Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Who Really Needs Church?

Here's an interesting article that I hope will encourage your participation in the church. It is an interesting question. My advisor has strongly suggested that my Doctoral work talk about the church, so this caught my eye.
Who Really Needs Church?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

New Life Servant

After my first New Life Servant post, someone said, "You need to say something about Mark Rainey." I thought that was a good idea then. Yesterday, however, it became necessary.

As you can see in the picture we cut down a couple trees at Robinwood. Mark was there to work on the furnace. I was there to cut down the trees. Almost as soon as we began my chainsaw quit.

No fear, Mark just happened to have one in his car! So he took up where I left off. His chain was so dull that it couldn't cut the tree, mine wouldn't run. So I went home to fix mine. He went out and bought a new chain. Well, I couldn't fix mine. So, we cut down two trees with his saw. Mind you, he only signed up to check out the furnace. Chuck Gatewood actually cut the big tree down and Paul Reyes took his turns with his chain saw. But Mark worked all day on the trees.

All of this, in my book, was above and beyond the call of duty, especially for a guy who has chronic back pain. But this morning he was the first to stand up and give testimony of God's faithfulness. He stood up and thanked God for the opportunity to serve! All I could say was wow (as I rubbed my aching muscles)! Thank you, Mark.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Katrina Team Update

Just wanted to let you know that the team arrived in Pass Christian, MS safe and sound. Lee said the flight was a bit bumpy but ok. It is raining buckets down there and not cold at all. The team is great and raring to go! They will attend worship services in the morning and start in to work in the afternoon.

I know they are grateful for all your prayers and support.

Welcome to Our World!

Our family went to the singing Christmas tree Friday. In addition to seeing several people from church, I was struck again with the miracle of the incarnation. God actually became man. Think of it.

The older I get and the more I know of human pain, the more unbelievable the incarnation seems. Why would God enter a world where husbands are unfaithful to their wives, where doctors say, "You have cancer," where parents grieve over their children and children watch their parents slowly pass away? Why would He do that?

It is a lot easier not to be involved. The incarnation says, "God is involved." God chose to involve himself with his creatures. It would have been so much simpler and less messy to sit in heaven and pull some hidden strings to fix the problems. Why did he step into the mess?

That's what love does. It accepts and carries pain. It steps into the mess. Welcome to our world!
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from god
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome holy child
Welcome holy child

Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited holy stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect son of god
Perfect son of god
Welcome to our world.
-- Chris Rice

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Isaiah 12:4 In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

When you give thanks tomorrow notice the ways thankfulness is expressed in this verse:

  1. By calling on his name: Be in prayer.
  2. By making known what God has done to people who don't follow Him.
  3. By talking about how far above us (exalted) He is.
So don't just say thanks. Take the opportunity to do those three things to display your gratitude!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Life Serves Katrina Victims

Mission Chairman Jeff Carlson introduces Katrina TeamYesterday in the service we prayed for our team that is going to Pass Christian, LA to serve next week. They leave Saturday morning and return the following Saturday.

Team members (from left to right) are Larry Richardson, Derrick Elkins, Donna Silva, Shannon Ross, Mark Hannifan, and Merle Ross. Lee Bennett is not pictured.

Please keep them in your prayers. Pray for their safety. Pray that they would be an encouragement to the church there. Pray that they would have opportunity and boldness to share the gospel with people outside the church.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What the New Testament Church Prayed For

In keeping with the prayer ideas of the past few days I invite you to pray for What the New Testament Church Prayed For.

Friday, November 18, 2005

One of the tougher Q & A's

Q: If God writes sin into His plan, how can we say that He doesn’t cause someone to sin?

A: Good question!

First of all, you are right to start with the crucifixion. It is much more common to start anywhere else and it doesn't work. If you can solve it at the crucifixion, you can solve it anywhere, since that event is the height of evil.

You can't solve it without specific texts. And then you can't go any farther than they take you.
In general, God's plan works out exactly like He wants.

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

In specific, His plan regarding Christ worked out just as He planned. God's plans cannot be frustrated, so the evil done at the cross didn't frustrate, but rather accomplished God's purpose.

Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Two things are clear. God decreed or ordained the evil and the people were held accountable for it. At this point you have to remind yourself that God can't stand evil.

Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.

So we know God doesn't do evil by decreeing evil.

He is, by definition as the one who plans it, the ultimate cause of everything that happens. And, thus, is the ultimate cause of evil. Yet without himself doing or being evil or approving of evil. In other words, He decrees things he hates and disapproves of.

The resolution, though I don't pretend to understand it, has to do with levels of causality. The events of Christ's crucifixion (and I think all evil) had at least three causes, though. God was the ultimate (distant) cause and was not guilty of sin. Satan entered Judas and was the intermediate cause and will suffer eternally for his involvement. And, the people were the proximal cause and they are under God's judgment, too.

We see this clearly in Job 1 & 2. God allowed (ordained, decreed, planned) for Satan to afflict Job. The Sabeans stole the camels (sin, evil). Satan caused them to do that (evil). God permitted it (good). And Job, says "The Lord gives and THE LORD takes away." And the text says he didn't sin by attributing those evil acts to God as the ultimate cause.

That's the best I can do. I think you have to say what the texts say. People are so quick to "protect" God that they are hesitant to make evil part of the decree. I think you have to say what the text says whether you understand how it could work that way or not.

I hope this helps. I'd be happy to talk about it more.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


John Bunyan wrote this definition of prayer from his Bedford prison cell in 1662:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the word of God, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.

This Sunday at New Life Church Riverfalls we'll be talking about that kind of prayer from Ephesians 6:18-20:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Read This!

Andree Seu, writer for WORLD Magazine has written an article she calls Andree's aphorisms. If you never follow links from the blog, please follow this one. It is wise, witty and helpful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What to pray for?

I found this gem while down in the mine of my Devotions from the pen of Jonathan Edwards book. It glimmered as I hurried past and I found it buried in a parenthesis:

"Undoubtedly that which God abundantly makes the subject of His promises, God's people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers." -- p.65

Monday, November 14, 2005

Christmas Dessert Theater Tickets -- Get Yours Today!

Good Tidings of Great Joy!Get your tickets today!Christmas Dessert Theater tickets went on a "preferred" sale Sunday for those who are bringing friends who don't attend church. This coming Sunday will also be "preferred" ticket sales and the following week, if there are any left, tickets sales will be open for everyone.

The CDT is designed for you to bring a friend to hear a message filled with hope in an atmosphere that is loving and warm. If you have a friend that would benefit from hearing "good tidings of great joy" then get your ticket this Sunday.

The 2005 Christmas Dessert Theater performances will be December 8, 9, 10 at 7:00 p.m. and December 11 at 6:00 p.m..

Tickets will be on sale between services at New Life Church Riverfalls and after the service at New Life Church Robinwood. The cost is $5 per ticket.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Food for the Hungry

In addition to Operation Christmas Child, and our annual Thanksgiving Baskets, we received a challenge today that "one person can make a difference" from Food for the Hungry. Dr. Brad Titus, a New Life Church member, has been involved with FFH for several years; he's sponsored a child whom he later visited on a short-term mission trip. He is now the area representative for FFH.

We have child sponsorship packets at the church or you can sponsor a child online at the link above. You can make a difference, for one person at a time.

They're There

Carol emailed this morning:

We arrived in Keiv around 6am your time Sunday morning-Its ten hour ahead here. All is good. We met rich and Cheri as planned in New York and had a sandwich at the airport before we left for Munich. No food on the plane coming across country just a snack. Since then it seems we ate every two hours. I was able to sleep for a few hours but we are really tired. My feet are so swollen. We are staying at a missionaries home that are back in the states for some time. It's 20 floors up, one of Many like apartment houses. Mcdonalds is straight down out the window in the parking lot. Please let everyone know all is fine. You can e-mail back at this address (cherilynne3@netzero.net). Love to all. Carol

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Lori & Carol are off to Kiev

Taking New Life to UkraineLori and Carol left this morning for Kiev to teach at a Pastor's Wives Conference. Please pray for their safety. Please pray for their families back home. Pray that they would be effective in encouraging those women and helping them make a difference on the other side of the world.

Sunday's Message at New Life Church Riverfalls

Sunday morning we'll be getting dressed for church in our Sunday best. You know, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and finally the sword of the Spirit. If for some reason you thought you had to wear a tie, forget about it.

The text, of course, will be Ephesians 6:14-17:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Make sure that these aren't just your Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes, but your every day battle gear. See you Sunday.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Youth For Christ

Youth for Christ and New Life ChurchThursday Night I joined several other New Life families at the Annual Youth For Christ banquet. We heard the national director as well as the Portland area director talk. A couple boys from Amanda's club were interviewed about how they learned about Christ through YFC. Rescue, an accapella group from Portland sang.

The highlight for me was hearing from a 40 year old man who was led to Christ when he was a freshman in high school by the local area director. He is still walking with the Lord and the influence of reaching that freshman twenty-five years ago has extended to another generation. His children are now walking with the Lord.

Amanda Orendorff, pictured here between me and her husband Aaron, is a Youth For Christ staff member. She works with middle school students at Sunrise Middle School near Clackamas High. The Orendorffs have been part of New Life Church since the outdoor service and picnic this summer. Aaron was deployed to Louisiana as part of the Oregon National Guard.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New 2 New Life Class

At the Robinwood building on Saturday, November 19th, 10:00a.m. - 12:00 noon we will have our first "New 2 New Life" class since we've started the Robinwood location. This is an opportunity to learn more about our church, our beliefs, our structure, and our vision. It will also be a first step in becoming a member of New Life Church.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No Cross, No Crown

"No Cross, no crown; no loss, no gain;
They, too, must suffer who would reign.
He best can part with life without a sigh,
Whose daily living is to daily die.
Youth pleads for age, age pleads for rest,
Who pleads for heaven will plead the best."
-- Unknown

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Portland Again!

Portland Again! from my perspectiveThis afternoon the New Life Church pastoral staff went to an all-city prayer and worship meeting called Portland Again! The purpose of the gathering was to pray for revival and to celebrate God's work in our city 100 years ago in the dramatic revival of 1905.

It was a blessing to see thousands of Christians from throughout the metro area call on God's blessing for the Portland area. Maybe you'll read something about it in the paper tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Better than a Resurrection!

Suppose you wanted to convince one of your family members of the truth of your faith. If the sky was the limit what would you do? Would you show them a miracle-a-day? Would you have them read More than a Carpenter or How Good is Good Enough? Would you bring them to Billy Graham and let him convince them? Maybe the Bible Answer Man (they are skeptical after all)?

Like I said, the sky is the limit. Why not try something really outside the box? How about if they interviewed someone who'd been to heaven? Or, maybe someone who'd actually gone to hell, maybe that would be more compelling. After all, what could possibly be better than a resurrection?

Actually, Jesus tells us what will be the best convincing tool in all the world. If you pull out all the stops, what will persuade people about the reality of faith?

"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31)
When you get the chance to talk to someone about faith, point them to the source of faith -- the Bible. Don't get an inferiority complex because you don't have a miracle or a book or a famous evangelist. Take people where Jesus took them, to the Bible.

The Voice for November is Here

November VoiceThe November issue of the Voice is online. If you are not online, you're probably not reading this right now and will receive your copy in the mail.

If you do receive one in the mail and don't need to, please contact our office at 503.656.8600 and tell them. It would help us cut costs to not mail the Voice to anyone who reads it online. Thank you.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Prayer for Today

O Thou That Hearest Prayer,

Teach me to pray.

I confess that in religious exercises the language of my lips and the feelings of my heart have not always agreed, that I have frequently taken carelessly upon my tongue a name never pronounced above without reverence and humility, that I have often desire things which would have injured me, that I have depreciated some of my chief mercies, that I have erred both on the side of my hopes and also of my fears, that I am unfit to choose for myself, for it is not in me to direct my steps.

Let thy Spirit help my infirmities, for I know now what to pray for as I ought. Let him produce in me wise desires by which I may ask right things, then I shall know thou hearest me.

  • May I never be importunate for temporal blessings, but always refer them to thy fatherly goodness, for thou knowest what I need before I ask;
  • May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers, or that I am rich unless rich toward thee, or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.
  • May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness.
  • May I value things in relation to eternity.
  • May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.
  • May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have thy blessing, rather than be successful in enterprise, or have more than my heart can wish or be admired by my fellow-men, if thereby these things make me forget thee.
  • May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities, vexation of spirit, and desire to depart from it.
  • And may I seek my happiness in thy favor, image, presence, service.

    -- Valley of Vision, p. 106

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Christ at Work

The message on Sunday will be about how knowing Christ changes your experience at work from Monday through Friday. The text will be Ephesians 6:5-9:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
God has great expectations for you at work!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Leadership Summit Sunday

The game is the same -- playing it has changed.

Come be part of the team Sunday night at our Leadership Summit. We're having dinner at 6:00 at Robinwood in the upper room, and the Team Meeting begins at 6:45 in the auditorium.

We will be conversing with leaders about how the game has changed and the different roles we play and how our team might be even more successful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Baptisms at New Life Church Riverfalls

I stand before you a committed follower of Christ!Last Sunday was a glorious Sunday at our Riverfalls location. We not only had wonderful music but we had the privilege of hearing, for the first time publically, the testimony of faith of three new believers: Margaret Vargas (pictured here), Michael Haugh, and Heidi Musser. God was honored in a big way as they each described the changes in their lives!

Pastor Jason did his first baptism. He was there when Michael trusted Christ and he baptized him Sunday.

Katrina Team from New Life Church

A team from New Life Church will go to Pass Christian, LA on November 26-December 3, to clean, demolish, rebuild, and encourage Bible Fellowship Church. Donna Silva, Lee Bennett, Derrick Elkins, Mark Hannifan, George Nelson, Larry Richardson, Merle Ross and Shannon Ross make up the team.

Please pray for them. They had a day of training on October 29th. They have to raise a good deal of money quickly. They have to get time off and be ready to work hard physically and encourage people spiritually.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Our pet rabbit, Oreo, died yesterday. We had her funeral in the rain under the fir trees in our yard on Halloween.

She hopped into our family about four years ago when she hopped first into our garden. We learned later that one of the neighbors had let her run loose. We let her stay in the garden for a while until a stranger man (turns out it was that neighbor) came uninvited and without permission into our yard and began chasing her. We decided we better do something to protect her.

We borrowed a live-animal trap from the Bruecherts. Oreo calmly stretched out beside the trap and fell asleep. She rested in the rows of beans and under the deck. One day she was sunning herself and I crept up to her and petted her. Soon she was eating out of my hands and I just picked her up. She has been part of the family ever since.

We named her ‘Oreo’ because she was black with a white stripe in the middle. After a couple months we got her a companion who was also a dutch rabbit, with similar black and white markings. She had a little more white so she became ‘Double-Stuff’.

Here are some of the ways me and my family benefited from having Oreo in our lives:

  1. We recognized God’s grace in bringing her into our family. You know I would never go seeking a pet, so one came seeking me. Finding her in our garden is one of my favorite gardening experiences.

  2. We learned daily discipline is essential to survival. She would have died long ago if “feed rabbits” was not on the chore list.

  3. We saw anew that life is not forever. God has not intended even the good things in this world to last forever.

  4. We can sympathize better with people who lose things they love.

  5. We resolve again to love eternal things more and things that pass away less.

  6. We learned to enjoy temporary things while there is still time. If you put off playing together, or going for walks too long, someday it will be too late.

  7. I learned sometimes it is worth it to change your mind. I am generally anti-pet. In this case, changing was a good idea.

  8. I learned that rabbits can be house-broken. (I read it on the internet, but we never tried).

Sometimes God's grace and His lessons hop into our lives in the most unexpected ways.