Thursday, February 27, 2014

Comedy Sunday and Suggestions for Lent

Today is Comedy Sunday. The Greek word kōmōidía originally meant a stage play with a happy ending as opposed to tragōidia which evokes suffering and ends poorly. History’s great comedy is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the early Orthodox Church, the day after Easter, the people gathered to play jokes on each other and share funny stories to celebrate the joke that God played on Satan. Satan thought he had finally conquered the world, but the King still had another move: on the third day, the tomb was empty and Christ had risen. It was God’s final move putting Satan into checkmate once and for all.

Wednesday begins the season of Lent. It is a six-week journey leading to the cross and eventually the empty tomb. It’s a path we must take to fully embrace the destination. Darkness comes before light. Brokenness before healing. Despair before hope. The recognition of sin before the experience of grace. Death before new life. 

I encourage you to make Lent meaningful this year because the more meaningful Lent is—the more meaningful Easter will be.

Practical Suggestions for Lent

Questions for Reflection

1. What is a habit in my life getting in the way of me fully loving God and others? Or being loved by God and others? What are some steps I can take to address this habit? How am I going to respond when change becomes difficult?

2. What is something I am attached to but don’t need? Is God leading me to give up this attachment for Lent? If so, how would surrendering this area of my life prepare me for Easter?

3. When I wake up on Easter morning, what do I hope will be different about me? When I wake up on Easter morning, what does God hope will be different about me?

Personal Activities

1. Observe a Sabbath for six consecutive weeks. Many people find sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday an excellent time. Spend time resting, reflecting, practicing recreation, restoring, and replenishing. After each Sabbath, think about what God was doing in you during the Sabbath.

2. Read the Gospel of Matthew. You will need to read about two-thirds of a chapter per day. At the end of each reading—ask the question: How does God want me to apply this to my life today and in the future?

3. Fast from using a credit card or debit card and become aware of how you are spending money. Reflect on what it means to be a good and faithful steward of God’s resources.

4. Spend time outside every day. Mix it up by walking, taking pictures, sitting, thinking, playing, and praying. As the weather gets nicer and the ground changes, consider God’s hope, new life, and resurrection in your life.

5. Write forty notes of gratitude or encouragement to family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, or people from your past (both people who are alive and deceased). Think about how God is working through this process.

For Families with Children

1. During meals or before bed, share together how each of you experienced God during the day. Pray together for a deeper experience of God’s grace in your life.

2. Have the entire family commit to complimenting and serving each other one time per day. Occasionally reflect on how you are experiencing God’s grace through each other.

3. Go old school and turn off all electronic devices one evening per week from after-school until the next morning. Talk about this experience the next day.

I look forward to taking this journey with you,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Tuesday night is boys' night. I asked Benjamin and David what they
wanted for dinner. They simultaneously replied: "bacon."
No arguments from me.

Undaunted - Week 4

Saturday, February 22, 2014

David's Free Throw

David got some impressive height on this shot. It wasn't terribly close
to going in, but he got a few rebounds and made a basket. The two
teams tied 27 to 27.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Living Into Your Future

The door was unlocked. I knocked and walked in. I had never been in the house before. It was clean. The wood throughout the house was crafted by artist. The stained glass windows, the plastered walls, the wainscoting made me think the house was at least a hundred years old. 

The man sat in his leather recliner covered by an old quilt. Turns out he has lived there all of his 72 years. His exterior was as rugged and strong as the aged bricks on the outside of the house. His hands were scarred from decades of work on the farm. His face was well-worn – the sun will do that over time.

He smiled. “My daughter said the preacher was young. I didn’t think you would be this young.” I smiled back and told him, “Your daughter said you were handsome. I didn’t think you would be this handsome.” We laughed. But, this wasn’t a social call. I would be doing his funeral in a few weeks. I wanted to get to know him, to listen to his stories, and to share about God’s grace.

Farmers are storytellers. It’s what they do. His stories were honest and raw. He talked about growing up, meeting his wife, getting married, the birth of his kids, the farm crisis of the early 80s, walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, watching his wife die of the same disease that was killing him, his regrets, the things he never got to do, his favorite memories, his grandchildren, his love of the land, and his ultimate peace and contentment with what has happened and what was about to happen.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. –Søren Kierkegaard 

We’ll all get there someday. Sitting in the chair with the warm, comfy quilt. Or at least somewhere similar. We’ll know the days behind us far outnumber the limited days in front of us. We’ll look back and have a decent understanding of what just happened. But, chances are, if you are reading this, you are not sitting in that chair. 

There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future. -Augustine of Hippo

You have a future. So do I. Some days it may be as clear as mud. Some days it may seem as distant as the moon. We don’t and we won’t understand the future. But we get to live it. Starting today. 

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. -Corrie Ten Boom

Our future is unknown. But, we are accepted, loved, healed, guided by a God who is known. When we are broken and busted living on a diet of blame and bitterness—God puts us back together and gives us faith and forgiveness. When we are fearful and anxious God calms us and gives a courage and company. When we are lost and looking for meaning God directs us and gives us purpose and passion.

Your unknown future starts with your next step. Understand and learn from your past. Embrace God’s faith and forgiveness. Be courageous. Spend your days loving what God loves most—yourself and others. Relentlessly chase your dreams and your calling with passion and purpose. At the end of your days you will look back and be grateful.

The best is yet to come…


Saturday, February 15, 2014


Did a wedding for a Marine this afternoon.
Always an honor to serve those who serve.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Case for Fear

Don’t be afraid. Do not fear. No need to be anxious. God says things like this more than He says anything else. 

Easier said than done. It’s kind of like telling a person who hasn’t eaten not to be hungry. Or a kid walking through the leaves to pick up his feet. 

Fear isn’t a bad thing. Neither is a little anxiety. They are natural. A case can even be made that fear is a good thing.

To venture causes fear and anxiety, but not to venture causes one to lose one's self. And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one's self. 
–Søren Kierkegaard

A life without some fears or anxiety is a life without venture or action or possibilities or dreams. All future hopes include the possibility of failure or hurt. And a life without possibilities and dreams isn’t a life at all. No rewards exist without a few risks. Any economist will tell you that. And no risk can be taken without a little fear or anxiety.

Hiding. Inaction. Avoiding risks. Avoiding growth. Avoiding life. Avoiding fear. These are painful inactions that cause a person to lose oneself. Fear and anxiety have very useful functions, but like food, power, sex, and most other things – we can have too much of a good thing.

God says: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. –Joshua 1:9

Excess fear and a surplus of anxiety use today’s resources and strength to carry the heavy weights of tomorrow’s real and perceived burdens and responsibilities. God’s words to Joshua are at once profound and powerful.

CourageBe strong and courageous!

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is overcoming our fears. It is the belief that development, vision, and potential are more important than fear. Life shrivels or enlarges in proportion to one’s courage. 

PresenceFor the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Wherever. Whenever. Forever. Always. 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. –Psalm 23:4

God is bigger than our challenges. No obstacle is too big for God. And we are never alone. Ever. And because of His presence we can be courageous.

Fear and anxiety are natural emotions. An accelerated pulse and knots in our stomach tell us such is the case. The fear of fear leads to inactivity which leads to a life full of wondering what might have been had we attempted to become our true self. Being overwhelmed by fear, both real and perceived, paralyzes us and moves us into a cruel form of apathy. Inactivity and apathy are not included in God’s plans for our lives.

God’s presence makes life less daunting. Courage overcomes fears and anxiety and opens doors to abundance and fruitfulness.

Don’t let fear overcome you. Be strong and courageous. God is with you.

The best is yet to come…


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anxiety and Fruitfulness

Sunday's sermon in a graph: Fear of fear is boredom. Being frozen by fear is being overwhelmed. A healthy, proactive response to fear, courage, leads to fruitfulness. Courage means we are overcoming challenges, taking risks, and living life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Prayer for Healing

Here is the prayer we prayed before communion yesterday:


You hear our cries
You feel our pain
You heal our wounds

Give us strength in weakness.
Bring us hope in despair.
Bless us with Your presence in our fears.
Forgive us of our sins and help us be forgiving.

Provide us wholeness
in our bodies
   peace in our mind
   repair in our relationships,
   and rest of our souls.

We want more of the life and the grace You give.
Help us to trust in You alone and
seek Your healing, wholeness, and balance.

Let my pain be a blessing to me and to others.
   May my heartbreak be a breakthrough
   May my wounds transform into wisdom
   May my past give somebody else a future

And God—make Your love, Your power, and Your grace be evident and abundant to me in days of celebration and blessing, in days of trials and hardship, and in ordinary days.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Case For Pain

Pain is inevitable. It happens. We step on a Lego. Go to the dentist. Have our heart broken. See somebody we love struggle. Have somebody close to us die. Experience the loss of a job or an unwanted move. Be overcome by responsibilities. Be strangled by an addiction. I could go on and on.

Kierkegaard wrote of pain: “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.” A broken foot will heal. So can broken hearts. Unfulfilled dreams are the cruelest and most enduring form of pain.

The baby’s name was Pain. We probably wouldn’t choose that name for a baby. Surely we wouldn’t. But his mom did. In Hebrew his name is ‏יַעְבֵּץ which means pain. We transliterate the word to be Jabez. You may have heard of him before—he is the guy who prayed the big prayer.

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from pain!” And God granted him his request. -1 Chronicles 4:9-10

His prayer is profound in so many ways. The last part of the prayer in Hebrew reads: “Keep me from hurting Jabez” which is a play on words—so it actually reads—“Let my dreams come true, always be with me, and keep me from hurting myself.”

Some pain comes directly from others. Somebody did something to you or said something about you. We have experienced that before and it is terrible. Some pain comes from the broken world we live in. Disease, accidents, recessions, etc… We can’t really do a darn thing about them except know they are real. And some pain comes from our self. Jabez knew this and so do you. Laziness, anger, fear of fear, greed, not taking care of ourselves, etc… So he prayed: “Keep me from hurting myself.”

Chasing dreams is daunting. Relentlessly pursuing personal vision can be overwhelming. But the Danish philosopher and the guy with the odd name knew daunting and overwhelming was better than growing old wondering what might have been. 

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. –C.S. Lewis

Pain isn’t a bad thing. Pain is an incentive to search for a better tomorrow. Pain opens doors to healing. And pain can make the world a better place. Heartbreak can be a breakthrough. Wounds can transform into wisdom. Our past can give somebody else a future. And God—the love, the power, and the grace—is most evident and abundant in pain.

The best is yet to come…


Sunday, February 2, 2014


Good birthday today. Thanks for all the greetings and well-wishes. We had our worship experiences, then lunch, then I watched a few episodes of Monk with the boys, and then we went to a Super Bowl Party. David was the only person cheering for the Seahawks and was pleased with the outcome.

Seattle Football: Any Questions?