Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Sunday devotional for the family of NRN

With the snow and sleet covering the roads in the greater Triangle - a difficult decision was made to cancel the worship services at NRN for Sunday January 31, 2010. As promised in my email to the family of NRN - Here is a devotional thought. I hope God uses these trustworthy sayings to minister to your heart:


HOW TO GET HUNGRY FOR GOD

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

A unanimous declaration of the thirteen united States of America was passed on July 4, 1776. We know this document as the Declaration of Independence. The second sentence of this document reads: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I have always been intrigued by this phrase "the pursuit of Happiness." Indeed, our entire culture seems to be taken with the idea that the pursuit of happiness is and should be the main goal of every person. And we go at it with abandon. But do we every really attain it?

Most people I have known, who have given their lives to a pursuit of happiness, have never really attained what they would call true happiness. Perhaps it all hinges on how we define the word. Or perhaps the things we thought would make us happy are not the things which make people happy.
What would it take to make us happy?
What would it take to make us truly satisfied?

Are you satisfied with your life, your marriage, your work, your relationships with others, your relationship with God?

What have you been doing to improve your level of satisfaction? Is there anything you can do that will make a difference?

Along with this problem of a pervasive lack of happiness in our culture, I see another insidious problem that may in fact be a causative agent in our lack of happiness. Franky Schaeffer identified this problem in his book Addicted to Mediocrity. One the problems we face is that we have been willing to settle for less. We have lost our passion. In so many areas, there is no longer a powerful desire for excellence. This has been a problem, at least in our country, for many years.

We also see this problem in the church. All too often we have been willing to settle for less in our spiritual lives than what God desires for us. Perhaps it is because we live without persecution in a country where we enjoy religious freedom. That very freedom often causes people to take for granted things which should be held as very precious. It can cause people to take lightly their Christian commitment. It fosters a casual Christianity, one in which we serve only at our convenience.

Perhaps we need to consider that our search for happiness or satisfaction has been misguided. It could be that we have been seeking the wrong object. The reason why the things we have sought have not made us happy is because they cannot make us happy. Things do not satisfy, only God satisfies. It has been said that within every human being is a "God shaped blank" and we are never satisfied until we are filled with God.

Jesus said it this way: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Perhaps the reason we are not satisfied is because we have lost our passion for God.
When Jesus uses the words hunger and thirst, He is speaking of real hunger and thirst. Most of us have a very hard time identifying with what Jesus intended to communicate. We have never really experienced true hunger or true thirst. Jesus was speaking of starvation and the intense hunger which it brings. Generally, when we say that we are hungry, we mean that it has been several hours since we last ate. But this is not hunger. The kind of hunger of which Jesus spoke could not be satisfied by a mid-morning snack. The kind of thirst of which He spoke could not be quenched by a brief trip to the water cooler. He was speaking of people who are in desperate and dire circumstances, like those who are suffering from famine.

There have been famines throughout history. In 436 BC, Rome experienced a famine so severe that thousands threw themselves into the Tiber River. They desired to drown rather than starve to death. Severe famine struck England in 1005 AD. Great famines covered Europe in 879, 1016, and 1162. We have seen famines spread throughout the third world countries where tens of millions have died of starvation.
We have never experienced starvation. I would suppose, however, that a starving person has only one desire. That person is possessed by a single, all-consuming passion. Only food and water has the slightest attraction or appeal to that person. Nothing else is important. Nothing else has even the slightest appeal.

Could it be that what Jesus is saying is that until we come to the place where we have such a single-mindedness in our passion for God that we will never experience true satisfaction? As a matter of fact, that is precisely what I think He is saying!
The question to you then becomes: "Do you have a passion for God?" Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Is this your desire? Is this what you want above all else? Are you starving for God? You will find nothing else which will satisfy that hunger. In Isaiah 55:2, God asks, "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what is does not satisfy?"

Only God satisfies. So, we need to come to the place where we are hungry for God. We must desire Him so passionately that our desire causes us to do something about it. Nothing less than that passion will cause us to act properly. When Prodigal Son was hungry he turned to the husks that he was feeding the pigs. When he was starving he turned to his father.

What brings us to this place of passionate hunger for God? Many things can. A true realization of our own sinful condition can cause us to desire release through the power of God. When we are suffering, we may look to God for help. If tragic events overtake us, God may be the One to whom we turn. Whatever the means God uses, He desires to bring us to the place where we come to the end of ourselves. This is where we must be in order to discover a real hunger for God.

Coming to the end of ourselves brings us to a place of desperation. And in our desperation, after we have exhausted all other possibilities, we turn to God as the only hope for our lives.

Are you there? Have you come to the place where you are ready to allow God to have His way in your life? Many things can hinder you. A mistaken idea of your own self-sufficiency can hinder you. Many people wrongly believe that they need nothing else outside of themselves to be happy. You may believe this until the time when you are sitting all alone, face to face with who you are, feeling inadequate and powerless. Don't trust in your own self-sufficiency. It will always let you down.

Some are not hungry of heart because they are hard of heart. Allowing sin to control their lives, they develop a hard shell around their hearts which is impenetrable. A hard heart will certainly keep you from God.

While it is so tragic to see people who do not know God turning their backs on Him, I am utterly amazed to see people who have tasted His goodness do so. Those of us who are Christians and who have experienced the goodness of God through His forgiveness of our sins ought to be people whose lives have been marked by passion for God. Yet many are not. How can this be?

Moses knew the Lord. We read in Exodus 33:11, "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." But Moses wanted to know more of God. He says in Exodus 33:13, "Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee . . ." Moses had a hunger for God, for His righteousness, and to know His ways. He cried out, "that I may know Thee." This sounds very much like the apostle Paul. He cried out in Philippians 3:10, "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Both Paul and Moses desired to really know God. They already knew Him in a very deep sense. But what they meant was that they wanted to know Him more intimately, personally, and powerfully. They had a hunger for God. They had a passion for Him.

Moses was so intent on remaining in God's favor and presence that he said to God in Exodus 33:15, "If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here." Moses knew the source of his strength.

Listen to David in Psalm 63: "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, To see Thy power and Thy glory. Because Thy loving kindness is better than life, My lips will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name. Psalm 63:1- 6

To Get Hungry for God:

If you want to truly be satisfied, you must desire God. You must:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind
Deuteronomy 6:5 "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

2. Seek God with all your heart
Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

3. Hunger and Thirst - for you shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

May God give us a passion for Him. May he cause our hearts to be hungry and thirsty for His righteousness. May He create within us such a spiritual desire for Him that we will not be satisfied with less, but will seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy birthday Pastor Jordan

The celebration of life for Kyle Funke was an awesome experience. Thanks to the Whiteside family for the worship portion and the media presentation. Pastor Kevin Todd shared the eulogy prepared by Kyle's dad, Peter. The tributes brought a perfect blend of laughter and tears. I am so thankful for Rodney Rhoads and the great team of people for the meal and blessing to the family. Dr. Dan Boone concluded the time with a special presentation to the family and shared the closing farewell to Kyle. The life of Kyle Funke was well celebrated and I am confident that God was pleased.


Today was a great day in the office. There was a minimal party mode - but I could not let the day pass without saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Pastor Jordan Unfried!


Jordan is a recent graduate of Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA with a Master of Arts, Educational Counseling degree - July 2009. He is also a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA with a Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy & Theology with a Minor in Pre-therapeutic Psychology, May 2007. He now serves as Youth Pastor at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene.

Jordan and his wife Alana were married on August 1, 2009. They relocated from California to Raleigh in late August 2009.

I am so thankful that the Lord has brought Jordan and Alana to NRN. He is a vital part of the ministry team!



A recent event for the youth ministry was going to Pineville, NC to join with youth from across the state for the annual New Year's Blast! Here is a picture of the group before they left the church for the evening of fun:


Pastor Jordan - we appreciate you.

HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tribute to Kyle Funke

Since coming to Raleigh to serve as Lead Pastor of North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene my heart has been heavy for Kyle Funke. On Sunday January 24th as we gathered in worship, Kyle slipped into eternity. Kyle was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only 14 years of age. His life has been a clear testimony of his love for the Lord and the presence of God at work in his life.

As a teen he was a team member of the NC Nazarene Impact team. Here is a video featuring Kyle in ministry:









The Hammer Holds from Andy Joslin on Vimeo.


To read more about his amazing life: click HERE


The church family of NRN is in prayer for the Funke family.


The celebration of the life of Kyle Funke will take place Wednesday January 27th at NRN.


Friday, January 22, 2010

To Save a Life begins today!


Today the movie - To Save A Life premiere in theatres. You may have seen the trailer - and heard all the hype. Here is the story:

Jake Taylor has it all: friends, fame, a basketball scholarship and the hottest girl in school. What could be better? Enter Roger Dawson. Roger has nothing. No friends. No hope. Nothing but put downs and getting pushed aside. Things couldn't get worse...could they?

Jake and Roger were best friends when they were kids. But the politics of high school quickly pulled them apart. Now Roger doesn't fit in Jake's—or anyone's circle—and he's had enough. He walks onto campus with a gun in his pocket and pain in his heart and makes a tragic move. Jake's last-ditch effort can't stop Roger, and the sudden tragedy rocks Jake's world.

Something breaks loose inside and sends him questioning everything. Most of all, he can't shake the question Could I have saved Roger? In a quest for answers, Jake finds himself looking for the next Roger and reaching out to the outcasts and lonely. But he quickly finds that crossing class castes threatens all his world is built on. And it could cost him his own friends, his girl, his dreams and even his reputation. Is it worth the price to find the answer to his ultimate question:


What do I want my life to be about?


Can a movie change the world? No, but it can move the people who will. To Save A Life is more than a movie. It's the difference you can make when you use your influence and time for others—whether in your family, neighborhood, campus, community or world. Some people are just dying to be heard and accepted. Don't let 'em have to. Be the person who takes the time to show people they have value. Listen. Reach out. Engage. Imagine if we took the time to show other people we care. To Save A Life dares—no, inspires—you to.


To Save A Life is an awesome movie. But it's only a movie. You can change the world.

Pastor Jordan has secured a large "block" of seats for the 6:45pm showing at Brier Creek. Many pre-purchased their tickets to join this group. If you did not make a reservation - why not call a friend and ask them to join you and check out this movie this weekend, you will be glad you did!

In the Raleigh - Durham area the following theaters are showing To Save A Life:

Regal North Hills Stadium 14
4150 Main, Raleigh, NC
12:45 3:40 6:35 9:30pm


Regal Crossroads 20
501 Caitboo Avenue, Cary, NC
1:00 3:45 7:00 9:45pm


Carolina Cinemas - Raleigh Grande 16
4840 Grove Barton Road, Raleigh, NC
12:05 2:40 5:20 8:00 10:40pm


Regal Brier Creek Stadium 14
8611 Brier Creek Parkway, Raleigh, NC
1:15 4:00 6:45 9:30pm


Marquee Cinemas - Wakefield 12
10600 Common Oaks Drive, Raleigh, NC
12:55 3:50 6:45 9:40pm


Southpoint Cinemas
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Durham, NC
12:20 3:45 6:55 9:45pm

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

She was worth the wait

The Journey began almost five years ago. On September 15, 2005 Joy and Doug Huber submitted their application with Living Hope Adoption Agency to adopt a baby from China. For several years there have been times of prayer and preparation. On January 13, 2010 Doug and Joy departed for China to bring home their daughter Sarah Mei.

Sharron and I broke into tears as we read on the blog - Shesworththewait that they have held Sarah Mei in their arms. We rejoice with the Huber family and our hearts are filled to overflowing.
The first Family Picture:
Joy holds precious Sarah Mei Zhi-Min Huber


A kiss from dad:

We look forward to the welcome home is a few days.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

God is big enough to guide my life

Well - It's Monday and I realize another week has gone by without a new posting. I want to post more. I even plan to post more. It just seems like life is full right now. But - here I go:

In my last posting I placed a clip about predictions for the Super Bowl. Now the weekend football games are completed and - you guessed it - the predictions for the Super Bowl are now null and void. The purpose of this posting is to help us realize that we never "really" know what is going to happen in the days ahead.

Each week we print an "order of worship" for the usher staff; sound and media personnel and members of the worship team. On the top of each order - just under the date - are the words "We make our plans, but God has the last word..." We are always open to the leading of God's Spirit in our worship experience. We should also live each day - open to the leading of God's Spirit speaking to us. Thus the question: How can I know God's will? - Glad you asked.




Yesterday - I continued in the teaching series: HOW BIG IS GOD?

The message was titled- BIG ENOUGH TO GUIDE MY LIFE!

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5.17

Here is a clip for more understanding about the message:



Monday, January 11, 2010

First posting of 2010 Super Bowl Predictions

Here are some of the predictions for the Super Bowl
to be played on Sunday February 7, 2010.


So ... What do you think?
I'm ready for some comments
PS: Over the past two months I have been receiving many anonymous comments. Each comment goes through a filter that I have placed on my site and must be approved by me before posting. Please do not waste your time by attempting to place an anonymous comment on my blog.
FOR ALL MY FAITHFUL FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS ---
I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ARMS THAT HOLD THE UNIVERSE

This morning at NRN I closed my message
with a song from one of my new favorite groups: Fee.

As promised: Here is the clip for any LIFE groups meeting tonight:











Join us next Sunday for the next message in this teaching series:





HOW BIG IS GOD?

BIG ENOUGH TO GUIDE MY LIFE

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Promoting To Save A Life

On Sunday January 10th we will begin to pre-sell tickets for To Save A Life. which begins Friday January 22, 2010. This is a powerful movie that I strongly endorse. I had the privilege to attend a pre-screening of the movie several months ago. I feel the movie is true to life and should be seen by every high school student - parent of students and grandparents. The message is very relevant.

I enjoyed the movie and hope the opening weekend goes well. This deserves our attention.

Here is the trailer we plan to show tomorrow at church:

video

How BIG is God - Part one

I am so psyched about the new teaching series I began last Sunday at NRN. I have received several encouraging comments about this series already. Last Sunday several people made spiritual decisions at the close of our worship experience.

Due to a technical problem in the sound booth the sermon was not recorded. I thought I would summarize last week's message and preview tomorrow's message with this posting.

The series:

Last week's message: How BIG is God?

An Introduction: When we see God.

What happens when we see God clearly?

Isaiah 6:1-8

Seeing God clearly begins with CONFUSION

In the year that King Uzziah died…

Seeing God clearly results in CONFESSION

I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."


Seeing God clearly results in CHANGE

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Seeing God clearly results in COMMITMENT

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

I concluded the message with this simple challenge:

On the first Sunday of the year list anything that you need to confess, change, or commit to…

Tomorrow - Sunday January 10th 2010 - we will continue in this teaching series.

I plan to present Part 2: How Big is God? - Big Enough To Trust

We plan to begin the worship set with one of my favorite songs:



Thursday, January 7, 2010

Disturb us Lord

Now that Christmas and New Years Day is being viewed in the rear view mirror. It is always a good time to pause and reflect on the time past - and then face the future with faith. I recently read the following in a devotional classic and wanted to share it with you.

As you think about the new year, here's a prayer worth memorizing. It's author, Sir Francis Drake, an adventurer, wrote it as he departed to the west coast of South America.

Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.



Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.



Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wilder seas

Where storms will show Your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push back the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.



This we ask in the name of our Captain,

Who is Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This year will be different

Here we are at the first week of the new year. How is it going? If you are like me - time is busy and the schedule is full. I really thought I could place some things in perspective and possibly slow down. I had good intentions to develop new habits and keep resolutions - but time dictates different for me. I am living life and loving it.

Here is a little something to consider:


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010


HAPPY NEW YEAR !
Have you made any goals for the new year?