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I’ll Pray About That!

Good morning, I know it has been a week or there about since I last posted anything. Part of that is because I was busy with work and valentines day. Both of which required my more immediate attention. But alas I am back, at least for today we will see about tomorrow.

As I was thinking about what topics I still wanted to write about that topic of prayer crossed my mind heavily. You see this past thursday my wife and I were enjoying a valentine’s day that she had planned. The whole point of it was to allow me to relax while enjoying our time together. She planned the whole day this year so that I plan it next year.

In the midst of our day we got a message from a friend asking urgent prayer and intercession on behalf of their young baby who had surgery that morning. The request came as a surprise because we had been tracking the progress of our friends baby and up to this point everything had gone well. So we stopped everything that we were doing and began to pray for just a few minutes. We asked everyone we knew to pray with us a well. What happened next was amazing. For a group of believers to pray together at the same time is a pretty awesome thing. Everyone that we asked jumped up to the call and went to the throne of grace in prayer.

Thankfully God heard and saw fit to grant our prayer and our friends child is doing better. What stuck me more was the ability to pray the way that we did. When the call came in my wife was extremely distraught. This is a friend who means so much to her and she loves this child so much that the very thought of not being able to ever get to see or hold her was terrifying to her. So we prayed with all our hearts that God might show more mercy and grace than anyone deserved. And in his amazing kindness he did.

The thought that stuck me as weird is a question that has since been nagging in the back of my head for almost a week now. Why don’t we pray more often like we did for this little girl? If we truly believe that pray is effective in the working of God why not pray all the time as if a life mattered on it? Now I am not saying that everything we pray about will happen. God is not some genie that we can use whenever we want something. But instead prayer has the ability to help accomplish things God already has plans for.

Not only should we pray because it can be used by God in amazing ways, but we should also pray because God uses it to help further align us with his will. He calls us to pray for the world and those in it so that we might come to realize how dependent on him we must be for our own salvation. God is our provider and one of the ways to get to know him is by talking to him through pray. The beautiful part of prayer is that we can rest in the knowledge that God hears us. He knows the whole picture so we can rest knowing that even if our prayers aren’t answered in the way we would have imagined them being, God is still in control.

The last amazing thing that struck me about prayer is that there is always a peace that comes to those who trust in God. He is always going to be our comforter and even in the hardest of times we can rest in him in prayer.

So my challenge today is for us to not forget how to pray. Let us lift our voices up to the Lord and pray with a fervent heart knowing that He hears us. Let us not just ignore this wonderful part of the Christian life but instead use it to help build up those around us and to help align our wills to God’s will. Let us pray and…

Let Us Be Genuine.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Do We Really Stand In Awe?

So this past monday night my beautiful wife and I spent the time at a bible study held by some friends of ours. This was the first time we visited and we plan on many more trips to come. The study to us was like a breath of fresh air. It is led by a friend of mine who was at one point both my high school history teacher and youth pastor. He is probably the most influential man in my early christian life and possible all the way throughout. I think of him and I as a Paul to Timothy type of relationship. Anyway, I seem to have digressed a little.

At the study we joined them in the second chapter of Mark. We had started in verse one and studied all the way to verse twelve. For those familiar with the book of Mark you will know this part of the chapter as the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man. It also appears in Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26. The study itself and all of the wonderful nuggets of truth and conviction in the passage was very interesting. I haven’t had that good of a time during a bible study since my college days (Yay COC college group).

But what really caught my attention during this study was the last verse in the account. Jesus had returned to Capernaum after spending time in the other towns preaching and healing. When the town hears that Christ had returned they seem to have practically bombarded the house where he was staying. So Jesus being the wonderful savior he is begins to preach the word to them. Than something interesting happens. Four men bring their friend who is paralyzed to see Jesus. They fully believed that Christ could heal their friend. So not letting even the fact that there was no room for them to get through stop them, they go to the roof and make an opening to let their friend down.

Even writing those words seconds ago put me in awe, which is weird since reading them in my bible doesn’t strike me the same. These guys were so full of faith that they were willing to go to the extreme lengths to have their friend healed. But this isn’t the point I am trying to make, at least not yet.

So to continue on, the four men lower their friend into the crowd (which had to be in shock of some sort or another as I am sure this wasn’t a quiet interruption) so that Jesus could heal him. Christ sees the faith of either all of them, the paralyzed man or even just his friends and forgives the man his sins. That’s amazing but to top it off Christ than perceives that the scribes and pharisees, some of which had come from as far a Jerusalem, are questioning in the HEARTS about why Jesus could forgive this man his sins. They are thinking that he is blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. Again when I read over the story in my bible it doesn’t seem as shocking as I type it out. I mean Jesus knew their hearts. He was in front of them and didn’t just hear them. He knew in their very mind that they questioned him. That’s an amazing God. That is a God to worship.

But it gets way better and I swear I am getting to my point. Jesus calls the scribes and pharisees out on their thoughts, in front of everyone. He asks them what is easier to say; ones sins are forgiven or to tell him to stand up, take his bed and walk? Than to prove he has the authority to forgive the sins of the man Jesus heals him. So the paralytic stands up and walks home carrying his bed. Now that is awe-inspiring and is almost to my point. This miracle leads into the last verse of the passage in Mark 2:12:

“And immediately the man stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’”

So friends, why isn’t this us? Why don’t we read this miracle and every other one in the bible and stand in awe? Shouldn’t we glorify God when we read these things knowing that they happened in reality? I mean, I got super excited and happy when Bane broke into Wayne tower during The Dark Knight Rises but I have a hard time getting giddy over a true miracle of God. This is amazing to me. And maybe I am the only one out there who doesn’t think about how awe-inspiring this passage and others like it are. I don’t think I am. I believe that in our churches and bible studies today we have lost the ability to allow scripture to make us stand in awe. We instead look for music or a good commentary or Christian book but do not look to scripture itself. We find it boring even if we don’t admit it. I know I did, at least until last night. It truly was a breath of fresh air.

So my encouragement to both myself and others is that we would put aside the extras for a moment and truly ask God to open our eyes anew to the awe-inspiring facts of the Bible. That we might stand back and realize the true living power of the bible. Let us ask both ourselves and those we love around us if we truly do stand in awe of a God who is worthy of everything we could give and much more. Do we really stand in awe? Let this flood our thoughts as we seek after our great Savior. Do we see him and his power for who he really is or do we read it as dried ink on a page? Lets allow the Spirit to guide us to see the Bible as it is meant to be seen. Brothers and Sisters let us stand today in awe of a man who Christ healed over 2000 years ago and as always…

Let Us Be Genuine.

 

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Ambassadors or Tourists?

Before I begin my post this morning I thought it would do well to define the two words that I am going to be talking about. Both of the word’s definitions are taken from the merriam-webster dictionary online.

Ambassador:  an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.

Tourist: one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture.

Even as I read through these two definitions there is a stark difference between the functions of the two. So let me explain my thoughts a little bit.

This past week I have been thinking about what it means to belong to the Kingdom of Christ yet still be living here on this world. Many of us would agree that we are to be in the world but not of it. Many times in bible study and church we hear the old saying that we are sojourners in a foreign land. We are ambassador’s for the Kingdom of God and are to carry His message to the world. This is all true. Every time I hear someone say these things and many more about what it means to be an heir with Christ I agree. Amen.

But do we really believe? I mean, we believe it, that bible tells us so, but do we really “believe” it? Is it something that is at the front of our mind as we conduct out business? When dealing with others in this world do we conduct ourselves as an ambassador or tourist?

As I sat this past week thinking about this issue it dawned on me that for the most part I conduct myself as a tourist. For you see a tourist is someone who is on vacation. They enjoy the sights and culture of their surroundings instead of conducting business as if on a mission. Tourist are held to a standard of making sure that they don’t reflect bad on their homeland but they do not suffer any consequences like that of an ambassador for not doing so. Tourist go to a land and country to have fun and enjoy what the country has to offer.

I believe that although many of us don’t intentionally act like tourists we end up living that way. I know that it can be very easy for a believer to fall into this trap. Especially in our day and age. We live in a culture and society that tells us to enjoy the fruit without working for it. Our society tells us we deserve the pleasure and comfort of all that it has to offer, and oh boy does it offer some good ones (at least in our sinful eyes). Who of us hasn’t said in our heart “Why should I work more? Didn’t I earn this? That would be fun.”? So for the most part we end up living (myself being the biggest offender I know) like we are tourists on a holiday away from home.

If like me you find yourself thinking that if the way you live doesn’t seem all that bad I would encourage both of us to look at what a true ambassador does for their job. In the definition above it states that an ambassador is the resident representative of their government or sovereign accredited to a foreign government or sovereign. What this means is that an ambassador is not a tourist. They represent all that the sending sovereign stands for. Their whole purpose in going to the foreign land is to advance the agenda of their own. It is to look after the interest of their sending government when it comes to interactions with the receiving one. This does not mean that an ambassador doesn’t enjoy their time or have fun but that their purpose is not a holiday but a mission. They are sent to primarily advance the mission of their government/sovereign.

So what about us? If we are called and constantly talking about being ambassadors for the Kingdom of God what are the implications? Well, honestly it means that our lives and goals should not be reflect that of the culture around us. Tourists mimic the culture they go into so that they might enjoy it to the fullest extent possible, Ambassadors however maintain their homelands culture and work towards advancing the interest of their homeland. They don’t want to mimic the culture around them but instead influence it.

This is how we are christians should act. We shouldn’t mimic our culture but instead grab hold of the great commission and live it out. We should make disciples for our great Lord and King and act like the tourists on this earth. I believe that this is the challenge of our day. For me it is probably one of the hardest challenges in my life. To live my life in light of my salvation by Christ. To make much of Him in my culture and not to allow my culture to conform me to it. So my brothers and sisters in Christ let us take up our commission and make disciples.

Let us be genuine…

Ambassadors.

 
 

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Love of My Life

For my post today I thought I would deviate from my normal topics of encouragement to showcase a little more about me and my life. Now this doesn’t mean that every aspect of my life will be open to my readers but I thought it would be nice to give an introduction to my beautiful wife on my blog.

Isn't she beautiful!

Isn’t she beautiful!

 

My wife and I have been married for over four and a half years now, not all of the time has been easy. Marriage can be a very hard thing to do but it is also the most rewarding time I have ever spent working on something with someone who is so gracious and loving to me. She is the best partner I could have ever dreamed of and better. It is amazing to wake up to her everyday and know that God specifically planned us to be together. There was no second option. God brought us together and keeps us in His hands.

One of the things I love about my wife is that she is a total opposite of me in almost all aspects. This means that there can be a lot of disagreement when we act sinfully but it also means when we both are chasing after our savior we fit more beautifully together. She is my indispensable companion. Everywhere I am weak she is strong. I am very analytical, she is much more creative. I am too focused and goal oriented, she reminds me to stop and smell the roses. I go, go, go, she remembers to slow me down. I have learned more about what it means to enjoy the creation that God has given us through His gift of my beautiful spouse than I ever would have been able to.

The other thing about my wife is that she is the most caring person I have ever met. I am not kidding when I say this. She tells stories about how when she was a child she would cry with the other kids when they got hurt even after they stopped. She has a huge heart and cares for all of God’s creation like no other. She strives to show that love whenever and wherever she can. If you are lucky enough to have met my wife you know just how much she cares.

I am so honored to be able to spend my life with her. There is nothing that is more sanctifying to a person then their own spouse and she definitely fulfills this. She pushes me to seek after my heavenly father more than anyone and I love her for it.

Even though this is a shorter post than I normally write, I want you to know it’s because I don’t think words are enough to describe how wonderful, beautiful, and loving my wife is. I encourage you all to go check out her blog and find out for yourselves what a blessing she can be. Her blog is dedicated to bring style to both our life and yours and can be found at: http://www.thebluekazoo.blogspot.com. Please check it out and she what I mean. So as always friends…

Let us be genuine.

 

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Love of my Life

 

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Who’s the Boss?

I happen to work for a giant corporation. You might even venture to call it a conglomerate with as much as they have been buying up as of late. My job at this corporation is just that of a lowly Shift Lead. What this means is that when my manager is not in the store I basically am the acting manager (although for certain legal reasons in California we won’t use that word). This gives me the power to do what I believe to be right for the company and the store partners while also making sure I can’t really mess anything up since I am only acting as a manager and truly am only the guy with the key to lock the door at the end of the day.

Now, I will admit that my sinful nature and general personality tend to lean towards lording any authority I might have over my fellow partners. And anyone who worked with me four or fives years ago would certainly agree that I can do that very well. It wasn’t until I once again realized that true power and beauty of the Gospel of Christ that I learned how to work the way God meant for us to work. For in the world, lording power over people is a very natural thing. No one I have ever met who is not a Christian doesn’t use the power to their advantage even if it is in the nicest way possible. No, only believers tend to understand how to truly work and even we fail more times than not.

One of the most beautiful and offensive parts of the Gospel is that Jesus came to serve us. In our day and age  this is a concept that is so far away from our minds that it devastates us when we learn that the way to be a leader like Jesus is to be a servant. Our Savior set the example for us when he spent his life and ministry serving others. He didn’t require them to serve him. No, instead he took off his garments and washed their feet. He feed the 5000 and healed the sick. He even laid it out very bluntly what it is to be his followers. Jesus says to them:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be the great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Jesus did not come to be served but instead to serve! This is astonishing for us today, we spend our whole life from the moment we enter the world to the day we die being told that we must get power, we must get wealth. Jesus in just a span of minutes shows that neither of these things matter.

So what? How does this effect me? Well, as a shift lead it is my responsiblity to make sure that everything in my store gets down to make us profitable, as long as it is my shift to run. As of late I have been thinking about what my Savior would call me to. He wants me to be like him in all the I do which means that I am called to be a servant-leader in my workplace. This is especially important since I am a team/shift leader. Instead of using the authority given to me by my boss to delegate to everyone else on the floor I am to come along side them and lead by serving. Show them what a difference exists between someone who lords power over them and someone who “washes their feet”.

For those who read this and have worked in retail you will understand how difficult this can be. When you work both with a younger crowd of people and the general public keeping sight of servant-leadership can be extremely hard. We tend to think of servant-leadership as something we do at church or our pastors do when ministering to us. We don’t tend to think of servant-leadership as cleaning the dirty bathroom or taking care of the rude customer. We don’t tend to imagine that Jesus meant for us to wipe up rotten milk when we could delegate to someone else to do it. But my encouragement is to remember that He washed the feet of his disciples. He didn’t tell Peter or John to do it. He got up after sharing a meal with them and washed their dirty, smelly, disgusting feet.

So my challenge today is this: If you work in an environment where you don’t think about being a servant-leader, whether it be retail or an office building, try it out. Think about how you might serve your coworkers and therefore open the door to the gospel for some who never have heard it. Instead of fighting to be the best in the eyes of your boss, realize that you work for someone else. Jesus is the true owner and He is the one who we should work for. Let us be servant-leaders, let us lead a revolution of “feet washers” to share the gospel with others, and as always…

Let us be genuine.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Christian Living, Servant Leader, Work

 

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The Rest of the Righteous

This past sunday my wife and I attended a new church. We have been looking for somewhere to call home for a while now but have not found the one place that feels like home. That is until this past sunday. I had done my homework and we had been told by a friend of ours that recommended the Church what to expect.

To give a little snapshot of what it is: the church is predominately african american with a few other cultures and ethnic groups thrown in. For us this didn’t matter outside of the realization that the atmosphere would probably be much more lively than most of the churches we have gone to. Along with this the church is located in a more urban neighborhood (which I love since that’s where I feel called to teach). The pastor of the church is a young man in his mid thirties but his heart for a multiethnic, multicultural church is very plain for all to see.

Anyway, so when we walked into the church it immediately remind us of your home church in southern california. Not because of the makeup of the church but because this was a people who clearly cared about each other and knew how to so the love of Christ to strangers and friends a like. They are a people who know the transforming power of the gospel and share it with all that come through their doors.

As the sermon began both my wife and I knew we where in for a very convicting but encouraging time. The Pastor had been preaching a series of sermons on what it means for the Christian to work. This particular sunday he was going over what it meant for one to rest and that a christian can rest peacefully.

For most of us this probably isn’t new information or even information that we need convincing of. Most of our hearts tend to lean towards comfort loving and not workaholic, but if you are like me it might be the other way around. You might have a lot harder time relaxing and resting knowing that if you stop working you might not have enough. We are not the comfort lovers but instead our sin is that we don’t trust that God will provide for us. At first this makes sense to a rational mind that is bent to work too much. We live in a competitive society. Only the best succeed, only those who work the hardest, who are willing to do anything for a company that will only give them a small return. This drives those of us with a trust in God issue to work till our legs give out and then work some more.

During the sermon, the pastor showed us that because of creation we could rest in the Lord. Moreover, not just because of creation can we enjoy resting in the Lord but also because of salvation can we find rest in the Lord. This stuck me to my core, for you see I was raised to put work above all things. I was told only after working hard and getting ahead does one rest. So to be reminded that to rest is not just something God has commanded of his people but that it is also a privilege.

The last point of the sermon was that not only do we get to rest because of creation and our salvation but that we also get to rest in our work. Jesus promises that his burden is light and that we can find rest in Him. We do not need to worry about our provisions because that is the beauty of our Savior. He provides us with everything we need and we can rest in him. Not just one day of the week but everyday of the week even when we are working. We don’t need to worry about getting ahead or making enough to live comfortably because we have a Savior who has already done the work necessary for us to have eternal rest. We can live in the peace of Christ and restfully.

For this reason, my own personal challenge is to grab hold of the rest that Christ provides and hold fast to it knowing that nothing can take me from it. Nothing can take my rest away because of what Christ has done. Let us enjoy the rest that our Savior has purchased and given us graciously.

Let Us Be Genuine.

 
 

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Love Locally

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My Wife and I recently just moved cities (within the last six months). We went from Southern California to the great city of Portland, OR. Now I know that many people are probably thinking too themselves why would you make such a move, but let me dispel any thoughts you might have about how bad Portland is. We love the area. The air is clean, the trees are green and the season actually change. This however is not the main reason we have moved. You see I grew up in the area of Portland. I spent my early days as a believer at the church of on of my favorite people/teachers ever. I went to youth group with a couple of guys who would become friends for life with me. It was my pastor who had even suggested going to the college I went to. So when I first attend school I never imagined staying in Southern California.

Funny enough we never actually imagine a lot of what God has in store for us. It makes me think of Proverbs 16:9 “A person plans his course, but the LORD directs his steps.” I had my life planned out since I can remember. Even as my plans changed I still made sure I knew what my life was going to turn out like. Luckily for me I serve a Great God who knows so much better than I do. So instead of just going to college and moving back to Portland, God had so much more in store for me. He knew the work that needed to be done in my heart and soul and went to work doing it.

In college I met my beautiful wife and my two best friends. One friend through school and another through the local church I was attending. I never considered what God might be doing when he established around me people who not only balanced me out but were so like-minded in somethings that they are closer to me than my own family. God gave me a best friend who stood by my side even after my life fell to shambles and another to encourage me when times were beginning to look up. Both of them are invaluable to me and I see as brothers more than friends.

As my wife and I planned out our life together we knew that eventually we wanted to end up in Portland. It is the least religious city in America according to a study done recently and published in the Huffington post (Click here for article). Between this, our felt calling, and the environment we had originally planned on moving with a five-year transition date. This was a little over a year ago. What happened to that five years I will never know, God had something else planned for us. I knew at this point that I wanted to be a high school history teacher in a public inner city school. I knew that my current job wasn’t really going anywhere fast. So we started to pray about our move, we had this feeling that our lives were just in a holding pattern because we had no real goal for us living in Southern California.

So we began to talk about wanting to plant roots in a community before having kids. We wanted to be established with a local church that would allow us to serve faithfully and raise any kids we might have in a great environment. We looked to Portland. As we continued to pray and seek counsel about our move it was becoming clear that we should do so sooner than later. So in september we took the leap of faith and moved 1000 miles away from our church and friends. The adventure was on. We started attending my old church and trying to work out our lives so that we could begin to plant roots.

In all of our pre-planning stages and our planning for life in Portland we never considered something that we now realize. In all of our efforts to make sure we could plant roots up here, it never crossed our mind that we had already planted roots down there. We haven’t had the easiest beginning years of marriage. Without going into detail we both had sin issues to work through. When they came to a head our local church in southern California was there for us. They worked hard to help us learn how to live a life pleasing to God. They stood by us when things got messy. Helped when things began to repair. Without our pastors and friends from that church we would not have made it to where we are. This grew up in us a love for that church like no other.

We love our church down there so much that we haven’t been able to find a correct fit for us yet. If there is ever a church and people who know how to spread the love of Christ it is Church of the Canyons. The people there are more real in their relationships with each other than anywhere else I have seen. They get the gospel. They understand that without Jesus Christ we all will be left to our own devices and so they strive to help others see our sweet savior more clearly. The leadership there is truly a blessing to anyone who walks in through the doors. This was root planting at its best. We just didn’t know it.

We didn’t realize that our makeshift family with friends for the holidays was root planting. Our recover and reconciliation of our marriage before a church that pour out its love for us was root planting. We had planted deep roots into a community that held us just as tight as Jesus does because that’s who they mimic.

Now we have been uprooted by our own choice and I remember that ultimately the Lord is in control. We have doubled our efforts at root planting up here and have found a church to visit that reminds us of home. Not in the music or service but in the love they have for others. So it is here that I issue my challenge: Let us love locally and realize the blessing that we have. Let us as a people realize that our local church is the gift given to the each believer by God for a specific purpose that both might serve the other. Let us not forget those places we call home here on earth but let us also realize that our Home is in a land yet to come where we will all be together. See for the Christian there is never a true goodbye from our fellow siblings in Christ, just a see you later. So let us love locally and…

Let us be genuine.

 
 

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