Friday, February 29, 2008

pressing heavenward

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV) 9 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

If you have been reading then you know I have been diligently seeking to set my heart back on pilgrimage…on things of the new heaven and new earth. I came across this C.S. Lewis quote from his book The Last Battle.

“As Aslan spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily evr after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their adventures in this world and all their life in Narnia have only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

What encouragement to my heart to press on to this day and take as many people with me as I possibly can on this Journey to the next life where all our hopes and dreams will finally be fully realized.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) 13 …But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

more eager

Daniel 12:2-3 (NIV) 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

I am trying to set my sights on the realities of heaven and release myself from the deceptive desires of earth. This scripture excites my heart as much as anything I have read in a while. As I eagerly await His coming, I also anticipate my own final transformation. My “lowly body” will become like “His glorious body”. He who dwells in unapproachable light will be approachable. I will see Him and be like Him because at last I will see Him like He really is. I am longing for the new heaven and the new earth.

I think I am a little ways away from where I was two days ago. I feel and eagerness and a desire on the rise in me. I want to be wise, I want to lead many to righteousness, AND I want to shine forever! I know I sound like some kind of religious nut…I don’t care.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Have you seen Cox communications commercial where a geek calls in for repair service and says, “last night I gave my number to three smokin’ hot ladies and not one call. What are the odds they all called at once and jammed up your system”? “One in a billion” the service man replies. “So your saying there is a chance…I guess it’s just a waiting game then” says the nerd.

Philippians 3:20 (NIV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Eagerly await? I was speaking today to a friend who is a grandma. Her new grandbaby lives in California. She misses the baby and she is having trouble sleeping lately because her daughter is coming this week for a visit with the baby. She awakens in the night in anxious anticipation of the baby’s arrival.

I know that in the case of the 2nd coming I’m no fool anxiously awaiting some highly unlikely event with odds totally against it happening but, I wonder what Paul had in mind when he said, “eagerly await”? When reading some of his other writings it seems as if he truly believed Jesus was about to return then. Of course 2000 some odd years have come and gone and no 2nd coming. How do I remain eager after so may years have passed? I want to believe me but I have lost some of my eagerness. I am asking God for a fresh awareness of His Son’s return and a new anticipation that return.

I asked my friend to describe how anxious she has been about her grandbaby and she said, “We talk about it all the time and we are keeping the house real clean”. I like that. I can talk about Jesus return more with my friends, I can read about it more in the Bible, I can visualize all that will happen for me then, and I can keep my house clean knowing His return gets nearer every day. I’m thinking about this more right now. How do I cultivate an eager desire to see the face of Jesus?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

duel citizenship

Philippians 3:20 (NIV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Each day is another opportunity to set my heart on the hope of heaven. I feel the pull of earth on my heart. I don’t want to love this life too much but in some ways I do. There is so much that I have come to enjoy. The truth is that I am not as eager as I once was about Jesus’ return. My heart is sometimes wieghted down with cares of this life and the decietfulness of riches. I am in a time of repentance and fasting. Just as Paul said, "I am beating my body and making it my slave". Only then will my heart will break the gravitational pull of earth and my spirit will again be filled with the love of God. Love for the world or love of the Father in my heart…my choice huh? I know this sounds crazy for me as a pastor to write this but it is true. Pray for me. I don’t want duel citizenship-just a temporary work visa will do.

Colossians 3:2 (NLT) 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A good example

Philip. 3:17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.

That is a bold statement...pattern your life after mine. Can I say that? Is this what Jesus meant when He said to let our light shine before men? Isn't it so they can see? I am called to order my life (public and private) in such a way that is serves as an example to others. The pattern laid out is the way that Jesus lived.

1 John 2:6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.

The way I treat people, view money, entertain myself, schedule time, everything is to be "patterned" after the Christ-life. Paul said, "pattern your lives after mine" because he was in full pursuit of the life of Jesus.

So I am challenged with this today-can I say to others, "pattern your life after mine"? I can give it my best shot today. With God's help, I will set a good example today.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

endulge me

17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil. 3:17-20

Paul teaches us about another joy thief-the endulgent lifestyle. He says that it is possible to follow the wrong example. The affluent, comfortable, indulgent life is substituted for the abundant life that God offers to them through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can settle for the “good life” instead of the resurrection life. Everywhere around us we are shown images of luxury and convenience. We are told that this is life. Have what we want, when we want, and even more than we want. More is better. A bigger house. A nicer car. An extravagant vacation. A juicy steak. All these things are to be our “pursuit of happiness”.

According to Paul, this is what it means to “live as enemies of the cross”. The cross is God’s instrument to kill the sinful, uncontrolled desire to endulge our flesh. Sounds like a drag huh? Death to self never sounds good-especially when we are told so often in so many ways that we are to treat ourselves to so much.

Paul continues by saying that their mind is on worldly matters. All these people can think about is earthly, physically stuff. They get up from the lunch table and ask what’s for dinner. When they hear about green pastures they think about golf fairways, still waters cause them to envision fishing ponds, and fields white unto harvest equate with shopping malls.

Jesus showed us a mind-set and an example: He did not grasp and cling for status, he viewed Himself as a servant to others, He humbly obeyed God, and embraced suffering for the sake of others. This is the pattern Paul speaks of in Phil. 3:17. We are to take note of people who live like this and follow their example. The mind that is set on spiritual things is the mind that has life and peace. The mind set on the flesh is death.

I am taking a fresh look at my mind-set. I’m trying to break the mental gravitational pull of earth and set my mind on the Joys of heaven. My citizenship is there not here. I am trying figure out how to travel this country a little lighter. I owe too much money for too much stuff. I’m not taking any of it with me anyway-it only wieghs me down.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oswald Chambers

After my weekend message a friend who reads Oswald Chambers morning devotions sent me Monday's entry. It is a similar twist on our "Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow" theme.

Here's the Chambers entry.
February 18

Taking the Initiative Against Despair

"Rise, let us be going" (Matthew 26:46).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it's all over and ruined now; what's the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can't change that. But get up, and let's go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing—they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up, and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Keep moving forward

The other night I watched Disney's recent movie"Meet the Robinsons" where a small boy abandoned to an orphanage overcomes life's biggest challenges by keeping moving forward. He fails time and again but keeps moving forward. Eventually he meets with the fulfillment of his dream to have the love of a family.

God spoke to me through that cartoon. In fact, I drew great strength as I reflected upon my own journey through the ups and downs of life. Refusing to quit-continuing to bring God my heart-not allowing my feelings to dictate-and just "keep moving forward" have served me well over the years.

I think Paul said it as good as anyone, "one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

As I look to the next leg of my journey, I don't know all that I will face. But I intend to keep moving forward until I reach the finish line and win the prize. Let us finish well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Prayer for a Fresh Start

In many ways this week feels like a fresh start for me-a beginning of a new decade. In my morning reading I came across this prayer:

Dear heavenly father,
Thank you for new beginnings! Infuse me today with a fresh dose of your Holy Spirit, and fill me with thoughts that strengthen my character and cause me to grow fully into the image you intended for me when you brought me into this world. Help me preoccupy my mind with thoughts of you, with thoughts that are pure, true, lovely, and worthy of praise. Heighten my awareness so that my thinking doesn’t unconsciously drift into the negative, limiting, and counterproductive patterns that ensnare so many.

Protect me from the temptation to complain, condemn, or focus on what’s wrong with things. Instead, elevate my thinking and open my eyes so that I see your presence in all situations. I want to appreciate the abundance that surrounds me and activate the joy that is hiding within me.

In Jesus’ name,


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another story

I love to hear how God is using the church to create a sense of home. Listen to one woman's story:

Pastor Chris – I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for allowing me the honor of being a part of the 10 year celebration. I felt God’s presence in a way that I haven’t experienced since moving to Vegas a year ago. When I began this journey of leaving my family, friends, and everything that I had known until that point I knew that God had a purpose. I didn’t really know what it was and am not yet 100% clear, but after listening to Ted talk about how for all things there is a season, I do know that I am in a new season of my life. I am very clear on the fact that coming to NCC is part of that season. As you know, I found the church from the sign out front. I did not now a single person at the church before coming. In just a few short months, this now feels like home. I have traveled back to Oklahoma many times in the year that I have lived here and always refer to those trips as “going home”. I have often wandered when those roles would reverse and flying back here would become the trip home. This Church has played a huge part in helping me make that transition.

I know that I tend to be introverted until I get comfortable with people, but I am very grateful for the numerous individuals who have gone out of their way to make me feel a part of the family here at NCC. A special thanks to both you and Michelle for all your kindness and love that you have so freely given to me. I am so thankful that God has allowed the two of you and so many others here at NCC to be part of the “special people” in my life for this current season that He has placed me in. I look forward to seeing many dreams unfold and being a part of all that God has in store for NCC in the coming days. It’s gonna be awesome!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

10 years of Joy!

Ten years ago Michelle and I packed everything we owned into a Ryder truck and moved to Las Vegas not knowing much more than we had been called by God to come and plant the church. God gave us a dream and you are that dream! I’m just sitting here this morning thinking about how full the last ten years of my life have been. Wow! Ten Years! When we moved here I told Michelle that we had to be willing to give at least ten years of our lives to the church and here we are. I am so thankful for all the people God has given us the priveledge of knowing and loving. My life is enriched with memories, experiences and growth. Thanks to all who have been a part of the journey so far. I look forward to more memories, more friendships, more character development, and a lot more fun along the way. I love this church!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Steal my own joy?

I am learning in a much deeper way that my own mind can be my greatest joy thief. Would you allow a thief to come into your home and stay? Why do so many of us allow thoughts that rob us of joy to persist in our minds when we can clearly choose to think differently?

The other day my wife and I sat before our day began and selected some “home base” thoughts that we wanted to think throughout our day. These thoughts were true and lovely and virtuous. As the day progressed there were plenty of things that sought to get me off track in my thinking. Critical, negative, even unbelieving thoughts sought to take up space and send me in an opposite direction than what I wanted to go. I had to re-take control all day long. Real discipline in thought is not easy, but it is profitable and peaceful.

Sometimes I feel like I am arguing with myself. I guess in a sense I am. Negative thinking corrupts your brain and triggers harmful mental states such as anxiety, moodiness, depression, and irritabilty. Unless I argue against these thoughts and replace them with better and higher thinking my life experience will be mostly negative. Most negative thinking patterns are simply bundles of lies that if examined could be exposed and replaced by true joy producing thoughts.

It will take time but I expect to think more joyful, hopeful, truthful thoughts from now on. I don’t want to steal my own joy by choosing to think incorrectly.