Children’s Festival was great!

Wow! what a great first children’s festival we had today, raising money for the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, and just lovin’ on kids. I’m so proud of all the FGCC folks who made it possible, and even some friends and family who came and helped out. AND, thanks to our supporters and vendors, to Mr. Heath, and especially to all the families who came to enjoy a great day here at FGCC. Yeah God!

Children's Festival was great!

Wow! what a great first children’s festival we had today, raising money for the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, and just lovin’ on kids. I’m so proud of all the FGCC folks who made it possible, and even some friends and family who came and helped out. AND, thanks to our supporters and vendors, to Mr. Heath, and especially to all the families who came to enjoy a great day here at FGCC. Yeah God!

“Show us the Father,… that will be enough…”

Sermon for 5/6

John 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


What Phillip asked does not seem, perhaps, such a strange thing. I love the way it is phrased here in the NIV translation “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” That’s all we ask for, Jesus. Just show us the great God of gods and Lord of lords, Maker of heaven and earth. That’s all…that will be enough!
In what ways are our attitudes similar to that of Phillip here? How do the cultures around us take up this question?

And then there is Jesus, who basically says, “You have no idea what an enormous thing you ask, and yet, that is exactly what I will do for you. And anything else you ask for along those lines in my name, I will do for you.”
Just what does it mean for us to “ask anything in [his] name”?

What are we doing when we ask to see God? The chorus to one contemporary Christian song proclaims, “God of wonders, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy. The universe declares your majesty, you are holy, holy.” (Third Day)

Phillip’s request seems so straight forward. We are surrounded by people who in various ways talk about “seeking God” or “wanting to know God” – the same thing that Phillip seeks. But if we stop for a moment and think back on Israel’s proclamation of who God is, we are reminded that God is fierce and holy, that “no one can look upon the face of God and live.” (Ex 33:20) This same God spun the galaxies like so much cotton candy floating through the air. This same God chose this special people for himself, called them out of slavery and gave them a land of blessing and loved them as his own. (Deut 4:32-40).

And Phillip says, “Show us God…that’s all.” Remember what happened the day that Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple? (Isaiah 6)
1 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. 3 In a great chorus they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4 The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!”


Fear and trembling overtook him – and he knew nothing except his own depravity in the midst of a depraved people…

So how is it that we presume to seek God at all? How is it that we dare to think that if God is anyone worthy of worship, that we could bear to stand in God’s presence or even to look upon God, and live?

But we do, because perhaps we are wired to do so. In the creation story, we read that God formed the human from the material of the earth, (so we are part of and one with creation) and then breathed divine breath into the human. Perhaps, our seeking after God is connected to that proclamation from Genesis – that we long to return to the one who has made us, has given us life.

And Jesus does a curious thing – unique, I think, in world religions. Jesus does not here say, “Let me teach you about God.” But rather, “You have seen me . . . you have seen God.”

And what do they see, when they see Jesus? One who has power, for sure, yet uses that power only to serve others – never to claim any rights for himself. One who just before this dialogue WASHED THEIR FEET! Can you imagine, President Bush, or Queen Elizabeth, turning to the folks working with them and serving in that way? Our society is not built like that – we serve up, not down, in most organizations. Yet Jesus breaks all those conventions, and shows us a new way to live in relationship, and then tells us that through this, he has shown us the Father.

And then Jesus moves to bless them again, by offering them power ‘in [his] name.” What does that mean, that anything we ask for in Jesus’ name, he will give us? What does it mean to ask for something in someone’s name?

And another related idea comes in the next chapter, when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Let’s jump back to Isaiah 6 again briefly. The next few verses that follow our earlier passage:
6 Then one of the seraphim flew over to the altar, and he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?”And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

When Isaiah encounters the Lord, and responds in humility, the Lord cleanses & heals him, and then commissions Isaiah for service. Likewise Jesus is here calling the disciples to service, offering them cleansing and healing. Isaiah will go in the name of G_D to proclaim the divine WORD.

We are called by Jesus to do the same, in His name, which, he tells us, is the same thing.

What is Jesus calling you to do and proclaim in His name? How would entering fully into this story change the way you live your life, your relationships with people, posessions and power? Will you love one another, so that the world may know that you are His disciples? When you show them Jesus, you are showing them the Father.

"Show us the Father,… that will be enough…"

Sermon for 5/6

John 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


What Phillip asked does not seem, perhaps, such a strange thing. I love the way it is phrased here in the NIV translation “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” That’s all we ask for, Jesus. Just show us the great God of gods and Lord of lords, Maker of heaven and earth. That’s all…that will be enough!
In what ways are our attitudes similar to that of Phillip here? How do the cultures around us take up this question?

And then there is Jesus, who basically says, “You have no idea what an enormous thing you ask, and yet, that is exactly what I will do for you. And anything else you ask for along those lines in my name, I will do for you.”
Just what does it mean for us to “ask anything in [his] name”?

What are we doing when we ask to see God? The chorus to one contemporary Christian song proclaims, “God of wonders, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy. The universe declares your majesty, you are holy, holy.” (Third Day)

Phillip’s request seems so straight forward. We are surrounded by people who in various ways talk about “seeking God” or “wanting to know God” – the same thing that Phillip seeks. But if we stop for a moment and think back on Israel’s proclamation of who God is, we are reminded that God is fierce and holy, that “no one can look upon the face of God and live.” (Ex 33:20) This same God spun the galaxies like so much cotton candy floating through the air. This same God chose this special people for himself, called them out of slavery and gave them a land of blessing and loved them as his own. (Deut 4:32-40).

And Phillip says, “Show us God…that’s all.” Remember what happened the day that Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple? (Isaiah 6)
1 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. 3 In a great chorus they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4 The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!”


Fear and trembling overtook him – and he knew nothing except his own depravity in the midst of a depraved people…

So how is it that we presume to seek God at all? How is it that we dare to think that if God is anyone worthy of worship, that we could bear to stand in God’s presence or even to look upon God, and live?

But we do, because perhaps we are wired to do so. In the creation story, we read that God formed the human from the material of the earth, (so we are part of and one with creation) and then breathed divine breath into the human. Perhaps, our seeking after God is connected to that proclamation from Genesis – that we long to return to the one who has made us, has given us life.

And Jesus does a curious thing – unique, I think, in world religions. Jesus does not here say, “Let me teach you about God.” But rather, “You have seen me . . . you have seen God.”

And what do they see, when they see Jesus? One who has power, for sure, yet uses that power only to serve others – never to claim any rights for himself. One who just before this dialogue WASHED THEIR FEET! Can you imagine, President Bush, or Queen Elizabeth, turning to the folks working with them and serving in that way? Our society is not built like that – we serve up, not down, in most organizations. Yet Jesus breaks all those conventions, and shows us a new way to live in relationship, and then tells us that through this, he has shown us the Father.

And then Jesus moves to bless them again, by offering them power ‘in [his] name.” What does that mean, that anything we ask for in Jesus’ name, he will give us? What does it mean to ask for something in someone’s name?

And another related idea comes in the next chapter, when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Let’s jump back to Isaiah 6 again briefly. The next few verses that follow our earlier passage:
6 Then one of the seraphim flew over to the altar, and he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?”And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

When Isaiah encounters the Lord, and responds in humility, the Lord cleanses & heals him, and then commissions Isaiah for service. Likewise Jesus is here calling the disciples to service, offering them cleansing and healing. Isaiah will go in the name of G_D to proclaim the di
vine WORD.


We are called by Jesus to do the same, in His name, which, he tells us, is the same thing.

What is Jesus calling you to do and proclaim in His name? How would entering fully into this story change the way you live your life, your relationships with people, posessions and power? Will you love one another, so that the world may know that you are His disciples? When you show them Jesus, you are showing them the Father.

Faith in Action

(Prompted by an email about Faith in Action)
For 2007, Forest Grove Christian Church accepted a challenge from our Elders given in November 2006 – Set three areas as priorities for the year – Ministry with youth; Visitor attraction and retention; and Active outreach. Living into these priorities, the congregation has agreed to spend over $15000 from Savings during 2007 to fund Evangelism, Youth Ministry, Vacation Bible School, Charity Concerts, and a Youth Ministry Internship. These have been bold steps, which I celebrate.

I do have a concern though, as I look at my ministry, and that of our congregation. As our Ministry Council and Staff work to develop programs that advance those priorities and move FGCC deeper into the will of God for this congregation, my concern is that we risk leaving folks behind. A congregation will be transformed – this congregation will be transformed – only to the degree that its people are transformed. And transformation is a work of the heart, not the wallet or the calendar. The wallet and calendar will follow, in the long run, the inclinations of the heart.

I believe that God through Christ calls us to a new life – and that new life is not simply one where we avoid a prescribed list of ‘sins’. That life is one which is radically and inextricably linked to Jesus as Lord. Everything I think, say, do, all that I am becomes an outgrowth of my walk with Jesus. And this will result in our giving with reckless abandon and radical generosity of our resources: time, talent, treasure. But the goal is transformed lives. Jesus’ own goal is that we might have such an experience of the grace of God that rather than continually having to come to the well to draw water, that our lives themselves would become springs of living water from which others might drink. Rather than needing to be ‘in church’ each week so that we can get ‘recharged’ our lives become church as we go out into the world, or as we come together as the Body of Christ, so that others receive the nourishing of the Holy Spirit through us. We take Christ to the world, because He lives in us – even more, because He is our life! (1 John 5:20). After all, Jesus himself said, “I have come so that you may have life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10). His desire is not that we live on a spiritual subsistence diet, but that we have abundant life, and then that we be channels of that life to those He came to save.
What will you and I need to do in order to become the people Jesus needs and wants us to be so that He can accomplish his purposes in our lives and through us to the world? What will we need to cease doing – things of the flesh which lead to corruption, or simply neutral things which distract us subtly from His best for us? Where does my ministry as Jesus’ disciple end and my ‘normal’ life begin?
Yes, that’s a false question – a trap! Yet, isn’t it how so many of us live? Or I should confess rather than accuse – It is how I live much of my life. I want a new life. I want a life that is free to pour out grace and mercy without regard for the consequences. I want a life that is able to convey to others the great peace and joy that I have because of Jesus. I want a life that makes a difference for others, that brings healing to the broken-hearted – the Healing of Jesus. I see so much heartache around me – in my family, in the church, even here at Forest Grove. So many people are broken and hurting – and many of us at our own hands. We suffer the curse of our own prosperity, our own success, or the cultural curse that what I want is really what matters most.
Where did we ever get that lie, that what I want is what matters most? That my own personal needs are superior to the needs of family, community, world? Or that my desires trump the will of God – even that what God really wants for my life is just to for me to be happy – on my own terms?
Yes, God wants us to have abundant life – a life marked by Joy, Peace, Contentment, Faith, Hope, Love; a life overflowing with the bountiful fruits of the spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control. And that is just the point – these qualities, attributes, or whatever we would call them, are fruit of the Holy Spirit – they are the outgrowth of the tender nurture and care of the fragile seeds planted in our lives by God.
The longer I am a Christian, and the longer I am a pastor, the more convinced I am that life is simple, that the simple questions are the ones that matter, and that most of the rest is stuff I bring upon myself. My friends in recovery have a way of saying it for themselves that makes such sense, “What do I have to do today to not drink?” A simple question, with simple (though not easy) answers. And for me the question is similar, “What do I have to do today to be faithful to Jesus?” There is a lot in my life that calls me elsewhere. How do I nurture the voice of Jesus in my life so it is the loudest, strongest, and clearest – so that Jesus gets control of my life today?
And frankly, I want to be either with people who love Jesus that way too, and are asking those same questions and “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). OR, I want to be with people who have no time for God at all. I think I understand what John heard when he then wrote, “15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3) The most frustrating are those who think they are following Jesus, when in reality they have created or bought a cardboard Jesus like a Movie Theatre Lobby prop – there may be a similarity, but its very thin, and has no power or life in it and can do nothing for you – except that if someone saw you in just the right picture, taken at just the right angle, they might think Jesus was really with you.
Jesus wants to see faith in action and so do I, in my own life and in the lives of those around me. And I want to invest in those who are seeking to put faith into action, or those who are longing for that but don’t know where to begin.