Category: Memories (page 3 of 4)

Fear No Evil – Chapter Two

For the next few weeks, I am going to share some excerpts from my first book, Fear No Evil, which releases in April. If you want to pre-order the book and support the Dream Centers we are opening in our city, go to

This is from chapter two, where I talk about the crazy journey for our family from Gateway Church in D/FW to New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

First Kings 1:28-52 recounts the story of David turning over his leadership reins to his son Solomon. I’ve always been fascinated by this particular event in Scripture, because of all the sons David could have chosen, he selected one who was the product of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Of all his children, I wonder if Solomon was the one who was sort of pushed aside throughout his childhood because he was a tangible reminder of such a terrible season in King David’s life. But as David neared death and needed a successor to the throne, he looked directly at Solomon and in essence said, “You’re the one.”

Over the years I have developed a theory about why Solomon was selected. Despite the details surrounding his entrance into the world, I believe the reason he was tapped to lead a nation was because he had caught the DNA of his father, who had a willing heart, a willing spirit, and an honest desire to serve. Granted, David had faced his own share of challenges along the way. But in the end he would be called a man after God’s own heart. He was a leader whom God could trust.

I look at the legacy of guys like David and Solomon and feel the pull of healthy covetousness. How I crave a legacy like that. I don’t care if I am ever known for my teaching and preaching, for my talents and gifts, for my list of earthly successes, whatever they may be. If there was one thing I would need in the days immediately following the shooting, it was the manifested presence of my heavenly Father’s DNA: strength and integrity, calmness and a sense of peace, wisdom and perseverance, kindness and an insistence on the fact that though all around feels unbearably dark, hope—true hope—still abounds.

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Fear No Evil – Chapter One

For the next few weeks, I am going to share some excerpts from my first book, Fear No Evil, which releases in April. If you want to pre-order the book and support the Dream Centers we are opening in our city, go to

This is from Chapter One and I had just arrived home after the horrible shooting on our campus earlier that day.

Around nine-thirty, I pulled into the garage of our home in northern Colorado Springs and exhaled the weight I had been carrying since just after one that afternoon. It occurred to me that I hadn’t had time or space to let my emotions catch up to all that I had experienced, but no sooner had the thought crossed my mind than Pam came out from the house to the garage. She must have heard me pull in, and at the sight of her—my gorgeous, faithful, perfectly safe wife—I came undone. As tears flowed, we were silent. But in our silence we were thinking the same thing. We were so grateful no one in our family had been hurt, and at the same time we were devastated that the Workses had lost two daughters. We were grieving the other injuries and the loss of innocence for our church. So many emotions, wrapped up in soundless tears.

Several minutes passed in that garage—ten, maybe—before both of us realized that we’d be much warmer inside. We headed into the house, where I saw Pastor Jeff and his wife, Jenny. Faithful to the core, they had stayed put at Pam’s side all day long. What a gift to have friends like that.

The ten of us gathered in the living room—Jeff and Jenny and their four kids, Pam, our kids, and me—where I conveyed the most recent information I had been given from New Life security, New Life staff members, hospital personnel, family members of people hurt in the shooting, and so forth. The more I talked, the more drained I became. The day was finally wearing on me, from the inside out.

To neither Pam’s nor my surprise, Abram and Callie understood exactly what had unfolded at their church that afternoon. Even at ages nine and seven they grasped that someone had come to our campus to do very bad things, and that another person had been forced to stop him before the bad guy could hurt more people than he already had. Callie asked, “Dad, did he come on the campus to shoot you?”

Feeling too weary to do anything but tell the plain truth, I said, “Callie, he came on the campus to shoot all of us. We all were victims today.”

Satisfied with the facts, as kids so often are, she and her brother hugged me tightly and then headed off to bed. In their little world, as long as Dad was home, safe and sound, all was well once more. Plus, they had been spared the gruesome sights and sounds of the tragedy and had no awful memories needing to be worked through. They were miles away from the church by the time destruction rained down. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

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Bill Hybel’s Foreword for Fear No Evil

RECENTLY WILLOW CREEK celebrated our thirty-fifth anniversary, and after the festivities had come and gone, during a quiet moment of reflection I thanked God for his goodness that has sustained us all these years. Like any church that has been around for a while, we have experienced ups and downs, good times and bad, seasons of blessing and those marked by immeasurable pain. By God’s grace, we have prevailed.

Throughout those three-plus decades of ministry, I have seen too many churches wind up with a far different story to tell. Despite noble intentions and well-meaning commitments, adversity wins the day. The sequence is predictable and sad: calamity strikes and people scatter. They despise the sting, they fear the pain, they rush to disassociate from the mess. But not so with New Life Church. After suffering back-to-back blows that might have leveled another group, this courageous congregation chose to renew their faith, rally their energies, and doggedly rise again.

It is more than a feel-good story for New Life; it is good news for us all. Because as churches reach for their redemptive potential instead of forfeiting the fight, increasing numbers of people wind up living lives that  conform to the teaching Jesus offered and the example that he set. The net effect is a drastic reduction of the dangers of living on this planet. Think about this with me: if a few hundred million more people were to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ over the next few years, and if they were then to start choosing inclusion over exclusion, righteousness over evil, serving over controlling, giving over grabbing, peace over violence, and love over hate, this world would be a far better place to live. This is why Jesus told us to pray each and every day that the will of his Father that was being played out to perfection in heaven would start to operate more and more here on planet Earth. Depravity may be on the loose today, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow. You and I can be agents of eternity-impacting change. We can be ambassadors—of compassion, of encouragement, of hope.

When pain hits home, most people’s tendency is to want to run from it, replace it with another feeling, and pretend like they escaped unharmed. I experienced this most dramatically just after my dad died decades ago. The sadness that descended on me was so awkward and uncomfortable that I merely tried to pull myself together and move on. I returned to work and threw myself into a frenzy of ministry activity, counting on the chaos I was creating to distract me from the deep despair I felt.

But that is not God’s way.

Instead, he encourages us to lean into the neediness we feel. He invites us to watch him bandage our wounds, set our broken bones, and start to stabilize things once more. He inspires us to slow down, review the loss, pray through it thoroughly, talk about it openly, think about it deeply, and write about it reflectively. Thankfully, that is exactly what Brady Boyd has done. And now, in these pages, you and I get to benefit from the lessons he learned along the way.

These days, whenever a round of suffering comes my way, the first thing I try to do—even before I allow myself the first taste of panic—is to try to grab hold of a foundational truth from God that I can cling to until things get sorted out. One that helps me every time is this: God is never, ever the author of evil. If I can’t keep that particular truth straight in my mind, I am going to lose the plot every time. But if stay focused on the theological certainty that God never authors evil, then I stand a better than average chance of weathering the storm.

Throughout the Bible, God also promises that when we pass through the rising waters, we won’t be walking alone. When we fight through the raging rivers, they will not sweep over us. When we walk through the furious fire, the flames will not set us ablaze. And when we trudge through life’s darkest valleys, God promises he’ll always be there.

What’s more, our good God limits the amount and the severity of the evil that comes our way so that it stays within our capacity to endure it. I don’t know about you, but that kind of promise serves as a strategic part of my survival plan for life. Even when my circumstances unnerve me, I can hang onto that with my white-knuckled grip.

You may be reading this and thinking, “That’s great for you, but you obviously don’t understand how severe my suffering is.” Deep down, you believe you are beyond hope, that life’s rising waters are about to pull you under. But it’s simply not the truth. The open tomb of Jesus Christ never stops tossing a life-preserver of hope to even the most hopeless of heart.

If you are going through a rough patch right now, then I’d ask you to consider by faith that just as God wove together something beautiful for the once-brokenhearted people known as New Life Church, he is at work behind the scenes in your life too. Despite how bleak and bitter and cold things may seem as you survey the landscape of your life, I promise you God is working, just beyond what your eyes can see. He never sleeps, the Bible promises, and he never slumbers. He doesn’t take the month off during your season of despair. On the contrary: Romans 8:28 says that for those who love God and follow him, he is working to make all wrong things right.

Take to heart the lessons from Fear No Evil. Don’t wait for the next round of suffering to surface in your life before you confirm your belief that hope exists, that hope is available, and that hope will always prevail.

P.S. from Brady – The proceeds of this book will support the Dream Centers we are opening in Colorado Springs. Pre-order Fear No Evil at

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What makes all this worthwhile?

I was meeting with a young leader recently, talking about church, the future and all that God is doing right now in our fellowship. I found myself really excited about life and realized that I really like what I get to do everyday. Why am I so excited?  What makes all this worthwhile? These are questions that need to be discussed and answered by everyone, whether you’re a pastor or not. Here are some of my answers.

1. Life must be lived with friends.

Working alongside people you love and respect makes all the difference. In fact, I believe the camaraderie, the laughs, and the conversations will be the things we remember the most. Telling the stories of what God did among us, remembering the gaffes and the goofiness of the past are some of the most treasured times I have with friends. Not everyone around us has to be close, personal friends, but there needs to be close relationships present somewhere or the road just becomes too arduous.

2. Life must be lived for His kingdom and not for our personal empires.

When a group of people put God first and their egos and agendas last, a momentum is created that’s almost impossible to stop. When no one cares who gets the spotlight or the accolades and only God is worshipped, the atmosphere becomes ripe for miracles. I can give my life away without regrets if the end result is building something eternal that brings God glory.

3. Life must be full of experiments that lead to innovation.

I really enjoy a work environment that is full of risks, experiments and potential messes. This is when the most innovative ideas tend to surface. The moment that everything is predictable is when I get really bored and distracted. I can pastor for another 40 years if the church keeps its sense of wonder and continues asking the question, “What is the best way to do this?”

4. Life must be about others succeeding.

Life is better when we are cheerleaders. Watching others do more because of our influence and facilitating the growth in those around us really makes the tough days worthwhile. Leading is more than just telling others what to do. It’s speaking the right words at the right time, igniting passions and opening eyes to opportunities.

What makes it all worthwhile for you? What keeps you going forward with joy and purpose in every step? What would you add to this list?

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I remember when …

I remember when:

* children sat in church with their parents and doodled on the tithe envelopes with a golf pencil found in the pew.

* pastors wore suit and ties, but when the preaching was really good, he would take off his coat and throw it to his wife on the front row.

* cutting edge Sunday school technology were felt boards.

* there was a little sign at the front of the church that told the attendance, offering and how many visitors we had at church.

* we had church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights and to miss any of the three meetings was next to heresy.

* the only instruments in the church were a piano and an organ. Guitars and drums were for the nightclubs and bars.

* favorite songs could be identified by the page number of the holy hymnal. My favorite was #267 or  “I’ll Fly Away”. For some reason, though, we never sang the third verse of any song.

* you could get in big trouble if you got your “church clothes” dirty before church started.

* it was considered a “great Sunday” when the preacher did not preach and people prayed at the altar instead.

* people who sang “specials” never sounded that special and always had to read the words of the song off the back of a cassette label. They would say “don’t listen to me, just listen to the words.”

* the church building always smelled like sheep actually lived there during the week.

What do you remember?

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Reflections on a Sunday Gathering

My soul is full from the gatherings at New Life this weekend. Rarely does a Sunday not provide amazing stories of people being changed by God, but this past Sunday was really special for many reasons.

1. During the song set, Jon Egan shared the story from scripture of Mary anointing Jesus with a vial of expensive perfume as an act of extravagant worship. He said we had a choice to either enjoy the aroma of someone else’s worship or we could pour out our own perfume. Worship should cost us something. It was a strong reminder that God wants all of our worship and all of our hearts, at all times.

2. Later, Pastor Aaron read from Colossians 1 about Christ being formed in us. He reminded us that the Gospel is not about going from bad to good, but from dead to alive.

3. I spoke on the two baptisms in Luke 3. Water baptism requires us to obey and humble ourselves which allows for the old person to be cut off and for us to enter the destiny that God has for us. The second baptism is simply welcoming the work of the Holy Spirit into our lives and receiving it as a free gift from the Father delivered to us by Jesus.

4. After the 11am gathering, I prayed for a young couple trying to save their marriage, another young couple who had been hurt by a former church and were trying to trust church leadership again, and a middle aged man who cried as he told me that he finally understood the baptism of the Holy Spirit after years of frustration.

5. 53 new families came to Guest Central looking for more info about being a part of New Life. There were some great conversations, lots of prayer and some discussion with yet another young couple who wanted to find out about pre-marriage mentoring.

6. 11 kids accepted Christ in the 5th and 6th grade class alone on Sunday and over 80 in the same class prayed for more of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

7. On Sunday night, we baptized over 140 people, most of them brand new believers, including 54 children. Entire families were baptized together. A man who was homeless a month ago was baptized.

God is the one who provides wind for our sails and moves us with momentum from heaven. It is not a result of incessant hype. Momentum is more than just growing crowds or full parking lots. Momentum comes from people deciding to follow Jesus and being healed of emotional and physical pain. It happens when orphans from Colorado and around the world are being set into forever families. It is a result of widows from our church and city being cared for every week.

The church that Jesus birthed 2000 years ago in Jerusalem is still resilient and fully alive all across the earth. New Life is becoming more and more a reflection of those ancient, yet still powerful ideals. My soul is full.

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Every Story Matters

What is your story? What has God done in your life lately? Would your story be encouraging to someone else if they heard about it? Would your story build someone’s faith and give them the courage to keep praying? Most likely.

A couple of Sundays ago, a man named Dale told his story to our entire church. He had been homeless and alone until he met a New Lifer while walking downtown one Saturday afternoon. They became friends and fast forward a few weeks, Dale accepts Christ, finds a place to stay, and makes New Life his new church family. He lost wife about a year ago, but she diligently prayed for Dale to follow Christ, even as she lay on her death bed.

Sitting in the crowd that Sunday was a young Air Force airman whose wife was praying for him to make the same decision. At the end of the talk, he came down to the front and prayed with one our team. After the gathering, he found me outside and told me when heard Dale’s story, he knew he needed to change his life. It was a story, not a well crafted sermon, that made the difference.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, we seem to talk about ourselves too much already, but I do believe an inspiring and authentic story can still change people. When God does something in our lives, we should tell others when we get the opportunity.

At New Life, we are working harder at telling all the amazing stories we hear each week. So don’t be surprised if someone holds a camera in front of you because we all need to hear it. Stories really do matter and your story can change lives.

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Anticipation for 2011

Hope is the anticipation of something good happening and I’m full of hope for the upcoming 365 days of 2011. I am sure there will be plenty of surprises, challenges, dark moments and belly laughs along the way, but one thing is certain, time will march on and we will be along for the journey. Here are some things I am anticipating as I look ahead to the new year.

1. The first Dream Center will open and will provide free medical care for women in our city who cannot afford basic services.

2. My first book, Fear No Evil, releases in April with Zondervan. The proceeds from the book will help fund the Dream Centers.

3. Abram will turn 13.

4. We will pay off more of the debt on our property at New Life.

5. Hundreds will be saved and baptized during the Thorn performances.

6. Thousands will surrender to live the vow at the summer Desperation Conferences.

7. Hundreds of New Lifers will go on mission’s trips and have their worldview rocked.

8. I will spend some time in Wales and Kenya, connecting with leaders.

9. Pam and I are taking the kids to San Diego for LegoLand and the zoo.

10. I will celebrate 22 years of marriage to my best friend.

I really believe hope and joy are fanned into flame when we can look forward to something and anticipate God’s work in our future. What are you looking forward to in 2011?

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The Lady who Kept Praying

“Then Jesus told them a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1

I believe God can immediately heal people. He did in the stories of Scripture and I have witnessed and experienced immediate healing many times. However, many prayers are answered after months or years of persevering and not giving up.

Such is the story of Jefferie, a sweet lady who attends New Life with her husband Kent. I first met them after a Sunday morning gathering when she asked me to pray for her. She was smiling and had obvious joy, but she also had advanced cancer in multiple places in her body.

We prayed that day and I told her to keep asking for prayer. Sure enough the next Sunday, I spotted her waiting for me again with the same smile and the same joy. This scene repeated itself for almost a year every Sunday after the 9am service. In fact, I begin to look forward to that special prayer time each week.

This past week, she got a late phone call from her doctor who told her she was 99% cancer free. He could not believe the cancer had disappeared so quickly. Her voice is still weak, but she whispered the story and the good news to me on Sunday. It was the highlight of my day for sure.

What are you praying for today? Have you prayed a long time and become discouraged that the answer has not arrived? Keep praying for healing, for the prodigals to come home or for your marriage to be restored. Don’t give up and keep praying. Jefferie did and so can we.

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Three Years Later, Reflections on a Tragedy

December 9th marked the three-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at our church that took the lives of Rachel and Stephanie Works. Three others were wounded and the young gunman took his life in the children’s hallway after being wounded. It was the darkest day in the life of our church.

Some days, the events of that Sunday afternoon seem distant and some days the emotions are still raw like it happened just last week. God has brought healing to many of us while others still wrestle with the realities of a senseless act of violence that robbed us of three young people.

I walk that hallway all the time and tell people the story. I show them the one bullet hole we did not repair and walk them outside to the memorial in our parking lot. Two Blue Spruce trees tower over a pair of benches with each of the girl’s names inscribed. I sit on those benches and remember how a normal Sunday afternoon turned dark with the crackle of gunfire.

The predictable rhythms of life have returned to our church, but we will never be the same group of people we were before the shooting. We are more grateful now and maybe more cautious. We are not fearful, but we are painfully aware that the world is not at peace. We cherish each other, love one another more sincerely and I believe we are more honest about our hurts and scars than ever before.

We will not have a public memorial gathering on December 9th, but I will gather with a few families who were most affected, including the Works family, and we will pray, cry and possibly laugh at one of David’s jokes. We will probably walk through that long hallway and end up outside at the memorial, each of us telling our stories of God’s grace on that fateful day. There will be no bitterness, regret, or anger and that alone is a true miracle, given what happened.

Our joy has never left us and our strength to move forward has finally returned. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and now, we pause and look back. None of us want to repeat the journey, but each of us are so thankful for what we have learned about God, ourselves and each other along the way.

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