Soil, Seeds, and Harvest

(Our Thanksgiving service for Newberg Friends Church was at Bauman Auditorium on the George Fox University campus on November 23, 2014. We love sharing community with fresh pressed apple cider and pumpkin donuts, and then worshiping all together instead of in separate services. This year, two of our farmers–David Brown and Lisa McMinn–shared their experience and wisdom to help us think about the connections to giving thanks.) Continue reading

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Seek God’s Kingdom First

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on November 16, 2014)

In today’s section from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear.

But watching tv this week, I discovered a whole new way to worry about food that I didn’t even know about. Aubrey and I were doing something we never do, watching the tv news…but you know, we had to, what with “Snow-maggeddon-apocalypse-Arctic-Blast” on the way. We had to get our info.

While we were waiting for the weather report, we got to watch a hard-hitting journalistic report. A reporter had gone to the home of a family in Portland to bring to light their amazing struggle…to find the right lunchbox to hold a healthy lunch for their children. Continue reading

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Treasures in Heaven

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on November 9, 2014)

  ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘ The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24, TNIV)

I would like to “Oregon-ize” this section of the bible today.

We have a barn/shed/thing at our house. Half of it, while covered by a roof, is relatively open. It’s what used to be the “barn” side and is now sort of a carport/garage for us. The roof on this side is fairly leak free, but there are so many open sides that rain water blows in quite a bit. The other half is all closed in with two doors. We call it the “shed” side, and it’s used for storage.

Using it for storage was a very bad idea. It was my bad idea. The roof is leaky, and in one of those weird physics things I don’t understand, water can get in, but it just does not go out. The humidity is like 900% in there all winter long, and pretty much everything in there has been damaged or ruined.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures in your shed, where rain and moisture destroy, and where little field mice will chew up your high school letterman’s jacket.” Continue reading

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Doors, Judgment, Love

(I had the opportunity to speak in chapel at George Fox University as part of Quaker Focus Week, on November 4, 2014)

Have you ever had a recurring nightmare?

I had one for years as a kid, and I hated it. Every time, I’d be walking on like this cobblestone pathway, nowhere else to go, forced to go from stone to stone. At some point, there would be this loud pop or gong, and I knew this was like the detonator. After the first time I had it, I knew what was going to happen. Everything was going to explode because I had set off the alarm. But I had to keep stepping forward, one stone at a time, usually with this maniacal laughter going on all around me…until the explosion and I would wake up. It was horrible!

That dream is the perfect representation of how I went through my “awake” life as a child. I was absolutely convinced that every step I took was an opportunity to mess up. I was so, so afraid of making mistakes, so afraid of the punishment or judgment that would come.It’s why I was seen as such a “good kid”– not so much because I always wanted to do the right thing, but because I was so afraid of what would happen if I did anything wrong.

This was a very anxious way to live life, let me tell you. Continue reading

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Fasting

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on November 2, 2014)

I don’t know how it happened exactly, but somehow I’ve gotten in the habit of digging into my past and blurting out the most embarrassing parts on Sunday mornings.

I’ve showed you pictures of me dressed as a cheerleader. I’ve shared some of my worst moments, like when I ignored a friend because she was reminding all my new “Christian” friends that we had once had fun on a youth group outing listening to Van Halen.

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This looks like a nondescript spiral notebook. Maybe it looks a little old and dated, but that’s because it is. Within these pages is a journal entry I wrote as a freshman in high school. Notice that I said “entry”, as in singular. This is because in high school I didn’t keep a regular journal. It wasn’t a practice, wasn’t a thing I did. But, in a moment I am not at all proud of, I once sat down and wrote one particular journal entry as if journalling was a normal thing that I did. And I didn’t write this entry to work out my feelings, or be able to remember something important.

Nope. I wrote this one journal entry with the specific intention of then sharing it with my on again, off again girlfriend. You know, so she would think I was being so vulnerable. So she would see that I was thinking about her. This stellar piece of prose is more than 30 years old, but I have to confess that it isn’t funny to read even yet. I still get a queasy feeling in my stomach when I read how passive aggressive and just yuck that this whole thing was. Continue reading

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Living out Love

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on October 5, 2014)

At our best, we know, receive and live in the love God has for us.

At our best, we’re confident in who we are as people loved by God, and so love tumbles out of us…we share God’s love with others! Turn with me to the book of Colossians.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all his people– the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true word of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. (Colossians 1:3-6, TNIV)

We’ve come to the last line of the vision statement, but we’re returning to the first part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Hopefully you see how it’s a circle, a cycle…the lines of our vision statement all work together and build on each other. Continue reading

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Changing in the Spirit

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on September 28, 2014)

“Changing in the Spirit.” So essential to our vision!

We have a problem though. A conflict. A paradox.

On the one hand, I never, ever want to lose sight of how important and inspiring and beautiful a changed life can be. In particular, I’m thinking of the beautiful change that comes when people first choose to follow Jesus Christ.

10686599_10152690258335688_2824050869696162249_nThis picture showed up on Facebook this week from a high school friend, Andrea Dorr Maurer. Andrea is our own Nick and Alice Maurer’s daughter-in-law, but in the summer of 1984 I was at summer camp with Andrea and her brother Brian. In fact, Brian and I shared a tent that year. Continue reading

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