This is a guest post by Pastor Sam Mata. Pastor Sam is an executive pastor at Shoreline Church in Austin, Texas.  Pastor Sam and his wife, Kelly have been at Shoreline for over 20 years and are campus pastors at Shoreline’s south campus. Shoreline’s Men’s conference, Ignite starts this week.

Several words come to mind when I hear the word “Courage.” I think of words like brave, strong, power, perseverance and battle. As a man, I love these words. I am reminded of movies like “Braveheart,” “Gladiator” and “Rocky.” We see men face the odds that are stacked up against them, we cheer them on as they go into battle and defeat their enemy. There is something that is stirred in us and we can relate somehow to the tension we see on the big screen, except our situations are different. It seems like maybe our battles consist of overdue bills, a struggling marriage, sexual temptation or children not acting right. Courage is needed, none the less, to get through these challenges. Maybe we try to escape by watching these movies, because our heroes win those battles and somehow it means we win ours too. But when the credits roll and the movie ends, we’re still in the same place, nothing has changed. We walk out of the movie theater and back into the same routine of our lives. This is why we need more than a good story.

While we can find encouragement and great sound bites from the dialogue, we need substance, we need something deeper and real for us to pull from that will work in our everyday lives. I wonder if this is why Jesus said “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden… I will give you strength.” Paul said it this way, “your power is made perfect in my weakness,” not in my strength. It is in our weakness that we find strength and power. Jesus told his father in the garden, “not my will, but yours be done.” It is when we surrender that we become Courageous. Courage comes when we surrender to the fact that we need a power source greater than our own efforts. Courage comes when we decide that no matter what, God is still for me, He is still with me, He still loves me and I will get through this. I don’t know how or when, but I will… simply because God promised and I believe him. To me, that is Courage. Surrendering to the fact that I cannot do it alone, in and of myself I don’t have what it takes, but with God all things are possible. He will complete the work that He started, He will be faithful, He will never leave me nor forsake me, His love will never fail and I am more than a Conqueror. It takes Courage to believe God, at His word, especially when I see things in the natural, don’t match up with what I need to see. I’m so glad Jesus found Courage to lay his life down and trust His father. I have life because of that one act of Courage, Heaven is my home and I will never be separated from God because I believe what Jesus did on the cross was enough, once and for all. I have hope, I have joy, I have wisdom, I will never lack anything. The price has been paid so I can have all the Courage I need. So when the story of my life here on earth is over and the credits roll, only one line is needed on the big screen. I want it to say, “He surrendered and found courage.”


Serve Well

This is a guest post by my dear friend Oneka McClellan.  Oneka and her Husband Earl are the lead pastors at Shoreline Dallas.  Oneka has 2 beautiful boys, and can be found turning the pages of the latest fashion magazines.  Be sure to follow Oneka on twitter.

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers.
~Proverbs 14:28

The beauty in leading comes fully alive in the art of serving well. I feel I am the leader I am today because early in the journey I learned to: follow well, honor my leaders, be fiercely loyal, and become an armor-bearer. Now that I am leading Shoreline Dallas, a new church with my husband Earl and our son Parker, it is evident God has blessed us with leaders who serve passionately. I’m so grateful for the serving seeds we planted long before leading our own congregation.

Following is a lost art. My definition of following is having an “ends of the earth” outlook. I will follow my leader to the ends of the earth and I will take their ideas and vision and make them my own. I will do all that I can to help make their dreams a reality. In doing so, what I have found is many of my own dreams have come true as a result of me carrying out the vision of my leader. I am not to be in competition with my leaders. My job is to represent them with excellence and sincerity.

Honoring our leaders is also mission critical. It is important to make them present even when they aren’t present. Like when visiting someone from the church in the hospital I would always say our Pastors send their love. Or when speaking for our pastors or in front of fellow staff or the congregation I would always honor them and make their love for the particular group I was addressing known. It’s important to not try to take the mantle and favor on your leaders’ lives and make it your own. Some insecure leaders may use opportunities given to them by their leaders to exercise their own agenda or to redirect praise to themselves. This is very dangerous territory and opens unhealthy doors. Honoring is not belittling to the one giving the honor. It is showing love and respect for those we humbly serve.

Loyalty is key in serving well. Our leaders have to have confidence in knowing we have their best interests in mind. They have to know when their back is turned we have them covered. When they have a weak moment or shortcoming we protect them and provide an atmosphere where they can let their hair down. In my 15+ years in ministry, I have had people take shots at my leaders. That is not a time for me to agree and air my leader’s dirty laundry. That is the time for me to speak the truth, shut down any lies and protect the character and integrity of my leader. Whenever someone talks ill of one of my leaders to my face, I correct the inaccuracies that are often cited. Since we have the privilege of being on the “inside” of our leader’s lives we see them behind closes doors. We see the sacrifices, the burdens, and the pressures. It’s our job to diffuse those fiery darts that come their way.

Fashioned for this moment

(Previously posted at

For many of us life has become quite busy, making it less and less likely to live in and enjoy the present.  We rush to get to work and back home, take the kids to school or soccer, coach the team, plan meetings, attend meetings, pick up the kids, shop, cook and clean (take a breath).  We get to bed, only to start the same routine over again in the morning.

Each of us is fashioned for the moment. However, with so many ‘must-do’s’ on the list, it requires some effort to take the time to S-T-O-P and smell the roses that have been strategically positioned along life’s journey.

Here are a few reminders to help you slow your pace, take a break and engage in the now moment you were fashioned for:

1.     Enjoy the beauty of your journey.  Life is a gift.  One that is to be cherished, respected and shared.  Each adventure is littered with ups and downs, good times and difficult times, moments of feasting and periods of scarcity.  The interesting fact about this is everyone is affected. There is, however, a power found in working through the difficult times, understanding they are temporary and can be used as fuel for the future.  Another noteworthy truth is we can learn from every single experience.

2.     Walk slowly through the crowd.  This nugget can easily get lost in the daily grind.  In the midst of busy-ness, we sometimes forget to look up and take in the expression of beauty found in the moment.  God placed the people around us – family and friends – along with nature and our environment in our presence, for our pleasure.

3.     Let go of the past.  If you are not careful, yesterday’s experiences could have a negative impact on today’s perceptions.  It is important to understand that the past does not have to dictate your presence, the present or your future.  Take advantage of the many resources that are available to help navigate through the challenges you may have experienced, so you can fully engage in the present.

While it is important to look back and thank God for bringing us through the past and it is necessary to know that our future is in His hand.  There is nothing like the present.  I challenge you to own it, engage in it and share it with those around you.

What are some of the things you do to engage in the ‘present’?

Engaged . . .

Several people in my life have become engaged over the last year.  It has been a beautiful experience watching each relationship advance.  Acquaintance moved to friendship, friendship blossomed to love and love motivated these couples to live out the sum of their days together.

The engagement phase, in most cases, brings the couple even closer, as they busy themselves working through the details of the wedding, and are faced with the reality of being ‘together’ – forever.

One of the definitions of the word engage is to occupy ones self or to become busy or involved.  While this is an appropriate word for a soon to be married pair, there is a vast number of singles who are engaged – in other ways.  Engagement encompasses a great deal of our lives.

Today, most singles have the freedom to pursue personal interests and careers or spend time investing in friends, family and other life-opportunities.

Here are three important areas of engagement that lead to a healthy single life:

  • Friends – Friends and family make life much more colorful.  Surrounding yourself with those who have common interests and beliefs and can relate to you is important.  Identify your need for friendships and relationships, and then embark on developing and maintaining healthy, lasting connections.
  • Fortune – I’m not referring to your bank account, exclusively. Time, talent and resources, combined, make up your fortune. It’s important that you continually develop and resource yourself so that you can give what you can to help others.  We were not created to keep all that we have to ourselves. You have a very significant and important part to play in this phase of life.
  • Future – A question for you – How will you be remembered?  When you cross over from this life to the next, what will you leave behind?  What will people say about you when you are gone?  You are building your legacy, daily.  With every choice you make, legacy is being created.  Ensure you are living your very best life, not just for yourself, but for those coming after you.  Remember the part you decide to play in life is important

Are you engaged, yet??

I’m here . . .

Thank you for visiting my blog; I will be posting at least once a week. Along with my thoughts, stories and quotes, you will have the opportunity to hear from some of the people I most admire and respect.  Very soon, I will be moving over to . . . I will keep you posted.  In the mean time, please check out my ‘about me‘.

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Looking forward to sharing this space with and hearing from you.


All I Do Is Win

This is the title to a popular Hip Hop song; it has an illustrious beat and a few catchy words.  I cannot help but repeat the first line of the chorus in my head: ‘all I do is win, win, win no matter what’. Something inside of me begins to dance; it is not the beat alone that causes this inward movement, but the unintentional significance of the lyrics.  Everyone wants to win, right?

Words are a powerful force and have the ability to rise up or tear down, they offer the energy that produces life or provide the unfortunate groundwork that leads toward death. Everyone has a desire to win.  The truth is we have the option to win, no matter what we experience in life.  Does this mean that everything we encounter will be as easy as pie?  Not at all — but we can win.

The Bible says ‘…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. ~Romans 8:28 (MSG)

As I think about some of the ‘details’ I have experienced in life – and definitely prefer not to relive — I recognize those times have in some way shaped my character and have helped me become who I am today.  At the time, I did not feel I could hold up the victory sign, however, as I look back, being further removed from the circumstance, I proudly stretch my ‘hands in the air, and make ‘em stay there’.So, at the end of the day, regardless of how things look or feel, we can say with assurance, ‘all I do is win, win, win no matter what’ and ‘I put your hands in the air, and make ‘em stay there.  Absolutely!

I want to encourage you to look for the win today, no matter what!  God is able to work all things, not some things for our favor. He works them for good together, not in isolation. This promise is for those who strive to love God, who are working towards an understanding of His love and attempting to allow God to manage the affairs of life — we are all called according to His purpose.


As you review the ‘details’ of your life, what victories have you experienced?