What makes me unique?

A question that has rattled inside your brain at least once in your life. How am I different than the woman sitting next to me at work? Or the young man taking my order at McDonalds? The short answer: God. I don’t mean that in a way you are probably thinking though. Yes, following Christ is not the norm for today’s society, and yes we are set apart as Christians, but there’s so much more to it than that. We are unique because we are created by a unique God. We are image bearers of a creative God who made insanely talented, original, and inventive people to follow suit in His passions. You know how you are great at meeting new people, always making sure everyone feels welcome? Or how God is really good at placing an image or word for someone who needs it most on your heart? Is mastering a new subject because you lost yourself in the research your thing? Maybe putting out fires at work is right up your alley, or being the friend everyone can trust and rely on. Remember that time you stepped out in faith, and prayed for someone who was sick and they were healed? All those qualities, dreams, quirks, passions whatever you decide to call them, aren’t there by accident. That’s our Father shining through us, His children. That uniqueness is God-given and whether you are using those gifts to help a friend or create a masterpiece, you are further enriching His Kingdom. Here at ECC, we embrace the unique, the extraordinary, and the supernatural because that’s how God loves to operate. People from all walks of life will contribute their own spark God gave them to help you find yours. By providing you with easily accessible and applicable content, we can stand together contending for a move of God through our own lives, our city, and in this world.

Blog Categories to Expect from Collected: 

-Training & Equipping

-Relationships & Family


-Arts & Creativity


Is there anything in particular you are hoping to read and learn about through the Collected blog? Let us know in the comments below. 

Blessing or Curse

A predominant thought in many Christian circles is that poverty is a characteristic of humility. The verse, “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt. 19:24), is often used to teach that the righteous are not be wealthy. Job’s life is also used as a model of how God can use a life that is poverty-stricken, sick, and afflicted. However, the entire Book of Job happened within a period of nine months, and the last chapter of the book tells us, “the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

Redeemed from the curse

Galatians tells us that Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law. What is the curse of the law? In the first five books of the Old Testament, which is called the Pentateuch, or the Books of the Law, we are told that the curse, or punishment for breaking God’s law, is threefold: 1) spiritual death, 2) no protection from attack or sickness/disease, 3) and poverty/debt.

Just as the curse is three-fold in nature, so is the blessing. First, there is the promise of salvation (spiritual blessing). Second, there is the promise of physical protection from sickness and from attack. Third, there is the promise of financial blessing.

Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of spiritual death—we do not need to fear death. He as delivered us from sickness and disease. And He has delivered us from poverty and debt.

Destined to Rule and Reign

God created everything and then made man and gave him dominion over all of it. But Adam forfeited Man’s rights to Satan. Jesus, however, came to redeem us from Satan’s power and dominion over us.

Romans 5:17 says,

“For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

The Amplified version of the last part of verse 17 reads, “They shall reign as kings in life, by one Jesus Christ.”

Through Jesus we are to reign as kings in life. That means that you have dominion over your life. You are to dominate—not be dominated. Sickness and disease are not to rule and reign over you—you are to rule and reign over sickness. And poverty is not to rule and reign over you—you are to rule and reign over poverty.

If you don’t believe me, ask Job.

Stand Up for Jesus!

Hearts stirred

A revival occurred in Philadelphia in 1858. The leader was a 29-year-old Episcopal minister named Dudley Tyng. It began during a series of noonday Bible studies for men that he led and grew to thousands in attendance. On March 30, 1858, he addressed a group of 5,000 from Exodus 10:11,

“Go now you that are men, and serve the Lord”

As Dudley read this words, some stirred in him. He raised his right arm and declared,

“I would rather have my arm removed at the stump
than to fail to declare God’s Word to you.”

After he said these words, 1,000 men gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

Inspired song

The next week Dudley Tyng visited a farm outside the city. Fascinated by a mule-drawn corn thresher, he reached out to pat the mule. As he did so, the sleeve of his jacket got caught in the thresher and his arm was badly mangled, severing the artery and doing severe nerve damage.

Several days later doctors had to amputate his arm. Unfortunately it was too late. Infection had set in and he was declining quickly. Knowing that he was dying, Dudley called his family and friends to gather around his bed. He struggled but managed to speak these words to them…

“Stand up for Jesus! Go back to the church
and tell them to always stand up for Jesus.”

When those words were repeated at the funeral, they had an enormous impact on a man young man named George Duffield. He wrote them down, and later put them to music…

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory, His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

For Every Mom

What do you say to the woman who taught you all you know?

At 4 years of age: “My Mommy can do anything!”
At 8 years of age: “My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!”
At 12 years of age: “My Mother doesn’t really know quite everything.”
At 14 years of age: “Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either.”
At 16 years of age: “Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned.”
At 18 years of age: “That old woman? She’s way out of touch!”
At 25 years of age: “Well, she might know a little bit about it.”
At 35 years of age: “Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.”
At 45 years of age: “Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?”
At 65 years of age: “Wish I could talk it over with Mom.”

The writer of Proverbs puts it this way…

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” (Proverbs 31:26–28, NLT)

To the woman who taught you unconditional love, particularly during every argument you had with her when you still saw nothing but love in her eyes. To the woman who taught you compassion, picking you up when you felt broken, and holding you when you needed a shoulder to cry on. To the woman who protected you, nurtured you, and raised you to be the person you are today.

To the woman who gave you everything she could, and never asked for anything in return. If there’s one thing we can say, it’s THANK YOU, for all you have taught us. To every mom today…HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!…you are a blessing!


Wear Your Badge

Jesus didn’t die so you could be…

…pitiful…pathetic…weak…wimpy…moaning…groaning…complaining… murmuring all the time, and afraid of everything. He died so that you could have powerful, bold, amazing, fruitful lives. And not just so you could have a good life, but so you can reach out to other people in love, helping them to find their way to Christ also.

Now you understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will be able to harm you as you walk in this authority. (Luke 10:19, TPT)

The devil is alive and well on planet earth, but the good news is although he has power, we have authority. And the only authority he has is what we give him, and most of the time we give it to him through lack of knowledge, or sometimes through laziness—not being willing to do what we know we need to do when we need to do it.

Tanks or Badges

In the New Testament there are two Greek words, dunamis and exousia, both are translated “power.” It would be more accurate to translate the word dunamis as “power,” and the word exousia as “authority.”

The difference between the two can be illustrated by to objects: a tank and a badge. Am A1 Abrams tank is an object with incredible intrinsic power. A uniformed policeman with a badge is a person with incredible delegated authority.

Put the policeman at a traffic intersection. As policeman holds up the palm of his hand, signaling a large semi-truck to stop. The driver stops the truck. Why? Because the policeman has the power to stop the “big rig”? No, the trucker knows that he has the power in his control to run over the policeman, but the policeman has the authority that is backed by the whole police force, along with the whole municipality.

Likewise, as a Believer you have been given authority (exousia) in areas where you would normally be overpowered, but you backed by the King of the Universe!


The heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity. The heart is at the center of how we contact God and His spiritual world.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

Your heart is your personal headquarters for every issue of life – your walk with God, marriage, family and kids, friendships, financial and career decisions and every choice you make. Because your heart is so central to all the issues of your life, it’s imperative that you guard your heart and keep your “headquarters” clear.

Just like freshly organized closets or drawers eventually become disorganized and clutter-filled if not attended to, so too, your heart can get filled with clutter if you don’t guard it. Let’s examine some potential areas of “clutter” that try to take root in your heart:

Busyness—It’s hard to hear your heart and follow the things that God puts there, when you are too busy to listen to Him. This is why it’s essential every day, preferably in the morning, to set time to get alone with God.

Voices—There are many of voices to distract you. It’s no secret that the media, advertisers, friends, family, enemies, unforgiveness, hurt and even our own voices are fiercely vying for your attention! Keep your heart tuned into God’s voice and His Word and turn off the “clutter” of too many voices.

Guilt—the condemnation that comes from sin will clog up your heart. The enemy uses guilt to create a sense of unworthiness and shame. This will discourage, condemn, overwhelm and eventually destroy you if not dealt with. But 1 John 1:9 if you simply confess your sins to God, he will forgive you and cleanse you.

Fear—through fear of man, fear of losing your security, fear of living by faith, fear of loss, fear of just about anything, you live in anxiety and the enemy gums up your heart and robs you of the ability to follow your heart. Again, John helps us clear the clutter out…

“Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.” (1 John 4:18, TPT)

Surprise Endings


Everybody loves a good comeback      

One of my favorite sports stories is of the former San Diego Charger kicker, Rolf Benirschke. Benirschke was diagnosed in 1979 in his 2nd season as kicker with Crohn’s Disease. Rolf shares his perspective,

“I had gone from 183 pounds to 123 pounds. I thought my playing days were over and wondered if my life was even worth living.”

Remarkably, in 1982, in what Sports Illustrated called the greatest NFL game of all time, Rolf kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime during the AFC divisional playoff game against the Miami Dolphins. Rolf went on to play for five more seasons before retiring as the all-time leading scorer for the San Diego Chargers, as well as the third most accurate kicker in NFL history.

Not what they were expecting

The greatest comeback of all time happened over two thousand years ago…Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In fact, this is not only one of the greatest comebacks, but it is one of the best surprise endings a person could ask for. 

Mark’s gospel records that early one morning Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus had been laid. They were going to anoint His dead body with spices but were stopped in their tracks by an opened tomb.

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.’” (Mark 16:5-6) 

When it comes to your life, things may look bad (read: dead), you may be ready to give up, but because Jesus came back from the dead, you too can experience a comeback. You don’t have to settle for the way things are. Your life can have a wonderful surprise ending!

The Great Recognition

Seemed bigger

Have you ever visited somewhere, or something (or even someone) that as a kid seemed so huge and even intimidating? My wife Kathie and I were talking about this the other day. She remembered how as a kid the Log Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland seemed so scary. She would hold her breath for the whole ride. But as an adult those rides seem small and almost sedate.  

It’s all about perspective and proportion. There are things in our lives that from our perspective seem to have enormous proportions.

After Jesus rose from the dead and just before he ascended, we are told that Jesus met with His disciples and that there were still some who doubted.  Jesus responded with these words,

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)


Those words Jesus are often referred to as the Great Commission. Followers of Jesus are commissioned to proclaim the good news to the world. The problem is that we often look at the world around us like we looked at things as kids: scary, intimidating, and big.  We think to ourselves…

“Whoa, the world’s a huge place! Make disciples? Baptize? Teach? How can I so this with all the nations when I can’t even get my family to listen to me?”

But those proportions are based on a perspective that is too limited. That’s why Jesus started with the words, “All authority has been given to me,” and then concluded with the words, “I am with you always”. The proportions of the challenges and obstacles before us should be put into the perspective of the fact that Satan has been totally defeated and that Jesus is with us everywhere we go.

This perspective should give the Great Commission a different proportion. Maybe it should be called, the Great Recognition.




Truth that Stirs

The greatest treasure we have is the presence of God

When you were born again God took residence inside your body, and whenever two or three gather in His name there is an increase manifestation of His presence. In worship the presence of God increases, and there is always more. There is more that remains, but you must continually yield to it. The tension is to recognize what you have, but still be hungry for more.

It takes faith to discover the manifest presence of God, but it never takes work or striving. Learning to host the presence of God comes from your heart. Your heart is the seat of faith and affection. It’s your heart that becomes the seat of His holiness, His glory, and His presence. This is why Proverbs tells us…

“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NKJV)

You are to be aware of the Holy Spirit so much so that you can tell when your heart is welcoming Him, and when it is repelling Him. You carry something that is to be stewarded well.

Heart and mind

The Book of Acts records an account of people who took a piece of cloth from the Apostle Paul to a person who was sick. The person was healed! They hadn’t heard any teaching about “prayer cloths”, and they didn’t bother explaining it after it happened. They just simply believed.

Truth that touches your mind increases knowledge, but truth that touches your heart increases your faith. Unfortunately, too many people stop short of a divine encounter because they are satisfied with just knowledge.

But you’re different! You’re waiting to have truth revealed to you that allows you to explore all the possibilities of God’s power. You’re looking for truth that stirs your heart and transforms your thinking and opens you to one of the greatest privileges ever— stewarding the wonderful and powerful Holy Spirit working in your life!


Before and After

Two amazing pictures

The before picture shows a tremendously out-of-shape chubby person. The after picture then shows the person looking trim, sculpted, and usually holding out the waistband of their old pants. The ad then tells the story about how this particular diet plan melted off the pounds in record time.

Whether or not you believe those amazing ads, there is an even more amazing before and after picture that is not only believable but available as well. It’s the picture of your life before and after Jesus.

The before picture would show how purposeless, sometimes burdened, often confused and searching your life really was. The Bible is pretty clear about our condition before we met Jesus. It describes us as being lost, broken, guilty, condemned, and even “enemies” of God.

Thanks to Jesus, our before picture now lays in pieces amidst the rubble of our past lives. We now have the privilege of stepping up to have another picture taken.

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! (Ephesians 2:10, TPT)

When it says, “good works,” it’s about more than just going to church. Good works are actions that reflect God’s mercy, grace, compassion, and righteousness. It’s the action of loving others, even when they aren’t all that loveable. It’s reaching out to the poor and disadvantaged. It’s being patient and tolerant with the faults and failures of others.

Another way to see it

Our after picture ought to be a duplicate picture of the good works that God has so generously showered on us. In fact, His good works in our lives are a model of how to treat and respond to others.

When I see the after pictures in diet ads, I often wonder what the person looks like now. Believe me, I know what it’s like to trim down only to lose sight of the goal and add pounds on again. So, let’s not lose sight of the goal.

You’ve been saved to be an ad for the glory of God’s goodness in your life. His good work then works through you to the lives of others. So what’s your after picture looking like today? Shed the excess fat of your past and let His glory show!