Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year Musings

Here I sit contemplating the coming new year. There is so much that I want to see come to pass. The growth of the church I lead, the deepening of friendships, the wonders of seeing my daughters enter adulthood. Life is such an amazing journey. In looking back at the last year; I can celebrate so many victories and I can also see some real disappointments as well. Life is like that, good and bad, extraordinary and mundane. Much of our outlook on life is based on what will we give the most weight too. Will we focus on the failures and disappointments or will we celebrate the victories God has given us. Most of the great men of God that I have known through the years have an unshakeable belief that God has never wronged them, never a hint of victim thinking. They counted their blessings and chalked up the failures to their own shortcomings.

So much of life’s blessings depend on how we process the events around us. For example, being a sentimental guy, I was lamenting how sad I was that my oldest daughter was not able to be with us during the holidays. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I had five of my children and one lovely daughter-in law and three spirited grandchildren in my living room. I would be so easy to miss the blessing right under my nose.

What is the point of this rambling? In my opinion much of life’s challenges are designed to give us fresh insight into the graciousness of God. We may be heading into some difficult times ahead. All ready some who are close to us are experiencing job loss, health problems, the list can go on and on. Yet God is still unchanging, His purpose and intent for our lives are still in place.

These are not platitudes to just make us feel better; they are the very building blocks to a faith-filled life. God speaks to us in Romans 8:28-3: “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? God is involved in our life to the point of working everything to our good. It gives me great comfort to know that I am not at the mercy of random events. It is faith in the graciousness of God that gives context to the difficulties of life. Again in Romans 5:2-5 “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God works all things for my good, and all the circumstances of life can point me to hope, and that hope leads us to confidence in God. I choose to celebrate the goodness of God, to recognize each and every blessing. It is a choice we all have to make. We must rehearse the faithfulness of God, remembering the small and great things He has done for us. If all we ended up with out of this life is a relationship with God and eternal life, which would be more than anyone could ask for. YET LOOK AROUND, He has given us so much more. May your holidays be filed with the blessings of God.

(Scripture quotes from New International Version)

Friday, December 12, 2008


It has been a while since I last posted. Life gets so busy.

Recently I was visiting with dear friends who lead churches. Our conversation turned towards the Bible and our approach to it. Questions arose like, do we interpret the scripture through our experience or do we accept it at face value? Is the Bible culturally relevant? I must confess that I was a little put off by the tenor of the discussion. I believe that the Bible is THE word of God. It is the measure of all things. It defines what is true and doesn't need our experience to validate it. Before the critic jumps in, I know that there are difficulties, but the problem is not in the scripture but our understanding of it. It is my conviction that we miss the mark when we sit outside the Bible to evaluate what is true. Let me explain, David in Psalm 1:1-2 writes, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (NASU)

The phrase “in His law he meditates” strikes me as the posture that we should hold as we approach the Word. David is suggesting that the scripture drives our very meditations. It is where we derive the premises that drive our thought life. To often we read and then evaluate what we will accept and what we will reject, instead of letting the scripture define what is true and then embracing that truth. To many times we will say, “the scripture says, but…” and then excuse ourselves from what it says

Jesus was very straightforward on this issue. “The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
(Luke 6:49 from New International Version)

James writes, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” The word receive in the Greek is more than
give ear to, it involves embracing, making it one's own, and being careful not to reject it. He goes on, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:21-25 NASU)

It is in the embracing and doing that we get insight. If we wait until we understand the word, we make ourselves slaves to our carnal mind. We are “to receive the word implanted”, in faith, which is able to save our souls. David understood the importance of the scripture when he wrote, in Psalm 119:9-16:“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard your ways. I shall delight in your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” (NASU)

I want to be a doer of the Word, a man that receives and agrees with God, one who builds on a sure foundation.

Psalm 119:144
Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live. NASU

Friday, October 3, 2008

Times of Trouble

Another day of bad news, stock market falling, banks closing, and politicians operating out of their own self interest. I know that my retirement account has lost 50% of its value. Yet in light of eternity it is not that significant. It is easy for believers to get caught up in this world and to succumb to the spirit of fear. Difficulty comes, does that mean God’s attitude towards you has changed? Is he less pleased with you? The reality is that outward circumstance is not the measure of God’s intention for us. The Apostle Paul would write “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
( Rom 8:35,37 NIV)

I personally believe insecurity and fear comes because we lose sight of what our lives are to be about. Self-preservation is a powerful motivator in human nature, yet we are called to live according to a higher reality. Jesus taught his followers right up front that they were being called to live for something greater than themselves, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25 NIV) Six times this admonition is given in the gospels. Self-preservation is not the highest value in the Christians life. Jesus in the parable of the sower warned us not to let the cares of this world choke out the good seed of the Word of God. Jesus clearly wants His followers to understand that difficulty in this life is the norm, not the exception. The best investment we can make at this time is to make sure our personal foundations are built on a clear view of eternity and not on the shifting sands of the temporal. We are called to be a missional people, focused on the Kingdom of God.

If our country is to sink in to very difficult times and God’s people can come to grips with the larger issues of mission vs. self, there is unprecedented opportunity for the gospel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Life Through a Different Lens

My daughter and I are in San Diego to visit relatives and are enjoying our time together. As I went to bed last night the Lord brought to mind that we are to be doers of what the Bible says and not hears only. Jim Durkin, my first Pastor, words came to mind, “Practice the Word, do what it says and in the doing of it you will come to understand it.”

Our natural inclination is self-preservation and self-interest. When we practice the Word, we learn to think in different ways. Paul the apostle wrote in the book of Romans that, ‘we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our natural ways of thinking need to change. It is when we put in to practice the Word, that we gain the insight and experience to discern the Lord’s direction.

As I lay in bed last night, I pondered the thought of practicing the Word, and the scripture came to mind, “He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord”, and “Some of you have entertained angles unawares”. Earlier in the day, while driving I noticed a man standing on the corner holding a sign begging for money. You know the scene. A fairly well dressed; looking like he is not starving, type guy. My first reaction was, “what a scam”. I started thinking, how does putting to practice the Word work? You see a beggar and you decide to do what the Bible says. You have your doubts, but you do it out of obedience to the Word. You give some money and drive away. Thoughts flood your mind of what a fool you have been. Yet you feel like you have at least honored the Lord with a good attempt.

It is my opinion that in the above scenario a great victory has been won. Whether the man was scamming, or the money was to be use in self-destructive ways, yet the Christian has stepped out of himself and has acted in a self-sacrificing way. He has sowed into eternity. This principle of doing the Word, will affect every area of our life. It is through the Bible that we see how much our natural way of thinking is at odds with God. Yet we can mature in our walk with God by agreeing with Him and doing what he has commanded us in the Bible. Another example is, “give and it will be given to you”, it is through the practice of this truth that we see the out working of it. It may not make sense to our natural mind, but the principle is true nonetheless. When we step out in faith, and experience the result, we become more confident of the truth of the Word. I’m not suggesting that we are unwise or foolish with our money, I’m saying that we need to change the default setting by doing what the Word says and in that, we will learn to hear the leading of the Spirit. If we learn to give to the poor it is easier for the Spirit to put on the brakes on our giving than to lead to do it in the first place. When we do the Word we change our natural ways of thinking and cut through the clutter of self.

Those who ruined their life through sinful living may have an advantage in this area. Before I came to the Lord, I was at rock bottom. Most of the values I had been taught as a child had been thrown to the wayside. Drugs and wanton living had destroyed my life and I was living on the streets. Convinced that I was a victim and that the world owed me something, I was trapped in a prison of destructive ways of thinking. When Christ broke into my life and I started relating to other believers, it became obvious to me that the thinking patterns and conclusions that I had about life did not work. Some how I knew that I needed to change and transform the way I thought. I set out to practice the Word, and it fundamentally changed who I was. Those are successful in this life seldom question their ways of thinking and never realize their need for change. Yet all of us have been acculturated and trained to think in ways that are contrary to God’s Word. Our mind has a significant role in our walk with God, and it needs to be transformed and renewed. Thirty-two years later I still need do what the Bible says and challenge my assumptions and ways of thinking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Looking into the Unseen

I recently had the privilege to participate in Celebration NW. It was inspiring to be gathered with other folks from the Newfontiers family of churches. It was a great event with activities for the whole family and punctuated with great teaching. Terry Virgo spoke in the first two sessions and spoke of the need for truth and a commitment to walk in it. John Lanferman spoke on prayer and made a stirring point that caused me to sit up and take notice. He said “A church that does not pray, is happy with what they can accomplish through the flesh.” I am struck how many times we don’t stretch our faith and reach for the really big things in God. There is a reality that we are in a spiritual conflict, and the enemy of God is doing every thing in his power to thwart the plans of God. There is no way that we can accomplish the vast mission that we have been given without prayer. How quick we are to give up when we don’t see immediate answer to our prayers. I was reading in Daniel 10 where Daniel had been praying for 21 days with out seeing any result. Then an angel appears and tells Daniel what is to come. What strikes me is that we get a glimpse of the struggle that takes place in the spiritual realm. The angel says that God had sent him the first day that Daniel prayed but a angelic principality withstood him. For 21 days the conflict raged, until God sent Michael the arch angle to intervene. Many teachers have built large amounts of doctrine on this account and that’s is not my intent here, but I do believe this account gives us a peek behind the curtain of the natural to see the battle that rages in the heavenly. How many times do we pray and not see an immediate answer and our faith fails. We begin to doubt God and His intent for us. If we understand that there is a very real adversary, and that our chief weapon is to pray in faith, we will see things happen! We can be confident in the fact that God hears our prayers and moves on our behalf. In my own heart I have committed to pray big prayers, the ones that seem impossible, that only God could pull off.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prayer and Forgiveness

I have been giving a lot of thought to prayer and have been pressing into increasing my personal prayer life. This has led me to look at forgiveness as it relates to prayer. Jesus linked forgiveness to prayer on more then one occasion. In Mark 11:24-25, "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you. 25 "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions." Many times we look to this story for insight into faith yet Mark tells the story to lead into profound moral teaching. The power of faith is linked to having a clean heart in regard to others. So profound was Jesus’ teaching upon His disciples that all would write of the same truth. Peter like us was perplexed and troubled by the extremeness of Jesus’ remarks. Jesus remarks required a generosity of spirit that seemed unreasonable. If we forgive, we will be forgiven, if we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven was more than Peter could fathom. Peter asks for clarification and receives even a greater challenge. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matt 18:21-35) Paul would later write that we should model forgiveness because of Christ and his work in us. He would point out in Col 3:12 how we were chosen by the grace and mercy of God and we were to act like Christ. James in his direct and (some would say harsh way) lays out the importance with no wiggle room whatsoever. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13) With all this emphases on the subject of forgiving it begs the question of what does it mean to forgive. As a verb it means to stop blaming or to absolve from payment. As an adjective it means inclined to show mercy. It is a position of moral strength that lives above the circumstances of life. All relationships has great possibility of offenses. Yet there is a way to live above the fray. We gain insight when we look at motivations for not forgiving. • Vengeance – We have a secret desire to punish or see people hurt. • Self-protection – We build a wall so that the offender no longer has access. • Manipulation- Victim status gives opportunity to rally support and pity. All of these are corrupt and lead to the ensnaring world of bitterness. Our life becomes consumed by the offense. Unforgiveness is described as unwilling to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty, grim determination or harsh and severe. In our desire for justice or vindication we can hinder the grace of God in our life.

How do we identify an unforgiving spirit in ourselves? First we examine our thought life. Do we review an offence over and over again? Do we have fantasies of vengeance? Are we judgmental? Second we evaluate our current relationships. Do we hold people at a distance? Do we tend to keep score? Do we justify our actions towards others? Do we harbor a grudge? All of these are symptoms of unforgiveness. Lastly we must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal problem areas of our heart. If we recognize ourselves any of the above attitudes we must take responsibility and move toward real change.

How does one forgive those who have hurt us or offended us? It starts with seeing the need and working to bring our hearts and mind in agreement with God. Meditate on His love and faithfulness toward you. Realize how much Christ has extended Himself to you. Think of the result of your sins and the extravagance of grace given to you. Grace can be described as God’s unmerited favor designed to draw His enemies to Himself. He sought you even when it was your actions that led Him to the cross. Seek to understand God’s involvement in your life. Evaluate your life today in light of God’s faithfulness. Recognize God looks at the larger picture and he is committed to your development. Ask for the Holy Spirits help and repent of bitterness and resentment. Think of simply canceling the debt that another owes to you.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Prayer and Other Thoughts

It is my belief that in these last days God is restoring many of the truths that believers in the early Church understood and practiced. The Lord’s desire has always been that His church would be equipped to do the same work, with the same heart that moved Him to lay down his life for the world. We are called to invade this earthly realm with the supernatural reality of God. We are alive with the Spirit of God by His mercy, we have a testimony that Christ is alive. We have experienced His touch, His love and forgiveness. We have the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. We know the transforming power of God!! We are to be the agents of heaven invading the kingdom of darkness. All that because of the new life we have received in Christ. With that new life comes a new call. Peter in his epistle would write...

"you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for {God's} own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Pet 2:9)

How do we proclaim? How do we make Him known? How do we bring the reality of a living active Savior to this world? I believe it is by being willing and by moving forward on Holy Spirit-revealed strategies.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (Eph 6:18, NAS)

Prayer and fellowship were significant parts of the culture of the early Church. Much of the believer’s life was centered on meeting together and prayer. It was an exciting time; there were those who actually witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus. They knew He was alive and had a hope that He was going to do something great. They were a people who experienced God. The Holy Spirit was active. They moved forward by the leading of the Spirit of God, revealed in prayer.

The Spirit teaches us how to pray. Of all the responsibilities of the believers, this is one by which we can’t go wrong. If we are interceding for others we are participating in the leading of the Spirit. Prayer releases the resources of heaven to accomplish what we have been commissioned to do. In a real sense it causes heaven to invade earth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Abetter Way

A Better Way?
I want to share some conclusions about the most effective way in which to evangelize the world. First though, I have to admit my bias. After 32 years of ministry, I have come to the conclusion that the local church is God’s best plan for reaching into a local area. God’s people gathering together to worship, to fellowship, and to be equipped is a powerful testimony of God’s grace in action. I know that there are those out there who are quick to criticize the church as out of date or ineffective, yet Jesus refers to it as his body and infers that it is his bride. If you believe the Bible is an accurate revelation of God’s heart, you can’t help but see that He cares deeply for His Church, local and universal. I have always believed that the answer to a bad church is a good church, not no church!
Everywhere the early apostles went they established new churches; vibrant communities that were stirred and shaped by the remarkable grace of God. These communities were known for their good works, care for the poor, and their love for one another. They weren’t perfect, yet were loved by God and moved forward by His Spirit. Ephesians 4 states that Christ gave leadership gifts to the church for the equipping of the saints for works of service; encouraging every believer to discover their gifts and calling for the purposes of God. The end result is the building up of the body of Christ and the reaching of those who are outside the faith.
Paul, in writing to the local Corinthian church made a startling statement, “… you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. (1 Cor 12:27-28 NASB )” Each local church is a living representation of Christ in their neighborhood or city. As a leader, I have had to take a hard look at what I am trying to accomplish in leading a local church. The primary reason leadership exists is to get people “into the game”, serving each other and those who are outside if the church. The church is called to make Jesus known throughout the whole world, and yet much of “ministry” today is focused on meeting the needs of Christian consumers. We build bigger buildings and staff more people to meet the perceived needs of those who attend our churches. Leaders feel the pressure to increase numbers, to build programs as the proof of their ministry. All of it looks good in our American mindset, but it seems ineffective at equipping and getting people involved with those who are far from God. I believe there is a better way! Churches in the New Testament invested heavily in planting new churches. Early Christians were scattered by persecution and everywhere they went churches sprung up, communities who were outreaching and madly in love with Christ. The churches they established then in turn planted others.
Church planting offers the same opportunities today. It has been said that in most churches 20% of the people do the work and the other 80% watch. That is not true in a church plant, 80% are working and 20% are checking it out. New churches, by their very nature, need all hands on deck. New churches tend to be out-looking in their attitude for their very survival depends on it. If the goal is to equip and release people into service, church planting is the most effective method of getting people involved. Because the future of the church plant is at stake, people invest their prayers, their time, and their energy to reach out. Their whole ethos is different than the “I go to church to have my needs met” mentality.
Many church plants are more efficient in terms of finances as well. They can meet in schools or other rented space, and can therefore invest in people who are serving in the kingdom instead of buildings which sit idle much of the time. There may be a time when a church needs to have their own space to facilitate ministry and it is appropriate to do so, but not at the expense of reaching out. How much more could be accomplished if a majority of churches in the NW would invest the time, effort, and money to plant a church. Hundreds of believers would be mobilized. Their people would be leaving familiar surroundings, going into new cities, having to make new friends. These transitions force believers out of their shell and into the community.
Church planting can revitalize mature congregations through the faith and effort it takes to launch a new church. It’s time to embrace a new view of what success looks like in our churches. Lets get people in the game!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tragic Mistake

I remember in my 20’s in the early years of my journey as a follower of Christ I heard a teaching that prayer was a vital discipline for anyone involved in ministry and that anyone serious about serving God would pray an hour a day. There was much talk about being mighty men of God and being sold out. So I tried to join an intercessors group led by a very anointed woman who was in her seventies. I will never forget my first impression as I went into this group. First of all I noticed it was primarily women present, some attractive gals that I was infatuated with to be sure, but no men. You can imagine the scene, chairs in a circle, some kneeling, soft music in the background. There was a lot of wailing and “standing in the gap” for various loved ones and people with problems. I was stunned, what on earth could this accomplish? I was used to being out on the streets in Arcata California preaching the gospel. Most of my friends and I were into the ‘in your face’, confrontational type of evangelism. So here I am with a bunch of ladies, and in my mind, wasting time. Being young and dumb, I expressed my dismay at the lack of mission that I saw at this meeting. Where was the prayer for justice, conviction, for the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness? As you can imagine I was not welcome at that prayer meeting any longer. Of course my perspective of what they were doing was flawed, I had come at a time just set aside for praying for individuals. Other times that group would pray and fast for the church, for the sending of church planting teams around the world. Many church planters attributed their success in making inroads in the cities they were sent to the prayer of this woman and her prayer team. In my youthful zeal and pride I concluded that prayer was overrated, I was about doing the stuff, I would pray for the sick, but I wasn’t going to “just sit around”. What a tragic mistake.

A few years later I was given the responsibility to be a part of a leadership team leading a place called the Lighthouse Ranch, a Christian community in Loleta California. It was in state of decline and was in serious financial trouble. The people were discouraged, the leadership was tired and had lost their passion for leading, it was a pretty hopeless situation. It was clear that we needed help, so the leadership asked David Drieling to come and oversee the ranch. I remember the first leadership meeting with Dave, he announced that the first thing that we would implement is that as a team we would pray for an hour each day for the Lighthouse community. I was stunned, I thought “you got to be kidding don’t you see this boat is sinking!!” He was serious though, when some of the leaders would not attend because they were to busy, he would reduce their responsibilities, when they still wouldn’t participate he relieved them of all responsibility. It became clear real fast that the work was moving forward under a different paradigm. It was in this context that I learned to pray. David’s passion was infectious, his prayers fervent and sometimes loud, but the results were amazing! In 28 days that community, which was discouraged, downcast and almost bankrupt, had begin to attract new people, the atmosphere was electric; worship times were over the top, financially the Ranch was in the black and owed no one. Those who would pray with David where jokingly called “David’s mighty men”. This man had demonstrated by his example of what prayer does. I will always be grateful for the time that I served with him.

What does my rambling have to do with today? I believe that we need to pray more. You know the passionate, infectious, fervent kind of prayers. Not just in our personal time but corporate times with other believers. Much of the early churches time was spent in praying together. I believe that God responds to a praying people. Prayer can bring change to any circumstance, it leads to help in times of trouble, it helps us trust God.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It has been a while since I have had time to write. The church that I serve has been growing steadily, with new people added each week. It is thrilling time, I have been spending time getting to know new people and have had a heavy social calendar. As I ponder the season we are in two realities become clear to me. The first is that circumstance is not the measure of God's favor, as I have been meeting new people and hearing their stories I am stirred by the faithfulness of God. I have been hearing real stories of blessing, of disappointment and loss. I visited with one man over lunch, and he shared how he lost his career through a dishonest boss, as he shared the details of how this individual tried to destroy his reputation, I found myself getting angry on his behalf. As our conversation progressed I was struck by his lack of bitterness. There was pain, but there was also real hope in his heart. You could sense it, it was real faith. The reality is that Jesus is with him, strengthening him in the inner man was evident. His friends stood by him, the love and grace of God is working on his behalf. I found that I want to get to know this man better.

The lesson is this; God's Spirit is straining to help us. God manifests His love in the good and bad times, we only have to stop and look through the challenges and draw upon our relationship with him. As I thought about the season that Journey Church is in I have to ask myself is God more pleased with us now that we are growing, is it because of some secret key that we stumbled on by accident? The reality is that He is always for us, and seasons of blessing are to be enjoyed, but they are not the proof of God's favor. The cross is the only proof we need. The apostle Paul wrote "what can separate us from the love of Christ" and then lists half dozen extremely difficult situations and then concludes that "we are more than conquers in Christ Jesus." My new friend is living proof!!

The second reality is that Jesus loves people, no, that’s not strong enough, He adores people. He gave so much so that we could have real life. A life blessed with real relationships, real confidence and hope. Margi and I have become friends with young man that we have come to love. He has been involved in ministry and has experienced a major failure in his life. He has felt the pain of being cast aside, friends distancing themselves and being left to sort it all out for himself. Even when he seemed to have hardened his heart, again real pain, real regret, yet Jesus pursued him and the love of God broke through. There was genuine repentance. God loves to takes the solitary and put them in to families, where the healing grace of God reveled through the love of God’s people. I'm thankful that I am a part of church that lives it.

The scripture is full of stories of people who failed in some area, and God brings restoration. I am convinced that it is time we stop treating those who have had problems as traitors. A mentor of mine who is now advanced in years said pragmatically “sin happens, that’s why we need a savior”. It is so easy when we see someone we respect stumble, to dump all our disappointment on that person. Sometimes we react if their failure is a deliberate personal insult to us. How different was Paul’s approach, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” He would warn them not to fall in to the legalistic trap of comparing themselves. “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else…” (Galatians 6:1,2,4 from New International Version)

Let us be determined to be an agent of

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Approach

I recently connected with an old friend that I had not seen in a number of years. Our parting of ways had been painful in that I saw this person reject counsel and watched their life self-destruct. For years I ‘just’ assumed that this person was in the same place that we started. I saw this person at a worship event and noticed how passionately this person was worshiping God. Hands raised, heartfelt expressions of love for God. Every sermon about the grace of God ran through my mind and the Spirit’s conviction weighed heavy on me. At the same meeting was a pastor that had been removed from his place of ministry because of integrity issues. A young lady that came over and said that she felt that the Lord wanted me to pray for this man. I struggled with the feelings of judgment, as I was aware of the many details of this man’s ministry. Again the Spirit convicted me with the scandalous grace of God.

I am amazed on how quickly we can write someone off. Sayings like "Bite me once, shame on you, bite me twice shame on me" have a pragmatic wisdom about them. We will observe a failure of character in an area of life and then make a lasting value judgment concerning that person. I have found in my thirty plus years of ministry that many who rejected counsel, sinned against the church, ruined their marriages, the list can go on and on, yet many have come to their senses and humbly returned to Christ. The problem arises when we continue to see that person solely through the lens of the flesh. We may not of been part of the solution of the problem and still view the person through the lens of offence or failure.

I am committed to getting past that mindset. It is important to see where a persons been, but it is more important to see where they are going. Grace is the divine influence on the human heart and God does not give up easily. There is a song we sing that has a line that says of God, “ you wrestle with the sinners heart” The scripture is full of stories of people who failed in some area, and God brings restoration. Jesus taught his followers to have a different attitude toward those who brought offense. Pray for those who use despitefully use you”, “turn the other check”, forgive as I have forgave you” are the commands to those who are near to God.

The apostle Paul wrote “he knew no man after the flesh” I want to live like that!!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008


I ran across this and thought about life in uncertain times. So much of walking through life depends on how we choose to see it. I don't know who wrote this, it was credited as "an old proverb."

It says "You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores...and

I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide...yes

There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all...."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Greatest in the Kingdom?

As a young man I used to search the scripture for “principles” that I should practice so that I could experience success and “move up to greater levels of service.” I was still motivated about how I could be pleasing to God and secure a place of honor in the Church. As I have grown older and more experienced in the ways of God I have discovered that Jesus was speaking of values. Values are caught, they change our worldview, the way we navigate life. Principles on the other hand ore things we add to our existing mind set.

Jesus taught His companions that the Kingdom of God operated on a different value system. Its measure of greatness and success is at total odds with the way the world thinks. When we look at whom Jesus chose as those He would entrust the advancement of His Kingdom it is clear that Jesus thought differently than many who train leaders today.

As the gospel was being proclaimed in Jerusalem those in authority were amazed at “the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

When Jesus laid out His plan for the Kingdom it would be through the weak and humble of this world that the Kingdom would advance. Men and women who hold His values and purpose. Paul would echo the teaching of Jesus in His letter to the Corinthians.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-- and the things that are not-- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Cor 1:26-29 NIV)

Do you feel out classed and insignificant to be used by God? Welcome to the club. Christ is looking for you. Give your self to Him and follow His leading, Jesus will use you to expand the Kingdom.

Do you train future leaders? Listen to the Holy Spirit for those He chooses. Don’t be seduced into building the Kingdom with those who fit this world’s picture of greatness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Grace and Works

Some times exhortations given to live a purpose driven life of good works, seeking to bring glory to God, can seem to fly in the face of the message of grace. Is labor for the Kingdom, or seeking to bring our behaviors in line with Biblical standards works? Some would say yes others it depends on the motivations of the heart.

The Greek word for grace carries the idea of “the divine influence on the human heart." It is God who draws us, rescues us and gives us our standing with Him apart from works. Yet to state that exhortation to live a life of purpose and to make intelligent and reasoned application of the will to that end is works would in my opinion misses the point.

We were created for good works; grace (God's influence) produces that in us. Paul in Ro 12 tells believers to present themselves as a living sacrifice, and them describes that service as reasoned and intelligent service.

Grace invites us to co-labor with the Spirit of God to bring to pass the works that we have been given to do. While I do not believe that ever believer has the same call as, lets say Paul, that said, I do believe that every believe has a specific call and a destiny that sits in God heart for them. For that destiny to be realized takes the cooperation of the believer by responding to God's influence on their heart. I am not talking about salvation; I am talking about how we build on the foundation that grace lays in our life, wood, hay or subtle or precious stones. Jesus states "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8), that is the out working of grace in the believers life. Fruit is the result of being connected to the vine, as Jesus says.

To trust in our works to make us acceptable to God is ludicrous, to respond to that incredible outpouring of mercy from God, putting our trust in the work of the cross leads to a consecrated life committed to the fathers will. We have the choice to give ourselves to the purposes of God or not. God affords us that choice without fear of punishment. I choose to live my life as a slave of God because of the remarkable work of grace. His love and interaction with me leaves me no other sane choice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


One of my heroes in the faith is Terry Virgo who leads Newfrontiers, His passion for the Word, his love for people and the commitment to living in the Spirit always inspires me. I am struck on how he can work with people of different perspectives, be true to his convictions and truly honor them. There is a genuine humility that is very evident in his life. I believe that is a mark of a true leader. I was reading Terry's blog (check it out) and was stirred by a testimony of healing that is a foot note in his blog, He tells the story, "While at Rhiwbina I had the joy of praying for Maggie Parker, who had been wheelchair-bound for 23 years. She stood, walked unaided to the front and testified to an astonished and tearful congregation how Jesus had completely healed her, and then expressed her surprise that everybody seemed so short! That was pretty exciting too!"

I want to approach life with that same humility and faith, to be a bridge builder and an encourager. To pray for people with the same child like faith, trusting God for the result.

I believe it starts with a deep revelation on how far we were from God before He broke into our lives. From that reality profound gratitude should propel us into humble obedience to the one who redeemed us. The immediacy of Christ by the Holy Spirit should captivate us. It should be reflected in our worship, our relationships, and every area of our lives.

With this perspective we can carry on with passion and confidence, knowing that God sees us in all our weakness and humanity and yet has chosen to work through us.

Monday, April 14, 2008


My step mother used to say "life isn't fair" as she tried to help me as a troubled teen. At the time I hated those words and the premise that they held. I was the center of my world! In my mind it was all about me and the things that I had gone through. As a result my life spiraled out of control as I slipped deeper and deeper in to bitterness. Bitterness dictated my thought life and affected every area of my life. It was God who confronted my way of thinking that led to a change in my life.

All of us are challenged with the temptation to become embittered over something. In our American culture there is a deep seated sense of entitlement that is in many ways is unrealistic. I believe that it is a chief battleground in the heart of Christians. Hebrews 12:15 describes a bitter heart and how bitterness spreads as a cancer. Bitterness has been described as the child of resentment. It is the result of a real or imaginary injury played over and over again in the thoughts of a person. Bitterness is being constantly hurt by a memory and is holding onto a hurt until it has a grip on you and effects the way you respond to life. Bitterness is a frozen form of latent anger and resentment. Bitterness grows out of our refusal, to take responsibility to forgive when someone or something is taken from us. I have found that bitterness will manifest itself in the following ways.
• The harboring of animosity against a person or group of people whom the person feels has mistreated them.
• Unresolved anger over a negative event, which occurred in the past.
• Emotional turmoil felt whenever a certain person or event is discussed.
• The lack of forgiving, the inability to let go and forget.
• A root of distrust and suspicion manifests when dealing with people.
• Unresolved grief experienced when finding it difficult to accept a loss.
• A grudge held against a person or group of people whom the person feels has kept them from achieving anything.

All of the above point to a misunderstanding about the universe and our place in it. We are not the center! Our perspective is limited. As Christians we have the promise that God is involved in our life. He declares in Romans 8, that He works all things for our benefit. A little humility is called for if we are to escape the trap of bitterness. Jesus told us that we would face difficulties in relationships, that there would be misunderstandings. He said things like love your enemies, pray for those who use you! Jesus challenges us to think in a different way.

Luke 6:32-36
32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
(from New International Version)

Jesus' words force us to consider that there is more at stake than the wrongs we have suffered and we must ask the question how do we change. Here are some of the ways that I have found helpful. First, Make a decision- consecrate your life to God. Realize and focus on what God has done for you. Rehearse His faithfulness in your life, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Then be ruthless when you see thinking patterns shaped by this world system. Actively sow a different way of thinking. Praise is a powerful antidote to negative ways of looking at life. Prayer is also a key to quieting the soul and gaining perspective. Prayer is where we make our needs known, and we can pour out our hurt and disappointments. Yet prayer is to flow from the place of thanksgiving, knowing that God is for you and has your best interest at heart. All of these things sow a different perspective and help us see the bigger picture.

On that eventful day in which Christ apprehended me He spoke deep in my heart that I was responsible for the outcomes in my life. Bad things had happened, but that ultimately it was that choices that I made, how I responded lead me to the place of crises that I was in. That day started a amazing journey that full of surprises.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm Thrilled

It has been a while since I have had time to sit down to write. Life has this insane ability to get busier and busier. Church planting is thrilling yet hard work. The young church that I am involved in worked hard to reach out this easter and I would say that Easter was a success. Jesus was lifted up! We had over 80 people in attendance 66 regulars and 14 guests. A number of folks expressed interest in Journey. There was great food, great fellowship and a great service. The weather was a typical Oregon rainy day. We hosted a Easter egg hunt after service and everyone got wet. There was a clear sense that God was pleased with our efforts. It was clear from the start that there was going to be serious spiritual warfare against Journey Church's grand opening. Key people got sick, car accidents, and naysayers all tried to distract from the work. One family got the chicken pox twice!!! In spite of all the challenges everyone rallied to get done what needed to be done. We had hoped for a greater turn out but when the dust settled we are pleased. Even more importantly we sensed that Jesus was pleased with our efforts. I was pleased to see the strong sense of community among our people as they came together to put it all together. We are also grateful for the help that Silver Creek Fellowship and the Year Team gave to make this last weekend a success.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Spirit and Exploits

I have been traveling a bit lately. I just got back from St Louis, MO where Margi and I were attending a Newfrontiers Leadership Conference. It was a great time to see friends and be stimulated by some great teaching. John Lanferman brought a great word of encouragement to leaders to remain full of faith in regards to the work they have been called. Terry Virgo was there and spoke passionately about the Holy Spirit. I was captivated by Terry's delight to see people embrace the role of the Spirit in their lives.

I have been teaching a series and reading on the Holy Spirit and was struck one morning by the context which the disciples and the early church would of received Jesus teaching on the giving and receiving of the Spirit. In reading the Pentecost account in Acts when Peter speaks to the crowd it dawned on me that he immediately looked back to the Old Testament to contextualize what they were seeing. As I have looked back on the characteristics of the move of the Spirit in the OT, It is evident that exploits of some type followed that Spirit coming upon a man. Gifts of leadership, prophesy, physical strength, insight and wisdom, skill, the list could go on, all of these were given not for personal edification only but for the accomplishment of mission. Looking forward to the NT Jesus spoke of the role of comforter and teacher, with the mission of leading them in to truth and to testify of Jesus. Jesus last words to His followers was to stay in Jerusalem to be endued with power so that they could be His witnesses through out the world.

I think back to my first days as a Christ follower and much of the teaching I received about the Spirit, most of it was in the context of personal blessing and edification. I figured that if it was something that was only for my benefit, that left me the option to wait until such a time that "I needed it. After all who wants to speaking tongues any way." The reality is that if we feel the call of God on our life to affect this world and want to make a difference we need empowerment for mission.

The early church did not approach the Spirit with any sense of complacency, they felt the pressure to do they work they were called to and they were sharply aware that they had scattered when Jesus was killed, they knew they did not have the goods to pull it off. Jesus had promise that He would sent the Spirit to make up the difference. They would of thought back to the great
heroes of the OT and their exploits, and approached with hope and faith that God could use them in the same way.

It raises the questions, are we hungry for the Spirit manifested on our life? Are we fearful? Is to much made of this? What must we do today to experience the same kind of power the early church experienced?

What do you think, your comments are welcome.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Great Movie

Margi and I went to see the movie 'The Bucket List'. I would recommend it for adults and older teens. I was struck on how Morgan Freeman's character lived life serving his family and how that his life lived well is more significant than he could possibly know. That is true for you and me as well. How we live in the day to day, the acts of sacrifice for our children or spouse, the acts of kindness toward others, cuts a much large swath through life than we perceive. Maybe it is my age, but I have wondered have I done enough. I have such big dreams, so many things that I would love to do for the kingdom. Yet I have great joy in my life, my wife and children, and the life we share in serving God. It is enough. Apostle Paul would write "contentment with godliness is great gain." Let us live life well, today in the small things.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This Last Week End

This last week end I attended the NW Newfrontiers Men's Conference. Our church helped administrate some of the details of the conference and our tech team handled sound and general set up. Great job Chris Tipton and Gary Noland! I was struck by how significant it is when a group of church's share the same mission. I was encouraged to see old friends and to meet new ones. Sam Poe and Lee Yarbough brought very timely messages that encouraged us to rely on the Holy Spirit in our endeavors to expand the Kingdom of God. Their messages are posted at

When I read the New Testament I am struck on how the early church accomplished so much so quickly an how strongly relationships played a huge key in their success. The leaders served in different contexts and cultural norms but were solidly committed to working together. I have witnessed the power of committed relationship among leaders first hand here in Salem, OR and even more in the relationships of the different churches in Newfrontiers. We can do much more together than we can individually. It is my conviction that the local church through the power of the Holy Spirit is the hope of the world. It is believers united together, working together and working it out with each other is how God demonstrates His Kingdom to those who are far from Him.

I can understand how people can grow disillusioned with the church, after all it is made up of people! Yet Jesus loves His church and seeks to bring change and maturity in each member through the crucible of relationships. All of the of the New Testament is written with in the context of local church. Each of the apostles sought to establish and strengthen local churches. To say that we love God but don't care for His people gathered in a local setting in my mind is grossly immature. I know some would say that there are bad churches out there, so find a good one and put your efforts there. The answer to bad churches is good churches. To stand outside and criticize takes no talent at all.

If our life is focused on mission vs. 'our needs' we each become a contributing member of a of a body that can accomplish what it was created to do. Magnify and make Christ known.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grander Vision

Grander Vision living was the theme of our church service today. I have been so stirred as I have been teaching the series "just Walk Across the Room" by Bill Hybills. The message to leave all lesser priority's (wealth, security) to pursue people and to introduce them to Christ is always stirring to me. As part of an exercise was to think on what God had done in our lives, and to put it on paper, a 'before and after' so to speak. When I thought about my story I realized how far from God I was and how little I had to offer Jesus. I was blamer—I blamed all my failures, my poor decisions and choices on my difficult childhood. I took no responsibility for my actions. I had a deep-seated bitterness toward my parents for their divorce and dragging me through years of custody battles. The constant pressure to choose between them, the constant moving from state to state (16 before I was 14 years old) and my fathers remarriage fostered a deep seated anger. I processed all of my life through the lens offense. The festering bitterness of soul lead to all sort of destructive behaviors. Drug addiction, petty crime and debauchery. It was always someone else's fault. When Christ found me he revealed clearly that my life was the sum of the choices I made! I was responsible for the things I had done and the person I had become. I was deeply ashamed. Yet Jesus loved me and saw value in me.

I think that is the point we need to grasp, Jesus saw potential in us, and reached out when we had nothing to offer. He made searching for us a priority. Then he asks us to do likewise with our friends. Looking past their sort comings and extending friendship. It is something we can all do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reaching Out

I have been teaching Bill Hybil's course on evangelism called 'Just Walk Across the Room'. It has been fun to see people begin to get excited about the potential of being used by the God to touch other people. Bill talks about the principle of living in 3D. Developing friendships, discovering stories and discerning next steps. If believers would give themselves to this practical approach I believe we would make great inroads in our communities. I would recommend this to anyone.