Another Year Down

As 2011 comes to a close I must give pause to reflect on the amazing year it has been.   After a three year odyssey of a whole lot of change and uncertainty, 2011 has been the year in which the dust finally settled.

Each day we find our selves thanking God for the way He has provided and blessed.  He has blessed us with a new home, new relationships, and an incredible church community to name just a few.  Our hearts are full.

As is our family tradition over the past few years we have put together sort of an online Christmas greeting.  A video that looks back of the past 12 months showcasing some of the many highlights.

Here's to 2012.  I look forward to what it holds.

Christmas Blessing Ministry

Love being a part of a church that cares so much for the community.

Thank you Foothills!

Beauty Abounds

How often do you take the time to slow down and just appreciate?

Appreciate the blessings in life.

Appreciate the little things.

Appreciate the big things.

In this fast paced and oft times increasingly negative world we live in, it's much too easy to miss the beauty,  yet there is beauty all around us.

There is beauty in a smile.

There is beauty in the giggle of a child.

There is beauty in the changing seasons.

There was beauty in the ice formation I found on my windshield the other morning.

In the words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."

In every passing second there is beauty.  Stop and appreciate.

Where do you find beauty?

Where I Live

I live in the state of Oregon.  Oregon is a stunningly beautiful place.  A true gem of God's creation!

Uncage The Soul Video Productions has just produced an incredible video entitled "Finding Oregon."  The video a 6 month compilation of time lapse photography captures the states unparalleled beauty.  It features the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Southwestern Coast, the Alvord Desert, Leslie Gulch, Blue Mountains, Crater Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Deschutes River, and more.

Read more about what it took to capture these stunning scenes here.  

Ready to visit?

Child Sponsorship

I just learned about an incredible interactive web series produced by Missions in Action, a ministry with the simple purpose of making a difference around the world.  They currently have a team traveling around the globe for the purpose of

  1. Identifying a problem somewhere around the world that people are facing.
  2. Highlighting the actions that individuals and/or companies are taking to help those in need.
  3. Providing a way for viewers to help out through a specific call to action.

As a long time child sponsor and a blogger for Compassion International I am excited about the impact this series will have.

They currently are in the Philippians visiting children and families who live in extreme poverty in the flooded villages of Northern Manila, and showcasing the power of child sponsorship.

Watch this powerful first episode and then ask God what role He might have you play.

I have so enjoyed the relationships I have had over the years with various children.  Currently my family and I have the privilege of sponsoring  Fernando Isaac Tetlalmatzi Reyes in Mexico and so enjoy the developing relationship we have with him.  What a joy it is for my family knowing that we are blessing a young boy living in the midst of great need.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to consider becoming a child sponsor.  You will bless a child in untold ways and you yourself will experience blessing like never before.


Last week I had the privilege of being at the Right Now conference in Dallas Texas.  In a question and answer session with Francis Chan, Francis was speaking about his recent experience in India.  When asked what the Church of India thought about the American Church he simply replied, they don't understand it.

He said, they couldn't understand why people would leave their church.  Why would a believer leave their church because they did not like they way their pastor preached?  Why would a follower of Jesus leave their church because they did not like the music?  Why would one leave their church because the children's ministry was not exactly to their liking?  You see for those that follow Jesus in a place like India, they put their very lives at risk to follow Him.  Faith is not something they claim with their lips but rather something they risk their lives for.

This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  This Sunday as we head off to church with not a care in the world many thousands around the world are putting their lives in danger doing the same thing.

May this video produced by K.P. Yohannan, the founder and international director for Gospel for Asia move you like it did me.  May it remind us to not only pray for the 40,000 people that are put to death for surrendering their lives to Jesus, but also help us consider our own journey with Jesus.  May it cause us to fully surrender to the One that did likewise for us.

Big Buts

We are great at coming up with excuses.  Let's just make sure our buts are not bigger than our whys?

God calls us to a life of surrender and sacrifice.  May we not forget that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

HT: Rodney Olsen

Life Together

As a pastor I think a great deal about what God desires for the Church.  What should we value?  What should our gatherings look like?  What is our purpose?  While I believe there is much God desires from the Church, one thing I know, is He wants us to experience life together.  We were never meant to live in isolation.  Life, in community with one another, is what we are called to.

To do so is messy, challenging, exhilarating, and life changing.  This fall at Foothills we are placing a great emphasis on Life Groups.  Life Groups are small groups of people joining together to live out the five purposes of our church, Prayer, Outreach, Worship, Edification, and Relationships.  They are are small groups committed to doing life together.

Sometimes the best way to describe what something is, is to show what it is not...  

How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!  Psalm 133:1

Mission of The Church

I love the Church. I am thankful God has given her to us. I can't imagine doing life without the amazing community of people God has placed me in.

So many times I have heard, "I have Jesus; I don't need the Church," or "I love God, I just can't stand the Church." While it may be true, fellowship with the Church does not equal salvation, we still need the Church, and the Church needs us. Yes the Church is far from perfect, yet in all it's messy imperfection God chooses to use us to impact the world with His message of love.

We as God's people are called to a life of mission. The mission ... the building of God's Kingdom. What makes it exciting, is we are not called to do it alone, rather we are called together into this great adventure. The mission of the Church matters and it is through the unity of the Church that it will be accomplished.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

Consumer Worship

In speaking on the importance of worship, one of my college profs once said something that has always stuck with me.  He said, "In America we worship our play and play at our worship."  A sad, and yet fairly accurate assessment of the view of worship in the American Church.

We have done a good job of reducing worship down to something we consume as opposed to a lifestyle we live.  Worship is more than a quick weekly fix on a Sunday morning.  It is even more than a daily time alone with God.  It was Jesus that instructed us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27).  Not something done on the fly!

May we remember, it is not about us.  It is about the Person of our worship, the One that deserves our full and continual attention and adoration.  May the words of the Psalmist ring true in our lives.

Not to us, LORD, not to us
   but to your name be the glory,
   because of your love and faithfulness. 
Psalm 115:1

Living The Dream

We have been sold a bill of goods. We have been told there is a dream; a dream worth living for. I am all for dreams and living for their fulfillment. The question is, what dream are we living for? Who's dream are we living for? Is it God's dream or the American Dream?

From a very young age we have also been taught to strive for the American Dream. This so called dream basically amounts to getting through school with good grades, so that we can get accepted into a good college or university, in order to get a degree that will help us secure the right job. If we secure the right job then we will make lots of money which in turn will help us buy lots of stuff. The crazy thing is, when we die, all that stuff ends up in the dump. As I understand the Kingdom of God, this is not His dream.

What if we were to trade all this in for a life lived on mission? We live in a world in desperate need of hope. Hope is not found in stuff. Hope is not found in an illusive dream. Hope is found in Jesus. What if instead of trying to achieve the American Dream, we were committed to living out God's dream?

A better dream...

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Foot Washers

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13:3-5

Jesus was and is the perfect example of a leader. He was one that lead by serving others. One who led in love and in humility. He is the ultimate example of how we should lead and serve.

I love that my son, along with the others in his Kid's Church class at Foothills is learning to serve in a like manner. I am thankful for the those that faithfully and humbly lead them.

May we all be foot washers.

Confession, Forgiveness and Freedom

Life is a story. We all have one tell. Some we are quick to share. Others we'd rather keep to ourselves.

I saw a movie recently that did an incredible job of showing the devastating effects of an untold story. It was a depiction of a man that was haunted by a sin in his life. A part of his story that because he was unwilling to share, cost him his life. A sin that imprisoned him in his own isolated world for 40 years.

The movie Get Low, starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek, is a quirky film based on a real-life 1930s legend. It's about man in desperate need of forgiveness, both from others as well as himself. It is a movie worth seeing, and does a great job of opening the eyes of the viewer to the power of confession and forgiveness.

As the movie ended my thoughts went directly to James 5:13-16.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

There is great power in the act of confession. James goes so far as to say that through it, we find healing. What a precious gift it is when we are able to live in community with one another at such a deep level that we may freely confess to one another, and find forgiveness and the subsequent freedom that comes from it.

May we as the Church live in such a way. May we be a people that will listen and pray for one another. And may we enjoy the freedom that is offered us through the forgiveness of both Christ and His Church.

Grace Based Parenting

Over the last six weeks I have been teaching a class entitled, "Raising Kids With A Faith That Lasts." It has been such a blessing to lead a room full of parents who desire to raise their children in the same manner that God raises us!

A major theme throughout the class has been grace. It is by grace that God has called us and leads us, and it is with grace that we as parents must raise our children. If our kids are unable to see grace lived out in our lives, than it is unlikely they will ever see and understand the grace God has for them.

In preparing for the class I stumbled upon this hilarious illustration of the challenge grace can be. Prepare yourself for a good laugh!

Letter To A Dad

A father passing by his son's bedroom, was astonished to see the bed was nicely made, and everything was picked up. Then, he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow. It was addressed, "Dad." With the worst premonition, he opened the envelope and read the letter, with trembling hands.

"Dear Dad,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend, because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you. I've been finding real passion with Stacy, and she is so nice, but I knew you would not approve of her, because of all her piercing's, tattoos, her tight motorcycle clothes, and because she is so much older than I am. But it's not only the passion.

Dad she's pregnant. Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods, and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children. Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't, really hurt anyone.

We'll be growing it for ourselves, and trading it with the other people in the commune, for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want. In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS, so Stacy can get better. She sure deserves it! Don't worry Dad, I'm 15, and I know how to take care of myself. Someday, I'm sure we'll be back to visit, so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Love, your son,

P.S. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the report card that's in my center desk drawer. I love you! Call when it is safe for me to come home."

May we all follow our Father's example of living out a life full of both grace and truth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

If you are a part of our Foothills family, or are anywhere near the Molalla area, and would like to be a part of this valuable six week class, we will be diving into it a second time, beginning April 5. Whether you are a brand new parent, been at this parenting thing for many years, or yet to even see the twinkle in the eye of your first child, you are invited!

My Highest Calling

I am a blessed man. Not a day goes by that I am not in awe of the beautiful family God has blessed me with. At the same time, not a day goes by that I am not conscience of and often overwhelmed by, the enormous responsibility I have in leading my family. In my estimation, there is no higher calling.

To be a loving and godly husband is my desire. To love her as Ephesians 5:25-28 is my call.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Equally it is my desire to lead my children in the same manner that Christ leads me. To parent in a fashion that demonstrates both truth and grace.

I want my faith and trust in God to be caught by my children. I want to faithfully parent them as God has called us to in Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

In all of this I am woefully aware of the fact that I can do none of this alone. For me to love and lead my family as God desires, I must first allow Him to lead me. To seek Him daily. To stop long enough in the business of life to listen to Him.

As a spouse and a parent, make it your priority to follow God's lead. Spend time listening to Him. Learn from Him. Allow Him to lead you as you seek to lead the family He has entrusted to you.

Game of Hope

Love this!

What an amazing difference we can make when we love people the way Jesus does!

At the end of the game Isaiah, the teenage convict-quarterback surprised everybody and asked if he could pray and he prayed, "Lord, I don't know what just happened so I don't know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us."

On the way back to the bus, under guard, each one of the Gainsville State School players were handed a burger, fries, a Coke, a Bible and an encouraging letter from the players from Faith Academy.

Sounds like "Sheep" to me!

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Daily Audio Bible

I'm not sure how I missed this one, but I just recently came across the Daily Audio Bible podcast, and am loving it.

Since beginning my new ministry at Foothills Community Church I have have been faced with a rather long commute. As we wait on God to send just the right buyer for our home I get to "enjoy" a 50 minute drive each way to work. Not wanting to waste that time, I have been seeking a way to redeem it for something good. One can only listen to so much talk radio!

I have always had a great love for the Word of God. I base my entire life on the truths found within it's pages. I enjoy reading it, studying it and teaching it. Now I am listening to it!

The Daily Audio Bible is a daily podcast of the God's Word. Everyday it is a community of people listening to host Brian Hardin read through the Bible in one year. Each day he reads from a portion of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and from the Psalms and Proverbs. I have found it a way to just sit and let the Word of God filter into my heart and mind and it's incredible!

If you are faced with a long commute or even if you are not, check it out.

Listen now.
Subscribe in iTunes.

Reaching The Unreached

In Matthew 28:18-20 we are called to "go"; to go and make disciples of all nations. This command is played out differently in each of our lives. For some we are called to stay and pray, for some to give, for others to pick up and move. One thing is sure, we are given no other option, other than "go." However God has called you to live out this great commission, this video produced by AsiaLink will open your eyes anew to the great reality of missions.