The TerraNova Blog

Everybody Believes Something

Everybody believes something.

And what we believe determines how we see which determines what we do which determines ... who we become.

Everybody believes something. In fact, we all believe a lot of things. Many of them incomplete, inconsistent, incompatible. Hundreds of ideas, assumptions, conclusions we've drawn. Mental maps we began piecing together as toddlers and have added to throughout our lives, often without even knowing it. And what we believe determines how we see which determines what we do with determines ... you've got the picture.

We all believe something. We live and operate based on faith. And we all have doubts, questions, uncertainties. The things we believe and think and hear begin to clash. We behave inconsistently. We're conflicted. We feel and live with the strain of it all everyday.

So, if we all believe and we all doubt ... what does a healthy, passionate, courageous life of faith look like? How do we embrace this journey of faith, this faith-filled, hope-filled life with God and still be intellectually honest and humble and reasonable?

Sometimes those are presented as mutually-exclusive. You are either intellectually honest and reasonable OR you believe things. And if you have doubts and questions? Well, stuff 'em down. Don't be honest about it. After all, what is faith if it's not "believin' something you know ain't true" (to quote a Mark Twain character)? But is that what a healthy, robust faith is really all about? Is that the journey God invites me into?

This March, leading into Easter, we're going to take a few weeks to talk honestly and humbly about our faith and our doubts and the beliefs that shape our lives. We hope you'll join us.

New Years Resolution #1

Every study I read says that millions of Americans make resolutions every year.

Maybe not outright, written down, tracked and measured resolutions. But resolutions nevertheless. You're probably already doing it in your head. Things you'd like to get better at, be better at. Changes you know you need to make. You're wanting 2012 to NOT look like 2012 in this way or that.

Seems like the beginning of a New Year is perfect for that kind of thinking. That kind of resolving.

And at (or near?) the top of your list might be ways in which you'd like to be stronger spiritually. If it's not … consider moving it up your priorities a bit. Let me explain why:

Your spiritual health is linked directly to your relationship with God -- your Creator, your Heavenly Father. The Giver of your life. And spiritual health is the core (or "center") of all other health. It's what gives life to your emotions, your will, your thoughts, your relationships, your passions and creativity, your physical strength and energy.

Getting your spirit (or "soul") right is the first step in getting everything else right. When that's out of alignment, even the things you do rightly in other areas are somehow … off.

And did I mention that God -- your Creator, your Heavenly Father -- *wants* to have a great relationship with you this year? Every moment of every day of this year? Connected to you, guiding you, empowering you, changing you to become you?

So as you kick off a new year in 2013, I've got a great resolution for you to put at the #1 slot: Grow in your relationship with God.

And that's why I want to invite you -- scratch that, CHALLENGE you! -- to join us this weekend at TerraNova as we kick off a brand new series that will set up our 2013 just right: No One Stands Alone.

The Tragedy of an Unlived Life

This past Spring I met my brother and sister in Chicago to clear out my dad's apartment. Piles and shelves of books everywhere. File cabinets lining the walls full of folders and papers. A folder full of letters he wrote to me and never sent. There where file drawers dedicated to a couple of books that he'd spent the past few decades talking about, but never completed. Folders for a board game he'd always said he was inventing. Old photos of a time 40 or so years ago when he had a life. These were things that he couldn't imagine parting with. Things that really defined his life for the past few decades. (In fact, he called us a few times during the 2 days we were there crying, and I felt so sad for him.) But almost none of it mattered. It was all sent to the dump. I stood there in that apartment looking at a lifetime of accumulating stuff that didn't matter. Depressing.

See, my dad started out pretty well. Opened up a school in the inner city of Chicago in the 1950s to teach kids who weren't getting an education. Then started a church. And then he threw it all away. (I'll spare you the details.) He spent the last 1/2 of his life in isolation, apart from his family, in a subsidized apartment, talking about things that he would never do.

I walked away from that experience reflecting on the tragedy of an unlived life. And I thought to myself, "I don't want to live my life that way. I don't want to miss what my life is for. I want to show up."

As we head into the fall of 2012, and another exciting season of life together, we want to kick it off talking about something that, for me, comes directly out of that experience. We're calling it: "How to Show Up for Your Life." I hope you can join us.

Raising a Healthy Family in the Modern World

Times have changed and so have families. Today’s modern family is facing challenges that rarely, if ever, crossed our minds a few years ago. Most families today are long on commitment and short on time. We are being pulled in many directions that make it difficult, if not impossible to connect relationally. Smart phones, mobile technology, work-life balance, relentless hurry and stress seem to be woven into the fabric of our lives. Come be encouraged over the next three weeks (Aug 18/19 thru Sep 1/2) as we look at how to raise a healthy family in a modern world and move from a surviving family to a thriving family.

Topics for the 3 weeks: (1) What Do I Feed My Time-Starved Kids? (2) What Should I Do When My Kids Are Rude? (3) What Do I Need to Know Before Virtual Becomes My Reality?

Living Everyday Heroic

This weekend we're wrapping up our series "Everyday Heroic!"

Here's what I'm REALLY HOPING you've gotten out of the series so far ...
(1) You are created and called by God to be a HERO! To be the light of the world, the salt of the earth ... and to step up and STAND OUT. God did not light a fire in you so it would be hidden and subdued. He wants it to shine. He wants YOU to shine. Let your good deeds shine today!

(2) You have SUPER POWER. Rid your life of the words "I can't." Seriously. Replace them with "I don't want to." (That's more honest anyway.) And repeatedly tell yourself, "There is super-abundant power available for me in Christ. I can do all things through the one empowering me."

(3) Heroic action really boils down to (1) seeing clearly; and (2) acting on what I see (rather than hesitating until it becomes a fog).

(4) Everyday God is giving up opportunities to step up and stand out. Moments when he's speaking to us to be heroes. We will either seize those moments, or we'll hesitate and begin to tell ourselves stories that totally rationalize our inaction. Don't deceive yourself! Act on what you see!

BUT ... and this is where we're going this weekend ...

There's a fine line between acting heroic and just being crazy!

So join us this weekend as Everyday Heroic winds down with a fantastic story from the Old Testament that powerfully illustrates this important caveat in our heroic journeys!

TerraNova Turns 5

TerraNova turns 5 this month. It was actually on an Easter morning in 2007 that two churches in south OC first came together to form a new community. And it's been a wild ride ever since.

To say that merging two church communities into one is "disruptive" would be an understatement. It was challenging, fun, stressful, exciting, hard work, fulfilling, new, challenging ... did I say that already? I was out of my comfort zone, and so were lots of other people.

But that actually was a significant part of the experience in and of itself, for me. One of the things I was learning was that the thing God calls us to very often pulls us out of our comfort zone. Or to put it more directly -- scares the bejeezuz out of us! (Why do you think it is that so often people in the Bible are told not to be afraid?! Take Joshua, for instance ...)

I once heard someone put it this way: "If the thing that you think God is calling you to doesn't make you feel like you're in over your head, you might be playing it too safe. God rarely calls us to do things that we can easily do without Him." Hmmmm ...

So we jumped into the deep end (or depend). And I'm SOOoooo glad we did. And though those intitially challenging and disrputive days seem so far in the past, and TerraNova has become such an amazing place filled with such wonderful people with such a great passion to make God's love famous, I'm hoping we never lose that adventurous, courageous sense that God calls us into the wild blue with Him, calls us to take risks in order to make Him famous.

Happy birthday TerraNova.

The Lame Shame Cycle

You know how it goes: You feel lame about something in your life -- your debt, your weight, your diet, your habit. You want to be more well-read, more well-rounded (or ... er ... less rounded ...). You want to be less stressed out, budget your money better, stop yelling at your kids.

So you vow to stop. Or start. Or do better. You're going to change. You vow, you resolve, you promise yourself (and others). And you try. You really do. Maybe for a week. (Studies show that's about how long 30% of New Years resolutions last! Ha!) Or longer. But then you fail.

And when you fail, you feel lame. Bad, guilty.

So you vow again. You double vow. You're going to try harder. But then you fail again, even worse! And you feel worse.

Round and round we go with that -- vowing, trying, trying harder, failing, failing farther, feeling lame. Until we begin to give up. "Lame" turns into "shame." "What a loser. I'm so weak. Failure. Why can't I get this? Other people can ... what's wrong with me? I just can't ..."

Believe it or not, the Bible actually taps into this cycle in Romans 7.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing!

Can you relate? (You're thinking, "That's in the Bible?! Man, that's the story of my life!") Join us at TerraNova this weekend to discover how to get out of that vow/try/fail/lame cycle.

Revolution

Jesus' message was not a message of resolutions -- vowing more, trying harder, failing (again), feeling lame. It was a message of REVOLUTION. A revolution of kingdoms. A revolution of wills.

"The time has come! The kingdom of God is near," he would say. "Repent and believe the good news."

Jesus once actually used the phrase "among you." Like it's all around me. An alternative reality.

What will I believe to be true today? How will I think and see the world?

I want to live as if the most powerful, attentive, faithful being in the universe is my Father. That he is surrounding me like the air I breathe. Guiding me moment-by-moment into my best possible life. A life that brings healing to myself, my family and community, and to the world he loves.

New Year, New You

There's something that's great about a new year. It gives us the excuse to do 2 really important things:

(1) Look back, remember and learn.

(2) Look forward, change some stuff, start fresh.

And that's really what all the hubbub's about at New Year's. Well, that and football. Last year's 10 best of this or 10 worst of that (the looking back part), and this year's new goals, new hopes and dreams.

So as you look back on 2011, what did you learn? How did you grow? What did you see God do that you couldn't have done for yourself?

And as you look forward to 2012, what would you love to see happen? How would you like to grow?

I want to invite you to join us this January for a great new series: (RE)NEW. Check out the link to it here.

It's not your normal "Try harder! Double down! Resolve!" kinda' message that you'll hear plenty of in January (especially from your own inner voices). Instead, we're going to look at some really unbelieveable things God has to say about the life He really created for you to have, the life that Jesus died so that you could have, a life that He can give you and create in you. A life that's totally  ... NEW!

See you this weekend at TerraNova.

Tell Us About Your 60-60 Experience!

The 60-60 Experiment is simple. It's all about staying connected and staying responsive in this moment. Here's how it works:

(1) Get something to beep, chime, vibrate, ring or otherwise interrupt you at least once every 60 minutes for the next 60 days. Stick post-it notes or reminders in places. Prompt your awareness to turn toward God.

(2) When you're interrupted:

• Acknowledge that God is right here and tell Him you want to be connected to him like a branch to the vine right now, in this moment, whatever you're doing.

• Turn whatever you're doing God-ward. Just talk to Him about whatever you're doing, whatever you're feeling. Ask Him to bless the person you're with right now ... whatever it is.

• Ask Him to lead you into the next moment. Is there anything He wants you to be doing, saying, learning; any person he wants you to maybe engage or help out.

• Listen, look around, and if something comes to you -- DO it! (I know, crazy, huh?) See what happens!

3) Tell us how it's going. We want to hear all about your 60-60 experience -- the good, the bad, the lame. Hit "Comment" right now and pass it on!

The 60-60 Experiment (Again)

A couple of years ago, TerraNova did a series called Soul Revolution, based on the book by John Burke. At the heart of that series was an "experiment" in moment-by-moment connectedness and responsiveness to God, called "The 60-60 Experiment." A couple hundred of us did it, and it was ... revolutionary. Probably the single most impactful thing I've done in my spiritual journey. This idea of connecting over and over again with God throughout the day, expressing my desire to be connected to him like a branch to a vine, simply asking if there's anything he wants done / said / learned / etc in this moment, and then ... watching, listening ... and responding.

This year I had been planning a series for the fall on the Fruit of the Spirit. The passage from Galatians 5 that describes this "fruit" is such a foundational place to turn to reflect on the kind of people God wants to shape us to become. And as I read and meditated on that passage through the spring and summer I really kept landing on that simple phrase that starts the whole ball rolling: "Walk by (or even "in") the Spirit." This is where character and growth and ethics and transformation always begins for Paul. Do that, he says, and fruit happens.

And that's when we decided to bring the 60-60 Experiment back. To make this posture of "walking by the Spirit,"" staying connected to the vine," living in moment-by-moment connectedness and responsiveness to God the beginning point for our discussion of what God wants to do in our lives as that happens. So we hope you'll join us for this series, and especially join us for this experiment.

What Goes In First

You've seen (or heard of) the thing with the jars and the rocks? How if you fill the jar with sand and gravel, you'll never get the big rocks in? It's all about what you put in first.

Here's a principle worth remembering: Priority determines capacity. In other words, the first thing(s) you put into your "jar" determines the capacity of the jar. The things you prioritize in your day (week / season of life / life) -- the things you decide have to be done even if other things don't get done -- determine what and how much you can fit into your life.

It's like we saw with the rocks and pebbles last weekend at TerraNova. With those pebbles in the jar first, there was just no way those rocks were going to fit in. No matter how much I cram, compress, economize, skim. No way. But put the rocks in first? It all "fits."

Priority determines capacity.

Which brings us to something the Bible talks about. A lot. "Put God first," it says. Over and over again, we're given this advice (/instruction/ command): Put God in first. And if you do that, the "God rock" will affect the capacity of everything else in the jar. Putting God first becomes the "organizing principle" around which everything else in the jar "fits."

Jesus put it this way: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well." In other words, as men and women who believe in God, we're called to "seek first" God's will for our lives. To prioritize / put in the jar first God's will for our lives and our world every day.

One of the most straight-forward and best ways to do that is to spend the first few moments of every day with God. Talk to Him. Talk to Him about your day, about what you've got coming up, about what you're excited about and worried about. And ask Him to guide you. Express your desire to know His will and obey His will in every one of your "big rocks."

My experience is that when I do that consistently (not just in the morning but again and again throughout the day) it positively affects the capacity of my day in many ways. Anxiety diminishes. Focus is clarified. My ability to "go with the flow" increases. And I'm more likely to end the day feeling as though I got the important things done, even if a few things on my to-do list were left incomplete.

Have you ever had that experience? I'd love to hear from you.

Balance

It sounds good, doesn't it? Like something we should want. Something we should strive to attain.

"Balance."

But what does that even mean?

Our lives are filled with responsibilities, obligations, expectations, demands, desires ... in dozens of different areas of life. Health, love, school, friends, work, home, money, family, God. And sometimes we think, "If I really had it together, all of these areas would be stellar. I'd have 6-pack abs, a great love life, energy and focus, good grades in school. My home would be together; I'd finally fix that cabinet door. My kids will be well-loved, well-guided, well-behaved. My golf handicap would be low. My spiritual life would be alive and meaningful. If I had my act together ... If I could finally get it all balanced."

And many of those desires and expectations are good. Some are even necessary. But often we get the feeling like we're not really fulfilling those responsibilities. Not meeting those expectations. In fact, we're scrambling to meet the most basic demands in each category of life ... and failing at all of them! It's like we're not doing anything well. But you know you're working hard because at the end of every day you're just exhausted.

Is balance even attainable? Or is it a pipe dream? Is there maybe a different way to be looking at this?

I hope you'll join us this September as we start this new 4-part teaching series on one of the most important issues in many of our lives.

Finding God in the Desert

This weekend we're looking at a powerful story from the life of David, the great king. It's a story that comes near the end. The bottom of a long, sad, downward spiral. And David finds himself once again in the desert, now running not from the crazed king Saul, but from his own son. Completely defeated and downcast, he writes one of the greatest Psalms of them all, Psalm 63.

The lines that are really grabbing me today are lines that set his physical circumstances and his inner reality side-by-side in contrast: "I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a cry and parched land where there is no water" (verse 1). "I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; and with singing lips my mouth will praise you."

David is saying that, in the midst of this desert experience, when everything in his life has fallen apart (again), God is enough. No ... MORE than enough. "God, with you -- because your love is better than life itself -- I am fully satisfied, like having just eaten this huge, gourmet, 4-course feast. God, you satisfy me more than anything else."

It makes me wonder ... is God enough? I mean, in the desert? When you're having a hard time paying your bills? When your son has betrayed you and run you out of town with an army? When your failures and mistakes come flying back in your face to remind you of how bad you blown it? David says, Yes. David found God in the desert, and it made all the difference.

Soundtrack: The New Summer Series in the Psalms

This summer, we're spending a number of weeks in one of my favorite books in the Bible: The Psalms.

The Book of Psalms in the scriptures is a collection of 150 prayers and songs of worship that span hundreds of years of Israel's history and experience. Many were written by David, the first "true" king (and arguably the
greatest) of Israel. A man who was passionate for God, but also just passionate, period. He lived life with gusto, and his Psalms reflect that.

Perhaps one of the things that makes the Psalms a great place to turn to get "schooled" in connecting with God is that they are so raw and so honest. Frankly, many of them are flat out disturbing. When the "Psalmist" (the one who's writing the Psalm) is just down in the dumps, disappointed with God, and wondering what's going on, he'll just SAY that (Psalm 27 or 61)! When he's surrounded by enemies, feeling beaten up, he'll cry out to God to break their teeth (Psalm 3) or worse (Psalm 109)! When he's feeling grateful, he let's his praises pour out unreservedly (Psalm 65 or 95). When he feels like God is distant, he writes as though his whole body is about to waste away unless God shows up (Psalm 63).

Some of the Psalms begin with brief descriptions of the historical circumstances that led to them being written (Psalm 3 and Psalm 51). Many were written to be sung as "pilgrims" were traveling up to the city of Jerusalem for great festivals or to worship at the temple. These are called "Psalms of Ascent" (since the city of Jerusalem sits at the top of a hill called Zion, traveling into the city always required "ascending"). As you read these Psalms, you can almost taste the anticipation of being at the temple and worshiping God (Psalm 121 and 127). Other Psalms were written to teach through song (Psalm 1 or 78 -- a great Psalm which begins with the passion to pass on the life of faith to the next generation, and, like many others, tells part of the story of God's people). Some of the Psalms are extremely brief (Psalm 100 or 150). Others are very long (Psalm 119 is the longest "chapter" in the Bible).

Jump into this rich book with us this summer. Go to the "current series" page and download one of the two reading plans and read through the book with us. Join one of our LIFEgroups that are discussing the Psalms. And by all means, join us at our weekend gatherings as we unpack the story and context of a few of these Psalms and apply them to our lives.

The End of the World?

Today is May 21, 2011. And if you've been paying attention to the news, you know there's a pastor who's calculated that today will be the day that Christ returns. The end of history as we know it.

I've got a wedding I'm performing this afternoon. And we've got Saturday night services tonight. We're in week 3 of "Staying In Love," and I'm excited about it. My daughter has her Senior Prom tonight. And my younger two kids are playing in a piano recital this afternoon. Lots of life happening today.

And so I'm working on things today and I began to think about this pastor and his community -- people who truly believe that today is the day that Christ returns -- and I found myself wondering: I wonder what he's doing today? I mean, how do you walk through a day that you're absolutely convinced will be your last? How do you relate and work and eat and laugh and pray when you're certain that you'll be face-to-face with Jesus himself any minute?

And here's the clincher for me -- there's a degree to which we're to live EVERY day like that!

The way that Jesus talked about his return, the way that the first Christians seemed to think about it -- it's like it could happen any minute! Even today, May 21! Or maybe tomorrow ... And so they lived with a kind of urgency and expectation that fueled their spiritual passion (and they changed the world because of it!). And yet, at the same time, the were attuned to the possibility that Christ would not return in their lifetimes. So they prepared for both. They lived with a kind of tension -- it could be today, it could be tomorrow ... or our children's children might live to a ripe old age. So we'd better build for the long haul, and yet live with an eager expectation.

I must admit, I have a hard time swallowing the local preacher's prediction. So I've prepared to speak tonight and tomorrow (hope you'll be there too!), and I'm ready for the wedding, and I'm looking forward to hearing stories from my oldest daughter's prom and my younger two's recital. But ... what if Jesus DID return today?! What if this IS it?! Honestly, I want to live this day with that in my mind -- fully prepared to embrace my Savior and Lord in just a few minutes. Your thoughts?

What's Your Favorite Memory of Carol?

This past Saturday night, Carol Salvador passed away. After battling for her life for 4 months, having suffered such severe brain damage due to the length of her coding during surgery back in December, she finally went home to be with her God and Savior. This is no doubt a good thing for her, and she is to be envied. But it is a terribly sad thing for us, as Carol brought such love and joy to our family, and she is and will be so sorely missed.

Perhaps my favorite memory of Carol was one of the last ones (before the surgery). The kids were singing in the service for Christmas that weekend. She was squatting down close to me in the front after the kids had made their way onto the stage, and she was watching them, grinning from ear to ear (cuz' you gotta admit ... they're CUTE up there!). When one little girl began to unwravel a bit (she looked pretty terrified and clearly wanted OUTTA there!), Carol smoothly reached up, pulled her down, and held her during the remainder of the show.

She contributed so much to the TerraNova family, and to many of us as individuals. What's one of your favorite memories of Carol? Or perhaps just something you really appreciated about her? Please hit "comments" and share!

Memorial Service for Carol

A memorial service for Carolyn Salvador will be held on Good Friday (Friday, April 22) at 3pm at "The Hub" (home of TerraNova Church): 7 Whatney, Irvine 92618.

Good Friday seems like such an appropriate day to celebrate Carol, as we reflect on the sacrificial death of Christ for us, and look forward to his resurrection -- breaking the power of sin and death in our lives, and bring us hope beyond the grave. As part of the memorial service, we'll celebrate communion.

Please join us on Good Friday as we celebrate Carol's life and give thanks for the impact that she had on so many of us. In honor of Carol, you're invited to wear her favorite color: blue. (And if you really want to "nail" it -- periwinkle blue in particular!)

Please, no children under 10. Childcare will not be offered. A reception will follow in a nearby home (a map and instructions will be available at the memorial service).

The need for (more) speed

During  several of my days off this winter, I've been up snowboarding in the local mountains.  It's been a pretty good winter for snow, and often there's some crew from Terra Nova that are hot for joining in (special props to Trent, Clark, Christy, Liz, Austin J, and of course  the fam--Dana, Tyler, Austin, and Caleb).  I have this friend who I like to ride with that's really into gadgets. You know that guy--the one with the high tech helmet mounted camera, the electric climate controlled hand mittens, etc.  And he's also get this feature on his cell phone that actually clocks how fast he's going.  At the bottom of the run, it's not uncommon for him to shout out "I got up to 42 mph."  It's pretty fun to ride with him, because for his need for speed.

And then I heard a story this week that is a "speed" story. It's  about Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT), the group that focuses on getting the bible translated into all the languages of the world.

 

Ten years ago, WBT realized that at the current rate that they were translating Scripture, it would take  over 150 years for them to begin a translation project in all of the language groups that needed a translation.  They decided this was not acceptable.  So they went about the task of evaluating everything they did in order to see how they could get a translation project started within every people group that needed one by 2025.

 

So they went to work-- retooling processes, procedures, and relationships. They are now on target to reach their goal by 2038, cutting off 112 years off their time table!

 

What's the lesson for us?  Perhaps we also need to be dissatisfied with our current rate of speed  and embark on a similar journey to see how we can hasten the day when every person from every tribe and tongue has access to hearing about Jesus. And as for us who live in Orange County, this means answering a call to reach out neighbors with the incredible good news of Jesus, and fueled by the idea that people  having no access to this message is... simply unacceptable.



That's Not Your Money!

This past weekend we kicked off a new series with one of the most important principles in life. The Ownership Principle. Simply put: Everything belongs to God. Everything. I'm never the owner. It's never "mine." My life, my body, my relationships, my gifts and talents, and my money and my stuff. None of it's mine. It all belongs to God, it all comes from God, and in the end it all returns to God.

So my role, when it comes to "my" kids or "my" day or "my" money is always "steward" (not "owner".) A steward is someone who manages someone else's stuff. That's me. Cuz it's not mine.

Then we ended with a little exercise. Everybody got some money (that's not their money) and a card. The challenge: Do something with this money to make God's love famous somewhere, somehow, in the world! Tall order, right? We're going to need to pray and listen and make step out of our comfort zone somewhere. But you can't just give it someone -- you've gotta figure out some way it can be used to make God's love famous.

So then I thought, let's maybe start a little conversation. What are you thinking about doing with the money? Or have you already done something? Maybe you can pitch in and give us your ideas here, and that might stimulate someone else's thinking. So ... the floor is now open for comments: [Hit comment and let 'er rip!]