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God's Authentic Design

It is almost Father’s Day, and I find myself compelled to write about femininity. (I know. I’m weird.) I think I am being compelled by of a combination of things: 1) I want to join the good work that's happening in our world today to empower women. 2) I feel a nudge from the Spirit of the Living God to write in this direction, due to the confusion regarding ge...

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What is Faith?

In my early years, when I would try to describe what faith in Jesus is, I would fumble over vague, ethereal-feeling words. I would say things like, “You just feel it,” or “It’s like hoping or trusting in something,” or even “Faith is believing in something.” The responses this would invoke were usually a wrinkled forehead, raised eyebrows, and confused eyes....

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An Intimidating Topic

Oh no! It's time for us to teach on sexuality! Why in the world did we pick sexuality as a topic for our “Other Hours” sermon series? Does anyone reading this want to take my place this Sunday and preach on Sexuality? I know that we are sexual beings. I know that our current cultural moment regarding sexuality is riddled with confusion, embarrassment, exhaustion, ...

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A Backyard Baptism

Last night I was in a nice back yard, on a nice, warm evening, standing with a bunch of nice people by a nice swimming pool. My wife, Brittany Stockton stood up in front of all the people and explained to us that there were thirteen kids in her 3rd through 5th grade youth group that wanted to be baptized. She told us that she has been teaching the kids that Jesus’ life i...

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What is the Mother's Blessing?

In society, we hear a lot about the damning effects of an absentee dad on his children. In Christian circles, we talk about the importance of “the father’s blessing” in his children’s lives. Sociological studies show us that a child without a good, strong father figure in their life will have a decreased self-concept, feel more insecurities, and be ...

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Prayer for Arizona's Governor

Well, sometimes your job requires you go pray for the governor. So this morning, I woke up, reached deep into the back recesses of my closet and grabbed my once-every-couple-of-years suit. I brushed some of the dust off and it looked pretty good. Since today is the National Day of Prayer, and Living Streams has...

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Some Thoughts On Work and Time and Heaven

The Notre Dame cathedral in France has been on everyone’s mind this week. It took lots of money and loads of work hours for almost 200 years to erect a building to point people to God and commemorate the mother of Jesus. Though it was sad to see fire consume and undo a lot of hard work, I ...

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Noticing God's Fingerprints

I was driving near our church today when I saw a coyote running across Central Avenue. A few hours before that, I had been driving down Glendale Avenue when I saw a peacock run across the street. Seriously. A bright, colorful male peacock running across busy Glendale Avenue. Of course,...

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Get Wisdom!

Recently I sat down at Einstein’s Bagel shop with a man named Frank Seekins. Frank is a counselor by trade, but he is learner/teacher in life. I asked to meet with him because, over the years, he has shared bits of relationship knowledge with me, which has produced relationship...

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Go and Get Yours

"Experience is the best teacher, but it doesn’t have to be your own.” That's a true statement, but a dangerous one. I am the youngest of three rowdy boys. I learned a lot from my brothers about what to do and what not to do. Each of their losses were lessons for them and for me. Yet, the lessons I learned from their experiences produced ...

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The Spirit World

In last Sunday’s message, I pointed out that there is a spiritual world that coincides with our physical world. If it weirds you out, don’t worry, it totally weirds me out also. Yet, I have heard many stories that prove what the Bible teaches about the spirit world is true. I was with a guy in our church last week who...

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God Loves Romance

What? That’s sounds weird. Well, where do you think romance comes from? The Bible, which claims (and proves itself over and over again) to be God’s word, is full of romance. There is even a book of the Bible completely devoted to romance. Like I said in the beginning, God loves romance. Now, for those of you who do not...

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The Union of Our Union

It was nice to see a room full of American leaders all gathered together respecting the office of the presidency and the importance of governmental participation at last Thursday night's State of the Union address. It was nice to see the moments when American leaders from both sides of the aisle could stand ...

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Division

So it’s about 70° outside, a soft cloud cover in the sky, the “people's open” is teeing off in Scottsdale, and the old East is taking on the new West in a Super Bowl on Sunday. Let the division begin. I am a West Coast kid, no doubt. I have lived in Arizona, California, and Oregon. If I spend some time living in Washington I will have the entire ...

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The Power of Forgiveness

Warning: If you are sad, this messagel may make you sadder at first; but keep reading and it will hopefully make you happy and hopeful. Since I am the lead pastor, I always know the plan for the church service. I know the message. I know the timeline of the service. A lot of times...

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Happy New Year

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” This is a nice little poetic phrase that brings a smile to our souls. The only problem is some “never been” things are not welcome. For instance, for the first time in my life I have a new year’s mustache, but when my daughter Bella saw it, she cried. And, for the first time, one of ...

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Looking Forward

If you know me, you know that I like to rethink things. I like to look for the unseen and unforeseen elements in things. I like to try to buck the trends, and almost always adhere to the less-is-more concept. This is true of how I view church, as well. Traditional thinking tells us there are two ways to measure the status of...

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Living Debt-Free

I love rain in the desert. I like the way it looks as it brings cleansing and clarity to all the colors, while surrounding them with a soft, grey hue. I like the way it smells as it brings the soothing fragrance of creosote into our dusty desert air. And I like how it stirs up the giddy in all of us sun-scorched Phoenician folk. ...

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Jesus Came for the Sick

In a book I have been reading lately the author discusses a psychological defense mechanism called dissociation. (I know that sounds boring, but bear with me a moment.) Dissociation is the splitting off of a group of mental processes from the main body of consciousness. The first example is from a story about a missionary who was mauled ...

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Home. Work. Society.

My life right now has three main compartments. I have heard people say it is not good to compartmentalize your life. They say, “Your life should not be like a frozen dinner, it should be more like a pot pie.” But I don’t really know what “they” are talking about. I have my home situation, which is most important. I have my ...

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What an Incredible Team

There it was on display for all to see. People of all ages, colors, socioeconomic classes—all gathered together for a night of joy, peace, and the glorious Phoenician fall. It was beautiful. My primary takeaway from last night's Fall Fest, which was also the culmination of our Urban Kinetic initiative, is that the dreams God has ...

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A Place that Triggers Memories

I just got back from Belize where I spent a week with old friends, some new friends, and a super-fun team of guys from Living Streams. Every ten seconds Nick was either leading us in worship or cracking us up with a funny comment about what we were experiencing. ...

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We Are Privileged

Well, we studied Acts 22 over a month ago, but there is a phrase in that chapter that I cannot get out of my head. It has lingered like a wonderful fragrance that causes me to pause and take a deep, delightful breath. This is the phrase: “The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear ...

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When Bad Things Happen

There are some big questions out there that we all wrestle with from time to time. Will a team in the West, other than the Warriors, make to the NBA Finals? Will a team in the East, without Lebron, make it to the NBA Finals? Can a number one draft pick ...

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O Humanity

O Humanity Drenched with the image of God Crowned with glory from above Capable of the greatest—love Yet, Broken by a great fall Broken by the brokenness of all Broken in every way imaginable This week I spent time with some young Belizeans who have come to Phoenix to enjoy what Jesus is doing ...

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The Heart that God Seeks

There seem to be two things that keep people from making Jesus the Lord of their life. The first is false ideas. There are a million counterfeit ideas dressed up as truth, parading through social media, songs, books, popular culture, and from our own...

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A Refreshing Moment

Recently, I heard a podcast by Ravi Zacharias on how to build a moral society. It was like the refreshing moment when the sweaty, dusty pollen of a long spring hike is washed away by a deep dive into the cool waters of a beautiful river swimming hole. It was like the tipping point moment when ...

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What to Do With All This Information

Here are some quotes about the Information Age we are either thriving in or barely surviving in: BUCKMINSTER FULLER: “Until the 1900’s, humanity’s cumulative knowledge doubled every century. In the 1940’s humanity’s cumulative knowledge ...

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Is Living Streams an Affirming Church?

This is a question I was asked recently, and it is a question I love to answer. I am not sure those asking it love my answer, but I do love the question. When asked this question, I assume the person asking either feels sexual attraction to people ...

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Some Reports and Thoughts About Recent “Goings On” at Living Streams

Good Friday Service Was Like a Rich Buffet. Seven pastors gave three-minute teachings on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross. I am very proud of the pastoral ...

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For Some Reason

CHALLENGE #1 We arrived at the Tucson Airport at 4:05 am. Yeah, that means we left Phoenix at 2:05 am. We were five, sleep-deprived men with bags and a giant pallet full of Martial Arts floor mats. We were on our way to do a lot of different things, including putting on a Ju Jitsu tournament in ...

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Make it Rain

So, a short while ago, El Jeffe Talkington, European Luke, Jujitsu Mike, Principal Aaron, and Pastor D all decided to join forces for something that has now taken on the name, “Operation Make It Rain.” Basically, all that means is five guys who live in Phoenix, Arizona and ...

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We Need More Billy Grahams

So, what are you doing for the next 50 years of your life? In 1944, at the age of 26, Billy Graham was hired as an official, full-time evangelist for a new ministry called Youth for Christ. Then, in 1992, at age 74, after a powerful public life and a consistently ...

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Where Problems are Solved

Today I sat on the bus next to a guy who was really thankful for all that Trump has been doing as president. He said he liked having someone in the White House that shared some of his values and ideals. Then, just after that I listened to multiple stories ...

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Who Do You Support?

Are you serious? Another season of American Idol? Isn’t 15 seasons enough? Isn’t the Voice, The Four, and the old X Factor plenty? And what about the technologically advanced singing show called “Rising Star,” straight outta Tel Aviv? Oy ve! This relentless search for the American...

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Here is something from a pastor that you don’t hear every day. Eat, drink, and be merry. Make memories, go on adventures, romance and make love to your spouse. Goof off, have fun, stay up late, sleep in, and binge watch your...

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Roadblocks and Practices

There are many obstacles that stand in our way of experiencing the flourishing, free, and fully alive life that Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead to make possible. Though we feel them and face them...

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We Haven't Reached Our Pinnacle

Entropy is a consistent, physical, demonstrable, law of physics that defines the tendency of things to diminish, degrade, and move from order to disorder. Yeah, tell me about it. I feel it all the time. It is ...

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Good News

Record breaking. Uncharted territory. Answer to prayer. Exceeding all expectations. This is the report from our Christmas Eve services last weekend. Thanks to everyone who put in the hard work to prepare the beautiful services and to the 1600+ people that made...

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A Great Anticipation

I hope this poem, written by our Creative Arts Director, Ryan Romeo, will help you enter more fully into this season of anticipation. I also hope it will remind you that each Sunday between now and Christmas day will push us further and further into the wonder ...

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Wow. What a Week.

In the last two months we have averaged over 800 people attending our Sunday morning services, and almost 350 people attending our Wednesday night Fam Nights. This week about 400 people attended a job fair on our campus, and around...

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Beauty vs. Ugly

If I was going to come right out and say it without any flowery words, I would say God cares more about what you reflect than how you feel. God created you as a masterpiece to reflect the diverse wonder of His beauty and the majestic goodness of ...

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Falling Winter

I hope you are having a great week and feeling a sense of joy and wonder at the imminence of the winter season. But in case you are not, I thought I would share a poem I wrote as I spent time with Jesus a few nights ago. Falling winter has ...

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Keep Looking for the Image of God

Last Monday night, my super rad wife and I went to Brophy College Preparatory to listen to one of my super rad wife’s heroes speak on the topic “Theology in the City.” I know that probably sounds super boring, but ...

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Can You Feel the Joy?

I am so proud of our Living Streams family. I know we are not the biggest, hippest, or even best church in town. But my heart wells up with steady joy as I see us step further into our potential. In the past few months, I have watched us excel...

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Why Do We Preach?

Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Corinthians 9:16 I remember the first time I preached a sermon. I was 17 years old. I was in something called The School of inistry at Applegate Christian Fellowship. I was one of twenty ...

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A Marvelous Creation of God

Hundreds of people gathered around food-filled tables —smiling, laughing, getting to know each other, and talking about life. Kids running around the same tables, also smiling, laughing and ...

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The Transforming Power of Giving

David Stockton is celebrating his 40th birthday with his brothers, cousin, and a couple of old friends on a beautiful island this week. I hope he gets a refreshing break, and as well as prayer and ...

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September - Finally!

Ahhh September. Cooler weather. (I wrote cooler, not cold.) College football. (Yes, I like college better than pro.) And best of all, my birthday. Also, for those of us living in Phoenix it's a huge sign of achievement to see that calendar flip from August...

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Some Big Questions

This Sunday, we will dive into a very deep and detailed chapter of prophetic literature. This chapter forces us to deal with questions like: Where did evil come from? How could a good God allow war and pain and evil? Is there a devil? So...really light and ...

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Check it Out

This is my weekly email to the Living Streams Family, but my hope is that it will be so much more. Each week I hope these emails bring you clarity, and understanding to cut through the current cloud of confusion that is causing your path to be unclear and ...

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The Final Word

Last week I was in my kitchen as I heard my 8-year-old daughter clanging out something on my electric guitar. It was music to my ears as she sang her heart out. As I tuned in I heard, “Trust in your heart and your sun shines forever and ever.” When she...

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Lessons from Messy Miracles

I am looking forward to sharing a message this Sunday at Living Streams called, “Lessons from Messy Miracles.” Over the years our family has experienced a couple of miracles which were not only ...

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A Messy Miracle of Mercy

My wife, Kristina, has had heart troubles since she had untreated strep throat, Asian flu, pneumonia and scarlet fever as a child. These illnesses left her with myocarditis and pericarditis. Her parents were alcoholics, ...

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Like a Boomerang

My daughters have a new favorite song right now called “Boomerang.” (It is a little embarrassing to admit that I know the song, because a 15 year-old punk rock girl named Jo Jo sings it.) There is a line repeated in the song that says, “I don't really care...

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Freedom is Having the Least Amount of Chains

Bam! Just like that I have figured out the millennial mystery. I have deciphered the mysterious motivations that lead to this millennial generation's methods and madness....

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The Kids Had it Great This Week

Since the heat wave is on in Phoenix, my seven-year-old, Bella B,, my five-year-old, Eva G,, and my six-year-old, Luther the dog, all hopped in our minivan and we headed north. Our game plan was ...

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Happy Father's Day

Brittany reached over and gently tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I think it is time.” It was midnight and I had been asleep for an hour, so it took me a couple of seconds to realize what she meant. When it hit me, I bolted upright and a thousand ...

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While You're Making Plans this Summer...

Hello, everybody out there! I'd love to hear where you are as you read this. I know many of you Phoenicians are “escape artists” this time of year. So, if you could just take a second to comment, it would be ...

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The Heat is On

June is here, and that means a very different thing to those who are in Wisconsin than it does to us here in the desert. The heat is on. Even my visiting Belizean friends. who live in 90º weather with 90% humidity all year round, have been ...

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Higher Love

If there were no pain and death in the world, we would not need to talk about Jesus. If all we experienced in our world was peace and tranquility, we would never need to rock the boat by bringing up the powerful, unsettling name of Jesus. But ...

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God is My Judge

The name Daniel means God is my judge. In my opinion, it has become very hard these days to judge what is right and true in the midst of all the clamor and confusion. It seems there is very little substantial meat in the extremely fattened ...

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Mom

I Miss My Mom. She took her last breath of this world’s air 12 years ago. For 53 years before that, she added light and love and good food to the world she interacted with. She was a strong believer, a faithful wife, a caring mother, and a 5-foot ...

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The First 100 Days

Trump has been in office for 100 days, and it is what it is. I am not going to comment on that, but I've been in my new role for 100 days as well. If you have a few minutes, I would like to comment on that. First, I feel a massive amount ...

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About Worship

Psalm 100 begins this way in The Message translation: On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, Sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God! He made us; we didn't make Him We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with ...

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We're Only Halfway Through

Don’t even think about taking your foot off the gas pedal right now. Yes, we did have an amazing Passion Week around Living Streams. Yes, we did have a service on Palm Sunday that left many of us ...

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It's Passion Week

As my 39-year-old eyes survey this old world, I see things similarly to the one who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind,” says the Teacher, son of David, King of...

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What Can I Do When I Feel Punctured, Pierced and in Pain?

I have a contest for you this week. Without Googling, what are the three times God the Father spoke audibly during Jesus’ earthly life that are recorded for ...

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Why I Believe in Tithing

The only time in all of Scripture that we are asked to test God is in reference to tithing. In Malachi 3, God promises to pour out a greater blessing than we can hold if we are faithful in our tithes and offerings. In over forty-five years of ministry, I have seen God faithfully fulfill his ...

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Vacation Thoughts

There are some expressions in the modern, American version of the English language that have been mulling around in my mind. They have to do with the most basic, yet vital of human functions: breathing. When breathing in, air journeys into the mouth and nostrils, travels...

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Ditch the Garage

Not so long ago a friend of mine talked about his recent move to the central corridor in Phoenix. He told me about one of the distinguishing features of the surrounding homes from the 1940s –1960s: there are no garages. At first it was different for him and seemed like a ...

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