3/27/15

The Cross

My wife Sarah wrote this for an upcoming prayer service:


The Cross 

More than the place that mends our brokenness,
or a bridge to reach God's holiness,
the cross is death to sin-soaked flesh
and life that lasts, brand-new and fresh.

No more addiction, no more shame;
no more bondage, no more chains.
Christ has taken all the blame,
covered us and made us clean.

More than a place to lay our past,
our dreams, our hopes, our circumstance,
the cross is where we learn to stand
in triumph over sin's demands.

The power of God is free for us,
won with thorns and drops of blood.
Redeeming Love and Salvation,
release us from all condemnation.

The resurrection of our King
means hope and joy and strength and peace.
Now at the cross we die to live,
transformed by Him who conquered sin!

3/26/15

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate

http://store.faithgateway.com/jesus-bread-and-chocolate

I love the smell of fresh baked bread.  When we livied in Croatia, walking down to the local bakery and smelling all the amazing breads and pastries was awesome and the taste was indescribable!  Now, living in northern British Columbia, I have access to fresh baked breads, organic coffees, and a host of other items at local farmer's markets and boutique coffee shops.

When I came across Jesus, Bread and Chocolate I was immediately intrigued.  The idea of crafting a handmade faith in a mass-market world sounded appealing.  However, author John J. Thompson, seemes to have promised more than he actually delivered.

While the author's passion is evident, the connection between faith and a farmer's market lifestyle seems more forced than a natural flow.

Having said all that, I found the author's story of his journey of faith to be captivating and it his love and passion for God is quite evident.

Though not my cup of tea, this book will appeal to those believers deeply embedded in the farmer's market lifestyle.

Published by Zondervan, you can order this book at your local bookstore. 

BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3/19/15

Out Of the Mouth of Babes...

"Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise."

Jesus said this in reference to Psalm 8:2 which says, "Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger."

Ok, my son CJ is no longer a baby but he does like to praise!  Back in December, shortly before turning four, he wrote a song about Jesus Christ.  Sarah put it to music and we have song this little chorus a few times now in church.

You Are Mighty

Oh, Jesus, what a mighty Savior are You!
Jesus, You're a mighty Savior!
Jesus, You are mightier than anything!
Jesus, You're the strongest; Jesus You're the best!
Jesus, You're the strongest; Jesus I love You!

What I think is awesome is that all the words were his.  This was a 4-year old's thought about Jesus.  We have found the song to be quite addictive and the whole family has been singing it around the house, at work, in the car, etc.

CJ reminds me that we really should have a child like faith when it comes to our Savior.  Adults make things so complicated!  Jesus is mighty! Jesus I love you! Basic truth from the mouth of a child!

That's the kind of faith I want. 

3/2/15

This I Know

July 31, 1984. 

This was the day I went forward at a vacation Bible school in East Tennessee, repented of my sins  and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

Like most new believers, I was filled with zeal and wanted to learn all I could about the Lord.  I began reading my Bible fervently, attending every service and trying to be a good Christian.

I now know I was not properly discipled. 

I began reading my Bible from the beginning.  (That's where you start a book right?)  I breezed through Genesis and Exodus, bogged down in Leviticus and gave up in Numbers.  It took me awhile to get back on track.  I finally had a fellow believer point me to the NT where I spent a season before eventually reading the whole Bible. 

I had a huge fascination with end times theology and read everything I could get my hand on.  I loved to debate (argue) the Bible and felt I had to defend God to the death!  I even made sure to hand a Bible tract to a kid who was holding a switchblade to my throat...so that I could at least die a martyr!

Ah, youth....

Nearly 31 years since my life changing decision, I have come to learn that less is more.  I have seen the highs and lows of faith.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The older I get, the more comfortable I am with my faith.  I no longer feel the need to debate every line of Scripture.  In fact, I don't debate at all. 

As I reflect over my relationship with the Lord, I find comfort and peace in who He is and who I am in Him.

After 31 years, this I know:

Prov. 3:5-6 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."  The first Scripture that really challenged me.  I tried for too long to lean on my own understanding.  Now, I know that I know nothing.  I have found that as I lean on Him, look to Him, trust in Him...He truly does direct my path.  From TN to TX, Russia to Croatia, the US to Canada, God has directed my path, my days, my life.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jesus, Only Jesus - I remember hearing this quoted often by a man God used to impact my life.  He often said it boiled down to just that.  I used to think he was being so cliche.  Now I know, I truly want Jesus, only Jesus!

Jesus Christ and Him Crucified - "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." This passage in 1 Cor. 2:2 has become more and more important to me. I don't care to debate how long it took God to create the Heavens and Earth.  My opinion on when Jesus is coming back is just that, my opinion. What I am determined to know is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Galatians 2:20"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." The verse that changed my life.  In my darkest days, God reached out to a man contemplating his own mortality, He broke through the darkness when suicide seemed like the only way out, and He taught me who I am in Him. 

I'm not God - I am not called to judge.  I no longer see the need to point out the stick in your eye while ignoring the log in mine.  I now endeavor to speak truth in love and show the same grace and mercy that Jesus Christ has shown me.

The Two Greatest Commandments - Jesus is quoted in Matthew 22:36-40 as saying that the two greatest commandments in which are contained the whole law of God is to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as we do our self!  It really is that simple.  We over complicate Christianity and Jesus boiled it down to this!

Jesus Loves Me - This I know.  I can rest in that. 

2/8/15

Blindsided by God

Blindsided by God is an interesting book.

The author, Peter Chin, shares the story of how his life of faith was brought to a low point over just a few months.  A miscarriage, a breast-cancer diagnosis and a break and entering were just some of the suprises that brought the Chin family to re-evaluate disappointment, suffering and the untamable goodness of God.

As I read their story, I found myself asking how I would have responded to this steady does of unexpected and often discouraging news.  I can't say my reactions would have been much different.  Yet in all of this, there were slivers of hope.  You could still see the Hand of God moving in their life. 

I won't spoil the biggest miracle of all but let's just say, God knows what He is doing.

Let's face it, if we are honest with ourselves, we probably have felt blindsided by God.  What we do with our dissapointment and suffering is the key.  Can we still see the goodness of God?   I would recommend this book for anyone who feels abandoned by God when life seems overwhelming.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Bethany House in exchange for an honest review."

2/1/15

Unshockable Love

 I need to recommend this book!

Unshockable Love  by John Burke is a breath of fresh air.  It's a call to seeing yourself and the people around you through the eyes of Jesus.  Now I have heard that rather cliche statement before but John Burke delivers.

Originally titled Mud and the Masterpiece, Burke's book is filled with interesting stories. Part One of the book really challenges you to see others through the eyes of Jesus.  Each chapter ends with something to reflect on and something to try.  Both were challenging in their own ways.  Sometimes the reflection was harder than the action!

Part Two is more of a practical call to action and gives you a process in which to develop a community that reaches out to the world around them in more practical and relevant ways.  It is really about living in community on mission with Jesus.

The tonal shift between the two parts was obvious but both tie together nicely.  I ended up buying a couple copies to give away before I even got a third of the way through the book.  Something I have never done before finishing a book!

Get it, read it, act on it!

Find out more at www.unshockablelove.com

"Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review."

1/18/15

That Loving Feeling

Today in church, our guest speaker shared from Matthew 22:36-40.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This is a passage I have come back to again and again over the last few years.  In fact, I share it quite frequently from the pulpit myself.  I have found this passage to be convicting and challenging on one hand yet very encouraging as well.

It is convicting because Jesus lists these 2 commandments as the ones that ALL the Law and Prophets hang on.  He could have listed anything in response to the question.  The first one makes sense to me.  Love the Lord with every part of your being!  I find that to be very convicting.  Do I love the Lord with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind?  I would love to say YES to that.  Sadly, it is not always true.  I know there are times I put other things before the Lord.  In that I am convicted.

It is challenging because the second commandment he lists is to love our neighbors...as we do ourselves!  Honestly, I am often challenged by that. I want to ask who my neighbor is but I already know the answer to that.  It is everyone I meet from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed!  It includes my family, my friends, my co-workers and my enemies.  I find loving my enemies to be the challenging part.  I remember one of our special needs volunteers putting it plainly to me once.  He said if God calls us to love our enemies, that means loving the terrorists as well.  God does not make distinctions when He calls us to love!

It is encouraging because as Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  I am guilty of not always loving others as I should. There are times I need to repent when I fail to apply Matthew 22:36-40 to my life.  God is faithful and forgiving, calling me to something more, something better.  

As the speaker this morning shared, as we love God more it becomes easier to love our neighbor and as we do so, it impacts those around us.  I would say our lives are changed as we embrace that loving feeling!