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Justin Buzzard

Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley.

Posted 9/22/14 at 6:10 PM | Justin Buzzard

Get Your Joy Back

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Get your joy back.

What happened to all your joy? Where did it go? Who (or what) did you let steal your joy?

This is the question a missionary named Paul asked a group of Christians living around Galatia:

What has happened to all your joy? (Galatians 4:15)

These people used to live with joy, but something happened to it. Their joy was lost, stolen, snuffed out, buried.

What about you?

What has happened to all your joy?

You need to answer this diagnostic question before you can answer the remedy question: How do you get your joy back?

The Galatians lost their joy because they lost a firm grip on the freedom and grace they had in Jesus. Therefore, the remedy for their joylessness was to rediscover Jesus.

Get your joy back. Answer the first question, find out how you lost your joy. Then you can answer the second question and get your joy back. FULL POST

Posted 9/19/14 at 1:18 PM | Justin Buzzard

Monthly Day Away to Study & Pray; And, Wife's Night Out

Photo: Flickr/LilyyyB - Creative Commons
Beach at Half Moon Bay

For almost 4 years now I’ve kept what I call “A Monthly Day Away to Study & Pray.” Fellow pastors, if you don’t do something like this already, you should consider making this part of your monthly schedule. This has become such a rhythm in my life that I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Here’s how it works.

Long before my month fills up, I block off one day of the month for this day away. I don’t allow any obligations or opportunities to compete with this day. My admin knows not to schedule anything for me on this day. This is a day that helps protect me from burnout and refuels me for the rest of the month.

A few days before this day away arrives, I plan for how I will use the time. I ask questions like: What do I want to study? What do I need to pray through and process? How could I come away from this day the most recharged and refocused? I generally settle on 2 or 3 “projects” for the day. FULL POST

Posted 9/15/14 at 9:05 AM | Justin Buzzard

Steve Smallman Interview: The Walk

Book cover for The Walk

I have been so impressed with Stephen Smallman’s book, The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus, that I decided to interview Stephen here on the blog. I hope this brief interview persuades you to buy Stephen’s book.

Here is Tim Keller’s endorsement for the book:

This is the fruit of a lifetime of experience in ministry. I recommend this warm, practical, gospel-centered, and very useful manual on discipleship.

Stephen has served for over forty years in pastoral ministry and has served as executive director for World Harvest Mission. He currently teaches for CityNet Ministries of Philadelphia. You can learn more about Stephen at his website, Birthline Ministries. FULL POST

Posted 9/12/14 at 9:13 AM | Justin Buzzard

The Mercy Spiller

Once in a while a sentence of Scripture stabs your heart and wakes you up to realities you hadn’t quite felt before.

This morning I sat on my porch reading and praying through a few psalms. Eventually I came to a sentence, Psalm 40:11. I’m sure I’ve read this sentence many times. This time the sentence read me.

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;


I restrain mercy. I hold back mercy, grace, and love from other people, even the people I say I love the most. My mercy-giving has a limit.

And, other people restrain mercy. Other people have restrained mercy from me. Instead of receiving mercy, I’ve received judgment, punishment, and shunning. My mercy-receiving also has a limit.

But a relationship with the Lord has an entirely different operating system.

His mercy-giving has no limit. He doesn’t restrain his mercy from his children. He never runs out of mercy! There’s an eternal supply! He doesn’t hold back and conserve his mercy, the Lord spills his mercy all over me.

This means my mercy-receiving has no limit. Because the Father spilled all his wrath on Jesus, he can spill mercy all over me every single day of my life, even on my days of greatest failure. So far, today has been a big day of failure for me. FULL POST

Posted 9/9/14 at 10:04 AM | Justin Buzzard

Re-Wording Your Mission Statement

In yesterday’s sermon, The Kiss of God, I announced the re-wording of Garden City Church’s mission statement. As you’ll see below, the mission of our church hasn’t changed and it will never change. But, for some important reasons we changed how we word our mission statement. If your church or organization has been around for a couple of years, then you have more wisdom under your belt from when you first started your organization and re-articulating your mission might be a healthy move.

Below is an email I sent to all of the deacons of our church last week, explaining to them ahead of time this change we announced on Sunday.


For quite a while now I’ve been thinking and praying about how it might be wise to change the wording of our mission statement. That turned into exploring and praying about this as elders, and asking the staff to explore this with us and give their input. It was a fruitful process that led us to an exciting decision. FULL POST

Posted 9/5/14 at 3:15 PM | Justin Buzzard

Live FROM Feedback, Not FOR Feedback

Photo: Pixabay/OpenClips - Public Domain

We live in a feedback culture. Move your eyes to the right or the left and you’ll spot someone looking for feedback. There’s nothing wrong with feedback. The problem is most people are living FOR feedback, rather than FROM feedback.

We live FOR feedback when we base our identity/happiness on the evaluation others give of us.

This is the plot line of every reality TV show. A group of contestants have a job to perform (sing well, dance well, woo a woman’s heart, etc.). At the end of each show the contestants stand before the judges panel, anxiously awaiting the evaluation, their identity hanging in the balance (will I get a rose, or will I be rejected and sent home?).

I fear that many of us live the Christian life this way. We live FOR feedback. The deep feedback of the gospel hasn’t invaded our hearts, so we spend each day following the plotline of reality TV, anxiously unsure of what the people we’ve placed on the judgment panel of our lives really think about us. We feel the same lack of assurance with God. FULL POST

Posted 9/2/14 at 11:08 AM | Justin Buzzard

How to Leave a Church Well

Photo: Wikipedia/RudolfSimon/cropped - Creative Commons

How to leave a church well:

There’s much more to it than this, but this might be the main thing.

Walk into the church auditorium and find that place where you got on your knees 4 years ago on your first day on the job.

That spot of carpet under the big cross.

Go to that spot and get on your knees again.

Survey the big cross above you, just like you did before.

Pray, praising God for the prayers he answered from 4 years ago.

Give God all the glory, all the credit.

Be amazed at all he has done.

Thank him for his faithfulness, his kindness, his lavish generosity.

Smile as you pray.

Then entrust to his care the people that have been under your care.

Then tell him how desperately you need vision and help from above for the new adventure ahead. FULL POST

Posted 8/29/14 at 11:39 AM | Justin Buzzard

Um's 3 Essential Qualities for Church Planters

Photo: Flickr/Lali Masriera - Creative Commons

Last week I spent an afternoon with my new friend, Stephen Um. Stephen is a fantastic and friendly guy who has more degrees than I have bedrooms in my house and who has planted a great church, CityLife Boston. One of the questions I asked Stephen was what qualities he/Redeemer City to City looks for in church planters. He shared 3 essential qualities:

1. Entrepreneurial. A church planter must be entrepreneurial, must have the ability to start and build.

2. Above average preaching. A church planter must have an above average preaching gift.

3. Evangelist. A church planter must have a heart and the competency to engage people, especially skeptics, with the gospel. FULL POST

Posted 8/26/14 at 9:43 AM | Justin Buzzard

Grace Creates Safety, Which Creates Change

We’ve all experienced (and contributed to) this dynamic: You are afraid to share what you’re really thinking and what’s really going on in your life with your spouse/friend/parent/church leader because you fear they will use this information against you. You’re afraid that sharing reality will result in being challenged, fixed, or judged, instead of being known, understood, and loved. This dynamic creates unhealthy cultures in marriages, friendships, churches, and workplaces–people never share what’s really going on because they’re afraid, and this stunts both intimacy and growth.

Fortunately, this unhealthy dynamic can be replaced with a healthy dynamic: grace. Grace is God’s undeserved love. When an individual embraces a grace-based identity (instead of a performance-based identity) and standing with God, he or she becomes capable of extending grace (undeserved love) to other people. This individual becomes secure, and safe. This individual now has the ability to truly listen to what another person is really thinking, to what is really going on, without attempting to immediately use that information against the person. FULL POST

Posted 8/22/14 at 11:21 AM | Justin Buzzard

The Secret Powers of Time

holding a watch
Photo: Pixabay/steinchen - Public Domain

This is a fascinating 10 minute video by professor Philip Zimbardo & RSA Animate articulating the 6 different approaches people have to time and what that means for our world. Pay special attention to what is said at the end about young men, video games, and porn.

The Secret Powers of Time

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