Monthly Archives: April 2011

Finding your calling

Everyone is searching for a clear direction in life.

Christians get even more specific by seeking God’s direction.

I’m not talking about clear direction, like, “should I tell people the gospel?” Such inquiries get answered plainly in Scripture. What I’m taking about is the vague, obscure questions. So let me put your mind at ease…

There are probably more important things to God than scrutinizing every single minutiae of your life.

  • Who should I date?
  • What should I do for a living?
  • Should I go on a missions trip?
  • Should I take that job offer?
  • Should I eat at Chipotle or Burger King?

“Ah,” you counter, “but shouldn’t I be doing ALL to the glory of God?” (1 Cor. 10:31)

Yes, but what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that there are limitless amounts of tiny decisions throughout your day that can either make or break whether you are glorifying God? Like, is God secretly hoping that you will choose Chipotle to eat lunch instead of a hamburger? Does it mean that when you eat a sandwich, you should be thinking happy thoughts of Heaven every time you gnaw on that salami? Does God prefer blue eyes over green eyes in your dating life? Boxers or briefs??

God speak to me!!!

Now, I know these are silly examples, but they are exaggerations of what we actually do with our decision-making. Of course, I do believe that the Holy Spirit leads us to make decisions (even in small ones). But I also believe that the He will often do this by simply giving us the wisdom (a spiritual gift) to make those decisions.

Paul once said something to the Romans after he got done unloading a bunch of detailed theology on them that pertains. He said,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Let me rephrase Paul’s statement in Lazo-language…

“Hey people, chill! All of your decisions are born out of your worldview and outlook on life. So CHANGE YOUR WORLDVIEW! Renew it, transform it, cause it to align itself with God’s by immersing yourself in His Word, and then you’ll find that even your smallest decisions will be under the influence of God. You won’t have to scrutinize every little mundane detail and whether it is good or acceptable and perfect, just like you don’t have to think about breathing oxygen. You just do, because that’s how your body works. Well, a transformed life works a certain way too: it desires to glorify God, and everything it does follows that underlying desire.”

You’re gonna do what you love the most. And if you love God the most, your decisions are probably going to reflect that.

Of course, be careful to allow God to intervene in your life and direct you in specific ways, if he so chooses. But remember that God just wants you to love him, and live your life out of the outflow of that love.

Your purpose is to love him, and your DNA is to obey.

Augustine put it this way, “Love God, and do what you want.”

Now maybe I’m drunk with liberty, but could some (even much) of our decision-making be as easy as just figuring out what you enjoy doing in life, and doing it to honor God?

Am I off?

Easter Video Montage

Montage by Tony Cruz and team.

Reality’s Easter Sermon 2011

Reading as idolatry

(a little break from my recent Easter blogging pandemonium)

I wrote about reading broadly to those who don’t.

Now I’m pleading that those who do, take a break on occasion….

Ecclesiastes 12:12 “But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body” (NASB)

Reading a lot is great if you can manage! But if it ever sucks your time and energy away from God, your spouse, your children, people…you know that books have become your excessive devotion, a paper-thin, unsuspecting idol.

And they will wear you out.

A Bittersweet Easter in Santa Barbara

I posted about the huge turnouts our church in S.B. experienced this Easter Sunday right here.

I posted about how important follow up was right here.

Now for some less euphoric news…

Click on this link: http://www.keyt.com/v/?i=120573074

What you will find are a few short clips of Reality’s Easter service…sandwiched between coverage of a church in S.B. getting vandalized on the same day.

Bittersweet.

What this tells me is that we are not done praying for our city.

Jesus is risen. But there are still people who have not yet heard and believed.

See you at next week’s prayer meeting.

People fill the bleachers at Santa Barbara City College on Easter Morning

We planned for 4,000 people. Given that our church is roughly 3,000, we figured that this would cover things logistically.

But we had been praying for more! We prayed that 5,000 would come to hear the gospel. We pushed a campaign under the moniker of “each-one-reach-one” with the purpose that every church member would bring a friend who was an outsider to the Christian faith. We wanted Christ to save the whole city.

We over-prayed and under-planned.

Below is a photo I took from the stage…

It only captures *half* of the entire stadium (which was nearly filled).

We estimate that roughly 8,000 people showed up to the service, packing out the bleachers, and causing traffic standstills all down Bath Street.

Here is another close up photo from Jessica, a choir member…

But that’s not all…

Over 200 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

I wanted to say to any of you from my church that are listening…

Thank you for being obedient to the Gospel.

It’s as if everyone in the church ACTUALLY did reach one! And because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, His sent Holy Spirit, and your obedience… The body of Christ welcomed enough new brothers and sisters to fill a small building!

Imagine if we included God’s wonderful display of salvation today in all the other churches in the area that were doing the same thing: preaching the wonderful gospel, the great news of Jesus Christ who died, and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins to bring us to God!

The combined effects may have us all down on our knees praying for our city!

Unlike Energizer, the Easter Bunny doesn’t keep going

Eventually the raw energy wears off.

My car died once when I was a teenager, and when my various attempts to jump-start it proved futile, my seasoned father gave me shrewd advice that would linger with me in ways he probably didn’t even intend. He said something like this,

Chris, the car battery isn’t your problem. Your alternator is dead. You see, people think that the car battery is what powers the whole car, but that tiny thing doesn’t have nearly enough juice to make a car run! It’s there solely to start the ignition. Once the car starts, your car kicks the burden of power from the battery to the alternator, which is the real life-sustaining power behind your car. When your alternator died, the car defaulted to the battery, and, well…it was only a matter of time before the battery gave out. It’s just too weak to sustain the whole car.

A revival is kind of like a car battery.

You need it to kick in periodically to engage the ignition of your heart so that the rest of the “car” can start. But it cannot support the weight of your soul, much less the souls of the entire church for the long haul without the “alternator” of consistent, faithful teaching and discipleship” (God-Sized Vision, p93).

My local church and I are about to embark on the biggest Easter service of our lives.

I have no doubt that many souls will be saved by the grace of God,

but what will become of those saved souls?

We must understand that this Easter gathering is simply the igniting of a flame which must be continually fanned by consistent growth in the Word of God, and in fellowship with the saints. For others who are not a part of my particular church, you are a part of another. Or perhaps you have long abandoned the messiness of corporate gatherings to stimulate an addiction to the spiritual highs of revival that come in the form of conferences, worship nights, and road trips to anointed special speakers. Brother and sister, the Scriptures declare that we have need of committing to each other and “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, ESV). A side note to my fellow Realitians who are bringing unsaved friends to Easter…

Do you have a long-range, relational game plan for how you will follow through?

Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!! Plan!!

How will we follow through with them in the next week? How will we cultivate relationships with them over the next month? How can we make sure they don’t end up falling through the cracks? Are we planning on connecting them with other Christians who will love them? Are we planning on visiting them, getting to know them and their families, and keeping the gospel-conversation going? Or are we planning on taking them to an Easter altar-call, letting the preacher do all the work, and hope they can fend for themselves for the rest of their lives?

We cannot live or function solely on weekend revivals.

An evangelistic event may provide the ignition, but the sustaining of that event will come through the long-term missional Christians who get and stay engaged in the lives of new believers. Don’t let revived souls burn out due to neglect. Instead, let the igniting of the Holy Spirit be fanned into flame by the consistent, planned discipleship of thousands of men and women.

SSSW Pt.3 “The Mission of Life” [Amber Smith]

16 ways to “suck” at being missional

  1. When we’re ignorant of the implications of “missional,” but we drop it like a buzz word as often as possible
  2. When we’re only relational with our Christian friends
  3. When we move our Christian “bubble” to a trendy coffee shop and repeat the same patterns
  4. When we specialize in telling others how to be “missional” (anyone see my irony?)
  5. When we go on a short-term missions trip once, then come back home feeling like we’re the savior of the world
  6. When we do any ministry that lacks relational value (like much street evangelism. Some would disagree)
  7. When we’re judgmental towards outsiders
  8. When all we do is blog about mission
  9. When all we do is read about mission
  10. When we treat outsiders like targets who need to be converted
  11. When we’re hypocritical (we’re selling something, but we don’t even want to buy it)
  12. When we get theologically obese
  13. When we’re legalistic
  14. When we speak the Gospel without living the Gospel where we’re speaking
  15. When we fill our calendar with church meetings and events
  16. Bonus: inviting someone to Easter like this couple (short clip)

Agree/disagree?

Anything I’m missing from this list?

(Thanks for the thoughtful contributions from Derek [#1], Bethany & Matthew [#5], Kaleb [#12]), and Bobby [#15])

Pacing myself to be better and more consistent

In light of Saturday’s post about planning the now for the future, I’ve talked to people about what their dreams are. Some are called to be powerful men/women in the business world, making decisions that will put a felt mark in society. Others have a strong urge to end injustices of all different sorts. Still others feel called to be in the workforce strategically, and others feel called to carry the honorable position of stay-at-home-parent.

Me? My dream is to one day blog every single day  :-)

Unfortunately, that is completely unrealistic for several reasons:

  1. I have a full time job
  2. I have a full time wife
  3. I have a full time commitment to procrastination
I love to write, and am currently attempting to alter my #3 option so that the first two don’t feel any change.

I should probably tell you all that I am humbled that many of you would check this blog for updates, so I want to stay consistent with that, and yet still be realistic with how much content I am able to pump out.

I owe that much to you.

Brianna once told me to shoot for the moon, cause if I don’t reach it, I can still grab some stars on the way down.

So here’s my aspiring moon-shot:

  • I’m going to try to post a blog at least 3 times a week. (keep me accountable!)
  • Those posts will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. (with an extra one here and there)
  • They will post at 8am
Now you know when to look. I will do my best to deliver specific content in such a way that some of you might leave edified and equipped to spread the addictive worth of Jesus.
If this sounds agreeable to you, I only ask that you reciprocate by engaging as you see fit with your own insights, perceptions, and criticisms in the comment section. Be free to engage one another, not just me. Because this doesn’t have to be ChristopherLazo’s universe (and it shouldn’t be). Post relevant links to your own blogs, twitter, articles, websites, findings, etc., so that we can all be a part of your world.
Honestly, that will edify me, turn me into a better blogger, and make us all touch the moon. (how tawdry was that??)
And the cycle will continue…
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