29 Oct

Crying Tonight

Crying Tonight

Originally i wrote this as a love song, but when i started working with folks that were homeless, i thought them more worthy of the song’s sound than romance.  Mother Theresa used to say you could find Jesus in disguise by ministering to the poor.  I believe she was right.  Jesus said, “Whatever you have done for the least of these brothers of mine, you have also done for me…” according to Matthew’s account of the Gospel of Jesus Messiah.

The song begins..

You never see me, always leave me, as I’m crying on the streets at night

You don’t know me, but I know you, can hear me I’m Jesus in disguise

Now I’m reaching, but you’re leaving, yes I’m hiding in the homeless man

And I’m dying just to know you, if you saw me would you understand?

I’m crying, I’m crying, oh I’m crying tonight…

 

Then I begin to see…

Now you know me, and I know you, ’cause you’ve broken the chains that bound my eyes

You’re crying…oh you’re crying tonight

 

And the call goes out to anyone who will listen

Who will go now, will you go now, to the broken and wipe the tears from their eyes?

You’re crying, I’m crying, oh we’re crying tonight

 

It’s so important that we take this seriously.  Jesus even says that those who don’t will suffer eternal hell.  That’s no joke!  I want to hear the cries of the lonely and broken and poor because i’ve been there myself and as God leads i want to love them.  Do you?

Join us.  Upon writing this blog we are going to have a concert at “My Church” in Bellingham on November 3 at 7pm.  Come and join us and find out more.

Also on our website: http://www.envisionmission.org/media

You can hear this song on the Celebration album.

22 Oct

I Speak To You

There are seasons in the life of a Christian; not that it makes one Christian better than another, just seasons of maturity.  John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 2:12-14: “I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  I write to you dear fathers because you have known him who he is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.  I write to you, fathers because you have known him who is from the beginning.  I write to you young men because you are strong, the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one.”

Similarly i wrote the song, “I Speak to You” because it is said or sung to the audience when i perform it but with much the same words as the Biblical text.  The Spirit speaks through John to children, that is to new believers who learn with certainty that their sins are forgiven.  This can take some time to actually believe and many Christians today seem to be stuck here.  Either they are struggling to believe they are forgiven and therefore have a difficult time forgiving others, or they accept on some level they are forgiven of their sins but don’t seem to go on to maturity.  It is a vital and wonderful season and ought to be cherished by those experiencing it and those who need to be reminded again of that basic but most important reality.

Then the disciple of Jesus goes on to overcome the evil one.  That is they have victory over sin, they are not taken in by the devil’s schemes.  They begin to realize that this is possible on this side of heaven, though not unto perfection, certainly from victory unto victory and they have a tendency to remind the rest of the Church of the importance of this.  The danger is to start to judge others and begin to have an elitist attitude, where the believer thinks he or she is a cut above the rest.  But if cherished well, this season can be a great blessing to the Church, can usher in revival and even help thousands of others resist temptation and come into a kind of promised land of new life in Christ.

And then there are fathers and there are precious few of those.  I dare say little about it, because i’m not sure where i’m at on this and may be barely learning about it myself.   But it seems that fathers in the faith, whether male or female (of course these maturity levels have to do with spiritual maturity not gender or age so much), begin to relearn the basics of the faith through a much deeper appreciation and experience.  They can chuckle a bit more when other believers are not getting it, they can be patient, they can love without condition, they are not easily thwarted.  And they bear fruit which lasts.

Let us appreciate whatever season we find ourselves in and give God all the glory.

04 Jun

Ah

Recognizing that this is a strange poem, i still think it worth sharing.  It is impressionistic but has to do with the experience of one who walks in the Light but the darkness does not comprehend it.  Equally strange it is titled: Ah –

There is a ship that’s sailing west upon the light of stars at rest

The sun refused to shine back home so we took up a lightning song

Ah-

If you could sing a different song like one you heard in another dimension

Then wait for love to come on shore to see the weight of glory’s store

Ah-

They hate your tune upon that string; it’s red, it’s blue that song you sing

The water’s rising up too high to see the sunset’s beauty tide

Ah-

And so you’ve come to untie it; the knot was tied, it’s at an end

My Love is waiting on the side of the mirror that has no sight

If you will listen close you’ll see what noses, mouth and ears can’t be

Because it’s far too visible so in no demand to comprehend

Ah-

I will touch you in places wrought with pain and sorrow and spirits caught

There was a loom above your head; a tapestry, below the thread

Ah-

It is a song as well, but not yet published.  For a sample of other songs visit http://www.envisionmission.org/media

and scroll down the page to see what you are interested in.  Then follow the directions accordingly.

How does the poem strike you?  What feelings does it bring up?  Do you find yourself relating to it or feeling repulsed by it?

Peace to all but especially to those who have an undying love for Jesus.  It is based on the words of John the Apostle: The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

28 May

The Fall of Christianity?

There is a lot of writing in my Christian denomination about how we need to make sure we are relevant and how we need to make public statements as a church about climate change, gun control; that we need to be more open to Darwinistic Evolutionary Theory and more ready to embrace current sexual practices in the culture in the name of love, to rethink our doctrines of atonement and hell.  And that by doing this we will not lose so many young people.  The concern comes from the fact that more and more folks are leaving the churches and the assumption is that we need to be more relevant to them in order to not lose numbers. 

I would like to write about why I think this is not only unhelpful, but not at all the focus that the church needs to have.  In fact, historically denominations that sought to be more relevant to the culture, more embracing of cultural practices and worldviews, have decreased in number so dramatically that they have had to merge with one another in order to survive at all. 

The reason for this is quite simple.  Such churches have nothing to say to the world that the world doesn’t already believe and become merely social clubs for folks who grew up in the institution of the church and need a place to belong even when they no longer believe in the Supremacy of Christ or their desperate need of Him. 

I believe that climate change is brought on, at least in part, by human consumption and needs to be addressed, that we could use some moderate gun control laws, that one can be a Christian and still believe God used an evolutionary process to create all things, that we ought to love everyone with the love of Christ whatever they may practice, that all theories of atonement have a place at the table and that we don’t probably know everything about what hell is, but none of these things will revive the church or bring people to Christ

The one thing we need more than anything else is an unashamed, uncompromising obsession with Jesus Christ as the LORD of all, as the One who gave Himself for us, who conquered death and hell, who calls us to repent of sin, to bow before Him with complete surrender and radical devotion that is willing to die, if need be, to love enemies in His Name, to love the poor in His Name, to long for His Presence, His glory, His renown.  He is the One who casts down demonic forces, who raises up leaders and takes them down, whose love is irresistible, whose glory is what it is all about.  His Word must be upheld, to refuse Him is hell, to receive Him is heaven, to follow Him is to suffer with Him in love and to hope for a new world that begins in our hearts and will someday wash away all else.  Some may call this idea pietistic, conservative, or narrow minded, or even too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good, but I say it is LIFE and TRUTH and the WAY = Jesus. 

Oh how I wish a single article or post or executive address would be about Jesus, pure and simple; His glory, His Name, His power, His ability to awaken the darkest of hearts!  That is the reformation, revolution, revival that we need and nothing less!

 

26 Mar

Why not church on the internet?

Why can’t we just have our church on a screen or on the internet?  After all, we find “community” that believes the same way we do, even if the persons are many thousand miles away and we will never meet in person.  Finally we have found someone who thinks the same as we do!  And it’s so much easier because you don’t have to find out their weaknesses!

But what did Jesus mean we he instructed us to go to another (Matthew 18) if that person has sinned and show him/her the fault, “just between the two of you.”? That is the context of Jesus’ teaching on the “church.”  Why not texting, e-mailing or some other means of media communication?

The bigger question is, what does it mean for the church that Jesus came “in the flesh” and that according to 1st John to deny this truth is “anti-Christ”?

I believe it means that Jesus came and was among His disciples as God face to face, in human form, day after day, with touch, and tone, and movement, and smell, and even eating together with them.  Even the Passover supper was a covenant between God and his Church, His Bride.  He called us to make disciples as He had done, with all that incarnational stuff included.  (In- carne- means “in the flesh”)

Our Christ community must be incarnational- in the flesh- not over cyberspace, but real, human connection and real connection with the Divine.  That isn’t to say we can’t use the web or texting, etc.  Just that we must not let it replace the authentic community Jesus came to bring us!

See the mission statement of our ministry on: http://www.envisionmission.org/home

And then you can see why this matters to me so much.  I can’t recount how many times pastorally I’ve had to deal with misunderstandings because people chose to text instead of going to a person face to face.  God help us!

05 Mar

Come Forth the Bride! by Chris Shreve

I consider this the best pencil drawing ever done.  It is called, “Come Forth the Bride” and the artist’s name is Chris Shreve.  At first glance we notice the beauty of the Bride, her wedding veil, her crown, the shape of her form, that she is naked, that she is coming forth.  We notice a tree is behind her and the sun and moon as well.  We notice a dove flying to her and the waves of the ocean all around, stars above and a man just behind her who has fallen asleep or died, it is uncertain which.  He is in the shadows and her leg is his leg is her leg is his.  They are one.  The touch of her foot as she comes forth brings a ripple effect for all time, to all the generations after her. 

Then if we look closer we see the side of a man, who has a cape on his back, like a King and a pierced side.  Then we understand that the man is not just Adam and the woman is not just Eve.  It is that Adam was put to sleep and out of his side came Eve.  Man and woman.  In the same way, Christ Jesus went into the sleep of death on the cross and His side was pierced, but out of his side was purchased His Bride, the Church.  And they are one. 

The Holy Spirit is the dove who birthed this.  The tree itself is gnarled and thorny, like Jesus’ crown of thorns, which compliments her crown of beauty.  It speaks of the Cross of Christ and a family tree.  There is a light above the sun and even the stars that shines down on all of it and this comes from the Father, who can never be pictured except that this light comes from Him. 

And this is a thing of beauty symbolizing beauty itself, the very greatest news of all for the universe that God became man that we might become one with God, that we might be married to the Son of God forever, with God as our father and the Holy Spirit giving us new birth.  Oh that everyone would say yes to the wedding invitation, the offer of God the Son to be one with us.  But we must have a choice, it cannot be love otherwise and the alternative will be hell for those who realized that they missed it.  So don’t miss it.  May all who read this be certain that they too join us at the Wedding Feast of feasts!

To see more of Chris Shreve’s work go to  http://www.chrisshreve.com or http://www.normiehead.com

22 Jan

A Bride for Jeshona in paperback! – A good King?

Here is an except from a book i wrote back in 2003 that is available on our media page: www.envisionmission.org/media (just follow the instructions) and on Amazon Kindle in both digital and paperback forms now- A Bride for Jeshona: This section concerns King Gadlon and a tiny village in his Kingdom from Chapter 4- “A Peasant Girl”- Enjoy!

“In the government house of the village Lamek and many of his fellow soldiers stood beside Sesoma along with some of the doctors from Adora.  Dojas and Tenmal were the only two elders left in the village and Dojas had taken the plant, as he claimed, by accident.  It was a pathetic assembly of elders, their shoulders slumped over and their eyes to the floor. 

Lamek spoke to them first.  “Greetings.  We are soldiers and doctors from the King’s royal castle.  We are here to help your village, to care for the sick and reestablish order.  The King is nearby, on the mountaintop.  His concern for you is great and he has come to give you succor.” 

Dojas replied quickly.  “How can we be sure that you are from the King’s castle?”  He interrupted his own question with a gasp of pain, held his stomach, and then continued, “And if the King is so nearby, why does he not come down himself?” 

Sesoma spoke.  “I saw the King with my own eyes.  I spoke with him.  These men are not lying.  Look at their royal clothing.  Note that they are truly concerned for us and ask for nothing in return.  They are not here to deceive.  Is that not enough for you?” 

“How do we know,” asked Dojas, “that these men are not just trying to trick us and take advantage of our desperate village?  Why does the King not show himself?” “

04 Dec

Captivated – from the Catch That Train CD

Captivated

Here is Elisha at a concert recently, performing music.  He is our second son.  One of the things we do as a family is learn Bible verses by singing them as songs.  One of those songs is called Captivated, because it’s about being captured by God’s love.  The verses are taken from 1st Corinthians 13- from the Bible- arguably the best treatise on love ever written.

Love is not just a feeling or emotion, it is a choice.  It is sacrificial.  This is a song we’ve sung many times as a family and Elisha even has permission to sing it to me when I’m getting crabby.  Here are the lyrics:

Captivated by your love and it flows through me; it’s activated in my heart and I’m growing to see:

If I speak in tongues of men and angels, but have no love

I am only a clanging cymbal, a resounding gong

If I have the gift of prophecy and I fathom all mysteries

If I have all knowledge and faith that can move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing, oh I am nothing

If I give all that I possess to the poor and the suffering

And if I surrender my body to the flames but have no love, I gain nothing…

Love is patent, love is kind, it does not envy

It is not proud, it does not boast, it is not rude or self-seeking

And it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth of this song

Love never fails…and it always protects and always trusts

And it always hopes and always perseveres, through the years…

You can find it on this website on our media page at: http://www.envisionmission.org/media

Just follow the instructions!

20 Nov

Pray – from “Riding on the Wings”

Pray – When I was 15 a deep depression hit me hard.  I could hardly play music anymore, but one night I picked up my guitar and a song came in about 20 minutes that hasn’t changed since I wrote it.  It helped me out of my depression and it was a prayer of its own.  It has also been sung to many over the years, even to homeless friends right on the street, to help them out of their depression too.  It’s from the first album I ever did: “Riding on the Wings”.  Here are the lyrics:

When you’re searching for the truth, but you just don’t know

Where to find a way to soothe your dying soul

When you’re walking down the street on a lonely night

And you feel a fear way beneath, creeping inside

I will teach you how to pray, yes, God will show you the way

He will never let you stray, and you will never fall away

So when you’re feeling down and cannot stand on your own

When you’re losing ground, fold your hands and pray to the Lord

And yes, he will take away (some) pain, when you pray in Jesus’ Name

When your tears fall down like rain, you know His love will never change

So when you’re losing hope and tired times walk your way

When you just don’t know, close your eyes and pray

And yes, He will show you the light, with the wisdom of a child

When there’s teardrops in your eyes, you know for those tears He died

When there’s nothing more to say, just close your eyes and pray

 

You can download the “Riding on the Wings” CD on our media page:

http://www.envisionmission.org/media

Just follow the instructions on the website.

I hope it gives you peace just as it did for me.

 

 

 

13 Nov

Celebration! from the self-same CD

Celebration

Here’s a picture from the self-same concert at Sonlight Church in October of 2017.  And what a blast it was; we truly celebrated that night!  I couldn’t play the notes perfectly, but it was fun.

What can I say? The song is about celebration. But it’s important to have times of celebration in life. I think we’ll do a lot of that in heaven. We might as well get used to doing it now! The picture here is one of times of fun, playing music on Saturday nights. It reminds me of playing open mics, shows and at our old coffeehouse. Then going to church on Sunday morning and leading worship as a means of celebration as well.

Here are the lyrics:

Celebration, good times come on…all right

Good times on a Saturday night, out late ’til the Sunday morning

Lots of laughs and the weather’s right, outside the rain is pouring

Inside is better than out, that’s what it’s all about right now it’s a…

Little pie and coffee too, got a guitar sing the blues

Suit coat, nice dress, drop a coin it’s a big old mess

You can sing, you can shout, that’s what it’s all about…

Someday let’s all sit down, at the biggest party around

Up in heaven with the LORD, raise a glass now everyone

Come on and give a shout, that’s what it’s all about…

Good times on a Saturday night, go to Church on the Sunday morning

Come on and celebrate, inside the love is pouring

Inside is better than out, that’s what it’s all about…

You can download the Celebration CD on our media page:  http://www.envisionmission.org/media

Just follow the instructions and don’t forget to celebrate, especially this holiday season! Those of us who have eternal life through Jesus Christ have a lot to celebrate!