Preaching at Roy Community Church

August 17, 2009

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Does Jesus Want Me to Suffer?

March 19, 2009

“…if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:17

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Unknown

“The only way we avoid suffering is when we set up boundaries, because if we are following our mission for Jesus we will run into suffering.” – Francis Chan

I have been struggling as of late with my actions as one who proclaims to follow Jesus and calls myself a Christian. I have been wrestling with what Paul says “provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” So how do I suffer with Jesus?

I heard Francis Chan preach on, avoid setting up boundaries. Avoid saying that I will only love this much, or give this much, or serve this much. Its following the example of Jesus dying to self and giving all for the Kingdom.

I am so thankful/proud of the fact that my church is not a church that preaches that Jesus = less suffering. Because that is simply not true, if you follow Jesus you will suffer for it. The Gospel of Jesus is not a message of Health, Wealth, and Happiness that is the American Gospel.

We as Christians, and myself in particular tend to lose sight of the Kingdom/Jesus mentality, we fall into this “I am saved, are you saved?” way of thinking. The focus is getting souls saved, ours and others, and we tend to forget about becoming more like Jesus and becoming consumed by Him.

you’ve got a vision of some far off day
beautiful and bright
a carrot hanging out of reach
but always in your sight
there’s an icon in your mind
that stands for happiness someday
a picture on the wall
of a kingdom far away

but oh, it’s closer than you think
oh, it’s breathing in between
oh, it’s closer than you think
oh, it’s right under your feet

– Fiction Family

My life is not reflecting suffering for Jesus and I repent of that. I have set up boundaries in my life where Jesus can’t go.

If life truly is as Annie Dillard puts it “the way we live our days is the way we live our lives” than I am failing. Jesus is not my focus every day. I want to be fixated on Him, to have every day of my life about Him.

My life needs to be consumed with excitement looking to that day I meet Jesus face to face. But in the meantime religion won’t do, morality won’t do, I need Jesus, I long for Him.

I sometimes feel Jesus singing this to my soul….

“Oh, and when will our heartbeats fall into two lines
And the click-clack of our boot heels beat out the same time
Oh, and when will your hand find itself in mine?
Oh, and when will your hand find itself in mine?”

– Noah and The Whale

I want Him to possess me in all I do. I am struggling and learning each day how to I become more like Him, totally wrapped up in the cause of His love, advancing it, recognizing it, and affirming it. I want to suffer, I invite suffering as I let down my boundaries and hope to die to myself.

Do you struggle with this?

How do you approach the way we should suffer for and with Jesus?

How are you living your days? Is that what you want your life to amount to?

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” – Romans 5:2-4


For where two or three are gathered…

March 10, 2009

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!” – William Shakespeare

“As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” – Jewish Proverb

I have few close friends so I try to cherish the ones I have been blessed with. Yesterday was a day that will cement in my mind and soul as a day that I grew closer to two men I call my friends.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” – Jewish Proverb

The following is not an account of wounds from a friend but it was an interesting experience to say the least. I got a call from my friend Petie yesterday afternoon, asking me if he could use my help for a couple of hours.

I gladly accepted and decided to meet up with him and another friend of ours, Josh. The favor was to help him go and pick up a hot tub for him to surprise his wife with for her birthday. Sounds simple and straight forward, cut and dry? Well that was not how the whole “adventure” turned out.

After a drive to Bellevue and filling the time with good conversation, we arrived and proceeded to examine where we were going to pick up this hot tub. To our surprise, the tub was about a third of a mile into this property described by Josh as, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house”, which was not far off because there was a creek, some woods, and wetland involved.

Well we got to the tub and found it in great shape. Petie tried unsuccessfully to bargain with the man selling the tub, but still ended up purchasing it for a reasonable price. This is the point in the story where it gets dirty, because we could not simply back up the truck to the tub, oh no we had to ROLL the tub through the woods and wetland to the truck, this took a little under an hour to accomplish.

We were dirty, cold, and using a lot of our upper body strength, which consequently for me is not very much (I told them, they called the weakest link). It was hard, but we had a blast joking about it and just getting through it as guys do, “grab it and growl”!

As crazy as this account sounds, it was fun. I am reminded of this passage in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is talking about how we as brothers in the faith are to handle situations together.

“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” Matt. 18:18-20.

I love that, “When two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there”. It felt that in what we were doing, helping a brother out in love and friendship asking nothing in return was a moment where Jesus was “sure to be there”.

I believe that we had fun and enjoyed this time of misadventure together, it was worship in some strange sense, and I felt God breathe into me. These guys mean more to me because of this. They are good men who I am proud to call my friends.


Carmel or Tariyaki Sauce

December 11, 2008

“Create in Me a Clean Heart Oh God”

– King David

“Some may trust in _(insert your trust here)__, and some in _(and here)__,

but we trust in the name of the LORD our God”

-Psalms 20:7

“Oh when I look to the shape of my heart,
It’s separated only by scars
That cut in and cut out
Oh and leave me without
Oh a heart that functions at all. “

-Noah and the Whale

ar120565372793288

It was 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I was fuming with anger at the irresponsible and childish individuals who have been renting out my 555 sq. ft. house here in Puyallup. I was inside a refrigerator with a rag and razor blade scrapping out what I can only guess was either carmel or teriyaki sauce or a mixture of both (i hope it was and not something else, but i wouldn’t be surprised). It was disgusting and infuriating to be doing this, cleaning up the mess someone else has made of something that was mine. Consider that, I did all this while listening to worship music but worship was nowhere to be found.

It was not fair.

My heart was in a dark place and I was mad. Pissed off. Beyond words.

I chose to linger in that place of hatred and seething resentment and I enjoyed it. It felt good and it felt right. And why not? I was owed this! I could feel this way, I get a pass right?

I was wronged.

I was wrong.

My heart was far from Jesus and it hurt. How could I find my way back to Him? Does He feel the same way toward me that I felt toward these people who had been so irresponsible and selfish.

How can His love be that big?

He works in ways that blow me away.

I was at church the following Sunday and my good friend who is one of the Pastors there was preaching on desperation. Wow can you believe that? I love the ways of God. He taught on the point of desperation that was displayed in Jyris needing his daughter healed and the Woman Jesus encountered who was bleeding for twelve years and was healed by the touch of His garment. The service was AMAZING and spoke right to my heart where I was hurting. The teaching, coupled with the worship and the awesome and I believe “Mystical” sacrament of Communion helped heal my heart. Jesus was glorified in the service and I went to Him broken and in desperation. I would like to share with you this song that is so on point about the condition of the heart.

Bruised

Don’t build the castle
At your centre
Oh the heart can’t love
What it can’t remember
Be willing to be hurt
Oh be willing to be bruised
‘Cos a heart that doesn’t love
Is a heart that isn’t used

Oh turn your love to life
Let your love shine through
In everything you do
Let your love shine through

Oh I thought I felt my heart beating
Well I thought I’d never know that feeling
Oh I thought I felt my heart beating
Well I thought I’d never know that feeling

Well my heart was like a cave
Now light shines in it
Oh to fall in love is brave
Oh my heart was like a stone
That barely moved
Oh my heart was like a magnet
Oh for hearts like yours

Oh turn your love to life
Let your love shine through
In everything you do
Let your love shine through

-Noah and the Whale

Its breath-taking, the power of Jesus. He proclaimed in His home town of Nazerath what His mission on this earth was all about and is still about today. Thank you Jesus.

Isaiah 61:1

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…

As one of my favorite speakers, Steve Brown says… “You think about that. AMEN”


The Road

November 20, 2008

road_studs_2

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

I wonder after reading this which road I’m traveling down.
Am I going down the road paved and known or am I venturing into the dark mysterious wilderness where adventure and danger lurk?

Who will be my guide? Is it going to be safe? Where will I eat or sleep?

Wondering these things calls to my mind one of my favorite books called “The Road” by Cormack McCarthy. It’s a story about a man and his son on a road attempting to survive in a desolate and hopeless world. Throughout the story the man is teaching his son how to survive in this bleak world they find themselves in. It also becomes evident as the story progresses that the man is preparing the boy for his eminent demise.

The questions that linger between the lines in McCarthy’s story are; What will the boy do?, Where will he go?, and Who can he trust after his father is gone?

Oh how that story and the poem parallel my spiritual state. I feel that my father has taught me and prepared me for much and now I’m heading down a road in this dark world and I wonder is it safe to be on this road? I know he is limited with what he can teach me and my questions are the same as the boy in the story. The difference is that the father in my story has taught me that there is One who will guide me when he is gone, the One who has guided him all along.

I find my answer to the question if the road is safe or not in McCarthy’s book and that answer is no. In no way is it safe to be on the road but with the Father of my soul as my teacher, it is good to be on this road. He comforts and guides me just like my earthly father has but this Father knows me, all of me because He is my God.

The Father is my Shepherd, I shall not want.                                                                               

He makes me lay down in pastures of green.                                                                                  

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow or on “the road” of Death,                                   

I will fear no evil for the Father is with me.                                                                                  

He is with me.

AMEN.


Who will Pray for Obama?

November 6, 2008

“You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You Are.”

– Chris Tomlin

“Will Evangelicals rally behind and pray for Obama as they did around Bush?”

– Petie Kinder (a pastor at my church)

obamapray

I had a good time last night with my friends from church watching the results come in about who will be the next President of our great country. It was so cool to see my living room split down the middle in their support. We had two Obama supporters, two McCain supporters, and five people who didn’t care much either way, and if forced they would split down the middle in their support as well. It was an interesting night.

I like President-elect Barrack Obama. I think that he will be a good leader and a great example. I do not think he is above reproach, I believe as a passionate Christ follower that we need to embrace with open arms the man that God has placed in charge of our nation.

On a whole, Evangelicals are known for holding grudges politically and that’s wrong, its not what Jesus taught us to do. I would love to see the kind of passionate fever for soon to be President Obama that many Evangelical communities have displayed in the past when offering up prayers for President Bush. I don’t think it will happen. But I have faith in the Lord of this nation. God always has a select few that adhere to His words very seriously and follow Him intimately.

We must remember that God is in control and nothing happens that surprises Him. He will work this for good and glory will be brought to His name with President Bush in office or President Obama.

“America is like an Eagle, it needs a Right wing and a Left wing to fly”

– Unknown

Please friends and family don’t get caught up in this left wing and right wing diatribe. Put your trust in Him who is incorruptible, He knows what He is doing; every good and perfect thing comes from Him. So walk with your heads held high and proud to be in a nation that has elected its first African-American President. Please pray for soon to be President Obama with passion, sincerity, and out of familial obligation because he calls himself one of us, an imperfect follower of Jesus Christ, I will take him at his word. I would offer up a prayer now for our new President but I have come across a prayer that has captured in words how I feel.

“Heavenly Father, please protect our new president and his family. Give him compassion for the unborn and voiceless of this world. Give him strength to protect the innocent. Close his ears to evil. Give him discernment to be a good steward of the trust and treasury of our great land. Give him grace and your blessings. Let no evil or harm befall him. Keep him humble and dependent upon You. My you be glorified through our new president. Amen.”

“P.S. I voted for McCain. (this part is true for me too) ” – Joe Chambers


A Dishonest Debate

September 27, 2008

Q: How do you know when a politician is lying?

A: When his lips are moving.

 

I feel lied to.

It irritates me when McCain takes a “cheap” shot at Obama and vice versa. It makes me feel that they think I am stupid and I don’t know the games they are playing.

Watching this debate reminds me of a recent experience that I had when Ashley and I went used car shopping. I’m telling you the similarities are very relevant. I was talking to the salesman about gas mileage, particularly what was the mileage that this van got in the city, and you know what he told me? 20-25mpg! “What are you kidding me?” was my response, and he told me again with a serious and straight face.

I was insulted because I knew that from previous research that was untrue. I told him what I learned from research and he blew me off explaining that it was because “they” don’t test it accurately for fuel efficiency.

In the same fashion, I feel that both of the candidates tried to sell me a bill of goods last night that I knew was wrong. And just when I try to object with reason and rational they hit me with another one.  Don’t get me wrong, they said some great things as well and got a good debate going on. But here is my problem, they love to distort and misrepresent each others policies and words.

I hate that, and it’s wrong. Now it so happens that tonight I found McCain doing more of this distasteful tactic than Obama, but that doesn’t give Obama a free pass because there have been similar times in the past where he was just as guilty.

Obama in the past has misrepresented McCain’s words that “we could be in Iraq for the next 100 years just as we are in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc.” and turned that into “McCain wants to continue the Iraq war for the next 100 years” that is untrue and dishonest.

The past has also shown that Obama’s camp has jumped on McCain’s words about the “fundamentals” of our economy being good in poor economic times. But in reality, which is outside the “spin zone” McCain was communicating that the workforce, spirit, determination, etc. are going strong not that the housing market, gas prices, etc. are going well. So that’s my beef with Obama on “parsing” words or lying as I like to call it.

Now McCain at this debate was just as bad as Obama has been on the campaign trail. He distorted Obama’s vote on not funding the troops when McCain also did not vote to fund the troops just for a different reason. That is wrong and dishonest. The issue obviously was not funding the troops it was on a strategy or tactic for the war.

Lastly, when McCain attacked Obama on nuclear energy, he said that Obama was against it, that’s a distortion. Obama does want all forms of “alternative energy” he just has reservations on the safe handling of the waste.

Why do the politicians feel the need to dumb down the debate? I am offended that they think that I and others are just going to blindly take whatever they hand us, unfortunately for the majority its true. What we need is critical thinkers preferably clear thinking non-partisan ones, or non “kool aid drinkers” as I like to call them.    

Those who know me, will understand that I watched this debate very differently than the last Presidential Debate I watched which was in 2004. In this debate I found myself not rooting for either side, I was genuinely interested and sympatric to both arguments.

It is so weird to think that I can sit there and watch these debates and not have a major partisan bias, key word there is “major” I know it’s not possible to be totally “fair and balanced”.

What do you think? Am I fair or balanced or something that resembles it?