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Friday, April 17, 2015

Israel Trip

Hey guys! Nathan here. I a, currently traveling to Israel to check out the Holy Lands. I have never been, but I'm sure it will a great experience. Hopefully this will spark some new blog posts.

Pray for me, will you? Thanks!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pursuing the Presence: Kingdom Glimpse


"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT)

Prayer from Chad Jarnagin

"We have come for a glimpse of Your Kingdom of kindness.
A world where love rules over all,
     a world where enemies embrace,
          a world where the distinctions between friend and foe evaporate
               in the light of Your love.
Knowing You have the power to transform us,
     we give our lives over to You,
          body, soul, mind, spirit.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Simple Sunday: Aware

Tim Challies, a Christian author and another blogger that I follow posted this picture with a quote from John Piper a few months ago.

It struck me so I grabbed it to remember later. I want to encourage everyone with this truth, because most of the time we run through life focused on the here and now, the things that affect our direct bubble or sphere of influence, we think about the problems we are facing or the one, two, or three big tasks or issues we have to tackle... and the reality is that there is a whole different world around us that we are so quick to forget about. God is sovereign, there is nothing we can do to surprise Him. There is nothing that will ever happen that will force God to say, "Well, didn't see that coming!"

Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to sit silently in the middle of the noise and listen.
Sometimes we just need to open our eyes to the bigger picture.
Sometimes we need gntly reminded that we are not the center of the universe.

And yet, let us also acknowledge, accept, and rest in the fact that...

"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of the them."


Nathan Bryant

is a pastor living in Phoenix, AZ. As a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri he majored in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology. Nathan has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church.

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

Follow him on Twitter:

Nathan's Website

Friday, April 10, 2015

Satirical Apologetics

Lutheran Satire is a channel on YouTube that puts together funny, basic responses to some of the big questions of the day when it comes to apologetics, orthodoxy, and faith factions.

In lieu of a Formation Friday post, this week I just wanted to share this:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wednesday Word: Psalm 93

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore. 
The reminder in this Psalm is needed on a day like today - "The LORD reigns..."

Today is a day where unexpected challenges came my way. Today is a day where my plans for the next year have collapsed in front of me. Today is a day where I want to ask, "Why?"

Today is the day that I am reminded, "The LORD reigns..."

The words of this Psalm are a reminder that God is seated on his throne. Every trial, trouble, broken promise, and feeling of betrayal will never compare to the knowledge that God is seated on his throne. That he is "robed in majesty."

God is on his throne in his majesty. His majesty is greater than the floods that are crashing down and against the dry land. His majesty is greater than the winds that howl through the valleys with the force able to tear trees from their roots. His majesty is greater than the powerful torrent of flood waters that rise from a summer storm.

The LORD on high is mighty...

The promises of God are trustworthy. He will deliver on all that he has said he will do.

In the day of the unexpected...I cling to the only hope I know. I cling to the God of Psalm 93. The One who is greater than every power and force known to man. The One who is holy and on the throne. The One who will draw me through the pain.

The LORD reigns...forevermore.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Day After

Today is the day after Easter. The dress clothes are hung up. The decorations in the church are coming down. The empty tomb is all but forgotten until next year. Yesterday, if we are not careful it can feel as if we celebrated the end of the story.

Growing up, I had a problem. Actually, I still have this problem…although, I fail to see how it is a problem. When I read a book or watch a movie I go to the ending first. I want to know how the story ends. Now, some would argue that this approach to a story is ridiculous and unnecessary. I mean, how could any sane person do this? Wouldn’t that ruin the rest of the story?

Slow down for a moment, before you call me crazy. 

I read the end of the story, because I want some kind of hope for how the narrative will turn out. Once I know the ending, I turn to the beginning. As I make my way through the plot, I am still gripped by the climax. I am still overwhelmed with the hero’s journey throughout the storyline. There is never a moment where I am not sitting on the edge of my seat with bated breath wondering the fate of the characters.

Then, the hero of the story makes it through the great climax – and I remember the end of the story. I am reminded of hope.

Throughout the grand Story of Scripture, there are moments when I wonder, “Could this have been the end of the story?” Could God have chosen to stop everything in that moment and be done with the Story? Think about it:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Resurrection Day

It's funny how your first interactions with Church can affect you years down the road.

My first experiences with Church were very liturgical. Lots of ceremony and attention to the calendar and different seasons. Within the particular tradition I was first a part of, Good Friday was a big deal. We were even pretty serious about Ash Wednesday. Of all the celebrations in the Christian calendar, these two days are the glum ones that most people like to skip. Not my tradition. We were serious about repentance and serious about the cross. Every Sunday we recited together a Prayer of Confession and although I know that the pastor shared "words of assurance" after these communal confessions, I only know this because I recently found an old bulletin stuck in an old Bible. We were serious about the seriousness of sin.

I remember that after a few years at this particular church, my pastor got married to a woman-pastor he was taking classes with at Seminary. She preached at a different church with a different denominational name. I don't know what has made this particular memory stick, but every so often I can still hear him in my head joking during a high-school Sunday school lesson, "My wife's tradition thinks that the most important part of Christianity is the empty tomb, but we know that it's actually the cross because without the cross, there would be no tomb to be emptied."

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Silent Hope

Could you imagine being the disciples of Jesus on this Saturday after the crucifixion?
What would be going on in your head?
What would you be thinking?
Today I want us to try and get inside the heads of the 11 remaining disciples. They are locked in the upper room not knowing what to say or do...
They are just there. Waiting.

This Holy Saturday is a day of waiting. It is a day of mourning. It is a day of fasting and prayer. It is a day where we remember that our Savior was silent.
And it is a day where we reflect on how great our God is, even in the silence.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Jesus Faced Friday

Everyone struggled on crucifixion Friday:

The disciples struggled to keep faith.
Pilate struggled to save face.
Faithful women struggled to help Jesus.
Pharisees struggled to discredit Jesus.
Soldiers struggled to hurt Jesus.
Mary... Mary struggled to watch as Jesus was killed.

We struggle, looking back, readng the account. We struggle to really grasp all that was going on.

But no one struggled more than Jesus.

The Crucifixion of Jesus guaranteed a horrific, slow, painful death. The word "excruciating" literally comes from this process. It means "out of the cross".

Having been nailed to the Cross, Jesus now had an impossible anatomical position to maintain:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Cup: A Holy Week Devotion

A lot of things happened on the first Maundy Thursday.

More than I could even hope to express in such a short blog post.

There is a painting I have been using as my inspiration for posts this year, specifically for this Holy Week. It was painted by Matthias Grunewald and it is simply titled, "Crucifixion".

What I love about this painting though is the attention to detail and all the symbolic elements Mr. Grunewald put into this work.

Tonight I want to look closer at the bottom right corner:

There is a lamb, and the lamb is bleeding. The blood is dripping into a cup.

The cup.
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”   -Matthew 26:36-46 NLT

Timothy Ware suggests, and I happen to agree with him, that there is no Christological text in all the New Testament more important than Hebrews 4:15, which says,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Disney World: A Holy Week Devotion

The most magical place on earth, right?

I heard a parable this morning from a pastor friend of mine in Phoenix about a time he went to Disney.

Given the time of the year it is, I thought it could not have come at a better time....


The first thing I do when I arrive through the gates is lose my kid.
Our family had just made it inside, passed the turnstiles, gave our fingerprint (I'm telling you its just another way for Big Brother to keep an eye on us!). My wife, children, and I all pick up maps from the info stand and make our way to through the main street, I feel like a little kid again looking at all the stores and decorations, Cinderella's giant castle protruding in front of us... But what amazes me most is the look in my kids' eyes. This is the first time they have been here. The joy inside of them runs over and splashes into my soul.
Though we've been Southern Californians for the past five years, and just recently moved to Phoenix -- most of my children's lives --Disney is where it all started for our family.

I grew up in Orlando, The City Beautiful... and beautiful it is.
Disneyworld is what draws millions of people to the city annually. (Shout out for Universal, Sea World, and Wet n' Wild too)

But Disney... if we're honest... Disney is the place every kid dreams of, the vacation of choice for families. And of course a place to escape the negative world and believe, if only for a short time, in magic.
Do you believe in magic? In a a young girl's heart?
How the music can free her, whenever it starts
And it's magic, if the music is groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul
But it's like trying to tell a stranger bout rock and roll

It's where I worked as a ticket attendant after high school to save up enough money for my first year of college; it's where I longed to go as a kid; where I took my wife for a date at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival; where almost every other weekend we went as a couple to have some fun and get to know each other on deeper levels, all the way from taking pictures with Mickey and Minnie to having a nice dinner in Downtown Disney.

I huddle on the People Mover ride with my son, 6, and daughter, 8, whispering stories, smiles, and family lore, that get more animated with each turn, as we move through TomorrowLand.