greatest generation?

greatest generation?

A few years ago Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled, The Greatest Generation. It describes the generation who grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and fought in World War 2. Tom Brokaw wrote, "it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced." He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do and when they returned to the United States they rebuilt it into a superpower.

I’m not sure if Brokaw’s right or wrong, but he is correct about the sacrifice that generation made for the generations to follow and it’s that same idea that David writes about in Psalm 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

That’s the true mark of a great generation: the willingness to honor the sacrifice of the previous generation while sacrificing for the next. It’s not normal but as Peter writes about it in 1 Peter 2:9, he explains that this is our mandate from God.

I have a feeling that Brokaw spoke too soon, and I have a great hope that the greatest generation is yet to be realized. It’s a generation that links arms with the generations before and after for the purpose of demonstrating and rebuilding God’s Kingdom. Not for a nation, a religion, or for a political system or idea, but for the purpose of removing darkness, inequality, and injustice so that we can allow people to embrace the life they were created for: a relationship with Jesus Christ.

we are not a holy nation, but we are a holy nation

we are not a holy nation, but we are a holy nation

Every strongly opinionated, religious, and ‘vote my candidate or you hate Jesus’ person knows that 1 Peter 2:9 says that we are a holy nation. But Peter is not telling us that we are a holy nation, he’s telling us that we are a holy nation. Confused?

Most people are as well. They take these words to defend political ideas, behavior system, or religious beliefs without understanding what Peter was really describing. Peter really wasn’t concerned with how people voted, he had probably never voted in his life. He wasn’t concerned with political systems, because Jesus always stated that he wasn’t creating a new one or transforming the one in place. Peter was reminding followers of Christ that they are set-apart.

That can be just as confusing. Because sometimes when we think of Christians being set-apart we think of Christians schools, Christians bookstores, Christians radio and tv, Christian movies, Christian clothes, etc. it can seem like Christians already are set-apart; far from culture and safe from its influences. We see Christians as those people over in the dark corner, afraid to get any of that “world juice’ on them.

No, Peter was referring to the type of set-apart described in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Peter is reminding you that you’re not set-apart to be sheltered, you’re set-apart for a purpose, to tell and show others of the rich life that only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

missing your moment

missing your moment

Imagine the surroundings: Jesus’ 12 closest disciples sitting around a small table, having a meal, and listening intently to Jesus teach.

He’s speaking in hushed tones, causing everyone to lean in close to hear him clearly. He’s sharing with them some of his last words and final instructions before he’s betrayed by Judas.

Then suddenly a big distraction begins as a couple of the disciples start to argue with each other. Were they arguing over what Jesus was teaching? Maybe having a discussion over how to defend Jesus against the upcoming attack?

No, they were arguing over which of them was Jesus’ greatest disciple. Can you imagine that? In a life changing moment in history, they’re missing the significance because they’re arguing over their own... significance.

The same is true for us. We often miss God’s big, significance plan for mankind because we’ve become distracted with things not near as important. We can fall into the trap of caring more about things that don’t matter (worship styles, political views, religious preferences) near as much as the significant (personal relationship, discipleship, evangelism).

So how do you know if the things that you’re attaching your life to are significant? The best way is to look at the disciples that evening: they missed their moment because they were concerned primarily for themselves, while Jesus was capturing history by laying his life down for others.

me being me

me being me

Have you ever heard someone say something offensive, and then defend their actions by saying, “I’m just telling the truth!” What about the person who offends people by their humor, personality, or rudeness and explains that, “I’m just being myself!” These people leave a trail of hurt and pain in their pursuit of ‘me being me’. The Bible has another description for this type of behavior: stumbling block.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that “But by the grace of God I am what I am...” but he also said that, “...his grace to me was not without effect.” God has uniquely created you and His desire is that you would fully become that unique person. But this isn’t a license to say anything, do anything, and hurt anyone all for the purpose of ‘keeping it real’.

Ask yourself if ‘keeping it real’ is actually keeping people away. Not away from liking you or accepting you, but keeping people away from seeing the power of Christ in working in your life.

His grace is powerful, but it works best if it works in you and through you, with the effect being others drawn into a relationship with Christ.

So how do you do both; be yourself and draw others into a relationship with Christ? Paul’s advice is to remember that not only does God have a plan for your life, he has a plan for all of humanity. And the best way to know that you have truly become the person that God has created you to be, is to live a life that’s making an effect on others.

you said what?

you said what?

You already know that you can pray to God, praise Him, and thank Him. But did you know that in the Bible there are also examples of people begging Him, negotiating with Him, attempting to convince Him, and even arguing with Him? This is a radical departure from how most people view a relationship with God. We’re used to stained glass, creaky pew, and only speak when given a turn expressions of Christianity and we think it’s irreverent for someone to speak about their disbelief, fear, or pain.

Oftentimes, we’re offended and feel the need to defend God every time someone expresses their doubts or voices their anger towards God.

But is God offended?

Of course, God is the only true God and is worth our praise, worship, adoration, and devotion. But unlike us, He’s not offended or upset when people express their honest feelings and emotions towards Him. Instead, this is the place He wants us to get to: an honest, raw, and authentic expression of our hurt, pain, and need for a Savior.

The Bible says that in our moments of weakness, His strength is made possible. It means that in the times when we suffer in our faith and struggle with understanding, our ability to turn to Him makes us strong again.

And what really is the alternative? Do we expect people to shut-up, pretend everything’s fine, and suffer in silence? Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t phony, it was powerful. Powerful enough that those who are hurting, seeking, and even suffering can honestly express themselves and not offend a Savior who loved us, even while we we’re still sinners.

ridiculous story

ridiculous story

The Christian faith was birthed by a small tribe of shepherd people who were the bearers of a radical new concept, and this concept became the basis for not only a new form of religion, but of a better way to live.

In that day, the dominant theology was pagan religion. They believed that divine creatures predated creation and humanity, but the gods themselves had been created by some mystical force. Supreme deity was not imposed on these gods, as each tribe and people group worshipped their own gods and followed their own set of morals and laws.

In this landscape, a ridiculous story began. It spoke of a personal relationship with God. It declared that not only was God good (James 1:17) but that he was also all-powerful; the one true God (John 14:6)

This ridiculous story grew, stating not only the supremacy of a true God, but also a bold, new relationship between God and humanity. It spoke of an intimate and personal relationship with God, and His desire to engage the heart of people groups from all tribes and nations. This wasn’t a new form of “religion” nor did it attempt to destroy the religious ideology of its day. Instead, it became the personal testimony of a group of people speaking out of the context of their own personal relationship with Creator God.

But where did this leave people groups who were entrenched in pagan theology and skeptical of rejecting this new form of “truth”? Were they condemned, marginalized, left out of God’s design and plan for humanity?

Joel 2:32 describes God’s definitive plan for mankind, a way to bridge economic, racial, religious, and political divides; “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved…”

So today we continue to celebrate our unique and personal relationship with God. And just as important, we reach out of our own “family” with the passion to share the truth that Jesus has a plan and destiny for all of humanity.

the tension is good

the tension is good

Do you feel a tension between the life that you’re currently living and the life that God has for you? You want God’s best for your life, but you feel that it’s so much easier/natural to just do things your own way.

We all feel that way. We constantly struggle with the idea of giving up control of our lives for the plan and purpose that He has for ours. And that tension is good.

In Daniel chapter 6 we read about the tension that Daniel faced. A decree had been made making it illegal (punishable by death) for anyone to pray to any god. Daniel was a devoted follower of God who spent time every day in prayer and worship. As soon as he heard the decree, this caused tension in Daniel’s life. Should he spare his life and obey the decree, or should he continue to honor God? In verse 10 were told of Daniel’s response:

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem... he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Daniel’s immediate response was to honor God. And although this response at first brought more tension, it ultimately led to him being spared and blessed by the king himself.

The tension will always be there, and it’s an ongoing struggle . But the tension’s good, because you’re rejecting your way and choosing God’s best for your life.

Daniel 6:1-24

is it time to quit?

is it time to quit?

One of the values of is authenticity. More than ‘keeping it real’, this means we’re creating a culture where people can be honest about doubts, fears, struggles, and pain. Life can be difficult and ‘nod-your-head’, ‘say amen’, and ‘keep quiet if you’re struggling faith’ leaves many feeling a disconnect from Jesus.

We all have friends and family members who started right, believed God’s Word, obeyed his commandments, lived a life of worship and devotion, and then “something” happened.

That “something” is different for each person: an issue at work, relationship, temptation, or situation outside of their control. “Something” happened and it stunted their spiritual growth and now it’s keeping them from an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Even Jesus’ disciples experienced situations that caused them to struggle in their faith. In John chapter 6, with his disciples doubting the validity of his message, Jesus gave them an opportunity to quit following him and go back to living their own way. But Peter’s response shows us how to overcome when we’re facing doubt: “Where would we go, you alone have the words of eternal life.”

The next time that you’re facing “something”, go ahead and quit. Quit the lie that you’re different and flawed just because your faith isn’t always secure. “In your weakness His strength is made perfect.”

get out of my boat

get out of my boat

Some of the most unusual scripture in the Bible is found in Mark chapter 5. It describes a possessed man who was living in a cave. He was so haunted by demons, that he spent his days cutting himself and his evenings crying out in despair.

Jesus healed this man and freed him from his demonic possession, sending the demons into a herd of pigs. The pigs, full of this man’s demons, ran down a steep bank and jumped in a lake killing themselves. (Like I said, unusual scripture.)

But what happens next in the story is even more bizarre. The man asked Jesus if he could become one of disciples and spend the rest of his life devoted to Christ. Jesus’ response was, “No!”

That’s right, Jesus rejected the idea of this man becoming one of his disciples, or did he? Jesus left him with a greater mission, a mission he was still training his disciples to accomplish.

He told him that instead of spending his life in Jesus’ boat, he needed to get out and share the message of Jesus’ love, compassion, and power with others.

And that’s the point: Jesus wants to do something in our lives so that he can do something through our lives. We place a high priority on spending time in prayer and scripture reading, but we also place priority on responding to the needs of our families and community.

Read Mark 5: 1-20

my greatest challenge

my greatest challenge

“What’s the most difficult challenge that you face?” That’s the question I asked a minister a few years ago. He was someone that I respected and looked up to and I wanted to hear what challenges he identified as the most important to overcome. I expected him to explain the challenge of managing budgets, counseling individuals, providing and communicating vision to his leaders; but his answer surprised me: “My greatest challenge is taking time to spend time with God, praying, and reading scripture.”

What is the most difficult challenge that you face? Managing your finances, dealing with difficult relationships, figuring out your next step in life; these are all major challenges. But for many of us, our greatest struggle is the same as this minister’s.

We want to be followers of Christ, but what does that really mean? How do we have a “personal” relationship with someone we can’t see, hear, or touch? These are questions that every authentic follower of Christ must ask.

I don’t have an easy answer, but I’m reminded of that minister’s words: spend time every day praying and reading scripture. I’m fully persuaded that if you put priority in your relationship with Christ, you’ll have greater clarity in overcoming life’s other challenges. Spend a few minutes reading these verses and praying through these four areas.

thanksgiving: thank God for what he’s done and what he will do

“Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’ Make yourselves at home, talking praise.” - Psalm 100:4

praise/worship: tell God who and what he means to you

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.” - 1 Chronicles 29:11

confession: confess areas of weakness and ask for strength

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13

request: make specific request for others and yourself

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell great and unsearchable things you do not know.” - Jeremiah 33:3



In 1st century Athens, a city that pioneered philosophy, the arts, and technology, a people who introduced a new form of modern government called democracy, and established a legacy in architecture and sculpting, there remained one area that they admittedly remained novice. Surrounded by great achievements and the ideological hope that they had truly made life better for generations to come, they were haunted by a confused picture of who the true God was.

The Athenians were not atheist who disbelieved in God altogether, nor were they deist who believed in a creator who had vanished after creation. They believed in God, they just didn’t know who God was. They even went so far as to build an altar on which was inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God’.

I’m not sure what your perception of God is, but mine is summed up in 7 words recorded by an ancient king named David. “He parted the heavens and came down.” I not only take comfort in those words, those words describe who I see God as. His desire is to part the divide between heaven and earth, and come down to reveal himself to mankind.

Paul summed it up for the Athenians by stating, “In him we live, we move and have our being…for we are His offspring.” Our prayer is that you and your family would (re)discover your Creator. That you would have a personal encounter with a Savior who parted the heavens to have a relationship with you.

Read Acts 17: 24-28

This is the twenty-first of 21 posts serving as a devotional and prayer guide building up to the launch on Saturday November 6th.

For the past three weeks we’ve asked you to partner with us in prayer, while we’ve attempted to share the vision and mission of

We feel particular empowered to “go where no one else is going and declare what no one else is saying to people no one else is ministering to.” We’re honored to partner with you on this faith-filled journey. We’re not sure where this journey will lead, but we’re committed to praying daily for you and your family, equipping you to achieve your God-given dream, and walking alongside you to support and release you to your full potential.

The dream of is less about achieving and more about leading people to a place of believing. We believe in you, love you, and are excited about, “what’s next”.

Pray and believe God for the ridiculous today. We look forward to seeing you this evening!!!

Joe and Ronnin Gabbard

are you impressed yet

This is the twentieth of 21 posts serving as a devotional and prayer guide building up to the launch of on Saturday November 6th.

How do you prepare your house before a guest arrives? Do you clean, put everything in its place, and arrange every detail to make a great impression on your guest? Or do you do little or nothing? Are you more interesting in ‘keeping in real’ than in trying to impress someone?

What really makes a guest more comfortable? Are they more comfortable in a sterile, completely organized surrounding or in a casual somewhat sloppy environment. The answer is neither one.

If a place is overly organized than it makes your guest uncomfortable and unable to relax because they’ll worry about messing something up. In a sloppy place, they’re just as uncomfortable because they’re afraid of what’s living under your rug.

What does this have to do with planting a church and living out God’s dream for your life? In 1 Kings 10 the Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame and decided to visit and test him. When the Queen saw his wisdom, the palace, the food, all the servants, and the temple she was overwhelmed.

It wasn’t perfect, but to her it was a life changing experience. And that’s where your living room comes in to the story. The heart of is to welcome people far from God to life with Him. We want to create compelling, overwhelming environments for them to encounter God, creating life change. We don’t have to be perfect, we just want to minister with a spirit of excellence.

How can you embrace excellence, yet reject the pressure of being perfect.

Read 1 Kings 10:1-13

Joe Gabbard

I'm a pastor and strategy leader at a great church in Kansas City, MO.  Ronnin and I have been married for over 10 years and we have two beautiful, blond headed boys.  I'm interested in loving my family and being part of a community that impacts the spiritual landscape of our region.

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