Monday, September 29, 2008

Pots, Pans & Prayer

video
Have you every had to pray in front of a group and either just not wanted to, or thought long and hard about how you were to pray. I must confess that there are some times that I have tried to turn a prayer into a production, to pray in a way that others think "wow he is a really good Pray-er" or "wow, he must be close to God, listen to how he prays." Which in hind site seems really stupid. No I mean really really stupid.
I posted this video because I think our prayers are a lot like that, a bunch of banging noises. Anyone that doesn't know and love my kids were probably cringing after the first couple of hits (if not the first.) To me it was beautiful, it was one of the best symphony's I have ever heard. Why? because I wasn't listening to the instruments- I was listening to their hearts. They would say daddy daddy listen. I would try to leave the room and they would say "daddy come back" over and over and over. After playing a line they would stop and look up at me waiting for my approval, as I clapped and cheered their smile got even wider than when they were bashing their drums.
God is not impressed by our eloquence or articulation of prayers, in fact he already knows what we are going to say before we even speak a word. What he does love is when we are focused on him and look for his attention and affirmation in our prayers. If you ever get a chance to pray in public, I want to challenge you to freak people out and just talk to him like he was a friend who was standing beside you. Regardless of how bad we bungle our words and trip all over ourselves, God enjoys the symphony of an honest prayer. So take God up at his word (the book of Hebrews) when he says "let us approach the throne of grace with confidence." I am going to take a serious look at my prayer life especially how I pray in public.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hows this for a workout?

They say Laughter is the best medicine, I guess that means it may be the best exercise as well. If you can use a good laugh today, here you go...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Interruptions


It seems like almost all the people I have conversations with lately are having major interruptions in life. Relationship struggles, financial issues, annoying people, IRS, jury duty... the list goes on. I am a pretty mellow guy and it takes a lot to get me agitated or stressed, but it seems like lately things are going at such a fast pace and little hiccup in life brings life to a screeching halt. I am starting to think that maybe a new look at interruptions in necessary. Instead of viewing them as obstacles that need to overcome, maybe their are moments allowed by God trying to get our attention. I genuinely don't believe that God has a demented desire to see us in pain, what I do know about Him through his word is that he is passionately in love with desires our attention.

I have been taking some time recently to consciously change my perspective, and as corny as it may sound it works. I am not going to say I have it figured out and that life comes easily... because it doesn't. But the times when I stop in the midst of a interruption and let myself recognize God's presence- I sense a definite change in my attitude (as well as my blood pressure)
Right now I dont have any tradgedies or excruciating circumstances in life, but I do have a lot of little things that tend to add up... changing my persepective on these (when I do it) takes an ubelieveable amount of stress of my life and genuinely makes me a more pleasant person. I think I and a whole lot of people need to turn in our resignation for CEO of the Universe and start appreciating the opportunites to appreciate Gods Love and presence.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Article by Prodigal John


I read this article, it inspired me and hits the heart of what I have been writing about and learning lately. Instead of writing about it, I will just share it. Here goes...

"I recently read an interview with late night television legend David Letterman in Rolling Stone. The entire piece was fascinating, but one section in which Letterman described his relationship with Johnny Carson stood out to me:

"You know, there are people in everyone's life who you can't believe you have a relationship with, and you are truly in awe of them, because they are so iconic and so influential that you're just kind of pretending. You know if you behave the way you really behave, they would recognize that you're a complete dope and they would never have anything to do with you ever again. That was kind of the way I felt about Johnny. I was so worried that I would say something idiotic and he would just pull me out of his Rolodex. … I never got out from under the feeling that he and I really could be friends because I idolized him and I knew by any measure I would always fall short."

I thought that was interesting because in many ways, those sentences captured how I sometimes treat my relationship with God. Here, using excerpts from above, is what I mean:

1. "there are people in everyone's life who you can't believe you have a relationship with"
When people say that Christianity is weird, they're right. Faith is weird. The idea of having a personal relationship with the creator of the universe is crazy. That's a big, wild thing if you think about it and sometimes when I do, I can't believe I have a relationship with God. But I do and that's what God wants. A relationship, not a ritual or a reward system.

2. "you are truly in awe of them"
I am. I was reminded of this recently when I was driving up interstate 75 to Nashville. There's this one ridiculous moment where you cross this river and the mountains are looming over you reminding you how small your big problems really are and the sun was blazing big and bright in a sky I didn't create and I was in awe. My hope is that someday it won't take a mountain vista to spark my sense of awe for God but that I will see that more in the people I know and the places I spend my days. But I'm cool with starting with a mountain and working toward seeing the beauty of a cubicle wall.

3. "you're just kind of pretending"
This is me in college. This is me going through the motions of a relationship. This is me trying to do what I think good Christians are supposed to do. This is me church hopping and bouncing between friendships as I pretend to be deeper than I really am, more connected to God than I really am and happier than I really am.

4. "You know if you behave the way you really behave, they would recognize that you're a complete dope"
Have you ever dressed up for God? We talked about doing that in college on Sundays when you wanted people to think you had gone to church, but have you ever done that for God? Dressed up some issue? Dressed up some desire that you think is wrong or not true or too big for him to handle or too small for him to care about? The key word in that sentence above is "recognize." At times, I am equally terrified of being recognized and never being recognized. That if God knew who I really was he wouldn’t love me and if no one knows who I am then I might as well be invisible. But he recognizes me. He created me. He knows me inside and out, the parts that are ugly and the parts that are beautiful and the parts I don’t even know exist yet. And he doesn't see a dope. He sees a son.

5. "they would never have anything to do with you ever again"
I think that when Christ died, the question "again?" died too. Although I fall repeatedly and feel shame at my weaknesses, God will never see that and reject me by saying, "Again? Again? Again?" I think that when Christ rose, the statement "again!" did too. How many times will God take me back when I fall? "Again! Again! Again!"

6. "I was so worried that I would say something idiotic"
Ever edit yourself for God? Ever spend your entire day talking one way and then talk with a completely different vocabulary when you pray? Why do we do that? Is it reverence? Are we afraid to say something idiotic? I am. And in that fear I often end up babbling and ruining one of the most beautiful parts of prayer, listening.

7. "I knew by any measure I would always fall short"
This is not a possibility when it comes to me and God. This is a promise. I will fall short. I could work as hard as I want to for the rest of my life, say all the prayers one mouth can physically speak and do as much charity as one pair of hands can accomplish. And it would still fall solar systems short of being worthy of God. Thank God he sent Jesus.

Is comparing God to Johnny Carson a great analogy or metaphor? Probably not but on some level every metaphor for God is broken. He's God. He's bigger and wilder and more loving than we can even fathom. I've said before that the idea of capturing God on a piece of paper is like trying to capture the might of a hurricane with crayons. But sometimes, when you read something interesting in a magazine, you have to at least try to scribble."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Child like Faith


Megan Hendrickson sent this email to me to today.

"Last night, Jonathan and I were in the studio at our house and the window was open. We could hear two younger boys walking by and talking. They were probably about 8 or 9 years old. And all of a sudden I heard “God was either born on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving…” it was THE CUTEST thing I have ever witnessed. I started crying because of the innocence of these two boys. They had no clue but clearly were thinking about God. It was the greatest. I had to share!"

thanks Megan

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mondays


Mondays are an interesting day, some people hate them because of being off for the weekend. For me it is actually a day right during the middle of my busy time. I have responsibilities on Sundays and I have Tuesday nights to prepare for. So technically Wednesday is my Monday, oh wait maybe its my Saturday... Mondays are full for me, I have staff meetings in the afternoon, and a creative planning meeting later in the evening. I am a person who works much better with structure in place, the interesting thing is that I am currently working in a compete lack thereof. So my thought and goal for this week is to begin to organize my life and get some structure.

so where shall I start? Clean my office? Map out my week? Get my Blackberry up to date, prioritize my to do list... The problem I run against is that I have become pretty organized in my own un-organization. So I am going to have to go against some pretty dug-in habits, but I know that if I am going to really get a grip on this I am going to have a give myself a shock to the system.

leaving a place where you are comfortable is never an easy thing to do, even if you know the results are better. One of the reasons that I am really wanting to make this work is that I often feel like I have allowed my relationship with Christ to drift into a comfortable manageable... dare I say... religious obligation. That is a place I definitely don't want to be, even if it is comfortable.
So here goes...
I think I am going to start by priortizing my to do list... then clean... then.....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going to Church? Part 2

So I went to church... the funny thing was the speaker spoke exactly about what I wrote about in my blog. That church gathering is to be a place to go to celebrate what God has done through the week as a whole. No Legalism, no guilt, no shame... great message. I left as soon as the message was over to make sure my wife had plenty of time to take a nap before she had to go to work. No guilt.
I am excited about this Journey God is taking me on. The Speaker this morning was Wayne Jacobsen one of the publishers of "The Shack." One of the greatest points he made is that Jesus came not to establish the religion of Christianity- but to establish a relationship with you and I. Cool stuff.
Glad I went!

Going to Church?


That is a question I usually don't get asked? being a pastor for almost seventeen years it just becomes a given. This morning I actually am asking that question, there is no childcare and I have kids which makes an interesting conundrum, do I just leave my wife and expect her to watch them all day even though she has to work tonight, or do I take this opportunity to just hang out with my family.
but oh the guilt, not going to church on a Sunday... isn't that like blasphemy? I then begin to take it a little deeper, if I weren't a pastor how often would I go to church.
There all kinds of directions I could go with this. The church is not a building its the people, but what about being accountable.. the list goes on. I went through a stage of being disillusioned with the church after working for some pastors who could care less for the people and were constantly thinking about the next building program and how to get that next influx of people (and actually jumped for joy when the church down the street had a split.) After quitting my job as a pastor a few years ago, taking a several month hiatus from church I began to realize that if I despised the church I was despising myself and more importantly Jesus Christ himself. The church will always be imperfect as long as there are people in it. I am learning to have a new love for the church and its people, and instead of pointing out imperfections, (which I am pretty good at) I need to begin to work on the imperfections I have in my own life. And then try to do my part at making the beautiful body of Christ what it is intended to be.
So back to my question- am I going to church? I am going to make a compromise, I am going to go to the first service and then come back and take the kids, instead of sticking around trying to be pastorly today. I will try hard to choke back the guilt ;)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who you ARE!

I need a lot of reminders of who I truly am. I tend to be hard on myself and believe things about me that are untrue, which sometimes paralyzes me from living life. We base a lot of our decisions on life on who we think we are, when I understand that I am exactly who God created me to be, and walk in the truth of who I am, things just go better, plain and simple. Louie Giglio is my favorite speaker and teacher of Gods word. Here is a reminder of who we are from him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Elevate Hike Video

We made this Video for Tuesday night to promote the hike on September 27th.
Pretty Hilarious.
video

Monday, September 15, 2008

Missing my Ring


This past week I lost my wedding ring, a minor interruption to some degree, but a symbol of the most precious thing I have here on earth is missing and I am starting to fill a little bit of loss. Its hard to explain, I know it is supposedly replaceable, but that one isn't, it the one my wife and I picked out 10 years ago. I still remember going through the Arden fair mall in Sacramento, looking at jewelry and showing my wife the one that was my choice. And I remember like it was yesterday my wife putting it on my finger. Its special but it is gone, and I am pretty bummed out about that. The saying is old and trite, but it is true: you don't realize how much you value something until it was gone. I miss that simple gold ring.
I am thankful that I have the memories of it and that my marriage goes deeper than external possessions. I am challenged to remember and be thankful for what I have and how special it is.
Life goes through many interruptions, hopefully we use them of reminders of what we have.
Last week at Elevate I was reminded of how amazing God's love was for me, and how much he wants to share with me, but my addiction to noise often drowns out the still small voice of God.
I was just reading Ephesians 2:20, that says "remember that you were once separated from Christ." I am thankful that that separation was filled by his amazing Gift to us on the cross, and that he made a promise to never leave me.
That's something to remember.
So being bummed about the ring has taken me full circle to remeber the amazing relationship God has blessed me with, and also of the price he paid because of his intense love for me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Slack-Line




Have you ever heard of a slack-line? Today I met a couple of guys at COS for a bible study. They guys set up a slack like and its kind of like walking a tight rope except it is loose. The cool thing is that they just hang out and let people come and try it out and invite them to the bible study.
Jerrod and I went and hung out today and had a blast.
We started out having just 4 of us and by the time we got the bible studies going there were 15 people gathered.
The Bible study was on Galatians 6, which was talking about people being willing to share each others burdens (struggles and tough times.)
This is going to be an amazing ministry to share Christs love with the COS campus.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Silence? For and Hour? You're crazy!


Last night we had an amazing interruption. We had an entire service of silence. Which was weird for a while but ended up being pretty amazing. by the time we were finished people actually were surprised that we were actually done. Life is so loud, that silence can be uncomfortable. I realized how bad I need to get away from all the distractions in life, to let God speak into my life. I also am learning how addicted I am to noise. I can't get in my car without my radio, I cant relax without having the TV on- I am seriously addicted to noise. It was great to go cold turkey last night and just hear Gods voice. What was so encouraging was to hear so many people afterward saying how much they needed it. I missed the worship time through music, but it was cool to worship in a different format.
I am going to try to find (actually the word "Make" fits better than "find") times of silence to hear God and to gain some perspective in life's situations.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sound and Noise


this week in our "Life Interrupted" series at Elevate we are going to be experience Sound Interrupted. I like Noise, I like loud music, I love hearing my kids play, I love talking to people and hearing their stories. Sound is a gift from God that we often take for granted. we can turn some of God's greatest gifts into detrimental (my big word for the day) obstacles in our spiritual journey. I can easily drown out anything in life with all the noise the world has to offer. Music, TV, Radio (I am huge sports talk radio junkie), can easily dominate my brain and leave no room for anything else.
I believe God is always talking to us, to communicate his love to us, as well as his plan for our life. Many times I base my worth on what I feel and what the noise around me conveys rather than What God is actually speaking to me.
So this week, I am going to work on taking some time to eliminate my usual noise escapes, and make an effort at listening to that still small voice. In 1st Kings 19, Elijah has an encounter with God where he see's all kind of amazing events, Earthquake, windstorm, and blazing Fire, but it wasn't until things were silent that he heard God's quiet voice.
I think we often look for these amazing signs and moves of God to determine if he is at work or if he has a plan for our lives. God's most important instructions and messages for us will usually come in the quiet and solitude of seeking him with all our heart and removing our usual distractions.
Realizing that God is not shouting while looking down at me with disappointment, helps me realize that he genuinely loves me and wants to have intimate conversation with me. Guilt and Shame are not reasons to spend time with God, in fact those may be the loudest noises we have to remove in order to hear the wonderful words of love, direction, and acceptance that He is speaking over me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Childlike: From Guest Blogger Glen Bryant


Where did it go? When did we lose it? How do we get it back? Is it even possible to get it back? Can we say that if we had before we can have again? Or is it once it’s gone it’s gone forever? Are you wondering what the heck I’m talking about? Read on.

I was reading an e-mail from a friend and she was describing her kids and what they were doing when she got home from work. One child was being “Mr. Helpful” as she put it, and her daughter was dancing and singing a cute little song…I can picture that in my mind can’t you? It made the stress of the day kind of melt away…her mood changed. Do you remember what it was like being a child before we started worrying about what others thought of us? We sang, skipped, danced, dressed in our parents clothes, climbed trees, played hopscotch and tetherball, played in the water every chance we got, and most importantly…whatever happened yesterday was gone and we were living for today! That’s what I’m talking about!

How do we get back the childlike attitude toward life we used to have? I happen to think it’s worth looking in to. Is there a “fountain of youth” inside each one of us just waiting to be discovered?

God has truly blessed me by allowing me to work with the youth in my community. I have been able to re-live so many childhood memories through hanging out with the teens. But even at their age life is already getting complicated. We have freshmen high school students already taking college prep courses…what’s up with that? (I know why and I think it stinks that they should have to work so hard so soon). Let’s face it, childhood is getting shorter all the time and I’m not sure it’s very healthy. How can you enjoy and remember something that went buy so quickly?

This summer I have been hiking up in the mountains as often as possible. I know why I’m enjoying it so much. When I was a kid I loved to explore, see things and go places I’d never been before, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It reminds me of…no, I take that back…it allows me to be a kid again. It’s not necessarily what I’m doing, but the mindset I’m in. What a freeing experience to let everything past and future go and just live in the moment. It’s a lot like when I started playing dodge ball with the teenagers…nothing else matters at the time but the game. The outside world disappears for a short time along with its problems and stresses.

Now let me clarify what I’m saying here. Yes, we have responsibilities, I know that. I’m not talking about playing hooky from work to go play with our toys or blowing all our money on candy. I’m talking about the “attitude” of a child when it comes to dealing with life.

I remember a family home movie we used to call “the great water fight” where my brother and I were wrestling around a little pool in our back yard trying to knock each other in the water. He finally gets the best of me and knocks me in the water. I didn’t look too happy about it and I started chasing him around the yard, but even if I had been really mad at him, I guarantee you by the next day, I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore! When we were kids we didn’t hold grudges (for long), we didn’t stay angry (for long), we didn’t throw what happened yesterday or a week ago or a year ago in someone’s face to win a fight or make someone feel bad. WE LET IT GO! We moved on…every day we started off fresh. (I do wonder if my brother ever forgave me for throwing a dart in his leg…sorry bro). We’ve all seen little kids crying frantically over something and then are totally content and happy just a few minutes later. They reacted then moved on.

To some this whole concept may sound silly, but let me remind you of a verse in the bible where the disciples are basically scolding people for bringing their kids to be blessed by Jesus…like Jesus was too busy or too important, and Jesus tells them…”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) Could Jesus have been giving us a clue on how to get to heaven? Think about it.

By Glen Bryant

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Life Interrupted


We launched a new series this past week entitled life interrupted. It is a great new look at the many situations in life we face that cause or plans and dreams to go up in smoke. What we learn from God's word is that these are opportunities to let God take control of our lives. I am getting to experience that first hand this week, Tuesday night I started coming down with a nasty chest cold. So that is fun. I haven't felt like writing or doing to much. this is going to be a chance to really rely on God and turn my plans over to him. I know that sickness like is short term, but I believe the better I get at trusting him in minor interruptions, the better I will be when the real tough times hit.

Don't miss Tuesday night it is going to be amazing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

God's Love

This is an old hymn that Mercy Me recorded.

I sometimes allow myself to think that Gods love for me is based on my performance. That is a lie straight from the pit, God's love for me is unconditional and complete and is based on who He is not how I behave (or misbehave). The lyrics of this song are very moving, and I often need a reminder that Gods love goes beyond my realm of thinking.

My problem is that I often turn to the worlds definition of love which is based on what I do and how I perform. Its then easy for em to start thinking that I don't measure up and that God is sitting in heaven shaking his head at me in disgust. Although I believe He desires me to experience his holiness and avoid things that take me away from him, His desire is to pursue him out of Love not out of Guilt or religious duty.
Pretty simple, but hard its hard to break free from the religious performance baggage I accumulated over the years.

Hope you feel loved.