A Thriving Fire

If you are new to my blog, all of the sermon note posts are directly from my actual speaking notes.  Therefore, there will be a few gramatical errors and possibly notes to myself.  If you ever have questions concerning the notes, please send me a comment.


Week2_thrive_mainToday, we are in week 2 of THRIVE. If you missed last week, please get the podcast or video of it. People are saying that it really impacted them. It is crucial to your spiritual and emotional maturity.

Last week, we talked about the garden having elements that made it thrive.

Today, I want us to look at the miracle of a fire.


There is nothing like a Fire on a cold day! – my enjoyment and skill of starting fires


thrive_FIREThe triangle illustrates the three elements a fire needs to ignite: Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen. A fire naturally occurs when the elements are present and combined in the right mixture, and a fire can be prevented or extinguished by removing any one of the elements in the fire triangle.


Ignition (heat) starts the chain reaction. You need soft materials or kindling that will burn easy. Slowly, the fire burns larger. When more and more fuel and air is added, more and more heat is generated. That in return give power to burn more and more fuel. All the while, air is needed to continue the chain reaction.


Why a Fire Goes Out

Water puts a fire out because it lowers the heat. The fuel and oxygen is still there, but there is no heat. You can throw dirt on a fire and put it out because you are removing the oxygen.

Example of our fire at church started burning again 10 days later when oxygen returned.

If you quit putting wood on the fire, the fire will go out because it has heat and oxygen but no more fuel.

Throughout scripture, God uses fire as a metaphor to describe himself. Sometimes, it goes beyond metaphorical language and is actual (burning bush).

Read the rest of this entry

Knowing Yourself Helps You Know God

thrive_webToday, we are launching the first sermon series of 2015 THRIVE, and it is going to be transformational for me. INCLUDING ME!

You can always listen to PromiseLand podcasts: click here.

We are believing that there is a possibility for us to Thrive based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you think you could be spiritually mature and emotionally immature?

Or maybe this is a better question:

How emotionally mature are you? (meaning you are fully aware of your emotions. Why they are present and where to go in the future)

How spiritually mature are you?

Most believers have heard of the 9 Spiritual Gifts from God: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and self-control.

Here is what those mean, and I as I read down this list I want you to think about how deeply you walk and live in these gifts: Affection for Others, Exuberance about life, serenity, A willingness to stick with things, A sense of compassion in the heart, a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people, involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Hhhhhhmmmmm. Where are we on these? The bible is quite clear that these characteristics are A gift from God, through the power of His Holy Spirit.  Instead of walking in these gifts, we often find ourselves subconsciously dividing our lives into secular and sacred compartments.

Today we are basically talking about one thing:
Knowing yourself helps you get to know God.  Awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.

Ephesian 4: 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.


YES! At church I feel like doing that. I after I prayed at the altar I feel like doing that. After Lacy just sang my favorite song, I feel like doing that. After I just got through reading scripture in my favorite recliner with a nice cup of coffee, I feel like doing that.

But, then there seems to be a separation. There seems to be a chasm between those sweet moments and the real tug-of-war, the daily grind of life.

Most of us are taught as Christians that our feelings are unreliable and can not be trusted. However, let me propose this to you…I know that feelings often feel random and not very nice, but at the same time, our emotions are the language that we feel and experience the love of God as well! We love emotions when they are positive.

When they are negative, we believe they are from the devil, and maybe they are influenced by the evil one.  Researchers have narrowed emotions down into 8 types: anger, sadness, fear, enjoyment, love, surprise, disgust, and shame

Remember our message today: Knowing yourself helps you get to know God. Awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.

We often think as Christians that we do not have permission to consider our emotions.  MEN – Christian or not – often don’t believe they are supposed to feel certain emotions.

There are three that are commonly not dealt with:  Fear, sadness, and anger are often suppressed and or ignored by believers.  When these come up, we think, “NO! I can’t have that emotion! Something is wrong!”  Then, we either start saying “No, I won’t accept this emotion! God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of love, joy, and a sound mind. YEAH! YEAH! That…is…true…??”  Then, if our little pep rally doesn’t work or the situation gets bigger, we are confused. I am a Christian and I am starting to feel this emotion. I am afraid, I don’t feel love. I don’t feel joy, and I sure don’t have a sound mind, because I am fixing to kick someone in the rear!”

Pete Scazzero in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says,

“When we deny our pain, loses and feelings year after year, we become less and less human. We transform slowly into empty shells with smiley faces painted on them. But when I begin to allow myself to feel a wider range of emotions, including sadness, depression, fear and anger, a revolution in my spirituality is unleashed.”


God feels!

  • God saw that it was good…very Good!    Genesis 1
  • He was grieved that he had made man on the earth    Genesis 6
  • God says that he is jealous    Exodus 20:5
  • Like a woman in childbirth, He said, “I cry out, I gasp and pant”    Isaiah 42:14
  • The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart    Jeremiah 30:24
  • My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused    Hosea 11:8
  • Jesus was angry and deeply distressed   Mark 3:5
  • He was full of Joy            Luke 10:21
  • He was sorrowful and troubled…his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death Matthew 26:37

Maybe getting to know our emotions better. Why they occur, why they impact us so deeply could give us a better picture of our savior and our path to true thorough healing that will last day in and day out.

I propose today that we stop neglecting our intense emotions.  What could God be saying to me that I am missing when I ignore or suppress them?  It is quite possible that when we stop for a moment and learn about our own emotional health that we could be allowing God to speak into those cracks and crevices of our well-being.

We actually have an obstacle in front of God and knowing him more intimately is restricted because of our own lack of self-awareness. We end up wearing a mask at church so that no one knows our true hurt inside. We wind up wearing a mask when we are alone in the car, believing that you have let God down or you are not a good Christian, you messed up the plan of Christianity and are sort of the black sheep of PromiseLand because everyone else seems to have it all together, but what you don’t realize is that there are a lot of those people that you think have it all together and they simply have their mask on too.

Let’s take off the mask and simply tell each other…I need help.

I am mad.

I am afraid.

I am lonely.

I am a wreck. I know that I am a leader here at the church, but I need some prayer.

Allow yourself to experience the full weight of your feelings. Allow them without censoring them. Then you can reflect and thoughtfully decide what to do with them.  Trust God to come to you through them!

Satan’s greatest temptation for us is to believe a false sense of self. When you study the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke chapter 4, you see 3 core identity challenges.

Keep in mind, this series of temptation from the devil occurs right after Jesus was baptized and the Bible says we hear from the heavenlies, “This is my son in whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

In other words, “You are loveable. You are good. It is so good that you exist.”

  • Temptation 1: I am what I do (performance) – “If you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Do something to prove yourself. Our culture keeps asking you: What have you done lately? What have you accomplished this month? That success you had was good and all, but what have you done since then?  Earthly success (when it actually happens) tempts us to find our worth and value outside of God’s inexhaustible free love for us in Christ.
  • Temptation 2: I am what I have (Possession) – The devil compared what Jesus had to everyone else. You have nothing. You need more.  Our culture tells us that our possessions and talents and applause from other people are sufficient for security. Jesus models that surrendering to the love of God is the only true anchor for our identity.
  • Temptation 3: I am what others think (popularity) – the devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down to prove himself to others.


Next Steps

  1. Pay attention to Your Interior in Silence and Solitude – get alone and unplug. Quit talking. Be in silence.
  2. Find Trusted Companions – Small Groups launch today!
  3. Pray for Courage




Thoughts about Steve Ketchum

1970708_10205989748846170_8539302263960575394_nWhen I think of Steve, I think of him down by the San Marcos River when we baptized his daughters.  I think of working tirelessly at the fireworks warhouse and driving the bus for the teenagers.  I think of him driving down the road on his lawn mower to check on his neighbor, Rowland, who just had heart surgery, and then cutting Rowland’s grass.  I think of him dropping off prison prayer cards every Tuesday morning and making sure they got on my desk.

I think of a dignified man.

Steve Ketchum a dignified man.

Dignity is bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. Dignity is the elevation of character or worthiness. Dignity is a sign or token of respect.

It turns out that dignity doesn’t need black ties, a lot of money, or elegant speech. Instead, dignified is comfortable in a flannel jacket and baggy jeans.

Dignity means raising three daughters without much money, without a wife, and without complaining.

Dignity is facing an HIV diagnosis alone. Many in the room didn’t know that. I’ll never forget the day he sat down in my office and told me he had HIV and wanted to know if he would be allowed to remain a member of our church. Yes, Steve, we still want you.

We often talk about people walking into the room and making a difference. They change the atmosphere. When so and so walked in the room everything changed. When Steve walked into the room, he walked in the room in a Bilbo Baggins sort of a way.

I recently saw the latest installment of the Hobbit and there is a scene where they are looking for a hero. Someone to make all the difference. Someone needs to go behind enemy lines, all the way to the heart of the enemy’s camp.

Who will go?  They are looking for the strongest and the most experienced. They were looking for the one with the most intelligence and skill.

“I will go”, says Bilbo.

“No. You can’t go Bilbo. You are none of those things we are looking for.”

“I will go”, says Bilbo.

“I will go” says Steve. “I will go accomplish the task. I will get the job done.”

No one may notice. You might not ever get the credit.

No one may understand what load I am carrying.

And Bilbo goes on to accomplish task.

And Steve goes on to carry his cross with dignity.

Great Job, Steve! We applaud a job well done.  I wish I would have told you when you here.  You mean everything to us. You are PromiseLand. You are the epitome of PromiseLand.  You were a Human wedged between two worlds. On one side…a future justice and resolution of all things: New Heaven and New Earth new and complete and on the other side… the painful reality that right now there are so many things left undone.  There are still diagnoses, there are wrongs that heavily outweigh the scales of justice, Evil and death still roam the earth.

But, there are people like Steve who choose to look to a bright light. A savior who entered the world because a man like us and lived the perfect life. Jesus the Messiah.

What a great example Steve leaves us. Of brokenness that can have faith and hope in a future made right. Steve had many wonderful characteristics that we honor and remember. However, the truth is that Steve made mistakes too. He wasn’t perfect. The reason many of us in here today honor him with such high regard is that he did not take credit or honor in his own accomplishments. He was a great example of looking with faith-filled eyes toward God to the difference maker. To be the author and finisher of all things.

May we all look to Christ for our source of strength. May we all look to the bright hope in our future that comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Stepping into a relationship with an eternal and perfect God doesn’t take education or experience. God does not require a long pedigree of achievements worthy of his attention. God simply looks for those who admit their weakness and pledge to follow him. We follow him with our good days, accomplishments, new jobs and clients. We follow him through divorce and heartache.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,  for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

For those so close. To Amber, Brittany, and Stephanie – We pray for you. We love you and stand with you in this valley. Sometimes there will be nothing to hold onto but memories. Remember your dad. Tell stories. Tell them over and over. To the little grandkids that won’t get a chance to talk to him, share the pics and the memories. It’s ok if Steve’s legend gets a little larger than life.

We believe that the strength from God’s Spirit will bring comfort.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. – Jesus

Isaiah 40:28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

His Gift Offering Details


I want to invite you to be a part of this year’s special offering called HIS GIFT.  We hardly ever do “special offerings” at PromiseLand San Marcos, but when we do we always give it for a unique and special cause.

We are a BIG church and we believe that we have a BIG responsibility when it comes to helping others. Scripture says, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.” We are taking this responsibility seriously.

We are starting a new tradition this year, that I want us to continue every year in December.  We are asking everyone to give something over and above your normal giving.  If you haven’t given financially to PromiseLand yet, then this is a great opportunity to jump in!

We are going to take this offering and give it 100% to reach the world outside of PromiseLand San Marcos.


There will be no overhead costs. Nothing is going to staff or our normal budget.

Everything is going to further God’s mission outside of this local ministry.

We are giving to 4 key areas:

  1. Nigeria Africa – We have partnered with Pastor Ani Simonson and Grace Chapel in Lagos, Nigeria for over 6 years.  We have drilled a well, built a school, and purchased land for a church.  This powerful ministry in Africa does everything from provide schooling, water, and church life to villages and inner cities in Nigeria.  They have several projects that need help including a new roof on a community center and new facilities for their inner city ministry.
  2. Central Texas Life Care - CTLC is a pregnancy resource center here in San Marcos that has been offering help and hope to moms for 30 years. They counsel, offer sonograms, testing, and resources (diapers, car seats, clothes, etc) completely FREE to any mom in need.  Over the last year, the director, Cheri Martin, has had a vision to open a home for moms that are being forced to abort their children. Some moms are told by their parents or the father of the baby to abort the child or they will have to pay the consequences. Sometimes that is to be kicked out of the family. Other times, that means physical harm or even death.We have been thinking about and dreaming about a safe haven. A place where moms can get on their feet safely.Earlier this year, a benevolent family in Martindale heard about the vision of CTLC and offered to donate their ranch! 50 acres, Beautiful home, 2 min from SM River, fertile soil for gardening, huge space for quadplex homes, a daycare, playground.  SEE VIDEO BELOW!
  3. San Marcos Community Church - This church is located in our town and we LOVE that.  We want to support our brothers and sisters across town and show that with tangible, financial help.  This church has stood beside us in rough times and we want to be instrumental in sowing into their next level!
  4. Internet Ministry - We currently reach around 300 people in 15 countries every week with our internet ministry. This includes streaming services live and via podcast.  We desperately need to upgrade our internet capability and video recording quality to reach more people around the world.

We have no idea how much money will come in from this offering because we have never done this before. In order for us to fully fund the projects we have discussed, it would take in the neighborhood of $40,000. In a church our size, that is about 3 weeks of offering.  If we all give some extra, we can nail this easily!

Would you Pray about HIS GIFT and then Give Generously for HIS GIFT?

You can bring it to the service on Dec 21st or give online anytime between now and Dec. 31, 2014.



Here is a video of the CTLC property

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