Wednesday, April 28, 2010


'The anxiety that has plagued me during the last week shows that a great part of me is not yet 'abiding' in Jesus. My mind and heart keep running away from my true dwelling place, and they explore strange lands where I end up in anger, resentment, lust, fear, and anguish. I know that living a spiritual life means bringing every part of myself home to where it belongs.'
-Henri Nouwen

'I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.'
-Jesus of Nazereth

The word 'abundance' comes from the greek word perissos which means beyond measure, surplus, or excess. Currently, I am at Princeton Seminary's Institution for Youth Ministry Certificate Forum in Princeton, NJ. I just got done attending my last class called: 'Soul Tending: Refilling the well'. This class was a two day/two part class which helped me journey inwardly-I like to think I spend enough time with God, but in truth...I know I don't. I wonder...can you relate?
Becky, the one teaching the class had Pastor Dan sit down for an interview concerning his walk with God. When asked 'what are some of the red flags or flares that indicate you're running on empty' he shared about how his wife is upset with him, his kids ask 'where's dad', he just wants to flee to his shop to organize nails or goes straight to his 'man cave'. It's an indication he works too much he admitted. Now, if you're in ministry-which we all are, you can probably relate. Now, he took it a step further by sharing how it really effects his relationships-specifically his kids. One of his son's has autism and how he doesn't like to look into his eyes (it's when you can tell he's upset or dislikes something) when he hasn't been around for a while. He said the greatest thing for him as a father is when his son looks him in the eye. It's when they really connect and bond.
The interesting thing here is...he took it even further...he said, when 'I retreat from everyone around me, it's me not wanting to look God in the eyes-yet I know he longs for me to do so.'
Now, if that's not touching...I don't know what is. But let me ask you this: when was the last time you looked God in the eye? How vain are your expectations on relationships and productivity? What is keeping you from seeking him more? What needs to be stripped away from the 'life' you prop up as more important?
Marinade on that...
The next thing I would like to share comes from Isaiah 55:1-2, 12. Lets unpack this a bit. What do you think it means to 'spend money on what is not bread, and your wages on what does not satisfy'? I think it means we're doing too much looking (and for some, doing/working) in the wrong places. I think it goes back to what was mentioned earlier concerning the definition of abundance...God offers us so much more, but we keep doing it our own way-wasting our time, money, and energies.
I think it's time that you and I peal away the layers that we claim we are and really give to God what we try to cover up-the insecure, selfish, condemning, arrogant, know-it-all, judgemental-the real dirty and unclean people who struggle with self-doubt and brokenness.
In closing, look up Isaiah 44:3 and re-read Isaiah 55:1-2, 12. What is God revealing to you through his word? What is it that you need to do on your end? It's time for some 'Soul Tending'...we've been running on empty for far too long.

Monday, April 26, 2010


“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.”
-Ian Percy

"Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."
-Gamaliel (a wise Pharisee)

What an interesting quote from Ian Percy...I find it deep, simple, and very true. We have a tendency to to judge inspite of our strong conviction or proclomation that we are indeed a Christian. For example: I know for a fact that I get upset whenever I get cut off in traffic-or when someone pulls out onto a busy street crawling way below the speed limit. I have called such people an idiot-out loud I might add, many times. The interesting thing is...I have been 'that guy'. I have been the person who has made the poor decision to pull out against my better judgement. Like, I knew I could make it, but forgot I had something rather valuable or important in the seat next to me-which in turn, made me rethink after I had already committed to pulling out.
Can you relate? Have you ever done that? Do you find yourself 'judging others on their behavior' and rationalizing your 'good intentions'?
Our friend Gamaliel had a different reaction to the infuriating words of Peter. To fully understand this you have to read Acts 5:25-42 *The 'snap-shot' is that Peter and the apostles said they were obeying God and the religious leaders in Jerusalem thought they 'knew better' than God and deemd their actions punishable by death...of course, that's until Gamaliel, whom I would considered the wisest Pharaisee ever...steps in and changes their mind with a different perspective. Basically, if it's of a man-made movement, it will fail, but if it's of dare not fight against Him-you can't stop God. He took the wait and see approach.
So lets unpack this a bit...there's an element that crucial to point out here-are we living as we should or are we fighting against God. While we sit and judge others on their behavior-for what they've done to us or others close to us, God judges us on ours...right? I mean if we take it upon ourselves to do our own thing...'knowing' what the right things that should be done...then our lives should be 'hunky-dori'! Right? I mean we know God and what He wants...right? Afterall, we've all read Micah 6:8.
So why is it that we always feel so empty, lost, confused, and irritated? I think it's because we actually neglect the discipline of prayer in our lives...I mean how many of us are actually keeping God in the loop concerning our needs and wants? There is a difference you know. But, I think when we're honest with ourselves we find that we've neglected prayerful consideration and dialog with God. We assumed we could do it on our own-which leaves us broken and lost. I think Gamaliel hit the nail on the head here: 'Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.' In other words, they will fail...just like we fail to see our own 'short-sightedness' in the 'heat of the moment'.
I would like to say that I'm a 'good' Christian...but who can be considered 'good' when Jesus even said He didn't consider himself 'good'.
You and I need to stop fighting against God and stop doing our own's only in great times of need or stress that we find ourselves on our knees asking for his help-forgetting we walked away from him thinking we had a better idea as to what we needed. And even then, we find ourselves 'making deals' with him-given our sense of urgency and desparateness...thinking we will actually fulfill our end of the 'bargain'.
Does any of the above sound familiar to you? Does any of it 'ring' true for you? Are you tired of fighting against God? Then I invite you, just as God join him in communication and fellowship of the heart. Re-read Micah 6:8 and get down to the basics of living. Relationships are important and we need to work on mending some fences-not just with others, but with our past, ourselves, and with our creator.


'Jesus doesn't identify you by your why do you?'
-Perry Noble

I normally don't like to 'pass off' a lesson or message by simply adding a link, but I feel compelled to. I have set aside my pride to just share with you a message-straight up from Perry Noble. Unfiltered and unedited by me-there are no additions here.
Please set aside a good 45 minutes to if you don't have time, come back when you do. This requires you're attention. *Skip through the worship aspect and go straight to the sermon by Perry (look for the guy in the glasses standing on stage with a Bible in his hand).
*Don't be shy either. Please leave comments with your thoughts...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"No action is more fascinating than the action of self-transformation. Nothing on earth can compare with its drama or its value."
-Vernon Howard

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
-Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 2:17)

This whole blog/article is born out of a deep questioning of God's people who are in leadership. Of course, I could say that if you claim to be a Christian you-yourself are in fact a leader or an ambassador for Christ here on Earth. However, I won't drift too far away from something I feel convicted about (Acts 5:17-42). *Source of conviction: 'UnChristian', 'Velvet Elvis', and 'Forgotten God'.
First things first: The truth is that we all need Jesus in our lives. Not just on Sundays when it's convienent to look your best, while shaking hands with those around you, or while you resight lines of confession, you need Him to sit in the passenger seat of your vehicle after someone just cut in front of you, you need Him when you just got done arguing with your spouse about something totally dumb or assumed. You and I...we need Jesus beyond Sundays.
You and I are sick. We are chronically sick with worry, self-pity, and even self-interest...we are so sick that we feel we don't need to take what we learn or hear on Sundays into the rest of our week-it's okay, we have next Sunday's 'fix' to look forward to...right? Many pastors I know, say they preach as though it's their last sermon...we are not garunteed another day or another moment, yet we live, expect, and demand as if we do.

So has leadership failed us or have we failed ourselves?

In God's house of worship-which should really be everywhere, people who have been elected to positions of leadership, who have accepted their appointment, that represent both God and His church (God's people), meet to prayerfully consider God's direction and vision for His family. These people are Christians but are also people, they too have nasty tendencies-as you and I do, they behave irratioanlly and react or cling to things out of fear. I know I am a sinner and I know I'm not perfect, but they are held to the same standards as all Christians (Matthew 7:3).

For me, character is defined as who you are when no one is looking. Those who can't see you don't know of the deeds you've done outside of their presence, but God knows all that you've done, said, and even thought. And if Jesus is present in our lives, it should show right?
Francis Chan (author of 'Crazy Love' and 'Forgotten God') gave a great example: If I claim to have the skills of Michael Jordan, get on the basketball court and aren't able to driblle or shoot like MJ...then my words are empty. In the book of James (1:19-26) there is scripture that talks about being more than just hearers of God's word, but doers.

So the question becomes what are we doing on a daily basis to help curb our sickness...our addiction to self focus-we're always right, everyone else is wrong, or even self victimization? I know that I've mentioned prayer and reading God's word (the Bible), but I think there's more to it too...when was the last time you journaled your thoughts and concerns? We all need a healthy way of venting our frustrations-whether it's a friend, hobby, or sport...if we keep it all inside it will eat away at us.

In closing, I would like to encourage you to take a step back-take a break from whatever it is that has you so busy that God isn't present, Christ-like character is absent, and you feel empty. If you have too much on your plate-learn to say no and know when to say no, this is about healthy boundaries. It's okay to be active in the church, it's okay to volunteer, but be sure to set aside enough time to care for yourself and work on your relationship with Christ.

Let me leave you with this: When you say yes to something, you're also saying no to something else...just make sure you're not saying no to God (Acts 5:17-31).