EPIKOS CHURCH - REAL PEOPLE. REAL STORIES. AMAZING GOD.
cAfraid of failure? How amazing would life be if you had never failed before?
To get the answers to this question we'd need to look all the way back in time to where we blame most of our adult problems... childhood.
Within the first year of life you had already started your pattern of failure. Do you remember?
Think back to the first time you tried to walk. How did that go? Did you drop your bottle, jump up and race across the room? Not quite. Like everyone else in this world you moved your wobbly little leg out and took a tumble straight on your backside. Failure had begun.
It wasn't long after that when you tried to feed yourself. It was painful to go starving all day and the fact you had plenty of food sitting in front of you made it all the more excruciating. Just how do you hold that spoon, pick up food and guide it into your mouth all in one motion? Aghhh!! The complexity of feeding oneself!
Having finally mastered the eating thing it was time to ditch the diaper and learn to use a toilet like the big people. Impossible! You wanted the prizes and treats your parents promised if you could just use the potty but to no avail... Holding it until you reached the potty was a lesson in futility, a life skill you felt you could never master.
The list of failures goes on and on and on. Trying to ride a bike, shooting a basketball through a hoop, failing tests, getting turned down for a date and burning your first attempt on the stove. Would if we could erase all of your failures and remove all of those challenges and memories from your mind? What would life really look like? Well...since God made us to learn and grow through the process of trial and error things wouldn't be quite as amazing as you'd imagine.
Having never tried to crawl or walk you'd still be getting bed sores in your, now way to small, crib.. Those diapers you never tried to get out of would be much messier these days and waiting for someone to come and feed you would nearly drive you insane. Reading and writing, driving and dating would have never happened or any of the great experiences of your life.
A miserable life, lying on the floor in your own stink waiting for someone to feed you isn't a life many of us would want to live. So why do we fear failure when our life experience tells us that it has been the bridge to all of our successes? This is a tough question but there's no reason to waste any time finding the answer.
Since you know without any doubt that failure has been your bridge to success just get back to your roots. You never let it hold you back in the areas that got you to where you are so why let it hold you back from where you want to go? Failure isn't an outcome, it's a necessary step in the direction of your goals and dreams.
No doubt there are things God has put in your heart. Particular passions and ideas like music, dance, art, worship, prophecy, teaching, preaching, mentoring or some other passion that stirs in you. Don't let the fear of failure keep you from stepping out and learning how to excel in your passion. The people you admire for having great success didn't start out doing things as well as they do now. They had to learn and learning requires failure.
This weekend we'll be looking at what God's Word says about the gifts and talents He's given to each person, including you! What will you do with the gifts and talents God gave you? Are you willing to learn how to use them? Are you willing to look foolish, feel like a failure and get back up to try again? The amazing experiences God has planned for you are waiting just on the other side of the failures you'll overcome when you make the decision to pursue your destiny.
Shaolin. At least that's what we've called him since I was a kid. A short, round, rough looking man with stringy silver hair and a matching handlebar mustache.
He earned his name because of his insistence that a life of watching martial arts movies made him a Kung Fu Master. While he was a long way from becoming an expert in martial arts it appeared he was well on his way to becoming a father. Or at least that's what we were all expecting...
"She's pregnant, Bobby." That's what the Shaolin declared to my dad when he arrived to work. For the next several months he'd feed the crew a regular dose of updates on the little bun in the oven. He'd share about feeling the little guy kicking at night, fixing up the nursery and his excitement about the new baby on the way. Then it happened.. or didn't happen??
He came in to work one day and nonchalantly muttered "It's over." It's over? What was that supposed to mean? It took some prying but he finally blurted out "She just had gas." Just gas? Wow, after months of hearing the hype about a new baby on the way this was a huge shock! How could it be just gas? What about the kicking and the nursery?
It turns out a steady overconsumption of alcohol can lead to a build up of trapped gases. Gases that surprisingly feel just like a baby kicking when they pop in mommy's tummy. After months of excitement and expectation it wasn't the water that broke but a huge bubble of beer gas. In an instant the dream of being a new dad had literally burst and vanished into thin air.
Have you ever been caught expecting more only to have your dream burst and disappear? Have you prepared for something great only to find a big let down waiting at the end of your rainbow?
Don't let past failures make you skeptical of your future dreams. Everyone experiences let downs but those with faith get up, move forward and reach the promised land.
As, Pastor Phil, shared on Sunday it's easy to get disappointed when we let our expectations take the place of expectancy in our walk with Jesus. Expectations say, "This is how it has to happen." Expectancy says, "Whatever it looks like I know I can trust Jesus to work things out for my good.".
Instead of getting down, offended or bitter learn to live with the open hands of expectancy. Here I am Lord, use me. Bring your blessing into my life in anyway you see fit. I trust you and I'm willing to follow your lead even when the path isn't the one I was expecting to take.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Today I met an elderly lady named Terry at a local storage unit. A small 6 x 10 unit with a half a dozen pieces of mis-matched furniture stacked from wall to wall. An antique table her husband had received from his great, great grandpa.
An antique cabinet they'd had together for decades. All memories of times with her husband. The husband who passed away just over a year ago.
We spent the first 10-15 minutes working out a sales price, each piece worth more to her, for what it was, than what it will be to the next buyer. As a follower of Jesus I felt the prodding in my heart to pray with her.
Of course I didn't know if she a praying woman let alone if she followed Jesus, like I have every since He delivered me from anger and alcoholism. Still the prodding continued.
I wrote her a check, loaded her furniture into our truck and prepared to leave. There were a couple of left over items.. I helped her get those into her car. That's when I finally gave in and asked the question - "Are you a praying woman?"
The question caught her off guard so I repeated it while making the universal hand sign for prayer. Placing my hands together I asked if she prays, her answer "Yes".
Next I asked if I could pray with her for peace since she lost her husband. That's when she burst into tears. It was a short prayer, a prayer for peace which I knew would be answered because He is the Prince of Peace. The short prayer was followed by what seemed like a much longer hug.
I told her Jesus wanted her to know He saw her, loved her and that He was with her. Through the tears she told me how hard it is to sell "their things" now that her husband is gone and how she had been praying all the way over that Jesus would be with her.
I told her how I'd lost my mom a few years ago and that I know it's hard. Then I told her it sounds like Jesus heard her and wanted her to know that He's with her. That's when we had our second hug. A longer one, a tighter one and thanks to the tears a wetter one too.
Two hugs. A great reminder that He spread out both of His arms, on the cross, to say "I love you" to the whole word; the good, the bad and ugly of us all.
I left the storage unit with half a truck of furniture and an overflowed heart. So filled with thankfulness for the opportunity to pass His love on to one of His daughters.
Some people ask "where was God when I needed Him?". The truth is He was likely prodding someone next to you to reach out with His love, comfort and encouragement. In the hustle and bustle it's easier to ignore the prodding than to respond to it. Today I made the right choice and now Terry knows Jesus heard her and is with her.
The truth about Terry… there's more hurting people just like her around us every day. If we open our hearts and take action on His prodding they won't ever have to ask "Where was God when I needed him?" - because He'll show up and tangibly love them through each of us.
Her Name is Kay
I was opening our store, in Bend, Oregon, this morning and a little old lady came walking in with her backpack. "That wind is cold," she said and then she turned and started looking around. Immediately, I heard God say, "I didn't bring her here for heat, I brought her here so you can pray for her."
I continued opening the store and she continued looking around. Just before she left I asked her what her name was and if I could pray with her. "Kay," she said and, "Why do you want to pray for me." So, I simply told her that God said she needed it. We prayed for a big financial decision she's worried about and then she left.
There was no great healing, no lightning from the sky, and no tears, but when she left God said one more thing, "Her name is Kay." And that's precisely when I started to get emotional. Yes, her name is Kay.
God doesn't see us by our age, accomplishments, financial status, our class, or our past. God sees and knows us by name. He knows who each of us are. He sees me, he sees Kay, and yes, he especially sees you. His arms are open because his heart is open. Your relationship with him may be strained or non-existent but it doesn't have to be. He sent Jesus to reconcile (repair) the relationship between you and the God who made you. Maybe you don't have parents, don't have a dad or feel you'd have been better off without the ones you had. You can find identity, acceptance, value and purpose in the arms of the one who made you.
If you'd like to know more about Jesus and how to live in relationship with God, the one who knows you best and loves you most, please fill out the contact form below.
"For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. " Psalms 139:13-16
I grew up as a HUGE wrestling fan. Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Macho Man Randy Savage and Brustus Beefcake were some of my greatest childhood heroes. Of course, on Saturday mornings they'd usually wrestle some scrubs they found on the street. If you wanted to see the big boys fight you had to pony up the cash for Pay Per View. I love wrestling. I love the drama, the machismo, the bad acting, all of it.
Amazing but true - the greatest wrestling match of all time never made it to Saturday mornings or Pay Per View. Thank God, we get the opportunity to read about it in Genesis!
There were no crowds, no cameras, no foam fingers to waive and no World Championship Belts to be hoisted. This match was between a man and an angel (some believe God himself). Jacob wrestles with him all night. No bell to save him. No one to tag out with. It was just a knock down drag out "no holds barred" match in the wilderness.
Wow, he must have really wanted that blessing!!! What could drive a man to wrestle so long and so hard against a bigger and stronger foe? Most people will settle for a little less, if it takes a little less work... but not Jacob.
That's where timing comes in. wins God's blessing and favor. A person determined to get their blessing gets it. But what I've never heard before was the "timing" of this epic wrestling match.
We read in Genesis 32 that Esau, who Jacob had cheated, was coming his way that night. Esau and 400 men. There Jacob was in the wilderness with his family, his belongings and a death army marching his way.
In fear he hatched a plan. Hoping to win his favor, he divided up several groups of servants and sent them ahead with waves of gifts to appease Esau. With his ambassadors heading out in waives and an army marching his way there was nothing left to do but wait. Wait for morning, wait for his death and the death of family.
It's in this circumstance that the angel appeared to Jacob. Desperate, afraid, waiting in the darkness. He dove on him. Grabbed him and held on for dear life, literally! He didn't just want a blessing. He needed one. He needed one before daybreak. He needed one before Esau came. His past was coming back to destroy his life and his destiny. Old mistakes, old ways of thinking, old offenses. Bless me, don't leave me! I won't let go, I won't stop. I have no other option, if you leave me we will die!
By daybreak he had his victory. The urgency of his circumstance drove him to wrestle with God until he won. If you're in a difficult time don't give up. Use your urgency to fuel the passion of your pursuit. Fight the fight and win!
"But if from there you seek the LORD your God,
you will find him if you look for him with all your heart
and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8
The Depths of Depression
"Look at me and be appalled, and lay your hand over your mouth." - Job
Ever felt this way before? In our world it's more common than you think to find yourself trapped in regret, shame or guilt. Abuse, offense and even failure can stoke the fires of fear and anxiety about who we are, what we've done, failed to do or what's been done to us.
In Job's case it was a combination of personal tragedy, accusations from friends and isolation from God.
Regardless of how you get there, the answer is simple. Resist the desire to run away and hide. Humble yourself before God and ask for His help. He loves you.
The Bible says that He died for you even while you we're a sinner. This means He loves you now, before you clean yourself up. You can come as you are and He will come as He is too. You come tired, worn, frustrated, ashamed or guilty. He will come strong, powerful, merciful and full of love - for you.
Do it now, where you are. You don't need a partner, pastor or preacher to come to Jesus. He waits for you and He loves you. It's as simple as accepting that He came for you, died for you and rose again to bring you life and hope. Call out to Him this morning. He will meet you where you are. http://bible.com/59/job.21.5.esv
Help for Depression in Bend, Oregon
If you'd like to talk with one of our pastors you can reach us here.
Depression in Bend, Oregon
What makes depression so common in Bend? Is it the blue sky, the majestic mountains or the beautiful Deschutes River? How can depression be such common challenge in such a wonderful city?
Let's take a look at three of the most common reasons that people in Bend tend to deal with depression.
3 Common Causes of Depression in the Bend Area
What to Do About Depression When Living in Bend, Oregon - Get connected.
Depression is real and it doesn't go away by itself. Take the first step by reaching out to ask for help.
I have started reading through the Gospels with the intention of studying Jesus to learn more about the Father. Here is what I have observed so far in the first chapter of Matthew.
Over the last several years I have been praying and asking God to teach me to hear His voice. My dad is a storyteller and full-time evangelist. Now, when I say full-time I don’t mean that he’s paid to be an evangelist. What I mean is that he is literally always evangelizing. In my dad’s world, a broken down car, a bankruptcy, a trip to the hospital or his son getting shot are all events that lead you to people who God wants to share His love with. I really admire my dad’s ability to allow God to work through him in every situation and he’s the reason that I’ve been asking God to teach me to hear His voice.
I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone but I seem to live with a continual sense that my time is limited. I feel the reality that I will soon stand on the edge of eternity and when I look back on my life I will not have the opportunity to re-live it. As a former addict and horrific husband I have a deep gratitude for the grace that God showed me when Jesus died for my sins and I’m grateful for His grace in my life. The Bible says that “he who is forgiven much, loves much” and to show God my love by passing His love on to other broken and hurting people.
With a world so heavily addicted to image and self preservation, I find that the only way to truly touch people’s lives is to follow God’s lead. While I look at the outside of a person, God looks at their heart and He can guide me to the right person, at the right time and lead me to say just the right thing. I don’t want to swing in the dark. I want God to direct me and lead me to people who are open to His love. I want to make a difference, I want to grow His family. All of this motivates me to want to hear His voice and the more I hunger the more I hear.
The problem with hearing is that it requires obedience. You see, if I don’t listen to God then I don’t have anything to obey. My kids know this trick and often try to weasel out of discipline by saying that they “didn’t hear me’. The more I listen to God, the more uncomfortable I get.
I like the gradual approach. When I get in the river, I slowly wade out into the freezing water and torture myself inch by submerging inch. I’m not sure why that’s more comfortable then just diving in head first and getting it over with but I can’t get by the psychological barrier, so until I break that barrier you’ll find me half frozen, inching my way into the deeper water.
By nature I would tend to work the same way with people. I tend to be socially awkward. If everything worked the way I’d like it to, God would point me to someone to befriend and sometime months down the road we gradually begin to talk about spiritual things. It usually takes me awhile to get comfortable with people, but God doesn’t seem to have the same problem. Just in the last 24 hours I’ve wound up praying with two different ladies that I had only just met. Both times God prompted me to pray with them and yes, both times I tried to ignore Him.
The first lady came to a business meeting that I had organized t. She sat right next to me and eventually I began to hear God’s voice telling me that I should pray for her. Pray for her? I didn’t even know if she was a Christian, and there were lots of other people in the room. After all we weren’t at church! We were sitting in a public book store surrounded by business people and bookworms. What if she didn’t want prayer, what if she got offended or worse yet what if she made a scene in front of all of these people? I could hear God, but I guess I didn’t really trust Him, so I just kept talking to her about other things.
Eventually, I mentioned an addiction program that I run through our church and suddenly her eyes lit up! She wanted to know all about the church, she is a believer but she isn’t currently attending a church. She is in a season of some pretty difficult trials and it just so turns out that she needed some encouragement and she needs a good church to come around her and support her. At this point I finally realized that it was “safe” to pray for her so I took her and we prayed. Before leaving she told me that this must have been a divine appointment... if it had been up to my courage this would have been little more than a divine disappointment! Praise God, that He worked through me despite my own weakness. He knows that I want to learn to hear His voice and as a good Father He is being patient with me as I learn to not only hear Him but to actually trust Him enough to obey what I hear.
Today, he gave me another opportunity. I was down downtown and walked into a building past the receptionist. On my way back down I felt God prompting me to stop and pray with her. Again I questioned Him, “Pray for her? The only thing she knows about me is that I was looking for a business license and I don’t know anything about her...” I kept walking toward the exit, working quickly to convince myself that God didn’t really expect me to pray with her. Even though I was trying to wiggle out the door, I could sense God telling me to go back. Reluctantly I spun around and walked back toward her desk. I asked her name, introduced myself and offered to pray with her. That’s when she told me about her friend who is dying of cancer, and the burden that she feel trying to be an emotional support. As she talked, I listened. One ear was listening to her story and the other ear was listening to God reminding me that He is the one who knows all things.
God wanted to encourage her today and the only two things He needed from me were for me to listen and obey. I’m starting to get the listening part down and I have a feeling that, through God’s grace, the obeying part is going to be catching up pretty quickly too.
I remember being stressed out of my mind as I put my shoes on to head over to my mom and dad's house for Thanksgiving. Holidays with my parents usually frustrated me because they always invited one particular guest who didn't care to much about our personal space or comfort. Not only that but they always allowed him to invite other people too, and invite he did!! He would pack the place out with people that didn't always realize how big of a privilege it was to be invited. I mean, if they realized how big of a deal it was to be included in our Thanksgiving, they would have eaten last, brought a special desert for us and sat on the hard wooden chair in the corner, smiling the whole time and saying thank you every time I passed by. But alas, when you invite guests into your home you are probably going to wind up being the one with a picked over turkey wing and a sore back from a hard wooden chair.
Yes, holidays with my parents were very stressful to me. I didn't like the extra guests at all. To me Thanksgiving was about closing the front door, locking out the noise of the world around us and just taking the day off to unwind. I didn't see any sense in brining in outsiders to eat my turkey, steal my olives and sit in the most cushy recliner in the house.
Now that I've moved to Bend, I have the freedom to do Thanksgiving they way I've always wanted to... alone. Just me, my small family and nobody else. It has taken 15 years to get here but I'm finally in position for the perfect Thanksgiving! I should be celebrating and prepping the recliner but as we get closer to the day, I think I may be losing my mind. I've actually decided to do the unthinkable... instead of spending Thanksgiving in my quiet self focused bubble, being thankful for me, my home, my family and my privacy – I'm going to invite a guest to join us. In fact, drumroll and sanity check please, I'm going to invite the exact same guest that my parents used to invite to their home and I've decided to let him invite a few guests too.
I already know that he's a very generous person and my experience tells me that he will be extra generous when he's giving away my things! Where I like a quiet house with plenty of leftovers, he likes a packed house, a big crowd and empty serving bowls. When I'm all about me, he's all about others. In other words, he will single handedly turn my Thanksgiving plans on their heads.
I wouldn't invite him, but over the years I've realized that, even though he makes me uncomfortable, I love being around him. He's infectiously joyful and when I'm with him I feel better sitting on the wooden chair, eating a turkey wing, then I would eating the turkey breast without him. I'm looking forward to letting him take over my home, like he always took over my parents' home.
You see, about 13 years ago I let Him take over my life and it's never been the same since. He did the same thing inside of me, that He'll be doing inside of my home this Thanksgiving. He's going to make it all about Himself and others, which, amazingly enough, takes the pressure off of trying to please the hardest person I could ever try to please – myself. It allows me to relax and enjoy the day because the day is no longer about me. It's like going to someone else's party. I get to eat the food and enjoy the people but I don't have to worry if everything goes perfectly, because after-all, I'm really just His guest there too.
I encourage you, this Thanksgiving, to do what we are going to do. Invite God to your party and ask Him to direct you to other people that He would like for you to invite too. Freely we have been given God's love and it's now our joy and responsibility to pass it on. Find someone that needs the love and offer them your recliner. Sit on the hard chair and eat the wing instead of the breast. Living to serve is the closest that you will ever get to being like Jesus and the rewards are well worth the sacrifice.
"‘...Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled." Luke 14 esv