Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reflection


I have in the fast few days been thinking over what it means to "live" as a follower of Christ. For many it is a list of do's and don'ts and that is ruled by guilt and fear. I agree that fear is a big key in following Christ, but the fear in the bible is not something where we run and hide from something we are afraid of, but rather fear is healthy respect, an acknowledgment of power. Any one that has asked Christ to be the Lrod of their life has an incredible responsibility to live in a way that honors him. The interesting thing is that we are asked to that which we cannot do- and that is to be perfect. Why would God ask us to be perfect, when he know we cant be? He knows our weakness and our limitations and he knows that the only way we can live up to this is to give up and allow his perfectness to live through us. Its kind of like a reflection. A mirror shows only what it is pointed at. Have you ever had a mirror reflect the sun into your eyes- pretty intense brightness almost blinds you. I am learning that if I truly want to demonstrate what it means to be a follower of Christ, instead of trying harder and trying to do more things, I must spend time with him and reflect him to everyone I meet and in every situation.
So I hope that my reflection is clear and that the mrror of my life is pointed directly at Jesus.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Snapshots

I love pictures. I like the fact that you can capture a image of a moment and go back and re-experience it a later date. One of my boys' favorite things to do is get on dads laptop and take pictures with the webcam (nothing like a Macbook pro) Here are a couple of shots of some of m favorite times with them.
A few weeks ago while on vacation, I took my son to a huge arcade with tons of games the rows of games seemed to go as far as you could see, he thought he died and went to gamers heaven. After playing a few games, and carefully making the most of each token, my son still had 8 tokens left, and was contemplating where to play his last few games. Thats when he did something that took me by surprise, and gave me one of the proudest moments a father could ever have. He took me to one of those photobooth things that snap 4 pictures in a row. The cost was 8 tokens. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying like a baby when he said "Dad, I want to spend my last 8 tokens on pictures of us so we can remember this time together." The pictures are still on the fridge, we smiled for one, and made silly faces on the other three and made a memory that I will have forever. I think it is so easy to get caught up with the struggles life and everything else, and loose a perspective of a heavenly father who created us to be loved by him.
I am also learning that for quite some time God's most precious creation (us) have done a good job of complicating a simple relationship that he desires with us. Our father desires for us to have intimacy with him.
Can you imagine the joy in our heavenly fathers heart if we were to say to him that we wanted to spend some of our precious (busy) time with him. If its anywhere near the joy I experienced, I want to make that a priority, to give back a little for how much has been given to me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hand in the Cookie Jar

I was looking for Jackson today, and I heard him in the pantry. I had my cell phone and took a this video.
video
Out he came with a bag of dorritos.
I share a lot how I learn so much about God's love for me through my boys, this was another one of those moments. I was just able to enjoy watching him develop as a little boy. I think we often get so caught up in doing the right thing, avoiding the wrong thing, and trying to figure out our place in life that we miss out on some opportunities to just let God love on us and enjoy his creation. Life is too short to be so serious all the time- enjoy the fact that God created you according to his word for his "good pleasure." Instead of looking at God as the cosmic judge with the lightning bolt- take some time to see him as the proud Father who takes great joy in his creation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Redream


Last night John shared from God's word about the importance of holding on to your dream, and allowing God to shape your life. I was challenged to get back to living the life motivated and driven by a God given dream. It is so easy in life to just exist, being a pastor I will admit sometimes I slip into a role of what I was taught to do, or think I should do rather than chase after something so big only God could do it.
So I am challenged to rekindle those things that pushed me beyond my comfort zone and to seek after the amazing rather than just getting things done. This remiz series has challenged me to new thoughts and to begin seeing things through God's eyes not my own. Looking forward to some powerful changes in my life and around me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

From Guest Blogger Glen Bryant


Influence

“the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command”.

This definition says that we can change things around us without really trying, by just being present in a certain time and place, we can actually change the outcome of a situation without lifting a finger or saying a word. We can affect the outcome in any situation we are in for the better…or worse. You can choose to be a good influence…or a bad one. With that kind of power at our disposal, shouldn’t we be very careful of how we use it?

One of the problems with this is what some of us see as being a good influence, others may see as bad, and vise versa. Suppose you want to influence your child to put a high importance on serving God, and because of that they tell their coach at school that they can’t come to practice on Wednesday evening because they have their church youth group. That coach might think you are being a bad influence on your child because they think sports are more important than church. I know of one student who did this and guess what? The coach changed the practice time for Wednesday so they could be at practice and still make it to church. Unfortunately this is the exception and not the rule these days.

In high school, I used to influence others to participate along with the rest of us in using alcohol and drugs. We thought we were influencing them for the better because now they could be like us and “fit in”. What we saw as good was definitely not good at all.

As much as we try to be a good influence though, we are not always successful. Once at a church car wash to raise money for a mission trip (good thing), the guys were trying to come up with some signs to use to get cars to pull in. I playfully suggested that they put the letters for car wash on their chest and then go to the street as a “living” sign. I should have known better than to say that because next thing I knew we had four boys with their shirts off, swinging towels over their heads on the side of the road, in front of the church, with the letters spelling “CAR WASH” on their chest and back (not so good, but funny). It did work, put positive results and positive influence don’t always go together.

I believe as adults (and older brothers and sisters) we have a responsibility to be a good influence for our young people (it’s kind of a passion of mine). It’s difficult as parents because we are not the only adults who are spending time with our kids. We have to trust others to be consistent with our teaching of what’s right and wrong behavior, for example…

I was driving to work the other morning and there was a bike rider to my right. As we approached the intersection the light changed to red. I stopped, but the man on the bike looked and without slowing down rode right through, breaking the law (VC 21200). In fact he ran two lights in a row. Now this man was dressed nicely in Dockers and a button down shirt and as I continued after the light changed to green, I realized that this man was pulling in to the parking lot of the High School…he was a teacher! This situation fits perfectly with our earlier definition. He didn’t say a word or try to influence any particular person in any way, but by his actions he could cause others to think its ok to do the same thing.

I know I can’t undue the past, but as a Christian now, I have a responsibility to God and to those around me to be a good influence on this world. Even when no one is watching I try to do the right thing because it forms a habit I can carry with me in public. Plus, since I am in a position of being a “teacher” sometimes, I know that the Bible says I will be held to a “higher standard” than others (James 3:1). I will never always do the right thing, but Galatians 6:9 says…”Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. The world we live in today makes it hard to do the right thing. There are constant temptations all around us. But it gives me joy to know that just by being who I am today, by my actions, I can change the world for the better…we all can!

It’s kind of funny to me that after being the kind of teenager I was, you know, the one that most parents didn’t want their kids to hang out with, that now parents trust the care and safety of their kids to me on a daily basis. Who says God doesn’t perform miracles anymore!

By Glen Bryant

Friday, July 18, 2008

Awareness Test

Watch the Video and see how many passes the white team makes.
Sometimes its easy to get in a groove, or probably a better term is a rut, in our relationship with Christ. Sometimes we only see what someone else tells us to see. I am learning that God has so much to offer in a intimate relationship. This same unchanging God, has an amzing way of showing himself to us in ways that reach where we are at. The truth is only God knows where are our heart is and what we need to get us through eaach day and to propel us to a life of abundance as he promised in John 10:10. I believe the greatest things God does in my life is not what someone else teaches me, or imitating what someone else formula for closeness to God, but rather through getting into God's word on my own, and letting him speak to me what he wants to say. Its funny for a guy who is a speaker and a teacher to say that, I still believe it is importat to have good teachers, however, it is more important to have a first hand relationship with God that doesnt depend on someone else doing a good job.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Elevate- rocked the house last night


Last night was an amazing night at Elevate, we had a huge crowd, and people really had a powerful time of engaging worship. It is fun to be part of a movement like Elevate, and to see God doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). I am reminded of the amazingness of God's love and the plan that he had in store. I am also blessed for the people that he has put in my life to partner with, we have an incredibel volunteer team at Elevate- each them is so committed to letting God work through them- so if you are an Elevate Volunteer- Thank you!!!! If you would like to be one drop me an email or phone call.

God is Good- And I am looking for that "New Thing" that he want s to do in me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There All Along


Have you ever pulled a shirt out of the closet (or pants, or purse) that you had worn before, and stuck your hand in the pocket to find some money you had left in there? Has it ever happened at a time when you were flat broke? What a great feeling…unless you needed it yesterday. Being an ice cream lover there have been times I forgot (not very often) that I had ice cream in the freezer and when I found it I was so happy, but then I would think, “Oh man, I could’ve had some of this last night!” Have you ever used the expression…”why didn’t I think of this before”?! Usually when we say that it is because we have discovered something better but are having regrets about how we did it before. Some people have a real problem with enjoying the present because of what they missed out on in the past. So how do we let go of the past? Should we let go of the past?

I’ve heard many successful parents say, “I want my kids to have it better than I did”, like the ruff path that led them to where they are today had no value in their life. It’s like even though they came out successful, they regret what they had to go through to get there. So what made them who they are today? Most of our character comes from going through trials. I would go as far as to say that people with the strongest character are the ones that went through the most or hardest trials (James 1: 2-3). So what happens when we try so hard to protect our kids form heartache and disappointment that they never learn the value of what they are going through? What will their character be like? What happens when you leave an important ingredient out of a recipe?

I think we are all familiar with the “I walked a mile to school in the snow” stories we tell our kids. Well I actually can say that and be truthful! When I lived in Nevada we lived across town from my school. During the snowy season we either walked, or rode our bikes. In fact, I had a paper route also and would get up at 4am on Sunday mornings (the other days were in the afternoon) to deliver papers in a foot of fresh snow…on my bike! I never thought of it like being cheated out of a better life, that’s where I learned that if you want money you have to earn it. I think one of the reasons I can enjoy my life now is because I don’t regret what I had to go through to get where I am today. So is the answer to “let go” of our past…I don’t think so. I think the key is to figure out how to use our past.

I accepted Christ into my life for the first time in March 2003. My life is so much better than it was before in so many ways. There are times when I think about how much better my life would be now if I had made that decision years sooner. I could let those thoughts consume me, I could choose to let regret be in control, but I choose to let my life be joyful and peaceful with God in control now. I’ve been called on to give my testimony many times. My past is something I would love to forget and leave behind me, but I’ve found that sharing where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through (put myself through) actually helps and encourages others, even a pastor in Thailand! All of my past has made me who I am today and even defines who I am as a Christian (1 Peter 1:6-7). What a gift! God can use my whole life…not just the last 5 ½ years!

As I’ve been saying lately, I have discovered that there is so much beauty in our National Parks. I have been hiking some trails and seeing things I’ve never seen before, beautiful things, amazing things. I can’t believe I never knew of how magnificent the scenery was away from the normal places people go at the park. The thing is this…it has been there all along, I just never looked for it. It’s the same thing with becoming a Christian…Gods been there all along, He’s never left our side, and now that I have discovered Him after looking for Him…I can enjoy the beauty without regret. Just like I look forward to my next hike, I look forward to what God is going to do next in my life. I don’t live in shame of what I did…I live in the joy of what tomorrow will bring, and I don’t have to let go of my past, it’s part of who I am!

So don’t focus on how to forget your past, see how God can use it. And if you’re going through hard times know that God is with you…He’s been there all along…just look for Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

By Glen Bryant

Monday, July 14, 2008

REMIX: NEW SERIES AT ELEVATE


Remix (rē-ˈmiks), verb: To recombine existing elements creating a new or modified result.
When the word “remix” is used it is generally in reference to music, specifically when a variant of an original recording is made by rearranging or adding to the original. This trend became extremely popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when artists would take some of their recognizable music and give them a new beat, a fresh sound so that people who enjoyed some of their music, could experience some of their defining works in a new way.
I think a lot of us could use a remix in our spiritual life. I grew up in a very traditional church environment, where often man-made traditions became more of a focus than an actual relationship with Jesus and the things He told us were important. There is a need for a fresh approach that embraces who Jesus was, and how he met people and culture where they were. One of the mistakes and misconceptions of a new look at our Christian faith is that we have to throw everything away and start all over again. The truth is there are many staples of our faith that are solid and need to be held on to, but when we begin to become more attached to the way we have always done things than a passionate pursuit for intimacy with God, we have missed it. I am thankful for my upbringing, I found Jesus there, and learned much about his character and attributes, and have foundation that still mean the world to me. I believe that Jesus lived, died, and came back to life for more than getting me ingrained in a particular system.
Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Many of us have let our joy of life be stolen, and have either slipped into a dull relationship with Christ, which feels like following a list of rules, rather than this life to the fullest. One of the greatest things we can do in life is to give it a good remix. Taking some of the basic things that God gave us, such as His Word-the Bible, prayer, and worship and start looking for new ways to connect to a timeless unchanging God, who is passionately in love with us and is tirelessly pursuing us, is a great place to start. Remember, remixes are not a rejection of the old, but rather, a celebration of the old, in a way that give us a new appreciation for the original.

Friday, July 11, 2008

2nd Chances


Today I am feeling thankful for second chances. I can often identify with Paul when he shares in Romans 7 that, he found himself doing the things he didn't want to do, and the things that he wanted to do he wanted to avoid he found himself doing. This offer that Jesus made when he gave his life for us, in trading his holiness for our junk is an amazing trade. Romans 8 shares the secret of overcoming this, its letting God's spirit live through me, instead of trying to achieve perfection on my own, which always leads to discouragement and disillusionment.
I am blown away that God, who knows my past past, and knows that I am going to blow it again here and there in the future. still has an amazing and intense love for me, and wants me to be part of his plan.
I have to keep reminding myself that God's view of me is much different than my own. I am encouraged today to make the most out of my second chances.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Relationship Series Tuesday Night

video
Tuesday Night we finished the series Love life with a challenge to pursue intimacy with God. The relationships that we encounter in our everyday life will be directly effected by the quality of our relationship with God. The Closer we are to him the greater chance we have deeper more meaningful relationships in life. A couple of things I took away from this series:
1. It starts with God
2. God is pursuing Me
3. The qualities that I desire in people to have relationship with must be demonstrated in my life first.
4. Marriage is not the place to begin to practice commitment, it needs to start now.
5. Boundaries are important, and need to established.
6. My View of God needs to be inline with who he really is, if I am to have intamacy with him.
7. The greatest commandment is to love him with all my heart soul and strength; and to love others as I love myself.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

From Guest Blogger Glen Bryant


“Are You Listening?”

I think it’s getting harder and harder to find people who are good listeners. In a world where multi-tasking is the norm, how do we find those who will really stop and listen to us when we have something important to share? How can we be good listeners? I know that my attention span can be real short sometimes and my mind will start to wander away to other things, then next thing I know the person talking will say...”what do you think?”…and I realize that since I wasn’t listening very well that I can’t answer that question. Not a good feeling. I know some people that no matter what you say, next thing you know they are talking about themselves…again (I’m sure I’m guilty of this at times too). Anyway, being a good listener is important. We need to be able to share joy, ask advice, get things off our chest, and feel valuable.

Yes, time is valuable, and taking time to give a friend or loved one or maybe even a stranger our undivided attention is important. How do we do this though? It seems like we are always busy when someone wants to talk to us, for example. Guys always wonder why their wives decide they want to talk when they are watching TV…right guys (maybe it’s because you are always watching TV?). I’ve been in relationships where every time I wanted to talk, my girlfriend was on the phone (well…maybe she was on the phone too much?). Whatever the case, we feel better when people listen to us and we can feel real rejection when they don’t.

So how do you think God feels when we don’t listen to Him? Oh yes, He’s talking to us, but are we listening…are we giving Him our undivided attention? This is how this whole writing thing started for me. One day during a ruff spot I was going through I stopped and just said to myself, “There’s got to be something to learn from this”. God spoke to me in that moment and showed me exactly what He was saying. No, I didn’t actually hear a voice, God spoke to me through the situation. I learned something by paying attention to what He was saying, so I wrote about it so that people could hear what God was saying through me…see how that works. There are many ways God tries to communicate with us or use us to communicate with others.

There was one time several years ago, that everywhere I went I was getting behind a really slow driver. Now to some people (my kids) I’m a really slow driver myself, so imagine how slow someone would have to be going for me to think they were slow. It was unbelievable. I’m talking everywhere I went there was the slowest driver ever right in front of me! It was a week that I was going out of town with a group of teens that weekend, and I was busy trying to get prepared to go, so I had a few extra errands to run and was a little more hurried than normal. So after about 4 days of always getting stuck behind somebody just crawling along I had just about had it. That day I was heading to the store, and sure enough, this car pulls out in front of me that I could have run faster than they were going, so I threw my hands up and said “OK God, what are you trying to tell me? Is it that you want me to slow down? OK, I get it, I need to slow down.” Just as I said the last words, the car in front of me pulled into the middle lane and turned to the left. For me it was God telling me, “yep, you finally got it!” and He just moved that car right out of my way. I slowed down and the road blocks disappeared! You see I was going to be driving the teens that weekend and I believe God was preparing me for that. He wanted me to relax and slow down not just my car, but my mind as well.

I think that would be a good message for all of us…relax, slow down, and sometimes just stop. Stop and listen. Get on your knees in total silence and listen (Luke 5:16). Open the Bible and listen. Turn on some worship music and listen. Take a walk through a park and listen. Open your heart and mind to God and just listen.

Lately I have really enjoyed going up into Sequoia Park and hiking the trails. I’ve have seen beautiful mountain scenery that I have never seen before by hiking those trails. When I’m there I take time to listen and I hear God say…”look at what I made for you…just for you. Isn’t it amazing? …Isn’t it beautiful? …I love you so much”. Now that feels good. I could listen to that all day.

By Glen Bryant

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vacation




Hangin' out with my Family this week in Tahoe.
Went horseback riding with Jonah today.

Be Back on Monday.
Happy 4th of July