5 Firsts That Matter in 2015

New Year, 2015, leadership, vision, Jesus, priorities, life

I want to get this post into your mind right now, with some time to spare.  So go ahead, read it now, and when you’re done reading set a calendar appointment next week to spend some time with yourself. Then go enjoy Christmas, and after the eggnog is gone reflect on what 2015 might become!

For some, a New Year symbolizes a pat on the back or a token for a job well done in the previous 12 months. For most, it’s kind of like a smack in the face that says a great big, “What are you waiting for?” I’ve had those moments where I needed to get started on the future, and like they say, there’s no time like the present.

In my own life, I use the time after Christmas to reflect and redirect. It’s a time to ease back on the throttle just a bit and ask some important and legitimate questions.

What’s the Highest Priority?

For me, my highest priority is

Jesus is Our Hope


We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3

What makes Jesus so great?
Is it solely because He is a King and He is Lord of all? Maybe Jesus is great because He can heal the sick and perform great miracles. All of those things are tremendous and well worth mentioning. But if I were to summarize what makes Jesus great, it would be one word—Hope. He offers hope. And hope, for times such as these, means everything in our world today.

Although I am a pastor, I really don’t like being too “preachy,” that’s just not my style. I’d much prefer conversations face to face. I like connecting heart to heart. I prefer gathering around a matter that means a lot to you. I’m much more into the personal approach. With that said, I really have to be honest with you and risk it all. It’s way too important not to broach this subject with you. 



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!!!