H2O

This afternoon I went to coffee with some buddies at a local coffee shop.  I’m not sure whether it was my fault for not speaking the cultural language of coffee or the barista’s fault whom took my order and attempted to make my custom coffee.  Regardless, let me go on record as saying that it was one of the worst beverages I have ever tasted and by far the nastiest coffee I have ever put in my mouth.  Needless to say the coffee left much to be desired and my thirst was not quenched.  If anything, my yearning for a different type of coffee, aka “Starbucks”, was great.

I was thirsty.  I was looking for a fix.  My attempt at filling this need in the moment backfired.

My encounter with said coffee brought me to a place of contemplation…

I envisioned the coffee tasting like that of stagnant water.

What is stagnant water?

Stagnant water – (′stag·nənt ′wöd·ər):
Motionless water, not flowing in a stream or current. Also known as standing water.

Stagnant water = Dead water

The dangers in dealing with stagnant water are many and vast.  Read any report on stagnant water and you’ll quickly find that this type of standing water is dead water.  From an array of bacteria and parasites to mosquitoes mating, diseases like malaria and dengue run rapid and wreak havoc.

So here’s what I’ve been questioning?  How often do I willingly settle for stagnant water when there is a wellspring of living water available?

Over 2,000 years ago Jesus addressed a culturally crass woman about this very topic.

“When a Samaritan woman came to the well to get some water, Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’  The woman said, ‘I am surprised that you ask me for a drink, since you are a Jewish man and I am a Samaritan woman.’  Jesus said, ‘If you only knew the free gift of God and who it is that is asking you for water, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (NCV)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not equating Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as though he were rolling through Starbucks and placing his order for a Venti Latte, extra whip.  What I am saying is that everyday people from every nation, tribe and tongue grow thirsty and experience a need for their hydration, or lack there of, to be filled and in relationship to my coffee experience, if we attempt to fill up with something that is gross and stagnant, we will continue to thirst, grow sick and eventually die.

The solution?

Living Water – aka – “Holy Spirit”.

Here’s the deal in a nutshell.  The Samaritan woman was so used to custom and tradition that she failed to see or understand what was right in front of her.  She had the chance to experience a quenching in which she would never grow thirsty again.  Instead of accepting the gift that was being offered she rationalized the situation with Jesus. 

How are you going to get the water when you don’t have anything to scoop it up with?  And the well…it’s more than 100 feet deep.  You’re a Jew and I’m a Samaritan.  You worship here and I worship there.  Man I’m thirsty!

So here it is.

Each one of us has a God-shaped hole in us that we need to fill.  We attempt to fill with things that don’t matter; temporal things, things that leave us empty, longing for more.  This is no different from the Samaritan woman whom attempted to fill her thirst through relationships.  She was married five times and the man she lived with at the time wasn’t her husband.

So what are the things that we try to quench our thirst with?  When parched, what do we attempt to fill our heads and hearts with?  Is it empty relationships?  Is it votes of confidence?  Is is climbing the corporate ladder?  Is it trying to be good enough?  Regardless of what it is, I am sure of this one thing, after trying to fill the obvious voids in our lives with things this side of heaven, we will be left in want.
The dangers in dealing with empty attempts to fill these voids are many and vast.  Read the Word of God and you’ll quickly find that this type of fulfillment is dead water.  From an array of bacteria and parasites to sin mating, diseases like brokenness and disparage run rapid and wreak havoc.

So here’s the question?  How often do we willingly settle for stagnant water when there is a wellspring of living water available?


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Sunday Night Download – 1.24.2010

What a week…

*My daughter, Tailyn, celebrated her fourth birthday on Wednesday.  In all of my years of celebrating birthdays, I don’t know that I can recall anyone as excited about turning four as my little girl is/was.  She woke up, smile on, ready to take on all that being four has to offer.

*Saturday we celebrated Tailyn’s birthday with family and friends @ casa de’ Anderson.  The festivities kicked off at 2:oo pm and continued well into the evening.   What a day!  Our family is so blessed to have such incredible friends and family whom love and support us so much.  A big thank you to all who helped make Tai’s birthday celebration so special.

*Monday was a day for staff meetings.  We kicked things off with a discussion about marriage.  Over lunch our staff engaged in a much-needed dialogue about vision and values both within each one of us as individuals as well as within the church.  I hope and pray that this is merely the beginning of many of the important steps we need to take in being obedient to God’s leading for His bride which He has given us responsibility for.

*Thursday night was phenomenal!  We picked up in week three of a four part series entitled, All Things New.  This week the focus was on New Worship.  One of the many things that we did as part of the worship experience was to incorporate several worship stations throughout the worship center to help facilitate times of meditation, scripture reading, prayer, reflection, communion, and much more.  It was an incredible time together adoring our Lord and Savior as a community.

*PESM (Pacific Evangelical School of Ministry) has me railing.  It seems as though no matter how much I am reading and or writing, I am hardly able to catch up let alone keep up.  With only a few weeks left for the two classes I’m currently enrolled in, Christian Holiness and Pastoral Care & Counseling, we are already doing exhaustive prep work toward our upcoming semester of classes which includes New Testament Survey.  Ahhhhh…..

*Friday night was a great time.  I had some friends over and we played a friendly game of cards while watching the Portland Trailblazers play the Boston Celtics.  I enjoyed hanging with the fellas while Stacy and our friend, Lisa, took the kiddos to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel.

*Today was a great day @ Oregon City Evangelical. I co-taught a class with my friend and mentor, Dr. Brent Burson.  We looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), specifically focusing on “blessed are the meek”.  This topic was taxing for me as it is something that I have wrestled with most of my life.  I really appreciate the class and those engaged in it.  The sharing is priceless and our times of prayer and encouragement are coveted.

*Tonight I watched as the Minnesota Vikings go down down to the New Orléans Saints.  I was blown away at what an incredible game it turned out to be, and while I like Drew Brees, I was really pulling for Brett Favre.  Oh well…  Such is life.

*Now I am off to hangout with Stacy for the evening.  I’m gone all week at a conference, back for a couple of days and gone again for another week.

What a week!

Sunday Night Download

This week I…

1. Enjoyed great discussions with fellow staffers @ Oregon City Evangelical

2. Had a blast @ The Inn.  We’re in the middle of a series entitled, All Things New.

3. I volunteer @ my son’s school on Friday’s.  This week was exceptional.  I taught him how to play Wall-Ball and laid the smack down!

4. Friday night I took Kaedon to his first professional basketball game; the Portland Trailblazers vs. the Orlando Magic.  We were gifted INCREDIBLE seats by my grandmother for Paly’s birthday.  16 seats off of the floor accompanied by the Lexus suites, a.k.a. all you can eat, gourmet food.  To top it all off, the Blazers put the smack down on the Magic.  Awesome!

5. Tough conversations.  I have a friend whom I meet with on a regular basis for food, friendship and accountability.  The times we have together are such a blast and often times the hardest conversations I’ve had.  I’m glad to have friends that I can confide in, that won’t and definitely don’t pull punches.  It’s not easy, but it’s necessary!  Thank you, God, for allowing people into my life whom honor you and support me.

6. Yesterday, (Saturday) I spent 13 hours total, including drive time, to Seattle and back for Stacy’s family Christmas.  Stacy has some pretty amazing aunts and cousins.  It’s too bad that we don’t see them more than a couple of times a year.

7. Food poisoning – on the way back from Seattle yesterday our family stopped off at a place to remain anonymous.  Stacy, Autumn & Tailyn all got the same items, cheeseburgers w/ special sauce.  I got a different type of burger and Kaedon got chicken nuggets.  Why is this important?  Because all the girls came down with food poisoning within hours of our dinner together.  NASTY!  I’ll give you more details about the mess later…

8. Blessed are…I’m co-teaching a class with my buddy Brent, a PhD in PSYCH.  What a blast!  We have such different personalities and backgrounds that it makes for some pretty incredible discussions and perspectives in the way of teaching.  Today we taught on the subject of mourning: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. This is a message that I was a part of later in the year as we were in our series entitled, Nine.  With Dr. B’s class, we are spending the next 20 weeks walking through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

9. Today I led worship @ church for our “alternative” service.  As we were preparing to sing the song, God of This City, I totally blanked out on the melody and was stuck in the harmony.  I tried to get on track.  I played the song.  I hummed the melody.  I tried all the tricks of the trade and still…nothing.  Anyway, I started the song @ the Chorus thinking that it would carry me through and I would come to.  No such luck.  What I love most is that God calls us to make a joyful noise.  In spite of my inadequacies, God knows my heart and that I was all about honoring and glorifying Him.  So I sucked it up pretty good.  Such is life, huh?!  I’m grateful for grace.

10. I enjoyed a great lunch with three good friends after church today.  I love me some TDM (Taco Del Mar) and I love talking it up.  I had a blast doing both today!

Sunday Night Reflection

1. A long week of school (Pacific Evangelical School of Ministry).  We started a week ago, Sunday and finished Wednesday night.  While I enjoy most of the material and the conversations, the best part of this week’s class time was our colloquia (a.k.a.) ping-pong tournament that took place after class on Tuesday night.

2. The Inn on Thursday night was the first celebration gathering of 2010 and the kickoff of a brand new series entitled, All Things New.  We started the night off with a spaghetti feed in a night that included worship through song, prayer, public reading of Scripture, a message, and plenty of hanging out.

3. Ryen, my youngest daughter, has her third ear infection in a string of infections.  Having just switched medical insurance companies, she will likely need to see a specialist this week to determine the root cause of the problem and to decide if she will need tubes in her ears.  Yuck!

4. Started teaching a new class with my friend and mentor, Dr. Brent Burson.  We’re doing a 20-week series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Today was the first of what I anticipate will be many phenomenal times together.  This week; “blessed are the poor in spirit”.  Next week; “blessed are those who mourn”.  Should be a great week…

5. Picked up a couple of new books that I’m totally excited to read @ Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.

6. Went on a date with Stacy and some friends to an incredible Mexican food resteraunt on Hawthorne in P-town.  I had a bit of heaven on earth wrapped in a tomato tortilla and accompanied with some chips and salsa.

7. Funny moment of the week: My daughter, Tailyn, lives her life in a musical…really!  She is in the habit of singing everything she says.  It’s awesome!  I even think she called me, rather sang to me; “Daddy, you’re a dork for brains”, and I think it was in the key of ‘C’.

8. Lesson of the week: Worship is a choice.  To love the Lord your God with everything; all your heart, soul, mind & strength, that’s a decision that each person in responsible for making in all things.  For me, this week was particularly refreshing as I moved toward experiencing worship in heart; with emotion and passion.

9. High for the week: My high for the week was seeing my family after being away from them for nearly four days at school.  While I enjoy hanging with the boys, learning and goofing, there is nothing in this world quite like a hug from Stacy, a smile from my kids or some good quality CT – “cuddle time”.

10. I’m praying for: healing in my body.  I messed my knee up pretty good nearly three weeks ago while playing indoor soccer.  I know it’s probably nothing shy of getting older, and for fear of sounding like I’m merely complaining, I have experienced soreness in my body, back , shoulders and abdomen, that is taking away from feeling well.  I appreciate your prayers.

11. This week: I am really looking forward to a few meetings this week, catching up with some friends and mentoring some others.  I’m also super-stoked about The Inn this week.  We’re picking up where we left off last week in our series All Things New, specifically looking at new wine skin.  I’m praying God rocks our world in a new, profound way…

12. I’m missing: It’s often that I think about the friends that I’ve made over the years and across the country.  That said, I have really been missing my peeps on the east coast as well as in the 85308.  I’m hoping to take some time this coming year to hit up North Carolina as well as Arizona, to connect with friends and loved ones, and to experience ministry together.

“That-a-way”

The lights above illuminate the silky wet grass below.  The sidelines bustling with young men ready for their moment and time to take to the gridiron.  The stands hug the field creating a bowl of excitement and anticipation for the onlookers hoping for victory and cheering on their own.  This is the backdrop that set the tone for many of my Friday nights throughout my tenure in high school.

As a Junior in high school I played for Coach Ed Burton and the Oregon City Pioneers.  While many lessons were learned about the game of football; the fundamentals of positioning, momentum, reading the eyes of your adversaries, the subtle nuances of both offensive and defensive schemes, and more, there was no lesson that has stood out to me greater than the one of encouragement.

At the end of each football game our team would take to the sidelines of our biggest fans and greatest supporters.  As a team we would applaud the onlookers in recognition of their support and together, with one voice, each would sing the Pioneer fight song, and this was merely a precursor for what would follow each game.

Immediately following the fanfare our team would sit in amongst the fans, eyes fixed on our coaches and hanging on every word which would inevitably lead to the player, and in some cases, players that would be highlighted for his play which set him apart from the rest.  Whether it was a specific play, exceptional attitude, leadership and the like, our coaches would pool their thoughts collectively and announce the “player of the game”.

In addition to making known the honoree of the weekly award, as well as encouraging comments surrounding that individual, our team would shout out a chant led by our coach and echoed by our team.  For the case in point we will use the name Brian:

“Hey Brian (echo)!  Go Brian (echo)!  That a way (echo)!  That a way (echo)!”

All of this leads me to my point.  It wasn’t any one tackle, sack, interception or touchdown that stands out to me.  What plays over in my mind’s eye time and again was the encouragement that was given and received by all.  Our team went undefeated that year with our only loss obtained in the State Championship game.  What I believe our team would remember most of all that season would be the camaraderie that was built around working together, sweating together and encouraging one another.  One thing is for sure, these are the lessons that I won’t quickly forget.

In a letter to a young church, Paul wrote these words in Romans, that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (1)  He was writing to a relatively new team of believers, followers of The Way, in which they were learning the ropes of what it meant to be a team or in this case, body.  As a “head coach” Paul was responsible for leading a team, teaching them the fundamentals and encouraging his players.

Without belaboring the point, I want to encourage you to intentionally seek out ways by which you might encourage those around you, on your team, in your home and whom you might encounter or come across.  While it’s easy to be critical and pick apart what we see and don’t like in others, we have the distinct privilege and even more, the responsibility of encouraging people.

Here are some things that I would offer up for consideration in the way of encouragement and our role in it:

#1 – Look – Be intentional about looking for the things that people are doing right.  In the same way that you might catch your kids or those around you doing something wrong, be deliberate about catching others doing something positive or good and make note of it.
“We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things.
(2)

#2 – Communicate – Find ways to express your observations and gratitude toward others.  Take advantage of opportunities to communicate your appreciation for people by writing a note, sending a card, giving a gift or verbalizing what you noticed and how you feel/felt about it.  In other words, become a “cheerleader”!  I recently read a quote that really captured the essence of communicating encouragement: “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits.  When we all help one another, everybody wins.” (3)

#3 – Take the focus off of yourself – I don’t know about you, but the lenses in which I interpret most things in life are filtered through “me” lenses.  There are times that I can hardly see past myself and therefore am short in either looking for and or communicating my appreciation of others and encouraging them.  We would all do well to take the focus off of ourselves, putting on another pair of lenses and doing something to build others up.  Paul puts it this way; “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (4)

#4 – Keep Going –“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (5)  With all of the distractions this world has to offer it’s easy to act at first, in this case, an encouraging word.  That said, like most things, it’s merely a matter of months, weeks, days and in some cases, minutes in which I totally lose sight of what my good intentions were.  Stop it…or DON’T stop it!  Keep going.  Continually seek out opportunities to encourage, build up and edify.

(1) Romans 1:12, NIV
(2) Hebrews 10:24, ESV
(3) Jim Stovall, author & speaker
(4) Romans 12:9-10, MSG
(5) Hebrews 10:25, NIV