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I am pretty excited about something! So I’m sharing with you what happened to our Ascent family recently—God used us to be generous church!

Read the story below: Continue Reading…

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Ephesians 2:10 prompts the question:

“How has God uniquely created me to be a good neighbor and to love others?”

There are probably several answers I have to this question, and so do you. Continue Reading…

Photo Credit: Mupfel80 via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Mupfel80 via Pixabay

Okay.

So. A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about how I should disrupt my daily routine and intentionally take some time to love someone I am not relationally connected to or could benefit from in any selfish way. Continue Reading…

What’s on my mind this morning:

- I’m so thankful that I get to be the pastor of Ascent Christian Church
- I really love preaching.
- And I really love preaching through our current series–I believe it will have a huge impact on our church. Continue Reading…

I know this video has been around for a while, but I thought I’d share it again with you.

So take a few moments and reflect on the message of this video… Are you being the church or doing church?

Photo Credit: Charlie Foster, Unsplash

Photo Credit: Charlie Foster, Unsplash

 

“The simpler you make things, the richer the experience becomes.” – Steve House (Alpinist/Mountain Guide)

I wonder why so many times I make things so complicated, especially relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is nothing simplistic about people and relationships. That’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I’m thinking about is my response to the complexity in relationships. Continue Reading…

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…

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*

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…

neighborIs busyness the root cause of why people have difficulties in loving their neighbor. I have asked myself this question and have even used it myself on numerous occasions for reasons why I couldn’t help my neighbor. In-fact my neighbors have said this to me.

Not too long ago one of my neighbors had surgery and while he was on the road to recovery, he had a landscaping project that he needed some help with, especially with moving heavy rocks and dirt. Of course I offered to help him and told him so. My only caveat was that I couldn’t help him until the following day to which he agreed; three days later I noticed that the work he needed help with was already accomplished. In-fact he was finishing up with what was left of it. I went over to him and asked him why he didn’t get me to help him. His response haunts me to this day… He said that he would have, but he noticed that I’m busy all the time and I’m never home – “you know” he said, “your always busy with that church stuff.” I just took a straight punch to the gut, a right-cross to the jaw, and was finished with a swift upper-cut.

FEAR AND SELFISHNESS… I couldn’t believe it! My neighbor was kind enough to give the out I needed… In all seriousness, I felt really bad that he had to finish the project with the help of our other neighbor and himself, but I also was relieved that he allowed me to hide behind the excuse that I’m a very busy person and rarely home during sociable and functional hours of the day. I got to tell you though that after much thought, busyness isn’t an excuse, or at least one that holds weight with my neighbor, myself, and especially Jesus… No, my real issue isn’t busyness, but it is fear and selfishness… Continue Reading…