Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"What can be given in exchange for a soul?" Would you give five minute to pray? I'll make the Abrahamic bargain: what about ten? 15? For one soul? For two? For a child being raised by a prostitute. For a girl who has to find creative ways to stick herself with needle because the typical spots are infectious. For a bum who can't stop boozing. For a fatherless young man who can't find a job or a place to live, and who is beginning to realize that God is a father. For a man who won't look you in the eye because he is so scared of himself. For me who wants to worship in the midst of it all. "Be still and know that I am God. I WILL be exalted among the nations, I WILL be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46). What about here, God? Even here? Show everybody, God. Just like you showered down fire on Elijah's altar of rough, uncut rocks, shower down here.
Please pray for me as I prepare to teach this Sunday. Those who have had the challenge of being close to me know that I can sometimes carry a very serious demeanor while preparing for a sermon. It always feel the weightiness of the undertaking. The days can carry a unique contentment, along with a unique loneliness. I get antsy when I study, as if the material is too rich for my soul. And it is strange how hard it is to share those riches. I often have to pace. It is a time set apart. Pray that I will think clearly and love well.
"Just a few more weary days and then/ I'll fly away."
Monday, October 27, 2008
The college group that I spoke at was having a pizza night this evening and since I taught last week I thought I should attend (and if Josh is reading this, I wanted to see you too). I wanted them to know that it was more than a fly-by-night Gospel bombing the week before. About 3/4 of the way through the painful movie What About Bob? I was wondering why I had come. My first thought was one of embarrassment for liking the movie so much when I was younger. For second reasons, I have been harping on myself a lot for not guarding my time better. I want more time alone with Jesus. Right as Bob (in the movie) was getting married to Dr. Melvin's sister a shaggy, blond surfer walked in the front door of the house I was at. In retrospect I was not very welcoming. I was only dropping by, was my excuse. I hate it when I fall into the mentality that "my ministry" is elsewhere. O God, use me here and now. There is never a time for cold hearts and detached heads. But God thinks of me more than I think on Him so the night was better than my passionless plans. It was a meeting of souls. Matt just moved here from the small town of Quincy, in the Leavenworth/Wennatchee area, with his bride of only a month. Explaining the growth of beauty and evidence of God in his relationship he asked, before sharing a story, "are guys into Jesus' stories?" I was riveted. I already thank God for bringing a guy here that sees how big He is and if that not enough he plays the drums!!! Weeks before I landed in Bremerton, as God gave me an exciting vision to see His name worship, I had started praying for a drummer. Please pray for Matt and that he will be encouraged as his wife is out to sea (Navy) and as God may bring him into ministry in Bremerton. Exciting times!
Ps. I had the greatest run today. It was fast. Well, it felt fast. Probably because it was dark out. You always feel faster running in the dark. But that is not the story. The story really starts three years ago. Three years ago myself and two other kindred spirits forged our own trail into the thick of Moscow Mountain to find a choice tree. You might imagine since I used the word "forging" that there was a great deal of snow. It's true. The mountain was bound in snow. We found our own trail-less way into a slanted meadow of snow, sheeted with perfectly preserved crystalline flakes of snow. It was there we found our tree. To be more clear, it was only the top of the tree that caught our liking, which was fortunate since we could not fit the whole Fifty foot structure in Elmherst, Apartment H. So I climbed up the tree and topped it. As I climbed the tree that day I was wearing a pair of Nike running gloves that had been issued to me earlier, while I still competed for WSU x-country. It was that same pair of gloves that I wore today on my "fast" run. To this day the gloves still smell strongly of the pine tree I cut down that day. Thinking that I was only overcome by nostalgia I asked my mother and sister to smell the gloves. Same result. They distinctly smell of that tree and that day. I thought I would share the story that brought me so much joy on my run. There are days I miss the mountains in Moscow and snow deep enough to wear tennis rackets in and drinking baileys hot chocolate with CJ in a single-pain windowed apartment. It made me laugh to smell that day again three years and hundreds of runs later.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I am privileged to work with a group of individuals that would gladly give the clothes off their own back for someone who is cold to stop shivering and hear the words of Jesus. It is what I call the "naked Gospel." To him who has ears...
Monday, October 20, 2008
For some more honesty, I am not sure how much everyone else benefited from the time. Ha! I always want revival. There were some girls on a couch that seemed to have grins that widened as the night went on. Some guys struggling with clinical depression interacted on varying levels. One guy loudly declared afterward that he shouldn't sit on the comfortable couch next week (i.e. "I almost fell asleep."). Despite the inconsistent response I love talking about the truth. I love to feel it, much like the classic children's song: "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart." Please pray for more to hear and understand. I think it would make my joy complete.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
"I wake up with that feeling every day," was the sound of someone relating to Jesus' first sermon. It came from at the end of a short drive home from church with a guy that I have begun meeting with on a weekly basis (that is, when he remembers). The exchanged happened after short stop by his house to pick-up some of his gear for the football game later in the day. As he jumped into the car to leave I noticed he had grabbed his Bible and a copy of Bruce Wilkinson's Prayer of Jabez: Teen Edition. He asked me my opinion on the book and I gave him a brief overview of what I thought about the story of Jabez in Chronicles and how he had called to God in desperation and dejection and how God had answered him; purely an exegetical response since I had not read the book. Me, being my usual verbose self, thought I had killed the conversation. Just as we had settled into the 1.5-seconds of silence the guy in the back seat began confessing, "that is exactly what I needed to hear. My parents didn't want me, my foster parents didn't want me, but I think God still has big plans for me." Before I could respond the guy in the passenger seat leaned back and said, "Dude! That is why I brought the book. I thought that maybe it could help you." Praise God for doing things bigger than me! This brought us into talking about the Beatitudes in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Mind you that it is only a 3 mile car ride. I told them how God came for the sick and rejected. The Jabez's and thems. I told them how we come to God only when we finally wake up and realize we are dirty and desperate, bankrupt and (I cannot remember the exact word I used). That is when he said it: "I wake up with that feeling every day!" So we sat outside. Talking as the guy in the back grew more restless. Pray for this young man. He is beginning to see the difference between freedom in/through Christ and personal efforts.
Today I thought of these grand lyrics to the under-appreciated hymn Hark the Herald Angels Sing: Christ by highest heav'n adored / Christ the everlasting Lord! / Late in time behold Him come / Offspring of a Virgin's womb / Veiled in flesh the Godhead see / Hail the incarnate Deity / Pleased as man with man to dwell / Jesus, our Emmanuel / Hark! The herald angels sing / "Glory to the newborn King!"
With it I considered (know how unfulfilled my heart is to have no better word to express what it is like to ponder such Divine matters) what it meant for Christ to come here. Here. Psalm 29 reads with force, "Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty; Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength; Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name." May none of our actions belittle the fact that HE IS GOD and that HE WILL REIGN FOREVER. What will it be like to need no Sun because the radiant presence of the Lord lights the skies wherever it stretches? How can we understand when He came and walked and ate and lived among us as "the true light that gives light to every man," but "though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him?" "His own did not receive Him" (John 1) I read with great emotion again, "Christ by highest heav'n adored / Christ the everlasting Lord! / Late in time behold Him come / Offspring of a Virgin's womb / Veiled in flesh the Godhead see / Hail the incarnate Deity / Pleased as man with man to dwell / Jesus, our Emmanuel / Hark! The herald angels sing / "Glory to the newborn King!"
John weeps, literally cries, in the book of Revelation that there was none found worthy in Heaven and Earth to open the scroll, which is a warrant of life and hope to the devastated soul. I will claim with serious certainty that a person is not saved and has no personal relationship with God if they are not despairing at the thought of life without Him. How many churches could do without Him? Before John is lost to wild emotional pain the Lamb enters. He recounts, "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders...He came and took the scroll...and the four and twenty elders fell down...and many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand...in a loud voice sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise" (Revelation 5). Praise Him! Feel emotion for Him. Know Him intimately and personally. Praise Him!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
As I prepared to finish my day today I thought of Ananias and Sapphira in the beginning of the book of Acts. Ultimately they bore the price of a divided life. God does not take part in something. If something is only partly consecrated it remains unholy. For example: what if you decided to use your bicycle and it decided to keep a piece? As you speed down the road you realize that it decided to keep the both the back and front brakes. All goes well until you realize that there is a need to stop, perhaps a barrier of monstrous proportion is in your way, and you can only toss yourself carelessly onto the gravely side or collide at full speed with the immovable obstruction. If you are making an effort to give only a portion of your life to God--trying to tithe your life--then you are bound to crash. God will not share the title to your heart. Dare to test and see if Christ is in you reigning as Lord and King. Or have you erected a bobble head figurine in you heart? Is there power, vigour, and love in your relationship with God? Or have you kept back the best part? He is a good King that rules with fairness and watches over those that are His with a jealous eye. One beckons our hearts who is fairer than ten thousand (Song of Solomon 5:10).
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The reason Jesus came was to love a bitter, runaway bride; bitter because of her own efforts; because what she did didn't cut-it; because she wanted to be good all by herself; and spiteful because no amount of make-up could ever make an enduring beauty last on her eternal complexion. One author commented on such efforts, "we cannot do anything to qualify for the by-product of being loved unconditionally and voluntarily." Do you believe that He loved His bride even when she lives like this? Compare her with the champion of our Souls. She was gross. I was gross. How could these words of Paul be true, that the "Son of God, loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2) Are you significant? Do you matter in respect to history or geography or astronomy? Yes, God, I must be reminded. Thank You, God. Because of Your constant calling and determined pursuit I can live at peace with You and love You. Soften my heart daily with the fresh news of Your love, because I am dust and long for the constancy of being at home with You.
One of the girls who made the Coffee Oasis, and also the Frederick home, her “refuge” was shining with unquenchable brilliance today. I wish I had a better word than shining. I have heard hope compared to floating, so perhaps she was floating. Blah! Perhaps you have to see it for yourself. For the last months she has been living in the midst of spiritual darkness. Though it was not the state of her own heart, it was the place that she lived and the people that surrounded her. For several days off and on over the past months she has made our home her “vacation” spot. More of a spiritual vacation that anything else. While she desired to make God the love of her life, she started surrendering all the barriers she could name. First went smoking, then boys (she want to focus on Jesus right now), and finally her home. So today she was all life. It was an encouragement all day. She bounced around the coffee shop telling about what Jesus was doing for her. Praise God! May more people bounce like that.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
"The only man who has the right to say that he is justfied by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ"
Today I visited Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. 4 buildings of varying age are scattered across the victorian styled estate. It is small, but from what I can tell men are equipped there. It was a blessing talking with Gerry Breshears about spiritual warfare and at-risk youth. Please pray for me as I consider this possibility and now try to sleep off a tiresome sickness.
Romans 3:28-29 - The promised good of being in relationship to God is a transforming into a more Christ-like character. It is my praise that God is making that goal my sweet puruit. Let us pray for holy desire. "My soul yearns for you...I open my mouth and pant for you." (Psalm 119)
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Today the first and freshest snow of the year fell on the Olympic mountains. With a short one-mile drive and a pair of binoculars you can see this spectacular view across the Puget Sound, a waterway curving through a natural maze of peninsulas and islands.
"Have you entered the storehouses of snow?" - Job 38
Today offered the opportunity to study Spanish with a young man who frequently comes into the coffee shop. If he does not come we go to him. Since he is always willing to pray and often eager to burrow into the scriptures I decided it was high time to start meeting with him on a weekly basis. Together we made a commitment to start reading through the life of Jesus and Neil Anderson's Victory Over Darkness. Please pray that these times are each as a direct beam from a twirling lighthouse mirror--shining straight and brightly into this young mans heart the whole Gospel.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
"A nose is an important feature in the human countenance, but to paint a man's nose alone is not a satisfactory method of taking his likeness: a doctrine may be very important, but an exaggerated estimate of it may be fatal to an harmonious and complete ministry. Do not make minor doctrines main points. Do not paint the details of the background of the gospel picture with the same heavy brush as the great objects in the foreground of it. For instance, the great problems of sublapsarianism and supralapsarianism, the trenchant debates concerning eternal filiation, the earnest dispute concerning the double procession, the pre or post millenarian schemes, however important some may deem them, are practically of very little concern to that godly widow woman, with seven children to support by her needle, who wants far more to hear of the loving-kindness of the God of providence than these mysteries profound; if you preach to her the faithfulness of God to his people, she will be cheered and helped in the battle of life; but difficult questions will perplex her or send her to sleep."
Yesterday I sat down with a brother who came to me with a comment about my teaching. For you who know me--I mean, really know me--I am do not take criticism or "comments" sitting down. In my head and on my tongue an infinite number of refined responses are being formed while I listen. As I sat there taking it all in I was praying the most submissive and holy prayer I could think of: "God, please help me shut-up and love." So I squeaked out a thank-you. For me that was a victory. I am the kind of guy who earns a score for being competitive on strength-finder tests (true story). Today as I drove to work God reminded me the Proverb, "wound of a friend can be trusted." (Proverbs 27) I go through crazy efforts to not be hurt. I elevate myself to levels of invincibility in peoples eyes so that I don't have to be portrayed just as I am--a brother to the exposed thief on the cross, gasping with all the effort left in my lungs, "Jesus, want to be with you." You see it is not the word justification that saves people, it is the truth won by Jesus that does. Do you get what I am saying? If the words we use make the Gospel out of reach or if our examples ostracize the listener then it is me that has failed, not the hearer. May we watch our lives and our doctrine closely so that the life of Christ be clearly seen in us. Please pray that the gospel may be clearly preached and readily received here in Bremerton.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
- J.H. Jowett in A Passion for Souls
I saw them again today. They are not outcasts, they are lost wanderers. To be an outcast you must have had a home at some point. They have none. Has Jesus knocked? Is your heart His home? If so, how can you stand the sight of so many homeless souls? Why can I stand the sight? Just as Jesus said, "there is One greater here" (speaking of His place above the Law), I believe there now stands a need more urgent than the election of earthly powers or the travail of financial systems or rumors of war, it is the prevailing need of each individual soul, standing speechless, deaf, and blind before God. "How will they hear unless there is preaching?" (Romans 10). This is not to be understood (or misunderstood) as the trained utterances of a man who, after being hidden from the public throughout the week, stands behind a lectern and wails about a distant subject matter. It is a man or a woman being moved by the Spirit, filled by love, helplessly driven by divine delight for her unseen Lover, singing in the streets or in homes to anyone who will bear to give her a minute of time. By these means the Savior knocks and calls the lost to join the banquet. I want to be there and sing now.
I enjoy rereading the posts and seeing all the possible points of contention (though I dislike contention). One might be a whisper of: "did you see how he said man 'or' women? Maybe he thinks women should be pastors." We all have mental hang-ups that allow us to justify our half-hearted mode of living. We commend ourselves for ferreting out indecent doctrine, while missing the heart of the message. We busy ourselves like Martha, thinking we are an example of discipline, while the spiritual Mary's enjoy a greater rest and understanding and testimony of personal relationship. Today I heard a John Piper message title "War." In it he said, "my greatest enemy is John Piper." Let us search hard for the planks. Should we preach the Gospel? Yes! Should we preach it correctly and as the Bible prescribes? Yes! There is only one God and only one Gospel. The character of that God is mercy expressed through Jesus to us, who through faith in Him are being saved (I can already imagine my studied brothers shouting "Justice! Remember justice!"). I pray that all I speak to will be saved, proving the justice of God in the death of His righteous Son. In view of His sacrifice may we learn compassion.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
"My sheep know my voice." - John 10
"Love always hopes, always perseveres...Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13
" God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble. / Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. / Though it's waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging. / There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. / God is within her, SHE WILL NOT FALL. / God will help her at the break of day. / Nations are in an uproar; kingdoms fall. / He lifts His voice and the earth melts. / The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress." - (Amen!) Psalm 46
I pray that God will makes this more than ever true in the life of this girl.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Here are some encouraging clips from the day. I woke up. Did you know that Davids child before Solomon was named Nathan, which is the very same name of the prophet that came and convicted David of his adultery. Imagine the burden on the heart of Nathan, an uncle in the house of the king, coming to uncover his friend, coming to humble a king. We need more men who value righteousness and are willing to speak-up when it is needed. Though business was slow talking with Rocky and Erica was encouraging. Prayer from 1:30-2:00. Rocky and I went out to a home and prayed/talked through scripture with a guy. Please pray ahead as I meet with this individual again on Friday. As the Coffee shop closed its doors we had about ten individuals from the church who had come in to pray and learn and encourage. It is a beautiful church. Afterwords I took a college group from PBF prayer walking. To be more correct, the Lord took us (just trying to share the 100% truth). To go behind and never before the Lord is to go in power. We prayed in the rain. My heart has been filled with such hope lately. Today I saw no one come to know Jesus, but I look forward to that day. I know the day is coming when many will call on the name of the Lord. Right now I am lovin' Jesus and looking forward. May we be the one Paul speaks of who are "longing for His appearing." (2 Tim.)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
"Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrendering of will to His purpose - and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin."
- William Temple (1881-1944) in Readings in St. John's Gospel
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
"Today I was tempted by evil twice, and twice God gave me words to speak. I spoke in scripture and in words that were too wise for me came from my mouth. The confrontations came from two coworkers. Neither of these guys have ever said anything discouraging about my faith so I knew immedietly it was the evil one challenging me in my faith. The first guy called me a "gay Christian" and before I knew how to respond scripture came from my mouth, "You know not by what spirit you speak." It was like Jesus was inside me defending me. The second guy unexpectedly called me a "fag" and in the same way words came, "I care not what the world think of me." Later I met an old aquantence who asked me what I was doing. I stood at her and grinned for some time. She asked, "why are you smiling." I told her, "it is because of my Lord Jesus Christ," and she ran away. Another girl who had spoken to her came up and asked me how I was enjoying church. I told her how amazing it was and she told me how she really wanted to be a Christian. She had waited a long time and she felt like the time was now...."
Here is a young brother who today was my tutor in faith. His summary was: "all you need to do is make yourself available to God." He left me with the words that we have exchange frequently in the last month, "God is doing something big!" Please pray for us. I greatly desire pure passion as we draw near to God in worship.