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All posts for the month January, 2015

IMG_1224-0.JPGBold Prayers. I’ve been thinking about what is impossible in my life and in the lives of those I love. I know with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), but I know this intellectually and theologically. What I know humanly and practically is life throws you curve balls and, in our humanity, we sometimes can’t see beyond the illness, the addiction, the brokenness, the loss of a job, kids running from God, and so forth.

Today, I’m asking God to help me see beyond my humanity. To see what could be when He gets involved. I’m not going to demand, but I’m going to boldly ask for some things that seem impossible to me right now. My mom’s blindness and arthritis. My dad’s health issues. The salvation of every one of my relatives who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. My good friend Steve Stern’s complete healing. For our high schools to experience the life changing love of God that is not manipulated by outside forces, but birthed through people God has placed there who have an authentic relationship with God. The foster care system in Central Oregon would be strengthened and God would somehow use us to bring healing to broken families.

Every one of these requests are outside my ability to solve on my own. I can play a part, and I must play a part, but they rely on the strength that is in God’s hands. I want to walk in step with His will.

Jesus, as Westside Church prays bold prayers today, would you give us a spirit of faith that transcends our circumstances and sees with your eyes. Help us to pray with that awareness, with courage and an authority that can only come from being in You. 

IMG_1224-0.JPGPast failure. It’s often a determiner of future possibilities. How we get up from failure (or don’t) can predict what God can do through us (or not) in the future. Think about Peter. He so desperately wanted to walk on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-32). So he got out of the boat, stepped on that water, and started walking. What?!?!?! That’s incredible faith. Then the waves caught his attention, the storm distracted him, and he took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. Jesus called him, “little faith-man”. Ok, he didn’t actually came him names, but, in essence, that’s what he said.

How did Peter respond? Well we don’t hear much from him, except in the very next chapter we find him asking questions (Matthew 15:15). He’s still leaning in, and Jesus isn’t making it easy on him. Often, when faced with failure, we retreat. We go dark. Isolation. “Maybe everyone will forget my failure if they don’t see my face for a couple days.” Instead, Peter stays connected and in chapter 16 he makes one of the most profound statements any disciple of Jesus has ever made (Matthew 16:13-20).

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But this is what I know: nothing good can happen in my life, or the life of our church, if I don’t take a step out of the boat now and again. Great risk brings great reward. Some risks are worth taking.

As a church, God has asked us to extend His life and love to our community in non-traditional ways. Not only our multi-sites, but also investing into retirement communities, prisons, foster-care, individuals who have a dream of changing their community. I can confidently say, that right now, I am more willing to take risks than at any other time in my life, because I know that Jesus will meet us in the middle and breathe His life and love over all that we do. Let today’s fast be a symbol of the willingness you have to risk it all for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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As Westside launches into this Seven day fast, I want to think about the region God has put us in. We are not here to conquer Central Oregon. There is no “us vs them” in God’s Kingdom work. It’s all about the love of Jesus – it really is. So, as I think about this land that I was born into (Redmond, 1970 by Dr. Unger), what comes to mind are several really amazing things:

1) Its beauty – I’ve traveled all over the world and our mountains, lakes, rivers, and deserts are one of the most diverse and majestic lands I’ve ever seen.

2) Its pace – I’m down in Los Angeles right now taking a class for my Masters degree, and let’s just say I’m really thankful for the pace we have in Central Oregon. It’s not just about how we drive, but how we think, what we prioritize, and how we live.

3) Its growth – I’m not sure what the actual statistics were back in 1970, but we had a much smaller population then we have now (my guess would be at least 70%). The reasons are numerous, but I’m sure our beauty and pace have something to do with it.

4) Lastly, I think about its people. Everywhere I go, I’m struck by goodness and brokenness. Both coexist in our region like salt and pepper on a good steak.

This morning, as part of the fast, we are reading Numbers 13:26-33 where the spies who went into the land God promised Moses and Israel came back with a report of what they found. It reminds me that we should take a moment and think about the land God has given each of us – the place where you live, where you work, where you play. What do you appreciate about that place and those people? What are the challenges you face? How might you pray for them?

Lord, I pray for Central Oregon. You know how much I love the place where I was raised and now pastor. You’ve given us this land and these people, not as a conquering territory, but as a people to whom you love and sent your Son. That everywhere Westsiders place their feet, would be established your grace and goodness. Give us this land as an inheritance, not in the physical, but in the spiritual. Break down barriers that exist in people’s minds and hearts. Give us the words to speak with boldness and kindness. Fill us with your Spirit so we can tear down strongholds that exist over this land. Strongholds that are keeping your people locked up in fear and addiction. And Lord I pray for the rain of your Spirit to fall on this land so everyone will know that you are a God that loves them and desires relationship with them. May your Church find favor here and everywhere you call us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen