All posts for the month March, 2015

Have you ever lost something of value? What was it and what did you do about it?

When I lose something, my response is based on the value I place in what was lost. For instance, how I respond to losing my son in Disneyland (two times) is different than my response to losing my keys. 

It’s true. Several years ago we lived in walking distance to Disneyland, had a season pass, and would take our sons quite often. The first time Kincade was six years old and he was prone to wander, to stop and look at anything shiny or sweet, and he had stopped at one of the little shops on the street. A worker saw him and realized he was lost and gave him a lollipop to keep him calm. Once we realized he was missing we quickly backtracked and found him. The second time was during closing and everyone was packed in shoulder to shoulder walking out of the park, and we assigned Kincade, now 7, to hold his brother Hudson’s hand (a very responsible 10 year old). We got separated and by the time we caught up with each other we had 3 of our 4 boys, no Kincade. We freaked. We thought the worse and that feeling only grew as we frantically backtracked and could not find him. 30 minutes passed. No Kincade. As Suzanne made her way to the lost and found area, there he was. It was like a heavy weight lifted off our shoulders. Kincade was, excuse my language, pissed. He still hasn’t forgiven us for that one (he’s 15 now).

You know people stay away from church for a lot of different reasons. But one of the primary reasons is that we have a tendency to make people feel worse about themselves. We try to convince people they are lost and it’s their fault. That’s encouraging. No wonder they stay away. Let me go there and hear some more of that upbeat message. 

Often we think God must be like that too. But in Luke 15 Jesus describes what God goes through when he is looking for and waiting for us to come to Him. And, most importantly, what He is like when He does find us. 

Grab a Bible or Google Luke 15, read the stories and let me know what jumps out at you. This will be our Easter passage for this year. 

Do you deserve grace? 

How do you get grace?

In human relationships grace is often earned. Say my wife does something to offend me, or to disrespect me (I know, totally hypothetical). Do I give her grace or do I wait until she owns up to her mistake? Once she owns up to it, then I give her grace and forgive her. Once she asks for forgiveness, then I will forgive her.

That’s not grace. 

Grace, by it’s very nature, is undeserved and given before it is ever asked for. 

This weekend, at all of our campuses, I want to unpack this thought by looking at a story of two people in Luke 7: Simon, the pharisee and a prostitute woman. The woman comes into the room where Simon and Jesus are eating and begins to weep over Jesus’ feet and dries them with her hair and then anoints them with expensive perfume. It’s scandalous. Seriously. It’s not right. It’s not appropriate. But Jesus doesn’t rebuke the woman. Matter of fact, Jesus doesn’t even forgive her in that moment. What we see is that Jesus had already forgiven her and that’s why she was there, expressing her love the way she did. 

The grace offered to us by God, through Jesus Christ, is scandalous; it’s undeserved; it’s inappropriate to our actions. But that’s not up to us. What is up to us is whether we will accept the grace He offers, even before we deserve it, before we ask for it, before we seek forgiveness. 

Hope you can join us this weekend. Have an awesome rest of your week in God’s grace.

It was Jesus’ habit to get away and pray. He would often go up a mountain and spend time with God. In Luke 9 he took Peter, James and John with him (you can read about it in Luke 9:28-36).

As they later recounted the story, that mountaintop moment was a spiritual experience in which Moses and Elijah show up and talk with Jesus and then the Father also speaks. Here’s my question: was this the only time Jesus experienced this? The Bible tells us it was his habit to go and pray. Isn’t it possible that Jesus had this experience more than once? We know it didn’t happen every time because there were other moments the disciples went and prayed with Jesus, but it makes you wonder.

I think we put down the experiential aspect of faith. We try and make it more intellectual and theoretical. But what if we need the experiential? Not just for our faith, but to navigate the conflicts in this life? You know what Jesus was confronted with as soon as he came off the mountain? Conflict. I bet he was grateful for the momentary experience of being on a mountain with His Father and a couple of friends. 

I often say, “If we don’t experience Jesus on a weekend at Westside we should all find another church.” Seriously. I want to connect with Him and be with Him and know Him. I want to be impacted by His love, grace and mercy. I want Him to reveal what’s in me and help me grow. 

What does experiencing Jesus look like to you?