Category Archives: Life

When Goliath Falls

A photo by Luis Llerena. When Goliath Falls
When Goliath Falls

What do you do when Goliath falls? Defeats and victories are a constant part of life. All of us definitely like the victories more than the defeats. But there’s a question I’ve thought much about over the years.

Can a victory turn into a defeat?

Meaning, is it possible to take a victory in our lives and accidentally suffer defeat because of it? This is what I would like to address in this post that I’ve called When Goliath Falls.

Have you heard the phrase snatching victory from the jaws of defeat? The reverse can be true as well. You can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

In the book of 1 Samuel, there is a story of a giant, named Goliath, who represented the Philistine army. The Philistines were causing the Israelites all sorts of problems. There was a tradition of bringing out the best warrior that each country had to offer in order to decide the winner.

The Philistines offered up Goliath. The Israelites had no one to offer. Into this void stepped David, a young man who didn’t compare in size or strength to Goliath. The odds were stacked completely against David and the Israelites.

David, after hearing Goliath’s words against him, declared in 1 Samuel 17:45-47,

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lordwill conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

David had one advantage that Goliath did not…the presence of a great God who would do battle on his behalf. Now, I’m sure many of you know the end of the story. Both of those men go up against each other and David slings a stone, knocking Goliath down. Afterwards, David killed Goliath.

What an incredible victory! David had just defeated the enemy in convincing fashion. If I were David, I would have been extremely satisfied with this incredible feat. I would have celebrated it profusely.

This is similar to what many of us do when we experience an incredible victory. We tend to be satisfied and we celebrate. Now, there is nothing wrong with the feelings of satisfaction that come with a victory; nor is there anything wrong with celebrating our wins!

But, as I mentioned before, victories can easily turn into defeats.

When we allow the satisfaction of our victory to lead us to comfortability, we lose momentum, forfeiting the benefits of our victory.

So many of us, when our Goliath falls, choose to stop and simply admire the view.

Now, we know that David and the Israelites enjoyed their victory immediately after he killed Goliath. But they did something else as well. The text continues,

“When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath[g] and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron.53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp.”

The Israelite army decided that the best way to celebrate a past vicotry is to look for the next opportunity for victory. This meant chasing down the Philistine army as well as plundering their camp.

One of the easiest ways to lose the benefits of a victory is to simply relax in that success. The best way to experience the benefits of a victory is to leverage them for the next victory out ahead of you.

What do you do when your Goliath falls?

Which story are you going to write?

Strategic Retreat

Strategic Retreat
Strategic Retreat

Every single one of us wants to advance. Whether that is the desire to advance in personal goals or company goals, we all desire to advance. Sometimes, in order to advance, we must use something known as strategic retreat.

When people think about retreating in a certain area, they typically consider it as a result of some type of loss or defeat.

  • You might choose to pull back from a business venture because things didn’t turn out the way you hoped.
  • You might choose to pull back from a relationship because it turned in a direction you weren’t comfortable with.
  • You might choose to pull back from a school project after realizing that it will end in failure.

All of these are forms of retreat.

But, could there be a better way? Could there be a way to retreat that is not solely defined as a loss, but might set you up for the future?

Absolutely! This is what I call strategic retreat.

Strategic retreat is the art of pulling back in order to set yourself up for future success.

While some type of loss or defeat might precede a strategic retreat, the defining element of this type of retreat is the manner in which you retreat, in order to have the greatest possible chance of success in the future.

When we started CityLife Church, one of the first things we did was begin a weekly prayer meeting. The meeting was great! We gathered in a local park every week and prayed for our city. This meeting grew to about 60 people, which was incredible number for our size of church.

A little while after starting the church, I decided to change the format of the prayer meeting into something else. It was a disaster! The meeting ended up being attended by 10 people by the end. I decided to reconfigure the meeting once more and return it to what it was before. The only problem? The meeting never returned to what it was…we would run anywhere from 12 people to 30 people on a good day.

I had to do some hard thinking during those days. I, along with my wife and a few others, decided to use a strategic retreat.

We decided to completely cancel that meeting, while at the same time choosing to do two things. First, we decided to put our primary focus on small groups that met during the week. By eliminating one of two weeknight meetings, it would allow us to devote 100% of our efforts into building one area, instead of two. Second, we decided to turn the weekly prayer meeting that I led into a prayer small group that was led by lay people (volunteer leaders) in our church.

For us, this was the best decision we could have made. By thinking through the need to retreat, then figuring out how best to employ the retreat, we were choosing to approach our retreat in a strategic manner.

Too often, we retreat without taking the time to process the consequences of our retreat. Choose to think through your retreat in a strategic manner, in order to set yourself up for your best possible success in the future!

Grace In Your Church Staff

Years ago, I learned about a good pattern to follow when thinking about placing people in certain roles (whether paid or volunteer) inside of the church.

Bill Hybels taught me to look at 3 C’s:

Character, Competence, and Chemistry.

Another blog by Ron Edmondson added a fourth to the list: Culture.

With that in mind, there are moments when someone needs to be released from their role. It might have to do with any of those 4 C’s, but usually the most important one is Character.

Competence might be able to be taught, chemistry might be able to be worked on, and culture might get worked out, but character is entirely up to the individual.

I’ve noticed how, over the years, I’ve had conversations with people who believe someone should stay in their role, even when they have glaring character issues that are damaging themselves and others they influence through their role.

Let me make a side note: Different levels of character may be required by different roles. I require much more out of a person with a high level leadership role than I do out of someone who is just beginning. The problem I’m addressing is when the person’s character does not match the role they find themselves in.

I will hear things like, “We just need to work with that person” or “They’ll get better” or “Just give them time”. Now, there may be some very real issues with regards to character that CAN be worked on.

But, more often than not, the comments I hear basically mean this: “How can we be so judgmental and so lacking in grace?”

This could not be further from the truth. Grace is primarily used in the context of relationships, not just positions or roles that a person holds.

So often, we lack grace in the relational component with a person, while exercising grace in the positional component. This leads to high levels  of frustration, as we keep a person in a position that is damaging them and others, while at the same time being continuously frustrated, angry, or bitter about what the person is doing.

I’m inviting you to reverse the equation.

What if we decided to have more grace with people in the context of relationships while holding positions a little more lightly?

If I have had to remove a person (or if they removed themselves) from a position due to character issues, my hope has always been that grace will continue in the context of the relationship. But, there’s two problems that frequently present themselves:

  1. A person’s personal feelings and identity is tied to the position. In that situation, the person doesn’t feel like relationship can continue because their relationships were completely tied to their position. When they lose the position, they feel like the relationship is lost as well.
  2. A person has no concern for change, so when they leave the position, they also leave the relationship. I have seen this over and over again. What usually happens is that the person makes a decision to leave the church, because they have no desire to make any real changes in their lives. They then go on to repeat the same pattern over again in another place.

Now, there is not much I or you can do about #2. But there is a whole lot we can do about #1. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Make sure that the person you place in a certain role has the matching character for that role BEFORE entering into it.
  2. Continually provide opportunities for relationship building that are not directly related to a person’s position. Go out for coffee, have lunch, go bowling together…not to talk about their role, but to simply talk as people!
  3. Use words to continually affirm people according to WHO THEY ARE, not just WHAT THEY DO. So often we congratulate people on what their accomplishments are. That’s great! But we should also affirm the intrinsic value that everyone holds as God’s most incredible creation, regardless of what they do or don’t do.

Let’s make sure that in our leadership, we approach grace more as a relational concept than a positional concept. Positions can come and go, but life change only occurs in the context of relationships filled with grace.

Do you have any other ideas about how you can communicate grace more as relational concept in your church or organization?

Comment below!



I’m Sick And Tired Of This

Terrorist attacks, police officers being killed indiscriminately, African-American men killed for small infractions of the law, and much more. I’m sick and tired of this.

But I’m not going to blame a group. I’m not going to place the blame at the feet of some group on the political left or right. I’m not going to blame the system, whether that system is a government system, or economic system, or any other system.

It’s not that there isn’t potentially some blame in any of those places. But let’s be clear: any system, or any group, is led by people. In the case of government systems, those who lead have many times been voted into their positions by, guess who? People!

And guess what? People are imperfect, broken, incomplete, and sometimes filled with all sorts of evil.

And, if there is someone to specifically blame, it’s the devil himself. And yes, I do believe he exists. He is the enemy of our souls. He is the enemy of all that is right and good. He is the enemy of people. He sows disunity, discord, anger, rage, bitterness, racism, injustice, and much more. He uses every opportunity he gets to ruin our lives.

And yes, I am sick and tired of this.

And you know what else I’m sick and tired of? I’m sick and tired of people ignoring all of this, thinking that as long as my life is good, I have nothing to worry about.

Let me be clear: if your life is good, but the world is going to hell, eventually hell will come knocking on your door. Evil spreads.

There is only one answer to this. The power of GOOD. And the power of good is only possible through the power of GOD.

And here’s why it’s good to be sick and tired. When we are sick and tired of something, it means we are ready for action.

So, what action is required of us? Put simply, we must choose to live our lives beyond ourselves, living for a purpose greater than our own momentary blessing.

If the purpose of our lives is to get our dream job, make good money, have a good family, and live in a nice house, what do we do once we achieve all that? What is your purpose then? All of those things are fine and good, but our purpose calls us to something bigger and greater than those things.

Here’s my question for you: Are you living your life  with eternal purpose?

This world needs the children of God. It is crying out for people who will step in to the difficult spots…to step in with prayer, to step in with action, to step in with words of life.

Will you step out of your blessed life and step in to a spiritual war that is raging in our country and beyond? Now, more than ever, we cannot place our trust in a politician, or a corporation, or a national leader for our salvation. We must place our trust in Christ and Christ alone, then commit ourselves to action.

Will you join me?


This Week In The News

Hey my friends!

A lot has been going on this week in the U.S. and around the world. I thought I’d sum up for you some of the biggest things that are going on in the news. There is a lot of information to sort through on the Internet, so sometimes it can seem overwhelming. But, we must make sure to stay engaged with what’s going on around us!

  1. Pastor Perry Noble was fired from Newspring Church – I have heard him speak before. He’s an incredible speaker and an impactful pastor in Anderson, South Carolina. It’s sad to see that he let an addiction get the best of him, but our prayers should be that God restores him and his family.
  2. Terrorist attack in Nice, France – At least 80 have been killed in this senseless attack. France has been dealing with many terrorist attacks recently, but they are not the only ones. This is truly becoming a worldwide problem, affecting many countries. My prayer is that the Lord does a miracle!
  3. Pokemon Go – A new Nintendo app. It’s spreading like wildfire. Millions of people are using it. My son wants in on it! Ahhhhhhhh! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Just read.
  4. A Trump supporter wraps his whole house in a flag – Seriously. This isn’t so much about the politics of it. But it’s true. An entire house. Wrapped in the American flag.
  5. President Obama speaks at a town hall meeting – In a meeting related to the deaths of two African-American men at the hands of police, and the attack in Dallas that killed five police officers, President Obama held a town meeting. There’s a lot I disagree with when I listen to politicians across the political spectrum. I thought he said some good things here, so I included this one. Let’s continue to pray for God’s peace and justice in our nation.

That’s what’s in the news! Enjoy your weekend!

The G.R.O.W. Plan for Journaling Daily

Want an easy way to read the Bible daily?

Reading the Bible daily is an important part of growing as a Christian. Learning more about God, living out what he commands, and learning to love him and others are all important things that happen when we jump into God’s word on a daily basis.

For growth to happen in any area, there needs to be a process. For growth to happen in your life, you need a process as well? And, inside of that process, you need tools to help you accomplish the process.

A few years back I developed a simple tool to help myself (and others) to read the Bible for all it’s worth. I wanted to share that with you today. It’s a super easy way to read the Bible and journal about it. This tool is called G.R.O.W.

Here’s what it stands for:

G = Gratitude
R = Read
O = Observe
W = Wait on God

Here’s what you would write down with each letter:

G = Gratitude – You write one or two sentences of what you’re thankful for.

R = Read – Read your selection of Bible verses, then pick a verse or passage of Scripture that stands out to you. Write down that verse or passage.

O = Observe – Write down some observations about that passage. What’s going on? What is being talked about?

W = Wait on God – Take a moment and pray about the verse that stood out to you. Ask God what he wants you to do about it. Then, write down what action you are going to take.

Here’s an example of a journal entry:

G – Lord, thank you for your life that you have so freely given to me today. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you for another day.

R – Psalms 122:7-9 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “May you have peace.” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

O – David prayed for Jerusalem, his city, because God’s presence was there in the tabernacle and because he had friends and family there.

W – I need to more consistently pray for my city (Los Angeles), because in my city are (1) family and friends -and- (2) God’s presence in HIS people. Lord, today I commit to more regularly praying for these areas where I live and work, so that your name might be made known among those who live in this city.

Let me know if this helps!

This Week In The News: Shootings, Shootings, And More Shootings

The last couple of days I’ve been extremely busy…meetings, email, event preparation. It’s all been a bit crazy.

As I was checking my Facebook news feed I noticed friends of mine posting about some shootings that had happened. I didn’t think much of it at the time, since I was so occupied in my work.

Not until earlier yesterday did I get a chance to actually read about the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota.

Then, while in the midst of other meetings in the evening, I noticed a news article about the shootings of multiple police officers in Dallas, Texas, which has led to five deaths. As I write this early Friday morning, the police are still in a standoff with one other suspect.

We have no idea if the Dallas police officer shootings are related to the protests in Dallas about the deaths of the two African-American men mentioned above, or if they are related to Islamic terrorism, or if they are some type of homegrown terrorism. I’m sure those answers will come out in due time.

The following are a few thoughts:

  1. We must be willing to empathize with anyone who suffers. Regardless of the evidence and reasons for certain shootings, all who suffer need to experience our empathy and sympathy. I’ve never been personally big into hashtag campaigns like #blacklivesmatter -or- #alllivesmatter -or- #bluelivesmatter (or any others). What I definitely am into is the fact that Jesus suffers when humans suffer. We must suffer along with our brothers and sisters in the human race. This is a week of suffering for all of us.
  2. Evil is real. And no, I’m not trying to call the snipers evil who took out the police officers, or the police officers evil who killed Alton or Philando. There is an evil one, Satan himself, who desires nothing less than the destruction of God’s most valuable creation – humanity. He loves war, hate, disunity, bitterness, racism, and anything else that can come between God’s most favored creation. How do we combat this? With the love of God.
  3. Prayer is powerful. Is prayer our only tool? No! Must justice be served? Absolutely! While prayer does not eliminate the need for human action, human action does not eliminate the need for prayer! Human action can lead to justice. Prayer can lead to changed hearts. While we desire justice, we desire EVEN MORE the changing of people’s hearts. This is done through prayer.
  4. Justice is needed. Remember this: true justice ALWAYS focuses on the victim of the crime, not the perpetrator of the crime. What is just is determined by what the victim deserves. So whether it’s justice for Alton, or Philando, or any of the police officers who lost their lives, they all deserve justice. Will it look the same in every case? I imagine not. Every case is unique with its own circumstances. Regardless, justice must prevail.
  5. Wait for the evidence. It was so interesting to watch on the news tonight (on various channels) as commentators attempted to explain their own beliefs about what happened in Dallas. I guess that’s what they’re paid to do. Regardless, I found it less than helpful. They were proclaiming opinions/judgments before any facts or evidence of the case were known. While we must empathize quickly, we must be slow to judge. Most people do the reverse…they judge quickly and empathize slowly (if even at all). This should not be the case, especially for those of us who call ourselves Christ followers. Let’s empathize quickly, but let’s be slow to judge until we have more evidence.
  6. We need Jesus. You might be a reader of my blog and have no particular faith, or you have a faith that is different than my own. No problem! But, I cannot shy away from the fact that I believe Jesus is the hope of this world and that he is the answer to all that is sick in our society and on our planet. I encourage you to invite Jesus to become real in your life. If you need help with this, send me an email at

Those are the main things I’m thinking about right now. Did I catch every possible thought about these occurrences? Absolutely not. If you’ve got more to add, feel free to reply in the comments section.

Peace to you!


When You Don’t Know What To Do

Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know what to do?

Yesterday I had to deal with an extremely frustrating situation. And no, I’m not talking about the fireworks!

While in the middle of the situation, I couldn’t seem to find any peace. I wasn’t sure if it was caused by the situation or the Venti Cold Brew coffee I had just downed from Starbucks. If I had to guess, it was probably a combination of both!

But honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there with my work in front of me, but my mind was just a mess of confusing thoughts. I like to make sense of things, so that was a tough place for me to be in.

I decided to read over some verses from the Bible that had stood out to me in the last few days. The following ones hit me like a ton of bricks.

Psalm 135:1-3

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Praise him, you who serve the LORD, you who serve in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; celebrate his lovely name with music.

A lot of times, our first response to a difficult situation is to pray. We ask God to give us peace. Or we ask him to give us understanding. All of that is good.  I tried that. But, it didn’t work.

Sometimes we can’t PRAY our way out, but we can PRAISE our way out.

When we choose to honor God in the midst of a difficult situation, it causes a few things to happen:

  1. It shifts our focus away from the situation and places it on God.
  2. It causes us to be grateful, realizing that there is goodness beyond the difficult circumstance we are facing.
  3. It creates space for God to reorder our thinking and our priorities.

Yesterday, in that moment of confusion, I decided to walk outside of the Starbucks and praise God for a bit. I was able to think through the decisions I needed to make and how to move forward.

Have you tried praising God lately?

Be blessed today!

P.S. One of the reasons I was able to get that verse that gave me clear direction was because I have a regular plan of reading the Bible and writing about it. I’ll be posting on this soon. Stay tuned!


When You Miss The Fireworks


2016-07-04 21.21.28-1

I was incredibly frustrated yesterday. There I was, thinking what a great day July 4th was, spending it with friends and family, when all of a sudden it all went downhill.

The one thing that everyone looks forward to on July 4th is the fireworks. Well, at least I think everyone looks forward to them.

It was around 9pm, and we were together with family outside, waiting for the fireworks to start. All of a sudden, my wife Evelyn says, “Your child”…well…she didn’t actually say child, she said the child’s name, but I decided to not write their name in order to protect the identity of the accused child.

Let’s start over. She said, “Your child needs to go the bathroom. Do you want me to take them or will you?”

Now, there are two things to note here. First of all, when women give you (men) a choice, it really is only the appearance of a choice. Please learn this lesson, men. You’ll thank me for it later.

But in this case, my wife actually did give me a choice.

So, the second thing to note: I am just an amazing father. Yes I am. And I say that in all humility. Truly I do. You’ll just have to believe me. And amazing as I am, I chose to sacrifice myself for the good of the family in order to take this child of mine to the restroom inside the house.

Once inside the house and the child securely situated in the restroom, I heard a loud bang. Then another one. And another. The fireworks had started! I was anxiously waiting to get back outside to watch the fireworks.

As time kept passing by, I was wondering what was taking so long in the bathroom. You would have thought this child of mine was writing a book in there!

As I was waiting, I was getting more and more frustrated, thinking about how I was going to miss the fireworks all because of a bathroom trip. Couldn’t they have asked to go 10 minutes earlier? What perfect timing!

Eventually, this child of mine made it out of the bathroom, and we went outside to watch the rest of the fireworks. All of my worry and frustration was for nothing. I still saw the majority of the fireworks. It was a great show.

This happens to all of us at some point. We miss something we were ready for. We encounter a situation that is out of our control. We deal with a circumstance that was not caused by us. This happens everywhere…at work, in our families, in life in general.

We have to remind ourselves of this simple truth: Life is never as bad as we think it is.

There is always something to enjoy. There is always something to be thankful for. Don’t ruin the future positive moments by wallowing in present negativity. Your circumstance might be difficult right now, but you will make it through and experience blessing on the other side.

What will you do when you miss the fireworks?

Keep moving!

Stay Connected

Hey guys!

A few days ago, I wrote a blog about different ways that you can keep on learning. You can read about it here.

The first thing I mentioned was that we should read books, articles and blogs. Read as much as you can! I’ve had a long term commitment to reading, and whenever I’ve done leadership development and training, I’ve included books and articles as a part of the learning process.

Right now, the pastors of the church I lead ( are reading the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, along with me. Reading is an essential part of learning.

So, if this blog is something that you would consider a resource to you, I invite you to stay connected to the blog so that you don’t miss a post.

You can sign up for this blog directly on the upper left hand side of this page.

I know how my life tends to work. I live life moment by moment, responding and reacting to the things that are coming at me in that exact moment.

The best lived lives are ones that build intentional patterns into how we live. Intentional patterns of rest, play, learning, working, etc.

I want to invite you to include this blog as a part of your intentional pattern of learning. By signing up, I promise that I will not spam you! On the contrary, my goal is to be a resource and a help to you as you live a life of leading yourself and leading others well.

So, would you consider staying connected to this blog? Please sign up with your email on the upper left side of the page.

Just so you know, I ask you for your age and location, so that as I develop resources, I can customize them best for the audience that is reading this blog.

When you sign up to receive my updates on new blog posts, go ahead and read it if it seems interesting or trash it if not! I promise I won’t be offended!

Thanks for your support, so that I can support you!

Let’s stay connected!