“I Believe”… On The 3rd Day, Jesus Rose Again.

Audio sermon series
Apostles’ Creed
@ Pine Lake Covenant Church,
Sammamish, WA
February 2011
John 20:1, 11-18, 30-31

Listen now:
On the third day, Jesus rose again

Relationship Tools: “3rd Party Intervention”

Audio sermon series
Re:lationship Series
@ Deergrove Covenant Church
Paletine, IL
January 30, 2011
Genesis 4:1-10, Luke 15:11-32
Listen: Don’t Hide

Waiting for the End

Linkin Park sings “Waiting for the End”…
This is not the end / This is not the beginning / Just a voice like a riot / Rocking every revision / But you listen to the tone / And the violent rhythm / Though the words sound steady / Something emptys within em / We say yeah / With fists flying up in the air / Like we’re holding onto something that’s invisible there / Cuz we’re living at the mercy of the pain and the fear / Until we dead it forget it / Let it all disappear / Waiting for the end to come / Wishing I had strength to stand / This is not what I had planned / It’s out of my control / Flying at the speed of light / Thoughts were spinning in my head / So many things were left unsaid / It’s hard to let you go / I know what it takes to move on / I know how it feels to lie / All I wanna do is trade this life for something new / Holding on to what I haven’t got / Sitting in an empty room / Trying to forget the past / This was never meant to last / I wish it wasn’t so
What was left when that fire was gone / I thought it felt right but that right was wrong / All caught up in the eye of the storm / And trying to figure out what it’s like moving on / And I don’t even know what kind of things I said / My mouth kept moving and my mind went dead / Picking up those pieces now where to begin / The hardest part of ending is starting again / All I wanna do is trade this life for something new / Holding on to what I haven’t got / This is not the end / This is not the beginning / Just a voice like a riot / Rocking every revision / But you listen to the tone / And the violent rhythm / Though the words sound steady / Something emptys within em / We say yeah / With fists flying up in the air / Like we’re holding onto something that’s invisible there / Cuz we’re living at the mercy of the pain and the fear / Until we dead it forget it / Let it all disappear

I like the passion in this song. It speaks to the heart cry of culture today.
The desperation one feels after a break-up can be devastating to your emotions. I remember this feeling so well in high school and college. I wished that it was just a feeling over break ups back then, but the feelings persisted through my adult life in the business world and even the church. What do we do with all this emotion? Can there really be nothing more to be sung than words like… “cuz we’re living at the mercy of the pain and the fear, until we dead forget it, let it all disappear”?

Jesus Christ himself recognized the desperation, isolation and separation people feel when we lose someone we love. He cried at the graveside of his friend Lazarus and wept over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus recognized the desperation of the longing touch of the woman with the issue of blood who reached for a touch of the hem of his garment… and power went out from him. He knows when a widow from the town of Nain cries over her dead son being brought to burial, how she must have felt with loss overwhelming her. Luke 7:13, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Jesus knows our overwhelming grief and sorrow that we face, like Linkin Park sings about… but is it really a life to be lived at “the mercy of the pain and the fear”? I think not. Do we really have no say in how pain and fear affect our life? Again, I disagree.

The resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior… changes everything. Oh, it doesn’t change the fact that we face pain & fear daily. In fact, as Christ followers we are called to live a life of suffering. Ironically, Jesus himself tells those who call him Lord to “take up their cross and follow him”. Taking up your cross and following the way of the Savior, is one deep and profound calling into the life of suffering. But why? What is the benefit of living a life like Jesus, that doesn’t achieve fame, fortune, and all the trimmings? Why would a God who created this world with his very voice and breath, call his beloved children to a life of suffering and pain? Is God some kind of cosmic kill-joy that takes pleasure in the pain and torture of his creatures? Is God a puppet master that wishes for his little earthlings to linger in a life of pain, so that he gets some demented pleasure from our groaning? NO He is not a God like this.

God’s greatest desire is that his people take the nature of his son Jesus Christ. Profoundly, God is trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is perfect unity in his communication and love for all three. Out of his perfect relationship, he created a world that would experience the love, grace, kindness and continuing creation of the world in which we live. The surrender and death of His Son, Jesus is more than a cute Easter card in the spring. It’s a radical transformation of the identity, belonging and purpose of the very creation he spoke into existence. When his children surrender to a life of suffering, as Jesus suffered, we willingly take on the life of being shaped, molded and patterned after Jesus. It is the very life of choosing to be chiseled for God’s sake.

Romans 5:3-5, “3 Not only so, but wet also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We glory in our sufferings for the process of what is built up in us… Perseverance, Character, Hope… and the love of God through the Holy Spirit. We are chiseled and shaped, for the glory of God, so that when suffering comes then we can speak of the goodness of God despite our circumstances. We can tell of the wonderful grace of God who changed everything in the resurrection of Jesus. We are not controlled by or “living at the mercy of the pain and the fear” Linkin Park… In Christ Jesus, we are redeemed from pain and fear. In the life of Jesus, we are able to handle the break up, the distance, the loneliness and isolation that comes after relationships disappoint, not because we are better… but because the grace of God has been chiseling us to handle pain, disappointment and fear in new ways, not old ways.

As one who follows the way of Jesus, I’m not waiting for the end “of my loneliness, depression, fear, pain, despair” … for in Christ all this brokenness has been met and mended. Relationships are not the enemy. The battle is not to see how fast I can find another emotional ‘high’ to bring me out of my despair… the battle is won in relationship with the God who loved me enough to end the struggle for why suffering happens.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember those novels a while ago that let you choose your own adventure ending? Character development would set the stage, then you’d be given the choice to turn to specific pages if you’d like to make the story turn out different ways. I like that idea, for theological reasons. Specifically, as a church body, we are facing exciting adventures ahead and we have every opportunity to choose our own adventurous outcome. Now, you might say, “Wait a minute; we can’t just make the future happen the way we determine it, look at our debt.” You’d be right. God is certainly shaping our church into the congregation that reflects the life, teachings and sufferings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our little corner of our state as much as possible. Sometimes this takes going through ‘sufferings’ or difficulties that we may not particularly choose, but all the same, God is using every adventure for His good purposes in us as a community (Romans 8:28). We may not be able to determine God’s future for us, but we can participate in God’s adventure in 3 specific ways as we prepare for an interim pastor to lead us:

1. Do not be anxious for anything – trust God’s leading for His church

Philippians 4:6, 7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Anxiety can be crushing and can distract us from worshipping God and serving in our community. In this text, we are told to present everything to God by prayer and petition, and to do so with thanksgiving so that we can stay focused under an interim pastor.

2. Take every thought captive – replace negativity with Scripture

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Believers are told to “take every thought captive” that doesn’t conform to Christ’s standards. We must evaluate every one of our actions, desires, and impulses, and bring everything under the control of Jesus for the sake of unity. When you begin to think negative thoughts toward leadership, direction or unity, take those thoughts captive and begin praying the promises of God for His church throughout Scripture.

3. Do everything without grumbling or arguing – hold firmly to God’s Word

Philippians 2:14-15 “ Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among people like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Arguing and complaining aren’t Christ-like activities, and God doesn’t want believers to serve Him grudgingly, but with a willing and thankful heart. When you’re called by God to do something, do it gratefully and without grumbling. Christians should shine like stars among those who don’t follow Christ.

You are the light of the world in Jesus Christ. As we adventure forward, let’s trust God together for His direction and leadership for His glory. Our interim pastor is excited to lead us forward to another chapter. Let’s join the adventure too. You are invited to finish this chapter with us, so jump into the exciting adventure ahead for our church. Don’t just sit and soak waiting for things to change around here… make it your calling to take charge of our future, together.

Hope, a New Normal

I’ve had something spinning around in my head for the past two months. I went to a friend’s seminar on the Pacific Institute taught by Dr. Lou Tice here in the Pacific NW. One of the days in the seminar we were talking about “setting a new normal” in our mind, so that we might achieve the potential that God designed us to achieve.

It’s been rattling around up in here for some time now, and I’m beginning to like it. I find myself caught up in comparisons and competition with, well… myself.

I used to be a young youth pastor with really thin-skin for criticism and what felt like personal attacks on my character. Now I’m an old youth pastor with not so thin-skin, but still take criticism personally. Why do I get so side-lined by what people say of me, or about me, or to me in correction? I’m sure some people have good intentions. Not everyone can be that mean.

The skill I’m learning to integrate into my life is “creating hope for a new normal“. What I mean is this…

I’m learning to stop all negative self-talk

One of the lessons in creating a new normal for me is stopping all bad-mouthing of my own character to myself. You know what I’m talking about… “dang, I’m a jerk when I do that,” or “What the heck was that?!”, or “I can’t believe I said that again, or acted like that, I’m so stupid.” This kind of talk does nothing for building a confident image of myself and doesn’t let me crawl out from under the rocks I pile on myself. Instead I’m learning to say, “That’s not like me” when I make mistakes, or “That’s more like me” when I am successful.

I’m learning to fill my mind with optimism and hope

It’s a little bit more work, but creating a clear picture of the things I hope for in my ministry is helpful in creating a new normal. I used to always get the same results with people over conflict, or trying to find resolution because I didn’t make it a practice to picture the best mutual results in my mind before an encounter with someone. Now I’m beginning to picture how I’d like that relationship to resolve, and make my best effort to live into that picture. I have to take the other person’s free will into consideration, as always, but I find that I can lean toward optimism and hope rather than self-defeating images.

I’m learning that I’m not the victim, I’m a leader

I am growing in my understanding that I can project professionalism and leadership onto others if I live like it on the inside. One of the most self-defeating pictures I lived with was being the victim and “letting others” take criticism of me. Now, people still have things to say, from their perspective, but I’m no longer the victim in the conversation. I own the parts I need to own, apologize if necessary, and deflect the parts I don’t need to own back into the conversation for more clarity. As a leader, I don’t blame anyone else, but speak up for the best possible mutual solution as an outcome.

In creating a Hope for a New Normal, I’ve learned to clearly picture the “what” that I want to achieve, and the “how” figures itself out.

What kind of hope for a new normal do you want in life? What things is God redeeming in you that were one way once, but through Christ are a new creation now? Live into it.

satan is a punk!

I saw the back of a pickup truck filled with mole traps the other day. I asked the Mole Guy if I could shoot a picture of his truck, and he didn’t care. We had a little chat about moles. Did you know…
• They can cause $1000’s in damage overnight to your yard
• They are difficult to catch or eliminate.
• They can eat poison in baited gummy worms, but it’s not as effective as traps.
• They can cause medical injury by your twisted ankles.
• They reproduce so fast, that they will never become extinct.

Biblical writers used animal metaphor to get spiritual truth across (Roaring Lion, great fish, leviathan, ect). A close friend in ministry from Michigan says, “Moles are mostly hidden to our human senses…working underground–but we see …their “fruits” (dirt mounds). How can moles hurt us?–they hurt my feelings when they make my yard look like the Munster’s yard; I twisted my ankle when stepping on a hidden mole hole…. Is there a sense of internal moles working in the shadows below the surface of our consciousness of character that need Christ’s intervention? These internal moles may have excellent noses to find our weaknesses and exploit them. Can God give us higher awareness to sense these internal moles and trap them? Or are moles only external–pits/traps dug up by others for us to stumble into? Side note: we had a patient golden retriever once that was expert at helping us catch moles. Moles sometimes come topside, and the retriever pounced. ” Thank you Jan.

I recently watched a 45 min YouTube documentary from National Geographic on the Muslim travel to Mecca. They have a ritual where on the walk from Medina back to Mecca they throw stones at 3 pillars that represent Abraham’s stoning of Satan. They have a story in Koran that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Ishmael and Satan tempted him 3x not to do it, so Abraham threw stones 3x at Satan. Interesting twist on Genesis 22:1-19.

If Satan is like a mole, does throwing stones do the trick of resisting temptation? I think not. Does the biblical account of Jesus’ temptation account with Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13) have a slight metaphor for the Islamic religion? Did Jesus throw rocks? Or did he set metaphoric mole traps with biblical rebuttal to cut the head off of Satan’s attacks like a mole? Is the defeat of Satan’s temptation in our lives even a matter of “us setting a trap to kill him”? Or, like Ephesians 6:10-19, spiritual armor wearing, are we to mount the full armor of God and resist to the point of “standing our ground”? Satan is a defeated figure, where the lingering of his furry is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10a), are we called to respond in kind, or take up our shield of faith and resist the flaming arrows of the evil one…. So that we might stand our ground in confidence that God is at work in this world and we are to participate with Him.

I think satan would have us think we are more effective if we fight back, but like Jesus resisted, throwing rocks, or setting mole traps may not be the answer. Rather knowing God’s Word by memorizing scripture (Psalms 119:11) to resist temptation is the best mole trap we can set spiritually, for Christ has won the battle at the cross and we are the beneficiaries.

I talked to the mole guy about his traps in the bed of his truck. “Hey, mole guy, what does one do with all the dead moles once they are caught?” He responded as cool as ever, taking another bite of chicken at lunch, “Ah, we have a bucket in the truck bed for the dead ones and we just bring ’em to the warehouse and get rid of them.” Just like that he is done with them. No big deal, no fanfare, no trouble. We just dispose of them. That’s how a Christian should dispose of satan in our life, “Ah, just get rid of that pesky rodent, he’s just a punk.”

Also, my friend Jan reminded me of something else by saying, “I always wonder about the moles of self defeating behavior–where I mole myself by undermining my credibility or self-prepared me-traps. The moles of self defeating behavior may work underground out of awareness, or intentional stress and a desire to escape.” Satan is crafty and will bring self-doubt to mind and attack by digging holes in our identity if we don’t fundamentally align our identity with Christ and his work done for us on the cross. Even still, we let ourselves do the things we’ve always failed at if we don’t take these things to Jesus, releasing them to His work of sanctification in our lives. I love Apostle Paul’s final statement after the appeal to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:19, resting in full confidence in Christ he says, “Pray for me also, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” May this be our prayer.

“I Believe”… Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate

Audio sermon series
Apostles’ Creed
@Pine Lake Covenant Church,
Sammamish, WA
January 2011
Luke 23:1-25

Listen: Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried

“I Believe”… Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary

Audio sermon series
Apostles’ Creed
@Pine Lake Covenant Church,
Sammamish, WA
December 2010
Luke 1:26-38

Listen: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary

“I Believe”… In Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord

Audio sermon series
Apostles’ Creed
@Pine Lake Covenant Church,
Sammamish, WA
November 2010
Isaiah 9:2-7

Listen: Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord

“I Believe”… Maker of Heaven & Earth

Audio sermon series
Apostles’ Creed
@Pine Lake Covenant Church,
Sammamish, WA
October 2010
Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 42:5, 12

Listen now: Maker of Heaven & Earth

%d bloggers like this: