Friday, December 29, 2006

On Having Not Taken a Beating for Jesus, (Yet).

Sometimes I wish God's discipline came in the version of an ass kicking. This way I could clean up the blood and mend the wounds. Instead, I am left to wonder - "how long O Lord, how long will You continue to bear me up under Your wrath?"

Okay. I admit that might seem a little serious. But here at the end of 2006 I am ready to move out of the desert of this long night. I have been praying, thanking God for His mercy and for His grace. Mostly I thank Him for His discipline. I know that the Master, Jesus, bore all of my guilt and shame. And that He took my portion of the wrath of God. However, as His child I know from reading Hebrews that He chastizes those He loves in order to put in them what cannot be bought with gold, namely His character. Financial burdens, grief, loss of loved ones, loss of mission, and working at jobs just to survive is getting to me. This is not the suffering I had in mind when I told Jesus that I was willing to suffer for His name. The weird thing is that I don't think I am "suffering". I am aware of the plight of our African brothers and sisters and our Middle Eastern and Asian Christians who face poverty and death everyday.

It is foolish of me to think that this minor "inconvience" of living with another family and living to pay off credit cards is really suffering. Lame. That kind of thinking is lame. I mean Jesus had no place to lay His head. The discipiles and the early Christians took beating after beating for preaching the Name of Jesus. But, there in lies my mental problem. These circumstances I find myself in are not from preaching the Gospel. It is not as if the local government and the religious leaders took my possessions and my job and pummeled me with rocks because I was in the marketplace declaring the name of Christ. No. I am more inclined to believe these things are readily happening because I have little faith. I am not talking about naming, claiming nonsense. I am talking about walking on water, seeing blind men see, lepers beeing cleansed, Spirit of the Living God eveloping faith.

I have forgotten what it is like to really trust God and to have hope that tomorrow is going to be better. I have lost touch with doing all things for the glory of God no matter what the result. I am stuck in the thought pattern that because I stack boxes, sling lattes or whatever that what I am doing is of little eternal signifigance. I sin. And the enemy wants me to stay right in that mindset so that I will keep on sinning. That I will forget that Jesus took my beating and that each day is a gift no matter how broke I am. I am rich in that my inheritance is King Jesus. It's just hard to think properly about earthly things sometimes. It is hard to live out the Sermon on the Mount. It is difficult to be a follower of Jesus with all these stupid things the enemy and the world throws at me. Suffering, heh! I have not begun to know His sufferings. Each day Jesus must become more sufficient for me. His grace must become relevant all the more.
Each day I must die to worry, guilt, shame, pride, laziness and lust.

Today is a good day to die.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I woke up today thinking about reformed theology. I know I am a nerd. I dreamt of a butterfly. I got to thinking about how sometimes as Christians we use this imagery for becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The butterfly took on a whole different idea for me. A butterfly doesn't "choose" to become one. It is called a "miracle of Nature" or a biological process. I thought of it this way - if I believe that the Scriptures teach that God initiates and also draws us to faith, just as the caterpillar is drawn to make a cocoon and become something other than itself and God is the one working all of this into existence, how can this not be true? I mean we don't look at a butterfly and say, "look at what a beautiful creature that worm chose to become". No, rather we would say that indeed something miraculous took place in order for the Monarch to rise from the cocoon different than when it entered.

So, the process of salvation in of itself is a miracle of mercy and grace. I think that we have a problem with it because not all worms become butterflies. Why wouldn't a furry little floor crawler not want to become a majestic flying insect, bouncing heavenward? Is it because it's will is bound to a biological process of change or non-change? Or perhaps there are outside influences - such as hanging out with other butterflies that really makes or breaks the little crawlers experience to shun the wings or embrace the flight life? Or maybe our squirmy friends fate lies in the hands of its creator?

All I know is that I desire to fly.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


So we are moving to Texas. Come this time next week I will be hanging my hat in the Lone Star state. Some people are like - Wha?!?

Well, as the story goes...
We have been struggling with direction for about a month now. Things fell through with my Mom. We have been looking for jobs and have hit the wall. We are looking for jobs in our related field but nothing worked out. Then the relationship with my Mom deteriated and we could not help her. She needs tons of help but it seems like we are more of a burden than helpful.

Our friends Erin and Lewis offered for us to come and stay at their house and they would help us find jobs. We could be useful at their church and also Irving is looking for teachers. So, we prayed and deliberated and prayed and discussed and sought counsel and prayed. The open door was staring down at us and we stood around and wondered if God was doing something else. Surely not Texas. I mean last year it was Boston. Then this year Tennessee. And now He wants us to move to Texas? At first we thought why not go back to Boston. We could do it again. And then we reconsidered. It was such a hard road for us. And this soon it would be even harder. Our finances are not in ship shape and most importantly we feel as if the door is closed on that mission in our lives right now. I don't know. It's like we are getting a big stop sign about heading back to Boston at this time.
Why not stay put?
Well, we have prayed through that. There are many reasons to stay. My sister and her kids live across the parking lot. We love the church we have been attending. We have friends here. We love the mountains. The thing is, we can't stay when we believe God is moving us. Jobs were just not right for us here and we believe the reason we came here was to help my Mom. This has been closed to us. We have tried to be helpful but we can't help someone who doesn't want our help. So we have been given the permission and the peace to move on.

We considered Mississippi, with Kimberly's folks. We just did not see a jobs really coming to fruition there. They live out in the woods and it is a bit counterproductive to getting solid jobs to pay off our debt. Driving an hour to Jackson is not cost effective. So, Lewis and Erin offered to help and so we go to Texas. With new hopes and dreams and low expectations. We just want to work.

Monday, October 16, 2006

So we live near this now. No Skyscrapers or the Big Dig. Just mountains. If it wasn't so stressful here it would be a great place to live. To seek and follow hard after God. In a little over a year we have gone through two culture shocks. I am trying to figure out what the Great Lion is doing with us. We moved here to help my Mom. It is difficult to help someone who doesn't want our help and doesn't really know what she wants help with. So, we are in a weird place. Careerwise - nothing, relationship with God - always changing us. So where do we go from here. Part of me wishes I would have never left PC. Another part wishes I would have never left Boston, but that is how it is when we follow the Spirit. I just hope He blows by here again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Being at the Beginning

It is difficult to be at the beginning of things. Starting a community of people who are following Jesus and being their pastor is difficult. Knowing that I am responsible for them and myself - wow. It is not only a good thing to trust Jesus, but it is a great thing to know Him in all of this as well. I have to hold on to Him.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Prayer Chair Blogger Style (or an Open Letter to Surf youth 2000-2005)

As I am here in Boston planting a new community of believers, I wanted to write to you. I remember when you and I would meet to discuss the Bible and the things that Jesus was doing in your life. I hope that His peace and grace are with you. The same grace and peace He died for on the cross on our behalf, in order to deliver us from sin now and eternally. I am thankful for all of you. I thankful for your prayers and for the evidence of your faith even as time passes.

I am grieved that I hear and have seen some turn and return to things that only those who know nothing of His grace and mercy do. How you have allowed others to influence your decisions regarding your former ways and ways that are not beneficial for those who belong to the gospel. I am writing as your friend and as someone who you have trusted in the past to give you guidance. I am not writing as one who has arrived or is better than you. For some what I am about to say will be offensive. I hope that you will pray and think about what I have to write before you respond.
Some have apparently chosen to live a life of inconsequence. The sufferings of Christ are worthless to you. Instead of being godly men and women and choosing the hard life of sacrifice, dying to self - you would rather give into your flesh needs/wants. Let's face it was it all a pharce? Because if it was - why?

What I am trying to say is that for some of you, I thought I knew of the depth of love you had for Him. For Jesus, our Lord who gave Himself up for you. We spoke of how we never wanted to be slaves to anything but the righteousness of Christ. I spent time with you, believing that you desired the same things I did. To become more like the Jesus who loves us. I know that I am by no means perfect. I have made mistakes and do make mistakes. I sin, have sinned, will sin. But, the Holy Spirit inside of me drives me to the goal - of ever laying aside those things that do not bring Him glory. I am writing, after laboriously, and prayfully considering the state of those saints that I left behind. I am not writing with a self-righteous attitude, or for self absorption. Please understand this. Please understand that I am laying down my pride and myself to humbly come to you. Asking you to return to your first love - Jesus. Knowing that many of you may very well read this and never talk to me again or be very upset with my seriousness. You may not like what I am saying. However, I am being sincere of heart, desiring that you mature in Jesus. My aim is to reawaken in you the passion I heard you tell of and you desired to live out. I saw many of you hunger for Jesus and not just the things of Jesus. We have worshipped together, prayed together, played together, worked together, served together, laughed together and discussed the truth of God and love. And with that same truth and love I say to you I am concerned for you. Not for your souls for that is the business of the Holy Spirit. Hear me when I say that I have seen the evidence of salvation in you. So my concern is that you are wasting your life. You are called (if you claim Christ) to live a life worthy of the one who called you. Who has promised you a better life? Who has deceived you to believe that your life is worthless? That you would rather throw away the reputation of Christ in you.
Of course what I am saying is crazy, that I am going on rumors. My friends, I know you and at first, I couldn't believe what I have heard. I cannot just sit idly by why you go down that road where the bridge is out. Your lives are packed full of potential. Potential to do so good. Christ Jesus has redeemed us to do good things and yet some have decided to do the things that drag Him through the mud. I mean c'mon pot? Underage drinking? Drinking to get drunk? Sex? Drugs? Is it worth it? You have believed Jesus died for your sins, right? Why then do you chase after those things in which Jesus tasted death to set you free from?

You are sons and daughters of the Most High God. His child. He loves you. I love you. And I write this in love. Begging you to turn back to your Father, the Creator of the universe, Jesus the King. Have you been duped into thinking that you can wait till you're older to make a difference here? Do you think that you will follow the King when you get older and "settle down". Please, don't follow Jesus because you have guilt. Follow Jesus because your heart beats for Him. That you can do nothing more than live for Him - totally for Him. Was our time together in vain? Our time at Eastgate a nice get together for songs and nice talks with humor? Was I a horrible mentor/leader? If so I repent. I repent of not living Jesus for you to follow. Forgive me, for failing you in this way. Forgive me for being selfish and desiring my things over your joy in Christ. But, I have experienced the joy of you following Jesus. Teenagers and twenty-somethings can be disciples. I believe it. I have seen you die to self and love others.

Before, when you didn't know God, intimately as a friend - some of you knew the life of drugs and sex. Don't you know that these things are chains to keep you from running the race God has marked out for you? Some of you feel like you may have known God since you came out of your mother's womb. So, why trade friendship with the attitudes and things that are here today and gone tomorrow? When we walk in the Pleasure of God we are strong and live life to the full. When we surrender our hearts, minds and bodies to fleeting things, you know what I am talking about, we lose track of the thing that lasts - Jesus. Why become enslaved to mindless philosophies, and evil desires that corrupt the image of God and blind you to the truth. AND for what? For companionship, for you to feel cool, to fit in, to not be made fun of? For people to think you are a great guy/girl? Do you therefore despise the grace of God and the times you share with fellow believers? Are you going through something deeper? Why not share it with one another? Carry each others burdens.

You know the Truth. You know that if you are suffering that turning to things for quick fixes will and cannot help you. They only cause us to spiral further away from the One who can help us. You are my friends, so stand firm. It is for freedom, from sin that Christ has set us free. It's me, Brian, the guy who stayed up to 4 - 5 in the morning talking with you, challenging you, praying for/with you, and did this for the sake of Christ in us.
I want the best for you, all of you. You are gifted and talented. You are smarter than me. Build the Kingdom with that, instead of exchanging the glory of God for temporary drunkenness, because that is what most of it is - drunkenness. Whether it be drunk on hormones (sex) or getting hammered by drug of choice. So be drunk on the Holy Spirit. Walk close to Jesus and be refreshed by His intoxicating way. Many of you were going so well. You were growing in the understanding of knowing Him and being known by Him. It is NOT about do's and don'ts. But those things that God has shown you to do - do them. That is what marks you as a disciple of Jesus. I am confident that you know this. That it is about a relationship with Jesus. So how do you show Jesus that you love Him? By making much of Him with your lives. By obeying all that He has commanded us. No, Jesus did not say; "Don't party, don't smoke pot, etc." But He did say that if we want to be His disciple then we must crucify ourselves. Smoking pot, making out, looking at porn, masturbating, leading minors to drink or take drugs, is about fulfilling our selfish desires. There are also those things that no one can see, hatred for others, lust, selfishness, greed, envy and things like that. Attitudes that destroy us and harm others. Let us look closely at our hearts and remember who we are.

We are warriors. Poet warriors. Discover your rhythm and pace with Jesus. Follow hard after Him. Walk in the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. I desire for you to produce fruit with your lives. Fruit that will not rot on the vine. I want us to inherit the Kingdom. The Kingdom that Jesus offers us, here and now and to come. So let us bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL. You know that I struggle with you, but we must remember that it is Christ that produces the fruit in us. So I say that it can happen. He has begun a good work in us and He is faithful to complete it. Do not let others hinder you from walking in the Spirit. Only you can prevent this in your life. Get away from them. Find someone who desires to walk with you in the way of Jesus and bear your burdens on Jesus and cast all of this on Him because He cares for you. He desires to change our hearts, our minds, our desires and our ways. Do not be deceived, my beloved, as Paul wrote, whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
So it is the cross of Christ that causes me to write to you in such a way. In hope that you will remember - not just the warm fuzzies of time spent in worship - but remember the bloody sacrifice in which the world was crucified to us and we to the world. Neither giving into these things makes you unlovable by God - nor not giving into these things will make Him love you more. The question is then -How much do we love Him? Do we bear the resemblance of Him who bore our sins on the cross?
Grace and Joy - AND NO condemnation be onto you - of our Lord Jesus the Christ be with you and may we be the men and women, Christ paid to make us into, on the cross.
Live the Gospel the mystery of Christ in you!
with help from the letter to the Galatians by Paul

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Journey

I am not supposed to tell you this. I sin. Sometimes it is with my mind and eyes and other times I sin with my actions. Sometimes I sin with my mouth and my feelings. I sin. The thing is I am a leader. I am a person that people look to for Christian guidance. I am a Christian leader. I follow Jesus. Sometimes I lose Him. But mostly, I follow Jesus. I am His disciple. Yet, I am undisciplined. I sleep in the afternoon. I don't read my Bible, like I should. I don't study enough. I don't think about godly thoughts (I'm starting to feel like Chris Farley). I keep thinking, who said I was supposed to? Then I think about the words of Jesus. I think about how He said, If you love Me, you will obey what I have commanded you. He also said, that His new command was to love. It's kind of confusing, because I love Jesus. And I still feel very disobedient. I know that Jesus is my friend and my Lord. I know that He is not condemning His child. I can't help but think that even in feeling this guilt, I am sinning. I suppose that I am focusing on the negative. My life looks more like Jenga blocks about to topple than a Pillar of Truth. I am a messy disciple. I am revaluating me. The other day I was thinking, that I look like a boy. Not so much my features, but the way I dress and carry myself. I don't have the fun a boy does. Mostly because I feel this pressure that I have to "measure up" to something. I don't know what. I sin. I am a leader and I sin and it drives me nuts. I desire to do good. To be a good man. To be a dangerous man. A man the enemy fears. I want to abide in Christ. I don't want to do what I do and yet sin is right there with me. Derek Webb's cd entitled the House Sessions, has a track with him speaking about our sin. He says if our sin was broadcast on the evening news and we had nothing to hide, it would change how we live, how we love. He went on to say that Jesus knows our sin and He knows us. His words challenge me, and yet I find myself in that self - loathsome mood in which all I can do is be afraid that I will be found out. I'll be found out that I am pretty good at faking it. Pretty good at having righteous indignation about others sin and yet I am angry at my wife for asking me to take the trash out. Pretty good at making a Bible study come together when I don't have very many original thoughts and I usually just borrow ideas and messages from others. I don't dig my own wells, in other words. Whose to say this is a bad thing?

I don't know but, I think I am always just playing catch up. Not like a competition, but more like a journey. A journey that requires me to follow a guide. A guide who knows the way. Thinking this way makes me look at others on the journey and envy how close they seem to be to the guide. And every once in awhile I look down at my feet and lose sight of where the guide went. The good thing about the guide is that He keeps looking for me. I just don't want to let the others down. I don't want the group to have to keep waiting on the fat kid, who keeps finding sticks to make into toy guns. That is probably my biggest fear. That I will let others down and yet at the same time I hardly ever think about letting down the guide. He seems patient with me and thankful that I am still on the journey and that I am glad to see Him.

I sin. And Jesus wants me. I love Jesus.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Trying to get back

Okay, I am resolved to write in my blog at least once a week from here on out. To bad I have to be at work at 5:30 am. I will write tomorrow...