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The Serenity Prayer: Acceptance and Courage

The Serenity Prayer goes like this, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. – Unknown I like this prayer. I first heard it in A.A. meetings and quickly memorized it. When people in the 12 step meetings talked about it they would explain the benefits of accepting things we could not change and “living life on life’s terms”. I learned how to accept people, places and things just the way they were. After embracing a lifestyle of acceptance I experienced a degree of peace that I liked. I still struggled with depression, anxiety, a bipolar disorder and drug cravings  but acceptance became the antidote that brought peace in the midst of all these negative things. I experienced a lot of chaos in my life up until the time I got into AA and this new acceptance mentality was a breath of fresh air. I found out I was a drug addict and suffered from an incurable disease called addiction. I could deny it or accept it. I chose the latter. I learned that although I had a disease, there was a way to live clean and sober. I accepted this new way of living because it was better than what I had known up to that point. Goodbye Acceptance. Hello Courage. I parted ways with acceptance after I was introduced to courage. After I was born again I was healed from the mental disorders and from this “incurable” disease of addiction. I then realized that I had choices. I no longer...

Jesus Christ is Perfect Theology

“Jesus Christ is perfect theology” – Bill Johnson I’ve been challenged by this statement recently and would like to unpack what I believe Bill Johnson means by it. I’ve been drinking from the stream of Bethel Church (Redding, CA) for several years now so I have a pretty good understanding of what they believe. “Jesus Christ is perfect theology” means that we have a perfect revelation of what God is like in the person of Jesus. And any belief we have about God that we cannot find in the person of Jesus is a belief to be questioned. Is the Earthquake God’s Judgment on Japan? For example, let’s take God’s apparent “judgments” on unbelieving nations. Many Christians look at the recent earthquake in Japan and immediately conclude this is a result of God’s wrath in order to humble them. If this is true, then we have a belief that God will destroy nations that reject Him. But we don’t see Jesus act this way. Did Jesus agree with His disciples when they wanted to destroy a city that rejected Him? Let’s read an except from a really good book on theology, the Bible: [51] Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, [52] and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. [53] But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. [54] And when His disciples James and John saw this,...

What Does It Mean To Have a Hard Heart?

  “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:52 This verse grabbed my attention because of its context. We read about the disciples struggling at sea, getting scared when they see Jesus walking on the water and then jaws dropping when they realize it’s Jesus. Then all of a sudden verse 52 reads: “For they had not understood about the loaves…” When I read that I had to stop and read it again because it seemed out of place. So I have two questions: 1. What does the miracle about the loaves have to do with the storm? 2. Why were their hearts hard? Jesus said that they did not understand about the loaves because their hearts were hard. But what did they not understand? Was the feeding of the five thousand training ground for the miraculous? Was Jesus implying that they could have stood up and spoke to the storm instead of rowing in fear? I don’t know. As I read this I also feel like I don’t understand (and I even have the luxury of the written word to study). I’ve heard other preachers teach on this but I want to understand it myself. I’m concerned that too much of what I believe is only head knowledge. While I’m grateful for other people’s teachings and interpretation of scripture, I believe I must begin to learn more lessons directly from the Holy Spirit. I want a soft heart towards God as I bet you do too. But what does it mean to have a soft or a hard heart? I believe...

Three things that make a church service good

“How was church today?” Do you ever get asked that question? What’s the typical response? “Church was good.” It was good. And next Sunday it will be…good. And 27 Sundays from now it will be…good. Wow! That’s amazing – every service is rated “good” every week. I have a sneaky suspicion that not every church service is what we call good. I know this because I’ve been to some bad ones. I’ve been to hundreds of services, some were out of this world amazing, many were good and a few were bad. But what qualifies a service as good or bad anyways? I’m not talking about a church or denomination. I just want to focus on a few qualities that I believe make a church service or meeting good. Worship is Engaging Worship is so important. It’s not just a time where people who come late can find their seats. It’s not a time to be entertained by, “the nice music.” No, it’s a time to praise and worship the living God! And it’s a blessing when you have a worship leader who understands that they are to engage the people and encourage them to seek the Lord. And just having a good worship team does not make the service good. It’s when the worship team and the congregation are all worshiping together in spirit and in truth. When there is unity in the Spirit amazing things can happen! Moving with the Spirit Some people know how to move with the Spirit in a service and some don’t. It shouldn’t strike us as weird when we talk about moving...

Imprisoned in Iran: Dan Baumann’s Story

Dan Baumann is a Christian who was wrongfully imprisoned in Iran for 9 weeks on false charges of espionage. He came to church (Church on the Rock) last week and shared his incredible story with us. You can read my review of his message here or just skip down to the bottom and watch the videos. Dan is with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and had ministered in Afghanistan for several years before his imprisonment. One spring break he and his friend prayed about what they should do during their break. They both heard , “go to Iran.” So they went to Iran for two weeks. He said the Iranians they met were very receptive to the gospel and many people were saved. After two weeks of fruitful ministry they prepared to leave the country. But as they went through customs their passports were taken with no explanation given. Dan and his friend were told they had to go to a building in Tehran in a few days to retrieve their passports. After a few days they went to Tehran as instructed. He said up until this point they were not told why their passports were being held. They arrived at the building and introduced themselves. The people were nice at first but once they found out who they were they split up he and his friend and immediately started to beat them. They were beaten for hours on end and then Dan said he was blindfolded, drug down the stairs and driven to another building where they continued to beat him. They threw him in a small prison cell,...