Sunday, November 1, 2009

Who's in Control?

I am often reminded of the calling of God and that where He leads He will also provide. Hard sometimes to think about when in the midst of struggles. I often want to take control of things when God is really calling me to trust and obey...not to be in control of everything...He's already in control. He's infinitely wiser and more than able to supply our every need. I am learning daily what it looks like to let go and let God be God. Truth is, I can't do everything...nor has He asked me to. God does not set us up to fail, but to succeed...but...His way! His way is the way of surrender and self-sacrifice; of dying to myself daily so that He may live His life through me. His way means that it's not about me, but always about Him and His will. It's about living as He lived, loving as He loved and serving as He served, thereby making Him known to others.

This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done. Planting a church in a needy, inner-city community has stretched me more than anything I've ever done. I never expected this to be an easy road, and the idea of it costing me everything I have; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc, has become more of a reality. Jesus told His disciples that following Him would be costly, but the reward would be far greater. So I press on daily, knowing that the work I do for His kingdom is never in vain. Progress is sometimes hard to measure, yet the fruit of my labors are known by Him who sees all things.

I pray that I might die to myself daily, so that He can guide this vessel

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

providing a litttle christmas help and cheer

The CORE Church of Troy has been approved by the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign as a distribution site. We are now registering families to receive toys for their children. If you live in the Troy area and would like to register please call the church office at 518-274-8080 or Pastor dave's cell phone @ 518-526-6079, or you may e-mail us at

When you call, please speak clearly. Please provide the name, age and gender of each child you are requesting toys for. Please provide a contact phone number and/or e-mail address so that we may keep you informed of important dates and information.

If you live in Troy and do not have a church to fellowship with, we'd love to have you come and visit. We are a small but growing congregation with a heavy emphasis on building relationships. We are very informal in our style of worship. Come as you area!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paying it forward...and we need your help

Inner-city ministry is my calling and passion w/a particular interest in children's ministry...don't really do that for a living, per se, doesn't pay much, so I do odd jobs, etc to pay the bills. When I say "children's ministry," many people get the idea of puppets and polished Bible stories with flannelgraph figures. But in my neighborhood children's ministry is vastly different.

We operate an afterschool homework club where many neighborhood kids come and hang out. Many great conversations are flowing, and we are meeting new kids every day as kids tell there friends about the CORE Church and Pedestrian Outreach CenterWe planted this inner-city mission church in 2006...not an easy mission field by any means. Lots of needs; scores of single mothers on fixed incomes, many kids w/o fathers who seem to cling to all the attention we can give them...needless to say everywhere we (me and my family) go we often have a ton of kids who want to go with us. Tonight it was a concert at my son's school and we had a half dozen extra kids w/us. Seeing how hard some of these kids have it doesn't make lt any easier. There's a part of me that wants to rescue every one of them from the ugliness they often experience...but I'm only one person. How much can I do? I pray for them, offer them a hand of friendship, and our storefront mission church has become a safe haven for many of them to come to when they are going through the tough battles of life.

Often, these kids share things with me that leave me speechless, and I thank God every day that He has put me in such a place of trust...that these kids have someone to turn to when the horrors and terrors of life turn their way.

I remember these streets, for they are the very streets I once ran and played in. But it was a different time, and not nearly as dangerous in this neighborhood...or so they say. I remember a place not much different at all, and there were a few adults who took an interest in my well being, who went out of their way to make my world a safer place to grow up in. So perhaps it is my turn to pay it forward, and to show these kids a better continue offering a hand of friendship...a shoulder to lean on...someone to listen to them and applaud in the midst of their seemingly small victories.

What is my reward? What is my pay? a happy child who grows up to reach their potential...and here's how you can help.I'm asking my Facebook and Twitter friends to consider investing just $5.00 or $10.00 in this ministry, as we reach out to these great kids and their families.

We are seeing fruit, as many of the parents/guardians of these kids are visiting our mission church/outreach center, and some great conversations are flowing as we build relationships with these children and families.

Your best gifts can be made out and sent to:

CORE Church of Troy

36 109th St.Troy, NY 12182

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for further info. If you'd like to have me come to your church and share our mission and ministry w/you and your congregation, just let me know

518-526-6079 (cell)

518-235-0370 (home)

518-274-8080 (office)


Monday, August 24, 2009



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PREPARE TO PLANT: everything I wish I knew about church planting, before I started to plant

I'm in the process of writing a manuscript for a book about church planting.

I know what you're thinking, church planting friends and friends of church planting, "Do we really need another book about church planting when there is already a plethora of books covering every facet of church planting known to man?"

As I began to search Christian Book Distributors, and a host of other book distributors, I could not find any books covering the subject I have decided to write about. There are plenty of books that touch on this subject, but none that deal specifically with what I believe to be a critical point for church planters and potential church planters to grasp before they enter their mission field. I even sent a facebook message to my FB and church planting friend, Ed Stetzer, who is, perhaps, the leading authority on church planting in all of North America. I figured if anyone would know of resources pertaining to my subject of choice, he would.

His response to me?" David, I don't know of any resources like that."

So what is the subject I would like to write about? Here it is...drum roll please!

the church planter first being planted by God, in the community God has sent Him to, before he plants the church God has sent him to plant.

This subject was born out of nearly four years of experience of planting the church God has sent me to to plant. Having never planted a church before this, I came to Troy, NY with big dreams and expectations, only to be crushed and bruised, battered and scattered. I have experienced every feeling and emotion known to man, and a few I never knew existed. My marriage and family life have suffered some heavy blows from the enemy. The spiritual warfare we have endured was so intense that I literally gave up and was about to walk away. Then God began to speak to me at a level I had never experienced in my 46 years of life.

"Satan has asked permission to sift you like wheat, and he has, but you have endured. Now you are ready to plant My church...the one I sent you to plant, not the one you wanted to plant."

The purpose of this book will be, not merely to lay a Biblical framework for the call to church planting, (there are plenty of great books already available on that subject), but to bear witness to the experience a church planter can expect to encounter on his/her mission field. There are things I just did not know, even though I've been through seminary and had taken church planting classes, and had attended countless conferences on church planting, church growth, evangelism, etc.

The greater purpose for this book is to, perhaps, save church planters, present and future, the agony I have endured, by sharing what God has shown me through my own experience.Church planting is a process; with God, first, preparing the planter, from the inside out, before any of the usual work known to most church planters begins. When I arrived in Troy I hit the ground running, as I began putting into practice (or at least attempting to) all of the stuff I had read in the textbooks and on the blogs of other church planters. After nearly four years I have learned so much about what to do and what not to do. And I would like, by the grace and calling of God, to share this story with the church planting community in general, and more specifically, with freshman church planters; those who are newbies, who have never planted a church before but stepped out in faith, believing that God has spoken to them and sent them.

There are many church planters who have experienced similar circumstances and have given up (I have met some of you...I was almost one of you). There are others who are currently going through what I've gone through (I feel your pain and frustration). And there are still more who are about to step out in faith, for the first time, who do not know what they are in for. This book is for you.

I don't yet have a publisher or even a book deal, but I am stepping out in faith and writing the book anyway, so that those I am writing to and for can learn from my experience, and I know there are many out there who can identify with what I am about to share on paper.

I would like to hear from some of you. Share your own experience here or send me and e-mail, FB note or an old fashioned letter (snail mail)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

surprised by the Holy Spirit!

Today was a day like no other. For the first time in my 15 years of ministry, I preached something that was totally unplanned. I had my sermon all written for today...planned out w/notes, illustrations, etc. I was planning on preaching from Romans 6. Our call to worship usually comes from Psalms, and as I turned to Psalm 51 and started reading it, something rose up within me, and before I knew it, words were coming out of my mouth! David's whole experience with Bathsheba, and then Nathan the prophet came to mind as I was reading this Psalm aloud before the congregation. Ended up preaching for 40 minutes about how sin creeps up on us slowly, starting out with a small temptation, like flirting with a married woman, which turns into lust, then an affair...or the love of money, which turns to greed, then to cheating and stealing...and even murder. At the end of the sermon, one man said, "That's the best sermon I've ever heard you preach in the three years I've been here."

Thank you Holy Spirit for leading me to hear Your voice and for the courage to put my planned sermon away and preach what You have given me, and for the voice to preach the Word for your glory, O Lord!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How can you help us help our neighbors and reach them for God's kingdom?

1. New informational pieces for CORE Church of Troy and our Pedestrian Outreach Center are ready to distribute. want to learn more? send me your e-mail address and I'll forward one to you. Make as many copies as you'd like and help us by sharing them with your church, family, friends, etc. If you'd prefer regular mail, send me your mailing address and I will forward this to you

2. We are starting a new fundraising campaign for Pedestrian Outreach Center and CORE Church expansion as we multiply in our city and beyond. Therefore, I am asking a God-sized favor of all my Facebook and Twitter friends. Please consider sowing financially into this frontline ministry; just $10 or $20 is all we are asking you to consider. If God puts it on your heart to sow even deeper, He will bless you for doing so. Please pray and consider. You can make checks payable to CORE Church of Troy and write POC in the memo, and be assured that every penny will be used to expand God's kingdom in Troy, NY and beyond.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Great Commissioner, and on behalf of the CORE Church of Troy and Pedestrian Outreach Center, I thank you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feeling like a fool

I've been feeling like a fool lately, like one person who posted on another blog recently about planting a church with no money, no people, nothing except vision from God and faith the size of a mustard seed.

For three and a half years we've been camped out in an impoverished inner-city community in upstate NY, trusting that God has sent us, yet feeling like a failure at times; most months barely scraping by financially, reaching out to the homeless and "the least of these." All the while, others in ministry, who started when we did (or after) seem to be miles ahead of us. I sometimes wonder if we're really supposed to be here. Then God sends me little signs; like a single mother w/3 kids, being abused by her boyfriend and put our of her apartment by city code enforcement, or a rowdy bunch of neighborhood kids who need nothing more than someone who is willing to sacrifice and hour or two and play ball with them.

Why would a grown man with a seminary degree give up everything to do such a thing? Sounds foolish to me and to most folks who look at it from a human perspective. But then, most times when people step out in faith and trust and obey God, they end up looking like fools; like a boy named David facing a giant with nothing more than a slingshot and a few stones, or a man named Abraham, leaving his home for a place he had never been to or seen, yet when God told him to go, he trusted and obeyed. Then there were twelve ordinary men. A few of them were fishermen. One was a government employee. Yet, they all left everything to follow a man who said and did things that seemed to be foolish, even to the religious crowd.

Truth be told, stepping out in faith requires taking risks; many times big risks, often at the expense of looking foolish. Why is it, when an entrepeneur steps out in faith, giving up everything to start a small business, the world applauds, yet when a man (or woman) of God steps out in faith, in obedience to a higher call, the world scoffs and calls that person a fool?

The Bible says,

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). that no one may boast before Him (God)

It's not about me. It's always about Him; the One who calls and sends men to do His will. When all is said and done, He is the one who gets the glory; especially when the world calls me a fool for following Him. Only a fool would follow a God he cannot see, or a vision that has not yet come to pass, for a purpose that he cannot fully grasp. But the outcome and rewards far outweigh any persecution he may receive from the world; perhaps even from the religious crowd, or even within his own family.

A better question tha often comes to mind; Why would God choose a fool like me to do anything for Him? I am humbled and amazed!

So, I'm okay with feeling and looking like a fool from time to time; perhaps more than I realize.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One great reason why we do what we do at Pedestrian Outreach Center

We met a man named David yesterday (Wednesday), who came into POC briefly. According to David he's 59 yrs.old, half hispanic/half native American. Originally from Vermont, he and his wife had moved to Texas 25yrs ago. his wife of 37 years had recently died of cancer and he had gone back to Vermont to visit his parents and two of his four children. While there he had a chance to meet some of his grandchildren for the very first time.

Now he was somewhat stranded in Troy, NY. Having made the mistake of stopping at a bar for a few drinks and then getting on the wrong CDTA bus, he found himself in our neighborhood. Lost and and a bit confused, he came in wondering "what is this place?" After introducing ourselves and telling him a little bit about Pedestrian Outreach Center, he opened right up and shared his life with us, along with his search for "spirituality" in his life. My POC co-laborer, Art, told him about his own experience with recovery and what set him free. After about 40 minutes David said he had to catch a bus to Albany for his return bus trip back to Texas. With a fresh cup of coffee and a bus schedule in hand (two of the things we provide free of charge at POC), he went back outside and got on a bus, and away he went.We may never see or hear from David again. But hopefully our brief encounter with him will impact his life for the better.

This is why we are help pedestrians move forward in life.

Leave a comment! We'd love to hear from you

Peace in Him,


Monday, June 22, 2009

My take on the book of Acts: Origin of a new species

At the CORE Church of Troy we have embarked on a study and sermon series through the book of Acts. I have challenged myself to read through Acts anew, praying for fresh insight. I've read this book many times, in several Bible translations, yet there is so much more to be explored and known. As I was thinking of what to title this series, here are some of the ideas that came to mind
  1. Church 101
  2. The Church: a new beginning
  3. Genesis of the Church
  4. Birth of the Church
  5. The Christian movement begins
  6. The seed of the gospel spreads
  7. Apostolic Adventures
  8. Origins of a new species

It is entry #8 in my list above that resonates with me the most. The Church, aka the body of Christ, fits the definition of "species" (a class of individuals having common attributes and designated by a common name) whose origin is in Christ's finished work on the cross; through His death and resurrection a new species had been born; therefore, the book of Acts can rightly be called "Origin of a new species."

That's the title I've chosen to go with.

What do you think?

Whatever, wherever, however...I'm Yours, O Lord!

Earlier today I was chatting w/Phil, a Facebook friend and brother in ministry. We were discussing how God closes doors and our tendency to still look for opportunities when those doors are closing, aka, lack of faith and trust

Chalk it up to insecurity/lack of faith on my part. My prayer, more recently, has been more like, "Lord whatever, wherever, however, etc, I'm yours." Many times during the past 3 yrs I've wanted to give up and go and do something else. I even find myself searching for ministry positions on every now and then. God has been instilling in me a deeper level of trusting in Him and His sovereignty. When Jesus said, "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me," I truly believe He meant to give up everything...including all of my hopes, dreams and that I can truly be empty of myself, so that He can live His life (Zoe) through me. He doesn't just want to use my dreams and thoughts, He wants to fill me with a whole new level of hopes and dreams...wrought by Him...things I can't even begin to imagine. I am learning that my small dreams, limited by my human imagination, cannot begin to compare with the dream God has for me. This is why I believe God tells us, in so many places in His word, to let go(Prov.3:5-6 for instance) and let Him be God.
For me, it is as Paul declared in Philippians 3 about what he used to put confidence in...human achievement and ambition, the flesh, etc...yet he had come to a point (later in his life and ministry) of abandoning it all, counting it as rubbish, for the sake of knowing Christ personally and walking in the power of His resurrection. Paul saw himself as a bondservant...a slave for Christ. Whatever it takes, let me die daily to myself, becomong like Christ in His death, so that I may, somehow, attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil.3:10-11)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

living my life between the drama and the trauma

Sometimes it seems as if life is full of drama and trauma, with shots of God's mercy and grace in between. It is those times that I begin to realize how deep His love is for me.

At times I feel overwhelmed with life and the issues that rise up unannounced. The problems of life do not go away when we come to Christ and embark on this journey of faith. God simply gives us His grace to deal with them His way. I am still learning, after 25 years of walking w/the Lord, what that looks like on a daily basis. It means falling upon Him, learning to trust in His arm and His hand to pull me out of life's messes and to hold me up by His strength. That is why, I believe, David prayed so earnestly and frequently, "To God alone, who is my Rock, my Strength, my fortress, my deliverer, the lifter of my head, " etc. David was a leader and a man after the heart of God. He was able, by the grace of God, to see and confess his weaknesses before God.

All too often I find myself thinking, "I've got to get my act together," when what I need to do is bring all of my junk; my messy, chaotic, train wreck of a life to God, so that He can continue the good work He began in me and desires to bring to completion. That is a life-long process that is sometimes painful, but always within His good purpose for my life.

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What happened to May?

Notice the abscence of posts for the month of May. "Lord for give me, it's been one month since my last blog post." May was an incredibly busy month for me, and we were having PC issues for two of those weeks. But, lo and behold, I'm back on the blogging trail, ready to get into it once again!

wherever and whatever of God's will

I have found myself questioning God these past few months. I have gone through a period of transition, a bit reluctantly at first, until I turn to God in prayer, in His word, and seek His voice. I find strength and comfort in knowing that God is in control of me and my destiny.

Prov. 16:9 says that
"a man plans his way in his own heart,
but the Lord directs his steps."

My prayer, then, becomes, "Lord, help me to be in step with your will." I can come up with a dozen brilliant ideas every day, but its the wherever and whatever of God's will that I am interested in. God will never lead me astray, and as long as I am prayed up and filled up with His Spirit, then I will know in my heart that I am where God wants me to be; physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. If Christ is truly the King of kings in my heart, then He will lead me and guide me, and wherever He guides He always provides

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walk His Way

Had to bring my wife's car in for servicing yesterday, which required me to leave the vehicle at the Ford dealer for the day. They provided me with a loaner for the day. As I got into the car and started it, I turned on the radio, and a familiar song was playing. It was Aerosmith's classic, "Walk This Way." Although I had heard that song thousands of times since it was released in the 70's, it had been awhile, and I couldn't help but remember how much I use to like that song. As I sat their and listened I thought about my own youthful days of unbridled lust (which really is the theme of the song) and what the Lord in His mercy delivered me from.

Over the past few weeks at the CORE Church of Troy we've been we've been focusing on our "Pedestrians:walking through life" sermon series. I couldn't help, as I listened to Steven Tyler singing "Walk This Way..." how much the song really fits into what we've been talking about in this series. 2 weeks ago we learned what it looks like to "walk by faith, not by sight." This past Sunday we looked in Galatians 5:16-26 and focused on walking in the Spirit and the fruit of such a walk. We also looked at the negative side, or, walking in the flesh, and the results of making those choices. As we come to the third week of our series we will be looking at hindrances to our walking by faith and walking in the Spirit. One of the major league players that wars against our souls is lust; more specifically, our sexual desires, which left unchecked will take a person deeper and deeper into a world of darkness and self-centeredness and further and further away from the will of God. So many places in Scripture hit on this very subject. Proverbs warns us against sexual immorality in many passages. Jesus said that lusting for a woman is as bad as committing the physical act of adultery. Sex, money and material gain are the big things we most often lust after. This is why John wrote,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17) NKJV

Jesus calls us to a new way and a new life that is all about seeking Him and His kingdom and putting the world's ways and ideas away from us. God's way leads to life. The world's way, which is run by satan, leads to death and desruction. Each of us has the freewill to choose. So be aware when anyone, whether in songs or some other form of communication, invites you to "Walk this way."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

hanging out with some real men

tuesday evenings at the CORE Church is men's group. Men don't easily open up too much but tonight we were all in a sharing mood, sharing worries and concerns as we are focusing on "What is a personal relationship with God?" we're using a discussion guide from RBC/Discovery House Publishers. It seemed like we were shifting off the theme when I realized that's what a personal relatrionship with God is...that's what makes it and keeps it real; when we can go to him and to one another w/our weaknesses and worries. Real men sharing real stuff w/a real God and learning from one another. And that, my friends, is what we call "discipleship;" discipling one another as we seek a more intimate, personal relationship with the Living, Triune God

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pedestrian Outreach Center Update

  • We are in the middle of our third week since opening the Pedestrian Outreach Center.
  • Word of mouth is traveling. More people are coming in for free coffee, refreshments and conversation. We are also giving out bread and milk to families in need.
  • Additionally, all this week we have been serving lunch to neighborhood kids who are on spring break from school. We will continue to serve a daily lunch for pedestrians from 12:00-2:00pm consisting of sandwiches, baked goods and other assorted items. We are in the process of hooking up a stove and sink so that we can begin offering hot meals for lunch.
  • We now have internet access and a computer terminal so that pedestrians can search for jobs, sign up for and/or check e-mail, etc.
  • We will soon be installing a large bulletin board where employers, landlords and community agencies may post information for pedestrians.
  • Life Groups are coming soon. This will be a weekly small group that meets for the purpose of discussing life issues from a Biblical perspective. Many of us are battling with one or more issues that dominate our lives and keep us from living a free, abundant life that Christ came to give us. For more info call us at 518-274-8080

We desire to be a blessing to this north central Troy community and throughout the city of troy and to pedestrians as they walk through daily life. If you or someone you know needs our services, or simply to chat about life or whatever is on their heart, come on in to the Pedestrian Outreach Center, currently open Monday through Friday, 11:00am - 2:00pm.

Need private prayer and/or counseling? call Pastor Dave Lewis at 518-526-6079

How can you and/or your church get involved with Pedestrian Outreach Center?

  1. Pray for this vital, frontline, inner-city ministry
  2. consider volunteering an hour, an afternoon, etc. We are praying about eventually extending our current hours of operation from our current time of 11:00am - 2:00pm to 8am - 3pm. Additionally, we would like to impliment a summer time and afterschool (in the fall) childcare program. This provides great opportunities for those who have a calling to children's ministry.
  3. consider helping us financially through one time gifts or regular giving. Checks can be made payable to CORE Church of Troy, ear marked for Pedestrian Outreach Center.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hosting an Imposter Screening at CORE Church if Troy

As much as an inside look into the Christian music industry, The Imposter is also a story of redemption and self-discovery. Featuring original music from Kevin Max and Jeff Deyo, a new version of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kerry Livgren (with Kevin Max on vocals), four songs from the outstanding Christian band Downhere, The Imposter will reach your heart like no other movie has before. The Imposter is produced by Dan Millican and Jeff Rodgers. Email them at dan(at) or jeff(at) If you have questions and would like someone to contact you,click here

Just ordered our licensed copy and we will soon host a movie night featuring this film. Details forthcoming!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pedestrians walking through life together!

We are all pedestrians at some point in our lives. Often the term applies to our lives many times, at various intervals. In a literal sense, pedestrians are those who travel by foot. In a spiritual sense, we are all pedestrians, walking through this life. Some of us know where we are going, while others have gotten lost along the way, while still yet there are many without direction or destination. Those of us who have found the true path that leads to life have a calling and responsibility to reach out to those who are lost and/or still searching. Psalm 1 comes to mind,

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands is the way of sinners,nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,and on his law he meditates day and night.

3He is like a treeplanted by streams of waterthat yields its fruit in its season,and its leaf does not wither.In all that he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so,but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,but the way of the wicked will perish.

Pedestrian Outreach Center is born!

Flooded with fresh vision and renewed passion, God has impressed upon me a name change for this new vision that is more encompassing. Alas, Pedestrian Outreach Center is born.

The vision God has given me for this new outreach is expanding to a more encompassing, wholistic ministry. Pedestrian Cafe implies food and beverage, while Pedestrian Outreach Center will include a cafe, but allows more to be offered. The ministry mission is to "help people walk through life." pedestrian was the word that came to mind as I was thinking and praying about everyday, ordinary people, walking through life, yet finding it difficult to reach their destination. Sometimes pedestrians have no direction or destination and walk through life rather aimlessly (been there...done that). The goal is to point people in the right direction by meeting them where they are at and helping them see God's plan for their lives. I'm seeing not just a place for people to come and flop, but a place where real people can find real help with the real problems that keep them from moving forward in life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

on the wings of failure come new ideas

Some of you may remember, just about one year ago, my family and I took a giant leap of faith and opened a coffeehouse, called, "The Pod." The idea was to create a "third place" environment where pedestrians could come in off the street, grab a cup of coffee and some conversation and relax. Third place meaning that place where people gather outside of their home and work place, for conversation, relaxing and socializing. A cafe/coffeehouse is the perfect environment for stimulating great conversation and connecting with everyday, ordinary people, and building relationships.


Somewhere along the way yours truly got lost on the fine line between ministry and small business. What I thought would be a successful, innovative attempt at creating culture turned out to be a financial failure. Who knew a year ago the economy would take a nose dive? Small business loans became harder and harder to obtain as banks began to scrutinize the qualification requirements. After less than a year in operation The Pod was taking on water and sinking fast. We decided to close while we could still climb ourselves (my wife and I) out of debt.

I never looked at this as a failure, just a good idea at the wrong time. I prayed then and said to God, "if I ever have such an opportunity again. let it be all about You."

Most recently, the CORE Church relocated from 6th Ave & 101st St. to a much smaller, more manageble space, located just one block south at 6th and Glen. This space is located on a busy street corner. many pedestrians congregate right outside our front door. Great place to be...great opportunity to give new life to an old idea. Alas, CORE Church Pedestrian Cafe is born. Not the Pod mind you, but a ministry of the CORE Church...similar concept but different. The vision is to facilitate a third place environment. This storefront space is divided up nicely, providing a decent sized space in the front. The front door opens to 6th Ave, where many people already gather. So, we're merely opening the door and inviting them in.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Street Outreach Center at CORE Church of Troy

An idea that we have been praying and talking about for some time now has become a reality, as the CORE Church of Troy announces the start of our new Street Outreach Center.

The CORE Church has relocated from the century old brick cathedral at 6th and 101st, to a storefront located one block south at 6th and Glen. We knew when we chose to move that we would be moving into the heart of the street culture, and we know now this is exactly where God wants us to be. We also know that the street corner located right outside our front door is very active. Many people congregate there. There is a CDTA bus stop there, with many people waiting for buses throughout the day. We have been praying about the best way to reach some of these people, when it dawned on us to simply open the doors and invite them in. For several months now we have been receiving bread and milk product, every three days, from a local convenience store. It is the product they pull from their shelves as new product arrives. These items usually have shelf life left on them, sometimes as much as five days to a week. We often get more bread than we can give away, along with donuts and assorted pastry and packaged snack items. God has already provided the food, and now He has provided the space to begin this outreach ministry. We cannot begin to imagine all that God wants to and will do through the CORE Church of Troy, as we seek to make Him known in this North Central district of Troy, NY. Our new Street Outreach Center will be open Monday through Friday, 11:00am until 2:00pm. We will add components to this outreach ministry as God gives the vision and provision.

Would you pray for us as we step out in faith and begin this new street outreach ministry? Perhaps you'd like to help by volunteering your time to serve with us. Maybe you'd like to donate coffee, filters, paper products, or whatever God may put on your heart. Additionally, if you'd like to conrtibute financially to this ministry, you may do so as the Holy Spirit leads you. Checks may be made payable to CORE Church of Troy (earmark Street Outreach Center if you so desire)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stand Against Racism

The CORE Church of Troy is hosting a Stand against Racism event on April 3rd, partnering with Troy/Cohoes YWCA. We will have a prayer walk at 5:30pm, kicking off at 6th and Glen and walk North to the other corner (6th & 101st) to feed-a-kid, then back to our new place, via River St., after the meal and have a discussion on how to combat racism in our lives and in our community, followed by a reception . Please pray for this event, and if you're in the neighborhood, consider joining us, as we seek to make Christ known in Troy's inner-city.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Guess God knows what He's doing afterall

It became evident to me today why God moved the CORE Church from one street corner to another as a fight broke out right outside our new space.
I was down at the new space setting up for tomorrow. Two women started fighting, right on our front step, as one of them started beating the other with a cane, and in the process, broke her arm and cut her head, police came from everywhere, lots of kids nearby,what a bloody, chaotic mess. People were milling about everywhere. Several young children who had witnessed all of this were visibly disturbed. I have to admit that this church planter was brought to tears, as the Holy Spirit spoke to me, "This is why you are here." The corner of 6th and Glen Avenue has become a violent, crime ridden hot spot. It is located right near a convenience store and two major bus stops on one of CDTA's main Troy routes. Dozens of people get on and off the city bus, every 20 minutes, right outside the front door of our new church space. I am thoroughly convinced God has called CORE Church of Troy to bring His peace and His hope to this inner-city neighborhood. People here need to know God's love and mercy, and I pray that we will see and seize every God-given opportunity to make Him known in the hearts of these people, and that through our efforts God will be glorified and that will see and experience a maximum impact in this community, for His Name's sake.

Friday, March 13, 2009

We the Church...Be the Church...See the Church: Sermon series

We the Church must Be the Church so that others will See Christ in the Church and glorify the Father in heaven
at the CORE Church of Troy, we begin the second leg of our "We the Church...Be the Church...See the Church" sermon series. The first segment of this series, "We the Church," delved into the question of who and what the Church is (not merely a"what" but a "Who," not just "me" but, "we")

Be the Church asks the question, What are we the Church to do? The body of Christ in action, function, purpose, etc. looking at 3 basic statements...Live as Christ lived....Love as Christ loved...Serve as Christ served...and watch what God will do through His Church.

Be the church part I: How did Christ live? How does He ask us to live? What happens when we take Christ at His word and allow Him full access to our lives so that He may live His life through us...we become living epistles, conduits of grace, ambassodors of hope, peace and love...and a lost and dying world sees Christ in us and yearns for wnat we have in Christ.

It is my hope and prayer that our small but growing congregation will be inspired to "Be the Church" in our own community, as we seek to embed the missional/incarnational DNA into our local expression of the body of Christ.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Investigating U2charist

I am intrigued and investigating "U2charist" wanting to know more about the spirituality of Bono/U2 and their Millennium Development Goals to end world poverty, aids and injustice.

Would love to hear some comments, in favor of, not in favor of, etc.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Becoming regulars at Northway Church

It's been about two months since my family and I began attending Northway Church's Saturday evening service in Clifton Park.

We were searching for a local church with a Saturday evening service, since we, as a family, are tied up on Sunday's with our own church plant in Troy . I had met Brian Howe via facebook and accepted his invitation to come for a visit. took him up on the invite and we haven't been the same since. Luv what Northway Church is doing to bring church into the current age we now live in, by making church cool and exciting. My kids love it. My wife enjoys relaxing and listening to Pastor Buddy preach. On any given Sunday at the CORE Church, she's busy with children's church and other activities and rarely gets to hear me expound the word. I have to say I greatly appreciate Pastor Buddy's engaging style of preaching. He brings it on with the gospel every time (at least from what I've seen and heard for myself), and communicates the timeless truths of Scripture in a timely, relevant way. Kevin Brustle and the worship band rock the house as they sing the Good News and prepare the congregation to encounter God. I think my family and I will continue this Saturday evening trend. If you see us there, say hi to us. We'd love to get to know you!

Friday, February 27, 2009

CORE Church/New Beginning!

The building pictured here has been the home of CORE Church of Troy since we took the building over at the end of 2005 to begin a new work. This facility, located at 6th Ave & 101st St., had been the home of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church since 1913, when the buiding was erected.

To say the past three years have been challenging would be an understatement. For the first year of our ministry here, the facility held up nicely. We invested a little bit of $$$ to maintain the building. Year two brought some roof leaks and a few other minor issues that we quickly addressed. This past year, #3, has been the most challenging, as the inside of the building began to deteriortate gradually. The heating system started malfunctioning, along with the antiquated electrical system. This past winter brought frozen pipes throughout the building, then bursting pipes as they began to thaw. Both bathrooms and kitchen, as well as the boiler were rendered useless due to the frozen pipe situation. Then the roof started leaking again, in various spots, as winter snow and ice began to melt. The facility became overwhelming, almost to the point of where this church planter was seriously thinking of packing it in and going elsewhere.

I began a period of fasting and prayer, not wanting to give up on the vision and burden God had given me back in 2005. I had literally reached the end of myself, once again, and was totally dependent upon God, who had sent us here to plant His church. God showed me a commercial space that had become available in our neighborhood. My first impression, looking at the space through the front window, was that it was too small. At 1300 sq.ft. it is a fraction of the size of our church bldg. Also to consider, we'd be paying rent plus utilities here, while we owe nothing on the old church bldg and are only paying utilities and insurance, yet we were only using about 40% of the total space. So, we decided to hold off and waith for God to show us what to do. He has shown us through the series of events that have taken place, one after another, to lead us to the point of deciding we must leave this old, cold building. There's more to the story for anyone who wants to hear it.

Here we are, with spring and the Easter season approaching, and we are moving into this new space (photos and update coming soon). Power and gas were turned on today. All of this past week, Ron and Artie and I have been busy cleaning the place up and moving rugs and chairs, along with aound equipment and lots of coffee from Stewart's, which is the neighborhood gathering spot, located directly across Glen Ave from our new space.

We are located at 3301 6th Ave (corner of 6th and Glen), directly between two public housing projects; King apartments to the East, on the hill, and Arnold Fallon Apartments, located one block west and one block south of our new location. Our old, cold, building will soon become the home of another vital street ministry, as Rev. Willie Bacote and his Missing Link Street Ministry take over the building. We are hopeful that God will provide the finances, manpower and other needed resources, so that we can continue with the Feed-a-Kid Ministry and other strategic community ministries. We, the CORE Church, are praising God for the opportunity to partner with Rev. Bacote and his ministry and to offer this building to his ministry.

Dare we believe that God has orchestrated all of these events to bring about His will and His glory! God has done just that, and He has spread out our reach in this North Central Troy community. I am already praying and anticipating God growing us and expanding our reach into Lansingburgh and other parts of Troy and throughout New York's Capital region.

Won't you pray with us?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Church planting journey: wrestling with God and prevailing

In my quiet time w/the Lord today I was reading in Genesis 32:22-33 about Jacob's experience of wrestling with God and prevailing. Jacob had struggled with men (his brother Esau and father-in-law Laban) and now with God. He would not let up until God blessed him. As a result, his walk was forever changed; literally, as his hip joint was dislocated in the altercation. Jacob was all alone with God, as he had sent his wives and children on ahead of him. In the night, while he camped out, a Man came and wrestled with him until dawn. Jacob's tenacity in wrestling with the Man, who was God (Peniel = "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared,” see also Joshua 5:13-15 and Hosea 12:2-4), resulted in God's blessing upon him, and the promise God had made to him at Bethel (Gen. 28:10-22) continued to unfold, just as God had shown it to him.

I have had my own "wrestling with God in the wilderness experience." I know where Jacob was coming from. In a moment of discouragement and frustration, he felt like giving up, throwing in the towel, yet there was something inside of him, at the core of his being, that said, "No, I will not give in or go back, I will continue to move forward, but I cannot do it alone--on my own strength--so I turn to You, Lord, the One who called me and set me on this journey. I will not leave this place or go any further until you bless me and fulfill the promise You made to me at Bethel."

Three years ago my family and I moved to Troy, New York, because I believed then, and still believe with every ounce of my being, that God sent us here to plant His church. He gave me a burden for this place, then vision, followed by passion, and strategy. His provision has been ongoing every step of the way in this church planting saga. However, there have been times of doubt, despair, frustration and utter chaos (among other experiences), along the way, that have caused me and my family to become nearly unglued. Every time I have turned to Him, and He has responded with whatever I/we have needed to continue in this great commission endeavor. This past winter has been, without a doubt, the most trying period so far. Three years ago, upon coming to Troy, we took over a century old Baptist church. Sixth Ave Baptist Church had closed, and working with the Conservative Baptists, we began the task of re-starting the church with a new name, The CORE Church of Troy, and a new vision of "Making Christ known in the heart of the city." Needless to say, it has been quite a challenge working with this old brick elephant, yet God gave it to us debt free, along with a three bedroom parsonage for me and my family to live in. He then gave us a vacant lot, located across the street from our church building, which once was the home of another old church building which had fallen victim to decay and was demolished in 2003. We counted our blessings and have used all of what God has given us. I wish I could say that we have been 100% on fire for God and His mission the whole time, but in reality, we've gone through peaks and valleys. We've had moments of victory (3 baptisms) ans we've had other times when we have wanted to run with our tails between our legs, so to speak. But, here we are, three years later. We have struggled with men and with God, just as Jacob did in the wildreness that night, in the place he named, Peniel, which means, "I have seen the face of God and Have been spared."

I have had my own "Peniel" experience. At a point when I felt completely helpless and without much hope to carry on; when I literally felt like giving up and walking away, the Lord came crashing in and said, "No you don't, I won't let you give up." I can remember shouting at God, on my knees in tears, saying, "I can't do this anymore." And He said, "Don't worry, where I have guided you, I will also provide for you. As I told My first disciples, so I tell you, 'And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' " (Matt.28:20)

Friday, February 13, 2009

How much would you pay for a decent cup of coffee or espresso

My friend and fellow church planter, Atiba DeSouza posed an interesting question on his blog. He asked if anyone would buy McDonald's new espresso, over Starbucks, if it were just as good, and cheaper.

Here is my response

Hey, give me a good cup of coffee, hot and cheap, and I'll buy it. Starbucks and Dunkin are okay, but not the best coffee I've ever had. I've had mediocre convenience store coffee that tastes just as good for about half the price. This is one reason Stabucks is collapsing. They cornered the market on cool coffee shops, but they have failed to change or improve on their product. McD's will bury them in the competition because they will sell it cheaper, and the fact that they are constantly changing up. Dunkin Donuts is feeling the pinch now too, because they are growing too big, too fast. I mean, how many Dunkin shops do we need within a five mile stretch of suburban/commercial highways. Here in Albany, NY, there are at least 7 within a similar span. They are over saturating the market and McD's will capitalize on that. Also on the fact that both Starbucks and Dunkin charge way too much for their coffee. McD's is getting w/the times too by offering free wi-fi in some of their franchises.

How about you?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Church planting journey:the breaking process

I was chatting with Jeff Jamison via facebook about the experience of church planting and wanting to give up and go back to where I came from. He shared with me "Many planters do give up and "go home". My failed plant pastor did. I still love him, but that failure has haunted him since and has been a predictor of the last few years ministry failures."

Having never planted a church before this one, I can say I feel the frustration of that planter who "failed and went home." I have been there several times these past 3 years, almost walked out on my wife and family, even felt like jumping in the Hudson River (on more than one occasion). Then God got ahold of me and showed me, it's not about me, but about what he wants to do in this community He has sent me (and my family) to and in the hearts and lives of broken people who live here. I don't believe God sends anyone to fail. I do believe many men jump into church planting without thinking and praying it through. I also believe the assessment processes that many church planting entities use are flawed. From my own experience, God gave me a burden for a particular people in a particular place; Troy, NY, the city of my birth, youth, and at least half of my adult life. This burden started out small, but grew as I went through seminary and served on staff at a Rescue Mission for 11 years. Then came vision, followed by strategy, and then provision. But, God had to break me of my own self-centered mindset and thoughts of what I wanted to do; even seemingly good "church planting" ideas. I am learning that I never truly own the vision God is showing me. It is His when He gives it, and it is His throughout the process. I may be the possessor of the vision He has given me, yet I am merely the vessel He has poured His vision into. There is a sense of ownership that develops within the church planter, but the vision is God's. He is giving me glimpses of what He wants to do, but He has not shown me the big picture completely. Who can contain, within their own finite human brain, all that God can and will do?

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Eph.3:20 NLT)

This breaking process is very painful and comes with much sacrifice. Men need to know this and be prepared for this before they "test the waters" of church planting. Ed Stetzer has said, "if you are not called to plant churches, do not do it! It will ruin you. The Spiritual warfare that comes with it is intense. Satan will sift you like wheat."

But the brighter side is that through that breaking process, God is molding and shaping a usable vessel.

If a potential "church planter" does not have a burden, it is a good indicator that he's not ready, maybe not even called to be a planter. No burden equals no real ownership of the mission. Burden shapes vision. Good ideas are not, neccessarily, vision from God. Mark Batterson uses the terms "Good ideas" and "God ideas" when referring to vision from God vs. good ideas from our brains

I knew in my gut, at the core of my being, three years ago, that God was sending back to Troy. I knew it then, and I knew it all through this breaking process. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt today. That is what has kept me from completely walking away from this. Every time I felt like doing so, God would send me a sign; a phone call with encouraging words, a smiling kid my wife and I had reached out to (2 of them were recently baptized) And I clung to His vision and His voice. Satan has come at us with everything, and he's probably not done yet, although, I sure hope he is, at least for awhile. If he does come knocking on our door again, we know Who to call upon. We know that Jesus loves us, that He called us and sent us to this field of harvest, and that He will not leave us nor forsake us. If we have learned nothing else these past three years, that is an invaluable piece of wisdom we can put into our church planting bank account.

I pray for you, my church planting brethren. Maybe you are going through this breaking process. Need someone to talk to? Give me a call or send me an e-mail. I'd be happy and privileged to help you work through this.

My Church planting journey:experiencing Christ's power, suffering, death, and resurrection

Experiencing the great adventure of church planting anew after a valley of testing and spiritual warfare, I now see the purpose of it all!

a church planting brother referred to this process "unsettle, resettle,then mettle." God unsettled him and his family in their divinely assigned portion of the harvest when they first moved there, then resettled them in their new home, city, community, etc., then came the "mettle" to thrust forward, full throttle, in God's power, not their own. He brought them to a place and position where they had no choice but to totally trust in and rely upon Him; actually, they did have a choice, they could have packed up and went back to where they came from. I know that feeling because we've been there, many times over the past three years. But now that God has unsettled me and my family (believe me when I say it has been a living nightmare) and resettled us in our own assigned portion of His great commission, He is now flooding me with an abundant supply of fresh His mettle (courage and strength to move forward).

A year ago I was about to throw in the towel. Now I feel like I can" sore on wings like eagles." I felt like I was a failure because everything was one big chaotic family life, our inherited, century-old church building, our name it, we were going through it. All of our initial core group had left, except for me and my wife and children. There was this rage burning with in me that cast me into a deep bout of depression. It got so bad that my wife and I could barely stand each other. Our two sons were constantly fighting with one another and with us. I reached a point where I could not take it any more and had seriously thought is wasn't meant to be and made plans in my own mind to go somewhere and do something else. I even opened a little coffee shop called, "The Pod," which ended up being a flop...who knew a year ago that the economy would take a nose dive?(God knew). Six months into this business venture and we could read the writing on the wall...keep it going and end up filing for bankruptcy. God was speaking, in that still small voice, and I was listening. So, we shut it down, which put us $36,000.00 in debt. OUCH!!!!

I began an intense period of fasting and prayer,like I've never done before. I did not know what to do or where to turn. I was totally, 100% helpless. And that's when God, in His tender mercy, came crashing through. I am brought to tears of joy as I write this post, because I know, at the very core of my being, those 1095 days (three years) of anguish are over. God is speaking. He has filled me with a fresh dose of Holy Spirit fire. Things that I did not nor could not see three years ago are coming into place. God is moving in me and through me. Believe it or not God got us completely out of debt within months...thanking God for my wife, who insisted on keeping our home in Schenectady (instead of putting it on the market) just in case we needed the equity, and boy did we. Not only that, but when we finally got approved for a home equity line of credit, the interest rates had dipped to a 15 year low. Dare I think that God would cause the economy to collapse so He could rescue one of His servants from evils of debt and financial collapse? Well, He caused time to stand still for Joshua, parted the Red Sea for Moses, and moved a mountain of debt out of our way so that we can continue to plant the church He has called us to plant.

And here we (not just me) stand on the other side of that valley of darkness and dispair. I say "We" because so often I hear church planters refer to "Me" and "My journey." I have news for ya fellas' the family is not just excess baggage, along for the ride, they are a part of the church planting team. Guess who has done more to put us in contact with families in our community? Wasn't was, and still is, my two sons. They have made new friends, who don't come from the greatest family lives. Some of them have horror stories that would make my above testimony seem like a picnic.

I now see the purpose of all of what we have been through these past three years.

Paul said the the Philippian church, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, so that someway or somehow, I may experience the resurrection fom the dead. (Phil.3:10-11)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Networking with Mosaix Global Network

The MOSAIX GLOBAL NETWORK (MGN) represents a growing movement of believers and congregations seeking to know God and to make Him known through the establishment of multi-ethnic churches throughout North America and beyond.

I have been following MGN since last spring's Exponential 2008, where I met Dr. Mark DeYmaz, MGN's Co-Founder and Directional Leader and Executive Director Jim Spoontz. Later on in 2008 the CORE Church officially hooked up with MGN as a member church. I have to say, MGN's vision of catalyzing a movement of multi-ethnic urban churches caught my attention, because that is where my heart beat is. Planting churches in America's urban settings requires such an approach. Most US cities are seeing a growing mix of ethinic and cultural diversity. Troy, NY is no different. Although Troy is not a large city, by any means, we are seeing a growing ethnic diversity of our own. It makes sense for me, therefore, to incorporate such a mindset into our urban church planting efforts. The CORE Church seeks to be at the center of brokenness and injustice that exist in our city. We are happy and blessed to partner with those who share this view of church planting.

Landlord Statement

A brother in Christ, who is attempting to start a support group for pornography and sexual addiction asked me to "weigh in" with my opinion. Having dealt with and overcome (not by my doing but by the grace and strength that comes from God) a tenacious addiction to pornography, I feel qualified to speak on the issus; again, not by anything I have done, but by what Christ has done and continues to do in my life, from the inside out.

Below is my response to my friend's inquiry "What would you say needs to be the primary focus in overcoming pornography and sexual addiction?"

Lust, sexual immorality, sin against one's own flesh, idolatry, Satan and demonic forces, what it means and looks life to truly know and follow Christ and experience the power of His resurrection and the victory that comes with that power. I can speak from my own experience of being bound by pornography and the sexual sin and idolatry that came with that sin habit. Pornography is a vice or tool of the enemy, used by the enemy to captivate my heart and mind to the point that I become bound up, like a man in chains, unable to move forward through life the way God desires for me.

If we are to tackle and overcome any addiction, we must start at the core; at the very root of the problem. Pornography is no the root, it is the tool that Satan uses to draw out our fleshly nature. Through intensified feelings and emotions we become attached to that high and detached from the will of God for our lives. When our own flesh takes over, and we are ruled by our feelings and emotions, it is our hearts, which the Bible says is desperately wicked, that leads the way and runs our lives. When we give our lives completely to God, fully surrendered as living sacrifices (Rom.12:1-2); heart, mind, soul and strength, only then can we come to know and fully experience His plan and purpose for our lives. He then begins to transform us by the renewing of our minds, conforming us to His image, instead of the image of this world.

In my honest opinion, the whole recovery movement is bent on keeping our minds focused on the problem instead of on the solution. As long as I kept believing "I am in recovery" the more I believed I could have a "relapse." Thereby treating my "addiction" like cancer, that can come and go. As a born again child of God, I am not in remission from sin, I have been set free from sin, meaning that whatever used to bind me up, I have been loosed from. It really comes down to the state of one's mind. That is where the battle of good and evil takes place. That is the valley of decision. Do I choose God's way which always leads to victory, or do I choose the world's way or my own way, which are really one in the same. The world is filled with people who are bent on living life their own way, on their own terms. The world is self-centered. This is why Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world and neither are those who follow Him. The kingdom of God is made up of citizens who have abandoned their own will for what God wills. It is not a self-centered kingdom, but a Christ-centered kingdom. When I commit my life and will to following Christ, I am no longer the king of my own realm. I have surrendered the throne of my heart to the King of kings. I am no longer my own. I can speak from experience, that as long as I focused on my "sexual addiction" and recovering, I was focusing on my flesh, my emotions and feelings, my..., my...., etc. But when I fully surrendered my life to Christ and abandoned my own will, desires, ambitions, etc. Christ came in like a flood, and His Spirit took over.

I like to compare this to giving ownership of my earthly house (my physical body) back over to the One who designed and built it. I am not the owner, I am merely the occupant. When I did this, a new Landlord (Christ) took over. Since then, the Landlord has sent his Agent (Holy Spirit) to give eviction notices to all uninvited and unwelcome guests who desire to take up space within my head. Whenever a thought or an idea desires to take up residence within me, my response is to take it up with the Landlord. If He approves, then the thought or idea can stay and I can further explore them. If the Landlord does not approve, then they have to go. The Bible is my Landlord Statement. In this statement, the Landlord tells me what is good and acceptable.

Wrestlings of an inner-city church planter

Below is a letter I wrote to a brother in Christ who is planting a church in the inner-city of Washington DC.. He is frustrated and feeling the pressures that many inner-city church planters have met with, including myself. I have copied and pasted this letter here as an encouragement to any one who is facing similar struggles and obstacles

Dear Brother in Christ,

Great to talk with you and pray with you today. Seems like we are dealing with a lot of the same stuff. God is bigger than the struggles we face and greater than anything the enemy may throw our way. Know, also, that God uses what seems to us to be obstacles to grow us and stretch us for His good purpose, so that when all is said and done, we will not be able to say, "Look what we have done," but, "Look at what God has done."
Denominational leaders do not always see the reality of what you and I have seen up close and first hand; drug dealers recruiting 11, 12 and 13 yr.old boys to be delivery boys, paying them money to ride drugs around the corner or down the street on their bikes. The gang bangers offering these same kids a family environment that they are not getting in the home. Pimps hanging around our inner-city neighborhood, buying candy and presents for preteen girls (we know what their real agenda is). Young, single mothers having baby after baby, and remaining stuck in a vicious cycle of public assistance, and dead beat dads who want nothing to do with the children they have fathered and brought into this world (which adds to this cycle by sparking a flame of anger and hostility within these fatherless children). Some of these single mothers have to resort to lying to the gov't, selling their bodies and/or drugs, etc, just to survive. All of this is a vicious cycle that feeds off of brokenness and hopelessness. This is what oppression and injustice look like up close and personal
It is these urban centers of brokenness, hopelessness and injustice that God has called men like you and me to go to, with His message of love, hope, peace and grace. Not just a message of words, but of works as well. Jesus dealt with the whole person. He fed them physically and spiritually. That's what He did. That is what he told His disciples to do. And that is what you and I must do. We are to live as Christ lived, love as He loved, and serve as He served. If we focus on the one simple task of knowing Christ and making Him known, it does not need to be any more complicated than that.

I will also say this. Be resolved to stick it out, no matter what. Regardless if anyone else sees your vision or feels your burden. If God has spoken to you, let that be your guiding voice. Seek godly counsel, listen to what they have to say. Accept whatever help God sends your way that will accomplish the mission He has sent you on. Let nothing hinder you or stand in your way. Be resolved to go wherever and do whatever, as God leads. I can honestly say that this is one hill I will stand on and die on because I know that God has sent me. God does not send people out to fail, but to accomplish His mission. And, wherever He guides, He also provides.
Amen, brother. Keep up the great work God has called you to. Call me anytime.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cub Scout Outing:learning about God's other creatures...wildlife

My wife and I tagged along with our son Jacob's Cub Sout troop as we visited Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and took in some snowshoeing and learning about the animal life in their natural habitat. Five Rivers is one of only three such places in New York State, which is operated by NYS Dept. of Envitonmental Conservation.
We started the outing inside the education building where one of ENCON's staff educators thouroughly descrided, to the boys, the natural habitat of such animals as racoons, deer, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, squirrels, mice, birds, beavers, bears, etc. She also showed them, using a teaching tool called a "Snow Blanket," which is an actual white blanket with different animal footprints drawn onto it. The children learned that each animal has its own, unique set of footprints that no other animal group shares (by design or by chance?).They also learned to identify animals by their droppings, called "Scat" (aka poop). Along with their own unique footprints, each animal group has its own poop pattern (yah, we humans have our own duo of identifying tracks too).
After learning about animals and their tracks, we donned snow shoes and took to the trails, where the scouts actually got to track some of the footprints and scat they had heard about. We ended the outing with hot cocoa and cookies at the education center.
We had such a great time that we vowed to return. My family and I are even thinking about joining as members so that we can come back often and maybe plan a church group outing.

What is a church planter to do? recorded worship music vs. live worship team/band

At the CORE Church of Troy we have been weighing the effectiveness of using recorded worship music vs. a live worship team/band. It is constant struggle finding and maintaining interest of a quality worship leader and musicians, scheduling practices, purchasing and maintaining musical instruments and sound equipment, etc.

With recorded music we can choose from a huge supply of quality music, from Hillsong, Vineyard, Integrity, Passion (Tomlin, Redman, Hall, Crowder, Fee, Christy and Nathan Nockels, etc). There is an incredible array of music to choose from, from traditional hymns to contemporary praise, to modern worship in every genre of music.

With recorded music attention and pressure are not on a worship team/band to lead worship vs. performing and entertaining. There are many who do this effectively, week after week, but not everyone can pull it off. What is an urban church planter, on a very limited budget, to do?

So far, using recorded music, combined with our CCLI license and some fairly inexpensive audio and video equipment, we have been able to put together a quality alternative that works for us. I have been to several churches that feature a quality, live worship experience. I am not knocking what they are doing. But, in an effort to a plant simple, reproducible church, recorded music is an affordable alternative.

Recorded music has its drawbacks though. It is quite and experience to sing with a live praise band. In fact, whenever I get the chance I hightail it to Northway Church in Clifton Park to worship with their band, led by worship pastor Kevin Brustle, and to hear Buddy Cremeans preach.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The painful experience of knowing and following Christ

I was on Mars Hill Church’s blog where Pastor Mark Driscoll posted updates on their current sermon series, Trial: Eight Witnesses from 1 and 2 Peter series. In this post he was writing about suffering and its different facets in our lives. This resonated with me because we are currently going through a series on suffering, with the theme being, "The painful experience of knowing and following Christ."

In this series I am attempting to teach our local church the difference between…

1)suffering with and for Christ that comes as we choose to follow Christ and walk in His ways
2)the general, common suffering that all people, good and evil, experience and
3)suffering that we bring upon ourselves through our own sin, aka, reaping what you sow.

As we continue following Christ we will experience suffering in the form of persecution, sacrifice, loss and discipline from God. He will give us strength to endure this kind of suffering. As we continue to follow Christ, He will also give us the grace and strength to endure the common sufferings we, as humans, experience, and He will give us the wisdom and discernment to make right choices so that we can overcome the sinful nature that tempts us to do what we know is wrong, bringing suffering upon ourselves. As long as we continue in these earthly tents, we will experience suffering in all of its facets, at every level, and we will become more and more like Christ, in His suffering, in His death, in His victory, in His glory.

I am learning, as I continue to delve into the subject of suffering, that there is more to it than I have realized in my own walk w/Christ. Hopefully we can all learn together to endure the sufferings, trials and the pains of life.

This is a series within a series, as we started the new year looking at the “Greatest Experience in this Life(and beyond): The experience of knowing and following Christ. Using Phil. 3:10-11 as our series outline, we are looking at and considering five facets of the Christian experience.
Knowing and following Christ is, as Paul wrote, a

Personal Experience: “I want to know Christ…” Phil.3:10a
Powerful Experience: “…and the power of His resurrection…” Phil.3:10b
Painful Experience: “…and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering…” Phil.3:10c
Practical Experience: “…becoming like Him in His death.” Phil.3:10d
Purposeful Experience: “so that I may, in one way or another, attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil.3:11

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been camping out in the “painful experience” of following Christ. We may be here for a while, wrestling with the painful truths of God’s word.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

True change starts on the inside of each of us

A week ago, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I attended a forum on racism at our local YWCA. My friend and partner in ministry, Rev. Willie Bacote, had invited me to the forum. He and I brought a group of neighborhood youth with us. During this forum we watched a documentary entitled "Skyn Deep" which was produced by the YWCA. The purpose of this film is to stir up conversation and to get people talking, honestly and openly, about the racial stereotypes and biases that we all have. At various intervals during the forum, the facilitator paused the film and asked questions from a printed hand out that everyone received at the beginning of the session. We were given time to write our own responses, then share them with the group, if we wanted to. A couple of the questions asked us about past experiences with people of different race and culture. My own memories of growing up in the inner-city and seeing racial injustice first hand were stirred up. I remembered (and shared), as a 10 year old white boy, living in a public housing project and being treated differently than boys my own age, whose skin color was bit darker. I would hear my white friends talk differently when the "colored kids" were around, than when they weren't around. At the age of 10, I would hear the double talk and sometimes go along with it to fit in. But there was something inside of me that made me uncomfortable, a still, small voice that said, "that's not right."

Now, 35 years later, I'm living and ministering in the same inner-city neighborhood I was born and raised in. There are many conversations going on about tackling the social ills that plague our inner-city communities. One issue that needs to be further addessed is that of racism. Whether we like to think about it or not, racism still exists. All of us have prejudices and biases that have been shaped by our environment, upbringing, culture, religion, etc. Planting churches and ministering in any community, especially inner-city communities, requires those who are called by God to such places, to tackle racism and cultural biases head on. American cities, at one time, were racially and culturally segregated. Most cities still bear the remnants of such division. However, there is a new, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural generation emerging from within these inner-city communities. This generation is more tolerant of racial and cultural diffrences, even to the point of inter-marrying and procreating. Bi-racial/multi-racial children are becoming more common among our urban landscapes. Yet the racial slurs and biases still exist, mostly taught and tolerated by the older generations who can't get past their own fears and insecurities.

We need to overcome racism by teaching our children to love and accept people who are diffrent than they are. The tone of one's skin is the way God created them. We do not need to relinqiush our ethnic and cultural heritage, but we can, by the grace of God, learn to live amongst one another, in the same community, loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves, regardless of their skin color, race, cultural upbringing, etc.

What would Jesus do? How would He live among us? He already did, leaving us an example to follow. As He said to His followers (disciples), "as I have done for you, so you do for one another." He was speaking about living as He lived, loving as He loved and serving as He served, thereby making Him known to a lost and dying world.

I admit that I don't have it all figured out. But, I am willing to work at bringing change to my own community. With a willing heart and the guidance of God's Holy Spirit, change will come. It starts on the inside of each of us.

Are you ready to get started?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

are you ready to own lostness and injustice in your city?

I am borrowing a line from my church planting friend and brother, Jay Hardwick, "...ready to own lostness and injustice in our city." Jay sent me a brief update on their progress with their church planting initiative Awaken Columbia via my facebook wall. Jay is planting an urban church in the city of Columbia, S.C. He was referring to a movement he, and others serving with him, are stirring up amongst people living in Columbia to not only see lostness and injustice, but do something about it.

I have never been to Columbia, but I am guessing that it is much like any other city dotting the map of the USA. There is an inner-city culture there with a landscape similar to my own, filled with urban blight, poverty, drugs and street gangs, violent street crimes, high rates of teen/unwed mothers, prostitution, juvinile delinquency, homelessness, etc. There is also a growing epidemic of hopelessness and dispair amongst a generation that does not see church and traditional, Biblical Christianity as relevant or useful in their lives, yet they know lostness and injustice first hand.

Much like my own city, I'm sure Columbia has seen its own share of local churches (perhaps even whole denominations) abandoning their inner-city neighborhoods for the greener pastures of the middle-class suburbs. Equally lacking is a desire among church planters and seminary grads to move into these inner-city neighborhoods for the sole purpose of living out the great commandment and the great commission. There has been a lot of talk over the past decade about what it means to be missional and incarnational. Guys like Jay Hardwick (and hopefully myself) are taking the God given task head (and hands) on. Praise God that a few church planters and mission boards are seeing the need and feeling the burden to go to these places that God has not forgotten nor abandoned, to bring a message of love and hope to people whom God loves.

It is my prayer that God will raise up an army, here in New York's capital region, as well as in Columbia and other cities across the US and around the world, who will take ownership of the "lostness and injustice" that exists there, and will stop at nothing to see God move amongst these people.

Are you ready to own lostness and injustice in your city?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will the real Dave Lewis please stand up!

One of my newest facebook friends is David Dunbar, President of Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, PA.

David wrote a note on my FB wall stating that he knows another Dave Lewis who pastors a Methodist Church in his neck of the woods. I commented back to him that it does not surprise me, because just about everywhere, there seems to be another Dave Lewis. I thought it would make an interesting blog post.

Google David Lewis and some of the following will come up

  • There is David Lewis the congressman .NORTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 53
  • There is a convicted serial rapist, serving a life sentence in an Illinois St. correctional facility with the same name, and middle initial. That one came up when our local little league ran a volunteer background check on me (obviously not me).
  • There was an NFL player named David Lewis
  • There was a General Hospital/soap opera star by the same name along with a bunch of famous guys named David Lewis
  • There is another david Lewis here in Troy, who works for our city as a code enforcement officer,
  • There is a local dentist who also shares my name. I've actually gotten some of his mail, probably because we have similar street addresses.
  • While serving in the US Navy, visiting a naval base club in Rota, Spain, I answered a page for a David Lewis, only to find out it was for another sailor by the same name.
  • I've met black men named Dave Lewis and white men named Dave Lewis. I once even met a half Korean man named Dave Lewis
  • There's probably a host of Dave or David Lewis's in any given city in the US or abroad.

So, don't call me congressman Dave Lewis, convicted serial rapist Dave Lewis, NFL star Dave Lewis, former soap star Dave Lewis (now deceased I believe), Troy code enforcement officer Dave Lewis, Dr. Dave Lewis, DDS, etc. I'm just another Dave Lewis, living and breathing on God's green earth.

Call me...

  • regular guy Dave Lewis,
  • church planter Dave Lewis,
  • Christ following Son of God Dave Lewis,
  • son of Ray and Lynn Dave Lewis,
  • husband of Brenda/Dad of Dan and Jake Dave Lewis,
  • Core Church of Troy Pastor Dave Lewis
  • taxpayer Dave Lewis (but which one?)
  • etc., etc, etc.

and if you happen to bump into a Dave Lewis in your own travels, it just may be me, or maybe not!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama and the hope of a dream fulfilled

Like most Americans I was tuned into TV today's coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration. I am filled with a sense of hope for many reasons. here are a few of my thoughts.
  1. the end of an administration that has seen little tangible success. Dubya's administration reflected the way it started out at the turn of the century; chaotic and controversial. Remember the way he got into office and the scandal surrounding the election process?
  2. the conversation surrounding racial equality has taken a giant leap forward, with our first African American president taking office. It is my hope that Obama (and all people) will be judged by the content of his character, and not by the color of his skin. Many Americans are willing to do just that, while many more still cling to racial biases that will dictate how they look at our new president, or any one else who is different from them for that matter.
  3. I am hopeful that the walls that separate us will come down, and that racism will be eliminated. Barack Obama's election furthers such hope among all Americans, not just African-Americans. Just as Martin Luther King's "Dream" encompassed all people, so the election of our first black president is for all of us... "One nation under God".

What Obama's election will not provide:

  1. The answer to all of our problems. We may have a renewed sense of hope; individually as well as collectively, but Barack Obama cannot do it alone. Nor can he provide the answers to our greatest dilemma, which is spiritual in nature. He may be able to, with the help of others, lead our nation to brighter days, but we dare not put all of our faith and hope in one man. Let us pray for him and do our part as citizens, but let us look to God for the answers that only He can provide. God will use Barack Obama for His good purpose, perhaps to unite us as a nation or even more. Only time will tell.
  2. The fulfillment of MLK's dream. As many have said, this is just the next step (a big one I might add) in the process of uniting us as a nation and breaking down the walls of racism. The real work is ongoing, as we embrace the reality of what it will take to see King's dream become reality. We need to come together and continue the conversation with openness and honesty. The only way combat and overcome the differences that separte us is to come together in the bond of God's perfect love, and to speak truthfully to one another; confess our sins of pride and prejudice, and realize that God, indeed, created us equal. We can do this without abandoning our own cultural heritages, as God, through His Spirit, develops a new culture among and within us. It is a Jesus culture;one that is defined by the love we have for God and one another.
  3. True and everlasting peace. President Obama may be able to resurrect our fallen economy. He may also be able to restore peace in the US and abroad. He may, very well, go down as the greatest president our nation has ever known. But true and everlasting peace come from another King who laid down His life for the sins of the world.

When we, as followers of Christ, come together as one body, the world will see what God can do. God's desire is to use us, the Church, as His light in the midst of a dark and dying world. As we live, love and serve the way Christ did, Christ will be seen through us, and people will see the True and Living Way to God

Friday, January 16, 2009

Knowing Christ is a Powerful Experience

Philippians 3:10-11

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection..." (3:10b)

The NLT puts it this way, "...and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead."

Knowing Christ personally is to experience the full power of His resurrection; the power that flows from union with the resurrected Christ. The very same power that raised Him from the dead will also give new and everlasting life to our mortal bodies.

Philippians 3:20-21
20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

1 Corinthians 15:42-43
42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.

Ephesians 1:18-20
18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

In the power of His resurrection there is:

* Hope and strength for daily living
* Freedom from the power and dominion of sin (Romans 6:5-14)
* Victory over death, darkness and the devil
* The promise of eternal life (John 11:25-26)
* The promise of our helper and comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 25-26)

One of my favorite TV Dramas, ER, is wrappiing up production after fifteen great seasons of hospital emergency room drama. A common scenario in this and other hospital dramas is that of a person in cardiac arrest; their heart stops beating, medical personnel rush in with a "crash cart," grease up the defibrillator paddles, place them on the patient's chest and zap him. Power flows through the paddles and the patient's heart starts beating again. He's been zapped with new life. In the power of Christ's resurrection we are zapped with new life as Jesus pumps His Spirit and His life into us. We are then empowered to live abundant, joy filled, victorious lives in Him.

Are you experiencing the power of Christ's resurrection in your life, daily?

If you have encountered Christ personally, coming to know Him as Lord and Savior, this same power that raised Him from the dead is available. As you live amongst your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends; as you go through the daily struggles and trials of life, perhaps a jolt of His resurrection power is what you need.

Indeed, knowing Christ is first a personal experience and a powerful experience as we seek Him daily. Know also that it is, often, a painful experience.

Join us at the CORE Church of Troy this coming Sunday, January 18th, for the next part in this sermon series. I've referred to this series by two titles.

  1. New Goals for a New Year
  2. The Greatest experience of a lifetime (and beyond)

We could call it "Set a new goal for the new year; to encounter the greatest experience of a lifetime and beyond." That's kind of long, but it works. This sentence also describes the content of the 5 part series