Making the Most of Your Time(line)

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Just a quick scroll through my Twitter Timeline can be a teachable moment for me. Like everyone else I am busy, and I really don’t need 1 more distraction in my life. However, quick peaks on Twitter throughout the day can be just what I need for a thought provoking moment, a story that captivates and challenges me, or the spark for an idea that requires investigation at a later time.

As a pastor here are 4 follows that are very much worth my time. They may not be the ones for you, but finding and following the right ‘Tweets’ can make the difference between killing time and seizing a moment!

@ScotMcKnight http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/

@WillMancini http://www.willmancini.com/

@CatalystLeader http://catalystconference.com/

@leadnet http://leadnet.org/

Who do you follow that inspires, educates, and challenges you?

The McRae’s Are Moving to Cali…

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I don’t even know where to start. To some of you this may come as surprise, to others it will be something you have seen coming for years. As of this past weekend, I am now the new Senior Pastor of Hillside Community Church in Alta Loma, CA.

 Our journey over these past years has been an interesting one filled with twists and turns that no one could have anticipated. The last few years have come with more uncertainty and suffering than we have personally ever known. Our lives are still today full of questions in regards to Kate’s health and treatment options. However, over the course of the past couple of months God has been gracious in clearly leading us to Hillside.

We are incredibly grateful for Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. As a father and a husband I could not have asked for any more freedom to care for my family than I have been given. Pastor Linn and the leaders of Cornerstone have been supportive and gracious, and we can not imagine having to endure this season without that kind of blessing. In the midst of our struggles I have been given opportunities in leadership and teaching beyond what I expected or deserved.

We have made lifelong friends during our time here, and this move will have its challenges on many levels for our family. Yet, as we engaged in a conversation with Hillside we sensed God leading us step by step by step. Every move forward was filled with more confirmation, which we desperately needed for making a decision in the middle of such extenuating circumstances.

Hillside is a great church and we have already met so many wonderful new friends. God has been doing an amazing work at Hillside for years and it is a special honor to be able to join His work. I am humbled beyond words and so excited about this next chapter at Hillside and look forward to the challenge and responsibilities. The kids are pumped to be so close to Disneyland and the beach, so we continually have to remind them that we won’t be at Disney ‘everyday’. Will already has the surfers hair style down, we will just have to see if he and I can find the moves to match.

We would love your prayers during this time of transition. The prayer partners that God has given us through this journey with Kate continue to amaze and encourage us more than anyone will ever know. We need prayers for wisdom in determining treatment options for Kate, choosing new doctors in California and for all the many details associated with moving in general. I will continue to share more details and timelines as we walk forward.

God Bless

Do Your Daddy Issues Define You? Which One?

My son is a great reminder of the influence or ‘issues’ I pass on. Now, the truth is, I only want credit for certain desirable actions seen in him… like when he prays, ‘thank you God for defeating the devil and destroying the keys of death.’ Or, when he makes up songs in his raspy voice, ‘You’re the one I want, You’re the one I picked, You’re my ripe apple baby!’ I don’t know where he gets it, but I’ll take partial credit.  However, when his strong will is on full display or he has a big time attitude, I would rather attribute those behaviors to my wife and in-laws.

I personally have my own ‘daddy issues’, don’t we all? YES! It’s my dad’s fault that my penmanship is so atrocious and I’m sure he has some responsibility for these cowlicks.

Our society is full of examples of the effects that our fathers, or lack thereof, have on us… just go to a prison, street corner, or a home for runaways… just read the staggering statistics… just listen to the countless stories that place the blame for ones condition on their ‘daddy issues’. A common refrain is ‘I can’t help it, it’s all his fault’! The truth is our relationship to our father can be foundational to our sense of identity.

On this topic, the Bible has much to say. The idea of God as Father is discovered in a multitude of places throughout Scripture. For children of God, his fatherhood serves to reinvent our identity, shape our sense of self and be a force that transforms the way we view everything, including ourselves.

So…What if we chose to be like our Father in heaven? What if our ‘daddy issues’ were influenced more from above than from down here? It is possible! Read the following scriptures and think about the implications they have for your identity…

Adopted: Galatians 4:4-7 ‘I am a child of God!’
Love: 1 John 3:1 ‘God greatly loves me!’
Compassion: Psalm 103:8-13 ‘God sees me and knows me!’
Merciful: Luke 6:35 ‘God has been so merciful to me!”

If we receive God’s parenting, our identity will be profoundly impacted. We will still have to pass the blame for our ‘daddy issues’. For instance, when we are loving, we will have to confess, ‘I can’t help but love, cause my Father loves me, it’s his fault.’ If we show compassion, we must say, ‘I can’t help but be compassionate. I was jacked up but my Father was compassionate to me. It’s his fault, I’m like this!’

What does the idea of God as your father mean to you?

How Are You Being? (Thoughts After 2 Years of Cancer)

Today marks two years since our daughter Kate was diagnosed with a brain tumor! These have been, without a doubt, the most difficult two years of my life. There have been more tears and heartache in these years than in my previous 34+ combined.

How are you doing?’ This is the question I am probably most often asked. What a STUPID question! How do you think I am doing? I needed to say that! Now it’s not the worst question ever. It’s usually a question asked out of concern, or at least I hope it is. Often this question is asked as an attempt to reach out.

I confess, I have asked this question hundreds of times to others and will probably ask it in the future out of my continued ignorance and further attempts at small talk. Still, it can be a stupid question to ask.

There is a better question to be asked. There is a question that goes beyond the surface of activity, and blows away our superficial responses. ‘How are you being?’ This is a better question, and it actually penetrates much deeper, to the core of ones soul. Most days, we all just do what we have to do! Whether you are caring for a sick child or carrying out mundane details around the office we just ‘do’ the stuff that needs to get done.

However, this better question forces us to deal with our heart, our motivations, our source of hope and our faith, not just our actions. For me, a simple verse I read yesterday spoke volumes…

Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.’

Here is my much needed reminder… God is God, he is the “I Am”. Even in this incredibly difficult place in life, God is God, and God is still good! Even in our pain, he is working that we may know him, believe him, and understand him and his ways.

I do not live this well everyday! I do not ‘know, believe, and understand’ always as I wish. My ‘being’ is not always right. However, today I am planting myself into these truths. Two years into this painful path, I trust that God is sovereign over every detail of life! I believe that he knows what he is doing, so today my ‘being’ is good because my ‘being’ is rooted and grounded in Christ!

STARTING POINT: Before asking someone else this, ask yourself:
How am I being?’

Dig deeper and ask yourself probing questions like:
-What/Who am I trusting in and depending on today?
-What do I believe to be true today (about life, about me, about God)?
-Where is my outlook on life rooted (circumstances, emotions, Christ)?

WARNING: Don’t ask this question to someone else unless you are a very close friend and have been given permission to speak into their lives!!! Otherwise, it’s probably none of your business.

Man of Sorrows…Here With Us

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted withgrief…

This incredible passage written hundreds of years before Jesus Christ tells in vivid detail the path our Savior would walk. Jesus could have absolutely avoided pain. He could have looked away from our sin and left us to fend for ourselves. He could have distanced himself from the suffering of our world. However, instead of keeping grief at arm’s length Jesus opened himself up to it, entering into it. Instead of leaving us alone in our sins Jesus became like us in order to redeem us. For many of us who know real pain, Jesus is a close acquaintance, present and full of compassion!

He is here in our pain, He sees, He knows, He feels, He grieves!

AND

He loves, He hopes, He prays, He comforts, He guides!

As only one who has walked a similar road can do, Jesus longs to take us by his side and lead us through. Whenever we question this journey, struggle with our lot, and when there are no answers…He is there! Whenever we can’t look on our circumstances any more… seeing the man of sorrows, here with us, the one acquainted with grief is the only vision that can bring hope. Hallelujah, what a Savior is true, may it echo in our souls today! How has Christ met you in your pain?

How Do I Know If It’s Success or Being Blessed?


Do you ever wonder why God seems to ‘bless’ the proudest of people? Does it ever disturb you that the most successful are at times the biggest scoundrels?

God can still accomplish great things through proud people, and He at times even blesses the work of the pompous. However, we shouldn’t necessarily equate success with honor. Popularity is not the same as blessing. The Scriptures say it this way:

Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

Any one of us can find ourselves in the midst of notoriety and accomplishment yet still miss out on the joy, peace, and gratitude that accompanies true honor from God. In the Hebrew language this Old Testament word for honor poetically refers to the soul of humanity. It’s not a reference to our outward performance but rather our heart’s well-being.

I am incredibly grateful that God is gracious to the proud, among whom I am first. However, if a person is inwardly rotting away from pride they are not experiencing the blessing of God, no matter how popular or successful their life may seem to be.

The pathway to true honor always come through humility. A heart that is being cultivated for God is always an indicator of true blessing. So I am asking myself these kind of questions…

1. Do I experience joy in God’s blessings?
OR Do I constantly crave more, bigger, and better?

2. Do I fully acknowledge the hand of God in everything (good and bad)?
OR Do I only focus on circumstances and situations?

3. Do I use my platform to point to Christ?
OR Do I try to take the credit?

4. Do I have a spirit of gratitude?
OR Do I constantly criticize & complain?

5. Do I have a continuing commitment to my personal/private spiritual formation?
OR Do I neglect ‘practicing what I preach’?

Paul sums up these ideas best in this passage…
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Preparing the Heart for Good Friday

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
What is bad news for us is only made ‘good’ through the cross! Notice the responsibility: ‘our trangressions’, ‘our iniquities’, ‘we have gone astray’, ‘we have turned’ but Jesus takes it all upon himself on the cross. Take time to confess, repent, and acknowledge your culpability in the cross!

I Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
What makes no sense to this world, is for us who believe, the very thing that gives our life meaning! The message of the cross is God’s power saving, forgiving, delivering and sustaining. What a cost Christ paid, what pain he accepted! Praise Him for his sacrifice, acknowledge your debt of gratitude.

1 Peter 2 :14 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
All our sin is covered by the cross! Every heartbreak, disappointment, failure, and act of shame has been pierced through, condemned to death. Declare death to your guilt! Let the cross of Christ cover your pain and release your regrets. Die to sin! Live for righteousness! Christ has made the way!

1 John 4: 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Look to Christ on the cross and see how bad things are, that He had to die for us! Look to Christ on the cross and see how good things are, He loved us that much! Receive His love, revel in it! Let the love of Christ mold you, shaping your heart & filling your soul with His purpose.