Sunday, June 29, 2008

From Guest Blogger Glen Bryant

“Honk”

Have you ever been sitting at a stoplight in a row of cars and looked away or down for a moment only to be startled by a horn blast from behind you? I’ve even started to let off the brake to go, only to find that they weren’t honking at me at all but at some car in front of me who hasn’t noticed that the light has been green for a whole 2-3 seconds and is still not moving. It can be quite unnerving as your heart tries to recover from the jump-start it just got.

Well I just got back from my first trip overseas. I went to Thailand with a mission group from my church. It’s amazing to see how different we are from other countries. There are different laws and customs, and everything generally looks different. We traveled through Singapore on the way there where I saw signs that told us drug trafficking was punishable by death! (I wonder if they have fewer problems than us.) One of the customs in Thailand is to leave your shoes outside so as not to bring dirt in the house, so wherever you go you see tennis shoes, sandals and other footwear all outside the door of the house. One morning when I got up I had a problem with my right shoe seeming a little tight. Well I figured out you should check you shoes for frogs (and other creatures) before you put them on!

Anyway, one of the most noticeable differences to me was the traffic. You drive on the opposite side of the road from what we do and the steering wheels are on the right side of the cars. People drove all over the road and there were motorbikes, or mopeds, everywhere. It appeared chaotic from my “shotgun” seat in the taxi and a little frightening at times. It seemed like we were always inches away from hitting someone or being hit. Surprisingly, I didn’t see one accident while I was there. There was something I began to notice though that is something new to me after living in California most of my life…these people in traffic were “sharing” the roads. No one was claiming ownership of any lane or intersection. They were all getting along…peaceful in their travels. The only time I heard a horn honk was when…get this…out of courtesy, they would give a short honk to let someone know they were there close by, and to be careful. There was no anger, no shaking of fist, no salutes to tell you “you’re #1”, just a peaceful, cooperative, calm, commute from here to there. I began to wonder what this would look like in America and I just couldn’t see it ever happening.

For us it seems like our rights come first over everything…even the rights of others. I see people making dangerous passes, even in the fog, that they are sure they have the right to make even if it does jeopardize the lives of those around them. We cut each other off and insist on having the right of way. We blast our horns thinking that’s going to help the situation when all it does is startle those around us. We yell, curse, and some have even shot people, all to claim the right of way. Some would consider Thailand as more “primitive” but I think they are way beyond us in how to get along as we go through our day to day travels.

I used to wait till the last minute to get up for work and when I left my house any small delay would have me running to the time clock. I would jump on the freeway, stressed and worried over whether I was going to make it on time or not. Once I did get clocked in it would take a little while to calm down. Then one day it occurred to me that if I got up a little earlier and left my house earlier, that my day might start out so much more calm and peaceful. So I tried it, and it worked. I don’t even take the freeway anymore. I drive calmly down the residential roads listening peacefully to my worship music and when I arrive at work I feel no stress. Starting our day with stress can ruin the whole day and all it usually takes to avoid the stress is getting up a little earlier (if you have kids you have to get up and going this may not be possible and I sympathize with you). Also, our stress usually overflows onto others around us, ruining their morning too.

I was backing out of a parking space one day and there was a lady a few spots down that since she had started to back out too, thought I might hit her. I wasn’t even going to be close to her and I watched her as she panicked and instead of stopping and shifting to pull forward (which really wasn’t going to be necessary) she slammed the palm of her hand on the horn. I felt bad that she was panicking but I had to laugh at the fact that she thought honking the horn was a better choice than moving out of the way. Did you know that the original purpose for the horn was for the “safety” of animals and pedestrians? Things sure have changed.

If I was going to bring one thing back from Thailand it would be the peacefulness of the people there. The peace there wasn’t just in traffic, it was everywhere. I think for us, a peaceful drive to work everyday would be a good place to start…and for me, it has changed my life.

By Glen Bryant

ON VACATION


I am going to be on Vacation for a Couple of Days.
Not sure if I will have internet connection... looking forward to having some quiet time with the boys.
Have a great week- and an awesome 4th of July.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God can use Me.

Here is a great video clip of one of my favorite teachers, Francis Chan, sharing the fact that all the people who we hear about doing mighty things for God, are no different than us.




the only difference is they were willing to take a step of faith when the moment arose. My prayer is that I am willing to step forward in faith when I am prompted by God to do something counter culture- for his glory.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marriage and Commitment


Tonight the Elevate theme was being ready for marriage- now. Whether you are in it, or coming out of it, or are years away from commitment- the preparation should begin now! The book af Genesis gives us the beginning on how God designed human relationship and how it was important for us to leave or parents and cleave to our spouse.
the thing that I tried to stress the most that commitment should become a very important part of our life before we make a marriage commitment.
So here are some things that I am convicted to do as a result of what I taught tonight:
1. I need to be more committed to some of the areas in my life that I have let slide. in particular I want to commit to physcal fitness, eating healthy, spending wisely, and mentoring my sons.
2. I need to let go of some of the things from my psst that I still beat myself up over- to leave them at the cross. (1 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation)
3. Spend time more time listening to the voice of God to discern his voice and what his plan is for my life. So I am not swayed by the lies of this world.
4. I need to be pro-active in protecting my relationship with my wife and making it better.
So I have a lot to work on. the cool thing is that the God who created the earth with his mere breath, has promised to help me do what I cannot do on his own. I am planning on taking him up on his offer.

God bless
Joel.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

We all need a Editor.

I am preaching at Crossroads Morning worship service today, I am teaching on having a editor in our life, a person who is willing to point out area's of needed attention. The biblical example comes from 2 Samuel 12, where David has just committed one of the most vile sinful acts ever recorded, and still God shows his love for him by sending a editor, Nathan. Psalms 51 shows the heart behind David's response to the Editors confrontation.
2 things to remember about an Editor: They are concerned with us as individuals, they are passionately seeking after God.
Here is a little clip I put together to start it:

video

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sudan Calls

A week ago we committed to support "rock for water" a group from visalia, who answered a call to help the people of Darfur. We are collecting supplies to take to the children of Sudan. One of the main items we need is ani-diarrhea medication. This next Tuesday is the last opportunity to collect items at Elevate.

Watch this video and pray about how you could be involved. We are hoping to take a trip there in this next year- maybe you are one of the future team members. (if you are even thinking about it, get the process of obtaining a passport right away.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Elevate Podcast is up and running. After a couple of days of running into brick walls and trying not not to say any curse words we finally have transmission.

It may take a while to be available in the search area of itunes, but if you would like to subscribe to the podcast follow these simple directions:

1. Open Itunes
2. Click on Advanced tab in the tool bar
3. Click on Subscribe to podcast
4. A box will appear, copy and paste the following link into the box:

http://www.ellev8.com/elevatepodcast/elevatepodcast.rss.xml

5. Click "OK" and you it will start loading the most recent message.
6. Listen and try not to make fun of Joel

Have a great day and God bless.

Toinght we are going to have 12 screaming boys (1 girl) at our home. We are having the team party for Jonahs Baseball team to celebrate their league championship, and 2nd place in city.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God is on the Move


As humans we have a way of getting so consumed with our lives that we base our perspective of God on what we think he is or isn't doing for us individually. If things are going well its easy to say God is good, and to sing songs of praise and wonder why every one isnt happy. On the other hand if we are having one of those days, weeks or months (or sometimes life's) and things aren't all good, and we just want to crawl in a corner and shut life out because it seems so unfair or cruel. The truth is that God is always on the move, we may have times of trial and struggle, but God is alway there and is always expressing his love for us.
One of the ways I can get out of my egocentric way of thinking about God is to seei what he is doing. One of the greatest influences in my life in my walk with God and in ministering to others is a guy named Louie Giglio, is the the founder of 268generation and the Passion Conferences.
They are currently taking the passion conferences to the world, check out their blog: http://www.268blog.blogspot.com it is amazing to see what God is doing. I was listening to the podcast and was moved at God's love for all people, and his willingness to go to any length to show them his love. When I get caught up in the typical american way of life thinking its all about me and I have a right to all the things I want, I lose sight of the fact that God doesn't operate on American capitalism or the American dream. He has a plan, and even when I cant see it.
My Job is to seek his Face, to seek his presence. When I find him, I find his plan, I find his will, and I also find that pleasing him is the most fulfilling thing that I can be a part of. Because that is what I was created to do- to know him and to bring him glory.

To quote my good friend John: When words can't express what is going on inside, we need to sing. in other world let our hearts cry out to God so that we can see him as he really is, and that we can see ourselves as he see's us.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Relationships

Time has a away of moving along so fast that often you forget what you have or being to take it for granted. Yesterday I was able to celebrate fathers day with my wife and sons, and take a little time to appreciate what I have. I rally am blessed, and I need to do a better job of being thankful for, and investing in what I do have rather than working so hard to pursue the things I think I should have.

At elevate we are in a series on relationships, and this week we are going to be looking at the differences between men and women, and how God created us both with amazing qualities and characteristics and if we want to have solid relationships (especially with the opposite sex) we need to learn to embrace the differences. In a long term relationship, it is easy to let the differences become sources of conflict rather than stimulants for relationship growth. I have began to learn that I am glad my wife is not what I would like to mold her into. She is strong is so many area's where I am week, and I am working on really appreciating those area's where she is much different than I.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Championship


I've been bragging a lot about how good my son's baseball team is, so now that we have finally experienced the agony of defeat I need to be gracious in defeat.
We lost for the first time all season in the city championship, it was heartbreaking to see the kids hanging their heads after a tough loss. But they really did a great job and were excited to get their 2nd place trophies. I actually think it was harder on the parents, I think we all learned some important life lessons last night.
All in all Congratulations to the 2008 National League Cardinals.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baptism

Last night was an exciting night, I had the privilege of baptizing 5 people. My It is such a cool thing to see people really excited about surrendering their life fully to Jesus and following his command in baptism. There is something exciting about new life, and seeing people who are genuinely passionate and thankful for what God has done in their life.
I was challenge by their joy and appreciation to really look and what God has given me in a different light. Sometimes it is easy, when you have been a Christian for a long period of time, to take for granted the second chance we have been given. The excitement the felt was contagious and I am appreciative to be part of this huge step in their Christian life.
How grateful are you today for the forgiveness that God offered us, and continues to pour out each day?

Also, tonight my son plays in the city championship for little league, I already have butterfly's in my stomach. I got to go find some rolaids.

Monday, June 9, 2008

From Guest Blogger Glen Bryant


Pushing It

Have you ever had one of those weeks where at the end you are just totally exhausted? That’s how this last week was for me. I just didn’t feel like I had anything left. I had worked extra hours, got up earlier than usual, and since my co-worker was on vacation, I had to hustle more to keep up with the work orders I was getting. By the end of the week I was feeling pretty frazzled and my usually patient self was starting to weaken and show signs of irritability. This situation made me realize how much I rely on having someone to help me. I know that if my partner had been there with me that I wouldn’t have felt so worn out at the end of the week.

That reminds me of how my life was before I sought help from God. I was always exhausted from trying to do everything on my own. I didn’t want or need any help. After all, God was for the weak that can’t handle life and need a crutch to lean on…right? Well, I admit that’s the way I used to think about Christians. So let’s think about that. If you had a broken leg, do you think using a crutch would make you a weakling? Of course not…only a fool would try to walk on a broken leg without a crutch. So if your spirit is broken, wouldn’t the smart thing to do be to seek help and healing? Helloooo! OK, so it’s safe to say that the smart ones seek and accept help when they can’t do it alone…right?

The thing is…I thought being a Christian would be easy but it’s not. In fact, it was a lot easier back when I lived by the worlds rules, you know the ones, “if it feels good do it”, “you only live once”, and how about this one, “I’m not hurting anybody but myself”. I was making excuses for my moral weaknesses, my lack of direction, and for my addictions. The thing is, God doesn’t promise life on earth is going to be good or easy, He tells us if we stand up to the temptations and trials the world dishes out, that we will have a great life in Heaven at the end. Let me try to explain with this story…

So after the killer week I had I was ready to rest all day Saturday, but what I forgot was that I had told a friend I would go to the mountains with him and hike around. Well I found this hike up there that sounded challenging but doable. It was 3.8 miles one way, and an increase in altitude of 2000ft (for the shape we were in this was pushing it). So we set out on this hike feeling fresh and ready to go, but it didn’t take long to realize that this was going to be tough. The realization of what a 2000ft incline started to set in pretty quick. My legs and lungs began to scream at me, “You fool, what were you thinking”! The trail just kept going and going and it seemed like we were never going to make it. There was a battle going on in my mind between the part that said, “You can do this”, and the part that was saying, “it’s too hard, just quit, you don’t have do this, it’s not worth it”. The trail was kind of dangerous too, the path was narrow and if you slipped you would have a long way to fall. On top of that, we even encountered a rattlesnake at one point right in the middle of the path. But we didn’t give up and when we reached the top we were surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. It was an awesome sight and it made all the work to get there worthwhile. On the way down I realized how similar this hike was to what a Christian walk is like.

Being a Christian is a challenge, there are many obstacles, and if you fall off the narrow path you can fall a long way. So if your one of those people who think like I used to, think again. Being a Christian isn’t like using a crutch, it’s more like learning to stand up without one…without being too proud to ask for help when you need it. Psalms 37:23-24 says this, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he may stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand”. God didn’t say it was going to be easy, but He does promise something beautiful at the end!

And even though I was pushing it by going on that hike, it helped me gain confidence in my ability to finish when faced with a challenge. (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7)

Friday, June 6, 2008

2008 Visalia Cardinals are Champs



They did it, Jonah's team finished the season undefeated and won the championship game tonight. It was a nail biter, we won 3-2 in extra innings. I cant believe how nervous I was, it was an intense game.

Congrats Cardinals!!!!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

9 Years


Yesterday I celebrated 9 years of Marriage to my wife Codie. It is amazing how quick time goes by it seems like only yesterday when we were planning a wedding and getting to know the person we hadn't known for the previous 20-something years of our life. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to share my life with such an amazing person. When I first met her on a blind date set up by her dad... thats right her dad... I remember trying to think of ways to get out of the date, because I was scared of the unknown. I had some friends who knew her and were telling me you have to go out with her, she is an incredible person. Fortunately for me, I listened and the rest is history- a wonderful history that now includes two boys and almost a decade of incredible memories and a life I don't deserve. Thinking back to all the good things my friends said about my wife before I knew her, they didn't even touch the surface of who she is. I am always learning new things about her and finding new ways to share life together with her.I think sometimes ot is easy to relegate our relationship to God to a one time decision and then just following a set of rules, rather than exploring the amazing ways that God is continually revealing himself to us.
I have lots of room for improvement as a husband, and as a follower of Christ...
I look forward to growing in my relationships as we go through a new series at Elevate called "True Love?"

Monday, June 2, 2008

Relationships- How is your love life?


Relationships are tough. Some of them are great, some of them are decent, and some of them just down right stink. In the Bible we find that God created relationships just like the rest of his creation- to be good. If we look at God's word he says a lot of things on how we can have higher quality relationships in our life. Many times the relationships in life don't go the way we had hoped because they take work, and if we are truthful, many times we don't want to work on relationships we just want them to benefit us. In the days to come, I am going to be sharing some things I have learned about relationships, and most importantly- what God has to say about them.

Have a great week, don't miss the new series on Relationships starting this Tuesday night 7pm at 210.