Simple Faith.

Posted: July 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

Recently, I have entered a season of slightly less responsibility and a bit more personal downtime. Seasons like this are always 50/50 when it comes to making the best or the worst of the free time I am given and, lately, I know that I have done the latter. I want to relax, but I don’t want to be wasteful. Some moments I am completely ignorant of the clock and other moments I am overthinking every minute that is dwindling away. The frustration of what to do with the time I have been given has led me to binging on things that leave me feeling empty and useless.

During a few moments alone last night, I quietly admitted to God that I just haven’t been that hungry for Him and the things He has lately. (When you are a pastor, it can be hard to come to terms with this. You feel this sense of dread that more than your faith is at stake and, sometimes, that fear can rob you of the chance to let yourself be human and let God be God.) I let that prayer of confession be my only words before bed, trusting that He would be the next to speak in our conversation. My trust was not ill-placed! Part of my morning was spent alone in the warehouse at work and in those moments of isolation I felt like “Psalm 97” was being whispered in my ear. I immediately pulled out my phone – the closest Bible access I had at hand – and found that psalm. I’ll let it speak for itself: “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” This was the beginning verse that greeted me in the midst of my feelings of dullness and spiritual inadequacy. That was enough for me, but there’s more. The eleventh verse in that passage had this to say, “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” The plan for tonight’s youth session was already set for looking at how Jesus is the Light in the darkness. Jesus has sown His love to make those of us who choose to have a simple faith in Him righteous. He is ready and willing to become the joy we need to set ourselves upright and experience His presence.

Jesus met me in my funk today because I didn’t consult a blog or my own brain or anyone else. Rather than going to things and people, I went to Him. Despite the personal – or maybe it was demonic – pressure that I felt to fix myself with my own diagnosis and prescription, I chose to offer up a simple, honest prayer in simple faith. In return, He offered me a simple psalm with a crazy epic message. In my failure, Jesus reigns. In my dullest moments, Jesus reigns. In my wasted opportunities, Jesus reigns. Jesus isn’t here to over-complicate our lives. He’s here to sow light and hope into us so that we can be people of simple faith who love and follow God without conditions.

Love in Christ,
Tim

Hero

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

At the age of five, I was daydreaming of being the hero of my own story. The daydreams never let up and at the age of sixteen I found myself so completely miserable that my thoughts consistently hovered around suicide and self-affliction. I wanted to find my own superpower and my own path, but what I found is that my path was crooked and my superpower was narcissism. I had looked into myself and found emptiness. Jesus had been a part of my life throughout the development of my hero-flunking origin story and buried deep in my heart was an envy of Him. Jesus was Savior in my heart, but I had not yet come to the point of brokenness where I could truly allow Him to be King of my life. I wanted to do the things He did…for my own glory, not His. My dreamworld had ultimately become a refusal to surrender to Christ – a boulder in my heart blocking the river of life that Jesus promised would flow in and through me when I trusted Him.

One night I was sitting alone in my garage contemplating suicide at a level that I had never before considered and, just when my thoughts were at their darkest, my baby sister opened the door and asked me if I would rock her to sleep. The boulder in my heart was blasted away in that moment and Jesus snapped me out of my dreamworld-turned-nightmare. I had seen where my actions would take me and what they would leave in their wake, and I wanted no part of it. Since that day I have fought to keep Jesus on the throne in my heart and I have found it a great relief to let Him be the hero of my story. Surrendering to Jesus will always be the most epic victory in our lives.

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

This promise is real. I found life in surrendering to Jesus and losing my life in Him. Brokenness is a great state to live in. When I wake up each day knowing that I am a broken person, Jesus has the opportunity to bring a little more healing and a little more of Himself into the places in my heart that are lacking. While preparing for our new youth series on the life we can find in Jesus, the Lord has been reminding me of all the places through which He has brought me and I have experienced a refreshing perspective on my own brokenness. I am deeply thankful for this.

Love in Christ,
Tim

Expectation and Gumption

Posted: February 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

Whenever I clean the church facility alone I get a chance to process the different moods, attitudes and spirits currently ebbing and flowing within our church family. There are residual things that sit in the spiritual realm and nothing reveals them quite like prayer and silence. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a youth pastor and a groundskeeper, not the village shaman; but I have my moments of spiritual sensitivity and the Holy Spirit often moves in my heart in those times.

This past week I felt a strong sense of disappointment linked to personal expectations within the church and as I was pondering this feeling I sensed the Lord speaking directly to it. What you read hereafter are the words I sensed my heavenly Father speaking to me.

If you want your church to be filled with generosity, then be a generous member. If you want your church to be filled with compassion, then come into it with an open heart and receive my compassion. If you want it to be filled with wisdom, then pursue wisdom and don’t stop pursuing the fellowship of other believers along the way. If you want a church to be spiritually healthy, then be sure that you are taking care of your own spiritual health. Support the places where you find weakness and fill the places where you find emptiness.

What a great word. I believe a healthy church relationship requires a sacrificial bond between you and your church family. There are spiritual, emotional, physical, financial and personal time costs that come with being a true member of a church. As Jesus taught people about the kingdom of God, He constantly used parables about farming and investing in something [See Matthew 13:1-49, Matthew 21:43]. He uses some fairly strong language at times [See Luke 9:62]. We all have our personal expectations and ideas of what a church should be but the real deal according to Jesus is that every church across the planet is part of the whole Church that exclusively belongs to Him. The church is a costly thing and it is His most precious possession because it is a kingdom comprised of the people for whom He shed His blood and suffered greatly. You cannot truly walk into the kingdom of  God – the church – without also walking into responsibility. This is a message I consistently preach to the students of Vineyard Community Church.

Love in Christ,
Tim

In the Face of Adversity

Posted: January 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

Lamentations, Chapter 3:22-26
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

In the face of adversity you have to consciously choose peace and gratitude. It is not a natural thing to wait quietly. Most of us are much more acquainted with waiting loudly, surrendering our brains over to anxious thoughts that serve no other purpose than to keep our heads spinning madly. I believe that a faith in Jesus that is true is a quiet trust that surpasses all other forms of loyalty and love. As another year has begun and a previous year of many trials has closed, my prayer is that we would each experience a deepening of our faith as we learn to wait  a little more quietly with hearts a little more hopeful for the things that Jesus longs to do among us. May the Lord bless you all richly for His name’s sake!

Love in Christ,
Tim

Devastation.

Posted: September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

I was only looking for more resources to use in widening the eyes of my students to the impact God’s crazy kingdom is having on the world outside their own. What I found instead was heartbreak. A Christian organization that I have publicly and financially supported for several years now and a teaching resource that I have personally sat under over the years had been caught mishandling finances and abusing its spiritual authority in its staff members lives. I hoped I could disprove the allegations with further research, however, the deeper I went the more concrete the evidence seemed: another great leader had fallen far from God’s holy call.

After further digging, I texted my wife from work, “It’s humbling to see such a great organization fall prey to evil. I know that it can happen to anybody that takes their eye off Jesus. I don’t want to be numb or take this for granted.” In moments like these I don’t find myself desiring to be an adult or a know-it-all. I find myself longing to be like a child, to pursue innocence and holiness. I don’t want a rock in my hand so that I can stone the perpetrator. I want my heavenly Father’s hand in mine, quietly holding me back from the same fate. Righteous indignation is not an anger that leads to swift judgment. It is an anger that leads to a repentant heart – a heart that longs not for God’s judgment first, but rather His presence. You experience your frailty and find yourself longing for God’s strength.

I had set out for a radical story that would inspire my students to continue to trust in the Lord. What I found was a solemn warning that the greatest work of God is the constant, consistent trust He is seeking in our hearts daily. We can so easily slip away from trusting in Him alone. Few things happen in the kingdom of God without a heart that is both committed to Jesus and eager to walk in His ways.

My wife and I cancelled our sponsorships to the organization. We will use those funds for a different Kingdom endeavor. Though my heart is burdened by what men keep doing in the name of God, I still rejoice in Jesus. He is still just as good and glorious and amazing as always. I look forward to seeing Him move in the coming days, weeks, and months.

A servant faithful to the Cause,
Tim

The Word.

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

I have never doubted the Word of God. Certainly, at times, I have taken it for granted. I have called my bible by that name without realizing what such a name proclaims, but I have never doubted the reliability of the Word. Why? Because I have never experienced a shortcoming within it. In the moments when I have not found the answers I wanted, I have found peace beyond any degree that those answers could have granted me. The only way in which God and His Word ever fail people is in meeting their personal expectations. I find great comfort in that because some people expect God only to breathe fire and wrath while others expect Him to be a lovable teddy bear incapable of taking action against the fallacies and darkness in this world. The expectations of people are often treacherous, one-sided, selfish and lacking in perspective. If you desire a god with those qualities you should consider checking out of the Church and digging into Greek mythology instead.

Along my own journey of faith I have discovered a heavenly Father who seems elusive only because He is so transcendent. He seems invisible only because my eyes are not accustomed to such a love as the one that abides in His heart. Could our eyes believe what they saw in their current state if they were to look upon perfection?

John 6:53-69
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

        After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

I have experienced Peter’s realization many times already. When you encounter the words of eternal life, you no longer need finite tools to prove their value and authenticity. God’s Word absolutely measures up to the claim of its title.

When Jesus passes by…

Posted: July 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Last Wednesday, I felt like all the wind had been let out of my sails after I got home from our youth meeting. I was falling prey to the idea that it’s my wind and my sails! But it is the Holy Spirit that must move in our presence and our meetings. I want to share a story with you from Mark 6.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
– Mark 6:45-52

In this Gospel story, Jesus had just fed thousands of people with a meal that might have fed two grown men before He got His holy hands on it! After cleaning up the meal and gathering the leftovers, Jesus sent the disciples out on the sea. While He was away praying, the waters got rough and the men got scared. In the midst of their dangerous situation, Jesus was just going to walk on by them. The text says that He meant to pass them by. This is a recurring theme in the Gospel. In the midst of the most hopeless people and situations, Jesus keeps passing over people. The people who found healing and witnessed miracles were oftentimes the ones who refused to let Him keep going. They called out His name. Rather than feeling hurt that Jesus passed them by or feeling angry that He had ignored Him, they chose to keep on desiring the kingdom of God and all that it has to offer. They kept calling for it – calling for Jesus.

As the leadership team, this has to be the heart of everything we are doing. If we have to call on the kingdom of God for years before we see major change and growth in the students so be it. Jesus may be passing us by just because He longs for us to call His name, to keep stepping out in faith and begging for Him to do a powerful work in our group. Our voices, hearts, and prayers are essential in all of this. We must continually believe in the authority and presence that Jesus is in our lives.

– Tim