Category Archives: Community

Book Review: Open

Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Open 3DAccountable By Craig Gross

Published by Thomas Nelson
July 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4002-0530-1

Craig Gross is best known for the creation of and x3Wtach accountability software.  He is a Author, Speaker and Pastor.  He has a total of 9 books that he has authored.

I took the time to read and re-read this book before writing my review.  The issue of accountability is one that I’m passionate about and I can say that this book is one of the best that I have read on the subject.

Craig starts out by first and foremost addressing the reasons why someone needs accountability.  One of the issues that alot of people face is that they compartmentalize their lives and as a result live parts of their life in secretes.  Craig says “when you start doing things in secret, you can start doing them to excess, and they can spiral out of control.  That’s when you have a problem.” (XIX)   With the common trend of more and more technology that allow us to “connect” electronically with people we are as a result honestly connecting less and less.  He says “We are connected to more poeple than ever before, able to give and receive instantaneous updates on the minutiae of our lives … yet we remain curiously unsatisfied and isolated.” (xx) This pseudo connection is what needs to be addressed in accountability. As Craig puts it “in the long run, that is what accountability is really  about.  Its about living a richer, more fulfilled, more satisfying life.” (xxi).

Craig’s first section addresses the why’s of accountability including real life examples from people like you and me to government employees and issues that have been in the news. He then moves from the whys to what it requires and hits on some of the key ingredients of accountability such as Honesty, Courage, and the need for Help.

He goes into details on ideas of ways to get into accountability and what it requires.  There are so many details and ideas that I could fill many blog posts on, but for now I encourage you to get the book, read it, and personally apply it to your life if your not already in an accountability relationship.  If you are in an accountability relationship the book will provide you with ideas on how to go deeper and grow further as a result. I personally am going to apply what I’ve learned.  This book will be a great reference book in my collection.

To Get Your Own copy go to the following or another book retailer you choose and crack it open:


Barnes and Noble

If you order your book before it releases, do it by July 29, 2013 and you can get some more awesome stuff.  Got check it out  here: Click here for awesome pre-release offers. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation.

But I did like the book so much that I went out and bought a hard copy to have on my shelf.

Learning to Worship….again

Its hard for people who are in ministry, have been in ministry, or have been involved in Worship Production to sometimes find a way to Worship.  In the last year I have transitioned not only from being on a church staff to being a lay person, but also out of all my technical/production related roles.  So for me I’m in a new phase of “learning how to worship” again.

For me being technical  I have to find ways and times that I can worship and either ignore the technical distractions (be it the use of technology, sound issues, lighting, ect) or move beyond them.  I had a recent experience where the technical distractions were almost too much for me to even continue to sit through the worship service.  Probably part of it was my mindset at the time, but has re-spurred me to a couple of things that I need to do.

Here are my thoughts on things to do to get into a mindset of worship:

1.  Arrive early.  The reason for this is multiple.

a) It allows you to have time to get your heart right, pray for God’s protection of your focus and to allow you to worship Him with your whole heart. We have to open ourselves to worship.  If there is a hurt or pain we must ask God for healing and to mend us, as this will greatly distract us from worship.

b) It allows you to get a seat where you can worship with the least distractions.  I’m finding more and more personally that this means closer to the front and center, which is contrary to what might be most “comfortable”.  I spent years sitting in the back of the church service because I had to be able to get out easily in a case i was needed, but that is not the case anymore so I have to learn to change.

2.  Find other ways or places to worship.  For me I have to find times like driving in the car listening to Music to get my heart and mind focused.  I have found places like North Pointe and Life Church’s online services to help greatly in allowing me to worship when I need it.  I get the actual worship experience as well as the teaching.   For some it may mean a major change, finding a new place of worship.  This can be hard, but depending on your situation it might be what you need to do to worship.  It can be either a permanent change or just a temporary thing to get yourself back into the Worshiping mindset.

3.  Close your eyes.  Sometimes what keeps those of us who are technical from worshiping is what we see.  So be willing to close your eyes to remove that one sense from your distraction.  Distractions can be the people around us, what they are doing, or the technology that is involved in the service.  Be willing to close off your eyes so that these distractions do not keep you from experiencing Worship.

4.  Make it a community experience, because well that is what it is meant to be.  If you have a group of friends that you go to church with, you may  need to ask them to surround you and help you to worship.  This may be necessary if your not actually going to church and need the accountability to do it.  If your hurting because of something that has happened you might need people to encourage you to be there, to worship and to be loved on by them.

For whatever reason that your life has changed and you need to re-learn how to worship, it is vital that we try to find a way to make worship a central part of our lives.

If your are actively serving on a church or ministry staff, you NEED to make time to worship.  If you do not find a way or a time to worship each and every week you will be doing yourself, those you minister to and God an injustice.  You cannot serve God fully if you are not opening your heart and time to worshiping and being feed by the Word.  You need to make going to a worship service happen.  If you find it impossible you need to beg those that you work with to help you make it happen and do the same thing for them.

Do not give up on worshiping God alone, but also with the community of believers God has placed you in.


Book Review: The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America

The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America

By Gabe Lyons

Gabe Lyons really hits it home with The Next Christians.  The book itself was an easy read when it comes to the content and time it took to read, but it takes time to process and see how it is impacting you.  This book is not one to take lightly it is a book that challenges the reader to ask themselves, what are they doing as Christians to make an impact on those around us. This book has hit me at a time in my life where i have been asking myself whats next, how do I do this thing called my Christian Walk and living in Community with others.  After reading it I have no clearer answers but I do realize that there are others with the same struggle and battle.

Lyons talks about the fact that we are coming to a point in time that we must “reenvision” what our faith is, how it plays out, or should i say how it is lived out.  We need to find a way to help those around us to experience the Christian faith in such a way that it meets their deep spiritual needs.  Current or past Christianity does not necessarily do that.  Our church’s are making less of an impact on the people that attend and less of an impact on the communities they minister to.

Lyons discusses the 6 Characteristics that set “Next Christians” apart:  1. Being provoked and not offended. 2. Creators, not critics. 3. Called, not employed. 4. Grounded, not distracted. 5.  In Community, not alone.  6. Countercultural, not “relevant”

The points that I think resonate so personally to me are the Called and not employed and in community and not alone.  We are called to a life of ministry not just one vocationally, and we are called to not live our life out alone.  These are just two areas that I personally felt and seen God nudging me.  I know that there are others.   Take a further look into The Next Christians” to be further challenged and inspired to change.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How much do you push others?

Over the past few years I’ve had the problem with friendships of, ok you said you wanted to do something but you won’t respond…..

How much do we push/pull those we are in relationship with?  When do we just throw up our hands?

I don’t want to be the “annoying” person who is nagging people to do things they said they want to do.  But I also don’t want to be the friend who just doesn’t care and doesn’t do anything.

So I’m in a tough spot…..

I have friends who want to hang but show no motiviation to connect.  Friends who have mutual goals with me but don’t respond to trying to put a plan in action…….

What am I to do?   Is it the good old three strikes and your out?  Do I need to take a more confrontational approach (ie making phone calls instead of emails/text?)?  Do I just sit back and leave the ball in the other persons court?

I want friends that pursue me and care about me, and I thought the way to help nurture that was to do the same for them.  But apparently that doesn’t work anymore….  I don’t want to drive people away but I do want to encourage people to grow and to be in community.

Part of me again wants to throw up my hands and says who cares……

I know what I need to do when people pursue me.  I need to respond and be involved not just fluff it off……

So whats your thoughts? What do you do?


Prayer and Conferssion

Today’s thoughts come in tandem with my last post.  I think that we often just think of confessing our sins to God, which is an absolute must.  However when there are certain issues (don’t have a list of them) that is affecting ones walk with God, Spouse, Family, Others there is some freedom, support and healing that can happen when we share the confession of that sin with others.  Take a look at this passage:

James 5:16 (New International Version)

16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 We forget often that we are a community of brothers and sisters and that we are called to pray for each other, to support and walk alongside.  When we speak of our sin and brokeness with other believers and allow them into our brokeness we are battling the devils grip and hold on is.  Things that are kept secret the devil attacks even harder and tries to bring us down.

This last semester in our couples group I have witnessed not only the power of prayer (its healing and encouraging affects) but also confession of sin, struggles, and strongholds.  I’ve been reminded so much about how we need to remeber to not just listen but to step and pray for the working of God in others lives.

Seek to be and live in community where prayer, conferssion, and accountability can grow. Give God the glory.


Broken and in Need of Healing

I love talking with my friends and acquintances about life and where they have been and looking forward to seeing where they are going. 

One common thread I have noticed is that we all are broken and in need of healing.   Healing that only God can provide. 

This past week I was brought back to feeling broken by anothers pain and suffering that occured due to choices in their past.  This discussion again reminded me of the impact of our actions and sins from the past and how they can still affect us even today year and years after the fact. 

The pains and things that have been left in the past still hit us from time to time and our enemy the devil tries to use these struggles, sins and bad decisions to affect us today.  To destroy beautiful marriages, friendships, lives and carrers.  A song from a band that I heard in high school that used 2 corinthians 4 as a bases of the lyrics keeps playing in my head (even though I haven’t heard it in years).   Focus on these key verses for a minte: 

2 Corinthians 4

Treasures in Jars of Clay

 1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God……But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 

I know that I should take more time to study this passage especially verses 8-10.  But Right now this passage is speaking loudly to met about the battle that is going on around us.  The Devil is seeking to destroy those of us who are seeking to live a life devoted to God.  He seeks to use things from our past to destroy us.  To keep us from growing closer to God.  From having an amazing marriage.  

So my challenge to you.  When you look into the mirror don’t see the broken mirror of your past, but know that the mirror is made new.  That you are a new creation in Christ and that mirror is made new, no more cracks.  Know that God loves you as His child.  Put on the the full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  Live on and in the Word, seek to know God.  Do not allow the Devil a foothold in your live, actions, thoughts or deeds! 


Self Esteem/Identity

Its been one of those weeks where this topic has been hitting me in many ways.  It started off in a small group conversation that boiled down to the fact that one of the area’s I have struggles with in allowing God full control is that of my self esteem and natural responses to the situations I’m in. Then it went from this conversation to a discussion with a mentor about it, to a sermon, and then talking with a good buddy.

Self esteem and my Identity were things that I was really conscious of during High School, but it is something that I have thought of less and less as an adult.  We all know that during High School years the battle is to fit in, to be accepted, to be “Cool”.  I know that I struggled greatly with this during my High School years and the years to follow.  Its something that for the most part I don’t think of day to day anymore.  However I have been reminded that this battle of my self esteem/identity makes up a large part of who I am.  It affects greatly how I relate to others, handle situations, and various other areas of life that I struggle with.  I know that it affects everyone differently, but we must remember that no matter how put together we appear, everyone has an issue of their self esteem and identity.

I was surprised when one person in the group discussion said they were surprised that I struggled with this.  They thought that I was more of the type that would say “If you don’t like me thats your problem, get lost”.  It just reminded me that we come off to others differently than we do to ourselves.  It was a good reminder as it also prompted me to remind myself and others that we all have hurts and need to be accepted.

God hit me on the head with this issue and what I need to do to continue to work on it this Sunday.  Jeff our Senior pastor preached from Ephesians 1:3-14.  Jeff preaches alot of great sermons, but this one in particular hit me on the head.  He spoke directly to the fact that we need to connect our Identity to our relationship with God and nothing else.  He used three images found in this passage.  They are that of being Adopted by God (vs. 5), Redemption (vs. 7), and Sealing (vs. 13). It was powerful to be reminded that I am adopted by God, that it is His pleasure to have me as His son.  Also that God was willing to buy me at a price, the price of his Son’s blood.  Just a great reminder that we are valuable.  And that we are sealed, like in the early days and times of Ephesus were things were sealed with a crest or emblem marking the ownership of the item.  We are marked as Children of God, and we are HIS>

Jeff finished the sermon with a great phrase:

“He adopted me, He bought me, I’m His!”

Remember that today and everyday.  Write it on your arm, your heart, your mind, your desk, your dashboard.  Remeber that you are a Child of God, you matter to Him.

Seek Him in every situation and know when the Devil hits you over the head that you can fight back and know that you are a child of God and are deeply loved.  Don’t fall for his lies!