Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Herod: led by sinful pleasure

One of the saddest stories in all of scripture, for me to have read lately anyway, is the death of John the Baptist.  It's not  because John dies either.  It's because of Herod.  

Here is this great and mighty ruler who succumbs to the thrills of momentary pleasure and the fear of man with the result being the death of a very Godly and righteous man.  This is how it goes down: Herod had married his brother's wife, thus committing adultery with her, and John had told him in no less words that it was wrong of him to do so.  Herod didn't stop what he was doing and the woman, now his wife Herodias, hated John and wanted to see him die.  Herod wasn't willing to do this though because he knew that John was a righteous and holy man and liked to bear what he had to say.  He did keep him in prison though, which still shows that his heart was hard to the message that John was preaching.  

As time goes on Herod has a birthday party, as we all tend to do from time to time, and at this party Herodias' daughter comes in to dance for them and Herod was so overcome with pleasure by her dance that he tells her he will give her whatever she wants, up to half of his kingdom.  Oh, the power of sinful pleasure, huh?

Anyway, the girl goes to her mother and asks what she should do.  The mother says to ask for the head of John on a platter.  OOPS! Now what is Herod to do?  He has just made this promise to give her whatever she wants; he doesn't want to look bad in front of his guests; so he does it.  He has John beheaded and the head actually brought in on a platter.  Now, this story could be dissected a lot, but it truly is a sad story because Herod knew who John was.  He knew the right thing to do; yet his lust and fear of man led him to do that which was so greatly evil.  Taking the life of another man.  

Have you ever been there?  Making dumb, sinful, decisions based on your own pleasure or on the fear of man.  I know I have.  It's a sad place to be.  Herod's life was dominated by those things.  Gratefully our lives don't need to be.  Jesus gives the power by His Holy Spirit to overcome our sinful desires and the fear of man in order that we might walk in obedience to Him and to His Word.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Coveted Coal Bowl

Here in rural western North Dakota, as in many small towns, football is kind of a big deal. On Friday night, the high school football season began. It was the perfect night for a football game: slightly chilly with a brisk breeze. But Friday night's football was not just any football game. Friday night was the Coal Bowl. [Insert wild excitement and amazement here.]

Beulah and her neighboring town, Hazen, are not in the same division; yet that's not enough to squash the rivalry and keep them from playing each other. Every year the schools begin their football season by competing in the Coal Bowl. The prize for winning? Besides gloating and bragging rights, the winning school receives a football trophy made of coal. For the past five years, Hazen has dominated the Coal Bowl, never having to surrender the beloved, coveted coal football. So this year, as the Beulah boys won by a single point in overtime, it's a bit of an understatement to say the Beulah crowd went wild. The team, the students, and the parents were ecstatic.

The Coal Bowl victory was finally theirs.

This morning, as I continued on my quest through Psalm 119, I couldn't help but think of the Coal Bowl. For the Beulah and Hazen football players and students, it is a sought after, coveted prize. There are many things that we seek in this world, aren't there? High GPA's. Good paying jobs. Entertainment. Popularity. Sometimes, we strive for these things so hard yet come up empty. And yet, how hard are we seeking after the Lord? How much time do we spend drinking in the Word of God?
"Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul observes them.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth wide and panted,
for I longed for Your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
after Your manner with those who love Your name.
Establish my footsteps in Your word,
and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
that I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
and teach me Your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of water,
because they do not keep Your law." (Psalm 119:129-136)
When is the last time that you panted after the Word of God or shed streams of tears because of your sin? Do we truly consider the words of the Lord to be wonderful - so wonderful we could do nothing but be obedient to Him? Do we want to be established in the Word of God; firmly planted and growing in His Word?

"Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually." (1 Chronicles 16:11)

I pray that we would be a people who strive more after the Lord, than of temporary treasures made coal.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bondservant of Christ

"Make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord let me lift up those who are weak..."

This simple, old song came to mind last night when I was sitting in a circle having my youth leader wash my feet. I was blessed to attend "Addicted: Hope, Faith, Love" - a one day get together with multiple youth groups from around the Twin Cities. We had a full day of worship, small group sessions, messages, recreation, and serving at Feed My Starving Children. We met in the morning and it wasn't over until late into the evening. By the end of the event we were all dragging our feet after a long day, more tired than most of us had realized.

We served at Feed My Starving Children right over the lunch hour; standing in the same position for over an hour while hungry doesn't make for happy and awake teenagers. However, that evening we heard a message from a local pastor who brought Pastor Jason Holt up to the front and asked him some questions about his wife. He began with simple questions such as "Do you love your wife" but further on asked "Does all that your wife do for you and your children make it easier for you to serve her?" After posing this question to the group, the pastor reminded us of everything that Christ has done for us.

So after volunteering and a long day together, Pastor Holt had our youth leaders wash our feet. We were tired and please believe me when I say that everyone's feet did not smell like a bed of roses after being in closed toed shoes all day! However, that question kept ringing in my head, only a little different now. Shouldn't all that Christ has done for us make it impossible not to serve Him?

Last week I spoke about prayer, this week I'd like to address what we pray about. When is the last time you prayed to ask God to help you serve Him? There is absolutely no way you can serve Him in your own power, I've tried for years and it doesn't work. If we prayed what that old song says, would we be ready for the results? Would we really want God to make us a servant?

But really, shouldn't all that Christ has done for us make it impossible not to serve Him?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If not you, who?

Hey guys
At our football devotional the other night our speaker brought up the subject of volunteering. He spoke about the importance of it and the way it can affect so many people, the volunteer included. I think volunteering is something we can all do a little more often. It doesn't take a huge time commitment, maybe even only a couple hours each week. Volunteering is always a great way to witness; it really allows God's love to shine through us. A couple Bible verses on the subject include John 13:34-35 ("A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”) and Acts 20:35 ("In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”). Jesus often stressed the value of helping others, and we all have the ability to give something. Remember: If not you, who? If not now, when?
Until next week

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"R" words are our words

Railroads take people places. My lovely girlfriend Emily hopped on the train with me last Thursday in St. Paul, MN to ride the rails out to Montana. Leaving roughly two hours late, could put a damper on the start of any adventure, but some 22 hours, one cup of coffee, almost missing the "All aboard!" call in Havre, and an extremely expensive cold chicken dinner we rolled into Whitefish, MT. We came to town for my buddy Zach's wedding. Right on!

Rodeo! Dust filled the air. Large thighs filled small Wranglers. Miss Montana's voice filled our ears with The Star Spangled banner. Tears filled the eyes of mamas, papas, and sentimental local boys. It was a perfect night to watch real men ride horses that were kicking and jumping like four year olds playing soccer after drinking espresso. The clown had jokes. The crowd had hats and mullets. Strapping one hand to the back of a cow that is the size of a small car (and probably has more power) only to be thrown from it face first into the Montana soil sure sounds like fun. As Toby Keith said "I shoulda been a cowboy."

Rafting on raging rivers really makes me smile. It was a semi-normal Sunday afternoon in the Flathead Valley - after church meet the pastor and his family at the river, pump up the raft, grab paddles, life jackets, and a few friends and try to make it home for dinner. With clouds rolling overhead and water rushing through the canyon, 58 degrees F sure felt cold. August is supposed to make you sweat not shiver. For better or worse, I got to paddle a two-man, inflatable kayak down Buffalo Rapids. I've paddled this stretch of river sort of successfully two times before. They say "Third time's the charm" but I still don't like inhaling water, smashing against rocks, and doing a 2.3 second inventory of all life's responsibilities while wondering what it will be like standing at a wedding with a cast on my leg. So, the semi-normal Sunday afternoon turned into one for the memory bank and all limbs and lives are still in on piece.

Remembering your hometown while riding a bike is just like ... well, riding a bike. Thrift stores, coffee shops, old friends, and sunshine will make any Monday a fun day. Romping through the woods on a familiar trail, smelling Indian paintbrush and white pine, burping up a little bit of breakfast, and following that favorite ridge walk to the summit put the icing on the cake for Tuesday. With the sun shining and temperatures rising, Wednesday was on the lake in the afternoon.

Real relationships are formed when you risk your life with friends. For Zach's bachelor party, we we did what we always do - jump off stuff. The water was warm, and the sound of laughter echoed off the walls all the way down the lake. Back flips, front flips, swan dives, back slaps, and high fives were the theme of the night. How many moments like this have we had together? Building a bond that is stronger than gorilla glue holding a coffee cup to the roof a Ford Tempo our friendship has involved danger, fear, and encouraging each other to jump. Real relationships involve trust, require risk, and are rewarding. Thanks for a great night Zach.

I was reading 2 Corinthians 5 the other day, and two more R words came into the picture - reconciliation and righteousness. This right here is what life is all about.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Consider what this is saying to you today. Think about it. How are "R" words our words?

Monday, August 23, 2010

School-Day Routine

It's the perfect back-to-school morning. Cool, cloudy, windy. My alarm went off for an hour before I finally got up. The smell of a brewing pot of coffee is wafting up to my nostrils. Ahhh. Yes, things are beginning to return to that school-year routine.

Over the last week, I have been reading through Psalm 119. I've never been so amazed or so convicted by the words of this psalm. I encourage you to take time to read it through this week - but take your time, letting the truths of the words you read sink in. As I've spent time in this psalm, I've noticed a pattern. In every verse, one line deals with the law or word of God, while the other line deals with the psalmist personal situation: whether difficulty, joy, or desire to learn. How different do you think our lives would look if we brought absolutely everything to the Lord? If we viewed every situation as something to cry out to the Lord about? What if we lived in constant communion with the Lord, the way He desires us to, instead of simply spending only a certain amount of time with Him daily?

In Psalm 119:81-82a, the psalmist writes, "My soul languishes for your salvation; I wait for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your word . . . " Does our soul languish - pine with desire and longing (dictionary.com definition) - after the salvation of the LORD? Do we silently wait before the Lord as we spend time in His Word, or do we just read what we should, pray, and then move on with our day?

As we prepare to re-enter the world of classes, textbooks, highlighters, notes, and sleepless nights; as we get into the schedule of class - work - homework - sleep - class - work - homework - sleep; as we get to sick of looking at words we can't read anymore . . . . let's not let our time with the LORD simply fall into a routine.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What if His People Prayed?

How often do we pray to God and truly believe He hears?

In Old Testament times the Holy of Holies was the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where the presence of God dwelt. The High Priest would be allowed to enter once a year to offer sacrifices, but the Israelites had such great fear of the Lord that they would tie a rope around the Priest's leg in order to pull him out if anything happened. Once a year, one man could enter into the presence of the Lord.

What would it be like to be in the presence of God?

In Exodus 34 Moses goes up to Mount Sinai and encounters the Lord, and upon returning to his people he is unaware that his face was radiant. Paul was in the presence of God on the way to Damascus, and he went blind for three days.

Fast forward hundreds of years to Jesus' crucifixion. When Christ died, Matthew 27:51 tells us, "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split" This was a symbolic way of showing that there was no barrier between the those who believe and the Lord.

This may seem like a history lesson to many of you, but I do have a point! My youth leader is Adam Osier (who got this saying from a teacher), and every week before we go to prayer he asks someone to "take us to the throne room". I think far too often we don't realize that we can enter into the Holy of Holies now; we have the ability through the blood of Jesus to enter into His presence. We are blessed to be able to pray, but in our culture today prayer is seen as a last resort to many. Would our lives look different if we prayed?

I encourage each of you to listen to "What if His People Prayed" by Casting Crowns sometime this week, and really listen to the lyrics. He does hear, and He's waiting in the throne room for us every moment of the day.

We are allowed to enter into the presence of the Living God daily! Do we show it?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Going to College

Hey guys
I'm guessing that this fall a few of you readers will be making the switch from high school to college. Now, we've all heard the statistics about how many kids lose their faith when they go to college. I don't think this is from being exposed to certain things but rather from not continuing to do the things they did in high school - go to church, youth group, etc. So how can you have an easier transition to college? As far as finding a church is concerned, I would suggest 3 things:
1. Talk to your pastor. Chances are he knows of or can find a good church in the city where you are going to school.
2. If somebody older than you from your home church/town goes to school in the same city, ask them where they have gone to church. It's always easier to go when you have to somebody to go with, too. If you are going to school in the Twin Cities or Fargo I'd be more than happy to suggest a couple churches for you to check out.
3. Join Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) or FCA or something to that effect. In addition to giving you a great group of kids to hang out with, they will be able to provide suggestions on churches you could attend.
Going to college is a lot of fun, and finding a church near your school can make the transition so much easier. If you would like more advice I would be glad to talk to help out. Best of luck!
Until next week,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

God Keeps His Promises

In Jeremiah chapter one we read about the call of Jeremiah. God says "I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (v. 5)

What God was asking of Jeremiah was no small task. Not only would it be difficult, it would be terrifying. And yet, God commanded Jeremiah to not be terrified. God told him he would be a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall. It wasn't his own strength he would be depending on but God's. He had God's promise to be present with him. Twice in Jeremiah 1 God says He will be with him and rescue him.

Jeremiah 1:8 "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD."
Jeremiah 1:19 "They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.' declares the LORD."

That's a double promise: God will be with him and God will rescue him.

In church on Sunday the Pastor said, "If you get one thing out of this sermon it is that: God Keeps His Promises.

Titus 1:2 says "a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,"

God keeps His promises and God does not lie. Therefore if He says He will do something, by His very nature and being, He has to do it. The very essence of who God is let's us know He will do what He says He will do.

I know God has been teaching me to trust Him, rely on Him and abide in Him is the last few weeks. I think it can be hard to trust God will keep His word because it calls for surrender in our lives. 

When I think of surrender I often think of the hymn, "I Surrender All," by Judson W. Van DeVenter (and yes I looked that up).

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

We have a lot in common with Jeremiah. We have a lot in common as believers and followers of Christ. Like Jeremiah we too are called. Like Jeremiah we have God's promise to be with us and to rescue us. We might not (probably won't) face Jeremiah's situation, but live in a world that has also become hardened to God's Word. We too are messengers to our generation, to our peers and the people of our land. No matter what we do or the situation we face, we can be confident in these things; that God is with us, keeps His promises and is trustworthy.

Back to the Very Beginning (For the Ephesians Anyway)

I'm not really sure what I ought to be blogging about this time around. I've been thinking about it all day and now that I am finally able to be in front of the computer I don't know what to write. I've been thinking a lot about the Gospel lately. Just about how important and essential it is too keep the Gospel pure and undefiled. When we start messing (by we I mean people in general) start changing it or adding elements to it that are not Biblical it is extremely dangerous ground to be walking on. The Scripture is full of warnings of being on the lookout for false prophets and teachers and it is good and right that we are able to distinguish between the truth and lies. I have also been thinking though about how there needs to be a balance in our lives. I am reminded of the letter to the "angel of the church in Ephesus" and how they were commended for not bearing with those who are evil and testing those who called themselves apostles and found them to to be false. Those were good things that they were doing, just as there are many that I am aware of that are doing these very same things, but I fear that some may have fallen into the same error that the Ephesian church did. They had abandoned the love they had at first and had become so preoccupied with finding false teachers and getting rid of the evil ones that they had lost sight of the works that they had originally been called to do. In my personal experience I have seen others like that and I take it as a word of warning as well. Truth is a necessary and important thing and we must fight for pure; unadulterated doctrine and responding to those that are evil must be done but we cannot forget to do the things that we are first called to do and some elements of that are simply loving Christ and loving those around us as God calls us to do. Fight for truth, yes, but let us not let it dominate our lives. Let us not bear with those that are evil, but let us not do it without love. Love must dominate all things for without love we are a few different things and I certainly don't want to be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Sorry, my thoughts are kind of scattered tonight, but I hope you are able to get the gist of what I am saying.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deeper Roots than Dill

Whoever lived in this house before we moved in either a) had a really intense love for dill weed, so much so that they let the entire garden run rampant with it, or b) could have cared less about the garden and let the dill run rampant.

Jordan and I, however, do not have such a love for dill. So this year, as we planted our garden, we made a point of ripping out the roots of those dill weed plants, making room for jalapeños, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and other wonderful garden veggies. Feeling some compassion and a small potential need, we let some of the dill stay where it was in our garden.

Last week, as I was weeding in the garden and pulling up some carrots, the dill kind of got in my way. By now, the dill stands up to my waist. There seems to be a lot more of it now that's taller than it seemed when it was little. So, as I was in the garden last week, I went on a rampage - a pull up ALL of the dill rampage! Rar! It was so empowering, to rip up those weeds, roots and all and get them out of the garden. Although I worked up a sweat, the dill never put up much of a fight. Even the roots came up seemingly smooth most of the time. Boo-ya, dill. Boo-ya.

As I was on this victorious dill-uprooting rampage, I couldn't help but think of our lives as believers. Are we so shallowly rooted in the Lord that Satan and his cohorts can come along and quickly, easily pluck us up from the soil of our faith? Or do we have strong roots in the Lord, firmly planted in Him and His Word? In Colossians 2, Paul exhorts believers,
"Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:6-8)

When we are established, when we are firmly planted in the Lord and in our faith, we cannot be plucked up easily. Although deceptions will come and Satan will try to uproot us, we will stand firm in the Lord because our roots are deeper than dill. But we don't just sit or stand there, looking pretty with our roots grounded. We walk in the Lord, build our relationship with Him, and live lives of gratitude.

Living for Jesus, despite its difficulties, seems a lot better than being easily plucked up and thrown out by Satan.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Actions Speak Louder

When's the last time you really invested in a non-believer's life?

Last night I was able to hang out with friends from high school for the first time all summer. I live in a small town border line country where I've known about 90% of my classmates from kindergarten. However, not one of them has a relationship with the Lord. As I was with them last evening I was shocked at the types of conversations that came up because I've basically lived in a bubble this entire summer- pretty much for the past two years even. Late into the evening I was asked a question by one of the girls that convicted me instantly. She asked, "When's the last time you heard a swear word in person?" Honestly, I couldn't remember.

This might seem like nothing so some, but for me growing up in a very nonreligious community this showed that I wasn't there anymore. I had traded my friends from elementary that didn't believe in God for Christian friends that I have just about everything in common with. Don't get me wrong, it's extremely important to have those relationships with other believers to encourage and lift them up in their walk, but how often do we forget about our witness in friendships?

Romans 10:14 says "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"

These friends are completely engulfed in the world. They come from broken homes and resort to the pleasures of sin to find happiness. Many of them are not looking for God because they think their life is complete living however they choose. They're not the poor or the needy, they're middle class sinners, just like you and me. But they don't have anyone to reach out to them.

As I thought through all of this last night I asked one of the guys what the best way to show that I'm a Christian is to him. He answered with, "By being our friend, accepting us for who we are, and being yourself". They don't need someone to preach words at them- they've most likely heard that before- they need someone to live like Christ in their life. When we live in a society that bashes Christianity and says we're the hypocrites, how much more then do we need to realize how important it is to live like Christ?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taking the leap

Hey guys
Things are really chaotic for me right now and I think I have no one to blame but myself. You see, I'm moving in to school today and didn't start packing till last night around, oh, 11:30... So this post is going to be short and to the point. I transferred to Concordia from the U of MN last semester (Go Gophers!!!) and a side bonus of that decision is that I get to play football again. I'm unbelievably excited but it's the first time I've ever gone into a football season not knowing what to expect (My Dad coaches our high school team, so I'd always been around at practices and therefore knew what was coming when I started high school football). So that's the metaphorical leap I was referencing in the title. Sometimes you go into things blind, but there's no reason to be nervous/afraid. Why shouldn't I be nervous about going into a new situation? Easy - God is always there, always watching us, always protecting us. I have nothing to fear because he is with me. And don't forget one of my all time favorite verses, Philippians 4:13 - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Until next week,

Friday, August 13, 2010

summer, stars, and a Savior

I haven't written for a while because of three things - summer, stars, and a Savior.

Being on staff with Young Life, I was at a camp for the entire month of July. Working, living, eating, smelling, conversing, and just living with 50 high school kids all month was awesome! God was at work in so many lives everyday, shaping his children into who He wants them to be. What a blessing it was to be a part of that.

Stars are cool. Not the type you find on MTV, in movies, or on the radio - I'm talking about the things light years away in outerspace. Stars are so cool that I decided to study them "independently" at the college level this summer. Astronomy on-line! Yea! When you finish making nerd jokes take a look up at the night sky and realize that the God who created you, put those tiny dots of light out there too. He holds everything in the palm of his hand - yet still cares about every intimate detail of your life.

When you sin - He loves you. When you sing songs of praise to Him - He must nod his head like that dude listening to Dave Matthews Band on his iPod while he longboards through the park. When you whine and complain - He patiently listens. When you listen - He speaks. When you laugh - He smiles. When you cry - He has the biggest shoulder ever to put your head on. The God who created all of the world sent His Son to live life with us. WOW.

This summer has been fun studying the stars and getting to know my Savior more and more. The other day is was taking my "Planets Quiz" and this is what God put on my heart ...

Question 17 - Jupiter has a bunch of as-yet unnamed moons. What would you like to have one of them be named, and WHY?

If I could name one of Jupiter's moons, I would create a totally new name - JoAlanne. This is a combination of the names Joanne & Allen. My parents are two of the most incredible people ever created by the hands of God. My Dad (Allen) has MS and has stayed faithful to God throughout the 20+ years having the disease. My Mom (Joanne) has stayed committed to her husband through all of the difficulties life has brought. They are two stellar objects in God's creation whose life together has always been orbiting the Son.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, August 9, 2010

They are Somebody's Baby

A little over a week ago, I sat with two of my wonderful friends outside of Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop located on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. As we chatted away, getting caught up on each other's comings and goings over the summer, we were approached by a teenage boy. He proceeded to tell us a little bit of his story:

17 years old. Three days prior, he ran away from home. Meth mother with a boyfriend who was trying to get into bed with him.

He couldn't handle it any longer. Wandering the streets of downtown, trying to find a homeless shelter for youth that would take him in. Hungry, desperate, wanting more, needing hope.

His story reminded me of the following song by Jon Foreman. Please take time to listen to the song as well as let these words of Jesus Christ sink into your soul:

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46)

So, what are we doing? What is the church, the body of Christ, doing for those who are homeless, helpless, and hopeless? Are we out there, meeting them on the streets or are we waiting comfortably in our church buildings for them to come to us?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Extraordinary God

Do you ever feel just ordinary?

I love Vacation Bible School, and was blessed to be able to help out at two different weeks this summer. On the last day of one of the weeks, the team leader was talking about how they spent a lot of time on Moses throughout the week. At the end, he described how Moses was born as a regular guy, but God raised him up to do something great.

In the same way, many of us don't come from royalty or could even imagine doing anything really great. We plan our lives with the hopes that we'll graduate from college, get a good job, marry, and have children. How many of us aspire to do more? Think of the great heroes of the Bible: David, Joseph, Daniel, Joshua- they were all born to regular families but God brought them to places they never could have reached on their own.

The team leader for VBS then said that we too should expect God to do great things in our lives. Jeremiah 32:27 says "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" We need to expect the impossible! God has big plans for each one of us if we're willing to trust Him.

We might be ordinary people, but we have an extraordinary God who is excited to blow our minds with His incredible plans for each of our lives!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

By Your Side

Hey guys

Sorry about the last couple weeks; blogging completely slipped my mind till I was mowing the 8th green at Birchwood a couple days ago… So, hopefully, I’ll be back at it consistently and better than ever. What I’ve got today is a song I heard in church last Sunday. It’s called “By Your Side” and is sung by 10th Avenue North.


I think the song is a really good reminder of how God never wavers and is always there. Whenever you fall, whenever you call, God is there and ready to help. That’s it for today. I just thought I should share a really sweet song.

Until next week,


Friday, August 6, 2010

invisible love...

If my arms could reach around You
I would never move
If my eyes could see You
I'd have no faith left to prove
The wonder of invisible love

When I fall I feel Your arms before I reach the ground
Lord, I know Your whisper, though I've never heard the sound
The wonder of invisible love

Some day there will be no time to mind
I will be Your long awaited bride
We will dance away the night

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible love

--JJ Heller

God's love: something we will never understand, but something that we will always experience. I don't always understand why things happen, but I know that during every moment, God is with me, loving me, and that is all that I need.

Always look for God's love...it is constantly shown all around us. Don't miss the opportunities to experience the greatest love you will ever know.

"Your unfailing love is better than live itself;
how I praise you!"
-Psalm 63:3

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Look to Jesus

I find often that the Lord teaches me through repetition. Through out a week or a month a theme will often arise in my time in the Word, morning devotions at work, from sermons and during Bible study. I've been working on memorizing Hebrews 12:1-2, which says,
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2
Sarah's post, Consider Jesus, hit me because it's something I've really been thinking about lately. I've always been drawn to Hebrews 12:2 because the phrase "Look to Jesus" stands out to me. When we look to Jesus everything is in perspective.

I've been applying for jobs and the process can be both daunting and exhausting. As I look for a job I am reminded to look first to Jesus. Right now where I will work (and when I will work) is a complete unknown to me! Yikes, does that feel weird and yes, somewhat scary. If I don't trust that God will provide in His wisdom and His timing I might go crazy with worry and doubt. I'm so thankful that I have Jesus to look to in all things.

We have Jesus to look to for Forgiveness.
We have Jesus to look to for Salvation.
We have Jesus to look to for Provision.
We have Jesus to look to for Fulfillment.
We have Jesus to look to for Wisdom.
We have Jesus to look to for Guidance.
We have Jesus to look to for Encouragement.
We have Jesus to look to for Strength.

He is our ALL in ALL!

Thank you for all of your prayers for my cousin Sam. He is currently in 30 days of rehab at Teen Challenge in Minneapolis. Please pray he will be assigned a full 13 months after his 30 days are up! And pray his heart will be open to the Lord.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Today I would like to share a small section of writing with you from the book Absolute Surrender written in 1895 by Andrew Murray. He shares these thoughts based upon John 15:5, which says this: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

He says this:
"The Christian life is a life of absolute dependence. At Hampton Court there was a vine that sometimes bore a couple thousand clusters of grapes. People were amazed at its productivity. later the secret was discovered. Not too far from Hampton Court flows the River Thames. The had stretched its roots hundreds of yards under the ground until it came to the riverbed. There, in all the nutrients of the river bottom, it found rich nourishment and moisture. The roots drew the sap all that distance to the branches.

The vine had the work to do. The branches simply had to depend upon the vine and receive what it gave.

That is exactly what Christ desires you to understand. Christ desires that in all your work, the very foundation should be the simple acceptance that Christ must care for all.

As you depend on Him He supplies your needs by sending down the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants you to be dependent as you serve Him. Day by day, hour by hour, in everything you do, simply abide before Him. Live in total helplessness of one who can do nothing.

Absolute dependence upon God is the secret of power in work. You and I have nothing unless we receive it from Jesus."

Monday, August 2, 2010

We are weak, but He is strong

It's nearly 10:00 as I sit in my living room sipping my coffee and contemplating what to write about this morning. I could tell you a number of things . . . like the bird that was so confused as to why he could not fly through the glass into our living room this morning or about our lettuce that is so tall and green we might accidentally use it for our Christmas tree this year. But, I don't exactly know what the spiritual connection would be.

So instead, I'll write regarding a little phrase that struck me this morning from Hebrews 11. This chapter, "God's Hall of Faith", serves as both an encouragement and a challenge to me. As I read about those who have come before us with such faith, I can't help but feel inspired to boldly walk in faith. Towards the end of the chapter, the author begins to lump many of these faithful followers of the LORD into a single section, creating a list of the faith actions they accomplished. Found in the list are things like conquering kingdoms, shutting the mouths of lions, and escaping the edge of the sword (Hebrews 11:33-34) - all pretty brave, bold, adventurous stuff. But amongst these, there lies a phrase perhaps too easily skimmed over because of its simplicity -

"From weakness were made strong" (Hebrews 11:34)

When we face times of trial, when we struggle and despair, it is definitely no fun. But it is during such times that we grow. How can the Lord prove His strength unless given opportunity? How are we to give Him that opportunity when life is all sunshine and roses for us? In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes regarding our weaknesses and the Lord's strength.

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Difficulties, distresses, trials, whatever word you place on them, do indeed come. We often want those times to go much quicker than they do. But next time you find yourself in a desperate situation, remember to lean on the Lord. Remember that He is perfecting you into the person He wants you to be. He is strengthening your faith - adding you to the "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) of faithful believers.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Marriage is what brings us together today...

I love weddings. There's just something about them that has always captured my heart. The pretty dresses, the decorations, and the beaming couple ready to begin their life as one. Yesterday I was blessed to attend one such wedding. As I thought of my love of weddings and romance in general, I was reminded that we are to be married to Christ one day.

In Hosea 2 it says "And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord."

Last week my church sang Chris Tomlin's song "Enough" and there's a line in it that says "You satisfy me with Your love". Before we sang, our leader Becky Skramstad spoke on how marriage is a great blessing from the Lord, but ultimately our love has to be satisfied in God alone. There is absolutely no way that another human being could ever satisfy all of our needs. These verses speak of the future that God has for those who love Him. He's waiting as our bridegroom and wants our hearts to belong solely to Him.

The last line of verse 20 has always stuck out to me here. In other passages of Scripture when the phrase so and so "knew" someone, it implied conception. Adam "knew" Eve, Abraham "knew" Sarah; it is a very intimate term to describe the closest relationship possible. This passage says that one day we will also know the Lord. Can you imagine the closeness we will have with the Creator of the universe?

But God doesn't want us to wait until that day to get to know Him in a personal, intimate way. He wants that to begin now. As we grow older and face all of life's trials, the Lord is the only constant, and He is waiting patiently for us to embrace the wonderful relationship He has waiting for us with Him.

So I ask you this tonight: where does your satisfaction come from?