Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter Season

well, here we are... only a week away from Christmas. Audrey and I have no Christmas decorations up, and the few gifts that we have received so far are sitting in a chair, not tucked nicely away under a Tree. no stockings are hung, and no lights are on our house. i guess the only way you can tell it's almost Christmas is that it's freezing outside and there is snow everywhere!

even though we don't have any decorations up, i'm not a scrooge, like adam monaghan, just kidding adam.... i enjoy Christmas, not just the commercialization of it. America has done itself in this year. we seem to get farther and farther away from what Christmas is really about, and i'll let you figure that one out on your own.

i'm excited for a little break from things, and getting to travel down to KS to spend a few days at a youth conference and see some family and old friends. and for a day just to spend w/ audrey and i celebrating all that God has given us. So here's to Christmas, even if we aren't acting like it.

Thought for the Blog:

"I'm ready for summer"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vision Of You

I love how songs can totally change the way you view something even just the first time that you hear them. The first time i heard this song, it totally resonated with me. Something within the words and the music how incredibly they fit together to bring about the truth of God was incredible. So i am sharing it with you. enjoy.

Vision of You
by Shane Barnard

Come meet us, King Jesus.
Oh wind of change blow through this temple.
Sweet spirit of God, come and mend our hearts.
For all we have are songs. Unless you come.

Awaken what's inside of me.
Tune my heart to all You are in me.
Even though you're here, God come.
May the vision of You be the death of me.
and even though You've given everything.
Jesus come!

Come free us, King Jesus.
Its the only way that freedom is given.
From you and you alone in the work You've already done.
All we have are songs, unless You come.

Awaken what's inside of me.
Tune my heart to all You are in me.
Even though you're here, God come.
May the vision of You be the death of me.
and even though You've given everything.
Jesus come!

Here we are, Lord, in this place.
Crying out for Your embrace.
To hear Your voice more than songs.

Awaken what's inside of me.
Tune my heart to all You are in me.
Even though you're here, God come.
May the vision of You be the death of me.
and even though You've given everything.
Jesus come!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Strength, Hope, And Joy Through Pain - Sermon Dec. 9 2007

1 Peter 1:1-9

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Peter translated into Arabic means “rock” and Peter was the rock that Jesus was going to build His church on. The first letter of Peter was written to Christians throughout Asia Minor. Peter knew that these Christians were facing persecution, depression, disillusionment, loneliness, and pain.

Let’s face it our world is not having a shortage of pain. We have pain starting at a national level that affects the entire World – Terrorism, War, Starvation, Genocide, then to the United States – School Shootings, Homicides, Plane Crashes, and then on down to Iowa, Warren County, Carlisle, and then finally to our own families. We face pain and suffering on a day to day basis, even if we aren’t fully aware of it. It all flows down, pain will happen, suffering will occur, but the question is what happens with that pain?

In the passage that we are looking at this morning, Peter is reminding the Christians who they serve, and encouraging them with that because we all forget sometimes how God has worked in our lives in the past, and the promise that He has made to us as His children that He will continue to work in our lives in the present and in the future. He is not telling them that it will get easier, or that there is some quick fix for their hurts, he is telling them that there is hope.

Mercy triumphs over judgment. God’s mercy has given us a new birth through the birth of Jesus Christ. Christ’s birth marks the realization of hope for humanity, this is the greatest story ever told. The prophets of the Old Testament had hope that a Savior would come, they knew He would come. We are in kind of the same boat as the OT prophets. We know that Christ will return, but we have something that the OT prophets never had. We know that Christ has already come. He has been born, He has overcome, He has defeated sin & death. And for that we should have even more hope than the OT prophets. According to Peter we should have a “Living Hope”.

What is Living Hope? It is hope that has power and produces changes in life in the midst of pain. As we have a living hope, it grows and it gets strengthened But for that to happen we must endure pain, go through it, not around it, we cannot numb it, or act like it didn’t happen. That is “Dead Hope”.

Why do some people seem to strengthen their hope from pain, and others crumble? Some people rise from the ashes to become something so much better, while some stay hidden underneath the ashes, not able to recover. Those people who rise from the ashes face the pain. If you numb it, or act like it didn’t happen, you stay hidden under the ashes. If you sidestep it or don’t deal with it you stay hidden under the ashes. If you don’t move on through the pain, you stay stuck in the pain. That is where satan wants you, not where God wants you.

A Living Hope is stronger than the pain, a Living Hope knows that it is not alone in the pain, a Living Hope knows that there are eternal rewards an eternal inheritance for the temporary pain.

God uses the circumstances of our lives, including pain, to strengthen our faith, to refine it, to make it something that it worthwhile. If it doesn’t get tested how do we know what kind of belief in God we really have?

We always like to think of a world without pain, a life without anything going wrong, but we wouldn’t really be living would we? We would never know how much we could overcome, we would never know how incredible God really is, we would never know how to trust in Him more. Without pain, something bad, then we wouldn’t know how good something was. If Jesus didn’t come to earth (the first step in giving humanity hope), and die on the cross (the second step in giving humanity hope) = PAIN and rise from the dead (the third step in giving humanity hope) then we wouldn’t know how good God really is, or how much he really does love us.

We know the full extent of God’s love because of the pain and suffering that Christ had to endure for us. I was thinking about this, and was wondering if Adam and Eve knew the full extent of God’s love while they were in the Garden. They were in complete union with God, unlike us (we have sin in our lives, clouding our view of God) yet they didn’t know the lengths that God would go to for them… That He would serve them by sending His Son to die for them. Or anyone in the Old Testament for that matter. We know the great lengths that God will go to for us, to save us, giving us Living Hope.

I watched a movie yesterday based on a true story called “Rescue Dawn”. I think it was totally God because it fits right into the message this morning. I want to share this story with you, because we remember stories, stories move us, inspire us, draw us out of our selves.
Dieter Dengler, a United States Air Force Pilot, was shot down 40 minutes into his first mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam in 1966. His mission was top secret and since he was shot down, no news reached the outside world. He was captured by the Pathet Lao (the local equivalent of the Viet Cong) and forced to march from village to village until they finally reached a POW camp.
There were two other American’s there, and Dengler was thrilled to have a few comrades in this with him, but was horrified by their deteriorated condition, and fatalistic view toward the future. He told them from day one that he was going to escape, and they told him that it was suicidal foolishness.
Over the ensuing months, Dengler and the others were subjected to torture, hunger, illness, and an overwhelming sense of despair. But Dengler never gave in to the doom, and waited patiently enduring his captivity until he had a chance for escape.
Dengler and one other American escaped during a hail of gunfire, and made it into the never ending jungle. Once they left the camp, their troubles and pain only grew. No shoes, no food, poisonous insects and snakes, and the constant threat of a war party. The other American got killed in a small village, leaving Dengler all alone fighting for his life. He kept making signals trying to get the very rare United States Air Force Patrol Units to see him, and at last he finally got noticed, and rescued.

Isn’t that a great story? The hope of something coming out of the darkness, and the rescue at the end! That is our story, our human condition, going through the pain, having a Living Hope that a Savior will come, and knowing that no matter what happens in our lives He will come!
I want to end the message this morning with a quote by Anne Lamott. It sums up everything that we have talked about this morning perfectly.

“Hope begins in the dark. You wait, and watch, and work. You don’t give up.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

Creating Space In Time

It snowed 4 inches here in iowa, last night. it seems like this winter is going to be worse than last year. it didn't snow last year until jan. and it has already snowed 3 times already this year. i guess you can't really control it, just endure it. i'm not a huge fan of winter. the whole bundling up and heading out into the fridgedness of it all. but that is not what i want this blog to be about. it's been a while since i have last had the opportunity to express my thoughts on this so conveniently digital journal of sorts. and so for the first time in at least a week, i have actually created space in the time that i have to write a few thoughts about creating space in time. it seems that i have been increasingly busy since the school year has started. not any huge chunks of my time taken up all at once, but small little increments taken away here and there, not really stolen by anything, just taken up with the things of life. and now as we enter the Christmas season i feel like things just keep getting put on my plate like Thanksgiving Dinner. except things are starting to overflow off the edges, and i'm trying my best to keep everything on the plate, and i have succeeded so far, but it leaves me pretty exhausted. and so i need to create space for rest in amongst everything else. i love that God calls us to rest. so i want to create space for rest & God more.