Saturday, December 26, 2009

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Thanks to all of our family, friends, staff and young people who came over to Casa de Escudero and made our annual Christmas Open House Party a blast - and those couldn't make it, we missed you. We clearly need a bigger house - and 6pm until 2am was not nearly enough time for all the fun we were having, so we're looking forward to a happy and prosperous new year with each of you. ALL TOGETHER NOW!

Coskun & Baumeister sighting, lol!


Rook, Hand & Foot, Uno, Back Alley, Blokus & Scattergories






Rori and her buddy LaNae in their pajamas!


The happy hurricane named 'friends' that hit Rori's room, haha!


Some homeless guy we felt bad for and invited in for a cup of coffee and warmth by the fire, lol.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family Christmas Service

What an amazing Family Christmas Service we all enjoyed and had the privilege of participating in this past Sunday. The more than 170 children and young people who call The Rock Church home and family because of transportation made possible by our bus ministry were adopted several weeks ago - and got the chance to personally meet and spend time with their 'adopted' family. Each family gave each child a gift - and the look on the faces of many of our friends who probably wouldn't otherwise be receiving anything for Christmas this year was priceless. TRGYC also gave every family a cd of Rock Church music to listen to 'in between Sundays', and made sure that everyone had a pair of quality gloves to keep their hands warm on subsequent Sunday morning bus rides. The most important gift exchanged was the true, Christ-like Spirit of adoption. In between hugs and high fives, we were able to capture a few of the moments. Enjoy!

Tawni, Rori and I with our sister Corchelle Pleasant - what a fitting last name for an awesome young lady who will be turning 12 soon and integrating into TRGYC.


Anthony and Sara - TRGYC staff & Jr High Leaders - all smiles with a little man named Elijah who grabbed all of our hearts.


Philip and Kate - TRGYC staff & Jr High Facilitators - with another one of our family members!


Ryan - TRC's main drummer - and Kelly Hammonds with some of the coolest cats.


These were just a few of the families who were within iPhone snapshot that we were able to capture. This was an incredible recharge for our community outreach efforts. Much of the inspiration is to be credited not only to our Pastoral covering, but to the awesome leadership of our Bus Ministry Director - Jennifer Pelton - who is pictured below escorting two of our newer friends to find their adopted families.


PS) BIG SHOUT OUT to the 57+ young people who consistently rotate and ride our buses every Sunday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Transition: Moving Time

I have to say I was proud of this post, titled 'IM MOVING' earlier today on 'Duplication Prohibited.' So, here's a shout out to those who have after much thoughtful consideration, packed up and loaded the truck...

I'm moving...
Based on recent occurrences, this appears to be the preeminent venue for delivering a message of this affair:

Dear Bishop and Pastor/Family and Friends/Saints and Sinners,

It is after much thought and prayerful consideration that I post this article. Of course there will be badgering and provocation, yet I truly believe this is the right decision. The last thirteen years at The Rock Church have been invaluable, but it’s time for me to pen a new chapter of my life, and by this I mean, effective immediately, I'm moving...

The Rock Church has been my sanctuary, my birthplace, my refuge and my home. It is here that I received, for the first time, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, evidence by speaking in other tongues, as the Spirit gave the utterance. It is here where I went down in a watery grave, buried with Jesus Christ in water baptism, and emerged out of that humble, homemade baptism, a new creature. It is here where God freely gifted me with a church family, the Body of Christ, and in return, required only my loyalty and perseverance. It is here where the Word of God has been masterfully delivered, preaching me under conviction, into repentance, and ultimately driving me to God’s calling and commitment. Numerous conversations, countless sermons, and timeless words of direction from the leadership of Bishop Nathaniel Wilson, and Pastor Myles Young, is indisputably the reason I have reached any amount of success in life.

So, I have decided to move…no, not move away, instead I am moving closer. I am not leaving my church like others, nor is this move a physical shifting, rather I have decided to move closer in committment and cause, of which has remained too far way, for far too long. I have decided to move closer to my God, move closer to my leadership, and to move closer to my church. By moving closer, I am affirming my loyalty, my dedication, and my willingness to serve. By moving closer I am committing to the cause, the purpose, and the driving force of the leadership, “ALL TOGETHER NOW”. With many supposedly finding greener pastures, others searching out selfish aspirations, even some moving away for no apparent reason, I am declaring now, here, and to all…I am here to stay!

Legalism? Manipulation? Ignorance? Self-righteousness? You may label it by whatever most conveniently accommodates your views, your frustrations, or your disagreements. Years from now, when ample water has gone under the bridge, we will all see if this decision to move pays off. In the meantime, more will come than have gone, the church will grow, and God will remain on His eternal Throne.

God bless your endeavors, and please say a prayer for mine.


It's moving time. I don't know who literally enjoys the process of moving - but a preferred destination and anticipated point of arrival can make the obligation and irritation of transition negligible, and worth the while!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pure Religion

There's a lot on my heart, and subsequently also on the tip of my tongue. The danger of imperfect, human articulation of any point of truth or revelation is misinterpretation, which can lead to a total defeat of the honest intention and pure religion behind sharing to begin with. Truth is always relevant. Yet, this is a truth many a people have been victimized by, and a fear many a noble and mighty person has cowered behind. Rather than addressing either, or even sharing my own devotion on the subjet, I post a pericope of Scripture that speaks clearly today. As someone once said, 'Scripture can shed a lot of light on those commentaries.'


Enjoy James' writings from the first inspired chapter (vs 12-27).

12: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16: Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
18: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
21: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23: For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25: But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
26: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
27: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.


During this Christmas season, let us not 'err' in being lead away of carnal desires that result in enmity with Christ. Instead, let's participate in 'pure religion' by not just being hearers of the Word, but doers also who manifest truth. Let us not only represent Christ (inwardly as a prerequisite, outwardly as a product), but also present the Spirit of Christ to the world (in conduct) as a witness of what Christ can do within and without. May God help us all - and Joy to the world!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Check it out!

At the risk of seeming somewhat nepotistic I am going to what politicians call 'carry water' for my Pastor - and make no apologies for it. I don't mind carrying water when water can mean life, a sustaining word for someone. Just ask the delta environmentalist, the southern California constituent or the central valley farmer just how vital water is - regardless of their geography, philosophy, demographic or political bent.

So I post, with his permission a link to his blog titled 'What they see is what they get.' More than a play on words, these words speak to the issue of presenting a gospel with our lifestyle (in addition to standards of separation)that matches the doctrine we preach. CLICK HERE

Oh, and the must view compendium I referred to by Dr. Nathaniel Wilson, on a related subject is now available online. Here's part 1 of Clear & Up Close on Holiness - enjoy! CLICK HERE

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Have you heard?

Briefly I break away after an awesome Sunday morning service, and before an afternoon of study (and a cat nap if I am lucky) to excitedly introduce and promote to all of my friends from East Wenatchee to Little Rock, from Calgary, Alberta to the country of Pakistan and all points in between, an awesome new news feed for Apostolics.

In my opinion, this news site spearheaded by Baumeister and Coskun is well on it's way to becoming the Apostolic equivalent to what the comprehensive Drudge Report is for so many others.

Click on ApostolicNews! to catch up on what's going on around the world, and to add the site to your favorites.

Also, you are being tipped off mark Dr. Nathaniel J. Wilson's blog as a favorite, and return to it tomorrow, and each of the nine days following, to view a special ten-day compendium. The series will be available in its entirety after the tenth day.
Click on and visit Dr. NJW's blog now to bookmark the site, and be sure to check it out tomorrow!

God bless, finish digesting your lunch so you don't regurgitate whatever you ate while running the aisles tonight (eww) and grab one of those elusive Sunday afternoon naps if possible. Whatever the case, turn the furnace up, have red hot revival tonight, and where ever you are gathering, make it the place where God, saints and sinners alike want to be!

God bless!

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning, December 6th is less than an hour old. In a few passing moments the saints of The Rock Church will assemble together, just as many of you will at your respective houses of worship. Today has been filled with devotion, study and digestion of Scripture - with a few breaks to keep fresh, grab a bite, spend time with family and send a tweet here and there.

Hold the hammer in one hand tomorrow as you lend the talents invested in you to build the Kingdom, and the Sword in the other to protect and defend the timeless truths that provide protection and defense for us.

Ignore the detracting blue-blood on your way to the house of God. The conviction they live with can only be seared by mockery and vain attempts to justify why they do what they do. They forget it's not about we can or cannot do, it's about what Christ has already done for us. So instead, join the 'new convert' in the aisle or altar (the red-blood who actually remembers the work of Calvary in their lives and is not ashamed) and worship Jesus with your whole heart and soul. Lose your spirit in His and lavish Jesus with the sweet incense of praise that He longs to hear come from you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carnival Christianity

I have been amazed lately at how quickly people walk away from what has been so dear to them. I have watched men & women walk away almost callously from their families. I have watched as people removed themselves from the friendships that took years to establish in just a few moments. Even more sad is watching people throw truth away under the guise of spiritual freedom. Experts tell us this is part of the "post-modern" mentality. If it is then my heart is broken for the coming generations that will feel the negative effects of such temporal decisions of the present generation.

There seems to be a blurring of reality. This is why the "virtual world" that the internet provides has become so popular. It is reported that social networking has now replaced pornography on the internet as the most used activity. People are creating "pseudo-relationships" with people from the past and with total strangers, people they would never even be interested in talking to in a real-time relationship. This blurring of reality makes the mind "...a switching center for all the networks of influence"(Jean Gaudrillard). This generation is being bombarded by many influences but is failing to maintain strong personal distinctives and the result is a blurring of truth.

Kenneth Gergen states that in the present condition of "decentered self", confusion will reign and "without external standards and without internal standards there is only cynicism, panic and freefall"(The Saturated Self").

When the moorings that have held generations strong are pulled up...long term commitments become a thing of the past. "Instead of long-term commitment, the postmodern self just moves onto the next game, to the next show, to the next relationship"(Middleton and Walsh) "This is the nomadic self, on the road with the carnival"

I am watching spiritual carnival teams start up very often these days. Their well decorated "carny" buses pass me by on their way to yet another empty lot in the seedy part of town. Bright lights, party music, cotton candy sermons (a lot of fluff & color but not much nutrition) and a different crowd every night. Nomadic ministry....their ‘Christianity’ is a journey spent searching and chasing. It seems to be the new cool trend to be "searching" but "finding" is totally out of date.
I guess this is why I see so many "Rolling Stones"....just walking away... They see themselves as pioneers but sadly they are appearing to be "wandering nomads" moving from tent to tent.

*This blog post was originally written by Pastor C. Myles Young and was republished on e-luminations.blogspot.com by permission from pastormylesyoung.blogspot.com

Short and Sweet

Pastor, Rori and LaNae - a short and sweet blogpost by Pastor Young parallels how our Heavenly Father must feel when we share with others what He has done for us. Read it!

Click here to read more...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 'Gift of gLOVEs'

A few weeks ago during one of our early Sunday morning staff meetings we considered the efforts of and proposal by our Bus Ministry Director (Jennifer Pelton) for our upcoming Family Christmas service. In a mere matter of moments, as we began to work through the details that would make such a display of benevolence possible, a sweet spirit of charity began to work on us - and the responsibility of the business aspect at hand became the prospect to practice pure religion undefiled. In that vein Pastor Young taught and preached last night on 'Pure Religion', and concluded the message he relayed on God's behalf with an appeal that gave families and individuals alike the opportunity to adopt one of the 170+ children and young people who ride the bus to be with us in service every Sunday at The Rock Church, to pray for that child every week during family prayer, to adopt them for Christmas and to purchase them a gift of love. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of volunteers claimed multiple crown or angel shaped cut-outs bearing the name and age of their adopted family member - and soon there were more particpants than there were beneficiaries.

This was a blessing in disguise, and the remainder of those who responded volunteered to help TRGYC (the youth ministry of The Rock Church) improve the quality of and give every single one of our friends who ride the bus the 'Gift of gLOVEs.'



Out of the mouth of babes...and a child is to be credited for the inspiration behind this burden as well. It all began on a brisk, Fall morning shortly after our Sunday staff meeting. While being buckled into her car seat Rori Lane clenched her fingers together and exclaimed, 'Mommy, Daddy, my hands are cold - I need some gloves!'

Choked up then and there in conversation, Tawni and I decided to not only purchase Rori a pair of warm gloves, but to, on behalf of TRGYC, also buy every child and young person a pair to help get them through the bitter-cold Sunday morning bus rides that are sure to come over the next couple of months. Again, we were blown away by the response last night by the many young people, parents and grandparents who comprise the faithful, unselfish saints of The Rock Church. God's people are amazing - and because of your obedience to the preached Word, and submission the Spirit's call to charity, more thank 170 young people will have their names called in weekly prayer, will gain an adopted family in The Rock Church, receive a gift during our December 20th Family Christmas service, along with the 'gift of gLOVEs' to keep their hands warm while riding TRC's busses this Winter!

Thank you God, thank you Pastor, thank you Jennifer, thank you Rori, thank you TRC!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Picture PostOp

This year we went to Disneyland/CA Adventure during Thanksgiving. It was Rori's first time ever - and the first time I had been in 18 years. What a blast we had with great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were able to make it - and we missed the one's who couldn't (special thanks to Papa, PapaGary and Scott for pushing me around in my wheelchair - PapaGary took out more than one ankle, but Scott was the raddest driver by far).

It all started on Monday night with a fried chicken dinner at Knott's Berry Farm. This was the first time I had ever been, and the food matched it's reputation. Rori, Eden and Huntley had fun climbing the rooster out front afterwards.



Rori pretending the curb is a tight rope while we waited for the shuttle to Disneyland on Day 1 outside the hotel.



After a couple of shows and a few rides, Rori and I posed for a snapshot during lunch!



Rori and Tawni and the billionaire mouse, lol.



My queen and princess (in street clothes) with the actress (in costume).



Grandma Mary and Rori on the Rocket!



Rori decided this was her cup of a tea and required a refill!



The three of us on our way out Thanksgiving evening.



The three of us Saturday, after a wonderful 24 hours at Lake Arrowhead with our dear friends the Wilmoths (PJ, Megan, Jason & Brenda - it was great seeing you all too!). We woke up Saturday morning to several inches of freshly fallen snow.



At PF Chengs with Rori and her buddy Brenden before our roadtrip back to Sacramento.



Rori, one of her best buds LaNae and our Pastor after a most memorable, timely, Sunday night service at The Rock Church.



To all of our friends, family members, leaders, mentors and young people - we love you and are most thankful to God for YOU this year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In Defense of the Red Faced Preacher

Why do preachers feel like they have to yell and scream and get all ‘red in the face’ when they preach?

I heard this question asked again the other day and my mind went back some time ago to a softball diamond where I happened to stand as the short-stop. The teams were even, the score was close, runners were on and base and the game was up for grabs. In the bottom half of a critical inning the pitch approached home plate, the batter swung, the ball was hit well, but the outfielder pursued swiftly. After making the catch he fired the ball back, hitting his cut-off man in the chest, keeping the runners from advancing – or so he thought.

From the opposing team’s dugout stormed someone well-versed in the rules of the game, advising that, actually, the runners were permitted to advance a base apiece, because the fielder was ‘out of bounds’ when he caught the ball on the fly.

Sadly, my minds eye has instant-replayed the moments that ensued several times. Several times before I’ve contemplated blogging about it; the heated exchange that took place between the players, the color or crimson that flushed the face of the arbiter, the exact confrontational words he directed towards the grown man indicted in the outfield, and the decibel level that he reached during his message.

Teammates whispered about it. Thoughts varied as to whether he went overboard, but not a public complaint was offered. Who could argue with him? After all, he wasn’t wrong, in theory he was right – he’d played for years and undoubtedly knew the rules better than anyone. Besides, it was just a game of softball.

Oh, ok. I get it. So, it’s cool when it's a sport – softball, basketball, football, etc. Because he was right and knew the rules concerning field of play better than anyone else, he was justified in yelling and screaming and getting all ‘red in the face’ about a subject he was knowledgable in and passionate about…but God forbid a man or woman, a Pastor, Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet or a Teacher called by God to lead His people, who has dedicated his or her life to the ministry (which is unto the Father on behalf of the people, not unto the people on behalf of the Father), and who knows the Word better than anyone else on the field…

God forbid they ever come out of the dugout, scream and yell and get all ‘red in the face’ after their passion, to ‘call out’ and question the position or direction of people on the opposing extremity who are trying to keep members of the winning team from advancing forward…

It’s ok to get all pumped up and competitive, just so long as it ‘stays on the court,’ right?

Well, let’s remember when it comes to men's souls we are not playing games any longer. It is a matter of eternity. So, let’s watch out for our own inconsistencies. Let’s quit condemning others as 'judgmental' when we ourselves are judgmental when it’s convenient for us and when we’re convicted - and let’s be concerned with what’s right.

Preach preacher – get in my grill if you’re right and proclaim what thus saith the Word of the Lord - even if you have to yell and scream and get all red in the face about it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BOO!

Ha, just thought we'd scare all of you who thought we were dead after our month-long blog-hiatus. How appropriate, it being October 28th - just a few days before everyone's healthy alternative to Halloween. Anyhow, it has been a great month on nearly every front, minus the fact that I managed to tear my achilles tendon. Two more months on crutches but it hasn't slowed me down much (thanks to Tawni who is a tremendous helpmeet). Now that you know we're breathing (although a little under the weather, we're on top of the world), we'll let you get back to the more pressing issues of life. Model Christ. Be a servant. Be a leader. Do something that will outlive you. Work on your legacy. Be productive, be effective, be influential - and be back soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4th Quarter Challenge

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual E-Group gathering, hosted in Redlands CA by my Pastor (C. Myles Young) and host Pastor BJ Wilmoth. Friday morning and afternoon's agenda entrigued those of us in attendance with a tour of the 'Azusa Revival' origins. Locations on the stop included the first house where William Seymour began to preach, the Bonnie Brae House (where he finally received the Holy Ghost he had been preaching about), his burial site, the former site of the Azusa Street Mission, and Arroyo Seco (campground and baptismal site).

I couldn't help but wonder how many California-based Apostolics have never retraced the origins of the Holy Ghost outpouring in our great State. Knowing our history is important. Understanding who 'they' were, where they came from, why and where they ended up can be very helpful to us living in what could very well be the last days.

On Saturday morning over a mug of coffee and a scone, I was challenged by Bro. BJ Wilmoth. Later on that the morning he put the same challenge before the congregants during the day session. In turn, I'd like to challenge our readership following to do the same.

Now, I'm not saying that Jesus is coming in 2010, but I do believe His return is closer than when we first believed. We are in the fourth quarter of the year (3 months/approx. 90- days left in 2009). So, here's the 4th quarter challenge:

1) Will you join us in reading the four synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)? At 3 chapters a day we can do it.

2) Let's try and write out the entire book of Acts! At 11 verses per day, we can do it too!

Are you up for it? I hope so - and look forward to reading your comments about your progress, insights you gain, questions you generate, and so forth. Keep me posted, and let's learn together.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Bragging on God (& Tawni)

Here are a couple snapshots a friend of ours captured of Rori Lane's personality during one of her sessions today. Just had to brag (not only on Brenda's photographic work - which takes guts since my brother in law Scott and great friend Sam are two of the best in the business) on God (and my wife Tawni), and thank Him again for my little princess. I can't believe she is already going to be three years old in November. Time flies - make and capture as many memories as you possibly can!



Friday, September 18, 2009

If You're Struggling with the F-word...

'Foreclosure', that is.

The following is a guest post by Christi from Jealous Hands.

***

Our house will be foreclosed on October 6.

I'll bet it's happening to someone YOU know, too.

What I feared for so long is finally happening, and you know what? I have complete peace about it.

I've spent the most of the last year unable {or unwilling} to be happy - and making everyone else around me miserable, too. And what I had to learn is this: it's okay to still be happy, it's okay to still live your life while in the midst of something like this. It's not the end of the world. Yes, it stinks! Well, at least it did in the beginning to me. Now, honestly, I have just let it go. To say I don't care sounds like I'm calloused or irresponsible or something - and that's not it.

I lost almost a year of my life {and my family's life} worrying, fretting, acting ugly over this. Being mad, yes at God - because why would He allow this to happen to us? And the reality is, this is a fallen world and the world is in the shape it's in because we are sinners - in SPITE of God, not because of Him which is where my perspective was wrong. So, I don't care anymore. I don't worry about the house that's being left behind, which is next door to the house we're moving into. We're fortunate that we HAVE somewhere to go, although the Lord will have to pay for it, because we sure can't do it! It's okay.

It took me a long time to get to this place. And please don't think I'm advocating just throwing up your hands, or walking away from something that you've a responsibility for. But we just couldn't do it anymore. The money simply is not there. We haven't done anything wrong - yet we've been judged, looked down on, distanced from family and friends, and had to console other people when we were the ones in crisis.

Finally, after lots of anger and tears I got back on my knees and I know that's where I should've been all along. It's still a journey EVERY hour, EVERY day. I was so caught up in what might happen in the future, that I couldn't be happy with the day I'd been given. I wasted a year worrying about a day that hadn't come yet. I couldn't see how to be happy, when I "knew" misery & uncertainty were lurking right around the corner.

Uncertainty doesn't have to be something that takes away inward rest.

Now that we're here, though - it's not what I thought it would be. I've already gone through the heartbreak and misery. It almost, very nearly, tore us apart. We've had to work together and get creative to carve out a new normal for our family. There are amazing opportunities ahead of us, and I'm finally excited thinking about the possibilities. We're still living a blessed life.

It takes courage, faith and hope to step into the unknown. I wanted to run away, but He kept calling me back.

What I want you to know - especially if you're facing this situation - is that it IS okay. Please don't waste your life worrying, even about your children {which was always my biggest concern, how will MY BOYS deal with this}. Please don't become so hard that your marriage is on the line. Please don't get to the point that you look back and realize that you've wasted a year, and those are minutes and days and memories that you can't get back.

Life isn't perfect. Thankfully It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Eternal Tug-of-War


Polarity is the organic pull, attraction or tension - the interdependent relationship shared between opposite, sometimes seemingly disconnected ‘force fields.’ Polarity appears to exist, have influence on and affect three different atmospheres, or dimensions. First and foremost, polarity exists in the supernatural, unseen world where spirits wrestle. Simultaneously, nature grapples with itself on an even plane, in an ebb and flow of earthly elements. Thirdly, when you distill these ‘universal laws’ down from the ethereal you find contained and condensed within every human being a peculiar polarity where both spiritual and natural coexist, engaged in a tug-of-war for eternity. In creation God formed man from the dust of the ground, then breathed into man’s nostrils, whereby man became a living soul – creating polarity and introducing the greatest internal-external conflict of all time.

Determining whether the traction or tension is coming from within, or without is pivotal in deciding whether to pull back or away, or push for or towards.
Ultimately, what we permit to have influence upon our spirit affects our body, and vice versa. Constantly, we are being torn, until finally one force dominates, and the other agrees, one pole manages supremesy and the other pole submits - and the consequences are eternal.

Who's winning the tug-of-war in your life?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On a Political Note



It's 3:05am on the morning of the final day of Session in the California State Assembly. Needless to say, here are a few of my thoughts.
Figuratively speaking, the political face of the United States has changed
dramatically, and at an accelerated pace. While over-objective historians, liberal analysts, and subsequent future textbooks may attribute this transformation to the evolution of social norms, tolerance and diversity, the current political portrait of America is, in my strong opinion, an unflattering caricature that would cause our founding fathers to roll over in their graves.
In infancy, our nation demonstrated an authentic faith and dependence upon God-attributes appropriately articulated in our ‘Pledge of Allegiance.’ Chronologically, when compared with most other countries, we are very young. However, recent, relative history has required little of time to taint the once fair and innocent, child-like complexion of American politics. Like bad acne, the image of politicians and politics in America have been permanently scarred by equally adolescent behavior, impropriety, immorality and the extreme liberal influence of the outspoken, poisonous, leftist minority.

Reinstating righteousness to our capitol rotundas, and fidelity to our legislative floors is a daunting task, but in a political structure of the people, by the people, and for the people, correction is possible. Struggle has always been a factor in the survival of ‘We the People’ who ‘trust in God.’ In fact, our founding fathers achieved because of the adversity they faced, and gained freedom because they fought for it. As a result, they accumulated adequate courage to establish, cultivate the thirteen original colonies, and later constitute the United States of America.
From the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving prayer, to the last stanza of the original National Anthem (God Bless America), from the tradition of prayer in schools to the inscription on our currency and coins, God has always been a trademark of American people.
Early politicians were not secretive or bashful about the fact that their religious beliefs and faith in God shaped their family values, morals, business practices and politics. Early legislators, like Abraham Lincoln, led disciplined lives, employed a Judeo-Christian work ethic, and operated on sound, biblical principles. Such men and women were not paranoid about their God-consciousness, or preoccupied with political correctness-but rather maintained their honesty and guarded their integrity in their quest for justice, equality-life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, we inherit this rich tradition. Sacrilegiously, radical secularists choose to ignore our past and substitute government imposed ideals for faith-based morals.

There is hope-but America must return to its roots, its grass roots. When the Redcoats were coming, Paul Revere instinctively knew to call the people whose freedoms were in jeopardy.
America is suffering from an attack of moral failure. As one prominent, nationally syndicated talk-show host referred to them, the ‘red-diaper-doper-babies’ are coming. Actually, they are already here-and this active, self-indulgent, self-deified sect of society has, like a cancer, threatened our democracy with their socialism, desecrated the institution and sanctity of marriage as defined between one man and one woman, and vandalized our traditional family values with their homosexual agenda, legalized abortion, cloning and premature stem cell research. Presently, bi-partisan legislation for these and other controversial issues are being redrafted and reconsidered by politicians we have elected.
Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” Once again, there is a clarion call in America- and once again, it is imperative that the people respond and take action to defend what set us apart from the rest of the world.

We cannot afford to remain silent, as silence is consent. It is time for our voice to be heard. However, because a voice without action is merely bravado, we must also act. The age old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is true, especially in politics.
Though quick to converse, and voice an opinion about a candidate’s character or campaign, where is the church when it comes time to vote? With the exception of the stalwart efforts exhibited by a few, poll numbers prove that the vast majority of Christianity seems to adopt a pious, almost laissez faire, whatever happens happens, this world is going to hell in a hand basket anyway, ‘this world is not my home I am just a pilgrim passing through’ attitude when it comes to political activism. With such a small-minded, short-sighted, reclusive world view held by Christians who could otherwise make a difference, it is no wonder why politics in America continues to erode.

It is our responsibility to elect representatives who will foster and fight to protect our freedom of faith and religion, and vote out those who attempt to facilitate freedom from faith and religion. Unfortunately, we who espouse traditional family values and morals are just as guilty as those we blame in government, of creating the great divide of separation between church and state. Legislation has removed corporate prayer from our schools, but we have stopped praying. A replica of the Ten Commandments was removed from Justice Roy Moore’s Alabama courthouse, and we complained a little - but accomplished nothing. Liberal activists volunteer their time, draw picket lines and protest faithfully, vociferously, demanding a verdict-and we criticize them for their radicalism, but do little to compete with or compensate for their political cries.

It is time for a ‘great awakening’ in American politics. It is time for Christianity all over America, lay members and ministers alike to awaken from social slumber, educate ourselves, and become privy to the import and spiritual implications of real political struggles that exist just outside our sanctuary walls. Then, we must prepare our hearts with prayer, network our resources and arm ourselves with an arsenal of information, and assume the position of political influence I believe God intended the Church to have. ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:4). Atheists can deny it, agnostics can avoid it and others can say what they may, but God has always played a role in politics. ‘God is the Judge; He putteth down one, and setteth up another’ (Psalms 75:7). ‘…He removeth kings, and setteth up kings…’(Daniel 2:21). How does God complete this process? The answer ris ‘through His people within the confines of human government they have constructed.’
While the main mission of the church is to fulfill the Great Commission, God has also commissioned His followers to ‘occupy’ until He returns (Luke 19:13). The word ‘occupy’, as used in the Greek language, refers to an ‘occupied territory’ as would be found in a time of war. As a result, this usage of the word ‘occupy’ denotes a strong military or political presence!

Until Jesus Christ returns, it is time for those of us who call ourselves Christian, or American for that matter, to, for the sake of our founding fathers, and for future generations, cure the cause of moral failure, erase what has become a caricature and restore virtue to the face and heart of our country’s politics. In this time of ideological and political warfare, the people of God must occupy, express our support and voice our concern in the prayer closet and out in public, in the sanctuary and in classroom conversation, on talk-shows, in the letter of the law, in letters to the editor, in personal beliefs and in phone calls to representatives, in educating others and in our election day ballots. God with us makes a majority-and if God be for us, who can be against us?!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ode to the Builder

Several months ago I was present when the following language sculpture was unveiled in the form of poetic supplement to an already masterful sermon, during an anniversary service. Alas, my hands have come upon this coveted piece - but I will share, for to conceal, in this case, would be the act of thievery. To all who build, in the natural and in the spirit...

“Ode to the Builder” by our Bishop, Dr. Nathaniel J. Wilson

The mind a thousand patterns, may devise or store, genius flit,
Creative wit, brilliant thought , made to fit
And yet, unmoving, still they sit, in abstract realm of hope alone
With freedom wish, no self, no ‘own.’

Tho’t’s of beauty, seem so free, escape they seek, reality,
For something/nothing, at once they be,
Caught in yon and distant sphere
Not quite there, not quite here,

Stored forever swirling, swirling,
Only tho’ts – twirling . . .twirling,
Never knowing being,
Flitting, fleeing….

Liquid, shapeless, hard to see
This realm of ‘possibility’
Without form, void, unsized,
Forever nothing actualized.

Can ‘potential’ now at last,
By intrepid soul be grasped
And with ‘action’ firm be cast

From flighty wave of tho’t as foam
Into the dark uncharted loam
And there beneath earth’s heavy curtain
Abide alone, in angst, uncertain,

Where there it human will doth meet
And join it in courageous feat
Where ‘chance’ is grasped with all he’s got
To pull it from the world of tho’t

And add to her abstract elixir
A dash of action as his mixer.

ACTING! ACTING! while others quail
Declaring reasons such will fail
He peers far down in deep crevasse
Of great, may fatal, loss

Risking….Risking…,
Yea, some explain,
Even gambling, for great gain,
Could they be right? Is he sane?
Can one from tho’t create again?

He leaps into the roiling whirl
And grips great thot’s within the swirl
With dash, n’ deftness, courage bold
He grips those thot’s and starts to mold

He breaks the line ‘tween tho’t & deed,
He acts with courage, does indeed,
One for the other there is need,
He also knows that one must lead,
To break the line ‘tween tho’t & deed

Elements raw, unbent, proud,
Declaring tho’ts but airy cloud
Declare that ‘change is not allowed’

But cloud-like tho’ts & elements raw
Both acquiesce to hammer and saw,
When Builders with acts like God
From tho’ts alone bring structures tall,

Out of nothing they do birth,
Dominion & “Thy will on earth.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thankful for the Expected Unexpected



I'm grateful, I'm thankful. God is doing so much all around us. Sure, the unexpected summer rain may soak through and send your proverbial linen suit to the cleaners prematurely, but it also purifies the atmosphere and quenches the thirst of all things planted. I have learned that like seasons of unpredictable precipitation are not meant to dampen our faith, but to make possible deep, cleansing breaths of fresh air, and the beauty of an abundant, ripe harvest of flowering fruit.

During our REUNION youth service Friday night I couldn't help but notice such Spirit produce and breathe a healthy sigh of relief. Between last Sunday, and this Friday I've had a number of conversations and received multiple emails; young people and parents thanking our team for our diligence in facilitating faith community, others wanting to create multi-media promotions for our youth ministry, another inquiring about joining our youth music department, and even one email volunteering apologetically why they would not be able to attend. That was fruit. During Friday night's service a particular young person sang lead to a song for the very first time. A short time ago, who would've thought...? That was fruit. I noticed several young people who could've taken an advantage of parents being out of town to fill the final Friday night of August with carefree fun, but instead chose the commitment and responsibility of local youth ministry. That is fruit. A friend of mine, a few years younger than I ministered to us. He broke the Bread of life, God spoke and we responded. 114 young people on their hands, knees and faces, building their own altars at the front of our youth chapel- that was fruit. I couldn't help but think to myself and comment to my wife later just how blessed we are here at The Rock Church, within our own youth community to have young men and women who are so radically committed to the Word and His work - who are called, anointed and capable; teachers and preachers already in their own right, but submitted to leadership, having teachable spirits, and the heart of a Servant.

When unexpected weather arrives the temptation is to entangle oneself in the evil forecast of whatever everyone else is saying and or doing. In these moments of uncertainty, speculation, hear say or hypothesis it's easy to miss the opportunities and revelations that the sudden season, hour, or moment was intended to create. The rain should drive us inward, into the shelter of the Strong Tower, the fog should further ground us in His Word where we belong, and the scorching heat of the day should force us beneath the shadow of the Almighty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SUMMERMANIA: thanks & pics

Again, thank you to everyone who worked hard to make it happen and who attended (from Redding to the Bay Area, to Bakersfield) to make our work worthwhile. In addition to blessing our local youth ministry with the means to make some key purchases, your attendance and participation is making it possible for us to support national pastors for up to an entire year in Africa, Mexico and South America! Here are few pics from SUMMERMANIA, our all night outdoor event. We'll see you back for an even better 2010!

Softball beneath the lights, with the beautiful Rock Church in the background.



Chick-fil-a registration booth, Spinning Wheel & Mascot



One of our guests chicken sandwiches (included w/ admission) - this one was Left Behind



Volleyball



Live GameShow Stage featuring more than $400 in Starbucks, Best Buy & iTunes gift cards (including an iPod Touch)



Hangin' out









Playin video games



The DJ - 'Brutha Aubrey Robinson, Sr.'



All that was left of the breakfast bar by 8am



My pictures of the paintball field didn't come out - we'll grab some from someone else and post.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lover of Cheeses



I love cheese.

American, the pride of patriots between the patties of an In-n-Out double-double.
Cheddar, skirting one of Becky Salter's homemade grilled cheese sandwiches - or the flavor of Cheezits!
Bleu, the perfect crumbled accompaniment for a Cobb salad - or as the complimentary accoutrement, or 'dressing' for chicken wings.
Monterey Jack, melting jealously over milanesa!
Cream, stuffing breaded jalapenos or decorating steamed brocoli.
Swiss, the holiest (as in holey) of all, made to entice mice & hover over roast beef.
Brie, for whom crackers are merely a means of conveyance from port to portal.

Cheese makes me laugh. There's nothing like a good, 'cheesey' joke - especially after a long day or late night, with family or friends. Seems like some Pastor's have a proclivity for it - these jokes are only funny to some. I call it PhD; a degree of pastoral humor.

Cheese makes me smile, because it makes me think of Rori's smile - and the countless times our 2-year old princess has prefaced camera clicks with her cheery 'Cheethse!'

It also takes me back to my early childhood, around an Apostolic altar after preaching and a Pentecostal, home missions church service. Other children near me were praying also, but there is one particular sight and sound I will never forget. With hands lifted high and eyes closed so tight that they quenched the thirst of the carpet below, one of the children repeated 'I love you Jesus' over and over and over.

Only, with her accent, it sounded like she was saying, 'I love you Cheeses!' I've chuckled about it years later, but as children we only recognized the sincerity. We all heard and knew what she meant, and so did He.

For all of the obvious reasons, and more, I am an avowed lover of cheeses.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MOVING PICTURES from PEAK 09!

A Chrisian blue-grass group sings a song that include the lyrics, 'if that don't make ya wanna go t'Heaven - I don' knowwwww what does!' Well, if these here movin' pictures don't make ya wanna go t' PEAK next year...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyjEqc6XCMY
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

SUMMERMANIA - this Friday night!

This Friday night we're going to be up all night for TRGYC's SUMMERMANIA, an all night outdoor fundraiser event featuring fun and fellowship for Apostolic young people across Northern California. A portion of the proceeds ($25 entry fee) will go to sponsor national pastors and native missionaries in Mexico, South America & Africa for one whole year!

After a Chick-fil-a dinner and appearance by the 'Chick-fil-a Cow', activities will include a Paintball Tournament, live game shows, $400 in giveaways (including an iPod Touch), Inflatable Jousting, Pillow 'Fights', Obstacle Course, Basketball tournament & contests, Volleyball, Christian DJ & Karaoke, Video/Board Game Room, Lounge Area, Artist's Palette (live painting), Photo Booth, Neck/Bow Tie Swap Shop - and incredible Coffee, Fruit, Pastry & Cereal Bar.

Needless to say, our awesome TRGYC staff will be up all night with us. Naturally, Rockstars tends to be the localenergy drink of choice here at The Rock Church, but I was curious which energy drinks provides the most energy, in your opinion. Let us know!

Come on out and join us for some fun - and help sponsor local youth ministry, and missions work around the world!
For more info email: youthpastor@therockgrouplive.com or call (916) 689-ROCK







Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Presents

I love Fridays. Fridays make the corners of my mouth flirt with my earlobes. Fridays give me the heart of a child - one that persistently knocks on the door of my chest cavity, begging for all inside of me to come out and frolic for the duration of another summer day. I love Fridays. My work day week begins on Friday nights. Someone said 'if it's something you love to do it isn't work' - and if that is true, then my work is not, unless it is - in the sense of that which is produced, or in the process of becoming. I love Fridays. Fridays are about KINGDOM NOW. Fridays are about 'the already not yet.' Fridays are about the 'never old ever new.' Fridays are about giving every young person every possible opportunity to make Heaven. Fridays are about eliminating every conceivable excuse for accepting the cheap substitute Satan wants to slip each young person, in exchange for an eternity of peace, hope and love.

To every young person, to every parent, to our Pastoral leadership, and to our TRGYC staff who help make this day what it is, THANK YOU. To the only wise God, our Savior be glory, majesty, dominion and power - now and forever. Thank you.

Love - Johannes & Tawni (&Rori Lane too)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Creative Genius of Genesis




I had a wonderful conversation with a few friends at Wingstop after church service last night. By the way, you can add 5 wings to an order of 10 (to make 15, a happy medium between 10 and 20), for an additional $2.99. During the warm exchange one of my brothers replied, 'Im just a baby - I was baptized 5 years ago.' To which I assured my comrade that we all too are babes in Christ.

This fact is profoundly reinforced every time I peer into the timeless - the words of life and works of Christ that John said all the libraries in the world could not contain.

Take for instance, the beginning. Read the first two chapters of Genesis, the first book in the Bible - an account of the Six Days of Creation.

The continuous, repeating threads carefully and consistently woven by Holy inspiration throughout the Bible amaze me again, and again. Every incredible layer is a reminder of just how elementary my childlike understanding is - and a welcoming invitation for further exploration at the same time.

After looking closely at each creative 'day', I closed my eyes and allowed the Spirit to settle the sediment and sort the sentiment of my immediate interpretation, and all too quick life application.

In the beginning, the Word spoke and created a formless planet, suspended in the dark void of space. The Word of God spoke, and created light. Then, the Word separated light from the darkness. Throughout each of the creative days succeeding the first, the spoken Word performs and completes a powerful, meticulous, purposeful pattern. Astonishingly, that pattern is: 1) creation, and 2) separation by distinction.

I am a testimony, as you too are, or can be, that after thousands of years, the Word of God still speaks life into existence. The anthropomorphic fingerprints of the Word of God still appear to touch humanity, to shape our minds and to build our bodies in a manner that resembles His likeness. The Word of God still breathes into the souls of humanity. The breathing Word, now in us, still desires to speak things into existence, to create - and to separate, for His purpose and for His glory.

Like David, when I consider the Heavens, and the works of thy fingers and all thy hands have made, oh God - what is man (who am I) that thou art mindful of him (me), and the son of man that thou visiteth him (me)? Make me in your image. Word of God speak, create and separate in my life as you see necessary.