People Getting It Done

People Getting It Done

Jack McCall is One Transparent #handsonchristian

I've known Jack for four years, God has endeared him to me for so many reasons.

Chief among them is the fact that Jack is action-oriented in his faith. He tunes in to what the Holy Spirit is doing so he can hear God prompting him (John 10:27).

As a result, he does wild things like empty his wallet on people (including my wife once, read about it here), and he regularly prayers for people on the spot even complete strangers (read one story I was a part of here).

I’ve seen first-hand how God has incredibly blessed people to tears through Jack’s quick prayers.

Jack is also wildly transparent which is rare and has a way of disarming others and empowering them to open up about themselves.

Finally, Jack is one of the most joyful guys I know!

So check out our video chat from today, and know that this is a #handsonchristian, it was a treat to see him and listen to him, and I encourage you to sign up to receive his weekly email, it's one of the few I always read. 

For more about Jack and my history together linked up as brothers in Christ, click here

Prophecy, Most Read, People Getting It Done

Shandy Showed Me My 2015 (End of Year Update)

***Now that 2015 is complete, I decided to go back and report on how this prophecy panned out, as in, how accurate was it... See the end-of-year updates in bold below.

The more you believe in and listen for God, the more you hear His voice, which means you get supernatural guidance, even prophetic visions.  

Sounds crazy, but its happened to me many times. Just click the Prophecy tag in my archives to read all about 'em. But for now, I have to tell you about what happened to me last week, when a bro approached me with a bunch of fresh info for my days ahead.

It was a normal Tuesday morning spent praying with guys in Silicon Valley. Afterward we had breakfast, and then I headed to my car. One of the guys was parked in the same direction, so we walked together. As we did, he piped up and told me that while we had prayed together, God gave him a vision for me.

Now, this isn't just any bro, Shandy Pekkonen, is a guy I've prayed with for over two years, and I know that he both loves Jesus, pursues him anyway he can, he believes God's promises, and as a result, God uses him to do cool things like share a vision of the future.

So I was curious to hear what Shandy had to say. He started out by saying that God was looking forward to creating with me. That he say a large black wall and the two of us, God and I, were throwing ideas on that wall to create a vision for my future. Shandy said that God was really looking forward to that time with me.

Whoa, right away I was hit by what this brother was telling me. For a month I had a strong desire to get away for a day to pray and brainstorm with God on a whiteboard. In fact, there is a friend of mine who has a house overlooking Silicon Valley where I sometimes go to pray, and he had just put a new office on his property, and I specifically wanted to go to that location to have my brainstorm session with God. I had a hunch (which I later confirmed) that instead of a whiteboard, his "brainstorm wall" was currently black.

Update: I ended up doing this within a week of Shandy's prophecy, and it served to orient my thinking. The time played a part in a web of actions that led to my getting a consulting job in Philadelphia where I met with a guy who hired me, resulting in our move to the East Coast. 

Next, Shandy told me that God showed him grass that was about to sprout from the ground and that it was going to start growing. This was a result of seeds that I had been sowing. 

Update: Shortly after I started my new job at Geneva Global, I learned that there were many people in my network that unbeknownst to me had connections that would serve me in my new role. Without realizing it, I had been sowing seeds for my future work without knowing it, to the level that I've been traveling back to Silicon Valley almost monthly to continue to cultivate those seeds.

Even more, he said, while my wife was largely not involved in my work in this most recent season (ie. few years at my latest job), that was going to change, and she was going to be involved.

This choked me up right on the spot. I never felt like my wife was fully included in my work and that was a missed opportunity to me. I wasn't blaming anyone for it, I just knew that I wanted her to be a part of my life more fully, including my work, because I know she has so much to offer any situation, and plus we're just better as a team. My dream job, in fact, no matter what it is includes working with my wife. 

Update: Whitney has been welcomed by my new company with open arms. Geneva Global made extra efforts to ensure she was cared for by having insurance and doctors in place. They provided full-service movers to lighten the load on the move. The COO asked me weekly how my wife was doing, and helped us find a pediatrician when we landed on the East Coast. Whitney felt a real warmth from this extra attention and care, and brought the kids to the office to meet people, and was warmly greeted. People passed the baby around and wanted to know more about her. Our CEO has asked to have Whitney and I over for dinner at his home, and Whitney received a personal thank you from him for making sacrifices to enable my work at the firm especially the travel. At the company Christmas party Whitney and I were invited to sit at the table with the CEO and his wife and managing director and COO. This has all served to welcome Whitney into the company in a way she has never been before. and now that we are moving to a house just a mile from my office, I forsee Whitney stopping by to say hello more than ever before.

Shandy started to tell me about changes coming in my current role at Cityteam, but I had to leave our conversation, because (TMI warning) all the coffee from breakfast had caught up with me and I urgently had to use the bathroom. But I needed to hear the rest of it, so we agreed we'd talk more by phone. 

I soon called Shandy back and I wasn't sure how much more God could have given him in this vision. I also know that one moment of vision with God can fill volumes of book, He sometimes paints an entire story with so many details in a single moment (yes, this the same God that breathed into existence all Creation, so its no surprise).

Turns out Shandy had a lot more. He asked me about my parents, and specifically our relationship. He called out specific issues that were affecting us, and he was spot on. The good news, he said, is that there was healing in store for the year ahead. As he was telling me this, I was full of emotion, so happy inside, praising God.

Update: Who knew that we would move back East and that we'd get to spend significantly more time with my parents, which has been truly wonderful, especially to see them with the kids. My Mom drives down to play with the kids every other week or so. I talk to them far more than I did while on the West Coast. We Facetime with the kids more. We've had a number of really constructive conversations. All in all, I definitely feel like we're growing our relationship.

Then Shandy asked about my brother. Wait, did I even have a brother, he asked? Yes, I do. Well, he said, your brother is an amazingly magnetic person, isn't he? Yes, Shandy he is. He is really good speaking to people, connecting with them, delighting them, helping them. Yes, he is all of those things, I reported.

Well, he said, your brother was given a pastoral gift by God, he was made to be a pastor and to speak to people to restore their souls. That is his calling, and there is some history of this in your family (I'm not aware of it, have to do some digging to confirm it). Without going into the details, the things Shandy said about my brother, a person he never met, in fact, he never knew I even had a brother, they were just incredible, true, so good to hear, again, I was ecstatic.

Update: I decided to relay this to my brother, and we've talked about it a couple of times since. The reality is that he is really gifted with people, he connects with them easily and is genuinely interested in their retirement security. I've been sharing with him how, due to this prophecy and continued prayer, I believe that he has an ability to help care for people's eternal security. And I'm so pleased to say that these have been great exchanges. Even more, I later realized that the "history" that Shandy talked about was referring to my Dad and his calling as a pastor. I relayed this to my Dad and ever since have seen it confirmed over and over. He's a "man about town" who knows many people in his town, is often sought out for counsel, and has a heart to help people. We've been discussing that there is perhaps another level of help he can provide, actual healing, casting out demons, speaking life and truth. Again, these conversations are undoubtedly positive, well-received, and on-going. 

He concluded by telling me how even though there would be tough work ahead, that the tide was about to change for me and my family. The things he said were such an encouragement to me that I got off the phone, I thanked God for his encouragement, and put my Bible app onto reading mode to sit and listen to Scripture as I drove.  I couldn't wait to tell my wife later that night about this encouraging report, and the rest of my family too. 

Update: Reading this prophecy now, at the end of the year, literally has me choked up. There was tough work, leaving a job well, leaving an area where I had made great friends, moving across the country with a 5 week old and a toddler, living in transition while we look for a home, starting a new job with 2+ hours of commute time, struggling to be disciplined in my faith with a lot of obligations and a lack of sleep. But the overwhelming sense is that the tide has changed in a BIG way, that is literally how I would describe it. It never ceases to amaze me that God speaks to us, often through other people, to guide us and at times even show us a glimpse of our future. 

So, what does your future look like? Do you get reports on it, either small details or a fuller report like I got? You must know that it is possible, that truly all of the days of your life are written in a book held by a good, loving, and just God who desires to show you.

Shandy is available for coaching and ministering to people--reach him here

Legends, People Getting It Done

Mike Griego: All In Executive

I don't exactly remember when I met Mike, but in just a short year or two he has become a dear friend, advisor, mentor, and brother in Christ to me. Let me tell you why.

First, Mike has a posture about him that tells you he is listening intently, and that he cares. Despite his insane schedule (Mike is a highly in-demand sales training executive and author) he has made time to meet with me on several occasions to listen to me and at times offer sage advice.

After hearing about my challenges and project ideas, Mike has often said he will pray for me. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, but I know that Mike does pray for me because he reports back to me with the sense that God is giving him when he prays. These reports are often tremendously encouraging to me, and reflect God's perspective on the situation, I'm certain. 

Why do I call Mike the "All In Executive"? Because Mike, like many of us, was a Christian who for many years went through the motions, but he was not all in. He chronicles the transition from being lukewarm to being all-in here. You see, as Mike handed over the keys to his life to God, he continues to evolve into a Godly man who is putting himself out there for the Kingdom.

A practical example of this is a blog he launched called Biblical Viewpoint. Mike is extremely intelligent and his ability to synthesize Scripture, history, and aspects of our worldly struggles into an easy to read post every week or two is outstanding. Mike's timely writing is something I never skip over, and I've shared his posts with family and friends on numerous occasions. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

For a more thorough personal account of Mike's faith and how it informs his work and everything else in his life, check out his profile on Finding God in Silicon Valley.

People Getting It Done

Jack McCall: Fool for Christ

Jack and I first met when I attended a 6:30 am Christians in Commerce Meeting at the San Jose Chapter. I can't recall entirely how it worked out that we ended up grabbing lunch together soon after, but we did. Jack is the refreshing type of believer who lays it all on the table, his shortcomings, his struggles, and mostly, his praise. 

I've come to Jack with some of my own struggles as a result, and he is a rare person in that he shies away from giving advice. He wrote to me once:

"I'm not one to give men advice, because God has assured me that His voice to each heart is far more impacting than any knowledge I may impart. He does use me to speak to folks, but not usually in the way of advice." 

He may share a relevant story, but usually doesn't say "do this or do that." I've found that when I go to Jack, the Holy Spirit moves through him to me in a profound way.

Jack and I have had several such "Holy Spirit exchanges" between us over the past year or so. One such case was a breakout of prayer in the middle of a Denny's restaurant I wrote about here. Most recently, though, the Holy Spirit moved through Jack as he spoke at his wife's funeral. She passed away unexpectedly, after 40+ years, I grieved in my heart for him, and I knew that God would use this difficult trial for his glory. Jack's words were profound, about his failings and love for his wife, it became clear their marriage was a great testimony even to, no, especially in, the last days. 

Jack has a website where he blogs and provides resources online here. I really like his "Appointment with God" outline he has posted online here. As Jack shifts from career as a successful salesman to spend more time in ministry, I expect God is going to do amazing things through him, I know he is going to finish the race running hard. 

People Getting It Done

Jim Yost: Authentic Faith

Jim Yost is a partner of Cityteam, I'm not entirely sure in what capacity. All I know is I've met him passing through the halls a couple times a year, and there are some guys you just see the peace and presence of God in them, and Jim is one of those guys.

Additionally, Jim sends out an email update every month or two about what he is up to and what he is seeing in Indonesia and other places in the world that come into his view. They are incredibly insightful, weaving together Scripture with everyday work on the ground. What Jim and his team has been able to accomplish among the people of Papau is amazing. 

When Jim was back in the office a few months ago, there was an open floor for praise reports, and it was hard to follow his shoes--he reported that he and a couple of others had baptized 2,000 earlier in the year in plain view (ie danger) of onlookers. 

I encourage you to email Jim to be added to his (decidedly simple) email newsletter.

October 2015 and I caught another update from Jim talking around a table in Kansas City. When I stopped by the Cityteam offices they were buzzing about it. He talks freely about many aspects of faith, the church, discipleship. Check it out, you won't regret it....some quotes.

"I asked God, how much more time do I have on this Earth? I promised God that with the remaining time I have, I'm not going to be satisfied with a few growing churches...could my eyes see a movement from one side of Indonesia to the other...the largest Muslim country in the world?"

 

"We're not doing a good job if 250,000 people can die in an instant from a tsunami and enter a Christ-less eternity."

 

"We focus on the words of Jesus a lot, we don't focus on his actions, which were divinely inspired and showed his model of life."

 

"These guys were seeing stuff they never thought possible. Since then, we've seen 1,400 churches planted among Muslims. We've baptized 20,000 people, but the number is not the important thing."

 

"My definition of movement is 2 Timothy 2:2. If you get four generations of disciples making disciples, you're getting viral now, you can't be stopped."

 

"Everything about urban living pulls families apart. Religion in urban areas is put into a box, it becomes secularism, it leads to atheism."

People Getting It Done, Legends

Charlie Strouss: Kingdom Realtor

Charlie and I met at a New Canaan Society gathering in Menlo Park. We realized we live a few blocks from each other, and that we were both going to be dads soon. We got the families together and worked out together once in awhile. That would be a pretty standard friendship in many circles.

Then, in 2011 we both attended the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend. Even more than that we were roommates at the Fairmont Hotel. We mostly had our own agendas over the weekend, attending different breakout sessions, sitting at different tables for dinner, and so on. After one particular talk by Francis Chan (which I wrote about here), Charlie and I both walked back to the room. When I got to the door he was coming down the hall from the opposite direction. We didn't say a word to each other, both stunned by what Francis had said. We went inside and realized we were both there with the intent to lay on the floor before God.

And so we did so together, and our prayers sounded a lot of like.

"I don't want to keep doing things, even praying and reading Scripture, my way."

"I don't want to leave here and be nicer to my wife for a couple weeks only to revert back." 

"I want you, God, to be the focus of my life! Nothing else matters, and I will give it all up for you."

When we were done, we knew that it wasn't a coincidence we had both come back to the room to pray, that we were roommates, that we had met. We acknowledged that we were not being fully open with each other. So right then and there, we agreed to hold each other more accountable by talking at least a few times a week, mainly to pray together, but also to see that we are in the Word, that we're being honest about our struggles.

And so we left that weekend with a new resolve, and ever since, we have kept our word. We began to pray together, often over the phone. We began to be more honest about our struggles and have more difficult conversations, even asking each other to share about our faults. At times, we've been challenged by the other, but we also know that our relationship is more about bringing God glory than having fun.

Within a couple of weeks of our time in San Francisco, we began to see "things" happen. Scripture was popping off the pages for us, and we were eager to share. Opportunities to share our faith became more frequent, and even though at times it wasn't received as we had hoped, we encouraged each other that being faithful in making the attempt was what matters. 

So, I'm writing about Charlie because he is a dear brother, he's invested in our relationship even when its not convenient. He calls me usually at the exact time I need to be called, and I know that is God working through him. He shares his real thoughts with me, not the sanitized version, and we wrestle with the issues of our day. But there's more to Charlie that makes him a Hands On Christian.

Charlie opens the office of his bluechip commercial realty firm early in the morning just about every Tuesday so guys can usher in to pray together. It's a simple act that requires commitment. That Tuesday morning group, called Legends, isn't a Bible study or a fellowship, it's just a group of guys who want to get before God in the morning together to intercede on behalf of the Silicon Valley. There are a handful of these Legends groups scattered around, and they all have the same burden to get before God in the morning to pray. Even more, Charlie didn't set out to start a prayer group--he just started to pray in his office with another guy. For eight months or more they prayed, and they occasionally prayed that more guys would join them, and out of that he decided to invite others. 

Last, but not least, Charlie and his wife are not shy to put their faith to work. For a few years, during the winter months they organized a large sleeping bag distribution to the homeless. They'd scout out their whereabouts, secure a wholesale buy of bags, coordinate donations from dozens of friends and families, organize a preparation day in a warehouse, and then oversee the delivery to sites all across San Jose. This is just one example of them putting their faith to work, among many. So its my honor to call Charlie a brother and to be able to put a few words down about him here. 

People Getting It Done, Legends, Miracles

Shodankeh Johnson: Man of Prayer

Much could be written about Pastor Shodankeh Johnson. I'll stick to what I have personally experienced getting to know him as a colleague at Cityteam.

Shodankeh is a man of prayer. I'd heard that he wakes early in the morning to pray for an hour or more each day, and when I hosted him in my home I found that to be true. More than pray, he actually sings in a soft voice to God, I woke up to hear it. 

Another time, while attending the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend, I had arranged for Shodankeh to share a room with a dear brother and mentor to me named Ken Churchill (I wrote about Ken here). One evening, Ken received an email from a man in Africa who was reporting that another man who is Shodankeh's colleague was imprisoned. Ken informed Shodankeh of this terrible news, only to watch him fall to the ground in prayer where he began by praising God. 

Once, I had set up for Shodankeh to speak at a conference, literally planning most of the details of his visit, from the time he stepped off the plane. A colleague, Eric Venable, picked him up with the intent to bring Shodankeh to the office to brief the plan and get settled in. But Shodankeh asked to be taken to Stanford University. Eric asked him if he had an appointment, to which Shodankeh replied that he did not, but he had been praying on the flight and God had directed him to go there. Off they went, and when they arrived, they began to walk around the campus, and in so doing, ran into an old friend of Eric's. As they got to talking, they learned that this friend was the secretary for a director of the Hoover Institution, a prestigious international think tank. And, she revealed, there was a new program in the works to resource international leaders just like Shodankeh! The program wasn't publicized, but she offered to provide some information if they would come to her office. Of course, they went, and despite his schedule being completely booked for the day, it turned out that the Director was in his office and took over an hour to brief Shodankeh on the program and give him all of the necessary details to apply. These kinds of divine directives, interactions, and provision are commonplace with Shodankeh and his team from Africa.

Later, when Shodankeh arrived to the office and I heard the story, I asked him how these things happen to him. He replied to me that when he travels abroad, he has a team of people, as many as 50, praying and fasting for him the entire time he is gone. I came to know that he is a man of prayer, and that his team in Africa often doesn't make a move until they have paid a high price in prayer and received direction from God. 

Because of Shodankeh's love for prayer, I have put myself in position to pray with him and bring him to pray with groups of people I am a part of. Two examples, are the Legends prayer group I attend and the New Canaan Society brothers at a weekend retreat. Shodankeh has come to bless the men of Legends a couple of times and when he does there is always a thick presence of the Holy Spirit. Another time, Shodankeh joined a group of men who left the NCS weekend retreat to go to a hospital to pray for a young man who had been shot in the head. That man went on to have a miraculous healing that I documented here

As I said, much more could be written about Shodankeh, in fact it has here and here. I also encourage you to read the book Miraculous Movements, many of the stories of which come from the work of Shodankeh and his team in Africa. Shodankeh is a man who seeks to know God and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are evident in his life, and for that he is definitely a Hands On Christian.

A short video with a powerful testimony from Pastor Shodankeh Johnson. 

People Getting It Done, Tools That Work, Legends

The Guys at The Bible Project

At the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend Retreat in October '14 I saw this video played during a general session.

As the video played I started searching for the creators, and stumbled upon The Bible Project. I saw that they have a RAD plan to continue to create insightful, generally awesome videos that illustrate key concepts of the Bible. 

So, I'm a fan, am glad to promote what these guys are doing, encourage support of their work, and will be sure to keep an eye on what they're up to.

People Getting It Done, Legends

Tamrat Layne: The Diplomat Who Met Jesus

I met the former Ethiopia Prime Minister Tamrat Layne, when he stopped into a Legends prayer meeting in Menlo Park. Over coffee and pastries, in his soft-spoke and humble way he shared this story about being jailed as a revolutionary and his meeting Jesus in person in prison.

God is doing amazing things through Tamrat and his wife, Mulu, on an international scale. His personal website is here

People Getting It Done, Legends

Jaeson Ma: International Disciplemaker

I was introduced to Jaeson when he showed up to pray with a group of guys in Menlo Park. The group goes loosely by the name Legends, and Jaeson is a driving force behind it in Orange County. Even more than that, upon meeting Jaeson, I just had the sense that he was both sharp and humble, on the move and available. 

At that first meeting, Jaeson shared what he is seeing in China where his travels as a talent acquisition executive in Hollywood takes him often. Wherever Jaeson goes, he is looking for people God is drawing and making disciples! Even more, he gave encouraging updates about how Jesus is moving in Hollywood in unmistakeable ways, he shared with us that the Bible Series on the History Channel was going to be huge, long before it was. 

Since then, I've occasionally been on the receiving end of an email from Jaeson to the Legends guys where he shares more about what he is seeing including passing along prophecy. These are profound indications of what is going to happen in the future in the Kingdom of God. 

Did I mention Jaeson is a multimedia talent himself?! He recorded a hit song with Bruno Mars, is active on Facebook, YouTube, and much more, you can follow and learn more about him online here. In closing, a short but important message from Jaeson.

People Getting It Done

Peter Kockleman: Kingdom Construction

Peter Kockleman is a man who captures your attention. With tales of his adventures over the years (he set a world record with a 2,000 foot bungee jump from a hot air balloon once), and his matter-of-fact approach to business and life, he's easy to like and listen to. His latest undertaking, the expansion of his business Summit Steel, is one for which he praises his partnership with Cityteam.

"My church group hosted Cityteam guys from the recovery program at a boot camp and while playing football with them, I learned many were looking for work. Even more, they needed someone to believe in them, so I took a chance to hire guys without experience that had to be trained and invested in.

When we hire and care about them, it speaks volumes to them that we haven't written them off and that they matter. Since then, I've hired 20 guys, and 14 are still with us. They show up on time, they're hard workers, they have a peace about them and they haven't failed me; in fact, they've literally build the business in our new location."

Peter hasn't been content to simply hire guys. He personally contributes financially and last year, his company was the top sponsor for Cityteam's Golf Classic at the famed Olympic Club. He teaches the men a course on sexual addiction. And, when he can't hire guys, he helps them find a job, even buying their tools to work in other trades such as carpet laying. He's helped guys find housing, paid the deposit on apartments, and so much more.

Pete adds, "I can honestly say I have been more dramatically impacted than the 20 graduates we have hired over the past two plus years.  I will NEVER write off another human being as being beyond hope since I have witnessed these men die to their former lives and transform into men worthy of honor that God always knew they could be.  God never gave up hope for His creation.  Now I know why!"

People Getting It Done

Why Francis Chan Is My Favorite Pastor

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When I was first coming into my faith, a guy told me to look up Francis Chan's YouTube videos. The first one I found (just below) had me watching his videos late into the night, very impacted by what he was saying, his emphasis on the profound meaning of Scripture often overlooked, and his sense of urgency.

When I moved to California, I learned that Francis lived in San Francisco, and it wasn't too long before I had a chance to hear him preach in person at a youth event. I realized then that what strikes me most about Francis is his urgency, the man does not want to waste a minute on this Earth. That, and a fear of the Lord, has driven this man deep into his faith, and his teachings have literally changed me as a person.

In November 2013, at the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend, Francis was set to speak again. I was eager to hear what he was going to say to a few hundred business guys packed into the opulent Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill. Francis looked to be under duress during his talk, he gazed to Heaven, at one point he knelt on the ground in prayer before the men. Here is what he said.

After this talk, I was struck silent. I walked back to my hotel room, not wanting to listen to another speaker or talk to anyone, I just wanted to get on the ground before God in prayer. I wanted to repent that I just keep doing things on my own terms, not surrendering to God the way I know he is calling me to do. As I walked to my room, coming from the other direction was my roommate, Charlie. 

Charlie and I entered the room one after the other, and I don't recall that we spoke a single word to each other. We put our things down, he in his separate room, me in mine. We soon realized we were both about to be on the floor in prayer, and so we joined each other. We called out to God and our prayers sounded similar. We prayed for maybe forty five minutes or so.

As we got up, we recognized there was a reason we were connected through this group, that we were sharing a room, that we both came back to pray. We offered to each other that while we are friends, we really only know about 70% of each other, at best. We agreed that we didn't want to leave this conference, and make nominal changes for a few weeks or months, to return to the same old way of doing things.

We made a commitment right then and there that we would work hard to get to know each other. And, more importantly, we would call each other every day or two to hold each other accountable to reading Scripture and to getting before God in prayer.

Over a year later, Charlie and I still talk a couple times a week at the minimum, pray together, reveal our struggles as much as anything, and encourage each other through life. There are times when we'd rather not reach out for all kinds of reasons, sometimes we are even annoyed at each other, but we both know that our relationship serves a higher purpose, that investing in the other isn't just about us, its about drawing closer to God, and glorifying Him. I think its fairly rare to have these kinds of real relationships among men, but I think when the Holy Spirit moves men get connected in a very strong way in relationships that bear great fruits.

I digressed there a bit into my personal story, rather than about Francis Chan and why he is "Getting It Done." Most recently, I had a chance to have dinner with Francis with about a dozen other guys. We were eager to hear what he's been up to with his "Crazy Love" project in the Bayview section of San Francisco. In a nutshell, Francis decided to start living church with a core group of brothers and sisters that are known by their love and their unity first, and then multiply from there.

He shared over dinner how they had multiplied a couple of times already, he told stories about how Christ's love is being expressed, and the way that everyday men and women are being raised up to teach and make disciples. In fact, Francis says he seldom preaches, since everyone is willing and able to preach and share together.

The question that came to my mind, which I asked Francis, is this, "Are the people who are coming into the church poor?" Francis said that they are. And then the follow-up question, "Can it work among the rich?" This is the million dollar question (ok, pun intended). So many of the disciple making movements that I hear about that have the characteristics of the early church we read about in Acts, people loving and caring for each other and being united, well, it mostly seems to happen among the poor. 

This lead to Francis talking about a project he feels led to, a partnership with a larger church in Silicon Valley called Abundant Life. The elders at Abundant approached him about going "all in" for the kind of love and unity Francis is seeking with Crazy Love. And so, Francis has an opportunity to try "it" on a larger scale, he's come on as an elder and is preaching there periodically. Needless to say, I'm going to be praying for his effort and keeping an eye on the progress for sure. Here is a sermon Francis gave at Abundant Life called "Giving God Our Best."

In closing, I just heard Francis talk, again at the New Canaan Society Conference in San Francisco. And while a good deal of his talk was directed at the men and movement of NCS, his boldness in speaking the truth, in only desiring to please God was evident. And, his message about defining the God we serve from Revelation Chapter 4 has already vastly changed the way I pray. As soon as the video is available, I'll post it here online. 

Don't stop Francis, fly far as on the wings of eagles brother!

People Getting It Done

Touched by the Suffering of Jack McCall

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
— Psalm 23:4

Jack and I first met when I attended a 6:30 am Christians in Commerce Meeting at the San Jose Chapter. I can't recall entirely how it worked out that we ended up grabbing lunch together soon after, but we did. Jack is the refreshing type of believer who lays it all on the table, his shortcomings, his struggles, and mostly, his praise. 

I've come to Jack with some of my own struggles as a result, and he is a rare person in that he shies away from giving advice. He wrote to me once:

"I'm not one to give men advice, because God has assured me that His voice to each heart is far more impacting than any knowledge I may impart. He does use me to speak to folks, but not usually in the way of advice." 

He may share a relevant story, but usually doesn't say "do this or do that." I've found that when I go to Jack, the Holy Spirit moves through him to me in a profound way.

Jack and I have had several such "Holy Spirit exchanges" between us over the past year or so. One such case was a breakout of prayer in the middle of a Denny's restaurant I wrote about here.

The Holy Spirit moved through Jack as he spoke at his wife's funeral in the Fall of 2014. She passed away after 40+ years of marriage, and I grieved in my heart for him; I also saw God use this difficult trial for His glory. Jack's words were profound--about his failings and love for his wife--it became clear their marriage was a great testimony. 

In the days after Jack lost his wife, he was understandably shaken. He grieved tremendously, and publicly to those who know him and follow his blog. In the midst of this great trial in his life, I saw that God was doing deep and wonderful work in his life. The words he was writing cut right to my heart, I'd often tear up while reading them.

I reached out to Jack to see how he was doing over breakfast a month or two after his wife's passing, I just had a sense I needed to pray with him. When I did, the most miraculous thing happened, I wrote about it here. This was God using Jack's suffering to bless others.

Not long after Jack's wife died, his mother died too. I learned that his brother had died within a year or so prior to his wife's death. He had also dealt with a challenging sale of a business he had built over many years. To look at his life from an outsider's perspective, one might have great pity on Jack. But I know Jack and I know better, and I saw how there was treasure in the midst of the brokenness. In fact, I texted and emailed Jack that on several occasions. I couldn't hold back from telling him how clear it was to me that even while he was numb and grasping most days for a way to get by, his continued faith and obedience to God's word was serving as a great sermon to most everyone around him. 

Now, months later, I've been able to witness Jack start to become outrageously blessed in the wake of all the loss and mourning. He is literally a man dancing with joy at how good God is, and to say that is a real miracle. I know many who have faced this kind of loss and are derailed if not wrecked by it. Jack has been sustained by his faith, and out of his sufferings he has emerged in a deeper walk with God and having impacted many through his walk. 

In closing, Jack has a website where he blogs and provides resources online here, register to receive his blog posts, which I always read when I receive it in my inbox. I really like his "Appointment with God" outline he has posted online here. As Jack shifts from career as a successful salesman to spend more time in ministry, I expect God is going to do continue to do amazing things through him. 

People Getting It Done

David Watson: Warrior for Christ

My first week at Cityteam was an immersion into caring for the poor, addicts, and reaching the lost, those who do not know Jesus. That included two days with David Watson, and everyone in the room with him knew that he was legit.

Truth, wisdom, patience, David is a man that lives to see Jesus made famous, and he has fought many battles along the way. He's lost friends as martyrs in Nepal, has lived in more countries that I can name, and he has trained up thousands of leaders that are making incredible impact around the world.

In short, because I'm not doing David much justice in my introduction here, if you want to know about discipleship from a warrior, follow David Watson's blog. He doesn't update it all that regularly, but there is meaty content already there. He also runs a FaceBook page called Church Planting Movements, with his son, Paul (who I'll cover in another post here soon). 

People Getting It Done, Legends

Kent Shaffer: Church Uniter

Kent and I met at a hackathon event in Silicon Valley, put on by Leadership Network. Kent stood out because he showed up early to pray over the space, he was clearly very smart but humble too. He helped me empty the trash and do the menial tasks it takes to run a straight 72-hour event for over 100 people, despite that he was listed as an esteemed mentor. He offered me access to his hotel room for a shower and to nap. Yet, there was a lightness about him too, we had fun together. And before we parted ways, Kent pulled me aside and said he wanted to help me, and encouraged me to think about ways that would be possible.

Kent and I have stayed connected ever since, which is saying a lot since he spent the year after we met traveling the United States with his family packed into an RV, with only occasional stops in one place for an extended time. Kent and his wife Evie felt called to be on the move with the purpose to connect the church, to share resources, and breakdown barriers. Kent's work manifests itself most clearly in two websites he runs, called Open Church and Church Relevance. Or follow his travels and commentary on Twitter here. Evie is a phenomenal artist/graphic designer/technologist and you can enlist her design services online here, and follow her artistic renderings online here

It is a great blessing for me and my wife to know the Shaffer's. When Kent makes occasional trips to the West Coast, we find time to sneak off on a hike up a mountain to pray in the early morning hours. And we were blessed recently when they parked their RV behind our home and we had a few days to have our families spend time together. They are dear souls, salt of the earth people, who you just know are following the Lord wherever He might take them.

Kent and I write back and forth to each other by email and text and an occasional phone call. To know that there is a man out there in the world who I know is following Jesus and who is like-minded, that I can call knowing he will be real with me, this is a priceless gift. When I look back on our relationship and consider how it formed, I know that it could only have happened through the work of the Holy Spirit. People just don't often meet each other, stay in touch via email, and consider themselves to be close as family. Yet, that's what Kent is to me, a dear brother in Christ. 

In closing, in one of our email exchanges where we were discussing a trial I was in the midst of, as he often does, Kent shared an insightful passage with me, this one from an Indian pastor named Abraham Israel:

Eagles are the only birds that love the storm. When all other birds try to flee from the storm and hide its fierceness, eagles fly into it and will use the wind of the storm to rise higher in a matter of seconds. They use the pressure of the storm to glide higher without having to use their own energy. They are able to do this because God has created them uniquely with an ability to lock their wings in a fixed position in the midst of the fierce storm winds.

After a certain period of experiencing storms face to face, eagles love to play in the storms. The storms in life that we as God’s royal eagles face are trials, tribulations, and temptations (John 16:33; James 1:12). As we face the stormy wind of afflictions in life, the Holy Spirit helps us lock our mind in a fixed position with the grace of God through faith in the finished work of the Cross, which helps us conserve energy and just stay in the storm and enjoy the lift and height of heavenly mindedness in a greater and greater altitude (1 Cor 10:13; Eph 6:16; 1 Peter 5:9-10; Phil 4:7).

After a period of time, we start to love the trials because of the positive things of peace that we are able to experience in the storm and the heavenly after effects of being lifted in to a great height of spirituality and ecstacy in believing (1 Peter 1:8), which would not be possible without it. This is the reason Apostle James said,
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

We as a person of royalty need to take a quality decision of accepting trials willingly with joy because it lifts us in to higher altitude of spirituality without us wasting even an ounce of energy. After we start to use all the maneuvers in the midst of storms, we will surely say, “Bring it on!” with a stout chest and our head held high.

People Getting It Done, Legends

Neil Ahlsten: Prayer Builder

Neil brings a professional focus to faith, a rare and desirable trait when done in step with the Holy Spirit. The questioning, tinkering, hacking in the Silicon Valley sense, matched with top notch execution, all in the midst of and service to the Christian faith is a formula for a modern-day Hands On Christian. And Neil is that.

He left a prime gig at Google to launch a start-up focused on building communities of prayer (story here). The app, called Abide, is growing fast with new functionality and partnerships with the National Prayer Committee, International House of Prayer (IHOP), and more. 

I've been super excited to support Neil and the Abide team, even providing pro bono marketing and event services. This is because over the past year or so I've experienced powerful moves of the Holy Spirit as I've checked my text and voicemail to hear prayers left for me. In fact, my mailboxes have been filled up forcing me to back-up important prayers I want to revisit. It has seemed to be a crude solution with tons of potential for improvement, and I believe Abide is a solution. 

More than Abide, I've watched Neil take part in a variety of other constructive initiatives in Silicon Valley to build the church, including as an organizer, mentor, and key driver of the Code for the Kingdom Hackathon series in the Valley. I've also been blessed to join Neil on occasion early in the morning to, what else, pray.

Keep an eye on what this brother is up to here, and download and try out Abide

People Getting It Done, Miracles

Jack Deere: Spirit Led Man

I first met Jack at the New Canaan Society, and in the hallway he spoke to me like a friend. His calm approachable spirit struck me; with people eager to speak to him, we had a leisurely five minute conversation. Me a young man who knew nothing of his journey, his books, anything.

After that conference, I learned that Jack had a son who went through Cityteam's addiction recovery program, was clean for awhile, then relapsed. When he did, he was discovered in a park by a wealthy Christian family in Silicon Valley that took him in to live with them. Somewhere shortly after that, he committed suicide. 

Jack's story intrigued me, and I've attended his workshops and have picked up his book, "Surprised by the Power of the Spirit," but admittedly, have not read it yet. When he preached at the NCS conference in Washington, D.C. the Spring of 2014, he laid his heart out before 700 men in an intimate and graphic way regarding the near death of his wife, his struggles before God all the while, and now his care-taking of her. 

Currently, I see Jack is posting about caring for Leesa on a Caring Bridge site here. Jack is a soldier who's wrestled with his faith publicly, he's stared death in the face, he's pastored churches, he's cared for many, and I see a man who is bearing himself naked before God, and before others to the glory of God.