Tuesday, September 30, 2008

new birth and new birth

Today a good buddy of mine and his wife, Will and Amanda Cyrier gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Evan Elizabeth Cyrier, coming in at 9lbs 1oz and 20.5 inches. Happy Birthday.

Without any prior knowledge that today would be the day that this infant arrived in the world, I set myself to memorize 1 Peter 1:3-4: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you..."

I love these big natural reminders that our God awaits our arrival with love and anticipation, just like my friends loved their daughter even before she open her eyes to take in her new life. Take a moment, let it sink in, you were "loved before the foundation of the world..."

Lots of prayer today. Busy lunch rush at work. One of the boys was filled with much excitement today as he feels God is giving direction and a vision for the uniting of churches in Kitsap County. O God, let it be. I pray for the miracle of pastors uniting because they love God and not because they have an irreplaceable granule of wisdom to share or a hollow platform to build and stand on alone. May God humble the minister so that he can use them as he does his angels--as flames of fire. Please continue to pray as many lost souls pass through our doors each day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

after the week ends...

For the few of you that did read and did pray I thank you wholeheartedly. I feel like writing, "I mean that!" I never want the words, "I will pray for you," to noncommitally roll of my tongue. It is more than simple honor. I believe that God hears and responds to our prayers. I believe God showers His people with added intimacy and love when they boldly approach His presence.

Sunday proved to be a very long day. First there was the morning service, followed by a spagetti feed. Inbetween our church gathering and the highly anticpated full-on tackle football game at 3 o'clock I attended to whatever Jason Thompkins needed in doing some basic construction on our home on Bledsoe avenue. The football game was an excellent means of personal interaction with guys. Whenever you are able to smash someone into the ground and are then able to give them an encouraging hand back up it is an all around success. Such an incredible experience! Seriously though, we had about 25 guys and gals (a few tough one that played, including my ferocious mother) that came out to test their strength, speed, and ability to forgive. In the midst of these basic opportunities to live and preach out the gospel before others there was another pulling back of the veil into the serious unseen. After football had concluded a newcomer, who had attended church earlier and had experience a few tackles by the preacher-guy, pulled me aside and asked for prayer. He's tired of riding the fence. He want for his life to finally be all for God. I was happy. Surprisingly, however, that was not what he wanted to talk about. He is staying at a KMH (Kitsap Mental Health) home that was filled with people that the State sets aside for special attention because they are old and hopelessly lost. While at the house another resident has been spiritually taunting him, claiming demon possession (even naming the demons within), and is often overcome this evil force, which works to effect her with harm and others with harm. I cannot write this in full detail. The mere thought of further details abandon me only to prayer. Please pray with me. O God, set the captives free.

I have also begun Luther's "Bondage of the Will," and encourage any of you to keep me accountable to my reading. One commentator wrote, "Whoever puts this book down without having realised that evangelical theology stands or falls with the doctrine of the bondage of the will has read it in vain." Phew! There lies the challenge.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Preach the Word

Please pray for me as I preach tomorrow at 10:45 in the morning. There are always a number of souls present that have not yet responded to Jesus. Pray that I may speak with clarity, humility and power in the Holy Spirit.

"We labor to make things plain...Having nothing to conceal, we have no ambition to obscure”
C.H. Spurgeon

may i be unlike the seven sons

"No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life...."
- 2 Timothy 2:4

We started a new practice for Teen Night on Friday nights. Come 9 o'clock we pass out tickets for an opportunity to score a free drink (which is nothing new) and offer to pray and counsel anyone brave enough to enter the side room. In the side room they will usually find me with another staff member ready to claim people for Jesus. Jesus heals people. This is the second week of the "routine" and so far we have had a few staff member come in hungry for prayer and a few other usual suspects. A girl came in to discuss her hurting hand and miserable living situation. She told me that a girl at her home needed to be prayed for. That this girl had been swaying backwards and forward, stumbling about, and talking to herself for the past 14 hours. The place where they lives is a slum. It is a broken down house turned into dirty apartments fit only for a close encounter with a wrecking ball. Anyway, this is where they live with about twenty other people who hate both the light of day and the light of Christ. It is a place of utter darkness. When I heard about this request I was rearing to go claim the victory in Jesus. One of the other staff members entered the room before we left and suggested that we pray, asking if God was going to give the enemy into our hands--much like the children of Israel--but the answer was not what I expected. I figured that God would obviously want us to go, charge, and attack the demonic stronghold. However, remember with me now that there was always something that happened before the glorious victories in the Bible. Before these victories you will find a people that have consecrated themselves for the Lord. A people that prepared themselves for battle. Know church that you cannot win battles until you have been trained by the Lord of Hosts, God Almighty. Do not go up unconsecrated or you will lose. What does this look like? How much have you prayed, even wept, because you care for the lost and see the love and glory of God? Have you prepared for battle? Do you know what the battle is? To finish the story: we stayed and prayed. Let us not be arrogant and think that we can enter a situation like the gospel story of the seven sons of the pharisee and cast out demons. Let us humble ourselves before we are humbled by the reply, "Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?" I am grateful for the caution of the other staff member and was challenged to be prepared as a soldier of Christ.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage,
Lord.I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.
-Isaac Watts

Thursday, September 25, 2008

parade of hearts

Tonight the Coffee Oasis (the launching pad for Hope in Christ Ministries) hosted an open mic night for people to showcase their abilities and inspirations. The majority of the performers came from a writers workshop that Erica Steele mothers each week. This is my second one. Both times I have left with the same conclusion: Erica is doing an incredible job. It is strange, even to write about it fills me with a emotion. You see, most of the girls that come are part of a large group of lesbians that have come to consider the coffee shop there safe haven. As Erica takes the girls through fun and artful activities she loves them and cries with them and laughs with them. When they get up to share she yells and cheers for them. Whenever they are doing well she prays without speaking for them and when they have had enough of their own lives she prays aloud with them. Once a week these girls are allowed to be girls. Every month these girls write with an eye towards sharing their work at the open mic. Between every title and sentence read I heard the same stories recounted in many different terms: "Why did I fall in love with a jerk", "happiness always leads to heartache", "the pain will never leave", "why did you treat me so bad?" "Why?" Then one of our own boys took the stage and responded with every lifting refrain of the hymn that releases itself in the beginning with, "o love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee...." I do not know if you understand the fullness of the hope that is in you, because even after the parade of hearts that I witnessed tonight I do not exalt as I should in the difference between life and death, light and dark, heaven and hell, the love of God and loneliness. Please pray for your own personal joy in receiving all that is in Christ and for spiritual breakthrough in the lives of these girls. Please pray to for Erica's encouragement.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

nowhere else to go

"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
- John 6:67-68

I know where I am supposed to be--Bremerton. It is not necessary that I am perfect at what I do here (though I do strive for perfection). Thankfully my place under the covering of the Almighty does not depend on my performance at His work; instead, it is by His work that I am secured therein. It is taking awhile for me to accept the full wonder of the fact that the first and foremost reason that I am in Bremerton is because God has plans for me here. By grace and through faith I will learn. Yesterday (as my mercy post well represented) I felt terrible at all that I was called here to do. I was awed by the immediate and reassuring answer of God when I asked within my heart, "Is it really here that you want me?" There was no hesitation the response, and surprisingly my heart did not flinch at the "yes" verdict. You see, no matter what painful shaping God has to do in me here I pray that I become more a man after His own heart. That is all I want now. That is the beginning and end to my life. With all the praying and checking of my heart that went on before I pushed off from the port of Denver in my boxy Subaru Forester for destination Bremerton I saw much that could be improved in "the Church." God, I believe, saw more that that. He saw things in me that needed improvement. We NEVER reach a level where we are merely givers alongside of Christ. I was not coming with a basket of revelations and dreams to bless the Church. God had much more in me. He Himself would bless the Church AND me. "[God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." (Acts 17:25) Rejoice with me that we are the same, fellow heirs in Christ and because of Christ. Let us never run ahead and try to live beyond this glorious truth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

George Hunter

“No thoughtful person can fail to recognize the fact that each generation produces a few men and women of such outstanding personality that they come into life seemingly, as did Melchizedek, without father and mother and without family. They stand somewhat aloof from their generation and no one thinks of them in connection with a human background, but only as isolated individuals who, called to a certain order of service, have no rest of mind until they have accomplished the task which was set before them, and who pass out of this world with few to mourn their loss and none to whom their going seems to cause acute pain. Their instinct was to keep free of human ties and to be under the control of none save that inner voice which has been the arbiter of their destiny.”
- “George Hunter: Apostle of Turkestan” by Mildred Cable & Francesca French


"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." - Matthew 5:7

Today I had a sad exposing of my own merciless nature. I am the one quick to judge. If we are to be ripe fruit to be picked by God, we must bask long in the direct radiance of the Son of God, letting ourselves be effected by the longstanding rays of His Glory on our innermost parts. The very core heat of His presence is the pervasive affirmation that we are co-heirs of eternity with Him, because, and only because, of Him. I have never thought of myself as the parabled servant who took advantage of mercy to condemn others with the same terrifying expectations that I had once despised. But that is me. I have viewed questioning criticism as a means to an end that I desired to see. No miracles needed, just pragmatic discussion and white-washed gossip. These are joy stealers and Body breakers. Father, forgive me and heal the wounds that I have carelessly caused. Without the loving expression of mercy in our lives we will never understand purity of heart. Pity the merciless person for they will never understand the full expression of love. Mercy speaks, "you are beautiful and full of potential, because Christ loved and gave himself for you. " (Galatians 2:20) Go and do likewise.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

in the rearview mirror

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the lords, who is Spirit." 2 Cor. 3:17-18

Each morning crossing the Warren Ave. bridge I get to see heaven meeting earth over-top the Olympic Mt. range, which appears as a brief and brilliant unveiling of God's glory. It forces a daily reminder: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care?" (Ps. 8) Thank you, Jesus, for not waiting for my doubting response. In material comparison with the largeness of the mountain or the vastness of the galaxies or the length of the river or the power of a grizzly I am inadequate and inconsequential. We are exalted only by our relationship to God. God exalts us. Being made in His image for relationship with Him is the beginning to our worth.

I regret not having the time tonight to share with you the words and whispers I have heard from God and his people this past week through the Spiritual Hunger Conference 08', Montana-Rama 3rd with my boys from SOMA, Fight Club with the Coffee-O gang, Tuesday prayer, the worship seminar at Seaside Church, and the preliminary elders meeting with Pat, Rocky, and my father. It is only grace that these meetings have not added onto me needless standards and anxiety from imaginary, unmet responsibilities. I think my soul is beginning to feel the true freedom of true grace. That whenever I look to God he says, "I accept you." Ha! That is the sweet sound of grace.

In the past 4 days 4 new people have moved into my parents house, adding to the previous 2, making the total 6. Tonight as I entered the kitchen after dusk to make myself a late night PB&J I was cornered by a new member of the ever-growing household. Here is the kitchen story: a young women being found by Jesus after years of living through drug-numbed emotions and an empty spirit. Now she sings for him. O God, give more people reason to sing here in Bremerton. There remain so many lost, so many "out there." O God, please rescue...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Glance

It has been my intention for over a month and a half to been begin writing out my experiences, not because of the worthiness of my own words or cherishable cleverness of any of the subsequential thoughts, rather, it is because God is worthy. Worthy for even my small story to be told in honor of His faithfulness and love. It is my hope that these posts will soon tell of the explosive work of God in Bremerton. In writing it is my desire to use the opportunity to once again personally enjoy remembering the work and the intimacy of God that I have both experienced and seen around me, and to also to give any reader the opportunity to enjoy the sight.