iStock_000002325558XSmallI am saddened by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  I pray for the comfort and compassion of Christ for those who have lost so much.   I hope we do not hide what was done in broad daylight.  I pray it will bring us to our knees; they need our prayers, and if possible our help.  I know for some there is a personal connection to many in Boston.  Many of us will try to make sense of the sin that has been shown, but don’t forget the lack of logic and the deception of sin; to make reason for the darkness in peoples’ souls who have no hope will only bring insanity.  I hope for God’s peace on the people of Boston, a peace that is beyond understanding, attainable in the hands of a gracious God.  I pray for the souls of those lost and the souls of those suffering.  May God bring hope out of the ashes of evil.  For me, I will not hide it from my older children, as it is a conversation in morality that we need to have.  It confronts our souls with the brokenness of man.  For me, I will pray, once again to my knees. I know who can help most, and who can comfort us all, and in His hands I commend my soul.  God be with those in Boston.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Kelly Patchin


The Answer To Life

Easter Foldover InvitesThis weekend we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most important historic event in mankind’s history.  Hear the story of The Son of God who lived perfectly, died sacrificially, and was raised again with power.  It is a celebration of life.  Jesus gave us a glimpse of the final destination, a new life, a new body, an eternal perspective.  Begin to live this life as though you were in the lobby of heaven, not like this is our final destination.  Our life is not lived in the shadow of death; it is lived in the reflection of The Son.  The Answer is “death is not the end of life” Jesus broke through all of our false perceptions and gave us a new way to look at life.  Our death is not a shadow; it is a rest, a sudden absence from the body making us present with the Lord.  It is the door of the lobby opening up into the grand ballroom.  Jesus destroyed the sting of death and opened a door into a new life.  We need to live in anticipation, passionately sharing our lives and the Good News of hope that we have.  Help someone this weekend by inviting them out of the shadows to join you in the lobby to hear The Answer to Life.

Head Games

“If you openly admit by your own mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and if you believe in your own heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” For it is believing in the heart that makes a man righteous before God, and it is stating his belief by his own mouth that confirms his salvation. And the scripture says: ‘Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame’.  – Romans 10:9-10  J.B. Phillips

I do a lot of praying in the head.  I’ll be talking to God in my head throughout the day.  Asking Him questions, seeking His advice, thanking Him for something, or just laying all my concerns and stresses on Him.  All of this is good, but it’s not the only way I ought to pray.  I need to open my mouth and speak the words of truth.  Praying out loud is a powerful way to change your life.  I’m not saying you have to do it in the middle of a crowd of people.  I’m saying your prayer life expands and your way of life in Christ grows when you speak out loud the words of truth and the confessions of your heart.

In other words,  it’s not enough to think you need to pray with your children; you need to gather them together and say, “let’s pray”.  It’s not enough to think I need to ask forgiveness; you need to go to the person and say, “will you forgive me?” It’s not enough to think of following Jesus; you need to say, “I want to follow Jesus Christ.”

Speaking out loud must be tempered by what we learn in James about the dangers of the tongue.  In chapter three he says, “We use the tongue to bless our Father, God, and we use the same tongue to curse our fellow-men, who are all created in God’s likeness.  Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth—surely, my brothers, this is the sort of thing that never ought to happen!”

The tongue is a blessing when I’m learning to say the things I believe out loud and not play head games.  The amazing outcome is an unconditional love for others.  It’s not easy.  It stretches us to be more like Christ.  It gives me a greater need to live each truth I speak “out loud.” The head games started in school for me when I learned to make life academic:  read a book, take a test, file it away.  Truth is not an academic pursuit.  It’s a way of life.  We need to stop playing head games and speak with our mouths the truths God has given in our hearts.  The blessings, not the curses.  The love, not the hate.  The way of Christ, not the way of the world.  I pray the love of Christ is on your lips today and not just in your heads, but born out of your heart and His Spirit.

I was encouraged after my last entry to say a little more about some difficult situations my wife and I found ourselves in.  I realize many people wonder about Christians.  How can you love your enemy?  How can you look at pain as light?  What makes you think you are right?  On the surface they seem like very different questions.  However they are all questions about perspective.  Perspective is the way we see things.  It is what causes one person to respond to suffering with joy while another person may respond with anger.

The problem for most of us is that we seek pleasure as a way of life.  This is the definition of Hedonism.  This is not the way to live.  In our wealthy culture it is a daily temptation to seek pleasure.  If we do so, we’ll be ill equipped to cope with suffering, whatever its form or length.  Seek Christ instead.  When pain comes into my life I do not have to dig deep to cope with it because the words of God that I live by come alive, and I believe them.  It requires me to fall on faith and turn to His Spirit.  Let me give you an example.  The most personal pain I have experienced was in the emergency room bellied over from pancreatitis and crying out to God.  Unable to hold the pain in, I had to speak to breathe.  What breath I could find came with acute pain that would not stop.  Even the first round of morphine did not end it.  I prayed both in my head and out loud, or should I say I cried out to God.  My prayer was something like this, “God take this pain away, or take me.”  It was the constant middle that killed me.

I have written before that acute pain brings acute clarity.  It slaps you with the way you see life and how you live it.  It brings a choice.  My wife and I have chosen Christ.  When you follow Jesus you will find that pain comes with the journey.  It is never your destination.  Stay focused on heaven.  Let the Spirit of God draw out your suffering, and help you carry the cross.   Galatians says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Perspective.  Those who don’t have the Spirit don’t know the way.  Our culture teaches us the way to pleasure, but not the way to live.  Pain is light like God tells us in 2Corinthians because God will give us only what we can handle and because He answers our prayer in the midst of the pain and lessens our load.  Sometimes we fail, but He will pick us up and make us strong.  I hope these thoughts help you realize that, in view of our future glory, a thousand years into eternity our light and temporary perspective has present joy.  Paul put it well when he said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Plant the Word of God in your heart.  Talk to Him all the time.  Practice your Christian values daily.  And when pain comes, you will find a friend closer than a brother.

Be Healed

Unknown health problems are much of what we have had to deal with as a family.  Last year I had pancreatitis.  Last month I found out I was healed of it.  The doctors don’t know how I developed it.  The theory is a deviated sphincter (don’t go there).  What I know is that it was God who healed me.

Micah has a curved spine.  Earlier in the year we went to a specialist in Oakland.  Micah’s spine was at a forty-six degree curvature.  If it continued, he would’ve needed a steel rod put in.  Two weeks ago the result of his latest checkup showed that his spine was at thirty-five degrees.  It’s straightening!

In both situations people were praying.  In both situations God revealed his healing hand.  Facing the unknown reminds me of Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”  He knows the unknown.  No doubt our health issues added a lot of concern and stress to my life.   I had no control in either circumstance, yet I have come to accept God’s hand on my life.  Moments of uncertainty create a deep need to trust and hope for what I cannot see.  I need Christ’s perspective in me as Paul writes of it in 2Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Our family still has our fair share of facing unknown things.  My pancreatitis may return.  Micah’s spine may curve back; just as likely, it may not.  Whatever the outcome, I see it is all temporary.   No matter what your struggle or situation, don’t expect to be there too long.  Fix your eyes on what is unseen — but just as real — and be healed, whatever the outcome.  I did not see God take away my pancreatitis or straighten my son’s back, but it really happened.  Thank you God for being a healing God.

Unity is a Must

I preached on Unity, Humility, and Selflessness this weekend.  I relied mostly on Philippians 2 the first few verses.  We are beginning a series on “A Breath of Life”, which will focus on God’s view of the world and the Christian view we ought to have toward modern issues.  In the understanding of unity, it becomes very clear that we are taught to be skeptical.  We do not think about what brings us together as much as what separates us.  In fact we are taught to fight against the very principle of unity.  We wonder if anything can be truly united in purpose; can the church really be one.  This is instead of thinking we are one — in Spirit, in Truth, In Baptism, and In Christ.  Really?  You can hear the skeptic in your head.  This is the voice that was given to you by your culture: bred in you from your parents, your education, the media, and the people around you.  The church, however, is united theologically in 95% of its beliefs.  Why do we focus on the other 5%?  Why do we tear down what God sacrificed His Son’s life for, that is, the church.  Each of us represents Christ, whether in our conversation at the grocery store, the coffee shop, or on the sports field.  Do we talk about Jesus then and the glorious unity we share in being a part of His church?  Or do we compare churches and talk about this person and that person or who did this or that?  In other words, do we preach the gospel or preach division?

The Good News is this.  We are united whether we have figured it out or not!  The Spirit of God lives in us and in so doing unites us together.  We can fight it, be skeptical of it, and complain about the church, but the unity of His people, for His purpose, will not change.  What if we focused on the 95% that is agreed upon?  Would we love each other enough to truly believe that in the non-essentials we could have unity?  Could we love each other enough to show forbearance, forgiveness, and patience?  The skeptic would say no, but the Christian must say yes.

Growing Up

As a parent of four children I have watched my children grow up right in front of me.  Last year Blake must have grown 4 inches and he is still growing.  Sometimes growth is slow.  You don’t realize for a year or two, “hey, you’ve grown in the last year.”  At other times being the parent puts you too close to the person.  Because the adjustments are slow, you find yourself adapting to them and don’t see the changes as readily.  But whether my kids grow fast or slow, I find them wonderful at every inch.  Sometimes I remember when they were young and I have fond thoughts of days gone by.  Other days I am glad they have gone by.

Growing up is a part of a healthy life, maturing is a much anticipated joy in our lives.  All of my children look forward to a day when they are old enough to stay up later, watch a certain show, play a certain game, go on a certain ride at six flags, drive a car, hang out with friends, vote and pay bills (maybe not these last two).  Our life in Christ is the same way.

We are growing up into Christ who is the head.  The church ought to be working to equip the saints to serve and be ready for the good deeds God has prepared in advance for us.  But it will take time, and we need to grow up.  We need to be growing.   My son’s growth is obvious because his pants are way too short.  There are subtle changes in his appearance.  I have to look down at him less and less.  Every believer needs to grow up too in order to become confident in their relationship with Christ, increase their faith, and share salvation with others.  Our maturity gives us courage to face all of life’s challenges so that we experience joy both here and in heaven to come.

For many of us it is time to grow up because dad wants to give us the keys — only they are not to the car:

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”    Matthew 16:19