Pondering “Poopiness”

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By Nate Champneys

Poop. It seems when you are a father of three small children that your life revolves around this topic. I find our conversations range from how frequently a child has had one to the consistency of it to what needs to be done with a diaper filled with it. If you’ve ever had kids, I am sure you can relate. During the most recent “poopy” incident at our house, a valuable lesson was brought to mind, so I thought I would share. 🙂

Shortly after my five-year-old had just gone into the bathroom, my wife and I heard him calling for help. I walked into the room to find quite a scene: Kaelen was standing in front of the toilet, facing away from it, with his pants at his knees, and there was poop EVERYWHERE. It was all over the floor. It was all over the rim. It was smeared on the outside of the bowl. It was on the inside and outside of his pants. My wife asked him, “Oh, Kaelen what happened?” Sheepishly he said, “I wanted to turn the fan on.” Well the good news is, he did indeed get the fan on. He just didn’t make it back across the bathroom in time.

My wife looked at me. I looked at her. She said, “Don’t look at me, I already cleaned up throw-up this morning.” I had nothing. I realized that I was not getting out of this one. It was definitely my job at this point. I looked at the horror smeared out before me. Jokingly, I followed my wife out of the bathroom and closed the door behind me. “There,” I said. “Problem solved.” My wife and I laughed together. Then I headed in and began to clean up the mess.

Obviously, I could never really expect to close the bathroom door and expect my five-year-old to clean up after himself. And of course it’s not going to clean itself. But many times this is exactly how we view our brokenness. Each of us has dirty, nasty, stinky, rooms in the house of our hearts. Deep, dark places from our childhood, or painful times in our lives. We just try to ignore our problems and expect that they will just eventually take care of themselves. Or we think, “If I just try harder I will be able to get over my broken past.” Here’s the thing: Thinking we can just try harder is like my five-year-old trying really hard to clean up his mess. Even if he tried to clean it up, because of the fact that he is only five years old, he actually would make it worse! Instead, he called for help.

The reality is that God is the only one who can truly clean and heal our hearts and make us whole. He stands at the door and wants to help us clean up the mess of our hearts, but at the same time He doesn’t force Himself into our dirty rooms. When we intentionally give Him access to our hearts, He will begin to bring things to the surface and start to clean house. It’s very humbling and can even be painful, but who wants to live with brokenness for their entire lives? So we have a choice. We can continue to ignore the filth in our hearts, or we can choose to give God full access to begin making us new.

Have you given God full access and permission to do work through your brokenness?

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Life Can Be Cruel

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by Martin Schlomer

I just received a deeply emotional call from my son, Wesley. This morning one of his best friends, Woody Moore, died unexpectedly from respiratory failure. He was a young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate lover of Jesus. No one saw it coming because this never should have happened! Life can be cruel!

I would love to believe that young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate lovers of Jesus are exempt from the cruelty of life, but I can’t, because we aren’t. While I see this truth time and again in the stories of Scripture, I still want to believe that perhaps there may be exceptions for young, intelligent, energetic, and passionate followers of Jesus. However, these phone calls slap me and shout, “There are no exceptions.” Honestly, people have a tough time understanding and are compelled to ask, “Why aren’t there exceptions?” Life can be cruel!

As I write these words, I mourn for my son, his Christian community, and for Woody’s family. They are overwhelmed with emotions and plagued with questions for which there seems to be no adequate answers. Paul’s words echo through my own soul: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan … as a foretaste of future glory” (Romans 8:22-23a). The cruelty of this life, the questions, and the emotions create a hunger, an intense longing for a time when you and I will no longer have to put up with all the evil, sin, brokenness, suffering, and death of this life.

Folks, there is an ache within my soul that cries out, “This world is not our home!” Life is cruel, BUT God is good! He brings glorious beauty and redemption out of life’s cruelty! I can’t predict how this might happen or what it might look like in this or any other situation, but He does it nonetheless. He promised and I choose to believe Him! This is my prayer for Woody’s family, for the community of faith at Western Washington University, as well as for Christ the King Church, where Woody was so involved. God, may everyone see and experience Jesus in ways that exceed our wildest dreams!

Who was Woody Moore? Here are some posts from his friends on his Facebook page. At 21 years old, his legacy will live on.

A status can’t measure up to how much I love and will miss this brother of mine. Woody Moore has been nothing but a blessing to me as well as to others. He was a roommate, a friend and a brother. Everything he did, he did out of love. The way he lived was proof that Jesus is real. His overflowing joy and ability to make everyone smile is something I’ll miss every single day. Being there with him in his final moments was heartbreaking but also comforting because I know, without a doubt, that he is in a better place right now. I love you Woody. I’ll see you soon brother.
P.s. we were suppose to find our wives this year bro.

My heart is heavy today, my brother in Christ, the young man of God that helped bring me out of the darkest time in my life when I thought it better to not live anymore, and who helped lead me to the cross, has gone to be with Jesus. Woody Moore I love you brother and cannot wait till I see you again.

Lived for Christ, living with Christ. Woody Moore

This man changed my life. Woody pushed me, encouraged me, and loved me so well. You will always be loved and missed. Thanks for changing this world.

What a man Woody Moore was! Never met with such zeal, and willingness to go out of his way for others. He was a great friend, and truly embodied Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Today is a difficult day. This Facebook post could never express how incredible Woody Moore is. You were the best roommate, friend, and brother I could ever ask for. It was a privilege to live life with you these last couple years. You are a true example of Jesus on Earth and the only joy I have is knowing, without a doubt, that you are with God. I cannot thank you enough for the impact you had on my life and for the example you were to so many people. You are one of the funniest, most loving people I have ever met and I know anyone who came in contact with you feels the same way. I can’t wait to see you again Woody, thanks for allowing me to be a part of your life. Through everything, God is good. Miss you and love you forever brother.

I still cannot believe that this is real … I’m going to miss all the laughter that was still to be had! Woody knew how to brighten anyone’s day with a love that was so incredibly sincere! But mostly, I’m going to miss this wonderful man of God! He knew his Savior so intimately and stood for what he knew in his heart to be true. It hurts to know that for the time being, he’s gone, but I find joy knowing that Woody is home, bringing smiles to all those who are with him. My heart aches for the Moore family, the friends he loved on, and those who didn’t get to know this amazing servant of Christ. Woody, thank you for touching all of the lives that you did, for impacting me! It’s clear that so many folks have been touched by your many gifts and that God’s incredible glory shines through all that you are! You’re work on Earth is done, and I know the Lord said to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I love you man, and I will miss you until the day we meet again!

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Integrity and Intimacy

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By Beau Leaman

As my wife and I started the new year, we wanted to commit a certain word or phrase that would encompass our spiritual journey for 2015. I thought deeply about a personal vision that I could lean on throughout the year. My thoughts led me to a more personal relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I wanted this to be the foundation. I wanted to have intimacy with my God, and I was committed to living my life in full relationship with Him. As a result of our discussion the night of New Year’s Eve, I committed to grow in my intimacy with Jesus Christ.

Since that New Year’s Eve night I have met with several men and we continually find ourselves going back to a similar theme. Through continual discussion of our backstage, I’ve realized there is so much more than simply making it a goal of walking in intimacy with Jesus Christ. At my workplace I often make the same mistake. I put the final result before simply addressing the action steps that will get me there. In both situations there are no guarantees if one has a plan, but a combination of knowledge and hard work goes a long way, and I’m discovering this in an interesting way.

I am convinced one of the greatest attributes we can have is integrity. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” The implications of this verse are twofold. One way will give you life, and the other, death. I am convinced integrity starts at the soul and breathes life in intimacy with our God. I am convinced that at the soul of our existence sin can be rooted, grab onto our heart, and dictate the very foundational decisions we make every day. I am convinced that godly integrity brings us close to our God because it mirrors Luke 9:23 so precisely, which says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

I am convinced that the depth of love we received on the cross should shape our existence, our worldview, and our overall vision on how we approach life. Proverbs 19:1 says, “Better is a poor person who walks in integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” Integrity is won in the heart, and this is where we must take the battle. Intimacy is won in the heart, and this is won during the mundane, in the cancelled plans, in our neighborhoods, at school, and in our homes. We have no idea where and when God will show up in the details of our life, but I hope we will be quiet enough to listen, open-minded enough to have plans change, or calm enough to see Him when things don’t go our way. Each of us are made in the image of our triune God, and this is very special. I hope each of us realizes how special we are and how much He desires us. When we realize how much we’re wanted, our lives are rooted in living for Him. When we live for Him we take up our cross, fight battles in our heart, and walk in intimacy with Him.

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What’s Wrong with Now? Living in the Present

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By Jim DeAngelo

When I think about a future event and go beyond planning, I tend to worry about what might happen. When I think about the past, I tend to focus on how I messed up and could have done it better. This leads me to feelings of condemnation or shame.

What does God say about these conditions? In Matthew 6:34 Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” With anxiety comes fear, which is the opposite of faith. Fear drives us towards despair as we wonder what might happen that will harm us. Fear is the belief we will be harmed. Faith, on the other hand, is belief in God’s promises and His deliverance and blessing in our life. Faith brings us closer to God. Keeping our minds focused on today and letting God have tomorrow is necessary to staying away from the worry about tomorrow. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:7 that I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. When I find myself worrying, I know there is something I have not given over to Christ, and I exercise self-discipline.

On dwelling in the past, the enemy of our souls wants us to feel condemnation. Condemnation is a feeling of unworthiness, failure, defeat, disapproval, censure, or criticism. This is the opposite of what Christ says about us. Paul wrote in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” When confronted with our feelings of failure and what God says about us, we decide what we want to believe. For a complete list of who we are in Christ, follow this link.

I have found that when I fear or feel like a failure, I have lost sight of who I am in Christ. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:12, which says that I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God. When I am thinking and living in the present, thinking about now, not preoccupied about the future, at peace and not anxious, I am at peace and truly enjoy what I am experiencing now.

So, once I hit the send button on my computer, to get this published, I won’t think about what I could have or should have written — I will simply be glad I am done!

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The Oasis: A Waypoint or a Destination?

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By Larry Short

If you use a GPS, you may now be familiar with the term “waypoint.” When I’m out driving somewhere, say my sister’s house in Bellingham, and I’ve entered her address as my destination, I may be halfway there when suddenly my stomach starts growling and says, “I need a Wendy’s chili. With cheese and onions. And a chocolate Frosty while you’re at it!”

So I’m in the middle of Nowheresville (having just driven through Everett) and I have no idea where the nearest Wendy’s is. But I tell my GPS I have a new location and ask her where I can find the nearest Wendy’s. And Siri cheerfully informs me there is a Wendy’s ahead, in Marysville, just a few minutes off to the west of Highway 5, on 33rd Ave NE off Marine Dr. N. “Aha!” I exclaim. “There is an oasis of tasty Frosty-ness ahead!”

Then before I ask for the point-to-point calculation, Siri asks me if Wendy’s is a destination (replacing Bellingham) or a waypoint on the way to my destination.

And I quickly let her know: it’s a waypoint, of course. I didn’t drive all this way just to go to Wendy’s! I could have done that on South Hill (in two different spots, no less). After my little refreshment at the oasis of Wendy’s, I still plan to get back on the road, re-energized, and continue pressing north toward Bellingham. (Provided no other fast-food emergencies arise.)

Is the Oasis We Call Elim a Destination … or a Waypoint?

That should be an easy question. Elim’s a waypoint, right? Our destination is beyond, to a Kingdom ruled forever by our Lord Jesus Christ. Not Bellingham, but a City on a Hill.

Our problem is, we too often treat Elim (and other waypoints in this journey of life) as destinations in and of themselves. The oasis becomes a place we are comfortable at, we want to settle in. (I know — Darlene and I have now been here for almost 20 years!*) New people arrive at the Oasis all the time, and occasionally others leave. We have our circle of close friends … do we want to be bothered about new people? Meeting new people (and trying new things) can be risky and uncomfortable.

This week I read a beautiful speech by World Vision’s second president, Stan Mooneyham, who was a true adventurer. (This video documentary of one of his greatest adventures, Operation Seasweep, will bring tears to your eyes!) Stan gave this speech less than three months before he died, and it was titled, “Keep Marching Off the Map.” Here is an excerpt that caught my eye:

We are a people in pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is not a place and a path is not a destination. Emerson said that where you are on the path is not nearly as important as the direction you are facing. So where we happen to be in our progress is not nearly as critical as knowing we are facing in the right direction, which is the direction toward God and toward that ultimate city that has no foundation and which has not been designed and made by any human engineers — God’s City.

As long as we are facing in that direction, then where we are on that path is not so important. Some may judge us as being more sophisticated and mature and still others may judge us as being less mature in our understanding of the holistic gospel and the other things we are trying to do. The judgments really don’t matter, as long as we are facing in the right direction. I hope that everything about us always has such impermanence that we are always tent-dwellers like Abraham, our ancestor, our forefather.

I know the tendency is to build monuments. The tendency is to settle down. The tendency is to get very comfortable. I love those green pastures, believe me. I love to sit down beside the still waters and I love to feast at the table that God spreads in front of me. To tell you the truth, I would be like the disciples Jesus took up the mountain with him. I would want to build tents and I would want to stay there where the glory has descended.

But, Jesus was The Way, not the destination. And “the way” means that we’re always in process.

Let’s Keep Moving Along the Way

Here at Elim, we are “a people in process,” in motion to a destination. We must keep our eyes fixed on The Way, on Jesus, who is leading us there. We must never grow too satisfied with any one waypoint, whether it be a church we love, or our job, or retirement, or even our family. God calls us to rest, and to be satisfied with all that He has given us; but then to get up tomorrow morning and to keep moving toward our final destination!

*And no, this is not any kind of announcement that we are moving to a different city or anything like that! We love Elim, and, Lord willing, this will be our waypoint for many years to come. But please let’s all continue to keep moving, to keep growing, to keep our eyes fixed on the Way, to keep humming “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ thru,” and to keep pointed in the direction of our ultimate Destination!

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