Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Have you ever switched ingredients accidentally in a recipe? Have you ever measured out salt for the flour and flour for the salt? I think we can all agree that a pinch of flour and three cups of salt in a recipe for cookies would make a pretty nasty cookie!
If your Christian life was a cookie, what ingredient would prayer be? If we were honest, I think prayer would be like a "pinch of salt" in the recipe rather than "3 cups of flour". For me, it's so much easier to focus on strategy, leadership, mission, etc. But I know in my heart it's time to re-read the original recipe because all too often our cookies aren't turning out too great. As I read through the book of Mark, I see Jesus trying to reveal the true recipe God designed for us.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." Mark 1:35
And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer." (Mark 9:28-29)
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seasts of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything thorugh the temple. And he was teaching them and sayng to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers. (Mark 11:15-17)
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24
I think Jesus was concerned because he saw a powerless people trying to accomplish God's mission. If I'm not mistaken, we believe in prayer WAY more than we actually spend time praying.
Reading about prayer, thinking about prayer, believing in prayer, watching other people in prayer - it's not the same as actual time spent in prayer. Let's get back to the original recipe. Let's put the priority of prayer where it should be, and see things happen that have been needing to happen for a long time. The world is overdue for a really tasty cookie!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Wow, the very first phrase that I read from the Bible today lept out at me...go back and read that simple verse again, and focus on the location of Jesus...if we're not amongst a crowd of people, it is impossible for people to come up to us, and it is only in the crowd that we see God's miracles performed.
Where was Jesus? Amongst the crowd.
Where are am I? Amongst the four walls of my comfortable life - secluded from the crowd.
We must...I must...not live my Christianity inside the four walls of my life - I must go enter the lives of other people. It's ironic that as a pastor I find myself going days without encountering anyone in "the crowd" because I'm too busy spending time with other believers talking about and dealing with believer stuff. Ick. Why are we so good and repeating the words of Jesus but so bad at repeating the steps of Jesus?
How about some help here...
Jesus was amongst the crowd...Where are you?
How do you get into the lives of "the crowd"?
How can believers re-prioritize and find themselves in the same place Jesus would be?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Last night we took about 20 people to Clackamas Town Center Cinema to see "We're All In This Together" a feature film documentary from Hillsong United about reaching a wandering and wounded world with the action of love and the message of Jesus. This movie was revolutionary for this reason:
For too long Social Justice advocates have left out the necessity of Christ as the cure, and for too long Christians shouting "repent" have left out the necessity of compassion as the cause. The I-Heart film blended both, giving us a clear picture of how our message and our actions must be seemlessly tied together.
Here are my favorite quotes:
- The future will be written in the way we respond to the moment in front of us
- The church does not exist to meet our needs but to meet the needs of the world around you
- "You can choose to look the other way, but you can never say you did not know." - William Wilberforce
- You don't have to travel across the world to make a difference, just walk out your front door!
- The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. - Mother Teresa
- history will never be made till you recognize where you fit in HIStory, see a need do your part & meet it the best you can
- If what happens inside the walls of church doesn't make an impact on the streets around it then maybe we r missing the point
- "5 corporations control 90% of what is seen in the world"
- Jesus is the ultimate expression of God's love to humanity.
- The love of God cannot be measured but it can be demonstrated.
- If you are not part of the solution you are a part of the problem.
- “I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” - Amos 5:21-24, The Message
- What we are not, He is
- Isaiah 58:9-10 - ”If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
- Injustice and indifference walk together hand-in-hand.
- Talk is cheap, put feet to your vision
We're headed to our leadership retreat today - this film and our response will be much of our discussion - yet what we truly need to do is talk less and "be" more. We need to "be" the sequel to this film. God help us.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Viper bites are not good...there's no way around it. If you asked 100 people if they would choose a viper bite over being "bite free" we'd have a 100% consensus that nobody wants to be bit.
But vipers do bite.
And we do get bit in life.
"Bites" happen in this world, because it is a fallen world...if you want a reason for all the tragedy, it can be traced back to one man's (Adam's) sin. Nothing can change the fact that this world is full of "unfair viper bites". Yet, though this world is fallen and full of viper bites, there is a plan of redemption that has been fulfilled with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has made all things new, and he is our only option.
Sometimes viper bites can cause us to look to the ONLY option we have - and that is to be rescued by the power and might of Jesus Christ.
There are things that are constantly "biting" me. Don't get me wrong - I live a totally blessed life. I have more than I deserve. I'm overwhelmed at the provision and grace of God in my life. Yet, there are things that disturb me. Things that shouldn't be. And today I'm reminded to turn to the One who can heal every disease, who has conquered death and the grave and who makes all things possible.
The youth of our nation have been bit - and I don't like it.
Too many people are unfazed at the peril of their destiny without Christ - and I don't like it.
I don't have answers.
I can't change it.
I have no idea how the tide can turn.
I've been bit.
So, now I get to do what Paul did...shake it off. Paul couldn't fix the viper bite, and neither can I, so I turn to my ONLY option and ask the divine power of God would bring redemption to not just a fallen world (big picture) but to my fallen situations (small picture) that people would be amazed at the One who has crushed satan beneath our feet.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I HATE SNAKES...hate, hate, hate, hate. If I see a snake, I will scream like a girl (sorry ladies), and run, crying out for my mommy. A quick Google search says that the "viper is one of the most dangerous snakes in all of Asia, accounting for thousands of deaths each year. Once bitten, people experience a wide variety of symptoms including pain, swelling, vomiting, dizziness, blood incoagubility and kidney failure."
Why does God let vipers bite? Here Paul has given his whole life to honor God and serve Him, and proclaim the Gospel (that Jesus alone can save us and that he paid the penalty for our sin, and that we must call upon the name of the Lord to be saved) and as the last book of Acts unfolds a nasty viper comes out from hiding and bites Paul with lethal poison.
Have you ever been serving the Lord and living in His grace - doing your best to propel the cause of Christ when...BAM! Out of nowhere comes a lethal viper and bites you. Why would God let that happen? Why does God let bad things happen to good people?
The next few blog posts will dive into this much deeper, for today think about this:
Miracles are only needed where there is a need. Instead of focusing on the viper, perhaps we should focus on the God who can overcome the Viper. Instead of focusing your attention on your tragedy, perhaps God is simply preparing to show You that He is in control of all situations.
"And I will...refine them as one refines silver,and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name,and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people';and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" Zechariah 13:9
This is just the beginning, and honestly it sounds easier than it is...Real life tragedies are just that...tragic...and the result is not always the miracle that we would like. Yet time after time, regardless of the outcome - we see God's love revealed. We'll look at more later. Until then - may you experience the God who overcomes the Viper.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I'm convicted. I'm repenting. I'm headed in a new direction. Here's why:
A word-for-word excerpt from Isaiah 58 about why some prayers are dead and never answered, accompanied with the solution and action to remedy the situation:
"Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves
...this is the kind of fasting I want:
- Free those who are wrongly imprisoned
- lighten the burden of those who work for you
- Let the oppressed go free
- Remove the chains that bind people
- Share your food with the hungry, feed the hungry
- Give shelter to the homeless
- Give clothes to those who need them
- Do not hide from relatives who need your help
- Remove the heavy yoke of oppression
- Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors
- Help those in trouble.
- your salvation will come like the dawn
- your wounds will quickly heal
- Your godliness will lead you forward
- the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind
- when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
- your light will shine out from the darkness, the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
- The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.
- You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
- Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
- the Lord will be your delight.
- I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
"They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me."
To be near to God is to be near to the broken and hurting...anything else is pretending. When we move, God moves. If you are desperate for God to move in your life, be desperate to fulfill the needs of others. Your direction - not intention - moves the heart of God.
Point Blank: List the people who fit the one or more of the needs listed above and minister the love of God to them. Do this today, do it everyday...and watch God shine in and through you.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I'd like to hit the target with more frequency, but for today I'm simply reminding myself and possibly you that the most important thing is staying focused on the target - not hitting it, because if you do stay focused, you will eventually hit it.
Make sure your targets are legit, God-inspired targets...and then keep firing away. Eventually, you'll see the changes come to pass...and as you keep aiming you'll become better at hitting it more often.
Set goals, go for it...regroup, and stick with it.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Jud Willhite, Pastor of Central Christian Church, of courtesy of Rethink Monthly when he said "I have been convicted that my prayers are too small. I have been reading about he Great Awakening in America and just thinking about how the entire city of Philadelphia went out to a field to hear George Whitfield speak. It has happened before, and like how small my prayers are to imagine the entire city of Las Vegas going out into the desert to hear a message about Christ. My prayers are too small, and our God is so much bigger than I give Him credit. It hasn't sunk into my life enough but I am trying to expand my vision of what God can do and who He is, and all that He is accomplishing." Jud recently baptized 600 people spontaneously after preaching a message on following Christ. Someone stood amazed and said they remebered when the church only had 600 people. Jud replied that now the church had 15,000 and there would be a day when they would baptize 15,000 in a single day...God is big.
Joel Houston, of Hillsong Church and the band United, who said via twitter: @joelhouston to whom 'much' is given... 'much' is required...... how 'much' do you really want it?
2 Chronicles 11 & 12, where I am reminded time and time again that the people of God are an ADVANCING people, a VICTORIOUS people, and MIGHTY people, who live DANGEROUSLY, and COURAGEOUSLY.
excerpts from 2 Chronicles 11...
7 David then took up residence in the fortress, and so it was called the City of David. 8 He built up the city around it....And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD Almighty was with him. 10 These were the chiefs of David's mighty men—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised- 11 this is the list of David's mighty men:
Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was chief of the officers; he raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
12 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men. 13 He was with David at Pas Dammim when the Philistines gathered there for battle. At a place where there was a field full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines. 14 But they took their stand in the middle of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.
20 Abishai the brother of Joab was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 21 He was doubly honored above the Three and became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
22 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 23 And he struck down an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver's rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. 24 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty men....
excerpts from 2 Chronicles 12
1 These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; 2 they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed...8 Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains. 14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west...
19 Some of the men of Manasseh defected to David....21 They helped David against raiding bands, for all of them were brave warriors, and they were commanders in his army. 22 Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.
PAY THE PRICE
Friday, June 19, 2009
I've begun blogging through my summertime journey through the Bible. This will help record my thoughts - it's really for me, but all the better if you get something out of it too! I'm trying to read through the Bible in 90 days, even though I don't think I've ever read through the Bible in a year. The purpose is to have my Bible open all summer, and to let God breathe fresh on my life.
Delilah was the THIRD Philistine woman who Samson got involved with. The first couple times we do something sinful may seem harmless enough, but it's building to a crescendo that will bring a mighty fall. My guess is that Samson thought Delilah was just as "harmless" as the previous two encounters he had (Judges 14:1; Judges 16:1; Judges 16:4)
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I decided today (a couple weeks late) to begin blogging through my summertime journey through the Bible. This will help record my thoughts - it's really for me, but all the better if you get something out of it too! I'm trying to read through the Bible in 90 days, even though I don't think I've ever read through the Bible in a year. The purpose is to have my Bible open all summer, and to let God breathe fresh on my life.
- The Israelities take Jericho. Check this out. The walls of Jericho that fell were some of the earliest fortifications known to mankind. No other city had walls. It was the first of it's kind. So that means that the first city that God conquered was the MOST fortified, the MOST intimidating, and the MOST difficult to conquer...He went straight for the impossible to show his glory and power.
- The Things Devoted to Destruction. God gave them victory, but knew of certain things that must be "devoted to destruction". The results of not "devoting to destruction" certain things were the hearts of people that melted and became like water.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Ok, two weeks in to my summertime goals, and it's time to reflect and reassess. I've got good news, and I've got bad news.
The good news is that at two weeks in I'm actively pursuing growth in the "health" and "spiritual" focal points.
- I've joined Weight Watchers, and have truly kept to the program...My second weigh in will be today, so I'll see how much weight I've lost after one week. [UPDATE: I lost two pounds!] The program is really helping me stay focused on what is important to me which is healthy living. It allows me to eat anything (like the Papa Murphy's Cowboy Pizza I had Saturday night), but forces me to put it all in perspective and stay within healthy boundaries. I like it.
- My marathon training is in full swing, and after my 14 mile run on Saturday, I'm really getting back in the groove.
- I've been reading the Bible like crazy, and it's been a joy to really feed my spirit in the Word and choose to read rather than other less important things.
- I didn't purchase the P90X. I thought I had it purchased via Craigslist but it fell through. After looking at my summer schedule, I just don't know how I can follow the "hour a day, everyday" requirement AND be gone for weeks at a time (dreamcenter, vacation, summer camp, etc.) AND continue to get all my miles in for marathon training. So, I'm going to let that goal go and start the P90X in the Fall.
- Despite my huge increase in Bible reading, I missed a couple days and that puts me over 30 chapters behind! Wow! But thankfully I missed the latter half of Numbers and the first part of Deuteronomy, so I'm just picking up where I should be, and will try and get those chapters in on vacation.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
- Super tired after a busy but great week
- Saturday was a 14 mile run, a wedding and reception, and then final sermon prep for Sunday
- Sunday was filled with preaching twice on two campuses, a DreamCenter missions trip meeting in Vancouver (at another church), and then directly going to the BBQ and Baptisms on Broughton Beach.
- Chris and Chrissy's wedding was fantastic. So great to see two people who love Jesus so much, who have both been through so much, end up having a beautiful day yesterday...with many more to come.
- Camas worship team hit a home run - I think we could have kept going...there is some legit stuff happening in that team! The people from the Northside our such encouragers! Really makes it easy to preach.
- I had to laugh a bit when I saw our Portland worship team...missing three key musicians today, but they did great. Attendance seemed to be up, and everyone seemed engaged in the message.
- I had lots of fun preaching the "Summer of '09: Fresh Breath" message today. Handing out Mentos was pretty fun too.
- Despite the "fun" of preaching, I truly believe that a significant summer awaits us if we truly grab hold of what God is wanting to do in these next three months - not just in the overall church, but in individual lives and marriages as well.
- Sam Bickle and Chris Stewart are probably the most valuable people in our church...I'm amazed at the time and work they exert to make each service happen.
- So many volunteers do so many things that are never recognized. I'm so greatful for everyone's willingness to serve and carry the vision.
- I enjoyed personally meeting three or four new families in church today. We seemed to genuinely "click".
- Saw one person decide to become a "Christ Follower" today...that never gets old!
- Baptized three people in the Columbia river in the afternoon...I LOVE THAT STUFF. And not only that but we had a handful of people share their own "Jesus encounter" stories which was a wonderful testimony to the unchurched families who were there to support their kids being baptized. (Thanks Matt, Jason, Greg, Anna, and Katie!)
- The only bummer about this weekend was how little I saw Jenn and my baby girl. Dancing with them at the wedding was great, but now I'm looking forward to spending some extra special time with them both this week before I head to L.A. next weekend...any suggestions for a special date?
- ok, that's it...veg time!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm not sure I'm in full theological agreement with Rob Bell, but he coined a phrase that I really agree with: "Everything Is Spiritual" meaning there shouldn't be such a thing as the "spiritual" part of life, the "family" part of life, the "work" part of life, etc.. When living life as a true follower of Christ, everything we do is spiritual:
1 Corinthians 10:31 "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Colossians 3:17,23 "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him...And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men"
Now that I've set a theological stance that "everything is spiritual" I'm going to break that mold and set some "spiritual goals" for the summer! (p.s. Even Rob Bell has what they call "spiritual practices" so I guess if he can break the phrase, to clarify a point, I can too!)
Goal #1: Read through the entire Bible in 90 days. I'm going to openly confess that I'm not sure I've ever read through the Bible in a year...but that's not going to keep me from trying to do it in 90 days. Personally, I could care less if you read a verse a day, a chapter a day, etc...it really doesn't matter. Everyday there are people out there that read the Bible that don't have an ounce of God's heart in them. Reading alone doesn't change anything - but feeding on the Word of God for revelation and relationship with Jesus does - and that's my summertime plan. It's about 12 pages a day, which is a lot - but I really want to spend this summer with my Bible open, and so it's a goal I have made.
Goal #2: Coming Soon
Friday, May 29, 2009
Then one day I decide to just start living healthy, eating right, exercising, etc. and Wah-La! 115 pounds later I had a story that people wanted to know about!
The problem is that all that weight loss happened years ago now - and after trying to lose 10 pounds since November, I've succumed to the fact that I don't have the drive and discipline to just get it done on my own. So, despite my horrible track record, I'm going back to Infomercial Land in search of some discipline and drive that will get me to the place of health that I know I need to have to fulfill everything God has called me to be and do.
Beginning June 1, 2009 I'll be busting out the P90X. According to them I'm going to "get absolutely ripped in just 90 days...hmm. I'd actually just prefer to not jiggle when I go running. You have no idea how much jiggle can take place on a 20 mile long run while training this summer for the Portland Marathon!
When I lost all my wieght the one thing I didn't do is put on muscle - and 4 years later I'm still lacking in the "ripped" category.
Food: Uh. Yeah, that's the true beast.
To get my mind back on track for what is healthy, what is appropriate portions, and what "well-balanced" looks like, I'll be joining Weight Watchers this Summer. I've never done it before, but I'm looking forward to the accountability and fresh approach to healthy living. As a Christ-follower I'm also excited to have a chance to meet new people in the weekly meetings and hopefully build relationships with people in an effort to spread some love to people who need it!
So there you go:
- Portland Marathon (30-40 miles a week)
- P90X (1 hour a day)
- Weight Watchers Momentum Program
Summer health awaits!
Next Blog - Summertime Goals Part 2: SPIRITUAL
Monday, May 18, 2009
Mahatma Gandhi is famous for the words "be the change you want to see in this world". I can appreciate this to some degree...instead of pointing fingers or complaining, we need to do/be what we can do to bring about solutions to injustice. If there are hungry people - we need to be the change - we need to feed them. I get that. I like that. I am doing that more and more.
But I'm sorry Mr. Gandhi - you missed it. We don't have what it takes. We cannot self help our way to solutions. We are absolutely incapable of creating any change that will truly change the lives and destinies of the broken and hurting around us. We can give them food, but "what good is it if a man gains the whole world and yet forfeit's his soul"?
That is why we must pray.
Christians are in danger of blending in with all the humanistic thinking which is so prevalent in our culture today, that "preaches" we can change the world. Pastors and leaders are gathering and trying to come up with the latest and greatest ideas on how to be effective. I love these kinds of meetings. I'm a strategy junkie...but it may need to stop.
We can't do it on our own. We can't come up with Social Justice ideas, we can't come up with strategic programming ideas, we can't formulate ways to truly impact the culture. We don't have what it takes.
If you are a Christian - please hear me: stop trying to figure out plans - and return to your knees and pray.
Be the change second...
If you get those two mixed up you'll be wasting your time.
2 Timothy 2:1-3 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philemon 1:6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ
If you're not praying - you're spinning your wheels - and spending time formulating plans without the true power that is necessary to see real change take place.
If you are not a Christian...maybe it's time to ask yourself....for all the effort you make trying to make yourself better, and trying to make the world a better place - as admirable as that is...I'd like you to consider the power of a surrendered life. A life that finally allows Jesus to have the controls. Jesus said "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." As you turn your life to him - He will empower you, and give you the strength to "be the change" this world needs. You won't have to be fake - you won't be forced into "good works". You'll be transformed, and God will live inside of you and give you a new heart and new desires.
Let's all stop trying so hard - and get back to prayer and ask God to release His will and power into this world to bring the true transformations that need to take place.
Pray as if it all depends on God
Live as if it all depends on you.
In that order.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I have a confession: I hide from God...by reading my Bible.
You see, it is so easy for me to have a quiet time "with God" by reading my Bible, and yet never really truly hear from Him, confess to Him, and depend on Him. Nothing like cramming my 5,10,30, or 60 minute "alone time" with God with Bible reading from start to finish.
We often find Scriptures such as these...
- Mark 1;35 "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."
- Luke 4:42 "And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place."
- Matthew 14:23 "And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone..."
- Luke 5:15,16 "But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray."
- James 5: 16b,17 "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous have great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth."
I've been asking myself...am I hiding from God by reading the Bible? Do I need to just put it down, and truly be still, seek Him, and allow the relationship He desires to cultivate?
Don't get me wrong - Bible reading is absolutely powerful and necessary. It is described in Hebrews 4:12 as "alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." But if I am truly honest with myself - my Bible reading can take the place of true face to face encounter with the Living God.
How about you - do you hide behind your Bible? How else do you find yourself being "godly" while actually avoiding Him?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I must admit - the fact that we watched Slumdog Millionaire the day before Elliana was born, and saw the Indian slums on the big screen really affected our choice. But without Pete Wilson - one of our favorite bloggers, we probably would have never been moved to action.
"The more I learn about Compassion and the work they do the more impressed I am. Compassion International is three things: church-based, child-focused and Christ-centered." - Pete Wilson
I'm loaded, and you are too. Please consider doing something eternal with your money!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I'm the 103,478,261 richest person on earth!
How rich are you? >>
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It's absolutely ridiculous that so many Christians have absolutely ZERO influence/light in a dark world that so desperately needs the love, forgiveness, and salvation of God. We can't run FROM the darkness - we must run INTO the darkness and shine. We're God's "PLAN A" for this, and there is no "PLAN B". It's up to us. Ok...so how can we shine? How can we have influence?
2. Take your current work/neighbor/play relationships to the next level.
For example - the guys and girls you work with each and every day - stop just working with them - stop just talking sports with them...take it to the next level and begin to have God conversations with them (without preaching AT them). Have them over for dinner, go out to lunch, ask them their story - where did they grow up, what was life like, etc. and start giving them the genuine interest they deserve, and allow God to cultivate trust.'
3. (Tomorrow) Do things you are already doing - but do it with non-Christians instead, and gain their trust through your example and time spent with them.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It's absolutely ridiculous that so many Christians have absolutely ZERO influence/light in a dark world that so desperately needs the love, forgiveness, and salvation of God. We can't run FROM the darkness - we must run INTO the darkness and shine. We're God's "PLAN A" for this, and there is no "PLAN B". It's up to us. Ok...so how can we shine? How can we have influence?
1. Receive strength and wisdom to have influence by getting alone with God - OFTEN.
Because Jesus died on the cross for your sins - you have access to the Father - an access that strengthens, purifies, and empowers. Time after time while Jesus was bringing light to dark places, he regularly retreated to "desolate places" to be strengthened by the Father. If we don't follow his example we will be full of fear, timidity, exhaustion, and little faith...
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him...
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone...
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Here are the simple steps:
1. Get alone
2. Go to God in prayer
3. Realize you have access to the very One who created you - your faith will increase.
4. Ask for wisdom, strength, and opportunity to have influence with the people in your life
5. (Part 2 tomorrow...Take the current work/neighbor/play relationships to the next level by having God conversations with them)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I'm so sick of Christians avoiding "evil" as if it's what Jesus did. By the way many Christians act you'd think that if Jesus were walking the earth today he'd be attending five youth groups, hang with Christian friends 24/7, watch Christian television, and listen to Christian music ALL WHILE avoiding the darkness that this world is in.
Jesus didn't hop from one Christian enviornment to the next...he brought LIGHT INTO DARK PLACES...but so many Christians are busy with Christian pop culture, they don't have time to bring JesusJustice to the world around them.
We need to HEAR evil.
We need to SEE evil.
(but go ahead and don't SPEAK evil).
If we're blind to the darkness, the evil, the injustice...if we don't hear the cries of the lost and broken...we'll live ignorant Christian lives and do nothing but satisfy our churchy itch by staying in our blinded Christian subculture.
Go LOOK at it
Go LISTEN to it.
Surround yourself in the darkness
AND THEN BRING THE LIGHT OF GOD TO IT!
ok...I'm done...till next time.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
We don't apologize to be advocates for Twitter in our youth ministry. It's such a great way to stay connected throughout the week and establish a sense of unity. Here are tweet peeps you can follow:
text "follow (name in bold)" to 40404
Chanell Magee: ChanellMagee
Aly Applegate: AlyApplegate
Sam Bickel: Sambickel3637
Denis Fureyster: Denis8
Vlad Fureyster: VladF1
Jessica Strang: Jessicastrang
Ryan Earls: RyanEarls
Kristen Bickel: jonasfan2526
Jeremy Bennett: jeremyrbennett
Makayla Flowers: Makayla2
Cameron Whitman: CamWhitman
Zach Whitman: Cablinasian
Kristi Stricker: KRISTI36
Mateo Strang: Mattstrang
Donny Bickel: BonnyBickel
Nick Robinson: NickRobinson2
Jonathan Robinson: Jonathan104
Dusty Lomeland: DLomelandLimp
Jason McAnally: jmacswitch
Chrissy Christenson: ChrissyRoseC
Katie Stewart: KTStew
Samantha Howe: samanthahowe
Anna Konstantinova: annacaptivates
To understand how Twitter works, you can go to their website, or you can watch this fun youtube video. Bottom line - GET CONNECTED!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
16He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, "Please strike this people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-18)
Do you see what I see? Depends on your faith. While some people see insurmountable odds, I see an opportunity for God to prove His glory and power. While some people are critical with their assessment, I am hopeful with grace. While some people ditch when the battle increases, I dig in and shout out a war cry.
There comes a time when you must refuse to believe your eyes and choose to see with faith, which, afterall, is the evidence of things NOT SEEN.
Back in the day we stole a line from Pete Greig who wrote the book Awakening Cry: "UCBONES, ICANARMY" (you see bones, I see an army)...and I want to ask you - what kind of believer are you going to be - one that can only see the bones, or the one that can see the army.
God is attracted to faith, and when we combine our faith with movement, we become an unstoppbable force. Giddy up. It's war time!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It's Twitter Time! Most people are leaving myspace for facebook (as shown in the graph above), but what is really the big deal right now is TWITTER. Market research company Nielsen Online says Twitter grew by 1,689% from February 2008 to February 2009.
That means there are now more than 1.78 million people signed on.
This time last year the social networking site only had 100,000 members.Most of the growth on Twitter has happened within just the last 3 months.
The big question is why? Why is Twitter growing so rapidly? Here are a few theories I have:
- Twitter is easier to scan. Less is more. People gravitate to shorter messages.
- Twitter is more social. It’s easier to engage the crowd around a brief shot of wisdom or a story or a question.
- Twitter is more viral. It’s easy to grab an insight and share it with friends.
- Twitter is more intuitive. To follow someone, I just click “follow.” Blogs still require a bit of an understanding of RSS feeds.
Read more: "Twitter vs. Blogging | TonyMorganLive.com" - http://tonymorganlive.com/2009/03/18/twitter-vs-blogging/#ixzz0AmdGBTOj
Friday, March 6, 2009
Just wanted everyone to know how much I'm enjoying my Friday, as I prep to speak tonight at our annual Men's Retreat. The source of my smile doesn't come from the study, but from my baby girl who is chillin' next to me as she sleeps. She's 19 days old, and we had to wait over 8 years for her arrival, but boy was she worth the wait!
As for the prep - talking about the call of a leader - once David was anointed with oil and "called" to be King, it says in 1 Samuel 16:
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
"From that day on". David went back to the sheep fields after that and stayed there for years before becoming King...but once he was called I believe he saw sheep differently, he saw lions, and bears differently, he saw isolation differently...why? Because he was now "called."
If we understand that God has called us to something greater than the mundane, it will change the way we view life and prepare us for the days ahead.
You are called.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Today the new U2 album "No Line On The Horizon" was released. U2 is the icon for us 20-30 somethings when it comes to cutting edge, mainstream, music with spiritual elements. I've always struggled with the "Christianity" of U2 because even though Bono regularly talks about Jesus and the journey he is on, there seems to be a lack of unabashed commitment to following Christ.
My prayer is that in seeking out Truth, the guys of U2 will "finally find what they've been looking for". In the meantime, I can fully appreciate the depth of their lyrics such as "White As Snow" which I have posted below.
So, what's the view from where you stand? Should U2 be applauded for asking the rest of the world to wrestle with their spirituality? Should U2 be chided for making social issues a bigger concern than declaring the preeminence of Christ as the One and only Savior? Should we not be so investigative and just enjoy the music when it's good, and turn it off when it's not?
If you don't consider yourself a Christ follower- what's your take on the message of U2? Do they even have a message, or are they just another band to you?
If you do believe that Christ is your Savior and consider yourself saved by grace, through faith - how do you value their music?
Where I came from there were no hills at all
The land was flat, the highways straight and wide
My brother and I would drive for hours
Like years instead of days
Our faces as pale as the dirty snow
Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow
And the water, it was icy
As it washed over me
And the moon shone above me
Now this dry ground it bears no fruit at all
Only poppies laugh under the crescent moon
The road refuses strangers
The land the seeds we sow
Where might we find the lamb as white as snow
As boys we would go hunting in the woods
To sleep the night shooting out the stars
Now the wolves are every passing stranger
Every face we cannot know
If only a heart could be as white as snow
If only a heart could be as white as snow
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Tomorrow Lent begins! Ok, so you probably don't know what Lent is. Even though Lent is not found in the Bible, there is historical significance and good reason for it. I've never known what Lent is, much less participated in it until my decision to do so this year. Like anything else - it can be very deep and personal or just a religious tradition - it's up to you and your heart. Maybe you are a Catholic by heritage, or consider yourself religious, but don't truly know what it means to have a relationship with Jesus - wow, this could be a great time for you to search the Scriptures and find out who this Jesus really is!
Maybe you consider yourself the most UN-RELIGIOUS person on the planet - don't you owe it to yourself to at least find out for yourself who Jesus is and what He taught? Lent could be a great time to do a 40 day study of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - found in the Bible)!
The local church I'm a part of doesn't do fancy liturgy, we don't have stained glass windows, and most of us wear jeans rather than suits or priestly robes...we tend to prefer the electric guitar over the organ, and we're more likely to be laughing and smiling than somber and quiet...but there is a still a very real, and very deep passion to know Jesus and to live our lives for the Savior of the world! Lent is a good way to get on the right track!
Lent is a 40-day fasting season that begins on Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) and concludes at the Easter. Sundays are not included in the 40-day count because every Sunday is a joyful celebration of Jesus' resurrection. Though not found in the Bible, Lent has long been a tradition in the Christian Church, and it is thought that the tradition of the 40 days recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Lent is considered a time of repentance and discipline.
One of my current favorite authors, Mark Batterson says this concerning Lent:
I have a goal-oriented personality. Without goals I'm no good. So I try to leverage things like birthdays and New Years and Lent and Pentecost to set new spiritual goals or reestablish some God habits. A few years ago I started observing Lent and it's made Easter so much more meaningful. Can't wait for Ash Wednesday.
Here's an equation: -++=x.
Translation: subtraction plus addition equals multiplication.
What do you need to subtract from you life?
It might be a bad habit or waste of time or something that is permissible but not beneficial. Last year I gave up television for forty days. This year I'm giving up soda and candy. I know that doesn't sound super spiritual, but if you knew how much I love vanilla coke and gummy bears...
What do you need to add to your life?
You can't just subtract something. You've got to add something to your spiritual routine. I'm going to add an hour to my day. How? I'm setting my alarm clock an hour earlier than I normally do. I want to give God more of my most precious resource: time.
I'm believing that subtraction and addition will result in multiplication. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been filled with more holy anticipation about what God is doing in my life and the life of National Community Church. But I'm believing Him for greater things! I want Him to multiply what He is already doing!
Question: what are you subtracting or adding for Lent?
So...who's in? Reply to this email and tell us what you are planning on adding and subtracting.
Subtraction: I'm going to not eat after 8:00pm and refrain from all Desserts including the deadly "C's": Cookies, Crackers, Chips, and Cake
Addition: I'm going to actually read through Beth Moore's 40 Day Bible Study on Jesus, spend an hour in prayer before I shower, read, eat, or do anything else in the mornings, because my prayer time gets easily crowded out with "stuff" in the morning.
See you soon
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I missed week three because I had to fly to Spokane to attend (and officiate) my Grandma's funeral. We did some little things, but nothing that would qualify as a planned, special date.
Then last week we ventured to the Laurelhurst district in Portland and spent the morning at Crema Cafe, which is known for it's artistic foam lattes. It was lots of fun, very trendy, and there were about 15 people using Mac's (compared to 1 PC user), which solidified its coolness.
Then this week, we celebrated Valentines day with cards, a truffle or two, and then went to our original favorite place on NE Fremont: Alameda Cafe, where I indulged the best French Toast in the world, and Jenn had their special of the day: Quiche w/ fresh spinich and tomato. Elli isn't here yet, but I couldn't resist buying her a Valentine Card, so she could read it someday - that we were hoping today would be the day she was born!We then walked along Fremont, and went to our favorite (albeit expensive) pet store, Green Dog Pet Supply, and bought a valentine treat for Loomis and Gabby. Here they were patiently waiting to have their heart broken, so they could share.
As for the rest of Valentine's Day...well, we'll see. We sure would like Elliana to come today, but in the meantime there is some love to share!
Happy Valentines Day everyone!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Is running an act of worship? Is breaking a sweat part of spiritual wholeness? Doesn't God care about more important things than whether or not I need to shed a few pounds?
Yes and no.
God didn't only make the spiritual side of you - he made all of you. In the Bible, Job 10 says it best:
11You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. 12You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
Here's what I've come to realize. If I'm slothful with my body - it affects the level of my faith. I have a real hard time looking at the magnificent plan that God has for me, when my body is just sitting around the house collecting dust. There is something to be said for healthy bodies and healthy faith. Most of the pastors that I look up to have healthy bodies and a vibrancy for life...and I don't think it's coincidence.
It is true that you can excel in "body" OR "soul" OR "spirit" without the others, but I believe that when you are healthy in all three it's like a finely tuned guitar: ready to rock and roll!
So...why not make a fresh request for grace and forgiveness in your life and ask Jesus to empower you to make the necessary changes in the area that needs attention the most. The cool thing about God is that the verse following 1 Thess 5:23 is this: 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
here's to wholeness!'
Friday, January 16, 2009
Our detour turned out to be the pathway to a true treasure! As we drove down Alberta we found an amazing French restaurant called Petite Provence. It was pure chance we found this place, but it turned out to be a gem.
This place was beautiful and well designed, with an open kitchen, fresh baked breads and desserts.
Jenn opted for the Coffee Cake French Toast (yeah, take coffee cake and turn it into french toast and voila!) and I ordered Eggs Bennedict Provencal, which I would do a disservice to explainThe service was great, and Jenn and I both think this may become a regular place for us (competing with Alameda Cafe on Freemont). We then headed to Delta Park, went to BabysRus and a couple more furniture stores, and ended up back at home around noon. A quick date, but super fun and we're really glad we found such a great place!
Jenn is due Feb. 22, but the doctors say there is a 50/50 chance she has the baby a week from Monday when she goes in to have her cerclage (stich) removed a week from Monday! So the upcoming dates will have to get creative, but I'm up for it and so is Prego!