Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas w/o Christ is ... Un"Reason"able

If I were sitting down to write about the top five places to pick up a nativity for your front yard this Christmas, I would be finished… right about …now.

So at New Venture, we’re doing an “Assignment America” blitz to place a disappearing CHRISTmas at the top of our social media headlines for all the world to see. This Christmas season, wherever you find reflections of Him, grab your digital devices and snap it. Capture it on your smartphones, cameras, tablets, iPads, and post it on Facebook, Tweet it or Instagram it. I'll get you started with one of my own, snapped of my neighbor's driveway down the hill from us: A four or maybe five foot Cross of Christmas Lights.
That’s the assignment, here’s the why: At New Venture, we’ve been talking for a few months about how to start digging out from the pile of rubbish trying to diminish or even delete Our Mighty God – ways to Awaken a Sleeping Giant, whether that’s God’s global Church or our individual witness as Christians. Nowhere, and at no time of year is this “deletion” more apparent than at what is SUPPOSED to be the season of His birth.

I heard one of our staff members was out with a family member looking for a nativity and came home empty handed. They said they found inflatable seals and penguins, Ferris Wheels, plenty of North Pole gear, but no baby Jesus, away in a manger. Plenty of poinsettias, and things my wife loves like glittery ribbons or twinkly lights, and boxes of fake snow (sorry Northeast, we order ours boxed in San Diego). But no O Holy Night was stirring, not even a mouse. You can have a Happy Holidays in a million ways, but if you want to celebrate a Merry Christmas, you’re going to have to hit Home Depot and make it a D.I.Y. XMAS.

What about Christmas cards? Those are more likely to show the Spirit of the season – IF you’re looking for Hanukkah, Kwanza or “safe” nondescript blessings of goodwill and peace on earth. Otherwise, it’s pretty slim out there. Wal Mart actually comes out the winner here with several Christian Christmas Cards with Scriptures and other nods to the God of the Bible, the Word Become Flesh. Target had few in the beginning. Barnes and Noble will bury you in stacks and stacks of Surfin’ Santas, winter wonderlands, a Happy Owl-idays (with a Christmas Owl?!), and off-color options. I don’t know how we got from the miracle of a Messiah, “born that man no more may die,” to celebrating His birth with cards you wouldn’t send to a minor. But we’re there.

And the count of any of the above drops to an appalling zero when we narrow the question to how much “CHRISTmas” have you seen in public areas like parks, malls, stores? Nativities are being kicked off military bases left and right and barely covered in the news. The Mt. Soledad Cross was ruled against in the 9th District Court days before this writing (more about that in the Sleeping Giant blog), and ordered taken down in 90 days. Christmas parades are banned in select cities around the nation including Santa Barbara and Encinitas … right here at home.

Instagramming the nearest nativity is not going to turn our country back into One Nation Under God, or put Christmas back on the public map. But it’s a start, and at the very least, as Christians, we’ll be drawing near to Him this year, stirring up the conversation, and making sure that the nations hear that Christ was born in Bethlehem, and in our hearts. Go tell it on the mountain…over the hills, and Mt. Soledad, and military bases, and wireless hotspots – and everywhere.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Storm Preparedness -- Prayers For & Lessons From the Philippines' Typhoon Haiyan

In the aftermath of the storm that recently ravaged the Philippines (Nov. 8, 2013), stories began to emerge that People Magazine described as "stories of horror and hope.” I found it almost hard to read the details the first couple of days of what would turn out to be hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and more than 5000 lives lost. Together with the church, we lifted up in prayer those who were hardest hit, distributed details for how to help (also available at the bottom of this blog), and thanked God for victories like the babies that were born in the chaos – literally “in the midst of the storm.”

The headlines were gripping and brought to mind God's frequent use of storm imagery to illustrate both promises and warnings in His Word. (For you have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Is 25:4).

One particular story of an area that sustained minimal damage and no deaths – and WHY this was the case – made me particularly interested. It was the one area you’d think would have been hit the HARDEST, but it was actually almost untouched – and even remained continuously functional during the storm, serving as an uninterrupted source of support to the surrounding community: The Tacloban Seaport. And why? According to the seaport manager, “Credit goes largely to a Philippine Ports Authority manual called 'Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures …During Inclement Weather,'” which he refers to as “our Bible.”

Local authorities from other devastated areas were criticized for “failing to adequately prepare” and left devastated by the storm. The Port Manager however, began to respond the minute he heard there might be trouble, implementing what he said he “memorized” from his “Bible." He not only limited the damage, but also enabled quick and near-complete restoration after the storm – allowing the port to do more than SURVIVE, but to immediately SERVE.

Right after the storm, the port opened for military vessels and ships providing aid. Almost the ONLY aid, which was crucial because “more help arrives by sea and less by air in the first few days after the crisis."

How much is this a direct image of our responsibility as Christians in the midst of a broken world? The need to be prepared before a storm hits – “memorizing” the instructions in our literal Bible with even more passion than the Port Manager studied the procedures in his guide. How immediately must we react at the first sign that our enemy the Devil is throwing some “inclement weather” our way? How important is it for us to not just know what we “should” do, but to take intentional steps to get our “port” in order? All of these things, not only keep our own lives in safe, minimal-damage conditions – but allow us to serve and support as Christ's hands and feet when the world around us is falling apart and in need of aid. This is our blessing and our responsibility -- keeping us in safe harbor AND serving as the vessels that allow His aid to Reach others. We never know the storms that are brewing in lives all around us. Be ready "in any season" (2 Tim 4:2)  to be His strength to those He sends your way.

If you’d like prayer for any of the recent circumstances, have other needs, or want to know more about how you can help, contact the church office at New Venture (760 721 7777). We also recommend some of the below trusted world aid organizations.

God bless you as you search His “instruction manual,” withstand the storms, and love and serve your neighbors in any weather.

Jesus With You,
Pastor Shawn

Philipines Red Cross –

Unicef –

Doctors Without Borders --

Friday, October 4, 2013

Well Done ... Pastor Chuck

Without question, God chose to use Pastor Chuck Smith as the cue ball of the Jesus Movement of the 60's & 70's.

I came to saving grace in Jesus Christ in 1971, at a tumultuous and demonic time in our nation's history, which included psychedelic drugs, Charles Manson, Woodstock and more.. The Bible says, "where sin abounds, grace much more abounds (Romans 5:20)." It sure does!

As national revival impacting millions swept across America, I got caught in that tsunami of God's Power and Love, along with my pastor Mike McIntosh, local pastors (and the fathers of Switchfoot stars) Mark Foreman and Chuck Butler, as well as the worship leaders who became the parents of Phil and Evan Wickham. My, how time flies.

God chose to use Pastor Chuck, as the flashpoint of this revival as hippies came through his church doors by the hundreds. Instead of turning them away, he welcomed all of these disenfranchised and hurting young people - as Jesus would. Today, Pastor Chuck begins eternal life, enjoying the One which he served so faithfully. Last Sunday Chuck preached his last sermon from a wheelchair. 86 years old, feeble and weak. Well, he sure doesn't need that wheelchair today, as Pastor Chuck begins enjoying his eternal reward.

He earned it, and a generation of us are eternally grateful!

One day, those who embrace the Christ that he loved, will join him. But until then...we're due for another NATIONAL REVIVAL. Through prayer, boldness, and a faithful walk with our Lord...let's be a part of it.

Pastor Shawn

Friday, May 31, 2013


It’s official – there is no “frontier” left that isn’t exposed to or covered by the Internet – Google, in specific. The Bible says that when Christ returns, every eye will see Him [Rev. 1:7]. It’s possible that by then, most of those “eyes” will be wearing Google glasses…or something similar.

Earlier this spring, 2013, Google Glasses and iGlass became available for public consumption. With a price point that kept them exclusively for celebrity clientele, it’s still a few years before we see them on the guy next to us at Walmart.

But Google, in their trademark formula for influencing our culture, already started with prototypes of their glasses in very visible (no pun intended) arenas like Celebs with “courtside seats,” Designers from New York’s Fashion Week, Artists at the Cannes Film Festival, and positioning sales to Influencers such as those on Fortune’s top 100.

There’s an exciting side to this. Did you ever imagine living in an age where you could pop on a pair of glasses and in a futuristic way, have them download extra info about everything you see – or record everything you encounter; give you directions; take pictures with the blink of an eye and share them with family and friends...everywhere?

The other side of this is, we’re multiplying our exposure to “the world” exponentially…but are we multiplying our exposure to God along with it? The Bible tells us to be careful what we expose ourselves to – what we hear and listen to; what we think about; and yes, what we see.

For all the benefits and advances the Internet has brought in changing our lifestyles – instant worldwide news, travel made easier, communication, information – there’s also a danger to what the Internet can put in front of you. And with smaller and more portable, affordable technology – tablets, smartphones, and now glasses – it’s possible to have the Internet – all its pros and cons – always before us.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’d love to get my hands on a pair of those glasses. Waiting for a flight watching Spiderman IV; grabbing a burger while watching SportsCenter; being able to prepare a sermon from anywhere, anytime. But as our opportunities increase to keep the World in front of our eyes and at our fingertips, it’s more and more important to remember what God says about the importance of keeping His Word ever before us, more than anything else. [Deut. 6:9, 11:20; Eph. 5:19]

As we start to see the world through Google’s glasses, are we remembering to put on God’s perspective first? Are we powering up His Word through all these gadets? Is His “report” [Is. 53:1] louder than what any headline tells us to believe about ourselves and the world around us? If not…put on God’s glasses first, and make sure His vision for us, His plan for you, and His point of view are the first and clearest things you see. Fix your eyes first and foremost on Jesus…the author and perfector of our faith, and let Him be the glass through which -- or through WHOM -- you see it all. [Heb. 12:2]

[Additional reading: Is. 55:9; Jer. 3:33]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hitting The Target

I really appreciate this quote. It's a great source of inspiration and encouragement. We all encounter times in which we experience setbacks. Ever felt like you've taken 2 steps forward, but then... 3 steps back?! At times all of us have.

God often allows us to advance from what initially feels like retreat - or defeat! Much like an arrow in a bow, when we feel like we're going backwards, often times God is about to launch us into future opportunities that only He can see!!

When the arrow is positioned to be shot by the archer, oftentimes the Master Marksman aims it in a direction to accomplish His ends.

God is the same way. He "Readies" us, "Aims" us, and then "Launches" us forward. Allow God to do that in your life. Ask Him right now, saying, "Lord, I yield myself to You. Knowing that You are aware where I can be most effective and accomplish the most good, no matter how I feel today. I trust where you're taking me."

God bless you friend. Good things are coming! Happy landing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Healthy Case of Spring Fever

Happy spring season to you. The Lord speaks about the 4 seasons He created in Gen. 8:22, and from an informal survey I took recently while speaking to our church family, springtime seems to have won out as NV’s favorite. I hope you’re enjoying and adjusting to Daylight Savings…with all the ministry that’s been happening around here at New Venture, we could use that hour we lost, back! I sure like it lighter, later though. You too?!

It’s been nothing short of thrilling to observe many of the ministries at NV springing to life (no pun intended). Our Spanish Service is a blessing, with 14 additional friends joining us on our Transportation pickup last week. Epic teens just returned from Winter Camp. Children are having a blast, with many coming to Christ in Kid’s World. A recent All-Church Baptism saw many take this important step in honoring and pleasing God. MPACT Men’s Ministry has been hitting the streets and spreading the word of our fast-approaching 24th Annual Easter Outreach services. And the launching of our new Traditions service has been far beyond anything we could have hoped for, with 51 enjoying the great hymns of old this past weekend in our Upper Room. Soon we’ll be adding Gospel Celebration Services, for those who enjoy a different expression of worship. God loves variety – and He sure loves the amazing people of NVCF!

I couldn’t be happier as we move into spring. Here’s a neat quote I came across, that speaks about the importance of not making excuses, but to keep looking to God for great things. I tell you this... the fired-up folks at New Venture, not only relate to this, but are living it, looking to God for great things and looking forward to experiencing more of Him together in the days ahead.

Yep, spring is in the air. That means new growth and opportunities. Maybe in your garden but definitely with our God.


Pastor Shawn

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Only a few weeks into the New Year and already God is moving at New Venture especially with our new, life-changing “NO REGRETS: Living the Life You are Meant to Live” series. Based upon Kerry and Chris Shook’s book One Month To Live, our entire ministry is gaining a fresh, new perspective on honoring God by “Living life like we’re dying!!” Do that, and you’ll find yourself living better! I love John 10:10 in the Message Bible – “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Ken Blanchard who’s a bestselling author, management expert and firm believer in our Lord, and has ministered here at NVCF, has said,

That’s a powerful dose of conviction right there.

As human beings, we all have varying interests. And those, in and of themselves are not necessarily bad things. Back in the day (a looongtime ago), when I was a regular dancer on the hit television show, Soul Train (I know, hard to believe, huh?!) I used to enjoy shaking it up on the dance floor. And boy - while I still love to dance - I love it so much more when God get’s my spirit dancing for Him, rather than the amazing things that He continually does, rather than secular television. Interests like the latest fads and trends are often interchangeable or replaceable. But more often than not, sometimes interests capture our attention away from committing our gifts, hearts, resources and even our time to heavenly matters – like living life for eternity, and not solely time...

21 years ago today, one of the biggest commitments I ever made to Jesus was to be the best father I could be to my son, Shawn Jr. No longer was parenting an interest, it was something I pledged everything I was, everything I would be and everything I had to. What changed…love is what changed. I was now responsible for the rearing of another human being in this world. I could see clearly what God must have felt knowing the sacrifice He’d pay because you and I were more than just His interests but rather his adopted sons and daughters. And His commitment to us is most evident in the sacrificial life and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now that’s commitment!

The direction of where we choose to take our faith lies in where our hearts are at. Today, ask yourself is church my interest or is my relationship with my Lord and Savior, my commitment? And if you can’t say the latter, I pray you come this weekend to discover more about what’s holding you back as we explore a life where we’re just breathing versus a life that’s breathtaking!

Join us, we’re saving a spot just for you… and so is God.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions and Results - God's Way

Dear New Venture Family and Friends,

It's that time of year again.…The beginning of a new start, a point in time to start fresh, to turn a new leaf, to write some goals, and more importantly, to be resolved! Welcome to 2013.

Today, approximately 45% of Americans dedicate this time to write out formal New Year's Resolutions with the number one goal usually being to lose more weight, get in shape or to get healthier. The goals sound worthwhile don't they? The only problem is that within months, most Americans forget what their New Year's goal(s) were, much less being on the way to fulfilling them. Want some Resolutions with Results?! The best way, is committing to do them God's Way. Let me explain:

Direct your goals away from your own abilities and back on track toward God. For instance if you’re trying to take positive steps towards getting healthy try this goal out:

Less sugar, more fruit. Less meat, more vegetables. Less soda, more water. Less driving, more walking. Less worry, more sleep. Less words, more actions. Less me, MORE GOD!

Those who use this time of year to glorify and honor our Lord, rather than ourselves with our resolutions will be blessed (Matt. 6:33). Putting God back into the process of making goals and trusting in Him to guide your path is the best insurance of success you could ever have. The more we take ourselves out of the equation of our lives, the more God is able to work miracles in our lives. Here's how the equation should look: My responsibility is to get out of the way and allow Him to work. His Promise: "to do exceeding abundantly beyond anything I could possibly ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).

It's been wisely said that…"NOTHING VENTURED = NOTHING GAINED!" You can't get anywhere unless you're willing to take a risk (the Bible calls it "faith"). Don’t be afraid to risk it all - taking positive steps of faith with God this year, as opposed to merely "leaps of the imagination." This year, with Him, I plan on doing that. How about you?

My prayer for this New Year is that is that we become more than just resolved, but rather glorify Him with resolutions that honor God and draw lasting attention to Him.

"13" may not be a lucky number. But I've got a special feeling - that this year... it's going to be a blessed one!

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let's rejoice and be glad in it…” ~Psalms 118:24.

A God blessed and awesome year to you!