Awake, O Sleeper!

Looking forward to getting up early tomorrow morning for Sunrise Service. The sermon for that service will be entitled, "Wake Up Call," and will, in addition to Mark's resurrection narrative, include Ephesians 5:14. As a kind of addendum, I thought I'd share this video by The Brothers Bright. The lyrics are below.
"Oh Abraham would raise his hands;
and mourn this very day;
for his children left the promised land;
in search of their own way.
They kick and scream like wayward sons;
And always wanting to sleep;
and dream away these evil days;
in hopes that God can't see.
There are chains upon your children Lord;
Chains upon your children.
There are chains upon your children;
We're in chains.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we'll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
Your suffering will come again;
and never fall away.
For we trade our many comforts;
Like the one who bled for grace.
There will come a day my God will come;
and put me in my place.
My God I pray;
You'll call my name;
instead of turn away.
There are chains upon your children Lord;
Chains upon your children.
There are chains upon your children;
We're in chains.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we'll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
Let no man bring me harm; I bear the marks of Jesus.
Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of the Lord.
I said, Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of Jesus.
Let no man bring me harm;
'Cause I bear the marks of God.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we'll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
I said, Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Come on and stand with me we'll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
(Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of Jesus;
Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of the Lord.)" 


Ok, for the benefit of those of you who wanted the quote, which I don't have a source for, but I used as the climax of last Sunday's sermon, "#hosanna," here's the material:
Somebody put it like this: He is Abel’s sacrifice Noah’s rainbow Abraham’s ram Isaac’s wealth Jacob’s  Scepter Moses’ rod that divided the Red Sea in two and made it a super highway for the children of Israel Joshua’s Sun, and the Moon that stood still Elijah’s mantle Elisha’s staff Samuel’s horn of oil David’s sling shot And Malachi’s Son of Righteousness; He’s Peter’s shadow that healed the sick Stephen’s signs and wonders Paul’s apron and handkerchief; He is the father of the orphan A husband to the widow A bright morning star for the traveler by night The Lily of the Valley The Rose of Sharon The Rock of Ages The express image of God’s person The King of glory A rock in a weary land,  And the beauty of ten thousand; He is the Cup that runneth over The rod and staff that comforts me The Lion of the tribe of Judah That breaks every chain and sets man free The Government of our lives is upon His shoulders; In mathematics He multiplied five loaves of bread To feed five thousand peoples In Zoology He is the Lamb slain for our Salvation In Botany He is the flower that fades not In Biology He is the life everlasting In History He is the Alpha and the Omega In Physics He is the One that disproved the law of gravity by ascending on high In Chemistry, he changes ordinary water into sweet wine; To the artist He is the altogether lovely, To the architect, He is the Chief Cornerstone To the baker, He is the bread of life To the banker He is the hidden treasure Oh to the Carpenter He is the door To the farmer He is the sower and the Lord of the Harvest To the horticulturist, he is the true Vine To the Philosopher, He is the wisdom of God To the Philanthropist, He is the unspeakable gift To the Journalist, He is the great news of glad tidings To the student, He is the Incarnate One To the servant, He is the Good Master To the statesman, He is the Desire of all Nations To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God That takes away the sins of the world To the weary,  He is the Giver of Rest To the theologian He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith But who is this man? He came to die for our sins The just for the unjust That He might bring us to the Father Believe in Him and you will be saved He is Jesus of Nazareth A man approved by God with Signs and wonders And miracles which God did by Him through Him His name is J E S U S!  JESUS!!! The name that deposes sin Disperses demons Dispels darkness Depreciates fear Disintegrates impossibilities Dissolves difficulties And dislocates mountains He’s more than the latest thing; he’s the ancient of days. he’s the Lord of all. Amen. Voice on the Mount of Transfiguration: this is my beloved son; hear him! Mary, at Cana: Whatever he tells you, do it!

Irresistible Influence

My message for Sunday, October 2, 2016 is entitled "Irresistible Influence," from Matthew 5:13-16, where Jesus describes his followers as the "salt of the earth," and the "light of the world." 
Here's the link for the article by Ed Stetzer referenced in the message.

Green Crayon Christians


In the message, “Eating Words,” I’ve suggested that we need to pursue a holistic relationship with the Word of God, the Bible, that would move us beyond recreational and occasional use of the scriptures to filling our “spiritual stomachs” with the content of the Word to build and shape our lives. We’ve coined the descriptor, “Green Crayon Christian,” in reference to my friend Darryl Woolfolk’s green crayon he uses to highlight questions that arise as he reads the Bible.

The New Testament: Myth or Reality?

During this recent season, as we've studied John's gospel and celebrated the gospel accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, I'm reminded that there are questions that arise on the part of many as to whether this amazing story contained in the gospels is true or merely mythological. As people of faith, we believe that the Bible relays a reliable witness to events that really happened, and this is the basis for our faith in our risen Lord.
The link below is to a great piece about noted author and bible translator J.B. Phillips, and his take on the subject. I think you'll enjoy it.

Prayer: Armed With Courage

Man In Prayer Christian Stock Photo

I came across this piece by A.W. Tozer a while back, and wanted to share it.
  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.—James 1:6 When entering the prayer chamber, we must come filled with faith and armed with courage. Nowhere else in the whole field of religious thought and activity is courage so necessary as in prayer. The successful prayer must be one without condition. We must believe that God is love and that, being love, He cannot harm us but must ever do us good. Then we must throw ourselves before Him and pray with boldness for whatever we know our good and His glory require, and the cost is no object! Whatever He in His love and wisdom would assess against us, we will accept with delight because it pleases Him. Prayers like that cannot go unanswered. The character and reputation of God guarantee their fulfillment. We should always keep in mind the infinite loving kindness of God. No one need fear to put his life in His hands. His yoke is easy; His burden is light. "Increase my faith; increase my courage. Amen." Excerpted from "We Travel an Appointed Way," p. 48, A.W. Tozer

The Sound of Silence

imagesOk, this one is from 2001, and I'm sharing some older pieces I have written in anticipation of fully embracing my newfound duty as blogging pastor. This one actually brings back fond memories, and I'm sure that Mendocino has cell service now, as does the entire planet, or so it seems. I checked, and they still don't have a Starbucks, but maybe that's a good thing, at least for local businesses. In light of this week's messages on prayer, I hope you find this article about contemplative silence helpful: This week Sharlyn and I were blessed to take a few days off, and to journey to a part of California with which I have heretofore remained relatively unfamiliar. After spending an evening in San Francisco, we made our way 68 miles up Highway 1 to the small coastal town of Bodega Bay. This town, which boasts a population of 950, is best known (if known at all!) as the location of the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds.”  We enjoyed our one-night stay in this laid-back little town, but the next morning journeyed north to an even more remote and interesting location, the quaint Victorian seaside village of Mendocino, which also is home to just under 1,000 inhabitants. We spent two nights in a bed and breakfast inn which was built in the 1880’s. No phone, no television, no radio. No cell phone service. I looked forward to the solitude, the beautiful ocean vistas, the quiet nights, the time alone with my wife. We had a wonderful time. I must confess, however, that we found ourselves in search of things like movie theaters, and there were none. The nearest Starbucks was 3 hours away! We journeyed a few miles north to Ft. Bragg, in search of more “signs of life,” and a cell phone signal. We found the cell phone signal, a nice market, a moderate-sized town, but that’s about it. What I discovered about myself is that, although I crave quiet, solitude, and simpler surroundings, I experience “withdrawal” when I have to exit the daily grind, the phones, the freeways, the noise, the crowds. It really takes me some time to become accustomed to a quieter, simpler lifestyle. I realize, however, that I need more of this solitude, not only for my mental and physical health, but for the health of my soul. But I’m truly of an urban mindset, and as such I find myself sometimes uncomfortable with the sound of silence. Frankly, I feel challenged to more diligently seek quiet space in my life, to not allow myself to remain addicted to the noise, the cacophony of this culture, the static of a world that not only never sleeps but never slows, never listens. I’m challenged to seek to cultivate in my life certain spiritual disciplines, such as silence, solitude, meditation and contemplative prayer. I’m reminded that even within the realm of  Christian endeavor, we can find ourselves inundated with excessive noise and artificial stimulation. I want to become comfortable with the sound of silence. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, writes: In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things:  noise, hurry, and crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied.  Psychiatrist Carl Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation.  In their writings, all the masters of meditation beckon us to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit.  Though it may sound strange to modern ears, we should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer. Consider this quote from the venerable Christian classic, Thomas A Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, written in the 15th century, which has for centuries called believers to a deeper and more intimate walk with Christ:

Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life

must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.

My brief vacation this week reminded me of how essential it is for us to routinely seek quietness of the soul amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. I confess that it’s hard for me to sit still for too long. I long for a better grasp of the truth articulated by the Psalmist:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.1

Rise Up And Build

I was going through my archives, and came across this article I penned 11 years ago. I think it speaks to us today, as we are striving as a congregation to move forward, to grow, and to build. Rebuilding-the-wall-of-Jerusalem-under-Nehemiah (1) Many of you shared with me an overwhelming sense of joy as we together beheld the demolition of the infamous Centinela Motel. It was a big day for us all, and a turning point in the life of our church. My excitement was not based on the fact that I delight in destruction, but was grounded in the reality that the removal of the old is necessary for the emergence of the new. Observing the workers wield their wrecking bars and swing their sledgehammers gave me pause to think about the contrast between the processes of building and demolition.  The result was that I arrived at a newfound appreciation for builders. Please don’t misunderstand me.  I deeply appreciate our wrecking crew, for they performed a valuable service. It’s just that I have a deep sense of admiration for those who are able to envision, to plan and to build, for it takes a much greater level of skill, sophistication, patience, perseverance and creativity to build than it does to tear down. Read more...

Growing Together, Rowing Together

As the inaugural entry of this blog, I'd like to share something I wrote in 2002, based upon a very enlightening book I had the privilege of reading. The title of this piece is "Growing Together, Rowing Together," and is about the role of teamwork in ministry.  


In his book, Doing Church as a Team (Regal Books, 2001) Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of the 8,000-member New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii, likens ministry to the sport of team canoe paddling, one of Hawaii’s most popular sports. We pick up the story as Wayne and a group of friends report for canoe lessons and receive their initial instructions:

‘We’re going to paddle our first stretch of water. It will be an eighth-of-a-mile sprint. When I begin the stopwatch and say ‘Go,’ just paddle as fast and hard as you can. When we cross the finish line, I’ll notify you. That’s when you can stop paddling. Got it?” How hard can this be? I thought. Even women paddle canoes. This ought to be a breeze! Just then, my self-confident thoughts were shattered by the sharp call of our coach. ”Ho ‘omakaukau? I mua!”  In English it means, “Ready? Go Forward!” Read more...