Posts Tagged With: Safe Haven

Times of Refreshment WILL Come. That’s a Promise!

“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today,” Acts 3:24.

What a remarkable statement.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, with those eleven words, Peter alerted that unsuspecting crowd that had gathered at the Temple for their daily 3PM prayers that the singular message of the entire OT was now beginning to be fulfilled right before their amazed and curious eyes.

Jerusalem in all of its storied history had never before experienced anything like the events of the past two-to-three months. Going all the way back to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into the Holy City, then His cleansing of the Temple, the crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Day of Pentecost. And now, for the past two-to-three months, nonstop, ongoing miracles.

All of that leading up to this: a very public, and deafeningly loud miracle—the healing of the lame man whom everyone in Temple precincts that day had passed every day on their way up to Temple.

I say loud because, as we can only imagine, when this man now went “walking and leaping and praising God” throughout Temple courts, everyone heard him.

And everyone naturally wondered, “What on earth is going on around here?”

Peter was about to tell them exactly “What on earth is going on around here?”

As it turns out, A LOT was going on around here.

Peter’s answer to that question?

“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today.”

The entire Old Testament—every story, prophecy, promise, sacrifice, festival, feast day, type, symbol, sign—all of it pointed to that day here in Acts 3, and all that they were witnessing now.

Get ready for a wild ride, courtesy of Peter.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Take Heart! (Jesus Said It Would Be So…)

00003294OK… So… I am rarely one to say “I told you so.”

But sometimes I just can’t help myself.

As you will hear on this week’s PODCAST, my dear friends, I told you so. All courtesy of Jesus. All centered upon a #MostSignificantParable.

One of a duet of parables, actually. The first having been discussed at length last week. The second to be discussed here and now.

Get ready to think. Be prepared to process. Buckle yourself in as we once again (thanks to Jesus) shift a paradigm.

In short, get ready to view the world differently.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen!

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How NOT to be Torn into Pieces (Spiritual Abuse, Part 5)

How’s this for one weird command?

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Really? Did Jesus really say that? Did Jesus really mean that? Did Jesus really command us to do that?

Yes, He did.

PEARLS

So I’ve got to ask: In this context of Matthew 7:1-6, who are the people who are unholy? Who are the pigs (ceremonially unclean animals)? Wanna take a guess?

According to the context of the passage, people who krino others, who “judge” others, are the objects of Jesus’ command, those whom He referred to as “unholy” and “pigs.”

It ought to give us pause. Jesus compared those who “judge” others to unholy and unclean “attackers.”

According to Jesus, what should be our response to those who do judge others/krino us? What should be our response to someone whom Jesus proclaims as unholy and unclean?

This will indeed sound harsh. It needs to be harsh. Harsh words for those of us on the receiving end of such harsh judgmental treatment. Because nothing less than your soul and mine is at stake here. And let me respectfully remind you that Jesus said this, not me! What should be our responses to those who do “judge” us or “judge” others? To Spiritual Abusers? Ready?

Have nothing to do with them.

What should be our responses to those who do appoint themselves as our judges? Who mask their judgment by invoking the culturally Christian mantra, “I’m holding you accountable”?

Have nothing to do with them.

Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t get into an argument with them. Don’t try to correct them. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t debate them. Or in Jesus’ words, Don’t cast your pearls before those who cast stones either in your direction or in the direction of others.

Have nothing to do with them.

Our souls are simply too precious and too fragile to be crushed under heavy loads of guilt heaped upon us courtesy of finger-wagging, verse-spewing, “Christians.”

pig

We are under absolutely under no biblical obligation to tolerate Spiritual Abuse at the hands of another. If that is the price that we must pay to have a relationship with these individuals, then the cost of these relationships is far too much to pay.

Have nothing to do with them.

Jesus taught, and our life experiences confirm, that dialoging with judgers is fruitless, damaging, and too often lethal to our souls. This because judgers will twist the Bible — wield their double-edged swords (Remember that metaphor from our previous discussion? — and use their swords to stab, slash, and decapitate us, decapitate you!

Or in Jesus’ own words, use their Bibles to “turn and attack us.”

Which is exactly what they do. Your soul and mine is too precious to expose ourselves to that kind of judgmental, soul-crushing, spirit-killing treatment.

Hear me: As individual Christ-followers, we are about loving, forgiving, pursuing, redeeming, returning, and welcoming home those who wander away from their ekklesias. We do so because that is what Jesus told His followers to do. The same Jesus who told His followers,

Do not judge others!

The same Jesus who told His followers that when others judge us,

Have nothing to do with them.

If you want to hear the entire discussion, click on the podcast player and get ready to be refreshed.

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Straight Talk About Spiritual Abuse — What it is, Why it happens, and What we can do to guard ourselves and our loved ones from it

Stop-spiritual-abuseSpiritual Abuse is a much-neglected, but all-too-common condition in our Christian circles. So let the conversation begin!

What Spiritual Abuse is, why it happens, and how we can guard ourselves and our friends from its devastation. I don’t often beg. But I am begging you now: PLEASE Listen, and then PLEASE “Share” this message with your friends.

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The Fast Track to Dynamic Spiritual Development

OK! You may well be wondering, “Are we really going take an entire message to talk about fasting?”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Yes! We are indeed! And for some very good reasons. 

Just the mention of the word sounds like something out of an ancient Byzantine Orthodox liturgy. Certainly not something relevant to our fast-paced 21st century get-up-and-go, hectic, frenetic lifestyles. Which is precisely the point!

The fact that our lives have indeed become so deliriously fast-paced (Get it? Fast-paced? When talking about fasting? A little pun there.) demands that we build this discipline into our lives.

And just to give you one tantalizing clue as to where we are going with this: Fasting has much more to do with our time than it does with our food. As you will hear me propose in this message, fasting is much more of a time-management issue than it is a food-management issue.

fasting

It’s not at all surprising, really, that Jesus followed up His presentation of The Lord’s Prayer with this invitation to fast. Because here’s the thing: We can approach our newly-discovered insights on The Lord’s Prayer with all kinds of renewed enthusiasm and excitement about praying the way Jesus taught us to pray. (I certainly hope you do!)

But the raw reality of the situation is this: Many of us simply don’t have the time or take the time to pray. To get alone with God. To embrace the silence, an endangered species in our day, a silence in which we prayerfully consider the significance of each phrase of The Lord’s Prayer

I mean, if your life is at all typical, as you run here and rush there, you barely have time to eat, let alone time to pray. Which, again, is precisely the point!

So take some time — relatively very little time — to listen to this podcast. It may just change your life in a really, really good way.

Please note that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen. And PLEASE “Share” the link to this message with your friends.

HAPPY LISTENING!!!

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Shattered Dreams, Broken Hearts, Unfulfilled Longings

Broken-PromisesIt’s one of the most beautiful verses in all of Scripture… which, ironically, may not actually be in the Bible.

But as you will learn in this PODCAST, it really doesn’t matter. Because what Matthew quite possibly did not write, Paul most certainly did.

Paul ascribed glorious praise and power to His sovereign God who quite possibly Broke.Paul’s.Heart.

Paul’s heart broken by a shattered dream, an unfulfilled longing.

Yet through Paul’s resilience, we can and WILL derive much comfort in the face of our own shattered dreams, broken hearts, and unfulfilled longings.

This podcast is for you!

Please remember that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to play.

HAPPY LISTENING, and may God richly bless you as you do.

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YouTube

Hey, our Safe Haven, Jesus in HD podcasts are now on YouTube.

Here are a couple of examples. More will be posted each week. Enjoy!

You can access them all by clicking HERE.

Thank you for listening!!!

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Back to the Beginning!

Welcome to this encore presentation of the introductory PODCAST that launched what was then, back in November of 2012, a brand new and exciting and life-changing series: Jesus in High Definition

I know my friends in the midwest will laugh at us here in the Pacific Northwest when I say this. But when it snows — oh, around a half an inch! — the city and state virtually shut down. Well, we are into our third straight day of snow, now approaching a full foot.

snow1

Consequently, it was not safe for our precious people to travel to the Safe Haven this week. As a result, we will seize the day and take you all the way back to the beginning, to where our study started: Jesus in High Definition, the very first lesson.

In this first lesson, we will provide you with an OVERVIEW of the entire Bible — think of it as looking at the box-top of a puzzle — so that we will understand exactly where all the individual “puzzle pieces” of the Gospels fall within the grand sweep of the biblical drama.

By harmonizing the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — we have been studying the life of Christ in chronological order, from the first utterances of the angels heralding His birth, to His crucifixion and resurrection. 

It is our sincere hope and expectation that as we continue to immerse ourselves in Jesus’ life and ministry, we will fall more deeply in love with Him, and become more and more like Him.

Why not join us on this journey?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this little side trip back in time as we revisit our very first study in our wonderful series, Jesus in HD.

If you like it, there’s a free iTunes subscription to this weekly podcast, available HERE.

PLEASE NOTE: Depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds before the podcast will begin to play. Well worth waiting for!!! 😉

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Breaking News

My beloved little Safe Haven family is really going through it right now. In a word, we are being broken.

To focus that just a bit, let me say that I am amazed at the significant struggles and overwhelming challenges that some of our precious people are experiencing — painful loses; seemingly senseless disappointments; literally excruciating physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that defy explanation. Storm clouds are billowing. I cannot help but to imagine the reasons why.

In talking to each of these individuals on multiple occasions, they are understandably wrestling with it all, yet all the while demonstrating a firm-if-sometimes-faltering faith in God’s good plans that leaves me in awe.

I know, I know, I know that God never breaks His people without some amazing purposes behind His breaking. Some of our dear Safe Haven family members are being broken — No doubt about that! — but to what good purposes only time will tell. (Emphasis upon that hope-filled word, “will.”) The stories are just now unfolding. Stories that will be told. Stories of God’s abiding grace and peace. Stories of God’s sustaining strength and power. Stories of how God will profoundly touch the world through the profound pain of my friends. Stories that will illustrate the unbreakable law of nature: We can’t enjoy a shimmering rainbow without some falling rain.

rainbow

I also know that as God breaks my friends individually, He is also breaking Safe Haven collectively. He is breaking us as we share in these burdens together. A safe haven indeed — an unpretentious cadre of committed Christ-followers who desperately love Him and relentlessly love each other despite the unexpected trials and tribulations that life throws our way. It will be amazing, in the days and weeks ahead, to see not only what purposes lie behind God breaking certain individuals, but what purposes lie behind His breaking our family as a whole.

In the mean time, I have the unspeakable privilege of walking through these storms with some pretty special people whom I love with all my heart. It’s times like these that I am so incredibly thankful that God gave me the priceless privilege of being their pastor. But more than that, to be their friend.

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On the Worst Night of Their Lives…

The other night at the Safe Haven, during our series — Jesus in High Definition — we had a heart-to-heart. A heart-to-heart discussion about misinformed expectations. 

The premise of the talk was this: Too many of us mistakenly expect that we are entitled to a trouble-free life. We have been taught — Haven’t we? — that when the storms of life threaten to capsize our faith, Jesus will still all of our storms. When we cry out to Him in desperation, Jesus will answer all of our prayers. When we cast all of our cares upon Him, Jesus will fix all of our problems.

Oh, I know that we would not necessarily voice that expectation aloud. But when our lives crash, when something horrible happens, when the storms of life continue to blow our lives apart, how many of us have our faith shaken to the core, or perhaps even collapse completely, as if God let us down?

AskBelieveReceive

When we pray earnestly for something — when we ask, believe, and DON’T receive — when our prayers remains unanswered, how many of us become angry at God, resentful that He seemingly turned a deaf ear to our prayers? Or if He heard us, just didn’t care enough to answer?

So as a part of our discussion, I shared with my precious Safe Haven family my extended paraphrase of John 16, a majestic chapter in which Jesus huddled with His men in the Upper Room in order to prepare them for the single worst 24 hours of their lives.

What He said to them is equally applicable to us. 

If you would like to hear the entire podcast, you can do so by clicking HERE.

This of this paraphrase as a part of The New Testament in High Definition

Please let me know what you think.

We need to have a talk.

Because I fear that with what’s about to happen, your faith may falter and you might fall away.

Some really, really bad things are about to happen. And I don’t want you to be caught off-guard.

After tonight, you men and your families will be hunted and harassed by misguided individuals who will actually believe that they are serving God by harming you. They will hunt you and harm you with a religious fervor, just like they are about to hunt and harm me.

I am telling you all of this now so that when these bad things happen to you (and they will!), you will remember that I warned you that your lives would be like this.

The time of my return to my Father has come.

I know that my death will fill you with grief unimaginable and inexpressible. For that, I am so sorry. You’re going to have to trust me when I say that what is about to happen is for the best. I cannot explain to you tonight the reasons why; I can only assure you that it is for the best.

But know this: I will not leave you alone to face your pain alone. As soon as I return home to Heaven I will send to you the Holy Spirit who will be with you every hour of every day. He will never leave you.

He will be to you a constant companion, your counselor, helper, and advocate. He will pray for you, give you strength to endure the challenge, and walk right beside you every step of your journey. 

Please don’t ever forget that you are never alone, even, and especially, when you feel all alone.

I have so much more to tell you, but you’re just not yet ready to hear it all. At least not yet.

But what you do need to know tonight is this: My time is growing short. In a little while, I will be put to death. You will feel like your world has come to an end. You are about to feel completely abandoned and all alone, as if I have left you forever.

My enemies will celebrate my death as though it is their victory and your defeat. But hear this: My death is their defeat and your victory. Your victory because you will see me again. My death will not last forever. And neither will yours.

Night may be closing in on you, but the brightest mornings always follow the darkest nights.

Your sorrow will turn into joy. Your nightmare will turn in to your dream come true.  

But not yet.

You first will have to endure the darkness of this difficult night, this very stormy season.

You are like a beloved mother-to-be who suffers the temporary pains of a difficult labor. But when her child is born, her anguish gives way to pure joy. So great is her joy that it completely obliterates even the memory of her momentary pain.

And so I promise you that just like that mom, your present pain will give way to unspeakable joy, a joy that no one can or will ever take away from you.

When that day comes, all your questions will be answered. All your confusion will be resolved. All your doubts will be erased, when that day comes. 

But for now know this. God the Father loves you. He loves you with a love that will last forever. A love that you embraced when you embraced me.

From now on, you will pray in my name. That is, you will pray remembering who I Am, and remembering what I taught. 

When you pray in my name — remembering who I Am, and remembering what I taught — God will hear everything you say, even when it doesn’t feel like He does. Even when it is hard to believe that He does. Your prayers in my name will never fall of deaf ears.

OK, so the bottom line is this: In this troubled world of ours, you are going to suffer. You are going to suffer greatly. That is a universal fact of life. And ironically, being my followers may result in you suffering even more. 

This world can be a cruel place. Believe me, I know. But you can be sure of this: I have overcome this world. And so shall you.

So while I will not solve all of your problems or take all of your pain away, I offer you tonight something so much better. I offer to be with you in your problems, to be with you in your pain. I will carry them with you. We will carry your problems and pain together.

In short, I offer to you my peace. My peace. That most beautiful of all human experiences. True, genuine, lasting peace. This is why I now ask you to pray in my name, so that you will never forget who I Am and what I taught. And by remembering who I Am and what I taught, your soul will be flooded with my peace.

My peace will sustain you. My peace that will comfort you. My peace that will assure you that everything that seems out of control is well within my control. My peace that will carry you all the way to a glorious and victorious end.

The same promises Jesus made to them, He makes to us. Both His promises of pain, and of His peace.

 

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