Last Minute Thoughts

Should I go? What if it is not him? What will happen? I have been with him all this time. I have seen things, and felt things that are……….unexplainable. There is no logic. There is no wrapping my brain around all that I have experienced.

 I am compelled to try. Could it be possible? Could it be that everything I have perceived, that all the experiences of my life have prepared me only for this moment? Could it be that if I do this that everything will change? If it happens, I will never look at the world the same. He is there. I see him. I know it is him. I heard his voice.

 Will they laugh if I fail? I know they will. I will lose all semblance of respect. They will mock me mercilessly.   They will create nicknames to remind me of my failure. It will be their favorite story. Who knows I may not even survive.

 I can not let this go. This is a moment that will never come again. I believe I can. I believe he Is. This is not too big. I won’t let fear hold me back. I refuse to live like the rest that can’t even imagine what it would be like to go. I will go. I am going….

 Peter got out of the boat.

 See you at church.

Pastor Chris



Back to School

Back to School

It is only days away. I know that this is either comforting and exciting or horribly depressing, but none the less it is true. School is about to begin.   And in 9 months after all the homework, assignments, teacher inservice days, football games, embarrassing moments in PE, lockers stuck, and oh yeah learning, you will not be the same. You will grow.

That is true not only of the students but also of the parents. It is amazing what you learn about your children, motivation, patience, and even yourself as you encourage and support your kids in learning. Parents you too will grow.

That is the thing about school. It has its responsibilities, it has its hard work, but it is ripe with opportunity. Think of all the possibilities. There will be opportunities for renewing old friendships and making new friends. There will be opportunities to share Christ and even just to demonstrate His impact on your life by the way you do life. There will be opportunities to excel and demonstrate your work ethic. You will be given opportunities to make decisions and then live into them.   This is not only true for the students, but for the parents and even for the teachers.

This week at church we will be talk about the importance and significance of what we as a church can do to support those who are in school.

Don’t be tardy,

Pastor Chris



Tending Sheep

How did I get here? Is that ever a question you ask yourself? Sometimes I go into a room to get something and get distracted by something else and forget what I went in there for. I eventually put down the distraction and return to what ever project I was working on, only to discover I need something, and find myself back in that room again.   If we don’t pay attention we end up where we were headed, and often that isn’t really what we intended. Moses kind of experienced that in his life.

He had it all. Raised in palace as a prince of Egypt. He had money, status, and a pretty good life going. Then he encountered an identity crisis. He realized who he was and he began to identify with his people. Upon seeing them oppressed and in one instance abused, he rushed in. It was probably not his best moment or his best decision. Then he ran. He fled into the wilderness, met his wife, had a son and lived as a stranger in a strange land. He led sheep around a mountain for a long time.

I suspect with all the time on his hands he wondered at how his people were doing. He probably wondered about his brother and sister. He probably thought there was nothing he could do now, put it out of his mind and went back to his sheep.

Sometimes that is our life. We are wandering around tending sheep. We are going through our daily grind, living life. Maybe we are running from something painful or a bad decision we made. Best not to think of it, just keep tending the sheep. But where can you go to run from God? Whether you are in the palaces of Egypt or the lonely fields on a mountain side, God shows up. He calls us to remember who He is. He calls us forward. What an amazing God he is.

This week we will look at the Gospel of the Burning Bush, and be reminded of who this God we serve is. Ready to leave your sheep?

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Summer Ends With A Bang!

Summer Ending With A Bang?

 I suspect that the hot weather is not completely done, but today sure felt and sounded different! Some time in-between 4:45- 5:10 this morning (hard saying because my eyes were blurry) as I was wandering around trying to remember what part of the coffee cup is the handle, we had a lightning bolt hit close to our house. When I say close, I can not go out to the spot and say here is where it was. All I know is that for a moment the entire house lit up and in that same instant we experienced a window shaking boom and the power all went out and then back on. That will wake you up (it certainly did Susan!)!

That experience can be a metaphor for our experience of God.   We might be bleary eyed and wandering around, not exactly sure what we are looking for, and then seemingly out of now where God shows up. How He shows up is as creative as He is. it is unique for so many people, but one way that seems to always get our attention is when we suddenly realize God’s love.

Realizing love begins with cognitive recognition. We begin to understand the love of God as he expresses it in various forms. Yet to fully realize it is not just an intellectual exercise. It is not a process of just thinking about it with our heads. Truly realizing it is to be suddenly immersed in the incredible light of it. It is to experience a shaking to the very core of our being of what it means and feels to have God love us. It is to wake us from our slumber.

This week we will take a look at God’s love, and maybe in our hearts we will experience a lightning bolt or two.

God Bless,

Pastor Chris.



Worship

Have you ever bitten into a saltine cracker where the bag has been left open for a little too long?
Instead of the satisfying crunch and the delicious salt entering your mouth you get a bunch of mush that you struggle to keep down. You just wish that someone had put the effort in to close the bag, and save the saltine crackers.
 
This is what can happen if we don’t put effort into our worship. Our worship becomes stale, and stagnant. We just start going through the motions and mouthing the words to the songs. We just get mush instead of the satisfying feeling of true authentic worship.

This week we will be going over 3 areas of our lives where we can get rid of the staleness in our worship.

See you tomorrow,

Marcus



Friendship with God

Will you be my friend? Do you remember that question when you were in early elementary school? As kids go through different developmental stages so do their relationships. They are looking to figure out exactly what it means to have a friend and be a friend. You don’t often hear adults say things like, “Will you be my friend?” because they pretty much already know the answer to that on the basis of the actions of others. There isn’t usually any kind of formal arrangements or questions.

Is that true of our friendship with God? In the childish beginnings of our relationship , we are asking God “ Will you be my friend?” and it is in His Word that he begins to define what that means, how that looks, and what his answer is. We see it in Abraham, Moses, and ultimately Jesus defines the kind of relationship that we can have. He calls us friend.

Is that how you define your relationship with God? Is it one of friendship? Is it closeness and an intimacy or is it more of an acquaintance, or a professional relationship dictated by rule and formal boundaries?

This week we will talk about what it means to be a friend of God and how we can have that kind of relationship.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Abundant Life

Abundant Life

Can you describe your life as “abundant”? Or do you consider it more of the ordinary type? I mean everyone has their ups and downs, and sometimes the ups outweigh the downs, but is that really abundant life?

What do you think of when you think of abundance? Flavor and option combos at Starbucks? Certainly are abundant. Maybe you think of the fruit from your garden? Hopefully you don’t think of the weeds in your garden! Maybe you think of beer commercials (gusto) and Mt. Dew commercials (extreme sports fueled by too much sugar and caffeine?) Maybe you think of rich experiences, your family, or maybe all of this all wrapped up into one. But Jesus had something in mind when he said in John 10:10 that he came to give us life , not ordinary life, but abundant life. 

There is something special about the life that Jesus gives. It would seem that it is not the ordinary sort, nor is it the extreme sports version (necessarily) but rather a life that is filled and fruitful at a much deeper level. It transcends our usual categories and moves us to place where the abundance has eternal implications. Are you experiencing that kind of life? Do you want to? Do you wonder at what it might cost?

In this weeks sermon we will look at how we can have the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us. If you wouldn’t describe your life as abundant, then you need to come and discover how it can be!

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



Extravagance of Grace

I was in a conversation this week about the “We Will Not Sign” video.  It was a conversation with people who do not confess to be Christians and in fact, confess just the opposite.  Their responses were very telling and instructional for me.  Of course they don’t agree, and generally think the church should just take on whatever the culture decides is right.  This is a broad path that leads to destruction, and I assure you we will not be going there.  But there was an aspect of some of their comments that I think bears closer examination.  How does one proclaim that a particular human relationship is sinful, and yet be tasked with telling people and demonstrating the grace of Christ?

I think it is helpful to realize that there are two horizons.  The horizon that is furthest away is one that does not deal with individuals and individual relationships (appropriate or other wise) but rather talks about the broader aspect of human relationships that please God.  We as a church MUST proclaim accurately the way of living that pleases God or we will be guilty of teaching people to follow error.  That will lead them into a life that will be sinful, but because we might have been affirming they never realize it.  From the horizon of the church and the teaching of the church, we must never compromise the standards of God.  We must never say that what God says is sinful is somehow ok now that we have “science.”  We must proclaim God’s message.  If they reject God’s message that is a matter between them and God.

But there is a second horizon, which is also in view, the horizon of the individual. We are instructed in Matthew 7:1 not to judge.  This is a favorite verse that people in these kinds of conversations love to bring up.  They are right to suggest that we are not to judge!  It is not our place to make a pronouncement about an individual’s status before God.  I will not stand in Judgment over a person. That is Jesus’ deal not mine!  Judgment goes both ways, neither are we to declare someone as innocent before God!  In these matters I do not get to decide who goes to heaven and who does not. I can only accurately and faithfully report on what God has revealed.

 Rather than talk about judgment, instead lets talk about grace.  Lets talk about how extravagant it is.  How the grace of God found in the redemption through Jesus Christ can purify anyone from all unrighteousness.  Lets talk about how we as a church should be overflowing with grace. 

 Come be encouraged this week as we focus on grace!

 See you at church.

Pastor Chris



Steady

Our country is going though some tremendous changes. In the last 5 years we have seen sea changes in some fundamental and basic areas of our lives.  From the federal government compelling all citizens to purchase health care, to monetary policy that puts us on the same path as Greece, immigration policy that results in open borders, and now homosexual marriage is the law of the land.  Government routinely listens to and stores digital recordings of my phone calls (how boring for them) and in Oregon this week a baker who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couples marriage was both fined $135k dollars and given a gag order about the case.  First amendment what?  The government will not let you buy raw milk because it is too dangerous, but they just passed the law that removes country of origin labels from our meat.  Parents have to fill out a permission slip for field trips, but 6th graders can get an IUD without parental knowledge or permission in 13 different public middle and high schools in  Seattle. It is getting a bit crazy.  I honestly cannot imagine what our country will look like in 10 years.

 But in the middle of all of this, some things remain rock solid and steady.  These are the things to hold on to when the waves of chaos rock our world.  Here are a few of my favorites:

 The Word of God is unchanging, and reveals God’s will for humanity and tells us of salvation! What a comfort to know that God is not going to change His mind about morals, sin, and salvation.  We know and can continue to trust that He says what He means and means what He says!  Thank you God for your revelation!

 The Gospel is still the Gospel.  How incredible to know that no matter what the government does, Jesus Christ has answered the sin question forever.  If we repent (turn 180 degrees), confess our sins, He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  He will save those who love Him, and he tells us that those who love him are those who obey Him!

 The Church will be the spotless bride presented to Christ for His glory!  The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.  In fact, the worst that they can do is persecute us and take our lives.  But Jesus conquered death, so ,  so what!  The church will endure, the church will continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and when he returns He should find us doing what he commanded!

 And finally,  Jesus is coming back.   I take such great comfort in knowing that He is coming back and I can not say it any better than the book of Revelation,

 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!”

…He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Mountaintops

You never end up on top of a mountain by accident.  You might be able to if it were a skydiving mess up, but other than that, you will probably not just end up there.  In fact, it is always entirely the opposite.  To reach the top of a mountain there are so many things that are to be done.  There is physical training, there is equipment  that you have to have.  There is the research into the route or the trail you will take.   On many mountains you have to go with a group or a guide, and when you get to the top you plant your flag.

Planting a flag may be old school, or discouraged now since we are all being environmentally conscious, but doing something when you get to the top seems important.   I know that at the tops of some mountains there is a log book and a pen, so that you can sign in, and see who else has been there.   But if you do not prepare you won’t get there, and if you don’t take your flag, (or a pen) you will have nothing to say you made it.

The goals identified in Vision 2020 are the mountains that we are striving for.  These are the places God is calling us to climb to.  They are not the only places we will go, because in each instance there is a distance from where we are to the top.  Yet they are the goals , they are the targets.   We have to go into training, we have to get the right equipment, we even have to plan our route,  and we will have to strive to make it.

This week we will talk about the 5th Mountaintop: Fellowship.  It might seem like the easiest one since we are starting off in a pretty good place.  But sometimes what seems easiest ends up being the hardest.  In this instance, it is about intimacy, vulnerability, authenticity, and our willingness to go there.  Come be ready to be challenged to a greater fellowship.

 See you at church.

Pastor Chris