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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 12/16/14 at 12:00 PM | Justin Buzzard

Best Books of 2014

Here is my Best Books of 2014 list, in no particular order. This isn’t a list of books published in 2014. This list is of the books I read in 2014 that I enjoyed/benefited from the most. Click here for last year’s list: Best Books of 2013 (and links to past year’s lists).

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. Of all the books I read this year, this is the one that has impacted me the most. I’ve grown in gratitude and living more fully in the moment as a result of stewing my way through this book.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Originally I decided not to read this biography because I’d read a few reviews of it and concluded I already knew the gist of the book: Steve Jobs was an uncommon genius and jerk. But then a pastor friend told me he couldn’t put this book down and learned a lot from it. I picked up the book and experienced the same: I couldn’t put it down. This book is packed with leadership lessons (what to do and what not to do) and it provides a fascinating mini-history of Silicon Valley. FULL POST

Posted 12/10/14 at 10:09 AM | Justin Buzzard

Christian Happiness

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

When Jonathan Edwards was 18 years old he preached his first formal sermon, titled, Christian Happiness.

The thesis of the sermon is simple and large:

Christians should be happy.

Why should Christians be happy? The sermon answers this question in 3 points.

Point 1: Our bad things will turn out for good.

Point 2: Our good things can never be taken away from us.

Point 3: The best things are yet to come.

You can read the whole sermon here.

Here’s an extended quote from point #2 that encouraged me this morning (paragraph breaks added):

The godly man is happy in whatever circumstances he is placed because of the spiritual privileges and advantages, joys and satisfactions, he actually enjoys while in this life. How great a happiness must needs [it] be to a man to have all his sins pardoned and to stand guilty of nothing in God’s presence: to be washed clean from all his pollutions; to have the great and eternal and almighty Jehovah, who rules and governs the whole universe, and doth whatsoever he pleases in the armies of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, reconciled to him and perfectly at peace with him. FULL POST

Posted 11/24/14 at 9:47 AM | Justin Buzzard

10 Keys to Building Strong, Healthy Teams

At Garden City Church we’re working hard to build strong, healthy teams: our elder board, our staff team, our team of deacons, our various volunteer/serving teams, etc. I’m learning a lot along the way. Here are 10 keys I’m personally discovering to building strong, healthy teams.

1. Stay humble. Be open to learning a lot more about yourself, other people, and your organization as you build your team. You will learn and grow a lot more in a team leadership environment than you will in a solo leadership environment.

2. Be clear. One of the most important things a leader can do is be clear. As you develop your team, get rid of the murky confusion and clutter that creeps in and bring fresh clarity to the purpose of the team and each person’s role on the team. I don’t mean twice a year. I mean weekly. Every week you need to work hard to ensure clarity. This will never end. FULL POST

Posted 11/21/14 at 1:29 PM | Justin Buzzard

Who Has a Lot of Work to Do Today?

Photo: Flickr/Walt Stoneburner - Creative Commons

While rushing out the door this morning I found myself saying, “I have a lot of work to do today.”

This is true. The list is long.

I have messages to write, people to meet and counsel, texts to study, emails that need a reply, big decisions to make, meetings to attend, bills to pay, forms to fill out, a head full of ideas, and a home full of wild toddlers and a sick, pregnant wife.

But a few steps out of my door, I caught myself. I considered my thinking: “I have a lot of work to do today.”

Immediately this thought popped into my head: “God has a lot of work to do today.”

“I have a lot of work to do today” vs. “God has a lot of work to do today”

Both statements are true.

I have a lot of work to do today. The list is long. The list feels heavy. FULL POST

Posted 11/20/14 at 9:18 AM | Justin Buzzard

The Joy And Power We've Lost

Photo: Flickr/Mike Mozart - Creative Commons

We used to be different. I know I was different. The empty spaces of my day I gave to communing with God, silent little prayers, thinking, stumbling upon new ideas, and being fully present in the moment.

Things are different now. I’m different now. I’m drawn into the digital world/black hole, frittering away portions of my day and energy instead of investing them for fruitful, focused purposes. I’m waking up and realizing that I don’t like this. I thrive on focus, being fully present, making steady progress forward each day, and connecting often throughout the day with my ever-present God. I’ve always thought that my ability to focus was a great gift from God, an important joy-inducing discipline, and a way to serve others. I’m discovering that I’ve lost some of this muscle. I’m weak where I used to be strong. FULL POST

Posted 11/13/14 at 2:31 PM | Justin Buzzard

The Most Helpful Thing I've Ever Read About God's Guidance

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

The most helpful thing I’ve ever read about discerning God’s call and making big decisions comes from one little page in a very big book.

About four years ago I read through volume 2 of Iain Murray’s biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It’s an 862 page book. But page 177 jumped off the paper and into my chest, forever marking me. The whole book is worth buying just for this page. I’ve not followed this counsel exactly, and it must be nuanced for different contexts and personalities, but it remains deeply helpful.

This comes from a letter that MLJ wrote to his daughter Elizabeth on 5-17-1948 as she was questioning God’s call on her life. Here it is:

The one vital, all-important thing is to know the will of God. It is not as easy as it sometimes sounds. I was for over two years in a state of uncertainty and indecision before leaving medicine for the pulpit. But in the end it was made absolutely and perfectly clear and mainly by means of things which God did. FULL POST

Posted 10/14/14 at 11:04 AM | Justin Buzzard

One of the Most Powerful Questions You Can Ask Yourself

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

I have a number of questions I like to regularly ask myself. These questions keep me focused on what is most important. One of the questions I regularly ask myself is, “What am I doing now (or not doing now) that I would regret in the future?”

This question makes me look at my life with a bigger-picture perspective. This question gives me a higher-up vantage point on how I’m currently investing my energy, the problems that are currently stressing me out, and the dreams that are currently exciting my heart. This question/vantage point brings me quick clarity. Exploring the regret question sharpens what is most important to me, showing me what adjustments and decisions I need to make–and what prayers I need to pray. This question has immensely helped my life, my marriage, my parenting, and my leadership.

It can help to attach a time frame to the end of the question: “What am I doing now (or not doing now) that I would regret in 2 weeks/4 months/1 year/5 years/20 years/etc? FULL POST

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

Deconstruct Your Ministry

Deconstruct your ministry.

One of the best ways to better understand how something works is to deconstruct it, to take it apart.

A good mechanic understands engines because he’s spent time taking engines apart–laying out all the parts, studying how the different parts fit together, and then putting everything back together for improved engine performance.

From time to time you should do this with the church or ministry you lead.

Just before Christmas break I grabbed a yellow pad and deconstructed my ministry. I wrote down every component of my ministry, using a separate sheet of paper to record each component. Thirty minutes later I had a huge stack of scribbled yellow papers.

Next, I reviewed each piece of yellow paper along with my intern, Francis Tao. I asked questions of each paper/component (How does this component fit in with our overall vision of building disciples in the gospel? Is this component helping or hindering what God is presently doing with our ministry? Does this component need to be oiled? Does this component need to be discarded? etc.). FULL POST

Posted 9/30/14 at 10:30 AM | Justin Buzzard

The Reminder on my Wrist

Sometimes I forget important stuff. So, a while ago I tattooed a reminder on my right wrist.

“Tetelestai.” This Greek word is one of the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. We translate this word in English as “It is finished.” This word changed my life.

I’m an achiever. I like to get things done. I need the daily reminder that my identity comes not from what I do, but from what Jesus had done for me. This word/work of Jesus is a constant reminder of who I am: I am an unfinished man with an unfinished life resting in the finished work of Jesus.

Above the word sits an anchor/cross (or you could say, an anchor-cross). Some of the early Christians, while undergoing persecution, disguised the cross as an anchor. The anchor is a symbol of strength (and is used as powerful imagery in Hebrews 6:9) and the cross is a symbol of the center of the Christian faith. My wrist is a reminder that my life is anchored in the finished work of Jesus.


Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a church plant in Silicon Valley, and author of the book The Big Story: How The Bible Makes Sense Out of Life and Date Your Wife.

Posted 9/29/14 at 10:01 AM | Justin Buzzard

Make a List of What You Hate

Are you having trouble sorting out what you want to do with your life? Maybe you need to tap into what you hate.

Recently I spent time with an old college friend over a cup of coffee. We had a long, fun conversation about sorting through God’s calling on one’s life. We talked about all that this involves–knowing your passions and strengths, listening to what others say about your calling, looking at the opportunities in front of you, etc.

Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, my friend said something really helpful:

One way to sharpen your sense of calling is to make a list of what you hate.

I thought this was a great idea. I haven’t made my list yet. Maybe I’ll do that today.

I’ve been thinking about how this method is the backdoor entrance into your calling. The front door entrance is thinking about your greatest loves, delights, and passions (“I love working with at-risk youth,” etc.).

The front door approach is great. But, because you use the front door all the time, sometimes you need to go through the back door to get a new perspective on the calling that God’s put upon your life. FULL POST

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