I got you buddy

“I got you buddy” I whispered in his ear… It’s all he wanted, it’s all he needed… to be held that close, to be rocked slowly and to be embraced tightly. I mean, how do you explain teething to a 10 month old? All he knew was that he was hurting and he didn’t know why. He had no words to say and even if he did, no words to express it. All he knew is that he didn’t feel good and the only thing that was going to bring him comfort was being close to daddy. It reminded me of when I started hitting puberty. So much emotion, so much feeling, so much discomfort, pain and even rage… yet no words to say and no way to express it except through angst. And at the end of the day, I had a choice. I could let him sit there and suffer without explanation, or I could pick him up, or hold him close and whisper to him… “it’s ok, no matter what your going through… I got you buddy.”

It reminds me of how much, even though we don’t see ourselves as teens or babies… in so many ways we are. As adults we get to experience new pains, new discomforts, new emotions and new hurting, new rage. More often than not, we think that we are alone in this and that no one understands us or that no one can bring us comfort. The reality is, all we want is someone to pick us up, to hold us tightly and to whisper in our ear! This is where prayer comes in, honest, heart wrenching prayer. Often times it’s prayer without words because all we feel is pain and we have no way to describe it except through tears and groans. Did you know that God is praying with you?

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

I can think of no other verse to share with you. The Holy Spirit is praying with you when all you need to do is be held. The Spirit himself intercedes for us when all we want is to hear him whisper in our ear “I’ve got you, my child” so that we no longer have to say a word.

Today, please take time to say a prayer, to whisper words in your heart that are too hard to say out loud. Cry out! Let God know your pain, your suffering, your discomfort and your rage. Even if you don’t use words. Because HE IS THERE! and He is praying with you, offering up the words we no longer can find. He is there… always, to hold and to comfort, and always to remind us and that we are HIS children.

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Three years later?

“It’s ok buddy, just because you can’t see me, it doesn’t mean I’m not there!!!” I called from across the room for what must be the 1,000th time in the last ten months. You see, my baby boy  has this belief that if I leave the room he is in… I have left him completely. I tell him this on a daily basis, and yet he still cries when he loses sight of me. Today, I was in a mad rush to get everything ready to go to work and bring him to my parents and I was starting to get very frustrated. Why? Why couldn’t he just accept the fact that I am always there? That I’m never going to leave him, that all he needs to do is cry out and I’m going stick my head around the corner and make sure he knows I haven’t left him?! Why is this so hard to believe… “Buddy, I’m right here!” I cried out before it finally hit me… Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 28:20b “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5b “ God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

How many times… how many times? How many times have I cried out… out of fear, out of frustration, or out of voluntary blindness? How many times have I demanded to see/hear/feel God on my terms when I knew full well… He was already there.

It was a humbling reminder about just how much like a child I still am, and how much I desperately want my heavenly father to be with me, in every room, in every moment… holding me and whispering in my ear… “It’s ok buddy, I’m right here.”

I just have to remember, that He already is there, and all I need to do is seek Him.

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Old Wine Skins

I’m old. Ok, so maybe i’m only 36, but in my head, I am full of old ideas. In a conversation about the concept of an outreach church-in-a-bar, a friend of mine challenged me. He asked “Why are you applying old models to a new ministry? And why are you getting mad when what you grew up with, doesn’t fit in that model? How long have you been doing this? 3 years?”

He was spot on… even though we have been meeting in Brewbakers for three years, whenever we get together to plan out new ideas, all of MY ideas are based on models that work in big church buildings from big denominations. The Bible even warns me about this! Mark 2:22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”         Worse yet, I expect the leadership to act like and fit into that old mold. And then, when they don’t, I get frustrated!

 

 

So what was God trying to tell me through the questions of my friend? I think that I need to stop thinking and start letting. I need to get rid of the old way of thinking, the old expectations and the old wine skin and embrace the new way creation that God has created through Grace Downtown. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Indeed, GDoW is a new creation, and better yet, it is still being created! Who am I to think that we are doing it wrong because it’s not how “I” have done it in the past? So why am I sharing this with you? Because I know it’s not just me, and I know it’s not just church. This is something we do all day, every day. We place expectations on each other that are not realistic, expectations that they can never meet, or worse yet, expectations that someone or something is going to fail because failure is in their story, it’s part of who they were.

We may see things through our old eyes, but God… God sees them the way they are, the way they can be and the way they will be. God sees them through eyes of hope and eyes of love. God sees what is possible, not just in the here and now, but in every possibility from this time moving forward.

This is how I need to see the church, the leadership, the people and the place that we are in right now. Because God sees it on how it will be, as a new creation! I am genuinely excited about the future of this church and the crazy people I call my family. I am glad that we were not the “flash in the pan” that some agency told us we would be. I am glad that we are still in a bar! I can’t wait to get to the next building because guess what? We are gonna build a bar in it just to serve coffee! We won’t be the church-in-a-bar, we will be the church-with-a-bar-in-it! God, forgive me for seeing things with old eyes, with tired eyes… Please, I want to see things with new eyes, with the eyes of a new creation!

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What are we exchanging for Jesus?

What are we exchanging for Jesus? Bear with me here because i’m gonna use another baby analogy, but trust me… it fits!

(hey, I got to work with what i’ve got, and right now…well… here we go)

So i’m trying to type up something inspirational and motivational for you, but it’s Friday and my brain is a pile of mush. My little dude is crawling / playing at my feet and I look down and his pacifier is in his mouth backwards! So I snag it from him and next thing I know, he’s got another pacifier in his mouth! So I take that one too and two minutes later… there’s another one! At this point i’m starting to wonder where they are all coming from. So I snag that one… and he has a fit! Full on fuss ball mode. He wants his paci. His teeth hurt and by golly, he’s gonna have something to chew on. I relent, and I give him all three back. He takes one, and puts the other down his shirt (baby logic) and that’s when it hit me…. He’s exchanging one fix for another. One feel good measure for the next… one pick me up for the other.

And I have been doing the same thing all week…. except i’ve been doing it with Jesus.

Think about it! We go to church and “get our worship on” and get all buddy buddy with buddy Christ and the moment we walk out the door and lose that feeling of spiritual intimacy… we whip out our phones and go to social media. When we get home, it’s netflix and chill. In the morning, it’s coffee and news. The cycle goes on and on and on. Family, friends, boy and girl friends and online communities; we seek intimacy in every place but with our personal Lord and Saviour.

Are you like my little boy? Are you swapping one pleasure for another, one cheap distraction for another? What are you exchanging for Jesus?

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Ministry of silly walks

Two weeks ago, I became the perfect candidate for Monty Python’s, Ministry of Silly Walks. If you have never seen the routine before, just google it and try not to laugh. You see, I was walking on the sidewalk, in a staight line and BAM! I rolled my ankle. Startled but not thinking much of it, I continued my trudge to work and then it happened again! And again! I finally ended up taking off my shoes and walking into work with just my socks on much to the amusement of the security staff who had been watching the whole thing on the CCTV cameras. You get the idea. I looked and felt the fool.

To make a longer story short, it ended up being the orthodics I use had given out. I would be two weeks before I did anything about it… For those two weeks, I willingly walked with a self imposed limp.

This week at GDoW we have been learning about bitterness and resentment. So often our hurts are self imposed. They are from perceived slights, misunderstandings and well… from total neglect from the one thing we are supposed to be using to keep us upright: God?. How many times do we carry these self inflicted limps with us in front of the whole world to see and well… just look silly? Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” If I am living in bitterness, if resentment has caused me to walk with a limp… how can I hope to live in holiness? All I am doing is a silly walk and distracting others.

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Cars…What was I thinking?

I was thinking back in regards to all the cars and trucks i’ve owned… and for no reason at all I decided to post the list here (in the order that I bought / sold them, unless noted otherwise).

1986 Chevy Camero (I bought Dad and sold before I could even drive)
1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z CS (my first daily driver, given to me by Dad)
1970 Chevy ElCamino (dad bought as a project car for us, I drove my Sr. year of HS.)
1987 Dodge Dakota regular cab, long bed
1966 AMC Marlin
1993 Chevy Lumina (even now, I hate this car)
1970 Mercury Comet (dad bought as a project car for us, I drove it to Sun Microsystems, I wish he never sold it, sucker was 100% original, but we needed a down payment for a house)
1999 GMC Sonoma (I hate this truck) extended cab, V6, 4wd
1994 Plymouth Acclaim bought because I thought I was selling my Sonoma
1989 Ford Probe bought from my mom’s pastor, overheated a lot
2000 GMC Sierra (traded the Sonoma in for this, my dad now owns the truck)
1972 AMC Javelin (money pit)
1989 Chevy Corvette (bought because I was tired of the money pit)
2005 Chevy Silverado LT crew cab, 4wd (worst financial mistake of my life)
1985 AMC Eagle Wagon (bought after I lost my butt selling the Silverado)
2005 Kia Spectra5 (traded the Corvette in on this, so far the only economical car purchase I have ever made)
2000 Nissan Pathfinder (Mysti’s first vehicle)
2004 Kia Sedona minivan (traded in the spectra on this, and later sold it to my parents, my mom now drives it)
2005 Kia Sorrento (traded in the Pathfinder on this because it was 4WD, we later traded it for my dad’s Trailblazer which we traded in on the
2000 Mitsubishi Mirage (bought this after we sold the van to my parents, great LITTLE commuter car, too small, sold to Randy)
2008 Honda CR-V LX (Mysti drove this while I drove the Sorrento and we sold the Mirage to Randy)
2015 Honda CR-V Touring (Mysti’s first new vehicle)
2013 Honda Pilot (yep, you guessed it… I sold the 2008 Honda CR-V to my parents and Dad is going to sell the Sorrento… he still has the 2000 GMC Sierra! 210,000+ miles on it!!!!)

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Rest

What is Rest?

What does rest mean to you?

What is your definition of rest?

How do you rest?

I need examples!

 

Before school, before foster kids, before seminary, before baby BEFORE Mysti-

rest for me, was being outside and doing something. Maybe making a campfire, or chopping wood, building something… just getting outside of my head, being off my butt and being creative was rest. I was communicating with myself. Seeing what I could do with what I had become.

 

After we got married, started living different shifts and just doing life… rest became something else… for us, rest became a time to communicate. It could be just going out for a bagel at Panera, or a walk through the park… but for us, rest was a chance to stop what the world demanded of us and start learning about each other again.

 

For me currently, I play a brainless video game called No Mans Sky and then hate myself after the fact that I spent time playing a game when I should be using my time more efficiently.. Or sleeping. I don’t communicate with anyone or anything. I just sit there like someone binge watching shows in Netflix.

 

For Mysti and I today, to rest is to communicate again. To rediscover that which we lost due to the busyness of life. Monday, I found myself longing for the silence and serenity of the monestary at Holy Cross Abbey. Where you spend all day in the sacred halls, walking the grounds, observing the services and yes… resting your mind, and opening it up to communication with God… I could spend an entire weekend there and if in the end, I heard just one word from God in my heart… if the still small voice whispered in my ear just one time… that would be enough, for in that moment, I had communicated with my God.

 

I bring all of this up, because as we started off, to rest means something different to everyone. As this is a Bible Study – we are going to see what the Bible says about rest and see how it applies to us today.

 

 

First reference of rest happens before Genesis 1:1.

In physics, for something to exist, it has to be inside of time; because before time, nothing but nothing existed. If something is created, it has a beginning and an end, hence the start and end of time.

In Genesis, before 1:1, we have to conclude, God just rested because nothing was created!

Ok, nerd moment over….

 

Here is the evolution of rest:

Genesis 2:2-3

Exodus 20:8-10

Mark 2:27

Hebrews 4:9-11

 

Relax – what does the Bible say about relaxing?

  1. Luke 8:23 – Jesus took naps
  2. Hebrews 4:9-11
  3. Matthew 11:28-30

 

Encourage – How do we encourage others to rest? Do we volunteer to take on tasks? Provide shelter? Provide a service?

  1. Mark 6:31-32
  2. Psalm 4:8 – I am safe when I dwell in the Lords rest
  3. Jeremiah 6:16

5.

 

Strengthen – How do we strengthen others when they need to rest? Small Groups? Prayer Circle?

  1. Psalm 3:5 – reminder
  2. Psalm 62:1-2 My strength can only come from him
  3. Psalm 73:26 my strength is only as strong as I allow God to strengthen me.
  4. Isaiah 40:29-31

 

Trust – why are we desperate to rest, to reconnect with God, but we do not trust him to allow us to rest?

  1. John 16:33
  2. Psalm 37:7
  3. Psalm 46:10
  4. Psalm 91:1
  5. Psalm 127:7 – you can’t earn rest

 

 

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