Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The zoo is more fun with a son...

Jacob is so impressed by animals! I think his first obsession was dogs... and he can spot one anywhere! Labor day was a great time for us just to relax, clean the house and take Jacob to the zoo. It's hilarious... he has this obsession with spiders now - in fact, he frequently goes spider hunting with me and Tara... so even though the spider exhibit at the oregon zoo was, well, lacking... he got a kick out of the tarantulas... 

Oh yeah... and look at him sitting next to a cougar!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Love My Wife!

For the past three days, Tara and I have taken a challenge to focus on a specific aspect of how we should demonstrate our love for each other each day. So far, we have focused on patience, kindness and selfishness. Wow... so far, it has been an incredible time for us! It has forced us to talk about our relationship each night... and that love that you have for your spouse that is so deep and so strong yet is not always on the forefront of your mind - yeah, that love... that love is being kindled in us since we started this challenge... praise God! Our spouse's are so important to love and to continuously grow closer to and to treasure! 

If anyone wants to know what this challenge that we are doing is all about - ask me about it and I'll give you the info.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes I struggle to make a post...

Hey everyone! (or no one depending on who actually reads my blog!!)

It is often when I am so busy that I am not thinking "reflectively" on my life and on what God is doing... that is never a good thing, even though I could very well be busy doing good things! 
O God, you are my God! I long for you! My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water... experiencing your loyal love is better than life itself, my lips will praise you. For this reason I will praise you while I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. As if with choice meat you satisfy my soul. My mouth joyfully praises you, whenever I remember you on my bed, and think about you during the nighttime hours.        Psalm 63:1-6
God is more pleasurable than life itself... not even mentioning the fact that He is more pleasurable than the deceitful pleasures of sin in our lives! But one of the key phrases in this passages was "whenever I remember you on my bed"... Oh, how important is it for us to be constantly reflecting on God: who He is and what He is doing and how we can trust and know Him more and more!

I look forward to the day in eternity when I can actually do this perfectly... until then I trust in God's grace and mercy day by day to continue to help me grow and mature in Him until the day I see Him face to face!

Posts that are coming up: Uganda mission trip, Houseboats 08, the best and the worst of times and several others (once I finish writing them!!)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Can I Talk About God and Still Be Relational?

This might not even be a question in most of your minds but it is in mine because of conversations that I have had with my wife and those close to me. On my blog, I write mostly about God: his character, his promises in Scripture, his working in my own life, his working in the world. In doing this am I actually being relational to other people or am I just being narcissistic and thinking only of my own personal bubble-relationship with God?

Well, because I'm human, I'm probably doing both. My intention, however, is to not just relate to those who read this blog and tell them about my life but also (and more importantly) bring up the fact that God is involved in every little detail of our lives whether we recognize it or not and we need to wrestle with that! 

...and ultimately, that's what I'm most passionate about talking about and writing about. I'm convinced that the most relational thing that we can do is relate to God first and foremost. This needs to be the center and foundation to all our relationships. The horizontal then follows from that. It's exactly as the greatest commandment words it:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

It's in conversations and minute by minute living where I see a huge amount of neglecting God... My hope is to acknowledge God and live in Him and trust in Him "minutely"... even on my blog!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Resting in God vs. Resting in the World

This morning I taught the Junior High and High School from Matthew 11:25-30 and we talked about finding our "rest" in Jesus instead of running to entertainment. Wow... what a huge issue even in my own life! My own tendency is to run to the computer and spend all my down-time on practically useless stuff... well, it's easy to convince yourself that it's useful to some degree but it hardly ever benefits me and my relationship with the Lord... and it usually doesn't benefit my family, my friends... than why am I doing it? Because it's fun. Because I can turn off my brain. Because I can let loose and just "forget" about all my worries and just laugh at the jokes and bask in the wonderful technology and brilliance in movies/computers/whatever. 

I see this tendency in myself and I see it all around me... Oh if only we as Christians could take hold of the promise "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Take my yoke upon you... and you will find rest for your souls." 

Lord, help us to find our rest in you! May we not run to the world when we let our guards down and "relax" and "recuperate"! May we rest in your Word; the sweet and precious promises that we find in your Word(2 Peter 1:4)! May we rest in prayer knowing that you give peace that surpasses all human understanding(Philippians 4:6-7)!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Accidental" Tragedies

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter was just killed by one of her older brothers accidentally. Some people might say, "Where is God in this?" 

Although I cannot answer in specifics to this particular situation there are some passages that come to mind:
"For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" - Matthew 5:45

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" - Genesis 50:20

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" - Romans 8:28

"... we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" - Romans 5:3-5
God is in control... yes, even in the midst of tragedy and great evil, God is in control. God, in His incredible wisdom, turns evil and tragedy for good for those who love Him! What an incredible promise that we can take hold of in times of tragedy and sadness!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trusting in God for the impossible...

Financial provision and sinful habits: two themes, at least in my own life, where God has truly shown my complete lack of control in and of myself and my need to utterly depend on God!

Anyone else relate to that? Yeah, I think most of us do. Every time I'm stretched to trust in God the temptation is to say to myself, "I can do this, I can do this... I can figure it out." Now, if I had said, "I can't do this, God help me!" I know I would be smack-dab in the middle of the way-everlasting! The problem is that my response to trial is not always so perfect...

Please join with me as I learn to trust God for the impossible(or what I see as impossible!) and know that with God all things are possible!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

100,000 Dead in Burma: Is there something wrong with our world?

A horrible tragedy has happened in Burma – a cyclone has killed more than 100,000 people. What a terrifying large number of people to die! I look at that and I don’t think we can with good conscience say, “Wow, that was horrible, but the world and everyone in it is basically good. Bad things just happen because we live in a violent universe full of random accidents and tragedies.” What a hopeless look on life! Are tragedies like these just random mistakes in nature? Or is there something deeper that is “off” about everything around us and everyone…

Of course there are countless “explanations” to that question but the only authoritative source that we have is the Bible which is God’s written word for us to read and to understand and to live by.

 Even though in our minds the so-called problem of evil and the so-called problem of death and destruction in the world seems like tough questions to answer, but the Bible is very clear about God’s intention through it all:

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death…"

Romans 8:19-21 – “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Sin has come into the world because we brought it there by our own choices. We have broken God’s law, we have desired other things more than Him and we are all guilty! What is our just reward? Death. Everything that we have from our most valued possession to every breath we breathe is a gift from God that is undeserved! Sin doesn’t just affect us but has affected everything around us and that’s why we see so much death and destruction and evil in this world: we brought it here ourselves and we deserve nothing but death! However, God is not at a loss because we have sinned and His hands are not tied. God is in control:

Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Joseph was thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, thought of as dead, falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison… but saw God’s plan and purpose through it all: God meant it for good! It doesn’t say that God didn’t want it to happen and finally did something about everything that had happened to Joseph: He didn’t finally step in at the last moment. God was there through it all orchestrating everything together so that in the end God was honored and his people were saved. This is not only a one-time act of God but rather a principle that still applies to how God works in us even today: 

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

God works ALL things for your good IF you He calls you and you love Him. Isn’t that an incredible hope? It is the most incredible hope that we can have in this life!

If you are asking yourself, “That sounds great but how do I love God and how do I know that He has called me?” I want you to listen to this:

Romans 10:9-10 – “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

 If we hear those words and in our hearts say, “Lord Jesus, I need you! Please save me, please change my heart so that I might see you and savor you as my Lord and my Savior! I put my trust in you, I put my faith in you even though I cannot see you!” – then God is calling you and He is working in your heart!!

 Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The most important decision in your life is whether or not to accept these things as true or not. And if they are true they demand a response from us: either to place our trust in God or accept our due punishment for not!

James 4:14-15 – “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” 

Our lives are but a mist or a vapor. Our need for God is so immediate! It is only by his mercy that we live and breathe. Let us give thanks to our God and creator together!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Ocean and Baptism

This past week has truly been an incredible one! Tara and I were priviledged with a two day stay at the coast... And where we stayed was truly breathtaking! Each morning I had to pinch myself when I saw the incredible beauty of the ocean right outside our window!

God's invisible attributes are clearly seen in creation... I don't know how someone can look at the beauty of what He has made and say "There is no God!"... Having that time at the coast was such a breath of fresh air... and it was needed, badly needed!

Well, along with the theme of water, this Sunday was the first time that I had baptized someone... in fact, TWO  of our Junior High students... Seeing these two kids publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ was a providential encouragement to me... Sometimes in youth ministry, it is hard to see the fruit of your work, but of course, it is God who saves and it is God who grows, not me... 

This has truly been a week of cleansing and washing and renewal from beginning to end... Another week of experiencing God's indescribable grace!