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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 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

Posted 9/26/14 at 11:15 AM | Justin Buzzard

One of the Most Powerful Questions You Can Ask Someone

Questions are powerful. Questions lead you to truth and closer relationships.

I think one of the most powerful questions you can ask someone is, simply: “How are you?”

Ask this question to a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or stranger. Then, listen. Really listen. Most people would love to have a safe and caring person/place/community where they can share how they’re really doing. Most people rarely get to share what’s really going on because 1) they’re rarely asked and/or 2) most people don’t listen, but instead simply take turns waiting to talk.

Good listening is a byproduct of understanding grace and how the human heart works. As I’ve written before: grace creates safety (which includes an environment of listening), which creates change.

How are you? It’s a great question be asked, and it’s a great question to ask.

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 9/23/14 at 12:08 PM | Justin Buzzard

Photo Gallery: Garden City Church Turns 3 Years Old

Yesterday Garden City Church turned three years old! Three years ago a handful of us started this church with a dream to engage Silicon Valley with the good news of Jesus in a fresh way. You can click here for more of the story of how we got started. We are amazed and grateful over how God is building our church. The picture above shows part of our gathering yesterday.

In contrast, this is a picture of our first core group meeting. What you’ll notice is a lot of empty seats. Starting a church is far from easy.

Our favorite thing to celebrate at Garden City is baptisms, when people go public with their faith in Jesus. Yesterday we celebrated a lot of baptisms–our most ever in a single day. FULL POST

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

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