Awful Person

(Hi, this is Josiah. I help run the Sunday morning services and design the look and feel of actionchurch.)

I confessed something a little awkward in my prayer closing our service this past week. I referred to myself as an “awful person”. Immediately I felt like I needed to also pray some excuses and explanations to the crowd. It just felt weird saying I was awful. This thought was swirling around my head:

“Christians are not necessarily Math people, they are just people who still believe the Math book!”

If you missed the sermon, Don was using “Math” as a metaphor for truth.
“Christians are not necessarily truth people” I don’t possess the truth in me. I’m not perfect. Jesus was perfect. I’m not even pulling a D- in this “class”.

I get this lie stuck in my head: I’m a Christian who “was a sinner” in need of a Savior. I needed forgiveness yesterday, or maybe last year for the things I might have done.

The truth is: I’m a Christian who IS A SINNER in need of a Savior EVERY DAY. I might seek forgiveness regularly, but I can easily make it seem to myself and others that I only need forgiveness for something “in my past”. I need to seek forgiveness tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. And I’m going to struggle with the same sin, every day of the week. Lust. Pride. Anger. Repeat.

This doesn’t mean that my actions don’t matter because “I’m just going to sin anyways”. I want to be more like Christ, and at the same time, I’m definitely going to fail at being like Christ. I’m not THE model math student, Jesus is. I’m going to work hard at being a good math student, but in the end I need forgiveness because I’m not a good math student. I’m actually pretty awful.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

Roman 3:23-27 NLT

Talking AND Listening


All this month at actionchurch we are going to be learning about prayer. Jesus has given us very simple instructions in Matthew chapter 6. In plain black and white text, we get a “DO”, we get two “DON’Ts” and we get a “TEMPLATE”.

DO go into your room and close the door (verse 6)

DON’T pray like the hypocrites……DON’T babble like the pagans” (verses 5-8)

AND The legendary “Lord’s Prayer” (as seen everywhere in cross stitch version and in verses 9-14)

That sounds easy enough. Right? But it’s also easy to get caught up in the wrongs and the rights of prayer – Am I saying it wrong? Do I look right? Are these the right words? Should I be kneeling? Should my hands be raised or folded? Does this church include the “who art” part? That’s NOT what prayer is about!

Believe it or not – I think it boils down to something even simpler than Matthew 6. I think prayer is two little words.

  1. Talking
  2. Listening

You see, prayer IS communication in its simplest form; talking and listening. It’s about communication between God and you. No in between, middle man.   No right or wrong words. No salesman on commission. Just you and God.

As we work through the Forever and Ever Amen series together I encourage you to think about how you talk and listen to other people in your daily relationships. And I encourage you to “RE-think” how you talk and listen to God as we all try to build a daily, more personal relationship with Him.

Faith to finish well

night Truck

The first words of my morning devotion the other day were:

“Have you ever been tempted to just give up on life?  Have you ever been so tired, or so discouraged, or so worried, or so confused, that you simply wanted to run away and hide from everybody and everything?”

Eerily prophetic.  And yeah, that particular day turned out to be one of the worst days of my life.

I wonder how many days of their lives (not the soap opera) the disciples woke up and felt like they were ready to give up on life.  I wonder if they were ever so discouraged that they wanted to run away……or so confused by what was happening in their lives that they wanted to hide from everybody.  I would have to say I bet it happened often.  Its human nature and I can identify.

But THANKFULLY, we – as Christians – have an ace in the hole.  We have the element of FAITH to fall back on when we get discouraged or worried or confused.

“I have fought a good fight.  I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.” 

2 Timothy 4:7

 We have FAITH that God is in control. We have FAITH that what God has promised will come true.  We have FAITH that if we will just trust God and follow His plan we will get to see the New Jerusalem – with those awesome trees – promised in the book of Revelation.

 Honestly, I didn’t want to write a blog this week.   I feel like a hypocrite lately when I write about faith and hope.  From experience I can tell you it’s hard to “keep the faith” when life starts to smack you around and all hope seems lost.  This world can be brutal – but I try so hard to hold tight to this one simple truth – I CAN endure EVERYTHING because my God is stronger than ANYTHING I have to face in this life.

“For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will,

you may receive what was promised.”  Hebrews 10:36

Not the Book of Revelation!!!


“I saw this and fainted dead at his feet”   Revelations 1:17

Every week Don and Josiah do their little “schtick comedy” routine of an outro after service.  Sometimes I tune them out and plan what I’m having for lunch.  But, this week I actually paid attention and I learned three things:

  1. You cannot see enough of Lucy Beth in that stupid strappy-baby-holster-thing Josiah wears.
  2. “Ahoy Matey” – (and THANK YOU Poseidon) The Adventure Series is over – there will be no more nautical analogies.
  3. We are Rewinding to Easter, beginning at the end, Alpha to Omega in reverse, starting in the book of Revelation.

WAIT A MINUTE!!!  (Insert the annoying tape rewinding sound…..)

Did he just say Revelation ?!?!?


Not the Book of Revelation!!!!!

 I’ve read it.  It confused the beejeezus out of me.  So yesterday I re-read it.  And – not surprisingly it STILL confused me.

Some of you who are the “artsy” type probably really like the imagery in Revelation.  It is vivid and bold and descriptive in any version you choose to read.  It makes you want to go buy some oil paints and a canvas.  I can kind of understand that.

Some of you who are the “analytical” type probably really dig the cryptic numbers in Revelations.  You want to dust off the old scientific calculator and delve into a mind blowing math/word problem of epic proportions.  I can kind of understand that.

But me?…..I’m just a “faint dead at the thought of a red dragon with seven heads eating babies” type.  I plowed right through all the descriptions and metaphors and number lines – straight to the very end.  And here is all I know.  God is coming again.  He will win.  And that’s all I needed to know.

“Behold, I am coming soon!…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” -Jesus

Along the Way


As I read Paul’s journal type account (from the book of Acts) of his epic Roman adventure, I like to read between the lines and add the “flavor” that is missing.  I like to give my imagination the reins and envision what it was like to make the cloak and dagger escape with the cavalry in the middle of the night. I try to picture the conditions on the ship during the hurricane – the noise, the chaos, the fear.   And I always attempt to get a feel for the personalities and interactions between the people.

It’s clear that Paul’s God given goal was getting to Rome to preach the gospel.  But as I read the detailed description of the journey there were so many other supporting roles along the way.  There were definitely a lot of places and faces involved in Paul’s story but I don’t get the feeling that he ever treated the people along the way as unnecessary to the script.

The relationship that caught my attention this week was between Paul and a guy named Julius.  Not only was Julius a centurion – but he was a centurion with the Imperial Regiment.  He was Paul’s “captor” – his prison guard.  I’ve never gotten the impression that Roman centurions were particularly friendly towards the Jewish people.  And yet we know from this historical record that Julius actually allowed Paul to go into town to hang out with his friends, get a shower, grab some Oreos  and catch the Nascar race ( – Don’s version of Acts 27:3).

Further into the account the centurion is actually taking Paul’s advice about staying on the ship during the storm instead of bailing out – every man for themselves – in the lifeboats.  And, when his own troops wanted to kill all the prisoners to keep them from swimming away, Julius kept them from carrying out their plan and devised a way for everyone to make it to shore safely. Somehow this doesn’t sound like the relationship between a prisoner and his guard to me. Somewhere along the way Paul must have taken the initiative to befriend his “captor”.  It sounds like Paul was practicing what he preached no matter who he was talking to and no matter where he was at in his journey.  Clearly, his goal was to get to Rome.  But Paul chose to treat each day along the way as an opportunity to change someone’s life.

Lesson learned – Look towards your goal.  But don’t overlook the opportunity to share Christ’s love to everyone you meet along the way.