Life19 Oct 2011 12:30 pm

It’s the Bible, living and changing. It is the Word which also happens to be God breathed and Became flesh. The Bible is not static, it is not simple, or standard. It is on the move and breathing. Always. I think the problem for me is that I so often forget this and assume it is just a book that never changes. A book that I already know too well. A book that no matter how often I read it will still be the same. Yet this is untrue. It changes every time I read it. But I must let it not only be read, I must let it speak to me. I must treat it like a conversation. Alive and Living. Me asking it questions and talking to it, and it talking to me and asking me questions. It is beautiful how God has given us this gift. His word, His living word. His living, changing, moving, breathing, challenging, fighting, pushing, pulling, alive, Word.

Life01 Jun 2011 08:56 pm

Lately I’ve had a lot of moments, experiences and run-ins with mission work pulling at my life. I don’t know what it all adds up too but it’s there. Three big things lately have been the movie, “The Human Experience”, Annie going to Haiti, and this article. I feel often that we think of missions as all about what WE can do for THEM. As in “I am in such a wonderful perfect amazing place and definitely in connection with God, and I should help them who are not.” When often it turns out that they are in a better place than us, heart wise, despite circumstances. All of the experiences I have been having lately make me want to go travel and do mission work not for what I can do for others though, but for what they can do for me. I see and hear all about how these people in other countries, these third-world countries, have joy, true joy. It doesn’t matter that they have 1 set of clothes and live in an orphanage, they love life, and have true faith in God.

It seems that every time I look around me I see that lack of joy in the U.S. of A. We seem to get so caught up in trying to make life perfect for ourselves that we forget to just en-joy what we have and where we are and life. I mean, you don’t need a big house and car and money to have joy. You can have nothing and have joy. Look at the third world countries.

It’s almost like the more we have, the less we have. Ya know? The more stuff I have the less true joy I have. Anyway here is that article I was talking about.

https://www.themochaclub.org/i-need-africa 

I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me

When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. “I am needed here,” I think. “They have so little, and I have so much.” It’s true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in those same people. It’s a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day.

The images spilling out of my television showed circumstances that could seemingly only equal misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness. The truth is, in Africa I find hearts full of victory, indomitable spirits. In places where despair should thrive, instead I find adults dancing and singing, and children playing soccer with a ball crafted of tied up trash. Instead of payback, I find grace. Here, weekend getaways are not options to provide relief from the pains of daily life. Relationships and faith provide joy. Love is sovereign.

My new reality… I know now that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I’m ashamed by my lack of faith, but at the very same moment I am excited by my new pursuit. I’m forced to redefine the meaning of having much or having little. I’m uneasy with the prospect of change and of letting go, but just the thought of freedom is liberating. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart – I no longer want to need the “next thing” to have joy.

I’m not saying that Africa does not need our efforts. It absolutely does need our partnership. But for me, I’ve come to understand that I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Why? Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I’ve learned that I don’t need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent’s many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I’ve found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me.

Church and Life24 Jan 2011 08:36 pm

It seems God is making it pretty obvious where he is leading me, I just don’t know what that directly looks like right now. Here is an article from my Old Pastor’s Wife’s blog. He chimes in too during it.

Whoa. This got deep…

WARNING!! WARNING!! THIS ONE MIGHT GET DEEP! I INVITED MICAH TO PITCH IN, AND WHOOTEEE…HE DID!! SO, PULL UP A HUNK OF COUCH AND A BEER (or a glass of vino or a mug of tea) AND SIT DOWN WITH ME FOR A WHILE (you know, if you want to)…

I’ve been wrestling with the idea of church. As some of you may know, we are kind of “in the business” of church. So, I guess some thinking about it would be good. The problem is, as I think about it, I’m not sure we’re doing it right. We come in and hang out with some peeps (usually the ones we know and are comfortable talking to), pour a cup of coffee (because we’re post-modern so coffee in church is all the rage), go sit in our seat (sometimes the same seat every week…and if anyone else sits there it almost visibly puts us into a tail spin!), we sing some songs (sometimes led by a good band, sometimes a quite mediocre/ teetering on sucky band…ok, honestly, sometimes the band just sucks and its too distracting to worship but we raise our hands anyway and try to get into it), listen to a “message” (which sometimes is filled with so much “and all God’s people said…?” and “Can I hear an Amen?” ‘s that it makes me a little crazy….I’m pretty sure I’m one of God’s people, but I never know how to fill in the blank. “I don’t know…what did God’s people say? Woot?”), then we end and leave (sometimes to find our car smashed in the parking lot without a note…that happened to us last week. I just thought I’d add that in. It’s ok to laugh). Let me tell you, sitting beside someone who might be coming to church for the first time, you pick up on the little things that might make them uncomfortable! How ARE they supposed to know what all God’s people said? I had a friend lean over to me during worship and ask why everyone was raising their hands. I think we get so comfortable with our churchy selves that we forget to see how church would look to a fresh set of eyes. I think it would look pretty weird. But, I think we’re comfy. I think we’ve been misled for the last couple of hundred years that there is a formula to follow, and as long as you’re following that, you’re good. You’ve done your duty, and someone’s life might be changed along the way. I’m wondering how much life change is happening in our churches anymore, or if its becoming our excuse for complacency during the rest of the week. But the fact is, why would someone wander into these churches? And what would church have to offer them? The church has been following the same “formula” for hundreds of years, but culture is in constant change…it’s time for “church” to grab a clue and change along with it!

So, here’s what I’m wrestling with: given all that, I’m tempted to think that in order to make a difference, or the ONLY way to make a difference is to start new and fresh. To say “screw this”, leave “church” as we know it, and forge our own way. To some extent, that is what we need to do. However, I was hit with this thought today. What the church really needs is for those of us with a desire for change to STAY and change. To allow the church to see a revolution beginning within its own walls. It only takes a couple of people with a vision to start a revolution. And shouldn’t that revolution be started in the middle of the people around us who have become complacent? To inspire people who are comfortable to step outside of that comfort zone? Can you imagine the impact if we start a revolution where a spark can trigger a fire? Where people who have the skills and resources can be inspired and encouraged to do something DIFFERENT than they are used to! To those brave visionaries out there: GO!! Start a revolution! But don’t hide what you are doing away from those who need to learn from you: the people that fill our churches. You could be that spark that lights a fire under those bums filling the pews, and rescues our churches from the complacent state it’s in!
Oddly enough, Micah and I were thinking the same thing when I started to write this blog and I invited him to chime in. Here’s Micah:
We can be certain that continuing in complacency, continuing the same traditional approaches, and perpetuating the attitude that the church exists for “church people” will result in the same discouraging results we are seeing today.
Recently I was at a church where a pastor friend of mine used a great deal of “Christian jargon”. I know this pastor has a tremendous heart for people outside of the church, but his practices communicated that church exists for church people who know the insider vocabulary. As it was bugging me (which I know is my own sin issue), I was tempted to give up on trying to influence him otherwise. I excused it saying, “that’s just his style”, but I was struck with the very challenging fact that to give up could result in yet another church drifting into it’s comfort zone with comfortable Christians. We talk about sharing the good news of Jesus and people applaud, but when changes are made to help us better share the gospel the feedback is of a different nature.
What will the uphill battle take? What will those revolutionaries have to endure to see the sparks ignite?
A number of years ago, I remember hearing a pastor of a new church that was effectively impacting its city say that their effectiveness was linked to really getting back to the gospel and repenting of their indifference for the world around them. At the time, I thought, “yeah that’s good, but what does that even mean?” Since then I’ve had a number of experiences that help me see what he was talking about, or at least what I think he was talking about. The future of the church and it’s impact in the world is directly connected to our understanding of the pure essence of the gospel. The challenge is getting at the pure essence of the gospel. When you think about how churches handle the gospel, there is so much added to it. A few examples: I remember hearing an individual say, “can a democrat even be a true believer.” A friend of mine in college was perplexed and concerned after a trip to Nepal. He was so concerned about these people who hadn’t heard the message of Jesus and asked one of his favorite college professors how to handle this. The professor’s response was, “good thing we don’t have to worry about it”. A popular pastor prescribing that Christians never dabble in yoga, lest they invite little demons into their life. These examples share a common thread, an enculturated gospel, a gospel of Jesus and….(political views, entitlement and judgement, separatist world views, etc…)
Another illustration came from a recent conversation with a friend who spent several years in West Africa. He was describing the polygamist practices in Mali. He said the men take several wives because of the work load of their agrarian lives (the wives do most of the work). He told me of several families that had come to know Jesus and started participating in the Mali church. Knowing how many of our stateside churches would handle a polygamist family attending their church, I was curious to know how the church in Mali handled this. His answer was simple, it’s a non issue. Coming to Christ is a free invitation that required no jumping of cultural hurdles. This practice, polygamy may change in future generations as generations of Jesus followers abandon the practice, but coming to know Jesus doesn’t first require the jumping of cultural barriers. The gospel is truly being presented as an invitation to people right where they are at.
So, back to the pastor, the talk I didn’t really get, and the discussion of igniting fires of revolution within existing churches. The call of this revolution is simple and yet I believe it will be a battle. The call is to simply present the true gospel (let’s call it Jesus 1.0) less all it’s cultural baggage and first let it impact our own lives in a way that creates a tremendous sense of urgency. Jesus’ gospel is an invitation to follow Him, find forgiveness, and be invited into a life changing eternity with God that starts now.
The call also means that we reflect Jesus in the way we invite others into this life changing eternity. Jesus left heaven and his perfect relationship with God to become one of us. Jesus, the Godman was sent and made His dwelling with us. That same kind of sending is what God is calling us to. To go into the world (not staying inside the church doors) and dwell with people, living the goods news and sharing the good news.
Let me give you a couple examples of people living this out, so that you can see what this looks like…and how easy it could be:
Family number 1 has extended family and friends who don’t know Jesus and are not comfortable stepping foot into a church. Dad is an elder at his church and tattoo artist. Seeing people who are far from Jesus and opportunities to care for them, they step down from leadership in order to open their schedules and home to people who are seeking and questioning.
Family number 2 decides to wake up early on a chilly Saturday morning to make breakfast burritos, meet up with friends and deliver said burritos to the homeless. 57 burritos are delivered along with hot coffee, and an eternal impact is made on their children in teaching them how to think outside of themselves to care for others.
A man at our church here in Seattle, after hearing and considering the story of the Good Samaritan, feels compelled to go out and search for people who need shelter, food, or medical attention. He goes out daily during the week to help those in need. He tried to get help from the church, and only one person offered to occasionally help with vehicles.
A local doctor has a vision to extend his knowledge and gifts to people in need. He starts a free medical clinic within a church with little recognition.
These people are revolutionaries. They are seeking to extend God’s love outside of the walls of the church.
Imagine for a moment the impact of existing churches turning the corner and using their strengths, assets, people for the sake of the world. Dream of the impact of abandoning our comfortable traditions and truly seeking to exist to present Jesus to the World. Conceive of churches restructuring around the idea of existing for people outside the church and willingly letting go of how this challenges their preferences.
———————————————————————————————————————-
Stolen from Kristen and Micah Dodson  at http://crackasmilex5.blogspot.com/
Life17 Jan 2011 08:49 pm

For some reason I’ve been struggling a lot with the idea of being a pastor. Ever since I started school last Fall and began my “Pastoral Ministry” classes I really have started to question the role of “pastor” in church. For a long time now I have known that God has called me into “ministry” and into his service, but I’ve never known exactly what it was. I knew that for awhile I was supposed to be at Multnomah in the “Pastoral Ministry” program, but that never meant I was going to be a pastor. In fact the longer I was in school the more I felt that I might be a “pastor” for a while but that it never was the God intended goal for my life. Recently I have been questioning even more if there should even be such a role as “pastor” in “the church.” Personally I have been struggling so much lately with what the Bible says and what the “Christian” life is all about. I feel that in all I’ve read of the Bible I see a minimal amount of it being followed, obeyed, or even thought about by “Christians.” With that said I am really trying to figure out a few things.

-One: What is God’s call for my life?

-Two: What does following Jesus truly look like? Biblically, not according to other “Christians.”

-Three: What is “Church” really supposed to be like?

I feel that a recent article I read on www.theooze.com answers part of the last question. Read it at http://theooze.com/church/seven-mistakes-every-church-should-avoid/

Here are some bullets from the article.

  1. Embracing the building
  2. Misrepresenting the tithe
  3. Ignoring the poor
  4. Over-emphasizing the role of the pastor
  5. Yearning for political power
  6. Business-minded ecclesiology
  7. Conversion-focus instead of disciple-making

I am especially connected to 1, 2, 3, and 4. I feel to many churches are stuck on the idea that they must have a building, a pastor, and a tithe. None of these are directly Biblical that I can find. As for the third, I really am struggling with how much God tells us to care for the poor, and how little we do it.

Just some thoughts for now.

Life14 Dec 2010 10:36 pm

John 12:25 “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Only You by David Crowder Band
Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned
And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down
before You Only You Lord
Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
You’re my delights, be my everything And It’s just you and me here now Only you and me here now
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60Matthew 8:22 ‘But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” ‘

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:57-62

Lord give me the faith to say “Yes Lord.” and then to follow, not “later”, not “someday”, not “after this”, or “but first”, but instantly.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Life03 Dec 2010 10:23 pm

I just decided. I don’t want any Christmas presents this year.

How can I accept gifts of things I don’t need when there are lonely, starving, tired, poor, miserable, cold, hungry, hurting people in the world?

If you want to buy something this year, in my name, give it to the homeless, the needy, the poor, the battered, broken, bruised, hungry and hurt.

Please.

http://www.cityteam.org/portland/ 

https://www.mochaclub.org/ 

http://ugmportland.org/

https://secure.invisiblechildren.com/donate/ 

These are some places you can give, or better yet go meet someone needy, homeless, starving, or hurting and just talk to them. Go talk to a homeless man or woman and feed them, or cloth them. Jesus calls us to care for the needy and hurting and lonely and lost. Everyone can benefit from a friendly face, and a friendly conversation. Everyone can use the love of Christ.

Share this Christmas. Share with the needy.
drawing-poor.jpg

Life01 Dec 2010 11:30 pm

I dream of traveling the world and experiencing God’s creation everywhere I go; seeing his world, his creation, his beauty and meeting his people. Why can’t I just drop everything in life and go?

Oh to have faith as small as a mustard seed, where I truly depend on God to lead my every step and breath.

Lord, give me faith.

Disciples

Life28 Nov 2010 10:12 pm

Deuteronomy 4:7-8

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” ESV

We are lucky aren’t we? It’s funny that we never quite put our thankfulness into these words. Are you thankful for the law God has given us? Are you thankful that we can talk to God? I think David touches on this in Psalms too.

Psalm 119:97

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” ESV

Wow! I mean, do we really love the law? Do you love God’s rules and law so much you can say you love it? Or can you even be thankful for it? If not I encourage you to analyze the laws to see what God’s true intention is for them. Study them deeply and realize they are significant and loving.

How do we know that the laws are about love and compassion though without analyzing them for hours and days on end?

We can look at God’s self definition in Exodus to understand that.

Exodus 34:6-7

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’”

So if God is a compassionate, gracious, loving, faithful God that is slow to anger, and forgiving then aren’t his laws going to be given with these in mind? YES!

And yet we so often think of God’s law as old strict boring rules for our lives that are outdated and insignificant.  How untrue that is! Perhaps I don’t need to still wear 4 tassels on my robe but the meaning is still of utter importance. And what is the important behind all the laws? Love.
Romans 13:9-10

“The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” NIV

Love others, love yourself, and love God. In doing this you shall be fulfilling the law. And, in studying and meditating on the law, you will love the law, and ultimately love God.

To sum up I guess I must quote Deuteronomy 4:7-8 again, this time from the Message

“Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today?”

I love the law. For truly the Law is Love, and love is Jesus. For Jesus is the Word of God and Love.

John 1:1-5

” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Life27 Nov 2010 09:03 pm

Nevermind. I’m just busy.

Life24 Nov 2010 10:16 am

Dealing With Sin in the Church

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

—————-

Lately I’ve had a lot of discussions with friends and family about how to confront others with issues in their life. I am personally a firm believer in confronting them, sometimes brutally, about the sin in their life. Obviously this is not the ideal way. I can be rather harsh and non-understanding when I tell others, but there is a way to do it properly and loving. Others I have talked to believe that you should not ever directly tell another something is wrong. They believe in the hands off approach, assuming if you step in you are judging. What’s amazing is that the Bible specifically discusses this. It continues to amaze me what the Bible says that speaks directly to our life. So take it, think about it, read it again, pray about it, read it again, then apply it.

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