Archives For Discipleship

VergeNetworkLogoBlue-LargeI came across these four truths on the verge network website.

The four truths are:
God is great – so we don’t have to be in control.
God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others.
God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere.
God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves.

Below is a little snipet from the article on…

In Tim Chester’s book You Can Change he identified four liberating truths about God. He suggested that underlying all our sinful behavior and negative emotions is a failure to believe one of these truths at a functional level… Continue Reading…

How I see worship

joepuentes —  July 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

cross-66700_640I want to talk about worship for a little bit…

I must admit I am not the most qualified voice on the topic of worship when it comes to worship services. I am not a worship pastor, I don’t help plan worship services anymore, and I really don’t like music all that much – HUH! surprised disbelief from my readers… But I am a worshiper of God… Continue Reading…

SONY DSCIf you missed a read this week… Here’s the Top 5 most read posts for this week:

1. When is being selfish in the church okay…

2. You’re more beautiful than you think you are… 

3. I just can’t get rid of this burr under my saddle…

4. Monday Mashup

5. What’s On The Other Side Of This Life

Thanks for reading this blog. If your not a subscriber to this blog, I want to encourage you to do so. You can follow along or subscribe here… Please, comments and feedback about this blog are valued and appreciated.

Image is everything web logo1I’ve been kind of dwelling on this “image is everything” thing this past week.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day where we talked about things that really matter to God. What we both came to an agreement on was the fact that churches and “we” Christians sometimes put more value into causes, programs, movements, pioneering, and innovation rather than dwelling with HIM. I think this is because all of these things whether good or bad give us a better image or appear to entice excitement and mass numbers. In many ways in the church we have bought into the lie that “image is everything.” Continue Reading…

(This post has not been edited for errors. These are my raw, honest thoughts.)

Okay here you go…

One of the hardest things for me to hear and something that is really bugging me is hearing people talk about the church as if it is something that is consumed rather than something to be actively living out in our lives and community. I hear from ministry friends from all over the country that share in this frustration.

I get sad when I hear people church hop because the church community/family they have been a part of is no longer meeting their needs or no longer is the cool flashy place they can invite friends to. I guess in reality they really don’t see church as a community or family, instead it is place to meet personal needs and desires… We people abandon a church for these reasons they show their true colors, they were only seeking to be a part of God’s kingdom for selfish reasons i.e. “what can I get out of church.” They are like the kid in high school who only hangout with certain people because it will benefit them socially, but once that person(s) can no longer benefit them they move on to a different friend or group… Continue Reading…


Journeys are not something to be taken lightly. I remember when my family went on a journey to Joplin, MO it began over twelve years ago. We left all that we had and all that we had known back in Sonoma County, CA. We journeyed through the Southwest part of the United States on our way to the heart of the country. My wife and I had never ventured that far out of our motherland before, so we took as much safety and precaution as we knew how; and hit the road with our three little kids in-tow. Continue Reading…

People > Programs

joepuentes —  June 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

neighbors street sign

“Be the prepared to be the answer to someone’s prayer.” – Ramin Razavi

I heard this quote from one of my coworkers a little while back, and it sent off a flood of thoughts about neighboring centric ministry vs programming centric ministry… People > Programs.

The reality is people seek connections and relationships not programs. Programs are tools that help facilitate these connections, and programs can be an answer to someone’s prayers, but the purpose is to connect people to people who are made in the image of God. People are the purpose (and in someways the mission = Church) and people make the mission happen. Programs can connect people and programs can meet tangible needs, but programs don’t love, programs don’t cry, laugh, or show compassion. Ramin mentioned that we must follow Jesus’ example and words of “Seeing the people around us…” Really seeing them not just noticing them, but look deeply into the people around us and compassionately move beyond our programs and be able to adapt what we are doing to adequately meet people where they are at. Many times we move people to our programs when we need to relocate ourselves to where the people are – we need to be in their dirt and messiness not the other way around… People > Programs.

Jesus was so good at this. He took every moment to look and see the people around him. In Matthew 9:35-38 we get a glimpse of this when he saw the people around him and he had compassion on them… He stopped and in the moment he saw the people deeply and had an emotional and intellectual reaction to them. He was moved to do something about the people around him and he lead his followers to do the same. In order to do what Jesus demonstrated and instructed us to do, to love God, love our neighbors, and to love one another, we must be in the moment and embrace the relationships around us. Once we do this hen move to bless them in the ways the Holy Spirit instructs us to do.

As leaders, we see our programs connect people, but so often because of this *success* our programs become our mission, NOT the people we are trying to reach and connect to Jesus. In order to prevent our programs from becoming our mission we need to become more people centric and less program centric. In a sense, our programs can become a burden to people, because inadvertnetly there are times we make people feel guilty for choosing our programs over being in their neighborhood and hangingout with their neighbors. This is unfortunate. It can cause people to operate freely uder the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and miss the ministry that God has for them. We take them out of their neighborhoods and distract them with participating in our events and programming…

2987611025_b9a279bba1I must state here, that I am not against programming, because programming helps us meet the felt needs of people (See Acts chapter 6). What I am saying is that our programming needs to be more than just purposeful, it needs to be focused and strategic – moving people to love God, love their neighbor, and love one another. It must free God’s people to be in their neighborhoods to connect and minister the gospel to those that live around them. Can the Church stop trying to be a buffet restaurant and distract God’s people from getting a clear picture of the mission He has purposed us to do? We must free God’s people and give them the ability to love the people around them… People > Programs.

*Post adapted from a March 2011 blog post I wrote about neighboring*

Only Human

joepuentes —  June 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Hands shaping clay_019_z

I’ve been dealing with my humanity lately. No, I didn’t just discover that I’m human, on the contrary, I’ve been feeling the sting of some of the decisions and actions that I have made. As I have been praying through some of these mishaps, I’ve come to see that many times I have been playing god of my own little universe. While I think I am making the right decisions and doing good things, I have come to realize that I’ve made decisions or the good work that I am doing to be what’s most important. I’m shaping my work and not letting God shape my work or shape me through the work. I thought I was doing the good work of God, but in reality I was eliciting God in a form of worship, or “bringing in God” as a way to accomplish something or as a way to defend the decisions I have made.

In a sense, worship became as Eugene Peterson states, “The worship was undertaken so that the work would prosper…” Or I might add so that the godly decisions I made would be blessed by God. What I’ve come to realize is that work and worship are intertwined and intermingled – they are not reversed. “What we’re after is a seamless world of work and worship, worship and work. Only God is sovereign. Our work is a derivative from God the worker (Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall).” The same would said of making decisions.

cracked jar-of-clayThe main reason for this blog post is that through prayer I’ve come realize even more than before that God reigns and the most important worship, work, and decisions I should undertake is to submit my humanity to His sovereign rule (Psalm 93, The Message). Prayer makes us human. Prayer reveals to us our inadequacies and our dependence on God. When we pray it reveals to us our humanity and our dependence on the one who was both divine and human, Jesus the God-man. Many times people ask me how to pray. Since I’m a “professional religious person” they think I must know how to pray correctly… The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t take a professional to pray for someone or to teach people how to pray – all it takes is a human being.

Cynicism of Prayer

joepuentes —  June 25, 2013 — Leave a comment



I am by no means an expert on prayer. Let me first get that out of the way… I pray, but not always with the consistancy I wish and I don’t always believe my prayers get answered…

There I said it. Most of us if we were to admit it live in “shame and spiritual weariness,” as Paul Miller aptly states about prayer. We are afraid to admit to God our lack of faith in His ability to do anything in our lives and thus become burned out, because we try to carry the burdens of life on our own. Our theology and practice is a “cynicism of prayer” not being heard or answered by God. Continue Reading…

Serious Rant…

joepuentes —  April 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

LoveGodLovePeopleDoSomething1I read this quote yesterday regarding a message someone heard this past weekend…” a great way to show your love for Jesus; is to spend time with him.”

Really? Is this what we’ve come to in our Christianity?!? The best we can do to show we love the person who sacrificed everything for our filth is to spend some time with him throughout the day. Of course when it is convenient for us…. Is this just an American church issue or does the Church worldwide struggle with “spending time” with Jesus?

PLEASE hear me… I am not belittling the need to walk with Jesus daily. We are called to do that, but it is not culmination of our Christianity it is the genesis. When I read the New Testament, I fail to see how this is one of the options we can show Jesus we love him. This isn’t a great “way,” it’s assumed that we’d spend time with Jesus. Continue Reading…