God is Pleased With . . .

Do You Follow? – Mathew 5:1-16- The Kingdom of Blessing. There are so many opinions by amazing scholars on this passage. A few of us have heard the Beatitudes so many times that we are at risk of not hearing the message as good news to the original audience. So many principles for daily living have been gleaned from this deep and wise teaching that we are also at risk of moralizing it as a standard of behavior a posture to attempt to be in God’s favor.

We know Jesus taught many times “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” and on that hill in Galilee probably said more to the crowd, than these words we have from Matthew. Matthew has collected Jesus’ words, as an eyewitness, and delivered them to us. He is not a dispassionate observer but as a disciple and a master story teller. So what does he want us to know about how Jesus addressed the crowds? Do we remember who these people were? What was the makeup of this group who were first to hear the euangelion, the good news of the kingdom of God? Take a moment to set the scene together and feel the surprise about with whom God is pleased (i.e. has his favor, blessed). Take a listen to “Do You Follow? The Kingdom of Blessing” here and tell me what you think!

Do You Follow? The Kingdom Advances

There is a whole universe of thought in Matthew chapter 4. I hope you read through it and get lost for while. Hopefully not 40 days. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t split this teaching up into multiple weeks and, admittedly, the message is pretty thick.

After his baptism, Jesus enters his ministry as the Spirit-anointed and Father-confirmed messianic deliverer. Humans have been unleashing sin, darkness, hell on earth for millennia and God loves his creation and Jesus arrives on the scene saying the time has come to bring the reign of God, the kingdom of heaven to invade earth and confront evil.

The first test of what kind of king Jesus will be comes in the wilderness. Will Jesus lord it over people as the nations do? Just how will he rule his people and destroy the power of the devil? We have a knee-jerk reaction to power as it is so often used against the poor.

After the testing in the wilderness, Jesus forms a new people who will be in his kingdom with him. They ARE the poor, the marginalized, those without a voice. This new people take their identity from Jesus and learn from him how to do what he was doing (discipleship). With his disciples, he shares the euangelion, the royal announcement, the Gospel.

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 3.45.21 PMAs the kingdom advances, the territory in our hearts becomes his and we have the opportunity to be partners in his kingdom advance.

What is his kingdom like? What was the message Jesus shared? How did he show and tell the message? The messianic deliverer teaches the crowds, confronts evil powers (demons) and heals the sick. Follow along in the teaching series with this message “Do You Follow? The Kingdom Advances” here.

Do You Follow? Prepare The Way

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.28.40 PMIt is hard to imagine the impact of John the Baptist in our culture today. We have street corner “prophets” of a sort today, but they are speaking a foreign spiritual language to those walking by. It is hit or miss, but mostly miss.

John spoke in the voice of the prophets (especially Elijah) who would have been the heroes and heralds of hope in the days of Jesus. John’s renewal movement within Judaism piqued the interest of everyone. His disciples were ready for something new and looking for the return of the reign of Yahweh (The Creator God as revealed in the Bible). They would do whatever it took to prepare the way for the Messiah. The religious establishment was intrigued, but not repentant. The Tetrarch (King over 1/4 of the region) Herod Antipas didn’t like John’s meddling with his marital goals.

Does John have a word for you? Are you Repentant or Resistant or Rebellious? What does that even mean?

Find out with this teaching from Matthew 3 that I gave on January 21. Feel free to join us at Issaquah Christian Church, Sundays at 10:30am. http://www.iccweb.org

Do You Follow? The Messiah

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This teaching is from The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 2 grab your Bible or go here.

King Herod seems to be a particularly brutal king, but I wonder if his response is much different than ours when our kingdoms are threatened. Granted he had more power that we, but the fear produced in him by the euangelion, the royal announcement, is a fear we often deal with. When the fear is real we know that our brains shut down certain parts of thinking and we engage “fight or flight” mode. This leads us to engage in behaviors of self protection and self promotion. We know from John who learned from Jesus that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).  Jesus announced a kingdom of love based on the greatest command to love God and love neighbor.

Take a listen to the sermon here and let me know what you are thinking.

Take a listen and/or read these lyrics from Clay Crosse and give it some thought.

Artist Clay Crosse (1999) https://youtu.be/jVrElcu4-Ps

I have wrestled in the darkness
of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses
that I alone command

But these castles
I’ve constructed by the
strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms
on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle
I believe I’ve finally found
I’ll never know the thrill of victory
’til I’m willing to lay down

All my weapons of defense and
earthly strategies of war
So I’m laying down my arms and
running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition
is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on
a scale of earthly gain

If the focus of my vision
is the status I attain
My accomplishments are
worthless and my efforts are in vain

So I lay aside these trophies
to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow
to use the life I willingly lay down

I surrender all the triumph for
it’s only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory,
I surrender all the praise

Everything I am, all I’ve done,
and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You,
the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac
on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all
© Universal Music Publishing Group



Do You Follow?

Nothing shakes me up quite like the words of Jesus. I’ve embarked on a teaching series through the Gospel of Matthew (The first book in the New Testament) and invite you to join me.

Question for you: Is a Gospel the same as the Gospel? Consider the following from britannica.com: “The English word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell (“good story”). The classical Greek word euangelion means “a reward for bringing of good news” or the “good news” itself. In the emperor cult particularly, in which the Roman emperor was venerated as the spirit and protector of the empire, the term took on a religious meaning: the announcement of the appearance or accession to the throne of the ruler.”

Is a Gospel the same as the Gospel? We’ll see in the Gospel according to Matthew (formerly named Levi and one of Jesus’ apostles) that a Gospel is a biography and that within the story of Jesus we find meaning to our story. The Good News comes to us that the rule and reign of the Creator God on Earth has begun again in King Jesus’ “accession to the throne.” The Gospel is the announcement that God has done a reconciling work in Jesus (life, death, burial, resurrection) to bring us into the kingdom as heirs and partners in his work.

Sometimes Jesus is hard to understand and sometimes Jesus is hard to follow. The Gospel of Matthew has a theme running through it about Hearing and Responding and actually the Hebrew concept of hearing includes responding especially with the Great News that the Kingdom of God has arrived on earth again. Do You Follow?

Listen in on the first teaching “New Beginnings” on iTunes here or from the Issaquah Christian Church website here.

Spice up your Weekend?!?

At Issaquah Christian Church we have a roadside sign on which we can display text to the traffic on Issy-Hobart.  Pondering this responsibility and opportunity, I often wonder what we are trying to accomplish. Are we advertising to consumers? Are we like a kiosk at the fair or a for truck at a market with just a little sumpin’ to spice up your weekend? Add a little bit of church to your Sunday! Isn’t it weird to think that the point of going to church services is to add some flavor to your life?


First of all, we are the church (or we aren’t). That means that we do not go to church (the called out assembly of God in Christ). We are members of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12). We do not attend the body of Christ. That is nonsensical on the face of it.

Second, our identity is in Christ. The church is not an additional part of our lives, it is the core of our new identity. We are in Christ . We are the church, it is the most real thing about us. Jesus said that family relationships have no claim like the body of Christ does on its members.

Third, when the church gathers for prayer, praise, and proclamation, it is to rehearse this central truth in our lives. We receive from God and we pour into each other.

There are lots of wonderful aspects of life that add flavor and spice. Church, being the church, however is not one of them. Christ is your life and he has called his people in his name to live out that life together. #BeTheChurch

Sunday Morning

It sounds as if it’s been raining still in the PNW, so you’ll be glad to know that we’re in a downpour last night. We were surprised to show up early to the church service in Sarazon today where Russ was to preach. We showed up fashionably late (on Haitian time) at 6:30am for a 6 am service, but found they observed Daylight Savings Time, which left us arriving in the middle of classes. 

Kids, women, teens, new converts, men had various classes being taught by animated teachers who would often have the people reciting Scripture and explaining. A small handbell rang at 7am to call them together. And then again at 7:15 and then a song leader called them together with a song and then . . .

They seated us on the stage/porch at about 7:45, which was awkward but a honor I presume. Probably 12 different people came up to address the church and sing, pray, make appeals, or read Scripture. At about 9am our team was introduced and we brought greetings from the church in the PNW. Russ brought the Word with energy and clarity until 9:35 translated by Pastor Yves. He encouraged them to have courage through the difficulties they experience and to have no fear because they are greatly loved by Jesus. 

We greeted the church and went to the building site where they have a new project. A group from PAP was singing and blessing the new construction and I was able to pray for the work. 

We were blessed with a wonderful Haitian meal by Pastor Jethro’s wife and started back to the orphanage in Mirebalais at 11am.


On the way back we dropped off Pastor Ludwig at his home and were treated to fresh sugar cane.