felt a bit under resourced, and so when people like Rory and Kathryn (Rory’s wife) become a part of your team it means so much … that’s why it’s hard to say goodbye.” Those were not the exact words, but an accurate summary. However, I struggled with one word I used, the word “resourced.”


What kind of year was last year for you spiritually?  I’ve talked to many who are ready to make 2014 a year of advancement.  People are talking about starting careers, new businesses and giving more of themselves to others.  There’s talk of studying the Bible, praying more and even attending a conference or two.  Some are set out to exercise, get fit, healthy and focused on their personal success.  All these great endeavors are noble.

Yet, how will we avoid the impact of the apathetic environment around us?  What will stop the inconsistency in our spiritual walk?  There is a required shift, a shift to being consumed!

First things First in 2014:

 First of the DAY:  Seek God

…O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 NKJV

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

I have friends who’ve woken up every morning for 20+ years seeking God first thing.  What a marvelous discipline!  What a way to start every day.

 First of the week:  Worship

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread… Acts 20:7

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another… Hebrews 10:25

Since I was a boy my Dad always said, “While living under this roof you will attend church on Sunday.”  I didn’t always like going, but dad’s standard put a deep passion to be in God’s Church every Sunday.  I’d encourage you to make Sunday morning a priority, not because I am a pastor, but because without it most grow spiritually apathetic.

 First of the Month:  Tithe

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. Leviticus 27:30

…Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Matthew 23:23 NLT

Being a disciple of Christ means giving financially to His first love, the Church.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the first of everything belonging to Him.

 First of the Year:  Fast

Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Joel 1:14

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18

For many years now I’ve done a 21 day fast to start the year.  This year is no exception.

Well, there it is First Things First.  I am certain if you and I approach 2014 with these “firsts” in mind we will definitely achieve and accomplish all that is in our heart.  Make a new start in this New year.  Taking the time to talk it over with someone can help your next step toward putting God first in 2014!


Let’s talk Memorial Day Weekend; Church and Racing!

First off, as a son and grandson of veteran’s, like you, I take the time every Memorial Day to pause, reflect and thank my Father in Heaven that he chose the United States of America for me to live.  Unbelievable privilege we are given, earned by the sacrifice of sons and guaranteed by the Daniel Chapter 4 sovereignty of God.  “God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and He gives them to whomever He pleases.”  Thank you soldiers.

JACK Night at the Races.

Thank you to my whole Jack team: Malinda, Dave, JZ, Chris, Jeremy, Jeff, Bob!  You guys put on one heck of a tailgate party!  The infield of the Sprint Cup aint got nothing on the Jack Night at the races.  And for the 300+ who showed up for the fun, THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for coming out and seeing what our TRC Racing Reach Team is all about!!!  Many of you put a few of us drivers under in the dunk tank, raising dollars to feed hungry people in Snohomish County. THANK YOU!  The catered food, warm company and exciting action on the track made for a great night.  So glad to be apart of this Church!  To make it even better I heard of two conversations between TRCers and people in the grandstand who were not only asking about The Rock Church, but about a relationship with Jesus Christ!!!  That’s what it’s about people!

Sunday Church.

Honestly, I thought it’d be a ghost town on Memorial Day Weekend.  The nice weather and big event on Saturday made a joker out of me.  CHURCH WAS PACKED!  It was packed so much we posted positive growth numbers for Sunday attendance again!!!  It’s a sign of HEALTH!  Healthy churches grow, and this spring TRC has been growing.  I am so unbelievably grateful to see the energy, passion, prayer and focus!  It is incredible, and I’m grateful to have had the Lord change me in so many ways to experience this new day in my favorite city of Monroe!

Don’t miss this weekend for Round Three of Supernatural Battlegrounds.  We are talking about the enemy; his plan and purpose for your life.  You’ll want to hear it straight from scripture!

Let’s talk Racing.

Yes, that’s gold flake vinyl on the front of the #70!  Last week JZ was inspired by a 1970′s Kenworth Semi truck, and the design scheme emerged.  Considering the fact that only one panel remained on the car from week 1, we did the whole thing up!  I like it, and think it’s the best scheme we’ve ever had.

Race 1.  We missed qualifying.  There was simply just too much work to do on the car.  At 2:00PM I made the decision to skip qualifying and make the car perfect, so that when we unloaded from the trailer we would be blistering fast.  Straight out of the JACK dunk tank I suited up, took 5 quick laps for safety, and buckled in for Main #1.  I started 19th out of 19.  The race developed really nicely.  My car wasn’t spectacular, but neither were my rivals.  Seems like everyone but the 1st and 2nd place car were ill handling.  I ended up 5th by driving a smart race.  Believe me, smart is success for me lately!!!

Race 2.  John watched the car during race 1 and saw some must needed changes.  #1. we needed to get the car into the track more.  #2. he made some shock changes.  Funny thing, I was walking by the pit cart when I saw him and Geoff playing rock-paper-scissors.  Seems they needed to make a decision that could go either way; meaning make me fast…or slow!  They made the call after the best two out of three!  Usually we’d test these changes in practice, but we didn’t have time for that, so a quick game decided our path.

The car was fast!  On old tires it was awesome into the corner.  Moving forward through the field I could run it in on guys getting into the turn.  Really deep into the turn.  Unfortunately, too deep!  The 5 car and I got tangled early in the race.  It was weird because it was like we got hooked together.  I went around, and had to start at the back of the field.  Coming back on through the field I gained on the 10 car.  Honestly, it looked like he let up midway down the backstretch and rolled out to the high side for me to go by in three, we call this rolling over.  I drove it in incredibly deep because I was trying to get back to the front.  At the last second he came down.  I tried to keep my car off him, but to no avail, around I went again.  There weren’t too many laps left.  I started last and came back through the field.  A couple green-white-checker restarts later and some three wide, I made it back to 6th for race 2.  All in all I had a great time driving the race car!


This time of year, every year, I am reminded of how many people we can reach if we will just try.  When Jesus departed earth He met with His team and said, “Be a witness.”  When I think of those words I get motivated.  He could have said, “pray more, read more, give more, study more or teach more doctrine.”  But he didn’t.  He gave us a clear command to use all those things–prayer, our bible, study, and doctrine–to increase our witness.  That’s the main thing.

Go out this week and think about your witness in every situation.  There is a life inside of you screaming to be lived!  Go LIVE IT LOUD!!!


Two Things I’m most looking forward to in 2012!

1.  Spending the currency of life winning souls…

I’m asking everyone in my life to join me winning souls this year!  Here’s a couple of thoughts around this important subject.

Acts 20:24 (NLT) 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

  • Everybody can value soul winning.
  • For some people soul winning is easy, for others not as much.  However, every Christ-follower must value soul winning because it is a priority in scripture.  Celebrate.  Recognize. Appreciate.  Get pumped! Every soul reached is a new opportunity to make another disciple of Jesus Christ!

  • Everybody can contribute to soul winning.
  • Some plant seed, others water and still more harvest.  Your every act of worship, service and focus can contribute to soul winning.

  • Everybody can believe and ask God for more souls.
  • God is the Lord of the harvest.  Jesus challenges, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  This is a perfect illustration of our times.  We have a world (plentiful harvest) asking for answers.  We also have a Church preoccupied with a lot of other stuff (few laborers).  Let’s not just do things like read books to get smarter, let’s do “right things” like win souls to grow heaven.

2.  Giving the currency of life to discipleship.

Matthew 28:18-20(NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I also know that being a great soul winner hinges on be a good disciple maker, something I’ve personally worked hard on for years.  Here’s a few thoughts on discipleship.

  • A new Christ follower has got to find fellowship with other believers.  This is where Church becomes paramount in their early journey.
  • A new Christ follower needs a Bible they can understand.  It’s why I like the NLT, it is easily understood by our American vernacular.
  • A new Christ follower needs to read more Bible, and fewer books.  I’m all for reading books, but no one is taking their books to heaven, yet the Word will be there for eternity.
  • A new Christ follower needs Equipping.  Frankly, and this is hard to do in typical American culture, but more than a 60-90 minute Sunday experience is necessary to gain strength.
  • A new Christ follower needs a worship experience that leaves a lasting impact.  It’s not just about head knowledge, it’s about experiencing Jesus in a tangible way through prayer, teaching, worship and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • The person doing the Equipping must be personally invested in the new believer.
  • The person doing the Equipping must be prayerfully sensitive to the growth of the new believer, “more is not always better, less is not always more.”
  • The person doing the Equipping must be ready to celebrate growth at all times.
  • The person doing the Equipping must be passionate about Jesus!

There’s so much more I could say about these TWO THINGS.  Nevertheless, this is a good start.  Join me and The Rock Church for an incredible 2012 winning souls and making disciples.

Which road are you traveling?

The Good LIFE: How Do We Get There From Here?
1.  A new set of circumstances won’t get us there.  (Mark 8:31-33)
2.  Grabbing hold of the good life won’t get us there.  (Mark 8:34-9:1)
3.  Nostalgia won’t get us there.  (Mark 9:2-8)
4.  Death is the path to the good life.
a.  Jesus’ death  (Mark 9:9-13)
b.  Our death (Mark 8:34-38)

Illustration: Solomon
Summary:  Solomon soaked up every pleasure and perk life could possibly offer, but at the end of his life all he could do was look at it longingly and declare the whole pursuit empty and worthless.

LIFE= A change of my outward circumstances.  Mark 8:31-33
Summary:  We all play the “if only” game.  Here’s how it works:  If only I could get ________, I would be happy.  If only I could achieve ________, life would be good.  The only problem:      there’s always another “if only” right around the corner.  Our hearts are never satisfied with new, different or better circumstances.

LIFE=the Pursuit of the Good Life Mark 8:34-9:1
Summary:  Every culture, including ours, says if you acquire or achieve _________, your life will be good/valuable.  Jesus says that’ll never work.  Nothing will ever make up for the life you were created to live.  Jesus says the only way to life is to lose those little dreams and base yourself and your identity on me and the gospel (Mark 8:35).

LIFE=Nostalgia Mark 9:2-8
What is nostalgia?  a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time…Nostalgia won’t work…

Missional Analysis:

People with no faith:
·    know something’s wrong with life as it is.
·    believe they would be living the good life if their life circumstances were different – a different job, a different spouse, a larger home, a larger income, or if they could grab a bigger slice of the pleasure pie, or if they could get to some idyllic nostalgic place with no suffering or setbacks.

People with damaged faith:

·    the good life is achieved through self-denial, rule-keeping, discipline, or a return to conservative values.
·    They believe God, or some higher being, will bless them with a life of no suffering or setbacks if they follow the rules.
·    When life doesn’t work out this way, they grow angry and bitter toward God because he didn’t keep up his end of the agreement, or they pick themselves up by their bootstraps and try harder believing God will reward them with the good life if they can just try harder.
·    At the end of the day, though, here’s the deal:  trying to walk the way of the cross will crush you if you don’t embrace the pardon of the cross

People with active faith:
·    be encouraged with a compelling picture of “life after death in everyday life.”
·    a life of self-denial is not an empty life.
·    It may well be a sacrificial life, but it’s a full life lived to God’s glory and for the sake of his kingdom.
·    It’s a big life of love – love for God and love for others – fueled by the love of Jesus, who relinquished his own life that Christians might be forgiven and welcomed into life with and for God.

Which road are you traveling today? The life to death road or the death to life road.

Are you walking the deceptive path littered with signs that say,
“LIFE AHEAD – a change of circumstances right around the corner”,
“LIFE AHEAD – a bigger slice of the pleasure pie around the corner”,
“LIFE AHEAD – get back to a happier time in your life”

OR  Are you following Jesus on the path less traveled – the way of the cross, the way of death that leads to an abundant life of love?

What are you willing to lose your life for?
A new set of circumstances – maybe that corner office, that new spouse, that bigger house, that bigger income?
The full-on pursuit of pleasure?
If you’re honest, deep inside you know there’s got to be something more.  You know there’s a better path.

Today, Jesus is calling you to follow him on that path
– the path that leads to the cross.  He’s saying to you, “If you want to save your life, if you want real, abundant LIFE, the kind of life you were created to live, follow me to the cross.  Come and die to your little dreams.  Let me crush your lonely kingdom, and give you new life, a place in my kingdom, and a real CAUSE worth giving your whole life for!  Let me give you new longings and new dreams!”