Monday, January 16, 2012

TOP FIVE Christian Books from 2011

Not written in 2011 - read in 2011

The Prodigal God - Timothy Keller
Brilliant pastor-author Keller turns the Biblical parable of the prodigal son inside out and upside down and in doing so makes it speak afresh.

The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns
Remember - the hole is in OUR gospel - because we have stopped caring for the poor and downtrodden around the world. The President of World Vision powerfully makes the case to find a need and meet it both at home and around the world.

Radical - David Platt
The best in the growing number of books that call the contemporary church in America to a 'no holds barred' faith that will rediscover New Testament radical abandonment to God. Strong stuff!

Today We Are Rich - Tim Sanders
Upbeat positive thinking author hits home with a down to earth retelling of his Grandmother's homespun wisdom. The prologue alone is priceless.

The Little Book of Hours: Praying with the Community of Jesus
Fantastic little collection of prayers and readings that have become my lifeline - especially when travelling.

Top Five General Reading Books I Read in 2011

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Harrowing true biography of WW II hero Louie Zamperini retold by the best-selling author of Seabiscuit. From his troubled childhood in California, to becoming an Olympic athlete, to his imprisonment and torture Louie survived it all without breaking. The conclusion comes with a surprising Christian element too. Loved it!

China Road - Rob Gifford
NPR reporter makes one last tour of China before heading home. So he travels the main highway of the nation from Shanghai to the far Western border. Every adventure along the way brings fresh insights on the new China and its values. Gifford happens to be a Christian and even preaches at a tiny church along the way. Loved it!

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
In this work of historical fiction we follow the story of a young couple - one Chinese and the other Japanese from the days of World War II to contemporary times. Powerfully tells the sad saga of the Japanese in Seattle who are persecuted and incarcerated in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. One particular hotel embodies the tragic events. (Nancy and I visited the Panama Hotel in Seattle this fall.) Poignant.

The Book of Negroes (Somebody Knows My Name) - Lawrence Hill
After seeing this book recommended by so many of my Canadian friends it turned out to be very hard to find because apparently the original title is politically incorrect in the USA. Canadian author Hill writes poignantly about the life of one African slave whose journey takes her to the USA, Britain, Canada and more before eventually finding freedom.

Cutting for Stone - Abrahan Verghese
The opening story of the birth of twins in horrific conditions in an African hospital was told with medical precision and powerful emotions. We follow the story of these twin brothers through fascinating lives of conflict and love. Painted against a wonderful backdrop of the practice of medicine in an international setting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Prayer - The Soul's Sincere Desire

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, "Behold, he prays!"

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
Our watchword at the gates of death;
We enter heaven with prayer.

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word and deed and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

Nor prayer is made by man alone,
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus on the eternal throne
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou, by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way;
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray!

- James Montgomery 1818

Week of Prayer Sunday

Interesting how my intentions of blogging every day on this topic got waylaid by my mother-in-law's unexpected illness and temporary hospitalization. She is recovering nicely back home but it was a reminder of how uncertain life can be.

It is not time to start praying when trouble strikes. Better to be in an ongoing pattern of prayer. Prayed up - as they used to say.

So in my final installment for the week let me ask a few simple questions.

Do you have a TIME each day or at least most days when you usually pray?

Do you have a PLACE where you can get quiet and centered on God?

Do you have a PATTERN you like to use to help you focus your prayers?

Those are the basics. They really aren't rocket science and they really aren't negotiable either.

Press on!

Prayer Week - Resources

Timberview's Week of Prayer is designed to help deepen and strengthen your prayer life. A key part of that is adopting the goal of having a regular daily prayer time at least 5 days a week.

One reason so many evangelical Christians find consistent fresh prayer times to be so difficult is that we have cut ourselves off from the historic practice of allowing the prayers of others to inspire and inform our prayers. Certainly we don't want to only repeat rote prayers written by others and call it good. But neither do we want to ignore the incredible treasure trove of challenging inspiring prayers both from scripture and from the writings of exemplary Christians across the centuries.

Check out these websites

Operation World - Praying for every country in the world - one day at a time!

The Divine Hours - Praying with the Historic Pattern of Morning Noon and Evening Prayers. (Nancy and I have used this for the past 4 years and love it!)

Sacred Space - Wonderful Celtic-based online prayers from Ireland

Upward and onward

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BEST MOVIE - Pleasant Surprises

There are a few movies on the LifeD Top 100 Best of All Time that I did not expect. But I have been a long time admirer of them. Movies like:

Leon: The Professional (1994) #73

The Green Mile (1999) #77

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) #61

American History X (1998) #46

The King's Speech (2010) #35

Memento (2000) #32

I loved each of these movies but they are not widely liked among my friends anyway. Under-appreciated is a good word for it - I think.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Best Movie List - Big Mistakes

Here are a few movies I think the folks at LifeD vastly over-rated:

Once Upon a Time in the West #10 -- huh?

Fight Club #19 - yuk!

Amelie #28 - lame!

The Shining #49 - gross!

American Beauty #65 - disgusting!

That's my 2 cents!

Best Movies - All Time

Website called Lifed - picked their Top 100 Movies of all time -- which got me thinking. The # after each title and year is the place on the LifeD list.

Although my list varies slightly from time to time, I feel pretty good about this list right now:

10 Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Ring (2001) #44
9 Memento (2000) #32
8 The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) #92
7 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) #20
6 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) #61
5 The African Queen (1951) N/A
4 The Godfather (1972) #1
3 Schindler’s List (1993) #3
2 Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003) #47
1 Citizen Kane (1941) #13

Great movies all!

Most Redeeming Movies - since 2000

"Most Redeeming" Movies Since 2000

10 Slumdog Millionaire 2008
9 Hotel Rwanda 2004
8 True Grit 2010
7 Lord of the Rings – Return of the King 2003
6 The Nativity Story 2006
5 Lars and the Real Girl 2007
4 The Visitor 2008
3 The Passion of the Christ 2004
2 Lion Witch & the Wardrobe 2005
1 Millions 2005

For the past few years Christianity Today has chosen each year's top ten 'most redeeming' movies. These are my personal favorites from among theirs. Notice #1 and #10 are by the same director.

Great stuff.

MLK Day Spokane

One year ago Spokane made national news. It wasn't good news. Some unknown racist had planted a homemade bomb along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Parade. Ugh. The reputation of the Inland Northwest as a hotbed of racism got another unwanted boost.

So here we are one year later. I'm planning to join the crowds downtown Monday morning at 10 - just on principle. Just to add my voice to the thousands of others that are saying - not in my town. No racism here - at least not from me!

It seems to me that Christians throughout the area might be wise to put their faith into action and add their voices to the mix. Racial reconciliation isn't just on my heart - it is in the heart of my Heavenly Father!

Speak up - show up!

Timberview Week of Prayer - Saturday

Interesting how my intentions of blogging every day on this topic got waylaid by my mother-in-law's unexpected illness and temporary hospitalization. She is recovering nicely back home but it was a reminder of how uncertain life can be.

It is not time to start praying when trouble strikes. Better to be in an ongoing pattern of prayer. Prayed up - as they used to say.

So in my final installment for the week let me ask a few simple questions.

Do you have a TIME each day or at least most days when you usually pray?

Do you have a PLACE where you can get quiet and centered on God?

Do you have a PATTERN you like to use to help you focus your prayers?

Those are the basics. They really aren't rocket science and they really aren't negotiable either.

Press on!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week of Prayer - Wednesday

Helpful comments on Prayer from Ruth Haley Barton at The Transforming Center Online:

Morning Prayer. In the morning, we begin with praise, affirming and celebrating God’s presence with us, receiving his loving care towards us and committing the work of the day to him.

O God, open our lips and we shall declare your praise.
God said: Let there be light; and there was light.
And God saw that the light was good.
This very day the Lord has acted!
Let us rejoice!
Praise the Lord!
God’s name be praised!

Mid-day Prayer. At mid-day, when tasks and to-do lists are pressing in and human effort is at its height, we stop to renew our awareness of God’s presence, to rest in him for a few moments and ask for his peace and guidance regarding those things that are concerning us. The opening prayer/invocation is always our heart cry:

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Oftentimes mid-day prayer will contain some sort of a prayer for wisdom such as this Collect for Grace, which is one of our favorites in the Transforming Center.

O God, by whom we are guided in judgment,
And who raises up for us light in the darkness,
Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties,
The grace to ask what you would have us to do;
That your wisdom may save us from all false choices,
And in your straight path we may not stumble.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

If you pray that prayer with any kind of sincerity at all, it is guaranteed to change the trajectory of your day!

Evening Prayer. In the evening as the sun sets and the natural light fades, we acknowledge God as the source of our light and greet one another with expressions of peace.

You, O Lord, are my lamp.
My God, you make my darkness bright.
Light and in Jesus Christ our Lord,
Thanks be to God!

Evening prayer... offers us the opportunity to place the cares of the day in God’s hands as we make the transition from day to evening.

We praise you and thank you, O God,
For you are without beginning and without end.
Through Christ, you created the whole world;
Through Christ, you preserve it
Through Christ you made the day for the works of light
And the night for the refreshment of our minds and our bodies.
Keep us now in Christ, grant us a peaceful evening,
A night free from sin, and bring us at last to eternal life.
Through Christ and in the Holy Spirit,
We offer you all glory, honor and worship,
Now and forever. AMEN.

PRAYER GATHERING -- Timberview Christian Fellowship - Wednesday Jan 11 - 7 to 8 pm

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday Jan 10 - Prayer Week

Timberview Nation - Since our Leadership Board meets tonight to think and pray about our ministry together in 2012 - this would be a great time to pray for them.

Our Leadership Board consists of:

Pastor Glenn Teal
Luke Thomas
Amy Grady
Wade Griffith
Janet Cline
Glen Best
Bruce Wadsworth
David Pettis
Eric Whitley

Pray for: Wisdom, Oneness, Boldness, Discernment and Faith as we walk together in this exciting new year of ministry.

Check out the links for prayer at Explore Faith - Fixed Hour Prayers

Don't forget the Prayer Gathering this Wednesday at 7pm at Timberview!

Breath Prayer

Timberview Nation,
I wrote this prayer for a special service early last year. It has stuck with me. I offer it here as a suggestion for our next step in this week of praying together.

Just now Lord Jesus I come humbly into your presence

I breathe out my sin and failure
I breathe in your forgiving grace

I breathe out my selfish words and ways
I breathe in your selfless love

I breathe out my cares and concerns
I breathe in the peace of God that passes all understanding.

I breathe out my doubts and fears
I breathe in fresh faith in Jesus in whose strength I can do all things.

I sit quietly before you Jesus -- the author and finisher of my salvation.
I sit in awe at your feet
I sit in wonder that the Creator of everything -- the Savior of the world -- the Guide and Comforter of his children is listening to me right now.

So I stand in wonder and awe before you
I stand on tiptoe with praise
I stand against the fiery darts of the evil one
I stand in your mighty strength
I stand in my position as a favored child of the Most High God

So in light of who You are
I breathe out my own striving and stressing
I breathe in your goodness and mercy

I breathe out my tension and turmoil
I breathe in your calming presence

I breathe out my obsession with everything I have done wrong
I breathe in complete confidence in everything you have done right

I sit quietly before you Jesus -- the Author and Finisher of my salvation.
I sit in awe and wonder of the Creator of everything -- the Savior of the world -- the Guide and Comforter of his children.

What a wonder You are.

I encourage you to try breathing in and out and sitting and standing as you pray through this prayer. I learned long ago that often when we pray posture helps!

With you on the journey.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Praying the Battlefield Prayer

Timberview Nation -

I invite you to join me in praying the time-honored prayer written long ago by Arthur Bennett entitled "The Battlefield Prayer." It goes like this:

I bless You that the issue of the battle between yourself and Satan has never been uncertain, and will end in your victory.

Calvary broke the dragon’s head, and so I contend with a vanquished foe, who with all his subtlety and strength has already been overcome.

Whenever I feel the serpent at my heel may I remember Jesus - whose heel was bruised, but who, when bruised, crushed the devil’s head. So because Christ conquered the enemy I rejoice that He rules as the Lord of Hosts our Mighty Warrior.

So Lord I pray that you will
Heal me of any wounds received in the great conflict;
if I have been stained by sin,
if my faith has suffered damage,
if my hope is less than bright,
if my love is not fervent,
if some creature-comfort occupies my heart,
if my soul sinks under pressure of the fight.
Heal me I pray.

Lord, You alone are the One whose every promise is balm, and every touch life-giving.
Draw near to me, your weary warrior
Refresh me, that I may rise again to fight the good fight, and never tire until my enemy is trodden down.

Help me to stay so close to You that through your power I may overcome Satan, unbelief, the lust of the flesh and the lure of this world.

Give me a fresh drink from Your eternal fountain that lies in your unchanging and everlasting love and decree.

Then my hand will never weaken,
my feet will never stumble,
my sword will never rest,
my shield will never rust,
my helmet will never shatter,
my breastplate will never fall,
as my strength rests in the power of your might.

Adapted by Glenn H.Teal

Now that you've read it -- please go back and PRAY it!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Beginning Our Week of Prayer - Sunday January 8, 2012

When you pray -- make your prayers focus on a changed life. Your own!

People who are learning to pray often get frustrated with prayer because it seems nothing ever changes. Maybe that’s because we aren’t praying for the right change. I’ve noticed that many times the vast majority of our prayers are for God to change our circumstances. Maybe God doesn’t want to change our circumstances. Maybe he wants to change us.

That doesn’t mean he won’t ever change our circumstances. I’ve seen God supply needs, open opportunities, and heal people in incredible ways. But I’ve also spent years praying for somethings to change the never have. I guess that should have been my first clue that I might not have been praying for the right things.

So as we enter into this new week of prayer at Timberview - it is important not to make prayer into a complaint session because the things we hoped would change have not yet. Instead let's see this as an incredible opportunity to gain the wisdom, direction, and power of the King of kings who rules all time and places.

Not my brother - not my sister - but it's me O Lord
Standin' in the need of prayer

Lord before I pray for anyone and anything else change me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week of Prayer - Timberview Nation

This weekend we will launch into our annual Week of Prayer - January 8 - 15. Every year it is a special blessing to join with our entire church family in seeking the face of God together. In 2012 we begin with four specific steps to activate our prayers.

1 Daily Prayer Challenge - we will post a short daily prayer focus here on Fully Devoted One. Please read, interact and respond.

2 Day of Fasting and Prayer - Wednesday January 11 - Join in one special day of a liquid-only diet to intensify our focus on God.

3 Prayer Gathering - Wednesday January 11 at 7pm - Observe one hour of Prayer together in the Worship Auditorium.

4 Sunday Prayer Experience - January 15 at 9 & 10:45am - We will observe Communion and spend a significant portions of our service praying.

I urge you to join me in this special week of waiting on God together as a church family.

When we work - we work. But when we pray - God works!

Pam's Story

I recently read about a woman named Pam, who knows the challenge of a difficult pregnancy. More than 24 years ago, she and her husband Bob were serving as missionaries to the Philippines and praying for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.

Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own safety and told her that the medicines had caused irreversible damage to her baby. She refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted.

While pregnant, Pam nearly lost their baby four times but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: If you will give us a son, we’ll name him Timothy and we’ll make him a preacher.

Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam’s youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father’s ministry in the Philippines. He also plays football. Pam’s son is Tim Tebow.

The University of Florida’s star quarterback became the first sophomore in history to win college football’s highest award, the Heisman Trophy. His current role as quarterback of the Denver Broncos has provided an incredible platform for Christian witness.

Tim’s notoriety and the family’s inspiring story have given Pam numerous opportunities to speak on behalf of women’s centers across the country. Pam Tebow believes that every little baby you save matters.

I'm sure she's right.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Prayer for the New Year

Bless us, O Lord,
and bless the time and seasons yet to come.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
And fill this new year with your kindness,
that we may be glad and rejoice
all the days of our life.


2012 - New Year Letter to Timberview

Sunday January 1, 2012

Dear Timberview Nation

To those of you who have been here from the very beginning -- back when then Pastor Matt and his family along with about 30 others launched a new church on the northside of Spokane

to those who remember gathering to worship on campus at Northwest Christian and Whitworth University - who were part of that early team who set up early Sunday morning and tore down after each service

to those who helped locate this particular piece of property - this beautiful 13 acres of woodlands and saw in it the potential to become a fully realized ministry campus

to you who worked long and hard transforming what was then only a partially completed Christian retreat into a fully functioning church with a usable worship center and kid’s classrooms and kitchen and offices and even bathrooms that work

to all who contributed and sacrificed to add on this amazing worship auditorium and to renovate the older section so they formed a cohesive whole

to all of you who have worshipped and served within and outside these walls
in years or months or weeks past

who cut the grass or shovelled the walks
or held babies on your lap
or led teens on a trip
or made coffee in the kitchen
or led songs of praise
or tweaked sound and lighting boards

whether you have been here all 18 years or the past 18 months or just 18 days
blessings to you

grace and peace to you on this special day - the first of 2012.
I gladly follow in the footsteps the new testament letters in thanking God for each of you.

I am particularly thankful for those of you who have partnered with us in this ministry over the course of the past 4 years.

Many of you watched as your favorite and in some cases only pastor was selected by his peers to become an overseer - a bishop - and as such was no longer available to be your pastor. You felt a sense of loss - but you stuck it out.

You were also the ones who welcomed your new pastor - some unknown Canadian guy and his energetic wife from a big church out east who largely unfamiliar with the culture and history of your region, your community and your church family. But you helped us settle in and you hung in here.
And somehow -- by the grace of God -- he has made it work.
And for that we are all thankful!

I also write this to those of you who over these past four years have found a new spiritual home - a church family and sense of community.

Many of you have come to faith in Jesus here and feel more fully alive than ever before. Bless you.

Some were baptized right here in this very room.
You came up out of that fiberglass tank dripping wet for God to the cheers and applause of your spiritual tribe - as we celebrated your new life in Christ

Some are brand new among us and you already feel at home. I thank God for you too.

Many of you know that I’m pretty connected to the electronic media. I’m very comfortable emailing, tweeting, texting, or messaging, but there is something powerful about a well written letter. If only I could write one.

It takes a certain craft to get a letter right.
You spend time laboring over every word
crafting the sentences and paragraphs
searching for just the right word and turn of phrase.

If there ever was such a letter to emulate it would be the one the apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi.

Philippians 1:3-6 says this:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

or as the Contemporary English Version puts it

Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.

I love that.

We thank God for each other -- I certainly thank Him for you.
We pray for one another -- I am committed to pray for you.
We partner in ministry with God and each another -- I am blessed by my partnership with you.

Looking back over the past year I can truly say with the Apostle Paul that it has been a privilege to pray for and partner with you in this mission as a church family.

Together under God we are partners in a holy mission
we are team mates in a heavenly cause
we are brothers and sisters in a forever family
We are partners in the gospel.
How cool it that?

Every time you show up to clean up the grounds and it takes longer than we expected and we’re feeling achy and tired
Each week when you practice long and hard to lead worship

Every time you prayerfully prepare a lesson for a classroom full of high energy grade school kids
or you show up and speak up in your small group gathering
you are not just raking or planning or praying or sharing
you are participating in the gospel.

We’re playing together on God’s team.

We are sharing in something holy and sacred and mysterious - bigger than any one of us
We are partnering in the building up
of a God honoring
life transforming
biblically functioning
church community

In 2011 -- thank God for how he worked in and through us.

Like the way we began the year on our knees - last January.
Beginning each calendar year with a week of prayer has been a God-led spiritual adventure for us as a church. It was good for us individually and collectively.
So let’s do it again next week.

I thank God every time I remember the way our partnership touched and changed lives.

I remember with joy - what God did last February when our staff put our heads together and cooked up our first ever all church Ash Wednesday service.
We worked - but way better than that - God worked.
And when it came together on that Wednesday night God’s presence was palpable.

I remember Brenna Sloan’s soul-stirring call and response prayer
I remember sensed the quiet beauty of that deeply meaningful communion time
Best of all - I remember how powerfully present God was in those moments as we ventured out of our typical evangelical comfort zone, and received the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of those who came forward. We all knew that God was in the house.

He turned a moment that what might have been somewhat awkward - into something precious and holy and sacred - just like we’d hoped - only better.

I remember the joy-filled energy that was in this place a few weeks later on Celtic Sunday.

Instead of celebrating the Celtic Way in typical style with fiddles, tin pipes and bondran drums this room came alive with the skirl of bagpipes. I still smile at the memory of how we sang Amazing Grace that day with such verve and energy.

Those unscripted holy moments at Jesus’ feet are a great reminder that sometimes God chooses to do a new thing, in a new way by taking us to new places in our worship. So I thank God for every unexpected God-filled Spirit led moment along the way.

And then there was last Easter. That was quite a partnership.

You took risks inviting neighbors family and friends
I got to take the risk of asking our friends at Land Expressions to donate four large flat rocks to use in our closing prayer time. I still remember the puzzled look on the owner’s face when I explained the plan.

But to his credit - he said yes. And Tony Singleton and Rick Giles and a bunch of strong guys wrestled those rocks in place here at the front of this room.

Then came Easter. And in First service no one responded to the invitation.

Truth be told - in that moment humanly speaking - I felt like something of a failure. Did I miss a leading from God somewhere?

Then I got to watch with tears welling in my eyes at the close of second service when that long line of spiritually hungry men and women, couples and teens and entire families formed down the aisle. Praying over dozens of spiritual seekers, one or two or more at a time, was indeed a holy moment I will never forget.

That holy moment was a perfect example of what God meant when his word said that we get to partner in the gospel. Everything that happened that day was a result of our partnership.

Because you made the ask - this place was filled with spiritually open people.
Because others stepped up and served on the welcome team and the coffee team and the media team and the worship team, our friends felt welcome.

Because you prayed and worked together the moment was prepared for God, he then did what only he could do. He did drew the hearts of dozens of seeking people to Himself.

Another gospel partnership happened around here in June when we went “Outside the Walls” to demonstrate the love of God to our community in practical ways. “Outside the Walls” has become far more than a semi-annual event it is who we are.

Given the poverty, despair and deep need in this broken world of ours, some call it God-forsaken. Timberview is here to prove it’s not.

God so loved this world that sent his one and only son for it.
And when Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven he sent his Holy Spirit into this world through his people -- in us.

So now, here we are on the northside of Spokane at the turning of the year from 2011 to 2012, sent with a mission from God. Share his love.

“Outside the Walls” is one important way we do that.
So this past June we got to reach across racial divides with love and generosity
we got to serve the economically oppressed with kindness
we got feed a hot breakfast to hungry people at Citygate
we got to wash cars for free to an interesting assortment of our astonished neighbors

One of the greatest blessings of all was to have the director of the Martin Luther King Jr Community Center - Freda Gandy - came in person to our services the next Sunday and express her deep thanks.
I love it when a plan comes together - God’s plan.

Best of all the serving spirit that is at the heart of “Outside the Walls” has spread far beyond one weekend in the spring.

All year long we’ve been partnering in the gospel by finding more and better ways to demonstrate God’s love.

Teen and kids and small groups regularly host parties and provide services for senior citizens.
We regularly take hot chocolate to the homeless through our young adult “Remnant” ministry.
We consistently package and pay for weekend lunches for local elementary school kids through the Back-snack program.
We gather flip-flops - hundred of flip-flops and stretchy gloves to show love to street kids and hopefully help somebody escape the ugly slavery of the modern sex trade.

We get to do all this and more.
We don’t have to - serve and help and love - we get to.

And it wasn’t just outside these walls that God did some amazing things.
Thanks to the dedication of some selfless servants, God also did his wonderful life-changing work - in here.

We partner in the gospel every time one of us loves and holds some squirmy 4 year old on your lap
and when one of us puts our arm around the shoulder of a growing teenager looking to belong
or we challenge a young adult to honor God
or we support a healthy marriage - or nurture a hurting one

In 2011 Timberview became even more unleashed in our service to God and each other.

Together - we created new partnerships
we touched new families
we welcomed new spiritual seekers
we enfolded new Jesus followers
Thank God!

Together we did it! Together under God - he did it!

We built a church among the downtrodden Paiwan Tribe in Taiwan
We supported our brave partners in China who risk everything all the time to follow Jesus
We funded church planters in the strife torn nations of Egypt and Jordan and Iraq
We helped sustain the amazing work God is up to in India - planting new churches every day
We did it together, under God, as partners in the gospel

That’s why our leadership board went together to serve the struggling Free Methodist Church in Walla Walla - painting walls, reorganizing a community kitchen, landscaping the yard - in Jesus’ name.

In recent weeks we gave Thanksgiving baskets to dozens of families in need
and we supplied every gift requested through the “Tree of Sharing” program
and we provided bundles of Christmas gifts and baskets for every family we heard about that needed help in the holidays.
Thank God - we got to partner in the gospel together.

So looking ahead into this brand new year called 2012 - what can we except -- Lord do it again.
In fact Lord would you please do it even more!

“Every time I think of you - Timberview - I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers - Timberview - it makes me happy. This is because you - Timberview - have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it.

God is the one who began this good work in us - Timberview - and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.

So thank you my partners
Thank you for sharing in the gospel.
Thank you for living it out.
Thank you for every act of kindness.

Thanks too for every encouraging note or tweet or text or email
for every generous donation
for every act of service
for every risky invitation.
Thanks partners.

None of what happened could have happened without you.

Can you believe we get to do it again - together - in the next 12 months?
I am convinced that under God and by his grace, even better days are ahead for us as his children.
I don’t mean to forecast all sunshine and no clouds - I wish I could but in good conscience I can’t.

But I can predict that the same God who walked with us through the hard times last year and the year before that and the year before that - is not about to leave us nor forsake us. Aren’t you glad?

The same God who has helped so many of us through dark times, will once more see us through the shadows.

Those to those of us who have been through or are in deep grief
or who have lost a job
or are enduring illness
or are struggling with a sense of personal betrayal
remember God is still with us.
He isn’t going anywhere.

Even in life’s mess
Even in the pain
His promise endures - I will not leave you nor forsake you.

Many of us have found that our wounds have made us more sensitive to the pain of others.
Our struggles have taught us to trust even when we cannot feel or see God’s hand.
Our defeats have made us more desperate for the God for whom nothing is impossible.

So let’s move forward into whatever lies ahead trusting in the goodness of our Senior Partner.
Let’s advance in faith knowing exactly who our real Leader is and who he is not.

Timberview has never been a church build on some kind of a personality cult of one particular leader or another. Relevant yes - hipster no.

So we move forward in faith.
Knowing that even if we endure hard times together God will indeed see us through.
This is His church!

Jesus is with us and will be no matter how dark or foreboding it gets,
joy comes in the morning
It may feel like Friday but Sunday’s Comin’

And maybe best of all I look forward to serving in partnership with you.
Especially with Chris and Pete and Karen and Cathey and Kathryn
and each person on our leadership board
and every one who serves kids and teenagers and young adults
and all of us who give our hard earned money
and our valuable time
and our best gifts of service
and in particular my dear devoted partner in life and in ministry - Nancy.

We get to do this.
We get to do this .

We get to go together on this new venture of faith out into the unknown, the unexplored, the holy wild of God! We get to get there with God.

And he will go before us and lead us.
In the laughing
in the crying
in sharing
in the serving
and the celebrating
he will be with us.

So I write this to all of us who stand here at the edge of our next chapter together in faith.
May this new year be so alive with the presence of Christ in us, that being part of this church fellowship makes our hearts beat fast and our hair blow back and our faith stand on tip toe, with holy anticipation for what God is going to do next.

May the adventure of 2012, include more
bringing friends,
giving money,
joining serving teams
participating in a small group
getting more involved.
practicing hope.
following Jesus.

As we do - may our Senior Partner -- take all that and making miracles happen.

Jesus Christ really is alive. And we are His Church.

He is still at work, healing people and liberating people and giving new life.
There is mission here, a cause, a purpose within these walls and beyond. We know it!
So we go in faith together to embrace it.

Let us begin this holy adventure called 2012 together with every person presently part of our congregation becoming even more engaged with the mission God has given us.

Timberview has been called by God to our own unique path. We have our own particular DNA and we must be true to it, or we will lose something vital about who we are, and why God brought us together.

We may face challenges but we will not give up in fear instead we will move forward in faith.
After all - we are people of faith.

Faith defines us - now that we know Jesus is alive and well.
Now that we’ve you've leaned over and looked into the empty tomb and ran huffing and puffing to tell our friends, insisting in between breaths, 'He isn't in there - He is Risen!’
No - fear is no longer the game we're playing. Faith is

We've been seized by hope.
And hope has it's own rules.

So the truth is that moving into 2012 - we're just getting started.
The past and the present and the future meld into one great eternal now
and we understand in that moment what Jesus was talking about when he said that he came to give us life to the full.

Jesus came to give us life
that is fully alive
really alive
abundantly alive
eternally alive

So I can’t wait to see where God takes us. But I want to go with you and with God.

So it is my joy to write these words to you - my dear friends and partners in the gospel
with a heart full of thanks for all God has done
and with a heart full of dreams for all the He will do.

Grace and peace to you - through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your brother