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Grounded

Every person has values.  Every person has a list of things, people, and places that are valuable to them.  For each of us, these values inform the purpose of our life.  Our mission is to live up to, fulfill, and promote our values, those things which we find important.  The values at Berean Bible Church are what we use to define our mission.  These values are (1) Grounded in God’s Word, (2) Focused on Christ, and (3) Sharing God’s Love.  Let me share a little about the first value.

Grounded in God’s Word.

One of the most meaningful passages of scripture to me is found in 1 Peter 1.  Here, the apostle is encouraging the readers to pursue holiness (v. 15) and put their hope in God (v. 13, 21).  Unlike their previous lives, which were marked by emptiness (v. 18), their new lives are characterized by eternal, imperishable life (v. 23).  We would be foolish to miss that this new life in Christ is channeled by the Word of God.  Peter quotes Isaiah 40 when he writes,

“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

He then says, “And this is the word that was preached to you.”  Peter is saying that it is only because of the WORD OF GOD that the believers can receive this new life.  If the Word of God is not preached to someone, how can they be saved by faith in Jesus?  Rather than the old life, which was wasting away and destined for destruction, this new life, on account of the sharing of GOD’S WORD, is enduring and will last forever!

That, my friends, is how important the Word of God is.

It changes us.  It transforms our perspective on life, the world, others, God, and ourselves.  It challenges our preconceived notions of what is valuable and worthy.  It cuts through every motive, excuse, and belief that we have.  It reveals whether those motives, excuses, and beliefs are built on reality or built on lies.  It is important to note that the Word does not do this on its own.  The Holy Spirit, which lives in every believer, is the one who makes this happen.

I don’t know about you, but I always need to be humbled, broken, and cut by the sword of God’s Word.

It reveals just how grounded I am in reality.  In the truth.

I want to be grounded in God’s Word like a tree is grounded in the soil.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Ground yourself deep into God’s Word.

 

 

Check out Berean’s website at www.berean-shoreline.org or email the office at office@berean-shoreline.org for info on how to engage in God’s Word through our Bible Reading Plans.

Third-Culture Kids

I was 9 when my parents told us that we would be moving to South America. The rest of that year was spent preparing to move from Minneapolis to Seattle and eventually down to Bolivia in January 1993.
Growing through those formative years of adolescence as a missionary kid is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I am grateful for the experience of a different culture, learning another language, and the opportunity to form deep friendships with the people I encountered. On the other hand, there were many times I would have preferred to have a more “normal” teenage experience. Missionary kids are often referred to as “Third-Culuture Kids” in that there are part of them that identify more with the culture of their sending country and other parts that identify with the culture of country where their family is serving, but don’t fully feel at home in either. After I left Bolivia and went to college, for years one of the hardest questions for me to answer was, “Where are you from?”
For Christians, we are all, in a sense, Third-Culture Kids. When Paul, a Roman citizen writing to Roman citizens, says, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3.20), he is aware of the discrepancies between God’s priorities and those of the Roman empire. Until Christ returns, we will never fully “fit in” in either world. And this is okay. We are meant to live in the tension between where we are now, and what God will do for us in the future. In the meantime, God has placed us in our particular culture and neighborhoods so that we might be ambassadors and witnesses for heaven, where our true citizenship remains. No one is as uniquely qualified to represent Christ among your specific culture as you are.  He has placed you there with a mission to tell of his love, and therefore we are all mission-aries sent to bear witness to His love.

In Our DNA

Blog from Pastor Jim

DNA, you hear this acronym quite often these days but do you know what it stands for? According to the Oxford Dictionary it is defined as follows, “deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.” You will notice the word ‘self-replicating’ which suggests that once in motion this material will continue to reproduce and this is why you will often hear someone say in reference to an organization or even church ‘this is in our DNA’ in reference to a core value and mission.

This week we have been sharing in our Annual Berean Missions Conference and I personally have enjoyed greatly all eight families who have been sharing with us. I believe we can truly say that World Missions is part of the DNA of Berean Church and hopefully always will be. We are privileged to support, pray for and encourage our missionaries both from the US and the many from the countries we have partnered with as ultimately our role is to help in training and partnering with national churches so they are equipped to provide the ministry needed for their communities, both local and for their countries.

When Berean was founded 53 years ago in 1964, missions was an integral aspect of our ministry. In our Library you can find the volume The Ministry of the Berean Bible Church and the following quote from p. 414 “From the day that the Berean Church began in 1964 until the sanctuary was completed in 1967, there were two missionary families that were supported on the Missionary Roster, and that included the Marlin Olson family at the Bethany Christian School in Taipei, Taiwan, and the Vernon Bigelow family in Ozamis City, Philippines.”

From that point on our Mission commitment has continued to grow to where our pledge goal this year is $140,000 and this is in addition to many other gifts as well that Bereans contribute. Truly mission work in our own community and throughout the world is part of our DNA and this week has been a great reminder to us of how privileged we are to be a part of God’s great work. Your participation enables us to be assured that our DNA, ‘the carrier of genetic information’, will continue to be a core value for the Berean Bible Church family.

Pastor Jim

The “Unscience” of God’s Call?

img_mouseover3 (3)I have had the privilege to lead several small groups throughout the past five years.  In those groups, I have always spoken of the innate human desire to observe, predict, and control.  These three drive many of our actions on a daily basis.  We naturally try to observe past experiences so that we can predict present circumstances so that we can control future outcomes.  Let me give an example:

  1. Scientific method.  All the sciences use the observe, predict, and control model.  They do this in order to form hypotheses, experiment using controls, and formulating theories that can be either proven or disproven by repeating experiments.  The goal of science is to explain and understand natural phenomena.  From Physics and Chemistry to Psychology and Ecology, these methods hold true.

Consider this, it makes no sense to the natural human mind to put its trust in something that is both unpredictable and uncontrollable.  And yet that’s exactly what God is.  He is and always will be unpredictable and uncontrollable.  Let me share with you a passage from His word that demonstrates this.

Acts 13:1-3 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (ESV)

Did the Holy Spirit tell them exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it?  No.  All Barnabas and Saul knew was that God had told them to go.  They did not know where nor for how long.  They just knew that they had to go.  They made the decision to follow where the Holy Spirit was calling them, even though it left them open to unpredictable, uncontrollable circumstances.

Is God calling you to something?  Is God asking you to follow Him somewhere, even if He has not revealed any details about it?  This week at Berean, we have our Missions Conference.  We will hear from many whose lives have been transformed because of their simple response to God’s call: “go”.  Now, God may not be calling you to leave everything you are familiar with and leave the country, but I do want to urge you to quiet your soul during the conference, and ask God what He is calling YOU to.

To clarify, God is not opposed to science.  But who knows, He may be calling you to do something that completely defies your desire to observe, predict, and control.  My prayer is that you will boldly step into that conversation with God anyway.

 

In case you didn’t know beforehand, this week begins our blog series on missions.  And just in time for our Missions Conference that begins TONIGHT at Berean Bible Church.  Check out the church website at http://www.berean-shoreline.org/  for details!

Whom Do You Glorify?

There is a banner that hangs in the chapel at camp that asks the question, “whom do you glorify?” It doesn’t hang from the front, it doesn’t hang from the side, it is right above the doorway for you to see when you are walking out. This question can seem like an easy answer for me sometimes…”well, I glorify God.” When I worship through song, I am glorifying. When I am spending quality time with my housemates, I am glorifying. When I am volunteering in the youth ministry, I am glorifying. I would even say that I am glorifying when I am meandering through the isles of the grocery store looking for those doggone marshmallows that are never in the isle I think they will be in. (they’re in the ice cream & toppings isle by the way..because that’s a logical place for them to be.) We are taught that everything we do can be done for the glory of God. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1st. Corinthians 10:31 That’s GREAT!

But are we willing to ask Him to give us opportunities to glorify Him outside of our normal routines?

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” -Colossians 3:23-24

We believe the truth, and rightly so, that anything we do in life has the potential to bring honor and glory to our Creator, Lord and Savior. But there can also become this false sense of assurance when reading Paul’s command in Colossians that there is not a high urgency to stretch outside of our everyday routine. What we are already doing from day to day is good enough. There’s no need to look for more ways. The way we live out our busy lives is bringing enough glory. But is it? Were we called to a life of comfort, of saying, “it’s good enough” or to an ever changing life that is to be continually transformed? OF COURSE we have been called to an ever changing life that is to be transformed! And how wonderful and terrifying is that?! Think of the ministry that can come if we are willing to look outside of our everyday routines to serve God! Think of all the growth and possibilities that can come from just being willing, not to mention the joy and contentment that will reside within our lives if we are seeking first and foremost to bring His name glory!

I first read this banner as a 6th grader, ready and excited for a life of service and dedication to following after God and I am still reading it today as an adult, being reminded and challenged to walk out of those doors with the same mindset I had as a youth, excited for what was to come, and to ask for opportunities, whether easy or hard, to serve Him.

So here’s my challenge to you: Start reminding yourself that everything you do, whether work or school or daily tasks, these things can bring glory to God. For those of you who are already living life with this mindset, good for you! Now start to look for ways to bring Him glory outside of your day to day routines. Don’t worry, He will give you plenty of opportunities.

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Bearing witness to God’s love

It’s been over a week now that we have woken up to a deep red sun rising through the smokey skies here in the Northwest. It’s a strange feeling to have hot, dry summer days with the sun barely visible because of the fires in British Columbia.

Imagine if you had no way of reading or watching the news, or you had been away for awhile can returned to this type of event. What might you theorize was happening in the world? You might be able to come up with all sorts of reasonable sounding explanations for why the air quality was so poor.

Ultimately, to know the truth, you would need to have someone explain to you what was happening (or go see for yourself). And that person would have had someone explain it to them, who had someone explain it to them, and so on until the source of information leads back to someone who has actually witnessed the fires for themselves. Just because you or I have only experienced the smoke and haven’t seen the fires for ourselves doesn’t make them any less real, or make our explanation of what is happening less valid than someone who has seen the fire. And just because someone might not about the fires at all, doesn’t mean the smoke isn’t there.

God’s love is always present for His creation. At some times and to some people, His love is as obvious as if we were standing directly in front of the flame. Often, it is more subtle – smoke on the horizon that shows us that something might be going on, but we aren’t able to quite name what it is. But He’s there, and He’s loving.

Sometimes we need someone to stop us and tell us about the source of this love. We need someone who can bear witness to the reality we are experiencing. As Christians, as those who have at one time or another been exposed to the flame of God’s love. And because of this, we are able to identify effects of His love and bear witness to those around us of that reality. Thought the Holy Spirit, we have eyes to see the reality of God’s love in our world and explain the ways He is working in the lives of others so they too can understand that reality.

What do you want your legacy to be?

The young adults from Berean went on a camping trip two weekends ago.  While there, someone asked me a question that has sat in my mind ever since.

The question is in the title…

I was caught off guard by the question.  It was the most serious conversation I had that weekend.  This is a very important question, because as I look at my past, my present, and my future, I only want to do what God wants me to do.  When He tells me GO, I go.  When He says STOP, I stop.  When He says SLOW DOWN, I slow down.  That’s what I want my legacy to stem from.  A pastor friend of mine back in Illinois once told me that a legacy should be built on and focused around those who come after you.  So that when they rise up and take our place, they will look at us and say “thank you”.

The most common way to illustrate legacy is the image of passing the baton.  I am sure you all know that after a lap, the runner holding the baton must pass it to the runner taking their place.  That’s a very simple way to describe legacy.  It works, but I wonder if there is a better way to illustrate it.  Honestly, the image of passing on the baton does not cover the consistent interactions that take place in real legacy-making.  A better image for understanding legacy would be planting a garden.  Incidentally enough, planting was a common symbol Jesus used in His teaching.  Trees are planted with the hope that they will grow to produce fruit.  But that hope is a long-term hope, because trees take years to grow.  Other plants take less time to grow, but need constant maintenance to make sure they aren’t choked out by weeds or wilted from too much sun or not enough water.  Clearly, gardening takes daily work.  The same is true of leaving a legacy.  Legacy is not simply emanating the life that you want to see others live, as though they were an audience watching you run a relay.  Legacy is a daily, personal interaction with a particular person or group of people from which they get to experience, on a personal level, the life you lead, as though they were a garden you are charged with tending.  Gardeners do not leave their gardens untended for a day.  They stick with it!

The same is true of legacy.  Legacy is not running solo like a relay racer, hoping people are watching you.  If you want to leave a legacy for those who come after you, place yourself in the position of genuine, personal, and consistent interaction with intentionally chosen people, so that when they will rise up to take your place, they will look at you and say “thank you”!

The Apostle Paul once wrote to one of his churches, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thes. 2:8)

Jesus Himself crafted his twelve disciples into men who would change the world with the truth of salvation.  He did this by intentionally selecting, interacting, and teaching them.

This is legacy.