Posts Tagged ‘historic first presbyterian church’


Josh Riebock

Life is a field. You aren’t alone.

I won’t forget tonight. Not only was it Election night, it was PhoenixONE and they had a special treat for us. Josh Riebock is a writer. He wrote a book called Heroes and Monsters and I had the chance to read it over the summer. The book tore me up. It’s a story about Josh’s relationship with his dad who was his hero. Despite the fact that his dad was his hero, he had a dark side to him. His dad was an alcoholic and Josh writes a book on how he couldn’t comprehend knowing who this guy was when he started drinking. His dad was his hero and yet he was a monster to him. It’s a great book on how the events of our lives and how they shape us. It’s about how we can be loving people and then switch and be the ugliest people in the world. It’s about the struggle inside us and how we can find hope in Christ through our trials and pain.

Josh talked about how God wants to take us to the depths of pain so we can learn and heal from it. We like to hide and stuff our junk and God wants to release us from it. He wants to give us freedom from the things we are scared of. I’m so thankful Josh came tonight and thankful to my former Pastor Ron for recommending his book to me. I had been corresponding with Josh before he came and he gave me a big hug when I introduced myself to him afterwards. I loved that I felt like an buddy of his and how welcoming he was. I’m a huge fan of transparent real guys and Josh’s story has been a blessing to me as I have experienced the same father pains as he has.

Andy Cherry led worship and I was able to bring a bunch of my friends with me. We were all impacted by Josh’s talk. But most of all, tonight was special because I got to bring my son. And for him him to hear a talk about father/son relationship while sitting with me was special. He got to hang out with me and my friends afterwards and I even let him stay up a little late even though he had school the next day. I am so thankful to the Lord for this special night for getting a chance to meet Josh and hang out with my son.


With my bros and my son

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PhoenixONE had an amazing kick-off night that I won’t forget. It started off when I walked in I saw this amazing sunset outside Phoenix Historic Presbyterian First right before the event started. I felt God telling me to prepare my heart because tonight was going to be a big night. Downtown Devil captured the event in this article.

The guest speaker wasn’t announce for tonight’s kickoff beforehand. After worship was provided by Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell, Francis Chan of Cornerstone Simi Valley came out to our surprise as the guest speaker for the evening. Francis Chan is known for writing popular Christian book Crazy Love. I first heard him speak at a Passion conference back in 2007. Ironically I went with my friend Shauna who was also happened to be with me at Passion ’07. This was an awesome way to kickoff a new season of PhoenxONE. The audio of Francis’ talk can be heard here.

Here are my notes from tonight’s talk:

Take Courage

  • We are sons and daughters of God and we represent Him.
  • The world will believe when they see a fearless church.
  • Live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

– 2 Timothy 1:7

  • The enemy gives us a spirit of fear.
  • God puts the Holy Spirit in us. God Almighty is with us.
  • We honor God’s word when we believe in it.
  • Do you believe he gives you not a spirit of fear, but of power?
  • Something in us changes when the Spirit enters us.
  • God gives us a spirit of power, love and self-control.
  • Some Christians will say they don’t sense Jesus with them.
  • Are you out sharing your faith with others?
  • In Matthew 28, Jesus says He will be with us when we go out and make disciples.

 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

– Acts 1:8

  • We all long for the spirit of love. We need to practice it in our local church.
  • Imagine if the world saw that life of unity in our churches.
  • With the spirit of self-control, we have the power over sin. We can overcome it!
  • God promises He will never let you be tempted beyond what you can handle.
  • When we gather, we are supposed to enCOURAGE one another.
  • Even Paul asked for prayer.

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

– Acts 4:29-31


(Photos from Facebook event)


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Tonight was a special night for me. My friend Sarah had never been to Phoenix One and asked me if I’d go with her. While having dinner with her, we caught up with what was going in our lives. It was cool because she needed a friend she could trust and we have always been that for each other. I was able to just love on her as a Christian brother. I told her I get how judgemental and self-righteous the Christian community can get and how we just need people to love more and I was happy to do that for her. God’s a God of love and of second chances and showing that to each other is the start of healing.

She ran into a friend while waiting outside Historic First and I was able to catch up with several people myself. My friend CJ has been a rock in my life and someone who has shown me that unconditional love that I got to show Sarah tonight. As we walked in I saw Alina. I love that girl and I was glad to get a little time to give her a big hug. Then Jaimie and Allison found me and we were able to put a large group of us together up in the front to enjoy the worship. It was a powerful moment to be in corporate worship with several of my amazing friends. God’s done so much for me and I just wanted to give back to him and thank him for being so awesome.

Jeff Gokee brought up Suresh from Harvest India to speak about the lepers. It brought tears to me to see their faces on the screen. I remember every face from when I was in India giving my testimony in front of over a hundred of them. Then my friend and Pastor of New City Church Brian Kruckenberg gave this amazing message from James 1:13-17 on how God is good.


Suresh and Jeff Gokee

Brian Whitman

God is good, all the time.

Satan tempts us because we don’t believe this. If we did, we wouldn’t struggle with our temptation that eventually leads to sin and then to death. He lures us in by our own desires (our desires from within). The word own comes from the from the greek word IDIOS which is where we get the word idiot. So the tempter shows how good the pleasure looks, but not the consequences. (great example from Brian – a sneeze feels good, but like sin, it gets everywhere). So like any idol, when we glorify something more than God (like people), it can’t possibility stand the test. Our heart idols will let us down everytime. We have to believe God is good and live that. That’s why he’s not only good, but he also came down to show us (James 1:12).

“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” C.S. Lewis

Brian Kruckenberg

I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me John 17:23

It was such a powerful message and I was happy to hear that it spoke into my friend Sarah. I was able to hang out and catch up with friends afterwards. Johnny and Criselda (who just got engaged) came up to me and told me how they ran into my friend Candace in San Francisco last weekend and didn’t even know her. Somehow my name came up and they ended up putting two and two together and got into a long conversation. I thought that was really cool. Then CJ, Karla, Jaimie and a bunch of us walked to the The Stand for some late night dinner and fellowship. Karla is an artist and a photographer and we talked about doing a fun adventurous photo shoot. We want to make it Indy and Lara Croft – but with cameras. I enjoyed hearing her testimony. I made a bunch of new friends tonight and just had an all around blessed night. Thank you Jesus.

Hanging at the The Strand

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“I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Malachi 3:6


The fabric of which this world is made is ever passing away; like a stream of water, drops are running away and others are following after, keeping the river still full, but always changing in its elements. But God is perpetually the same. He is not composed of any substance or material, but is spirit—pure, essential, and ethereal spirit—and therefore he is immutable. He remains everlastingly the same. There are no furrows on his eternal brow. No age hath palsied him; no years have marked him with the mementoes of their flight; he sees ages pass, but with him it is ever now. He is the great I AM—the Great Unchangeable.

– C. H. Spurgeon

We can always have hope in Christ, he is an anchor to our souls

Hebrews 6:17-19;  John 16:33

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Carlos Whittaker brought a lot of energy to PhoenixONE tonight. I love corporate worship and singing in unison with the body of Christ. I’ve seen Carlos many times at Catalyst and he has an amazing heart for the Lord. Justin Anderson taught a great message from Mark 8 about how Peter rebukes Jesus for mentioning his own death on the cross. Peter says this for his own personal gain and Jesus in turn rebukes him with the famous “Get behind me Satan” quote. He then says to him and the crowd “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Basically, what path will we take?

Justin brought up a study from a book called Soul Searching by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton that that surveys 3,000 teenagers. This landmark study on the faith lives of American teenagers reveals that while a majority identify with a religious congregation, many adolescents subscribe to a watered-down belief system that the authors call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Basically, people generally choose ‘the easy path’. We choose a path for our own personal happiness, not holiness. We invest ours lives in our own personal gain and our sense of entitlement. Jesus warns us of this life for ourselves and that there are consequences for not choosing this path for our righteousness. I thought Justin picked a great topic for this age group (and for this culture in general).

Afterwards they played this awesome video of a girl who found Christ on her own. In my Islam class, I have been studying about Muslims who have been finding Christ through their dreams. This makes me want to reach out more to people.

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But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)

My good friend Jeff Gokee ended his sermon with this passage at PhoenixOne tonight. He was asking us if we were going to be like the young rich ruler or Zacchaeus during this season of advent. We are a wealthy country and many of us choose not to give sacrificially. The rich young man walked away in sadness, but Zacchaeus gave his life to Christ. For me, God has me in this wonderful place of humility that I just want to give to others. So I see this passage as more than just money. I do have a tendency to be selfish in some areas of my ‘stuff’ and I justify that by the fact that I give money to many charities and organizations. So I can be picky and choosy of what I give. But lately, I have found myself giving of my time and my services to others. I have met so many young people lately through my church and many of them have expressed interest in getting to know me. I love sharing my life to them. I have also been better at inviting people to my home or making time for them at coffee shops or restaurants. Just being a part of a gospel centered family church and how we can be a blessing to each other has really transformed my heart. I am so appreciative of what others have done for me that I want to be the same blessing to them. This process of dying to my old self has been a difficult process for me, but to live a vicariously life for Christ has brought great joy to my life and shown me a better way of living. The key for me is to be led by the Spirit in repentence day in and day out and that’s where I’m thankful to God for community.

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“…may they become perfectly ONE, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:23

Historic First Presbyterian

Tonight was the first ever launch of Phoenix ONE at Historic First Presbyterian in downtown Phoenix. Phoenix ONE is a citywide worship gathering of young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s connecting as one body in Christ. Their mission is to be a unified movement of local churches coming together as ONE to reach young professionals for Christ and connect them to a local faith community. Phoenix ONE’s executive director is Jeff Gokee.

Phoenix ONE director Jeff Gokee

I loved how the setting was in an old historic church. The director of Charlotte ONE, Dave Hickman talked about breathing life into these old churches. Charlotte ONE pioneered the CityONE Network and Phoenix is now following in their footsteps. The hope is that many more cities will follow. Dave really hit on the topic of the church reaching this world as ONE. He shared several scripture verses stating that Christ meant for us to work in unity (1 Corinthians 10:17, Ephesians 4:1-6) and that this is really the only effective way to evangalize this world.

I personally am excited to see where this ministry will head. I know tons of amazing people behind the scenes working to make this happen. My prayer is that we see the church look beyond its walls and work together to reach the greater Phoenix area. We are already too divided as a body and we need to come together to spread the good news of Christ to this generation as ONE.

Downtown Phoenix

The real job of every moral teacher is to keep bringing us back to simple principles which we’re so anxious not to see – C.S. Lewis

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