Ministry Highlights January-Febuary 2014

God has given me three essential purposes in this season of my life: (1) preaching and teaching; (2) consulting and coaching—helping pastors and their churches professionally and personally; and (3) building collaborative relationships between and among key leaders. My theme for this season in my life: Getting pastors into relationships with one another, and churches together leading efforts to transform our communities.

Networking Leaders/Impacting Our Community

A blog about out work:

In the last couple months, I’ve had extraordinary opportunities for leadership influence, and you’ve had a part in this because you pray and give.

East Valley Grace Association

I co-lead the Grace Association, a network of non-affiliated churches and ministries we launched years ago. For a decade or more, we’ve been meeting monthly at Living Streams in central Phoenix. In February we held our first-ever East Valley fellowship. Over thirty leaders attended! Fellowship and beyond that, personal relationships, between and among Christian leaders so necessary for kingdom collaboration and, perhaps more importantly, personal survival in the spiritual warfare of Christian ministry.

Historic reconciliation meetings with Catholics

Some of you will remember that, many years ago at Word of Grace, I presented a two-part preaching series: “What Protestants Can Learn from Catholics and What Catholics Can Learn from Protestants.” Through a remarkable convergence of circumstances and relationships and in collaboration with a friend Joe Tosini and a number of other key pastors in the Phoenix area, we gathered hundreds of people—both Catholics and non-Catholics—for prayer and worship. Living Streams (Pastor Mark Buckley) and North Scottsdale Christian (Pastor David Friend) hosted these events. Our theme: John 15.

Both Catholic Bishops, Thomas Olmstead and Eduardo Navares, of the Diocese of Phoenix participated, and Pope Francis sent us a letter of encouragement (see the bottom of this report). At our leaders’ luncheon, Mark Buckley asked Bishop Olmstead, “Do you consider non-Catholics to be fully Christian and true members of the Body of Christ?” Without hesitation, Bishop Olmstead replied firmly, “Yes.” Our plan for the future is to gather Catholic and Evangelical leaders for regular conversation and prayer—and to build relationships by working together on shared concerns.

1Worship together at Living Streams

2Bishop Olmstead reading the letter from Pope Francis at North Scottsdale Christian Church

3Meeting with Bishop Olmstead to plan the meetings. The gentleman to the left of me is Pastor Giovanni Traetinno, a leader of a network of Pentecostal churches in Italy and a personal friend of Pope Francis

4Matteo Calisi, leader of the international Charismatic Movement in the Catholic Church, Joe Tosini, Peter Poppleton (leader of the City of the Lord in Tempe), and auxiliary bishop Eduardo Navares, who is “Spirit-filled.”


I’m continuing to work with Frontiers, the largest agency in the world reaching out to Muslims with love and the Gospel. According to national surveys, evangelical Christians’ attitudes toward Muslims is nearly identical to that of the broader population. We, too, are terribly negative, because we are often more influenced by the media—and our culture—than we are by the words of Jesus, who taught us in Matthew 5:43-48:

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I’ve started a bi-monthly meeting of key leaders in the Valley who share a passion for reaching Muslims. I’ve also led the way for Frontiers to establish an advisory council of Hispanic pastors, because Latinos are more culturally sensitive to the way Muslims feel and think.

Chair of the Arizona Council on Faith and Community

Below is a photo of our February meeting of the Arizona Council on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which I’ve led for the last several years. We network faith leaders from the Valley and around the state. This is s special presentation of a network of churches and organizations assisting refugees in Phoenix. Every year, Arizona is among the top five states in the country receiving refugees.


Chair of Congressman Matt Salmon’s Council on Faith and Community Congressman Salmon wrote to me on February 13, “I wanted to take a moment and express my appreciation to you for accepting my invitation to serve as Chairman of the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership Advisory Council. Your service will not only be of great benefit to me and my office, but also the constituents of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.” I can thank my good friend Jon McHatton, founder of For Our City, for recommending me to Congressman Salmon.

Prayer with Governor Brewer

At the end of February, Arizona SB 1062 was on the front page of the national news. Hours before Governor Brewer vetoed the bill, she asked to meet with five pastors for counsel and prayer. I was honored to be one of them. Her son, Michael Brewer, a local attorney emailed me, “My mom deeply appreciated the visit today by you and the other pastors and all your prayers for her. I just wanted to thank you.”

Preaching & Public Ministry

Preaching everywhere! In 2012 I spoke 42 Sundays. Last year, 40. I’m so grateful that so many churches welcome my ministry of the Word.

Preaching at Mission

Many have heard that one of the fasted growing churches in America, Mission Community in Gilbert, was shaken to discover that their pastor has been involved in an extramarital affair. A church of 7000, the leadership there has asked me for counsel and has invited me to preach there at the end of March. Pray for me—and this wonderful community of passionate believers.


I was invited to do three TV tapings with Bob and Audrey Meisner for their Christian talk show MyNewDay.TV in Canada, eh? We talked about my new book Honey, I Just Shrunk Jesus, about Galatians (Galations Series Online) and salvation by grace alone.

6My new Jesus+nothing book. I just released my newest book, Honey, I Just Shrunk Jesus: What Happens When Grace Isn’t Totally Amazing



Fresh water! A year ago Christmas, I was interim pastor for LifePoint in San Tan Valley. The church was struggling financially, so God put it on my heart to envision them to receive a special offering for others, specifically for a fresh water well in a community in Central America that had no fresh water! They came through with a substantial Christmas offering. Living Water International used their donation to fund a well for the Linea B-10 Community and the Inbaco School in Cuyotenango, an area on the Pacific side of Guatemala. The school has over 250 students. The school did not have a working water well. In fact, the school keeper told Living Water-Guatemala that the neighbors were giving the school children water.


The well was drilled by a team of Living Water volunteers from the Dallas-Fort Worth. They drilled a marvelous water well; 58 meters deep and producing an abundance of good, clean water. Living Water-Guatemala taught the school keeper how to maintain the hand pump. In addition, the team provided hygiene training to the teachers and students at the school. The teachers at the school were so impressed that they started a school club to continue the hygiene training. The school keeper, 43-year-old Ottoniel Guzman de Leon reported, “We could not draw water from our well at the school. The neighbors were giving the children water, but you could tell that it was frustrating for them.  Now we can enjoy clean pure water and we will not have to worry about our pump being stolen like before. Thank you very much and God bless you.”


Early April we are headed to the east coast to spend time with our Navy son, Matt, and his family. They are expecting their second child, our ninth grandchild. Our other son David and his family will be joining us as we all visit Washington DC together.

9Our youngest grandchild, Oliver, at Red Robin, where for dinner he ordered the “bottomless bowl” of broccoli.

10Our daughter’s youngest, Luke, with a boy-badge of honor—a cast. He fell off their tall monkey bars in their backyard.

11Oliver and our Husky “Glacier”

Our son David, President and principal owner of the Barna Group, recently received the Biola University “Cultural Impact Award”. He has also released a new series of books, Barna Frames, on significant cultural themes.

Your Continued Financial Support

Help us! Invest in the amazing things God is doing through Nothing But Grace! In 2013 we had over 40 ministry partners who together gave nearly $65,000 to Nothing but Grace LLC. Thank you for your regular and generous financial support. We can receive tax-deductible donations directly to

Nothing But Grace LLC
3769 E Morrison Ranch Pkwy
Gilbert AZ 85296

We’re also set up to receive contributions through PayPal.

A personal letter from Pope Francis to Giovanni Traittori—and the rest of us in Phoenix trying to bring God’s people together…

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