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The Story: Christ’s Return

April 25, 2016
Around the Corner

Around the Corner

Location: Algonquin Road, Woodway, WA

  • The end of time has always caused a lot of anxiety, or at least a lot of questions. As humans, we all know that our time on earth is finite. I once heard it say that “life is a one way street with a dead end.” I find it depressing to think about life that way. One of my favorite sayings is from Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
  • Jesus taught us that we are not human beings with a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings with a human experience. Our life on earth is just that; when He calls us home, our spiritual life has merely begun.
  • The book of Revelations offers us a glimpse of what’s around the corner, just like a traffic mirror. But what we see is distorted by our own fears and preconceptions, and also because words simply cannot describe God’s reality. It’s like explaining a typewriter to a goldfish.
  • When we look in this mirror, we also get a distorted view of ourselves. On one hand we see only the flaws, mostly focusing on the things that went wrong. On the other hand we see things through pink glasses, easily pardoning our own transgressions because ‘there are so many people who have done things that are much worse than I have.’
  • At the end of time, none of this matters. It is not what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, or how successful we have been that means anything. The only thing that matters is that we accept God’s grace through our faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Each of us is the prodigal son, returning home.
  • AMEN.

 

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The Story: Paul’s Model

April 18, 2016
Look What I've Made!

Look What I’ve Made!

Location: Downtown Seattle from Beacon Hill

  • “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
  • The race I have found myself running for more than 40 years of my life consisted of praise, pride, and pretense. I would let no opportunity go by to praise myself and the wonderful things that I had done. And in more than one way was I proud of my accomplishments: proud of what I had done, but also boastful and arrogant. And I continued to pretend that it all had meaning, and that there was not a gaping hole in my soul that all the accolades still could not fill.
  • How things changed when I realized that it was not by my own merit that I was able to create something, and that I did not have to do anything to earn the acceptance or love of my Heavenly Father. I now do things because God has blessed me with the talents and opportunity to do what He needs me to do. The value of my works is no longer being measured by how “successful” it looks, but by how God’s grace is working through me. I cannot create anything that does not come from God. I no longer haveto do things to be blessed; I get to do things because I am blessed.

The Story: God uses Persecution

April 15, 2016
Fiery Expansion

Fiery Expansion

Location: Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

  • Last week we learned that God used persecution to spread the church. Saul was one of God’s tools, like a flow of lava consuming everything in its path.
  • But when the lava cools off, it becomes new land. And before you know it, roots are taking hold and the new land bears new fruit.

The Story: The Acts of the Holy Spirit

April 4, 2016
The Source of All Power and Light

The Source of All Power and Light

Location: PUD Substation 244th St. SW and 90th Ave. W

  • “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
  • When we think of power, we often think of people, companies, armies, countries, weapons. We may think of ideas, revolutions, movements. We may think of engines, tools, machines, big computers.
  • When we think of electricity, we may think of power. After all, it is called the power grid 🙂 But what is the REAL power in this picture? Is it the invisible electricity? The megawatts of energy pumping through our society’s copper veins?
  • Could we interrupt the power of electricity if we wanted to? Of course we could. It even happens when we don’t want it to… all it takes is a 40 mph windstorm and we are back in the dark.
  • The real power in this picture is the power that enables us to see it in the first place: the light of the sun! Imagine trying to stop the sun from shining… not that’s a different story! If it is of God, you will not be able to stop it; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
  • Jesus empowered a small group of His most loyal followers to further spread His light throughout the earth. They looked small and insignificant, and far away. But their warmth and light was fed by the only source of power that is everlasting.

The Story: Seeing the Resurrected One

March 28, 2016
Walk to Emmaus - 21st Century Style

Walk to Emmaus – 21st Century Style

Location: Edmonds – Kingston Ferry

Christ is risen. Hallelujah! We know that now, but at the time when it happened there was much turmoil and confusion. We all know the story of the resurrection and the main players in that story: the women finding the empty grave, the angels, the disciples, and of course Jesus Himself. Of course, the walk to Emmaus is only part of this story. But let’s go on a modern day Walk to Emmaus:

We have heard that Jesus is risen, but we haven’t seen it with our own eyes. We want to believe it, but there is this nagging doubt. Those we come in contact with may not know what has happened. We are on unstable terrain out of fear of being ridiculed and the politically correct way in the Pacific Northwest is not discuss matters of religion. So as we cross the Puget Sound (approx. 7 miles, just like the distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus), we stick to our routines: we stay in our cars, or go up to the passenger deck to read the newspaper and have a latte. If we talk to anyone at all, we talk about the weather, spring training, the Seahawks, the view… anything but Jesus.

As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me that the two people walking to Emmaus experienced firsthand that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20). In this case it was Jesus Himself in His resurrected body, opening the eyes of His fellow-travelers to the truth that He is risen. And in my own experience, I have come to trust that God is with us when we meet in His name. Of course in church, but also in our small discussion groups, and especially when having lunch with a dear friend discussing how God is working in our own lives.

What does it take to turn our modern day Ferry to Kingston into a Walk to Emmaus, openly discussing the only thing that really matters (Jesus is risen!), feelings God’s presence, and helping others open their eyes and hearts to overcome their doubts?

Christ is risen. Hallelujah!

March to the Cross

March 14, 2016
Human Concerns

Human Concerns

Location: ER, Swedish Hospital, Edmonds

  • In this week’s chapter, Jesus refers to Himself in the 3rd person when He describes what will happen: “They will kill him, and after three days he will rise” and “They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him.” Unbelievably, He is at peace with the events He knows will unfold with incredible pain and suffering on His part.
  • When Jesus describes how He will suffer, it is almost as if He distances himself from the pain. He is like the ER doctor who treats the victim of a car wreck. To the patient, this is a shocking situation and the pain needs to be stopped! NOW! I AM HURTING! But the doctors are trained to do this, and while giving it their very best there is little emotional involvement. Imagine what would happen if the doctors would be as stunned and disoriented as the patients!
  • Jesus is like the emergency room doctor… but in this case He Himself is the patient!
  • As far as I know, Jesus asked only once if His suffering could be avoided: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)
  • Human concerns are about personal wellbeing, the absence and avoidance of pain. What Jesus has in mind are the concerns of God.
  • “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

The Story: Jesus’ Ministry Begins

February 29, 2016
Follow Me

Follow Me

Location: Downtown Seattle, Financial District

At the base of the Columbia tower, just feet away from one of the most famous restaurants in the Northwest, mere blocks from the headquarters of one of the richest men on earth, and down the street from the home of the 12th Man… If Jesus were to begin His ministry today in Seattle, where would He start? And whom would He ask to follow Him?