Jesus loves me this I know. Debra Wants me this I know. My kids appreciate me this I know. My church encourages me this I know. My Life Group cares for me this I know. Everything else I know, I will share with you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Letter from PRob

Yesterday was a tough day for me.
Its not easy being that open in a judgemental world.
Often it only opens up more fears that depress.
I had a hard time getting away from my notes, it was too important to miss a thought, a truth.

But I am not alone as the hands raised testified.
They understood as they've been in the belly of the whale.

and I am thankful for them. Those who struggle with depression as I believe God saving them for a reason. They will be free one day. Free from the lies that lead us to run from God. Free from the hurts that push us away from men. Free to live a thriving life, free from that which takes life, freed by the one who gives it.

God gave me Love in Jesus, Life through Jesus, and is living in me as the Holy Spirit.

Do I struggle with depression still? Everyday.
My flesh wants to fight the truth of God.
I don't know why, but it does.
and so everyday I must choose to walk in the Spirit. hear His voice feel His love trust His leadership touch His people

I know many of you are still in the belly, just know, though it feels lonely in there, we are here for you, with you, Cheering you on to Freedom.

Just repent of the lie and you will see the light of day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Change Happens - The Final Chapter

I am fast approaching my 15th year as an ordained Pastor.
The Accident that motivated change in my life happened almost 9 years ago.
My Personal change occurred almost 4 years ago.
I began to lead the church differently 4 years ago as well.

Change Happens through Great Promises.

There was never a guarantee that what God was doing in my life would spread to others.That the Love that I felt from Him and wanted to share with others would work on a church scale.

I had never experienced a church like it. and its not like the church was a bad church, it just wasn't all it could be.

In November of 2007 God gave me the revelation I had been looking for.
It was the book of Nehemiah and His word was so clear.
Rebuild the walls in 52 days.

I spoke with a very close Pastor friend who told me that changing a church is like turning a ship, it takes time and can get stuck on a sand bar. Another told me that its easier to give birth than raise the dead.

And while I understand both points and I agree that there are some churches that the culture is so toxic that there is no way it would change but it would be best to let it die.

I didn't feel that way.
God would not let me leave town.
God would not free me from the bonds of this body.
and so four months after sitting on this series of messages, I started in believing that it was a God thing.

It was not easy, as friends, co laborers, even family left us.
Our attendance in 2010 was horrendous and the offerings hideous.
But I believed the Promises of God.
I believed that I we loved God and Loved Others everything else would fall into place.

and suddenly, others began to believe.
Many early adopters to change began to change themselves in 2008.
others took a little longer and began to change in 2009
while even others, maybe a little sceptical at what was happening, began to change themselves in 2010.

and suddenly, in December of 2010, God began to fulfill His promise bringing people to our church who wanted what we all wanted.
To love and be loved.
and today, not minimizing the people of our past who helped get us here, today, our church has changed.

We are newLife, and we are living a newLife, and we are bringing others to newLife in Christ.

But it never would have happened if people would not have believed the promises.
So while I am a day late in giving Thanks, Thank you for believing the promises of God.

and that through our experiences, others can have faith in them as well.

Change can happen in any church, but it starts with me and you.

and I feel like I've been Born Again (#2 on my Play list, Thanks Third Day)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Change Happens Part 3

Change happened in me through Great Pain (see post from 11/22)
Change happened in me through Great Prayer (see post from 11/23)

and change happened in me through Great Problems.

I know what could be a problem to great change in our lives?
The point is simple, but not easy.

When we Change we Change, others don't.
Through my great pain and my great prayer I was ready to live a different kind of Faith life.

I felt unloved, alone, and hopeless.
I knew what that felt like. I experienced the frustration from a Christian community that was more concerned with self than the suffering
and I vowed never ever, to purposefully allow someone to feel this if I could help it.
and the faith that I promoted, the Church that I pastored, the people who were supposed to be my friends.......... Didn't understand it.

Pastors, who didn't really care anyway, shunned my change or tried to guilt me into changing back.
Some Church members, who were more concerned with their Traditions, separated themselves from my change thinking that they were going to punish me by their leaving the church.

and this created great Problems.
I loved these Pastors
I loved these People
but I had to chose between them and Loving God.
And so I did.

This caused great problems in the church as many faithful members left the church.
Emotionally this was difficult as many who stayed, didn't understand their choices.
Financially this was difficult as many who left were wonderful faithful givers.
Relationally this was difficult because with a drop in attendance there is less ministry happening.

This caused great problems in the community as well because many of the former members in order to defend their choice had to demonize my change and choices for the church.

But Change never happens if Everyone and Everything Stays the same.
Every change in your own lives, will cause problems with those who are around you.
But when Change is necessary, the problems are inevitable.

But that's not all, check out tomorrows post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Change Happens Part 2

While pain is a great motivator to change, that change if its lasting, comes from the next step in change.

Through Much Prayer

But not your garden variety prayers like.....
God is great God is good let us thank Him for this food.
Dear God. mumble mumble, mumble sssssssssssssssssssssssssss
Dear Heavenly Father, At this present precious time of purposeful reflection upon the beauty of your majestic Holiness and the power of your purple mountains majesty, blah blah blah

My conversations with God started out with Great Commotion
I was Angry. Much of what I believed about God didn't add up.
People who said they were praying for me, never prayed WITH me.
God didn't seem to Care, Christians didn't seem to Care and yes I got angry.
     Where are you God?
     Why are you doing this to me?
     What did I not do? and what work do I need to do?
     Don't you see me God? Don't you care?
     Debra's Hurting every day Lord.
     She may not walk Again.
     Are you there?
     Where are those Christians who talk so much of Love?

Oh there were many more, things I am ashamed of that I said to God in my anger.

My Conversation changed to Great Crying
I am not ashamed to admit it.
But I spend many hours weeping over the pain.
I felt forsaken, I felt forgotten, I felt punished wrongly.
I had to watch my wife suffer in pain, my children suffer without her.
Why God?
Much of this time I sought a revelation.
and as the Third Day song says, I was trying to find my way, haven't got a clue, But I knew that I had nothing without You.

(This song has been played more than any other song in my I-Tunes and I cried through it even this morning)
I wanted to run, to leave this place of pain.
I even contemplated the benefits of death.

But I knew that I was wrong
and after a few years, yes years, my conversation changed to Great Conviction

One day, I don't even remember the day, but one day, Jesus came.
God came and let me know, He loved me.
God came to me in a time of prayer and spoke through the pain of my heart.
Though I yelled at Him, Though I contemplated leaving Him, Though I was unworthy of the God of the Heavens to take any time out of His life, God came to me.

And I saw how selfish I had been.
In the way I believed, in the way I worshipped, in the way I worked as a Pastor.

Standing before the Holy Father I was undone, I was uncovered.
and I repented.

Three years in the belly of the Whale, and through one act of Love by God, I was laying on the beach as He lovingly freed me from the bondage of the sin of my selfishness.

But there is another step to how change happens that I will share tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Change Happens Part 1

During our Sunday Morning pre-service meeting, one of our faithful servants spoke of a conversation they had with someone from another church who asked the question, "How do you change a church?" and so I thought I would answer that question.

Through Much Pain.
I know that the more spiritual will say it is through much Prayer but that's not how it started for us.
Pain is an amazing motivator to change and God uses it all the time.
For me it started with the pain of my wife's car accident.
We were taught not directly but indirectly, that if you did right things, right things would happen.
God blesses obedience, God honors faithfulness.

To us that meant that good things would happen. and then WHAM. Our world changed.
It was as if God had forsaken us. My God. The one to whom I believed would take care of His own was not. My faith, or at least my belief system was shaken.

From that accident and the fears we had believing that Debra would never walk well again, we had more pain. The people I had pastored, loved, cared for, ministered to, sacrificed for, were concerned but not necessarily caring. And to add insult to injury, my friends, Pastors that I called to encourage constantly, Men that I fellowshipped with, did little or nothing. The relationships that I thought were there to encourage my family through this difficult time, were non-existent. And if it was not for my brother Dave, the Ness family, the Guest Family, and Dale McGinnis we would have had nobody. Surrounded by people, The fruit of my love and life was loneliness.

And all of this pain, caused me to reexamine everything. James talked about pure religion being one of loving the lonely and Jesus said this about Christians and Pastors that you would know them by their fruit that it would be that of love.

and I looked around at my own life and did not like what I saw. My Faith was not producing Spiritual Fruit and my Family (Church and Pastoral Friends) were concerned by not caring. In fact many of them were very judgemental and still are.

It hurts to hurt and be surrounded by selfishness.
It hurts to hurt and be suffering in loneliness.
It hurts to hurt and be stagnated by cold Christianity.

and while I am not blaming anybody, what I am saying is that God used this great pain, to make a great change in me.

To be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop being selfish and focusing on my pain, when all around me people were suffering similar lives of loneliness.
To be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop suffering in loneliness and surround myself with people who know not only how to be loved but to love.
To  be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop stagnating myself with a cold emotionless Christianity and begin to see Jesus through the lens of His Grace and Love.

I could have been bitter
I could have walked away from God and the Church
I could have blamed Christianity and Pastors and my Parents

But by God's grace, He gave me a better way.
Change Me

Pain, Great Pain, Motivated Me to Change

and I am so thankful for that Pain.

Tomorrow, How Change Happens Part 2

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


You could........
...spend your day thinking about how bad life is
...spend your day dwelling on how messed up churches are
...spend your day believing that your right and everyone else is wrong
...spend your day focusing on what others are or are not doing


You can......
...spend your day thinking about how amazing life is with Jesus.
...spend your day dwelling on how you can make YOUR church better.
...spend your day believing that having grace is more godly than being judgemental.
...spend your day focusing on what God is doing in YOUR life.

I wonder what would give you a better day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What is your Business?

In the message Sunday I mentioned something that I was going to blog about, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.

I remember Anthony saying the word Brain Fart from the Platform. (For all of you who can't handle that I am sorry)

I remember how Khristie Dhalke Sang out with such beauty and passion. (She was behind me)

I remember Garth raising His hand in admission to being different and at times difficult.

But I do not remember my part.
and I think that there is a problem with this.

I wonder how different our life experience would be if we started paying more attention to how we act, think, and are, than we do about others.
Many of us have a problem remembering our sinfulness, but struggle to forget others.

People in Churches are notorious for judging others without judging themselves first.
Pastors Love to attack others, but never think that maybe their attack is as evil as those to whom they are attacking.

What if we were more concerned with remembering what we do?  Rather than dwelling on someone who wrongs us we dwell on how we deal with it. Rather than worrying about what someone else is doing we stay mindful on what we are doing.

Before Jesus left the earth for Heaven, He told Peter in John 21 to feed the Lords sheep.
Three times Jesus questioned Peters love and loyalty finally frustrating Peter to the Point of anger. Then, once Peter had finally stated that He loved Jesus and would serve Him, Peter says, what about John? To which Jesus replies to Him and us this morning.

"If its my will that He waits till I come, What is that to you? Follow Me!"

We would do well to remember our responsibilities, and worry less about others.

Have an Awesome Day


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Wake Up Call from Apple

Thanks to the many loving members of newLife I was a able to purchase an I-Pad to help with the Ministry. And amazing as it is, right out of the box, it doesn't work.
So after spending a few hours on the phone I have to return it.

That's not the problem.
It is Apples Arrogance.

One, that they would sell something so valuable that doesn't work, yet believe its the best on the market.
Two, that they would assume that waisting my time is the price I would pay to own their product.
and Three, that they would not be embarrassed and apologetic for their arrogance and change.

and it was a Wake Up Call.

We have the most valuable message in the world and believe its the best on the market.
We assume that the way we do church is so desirous by people that they would put up with poorly put together services, messages, and ministries because their members.
And rather than change to make the work we do Representative of the Value of the message, we arrogantly assume people just need to buy it.

I have no desire today to hammer on other ministries or to address other Pastors faults.

I as a Christian, have the most valuable message in the world. It is not just the best, but the Only Message that Saves men's souls from sin.
I as a Pastor, cannot assume to waist peoples time with a poor presentation of that message, but must study to shew myself approved, be bold in its delivery, and stay focused on the work at hand.
I as a Member of newLife, must desire excellence in all ministries as everything we do is reflective of that message.

I want people to believe in Jesus.
I want Jesus to be King in every home.
I want Jesus stickers to be on the back of every ones car.
I want people to want to come to church because Christ is Valued and so are they.

There are enough Arrogant Churches and Christians who like Apple assume that they are the best.
But the proof is in the service call.

Time for more change newLife. Its gonna be good

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When not being Lustful is difficult

When I was a younger man, if I saw something I wanted, I got it.
It didn't matter if I could afford it or not.
It didn't matter if I needed it or not.
If I saw it, and I wanted it, I got it.
It didn't matter what others said, not even God.
My flesh wanted it and wanted it so bad that it would go to any length to get it.

This is the Lust of the flesh in its most basic form.

But what happens when you don't allow the flesh to lead you?
How are decisions made?
I know I know your all going to say Pray about it and that is true, but there are some decisions that are difficult because there is no clear bible explanation and so the answer could easily come from what my flesh is telling me and not God.

and here is the Answer. Wait.
If your not clear in what you ought to do, wait. Don't do anything.

Most of the time if I wait, my flesh will change its desires leaving me a clearer understanding of God's definite leading.
I may make the same decision I would have before, but it will be without my sinful flesh leading the way. And even if I miss out on what I wanted, I am better off to miss a good deal than to be damaged by a bad one.

Wait, I know its hard, but wait.
Not all decisions are easy, but the hardest ones are the ones you've made wrong. Just ask anyone struggling with debt, felt the sting of divorce, or felt the pain of being dumb.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Even More Amazing

It just gets better!
Last night we met as a group of men to discuss our future and I was amazed at the great ideas and thoughts that came from them.
Not that I don't believe that we didn't have great men, but to see them in action is awesome.

Our future is bright newLife as long as God keeps sending us faithful men.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Amazing than I could imagine

Just when you think that God is doing Amazing things, they get more amazing.
In yesterday's post I spoke of some of the many volunteers in our church who willingly jumped at the chance to serve a family in their time of grief.
But I was even more shocked to see three of our men show up to serve as well.

All three of them took time off of work.
Took time off of work.
Took time off of work.
       In this Horrible Economy
       With their own families in need
       Without any question
Took time off of work to come and serve.

I know that I should not be shocked at this type of selflessness, but in an age where selfishness is a virtue, selflessness is of great value.

This all makes me wonder, what is God about to do in Astoria with these kinds of selfless servants running around?

I can't wait for Sunday to find out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Amazing Day in the Life

I can't say enough good about those who serve newLife and yesterday proved it once again. Let me explain.

One of our beloved members passed away this weekend.
Mary Dowell had been a faithful member for years but for the past couple has struggled with Alzheimer's and has not been able to attend. She went to be with the Lord on Saturday afternoon.
Praise God.

Yesterday we finalized the funeral for today. Yes you got it, for today, yesterday.

I needed a Pianist. Khayla Cave, though struggling with the early stages of pregnancy willingly volunteered.

I needed a Soloist. Christa Jasper, through a mother of young children and never singing the song before willingly volunteered.

I needed a Soundest. (a Sound man) Rick Lawrence, though working a full time job, willingly volunteered.

Without hesitation.
Without making excuses.
Without complaining.
They volunteered to serve others.

Amazed? Yes and no.
Yes, because for all three of them real sacrifice is involved.
No, because that's the heart of a people who have the heart of God.

Another Amazing Day with Amazing People serving an Amazing God

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Trick to this

Our neighbor Bob delivered this to us last night.
It was a treat.