Through the Eyes of Thanksgiving

We are beginning a beautiful time of year. Affectionately known as the Holiday season, it appropriately starts off with Thanksgiving. It is our opportunity to give thanks to God for all that he has provided and done for us.   It is obvious that one day of feasting in celebration of His amazing provision, is inadequate to the task. But we make a go it, especially in the feasting department! One can not say enough about being thankful to God. The reasons are infinite in their diversity, with some being public and others being personal.   They are as numerous as every breath we take.

It is easy to get caught up in all the nonsense this world is dishing out right now. If one were to focus on it you could become despondent and want to find some kind of escape, and many do. But in Christ, we have a different set of eyes. Just as we are to be His hands and feet, I think it best if we also have his eyes. When we have his eyes and see the world through them, we will see what is possible, we will see people with compassion and love, and we will see our circumstances with gratitude for every blessing. This Sabbath we celebrate Thanksgiving as a church. We will have an extended praise and testimony time. I want to be sure that everyone has an opportunity to praise God for all of the blessings in your life. So put on the eyes of Christ and consider how will you give him praise as we come together.

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



When God Came Down

 

In Exodus 19 we have an amazing story. Moses came down and told the people to get ready because in three days they would encounter God.

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (Exodus 19:10-11)

 Wow what an announcement! Can you imagine the excitement? God was going to come down on the mountain for all of them to see. Can you imagine the conversations that must of spread through the camp?! The excitement, the washing of the clothes, the preparations, because they as a people would see God coming down, and come down he did, curiously on the morning of the third day!

If you knew that God was coming down, in great power, wouldn’t you want to be ready? Wouldn’t you want to wash your clothes, and have everything in order? The anticipation, what would it be like? The fear, with warnings about not to breaking out and going up to see even closer. It is an incredible story of an incredible event. But what is even more amazing is that we too share that opportunity. God wants to be present in our life and in our church. God wants to come down in power and in a special way. Are we getting ready? Do we anticipate it with great excitement awe and wonder? What could happen if Holy Spirit were to come down with power in our church service this week? Are you ready for that?

Holy Spirit Rain Down!

Pastor Chris



Ready for the Big One?

Here in the Northwest we are constantly waiting for “The Big One”. By all accounts we are due for a very big earthquake.   They happen every so often, (or at least they have) and we are actually over due for the next installment. Because of this we get told to have on hand certain emergency supplies and what we should do just in case. Eventually the Big One will come and while we will all be surprised, no one will really be shocked. They have after all been telling us this was going to show up for years.

But I wonder if they were expecting an earthquake in Acts chapter 4? They had seen so many things, and were experiencing such an incredible movement of the Spirit, you might think that they would be ready for anything. But I think the shaking of the place still surprised them. Would it surprise us?

It would be amazing to be part of such an experience as they had. I think it would something that I would remember forever. I would no doubt tell my grand children about it, and fondly remember it. But the reality is, that the earthquake of Acts chapter 4 was the least important thing in the story. The important part is what happened afterwards. The important part was how they changed.

If the Lord moved in our church with power how would it impact you? Do you think you would come away unchanged? How would your life look different?

Are you ready for the Big One?

See you at church

Pastor Chris



Rain Down Your Healing.

We need healing. In a society that values self-reliance that can be a hard thing to admit, but it is true.   We need it in our lives.   This world and all its stuff is constantly damaging us. It damages us physically as they are filling our food with unpronounceable chemicals packaged in containers that poison our bodies. This world damages us emotionally as the father of lies, speaks his native tongue in every area life. Our hearts are broken and wounded from the lies lived out and we are impacted. We need healing in our relationships that are produced in the crucible of our emotional brokenness. Actions taken in the heat of a moment or the anger of a circumstance, stuffed down, ignored, covered up, but ultimately damaging us.

 Where will we seek this healing? We most often look to ourselves. We think that we can pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. As we move from extreme to extreme in cutting out this or that in our diet, only to find out that what we replaced it with was worse.   Marketeers at their best and nutritionist left to catch up on the latest craze. We think that if we only convince ourselves, we can have good self esteem, which will certainly cure the world of all that ails it. The problems in our relationships come from old fashioned gender norms and outdated social structures. If we just get rid of all of those then the world can be what the Beatles imagined it could be. How’s that working out?

The real answer of course lies outside of our self. The healing we need can only come from the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives the gift of healing. Not so we can create a TV empire, but for the common good. Will we trust His healing? Will we ask for it? Will we believe it is possible and even learn to rely on it?

 Holy Spirit rain down!

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Good Gifts

Do you love getting gifts?   Isn’t it fun to anticipate them and be excited about the possibilities. Whether it is Christmas, birthdays, or just “because I love you” gifts, it seems like it is always fun to get gifts. Maybe always is a bit too universal.

There have been a couple of times when getting gifts can be a bit scary. Ever go to one of those 40 or 50, or what ever age some random person has decided is over the hill, and everyone has brought a gift? You don’t quite have the anticipation as when you open other gifts. Or maybe you going to a Man Gathering or bridal showers. Those can be a bit nerve wracking or at least hilariously embarrassing. This last year Susan got a gift for her birthday, and if I am honest I was a bit afraid for her to open it.

It was given by our daughter who, while usually very trustworthy, can be VERY creative when it comes to gifts. I had received a number of phone calls in consultation prior to the gift, but was never quite sure what it was, only that I was going to be involved. At first, I was concerned it was two tickets to sky dive, but I warned her off of those(see below x10). But I got the sense that it was a bit extreme. The hints were all about flying, etc etc. and so then as I wracked my brain, I came upon the idea of a hot air balloon ride. I thought “Oh no , not that. “

Now to be clear, it is not because I am inherently afraid of heights, or even of falling, it is the sudden stop end at the end that actually troubles me. There is something about risk vs. benefit that makes me not want to ride in a hot air balloon. (to all the hot air balloon lovers I apologize in advance) You see my reasoning goes something like this: After investing all of my life in ministry and my children, and I really love what is going on in my life, to die in a hot air balloon accident would just be stupid. The benefit (“ooooh look a mountain!”, or “There is Puget Sound!”) and being able to say “look how high we are only supported by a flammable fabric filled with hot air, lets go a little higher by lighting more propane…” just doesn’t have a lot of appeal to me. My creative daughter and my adventurous wife had me a bit afraid as she opened the gift. Turned out my fears were unfounded, it was indoor skydiving. It was a blast. Turns out I could trust my daughter after all….. this time.

So it would seem, that the eagerness of our desire to receive a gift is somewhat tied to who it is giving the gift. How eager we should be for gifts from our Heavenly Father! Jesus said this in Luke 11:13 – If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 Do you trust Him? Do you trust His gifts?

 Holy Spirit rain down!

See you at church.

Pastor Chris



El Nino

 

I was watching the news this week and the weather was so nice they barely had anything to report about. With no real disasters, they were bored, so they have begun to report on this year’s El Nino. El Nino, (otherwise known as “The Nino”) , is a warming of the mid-pacific that influences our weather.   Of course with all the concern about human caused Global Warming, everything should be downright catastrophic, much to the news readers delight. In the good category California might get a lot of much needed rain.   According to the Office of the Washington State Climatologist (yes we actually have one of those) we have increased chances of above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. In other words we will probably have a warmer and dryer winter.   So if you hate cold weather and like it warm and dry, you might just have a great winter.

I wonder, if we had a model for our spiritual weather what it would be predicting? Would newscasters come on and say things like “Well it looks like the drought is going to continue” or “ By looking at over all spiritual temperature, we think we are in a Spiritual El Nino.” We should expect a mild dry season. It will be comfortable and not disconcertingly wet.” Are you in a Spiritual El Nino?

We need the Holy Spirit to Rain Down!   We are tired of the comfortable dry season, and ready for the winter rains that fill the reservoirs of our souls, the spring rains that bring the growth to our spirit! Holy Spirit rain down!

Let us acknowledge the Lord;
   let us press on to acknowledge him.

As surely as the sun rises,

   he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,

   like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

Pray for rain!

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



Relying for Growth

This week we return to the NEXT sermon series.  This is where we talk about what God is calling us to pursue as a church. This week we will talk about the first one: By December 31, 2020 we will be a church of 300+ people.  It is undoubtedly a big goal.
 
Why such a big goal?   Why not choose something more manageable?  For instance something like “5% growth per year.”  or “We will add 2 families each year?”  Why not a goal that seems more realistic? There are a lot of reasons.  Those goals (5% or 2 families a year) certainly seem reasonable.  At one level when you get right down to it the reason we don’t pursue them is because I don’t believe God is calling us to them.  But there is a second reason why not. They have a fatal flaw.  We could achieve them on our own.
 
When did Jesus ever call his followers to something so mundane?  Always he seemed to be calling them to something that seemed impossible.  We do not want to be the church that achieved some goal out of our own cleverness.   We don’t want to be the church that somehow maximized our structure, program, or fancy marketing so that we achieved what we had set out to achieve.  Make no mistake those efforts have their place and our motto needs to be what Paul exclaimed “by all possible means I might save some.”  But the goal we have set out for will require more than what human efforts might realistically achieve.
 
What we will need and ,in fact, the only reason we will reach this goal, is a movement of God in us, in our church, and in the people He brings to our church.  We will only reach this goal as we learn to radically rely on God to achieve it, in and through us.  Ultimately it will be Him not us that grows our church.  Just as the Psalmist rightly observes “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”  But also please note, it is not an either/or.  There are still builders.
 
So this week we talk about how we can respond to the invitation to join him in the building.  We will look at how we can radically rely on Him and still be doing our part to grow our church.
 
See you there!
 
Pastor Chris


Follow Harder

Have you ever followed someone to a new location? You know the times when they say just follow me and I will get you there. Either the directions to get there are so convoluted or people just don’t want to take the time to write them down. In the era of google maps and every other kind of map app out there you would think that “Just follow me” might be on the way out as an expression.

There are all sorts of followers when it comes to following someone. There are those who are way too relaxed about it. They trail waaaaay behind. If you are the lead vehicle you always feel a bit nervy about this sort, because a light could change, or there are so many twists and turns (or a random roundabout) that they might loose you. Then there is other kind of follower. These are the kind that stick right on your bumper. You look in the rear view mirror and you can read their lips. As long as they do not crash into the back of my car, I am most appreciative of those kind of followers.

In the times when we are feeling distant from God it is probably because we need to follow harder. We need to stop lollygagging about. He is so far in front of us, and we are so far behind, that it is becoming difficult to know where the next turn is. It is getting hard to know what our next step is. We need to follow harder. We need to put the peddle to the metal and get up close. We need to be on the bumper so that any new turn we will see and can respond to right away. The harder we follow the closer we are, and with Jesus there is no fear of collision!

Come be encouraged to follow harder!

Pastor Chris



Surrender

Did you ever read or watch the movie “Where the Red Fern Grows” when you were a kid?  Sad I know. Sorry to bring it up but, there was a part in it that was always intriguing to me.  The coon trap.  As I remember it, it was this hole in a log or a board and you put nails in it at such and angle, and then put something shiny, that would attract the coon.  Then it would reach its hand in and get it, but would never let it go.

As I kid this always intrigued me but I never really tried it out.  I always wondered what I would do if I caught one?  Kind of like what would the dog do if he ever caught the car?  But it is interesting to me that we humans are a lot like the silly coon.  We see the shiny thing, the thing that we think we want so bad, and then when we have it, we won’t let it go, no matter what.

There are all kinds of things for us to want,  whether it is riches, glory, power, influence and all the derivations of these.  But so many times they get in the way of what will bring us life.   Instead of being willing to them go, and have real life, we hold on.  Hand stuck in the tree.  Death approaching but we can’t seem to let go.

The woman at the well needed to let go of relationships that could never satisfy.  The rich young ruler needed to let go of His wealth.  Nicodemus needed to let go of his power and influence.  James and John a secure career to follow Jesus.  If we want to be someone who Leans In, getting closer to Jesus, we have to ask ourselves a really important question. 

What is it that we need to let go of?  What do we need to surrender?

 See you at church.

Pastor Chris



What Would It Take?

Have you ever heard of the stories of the couple who were struggling in their marriage, and then some tragedy hit, and it some how reminded them of what was important and they got close again. Or the person who narrowly escaped a car accident, or maybe the person who got the cancer diagnosis suddenly remembering who God was? Or maybe you heard the story of the executive who blinks his eyes and his children are gone and can’t figure out why he doesn’t know them? Why are we so easily distracted from the things that are the most important in life? And why does it often take some sort of tragedy to wake us up?

It would be so much better if we never let ourselves get lazy in our marriage. It would be so much better if we stayed closed to God in the first place so that tragedy would not be so shocking. It would be better if while we were working hard we had kept our family as first before work. But all so often we don’t. We find that our relationships need refreshing, our perspectives need wake up calls, and our priorities need to be reprioritized.

We are beginning a new sermon series called Leaning In: Getting Close to Jesus. The overarching theme is that we can indeed get close to Jesus, (I will be reminding you of some of the ways we can) but here is the question; What will it take? What will it take to move you in such a way that you want to get close to Him? What will it take for you to put laziness aside for discipline? What will it take before you give up the cold loneness of distance, to nestle into the warmth of His embrace? What will it take before you once again Lean In? My hope is that it just takes a gentle reminder.

 See you at church,

Pastor Chris