Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy istead of mourning, praise instead of despair.  For the Lord has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins, reparing cities long ago destroyed.  They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations.  Foreigners will be your servants.  They wll feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.  You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God.  You will be fed with the treasures of the nations and will boast in their riches.  Instead of shame and dishonor, you will inherit a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.

For I, the Lord, love justice.  I hate robbery and wrongdoing.  I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their descendants will be known and honored aong the nations.  Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.

I am overwhelmed wtih joy in the Lord my God!  For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.  I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.  The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.  Everyone will praise him!  His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, filled with young plants springing up everywhere.

--Isaiah 61

Monday, June 28, 2010


It seems to me that Jesus was always relevant--no matter where he went and no matter what he did. He simply shows up and he matters. He makes a difference--he is relevant. Around Jesus the blind start to see, the deaf start to hear, the sick get well, and the lost get found. Jesus was (and still is) relevant. Since we are the Body of Christ, I would guess that we are supposed to be relevant as well. We are to matter and we are to make a difference. We are to do the very things that Jesus did--we are to be relevant.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares the God's words are relevant: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof (authoritative standard), for correction (restoration and improvement), for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate (complete/perfect), equipped (finished) for every good work". My oversimplified translation of the text would be, "God's exhaled words are relevant so that God's people can be relevant." By myself, nothing about me matters, however when I am useful to God as a vessel containing the relevant word of God--then I too am relevant.

The prophet Isaiah had a near-death experience when he was caught up in a vision and saw the Lord of Glory sitting on His throne. "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because i am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). A moment later he is kissing a red-hot coal from the altar of God. Unclean lips become relevant evidently when they encounter the refinement of the altar's fire. Isaiah is commissioned then to take his coal-kissed lips and speak to the unclean people from which he comes. What an idea--send a man of unclean lips to speak to a people characterized by unclean lips. Isaiah was relevant.

"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake. For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will of God and not from ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:5-7). What Paul is saying is that our relevancy comes through Christ's holiness--not our own. I preach Christ--not David (Thank God). However, the darkness that has characterized my life (unclean lips if you will) is a perfect backdrop in which to display the glory of Christ. If you should go to buy a diamand in a jewelry store, the jeweler will place the diamond on a black cloth in order to provide the best possible contrast. The diamond never looks better than when it is contrasted with the darkness of the background. Jesus looks awesome against the backdrop of my failures. His glory really shines when contrasted with the darkness of my heart. I'm just a clay jar--but I'm filled with treasure. My relevance comes not in my flesh (my jar, my unclean lips, my success and my failure) but rather my relevance is in the treasure that I display--Jesus!

James 2:14-26 further defines our relevance as those acts that meet the needs of others. James declares that our religion is worthless if it doesn't feed the hungry and clothe the poor. It's more important to be relevant than it is to be religious. Jesus was (and is) relevant!

God is calling us sinners to go speak to other sinners. We do so in a relevant way by meeting needs and by allowing Jesus to be glorified in our pain and weakness.   It's not a religious exercise--it's relevant and life-giving care.  We are to live in such a way that life-change will happen around us. 

Jesus looks great in you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The Youth Ministry of Grace River (Submerge) is growing stronger every week. Joey and Connie are doing an incredible job of attracting, communicating, and building. I showed up tonight--camera in hand, to take a few pictures so that you can see it for yourselves. There were about twenty youth present and at least two who were here for the very first time. A couple of our regulars were missing and so it appears that the youth group is growing. A neighbor girl literally climbed over the fence to join us because the kids were having so much fun (and making so much noise). Joey and Connie are rock-solid in their biblical beliefs and in their commitment to the Grace River values. They are off to see the demolition derby on Sunday afternoon--wish I could go...

U2 Grace

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We are in the process of updating our Grace River website.  Check it out at

Monday, June 14, 2010

The River is Alive...

Yesterday was another first for me and for our church.  We held our worship service in a funeral home.  It wasn't creepy at all and it was perhaps a reminder of the fact that we who are alive in Christ live among the walking dead of the world.  History tells us that the early church met among the underground tombs in Rome.  I am also aware of another church in Northern Colorado that meets regularly in a funeral home.  It's not going to be a regular venue for us but it was much appreciated.  Mark's Funeral Service graciously allowed us to use their facility.  We had previously been looking to schedule all of our Summer services in the park but found that June 13th was unavailable at any of the city parks.  One of our members suggested weeks ago that perhaps the reason we could not get a park was because it was going to rain.  Sure enough--it was wet and cold throughout the entire weekend.  We were grateful to be warm and dry indoors.

I've been preaching through our Grace River core values and Sunday happened to be the core value, "Alive".  The biblical text was Ephesians 2:1-10 and there were five points of emphasis:  #1--We were Dead (v1-3), #2--We are now Alive (v4-5), #3--We are Seated with Christ in Heaven (v6-7), #4--We have been Saved (v8-9), and #5--We are God's Workmanship created for Good Works (v10).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Proud Papa Moment...

This qualifies as a proud papa moment.  My youngest son, Zach, was called up from the JV baseball team last week to play in his very first varsity game.  He was awesome!  From today's Windsor Beacon:

"Rightfielder Zach Samples may have been new to the varsity baseball lineup, but he swung the bat like a veteran to cap off Windsor's three-game summer series sweep of Berthoud on Wednesday afternoon.  Samples, who singled home Lance Harper in the 11-1 victory joined fellow freshman Patrick Fisher as the "call-ups" from the junior varsity squad to replace several varsity starters who were attending football camp."

Read the Entire Story Here

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The River flows in the Park...

Today was our first in a series of services in the park. We are nomadic and without a building for the next month or so. I have solid confidence that God is in control and that there are people that we will be meeting each and every week in our various locations. Today there were 94 of us at Windsor Main Park and we had a great time. The worship was upbeat and celebrative and we met some new friends. I'm very much looking forward to what God has in store for us each and every week.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cliffside Baptist Church

The first church that ever trusted me enough to let me pastor them was the Cliffside Baptist Church of Amarillo, Texas. Cliffside was a church on the verge of closing. It was a handful of mostly senior adults who were desperate to save their church. I was a young twenty-something, out-of-work, wanna-be pastor who had nothing to lose. We were made for each other. Somehow Cliffside grew under my leadership. We did the hard work of knocking on doors, reaching children, and figuring out ways to improve the broken down buildings. We painted, we prayed, and we refused to give up. I remember cleaning out the rusted baptistry for our first baptism (theirs and mine). I remember illegally digging and installing a new septic tank system (we chose a holiday weekend so that the city wouldn't notice). Remember, I was young and they were desperate. Lots of lives were changed in those days including mine. Whenever I'm in Amarillo, I always drive out to Cliffside and take a look. Here's a link to their website:

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Grace in the Park...

Grace River is in the early days of a new stage in our young life as a church--what I'm calling "Grace in the Park". It appears that we will be worshipping in the park for the next several weeks--perhaps through mid-July. Our first "park-Sunday" will be this coming Sunday and we will be meeting in Windsor's Main Park. It's a beautiful park with giant trees and lots of shade. Our stage will be the gazebo in the center of the park. I've attached a picture so that you can see our new sanctuary. I am mindful in these days that it is God who said that He does not dwell in man-made tabernacles. He is a God who dwells in the hearts of men. I fully expect that there will be new friends who discover us in the park and perhaps experience Jesus for the very first time. I expect that we will discover the purpose in our journey and the worship in our wandering. God has opened this door for us that cannot be closed and we will walk through it.