A Holy Occupation. Part I.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  That’s the verse that came to mind yesterday morning around 9:15 or so when I felt like things were starting to go south.  It wasn’t that things were going bad but rather just a sense that the day was beginning to turn into more of a “Steve” day than a “God” day.    I was already on my way to “accomplishing things” but sensed little power and direction from above.  I had just turned out some sermon prep and was ready to tic a number of other things off the check list.  In the eyes of man I was on target to having a very successful day of busyness.  But maybe that’s where the problem was.  It’s so easy to allow the rush of the land and agenda of our corporate lifestyle to crowd God out.  The day actually started off on the wrong foot when I checked email on my phone not even five minutes after waking up and it wasn’t going much better by mid-morning.  So there I was, wrestling with the example of Jesus in Mark 1:35 and feeling like I had just gone back to the school house of prayer.  I was reminded once again that unless the first breaths of the day are guarded militantly the world will take the rest of the day away.  (more…)

When Faith turns to Fatigue.

Sometimes I just get tired.  If anything, the word journey better describes the walk with Christ more than a happy walk in the park.  It gets hard at times.  It gets fatiguing at times.  A marathon, or maybe a triathlon, is more descriptive of what authentic Christianity is like, rather than a Caribbean cruise.  Yes, I get tired sometimes.  It is tiring to continue to pray for years and not see the results my heart longs for.  It is just downright oppressive at times trying to calmly and lovingly speak toward Biblical righteousness in a culture that wholly embraces abortion, homosexual lifestyles, and philosophical relativity.  It gets disheartening to see more and more people who wear the name of Christ in Western Europe and America drop Biblical morality like a bad losing streak in favor of liberal cultural and political correctness.  (more…)

Advancing to Retreat.

I’m getting ready for my yearly prayer and study break which I usually take during the summer.  While doing the church plant in CA I had the privilege to spend that time each year on Lake Tahoe which is one of my favorite places in the world.  That was a HUGE blessing thanks to the ministry of the Barnabas Factor which offsets the cost for full-time ministers.  I love the mountains.  This year I will be headed to the Rockies around Denver and I’m looking forward to checking out and spending some serious solo time with God, His Word, and whatever else He has in mind.  In preparation for this I got an email last week from a great guy who directs church planting in the Northern Plains of America named Mike Sojka.  The link for his site is at: NPEA.  Attached to his note he included a doc entitled “Reasons for Unanswered Prayers” which I’ve included below.  I thought that was a great resource to help people get focused for such ventures.  From my observation, we all need to take a moment from time to time to weigh our motives and this tool seemed like a good start.  What would you add as a discipline or exercise in preparation for a spiritual retreat? (more…)

In Many Languages.

I love the languages.  I love the diversity.  I love the Kingdom of Heaven.  One of the things that really fascinate me about the Kingdom of Heaven is that it is made up of folks from all over the world and of every ethnic, race, economic, and social class.  This was certainly true of the church that Debi and I planted in Northern California back in 04.  I still remember getting together with believers from the former Soviet Union and lifting up prayers in English, Russian, and Kazak.  This was the picture we had today at our weekly prayer meeting at The Crossings.  We have begun some initial conversations with a Hispanic church plant in our area about a potential partnership and some of those folks came today.  We had a great time.  From The Corssings, we had people from America, (Texas), Trinidad, and Honduras.  We had representatives from El Salvador and Guatemala from the Hispanic church plant.  Though from different nationalities, we were all the same at the throne of Christ worshiping together and interceding together.  It all reminds me of what John witnessed 2000 years ago as recorded in the Book of Revelation, 7:9-10

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
   “Salvation belongs to our God,
   who sits on the throne,
   and to the Lamb.”

 Wow, that’s amazing.  It speaks again that the hope for unity in the world is not the UN, but the love to Christ.  Yup, I really do love the Kingdom.  “Slava Boga!”