3 Things I Must Embrace

Living Life on Purpose

I find it truly amazing how quickly time goes by.  Recently on a vacation with my family, I was again reminded how quickly life moves on without regard to any of us.  Below is a snapshot I took of my three kids and a brief snippet from the post on Instagram:

As I reflect on this moment I am reminded of the importance of understanding who we are and the role we each must play in this journey called life.  I refuse to sit idly by and let life pass me by without investing my life in things that have eternal value.  But in order to fully embrace that idea we must have a full understanding of who we are and what we have been called to do.  Life cannot be lived accidentally!  It must be lived ON PURPOSE and in order to do that I believe there are three things we must embrace:

  1. Embrace Your Uniqueness – No one on this planet is YOU!  You have been divinely and uniquely crafted by your Creator to be YOU!  One of the areas of my life that I have had to constantly work on is understanding that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that God created me to be ME and I have to accept that.  Many people struggle with this and refuse to understand the purpose of their life and uniqueness.  I recently launched a podcast (that I am way behind on by the way) that talks about a few things that can stop you from being who YOU were created to be.  If you want to listen to the episode you can click here (don’t worry, it is only about 9 min long): http://bit.ly/2n7o8Fc
  2. Embrace Your Destiny – I am a firm believer that each individual on this planet has a very distinct destiny, one that only you can fulfill.  The biggest trap that can stop you from fulfilling it is to think you do not have any purpose and your life has no meaning.  That is the biggest lie that has ever been believed.  Time and again the Word of God reminds us of our purpose and we must embrace that purpose, whatever it may be for you, and go after it with everything within us.
  3. Embrace Your Legacy – As I stated above, each of us must remember to invest our lives in those things that will outlive us, things that are eternal.  By doing this we are securing a legacy that will live on even when we are gone.  I want my friends and my family to see a legacy I left behind that will continue to impact others even if I am not around.  In order for that to happen I must continue to invest my time, talent and treasure in the eternal things.  The weight of this often is heavy but is worth it in the end.

I often have to sit down and look at the direction of my life and if need be make a course correction along the way.  BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING!!  Direction is so vital in life and I want to make sure I am moving in the right direction in order to make the full impact that God has called me to make.  Take time to reflect where you are, where you are going and what you have been called to do with the one life you have been given.  Thousands may one day thank you for the investment you made!

~ Darin

Spread the News

Living Positive in a Negative World

I’m tired of the news!

Everywhere I look I see nothing but negativity being spewed out.  It pops up on our smartphones, it comes across the air waves, it is on the front page of your newspaper (if you still read those) and it continues to be talked about when you get together with your friends or families.

The early church was under constant persecution.  You want to talk about negative!  They faced it every single day and night, 24/7/365!  Not only were they being persecuted but they were expected to proclaim Caesar as their god.  The early Christians knew that there is only one God and in all good conscience they refused to call Caesar “Lord,” so the Romans looked upon them as traitors, persecuted them, and had them put them to death.

During all if this negativity and persecution, the early church had a saying they went about telling each other.  It was a one word statement; Maranatha!  It simply meant Jesus is coming!  Even though it was negative all around them, they chose to focus on the hope of a better tomorrow.

What would happen in our homes, our families, our churches or on our jobs if we went about speaking positive, proclaiming a better tomorrow instead of griping about all the negative going on in our world.  Don’t get me wrong, I am saying to check out on reality but maybe we can change our focus and instead of always starting the day out looking at all the negativity around us, let’s focus on the good things God has done.

Having been born with something many would consider to be a negative, I have learned to accept it as a gift!  A gift that allows me to look at life a bit different and see the positive opportunities that are in front of me.  Think about it – if I had been born with two hands I would never be able to beat my friends in golf single-handedly and tell people all about it, plus I wouldn’t have any jokes:

  • I can’t learn sign language, you would only get half the message
  • Good thing I didn’t try out for the Olympic swim team since all I do is swim in circles!
  • Man it costs an arm and a leg to live in SoCal and I am already halfway invested!!  (LOL, this one even makes me laugh)

So, how do we escape all the negative around us and focus on the positive?  Well you can’t change what is being pumped out but you can change how your respond, how you view it and what comes out of your mouth.  It is all about perspective and focus.

Here are just a few things I would encourage you to do if you are having a hard time seeing anything positive in your life or situation:

  1. Change your mindset – remember that God is Great and He is still in control, no matter how bad it may appear!  We are constantly reminded in the Word of God to renew our minds.  It is where transformation takes place (Rom 12:2)
  2. Remember: It may never be as good as you want it to be but it’s never as bad as you think it is!  I think that says it all.
  3. This too shall pass!  It will not last forever and with God you have the Creator who promised He would never leave you nor forsake you!  BELIEVE IT and walk in that promise today!
  4. There is power in your words!  Speak the positive you find in every situation.  It is there, you just may have to dig for it a bit.  Instead of complaining start encouraging.  Spread the good news every where you go and watch how others will respond.  You may be surprised how things will change!

I hope when you look out the window today you see the positive of all God has in store for your life!  Go live it out, speak it and watch what happens when you focus on the positive in your world!

~DS

The Design and Danger of a Delay Part 1 & 2

We often talk about dreams.  Those inner visions that propel us forward to fulfill our divine destiny.  But what happens when they are late in arriving, even after you have worked and struggled to bring them to fruition?  How do you deal with the delay between the dream and that moment you know you have arrived at the desired outcome?  Sometimes there is so much disappointment in the delay that it may seem difficult to move forward into all God has for us.

The longer I live, the more I thank God for the DISAPPOINTMENTS in my life. Some of my WORST moments now serve as some of my BEST altars! – Raymond Woodward

Have you ever had a God inspired dream that didn’t happen as quickly as you thought it should? Yes, you had worked at it, but it seemed that many obstacles came against you. Finally, you gave up in despair and the dream lay dormant.  Think with me for a moment about the delay for the Children of Israel when they had been freed from their bondage in Egypt and were told by God they would inherit a land of promise.  Most of us are probably familiar with the story and how their fear talked them out of their future.  It is a sad story of an often experienced reality in our own lives.

As I was thinking of this I wrote down how I believe God may use delays in our own lives.  I will get to the dangers of a delay later this week, but check out these 3 things about delays and how they are a part of the design of God.

  1. God uses delays to prepare us. God uses delays to get us ready for those difficult times that we are going to face during the course of our journey. These delays are designed to fortify our faith and make us stronger.
  2. God uses delays to test us. Deut. 8:2, “God led you through the wilderness for forty years… testing you to find out how you would respond and if you would obey Him.” God uses delays to test how we will respond under pressure and to test our loyalty and obedience to Him.  Although the Israelites were responsible for their time in the wilderness, God still used it for their good.
  3. God uses delays to train us because sometimes it takes longer to get Egypt out of us than it does to get us out of Egypt (TWEET THIS).  God uses the delays to break those habits and thought patterns and train you in His way of thinking and doing things. The best thing to do when you are in God’s waiting room is be patient and let God do His work in your life.

If you find yourself in a delay and the dream is not becoming a reality in your life, I challenge you to look at the delay in a different light.  Next post we will discuss the danger of what we often face when in the midst of a delay.  Till then – KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

shadow-ornament

In our last post, we discussed the way God uses delays in our life to teach us in three major areas.  God uses delays to prepare us, test us and train us.  Today I want to look at the danger of not fully understanding why we are being faced with a delay.  If you and I are not careful we can fall into the trap of caving into the pressure of a delay, and find ourselves in some major trouble as a result.

When looking at the children of Israel, we can quickly discover four major approaches to the delay they faced.  As a result of each of these, only 2 out of the original million plus, ever made it into the land of promise.  The Israelites made these four major mistakes that cost them their promise.  When faced with delays in our own lives these 4 areas should be something we avoid.

Let's take a closer look:

  1. Don't Fear - This is the first mistake the Israelites made. There are a lot of reasons for the delays that happen in our life but this one is our own fault. God says don't be afraid. They were afraid to go forward at the Red Sea. And they were afraid to enter the Promise land because of the walled cities and the giants.  They had enough faith to move out of Egypt but they didn't have enough faith to move into the Promised Land. They were afraid.
  2. Don't Fret - Fret means worry. Don't get worried. Don't get uptight. We do that when we get into delays. We worry, get uptight, get stressed out. Worry may give you something to do, but it will only cause strength to drain from you.  When you worry you bind the hands that can help you. God responds to faith not fear. Learn to trust God in the delays you face. After all, it is God that is leading you.  God's children began to fret and it cost them dearly!
  3. Don't Faint - When you go through the delays in life, don't faint. Don't get discouraged. Don't lose heart. Don't give up. Don't throw in the proverbial towel.  This is the third thing the Israelites did and it kept them out of the promised land.  Numbers 14 tells us the story: "All the Israelites grumbled against Moses... `If only we had died in Egypt! ... We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt."  They gave up on their dream. They caved in. They had been in slavery 400 years but now because they are having a little bit of delay they want to go back to Egypt. "If only" and "go back" are phrases that are tell-tale signs you're discouraged -- that you're fainting, losing heart.
  4. Don't Forget - Psalms 103: "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..."  During the delay, time causes us to forget many things. When there is a delay, we tend to forget our dream. We tend to forget what God had done in our life. We tend to forget God's goodness to us in the past. We tend to forget that God is with us. We tend to forget God's power. We tend to forget how important it is that we stay in God's strength and we start focusing on all our problems than on what He has done for us.  We cannot forget all God has done in our lives in order for us to move forward into the promises He has for us.

I trust that as you look at these posts you will begin to see what God has in store for you and how He desires you approach the delays that come into your life.  Remember you have a God that is for you and not against you.

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These two posts were originally written in 2013 and have been updated in their current form

Random Leadership Thoughts

Catching up....

Often I find myself writing things down or posting thoughts that never get beyond the pages of my journal or some random twitter feed.  This last week has been one of extreme challenges and while trying to process some of the lessons I felt God was trying to teach me, I wrote a couple things down that I thought I would pass along here on my blog.  These thoughts will not “blow your mind”, they are just simple thoughts during some challenging times.

For me writing things down helps me process whatever struggle I may be going through at the time, giving me a clearer perspective on the steps needed to keep moving forward.  Hopefully one of these will speak to you and help you as you attempt to overcome the challenges that might be in your path today!

Leadership Thought #1

Leadership! Trying to become a successful leader is not always something that is easy. Seldom does success come with no battle or struggle. Being a God called leader means you will experience great pain, loneliness, and misunderstanding but it also means you will experience great victories and watch as God does amazing things in the hearts and lives of those that you have been called to lead. In spite of the pain and the struggles that so often are a part of leadership, keep pressing forward – the end result is worth the struggle!

Leadership Thought #2

WOUNDS.

One thing that is certain about life and leadership is simply this – You will be wounded. It is a part of being a leader. However, how you respond and continue forward with that wound is extremely vital to your future success. Too many don’t know what to do with wounds and end up letting the wound fester and become infected instead of getting the proper treatment, letting it heal. If we are not careful we can become like a wounded animal that lashes out at others when touched or approached. You cannot allow your wound to control you for it will destroy the direction of your destiny. Everything you do will be tainted by the wound. No matter who may reach out to bring healing, if you are not willing to allow healing to come, you will resist and end up in a worse condition than what you started with. Find healing and restoration. Discover that the God of creation is still the Balm of Gilead and He can bring healing into any wounded situation no matter how bad it may be or how hurt you may feel. Wounds appear in many forms. Some of them we bring on ourselves and some come from those we trust. This is a necessary part of growth and God allows wounds to come so we will draw nearer to Him in search for healing in our lives. I love the words of Jesus that Luke wrote down: 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, Lk4:18

Leadership Thought #3

I found this quote by accident (read it somewhere I think) after I listened to a friend of mine speak about impacting cities for God and it resonated with me, so I thought I would include it in this post.

Here are some random tweets I sent out scattered throughout the last few days that may be beneficial to some that are facing insurmountable obstacles in your path.  Remember you were created to move beyond the limits that others or circumstances may have placed on you!

Hope you have an awesome week ahead and you attempt great things for God in your life!

~DS

Anything Is Possible

The dream that almost wasn't

Warning!!! This will be a longer than usual post but one I believe will encourage you and help to increase your faith.  All of us from time to time need to have our faith extended and our hearts encouraged.  It is my prayer that this post will do just that as you read it and see how awesome and mighty our God truly is!

A little history to get you up to speed:

My wife and I came to the city of Escondido in 2005, with our three kids in tow, to take the pastorate of what was then known as Truth Tabernacle.  Pastor Jimmy Jones had faithfully served this church for over 20 years and was desiring to retire.  We were elected as pastor in March of 2005 and the journey began.  The church began to move forward as North Point Worship Center and over the next several years we saw God do some amazing things but we also faced many challenges.  As we all know, any dream having any value will face obstacles. However, the value you place on the dream determines how hard you press in order to see your dream come to pass!

In 2013 our church launched a capital campaign to get the building, that had been in our location for over 40 years, ready to sell so we could take the next step into what we believed God was leading us into.  We were limited in room and desperately needed to make a change.  Once we launched the campaign, many challenges arose which are way too numerous to discuss in this post!  I had been told by friends, who had gone into campaigns of this nature, to expect some major challenges along the way.  To be honest, many of those warnings I received I let go in one ear and out the other, thinking that whatever those friends of mine faced would definitely not happen here at NPWC!  Boy was I wrong!  Now, I am not one to focus on the negative in any shape or fashion, but allow me to just drop this in here – once the campaign started it seemed as if all of hell and high water came against us.  It was a difficult time but God saw us through it and we emerged on the other side, somewhat scathed and scarred, but better off because of it!

Fast forward to 2014 (told you this was a long post).  I received a flyer in the mail one day at the church that described a building which was for sale in our city.  The price was WAY out of our league as a church but I felt we should take a look at it and see what it was all about.  What I quickly discovered, once we walked through the property, is that this building was one Pastor Jones had also looked at to purchase several years earlier.  It was in need of much repair when he looked at it and had continued down the path of being neglected when we showed up to take a peek.  A portion of this building was one of the first churches built in the city of Escondido.  In fact, the portion I mention, was built in 1887 as a Southern Methodist Church.  It was later purchased by the 7th Day Adventist and added onto, making room for future growth and plans.

As mentioned earlier, the price was way out of our price range but there was something to the old building that got our attention.  As a result of walking through the building we met the future agent that would help us sale our current building and set us on the road to a miracle.  The funny thing about a miracle is this – you often do not know you are in the middle of one till it is all over!  A year later we sold our building and once it sold I asked our realtor about the building we had looked at close to a year earlier.  He informed me the building was in escrow and was set to become a charter school within the next year to two years.  I remember telling our agent on the phone – Adam, this building will fall out of escrow.  Just watch!

In October of 2015 God opened a door for us to go into Classical Academy High School and rent their assembly hall for our services.  This was a major blessing and allowed us to continue to grow and dream as we waited on the miracle God had in store for us!  I am forever thankful to CAHS for their kindness and willingness to work with us over the course of this last year.  It has truly been a blessing.

Fast forward to June 2016 (sorry, I am trying to get to the good part).  I am up early one Sunday morning getting ready for our services later that day when I decide to get online to see if there were any buildings or land for sale in our city which may work for us as a congregation.  As I began to research properties online, the building we had walked through two years prior showed up in my search.  I quickly contacted our realtor and was informed the next day that it was indeed for sale.  We immediately went to work on seeing if we could secure this building as a future home for the church.  What at one time had been completely out of our price range as a church, was now something we could handle and after much due diligence, inspections, discussions and prayer the church became the new home of NPWC on November 15, 2016!!!

Now begins the fun part as we work to beautify the house of the Lord.  I wholeheartedly believe that if God provides it, God will help you build it and the dream can become a reality.  We have much work ahead of us but the future potential of this building and location is absolutely incredible!  We went from roughly a little under 6,000 sf. in our old building to close to 18,000 sf. with tons of parking, Sunday school rooms, youth rooms, offices, two sanctuaries, a large fellowship hall and much much more!  GOD IS GOOD!  He alone makes the impossible POSSIBLE!!!

If you have made it this far in your reading I applaud you (wait I can’t LOL)!  This is a dream come true for our assembly and a LONG time coming.  What God has brought our way is nothing short of a miracle and we are thankful for what He has done and what is in store.  We are currently remodeling the church and have several months ahead of us of work but it will be worth it as we see God transform the lives of people throughout our community and county in a beautiful place of worship.

I wanted to give everyone a few snapshots of the building and the work that is now taking place!  Thank you for your time and we ask that when you pray, say a prayer for our church that we can complete what God has provided for us.  We will continue to update you on the progress of the remodel.  God bless.

~DS
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The 3 Perspectives of Life

what you see is often what you get

We have all been hindered by personal viewpoints in our lives, either formulated by our own perspectives of our failures or past circumstances. Sometimes we are even tripped up by the words and actions of others. What is so sad is that these perspectives often keep us from moving forward, keeping us from getting past those limiting moments in our lives.

This morning I woke up, early than I desired to be honest, and these three perspectives began to take shape in my foggy brain. It is nothing earth shattering but I thought I would just write them down and maybe somebody, somewhere would find strength in these primitive early morning thoughts.  Now please understand, this was a few hours before my first cup of coffee, if it doesn’t make sense we can blame it on that! 🙂

  1. My Past Cannot Define Me – Be honest, how often have we allowed failure, trials or struggles define who we are moving forward?  Too often to count I am sure but if the truth be told, your past has no defining power over your life if you decide those things are behind you and there are NOT YOU!  I refuse to allow my past to decide who I am in my present or in my future.  It was the Apostle Paul who stated; FORGETTING those things BEHIND ME – I PRESS…!
  2. My Present Cannot Limit Me – Look around you… Go ahead and examine your current circumstance and condition and you will quickly discover that what we think we need to keep pressing forward is usually not in our grasp.  This is where FAITH comes in.  I may not see how I can move past the current obstacle in my path but I do know a God that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I can ask or think so I choose to look to HIM instead of the mountain in my present journey.  I must not allow what I cannot see to limit the perspective of my destiny.  I must keep pressing forward…
  3. My Future Cannot Frighten Me – The biggest problem Israel had when spying out the land was FEAR!  God had given them the land but their own perspective convinced them they were not able to step forward by faith into the promises of God.  I refuse to allow what is coming around the next corner, even though I can’t see it, to keep me from putting one step in front of the other.  I still believe that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord!  They may be ordered but I must do the stepping!

Hopefully today someone can take these three perspectives and incorporate them into your life.  God has great things in store for you and most of the time it is our OWN perspectives that keep us from moving into the promises of God.  Lift up your eyes today – you have a GOD that is FOR you and not against you!

~Darin