Gallery

What Are You Waiting For?

Shine PhotoIn Acts 22, Paul tells the story of what happened to him on the road to Damascus 13 chapters earlier. He tells how he saw a bright light and was blinded. He tells of hearing the voice of Jesus. He tells of meeting Ananias and receiving his sight. In verse 16, he explains what Ananias says needed to happen next, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” What are you waiting for?

For many people who stand on the verge of following Jesus, they need an Ananias to ask that question. For many more of us who have already taken that step, we need an Ananias to ask that question of us. In our Christian stories, the step of conversion is supposed to be the first step, not the last one. It is only the beginning of our new life, and like Paul, we need to tell the story. In his book, The Unchurched Next Door, Thom Rainer wrote that 8 out of 10 unchurched people in their survey would attend a church service if invited. The same survey found that only 2 out of 10 Christians invite someone to a church service each year. That’s right, only 2 out of 10 people are doing something that has the potential for an 80% success rate. Whether it’s in regard to telling the story, inviting someone to a church service or even just living out the example of Christ, the question of Ananias should be a reminder to us today. What are you waiting for?

Brian



Pressing On

Endurance PhotoIn Acts 21, Paul is gradually making his way to Jerusalem. Not everyone agrees that going to Jerusalem is a good idea for Paul. He stayed for a week in Tyre and was urged by the disciples there not to go to Jerusalem. His next stop was Ptolemais. He met the prophet, Agabus, there who “took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, ‘The Holy Spirit says, in this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” It was a vivid warning of what was to come and caused the people around him to beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul continued on anyway.

When I read a story like that, I am struck by Paul’s determination. I also can’t help but contrast it with the lack of determination by so many Christians today. We don’t fear for our lives. We might be uneasy about lesser challenges, but we do not fear imprisonment. We hesitate in the face of much less. I hope we can look at the example of Paul and find the courage to carry on. Like him, we have a mission to take the message of Jesus into our world.

Brian



Riding Off Into the Sunset

Son West PhotoMy grandfather loved westerns. He probably saw every movie John Wayne ever starred in, and he watched Gunsmoke reruns every night on TV. As a child, I remember several times seeing that last image of a western on that TV as someone would ride off into the sunset. It was a peaceful image and one the tied the story together.

As our SonWest Roundup VBS comes to a close, I hope that it will be a great memory for all the kids who attended. More than that, I pray it will be the beginning of a connection with God and his church for some of them. Because of the work of so many of you, these kids got to learn about how much God loves and cares for them, that he has a plan for them, that he has the power to see that plan through, that they can trust him in a world that can be untrustworthy and that ultimately they can find rescue in him. Through the stories of Moses and Jesus, we are reminded of those things too. Let’s all pray that we can find ways to continue a relationship with these families and that the love Jesus talked about can be evident in our lives. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)



Father’s Day

Fathers Day PhotoA year ago this weekend, Stacey and I landed at the Portland International Airport and drove south to Eugene. We sat in the Dairy Queen on Coburg Road and wondered what those of you reading this would be like and what God had in store for us during the weekend. We came to 2424 Norkenzie Road and met several of you for the first time. We shared a meal, took a tour of Eugene in the church van and spent an evening processing it all. The next morning I shared some thoughts with you about fathers in life and in scripture.

I told you then that I did not have a great earthly father, so Father’s Day was just another Sunday when I was growing up. Now that we have kids of our own, it has more meaning. As we look around at our church family, we see people who view this as a special day, people who view this as another Sunday, and people who can’t wait to get the day behind them. And like family, I hope we can be able to celebrate with those who do and to be understanding of those who do not. Most importantly, I hope we can all realize that it truly is our Father’s Day as we come together to worship We have a father who Paul describes like this in Galatians 4:4-6, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” That is a reason to celebrate!



Giving

Giving PhotoIn a discussion with the elders from the church at Ephesus, Paul brings up the importance of hard work and helping the weak. To drive his point home, Paul takes a moment to quote Jesus in Acts 20:35, “remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” This is the only place in the New Testament that these words of Jesus are mentioned. We don’t know the situation or the audience, but there is an undeniable truth to the idea.

There is something special about giving. I no longer have many of the gifts I’ve received over the years. Things break. They wear out. We outgrow them. But the times I’ve been able to give to someone else—those I remember. When we are able to help those in need, help fund that mission trip or do that extra kindness for someone, we get a great deal of joy from those moments of giving. God has wired into us the need to give. What are we doing with that? Do we give regularly? The church depends on it. The work of God’s kingdom in Eugene and around the world requires it. Those in need are desperate for it. Clearly Jesus thought it was both necessary and beneficial for the giver and the receiver. Unlike the value system of our world, the focus is not on the amount but on the attitude. Let’s all experience the blessings of giving this week.

Brian