Thursday, October 31, 2013

Known and Counted

Back in the summer, I went out for a long bike ride. I had been riding for a while when I turned down a road with one of those digital signs that displays vehicle speed. You’ve seen those signs, right? It’s a speed limit sign that, through a radar beam, registers then flashes the speed of each car that passes by. If the vehicle is exceeding the posted speed limit, it will yell in pulsating yellow lights the words “SLOW DOWN!”

So one day last August I was peddling away when I looked up and the sign posted the speed of my bicycle. I was pretty excited about this. It caused a smile sweep across my sweaty red face. Mostly I was glad to know I was moving fast enough to be noticed. Right there, eight feet high in lights for the world to see my velocity, “14 MPH.” That was me. That was my speed. I was noticed. I was doing that! Ok I’m humored easily, but here are some principles to take away from this.

1. Known.
It feels good to be known. I was humored by a speed limit sign that acknowledged my speed because frankly I didn’t expect it to. For a sign made to monitor motor vehicles, I didn’t figure a plumb peddler’s velocity would even make a blip. But it did. It saw me. It’s a powerful thing to be seen and to be known.
You may feel sometimes that you are not noticed. You may even think that no one sees you or knows you. Perhaps there are moments when it seems like God doesn’t see you. I’ve met people that feel like that. They feel like a T-baller playing in the Big League. They feel as if no one notices what in their estimation is a miniscule contribution. It’s a game changer for a person when they realize that God does notice us. God knows us. God sees you.
(Sin causes us to hide. Sin drives a person away from the God who sees. An example of this the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Adam hid from God after he sinned. But God still saw. Acknowledging that God ‘sees and knows’ draws us out of condemnation into redemption and reconciliation.)

2. Counted.
When we know it counts we want to do more.
A strange rush of adrenaline came over me when I saw my number displayed. I wanted to make the speed go up. When I saw that what I was doing was being noticed and displayed, I wanted to turn that “14” into a “15.” When I saw that it counted I wanted to do more. And I did.

I truly believe that one of most de-motivating things in life is to be busy with matters that we feel are insignificant. Nothing takes the passion out of an activity like realizing (or feeling like) it doesn’t ultimately matter. It has been said that one of the three major characteristics of a miserable job is insignificance. A job, activity, or ministry begins to feel miserable when it seems futile.
On the flip side of that, what energize any volunteer or vocational effort is to know that what you’re doing is making a difference. And like my bicycle speed, when we see that it is noticed a motivation deep within propels us to do more.

So, today I hope this note serves as a reminder (a digital display of sorts) that you are known and what you do counts. You are deeply loved by God and all that is done as “unto the Lord” counts.

Ancient Israel, who at one time was held captive to by an evil Babylonian oppressor, was given this great promise that they were known and mattered so much to God that he promised to sustain them. Isaiah 46:4 “Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

You’re known. You matter. You are loved.
Pastor Terry

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Slight Adjustments Make a Big Difference

Running has been a fitness hobby of mine for years. Cycling not so much. Until recently. Last February, I pulled the old mountain bike off the rack and started peddling. It stuck. So for Father’s day, I got a new road bike. With rekindled motivation (and monetary investment) I’ve been pushing through new distance thresholds. All of these have been firsts for me in the past three months: 10 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles and just last week 37 miles.

I’m energized by jumping into a new pursuit, getting introduced to and experimenting with new gear and gadgets. Even my vocabulary has been expanded with new definitions for “clipless,” “cadence,” “cartridge”, “chamois,” and “watts.” I’ve also been reminded of a few valuable life lessons. The most important of which is, ‘Always look both ways before you cross the street!’

Another life lesson I've learned is that slight modifications make a big difference when you are going to be at it for a long time. If I’m out for a quick ride around the block it doesn't matter too much how much air is in the tires and at what height the seat (saddle) is. ‘Close’ is good enough for a casual spin. However, if I’m going to be at it for an hour or two then slight modifications make a big difference. A ¼ inch difference in saddle height, on a short ride is barely noticeable but on a long ride can be the difference between walking normally and bow legged after you dismount (think “City Slickers”). Improper alignment not only causes pain but can actually cause serious injury. Slight modifications make a big difference. So it pays to be dialed in.

Let’s merge a little spiritual application here. Spiritually, the summer months afford the time to let go of the routines of life, at least for a few weeks here and there. Wisely, we use this season to take breaks, gear down, and mix up the routine with shots of recreation and play. There are still a few weeks of summer left, but very soon we will once again saddle up for the long ride. We make our annual tour through Pumpkin patches, be refueled by a Thanksgiving feast, peddle under mistletoe, around the hairpin turn of year’s End, then the steep climb up to Calvary’s hill and peak at the Empty Tomb. It’s no sprint.

As we saddle up for the long ride ahead, it is important to make adjustments now. This is the time to readjust things that have fallen out of alignment this summer.

So let’s do a quick 3-point Tune Up.

1. Check Your Worship
Are you daily engaging in private worship and weekly engaging in corporate worship? How’s your personal bible reading and prayer feeling? How’s your church attendance look?

2. Check Your Community
How’s your connection (unity) with the Body of Christ? Are you in a small group where you can give and receive encouragement, accountability, and care?

3. Check Your Mission
Are you using your gifts inside and outside the walls of the Church top bring glory to His name? Are you giving financially to the mission of the church? Where are you serving?

Ratchet up any inconsistencies. Readjust. Know that little fixes make a big difference when you’re planning to go the distance.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Gowns, Mountains, and Tony Dungy - June 10 Weekend Wrap Up

1. Graduates Sunday. Awesome job Harbor Student Band leading us in worship yesterday. And a special "congratulations" and "God bless You" to the class of 2013!

2. VBS WEEK! The Children's ministry department has been hard at work for weeks preparing for hundreds of kids that will flood our campus each night this week. Please be praying this week that children's hearts will be touched with the message of Jesus.

3. Men's Study, Wednesday June 19th 7pm. - Men, I invite you join me in a study I'll be leading called "Dare to Be Uncommon" (a curriculum by Head Coach Tony Dungy).

4. Sermon in Sentence - Be certain (not like a fog but like a mountain) that there is inherent danger in being the "most excellent" anything, except being the Most Excellent Friend of God.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Four Beats of Rest

Though summer doesn't officially start until later this month, Memorial Day feels to most of us like the beginning of summer. Kids will be out of school, friends will gather around gas grills and at the beach, and family reunions will be taking place around the country. My hope for you is that this summer will provide the opportunity for rest and fun.

You know God has hard-wired rest and play into our very being. He created us to joyfully experience the world he created. Like a Father that enjoys watching his children play, God has fun when we have fun. I mean after all, he gives us taste buds! The very fact that we can be entertained by food is remarkable and speaks to the joyous nature of our Lord! Additionally, God gives us the ability to marvel at colors, hear various pitches and harmonies, appreciate beauty, savor aromas, and through touching discern textures. And he allows us to laugh! What purpose does laughter provide other than as an outlet to express joy. What a great God we serve!

The rhythm of life God created began on the downbeat of play, fun and recreation. Play is Godly and good. God created it and created us to experience it. But lest you think this rest and play thing is a fluke. Check this out. There are four examples of God beating the drum of rest and recreation (play).

1. God Took a Personal Day
Genesis 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
The first thing God does after created everything is to take a personal day. On the seventh day, God called off. Literally from the beginning the rhythm of life began on the down beat of play, fun and recreation.

2. Let my People Go…Celebrate.
Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”
After 400 years of hard labor, God says to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Not, let them go to a construction conference or a trade show to hone their craftsmanship. No Six Sigma training here. Instead, God says let them go play! Let them go hold a festival (party), and have fun and laugh and rejoice and rest. God wanted his people free so they could experience joy in the world he created. During slavery, the rhythm of play and rest had been stolen from them. This is not what people were created for.

3. “Fun” makes the Top 10.
Right in the heart of Exodus 20, the fourth commandment is ‘Take a Break.” Remember the Sabbath as a day of rest, worship and recreation. It’s a command to remember our Creator, who formed us with the need for recreation.

4. Party, Party, Party.
The Jewish calendar, with its 3 times per year, multi-day festivals created a rhythm of work and rest. Passover (spring), Pentecost (summer) and Tabernacles (fall) were multi-day celebrations. They were parties. God mandated parties. They were not evening events, but rather weeklong festivals of fun, shared stories, laughter, and the reconnecting with family of God. The festivals were meant to disconnect the child of God from obligations, duty and work. These festivals were never meant to be weighty religious obligations, but sources of joyful worship and play. That is why they were called festivals. Not fasts. Big parties, holy fun!

I pray you will take time this summer to disconnect and refresh. I pray for God to give you some frivolous and unproductive holy days this summer…all for the glory of God. Don’t let your rest become work. That’s a sin.

You are Loved,

Pastor Terry

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 21 Weekend Recap

Four Cool Things From this Weekend

1. "Kallos"
All day Saturday student ministry volunteers spent pouring into the lives of dozens of middle school girls. The girls were primped and pampered and made to feel very special...because they are! Great job everyone involved in that great event. As a dad of one of those girls I say a special 'thank you.'

2. If you like this you'll love the 11:59 service
Great gospel centered worship this past Sunday in all three services. A refreshing, extended time of quiet reflection in the 9 and 10:30 services, and an energetic passionate offering of worship in the 11:59 service. Let me encourage you, if you haven't yet, come and check out the 11:59 service. Yes, its a little bit louder, its a little bit later in the day, and it's a little bit more rockin'. If you like Passion worship you'll love it. Invite a friend!

3. Leader's Gathering
We shared several yeah God stories from the Easter season. All I can say is God is on the move. If you want to be 'in the loop' don't miss the next Leader's gathering this summer.

4. Sermon in a Sentence
"You were chosen to bear (not produce) fruit for your overflowing (play-ro-o) joy and for the Father's glory."

A Good Day’s Lesson from Elijah

Good days and bad days. We all have them. I was reading recently about Elijah in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. This guy may have the record for the most dramatic 24-hour emotional swing in history.

1 Kings 18.
At the time when this story took place God’s people were losing. Jezebel’s false prophets far outnumbered the prophets of God. Each passing day more prophets of the LORD were swallowed up until Elijah is the only prophet of God left. Elijah, who tended toward the spectacular, had seen enough so he calls for a showdown between Baal’s prophets and himself. It’s a winner-take-all, king-of-the-mountain duel. The Deity who answers his prophet(s) with fire on the mountain will be proven as the one true God.

The showdown was on and all the prophets rallied on Mt. Carmel. The prophets of Baal frantically and ferociously attempted, but failed to awaken their gods. The climactic moment came when Baal’s prophets are pushed off the stage and Elijah steps up to call upon YHWH. Elijah’s God answers in force by sending fire from heaven. And the Scriptures tell us that “The power of the Lord came on Elijah” (1 Kings 18:46). A really good day.

Oh the joy of spectacular moves of God! The joy of “chapter 18” seasons of ministry and of life. Easter season 2013 at Bayside was a spectacular season. More than 1600 in Easter attendance, 20 people baptized, 50,000 meals prepared. These are big, bold, “power of the Lord” kinds of moments. We celebrate and are grateful that this season has turned hearts toward the Lord (1 Kings 18:37).


I Kings 19.
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (19:3). My how things changed. From public triumph to private fear. In the previous chapter he stood on a mountain in victory. And the next day he dove into a cave of depression. In chapter 19 he’s not eating, he’s angry at God and hoping to die. He finally gained enough strength to straightaway hide himself in a cave. God rebukes (19:9) him because Elijah has acquired a thirst for the spectacular and is pouting because God is not giving him more. He wants his God to be in the big, the loud, and the mass production.

God revealed Elijah’s idolatry by refusing to display his power through the windstorm, earthquake, or fire. God instead spoke through a gentle whisper. Disgusted the prophet covered his face in his cloak (blanket maybe) and ran away like a spoiled child. Elijah’s hope had drifted from God, to God’s mighty works.

Even mighty men and women of God, who warn others against idol worship, are not immune from idolatry themselves. Elijah allowed the grand to supplant God as his heart’s first love.

In our personal lives as well as in our community life together we will have days when we stand on the mountain top with hands raised (chapter 18). And invariably there will be those “hide me deep in the cave” (chapter 19) days. Whether on the summit, in the cave or journeying between the two lets always remember The Lord - The Lord he alone is God. May we never mistake the grand for God or His mighty works for Him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

'Do Something' Weekend

Weekend Recap
What an amazing weekend! Special thanks to the "Do Something" team for organizing a great event Sunday.

50 Thousand Healthy Meals on their Way to Nicaragua
Thanks to everyone who helped to prepare meals. The event was a tremendous success! Not only did you accomplish the goal of 50K meals, you did it with a great servant attitude. Thank you for enduring with patience the packed hallways, and at times a little bit of chaos, to make a big difference in the lives of children in Central America. Bayside, you rock!

Local "Do Something" Projects
Thank you to all who planned and showed up to volunteer Saturday for local projects - mission smile, Pinellas Hope, and Matie Williams.

Sunday's Worship Services
We are greatly encouraged by the three worship services. God continues to bring new people each week. And all 3 services increased this week from last. God is working through our prayers. The third service is providing more room at the 10:30 service and is offering a more guitar-driven, "passion-style" worship experience. People who attend are loving it....the pizza afterwards is a plus too

Reminder: Leaders' Gathering this coming Sunday 5-7pm.
Sunday night we will recap some of the big wins God has done though Bayside throughout the Easter season. You'll hear "yeah-God" stories from each of our pastors. The purpose of these gathering is to be reminded of the vision, encouragement each other, and celebrate what God is doing.

Message Recap
Sunday we talked about remaining in Jesus, who is the true vine. The points we covered from John 15 were:
1. Jesus is the true vine.
2. God the Father is the Vinedresser.
3. We (Christ-followers) are the Branches.

God wants us to bear fruit for the Father's glory and for our complete joy! May your joy be "play-ro-o" (filled to the brim, overflowing) in Him, today.

>Pastor Terry

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Gospel Coalition

3 Observations and a Concern from the last few days at TGC.

1. They aren't Coming cuz' they are Already Here.
There is now here a young mutli-ethnic generation of (tens of thousands) Pastors who are passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are from every US state and continent around the globe. And they are committed to the gospel.

(So many young diverse pastors. I personally spoke to or saw Africans, Chinese, Koreans, Europeans, Candadians, and Brazilians). And when's the last time you saw at a pastor's conference -a large area reserved for nursing mothers! Imagine a pastors conference with more babies crying than hearing aids chirping. It's happening!)

2. Mission Passion.
There is a rekindled fire for missions that is driven by a belief that the (Gospel) Good News is the joy of all nations. There is a desire to see the world reconciled to God in Jesus Christ.

3. The Cross Before Me.
There is an unashamed, unapologetic resolve for the proclamation of the literal death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. There's no percieved need of trying to conceal the cross, rather to lift it high for all peoples to see and believe.

My Concern.
I am concerned for the tribe I most often rub elbows with- Wesleyan/holiness people. Most of us are still working on perfecting our worship styles, and being missional (which too often only means being nice). And sadly many in our tribe still avoid 'preaching.' We prefer "relevant talks with overarching moral principles." I pray my tribe doesn't miss the renewal taking place. There is a wave of the Spirit that is lifting up the proclamation of the simple and most effectual Gospel. That message our great grandparents spoke about. Remember it? -The Glorious Greatness of God. -The Depravity created by and result of Human Sinfulness. -The All-Sufficient Redemption brought through the atoning cross of Jesus Christ. -And God's guaranteed Promise to Restore of all Things under the Feet of Christ.

Thank God for the move of his Spirit on the Gospel. Please God, awaken my tribe.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Weekly - April 4


Outstanding job by all of our staff and volunteers on Easter Sunday! We are blessed with so many gifted and passionate servants of Christ. You shined BIG last weekend! It was a long day but an incredibly fruitful one.

Some of the Fruit
1. 1647 people worshipping at Bayside on Easter Sunday. Among the highest Easter attendance numbers ever.
2. 20 People baptized (19 on Easter, 1 on Palm Sunday)
3. 22 First-time Guest Response cards turned in. Each card often respresents an entire family.

Three services will continue. 9:00a, 10:30a, and 11:59a. With the 3rd service offering a more contemporary worship style. I heard them's going be rockin' :-) .

NEW SERMON SERIES - "Overflow." This Sunday in all three services, we begin a new series that will continue throughout the month of April. Because of the miracle of Easter we are called to live as ambassadors of the resurrection bringing hope and new life everywhere we can. Our joy and gratitude should overflow.

This Sunday we get to hear some of the remarkable ways God is stirring the heart of our very own Bayside college students and 20 somethings. What God is doing in this generation is truly exciting stuff!

Choose to Overflow. Make a Difference. An integral part of Overflow will be the 'Do Something' Weekend - April 13 & 14, so get involved.

Bayside family, I want to encourage you. God is at work in our community! I spoke with several pastors today at the National Day of Prayer planning meeting who also were rejoicing with record Easter attendances. God is on the move, stirring people's hearts! These are exciting times.

Have a great week. Hope to see you around campus this Sunday for one of our three services.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love from Leviticus

Leviticus is not usually the book to turn to for a passages on love. So I was surprised to see God's love expressed so clearly there. In one sense it should not be a shock to see love expressed anywhere in Scripture, since God (Scripture's Source) is love. I was reading this morning in Leviticus 26. It's a pretty serious text, where God promises blessing for faithfulness and warns against unrepentant disobedience. Here's what I saw today.
1. Obedience is noticed and rewarded by God.
God rewards by blessing those who act in love towards Him and His people.

2. Disobedience to God's law always has a consequence.
Willful disregard for God's standards result in discipline.

3. God is a loving, not a push over, parent.
God loves his children and wants their best. But he is not a push over so sinful deeds do not go unpunished.

4. Persistent sinfulness brings an intensification of discipline.

5. At every step along the path of disobedience grace is extended to those who repent.

6. Total loss is the inevitable result of life in rebellion against God.

7. Even when sin destroys every good thing in our lives, God in love offers to us grace to start new again. "But if they will confess their sin...then I (God)will remember..." Lev. 26.41-42

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Gospel of John

Irony. Paradox. Sarcasm. Symbolism. Double (and Triple) Meanings. Juxtaposition. With these John retells the events of Jesus’ life. One thing you can be sure of from the Gospel of John, there is always a deeper meaning beneath the surface. Always more going on than first meets the eye. John invites us to dig, uncover and ponder the Truth that permeates the actions and teachings of Jesus. You see the purpose of the Fourth Gospel is primarily theological, not historical. The main point isn’t the precise chronology of events in Jesus life, but the theological significance of those events. So John’s main point is not to merely detail where Jesus went and what he did when he went to a certain place. His main objective is to get his readers (us) to have our souls nourished by the bread of life and living water. He bids us into the spiritual deep in search of the life-giving (eternal) meaning behind Jesus’ words and actions. Ironically, John’s goal in highlighting all of the irony, paradox, and double meaning is crystal clear. His purpose for writing is so that all may believe in Jesus and by believing enjoy life in his name. Join us as we wade into to the deep for a truth search through the Gospel of John. Each week a diffent chapter. Each week a new discovery!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lime Tree Miracle

The start of a new year always provides a fitting time to examine the trajectory our lives are taking. It’s a good time to review the past, examine the present and consider the future path of our lives. A helpful question I often ask is something like this, "Where are my current actions, attitudes and behaviors invariably leading me?" This is helpful because isn’t it true that our current actions, behaviors and beliefs largely determine our destination. Or to say it another way, your current direction determines your destination. In nearly every area of life, where we end up is based on the path we choose to take. Let me illustrate by telling you about our Christmas lime tree miracle. True story. As you all know, a few months ago we moved here to Florida. In the back yard of our new home is a tree. Not knowing much about horticulture generally, and even less about plant life in Florida specifically I had no idea what kind of tree it was. It’s about 10 feet tall and over the summer it was producing a bright green fruit. Someone told us it was a lime tree. So out of the limes we made guacamole, we squeezed its juices into our water, we even drank the juice of a few limes right off the tree. Over that last few months our limes started to turn yellow and shades of amber. On Christmas Day my brother in law gave us an unexpected gift. He brought in one of our rotten limes and told us that we didn’t have a lime tree at all, we had an orange tree. It’s an orange tree! For the record, orange juice in guacamole isn't so bad… a little sweet, but not awful. Over time the type of tree was proved by the fruit it produced. Given enough time the tree would inevitably be shown for what it is, not a lime but an orange tree. The outcome (oranges) was determined by what it was (orange tree). Jesus once said “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matt 7:18). Who we are (our current beliefs, actions, attitudes and values) determines what fruit will be produced in our lives. Now at the beginning of the year, I encourage all of us to make a life course evaluation. Is your life - spiritually, financially, relationally, vocationally, physically- heading in the direction you want it to end? Our direction determines our destination. If all is on track then I pray you'll be encouraged to press on toward the prize. But if your direction is aiming toward a bad ending then know there is hope. The good news is that Jesus always allows course adjustments, even all out U-turns. You can turn around at this New Year, adjust your course and Christ will help you. May the Lord be a light for your path in 2013 illuminating the way that leads to life... life in abundance!