Friday, December 30, 2011


Priorities, time management, legacy and what's really most important are concepts that are dominating my thoughts these days.

I don't want to waste my time or just go through the motions...I want to be a man of God who lived it full on for His Savior and full on for His family.

The other day my daughter was singing this song by the band Revive, it's called "Blink", and it's quickly becoming my new theme happens in a my prayer is that I invest wisely in the things that matter most!

Friday, December 16, 2011

In whom does your hope lie?

I'm putting the finishing touches on the message I'll be delivering on Sunday, which is part 2 of a Series I began last week dealing with the gifts that God gives us at Christmas...Think about that, we get stuff on Jesus' birthday. That's incredible! Anyway, this week I'm going to be focussing on the Hope that we have because of Jesus, and my mind went back to an article I wrote a few years ago about the question "In whom does your hope lie?" A question I was posed with during one of my trips to Ukraine.

I recently returned from an extensive teaching, preaching and training trip to Ukraine, which is a place that I have become very familiar with over the last few years.

It’s a place that I always enjoy returning to, and a place that connects with me, and impacts me in different ways every time without fail!

My latest trip to Ukraine was just as amazing as the other times, but as I reflect on some of the reasons why, I keep thinking about a theme that kept recurring in my mind as I was there.

The theme that kept popping up everywhere I went was a question…”In whom does my hope lie?”

Maybe it was the vast Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals that I visited, or the Immense World War 2 Museum or the memories of the Orange revolution that took place five years ago in the very square where I was standing. At first I wasn’t totally sure what made this theme emerge in my mind, but I know when it became vividly clear to me that God was trying to get my attention through it.

I was taking a tour through the World War 2 museum in Kiev, and was so intrigued by the war from the Soviet perspective that I found myself trying to put myself in the shoes of the people, places and events that I was learning about. In fact the whole different perspective idea became very obvious to me when I realized that they call the war “The Great Patriotic War” instead of World War 2…interesting.

Well, as we walked through the museum, which is actually in the base of this incredibly huge statue of the Motherland, complete with shield, sword and hammer and sickle. I kept realizing that these people have faced so much pain, evil and intense atrocities over the years, that I can’t even begin to understand.

I passed through a room that told the story of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, and the incredible hardships the people had to endure. Years and years of pain and suffering that led to uprising and what they call “The Great Patriotic War.”

As I moved from room to room, and tried to feel what they felt and let it really sink in, I entered a room that was dedicated to the remembrance of what it was like for the people when it seemed that there was no hope. I came face to face with the theme that God wanted me to wrestle with on this trip and beyond.

I saw a picture of a woman fearfully peering between barbed wire, and the caption beneath the picture said in Russian “Our hope is in you RED ARMY.”

As soon as this was translated to me, I stopped dead in my tracks, and thought about that statement. Now I’m not judging or condemning anyone, but as I thought about that and tried to process what extreme desperation and hopelessness must feel like, I thought to myself “how incredibly sad, it must be to have our hope in man, weapons and machines.”

Then I started to think about some other times I’ve seen this mindset in people when I’ve visited Ukraine in the past.

In 2004, I was visiting during a period of time known as the “Orange Revolution”. It was a time when Millions across Ukraine stood up for truth and Justice leading up to the election of the new President. Their hope was being placed on a man who would bring freedom and prosperity to this often oppressed people.

So, for several months a peaceful demonstration, in the form of a tent city was erected in the center square of Kiev, and people were overjoyed at the hope of a new day once President Yushenko took office.

I was in attendance at his inauguration speech, and as I joined with what seemed like millions gathered in the center square I was in awe of the peace, reverence and respect that I observed. I really had the sense that the new day these people had been waiting for had arrived.

There was a song that was at the top of the charts in Ukraine during that time, it was a song that became the theme of the orange revolution, and everywhere I went I heard it loudly and proudly being played. The song was called “Razom Nas Bahato” which means “Together we are many”.

Take a look at this video clip, and read the lyrics to the song. Notice the hope and joy that the people have as they gather, stand up, and proclaim their freedom.

Razom Nas Bohato
Together we are many, we can't be defeated
Together we are many, we can't be defeated
Together we are many, we can't be defeated
Together we are many, we can't be defeated

We won't stand for this (No), revolution is on
Cause lies be the weapon of mass destruction
All together we're one, all together we're strong
God be my witness, we've waited too long
Falsifications (no), machinations (no)
Little understandings (no), no to lies
We trust (yes), we can (yes)
I know we will win (yes, yes)

What you wanna say to your daughters and sons
You know the battle is not over till the battle is won
Truth be the weapon, we ain't scared of the guns
We stay undefeated, 'cause together we're one

That was 2004, hope was high, freedom and prosperity were right around the corner, they could feel it, they could see it…it was in their sights.

Fast forward to 2009, I’m teaching Youth Culture to College Freshman from all over Ukraine, we get to the section where we talk about fads, trends and other symbols that help us understand what effects teens, and why.

I opened up the discussion telling the students about a time when I was in attendance at a President's inauguration and heard an awesome song, that I downloaded and played all the time on my mp3 player when I got home.

The song was so moving to me especially when I realized the deep lyrics and inspirational message that it conveyed. I then played Razom Nas Bohato, and I wish you could have seen their reaction.

They laughed, and laughed as if I was playing the latest greatest hit by Vanilla Ice, and to represent the essence of coolness itself, I played “Ice Ice Baby” or something like that.

It was a joke to them, this whole idea of peace, prosperity and hope that the song so powerfully encapsulated for millions of Ukrainians, just five years ago, was now the punch line of a very un-funny joke.

“What Happened?” I asked. I got lots of responses and replies, too many to list actually, but the main thing I kept hearing from these students was, “hope placed in a person is futile!”

As they were sharing with me their observations of the incredible irrelevance of that song and the disillusionment of millions of their countrymen as they’ve seen what hope in a man can and can’t do, my mind kept thinking of all the times I put my hope in things other than God.

You know, I didn’t have to travel all the way to Ukraine to learn that lesson, I could have just looked around me right at home. Many times my thoughts, motives and priorities are screaming out loud the fact that my hope is in things that have no eternal value, and no heavenly power.

In short, if I’m honest there are times when I ascribe to the good ‘ole American Motto “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back at it.”

That’s a scary thought actually, because the truth is, that without God and His power alive and well in my life, I’ve got nothing!

This was a great trip once again, and God used all kinds of things to get my attention, but this question of “in whom does your hope lie?” is a question that was answered in my heart by some awesome visuals that hammered the truth home to me, that My hope is in God alone!

In whom does your hope lie?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Consultant's Report

This "consultant's" report on Jesus' Disciples is a great reminder that "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." I'm so thankful for that!

Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop, Nazareth 25433

Dear Sir:
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of all the tests are included and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service and for your guidance, we make some general statements: this is given as a result of staff consultation and comes without any additional fee. It is the staff’s opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and is given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by greater Jerusalem business bureau. James, the son of Aphaeus, and Thaddaeus, definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates however shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right hand man. All of the other profiles are self explanatory.

We wish you success in your new venture.

Sincerely yours,
Jordan Management

1 Samuel 16:7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It’s hard to believe but another Christmas season is upon us. Another 25 days of shear pandemonium and utter chaos for many an experienced “black Friday” deal sniffer as well as the last minute, Christmas Eve “whatever is left on the shelf” hunter.

The aisles, the parking lots, the shops and malls are all packed, and just try slithering into that last parking spot or grabbing that last present without a comment, a nudge or even an all out “stern talking to” from the person who “saw it first.”

It’s become the month of craziness to millions of Americans that’s for sure, and as I begin my annual month of processing what Christmas really is about, I’m reminded that when you strip away all the parties, and cookies, and presents and egg nog and…fruit cake, Christmas is really the most amazing time of the year for the Christian.

It’s the time of the year when all the bragging rights go to where they should go…God and God alone.

I mean, it was a brilliant plan if you think about it. The whole world was looking and waiting for the prophesied Messiah to come, the only problem was they were operating under faulty assumptions of how He would actually show up. They were thinking about a high rolling Kingly type entrance but God snuck Him in right under their noses. About six miles from the religious epicenter of the day actually, in a little town called Bethlehem is where He was born. The birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The day when the whole world should be thanking and praising and bringing gifts to Him for His love and grace…why is it then, that the guests at His party receive all the gifts?

Every year at this time I think about what it means to truly go through this season with the right motives, for the right reasons, and honestly every year I find myself getting sucked right in with all the worries and baggage that goes along with what Christmas has become in our culture.

The more I travel and see how others live and have to deal with things that I can’t even understand, the more I’m realizing that many times my definition of what really matters most in life is way out of whack. The things we place value on and the things people in Africa or Cuba or Malaysia place value on are so very different.

I remember this principle becoming crystal clear to me a few years back while building some houses in Mexico with my youth group. We had a large group that particular year so we split up and actually built three houses in a very poor
community along the Rio Grande in a village
known as JP Mendez.

The church was the center of the community and the houses (12x16 shelters with no electricity and no running water) were all about a half mile walk to the church. Each day we met at the church, got our plan together and walked to the building site to begin the day’s work.

We would work until noon and then walk back to the church where we would eat our lunch. The organizers were very clear and extremely specific when they told us to never walk alone and never leave our “valuables” on the work site unattended, because they would surely be stolen.

One particular day I learned a very valuable lesson about the definition of the word “valuable.”

It was noon and my group was hungry, so as I was finishing up tacking down some shingles on the roof, I told them to go on ahead and the four students that were helping me on the roof and I would be right there, as we wanted to finish the last row of shingles that we were working on.

We got them done, climbed off the roof and headed to lunch. We got about half way there and realized that we had left a backpack, a purse, a video camera and a digital camera at the work site. We immediately stopped, turned around and began to run to the work site. I mean, our “valuables” were there unattended. The video camera was worth about $500, the digital camera about $300, and the backpack and purse had about $100 in them as well.

As we rounded the corner from that filthy mud caked and pot hole ridden street what we saw next forever changed us with the truth that what is valuable in one culture may or may not hold value in another.

There were about 10 kids gathered on our work site, they watched us leave and waited until the precise moment to make their move, they were stealth-ful and quick. They were thieves, that’s for sure, but what they were stealing was the one thing that they placed a huge value on in their culture. It wasn’t the cameras, or the bags or even the money. They were gathered around our giant thermos…stealing our WATER!

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the things we placed value on were of little interest to them, especially when faced with an opportunity to drink some cool, clean, disease free…WATER!

So, this year, with that illustration in mind, I’m going to try to keep what is really most important in the forefront of my thinking. God sent His only Son to be born on this earth so the people who rejected Him could have another chance to be reconciled with Him, through the sacrifice He would pay…Now that’s Valuable!

I admit, it’s a busy season with lots of pressures and worries, but this year my prayer is that we would stop and just listen to what God would have us to take away from this Christmas season. He’s still at work, the enemy is still at work and we are still needing to totally rely on our Creator for everything.

So, why don’t we start the Christmas Season off right, and Be Still and KNOW That He is God! Let what is valuable to Him become valuable to us, this Christmas Season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Hello everyone,
What a great weekend we had at church with our Thanksgiving service on Saturday night and our worship service on Sunday morning. It was a busy weekend as usual but it was such a blessing to be together with everyone as we celebrated the greatness of our God.

My prayer for all of us this week is that we reflect and praise God for who He is, What He’s done and how that has made a difference in our lives. Then, look for opportunities to share those reflections with those we come in contact with.

 As the Pligrims had much to be thankful for back in 1621, we have much to be thankful for here in 2011, let’s take the time to give Praise to our awesome God.

Next Sunday at the EM service we’ll be having Dr. Andrew Lee as our special speaker, so we look forward to having him come and minister to us this Sunday. This will be his last time with us before He re-locates to begin his new position as Senior Pastor at a church in Chicago. We’re all so appreciative and thankful for the ways in which God used Pastor Lee in our church and we’ll continue to be in prayer for He and his wife as they follow the Lord to this new destination and ministry.

Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday and looking forward to hearing how God has shown Himself to be the famous one in your lives this past year and what that means as you continue to live for Him this year and beyond. The last few days I’ve been singing (in my mind and alone in my car so as not to scare anyone…haha) the song “How Great is our God” and it’s so cool to realize that the Creator of all things, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords not only knows me but loves me, has a plan for me and sent His only Son to die for me! How incredible is that?

As you ponder what you’re thankful for this week at thanksgiving I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to this song and then read Psalm 139 and consider who you are thankful to…I know you will be encouraged and blessed just like I was.

Don’t forget to check out my new blog subscribe to receive new content via e-mail or in a reader and join in the conversation.

 Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!


Welcome to "Thoughts..."

Thank you for taking the time to visit the "Thoughts..." blog.
"Thoughts..." is a blog that I started as a way of sharing with others some thoughts on life, leadership, ministry, missions and more.

My name is Brent Carl, and I am the Pastor of English Ministries at the Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church located in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of NY. If you'd like more information about any of the ministries offered by MHCCC, send me an e-mail and I will get in touch as soon as possible.

Feel free to check out the archives, read past articles, catch up on recent "Thoughts..." that I've been pondering, and join the conversation. We're on this journey together.

Learning from the past...Leading into the future,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who do you call?

I recently delivered a message at the Combined Service of my Church (spoken in English and Translated into Mandarin and Cantonese). This message was entitled “Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?”

Combined services are always interesting to be a part of and this one was also interesting for many reasons. For one thing when the translator and I stepped up to the pulpit to deliver the message we had a visitor hiding underneath the cavernous shelf and open area of the pulpit, staring wide-eyed and sheepish like right back us.

In all my years of delivering God’s Word to people I have never experienced such a surprise as that. It was hilarious to see one of the children from the Children’s choir that had just finished singing a beautiful song before the message.

Apparently when they were done and filing off the stage this little guy ducked in and hid underneath the pulpit where he was comfortably hanging out when we stepped up.
Now, I’m so tall that I didn’t even notice he was down there at first, and I began my opening remarks in English and quickly realized that my partner was busy doing other things and my comments needed to wait. He was bent over with his head inside the opening trying to coax the little guy out. It was very funny!

Eventually one of the ladies from the audience came up and reached in, grabbed the little guy, and swooped him out of the auditorium as we all not only got a good laugh but many of us wondered if God will use this experience in his life to prepare him to be a dynamic preacher of the Gospel someday…who knows, it could happen.

Anyway, since it was a combined service there is a transcript of the message, which I’ve posted here.

It seems like I’m going back to this passage of scripture more and more these days in conversations with people who in many ways feel like they are at the end of their rope.
My prayer is that this message will serve as an encouragement to you today, whether you are at the end of your rope or at the top of your game...Call on Jesus!

Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?

Today we are going to look at a passage of scripture that has a lot going on in terms of perspectives and beliefs and traditions and assumptions. It’s a pretty incredible passage of scripture that I think will help us realize that our God is powerful and loving and high above whatever we can ask or think…He is indescribable!

The main question I’d like for us to ponder today is “Who do you call?”
* Who do you call when life is tough?
* Who do you call when you need answers?
* Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?

As we dive into this passage that’s what we’re going to see lived out before us. Two different people from different walks of life answering the question “who do you call?” with the risky answer for them…Jesus!

Luke 8:40-56 is the passage we’ll be looking at and before we read it I’d like to give a little context so we can fully appreciate what is happening here.
In Luke 8:40-56…
* We see a double miracle take place
* This section is the third in a series of extraordinary miracles leading up to Peter’s Confession of who Jesus really is in Luke 9
* In Luke 8:22-25 – Jesus demonstrates His power over nature as He rebukes the wind and the waves and then asks His disciples a pointed question, “Where is your faith?”
* In Luke 8:26-37 – Jesus demonstrates His authority over disease and demons by casting the legion out of the demon possessed man. After being freed of his shackles the man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to stay and tell his story all across the region where he lived.
* So, after these two incredible miracles Jesus and His disciples get back into the boat and went across the water to the other side.
o I wonder if the disciples were able to answer Jesus’ question from their previous trip on the water.
o I wonder if their faith had grown by seeing what He did then and what He had just done for the demon possessed guy.
o Well, if there was any doubt in their minds that Jesus was God it was about to be removed by these next encounters they we’re going to witness
o I also wonder if what happens next “sealed the deal” in Peters mind and caused him to respond to Jesus’ question “who do you say I am?” Peter responded “The Son of God”

Let’ read Luke 8:40-56 and see if we can get a sense of what Jesus is doing, the disciples are thinking, the Ruler of the Synagogue is willing to risk to save His daughter, and the Woman with the blood issue was willing to risk to be healed.

Let’s realize that when they were at the “end of their rope” they called on Jesus!

Luke 8:40-56
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.  As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”  49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Wow, that’s a powerful passage isn’t it? As I read this there are a few questions that come to my mind that I would like for us to process as we seek to apply the truths found here to our lives…
* Who do you call when you’re at the end of your rope?
* What typically stands in your way from taking your issues to Jesus?
* Is your view of God too small?
* Do you really believe that God has the power to handle what you’re going through?
* Jesus is not bound by our time frames, or rules or traditions or anything that we have set up as a belief system…Do you really believe that?

So, with those questions in mind let’s break down what’s happening and trust God to help us apply to our lives today.
* In verse 40 we see that Jesus returned to their area (we know he just returned from healing the demon possessed guy).
* A large crowd had gathered to greet him as they were expecting Him
o As in any crowd I’m sure there were genuine truth seekers, true believers and outright skeptics present that day
o Picture the scene with everyone pressing in and crowding around Jesus
o His reputation had definitely preceded Him at this point in His ministry
o I wonder what the disciples are thinking as they are witnessing this incredible scene.
* Then a man named Jairus who was a synagogue ruler and had a sick daughter came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house and heal her
o Being a synagogue ruler meant that Jairus was an administrative officer of the synagogue most likely in charge of organizing the worship services of the synagogue, and probably a member of the committee of Elders…He was highly respected in his field.
o I think it’s interesting that Jairus was willing to risk pretty much everything to call on Jesus because his daughter was dying.
o I wonder if Jairus called on other means before he decided to call on Jesus.
o I wonder if he tried doctors, religious leaders and traditional means in order to heal his beloved little girl.
o I think we can safely say that He was at the end of his rope, and He called on Jesus.
o Who do you call?
* Well, Jesus hears Jairus and agrees to go with him, which to me is also amazing because Jairus’ assumption was basically “Jesus has to go with me to my house to physically heal my daughter”, when in reality all he had to do was think it and it was done.
* Jairus was so compelled to call on Jesus that he was willing to do whatever it took
So, as Jesus and Jairus are making their way through the crushing crowd another person who was at the end of her rope emerges from the crowd the meet Jesus.
* This woman was struggling with some sort of blood issue for the last 12 years of her life. This kind of condition not only damaged her physical health, it also meant that she was ceremonially unclean and severely limited her participation in the religious activities of her society and most likely made her a social outcast among her people.
* Scripture says that she tried to find healing but no one could help her, so I think we can safely say that she was at the end of her rope
* I wonder who she called for those 12 brutally difficult years.
* I wonder how she felt after returning from the doctors, the religious leaders, the traditional means or wherever she went to find healing.
* Whatever she felt like she was compelled to follow through on her assumption that said “all I have to do is touch the edge of his cloak and I’ll be healed.” So that’s what she did
o By the way, Israelites wore tassels on the 4 corners of their robes, so maybe that’s what she touched, or it could have been that she touched the hem or the edge of his cloak, but whatever it was it worked! She was healed instantly!
o Then Jesus stops and asks “who touched Me?” which is kind of funny because He’s in the middle of a crushing crowd
o He knew that a person compelled by faith, driven by belief that Jesus alone had the power had just made contact with Him and it stopped Him in His tracks!
o Is that you today? Are you at the end of your rope? Have you tried everything to fill the void in your life and have come up empty? Let’s take a lesson from this woman and reach out and call on Jesus today!
o Jesus addresses her very affectionately by calling her “daughter” and tells her to go in peace, which indicates a sense of spiritual wholeness which the word Shalom also conveys.
Wow, that’s pretty incredible as well isn’t it?
* I wonder how long that encounter took. Which I’m sure if Jairus was with us today He would be able to tell us to the second, because while Jesus is dealing with this woman the clock is ticking and his little girl is creeping closer and closer to death’s door.
* In verse 49 while Jesus was dealing with this other issue (from Jairus’ perspective) Someone came and told Jairus the news that any parent never wants to hear…”Your daughter is dead” don’t bother Jesus anymore.
* If you’re Jairus what are you thinking at this moment?
* You took a risk, stepped out in faith, secured the attention of Jesus but because He stopped off to help someone else, someone who was religiously unclean, and a societal outcast now your child is dead!
* We don’t know what he was feeling or thinking but we do know that Jesus told him not to be afraid and to believe and they set out towards his home.
* We don’t know how far it was to his house but I wonder what that conversation looked like? I wonder what the disciples were thinking. I wonder what Jairus was feeling?
Well, they get to the house and there were people wailing  and mourning the loss of this little girl.
* Some of the mourners are family members and friends and others are professional mourners who have gathered to help out with the mourning which was a traditional act of support to make sure there was a large crowd gathered when someone passed away.
* Jesus shows His power and authority over death when He tells the crowd to stop weeping! Which shows us incredible insight into His perspective?
o To us – Death is the end
o To Jesus – It’s no big deal, He’s bigger than death!
* The people laughed and mocked Him But he took the little girl by the hand and told her to GET UP, and she did!
Now that’s incredible story, a double miracle within the context of 3 extraordinary situations that showed God’s power over Nature, Disease, Demons and even Death!
* I think the main characters could answer confidently from that point on that calling on Jesus is the only way to go
* I also think that these series of events along with many other ones that Peter was an eye witness to serve to solidify Peter’s belief that Jesus truly is the Son of God

How about you today?
* How do these miracles apply to you?
* Are you at the end of your rope?
* My prayer is that you set aside all the things that have traditionally stopped you from calling on Jesus to help you.
o If it’s Pride which says “I think I can handle my own problems” realize that in our own strength we’ll fail every time - call on Jesus
o If it’s excuses which are based on feelings of inadequacy or guilt or whatever put them aside and call on Jesus
o If you think you have to have God all figured out before you can trust Him please realize that we need to have faith that He is God and take Him at His word – Call on Jesus
o In relationships – Call on Jesus
o In your family life – Call on Jesus
o In your career – Call on Jesus
o In your finances – Call on Jesus
At the end of your rope and at the top of your game, In every situation in life every single day – Call on Jesus
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you today that you are a God has power over Nature and Disease and Demons and even Death! There is nothing that intimidates you or causes you to tremble.
I praise you that you are the God of Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You are the God of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and wonder of wonders you are the same God we serve today! You are indescribable, and I just want to tell you we love you.
We love you for who you are, we love you for what you’ve done and we love you for what you are doing even right now in our midst.
Lord, I’m sure there are some brothers and sisters here today that feel like they are at the end of their rope. God, would you let them know that you are right there with them just a call away.
You’re always ready and willing to answer your people when we call on you in Faith, help us to do that today. The situations we face on a daily basis sometimes seem overwhelming but thank you that we serve a God who has overcome the overwhelming.
Help us Lord to leave this place closer to you than when we came in, help us to shine our light in a dark world letting all we come in contact with know that Jesus is the Way, Jesus is the truth and Jesus is the life! I ask these things in Jesus’ name Amen





Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Series this week - "IGNITED"

I'm Getting ready to start a new series at church this week called “IGNITED…Going from ordinary to Extraordinary”

This Definition…Ignite (Verb from Latin ignÄ«re to set alight) - to catch fire or set fire to; burn or cause to burn – Webster’s Dictionary

This Equation…Truth + Biblical Example + Life Application = Ignition in our lives

This haunting quote from Brennan Manning – “The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians, who proclaim Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable.”

These verses…1 Timothy 6:11 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Malachi 3:2-3 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.

And this Truth – God wants to be #1 in your life, He’s got an incredible plan that you won’t always understand.  He will do whatever it takes to REFINE you to the point where you step out in faith and live a life of IGNITION for Him!

Are all percolating and mixing and brewing in my heart and soul this week as I don’t want to fall into the TEPID Mediocrity of this world…I want my life to be IGNITED for the Cause of Christ.

Who’s with me?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thoughts...God's Gifts

Today I was continuing my preparation for the message on Sunday, and had to stop and write this e-mail to the ministry leaders at my church. I hope it encourages everyone as well...

Hello everyone,

I was doing some prep work for Sunday’s sermon and I was really struck with the fact that God gives great gifts to his children. I’ve been privileged to see this truth in action as I’ve been observing all of you these past several months at church. I’m not just saying this, I really am impressed and even more than that…BLESSED by not only the gifts that each of you have but the creative ways in which each of you are using them.

 Whether it be through music, or teaching or encouragement or hospitality it’s been so fun to be on the receiving end and also observe you bless others with the gifts God has given you.

 On Sunday at the EM service I gave an analogy as I wrapped up the series I was doing called “Surviving the Moral Maze” where we looked at choices that we face all the time in the maze of our lives. Choices that demand a decision, a decision that will lead us around the corner towards God’s way or around the corner towards the world’s way. The whole series was about what we base our decisions on and why.

 Anyway the analogy I gave as I was about to encourage us all to choose Kindness over Cruelty was that I felt like a spectator sitting in the stands at a swim meet encouraging my favorite swimmer while he or she was competing, and the only advice I had for them was to Swim Harder!

 Now in the analogy I explained that just like my obvious advice to the swimmer was nothing they had never heard before, the advice and encouragement I was giving in the series are scriptural principles that we’ve all heard before and all would totally agree with. The swimmer wouldn’t stop mid stroke and say to himself “wow, swim harder huh, that’s great advice, I’ve never thought of it like that before…that’s genius! Thanks Brent! I’m going to swim harder!” We all kind chuckled at the analogy and I continued to encourage us all to take a hard look at what we base our decisions on and why we choose what we choose in our daily moral maze scenarios.

 So, as I was prepping for this week’s message, again I was really struck with the fact that God has gifted each of us in a way that is unique and powerful in the lives of others. We all know that, but sometimes we need to have someone come along side us with a microphone and loudspeakers and shout it into our ears…So Hear I go


 Pheww, now I’m out of breath from cheering you on in your “swim meet of life”. Thank you for using your gifts, others (including me) are being blessed and God’s name is being praised! A few years ago I wrote an article called “Gifts” that I would love to have you read and it’s my prayer that you would be encouraged to keep “swimming”…It’s working!

So privileged to serve alongside each of you,

 Pastor Brent

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thoughts...Moral Maze

A couple of weeks ago I started a series at church called "Surviving the Moral Maze." It's a series that I hope and pray will encourage all of us to choose to go the right way when we're faced with difficult decisions in life.

When my daughter was younger she and I went to a corn maze one beautiful fall day. It was in response to an advertisement that I heard talking about how the corn maze was a fun and family centered activity that all ages would enjoy, (plus I knew they had the best cider and donuts around, so we went).

When we got there it was an amazing fall day and at first glance the advertisement was right on, everywhere I looked I saw families having fun and enjoying themselves, and my daughter and I were joining right in (especially when my donuts arrived).

Everything was great that is until we entered the maze. This is where the fun stopped in a shrieking halt! I say shrieking because that's exactly what my 2 year old daughter and I heard around every corner of this HAUNTED CORN MAZE!

Yep, that was a little detail the advertisers apparently forgot to include, and it was a little detail that we picked up on pretty quickly especially when the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and the headless horsemen went cruising by us!

Serena was freaked out and so was I...well actually I think I was more mad than I was scared because I felt duped and swindled and now my little girl is going to need therapy or something because of the fun "daddy date" that I brought on her on...nice!

Well, while we were in the maze we kept trying to get the attention of the "guide" who was sitting high above the maze supposedly looking out for lost and confused (and in our case terrified) maze goers so he could give instructions on which way to go to navigate through and hopefully OUT of the maze.

I saw the guide plain as day but the only problem was that the guide didn't see or hear or even pay any attention to me at all! Maybe it was because he was too high up, or the screams were too loud or maybe the wolf man costume he was wearing was too constricting or whatever, but the reality was that Serena and I were on our own and if we were going to make it out "alive" we needed to choose and choose wisely.

Well, much like many of the illustrations I've given over the years God used this one in a very vivid fashion to get me thinking about things like...what do I base my decisions on? and How do I deal with tough things in life when it seems like I'm on my own (knowing full well that I am never alone because unlike the wolf man "guide" in the maze Jesus is in plain view and ready and willing to step in and help me choose wisely.)

So, that's kind of the overview of this series and the first week we looked at choosing wisely between honesty and dishonesty within the moral maze, and this week we're going to look at choosing wisely between forgiveness and bitterness.

It's going to be an interesting message as it unfolds because I think many of us come face to face with this choice on a regular basis. My prayer is that God will use this topic of forgiveness to encourage us to look deeply into our lives and trust God to release the baggage that many of us are carrying and possibly have been carrying for many years.

By the way, we made it out of the maze, grabbed a couple more donuts and a jug of cider, prayed together and went to Chucky Cheese for the rest of our daddy date. It was a mad house as usual, and didn't have any I began to wonder what I would do for future daddy dates if Chucky Cheese is one choice and a Haunted Corn maze is the other.

Hmm, I think that would be a tie!

God bless you guys, I hope to see you all at church on Sunday...if not then check out the sermon on the web if you're interested.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sermon - "It's a New Year: Stay Focused"

It's a New Year: Stay Focused

Sermon - Christmas: Great Expectations

Christmas: Great Expectations

Sermon - "Purposeful" - Part 3

Tell us the Truth

Sermon - "Purposeful" - Part 2

Make Us See

Sermon - "Purposeful" - Part 1

Replace Rules with Relationship

Sermon - "Amazing" part 2

Breakthrough Barriers

Sermon - "Amazing" - Part 1

Be Real and Live Life to the Fullest

Sermon - "Make Contact with God"

Make Contact with God

New Series - Repertoire

The longer I live, the more I am awed at the way God sculpts lives. He doesn’t just take the clay of our personhood and give it a general form; he crafts each part into a useful tool for him.

 I believe that true spiritual appreciation is gaining a perspective on how the component parts of our lives are designed to contribute to his purposes. And true maturity is walking obediently in step with the Spirit as this perspective comes into view.

 Remember those times in life when you earnestly searched for God’s will?

Often this is how God’s will works. It follows a natural pattern. If we follow the Spirit-led flow of things, we’ll find our paths directed as Proverbs 3:5-6 promises.

 The search for God’s will doesn’t begin with a blank sheet of paper, but with an understanding of who we are, where we’ve been, and what we have to contribute to the kingdom.

 This is good news. It means we can know what God wants from us.

It means that people young and old can begin to explore God’s will for their future. God is already developing them through their natural personalities and life experiences.

 This doesn’t mean he won’t call us to grand, new, bold adventures. It just means that our SHAPE provides legitimate guidance into our future.

This series introduces us to the SHAPE concept, and illustrates it in the life of Paul. – At the “Designed on Purpose” Seminar we’ll be doing on January 22 and 29, we’ll look more into the whole idea that God designed us uniquely for His purposes.

Click here for a brochure that gives more details, and get signed up soon.

Once you’ve signed up I’ll e-mail you a link to a web site that has 4 different assessment tools that you can access online and print off to bring to the seminar…these tools aren’t the end all answer to life’s questions but they will serve as a discussion point for the seminar as we look at Spiritual Gifts, Personality Styles and Leadership styles.

In the course of this series as well as at the Seminar it’s my prayer that we will see that God not only uses our natural talents and spiritual gifts, but he also transforms character flaws and negative experiences into useful ministry tools.

 So, in this series we’re going to look at How God used His awesome repertoire to Transform Paul, Fan His Spiritual Passion and Direct His Ministry Strategy.

I pray that we will stop and reflect on How God has been at work in our lives and trust Him with the next steps He has for us.