Thursday, August 5, 2010


Yesterday, my buddy Jesse and I were doing some honest, theological and personal wrestling regarding how we might contribute to God's Kingdom. Jesse was telling me that his dad had encouraged him with an Oswald Chamber's quote. Here it is, and it is INCREDIBLY encouraging to goofs like me...

"Then He took unto Him the twelve." Luke 18:31

"The bravery of God in trusting us! You say - "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value." That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you. We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience - all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-30). The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed."

-Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Politics-Free Zone

Every time an election comes around, candidate yard signs pop up like mushrooms, and I’m almost entirely delighted. I’ve spent enough time outside of America, and I’ve spent enough time with my father (a career Marine who fought in two wars to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in America) that I know I’m a bit of a patriot. When we first landed in the states with my adopted son, and he looked out the window and yelled “Look Mom! The American Flag!” Jodie and I both started to cry. I love this land that God has given us to live in. I cherish the things that make America great. I truly try to be mindful of our blessings, and honor God for the freedom to worship, the freedom to express ourselves, and the freedom to choose our leaders through the electoral process. As a pastor, I want to encourage all citizens to be informed, to vote their conscience, and to serve/volunteer in your community to make your nation stronger.

By the way, OCC is one of several churches on the Eastside participating in a Community Serve Day on August 21, 2010, (mostly in public elementary schools) and I’d LOVE to encourage you to join us!

But here is what my pulpit is not for…it is not for this pastor to tell you how to vote. Overlake is a politics- free zone. I’m not called to use my pulpit to back a specific candidate, nor am I called to back a specific political philosophy. Jesus calls us to something higher and holier. We, who are followers of Jesus, have a dual-citizenship.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. Philippians 3:20

I love America, but I love Jesus more. And Heaven will not be a capitalistic democracy. It will be a benevolent dictatorship. And we will rejoice under the unrivaled reign of our perfect, glorious King. In the meantime, since we, the people, are invited to construct our own government, I’m all FOR it! I want passionate, intelligent Christians to engage the issues while honoring God. Please go hard after Jesus first, and bring that passion to whatever political philosophy you embrace.

Remember, nobody loves the poor like Jesus. Nobody loves the rich like Jesus. Nobody loves the immigrant like Jesus. Nobody loves the citizen like Jesus. Nobody loves the unborn like Jesus. Nobody loves the elderly like Jesus.

Jesus loves both environment AND humanity in a perfect balance, the way I’ve yet to see modeled by a political philosophy. Jesus loves righteousness and unrighteous humans in a way I’ve yet to see modeled by a political philosophy. When it comes to foreign policy, nobody knows the history of injustice like Jesus, and nobody understands forgiveness like Jesus.

Since all political stripes fall short, my encouragement to those who are interested is this: get involved in your brand of choice, and revise it to be more like Jesus. Use your voice to make things better, kinder…in short, to be a blessing. Honor Jesus with your specific political voice.

FINALLY: If you see any yard signs on Overlake Christian Church property, you can safely assume two things: 1. They were placed there without permission from the church, and 2. I haven’t seen them yet. When I see them, I will take them down. Because I want you to know, no matter what your personal political leanings, that you are welcome in God’s House. You don’t have to vote a certain way or have certain political bumper stickers on your car to be welcome at my church. Everyone is invited, and everyone is loved. It’s a politics-free zone, remember?

Inspiration for ONE DAY

Last week, Pastor Gary challenged us to live ONE DAY with Jesus. The entire day. I've had that goal in the back of my mind since then, and it pops up from time to time, mostly when I realize that I'm failing to do exactly that. I read the following today, and it both blessed and challenged me...Praying it does the same for you:

Each Day…

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I am a spiritual being…After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
- Max Lucado

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kisumu, Part 2

I wanted to add a follow up to yesterday's post, as I just received this email from Pastor Dan, who is working with our Kenyan partners (ie. Pastor Joseph) to open/run the Drop-In Center in Kisumu, Kenya.

Dan writes:
"I am officially a Kenyan now as I contracted Malaria. I cannot imagine having this and getting no medication and being forced to go sleep out on the streets somewhere so I am trying not to be too big of a wusey.
The trip has been unbelievable. I hope OCC is not suffering in our absence because I am convinced that I have 17 of OCC's finest with me. They have reflected Jesus at every level. Pastor Joseph's church is totally engaged and sharing in the street boys' lives. They are loved and welcomed at this church the way Jesus would love and welcome them. It is such a blessing to see the hope rise up in these boys. I heard the phrase this week that "we are giving them back their future" and that is exactly what is happening. Boys who through no fault of their own have had their futures stolen from them now have hope for a better future. Joseph has them refer to themselves as "Overcomers" and not "Street Boys" as he says they are no longer street boys. It has been hard not to just walk around crying as you see God so obviously at work. I can't wait to tell you all the stories. Pray that the vomiting will stop and the medicine will kick in so I will be able to enjoy everything that is left on the trip, Tomorrow we go to the rural area to work on our program of street children prevention. Praying for all of you."

And this morning, Lord Jesus, we lift up Dan, his team, our Kenyan partners, and the Overcomers to you. We ask that you move through these efforts, and that you restore hope and a future to those who have had theirs stolen. Thank you for choosing to include us in your good work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.