Thursday, March 31, 2011

Corduroy Pants

Corduroy pants make a lot of noise- especially while walking through silent libraries. It's hard to describe the sound - but when heard - it is obviously two pant legs making a connection while movement is taking somebody to a different place.

Just like the sound made by corduroy pants, relationships need movement, a connection, and noise in the midst of silence.

Three years ago right now, I was beginning to see the end of an era. I had just spent the winter in Canada skiing, searching, and fortunately, finding. As I was getting ready to move back home, I knew that my relationship with Jesus was moving too.

We had made new friends together. As we were standing on top of mountains, we smiled in the sunshine, and skied fun lines. In a way like never before, we had a connection. I spent countless with Jesus, seeking out the next adventure and waiting for the perfect weather system to move through my midst and during silence, I made noise.

I talked to God and tried to listen to Him. It seemed like that "still small voice" was still small and getting smaller. I'm a guy, so I don't like to describe my conversations with the Almighty One as "crying out" - but that's just what I had to do. My incoherent ramblings and worried wondering about my future made a lot of noise.

Inside my head, thoughts were running wild like squirrels in maple trees. Deep in my gut, it seemed like butterflies were having an air show - or maybe I just ate too much bacon for breakfast. When people asked "What's next?" I stumbled over my words like a drunk walking on marbles. But this was all supposed to be happening.

After making my noise, I had to wait for the connection. It didn't happen fast. Three months later, I knew the movement that had to take place. With Jesus helping me with our relationship, he listened to my cries, made noise in response, and we continued to move forward.

Life today continues moving from place to place . In different ways, connections are continue to be made. And I am still making noise in silence - like corduroy pants in a library.

While Jesus and I walk together, I reflect on the words of King Dave :

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Psalm 31:1-5 ESV
(emphasis added by me)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Young Adults. What Do You Want From the Church?

A major question I ask as a young adult is, what is my role in the church? How to find true community in my church as a young adult? A while ago I came across this article and great video about what Young Adults think of the Church. I would love it if you would share your thoughts on this topic.

Questions to ask yourself:
  • What do I think of the Church?
  • What am I looking for from the Church?
  • What needs do I hope that the Church will meet?
  • Can I be a solution to the needs of young adults in the Church? How?
God's Blessings on your week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are we comfortable with this?

Sometimes, it's easy to do ministry from where we're comfortable, isn't it? It's easy to stay within the walls of our church. Our homes. Our Christian bubbles.

But that isn't what the Lord has called us to do. I was struck by these words from the book of Ezekiel the other day: "'Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost . . .'" (Ezekiel 34:4)

Can that be said of us? Let's not think of our churches as a whole, but of each one of us individually. Am I seeking those who are sick - both physically and spiritually? I am seeking for lost souls, to bring them to Jesus? His love for them is so great - how can I keep it to myself?

Later on in that chapter in Ezekiel, the LORD says, "'I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick . . . '" (34:16). When Jesus walked on this earth, He told His disciples and the Pharisees that questioned His behavior, "'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Mark 2:17)

I love Christian fellowship - but do we stay within our walls and within our walls only? Do we believe that we literally are the hands and feet of Jesus? Or do we just think it's a nice metaphor? I pray that we don't. I pray that we would be generous to that homeless man that we see on the street corner. That we would spend our time packing boxes of food for the hungry. I pray that we would talk to those we meet "randomly" around town about the Lord. That we pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I pray that we bring Jesus into everyday conversation with every day people. That we give up our desires for things of this earth for the kingdom of Christ. . . May we be doers of the Word, not merely hearers!

"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:18)

I Just Wanna Be A Sheep

"What does the bear say? What does the cat say? What does the dog say?"

These are all frequent questions these days as my wonderful 17 month old nanny girl now loves animal sounds. The other day she pointed to me, and I thought, "What does Katelyn say?" As silly as it sounds, Kate says "Bah". That is my word! It shows excitement, frustration, sorrow...just about anything. If my emotions are too much and words just don't seem like enough, I say "Bah". Just ask any of my friends, they will agree!

Back to the animal sounds, I'm not the only one that says "bah". My little girl also knows that sheep say "bah", so I must be a sheep. The Bible says something about that too!

I've been reading up about sheep, and it is known that they are one of the most intellectually challenged animals known to man. And the Bible repeatedly compares us to sheep, take a look:

"Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock." --Psalm 78:52
"Know that the LORD, he is God!It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." -- Psalm 100:3

"I have gone astray like a lost
sheep; seek your servant,for I do not forget your commandments." --Psalm 119:176
Sheep are dumb, they need a shepherd to lead and guide them. And we are called sheep; therefore, we need One to lead and guide us. Psalm 23 is a well known passage that speaks of the Lord as our shepherd, especially the first two verses:
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters"
He will lead, and He gives us peace. We have the greatest Shepherd-- One who will never leave in the face of danger, One who knows His flock, One who cares for each sheep in a deep and personal way, and One who will leave the 99 to find the 1 who tends to stray (Matthew 18). Friends, run to Him. HE is your shepherd.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Once again I'm going to draw on my religion class for a topic today. We've been reading The Freedom of a Christian by Martin Luther. It's quite interesting to learn how he came about some of the ideas that sparked the creation of the Lutheran church. At the time of Luther, the Catholic church was very powerful. For example, the Bible was not available for reading by the common person, leaving it up to the priests to present their interpretations to the people. The church also was really big into the selling of indulgences, which they claimed could help save you from purgatory. Luther really didn't agree with some of these practices, which sparked his writings and later the reformation.
One of the most interesting claims he made was that a Christian is perfectly free, subject to none, and also a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all. This sounds incredibly impossible, until you realize Luther was writing about first the soul and then the body. While the church claimed that works were important in your salvation (the indulgences the church sold could take the place of works), Luther realized that the only way to salvation was through faith, a radical stance at the time.

8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This verse really sums up what Luther was trying to get across, and it's a good reminder for us, too. It doesn't mean that doing good works is bad - it's actually highly encouraged in many many parts of the Bible - but we need to remember that those actions can't save us, we need to continue to grow in our relationship with God.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

Sometimes I get discouraged when I read God's Word and see His Will for my life - how I should act and treat others - and then one hour later, I know I should do a certain thing, but in my flesh, I do not want to do it. Then I think, well, Jesus has me covered. But as it says in Timothy that we are to fight the fight of faith - and in Hebrews 12:1-3 we are to run with endurance the race set before it. Jesus' blood does cover my sins, but He loves me so much and wants me to be like Him. It's not going to be easy, but most certainly worth it!

I came across this quote today, that really helped me to realize the need to stay in the battle and fight strong.

While there is left in you a trace of ill-temper, or of vanity, of pride, or of selfishness; while there is left in you a single sin, or germ of sin, you must not rest from the battle. God does not require from you to be sinless when you come before Him, but He does require you to be unceasing in your perseverance. He does not require that you shall never have fallen; but He does require unwearied efforts. He does not require you to win, but He does require you to fight.

-Frederick Temple
I may feel I have failed in obeying Christ and living for Him, but that doesn't mean I should stop fighting in the battle - ever. He has already won, but the battle continues. And in all that I do, my eyes must be fixed on Jesus! It's only Jesus.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confused Communication

Communication is the key in any and all relationships.

In my parents' early years of romantic interest, they had three "convenient" options for communicating with one another.

Face-to-face conversation, hand-written letters, and telephone calls.

In an era where nationwide calling plans and the internet were not even vague ideas, my mom and dad developed an intimate relationship while living thousands of miles apart.

Beyond romantic relationships, it is interesting to observe our generation and the way we communicate with one another.

Phone calls have taken the back seat to text messages.
Hand-written letters are replaced by email and emails are replaced by Facebook messages.
When it comes time to talk to someone face-to-face, are we competent anymore?

I am not going to deny that there positive aspects of the internet, cell-phones, and cell-phones with the internet. But, it seems like we've taken these good things too far and may be missing out on the best thing. Intimate, honest, open relationships.

Communication starts a relationship.
Communication sustains a relationship.
Communication stops a relationship.

Lately, I've been reading the gospel of John. This week I've been sitting with Jesus, reading chapter 15. In verse 15, Jesus says "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

Jesus did not write letters inviting 12 guys to follow Him.
Jesus did not write any books of the Bible.
Jesus did not send text-messages to invite sinners to dinner.

Jesus did walk up to the tax collector's table and look him in the eye.
Jesus did go to the dock and talk to the fishermen.
Jesus did walk to the well in the hot sun to talk to an adulterous woman.

The way Jesus communicated significantly changed the way human beings related to the God of the Universe. Instead of being servants, Jesus communicated a sweet message that we are now his friends. To keep the friendship alive, we can communicate with Him anytime, anywhere.

I fear the more convenient methods of communication are adversely affecting the life-giving relationship we get to have with God.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can you spare some change?

"Excuse me ma'am, can you spare some change? I'm trying to buy a ticket on the train back to LA." were the first words out of this stranger's mouth as he approached me. "How much do you need?" I replied. "Ten dollars."

I fished in my purse pulled out one dollar and handed it to him. He thanked me as I began to walk away and approached the next person on the street in his quest to gather enough train fare to get to where he was going.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46, New International Version, ©2011)
I may have given, because I was asked, but I didn't really give. I know nothing about this man, his life situation or needs, but I failed to truly give.
I could have done so much more had I taken a moment to treat him like Jesus.
There I was ten feet from a cafe and I didn't even think to ask him if he'd like a cup of coffee and a biscotti. I could have invited him into the cafe with me and treated him like a friend. Instead I brushed him off with one nonchalantly uncaring dollar and walked away from a man who I am sure needed to be shown God's love. My eyes are filling with tears and my heart is full of shame as I reflect on this lost moment to be the hands and feet of Christ.
1 John 4: 10-12 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
1 John 2: 4-6 "Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did."
All this man humbly asked me for was spare change, but I think that maybe spare change was the last thing he needed. Spare change is something you nonchalantly throw in a jar. It's hardly a sacrifice or act of love to give away your spare change. God hasn't called us to a life of sparing change. My spare change, literal or figurative, pales in comparison to the life of obedience, service and love I'm called to live for Christ.
The question isn't: can you spare some change? The question is: can you sacrificially love and live as Jesus did?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Author and Perfecter

I took the old gentleman that I work for to meet with some of his friends at the Buzz Inn, a local restaurant, this morning. They go down there just about every morning and he used to go all of the time but since he became sick he hasn't been able to nearly as much; so we went just to give him a little boost in morale and encouragement emotionally.

We got down there fairly early, and boy did the stories role. As soon as we sat down it seemed that the stories began and there was much laughter and a lot of smiles and talking about the old days when they were all young and married and drank a lot. For the most part I enjoyed it, but as we were driving away I began to think about why I felt kind of empty inside afterwards. It wasn't so much the particular guys I was around but the particular contents of their conversation. They joked a lot about sex, women and drunkenness and though it wasn't particularly vulgar or crass in the words they chose the conversation was extremely empty and dry and filled with the sinfulness of former days. Now, don't get me wrong, we all have sinfulness of former days to talk about, and probably some from today, but the way it was talked about broke my heart. There wasn't much room for remorse or any understanding that the things they had done were wrong and it just made me think, "YAHveh, I don't want to be like that when I get older." Now, not all of the men were as bad as the three main talkers were; in fact, I know there is one solid Christian man in the group, but I just began to think about how I don't want to live my life and towards the end of my days only have stories of the old sinful life I used to live. Now, I love listening to stories from old guys but the good ones, the really good ones, are from the guys that have lived a life of faith with God and they tell of their relationship with Him. I say, let those stories role.

What I'm trying to get at here is how I want Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, to do just that in me. He said that he will and I know that I can trust in him to do so, but it was really impressed on my heart today that I want to have a legacy of faith behind me when I come to the end of my days and not just a legacy of sin and rebellion against God. They don't even know it yet, but one day they will be judged before YAHveh, as we all will be, and I pray that before that time comes they will come to know Him, through Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You gotta unpack your bags

I'll be honest. Since moving to Beulah, I've always had it in the back of my mind that we wouldn't be here forever. We'd stay the full ministry cycle - 8 years - and then head off to another church. Maybe Jordan would even attend seminary. A few weeks ago, I was deeply challenged to change this mindset through a video sermon.

Pete Brisco was speaking at Right Now, a conference for pastors, youth pastors, and those in ministry. He shared a story of a young missionary couple who had recently moved to Siberia. The young wife had a difficult time adjusting to Siberia, and frankly, she didn't like it. After the couple had been serving in Siberia for two years, a lady from their congregation back in the States went to visit. The young wife was sharing her struggles and her desire - her readiness - to go home. As she was, the visiting woman looked in the closet and saw the young wife's suitcases . . . nothing was hanging on the hangers, nothing was unpacked. The wise woman said, "Oh honey, you've gotta unpack your bags. You've gotta unpack your bags."

This story speaks volumes to me. Oh sure, I've unpacked all my clothes - though I admit I still have some things at my parent's home in Sioux Falls for the sake of convenience. But as I listened to Pete's sermon, I realized how like that young missionary wife I was. My heart was still packed; I wasn't pouring everything into the people of Beulah because part of my heart was ready to go somewhere else and in my mind, that was okay. That Sunday morning, I realized that I shouldn't hold back, but that I truly need to invest in the people I live among, work with, and worship with.

It wasn't an immediate, instantaneous response, but the Lord is working on my heart. I'm unpacking. I pray the same may be said of me that was said of the Corinthian church: "Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yarn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you." (2 Corinthians 9:13014)

What about you? Have you unpacked your bags?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Solar Powered Lives

I hate dreary days. Spring is my favorite time of year, but before we get to the lovely, sunny days when the grass is warm and green, we have to get past the raining, grey sky days. We all know the saying, "April showers bring May flowers"; I hate April. I wish it were sunny all the time! I used to say I was solar powered, and the more I think about that, the more I realize that all of us are.

No, I'm not saying all of you are as strange as me when it comes to the weather correlating to my moods almost perfectly, but in the sense that our source of power comes from the SON. John 1:4-5 say, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".

Jesus is the Son, and He is the light. Just as the sun gives life to the earth, the Son gives us life. Do you ever feel lazy on rainy days? It's a rainy day here in Minneapolis, and I have no motivation to be productive at all. I feel like I don't have any strength in me. That's how it is with Christ too-- if He isn't our Light, we will be run down, unmotivated, and dead.

A lot of times we talk about having the joy of the Lord, but that joy cannot come from something we muster up inside of ourselves. It needs to come from God! If you try to produce joy in your own strength, you will fail. Just as a flower would fail if it attempted to find it's source of power and strength inside of itself. But if you are trusting in the Son to give you life, He will also bless you with His Joy! Because joy isn't an emotion such as happiness; it is a lasting peace and contentment in the Lord.

Friends, let Him be your joy today. He is the Son, and no matter who you are, you're solar powered. He is all powerful and is longing to give you life in His name!

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"-- John 8:36

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spiritual Gifts

We're reading 1 Corinthians in my religion class right now, and just went through chapter 12 where Paul writes about spiritual gifts. This is where he uses the illustration of how the body is made up of many parts. Everyone has been blessed with gifts. It could be speaking, musical ability, athleticism, or really anything. The point Paul is making is that everyone has a gift, and that while these gifts vary, none of the gifts are any more or less important than another gift. As he writes in verse 15, "If the foot should say, 'because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body." He also writes that "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!'" God has created the body so that every part plays a different role, and every role is essential.
We find in Luke 12:48 "to whom much is given, of him much is required." God has blessed everyone with unique spiritual gifts. We need to discover what these gifts are and use them for the furtherance of his kingdom.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Before the Throne

It surrounds us. It's around every corner and in every crack of our life. It fills our heart, and comes out in our actions...

I have been feeling the heavy burden of sin in my life the past few weeks, and only being able to focus on how horrible I am because I can't shake sin. I spend most every day discouraged because I have been looking at myself and how I am a failure.

But God continues to say "Look up, and outward not down and inward." He loves me so much that He died for the wicked sin that encompasses my life. But He didn't die so that I could dwell in my sin and be discouraged by it. No, He died to WIPE AWAY my sin and present me as spotless before the Throne of God.

In Romans 5 it talks about the grace of God - the gift He gave to us while we were still helpless, while we were yet sinners. It is the gift we don't deserve, but the desire of God's heart is that we accept it. The point of grace is to bring us to Christ - that is the only place we receive it. I need to bring my sin to Him every day - to confess it and let it go - not once a week or month, but every day. And in that time, and can know that this verse it true - "but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."

Dwelling on Christ and the gift of grace makes me to see who I am in Christ. It is an awesome realization that Christ loves me despite the sin I do each day. He gives me the strength to overcome it. Giving Him the burden of my sin lightens my daily load - His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

The song, "Before the Throne of God Above" has been stuck in my head the past few days, and I think God has put it there for a reminder of what Christ has done for me, and who I am in Him. Praise Him for His saving grace :) He is amazing!

Before the Throne Video

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Windows Open

Today I learned a phrase in Portuguese; Quando Deus fecha uma porta, abre uma janela.

It sounds something like "Kando doo feka ooma porta ah bree ooma janelah blah blah blah." My pronunciation may need a little work, but the meaning of this phrase makes sense to me.

"Where God shuts a door, He opens a window."

Sometimes closed doors create uncomfortable situations. As a juvenile (some would argue delinquent) my brother was known to lock the door right as I was trying to get inside. During a particular time of year, I would be standing there watching my breath leave my body. A shiver here and a frozen nostril there made me really want to get inside. Opening a window allowed me an escape from the cold. Closed doors and open windows are also enjoyed in the summertime.

Needing a little peace and quiet in order to sleep at night, I usually close my bedroom door. Unfortunately the closed door restricts airflow, creating a stuffy setting where I have a higher likelihood of suffocating in my sleep. Laying there in a pool of my own sweat is sticky, gross, and not conductive to a restful night's sleep. By opening a window this problem is solved. Fresh air comes rushing in, removing the stale characteristic of my sleeping quarters and filling my lungs with life. Closed doors might make you lose sleep at night, but an open window can revive a life.

Recently as doors have slammed shut in my face, I've been learning to look for the open window. Rather than feeling trapped behind a closed door, I have seen windows swing open, and felt the cool breeze surround me. The door may be shut, leaving me in the exact same setting, but instead of feeling like a victim of my own situation, God opens the window and changes everything.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thinking Renewal

I find this, what my title is for this blog post, to be one of the more important things that takes place when I find myself to have gone for a period of time without being in the Scriptures for my own personal time with God. I spend a lot of time in the Scriptures due to the nature of what I am an involved in, but sometimes I just don't spend time alone with God in His Word and prayer like I should. The first thing to go is my mind. Not that it's not already gone, but yoiu know what I mean right? :)

Romans 12:1 says this, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (NASB) So, how are our minds renewed? Primarily by the word of God. Interestingly the thought that follows this verse is that our minds control our actions. If we don't want to be conformed to the pattern of this world not just in thought but also in deed, knowing what the will of God is, then we need to be in the Scriptures. It's like taking a spiritual bath in the truth. Our minds are washed and saturated cleaning away any garbage and debris. This is how we learn to set our minds on things above and not on things below. This is how we learn to make decisions that are led by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

For example. Tonight I spent some time reading some stuff from the Bible and I have been having questions and concerns about some things and I have just noticed a general lack of spiritual thought in my mind the past few weeks and I began to think about it what the cause was so I did as I mentioned before. I spent some time in the Scriptures. Now, as soon as I began reading I just felt this sense of peace and assurance come over me and by the time I was done reading I knew what God's answers to my questions and concerns were and what I read hadn't even covered anything in particular about my issues. Simply being in the Word of God cleaned away all of that rubbish and debris, fear and uncertainty are better words I guess, and allowed me to know, or prove, what the will of God is for certain situations in my life.

It's also great because it divided between all of the stuff I had been thinking about and brought it right down to the issues at hand.

So, it seems that the Word of God is sweet and I like to spend time reading it because it gives me a better mind and helps me to live and make decisions led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. I also like to get to know YAHveh more and that is super sweet.

Peace out my peeps,

(By the way, I'm really tired right now when I'm writing this; so if it seems random or a little "off," that's why. ;))

Monday, March 14, 2011

How He Loves

Consider the LORD God:
"Who has measured the waters in the hallow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span. And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust." - Isaiah 40:12-15
In comparison to Him, we are but a drop in the bucket. He is the One who made the stars and knows them by name (Isaiah 40:26), the waters measure in the hallow of His hand. He knows the number of sand on the shores; He created the mountains, the rivers, the oceans, the galaxies . . . all of it.

And yet, what does this incredible, holy, Creator God say about us? Consider the love of the LORD our God:
"'The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." - Zephaniah 3:17

"'. . . In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old . . .'" - Isaiah 63:9

". . . While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

"'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord. 'And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me.'" - 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
Who are we that the Lord should take notice of us, even love us? We are His creation and He does indeed desperately love us. Does that not just boggle your mind?! Oh, what an incredible Lord we serve!

Below is one of my favorite worship songs. Whether you've heard it a gazillion times or not, I encourage you to take the time to listen to it. Really listen to it. Please, don't multi-task, as tempting as it may be. Let these words by David Crowder fill your heart and your soul - and most importantly, may they bring you to your knees in worship before the Holy God who desperately loves you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Sin

Do you have something--a particular sin-- that you struggle with? How do you feel when you give into that temptation? I feel worthless. A complete failure. UNchristian. Sound familiar?

In Pastor Haugen's class the other day here at Bible School he said something that shed light to this for me. "The struggle [with sin] is not bad. The sign of life is the struggle. Don't be defeated. Don't think that you are bad because you struggle."

So even though we do struggle with sin, that's not evidence that we're not following God. Satan loves lying to us by showing us what we struggle with and proclaiming that we're horrible, wretched sinners. The struggle within is evidence that there is a battle between good and evil, it shows that we do want to follow the Lord. The struggle proves that we are human.

Ephesians 2 says, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved". (verses 1-5)

You WERE dead. Did you notice that word? The word "were" is in past tense, something that was and is now not anymore. In Christ, we have been made alive! That doesn't mean we won't ever struggle with sin again-- we will-- but it means that we have the power in Christ's blood to turn down that temptation. However, when we do sin--God is always willing to forgive.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" --Psalm 103:11-14

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I just wanted to touch on something I've been reading quite a bit about lately. I've been reading Numbers and Deuteronomy and am at the point where the Israelites are just about into the promised land. It's incredible what they've come through, leaving Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, 40 years in the desert, etc. One thing that has been constant throughout is God's faithfulness towards the Israelites. One thing that hasn't been constant is the Israelites faithfulness to God. They have a tendency whenever things start to go well to not lean on God. In contrast, when they things are going poorly or they are facing adversity, they cry out to God for help. This presents a problem when they reach the promised land, because once again they fall away from God in the good times.
We need to be more consistent in our faithfulness on God. He wants us to lean on him. It's always easier to trust him when things get rough, but it's just as important when things are going well - because He is the one from whom the good things come. Be thankful and keep trusting in Him; He'll always be there for you, and He deserves the same from us.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's In A Name?

How do you feel when someone knows your name?

Wait... did you think about it?

Justin's post yesterday reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago. After church my brother introduced me to a guy I hadn't met before. We had a few minutes of get to know you conversation, where do you work, blah, blah, blah... as our conversation drew to an end we confirmed each others names and he made a comment that in retrospect kind of bothered me. He said, "I probably won't remember your name."
How does that thought resonate with you? Take a moment to imagine someone saying that to you. "I probably won't remember your name."

At the time I shrugged it off, literally, and replied with something vaguely similiar, don't worry about it, no big deal if you don't, nice to meet you, bye.

In the weeks since I keep returning to this conversation and what it was about that offhanded comment that bothered me.

In general, for some reason remembering peoples names, at first, is hard for us. It takes a few times to commit a name to our memory. I started questioning, why isn't it important enough to get it committed to memory the first time?

I know he didn't mean it that way, but telling me he wouldn't remember my name on some level communicated to me that I wasn't worth remembering. Because we are our name. There is so much in a name. It's how and who we identify ourselves. If someone asks who are you, you are your name. Your name means you are known.
John 10:2-5 "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Did you catch that, when a shepherd calls his sheep, He. Calls. Them. By. Name.

Tommy Walker wrote a song: He Knows My Name
I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands
I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Doesn't that song just speak of an intimate relationship?

Casting Crowns wrote: "Who am I? That the Lord of all the earth, Would care to know my name, Would care to feel my hurt. Who am I? That the bright and morning star, Would choose to light the way, For my ever wandering heart."

Psalm 135: 13 says of YAHveh's name, "Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD, through all generations."

The only One who it will ever matter knows my name. To Him I am worth remembering.

YAHveh, who's name is renown, knows my name.

I am known.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's All About Him

I'm sitting here in the Snohomish, Washington city library thinking and praying about what I should be writing tonight and the only thing that I can come up with is this: I just had the passing thought, "If I could say anything to anybody tonight that is going to be reading this blog or just in general it would be this, 'Did you find time to spend with God today?'" When it all comes down to it that really is the only thing that matters.

I've just begun reading a book called Holy to Yahveh and it talks about some of the teachings of Scripture that have kind of been lost in the traditions of man. One of them has to do with the name of God. God said to Moses that His name is YAHveh (Exodus 3:13-15) and that He is jealous for His name. We have lost that name in Christianity as a whole. All the other gods have names, i.e. Dagon, Ashtoreth, and Baal. Our God too has a name and His name is YAHveh. It has been substituted into the English Bibles as the word LORD, but this does not really do Him justice. All of the pagan religions have gods or lords and they all have proper names, such as were mentioned above, and those terms, god and lord, come from the pagan traditions. It is not good or right that we have lost the name of our God and I think that we can all benefit from knowing and using His name. I would challenge you to think and pray about this, and do some more studying if you have too. I want to share one piece of Scripture regarding this and then I will continue on. Exodus 20:24b, "In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you." It's worth thinking about, huh?

So, you may be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with anything?" Well, it has to do with a lot of things. Namely though tonight I simply want to make the point that we have been given an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ and in that relationship we are given the ability, better yet, opportunity to speak God's name, YAHveh. Think about this. Do you use the names of people in your relationships? Sometimes we throw out nicknames, terms of endearment or things like mom, dad, bro, or sis that embody one characteristic of what or who that person is but when we say their name we are using that which is an embodiment of who they are. That's the same thing with God. If we simply call Him Father, Creator, or Lord we are simply using a name that fits one characteristic of who He is, but when we say the name YAHveh we are using the name that is an embodiment who He is. Who is He? He gives us that answer when He says, "I am who I am." That is the name that we have been given to call God and it is a truly wonderful thing to do so.

So I ask you once again, "Did you find to spend with YAHveh today?"

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of YAHveh shall be saved." Joel 2:32

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do you believe in miracles?

Yes, the title is shamelessly borrowed from the famous call by Al Michaels at the Miracle on Ice. Past that, it's an honest question. I know a lot of people who say that miracles don't happen anymore, that God stopped performing miracles sometime during the New Testament. Well, that's just not true. Granted, miracles are not necessarily on the same scale as the Old Testament. Lately I've been reading the beginning of the Old Testament, so I've read about all about the exodus from Egypt, God parting the Red Sea, water from a rock, and many more. Miracles are not always this obvious but like I've said, it doesn't mean they don't happen. I've been following the progress of one for the past few weeks. I mentioned in a past post Zach Gabbard, the high school basketball player who collapsed during a game this past January. His heart had stopped, and the defibrillator wasn't able to restart it. Because of this he was dead, literally, for anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes (I've heard variations on the actual number). Chest compressions also were not being performed because of the nature of the defibrillator, so there wasn't even any blood flowing from that. All those things considered, the chances of Zach even surviving were quite small. Well, a miracle occurred. Not only has Zach lived, he's already able to talk and walk, and it sounds like he might even be able to finish out his high school basketball career next winter. Living and breathing proof that God still works miracles in our lives and the lives of others. So forgive me for this, but if somebody asks you if you believe in miracles, the answer should be a resounding Yes!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Music is Meaningful

Most of the 8,514 days that I have lived on planet earth have been complimented with music. At some point along the way, the labels associated with particular bands/artists began to hold some significance in my listening choices. Countless debates about the "Christian-ness" of specific groups have occurred in Christian circles shaping the decisions people make in regards to the music the will/will not listen to. In my experience, they are some things that should never enter my ear canals based on the content communicated through the musical form. On the other hand, there is a lot of music out there that I can't pin down as "good" or "bad."

The advancement of technology has brought my generation into a reality that is seemingly shaped by social networking. For the aspiring musician/band, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter have become powerful tools to get their creative work to the masses. Say goodbye to bootleg demo tapes being passed in handshakes in the halls of your high school. By simply clicking the link that someone posts on your Facebook wall, you can be introduced to new music faster than ever before. This very thing happened to me yesterday. I saw an update concerning a surprise concert taking place in my home town of Kalispell, MT. Clicking on the part underlined in blue brought me to a site that was streaming the concert in high definition video. After seeing and hearing some new music, I went in search of a little information about the band.

Cyberspacetravel was once again an adventure full of distractions and detours. From Facebook to Wikipedia and a handful of sites in between, I finally found some information about last night's band, The Classic Crime. I noticed they were signed to one of Christian Contemporary Music's most notable record labels, read about their beginnings, and stumbled across a statement from the vocalist/guitarist, Matt Macdonald. Concerning the labeling of their band, Matt said:

"We believe faith is personal, and can be only held by an individual person. To entitle a group 'Christian' would be to assume that the group has a collective soul, or at least individual souls tied to a solid collective belief. Not everyone in our band is decidedly set in their faith, and we respect that."

Finally, I have heard a succinct and concise statement regarding whether or not the music is "Christian." The words Matt used concerning his band transcend into all areas of life and raised some questions which I thought were worth considering.

Was I raised in a "Christian" family?
Do I attend a "Christian" school?
Why am I listening to this "Christian" music?
Are my actions speaking louder than my words as I live the "Christian" life?
What is it that makes me a "Christian?"
When does my "secular" world intersect the "Christian" part of my life?
Is this a "Christian" blog?

Landing back on earth, I am once again aware that if I am to consider myself a "little Christ" and to let my thoughts, words, and actions be modeled after Christ's then something's got to change in me. There is no way I can live this life on my own. In Paul's letter to the Christians living in Rome, he says:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Faith is personal, and personally, I need to be transformed by the Holy Spirit each and every day. Christ died and rose again, paying the price for my sin, allowing me to be in a relationship with Him. That's something I can put my faith in.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hold Me

A few days ago a friend called me and said, "Have you heard this song? I was listening to the radio and this new song came on, Hold Me. You gotta hear this song!"

Here are some of the lyrics


(I love, I love, I love, I love the way you hold me)
I've had a long day I just wanna relax
Don't have time for my friends, no time to chit-chat
Problems at my job, wonderin' what to do
I know I should be working but I'm thinking of You and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That's when Your smile comes around

Oo, I love the way You hold me, by my side You'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love the way you hold me, in Your arms I'll always be
You take each and everyday, make it special in some way
I love You more than the words in my brain can express
I can't imagine even loving You less
Lord, I love the way You hold me

Take a listen:

What a beautiful picture of the relationship we have with God!

Lord, I love the way you hold me!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back to the Basics

It's not very often that I find the time to write in a coffee shop anymore. Most of it is now done at home, if it is done at all, but tonight I just needed to get away. It's been a long time since I have just had a night alone with the Lord and I am in desperate need of it. I am involved with a lot of different things and I really don't think or feel like my time is crunched or that I'm overly busy, but tonight I just needed to space to breathe. I am around people a lot these days, more so than I've been before. I've had a lot of time alone with the Lord over the past few years and having it change to less hasn't been a bad thing, but it has been a difficult thing for me. I enjoy spending time with God and singing, listening to Him, reading the Scriptures, praying and hearing sermons preached, and doing less of that is ok because I'm doing things in place of it that He has guided me to do, but I've got to say that it's been refreshing to have a night once again where I have nothing to do, but to drink deeply of HIm. I think of the deer panting for rivers of living water and our souls longing after HIm. That's how mine has felt lately and tonight I have been able to satisfy that thirst. Or, more so, God has been able to satisfy that thirst. There really isn't anything else like being able to spend time in His presence. I know that friendships, and Church community, and things like that are important, but to just sit quietly in His presence and be with Him is one of the most wonderful joys in life that I have found. I want to leave you with the words from one of my favorite hymns, "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

It is in this friendship that we find all of our needs met.