Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some Sage advice for 2009

I came across this verse back in March and made a note of it; it seems now, as I look ahead to 2009, a good time to re-visit it.
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever."

I see here some wisdom for the coming year;
1. Know Him - there is no shortcut to knowing God.  To know Him requires spending time with Him.  Spend time with someone, anyone, and you will get to know them.  If you don't spend time with them, you can't know them.  You can read books about them, articles, talk to others about that person, but unless you yourself sit down and spend time with that person, you will not KNOW them.  So it is with God.

2. Serve Him - we are told simply and plainly here to serve God.  How do we serve Him?  I think the greatest way to serve God is to simply be the hands & feet of Christ, and the hands & feet to Christ.  As we spend time with both insiders and outsiders, (believers and non-believers), we should take the place of service.  In addition, remember the lesson from the sheep and the goats; as we serve the "least of these" we are serving Christ Himself.

2b. With a loyal heart and a willing mind - it is no enough to just know Him and serve Him - he wants our all, our full devotion.  Question; am I loyal to God?  Harder question; Am I loyal to God first, in everything?  How about your mind; when God whispers for you to do something, to listen, to walk across the street, to hold a door, to be humble, to give - whatever He asks you to do and whenever - do you do it?  Is your mind willing?

3. Seek Him: Here's the deal...He sees it all anyways.  He knows and searches our heart and the intent of all our thoughts...I know, scary.

The kicker: A conditional promise...IF you seek Him, whole-heartedly, you'll FIND Him.  If you don't seek Him, you won't find Him.  It's that simple.

So join me in making 2009 a year that we strive to Know Him, Serve Him, and Seek Him wholeheartedly.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Been a couple of weeks

So like you, the past couple of weeks has been a ride, what with all of our crazy weather playing havoc with our schedules, which were busy enough without any of the weather.  The Christmas Season truly is a season like no other as we attempt to focus on the greatest gift the world has ever known while trying to balance life.  Shopping, meals, game nights, travel, trees and lights, shipments delayed, snow, sledding, skidding, swerving, more snow, cancelling, post-poning, more snow, snow-shoeing, working, writing, rehearsing, leading, singing, reading - WOW.  I need a vacation!


Still, in the midst of all of the craziness, I trust, pray and hope that you found some time to remember what the season is/was and will always be about; J-E-S-U-S.
I often ponder what my life would be like without Him; what would be the point, really?
So I dedicate this one short blog post to Jesus, to say again, "thank you."  Words will never express the feelings and hopes that are within my heart, and the longing for a day to meet you face to face.  What an exciting and terrifying day. 


Oh, and thank you for all the snow; it was beautiful.


To see more pictures from the past week of snow, click these links;
- Here 
Soli deo Gloria, (To God Alone, be the Glory)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Elohim" - Creator

"Elohim" in Hebrew, simply means God as Creator.  I found some more evidence this evening;





Friday, November 28, 2008

Disgusting

So coming off of the Micah Project and the Sustenance Diet, I had a new perspective on this Thanksgiving.  And then I read about a 34 year old Wal-mart employee who was killed Friday morning...killed by stampeding customers who literally trampled him to death.  Apparently, "dozens" of store employees tried to help the man but were also being trampled.  I'm disgusted.  Literally, disgusted.  What were these people after?  To quote the article;


Items on sale at the store included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

So, a few people were in line for an $800 TV and everyone else beyond that was waiting for some special deal of $69 or less?  And for that, the crowd trampled and killed someone?

So why am I posting these thoughts on a blog about worship?  Honestly, I don't know...I just had to say something.  I guess because this type of American behavior is so opposite of where God has led me the past month.  We have SO MUCH; and the thought of waiting in line 8 hours and then trampling somone so I can save $50 on an HDTV is just so disgusting.  It's heart-wrenching.  Most of the world lives on $2 a day, and here we are killing people over a TV or a video game or a movie...which leads me to be reminded of "the weightier matters of the law," mercy, justice.  I guess because I'm so heart-broken over such a senseless loss of life.  I pray that God is somehow able to work good in this situation...and that somehow, we will never let this happen again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Evidence...

Scripture teaches us that all of creation worships God...here are some more pictures of that worship; from Yellow Knife, Yukon, Canada.  One of my dreams would be to see the Northern Lights in person someday...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Check out...

For those looking for more thoughts on our church's Micah Project, check out this blog (www.micahproject68.blogspot.com) and read the cool stories.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sustenance

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:8)

Our church is doing something I'm so proud to be part of; it's called "The Micah Project."  The purpose of the project is to focus on world hunger, poverty and disease (think AIDS pandemic) and to respond with action.  Part of the project calls for a 6 day long "sustenance diet" where you limit what you eat for 6 days to rice and beans (flavored with tomatoes, onions and salt), bread, water, 1 apple a day and plain cream of wheat.  I did this diet last week to "test it out" before we brought it to our congregation and here are some observations I had...

1) I eat for pleasure...put simply, I'm a selfish eater.  I love to eat and look forward to it every day.  I plan my days around food and drink and won't think twice about grabbing a latte or other snack.  Much of the world eats simply to fill their stomachs...they eat for sustenance.  For them, eating is about as pleasurable as breathing...you just do it because you have to in order to live.  During the diet I was so aware of this fact...all the pleasure was taken out of eating.

2) No options.  The diet was all about limiting our options.  In the U.S., I have grown up with so many options.  All around me are eating options.  Want to go out to eat?  Ok; you want Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, Spanish Tapas?  Oh, you want to eat at home?  Ok; do you want a Burger, Steak, Pizza, Fish - salmon, halibut, talapia - Pasta, Chicken?  Oh, you want chicken; you want it boiled, grilled, breaded, cut into a sauce, chicken parmesian, chicken cordon bleu, or chicken alfredo?  You get the idea - we have limitless options.  During this diet I was so aware that my options were, well, to eat or not to eat.

3) It was hard.  I've been a pastor for about 8 years now and during that time I have had many days of fasting and prayer - fasting for a day is much easier than this diet was.  It's the same thing over and over again.  In fact, as the week grew on, I stopped eating my full allotment of food simply because I was sick of it.  On the last day I skipped lunch altogether...I just couldn't eat another bowl of rice & beans.

I doubt I will ever look at food the same...God has allowed me to enjoy things, like food, and that's O.K.   However, His desire for justice and mercy are much more important to Him than my desire for comfort.  This thanksgiving I will be more thankful then ever...but I will also be changed.  My wife and I are already trying to figure out how we can give more, help more and put into practice the things that are important to God's heart.


"If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.  If you want to find yourself in the center of God's heart, you will find it in His passion for mercy and justice...Leaders that matter to God are those that are addressing issues and things that matter to God."  (Gary Haugen, President of the International Justice Mission)


Click here to read about our "Micah Project."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is Veteran's Day and I just wanted to take a moment to thank the many men and women who sacrificed so much to defend our nation.
I spent part of today attending our Primetimers lunch, during which a portion of time was set aside to honor our Veterans.

Many things struck me today, one of which was the fact the that every man and woman who has ever served has a story to tell. I got to sit next to one of our Veterans who served as a lab technician in a "mobile hosptial" all over the South Pacific. He would see 200-300 patients dropped off to them at a time. He described it as being similar to "M.A.S.H." but without the humor. They would do their best with what they had; (imagine treating wounded soldiers without the aid of penicillin, antibiotics and many of the other medicines we take for granted). The surgeons would treat as many soldiers as they could until their surgical instruments were all used. They would then crash on a cot for a quick nap or meal while the instruments were cleaned and sterilized, and would then repeat the cycle.

In addition to the physical hardships, many of our soldiers, like this gentleman, were recently married and/or had families they left behind. Imagine being a newlywed or having children and seeing your husband/father shipped to New Guinea, or some other remote country...no telephones, no emails, no internet, the only form of contact being written letters.

This was just one part of his story, and only one of many stories I heard today. Some I saw still bear wounds they suffered to defend our freedoms; some paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives. My question is this; on this Veteran's Day, have you taken the time to remember? If not, take a moment and thank a Veteran today...and if you have time, ask them for their story.

I went to lunch today not expecting to be impacted the way I was; and so I say to our Veterans, "thank you." Thank you for serving, for fighting, for sacrificing so much, and we stand today on your shoulders.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Awesomeness of God

These pictures are an amazing reminder of the power of God in nature. These are actual pictures of a lightning storm meeting a volcanic eruption in Chile. You can read about the event here.





Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More from Romans (15:1-3)

Just read this passage at the beginning of Romans 15 and three things jumped right out at me;

""hose of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?" 3-6That's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people's troubles, but waded right in and helped out."

1) Christianity is not a solo endeavor
2) Strength = Service
3) Jesus' example was deep involvement in people's lives, including their troubles

First, it is not possible to have a faith that is "private." A disciple of Christ will be one who emulates Christ; and Jesus Christ set the example by devoting a huge part of his life to his disciples. Paul echoes this sentiment here, telling all of those who are strong in the faith to help those who are weaker in the faith.

Second is that the bottom line of this type of faith is the simple equation; strength = service. This is something that is counter-intuitive; we tend to think of strength as power, leadership, command, demanding of respect and honor; again, Jesus sets the example with the equation that the greatest will be those who serve - or in other words, as Paul put it here, strength = service.

Third is perhaps the toughest challenging; wading right into people's messes and helping them. Again, this is the example that Jesus set for us. Where would I be if He didn't decide to come and enter into the mess of my sin and deliver me? So the challenge is for us to be involved in the lives of others and to lend a hand, serving them, and wading right in to help out.

Where are you? Where am I? Am I increasing my "greatness" by "serving?" Am I mentoring, discipleing those who are faltering? Am I willing to get "messy" and wade right into people's troubles?

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Message Worth Repeating

What is the single biggest barrier to us and God? Sin. This past Sunday pastor Dave preached a great message on the progression of sin. The heart of the message bears repeating.

His message was taken from the account of David and Bathsheba (which you can read about here, 2 Samuel 11). Sin doesn't just "happen." It's usually a progression. David's moral failure followed a progression that is common for all of us...my paraphrase of pastor Dave's message...

1) The Look: this is the point of initial temptation. A seed is planted.
2) The Desire: this is where the temptation takes root - it has not bloomed into sin yet, but in essence, this is the line in the sand; at this point we either "feed" the desire and give into sin, or we "starve" the desire and pursue righteousness.
3) The Action: this is the act of sinning. By this point we have fed the desire and it has given birth to sin.
4) The Consequence: all sin...let me repeat, ALL sin leads to consequence.

Consider two stories; first, David and Bathsheba. David is at home, not off to war with his troops where he should be. He sees Bathsheba (the look) and is drawn to her. The look leads to a desire, which David feeds. Very quickly this desire gives birth to sin (the action) which leads to huge consequences...murder, the loss of a son, and another son that ends up taking David's throne.

Consider a second story; Joseph and Potifer's wife. Joseph is home alone with her, she makes a move on him (the look). Joseph chooses to "starve" the desire and flees the scene. There was no act of sin, and no consequence of sin.

This leads to our practical application - when we are being tempted (by our own evil desires), do we feed the desire(s) or starve them? Remember this truth; "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Cor 10:13).

So, the challenge for us is to STARVE our desires before they give birth to sin. Easy to say, hard to do...but the challenge remains; "be holy as I am holy."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where Would You Be...?

A large part of worship is responding to God. In order to respond to Him, you sometimes have to be still and quiet enough for Him to reveal Himself to you. He can do this in many ways; through Scripture, through His Holy Spirit, through nature, through others...but it usually requires us to LISTEN. So if you're reading this blog right now, stop and ponder this question...

"Where would you be with out Jesus?" What would your life be like? Where would you find your hope, direction, guidance, answers, healing, forgiveness? Let the answers lead you into quiet worship.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Have you made it out, lately?

Ok, I confess, I love to get out - it's one of the chief ways I worship God and feel His presence. Creation is SCREAMING that there is a Creator; and His name is Jesus (remember, He was there in the beginning). If you haven't done it, get out and enjoy the Fall for all it is.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Romans 12...

"Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." (Romans 12:3 - Message)

I read this Scripture this evening and a couple of things jumped out at me.

1) Living in pure grace
2) Understanding ourselves by what God has done

Those two things are related. I am very self-focused. I tend to evaluate life, experiences, everything but running it through the "Mike-lens." How it affects me, my part in things, etc. If I want it to be sunny outside and it's raining, I think maybe I did something wrong. If the stock market crashes, I wonder if my sin led to that. If things are going badly, I look at myself. In other words, life is all about me.

And yet, here we read Paul's words to understand ourselves by what God is and what He has done for us. And what has He done for us? The first part of the verse alludes to that - grace. God, because of HIS great love, makes a way where there is no way; changes death to life. Grace. It's the one thing I just can't wrap my brain around (and I suspect a great many people on this planet can't). Oh I get justice, I understand fairness, I can wrap my brain around law and good works, I totally understand conditional love - but grace?

Back to the two thoughts - live in pure grace and understand myself by looking at what God has done for me.

Every once in awhile, when I slow down long enough to ponder and consider who God is and what He's done, I begin to get overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude - this tends to lead me to a place of wanting to please God. Not out of compulsion, not out of duty, not trying to keep the law or earn something, but simply because I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. At times, it moves me to tears. And this is what Paul, I believe is wanting us to grasp - how high and wide and deep and long is this love of Jesus. A love that calls, that motivates, that compels.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rest...part 3

One of the principles of the Sabbath is slowing down.
One great way to force yourself to slow down is to take some time to observe.
One way I use to force myself to observe, is to grab my camera and go out into nature.

Literally, God's beauty and majesty can be found anywhere and everywhere. He is in nature; the pattern on a leaf, a tree that is changing color from green to red, the majesty of a sunset or the power of a thunderstorm. God is creator and we know from Scripture that creation itself is longing for Christ's return; when the curse is lifted. Stop there - the curse.

Have you ever watched the most amazing sunset and wondered, if this is earth under a curse, what is it going to look like when the curse is lifted? Or even more to the point, have you ever stopped to consider what your life would be like without Jesus? Rudderless, hopeless, pointless. My point? Do you every stop to consider...do you ever stop?

Sabbath. Taking a deep breath, pausing, observing, wondering, remembering, communing, worshipping, stopping.

Be careful if you try it - you might like it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rest...part 2

First, if you haven't read my post called Rest, read it first. Monday is my Sabbath Day. As a pastor, Sundays are always filled with things to do; therefore, my wife and I set Monday aside as our Sabbath. We are both learning what we need as individuals and as a couple to re-connect with God on the Sabbath. It is important; no, not important - it is absolutely necessary...as necessary as breathing is.

Two days ago was our Sabbath day. It was a day unlike most others; and yet, it didn't quite meet my expectations. As I look back, it is not hard to see why. Yes, the day was different...and no, we didn't exactly work...but still, the day was full. A couple of errands, fixing a garage door, a beautiful dinner, visiting my new nephew (now almost 1 week old) - a lot of good things, and yet not quite what I need.

I am a fast mover, my wife always trying to get me to slow down. This is what I need most on the Sabbath. To sit, read, rest. To get out into the wilderness, talk with God, bask in the beauty of His creation. To observe things; a bird, an owl, the fall colors, the sound of the wind. To listen; God speaks through many voices, but almost all of them are hard to hear if I don't slow down. I am learning...slowly. What about you? Remember these keys...and they go in order.

1. God loves you...
2. God created the Sabbath for you...
3. The Sabbath is not a suggestion, but a command...because you need it so badly.

I am already looking forward to my next Sabbath...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More from Romans

Some thoughts for today;

Romans 1 has this statement in it; "Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus..."

Did you catch it? Two tasks for us as believers. First to receive the generous gift of his life and second, to pass the gift on to others. How do we receive the gift? Three words; Faith, Trust, Obedience. Faith in believing what we can't see and embracing it, trust by allowing God through Jesus to take hold of and takeover our lives, Obedience by making sure our actions line up with our life.

This is easy to type, hard to live, and yet, as Paul says, our task is urgent. People are dying; literally, figuratively, spiritually. Of course, Paul is simply echoing the Great Commission that Jesus gave - to make disciples of Christ. How am I doing? Am I leading people towards Him? Am I living through Faith, Trusting God and Obeying Him? Am I fully surrendered? Am I fully committed?

Today I am reminded of two great calls on my life; to receive the gift...daily, moment by moment, hour by hour, surrendering myself to Him - and to pass this gift onto others.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rest...

I recently was able to spend 4 days on Lopez Island with my wife (to see some pictures from our trip, click here). Our one goal? Get refreshed. Goal accomplished. While there I read a book that has impacted me in a great way; it's called The Rest of God. It's a play on the word "rest" - meaning both "physical rest," and also meaning "the other part of God." In short, as the book title says, it's all about "restoring your soul by restoring the sabbath."

I read, I prayed, I was convicted. I am one of those people who feel like my busyness and work somehow link to my worthiness. If I rest, I'm lazy, unproductive. And yet, Sabbath was created for man... Could it be that God knows we need rest? A day set aside where we reconnect with God, and in so doing, re-connect with our own souls? I admit, part of the reason I avoid rest and quietness is because I'm afraid; afraid of what god might say to me, or reveal in me, or ask me to do. And yet, I know, deep down, that without remembering the Sabbath not only am I breaking a commandment, but I am depriving my soul of the one thing it needs most.

So how about you? Do you recognize a day of the week as a Sabbath? Do you set it apart; a time to cease working, a time to listen for God's voice, a time to re-energize? Is there a day out of 7 that looks altogether different than the other 6? As you might guess, I have much, much more to unpack about this...will you join me on the journey of re-discovering the Sabbath and in so doing, perhaps re-discovering your own soul?

If you're interested in more about our trip, you can check out this link to my family blog site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Great Words from Romans

Reading through Romans right now, Message translation, and was overwhelmed with gratitude again...(Romans 5:1-2)

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Did you catch that?
1) We have it together with God because of our Master Jesus: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That never gets old.
2) We throw open our hearts to God only to find out that He's already thrown open His heart to us. Let us never forget that it was God who made the first move to save us. He sought us and loved us when we were at our worst.
3) We find ourselves living in GRACE - recipients of God's grace. This is one word that will never get old...GRACE. Grace is God's way of paying our sentence, of substituting His Son Jesus in our place to receive the punishment that we deserved.
4) Our response to all of this? Standing tall and shouting our praise.

I am sinful, prone to wander, prone to selfishness, prone to temptation, pride, and guilty of so much more. And yet, day after day, God keeps giving life, eternal and ever-living life. It is an amazing thing to be captured by the love and grace of God. My response? To please Him, serve Him and do whatever I can to follow Him. Not because I have to, but because of what He's done for me. It's a love response.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Great is our God

Took this picture a few minutes ago, off of our back deck. Just another example of how amazing our Creator God is; so worthy of worship.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A reminder of why we worship Jesus

I'm reading through Romans right now, out of "The Message" translation. While "The Message" isn't where I turn to find the most accurate translation of the Hebrew/Greek Scriptures, it does often serve to make complex ideas more understandable and to that end, this translation helps me to see things in a different way. Quite often, I'll have my NIV and Message open at the same time, comparing the two versions.

All that to say, today, I was reading in Romans 3 and was again reminded of the incredibly love God has for us through His son Jesus. I leave you with these excerpts; (to read the entire chapter, click here).

Romans 3, excerpts (bold added by me)
So what difference does it make who's a Jew and who isn't, who has been trained in God's ways and who hasn't?... God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same:

Your words stand fast and true;
Rejection doesn't faze you.

We're All in the Same Sinking Boat

9-20So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:

There's nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They've all taken the wrong turn;
they've all wandered down blind alleys.
No one's living right;
I can't find a single one.

This makes it clear, doesn't it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it's clear enough, isn't it, that we're sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else?
God Has Set Things Right
21-24But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him... Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

25-26God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear... God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.


And everybody said: "AMEN! Thank you Lord."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Be Real...

This past Saturday marked the one year "anniversary" of my Mom's passing. To be totally honest, it was a tough day and a tough week. Rarely does a day go by when I'm not thinking about or reminded of my Mom in some way. It is a weird and sad feeling to know that your "Mom" is no longer here on planet earth...there's a hole there. Click here to read a little more on this.

A couple of weeks ago I opened our church service by saying something like this;
"Church, I have to confess that this is one of those days when I don't want to be here. I've had an emotional couple of days, remembering that it's been about 1 year since my Mom passed away and to be honest, I don't really feel like singing and praising this morning. Still, God wants my worship. Church should be a place where you can let your guard down, be yourself. Some of us are hurting today, and we can worship through that pain. Others are joyful and your worship will come from a heart of thankfulness. The point is to be real. As you worship, as you pray, as you sing, do it in a 'real' way. Church shouldn't be a place where we always have to be happy and pretend we've got it all together. This is a place to come in your brokenness and pain, and lay it all before God."

I said something along those lines...maybe not those exact words. The point? I've heard from a few who were at church that day that somehow, me sharing a little of my pain allowed others to feel free to be real with God. I'm not sure how it works, but I am convinced that the more open and honest we are with each other, the more God can use us. Read this excerpt from Psalm 42;

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
'Where is your God?' " (Psalm 42:2-3).

David is a man after God's own heart, and a man who was "real" with God. His prayers and psalms have absolutely no pretentiousness to them; no masks, no cover, no need to pretend he's got it all together. So why do I, why do we so often fee like we have to have this "front?" Let me encourage you to not only be "real" with God, but to be "real" with each other as well. Our pain can often be a source of hope to others...and in that hope, God redeems our pain.

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Order to Worship

"Come, bless God, all you servants of God! You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God's shrine, Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God. In turn, may God of Zion bless you— God who made heaven and earth!" (Psalm 134 - The Message)

Have you ever thought or said something like, "worship was great today. I loved the songs, they spoke to me. I hope we sing ____ . The band was good today...etc." In other words, we come to worship God hoping and expecting that our own needs and preferences are met...and if they are, we think worship is good. This isn't an indictment on anyone, we all do it...I do it. However, this Psalm is a good reminder for all of us as to our approach to worship;

I've said it before, but it bears remembering, there is an order to worship. Put simply, we worship God first and foremost simply because of who He is. He desires our worship. Remember the demands that Moses made on Pharaoh? "Let my people go so they can worship me." Our motive should not be self-seeking, but instead should be God-pleasing. And we know from John 4 that the kind of worship God is seeking is those who worship in spirit and truth. True, most often when we worship God He does choose to bless us, and loves to do that...however, this cannot be our primary motivation for worhsipping God.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

K.I.S.S.

Perhaps you've heard of the K.I.S.S. principle? If not, allow me...it stands for "Keep it Simple, Stupid."

I was recently reminded of this principle while attending a Leadership Summit. You see, I have a propensity to complicate things. It is a blessing and a curse. I am good at strategizing, and seeing details, and processing information...but sometimes this gift works against me as I over-complicate life and easily become overwhelmed...especially my spiritual life.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

This is the simple command I was reminded of yesterday; it's simple, really. Stay connected to the vine, to Jesus, and you WILL bear fruit...you won't be able to help it. It's not really possible to be connected to Jesus and not bear fruit. On the other hand, when you're not connected to Jesus, nothing you do will matter...nothing you do will have any significance...in short, you will not bear fruit.

The point? If you're like me and you tend to over-complicate things, perhaps it's time to be reminded that spiritual growth is not as hard as we make it...it's simple enough that a child can "get it." Stay connected and bear fruit. The bearing fruit is a by-product of staying connected. It's that simple. Stay connected, bear fruit; disconnect, bear no fruit.

How do I stay connected? Ah, I will resist the urge to fall into the trap of prescribing some form of Christianity that replaces the relationship with a list of things to do; instead, follow your call to stay connected...you know what to do...

Friday, July 25, 2008

A simple reminder from Acts 10

I just came across a familiar passage, yet one that has great reminders for us. Read the following excerpts from Acts 10 (The Message);

"There was a man named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea, captain of the Italian Guard stationed there. He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer." (vv. 1-2)

And later, God speaking to Cornelius; "He said, 'Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God's attention." (v. 31)

Now Acts 10 represents a pivotal point in the life of the Church...in fact a pivotal point in the history of humankind. It's this chapter that tells of God's salvation being available not just to the Jewish nation, but to all who believe. Cornelius, is not a Jew. So why did God pick Him to be the recipient of this amazing gift? Read those passages above again and you'll see three things that stick out;

1) He lived worshipfully and taught those in his house to do the same
2) He helped people in need
3) He prayed

What's my point? I'm only observing that here was a man who got God's attention...and how did he get God's attention? By doing three simple things; live worshipfully, help those in need, and pray.

In our pursuit of a relationship with God, let us not fall into the trap of over-complicating things. Most of the time, I know the good I ought to do...it's not for a lack of knowledge. For me, I tend to over-complicate things and this was a gentle reminder from God to keep it simple; live worshipfully, help people, and pray. A simple recipe to get God's attention. Funny; it kind of sounds like the two great commandments;

"Love God with heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself."

Keep pressing on!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Keep on Keeping on...

This is a slightly longer post, but hopefully worth it to you, the reader. Rewind to February, 2006. I'm getting ready to go on vacation to Hawaii with my wife's family. We leave on a Friday and it's the Sunday before and I'm playing indoor soccer down at the local sports-plex. The last words spoken were "nobody gets hurt before Maui" and wouldn't you know it, I pull my hamstring. It shelves me for about 3-4 months.

Fast forward to June of 2007; with a conference and 2 week vacation coming up, I again am found on the pitch (outdoor soccer this time) and once again, pull my hamstring (the other one this time). I'm certain that it's as bad if not worse then when I pulled it 2 years ago. Still, I do everything I can; R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). In addition, I add a "P" (Pray). After a day, I can hardly walk and am sure it's bad. After a week, I'm walking completely normal and am sure that it's not as bad as last time. After the conference and vacation, during which the leg caused me no problems whatsoever, I'm sure God intervened and sped along the healing...I have been as active as ever, Praise God...(I even played a soccer game this past Monday, only 5 weeks since the initial injury).

Fast forward to July 9th; the first real test of the leg since the initial injury.  It was a simple 2 mile jog but let me tell you; it was tough for me. Not so tough physically, but tough mentally. Knowing I hadn't run in over a month and feeling the effects of jet-lag, heat of the day, tired muscles and a hamstring that hadn't been tested yet, I had to keep telling myself "just keep running, don't stop." It became my mantra; "don't worry about your time, just don't stop." My goal became to simply "finish without stopping or walking; even if you have to jog slowly, just keep going." I made it.

This got me to thinking about my spiritual walk and how for me, at least, it so closely resembles that run I just had. I started out in great spirits but soon became mentally tired and unsure of whether or not I could finish. I had to slow down...and at times, felt like I was failing.  Like I told myself on the jog, so I tell myself in my spiritual journey; just don't stop.  Keep going, run the race, it will be worth it.  

So what's the point of this ramble?  I guess I wrote this longer post with two goals in mind;
1) To publicly give God praise for healing my leg (and perhaps to publicly repent for my lack of faith that He would) and...
2) To encourage you to "just keep running."  Even if you have to slow down and jog, that's ok, just don't stop.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Creator God

Forgive me for not blogging for the past few weeks; I've been busy traveling. First to a conference, then to Australia for a 2 week vacation. It was a time of connection with family, adventures together, and lots of fun.

It was also a time where I was able to see and experience a different part of our world. Once again I was struck by the images I saw; whether it be animals or reptiles, or beautiful rain-forests, or perhaps amazing things that live in the ocean, there was so much I experienced while away that reminded me how creative our "Creator" is. So many times I had the words of Psalm 19 running through my mind as eyes and body were stimulated by God's wonder. For me, I am learning that one of chief ways I am drawn into the wonder and mystery of God is through His Creation.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands; day after day they pour forth speech, night after night their knowledge is displayed..." (read the full Psalm here). With that, I leave you some images that have inspired me (note: all but one of these were taken in Australia).















Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back from Vacation

I'm back from 2 weeks in AUS...stay tuned for more from this trip!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Love

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13).

Above all motivations, we must be motivated by love.
• Love for Jesus - Again, number 1, numero uno is our love relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Love for the lost - We must stoke the desire to see the unsaved have that same relationship.
• Love for each other - We must be willing to love each other (those we serve with) in a selfless way...putting their needs first, rejoicing with each other, crying with each other, and bearing each other's burdens.

This list is just a start of what could be said about love. Take a moment this week and just look up the word "love" in your concordance. Spend 10 minutes looking up as many verses as you can and see what kind of thoughts God lays on your heart. Then, drop a comment and let me know what God reveals to you about this "greatest" thing called love...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Song of Creation

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4)

The past couple of weeks we have been blessed with sunshine here in the Northwest and in that time I have experienced some incredible worship. What did I do? Nothing, really...mainly just sat and gazed and watched God's creation worship Him.
- I have seen huge mountain peaks covered with snow, glistening in the sunlight,
- I have seen a wild animal, a rare "brown coated black bear" staring at me with wonder,
- I have journeyed to the San Juan Islands, watching eagles soar and otters swim
- I have gone to the top of the highest mountain in those islands and seen my town of Bellingham from a whole new perspective,
- I've seen flowers bloom, beautiful in their splendor, their glory remind me how much God cares for me,
- I've seen and heard rivers overflowing, waterfalls cascading, creaks bubbling, frogs singing, listened to the spring rain, felt the heat of the sun, and eaten some of the best food. And all of this leads me to these conclusions,

1) Creation truly sings a song of worship that never ends; our world is alive, like a Narnian paradise
2) As good as it is here, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, how much more will the new heaven and new earth display the glory of God? After all, we live on a cursed planet...
3) For me, whenever I feel distant from God, all I have to do is take a long walk outside and allow the worship of Creation to re-ignite my passions...

In his book Facedown, author and songwriter Matt Redman titles chapter 6 "The Song of Creation." In this chapter he writes, "In a loud and clear voice, creation proclaims the works and, ultimately, the worth of an incredible designer. The more we delve into the beauty of nature's design, the more we hear it reverberating with the splendor of the Creator."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Close Encounters...Bear!

So first, this post has little to do with worship or with any kind of devotional...but I had to post it anyways. God's creation is truly amazing!

Julie and I took some friends of ours up to Mt Baker on Sunday and wouldn't you know it, on the way down Julie sees some people pulled off to the side of the road and just as we were speeding by, she yelled "Bear!" So we put the car in reverse, backed up and spent about 45 minutes watching this Bear at extremely close range. For most of the time the Bear was about 30-60 feet away, but at one point we jumped back in the car and the Bear came within about 10-15 feet of our car. If you want to see a few more pictures, click on the image and it will take you to the album.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Great Devotional

A member of our church sent me this devotional today and it really struck a "chord" (pun intended) in my heart;

Inward Remembrance, Outward Adoration: Many years ago a number of skylarks imported from England began to breed and dot the American landscape. One day, a man who studied birds sat listening with solemn interest to the song of the immigrant birds. Nearby, an Irish laborer - hearing the song of the bird he'd heard in his mother country - stopped, took off his hat and turned his face skyward. A look of awe and joy washed across his face. His inward remembrance and love of country produced an outward response.

Although the Israelites expressed an outward worship, they didn't possess an inward love of God. Sure, an observer might believe that they worshiped God inwardly. But in truth, their hearts secretly served other gods. "In their secret chambers of idolatry and imagery." said Clarence Macartney, "they bowed down before the grinning images of Baal."

Today, as we express our adoration and worship of God, we can either be like the student of birds or like the Irishman who responded emotionally to their song. The observer simply admires what takes place, but experiences no feelings of love and devotion. However, the true worshiper - upon hearing songs about God and words of his heavenly home - feels his heart beat faster, thinking of a glorious hope for the future. And all of us long to feel this beat, because it makes our hearts come alive.
Anyone can go through the outward motions. But we can't worship by just playing a role. We have to make it the aim of our heart. When we offer our heart to God in love and adoration, he, in return, washes awe and joy across our soul.

[Mike]: this devotional made me pause and consider my own worship; is it outward motions or is it from the heart? As the author puts it so perfectly, we can't worship by simply playing a role...worship must flow from a love relationship with God and this must be our aim and our goal.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hosanna

So, we've been singing this song called "Hosanna" written by Paul Baloche. I love the song, I love the word; "Hosanna" literally means, "please save" or "save now." The lyrics to the song simply say "Hosanna, you are the God that saves us, worthy of all our praises, Hosanna, come have your way among us, we welcome you here Lord Jesus."

It's also cool to remember what the crowds shouted at Jesus as he entered Jerusalem; "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." In essence, the crowds are saying "Hosanna, please save us now, son of David." How true; it's exactly why He came. Next time you sing a song with the word "Hosanna" in it, think about what you're singing; "please save us now."

- Amen -

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Greatest Gift...

Mother's Day is approaching and obviously, I have very mixed emotions as I sit here and write. This will be the first Mother's Day since my Mom passed away. I've been reflecting a bit and have concluded that there is one thing I miss more than anything, and it's the greatest gift that a Mother can give...what is it? Unconditional Love.


Nobody loves like a Mom. Think about it; whether I was physically sick or love-sick, she was always there. When I would lose hope or motivation, or just simply lose my way, she was believing in me. She always thought I was "special" with "special potential" which, of course, she believed not just about me but also my brother and sisters. If she were here today she'd tell you that she always knew I'd be a pastor. She came to all my games and concerts, always supporting. In short, she provided wind in my sails. So it is with all Mothers! They always believe their child is extra smart, extra gifted, that God has a "special" plan for them.

I'm not trying to sound sentimental or pretend that there was never any tough times, but as I look to fill the hole in my life that she has left, this is the hole that I've identified...and nobody can fill it. It's a special place reserved for Mothers. There is much strength that comes from someone who believes in you that much...and again, not to sound cliche, but it's the same way our heavenly Father believes in us.

In the beginning God created both Adam and Eve and there is a piece of Him in both men and women. I believe that through my Mom, God taught me and continues to teach me that He too loves me unconditionally; that He believes in me, has a plan for me, and no matter how many times I blow it, He will be there.

Thanks, Mom for teaching me and showing me God's love; I miss you. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get out...into the Wilderness













"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16)

If we take God seriously, and if we take our relationship with Him seriously, then it follows that the most important priority in our lives must be to build this relationship with God. How? The first and most important ingredient in building any relationship with anyone is to spend time with them. There is no shortcut, no substitute; God has called us into "fellowship" (literally, "intimacy") and as a result, our response must be to pursue this relationship with Him at all costs.

I recently preached two messages on "A Father's Heart" (you can find them here). I challenged our church at the end of the 2nd message to "do as Jesus did" - get out into the wilderness and be with God. Why? Look at that verse up at the top - three things jump out at me right away;
1) "often" - this was a regular occurrence
2) "withdrew" - Jesus would literally "retreat" to find solitude away from distractions
3) "lonely places" - location matters..."lonely places" is translated as "wilderness" in many Bibles. Why the wilderness? The wilderness is often the place that God brings His people in order to refresh His relationship with them

Implication: if Jesus, the Son of God needed to do this regularly, how in the world do we think that we "mere mortals" would need anything less? Question: have you made your relationship with God the most important thing in your life?

Now you've read this blog and the challenge goes for you as well; make "wilderness" time with God a regular part of your life. Pursue Him! As A.W. Tozer said, "God waits to be wanted."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

For those who don't know, my Mom unexpectadly passed away this passed August. I miss her. Today was her birthday. Happy Birthday Mom. I take comfort knowing you're in a better place...however cliche that may sound. We miss you. I'm doing what you would probably be doing if you were still here; watching a baseball game and hoping our home town boys can hang on for a win.

Why am I blogging on this? I don't know, but in some way, it helps. I'm preaching tomorrow and I know she'd be proud of me...but then again, no matter what I would do she would be proud of me. That's what I miss I think; the blind love. I get that kind of love and support from others, namely my wife, but it's different with a Mom. Funny...I preached last week and this week and one of the themes is God's unconditional love for us; even though He is our Father, I think in some ways His love is similar to that of a Mother; always believing the best in her kids, always proud of them, always there to listen...it's what I miss.

Friday, April 18, 2008

latest blog?

Well if you want to hear whats on my heart right now, come to church on Sunday. Yep! I'm preaching the next two weeks...to be sure, I'll put some of that stuff online when I have a chance. But for now, know that God loves you...more then you can possibly imagine.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jesus Wept

This has been a hard week for me. Why? My heart aches...I miss my Mom, and in many ways wish I could go back in time to the happiness and simplicity of childhood. It has worked itself out mainly through dreams; I've had troubled sleep, sad dreams, dreams where I'm crying and wake up my wife. How are we supposed to grieve?

On the one hand, this week has been amazing; I'm studying, preparing to preach a two-part message series on Grace, God's Love and the Relationship He's called us to...as I've been studying I've been once again overwhelmed to the point of tears at how much love God has for us. It is staggering. But still, I am sad this week.

How are we supposed to grieve? At some level I understand and know that I am not grieving well. I think I'm stuffing the pain. But still, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to act?

And this brings me to John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible. "Jesus wept." My Savior knows suffering, knows loss, knows grief, knows pain. Does this make me feel better? No. But it does remind me that the intimate relationship God has called me to is with one who is familiar with pain and hurt. In short, I am not alone. And so, in my grief, I pray for you and for me...

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Finish the Race

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

Out of the cold darkness he came. John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania entered at the far end of the stadium, pain hobbling his every step, his leg bloody and bandaged. The winner of the marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. Only a few spectators remained. But the lone runner pressed on.

As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared out its appreciation. Afterward, a reporter asked the runner why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally, he answered:

"My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish."
(Source: www.beijing2008.cn)

You can see him finish the race here.

So what about you, and me, and "us"? Are we in this thing for the long haul? Are we running with perseverance? Are we going to finish the race or just start it?

Here's another story of a man who refused to quit...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Post Easter...

So every year for the past 10 years or so, the week after Easter I've gone down to San Diego for a Music Conference. It's always perfect timing as there's such a big push in churches for the Easter Season...well this year, I didn't go (for a number of reasons, namely though, the conference changed ownership, locations, and a few other things).

So, how to sum up my week? I'm tired. Planning our worship set for Sunday was a real grind this week. As always, I spent time in prayer and to be sure, I'm looking forward to the time on Sunday. But to be real honest, what I'd really love is me and a piano and nobody else (which I got a little of today).

It's at times like this that I have to remind myself the same things I remind others; it's ok to worship through tiredness; or for that matter, through depression, loneliness, sadness, worry and fear. God is simply looking for hearts that are yielded to him.

What's the main point? The quality of our worship shouldn't be related to our experiences. So I've had a tired week; does that mean I can't worship God, or shouldn't worship Him, or that he won't accept my worship? Of course not. The circumstances of life don't change who God is. That's the point; God never changes. It is easy to think He does, because we do...but thankfully, He remains the same and desires our worship; our HEART'S all the time.

Looking forward to Sunday...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thank You

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Surrender part 3

I just can't get away from it...everywhere I read in the Bible, this theme being fully surrendered to God comes back to scream at me. Remember the story of the Rich Young Ruler? Here's an excerpt from Luke 18, (msg).

"When Jesus heard that, he said, 'Then there's only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.'

This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go."

The heart of this passage is that last line; those of us who are holding on tight to things and not willing to let them go are going to have a very hard time being a disciple of Jesus. In fact, it's impossible to serve "two masters." Money certainly has and can and does take the form of an idol in many lives, but it's not just money that poses a danger. There are many "addictions" and "idols" in many of our lives and holding tightly to them can and will derail us. So what chance do we have to break these idols?

" 'Then who has any chance at all?' the others asked. 'No chance at all,' Jesus said, 'if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.' "

In other words, Jesus and His Spirit in our lives are the only chance we have to overcome these things. And why is it worth it?

"No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!"

Live a life of "worship=surrender."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Embrace Suffering?

I want to take a moment and expand on an earlier post; Worship = Surrender. Take a moment and read these words of Jesus from Luke 9 (The Message)

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self."

In these words are the key to discipleship.

1) Jesus leads, we follow. This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to grasp; at least it is for me. Jesus leads, I follow. My human nature constantly battles for control over my life and yet, as His words so clearly illustrate, IF I intend to follow Him, I HAVE to let Him lead...He is in the driver's seat. And what do we communicate to God if we try to lead? "You don't really know what you're doing; I know better then You do. I don't need You." And all the while, He patiently waits for us to surrender to Him. As Jesus states later in Luke 14, it would be wise for us to "count the cost" of being a true disciple. The cost is high - He wants it all.

2) Embrace Suffering. Huh? What? Yep. Not only are we to expect suffering, not only are we to endure suffering, but embrace it? As we read in the book of James, suffering makes us grow. It develops character, perseverance and stamina - it teaches us the things that we will need later to finish the race. This year I've taken up jogging. I hate jogging. I hate running, unless it's on the athletic pitch (soccer, basketball, etc). But just to go out and run? I hate it. Why am I doing it? Because I have a goal to do some intense hiking this summer, and namely to summit the sisters. In order to achieve this goal, I have to endure some hard times now, so that when I hit the really hard times later, I'll have the confidence and stamina to make it. In a similar way, it is during hard times that we grow the most. Can we, can I not only "endure" suffering when it comes, but truly embrace it and learn to grow?

3) Self Help isn't the way, but self sacrifice. Think about this; at no other time in the history of the United States have we had as many "Self-help" books and experts out there. There are books/experts on anything and everything - diet, exercise, overcoming obesity, overcoming smoking, alcohol, how to be a better parent/single person/son/daughter/grandparent, how to educate your children, how to make your marriage better/stronger, how to save your marriage, how to find your strengths, how to find your weaknesses, how to lead better and the LIST GOES ON.

Now think about it; as a result of all these "self-help" tools, are we as a society/country better off? Are addictions down? Are marriages lasting longer? Are we better parents? The answer? No. In fact, we're probably worse now. Now the point isn't to bash all these books; heck, I read many of them. The point is this: no book or person is the answer; Jesus is the answer. And furthermore, His answer calls for sacrificing ourselves, laying down our desires and taking up His. That is a tall order. Sound impossible? Read that verse up above again and look at the promise in there - God is giving us the key to finding our "true self." I don't know about you, but I'd do just about anything to find my "true self." The key? Self-sacrifice.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help." (James 1)

Dear Lord, give me the faith to trust You as I lay down my life in surrender [worship].

Friday, March 7, 2008

Here is Our King

Awhile back I polled the younger members of our congregation about their worship and I was a little surprised at what I found; namely, that I am no longer "young." I found that a lot of the music we do at our church didn't resonate with them as much I thought. Yes, I'm only 37, but it appears I've lost a little touch with the 20-something crowd. While many of the artists we're familiar with do resonate with this group, there is one artist who's music has touched a core with many; David Crowder.

One song that has hit a special chord with this group is his song "Here is Our King." We will teach this song on Sunday and as I'm very aware that the church I serve at is inter-generational, I thought I'd take a moment to explore the meaning of these lyrics (see them here). For those of us who tend to relate more from the head; us logical, concrete/sequential type of thinkers, this song will be hard to understand. The initial response might be "I don't get it," or "I don't understand what I'm singing." For those of us who relate more from the heart, with our emotions and spirit, this song will probably hit a chord with you lyrically. Rather then me try and explain what inspired David Crowder to write this song, I thought I'd let him speak for himself. The following is written by Crowder;

Behind the Song: ''What you are looking for is what is looking.' - St. Francis of Assisi

I wrote this song after watching television for two days straight. The day after Christmas, December 26th, 2004, my eyes were fixed to this thing blinking at me from the dark wooden armoire in our living room. I, along with the rest of the world, watched as the most powerful earthquake in 40 years erupted under the Indian Ocean near Sumatra causing giant, deadly waves to crash ashore in nearly a dozen countries, killing tens of thousands. The death toll would eventually settle somewhere near 200,000. This is tremendously hard to take in. Close to 200,000 people, walking around, going about their business, stepping into eternity all together in a matter of hours. We watched story after story unfold knowing that each would end in either rescue or demise and our hearts broke. Our hearts broke and it is still tremendously hard to take in.

It is a difficult thing to observe so vivid and complete, the depth of our fall. I mean we know things aren’t right, we know that things aren’t as they were intended. But here is this thing that comes from the middle of the sea to bring upon us devastation and to take from us our fathers and our mothers and to pull from our hands our children and our friends and our minds cannot fit this in. It is the depth of our fall upon us. Even the ground under our feet is not right. The air we breathe is not right. Here though, the hope I have found in Christ miraculously expands.

I believe that we are part of a bigger story unfolding. I believe that the rescue of creation has been coming toward us for a long time. I believe that sure, there was a moment that I was found by this rescue and that I am rescued continually, but the even greater thing, the thing that expands in my chest in this moment is that there is more coming! He is coming to set things right. He is coming to set things straight. He is coming and this is tremendously hard to take in, but our hearts swell and this tide of hope grows and after all of this, after this brokenness, after these tears, after this fury, after this tearing that is life...finally, finally...we will lift up our heads...finally...and the clouds will break...and finally...he who is all light and healing... Finally... Finally... Majesty. Here.


Since the writing of this song I have received a number of emails requesting explanation for the verses of this song... The complete thought of the first verse is found in the chorus and therefore the whole could read, “here is our king from wherever spring arrives.” In other words, our king comes to us from the same place springtime does. Whatever the source of spring and newness. He comes from the same place that put this thing in our chests that makes it necessary for us to search for him and the fact that we are compelled to search for him gives a hint as to the goodness of him who we search for. The second verse when read one way is a simple redemption metaphor for spring or newness or surrender. Roses fold up at night and open in the light of morning with the sunrise. When one considers that Christ was also referred to as “the rose of Sharon” it takes on a different redemptive metaphor. The main thing I hoped to do with this songs was redeem the images of this massive wave that we saw. There is the biggest wave ever headed for us. It is coming from the place of love and springtime and it is terrifying.' - David Crowder

As for me, as I'm worshipping God in with this song I am primarily thinking/seeing a couple of things;
1) The song paints a beautiful picture of both the present and future fulfillment of Christ's coming; in the one sense, He already came, lived, ministered, died and rose again for our redemption. However, in another sense, He will come again to set things right, including creation itself.

2) It reminds us that it's not just us humans that need redeeming...creation itself stands under a curse and in some mystical sense, creation itself is longing to be freed.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come...

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