Friday, November 30, 2007

not the God we would have chosen

We would as soon you were stable and reliable.
We would as soon you were predictable
and always the same toward us.
We would like to take the hammer of doctrine
and the nails of piety
and nail your feet to the floor
and have you stay in one place.
And then we find you moving,
always surprising us
and tearing all things down
and making all things new.
You are not the God we would have chosen
had we done the choosing,
but we are your people
and you have chosen us in freedom.
We pray for the great gift of freedom
and that we may be free toward you
as you are in your world.
Give us that gift of freedom
that we may move in new places
in obedience and in gratitude.
Thank you for Jesus
who embodied your freedom for all of us.
Amen. Walter Brueggemann

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Be a divine nobody...

"God has been trying to free me from the burden of doing something spectacular for him. It has a way of distracting you from the opportunities to be salt and light where you are…I’m starting to recognize that I am immersed in a sea of hurting people every day. If I simply pay attention and follow the promptings of the Spirit in all these little ways, my life is ‘ministry.’” Jim Palmer
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The "F" Word

Matthew 6:9-15
Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what's best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

nowhere to live, nowhere to fall
he used to have money, but he’s wasted it all
his face is a photograph burned in my mind
but i pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

he sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford
his blankets and an old coat he’s had since the war
he stands on the corner of carter and vine
but i pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

he may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
what if he’s Jesus and i walk away?
i say i’m the body and drink of the wine
but i pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

she’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight
she can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
she’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line
but i pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

she may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day
but what if it’s Jesus and i walk away?
i say i’m the body and drink of the wine
but i pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

this is a call for a change in my heart
i realize that i’ve not been doin’ my part
when i needed a Savior, i found it in Him
He gave to me, now i’ll give back to them

drifter or stranger, father or son
i’ll look for Jesus in every one
’cause i am the body and drink of the wine
and i’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

Isaiah 54:4-5
Don't be afraid—you're not going to be embarrassed. Don't hold back—you're not going to come up short. You'll forget all about the humiliations of your youth, and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory. For your Maker is your bridegroom, his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
known as God of the whole earth. You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief, and God welcomed you back.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A different Spirit

When the Israelites were given the Promised land there were those among them who were afraid of the current inhabitants. This fear is quite often what we experience in our day to day life. As an uninvited guest, this fear takes up residence within us and needs to be driven away by God. This is what the Bible spoke of about Caleb:

Numbers 14:24
"But my servant Caleb—this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately. I'll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will inherit it.

What spirit is driving you: fear or the one of Caleb?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I love you.

P.S. And, remember... If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do Not attempt to resolve it yourself !! Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. I will get to it in MY TIME. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now. If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work; Think of the man who has been out of work for years. Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; Think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.

Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children. Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance; Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror; Think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine. Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get the opportunity.

Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; Remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them! Should you decide to send this to a friend; Thank you, you may have touched their life in ways you will never know!

Now, you have a nice day, God

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Commissioning, baptism & potluck tomorrow!

We'll have a great time celebrating David's baptism & Bob's commissioning at tomorrow's service. Maybe even a football game will break out after the potluck!

Matthew 18:3-4
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace and soul harmony at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It’s difficult to express gratitude to a group of people who have poured into the lives of others in what may seem to be a small, yet very significant manner. However, please allow me to try.

First, to Gord (the small man with the BIG Heart) – a HUGE thank you for carrying on the original vision – of providing a day where the disadvantaged women and mothers of our city are treated with respect and dignity. "Blessings, my friend!"

To the Kitchen Crew (Jackie, Judy, Jay, Bryan & Lauren and Company): We’re all fed up! Seriously, you did an AMAZING job of serving with class. You were all terrific. (And special mention to the men too!)

To our Corporate sponsor McDonalds (with the assistance of Jaime) – We sincerely could not have provided such a nice spread without you. Many thanks to all those workers who made it happen!

To the ladies "with style:" Thanks to the 6 ladies who joined me this past Friday to decorate the entrance and the café. You are all very hard workers and a lot of fun too! Thank you for working all day. Now about those wreaths…

Dear Drivers: Thanks you for treating the ladies so special, and for going above and beyond your "duty."

To our Pastor Stew: We appreciate your availability to assist us in making this event happen, and for working along side us in the set up and clean up too!

Last, to all those who donated in any regard; whether food, clothing, miscellaneous items, financial or time. Whether you assisted on the day of, or in the set –up before or after, or in the behind the scenes work such as shopping, and signage. All is very much appreciated. Way to go!

Although this event was a ton of work, Christie and I would like to say that we thoroughly enjoyed working with you, and getting to know some of you better. We are very grateful to all for giving of yourself and stepping up to the plate with passion and enthusiasm. It was AWESOME to see the church in ACTION!

Many thanks, and blessings to you all as we soon approach the advent season. May your Christmas season be filled with 'HOPE', as the Messiah has come, and we will soon celebrate the remembrance of His birth.

Christie and Sandy (Gord’s extra hands and feet)

To Christie: You exude enthusiasm in your relentless approach to see that the ladies get nothing but our best! You’re a doll and great to work with!

A brief report back from one of our drivers, Rachel Rogers:

"I just wanted to pass on a big thank-you from the two women I drove around today – they asked specifically that I tell the church thank you. One of the women is not in good shape and she told me that yesterday she was ready to just give up. She told me that besides her children and grandkids, today was the most awesome day of her life. She said it couldn’t have come at a better time for her and she is very grateful for all that was done for her."

From Ted Traikovski:

"Some of the Women that were in my car yesterday cried and asked me to bless you people with all of their hearts! One woman I transported in a wheelchair was so overwhelmed with tears I thought she was in physical pain, but it turns out that she was so overcome with emotions that she wept because nobody has ever cared for her like this."

We'll share more of the stories in the days to come...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas With Style is tomorrow!

No regular service- instead we will serve the 100+ women from shelters.

Christie writes the following...

"As most of you know "Christmas With Style" is this Sunday, with that being said I really feel the need for Prayer over this event. It was like God said "send out a Prayer request" so I am.

Pray for ladies that are coming that they would be open to what we have to offer them, that we want nothing return. Just the joy on their faces!

Pray that the driver's would be safe on the road as they are doing a lot of driving that day, as well that their would be no issues with the ladies and transportation.

Pray for the Stylist that they would see the difference they are making in giving of their time and talents.I don't think they realize the difference they make in these ladies lives.

Pray that things would go smoothly as far as pick up's and drop off's, I know that can get pretty overwhelming, so with that Pray for Gord as he has all of this worked out and it is a very stressful day for Gord.

Pray for the volunteers that have been working before hand that they would continue to have the energy they need to do the job's that still need to be done.

I guess Pray as God lead you, these were a few things that came to mind.

Most of all that we would remember that this day is about giving these ladies a day that they will never forget, that they would go away knowing even for that one it was about them and only them. That this day would make this holiday season just that much brighter for them, that they would see some hope...

Thank you to all who have been involved and are going to be, it's a day you will never forget!!

God Bless,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thank you!

Hello All,

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for coming out last night and working so hard! The Church looks amazing and is going to look even better after Sandy and her Crew are done decorating the Cafe and entry.

It's awesome to see so many people willing to help, give of there time, lives will be changed from this event and you had a part in it.

I know I don't have everyone's email, if you had a friend that came out or know of someone that I missed will you please pass this on to them.

I will see some of you on Sunday, looking forward to an awesome day!!!

Thank you,

Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else. Richard Rohr

Which one are you in the story- Stumpy who wants to play; Big Al who had rocky soil; Jimmy who didn't pick the weeds or Bodge who tended to the seed? (Matthew 13:3-23)

In order to climb out of our ditch of deceit and denial we need honesty on our journey and a place of silence for our soul.

"Our own strength is not sufficient for weaving silence into the fabric of daily life. For the hours of the day to be permeated by mindfulness of the divine life we must be engaged in constant struggle, depending on God's grace. Powerful forces are bent on separating us from God, our own souls, and one another through the din of noise and the whirl of preoccupation. Therefore, the gift of silence we seek to cherish is chiefly the silence of adoring love for the mystery of God which words cannot express. In silence we pass through the bounds of language to lose ourselves in wonder. True silence is an expression of love, unlike the taciturnity that arises from fear and avoidnce of relationship." Rule of Life

He who has ears, let them hear.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Now I want to lay out a far better way for you....

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost .... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But, it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

1 Corinthians 12:31
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.

The Greek word used is 'Hodos': now the word for street used in Athens. Jesus says, “I have a better street for you to walk down."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kingdom Living IX: Word of the Kingdom As A Life Force

Any footprints of God this past week? God sightings?

Look back each day, each week for God’s footprints.

If you don’t get one of the messages, it’s okay. That might be where God is working. What voices do you hear when you don’t get it?

There may be also be something to unlearn before we can learn. We don’t know exactly what God is up to but you can bet he’s up to something!

John 3- the Holy Spirit is uncontrollable but always active. The ancient Celts actually chose the wild goose as a better symbol of the HS for their culture than the dove precisely because it was way too easy to envision domesticating & controlling the dove.

Far from scaring us though we can be sure the Holy Spirit is comforting, guiding, leading and healing. We were created to be healthy and whole and to live in the kingdom of God. The Spirit is moving us towards that reality if we’ll let Him. How the Spirit does that is quite often unpredictable.

It’s like an alien trying to figure out a car from a junkyard. Ever seen some of the uses of old cars? Chicken coops, planters, heck I was part of a group that delivered an old broken down van to Mexico to become a Sunday School classroom!

That’s what we’re like as humans. We think we know what we were created for, but it’s God who knows. And we can trust the Spirit to help put us back together the way we should be.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

But but but…

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

You will never thirst again. Wow. That’s why Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you.”

We’ve drifted away from the kingdom. We have to learn and relearn kingdom life.

1 Corinthians 12:31
And now I will show you the most excellent way. (But now I want to lay out a far better way for you. The Message)

Hodos: now the word for street used in Athens. Jesus says, “I have a better street for you to walk down, to drive on.”

That is the life of learning love from 1 Corinthians 13. Not easily angered- at least we have a little wiggle room!

I hope you had a burden lifted. We don’t ‘do’ love like that; love does that. We seek love & it does that.

Patient, long-suffering: I’m going to be patient this time. I’m really going to suffer long for this person. It won’t work. Don’t look at yourself- look at love and patience will follow. The kingdom of God is at hand & so this is really possible!

Matthew 4:17
"Change your life. God's kingdom is here."

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Wherever the kingdom is there are these three things: teaching, proclaiming, which is different than teaching, it’s announcing, putting up banners etc. It’s what Christmas With Style is- we don’t teach the women, or others, we just do it as a sign that God’s kingdom is already here.

The third characteristic is healing. That’s why I get a real sense that God wants to do some stuff in and through our lives. It’s a sign of the kingdom. Someone mentioned to me recently, ‘you really stirred something up.” I haven’t stirred anything but the Holy Spirit has & is.

In Matthew 11 John the Baptizer sends someone to ask Jesus if he’s actually the one. We still have that problem to this day, and in our own lives. When the chips are down is Jesus really the man? Jesus didn’t fit the mold of the Messiah in His day and we have our doubts, too.

In Matthew 9:35ff: Jesus goes around teaching, preaching (proclaiming) and healing. It’s too big a job so He asks for help. He sends out the disciples.

Matthew 10:1,7-10
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

These aren’t just pretty words. We often read the Bible unrealistically. "That’s nice…the kingdom of God came through the apostles." We are the bearers of the same message, the kingdom.

In the Lukan account, chapter 9, Jesus gives the disciples authority (ecousia) and dunamis, power. He says to them, ‘you have the right and the power to do this.’

Matthew 28 the great commission, “Go into all the world…”

“All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore…Go”. Always ask yourself what the therefore is therefore.

Names mean reality: surround them in the reality of the Trinity, not just mention the names of Father, Son & Holy Spirit when they’re baptized. ‘On earth as it is in heaven.’

And I am with you until the end of the age: Until the job is done.

We’re a people called into a kingdom. In all we do we acknowledge the kingdom of God ala Colossians 3:17.

The kingdom isn’t just a word- it is power.

Paul in prison, “It's what I'm sitting in jail for right now—but God's Word isn't in jail!” (2 Timothy 2)

The word of God, the presence of God is a tangible force. God will not overwhelm you, you don’t have to give into it if you don’t want to, you always have a choice, but you will feel it at times.

We always have a choice of response. This is a kingdom principle. Many people in the days of Jesus yawned at His life. Some folks followed for a time but they lost interest in pursuit of something else. Others bailed when it got challenging when the pressure was turned up. Still others went all in with everything they had.

Matthew 13: the kingdom of heaven is like… Jesus was showing us how you teach the kingdom, by analogy that we understand.

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed,” this was a common story from the day.

Think about the seeds. Seeds have life in them. They produce their kind: apples- apples, oranges- oranges.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

The word is energy, a power a living force like yeast. The kingdom of God is like yeast, working it’s way through everything.

God’s divine conspiracy is to overcome evil with good. And it’s going to work.

Acts 10:38
…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Even back in the OT covenant days God was with them in power. Isaac had such a presence with God that his neighbors asked him to move away (Genesis26:16)!

There were four responses to the seed being planted. Remember that the seed actually had life and power.

The first response was, “Some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” v. 19- they don’t understand it. What you don’t understand you forget; you have no category for it. You don’t know what you don’t know unless you want to know what you don’t know that you don’t know. That means to come out of denial and say, “I’m not God I don’t know it all.”

We have our minds somewhere else. We’re distracted. We have our projects: our thoughts, our career; our hobbies; our marriage; our children. They are all important but they’re not God or the kingdom. They only really work in the kingdom!

He who has ears let him hear. Not everyone has ears to hear. Our ears are for sifting- we get just enough so we can switch off what we don’t like. (Romans 1)

Vv. 9-18 while seeing they do not see. These are opportunities & invitations. Jesus says, “I’m not going to run over people who don’t want me.” That’s’ the nature of spiritual reality- it only goes where it is wanted.

Think about it: god has to hide to make room for us to be able to hide and go our own way. You & I have the power to be deaf to God.

The second response was the group that liked what they heard. If God is that good He’s going to fix me up is the mantra. They understand it in terms that hey prefer- blessings, possessions etc.

God wants us to become the kind of people who He trusts with His power to do what we want to do. We in turn want to do what He wants to do.

We have a lot of work to do on our ‘wanters’. What is it that you want?

Romans 8:28
That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
(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.)

All things work together. What is it that’s not so good in your life? Are you trying desperately to get rid of it? Maybe God has something else in mind.

It’s like trying to eat a cake one ingredient at a time: first the eggs, flour, butter. It doesn’t taste so good. It all goes together. We want God to fix this and fix that. The cake isn’t ready yet so let’s make it the way we want it. The person who isn’t getting fixed the way they want is out of here.

2 Corinthians 6:4-10
As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

“I didn’t sign up for this…” I hope we are starting to understand what Paul said, “When I am weak I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:11

The third response is the group that doesn’t quit. They don’t give up. They stay with it, but they stay with a lot of others things too. We call these things, ‘weeds’. V22: the plant isn’t dead; it’s just really spindly and doesn’t produce any fruit or shade for others.

This is where spiritual disciplines come in. they are activities in which we access realities of the kingdom. We do some form of them like worship, going to a service, giving.

A discipline is something in your power that enables you to accomplish what you can’t do by your own power.

If you don’t know French you can’t speak it by just trying. (Although I try & fake it!)

You can’t just sit at a piano and play. There are things that if you did them you would be able to play.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

That is a discipline.

Joshua 1:8
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Pull up the weeds. Solitude and silence is often where we need to start. They say silence is golden but judging by the way we run from it we’re not interested in that kind of currency!

Fasting helps teach us to not depend so much on our impulsive will and to choose to live out of our reflective will.

You say, “I don’t have time.” The way you get things done is to not do certain things.

Horse sense: the ability to say, “Nay!”

Disciplines help us to pull up the weeds. Learn to let God run your life. Take your hands off the wheel.

Solitude and silence are the cure for busyness. Also for loneliness.

"Our language has widely sensed the two sides of being alone. It is created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone, and it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."
Paul Tillich

Absolutely Clear by Daniel Ladinsky
Don't surrender your loneliness
So Quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight,
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.

These disciplines are self-validating meaning that if you stick to it you’ll experience something. They are not works righteousness, they are woks of wisdom.

Put them into practice. We can’t just talk. The guidance device in a missile doesn’t take over until the missile has left the launch pad.

The fourth response was the group who bore fruit from all the planting. The life of God really took hold and grew. We can live like this. This is for us.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Paul was in in prison when he wrote that.

Hear the word of God speak in Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

There is a God established order that is adequate for you and me. The word of the kingdom is a life force.

I am willing to be made willing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Grace for the moment...

Philippians 2:1-4
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


"Is there an answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people? That depends on what we mean by 'answer.' If we mean 'is there an explanation which will make sense of it all?'--why is there cancer in the world? Why did my father get cancer? Why did the plane crash? Why did my child die?--then there is probably no satisfying answer. We can offer learned explanations, but in the end, when we have covered all the squares on the game board and are feeling very proud of our cleverness, the pain and the anguish and the sense of unfairness will still be there.

But the word 'answer' can mean 'response' as well as 'explanation,' and in that sense there may well be a satisfying answer to the tragedies in our lives. . . . In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.

Are you capable of forgiving and accepting in love a world which has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease, crime, earthquake, and accident? Can you forgive its imperfections and love it because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it is the only world we have?" Rabbi Harold Kushner

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Hurricanes and rainstorms have casued massive flooding in Mexico & other areas of Central America. Many of us sponsor children from Compassion and other agencies, so let's hold them up in prayer in challenging times such as these. Let's pray for the staff in these countries and that resources be released to bring hope.

Hurricane alerts in Mexico

2 Corinthians 6:3-10
We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kingdom Living VIII: Learning Love

A World Without Us

What would happen if we Christ followers were to disappear? What would happen to the level of love, mercy & compassion around us?

Today we look at ‘Learning Love’. Not learning to love but learning love. If we think of it in terms of learning to love we will get caught up in the deeds we must do; the things we should do; ought to, and it becomes a new legalism.

You will be able to do the deeds of love if you’ve actually learned love. If you will let it, this will change your life!

1 John 3:14-24
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

John knew that God is love.

1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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.

vv. 16-21
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

The nature of ultimate reality is that God is love. If you dwell in love God abides in you. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear involves torment

Luke 6:27-37
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 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. 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. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

No one can prevent you from having this reality. These verses may sometimes make us want to run & hide but no one can prevent us from experiencing kingdom living.

Bless those who curse you. This is a part of a life without fear. When fear is removed through an experience of love you can actually not fear.

Let these verses really marinate your mind & tenderize your heart. Visualize yourself being able to do this. No giving the finger when another driver cuts you off. No hurling insults when your feelings are hurt. No turtling or blaming. Yikes, that’s kingdom living.

That’s what love does. Give & it will be given to you. This is not a set of laws. This isn’t a to do list- otherwise you’ll hurt yourself badly and likely some others in the process. These are behaviors that are characteristic of those who have come to live in the kingdom of God. They are living out the love God has for them.

Can you feel the anticipation of what this can mean in your life? In the lives of those around you? In a lost & hurting world? This means that we’re in for a tremendous adventure.

These aren’t laws. We are not machines to be programmed. God is showing us what it looks like when you live a life of love.

When we approach life with a law that says, ‘I have to be loving’, we‘ll use it as a control mechanism of others. We’re so into the control of our own life we can’t imagine turning the other cheek.

Don’t miss the overwhelming generosity of love. What looks like madness to the world becomes a preparation for eternal life.

What is love? Good will. God is kind even to the ungrateful. In Matthew it says, “He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

We give and not expect anything in return. This is a kingdom reality check. Can we do that? Are we doing that? Otherwise we’re likely just a codependent in deep denial.

If you have tools, & I know some of you are very sensitive and protecting of them; or your clothes; for me it’s my books & athletic equipment. How can anyone bend a page, or abuse a book? Sacrilege!

Turn them loose to another. Lend without expecting them to come back. My library is over there- have at it!

In the kingdom of God we experience complete sufficiency so that we become capable of this kind of generosity to people who don’t deserve it.

No more you scratch my back & I’ll scratch yours. It’s called grace and mercy.

‘If you did this for the least of these you did it for me’ says Jesus.

One thing love is not is strictly delight, as in a fluttering heart. There are times we don’t delight in those that we love. They are ungrateful, spiteful, demanding. If you delight you will love, but if you love there will be times you don’t delight. Love is good will for the other, especially to the ungrateful. You may not like them.

Love them. The liking will come along & follow. People don’t usually want us to love them- they want us to like them. Remember Cheap Trick: I want you to want me. I need you to need me.

Have you ever heard or even said to someone, ‘If you love me you’ll have sex with me.’ ‘It’s because I love you that I won’t have sex with you' is the best rejoinder.

We get the idea of desire mixed in with love. Desire has no desire for the good of the other. Desire is looking out for number one baby.

Our instinctive will, our impulsive will is governed by desire.

Our reflective will is governed by love.

Impulsive will tries to control our life, & the life of others around us. We’ll be angry people when we are ruled by desire. Anger comes from not getting what you want.

There are many angry people in our world, many angry Christ followers because they didn’t get what they wanted. They may have even wanted good things and deserved these good things. Now they live in the power and energy of their own anger, not the kingdom of God.

God loves us. We love Him because He first loved us. We can therefore love others.
God actually loves us- while we were yet sinners. Or should I say morally challenged. We weren’t deserving of what God did. But He did it anyway.

If the love of God is fixed in our own hearts we have no reason to fear. God is for us, who can be against us. He says to you, “I will never leave or forsake you.”

I married you because I love you. I married you so you would like me and make me feel good about myself. I don’t feel good so I need to find someone else.

Someone once said that when the wedding march begins, a bride sees three things—the aisle, the altar, and him—and from that time on her motto is: "I'll alter him." And when it doesn't work that way, there is disillusionment and difficulty. The same applies to how the guy attempts to alter the girl.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once said two people don’t get married. You get married to God first. He wrote a book called Three To Get Married. We often don’t invite God to the marriage.

What if we didn’t experience fear with one another? Fear, hiding, shame.

What if we treated others as we wanted to be treated even though we may not be treated that way in the end?

1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

These are descriptions of what love does. When love comes and possesses us this is what it looks like.

Insert your name here: ___ is patient. Patient- long suffering.

Love is kind. What is kindness? Who would you say is kind? It comes from the same root word as kin. Our kinfolks should be kind folks. It’s sad that that often isn’t the case. Kind, gentle, sensitive, thoughtful, aware of our reality and willing to make accommodation for that.

Would you be sad or angry if you never got to be impatient again? Or unkind?

Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t envy-, which is to begrudge others good. Envy says, ‘it would be better if I had that car, or house, or boyfriend, or girlfriend, or ___. I m happened across an old friend yesterday. I found out he had spoken at a conference that I had once. For a short time I envied that. Then I gave it up for what it was, vile and so far away from love & the kingdom of God.

Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t brag. It won’t elevate itself. It doesn’t seek itself, or its own good. Love never fails. Paul here was speaking from his experience of seeing love do all these things. This is agape, God’s kind of love.

When we have learned love these things will happen with us too.

It doesn’t come naturally. It’s close in the love we have for our newborns at times. Then a child discovers it has a will of its own, and then the parent discovers the same reality & the war begins.

It’s very natural for us to be unloving. You and I have to choose to receive love if we’ve been unloving.

We are guarded. We need to actually decide that we’re going to be a 1 Corinthians 13 person. Have you decided that? Have you chosen to receive 1 Corinthians 13 love?

vv. 1-4
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

How many martyrs have died angry? How many Christ followers become more loving as they age and how many become more judgmental?

Whatever we produce, in our jobs, schools, families, & friendships, if we aren’t being transformed and learning love, we have nothing. It’s strictly a human show unless we have love. We can’t have the love of God without dieing to self. We have a choice to make.

Do you want this to work through your soul?

When Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God he was saying to us to seek love. Will we surrender to that love?

What is it that hinders me?

Maybe its bitterness, image of God, shame or fear. We all suffer that stuff.

Seek out the things in your soul that prevent you from the reality of love.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.

Look over the care of your heart. Only you can do that. You must choose it. Give up on things you’re trying to control.

Love people who aren’t lovely. We’ll be talking about this in Advent Conspiracy: worship more, spend less, give more & love all.

God has an eternal plan for everyone. You and I can learn love so that we see others from God’s perspective. I can be a part of God’s blessing for them. You can be a part of that even if they are your enemies.

No one can prevent you from learning love this way. God is in favor of it. It’s between you and God.

What kind of person do I want to become?

Do I want to be a person filled with love?

What does God get out of this? Who we become is what He gets. Kingdom living is all about God’s love. A kingdom of love from now to all eternity. That’s why Paul could say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” To walk daily with God in perfect safety.

When we learn love we will become a kingdom force in our communities like we’ve never seen before.

Friday, November 02, 2007

from Maranatha Chapel in San Diego...

Carlin sent this story via her parents in San Diego:

My name is Wyatt Childers and I am a firefighter trainee in the San Diego north county area. While I was involved in firefighting operations during the Witch Creek Fire, a lot of people were praying. I know now that the Lord kept His hand on me and my crew.

On October 24, driving along Highway 78 near Lake Sutherland Dam after refueling in Ramona, we were heading back up to Santa Ysabel when we met the head of the Witch Creek fire, face to face. Flames flashed in front of the engine and if it hadn’t been for our driver’s quick reaction, throwing the engine into reverse, we could have died. He was able to turn us around and escape the head of the fire. But soon we found ourselves entrapped between the main head of the fire and a spot fire burning in front of us. The other firefighters in the engine became very quiet and I could feel our fear.

Now, fire surrounded us on all four sides of our engine. Our captain made the decision to use the front water turret on the brush rig to push through the fire to a safe zone. The crew unanimously agreed, so we attached the water turret, got back into the engine, and prepared to drive through the fire.I knew then that we might not make it through, that we might die. My fears were suddenly pushed away as I felt peace wash over me. Even the thought of burning to death didn’t worry me. I knew that heaven was waiting to receive me. However, it occurred to me that the three other firefighters on my crew might not be believers.

I knew that we were all thinking about what would happen if we didn’t make it. If I died on that lonely strip of road, I wanted these guys with me in heaven. I could feel the Lord prompting me to use this situation to glorify Him.

Before we started to go through, I looked at my captain and said, “Hey Cap, want me to throw one up?”

“You’re going to do what?” He said.

I clarified, “Do you want me to say a prayer?”

“HELL YEAH!” he said, and so I prayed. “Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I know you have a reason for bringing us here to this place. I pray that you will keep me and my brothers safe. In your name I pray. Amen.” The other three all said “amen” and I could instantly feel a change in their attitude and confidence level.

We all felt charged and ready to face our fate. We attempted to make a first run through the fire, but fallen power lines blocked our path out. We had to wait another hour for the fire to pass, but this time the guys were more at ease. Finally, the fire burned over the engine and around the road and passed us. We were able to get back to Santa Ysabel and continued fighting the fire.

As I write this, I realize how close I really came to seeing our Lord and Savior face to face. I hope that I was a light to my engine company in a time of darkness. I pray that we all think about what happened that night and I hope I will be able to be a good witness. Living through a situation like this brought us closer together, really tight, and we will forever be brothers. I hope that I will have many opportunities to share my faith and that we will all draw closer to the Lord in new way.

On the brim of my brush helmet I have a scripture written inside. I came across it when I first started at the Fire Department. I found it again just a few weeks ago while I was going through a hard time in my life. The verse is Isaiah 43:2:

“When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, nor shall the flames scorch you.”

The Lord was with me that night as He is with all of us. He will always protect us and never leave us even though we will all go through many “fires.” FF Wyatt Childers, 18
Maranatha Chapel