Saturday, December 27, 2008

Treasures in heaven?

I was recently asked to preach and given a very BROAD topic. The topic was "Christians Today:Consider our challenge"………………………………

How would you interpret that> I took it to be asking: WHAT IS OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

READ HABAKKUK 1:1-4……though written thousands of years ago…I think it could have very well been written today. And if Habakkuk were to have this SAME discussion with God in Dec of may sound something like this:

"Habakkuk 1:1-4 2008 version"

"Oh God…how long will I cry out for help and see no changes? I cry out about wars and corrupt men, but see no changes. Why do I still see injustice? How can you continue to watch this evil? All around me is sickness, poverty and pain. Every year 3.5 million new people experience some form of homelessness. 4000 children a day are victim of death by abortion. 49% of all new marriages this year will end in divorce, and even as we speak more lives are being added to the over 4200 soldier lives lost fighting overseas. Peace is hard to find, and the law seems nonexistent. The rich get richer and poor get poorer, and justice is always perverted."

We may have never prayed it just like that…not many have the guts to talk to God like this prophet did. But I would venture to say that most of us have felt this way at some point or another. And I suspect that today…possibly more than other year ends in the past…we may feel this pressure more than we have ever known.
There are challenges all around us….as 2008 ends and a new year begins……there are IMMENSE challenges for people of faith. We just listed many of them. The list is growing by the day….I asked 50 folks and got many answer such as resisting the temptation to be "emergent", managing our time in a busier world, finding our voice in a world that hushes it ..etc……..but one theme came through LOUD & CLEAR………. It was: REMAINING FAITHFUL IN FINANCIAL STRUGGLES.

After considering this, and praying about it, I felt sure that God was leading me to talk about how we as Christians will react in thye current and coming financial crisis. I wanted to argue out of this…I mean it is a touchy and sensitive topic. I thought “Lord, I can’t do this. I am not qualified. I am not a banker or financial planner. I am not an expert economist”…..and God said back to me: “But have YOU ever had a financial crisis”….and I thought “yes Lord----pretty much every month”….well then..YOU ARE QUALIFIED :)
It is no secret that as we enter 2009…we are in one of the worst economic crises’ of our countries history. Unless you have been living in a closet you have heard about it. You personally may have already been affected by it. I have SEVERAL friends who’ve lost jobs. I know folks close to losing homes…and this year I've met SO MANY people who were literally starving……… TIMES ARE TOUGH…yet, we, as children of God, are told to LIVE BY FAITH. So what will we do?????????? How will we act?
I believe this is our biggest challenge in the months and year to come…how will we react to this financial crisis??? Because like it or not…it is here. You WILL be affected by it! I recently heard a very rich radio/tv personality make a statement I found disgusting. He said “I choose not to participate in this recession”…….I like that idea…but it is a farce my friends…WE ALL WILL PARTICIPATE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
And with this..our faith will be tested and evaluated! Because I believe the world is watching. Will we stand strong and trust in the Lord to provide or will we continue to doubt and worry? Will we learn contentment or will we still be driven by greed….what picture of faith will we give to the world…. I ask you today to seriously CONSIDER OUR CHALLENGE

Now here we are…..and we have stood in front of our coworkers and friends and family, even our own children and we have preached for years….. LIVE BY FAITH. GOD WILL PROVIDE. TRUST IN THE LORD. STOP WORRYING ABOUT TOMMOROW. The problem is…..we said that when times were pretty good. When our bellies and cupboards were full, and when our jobs were secure. So…what kind of example will we be with the very real possibility of all that going away? Will we still be as confident in our Lord…or will our faith crumble? I am afraid that our faith may be inexplicitly tied to our finances. But I also challenge each of us today..that it SHOULD NOT BE…because our God will take care of us!
Whether we know it or not…..or really whether we ACKNOWLEDGE IT OR NOT….God’s word has MUCH to say about money. So today, I want us to consider together 3 attitudes towards money and the crisis that is coming with it to help us as a people of God in 2009:

3 attitudes toward money to help in 2009
1. Contentment in Circumstances—not Casualty of Circumstances
What I mean is this: Don’t let your circumstances dictate your faith! We have to make the choice…will we find a way to be content in whatever lot befalls us…or will we watch our joy and happiness and ultimately our faith DIE when things are not exactly what we want?
I Tim 6:3-8
Phil. 4:11-13
A BIG LESSON I LEARNED IN AFRICA WAS THAT THE LIE OF THE HEALTH AND WEALTH GOSPEL WAS CAUSING GREAT PROBLEMS… this is the promise that God rewards the strong in faith with health and riches (at its most basic level)…give your money and efforts to Him you will get health and riches!!! Of course the problem comes when this does not happen!!!!! I hear so much talk of how it is destrying foreign missionm fields, but I say it has SEVERELY permeated America!!!!…….. WHY?!?!?!?!?!?? EX: There is a church in an Ohio city…. They recently added a $25 million addition to their building. The local newspaper ran a front-page story the same month about a study revealing that one in five people in that city lived in poverty.
WHY IS THIS?????? ***** Somehow we have bought into this on some level….that Christians SHOULD be rich as a result of their faith in God. ****But truth is…..we were NEVER ONCE told that life would be full of blessings or that times would be rosy and merry once we had Jesus in them! God never promised us an easy path if we had faith! In fact, if we pay attention…we were told quite the opposite!
JOHN 16:33 SO----Why do we somehow think this does not apply to money?
MATTHEW 6:25-34

Brothers and sisters…….do we truly believe this?

2- Temptation of Monetary Infatuation
1 Tim. 6:9-10, 17
Luke 12:13-21
I cannot promise you many things in this life my friends…but I can PROMISE you that if you let your life be led by the pursuit of monetary things… will NEVER BE SATISFIED….for satisfaction only is found in the Lord. Some of the richest people I have ever seen are the most miserable…and I have been to places and seen poverty you could never imagine where they are the happiest people I’ve ever met.
please let us change our idea of the “AMERICAN DREAM”….for when I read about the beautiful first church…the “American dream” was nowhere in it!
Will we let go of our greed?

3. Helping Others—Especially Brothers
I John 3:16-18
Romans 12:13
Galatians 6:9-10
I TIM 6:18-19

I think this may be the biggest part of today’s entire lesson. How are we going to react to all of this in regards to lending a helping hand? And how will we take care of one another?????
Isn’t the reason for the church in the 1st place??????? I said it earlier…I believe the world is watching us right now……how will we react. Even when we have little…are we going to be willing to reach out a helping hand, trusting that God will take care of us? (compliment on Xmas baskets/Wisdoms etc)

I believe that God’s children will rise up….and we will overcome…through love.

I cannot tell you what is going to happen tomorrow in the banks. Should you put your money in your mattress? I have no idea if I will ever retire. I can’t promise us that we will have our homes a year from now. Many of us may be working in different jobs. Will gas go up? Will more folks lose their homes?

I DO NOT KNOW…..but what I do know is that as for me and my house…we will trust in the Lord. For I know that he loves His children and will never leave them!

Remember Habakuk..I want to close with some words from it that I think may the most beautiful in all of scripture. May these words be our motto as people of faith in the struggles to come.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I am amazed at how we folks of faith like to sit back and destroy others and their efforts, while we are sitting on the sideline and they are at least trying something!!!!!! No man is perfect, but let's applaud their good efforts! I seem to remember a scripture about a speck in your friends eye..........

read here

Monday, December 22, 2008

MORE music Monday

here is some Christmas tuneage:
Jars of Clay- "Love Came Down at Christmas"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Music Friday

ok.....I stole this idea from Matt...but here is my gift to you. Ladies & gents, Wild Sweet Orange:


There is a God.
He is alive
In Him we live
And we survive
From dust our God created man
He is our God
The Great I am

can I get an amen????

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Decor

The kids are so fun this year. They are totally excited about the Christmas decorations. So much so, that they even demanded I hang up lights outside this year. They have been very helpful in every process. Here are some pics!

Wish you could all come see for yourself!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Polar Dusting

The goofy weather men here in the Rogue Valley started saying last Thursday that a snow storm was coming. Some went as far as calling it the "Polar Express". Despite a few short lasted flurries....when we went to bed last night, the ol' weather man was striking out!!!

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I was awakened at 7:00 by shouts from my sons room of "Hooray! Hooray!". I went running in and he was jumping on his bed claiming that the ground was covered in snow! And by golly...the weather man got it!

So....we went outside to play as quickly as we could, as the forcast called for a warm front moving in to melt it away pretty quickly! So.....enjoy the picsmy friends:
We found the neighbor girls and played snow foot ball and had a snowball fight (which Jude followed with shouts of "missed me missed me now you gotta' kiss me")
Next we built a small little snowman...Merrick's 1st--which she proclaimed to be a "Snowgirl" and named her "Jewelry".

It's all gone already......but we sure had fun!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Funky Funky Christmas

Why isn't this a classic yet?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top Albums of 2008

It is list time in pop culture! So, I thought I should join. This one is hard because I have 100 faves in 2008, but I chose to just write about 5 of my faves. It was hard to leave out Fleet Foxes and She & Him...but I digress........

raising sand Pictures, Images and Photos
You have to look twice when you see these names together. Two legends from two completely different genres. But together they make beautiful Americana magic! I think it was probably released at the end of 2007, but I don’t care ! It is full of soulful and mellow, smoky harmonies and reverb. Light a candle and enjoy!

Viva la vida coldplay Pictures, Images and Photos
I remember listening after anxiously opening the disc! Epic is the word I 1st used to describe it to Patrick in a text. I guess the actual full title — Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends — should have been a clue. The fellas have really pushed the boundaries of what we expect from a modern album. The attention to detail is incredible. And the songwriting is impeccable. The album is full of religious references, which add to the intrigue. The CD comes to life with a beautiful instrumental opener Life In Technicolour. It seems like it is just about to explode into sonic wonder…and then dies…leaving the rest of the disc to build to soaring climax! Every song is unique and wonderful….long live Coldplay!

narrow stairs Pictures, Images and Photos
Narrow Stairs, Death Cab's sixth DISC, is one of the darkest and STRONGEST in their discography. It's an album about growing and changing and becoming resigned to the fact that you'll never be truly content. Narrow Stairs starts along the California coast, where Gibbard retreated to write the album. "I descended a dusty gravel ridge," his bookish tenor begins, in clear but vivid language, on "Bixby Canyon Bridge". Gibbard has said the song is about trying to commune with Jack Kerouac, who stayed in the same cabin to write Big Sur. It is a different record for them, but If you love the band, you'll probably find enough reasons here to keep sticking with them .

Jon Foreman Pictures, Images and Photos
I am not a huge fan of the CCM market. There are a few good songs here and there, but mostly it is plastic. I have always felt that Switchfoot was actually a good band, just victim of overplay and horrid marketing and management. This year their front man put out a set of stripped down and raw songs that is amazing. Don’t let the Switchfoot background scare you…this is amazing stuff. On his web site, Foreman says, "These are simple songs, but they're mine. There's blood and joy and anger and laughter in them. My reasons for living. My hopes and fears. And pain. These are my fight songs."

In Rainbows Pictures, Images and Photos
I LOVE this album! It's true that we've come to expect a certain level of genius from this band, but when they actually exceed expectations, as they do here, it's a clear sign that Radiohead will continue to reinvent themselves and drop more jaws along the way. I could list the virtues of every song, but I’ll spare you that! It flows seamlessly along it sounds supremely confident, like a band who know they're at the height of their powers. And they are! I saw them live finally this year…and will never be the same ! I’ll stop now…it is AMAZING!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

Once again.....a few delights of life I enjoyed last week. Most are music based:

chinese democracy Pictures, Images and Photos
Yeah.....they are back! Guns n frickin' Roses!!!!

my aim is true Pictures, Images and Photos
I've fallen in love with Sir Elvis Costello

ruthanorak Pictures, Images and Photos
Satisfies my deep inner longings for power pop magic!

Be Kind Rewind Pictures, Images and Photos
A fun quirky little movie

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Long distance information.......

......Give me Memphis,Tennessee"

Hey guys. I am back. I missed you all. I just returned from visiting some family in my ol' hometown of Memphis. It was crazy, hectic and stressful, but also quite wonderful too. The trip was 2 fold purposed: to see my badly ailing Granddaddy, and to surprise my family! Both of these were great successes! So......I am about to bore you with a TON of pictures. They will be quite random. Ready???? Here we go:

My daughter Haddie had her 1st food in Memphis! We knew that Gaga would carry on her tradition of feeding the babies her world famous (it really is that good) banana we broke her tummy in first:

We also got to see the newest beauty to the clan...Sophie girl! Shes a doll....and makes the cutest faces and laughs adorably

No trip to Mempho is complete without eating the world's best BB-Q,and Corky's (or "Corys" as it was called this night) is the place to start!

It was great to see family!
and check out these old school jammies my sis pulled out:

Jude got a cool surprise when Uncle Pat got him a GIANT Jay Cutler fathead! Look at the joy on that face:

We spent some time at Bass Pro Shop, which was all decked out for Christmas. Very cool time...I mean guns and Santa, what could go together better?

One night we ridiculuously crammed the house for a party where we reconnected with old friends!

I drove to some old haunts to show you guys. Man..this granola hippy boy is ghetto at heart! This is the house I grew up in...the one where the cops chased a neighbor to his house, after he had stolen a cop car in a crack fueled rage :) I wanted to get pics of my last apartment there in Orange Mound..yeah ORANGE MOUND! But I never got to it:
This is Kirby High. They now have to wear uniforms due to the gang violence. Notice the reference to Obama on the sign! How a PUBLIC school can get away with something so cool baffles me??? I forgot how much it looks like a prison!

And only in Memphis...this is in front of what I still call Central Church

Check these out. 1st is Noriah our dear friend singing a song from her school program. And last is Sophie's adorable laugh:

It was a crazy trip. We had 14 people crammed into a 1200 sq ft house! There was very little personal space. It was short so we couldn't accomplish half of what we wanted to. The family argued some...mostly pver my "crazy" political beliefs....and my argument that maybe they should research politicians in another way other than chain emails! My Sisters LOVED to push each others buttons. We ATE! I loved Memphis and hated it at the same time. I talked to Grandaddy for what will probably be my last time. I will cherish those talks. We saw family and friends. And I loved it all. I love my family. We may be crazy, and even resemble a cast of a Jerry Springer show at times :).....but I would not change them for the world!