Archives For Rick Warren

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a series of articles looking back at my 60 years of walking with Jesus and describing some of the faith and ministry lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Read Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE.

The world has changed greatly in the 42 years since I started Saddleback. When we held our first service in the spring of 1980, cell phones didn’t exist. We didn’t have the Internet. No one had a personal video camera. Only a handful of people had personal computers.

I remember we bought three computers for 10,000 dollars in the first few years of Saddleback. I lost three leaders in the church over it. They called the purchase a waste and said we’d never use three computers. But times have changed. 

Change is inevitable. You don’t have to like change, but you can’t stop it. The world will continue to change every day. You can count on that.

You can resent or resist change. Or you can use it for your growth and God’s glory. The choice is yours.

But…

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In my previous article, I started a series looking back at my 60-plus years of walking with Jesus and describing some of the faith and ministry lessons I’ve learned along the way. If you missed that article, you can find it here.

I’ve had a lot of people throughout the years come into my office and tell me that my plans for Saddleback are impossible. You’ve probably had it happen, too. You start a new building campaign with a huge goal. Or you commit to a new mission project that looks overwhelming. Whatever it is, people will tell you it’s impossible to do.

So what I’ve done is remove the word impossible from the dictionary in my office. I did this at the very beginning of Saddleback Church. I got that idea from the Bible. Luke 1:37 says, “Nothing is impossible for God” (GW). If impossible isn’t in God’s vocabulary, it’s not in mine either.

Many years ago, we had a traffic bottleneck coming onto our campus. We had only one entrance, and we…

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“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”

Luke 8:14 (NIV)

God wants to speak to you. But first, you must eliminate distractions so you can hear him. You can’t hear God when your mind is crowded with worries, plans, and activities. You can’t hear God when you’re preoccupied with TV, the Internet, or your cell phone. These distractions are like weeds that keep a plant from growing to its full potential. When a seed lands among weeds, it will sprout and start to grow, but then the weeds will choke it, preventing it from bearing fruit. 

Today’s verse describes three common weeds that can choke God out of your life: worry, riches, and pleasure. 

The word “worry” really means “pulled in different directions.” 

You can also be so busy making a living that you’re not making a life with God. Don’t let that paycheck become your highest priority. 

What’s wrong with pleasure? Nothing—except when you’re so busy pursuing…

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Over the next few weeks, I will share the lessons I have learned in different areas of faith and ministry from my 60 years of friendship with Jesus. It has been an amazing journey, and I hope you’ll join me as I describe some of what I’ve learned along the way.

I made two of the most important decisions of my life before I became a teenager. The first was when I gave my life to Christ. I wasn’t even five years old when I became a follower of Jesus on January 24, 1959. My parents loved the Lord and so did my grandparents, so it was very easy for me to come to faith. 

Because of this experience, I never look down on a child who comes to faith in Jesus. I know many people have a concern that children simply don’t know enough to be a Christian. When I came to faith, I couldn’t have explained to you the virgin birth. I didn’t even know what a virgin was! But I knew Jesus loved me, and I wanted to love him back. That was good…

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Unity within our churches has been stretched and challenged over the past few years. The world has become more polarizing, causing people to take sides on a whole host of issues.

Pastor, you need to guard the unity of your church. 

For God to move in your church, it needs to be united—no matter what’s happening in the culture and around the world. I’m convinced that when we have the unity of the church in Acts, we’ll have the power of the church in Acts. Then we’ll be able to set aside our petty differences and unify around one thing: the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:32). 8

So how can you maintain unity when the surrounding forces are trying to tear it apart?

Here are five ways you can protect the unity of your church. 

Develop an attitude of acceptance in your church.

Accept people where they are, not where you want them to be. Don’t major on minor issues. You don’t need to insist that everyone agrees on every minor detail.

Romans 14:1 says, “Accept the…

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People-pleasing can be a particularly addictive trait, especially for pastors. You’ll either lead your ministry in an effort to please people or to please God. The choice is yours.

If you choose to please people, letting them fit you into their mold, your ministry will never be what God wants it to be. It’ll cause you to miss God’s unique purpose for your life.

Here are six truths to keep in mind next time you’re tempted to please people:

1. Even God can’t please everybody. 

Only a fool would try to do what God can’t do. Many people in this world will disapprove of you. Accept it. 

Jesus reminds us, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you” (Luke 6:26 NIV). If everyone speaks well of you, it’s bad news. It means you stand for nothing and are a chameleon. Pastor, the moment you take a stand, someone will start throwing rocks. 

2. You don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy.

If you believe you must have other people’s approval to be happy, you won’t be happy. Even if you…

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Most of us have run out of gas at some point. It’s painful.

When my kids were young, we went on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. We borrowed a trailer from a church staff member and attached it to the back of my truck. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into consideration how the extra weight on my truck would impact my gas mileage, and I ran out of gas before we made it to our destination. I then had to hike up a mountain to get more gas. It wasn’t a fun experience.

I’ve come to recognize the similarities between running out of gas in our vehicles and running out of energy in our lives. They share many of the same causes. Below are nine reasons we run out of gas physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

1. We don’t start out with a full tank. The way we start our day sets our day. If we don’t start out with a full tank, we’ll be running on empty as the day goes on. That’s why we must start each day spending time with the Lord, so we can fill…

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“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

Where do you lack self-control in your life? When you live according to our impulses, you open the door to pain and heartache. Self-control protects you from harm and allows you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. 

Without self-control, you will be mastered by your moods, which wildly swing back and forth. God gave you emotions, but you can’t be mastered by them. It is better to live by your values and commitments, which means doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it. 

When you develop self-control, you are able to restrain your reactions. You won’t be careless with your words because you’ll think before you speak. When others gossip, your self-control will keep you from joining in. When the Little League umpire makes a bad call, you won’t yell at him like it’s the last game in the World Series. 

Without self-control, your schedule will be managed by your opportunities and not your priorities. If you don’t determine how your time is spent, other people…

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Due to the unique circumstances of the past two years, many pastors have faced or are facing burnout. If that’s you today, there is hope. 

Just like your car, we each have an “energy tank.” We constantly go from draining that tank to filling it up. And no one likes to run out of gas. It can be dangerous, particularly when we run out of gas on a major highway. The same is true in our ministries. Burnout can be dangerous. To fight against it, we need to keep our energy tanks full.

Jesus says it like this in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).

Jesus’ words give us four steps we can take to keep our emotional tank filled up.

1. Get fed up (with the current state of your life).

If you…

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Your biggest enemy probably isn’t who you think it is. It’s not Satan, and it’s not the world around you. Your biggest enemy is you

The battle inside of us will destroy our ministries if we let it. Paul says this of himself, “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15 GNT). If you’re honest, you’ll agree with that statement. 

I’ve found that there are seven weapons of self destruction that ruin more lives than anything else: shame, uncontrolled thoughts, compulsions, fear, hopelessness, bitterness, and insecurity. 

Ministry doesn’t make us immune to these self-destructive behaviors.

But the answer isn’t found in modern culture or in a book. It’s found in a person—Jesus. In Romans 7-8, we find seven habits that will help set us free from these self-destructive tendencies.

1. Remind ourselves daily of what Jesus did for us.

Many of us are saved, but we don’t act like it. Instead, we’re filled with shame, uncontrolled thoughts, and compulsions. We’re not…

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There are four ways you can reach an unknown destination. 

You can go by trial and error, where you don’t make a change until it’s obvious you’ve gone the wrong way. You can also use a map and see the entire plan ahead of time before you get started. Or you can use a compass to find your destination. 

But the best way to reach your destination is to get a personal guide. And followers of Jesus have the best guide—God! He leads you through decisions, knowing beforehand where you are and where you are going. He walks with you every step of the way.

The Bible says that God gives us the Holy Spirit to be our guide. Jesus tells us in John 16:13, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (NIV).

So how does the Holy Spirit guide us as we make important decisions? The Bible gives us nine principles for guidance as we seek God’s direction in our lives.

1. Relax.

Many people think God’s will is…

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God’s goal for our lives isn’t for us to be happy. It’s for us to grow in spiritual maturity. 

Happiness comes from holiness. You’ll be happy for trillions and trillions of years when you get to heaven. But right now, you’re in the growing stage. And God is much more interested in your character than your comfort. 

How does God grow you? Through tests. It’s like when you work out in a gym, where you test your muscles by lifting weights. The more you test your muscles, the more your muscles grow.

God builds your character in a similar way. But the tests that God gives you examine many areas in your life, such as your character and patience.

James describes it like this: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT).

The Bible tells…

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