torch bearer
bringing the light of Jesus to a dark world John 8:12

I'm Home

1/02/2012 11:32:00 AM

We were gone for a few days after Christmas.  Headed to the wet side of Washington to see family and just to get away for a bit.  In order to do that, we had to leave our beloved LC Valley behind; the beauty of the Snake River, the sun, the rugged rocks carved by water, and just the awesome people.  We did have a wonderful time seeing our parents, siblings, cousins and grandparents.  It's always good to spend time with them.  But it is always good to head home too.

Before I go on, I must tell you about one factory here in the valley that helps make us very distinct.  Those who grew up around Everett or Tacoma will know what I am talking about.  In fact, growing up, I lovingly refered to it as the "aroma of Tacoma".  Here, Lewiston is commonly called "Pewiston".  That's right, we have a pulp and paper mill.  But we love it!  It's a huge employer and they are a very community oriented company.  No matter how thankful we are for this company, it still has a very distinct odor.  My kids say it smells like the valley is filled with broccoli.  The funny thing is, you don't notice it after a while.  It just is there and a part of life.

So, back to coming home.

As we dropped down the long 7% grade into the LC Valley we caught a wiff of the mill.  Wow, had I forgotten what that smelled like!  It had been a few days and my nose had completely cleared itself of the smell.  But the funny thing is, everyone in my family excitedly said at the same time..."We are home!"  The smell told us we were home.

It made me think of the times that I have strayed from the presence of God.  How I had left and then decided to come back.  I have, at times, almost forgotten what it was like to be in His presence.  To have the aroma of God penetrate every part of me.  (I'm glad his presence doesn't remind me of cooked broccoli, just saying).  But evertime I have chosen to come back "home", I have been greeted with that distinctive aroma of God's presence.  And everytime I tell myself..."I am home!"

I challenge you this year, if you are not at home with God right now, head home.  Go toward that smell and presence of God.  Most likely you know the road to take, most likely you know it well.  Find your way back home.  There is a great sense of relief when you can say..."I am home!"

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Freedom in the Open Gate

12/05/2011 08:22:00 AM

No one likes to feel trapped.  No one likes the feeling of being stuck and therefore controlled.  Whether we are talking about being physically restrained, religion, or lifes circumstances.

In Jujitsu we are taught to go toward the open gate.  Go toward the way of freedom.  For example, if someone grabs your wrist with thier hand, you would move your wrist toward the open gate; the open space between their fingers and thumb.  As you do this you are gaining freedom from thier grip.  This move toward the open gate is true for all levels of this martial art.  Whether your opponent has your wrist, arm, neck or whole body.

I remember having to use this when being held by Sensai Brian.  The man was not tall, but strong like an ox.  It was black belt (him) verses no belt (me).  I figured that this little open gate move would only really work when I was evenly matched with someone of my limited ability.  So this bear of a man grabs me and by instinct I moved toward the open gate, the place where there was freedom from this mans grip.  I moved, as I had been taught, and in the next instance I actually had freedom!  Freedom from an opponent who I was certain would be able to hold me no matter what I tried.

I know there are many who feel trapped today.  You feel that grip becoming tighter and stronger.  Maybe that grip is finances, a bad relationship, guilt and shame from past desicisions, or emotional trauma.  Maybe you are feeling the grip of sin in your life and have tried to find the opening, the release from it, but have chosen false religions, alcohol, sex or other destructive means in which to find a release.  Trust me, I know the allure of each of these false gates.  However, I also know the end game of each of these...the feeling of being even more trapped.  In fact, it's not just a feeling, you really are trapped even more.

But here is the truth.  This tightening grip can be released from you once and for all.  There is peace and freedom to be found even in this life.  There is a way to freedom that will work, I guarentee it.  This open gate is spoken of by Jesus in John 10:9-10.  This is what he says:

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

You and I have a way to freedom, here on earth as well as eternity, through the open gate of following and trusting Jesus Christ. 

How do you need to be set free today?

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Jesus and Java

11/30/2011 07:47:00 AM

Little boys love to tear things apart just to see how they work.  Some of them even grow into a place where they put them back together too.  Well, I have the tearing them apart side down really well.  That's why I have surrounded myself with guys who know how to put it all back together.

One of the thing that I love to do, is to take a Bible verse or 2 and really break them down.  I don't mean pulling out the Greek manuscripts and finding the word meanings (although there is nothing wrong with that).  My brain works on a much simpler plane.  I just use everyday words that are easy for me to grasp.  I pull it apart into usable pieces for me.  I do have to put it all back together so it is functionable in my life.

I wanted to let you in on a peak of what I mean.  So, welcome to my kitchen table.  Grab your Bible.  Here is a cup of coffee.  (I know its strong, but that's the way I like it).  I call this time of my day, Jesus and Java.

Revelation 7:10 ESV, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Crying out in a loud voice = none of this wimpy worship of God!  I must be vocal and heard in my proclaiming of He is.

Salvation = being rescued, saved, pulled from, taken care of, loved enough for it to happen (in this case salvation from death - physical, spiritual, emotional)

To our = personal

God = the creator

Sits on the throne = seated in a place of authority, honor. Someone who has been given power and deserves recognition and honor.

To the Lamb = Jesus! perfect, my sacrifice, the one who brought salvation to the earth, Emmanuel (God with us).

Well, there we go.  Something to digest.  Something to apply.  Something to ponder.

Let me know some of your thoughts on this.  What jumped out at you?  What was meaningful?  How are you going to apply this to your life?

Feel free to stick around for another cup of coffee too.


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Unlikely people doing extreme things for God

10/30/2011 04:23:00 PM
Here is the link for the audio of today's teaching from Amos 1:1.  Somehow thenlast few minutes were cut off.  Here are the notes from that portion.
Here we can see 4 things about Amos that put him in a place to be used by God.  4 things we can apply as well. 
1) He saw (1:1) - he had eyes to see what God was saying
2) He allowed the Lord to move him (7:15)
3) He responded in obedience to Gods calling (7:15)
4) He was available - the best ability is availabilityc
Click here for download link
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Teaching from Sunday October 16, 2011 - Perseverance - Joel 2:28-32

10/24/2011 12:01:00 AM

Here is the teaching from the 16th.  I pray you are blessed and challenged as the Word of God is spoken.  If you have any questions or comments I would love to chat. Click here to go to the link.

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October 23, 2011 Teaching - God Restores Joel 3

10/23/2011 11:24:00 PM
Check out today's teaching at this link.  I didn't do any editing so bear with all the extras.  I believe it is what is called 'organic'.  Hope you are blessed.  http://www.4shared.com/file/gfuTLxHS/recording-20111023113247.htmlhttp://www.4shared.com/file/gfuTLxHS/recording-20111023113247.html
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Facebook and changes

9/21/2011 12:41:00 PM
Alright, I know I will sound pious and a bit self-righteous even, but here goes...

If we are really that concerned about the new Facebook changes I have to ask a few questions and make a few observations.  And I actually do want to hear your responses.  Good or bad.

Our collective American blood pressure has risen today to a new all time high.  More so than trying to watch the Seahawks actually win a game.  Facebook status updates have been abuzz about the new changes, and most of those updates have been on the hater side of things.  There is even picket signs going up on peoples walls and threats to just quit Facebook altogether.  There has been a slew of comments on each of those updates, each building on the last and working the masses into a frenzy.  Mr. Zuckerberg, lock your doors and double the guards.  You have pissed off the American people!

Now really people.  Most of you are adults (or so your lied about age says so) that are making these hater updates.  That's because the kids are still in school and haven't noticed yet.  I would dare say let's act like adults about this!  This is only Facebook after all, not real life!  Now, don't get me wrong, I love Facebook as much as the next person.  I use it for all kinds of reasons, from ministry to spying, from new friends to old.  But I am not about to get all tensed up over the changes.  I realize in my short adult years that there is more to raise my blood pressure over.  Like real problems.  Like real change.

Did you know that the national poverty level has risen around 10%  over the last 10 years?  Did you know that several million people, just in the USA, don't have an active relationship with Jesus Christ?  Did you know that there are kids in Kenya (and other places, I just love Kenya) that die by the thousands EVERYDAY just because they don't have the simple necessity of clean drinking water?  Did you know that in your very town/city there are people who don't know what true love is?  When was the last time you shared Jesus with someone?  Do you know your neighbors?  I could go on, but I'll stop with the "did you knows".

My point is this, we have so much to be about in life, and especially if you are a Follower of Jesus, that these Facebook changes should roll off us and really matter very little.  If we are this upset about these changes, no wonder there is Church division and family fights when needed change happens.

Change, for the sake of change is not always best, agreed.  However, the changes that we have noticed on Facebook today don't really count as life change.  They don't constitute getting mad and venting.  If you need to get made about something and want to help advocate change, look toward politics.  Look toward local town issues.  Look toward human life issues (abortion, health care, elderly care, etc.).  Look toward your neighbors well-being.  Look toward the little kid who needs a coat or help with school work.  Look, and please don't forget this one, toward your own family.  These are changes we should rally toward.

Please use your passion, and even anger, for the things that really matter in life.  For the changes of life that matter.  The change from the old self to the new self.  Get passionately angry about sin and the destruction it causes on a daily basis.  Use your anger and frustration wisely!

By the way, personally, I like the changes.

If you need you can unfriend me.  I believe that button is still in the same spot.
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Remembering

9/11/2011 12:58:00 AM

I have the privilege to speak at a 9-11 Memorial and Procession tomorrow here in Asotin.  I wanted to share what came from my heart.  May we always remember...

Our American lives were forever changed on that fall Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001.  Each of us have a story and memory of what we were doing that day.  Many of us were at work or school, while others of us were still heading there.  Maybe you were at home when you received the horrible news that 2 planes were flown into the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon, and still another that was stopped by its passengers before it could cause more damage. The shocking news that America was under attack.

Other American citizens were expecting a normal day of work as firefighters, EMS, or police officers in NYC.  At least as normal as these jobs allow.  Little did they know that their lives, as well as their families lives, would be devastated that day.  On that day 343 firefighters, 72 police officers and 42 EMS personnel didn’t come home from shift.  On that day they gave the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate act of heroism.  On that day they showed that the health and safety of others outweighed their own well-being.  


They lived out the very words of the Fireman’s Prayer:


When I am called to duty, God
whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child
Before it's too late,
Or some older person
from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
and give the best in me,
To guard my neighbor
And protect his property.
And if according to Your will
I have to lose my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand
My children and my wife

There were words once spoken in an ancient time that still hold the same power and truth today.  The words of Jesus recorded in John 15:12, 13 say this, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

We are here today to give honor to those who laid down their life not only for their friends, but for those they did not know.  Our tears, our actions and our words stand in such small comparison to the ultimate act of friendship that these heroes showed us that day.  We, the American public, give honor where honor is due, even though it cannot fully express our gratitude to those heroes.  We are proud of those rescue workers from that day.

We also salute our men and women who serve us today in the LC Valley.  Who faithfully do a job that many are not able to do.  To those who view other’s lives as more important than their own, we say thank you.

Lt. John B. Putnam Jr., a USAF pilot who was shot down and killed in 1944 at the age of 23, once said, “Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it”.  As much as we are here to honor those who gave so much that day, and to those who continue to give, we are also called to look into the future.  We are challenged today to not live in the fear of the past, but to be propelled into a better future by these very events.  That day taught us not to be taken prisoner by other’s choices, but to be overcomers in the face of adversity. To find courage in the face of fear.  There are those who have found a source of courage and those who still live in a place of fear.  Let us resolve today, to be a people not overcome with fear, but a people who will overcome fear with courage.  A people who, as the Apostle Paul said, will not be overcome with evil, but will overcome evil with good.  Using the good of forgiveness to overcome the past and to live in a bright future.  The good of forgiveness even to a people who seemingly don’t deserve it. Let us be the people that nations strive to be like and the people that our future generations will speak highly of.

So today, we honor those who gave everything on September 11, 2001 by saying thank you not only in words but in action and resolve.  We honor you by being the generations that will never forget your sacrifice, continually give you honor, and live in a future that you have helped pave for us.  We say thank you, and we will never forget!

Let’s pray:
Heavenly Father, we are here today in reflection on an event that is so solemn and so life changing.  We are here to remember those who gave their life so that others would have life.  Our hearts beat heavy for the loved ones left to grieve and our prayers are to You today that You would bring them comfort and peace.  Teach us, the remaining ones, how to respond with courage while standing in the face of fear.  Teach us, O LORD, how to forgive those who have done heinous deeds to us.  To forgive them just as you have forgiven us.   Let us learn from those who responded with many acts of courage so valiantly that day.  May our actions today bring honor to those who gave all on September 11th.  May we walk as a nation and as a people who have learned from those before us, so that our future may be bright in You.  We pray protection over those men and women who continually put themselves in harm’s way each day.  May your hand be upon them and upon their families.  We ask these things today in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
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Furthering your Education

8/31/2011 09:01:00 AM

School's back in session!

Depending on the age you are, these words invoke different responses. Anywhere from a gag response to dancing in the streets and thanking Jesus! No matter our response, the truth is another school year has begun. Teachers, books, friends, bullies, smells of the mystery meat for lunch, the flavor of pastes as it crosses over your tongue. Ok, maybe not the last one. Students, of whatever age, go to school for one reason (or at least you should) and that is to learn. To grow mentally. The old saying goes "You never are too old to learn something." Hopefully this year our students will exceed even the teachers expectations in learning.

As I dropped off my kids for their first day of public school today (yes, we have homeschooled them until high school and now we have put them into public school) I got to thinking. You know, I hope that what they learn will not just stay within those walls of brick and mortar. I trust that what they learn will stay with them and continue to be the foundation pieces they use to build an even better education throughout life. To go and spend all that time behind a desk and not actually use it for later in life is such a waste. Maybe that's why my dad would say when I was screwing around with homework, "I buy you books, send you to school and all you do is chew the covers off!" Our education is not just for now, and not just to graduate, it's to use later on in life. To build upon.

You know, the greatest education we can gain in life is from the Bible. Whether it is us reading it or if it is by someone (pastor/teacher) explaining it to us. We have such a treasure in our hands as we hold the words that God has spoken to us. A treasure that is not to be only used on Sunday mornings as we sit in the chair and listen to someone talk. An education that is squandered if we have our devotional/Bible time just so we can say we did it. A resource of growth that is wasted if we hear the words and never act on them. Our time with Jesus is a time that is to be put to use. Put into action. Used as a foundation for later, as well as for now.

We were never called to be students of the Word just so we could say we are students. Not even so we can say we graduated. And certainly not so we could just be proud of how much we know and keep it to ourselves. We are students of the Word of God so that we might grow as followers of Christ, and so that we might go and make disciples (other followers of Jesus) with what we have learned.

Our challenges for today are this:

Start learning if you aren't already. Spend time with Jesus (read the Bible, pray, listen, worship) so that you will grow. Need some help of where to start, try this great resource .

THEN

Go and tell someone what you learned today. Live it out in our actions, emotions, responses and motives. Use the words that God has given us to use. Use the words that we just learned today in our time with Jesus.

What are the challenges that you may face in using your 'education'?
How are you already doing it? I would love to hear how it's going!
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Thunder on the Snake River

8/29/2011 12:10:00 PM

One of my favorite things I get to do as a pastor is water baptism. Man, it doesn't get any better than seeing people who have made a commitment to Jesus in their heart take a bold step and publicly profess Jesus.

Yesterday we had water baptism in a very warm Snake River. How excited I was to be warm the whole time! There was a large crowd to witness what was going on, both from our church body as well as just people at the beach. We were blessed to have a jet boat race going on at the same time, so people from all over were there to watch boats do 100+ MPH up the river. Little did they know they were going to witness something even more powerful...4 people making a public confession of their faith in Jesus. Now that is a true meaning of Thunder on the Snake River!

Congratulations to those who were baptized yesterday. So very honored to be a part of this powerful moment in your life.

Do you remember your water baptism?
Do we go back and revisit it in your mind from time to time? We should!
Have you never been baptized and want to? Talk to me or your pastor. It is a great act of obedience in your walk with Jesus.
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Learning is from the birds

8/23/2011 08:26:00 AM
I was sitting outside and enjoying my Java and Jesus time, (some may call that their devotion time, but I just have to be different) when I noticed something interesting going on at the neighbors.

No, the cops weren't involved nor was there anything really news worthy, I just noticed a bunch of birds. Little birds. Little birds who were sitting on the roof one second and then they would disappear into the gutter the next. I watched this for a while and was trying to figure out what they were doing. They would carry on in this manner and then fly off. The whole group of them were involved in this behavior. It finally came to me, they were getting seeds and such out of the gutters! They were at the Golden Coral for birds. Smart little critters, not having to go far for their food. Taking it where they can get it. But then also not staying in the feeding trough but leaving it to go do their little birdie work...whatever that is.

I believe that as followers of Jesus we need to grab a lesson from these little feathered friends. A couple things I want to point out. One is that we don't need to go far for good spiritual feeding. We don't need to go far to find good solid teaching. Every town and city has a Bible based group of believers in it. We don't need to get caught up in the flare of the next greatest teacher or movement when we are blessed to have spiritual food close by. Don't miss out on what God is doing through the local body of Christ. In the same manner, we are blessed to have this thing we call the Bible at our disposal. We are not bound by just one person hearing from God and telling us what they think, we have the ability to open the Bible up daily and read and apply it to our lives. Don't leave the responsibility of being spiritually feed to your pastor. Serve some food up yourself.

Secondly, just as the birds didn't stay in the gutter eating their food and getting fat, we are not made to sit in our spiritual feeding trough and get spiritually fat. We are to be daily fed, but then daily exercising. Our weekly gathering time (don't forsake this time!), our Bible studies (individual or as a group are key to growth), our camps and conventions (you should always try to be a part of one a year) are not designed for us to just learn from them so that we might have more knowledge. Instead, they are for us to be feed so that we might go use what we have learned to effect the world around us. Just as my bird friends got fed so then they could use that energy to go do their work, that is what our "feeding" time is for.

Third. These little fellers knew they had a job. I don't know what it was, but they did. They didn't bother telling me what their job was and they didn't bother trying to do someone else's job. They seemed content in doing what they needed to do.

So, let's get fed today. Find a devotional that you can easily read and that has you reading scripture with it. If you need some direction in this, let me know. Then after our feast of Jesus' power, let's get out the door and get to work. The world is dependent on you and I to tell and show them who Jesus is. And please, let's not fight among ourselves over our jobs within the Body of Christ. Let's just get out there and BE THE CHURCH!

Remember, Church starts NOW!
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My God

8/18/2011 08:13:00 AM
I have a view of who God is. You have a view of who God is. Everyone has a view of who God is, even if they don't believe there is one. Each view may vary a bit from the other. Sometimes it's due to life circumstance.

Many years ago I was going through a rough time in life. My marriage was falling apart, I felt alone physically and spiritually, I was making life choices that were not God honoring. It was a mess! I went to a prayer meeting one night for the sole reason to get out of the house and not have to be around Amy. Get reason huh?

I was feeling alone and distant from God. Of course, it wasn't Him that had moved in our relationship, it was me. That night, a wonderful man of God showed me how close God still was to me and how much He loved me. The man never said a word, he just sat by me in my distress and placed his hand on my knee. As a loving father would to a wounded child when words cannot fix the pain. Through that gentle touch I saw a picture of who God is. He is a God who is close and faithful. Full of love for His children. Even when His children aren't close, faithful or even deserve love. He just wanted me back!

God is revealed in different ways to us throughout the Bible. He is the very Creator of heaven, earth and you. He is the same God that was then revealed to us as a precious baby in human form. He then is shown as a brilliant light of rainbow colors, flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder! (Revelation 4)

Maybe today you need the gentle touch of our God. Maybe you need to experience the strong right hand of our Warrior God. Maybe you just need to remember that He is near and not a distant God (one that wants a personal relationship with you). Wherever you may be in this, just remember... It is the same God. A God who is powerful, yet approachable. A God who wants relationship with you.
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Asotin, WA, United States
Follower of Jesus, husband, dad, and called to be His torch bearer to the world.
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