QUOTABLES: Francis Chan

“I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions. It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.”

― Francis ChanForgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

On Christ the Solid Rock We Stand

jerrock
Jeremy back in 2010 dreaming of a future church. Lonely and scared…but choosing faith.

Over 5 Years ago I sat on this rock feeling extremely lonely and scared. God called Keri and I to start a church in Mound, and I often came to pour out my doubts to the LORD in prayer on this rock.

Then one night I heard God speak Matthew 16 directly to me, “Jeremy, upon this rock I will build my church in Mound, and not even the gates of Hell will be able to stop it.” I needed to be reminded that Jesus was going to build his church — not me. :)  Feeling a lot lighter, I walked away and set to work in doing my part. God did the rest.

This past Sunday on our all-church prayer walk this place of doubt and loneliness became a place of joyful community and worship as we celebrated God’s faithfulness to His promise (see top photo). Keri and I obeyed God, stepped out in faith, and God made good on his promise to build (and He’s still building) the most magnificent church!

Thanks to all those MainStreeters who have been been a direct answer to our prayers and who have helped God form this rock solid church. May we always stay anchored on Christ our Rock, our firm foundation.

Read some journal posts I wrote a few years ago about this significant rock here.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, 

All other ground is sinking sand.”

DSC_0063
Jeremy sharing the story of the rock this past Sunday.

Upon This Rock

Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Jesus made a staggering claim when he reprimanded a bunch of religious scholars saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39) This is just one of many instances that reveal that Jesus either was the Son of God as he claimed or a deranged ego-maniac. No mere mortal in their right mind would ever make such a claim. Imagine if I told my church congregation this Sunday that all the Bible studies they’ve ever been to were a waste of time unless they ultimately ended by showing how all the Bible passages really point to me!

Later, after his resurrection, he spoke with a couple of folks on the Road to Emmaus and made a similar claim about himself as the focal point of all the scriptures: “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). 

So, Jesus himself believed that his life and ministry, his death and resurrection, and all the truths about his life can be found throughout the entire Bible. I recently came upon the following list of exactly how Christ can be found in every book of the Bible. Enjoy below!

Continue reading Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

QUOTABLES: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – 12 Essential Quotes

bonhoefferDietrich Bonhoeffer’s courage and determination and rootedness in Scripture is one of the reasons I didn’t give up during the difficult times in starting a new church. I was depleted and discouraged and lonely above all. I found a true friend and hero in Bonhoeffer. I read Eric Metaxis’ biography at the time and was deeply inspired to keep fighting the good fight.

Here’s 12 thought worthy quotes compiled in a Relevant Magazine article. Enjoy!

On Silence

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

On Judging Others

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
― The Cost of Discipleship

On Gratitude

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
Letters and Papers from Prison

On Injustice

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

On ‘Defending’ the Bible

“Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity.”

On Real Morality

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

On Spirituality

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

On Fellowship

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.” —Life Together

On Proof of God

“A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol”

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

On Peace

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”

On God’s Love

“God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.”
— Meditations on the Cross
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/12-essential-bonhoeffer-quotes#KXptHGfcxSTgkMG6.99

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

The next time someone makes you feel guilty for taking a much needed vacation, consider sharing with them the following case for biblical rest and vacation. (Note: The following make the case for both a weekly day off (sabbath rest) and occasional extended vacations (a week or two)).

We are a mess without sabbath. I think sabbath rest is largely an unAmerican practice. America prides itself in hard work, ambition, self-determination and getting ahead. “The early bird gets the worm” describes the folk wisdom of our founding Father’s better than Jesus’ invitation to “Consider the lilies, they neither toil nor spin, and God takes care of them…” Compared to other countries around the world, Americans work longer days, take less vacation days, bring our work home more, and value “getting ahead” and “climbing the career ladder” more than most. How is this working for us? We’re richer than most but also lead the world in mental health issues, unhappiness, discontentment, broken marriages and dysfunctional families (often due to placing career advancement over family priorities). Are we working ourselves to death? Are we not busier than we’ve ever been as a society and least content?

We were hardwired for sabbath. Built into our DNA (and the entire created order) is the need for a healthy, balanced work-rest rhythm. God worked for 6 days and then rested on the 7th. We are hardwired to do the same. There are times to cultivate the fields, plant and harvest; and then there are time we are to let the ground lie fallow and rest. Our minds, bodies, souls and spirits require the same fallow time of healing and rest. We are human beings, not human doings. Our value and worth is defined by our creator who made us in His Image; our self-worth and value is not defined by how much we accomplish, how well we perform, and whether or not we met our daily quota at work. Do we believe this? If so, does our actual behavior line up with this belief?

God modeled sabbath. Again, if God chose to rest a full day after working 6, then what makes us think we can outwork God? Why do we think we can go 20 days without a sabbath, when God modeled a 6 + 1 rhythm? Jesus also modeled healthy boundaries and restorative times with God alone. He didn’t heal every person who came up to him. He didn’t go to every city that awaited his message. He had limits and knew them.  Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

I’m currently trying to enjoy some time away from work — for me that means church related stuff and ministry situations. My email ‘Out of the Office’ notice is on, and my voicemail alerts people that I am not taking calls.

I asked our leadership team not just for a vacation (which typically means family time, traveling, etc.) but for a “spiritual renewal leave” which I define as time away from day-to-day tasks (sermon prep, meetings) and ministering to people (a drain for a high introvert) to engage fully in things that are truly life-giving and soul-recharging. Since I’m a high introvert who is constantly surrounded by people, this means spending a lot of time alone.

I’m largely spending my time reading 2 or 3 good books (both pastor-related and just for fun), reading those books on the boat or while sipping a drink by a pool/beach, doing some writing to stimulate my brain muscles and spark fresh inspiration for future sermon series, and, of course, playing some golf and doing some lawn work. I also try to catch up with a friend or two outside my normal church social circle and possibly browse a guitar store or two. Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

PARABLES: Let’s Party 4 (Matt. 22:1-14)

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

To summarize the main thrust of this allegorical parable, Douglas Hare writes:

“This is an allegory of salvation history. The king is clearly God; the wedding eeast or his son represents the messianic banquet (cf. Rev. 19:7-9). Those sent to invite the guests are God’s prophets, including Christian missionaries. The reference to the mistreatment of the king’s slaves recalls the tradition concerning Israel’s violent treatment of God’s prophets. The burning of the rebel’s city seems to be an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., an event that Christians regarded as God’s punishment upon Israel for its rejection of Jesus and the gospel. The invitation offered to others, “both bad and good,” signifies the Gentile mission of the church” (Hare, Interpretation Commentary, 251).

Now, near the end, we find the banquet hall full and a surprising punishment for one guest who failed to wear proper wedding attire. What’s going on here?  Didn’t this poor person just get grabbed last minute off the street?  Is not the hasty last minute invitation of the king to blame for his not having time to go home and dress up? Here we must remember that we are not dealing with an ordinary story but an allegory.

So, what is the spiritual truth behind image of the wedding garment?  What does it represent? Continue reading PARABLES: Let’s Party 4 (Matt. 22:1-14)

Happy 10th Anniversary: Our Story

44e4d8b96a373382166499c214b2de36Exactly 10 years ago today I married the most beautiful, fun, strong, life-giving, faith-filled woman on planet earth. I struck gold and now she’s given me 3 amazing kids and a life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’ve shared bits and pieces of our story over the years but thought it’d be good to put our beginning in a longer narrative. It will be fun for our kids to look back on (and groan!). :)

So, here goes my telling of the story (I know Keri has her version, too). 

All the guys had secret crushes on her. They may deny it but its true. And I was just one of the guys back then. I was intimidated by her fun, radiating presence in any room. (She still has this effect! She still turns heads. And its not just outer beauty but her attractive, disarming personality that draws you in.)

She was one of those innocent accidental flirts. She was “buddy buddy” with all the guys, and while we watched the Minnesota Wild and Timberwolves playoff games (at the same time that year – 2003 I believe), she’d be throwing high fives, making cracks, sitting on a couch with her legs on someone’s lap, and maybe even smacking a butt or two.

She didn’t mean anything by it. She was just being herself. But we guys were reading into it all. Is she flirting with me? Is she flirting with him? Does she like me? Is she making the moves on him? No, she wasn’t. She was just being ‘one of the guys.’

But I thought she was untouchable and I figured she could have had any guy she wanted and why would that guy be me?

Continue reading Happy 10th Anniversary: Our Story

Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life .

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