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All posts for the month February, 2015

What’s your decision making process? We all have a process. It might be more intentional for some, but each of us take steps in making a decision. Some people look at every angle; others make pros and cons lists; others undertake a strategic planning process; and some stick with intuition and what their gut is telling them. 

Jesus also had a process for making decisions. When it came to big decisions, He would stay up all night and pray (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1). He would get away from distractions and the noise of life and take the time needed to ask God for wisdom.

Try this: the next time you have an important decision to make, take a minute and find a quiet place and ask God for wisdom. Listen. Be aware of what the Spirit is communicating. Often you can discover God’s will by whether you have peace regarding one decision or another. Even tough decisions can be marked by the peace of God giving you confirmation what the will of God is. 

Let me know how it goes. Praying with you.

Steve

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Pastor Bo is speaking this weekend at West Campus. Here’s a bit of what she shares. So good!

We are those who have grown disconnected from the story of Jesus, immersed in our own era and it’s easy to miss Jesus entirely. It’s a recurring theme in Luke – you’ll find it in every single chapter, over and over. He keeps telling us that, though people had been waiting and longing for a Messiah and for redemption, many of them missed Him when He showed up in the flesh. They looked at Him with their own eyeballs, they saw the miracles, they saw the crucifixion, they saw the uproar He caused in every city He visited and yet…they missed Him. Not because they were blind, but because they already had a clear notion of how He would look and this version of God didn’t fit in their framework.

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (‭Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭1-5‬ NIV)

Because you say so. Something Peter has heard and seen in Jesus, makes him do something outlandish. Something out of character. Maybe every life comes to this point where we have to suspend the things we’ve believed so hard and so well for so long and open up to the idea that maybe we haven’t figured it all out yet. Maybe there’s something bigger to know and Someone bigger to find. Peter makes a decision and takes a leap.

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Monday, I had the privilege of speaking to our Westside Youth. I told them that when we were young and accepted Jesus we asked Him to come and live in our hearts. But that’s bad theology. He doesn’t live in our hearts, He lives at the right hand of the Father in heaven, where there is all power and authority. And that’s important because He then sends His representative to be with us and in us: the Holy Spirit. So all that Jesus is and all that He said and did, is deposited into us through the Holy Spirit. That’s why being filled with Him everyday is such an important prayer. He will give us the ability to hear God and walk according to His will.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (‭Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭1‬ NIV)

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This weekend, Westside Church will be looking at the epic battle between good and evil as written by Luke about the life of Jesus. One of the interesting aspects about Jesus is that He is a dividing line. Luke 2:34-35 says that He is destined to cause the rise and fall of many and to reveal the hearts of us all.

Here’s the difference between Jesus and the devil: when the devil finds out who you really are (the thoughts of your heart come flying out in destructive ways – which happens to us all), the devil takes that and throws back in your face. He makes sure you don’t forget it. What Jesus does, on the other hand, is He takes it and throws it as far as the east is from the west. He forgets about it.

I don’t know about you, but I choose Jesus. In Him is total love, acceptance and forgiveness. Hope to see you at one of our campuses or online this weekend.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (‭Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭34-35‬ NIV)

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The Holy Spirit is a mysterious and often a confusing aspect of Christianity’s narrative. Who He is and what does He do? As part of the Trinity, He shares in the divine union between God, the Father and the Son. His activity is seen in Christians as they attempt to walk according to the Spirit. He lives in us and works through us.

One of my favorite verses that describe the outworking of the Spirit is Acts 4:13.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (‭Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭13‬ NIV)

What did the Spirit enable Peter and John to be and to do? Be courageous and appear smarter than they actually were:). I love this. I need this. I need Him to help me be courageous and to speak boldly and intelligently about Him.

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As I work my way through the prayers in the Bible, I found a very interesting thing that I never saw before: Noah never speaks to God. God says a lot to Noah, and all the Bible says is: “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭7‬:‭5‬ NIV)

I almost didn’t include this in my account, because it’s not really a conversation. But I realized that I do most of the talking when it comes to my relationship with God. Today I am reminded to listen. So, I’m going to keep this short. I pray you will hear the voice of God today and you will be able to listen and do all that He tells you.

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The second conversation with God recorded in the Bible takes place between God and Cain after Cain kills his brother. And what is interesting about the conversation is that we think God brings judgment on Cain. But a closer look shows that Cain’s punishment involved natural consequences. First, because of what he did, relationships are lost. He has to leave his family after killing his own brother. Second, because he has to leave the proximity of the garden of Eden (very fruitful area), he has to wander in places that do not have as fertile soil as Eden.

Actually, what we see is a God of mercy. Instead of killing Cain (“an eye for an eye”), God protects Cain from others who might want to enact revenge.

The worst “punishment” is his loss of connection to God. It says that he “went out from the Lord’s presence”.

As I think about all of this in light of my own life, I am reminded of how I think my mistakes separate me from God. I know that God is good and that He is holy, and so my sin convinces me that I am outside of the Lord’s presence. But I am so grateful that this story reveals a God of mercy. He is quick to forgive and slow to anger.

This morning at Westside, we look at another story of someone who is separated from God and how Jesus comes along and shows mercy and kindness. And that kindness leads this man to restoration of relationship with God.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (‭Genesis‬ ‭4‬:‭9-16‬ NIV)

IMG_1226.JPGThe first real conversation between humanity and God is recorded in Genesis 3. God’s looking for Adam and Eve: 1) because they are hiding from him; 2) because they did what he asked them not to do; and 3) they are ashamed of what they have done and they now are self-conscious of their nakedness as well as being afraid of what God might do to them.

We don’t hide anymore. As I listen to the news about the upcoming movie, “50 shades of grey”, there’s no shame or embarrassment surrounding it. It’s like we’ve turned off our conscience. We want to return to a pre-sin state, but without the God who created that world. We don’t talk to him about our current state. We don’t ask him to forgive us. Instead, we turn off that part of our brain that tells us what is right and wrong. As a result, we live in our depravity.

I want to be fully awake to the reality of my sin. I don’t want to be numb. So, I’m going to hide (not because I want to live in shame, but because I’m fully awake to the way I do think); then I’m going to answer my God when he comes looking for me (and he always does); and in the conversation I find forgiveness and acceptance.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis‬ ‭3‬:‭8-13, 16-19‬ NIV)

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We can define prayer as a personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God. It means that prayer is profoundly altered by the amount and accuracy of that knowledge.

All prayer is responding to God. In all cases God is the initiator— “hearing” always precedes asking. God comes to us first or we would never reach out to him.

The Bible speaks of our relationship with God as knowing and being known (Gal 4:9; 1 Cor 13:12).

But now that you know God—or rather are known by God… (‭Galatians‬ ‭4‬:‭9‬ NIV) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭12‬ NIV)

Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.

The power of our prayers, then, lies not primarily in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather in our knowledge of God.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭1‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

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A typical Wednesday for me is filled with connecting with people. Today is no different. I will be at the DMV, coffee with a couple from Redmond, talk with someone who is new to our church, meet with our service teams, speaking team, sisters campus pastor, our prayer pastor and two volunteer leaders in our church. And then tonight gather with hundreds of Westsiders for our First Wednesday service.

In the midst of a busy day, it is so easy to simply put your head down and get it done. But often that creates missed opportunities in the midst of the meetings and in the margins between those appointments. My prayer today is that I will see and hear what God wants to say to me and through me and that He will strengthen me for our First Wednesday service tonight. What is your prayer for today?

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