Jan 24, 2009

My Prayer

It's amazing how you can read the same passage over and over and not see something. I must have read Ephesians 6 a hundred times. I don't know why the following passage did not catch my attention before. I had been so stuck on the imagery of the full armor of God that I overlooked this simple prayer.

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19.

I love this prayer. I want this to be my prayer.

"That whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel."

That's awesome!

That whenever I open my mouth, that I will intentionally use it for God's purposes. That will not just let words come out of my mouth, but that I will choose to make mouth a vessel for God's use all the time.

That words my be given me...

I do not have the words to clearly make known the mystery of God on my own. That is impossible. Only God can give it. But I must seek it. The truth of God doesn't just come, I must study, pray, meditate, and be silent before God in order to hear His truth. But when I do listen for God He will give words that goes beyond human reason, and through human words, God is able to touch the hearts of men and women to change them forever.

God, that is my prayer that you will give me the words that I may fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

Jan 17, 2009

Achan - What About Forgiveness?

Joshua chapter 7 is the story of Achan.

Let me briefly remind you of Achan.

The Israelites under the leadership of Joshua just destroyed Jericho. Before the battle of Jericho, God told the Israelites that they were to destroy everything and everyone except for all the silver, gold, iron, and bronze - these would go into the treasury.

As you know after walking around Jericho seven days, on the seventh day the walls came crumbling down and the Israelites destroyed the city and everything in it. Everyone did just as God commanded except for Achan who kept some items for himself.

On the next excursion, the men who were sent out to spy out the land tell Joshua that it isn't even necessary to send all the troops into battle for the people are so feeble. So they only send about three thousand men and they just get their butts kicked.

God reveals to Joshua that Israel had sinned because some have taken some things that had been devoted to God.

So the next day God reveals to all of Israel that it was Achan. Achan confesses that he indeed took items and confesses that he had indeed sinned against God.

And this is where the story gets crazy.

We would expect that forgiveness is offered and that Achan can go about the rest of his life.

Not so. The Israelites stoned him, his family, and all his possessions!

I understand that there are consequences to sin. I understand that God is a holy and just God. But this is a hard teaching to swallow.

Achan's children and family have to pay for his crime.

But that's what really happens in all sin. Everyone does pay. Sin hurts not only the individual. Sin injures everyone around.

I know that I am guilty of taking sin way too lightly.

Forgive me God. My sin, even the smallest of sin, cost you your life. Forgive me for forgetting that.

Jan 12, 2009

Thank God for tingling Toes


What an incredibly crazy insane month it's been.

Along with the regular Christmas and New Year's business, in the last three weeks:
- there's been two funerals; one of them being a suicide of a young man who was to go to the seminary to become an army chaplain
- there's been two miscarriages; one of them being my sister
- one wedding
- and then my son was hospitalized for four days.

I thought I was handling the stress of all this pretty good. But in the last couple of weeks my big toe on my right foot started tingling. Everyone on my mom's side of the family are diabetic and I remember them complaining about tingling feet. So I went to the doctor for a check up to see what the tingling feet is all about.

Well, I come to find out that I am a diabetic with hypertension with high cholesterol with kidney problems. My numbers were so high that the doctor wanted to hospitalize me to normalize my numbers. Craziness!

I don't know whether to laugh or cry whenever the doctors see my chart and their first response is, "Whoa!"

You know something's not quite right when the doctor calls you and asks you if you're feeling okay.

What this meas is that my life must change. My eating habits must change. My exercise habits must change. My work habits must change.

All in all, I know that God is in control. And I must be a better steward of the body God has given me.

Thank God for tingling toes.

Jan 8, 2009

What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There

As we enter this new year, one thing is crystal clear to me. I don't want to be in the same place I am at this same time next year.
- By this time next year, I want to be a pastor of a congregation that has experienced the mighty power of God to change and transform people's lives and the community.
- I want to be a part of a congregation that is thriving once again.
- I want to be a part of a congregation that is experiencing the type of growth and new life that I read about in the book of Acts.

And in order for us to be a church like that, I am convinced that we cannot do church the same way we've been doing church. We've got to do things differently. Not just for difference sake, but to do ministry more effectively and efficiently. And if we are going to do that, then we cannot do things the same way we've been doing ministry.

What got us here won't get us there.

As true as this is for the local congregation, so it is for the denomination. What got us here - where we're losing 50,000 members a year, where we're becoming more and more irrelevant by the day, where churches are barely hanging on instead of thriving, where stability and maintenance is the rule, where the growing and thriving congregations are the exception - what got us here will not get us to being the church we all want to be.

The things that must change are not the "What" of the church, but "How" we do church. The "what" of the church cannot ever change:
- What we stand for: Biblical truth, the Bible being the only authoritative word, etc.
- What we are called to: to be a community that demonstrates the love and the righteousness of God, to grow new disciples and to help them become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, etc.
- What we believe: That Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life. That no one comes to the Father except through the Son.

"What" of the church cannot change, for once that changes, we seize to be the church.

But "How" we do church must change. We cannot do church as if we live in the last century. The world has changed. And the how primarily deals with the polity of the church. That is why I believe we must take seriously the potential changes to our polity.

I do not for a moment think that the proposed nFoG is the answer to all issues. But it is the first step in getting us to think about how we can do church more effectively and missionally.

What got us here, won't get us there.

Jan 5, 2009

A Called GA for the nFoG

I have been serving on the new Form of Government Task Force for the past three years.

Just as we did before the General Assembly in San Jose, the work of the nFoG Task Force is flying under the radar of the denomination once again.

The biggest hurdle of the previous General Assembly was to get people to engage and read our work. And my experience at the San Jose Assembly made it clear that most of the committee assigned to our work, and almost all of the GA commissioners had not read our work.

If we are serious about considering a missional understanding of the church, if we are serious about helping the denomination change to the reality of a changed post-denominational, post-modern, post-Christiandom world, then we've got to at least start taking seriously the proposal of the Task Force.

Don't let political groups tell you what to think. You read the documents and study it for yourself.

I know that people are busy. I know that churches and ministry is busy.

And when it comes to the next GA in Minneapolis, busy people from busy churches will come just as ill-prepared to handle this material. So, once again, people will make their decision about the future of the denomination based on hearsay and what political groups are saying about the work.

So what can be done about this?

Call a special meeting just to deal with the new Form of Government. It is unrealistic to ask commissioners to a regular general assembly to read and comprehend all the other work before a typical GA and have the commissioners prepared for the new Form of Government.

Yes, this is going to be expensive. But so is losing 50,000 plus members every year as we become even more irrelevant.

It will be a terrible waste if the new Form of Government flies under the radar of the denomination once again.

Jan 4, 2009

Kaleb Update Sunday

Thank you all for praying for Kaleb.

Kaleb is home now. We are so glad to be home so we can all rest. If you want to rest, the hospital is the last place for that. The nurses and staff come in constantly and make it almost impossible to rest.

We are so happy to see Kaleb home.

But he is not completely out of the woods yet. Please keep praying for Kaleb.

We ask for your prayers that the antibiotic continues to do its work. If the antibiotic doesn't work, we will have to go back to the hospital and surgery is likely. We want to avoid this. If the abscess is not reduced and healed by the antibiotic, they will have to surgically drain the abscess and remove it.

Another thing we ask for your prayers for is that Kaleb is able to take the antibiotic. It is one of the worst tasting thing I've ever tasted. Kaleb hates medicine time and he has to take this for the next two weeks, three times a day. Pray that this goes well.

Finally, pray for our girls. They've been great through this whole time, but Helen and I feel bad about their last week of winter break where we've been focused on Kaleb.

Thank you again for all prayers.

Jan 3, 2009

Kaleb Update - Saturday

So here's the deal.

I was really hoping that the doctors will let Kaleb go home today. However, they would like to keep him here until at least Sunday, maybe Monday. The reason why they are being so cautious is because if the abscess in his neck is not completely dealt with and starts growing again, then it will prevent him from being able to breathe. That's why they want to be as sure as they can that they have dealt with the abscess.

So we will spend at least another day.

Pray for complete healing.

Pray for Kaleb because he's kind of going stir crazy in the hospital.

Pray for Kaleb because he does not like the medicine or the antibiotics through the iv.

I am looking forward to whatever God has in store for us in 2009.


Jan 2, 2009

Kaleb Update

Thank you all for your prayers and your messages of support.

It's been quite a start to the New Year.

Kaleb has retropharyngeal and parapharyngeal abscess. It's an abscess (a sac of puss) behind his tonsils. They are treating it right now with antibiotics and managing his pain and discomfort with Tylenol and Motrin.

They will keep him in the hospital for at least another day. If things go well, Kaleb should be able to go home on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.

So far, the doctors like his progress with the antibiotics. Should he not continue to respond well to the antibiotics, they will have to manually drain the abscess because it can cause other complications, including his inability to breathe.

So we don't want that.

Keep your prayers coming. We're just hanging out at the hospital trying to keep him comfortable and occupied. that's the trick part - keeping a 3 year-old boy occupied in a hospital room.

Thanks again for all your prayers and messages.

God bless!

Kaleb and Daddy.

Jan 1, 2009

Happy New Year from the Children's Hospital

What a day!

Started last night when Kaleb was complaining about his left ear hurting. Kaleb woke up complaining about his ear hurting with a fever. And he wouldn't move his neck because he was complaining that his ear hurt.

I took him to the urgent care place because it was New Year's Day and his doctor's office was closed.

They examined him there and said it wasn't an ear infection, but they were not comfortable about his stiff neck. They told me to take him to the Children's Hospital.

We spent the entire day in the ER at children's hospital where they took blood samples and a CT Scan. They have diagnosed Kaleb with Retropharyngeal and Parapharyngeal Abscess and now he is admitted to the hospital. They are giving him antibiotics through an iv. If this works, then Kaleb should be able to go home maybe in a day or two. If this doesn't work then they will have to drain the abscess. Pray that they don't have to do that.