Thursday, May 28, 2009

Come Early Stay Late

I liked what Bob Hyatt had to say in his recent blog about community as the Church, especially what he said about making time to connect with people on Sunday after the worship gathering:.

Here's one thing I've noticed: When we stay after for lunch together- it's often the same people who stay. And interestingly enough, it's people who seem to have no trouble feeling connected.
Others come late, leave right when things are done and are rarely present to the rest of the community any other times but that narrow band of an hour and a half on Sunday. And, again, interestingly, often those who make a rhythm of coming late and leaving early later eventually complain to me of not feeling a sense of community, of connectedness.
This isn't a poke at or slam on anyone in particular. I just feel this loss of slowness, of languidly enjoying each others' company- maybe it's an airbrushed and idealized picture I'm carrying around in my head, but it just seems like we didn't have as much to do back then, as much to rush off to... and being together seemed more of a priority.
I don't know how to encourage people to come early, to stay late, to help set up and tear down as a shared activity, to endure the same pub food week after week as a sacrificial act of community building, to invest and create the community they long for rather than hoping it just happens... I honestly wish I did.
But I will say this- I've rarely regretted giving my time to others. To myself, to the internet, to TV and busy work yes. To people, to community, no.

Praying, walking, and listening with a mission to bless

All over the world supernatural movements of prayer are being led by the youth of the church. No need for any type of formal training or degree just a pure heart and desire to follow Jesus. This movement of prayer,which people are calling a "Treasure Hunt," is like prayer walking with a mission to listen to God and find people who need God's love and healing. They are called "Treasure Hunts" because God's treasures are people and he leads prayer seekers to them via nudges, clues, and impressions from the Holy Spirit. (Sound crazy? Learn more about listening to God in this way by watching this video.

Now, I have to admit when I first heard about this I was skeptical for two reasons. First, I wondered if this was just another Christian fad. Would this launch into a formulaic program branded with t-shirts, coffee mugs and key chains only to be quickly forgotten for the next "outreach strategy?" And second, is this truly real? Does God speak with clues of who we should pray for, what to pray for, and where we should go?

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 3:7-8

So I started reading, learning, and experimenting. I met with a trusted friend from college who pastors in Berkeley and was experiencing God in this way. He told me stories where his church would pray and God told them things that lead them to walk all over the city.

God even spoke specific names of people walking down the street where God would instantly reveal specific life needs of the people they met. Can you imagine someone walking up to you and saying, "I know your name, what's going on in your life, what kind of pain you have, and I want to tell you God loves you and wants to bless and heal you!"?

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

That's the kind of God that loves us. It's a perfect example of what PCC is learning through Revelation. God is a God of supreme power and His will is to draw all people, tribes, nations, and languages to himself through Jesus. So since January I've been experiencing God regularly in this way, like I have never before.

Last week, specifically, there were three days when groups of PCC young adults and students went praying through Redwood City. One experience went like this: My small group of men met at PCC's campus and asked God specifically to tell us who and what to pray for and where we should go in Redwood City to pray. All six of us took about ten minutes separately to talk and listen to God. We had paper and jotted down what it seemed God was saying to us, no matter how unusual. Then we came together and shared what we heard.

It was undeniable that almost each of us had heard God tell us to go to Sequoia Station because we each had
written down a location in that area. We continued to share other things almost seemingly random like, "white shirt, post-it notes, books, hurt left leg, freedom from alcohol, man on bench," and even names of people. It sounds unbelievable but as we compared notes it seemed that God actually gave us the name of someone: J____, a location, an appearance, and things she would need prayer for. This was our "Treasure Map." I have to tell you, it was so exciting. I just asked God for faith to be led in His powerful ways.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

We split up in two groups of three and drove to Sequoia Station. Within five minutes of arriving we were praying with people. My group arrived in Safeway, in the aisle that has both "books and post-it notes." We waited and asked anyone and everyone who came down that aisle if they needed prayer. We prayed for people who needed jobs, had illness, and we prayed for a woman in a wheel chair who had a "hurt left leg." When we showed her our list of things we were looking for she looked at us as if we had just revealed she won the lottery. Amazing.

So as we were just about to leave that's when we saw HER. We spotted a twenty-something girl wearing a white t-shirt and we felt God tell us SHE was J_____, the name he gave us. So in faith we tapped her on the shoulder and asked, "Is your name J____?" She nodded her head yes. You can imagine the look on her face. But she was completely stunned when we told her what we were doing and how we found her. We told her our mission for the night was to ask God to lead us to people he wanted to bless and heal. She was freaked out, as were we. Could this really be happening? We showed her our "treasure map" with her name on it, white shirt, and other things. We asked what she needed prayer for. At first she said, "Nothing, really." So we said we would just pray for God to bless her. Then one of they guys in our group, being nudged by God, said, "Are you sure there's nothing specific?" That's when she told us she had faith at one time, but now she was a single mom, pregnant, and dealing with substance addictions. We got to speak God's love over her, pray healing and protection for her unborn child, and encourage her to find help. It was amazing, right there in the entrance to Safeway. God is not done with J____, and God is definitely not done with me. I'm still learning to listen and loving what I'm learning.

Starting next Thursday June 4th, one of our young adults will be leading a weekly Treasure Hunt: prayer walk with a mission to listen to God, bless our city, and find people to pray for. Every Thursday anyone is welcome to join, learn, practice, and step out in faith to listen and follow God on the ultimate hunt for His treasure. Meet at 6pm in the courthouse plaza across from the Fox Theater. Anyone is invited. That's any one, untrained, unprofessional, inadequate feeling person who just simply loves God and wants to follow Jesus to join on one of the ultimate treasure hunts. It's an adventure and definitely not a fad that's going out of style.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Quote Unquote"

Desperation and humility often work in tandem to bring us into our God-ordained destinies.
-Bill Johnson

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vlog Episode 10 May 2009 TRT 8:03

I have a "thing" with the Church. (Some of you who read this blog hopefully know that by now). Some call it semantics but I think it's an overlooked statement that really has some deep theological value. Bottom line we are a CALLED OUT PEOPLE-a group, a family of God's people invited by God himself to be on a mission to bless and transform the world-not just sit in a building once a week or study the Bible to feel good. I'm on this mission to gracefully challenge people to change their language. We are a PART of the Church. We ARE the church. We DON'T GO TO church because church is not a place. I recently spoke on the topic of the Church a few Sundays ago at PCC's worship gatherings. You can hear it here.

So here's my most recent VLOG on the Church and wanted to share it here! It includes some really cool street interviews on how people think about the Church.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hope for the right brain

Complaining, ahem..suggesting sometimes helps. You might remember my issues I posted about one of my professors. Get this: Cool thing is the C giving prof changed his syllabus to accommodate different learning styles for his next quarter's class. He emailed me saying he took into consideration my learning style challenges and asked for some suggestions. Those taking his course this quarter had the option of filming a presentation and some other non-linear type things! Hallelujah. Maybe I'll take this guy again and maybe there's hope for artisitic right brained people in semianry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good Theology in Song

Read this. John 5:17-30.

If we want to be like Jesus then we should follow his lead! He went to the Father, he prayed to the Father, he listened the Father, he submitted to the Father's will.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Listen up MEN!

I'm sitting in Gary's office right now listening to this. Our jaws are dropped, we are laughing, and we are yelling AMEN. Preach it.
What do you think?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Celebrating the mother of my kids!

I wanted to post a current family picture as we celebrate Mother's day--(and I wanted to promote the work of my good friend and photographer, John Meyer. Need photos? Contact him). I'm so grateful for the mom that my wife is to our girls. I am in awe of her. I learn from her, and because of her-- our kids are alive--and haven't gotten food posioning yet. She's the queen of food handling safety-she schools me often and makes me wonder how I survived my bachelor years eating leftovers that sat in the fridge for weeks (and re-used plates while grilling that had raw meat on them. Oops). Thank you Wendy for being my awesome wife and amazing mom to our kids!

Being a husband and a dad is one the most fulfilling parts of life God has given me. Even with dirty diapers, baby cries, and two-year old toddler issues, I'm loving this season of life. My character is being refined and I'm, again, having to re-learn good boundaries. I need to let things go (which is why I wrote about this) in order to lead my family well and be the husband and father that blesses them and honors God. No easy feat. That's where God's good grace and strong power comes in.
I pray God's protection over my family, that we would be unified. I pray all families rely on God's power and Jesus' example. I pray for healing from pain and past hurts and for strong families to develop with commitment to love and forgive and to prioritize time together. And today I pray for mothers! Thank you God for moms!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

An Average Theologian

I actually got a C in my (one and only) Seminary courses last quarter. A flippin C? MERCY! I'm a pastor? Embarrassing! Yes, I did question my salvation for 30 seconds but then rationalized it wasn't because I'm a bad theologian. Although I joke seminary has minimized me into feeling like an "Average Theologian." My C status came because of life's on-going time crunch and this class was a not so good fit for my learning style. First, I knowingly had to submit papers where my editing (if there was any at all) was worse than a third grader because I did what I could with the time that I had. And second, honestly, I'd rather learn about God and what he's doing in the world in a much different way than sit in a class room (very different than Jesus taught his disciples btw). Some seminary classes are very linear, slanted toward one learning style that isn't mine. I don't get energized sitting behind a desk in a room with no windows for three hours of lectures. I need to group discussion, how about a movie clip for an illustration?- or give me some play-doh and paint so I can create. Fifteen page papers and final exams are like bamboo shoots under my fingernails. I even asked my prof if I could write poetry or make a video instead of writing a paper. He said, "Seminary is a word institution." Man, how I wish the education system would put out magazines :). I just didn't have the time to put 40 hours of book study into one 4 credit class to spit out info in papers and tests while trying to prioritize my wife and two kids. One of my professors actually said, "If you want an A in this class, it'll take forty hours of studying." Forty hours of studying for one class??? There's only 168 hours in a week, dude! (What if a student was taking more than one class?). Most people need to work 40+ hours weekly and sleep at least 6 hours a night. That leaves 86 hours a week to spend time connecting with God, being with family, eat three meals daily, exercise, pay bills, surf facebook, AND then hit the 6-inch thick required reading with no pictures?
All this to say, Seminary (part time for the past 5+ years) has humbled me immensely, taught me respect for the grandeur of God's word, given me many all nighters reminiscent of college, (and caused me back pain carrying around 7 large books in one bag, no exaggeration), while all at the same time reminding me that a Masters Degree will not make me more effective for God. I am learning a lot, but it's like sand paper for TP. And the tassel isn't quite in sight but I'm going to if my life depended on it, not that it does, it just makes it more dramatic for this blog. Wah-wah right? Wendy reminds me to remember this in fifteen years when our kids are complaining about trigonometry. And believe me, I will. I'll tell them how I had to suffer too, (much like my parents had to walk up hills in the snow to school and had no remote controls), it's a part of life.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Reflecting on- talking about- The Church.

I spoke this past Sunday on The Church. Hear it here!
The word CHURCH actually goes back to the OT in Exodus when God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In Deuteronomy 4:10—Moses recounts God’s directions to ASSEMBLE THE PEOPLE-it’s the same Hebrew word that is used in the NT=ECCELSIA : A called out people, a body of people who accept and believe God’s invitation to worship him, follow him and engage in the mission in life together (and helping others to do the same).
I break it down like this:
CHURCH: PEOPLE CALLED OUT-(not a building).
PEOPLE: A GROUP, COMMUNITY, FELLOWSHIP (each person individually gifted and called to be a part of the whole).
CALLED: LOVED AND INVITED BY GOD TO WORSHIP (all are invited but not all will accept).
OUT-TO A PURPOSE (to know and worship God and help others do the same) AND MISSION (to bless/show compassion).

I talked about how this PEOPLE CALLED OUT were responsible for changing the world. I used examples of how God's people started mission movements, hospitals, impacted music, art, and civil rights, etc. In recounting the church's history I falsely (unintentionally) credited the Brady Bunch Mom, FLORENCE HENDERSON, as the founder of modern-day nursing, not..

who actually did. I had her right name in my notes and even mentally had it on my brain as one of my best friends has the same last name. UG. Oh well, thankfully two people came up to me and let me know the blunder, and it had me rolling around on the ground laughing. Why was Carol Brady on my mind? I have no idea. The legitimate info I got from a book Gary Gaddini loaned me called, What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? An easy read for anyone wanting to know more about Christian history. I like that it didn't leave out the "sins of the church," either. It's an honest depiction that reminded me God chooses broken sin-prone people to do his will. That's what stokes me on the church. God chooses US-regular, broken, ordinary PEOPLE to infuse us with his Holy Spirit power and CALLS us loved and chosen to an unstoppable mission OUT in the world. God grow your church to expand your kingdom.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Church and a Smoking Tangent

I'm speaking this Sunday @ PCC's worship gatherings. Topic :The Church. It's one of my top 10 favorite subjects. If you read my blog you know my little slogan, "Don't GO to church, Be the church." I'm excited and grateful to challenge our church family to BE and those who are searching-- to join the mission of God's PEOPLE CALLED OUT! Those three words: People Called Out, are how I describe God's intention for the Church. I'll go into detail Sunday. I'm praying that we become the church God intended us to be, fueled by his power as I've been re-learning about.

I looked for an image with a stereo-typical church building crossed out to symbolize the building isn't the church, the people are. But I couldn't find one, (is that offensive?), but I did find this:
Funny and random.
Tangent-I have to say this about smoking. More churches should put ashtrays near exits of their building, or on their patios so that people who smoke would feel welcomed. Y'know the church should be the kind of people who say come as you are, (issues, addictions, hurts, doubts, questions, etc), experience God and let him change you. Instead, we as the church have dug our own hole turning "church" into a weekly event where people traditionally dress up, act polite, sit, spectate, and go through a religious routine for 90 minutes. Ug. Many people don't want to gather with the church because they are turned off. More on that later....

By the way. I've actually had a few people (mostly teenagers) ask me:
Q: "Does God send people who smoke to to hell?
Everyone wants to know if there behavior will send them to Hell. I try to explain God's more concerned with a relationship and he's full of love and grace but I also like to have a little fun so I've come up with this little saying:
"Smoking won't send you to Hell, it only makes you smell like you've been there. :)"
God loves you: smokers, pastors, addicts, and even the "religious spectators."
God, we need to experience you so we can be changed.