Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Elevation is a gift.


I sit here at the counter of my virtual office in Burger King at the intersection of Highway 49 and Bell Road in Auburn CA recalling the past four years of Elevation Christmas seasons. That's right, Elevation has seen four Christmas seasons come and eventually go by. I know that each year is a gift and each year has special moments through-out. The question that was on my mind is, 'why is Elevation a gift?'

For starters, salvation. First converts to Christ back in the Spring of 2006, disciples coming forward to be publicly baptised for their faith in Jesus, marriages restored, new friendships made, social justice both locally and nationally met. Individuals and small groups of people at Elevation set to both national and international mission projects and trips. A lot of movement, mission, and memories that flood my heart. Along with those great lights of achievement are some low lights; difficult finances, friends leaving, leadership lacking in ministry areas, and misunderstood vision conflicts. However; with some bumpy moments, the gift of Elevation Church being born is a tremendous gift for many.

A gift because of Jesus: The reality is that Jesus raises and closes the church. He calls, saves, and establishes His will in the hearts of His people and Elevation has been established by Jesus. Sure their is a birth of planting the church in my heart, but it can't be held by me alone or sustained by me alone. This again is the beautiful gift of Jesus and His gift of salvation and mission. We get to make much of Jesus and He gets to be the lead Shepherd and Overseer of our faith being worked out in community at Elevation. The gift of Elevation is because the gift of Jesus.

A gift of ministry: Elevation has been a gift of ministry to one another. The service that is extended to each other, by a meal served when sick or recovering, a word spoken when down or confused, and a work achieved when using the gifts that God gives His disciples so that His will would be done, and glory would be brought to His name.

A gift of mission: The bottom line for Elevation from day one is to lift up the gospel. This mission takes on many faces. It can be seen in collectively feeding the working poor and homeless in the Sierra Foothills. It can be seen in sports programs and pick-up basketball games. It can be seen in raising support to send people overseas to spread the gospel to impoverished communities in Africa. It can be seen in helping start churches locally, nationally, and internationally. It can be seen in Life Groups seeing a need and meeting the need without red-tape and committees being stalled in. It can be seen in the stories of individuals who take with them the gospel into the work-place, school-place, relationship-place, sharing why Jesus is the way, truth, and life.

Why is Elevation a gift? Because of Jesus. No better time then Christmas when thinking, feeling, and knowing that the gift of Jesus is going all around the world again. My hope is you see Elevation as a gift. Whether you are in community at Elevation, looking-in from the outside, or following from afar, that this church is a gift to pray for, serve in, and give too. We still have much to see God do, and I look forward to a new year for Elevation to lift up the gospel in the Sierra Foothills and beyond. Will you join me in celebrating the gift of Jesus, and the gift of His church at Elevation?


Hidden Behind the Cross;

Pastor Eric Van Patten

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gripped by fear

"What I have come to realize is people are gripped with fear." This coming from a guy who I met that was seeing what the enemy really wants us to keep going--fear! He had been in relationships under fear, worked at jobs motivated by fear, and looked forward in life with a certain amount of fear. Though he has identified the problem and has used a few tools to help deal with fears, he has not yet met the perfect love of the gospel that addresses the fears of all humanity. This profound disclosure with a new found man in my community, that I hope to help and show perfect love to, was just a further confirmation of continuing in sowing the gospel. People are gripped with fear, and yet there is a real Savior and Lord who wants to not only address fears, but bring peace from the fears everyone has; giving those saved by Jesus agreeing with Paul's words in Romans, "for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. May you stay "in" Christ and be no longer gripped by fear.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pastor Dad


For all those who claim that Pastors are not genuine fathers, take a look into this resource. Fellas remember, you will give account on what you do with your shepherding. Be honored to be called 'pastor' within your home and do right by it. download Mark Driscoll's Pastor Dad at http://relit.org/pastordad/ enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Threads of mission


Be mindful that you are a thread. This was driven home in my heart this weekend as I was in Denver CO, chillin with missionary appointees. Meeting over 100 commissioned missionaries all around the US and Canada. Sweet. The thread was Jesus, and the common mission was to make Jesus famous. We live in a culture that wants fame for itself, and it made me even more mindful of one of the coolest church planters song about the paradox of the gospel mission and it's threads in the song called, "Everything is Backwards" by Michael Clary. Take a listen and if you are part of the royal priesthood, welcome to the thread of mission in your time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Valley Living

"We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle," Oswald Chambers. Do you crave to be on the mountain with God? When you have been on the mount, do you wish that is where you could stay? In reflecting upon todays entry from Oswald Chambers, I find myself disappointed when my mountain tops with God are not like the valley below. However, we who have been saved by God's grace are brought to the valley to be the light on the mountain. That light is Christ and the valley is our context. God gives us times of exaltation, but places us in the midst of His mission in the valley. To be holy in the valley of life is to be useful for God's glory and our character in God. May you not wish to be always on the mountain where God would seem closest, but may you and I seek GodN in Christ in the daily valleys of our faith. This will make much of Jesus and give opportunity to bring light into darkness. The moments on mountain tops are rare, but valley living is common. Bring that rare relationship to the common culture of the valley.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Call to Prayer over tension in Iran


I'm a bit troubled. Was up early this morning and spent some time reading and reflecting on Jesus. That is always good; however what has me a little concerned is the state of international affairs with the country of Iran. Coming off of summit talks and usual discussion of "how can we all get along" speeches, aggressive missile development within Iran continues. Now, I think that countries ought to develop it's military, and certainly have plans of protection for it's boarders. But this tension with Iran is serious. They are a proud people who have a real patriotism toward their goals. The tension that exists is within this countries administration to apply the right action and attitude toward this radical situation. That is why I would like you to take this week and pray to the Lord for this situation. I'm not asking to draw lines around party agendas but simply pray to the Lord about these governments, to whom the Lord has both sovereignty and oversight. Much could be on the line in the days ahead, and if the body of Christ seeks the Lord, we can have a clear heart to continue to witness and proclaim the Lord's will, even in international affairs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Been awhile...

Ever notice how long you can go without being noticed. Well, it has been a while since my last blog and so I wanted to let you know that I'm alive and kickin. Life has been busy with a new baby on the way and transition of location for Elevation Church, but I'm excited about a series of blogs that I will be rollin out to you all this week called "Blood Theology." It will be the fascination that our culture has with blood and its use in media in contrast to its use in scripture. So, stay tuned. Until then, keep looking to Jesus...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

God and Dog


As usual I was minding my own business; well, maybe not completely. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a mid-twenty something car full of adults passing me on highway 49 in my nor cal region. On the car was a bummer sticker that said DOG. I knew what this was all about; and so I pondered what DOG had to do with GOD. The first thing that came to mind was loyal. God is loyal. The second was comforting, and God is certainly that too. The third was a picture of an old Rhodesian Ridgeback that my family had owed a couple years back, and the fear that dog could strike in the hearts of men, who for no other reason were careless to stumble upon the protective nature of this awe inspiriting lion killing dog. I thought, was this the type of dog they thought about or more like the sissy Yorkie dog that could be controlled and walked on? If God is to the lost a dog, look out for the bite that comes when they find out God is much bigger than a play on His name.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Fund of IMF


“The IMF is central to this endeavor and all of us have a stake in the role of the Fund in
orchestrating the road to recovery. The Fund’s capacity to deliver is ultimately connected to how much and how soon we empower it with resources, better governance, greater
accountability and a redefined mandate that keeps pace with the requirements of the
changing world,” Statement by Mr. Duvvuri Subbarao, Alternate Governor,
Home Minister Government of India, Ministry of Finance, India.

I know it is hard all over the world and in one sense it has always been a crisis to crisis world. In short, it is living in a fallen world that needs a redeemer. The IMF is posing as that redeemer. The full article is located at this link; http://www.imf.org/External/spring/2009/imfc/statement/eng/ind.pdf and you can read it yourself.

What I got out of it was that we are in a mess, not just locally, but globally. That money, loans, investments, and promissory notes have failed. The reoccurring word is ‘reform,’ and that our systems need to be challenged and changed to meet the demands of a broken system of economy. I agree, we need to be about reform, and certainly see the need for that in the many lives I minister too that have lost jobs, or about to get the hammer dropped on their company. I see it in local shops and businesses having to slim down or shut down all together. Lives have been affected for sure. What I do see in a letter like this is the one world economy. It shows the shadows of something that is just another step closer to control. I’m certainly only skimming the surface here, but the way I read my Bible is that the further we get away from the ascension of Jesus, the closer we get to his return. Articles like this one and the authorities that write them confirm the fact that time is ticking down.

So what is necessary? Reform. The same word that many leaders are saying is the very word that needs to be applied to hearts of mankind toward the Gospel of Jesus. To realize that the totality of government rests on His shoulders is a reforming thought and those who have been saved by His grace can certainly testify to his authority in and over all things. So as you look around, keep a watchful eye on the Lord. He is not devoid of our decisions. In fact he will ultimately have His glory in spite of them. Looking to Jesus. The author and reformer of my faith and life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Missed Flights


So, here I sit at Sacramento International Airport. Why am I sitting rather than flying off into the wild blue yonder? Because I missed my previous flight. This comes as no surprise for the friends and family that really know me. I could say traffic was heavy, I had way to many errands to run, my kids held me up; however, these are all excuses good for one thing; to provide an excuse. What is comforting in all this is the opportunity to write this to you before I catch the next flight.

I stepped up to the ticket counter and told them my plight and walla, I had the next flight reserved. It was a bit embarrassing and will be an adjustment for the family that was picking me up at my destination; however, by God's grace I got another chance. Why do I say by God's grace? Because I believe this is what God has done on my behalf. He has given me a second chance. We need to know that. God is all about taking our excuses and turning them into a journey with Him. I could have turned around once I knew I would have missed my flight, I could have got all upset at the missed flight, I could have slipped into deep depression over missing the flight, but by God's Grace I got another chance.

Now let me make another point here, I don't want to make a habit of missing flights, anymore than I want to cheapen God's Grace. This is what Paul the Apostle was saying to the first century Christians in Rome about God's Grace. We cannot earn it, and God gives it through His son Jesus Christ, and once we receive it, we don't want to make it cheap with a poor example of God in me. So, though I get to write you a confermation of making another flight that I missed, I want to still be good about making the next one. That is why I'm sitting right in front of the boarding gate. A gift to make the flight, and the responsibility to keep myself on time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Celebration of 3 years!


Just three years ago a group of disciples thought it possible to be a gospel minded, disciple driven, grace living church. We started in a living room with dreams and passion, and it has not let up to this day. On Sunday the 5th of April we had a wonderful gathering of breakfast, balloons, and big stories of how God is moving among His people in the Sierra Foothills of Auburn and it's surrounding communities.

I'm thankful to be it's planter. A few things come to mind that I want to reflect upon in this blog post. First, it takes a group of people to gather for a church. What this means is being part of tribe of people committed not to planting a church but to the gospel that saves them. This comes to unfold gifts, talents, passions, and interests for the Gospel. Out of that comes a willingness to plant a church. This obviously means gathering publicly and making much of Jesus and gathering locally in community groups to make much of Jesus. Second, not everyone will want to make the journey. I feel very called to plant Elevation and hope that Elevation Church will be a catalyst to plant more Gospel/Mission minded churches. However, not everyone is called to do that. Discerning who is on board and encouraging them to share temperaments, talents, treasures, and time is a continual process. This means the work of planting is really never over. Gathering people around the Gospel is continuous. Lastly, my family, especially my wife have been such a blessing and inspiration to this call and journey within these last 3 years, that without them I'm not sure how successful things would be. I know that God can do anything, however, pastoring my family first and being encouraged by the results of that in light of planting Elevation has been a confirmation of God's grace.

I look forward to run the race that God has called me too. Doing it with God's strength, integrity, and focus. This last three years have been tremendous. So to all who have had a part in the journey with Elevation, I thank you and look ahead to God's will being done in Elevation Church. Elevating the Gospel and making disciples who will live as missionaries in their culture. Love you...Pastor Eric Van Patten

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The angst of anxiety

That late 90's song "Don't worry be happy" just makes me sick. It just makes the issues of my everyday life seem trivial and unnecessary to worry about. It makes the end goal of being happy the solvent of all my issues and problems. But my life and most likely yours too, life is not just a state of "just be happy." When I have been at the bedside of a man dying of cancer or at the memorial of a grieving family, or counseling a person who is trying to make sense of their marriage breaking apart after 20 years; I don't simply play that silly little jiggle. So what can I do? For myself, and to help others? Well I think the Bible again offers good news (gospel) to that question.
First off Jesus spoke about anxiety. He preached it in a sermon found in Matthew's gospel account. Chapter 6 has Jesus asking the big question of whether anxiety can add more time to your life? The obvious answer is no. However, I tend to think many folks hope it does. Because behind much of anxiety is control and power. When we are out of control or not in the power seat of life we can have an overwhelming feeling of being anxious. I think Jesus knew this about our need for control and even was being tempted to be anxious about life in general with a previous temptation story in Matthew 4. Jesus knows our needs and wants and desires. He knows we can focus hard on the things of this world to satisfy our life and the need to want more. We can get worn down and seek after a kingdom of this world and loose sight of God's kingdom. That is why I think he gives a refocus on kingdom perspectives. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." As a Christ follower, I'm not immune to being anxious, but I can do something about it. I can be rightly concerned with God's kingdom and this will place a real contentment for my anxiety. This real effort is a term called "casting." and again the Bible confirms this effort by saying, "casting all your anxieties on him (Jesus) because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7.
This is more than a mental assent of thinking happy thoughts, but a whole life effort of redirecting our trust in Jesus, who can sympathize with our worries, yet kept his obedience in check to the provision of God the Father and His timing to life's situations. So instead of singing a silly song about being happy and really not dealing with the core issues of anxiety, maybe we can sing an old hymn of truth about God's dealing with us in anxiety; "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stress is strength?


Often I have been told we need to get rid of stress, and certainly we have tried as a culture to perfect many ways to alleviate stress from our lives. From medication to gadgets to media. However a recent article from a culture website called Very Short List, disclosed a study that a bit of stress might be good for you after all. Researchers say it can even keep you young. Well you can read more about it and even go to the extended link yourself. The article below...

(Doctors and scientists have told us that stress causes heart disease, stomach cancer, and other assorted ailments. But according to scientists at Northwestern University, a little stress can actually be good for you.
When cells are exposed to a stressor such as heat, they initiate a biochemical cascade that aims to limit the damage. A key element of this “heat shock” response is the repair of proteins that have been misfolded or injured — a process that extends the life span of the cells and thus the organism. And so, certain forms of stress (calorically restricted diets, a few long days at the office) may be healthy: They’re too mild to cause serious harm but significant enough to trigger the repair mechanism. The secret, then, isn’t avoiding stress entirely — it’s finding ways to make sure the stress isn’t chronic. )...http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/41044/title/Antiaging__A_little_stress_may_keep_cells_youthful

Of course I think the Bible has already spoken to the issue in James chapter one, when the writer says to followers of Christ, to consider it pure joy when you face trails of many kinds. That certainly includes stressful situations. The end result is not wanting more stress, but character that reflects the nature of Jesus and brings God glory. Maybe we can look more into the scriptures to see some of lifes real issues addressed too. Have a day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Calvinism with conscience


I'm a Calvinist. Now that is off my chest, I also want to say that reformed approaches to the Bible can lend a stale approaches to actively living in the Spirit. However, I think that if I'm reading the Bible through the eyes of the Gospel of Jesus, than I have a privilege to keep in step with the Spirit.

The means of my salvation is certainly and most assuredly in the perfect work of Christ, but my continual cooperation with that work started in me is daily and a willing submission to the Spirit in me. Douglas Moo, commentator to the New Testament letter of Romans says of this tension of being saved and acting saved like this, "Security without responsibility breeds passivity; but responsibility without security leads to anxiety."

Both places are not good to be in exclusively. However, the wonderful aspect of being in Christ or in the Spirit (which is really one in the same) is "There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1. This is security. And, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live," Romans 8:13, this is responsibility.

Someone who says he or she is a follower of Jesus and does not put their lives under daily review of his or her behaviors and beliefs is prone to become passive to the Spirit of God, and the one who is always trying to make themselves right through rituals of behavior modification and belief in a 'better you, ' is subject to anxiety. Thanks be to Jesus who navigates the way. More to come in future posts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rhythms of Redemption


Tonight was a resurgence of redemption at Beach Hut deli in Auburn CA. I have always enjoyed good music and tonight Speak With Love hosted a show with two talented artist that took their art for music to the public in a non-threatening rhythm. The stage is being set to be an incarnational work of the gospel in public places. So wonderful to be on the ground floor in this movement to bring the gospel into culture where people live and relate. Beach Hut is a superb sandwich shop that has a very cool sand and surf theme. They serve up a great sandwich and drinks, along with passionate live music that points to the gospel and you have the ingredients for a redemptive work. Now all my missionary friends at Elevation need to do is let God be God and draw his own to an understanding of His grace because we spoke with love tonight in a deli shop in Auburn CA. For more on Speak With Love...visit them on Facebook, or go to http://www.speakwithlove.org/

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Visiting Museuma vs. Living Movements

I don't know about you, but museums kind of scare me. Don't touch, stay behind the rope lines, spotless brass rails. You know what I'm talking about. So clean that you could eat off the bathroom floors. Not that I have tried mind you. They hold artifacts, relics, and valuables of the past. They are certainly interesting places to visit, but living in them is not all that "real." You pay some cash and go visit them.

This is what unfortunately the church can become. They can turn into museums that people visit and deposit cash into. They hold things, and recount the past with pictures to prove it down the halls of the building. Don't get me wrong; I think that the past and understanding, studying, and certainly celebrating it is valuable and necessary to navigate the present and future. But living in it is not related to a movement.

The Gospel is a movement. Dynamic, and challenging. It is not a solitary picture hanging neatly in a hallway of some stuffy building. It is down and dirty, and in the lives of people; people who hurt, struggle, and suffer for it's sake. This movement will be marked with many pictures and stories of history. It will have all kinds of Godly achievements announced. What is necessary for making the gospel movement not turn into a museum: is the Gospel. Simply put it is the power of God. The power of God has always been a movement of mission for the souls and lives of His followers. Who are the followers? Those who have placed a faith in Jesus Christ.

The movement of the Gospel will certainly cost you. However, it will not be a ticket entrance into something static, but a whole life lived for a movement. It is the powerful movement of the Gospel. May those who are movement minded people in the Gospel, not sell out for decorating the man made halls of museums so that men get the honor of what God has done.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Abudant Grace.


In an economy that is not looking very abundant; it is awesome to read in the Bible how God is still supplying abundant grace. Romans 5:17b says, "much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."

You might be struggling with where the money will be coming to pay your electric bill this month, but their is no shortage of God's grace in Jesus Christ. This grace by the way is not cheap either, it came at the highest cost anyone ever could pay, the death of Jesus.

So, we in California are seeing a budget being passed to balance the state indebtedness and a nation passing a bail out plan for the country, and these will not be anywhere close to the assurance you and I in Christ can have in the free gift of grace, and it's daily abundance. The follower of Jesus has an abundant grace that will never be shaken or taken away. This is God's promise to you. Live in it!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

hope in the gospel

Been pouring over Romans 5 today. What a great section to a tremendous letter to the followers of Jesus in the first century expression of the gospel in Spain. How relevant today. Many folks are hopeless, and others have misplaced hope. Both are not Biblical. Hopelessness is not of God. He is author of hope and center point of it. How so? In Jesus. His justification by stepping between the wrath I deserve from God and the results of my rebellious sinful nature is outstanding. He makes me just before God. His blood, His death, His Resurrection. All of it. I can have hope because of Jesus. This runs counter cultural to misplaced hope. Hope in my achievements, my materialism, my personality, and even my relationship of others can misplace my hope in the gospel It can misplace it because it will minimize the power of the gospel and the hope I can have in it now, everyday, and when I see my Savior Jesus face to face. Hope in the gospel today. Jesus tells me not to worry about life, not because life is all good, but because Jesus is the author and finisher of life. I hope in that now and continuously. May you find hope in the gospel of Jesus today and forevermore. Keeping my eyes on Jesus.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In the Balance


I watch it too. Statements from the President, promises from elected officials with plans to help a struggling economy. Now, I'm not a political analysts by any stretch of the imagination, however, I know people, and they are frustrated and confused. What seems to be hanging in the balance over the past couple days in speeches and interviews is the US government coming to bail out America. I'm not sure if that is the best course of action. Especially when we have been founded upon the principle of a government by the people and for the people. If money is going to be handed out to help and government is going to get bigger by doing that, than I think we will soon have a balance problem boarding on socialism. The first large sum of 300 billion was already given away to banks to make their bottom line larger, and yet it has shrunk in areas that businesses and people use banks most; lending. This was an imbalance of financial distribution in my opinion. However, now the executive wing of government wants to withdrawal another 600 billion more to try and stimulate the economy. I think a more plausible way in doing that is giving the balance back to the people. Hand money to them. They will, in a short period of time, infuse the economy by givings back into jobs, merchandise, travel, debt pay downs, home improvements, and daily cost of living expenses. This will in turn produce consumer confidence and give back the billions right back into the private sector for economic stimulus. But heck, I don't have a clue here, right? I "need" my government to get dramatically large and in turn I get incredibly dependent upon them. Sounds like a horror story of a adult dude living at home off the good graces of mom and dad. Balance is what is needed and I for one will be praying that this will happen, for the sake of future generations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

People like us


Obviously times are hard. Economy, jobs, housing, foreign policies, and much more. The real question is when have times not been hard? They always have been. Every generation has seen them. It is not new under the sun, and in every generation there are stories of difficulty. We can hear them from the media or through the networks of people who have heard something about them. However, when do you get to hear and see these stories in an opportunity of service? This was what Elevation Church had the opportunity to do on January 31st of this year. We served those who have fallen on hard times. We heard their stories, and looked into their faces as we sat at the tables set by us to dine at for an evening meal of lasagna and fellowship. Family groups from Elevation came to share their lives with the least of these. Knowing full well that we are all a step away from being least. It was good to do the gospel with my church and I have to say as a Pastor it was encouraging to be serving the homeless of our area. We have been set in this generation for the purpose to be a gospel (good news). This gospel is founded in the deep and abiding relationship of Jesus, and we at Elevation were honored to be used to minister to these people of hard times, people who are in need like us all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Epic



There are days; and then there are days that capture your soul. One of those was in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Tahoe. My family, or at six of the nine, went up to Northstar a few days ago and we snowboarded. I enjoy this sport very much. It is so freeing and exhilarating. However, doing it now with my kids puts this sport at a new high. To carve down a hill with my boys, or to cruise through a terrain park with them makes trips to the snow very special in deed. This particular trip was a new one for two of my little grommets. They were boarding for the first time. I was so proud of them. They braved the falls and kept getting back up. Their dad was in their corner and excited about their progress, even when it seemed painful. I know that once they get down the basics, then the mountain will take on a whole new meaning of adventure and excitement. This I think, is what God wants from his kids...a willing spirit of perseverance that leads to hope in the great ride of faith. I look forward to more days like this...Epic!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Money and God's people

I find it hard to talk about money in the church. So many misconceptions. However, during this wavering economic crisis I think that I will state some of my feelings about it now. We have often, those within a church culture heard of the term 'tithing.' I think this is good, but it does not get to the core of the gospel of giving and for that matter stewardship. We often think of transactional giving withing the term of tithing. I give my money and in return receive a service, program, or benefit. But what if we gave in a New Covenant way? A "cheerful giving" as the New Testament writers put it? Could we move from a consumer that transacts with God and his people to a covenant member that is being transformed by the gospel? To make this shift requires me to see that my tithe is not me personally being blessed because I gave, but being a blessing because I was able to give. The story of the widow's mite in the gospel of Luke chapter 21 is a person who was not giving her resource out of transaction but transformation. During the kind of economy that we are in right now, this action by the followers of Christ could send a loud signal about the gospel of giving. Especially in regards to that same giving by Christ, who willingly gave up his life for those whom he would save. This transforms a person to be more like Jesus. I want to move out of being a transaction giver to a transformational giver. I would like to be known as one who gives generously and cheerfully rather than obligatory and glum. Is money something that we can give without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing? Maybe you and I need to see!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Turning leaves


It's time to say 'Happy New Year' for the next couple weeks. Certainly many have familiar stories of how they spent their new years eve festivities. The breaking of a new year is always filled with sights, sounds, and statements from previous years. However, there is also a newness to the forementioned years past. This is where I find myself today. Looking into the past a bit to see what needs to be tweaked this year, and hoping for the future of this year to be a bit different than the one before. All this of course is subject to God's plan. I can make plans and dream of a better new year, but one thing is for certain; Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. This faithful fact alone keeps each year in perspective to the next. It also keeps me wanting to seek the Savior Jesus for his plan, direction, and purpose. I hope you take the time to reflect and respond to the new year, and I hope it will be in Jesus. Have a Jesus filled year.