Great Prayers of the Past: St. Patrick

St_patricks  Well, since it is St. Patty's day, I thought it would be appropriate to break out an old segment which I haven't done in a while on this blog: Great Prayers of the Past. You can see previous ones by clicking here.

Before we get to one of his prayers that I wish to feature in this post, here are a few things about St. Patrick that you may not know. 

First of all, he wasn't a beer drinking leprechaun like my image here suggests. Okay, you probably knew that one already, but this next one may come as a shock, so you need to prepare yourself… Are you sitting down? He wasn't even Irish. I know that comes as a shock for most of you, but it's true. St. Patrick was a Romano-Briton. In other words, he was British. The last thing you may not know about him is that he was a missionary. You see, here's what happend. When he was 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave. That's right, he was a slave. He remained a slave for 6 years until he somehow managed to escape and return to his home. Sometime after he returned home, he became a Christian and was later ordained as a bishop. It was then that he decided to return to the very people who had enslaved him, this time as a missionary. This guy had a serious love for Jesus, and some serious balls.

I have a huge amount of respect for this man, and knowing who he was and what he did provides some context to the prayer below. Perhaps it was prayers like this that gave him the courage to preach Christ to the very people who had enslaved him. You can also see his passion that every aspect of him preach Christ to the lost.

Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.


Salvation is of the Lord,
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

- St. Patrick

Divine Transcendence

Several weeks ago, I wrote a series of blogs entitled "Naked and Hiding" about the fear of God. I almost hate to revisit that theme after doing a whole series on it, but I'm going to anyway!

Recently I've been reading through (again) A.W. Tozer's "Knowledge of the Holy." His chapter on divine transcendence has provided some insight for me on why "christian" people no longer fear God as the once did. Perhaps it is because we misunderstand the transcendence of God. You see, all of us would admit that God is transcendent, but when we say that what we mean is that he is the highest being in a succession of beings. For instance, on our scale we would probably have single-cell organisms on the very bottom, then just above that would be middle school students. As you continue to move up the scale you would probably have insects, then mammals, etc. Near the top, in our minds, are humans, then maybe angels, then (of course) at the top is God. The problem with this thinking, however, is that it places God on the same scale as us. Of course, he's at the top, but he's placed on the same scale nonetheless. Listen to what Tozer has to say about this.

We must not think of God as highest in ascending order of beings, starting with single cell and going on up from the fish to the bird to the animal to man to angel to cherub to God. This would be to grant God eminence, even pre-eminence but that is not enough; we must grant Him transcendence in the fullest meaning of that word. Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself.

In order for us to regain an awe-inspired fear of God, we must regain a proper understanding of the transcendence of God. Listen to what Tozer says about the fear of the Lord.

When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone. In olden days men of faith were said to "walk in the fear of God" and to "serve the Lord with fear." However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty. 

This week as you spend time with God and when you pray, may you have an appropriate understanding of the gulf that separates you from God. May you have a renewed vision of the transcendence of God. And may you find a renewed awe-inspired fear him when you find yourself in the presence of God the Almighty. 

Share Our Shoes

Our church recently helped S.O.S. (Share Our Shoes) collect and box a TON of shoes to take to Haiti. S.O.S. collects asks for people to take their shoes that are not being used and just taking up space in their closet, and donate to the people of Haiti. Jennifer Pierce, Founder and Director of S.O.S. personally delivered these shoes which numbered over 300,000.

Here is a video of just one of her experiences. Notice the shoe that she holds up to the camera. This is the shoe that she just removed from that little girl's feet. 

Guest Blogger: Uprising: Remix

My wife and resident hottie, Kelly Via, has a blog that she keeps private. So when I saw her most recent post, I asked her to share it here as well so that everyone else could read it, because she makes me sound pretty awesome. Here is her write up on a recent endeavor that Journey Students just started working on.

My husband has a gift for working with students. I love to watch him as he creates relationships and figures out how to best minister to his students. He is definitely not your typical "Youth Pastor," and I think that is one of the most refreshing things about him. He's real. He's genuine. And he seeks out what the students need – and finds relevant ways to minister to those needs. Did I mention that I am his biggest fan?

On Sunday evenings he leads/directs "Uprising," which is a worship service for middle and high school students. Jonathan and his student leaders have been seeking to 'remix' Uprising for a while now, at the students request. They have been praying and seeking out what changes need to be made for months. This past Sunday was the first of several services that will be called "Uprising:Remix." These will be a series of trial services to see what tools, music, topics, atmospheres, etc. will be the best fit to lead our students in worship.

For this first Uprising:Remix we had worship leader (and my bro-in-law) Josh Via come to speak to our students. The atmosphere was simple, coffee shop style. There were no gimmicks. No games. Just Josh, intermixing his {incredible} songs with their explanations and some great words from scripture. And the students…well…to say they loved it would be an understatement



Once again, our God has given my husband the wisdom and clarity to start tweaking things to better reach our students in this ministry that He has given him. I am grateful that Jonathan doesn't just do what "every other" church does to reach students. He goes out on a limb, he dares to do what others do not. He is creative and wise. And in it all, seeks Christ in each decision he dares to make.

Did I mention I am his biggest fan??

Keep Remixing it, Babe!!

-Kelly Via

Random Thought of The Week (That Was Too Large to Tweet): “Child Care”

Most of the time when I have random thoughts that have no value what-so-ever, I do what every good Christian should do. I take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ… and then I tweet them. But occasionally, these random thoughts are too long to tweet, so I think I will begin posting them here in a new segment called "Random Thought of The Week (That Was Too Large to Tweet)."

This week's randomness:

On the way to work this morning, I saw this van (you'll need to click to enlarge it so that you can read the text on the back of the van):

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What you might not be able to tell from the photo is that the words "child care" on the back of the van are in quotation marks. Why would you put "child care" in quotation marks??? It makes it sound like you don't really provide child care at all. Whenever you put something obvious in quotation marks it usually implies that it's not true. For instance, note the following quotation mark changes to the same sentence:

  • Maxwell House is a good cheap coffee.
  • Maxwell House is a "good" cheap coffee.
  • Maxwell House is a good cheap "coffee."

The first sentence is straightforward (even though it's wrong). The second sentence implies that it isn't really good coffee at all, only that some people say that it is. The third sentence implies that it actually isn't even coffee at all. 

So I return to my original question. Why would you put "child care" on the back of your van that provides transportation for your daycare? It's as if they are saying: Come bring your kids to our daycare center, we provide "child care." 

Ha! No thanks.

 

First Impressions Teams: 02/10 # 2

Important Things to Remember:

  1. Return to Your Post
    Whenever you serve, we need you to return to your post immediately after the service is over. Our Job as a First Impressions Team doesn't end once everybody has entered through the doors. We want to send them on their way, the same way they came in: with joy and enthusiasm.
  2. Be Dependable
    If you are scheduled to serve, we need you to show up. Obviously there are extenuating circumstances. If you can't make it, please contact Tom or Stephanie to let them know so that we can plan accordingly. Don't be a shameful individual like Wes! (Don't worry, he's used to me picking on him. It's all in good fun.)
  3. Team Meeting
    We have a VERY IMPORTANT team meeting coming up. We messed up the timing of it, so we had to reschedule. We are in the process of figuring out when will work best for the most amount of people. We will let you know when it is, as soon as we know. Please make your best effort to be there.
  4. I really do love you! (and Wes probably does too, but not as much as I do!)

Holy Hangover

I've never had a hangover, but I can imagine what it feels like because of how I feel every Monday morning. I call it the "holy hangover." I don't know exactly what causes it, but every Monday after weekend services, I feel completely wasted, spent, and well… hungover: headache, body aches, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, loss of appetite. 

If I had to guess at what caused this, I would say it's a combination of physical, spiritual, and emotional exhaustion. I have a lot of responsibilities at Journey, some technical, some directorial, and some pastoral. These three responsibilities keep me constantly switching gears all day long. Yesterday during the second and third service alone, I probably had 15 – 20 people stop me for some of my time regarding one of those three areas. I'm not asking you to stop doing that. I love what I do, and I love it that people feel that I am approachable enough to ask for some of my time on the weekend. I'm just trying to analyze what wears me out so much and leaves me with this holy hangover. 

On a typical weekend,  I go from 6:30am to 10:00pm on Sunday (I'm not even including my entire Saturday). I show up early and oversee worship and tech rehearsal, double check the building to make sure everything is in order and looks nice for the weekend, check in with my host team and greeter team, back to the tech booth to ensure cues are being met, meeting, talking and praying with people between services, checking in with the next set of host team and greeter teams, back to the tech booth, meet, talk, and pray with people in between the next two services, stop in and visit my middle school students in M.S.O and hang out them for a little while, try to sit with my wife during the third service, meet, talk and pray with people after the service, lead a some kind of team meeting, head home for a an hour or two, head to the student center for 3:12 or Uprising, hang with students, pray with students, counsel students, teach students, then finally head home and crash like the train wreck that I am.

Again, I'm not complaining. I love what I do. But if you've ever wondered why I unplug on Monday's and you can't seem to get a hold of me, now maybe you understand. Now on top of all that, three days ago I gave up coffee for Lent. If you're a coffee addict like me and you've ever stopped drinking coffee, then you know that day three is always the worst day! So today, my usual "holy hangover" is magnified by the fact that I am on day three with no coffee!

God Is… Overwhelming in His Presence

Today, God has overwhelmed with the very magnitude of his being. First, he allowed me to feel and experience his presence in such a powerful way that I became inexplicably emotional. Then only a few moments later as I was studying and reading, he added knowledge to experience to help me begin (and only begin) to understand how it is that I experience him.

Regarding the omnipresence of God, Hildebert of Lavardin wrote:

 "God is over all things, under all things; outside all; within but not enclosed; without but not excluded; above but not raised up; below but not depressed; wholly above presiding; wholly beneath, sustaining; wholly within, filling." 

A.W. Tozer explained that this doctrine of the God's omnipresence is central to all other doctrine. In order for man to relate to God, at some point he must experience that "God is present, near him, next to him, and this God sees him and knows him through and through. At this point faith begins, and while it may go on to include a thousand other wonderful truths, these all refer back to the truth that God is, and God is here."

Tozer goes on to tell recount a story by Canon W. G. H. Holms of India:

[He] told of seeing Hindu worshipers tapping on trees and stones and whispering "Are you there? Are you there?" to the god they hoped might reside within. In complete humility the instructed Christian brings the answer to that question. God is indeed there. He is there as He is here and everywhere, not confined to the tree or stone, but free in the universe, near to everything, next to everyone, and through Jesus Christ immediately accessible to every loving heart."

For reasons unknown to me, today has been a time when God allowed me to experience him above, below, beside, and within. For me this morning, the doctrine of the omnipresence of God was not simply some grand theological concept, but a very basic and practical truth. I know that God exists. I've known that for a very long time, and my life belongs to him. But this morning, I experienced that God is, and God is here.

Dr. Allen Fleece said, "The knowledge that God is present is blessed, but to feel His presence is nothing less than sheer happiness." 

When is the last time you really and truly experienced God? Maybe it's time to get alone with God and simply ask him to allow you to experience his presence. God is here, near to you, and through Jesus Christ, he is immediately accessible if you will only open up your heart.

Daddy Date Night

For those of you who don't know, I am the proud daddy of three beautiful girls! God has blessed us so much. I grew up in a home where my parents had four boys and one girl. Needless to say, we were a pretty rough bunch, and I've never had much sensitivity training. In fact, I'm convinced one of the reasons that God has given me three girls is to teach me some sensitivity. My wife often as to say to me, "Baby, you can't speak to her like that. She's a sensitive little girl. You hurt her feelings." Well, I'm learning. Maybe one day I'll have this thing down.

Even though I may not be great at sensitivity. I think I do pretty well at treating them like princesses. I want the way I treat them to be an example of how they should be treated as they one day seek out boyfriends and husbands. I want to treat them in such a way that sets the bar so high, that they will never want settle for anything less than that. 

Along those lines, this month marks the beginning of a new monthly tradition: "Daddy date night." On the second Monday night of every month, I will take one of my grils out a date. I don't share much personal family stuff on this site, but I thought this was important to share. So, below you will find pictures from our first ever official "Daddy date night."

Photo 

I let Cana choose whatever she wanted for dinner. She was adamant that she wanted a cheeseburger. So I took her to the best burger joint around: Five Guys

 Photo (1)
After dinner Cana specifically asked if she could have "candy AND ice cream" on her "special date." Of course I couldn't resist. We started with the candy.

Photo (2)
Once her candy was carefully selected, I took her to Caribou where I enjoyed a coffee while she enjoyed her candy.  

Photo (3)
Cana wanted to take a picture of me too.

Photo (4)
True to my word, after she finished her candy we went to get ice cream.

Photo (5)
We finished up the evening at a book store where we read books together and played with a train set. 

We had a great time. I think I may have enjoyed it even more than Cana. This is definitely a good thing we've started. I know I'm going to look forward to it every month!

You’re either on mission, or you are the mission.

Lately, I've noticed that I've gotten a lot of similar comments from different people. Some of these comments have been leveled at me, while others have been leveled at other staff members at Journey. These comments (by the way, "comment" is just a polite way to say complaint in this context), vary in a lot of ways, but the gist of all of them is this: either myself, or another staff member, or all the staff have distanced ourselves, act differently toward, keep at arms length, or are just generally less available to the person who is making the comment.

When these comments have been leveled at me, here is how I have responded. "What do you mean? Don't you have my cell phone number?" (yes) "Have I avoided your phone calls or failed to call you back?" (no) "When you have asked for some of my time, have I ever told you I didn't have time? (no) "Have I ever failed to make time for you?" (no) "Do I avoid you when I see you at church?" (no) "So, I don't get it. What's the problem?" The answers at this point vary widely, but no one ever really has a solid answer to that question. So I shrug it off and move on, until the same scenario happens all over again with someone else.

I haven't been able to figure out what this was all about until this past weekend. I met a guy who came to Journey for the first time. I introduced myself, let him know who I was and chatted with him a little before the service. After the service was over, I connected with him again, wanting to know how he enjoyed the service, etc. We talked for a bit, and then I gave him my cell phone number and told him to call me sometime and we would go get coffee and hang out. He seemed genuinely appreciative and maybe even a little impressed that I gave out my number so readily and offered to hang out some time. It was after that conversation, that it dawned on me why I have been receiving these strange comments.

All of you who have made these comments to me were at one time in the shoes of the guy that I met this weekend. You were new to Journey, and I (or another staff member) was pursuing you offering to meet with, get coffee and hear your story. You see, we did this (and continue to do this) because we care about you and genuinely want to connect you with Jesus. When you first come through those doors of The Warehouse, we don't know who you are. We don't know what your story is. We don't know where you stand with Jesus, and our hearts desire, our mission, is to help you follow Jesus. So we pursue you and seek to help in any way that we can. You were the mission.

But here's the deal: at Journey, we fully expect that you are going to join in on the mission with us. We will NEVER turn inward. It's not about us. As a church, we exist only to further the mission, to reach more people and help them follow Jesus. Once you've been coming to Journey for awhile and begin to call Journey home and we know that you are following Jesus, you are no longer the mission. Yes, we still care about you. Yes, we still have time for you. Yes, we still want to walk alongside of you and continue to help you follow Jesus. But no, we are not pursuing you anymore. I will challenge you to try this: if you pursue me, I will always find time for you. I'm not too busy for you. But you are not the mission. You should be ON MISSION with us. You should be pursuing people who are new, giving them your number, offering to hang out with them, finding out their story, and seeking to help connect them with Jesus! You are either on mission or you are the mission. If you are no longer the mission, but you don't want to be on mission, then quite frankly, you probably need to find another church.

Recently, I heard a statement that might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Someone said, "I get you're all about the mission, but I feel like you're too much about the mission. I feel like you focus too much on reaching people for Jesus and not enough on those of us who are already here at Journey."

I honestly, didn't even know now to respond to that. All I could think was, "Did you seriously just say that out loud? I mean, even if I ever felt that way, I would be too ashamed to actually say that out loud." 

Listen, if you're not the mission, then be on mission. Let's keep doing what God has called us to do. Let's help people follow Jesus. Let's make Jesus famous in Raleigh.