Friday, March 19, 2004

To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. -- Karl Barth

Prayer is dangerous...

63 percent of the world’s population is under 34 years of age.

That fact should awaken us to do whatever is needed to see Jesus planted within their world.

Will we, can we, should we?
How can we not?

Karsten Wolff, leader of the 'Kraftwerk', an intercultural youth church in Dresden, explains: "I don't see it primarily as focusing on youth church, but on building tomorrow's church today."

Amen! I couldn't of said it any better.

What have we begun?

What have we done when we pray like this?

When we play like this?

Can we ever know-the seeds we sow-
the lights we show-the dreams we throw?

Playing like kids in dangerous places
quietly burying atomic seeds (hidden graces)
radiation kingdom come
What have we begun?

And here we see angels burn like the sun
here we juggle destinies
what is this thing we've done?

What passion finds expression when wounded soldiers pray?
What army gets commissioned kneeling in this way?

What hand is writing on the wall
what wonders hem me in?

When we lit that three way candle
what fires did we begin?

Are nameless heroes rising tomorrows chosen ones?
Carriers of Jesus what plague have we begun?

A poem from web page

Monday, March 15, 2004

"Work hard at living in peace with others."-1 Peter 3:11

Well, I guess that sums it up doesn't it?
Living in peace with others can be plain old hard work!

Not easy work, but hard.

Most of today's spirituality buzz is humming in soft and sweet tones like elevator music.
It's fantasy land spirituality.

Real spirituality is often tough not easy. Real relationships can't exist very long with hush tones, fake smiles, trite religious cliches that seem better suited in a fortune cookie than the day to day world we really live in.

Jesus didn't have His head in the sand when He called us to live for peace.
He wasn't talking about some puritanical, down south, Sunday school dress up kinda Christian walk.
Not some white glove, clinically clean type of walk that never gets it's hands dirty.

Much of church our relationships are so prissy.

We are a bunch of babies that can't handle real relationships.
We hide from each other, we pretend and we frantically try to avoid any conflict.
To make it all the more difficult, we talk in strange religious language that never really let's on what we really think or feel.
It's crazy, nobody really lives this way in their personal life, why do we do it corporately?

We take the easy way. We self medicate with walks in the park, aroma therapy, frequent massages, exercise, shopping, sports, work, food, movies, video games, sex, reading and TV. We try to convince ourselves that everything will be OK, if we just take a bath or breathe deeply. We hide under the proverbial covers instead of facing our relational monsters. We think by emotionally hiding they aren't there. But they are, and until you face them, they won't go away, even if you close the closet.

Peace doesn't come from pretending the issues aren't there.
Peace doesn't always come from "just praying about it."
Real peace has to be maintained and it can be tough to do.
Having peace doesn't mean we can't disagree or have to see eye to eye or can't debate.

Peace can exist in the midst of the storm and walk on unpredictable waves.
Sometimes we think the true peace is found in the safety of the boat; when in reality, it is out there on the dangerous waves of uncertainty.

Let's leave behind the fantasy that true spiritual life together is easy.
If you want easy...don't follow Jesus but if you want true life than dare to live for real peace.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Live a life filled with love for others...
-Ephesians 5:2

When I was a kid, I remember one act of service that my Dad took me to do for an elderly lady he knew. We went to her house and cut wood and stacked it inside her home for her. I remember her house because it stunk and was filled with cats.
I also remember her thankfulness and the feeling I got from being able to help her out.
It was a simple act of service but it made an impression on me for the rest of my life.
Simple acts done in love are the most meaningful.
When I think of my Dad these kinds of things are what come to mind.

You know a lot of people, as I do too, how many of them stand out as those who live a life of love? I mean when you think about them, that is how you would sum up their life.

How many of us would have these words carved into stone to forever sum up our lives:

"Here lies _______________who lived a life filled with love for others"

What comes to your mind when you think of a life filled with love for other people?
Does the very thought exhaust you?

Does a schedule packed to the brim with endless activities, countless meetings, a host of volunteer positions, full offering plates and empty bank accounts, endless ringing phones, long talks after church or before, always moving people with your truck, being asked first but not really asked but expected. Does a life filled with love mean always saying YES, come to your mind when you think of a "life filled with love"?

I think the words of Mother Teresa best capture the reality and heart of the above verse:
"It's not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters."

The truth about love has to do more about the quality than the quantity alone. I know many people, myself included, that can jam pack a life full of activities, even ministry, and still not live a life FILLED with love.

We can be full and not be filled.
Our life can be busy but not satisfied.
One can know a lot of people and still be lonely.
You can do a lot and not get a lot done.
I can do a lot with little real love.

Jesus was not pushed by the immediate demands of life, people or emotional or even physical pressure. He did what He was supposed to do, when He was supposed to do it and how He wanted to do it. He had control of His life, even when it seemed it was out of control. The Father's will was the guiding compass of His day and life. He lived each day with purpose and His purpose was to be able to love.

Much of what the world (religious or secular) demands of you in the end doesn't produce a "Filled" life but a full life and that will leave you burned out and empty.

I love Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened,
and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

I want to live a love filled life, which to me means being able to make sandwiches with love or preaching or combing hair, stacking wood or simply saying yes.

Monday, March 08, 2004

40 Days: Day 15

"Since you are His Child, everything belongs to you."
-Galatians 4:7b

Wow, I didn't know I was so rich!
Did you know everything belongs to you?

"So don't take pride in following a particular leader. Everything belongs to you: Paul, Apollos and Peter, the whole world and life and death; the present and the future. Everything belongs to you and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God." -1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Does that verse make you think at all?
What does it mean?
What are the implications for someone who really believes that?

I am not sure I really understand what this fully implies in the here and now or as Paul puts it above "THE PRESENT."
Did you know that the PRESENT belongs to you?

What are we doing with the present? Do we live as if we own it? Do we go through the day with any kind of confidence that reflects such a knowledge of this truth? Does knowing this truth really have any effect on the immediate present.
How would you act differently if you knew that the Lord had given you the present and the future?

What are you currently going through that seems to contradict this truth?
How could you face those challenges differently within your own heart or mind?
How many decisions could you finally make if you really believed this verse?
Imagine how many dreams would be born today if we really lived like we owned the present and the future.

Imagine the holy audacity, the daring boldness, the confident courage that would be unleashed.
Imagine a people that thought they could win, should win and will win.
Think about how your life would be different today if you actually thought that God was for you not against you.

We live way below our privilege in God.

"Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had." -Galatians 4:1

Are you better off than a slave this morning?
Do you live like it?
Do you act like it?
Do you think like it?
Does you conversation sound like it?
Do you dream like it?
Do you plan like it?

Do you know you are a daughter or a son of God?
Or do you have a slave mentality?

The scriptures command us "to get rid of the slave..." -Galatians 4:30

Let the truth of God liberate you from anything that is telling you something different from the truth today.
Live like you own the world. It will liberate you from fear, worry, anxiousness, timidity, neutral, indifference, disillusionment, cowardice, fear of man, prayerlessness, unbelief, bitterness, limited thinking and a host of other crippling thinking viruses that cause spiritual amnesia to the truth.

God's word brings freedom and it has the power to set you free today, first internally and then look out world!

Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Lord has hidden Himself...but I trust Him -David (Psalms 8:17)

Trust is hard.

I remember as a kid going spelunking a lot in central Oregon with my family and friends. One of our favorite caves was one called Lava River Cave. It was massive underground cave that ran over a mile under the earth.
It was scary and exciting all at the same time to descend into the depths of the dark with only a small flashlight.

It was amazing how ink black it was and how pitifully weak our little lights would seem to be.
You really couldn't see much with them because soon as you tried to look around at the cave with your flashlight, you would stumble on some rock. You had to walk carefully and attentively with the light right on your path, so you wouldn't fall down some subterranean ravine or smash into a sharp rock.

I remember the claustrophobic feeling of being at the very end of that cave, having walked for it seemed hours, deep into the recesses of that black hole. I can still feel the suffocating fear of being so far in the earth with such a small light and thinking "what would happen if this little light went out?"
YIKES!!!!! It was worse than any horror movie goose pimples.
It would cause your heart to race and sweat to start to bead up on your paranoid face.

All of a sudden that little amount of light was extremely important!

To me living in this world seems to make trusting hard.
There is a lot of darkness here.
It is easy to look at all the pain and suffering, all the horrors of war, the greed, the disintegration of familles and morality and feel overwhelmed by the darkness.

Even though the Bible clearly says:
"The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:5.)
It is often a tremendous struggle to believe in the power of light over darkness, not only in the world but within our very souls. The struggle, the battle, the war is never ending. It is a wrestling match to the end.
Darkness is always present.
God didn't remove it, hasn't extinguish it yet.

Can I trust in the face of things I don't understand?
Will I hold on when I don't feel anything?
Will despair and hopelessness rule when I can't seem to see the promises of God come to pass?
Can I trust in the dark?
Can I relay on this simple little book to get me through?
Is His word enough?
What happens if my feelings start to dim?

One of the main things that always got me through the moments of personal terror in those spooky caves was the fact that I wasn't alone. I often relied on other people's light to help me find my way. Their voices definitely were a source of encouragement and helped scatter away the boogie men that I was sure were following me down there. I was never the last in the line for sure! :)

The fact that the Lord has promised that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us, is one of the most awesome scriptures to me. No matter how dark it gets, I will never be left down in that deep, dark cave, all alone...the light, as little as it may be, won't go out.

That's something we can all trust.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Love...God...- Jesus
(Mark 12:30)

"God gave you emotions so you could worship him with deep feeling"
Chapter 13, pg. 101 of the Purpose Driven Life

Ask yourself: If you looked at the whole of my life, everything I think and do, what is the one thing that I am most passionate about?

Would "being a lover of God" be the first thing someone would mention about you?
Does your love stand out?
Could people tell that you are in love with God?
Do you love God with "deep feeling"?
How soon does someone find out that you are a "lover of God" by being around you?

Not the forced evangelism stuff, not the pushy religious jargon, not the suffocating moral judgment that often accompanies religious people like bad gas.

I am talking deeply sincere, tender, passionately faithful, move the heart kind of love.

God gave you emotions.
Are they working?

I am not talking weepy, gushy, over the top hyper-sappy, I've got Jesus pumps stuff. But the powerful internal wild river that when you encounter it, no matter where you are, it has the fearful and yet exciting sense that it's going to pull you under like some kind of holy undertow.

Sometimes I weep in my times with God because I long to love Him with a love that is worthy of Him. I want a desperate love.

A love life in God that is as permanent as a soul tattoo, as strong as death, as voraciously hungry as the grave and flesh searing hot as burning coals. (Song of Solomon 8:6.)

Don't just give me a calm, soft and cuddly precious moments kinda love...
I want thunder and lightning, smokey and fiery passionate love!

Jesus trumpets the call in Revelations too "Love me like you mean it, love me with fire, burn with love!" (Revelations 3:15.)

Save the tepid stuff for Hollywood chick flicks, steamy romance novels, rabid shoppers and golf enthusiasts. God wants the real thing.

The sad thing is that such people are painfully rare or pathetically weird; that the authentic lovers get sent to the background, driven out or burned at the stake.

Jesus' passion was a powerful display of love...desperate love.

I want to live a life of love that is ignited by such holy flames.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Since we were restored to friendship with God
by the death of His Son
while we were still His enemies,
we will certainly be delivered
from eternal punishment by His life.
-Romans 5:10

Here is are some amazing truths that should grab your heart and mind and shake you like a rabid puppy with a squeaky toy!

God has restored you.

His arms are wide open right now, there is nothing that stands between you and God.
There used to be a barrier, a huge chasm, a gigantic veil that kept little ole' you on one side and BIG Ole, Him on the other.

If you even took a peek around or under that massive curtain that hung within the holy tabernacle something frightening would strike you!
Were talking spooky stuff, like your skin would start to rot!
You just didn't go near to God or you would be snuffed out like an insignificant bug on one of those scary blue bug zappers. Poof! Gone, bye dead.

God was Like a holy nuclear reactor just couldn't go near Him.
Look at Moses, He was one of the only few that did and his face was like Hummer headlights afterwards. He couldn't go anywhere without attracting all the bugs around camp.

But Jesus changed all that on the cross.
Jesus fulfilled God's ultimate desire which was to be able to fully embrace His children. Through the cross God was able to get His arms around you again.

On that amazing day when Jesus was spilling His blood and it was running down that wicked cross; God was tearing that old veil from top to bottom in the temple.
He was doing it with an excited smile, I am sure.
He was about to adopt a whole lot of kids!

It was a great day.

And just think, He did that for you before you even gave a rip.
In fact, while you were still lost, dead and His enemy.
Imagine what He will do now that you are friends....

The last thought is sooooo amazing to me:

I can now with CERTAINTY
that I am gong to be saved
from eternal punishment.

Only one Son is going to the cross, it was Jesus.
I am going to my Father's house when this is all said and done.
No punishment for me because Jesus took all the punishment I deserve.
I have nothing between me and my Father.
No sin, no guilt, no fear, no anxiousness...I live in a complete certainty of His love and acceptance of me, right now.

That rocks my world.

Time is the best teacher; unfortunately, it kills all its students.
Youth putting thier butts on the line in Burma:
Draw close to God,
and God will draw close to you.

-James 4:8

I remember when I first became a Christian and how easy it was to just accept this simple truth as fact: God wants to be close to me.

He was inviting me, compelling me really, to come to Him.

It was a mysterious and deeply moving invitation because I was aching inside to be loved. I was broken hearted and needed a true friend desperately. I was constantly being smashed and thrashed on the rocks of unhealthy relationships.

I was like a piece of water logged wood in the ocean waves, being constantly thrown here and there by every unwise choice I made. I was searching for something in people that I couldn't find and it was seriously battering me to death inside.

I couldn't find the acceptance, security and affection that I so longed for. I was sure that another relationship would satisfy, another party, another job, another night out, another trip, another toy would ease the internal frustration. I was empty.

I was always looking horizontal and inward but I never thought about looking vertical.

Until I was told that I had a spiritual need and I had to look to God.

Not long after that, I heard the above invitation, not like Moses on the mountain but like the smell of fresh bread on the wind. I sensed something drawing me and it was a new fragrance not like the earthly perfume that dissipates the longer you wear it but a celestial scent that seemed to grow stronger the longer I drew it in.

I was intoxicated...and I fell madly in love with GOD!

Here was a relationship that wasn't based on outer things.
Here was a safe place that offered me friendship that wouldn't abandon me, even if I sinned. Here was an invitation to a future that wasn't based on how good I was or if I did everything just right but was a free offer.
God offered me everything in exchange for my pitiful life, that I had done marvelously at wasting. He wanted my life and I was sooooo willing to give it to Him.

But above that, He wanted my heart and that was a mystery to me. I wasn't good at loving people very well, in fact, I almost always gave up on people first before they could leave me. I couldn't promise Him anything more than who I was and yet...He chose me.

His choosing me, had a profound impact on my life. I felt special, more special than I ever had felt by winning the temporary affections of the latest girl.

Those were crazy days.
First love is amazing.

I am so glad that His love doesn't end but grows deeper and deeper and hotter and hotter the closer you get to Him.

Kinda like the Sun, the closer you burns you up.

I dare you to draw near today.
Take a chance and drop everything and open up your arms and embrace Him. He is waiting to draw near and you can probably smell the fragrance of heaven around you even now...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thoughts from chapter 9 of the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren...

"The righteous are glad
and rejoice in His presence;
They are happy and shout for joy."
-Psalms 68:3

I wept through most of this chapter.
Strange when you read the above verse but even so, it's true.

God's word is such a mirror to the soul, it reveals our hearts, our thinking, our immediate moment in loving but painful clarity.

I found myself touched by an acute sense of God's overwhelming goodness and abundant blessings while reading this chapter. When you stop to think about the countless small and large things that we have to enjoy that are free and produce simply's amazing.

Pleasure for pleasures sake is a goodness from God that rocks the overly religious mind. We can get so spiritually constipated that we can't enjoy much of anything without complaining or whining about something.

Such a life doesn't bring pleasure to the Lord.

"God...generously gives us everything for our enjoyment." -1 Timothy 6:17

You can't get much better than that!

The part of the chapter where pastor Rick explains that:
"My children didn't have to do anything for me to enjoy them..." really struck my heart as well. It is SO TRUE.

So much of the enjoyment of having children is watching them enjoy all the little things in life. Watching them explore and experience all of creation's little treasures is an intoxicating pleasure.

Childhood is packed full of the simple enjoyment of finding pleasure in them.
Life then shifts more and more towards what they do and that is when the trouble starts.
In fact that is when the enjoyment begins to be something that we have to remind ourselves to keep in mind.

We can get so focused on them doing what we want
that we lose the pleasure of accepting them
for who they are.

As they grow into individuals we have to learn to let go and let them become.
That is an art.

Often I find myself having to stop and take a huge breath and remind myself of what is most important right now, and it is usually a call to simply love them for who they are right now.

The farther away from that I get, the less "happy and glad" I seem to become.

God, You are good...and I really mean that God.