Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Drove for 3 hours in the snow last night-Denver-Boulder-Arvada-Boulder-Denver, just so I could play soccer with my son at 11pm!
Thankfully this voice to text works really well.
Wow it has been a crazy night driving 3 hours in the snow storm Denver to Boulder to Arvada back to Boulder and then back to Denver just so Tyler and I could play in a 11 o'clock soccer game tonight. Soo mean I make it home safely it was definitely worth it we had fun. We won the game of course.
Thankfully this voice to text works really well.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Even the parts that sound weird are pretty cool...
Even the parts that sound weird are pretty cool...
Joseph Accepts Love as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Love the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Love appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Love,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Love had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “Love with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Love had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Love.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Our Denver church is growing like gangbusters-moving to 3 services a week from tomorrow.
For Christmas Eve we are also having 3 services.
MOST exciting to me is that my little girls Eva and Juliet are coming over Christmas Eve and waking up Christmas morning at my house. Yay!
We had a fun Thanksgiving: My FIRST ex-wife Diane Czarkowski, her husband Jay, their daughter Riga who is 6, came over to my house to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner on Monday at my house with my mom and step dad, my girlfriend Mary, and 4 of my kiddos: Tyler, Madison, Eva & Juliet. If only Eli could have come it would ave been perfect!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
We have been speaking about heaven and hell in church lately and will continue to do so over the next few weeks. Of course it will be something we talk about on an ongoing basis -probably until the end of my life time.
Those who call themselves Christians and those who do not often get very uncomfortable with the heaven and hell topic when it is brought up.
I am one of the ones who reluctantly calls himself a Christian, and it’s “reluctant” mostly because of the fact that I associate “Christians” with the words “judgmental, ‘mental’, persecuting, hateful, unloving, insecure, weak, gay-bashing, prudes, boring, holier than…” the list goes on and on. Many people even associate "Christian" with "murderer" because since Christ died so-called “Christians” (people CLAIMING to be Christians) have killed millions of people in the "name of Christ" (yes, other religions have done and still do the same, but let’s stay focused on “us” for the time being). Even Hitler claimed to be a Catholic and was not officially "renounced" by the Pope until the latter part of the 20th century. No wonder we have such baggage to deal with!
I still have a hard time not laughing at the joke “Would YOU want to be in heaven with those people!?!”
However, before I was a “Christian” and to this day I am all for “living my life in the way of Christ.” I think that when most people think of Jesus they think of words like “Loving, wise, defender of the weak, defender of the poor, defender of anyone who is willing to love, empathetic, accepting, strong…” the list goes on and on.
Many coaches I know have a saying we throw around: “Give me a team of orphans and I would be a happier coach.” As a Christian who gets annoyed by the often deserved perception of Christians I would say “Give me a world without Christians and I would be able to lead a lot more people to Christ.”
That must have been what it was like for the first disciples. Going around loving and helping others who had not heard much or any of the way of Christ was the way Christianity has spread most successfully throughout history. It seems to grow in those places where the baggage of jerky Christians was not as present as it is today in the west.
Christ spoke against the believers of his day who went around judging and persecuting others. He spoke against the people who behave very much like the ones who have a bad reputation today as Christians (the intolerant, the unloving, the judgmental, etc.).
His disciples lectured many of the early Christians who after Jesus died very quickly went back to a life style of judgment, materialism, lying and trying to earn their way into heaven by doing good works. Much of what you read in the New Testament is Paul and others writing letters telling people “I love you, but STOP BEING ASSHOLES! Jesus wants your HEART, not your WORKS!” (OK, so he didn’t use those exact words, but this is the beginning of my new translation that REALLY connects with people like me who have potty mouths when children are not around.)
So are YOU or any of us going to hell?
The short answer is the one followers of Christ should be giving is “I don’t know.”
Because we do not. Jesus gave us two directives that are what I believe to be the most important; “Love yourselves like I love you, love others and DO NOT JUDGE.” Of course that is a paraphrase. I was not there. Many of the Christians I have known either skip right over these two directives or finish it with a “but…”, or a “Yah-yah, love is great but do you want to go to hell?!?”
At the very least, can we use the word “and” after talking about these two "directives" (as I like to call them) from Jesus?
Even better, can we just focus on those first two?
If you live in the way of Christ you will do your darndest to love yourself and others the way he loves us, and you will stay humble and not judge others because you are so imperfect that going around thinking of or telling others how imperfect they are is a hypocritical, sad, arrogant and hellish way of life. (do I have to throw in a caveat that I DO think we should be discerning)
So are you going to hell? Am I going to hell? What is hell?
I think that when I live my life thinking about how “bad others are” to make myself feel better I am living in my own personal hell. It is a band-aid that covers up the hurt I am experiencing because of my own feelings of inadequacy. It is an act that does not come from my heart but from my wounded-ness. When I get to a healthy, loving place and reflect back on this behavior place I am very sad.
I think that when I lie to others for any reason it erodes my heart a bit. I feel sad, disappointed, lonely, depressed and guilty for my behavior.
After I do things JUST for money, power, control, lust, to look good, to feel good now, to escape from the reality of life, to degrade others I look back on it when I am in a love filled place and I feel a bit of shame.
Why do I feel this shame?
Because I know it is a behavior that brings me further away from love in my life and from loving others. It is a personal hell to live life in the ways of greed, pride, lust sloth, etc. When I realize that there are people who love me and forgive me for these bad behaviors I begin to heal. The people in my life show me this love and I know it comes from something beyond the physical realm. It comes from the heart God gave them. The heart God wants them to have for themselves and others. That is heavenly. When I think about the fact that God loves me and forgives me for this behavior I begin to heal at the level of my soul.
When we hear stories or see people who spend their whole lives in these unhealthy ways don’t most of us realize that they must have felt lonely, depressed, sad, bad, weak, insecure, inadequate, unloved, deeply alone the majority of the time?
Don’t you hope and pray that before they died they had a moment where they went “Oh…I am so sorry. Thank you for loving me despite how badly I have lived my life.” Don’t you think it would be profoundly sad to NOT realize you were loved before you died, to NOT realize that God loves you, and that you were forgiven for all of the bad things you have ever done by good loving people, and a good, loving God who is waiting for you with his and her arms wide open ready to take all the pain of your wounded life away?
The person who has led a despicable life, but realizes before he or she dies the error of their ways, feels pure love, and feels it towards others has glimpsed heaven at least once before they pass on.
The person who dies bitter, lonely, sad, feeling unloved and does not know what it is like to purely love others has lived a life of hell.
My adoptive father, Jeff Stratford...
...died alone in an apartment in front of his television in Albuquerque a few days before he turned 50 back in 1996, technically from a heart attack. He had not spoken to me, my sister, his mother or any of his family or life long friends for years. Before we got there his neighbors who called 911 likely robbed him of the gold ring his father gave him that he never would have sold and would have been mine. They stole anything of value to them; they took his jewelry, the last of his weed, his cocaine and left him with the stuff that they did not think was of any value. I found the tan leather sport coat he bought in the 70s that was worn, soft, torn, and stained from his life. It is my one possession I wear to remember him by (and to get a lot of compliments when I wear it). It reminds me of hell and redemption.
He led a life of extensive drug and alcohol abuse. Of chasing money, women and cars-he literally raced Porsches and other automobiles for much of his adult life. He verbally and physically abused those he loved-who loved him. He spent his life trying to find “God” or “Nirvana” or” something” in everything BUT love day after day. I could tell you stories that would make you cry. At least they still make me cry.
His life, how he lived, how he felt must have been a living hell. Even when he was “up” I suspect he was in the hell of his insecurity, in the hell of his fear of losing it all, in the hell of the fear of being sober.
Did he go to hell? I don’t know. I know he lived a life that often must have felt like hell.
Only God knows where he is now.
God also knows he came from a family of mental illness. Only God knows if it was true that his mom tried to drown him when he was a baby (as she also struggled with mental illness). God knows that his father died when has a boy. God knows that he grew up with a mother who once had him committed to a mental hospital so he could not claim the inheritance money his father had left for him. God knows he went to Vietnam with the assignment of dragging men who were literally blown up to awaiting medics like Forrest Gump did. He didn’t do it just once-it was his regular job for his short 6 months in the Marines before he was blown up and spent another year in a hospital. All of this before he met my mom when he was barely 21. 2 years younger than my oldest son is now.
When I think of him I pray that even if it was only just before he died he saw love, he saw God and said “Oh. Thank you for loving me. Please hold me daddy. I have missed you so much…”
Only God knows our true hearts, our true selves during our lives and when we die. Only He can make the decision as to whether or not to open up his arms and hold us despite of all of our brokenness and all of the bad things we have done in our lives. I believe He loves me. I believe that if I try to live my life feeling love, giving love and being humble-understanding I am at least as imperfect as most people, and that without the love of others that comes from God I would be so sad and lost. I believe that when others love me despite my faults I am tasting heaven.
To me the way of Christ spiritually, philosophically and even intellectually seems like the way to a bit of heaven on earth, and I hope more of it after I pass on. Does that exclude you if you don’t follow “Jesus” specifically? I don’t know. I may never know. I just know that living my life the way Jesus wants me to live it seems like a path towards heaven-and that includes NOT telling others that I know whether or not they are going to hell.
I can't say this too many times: "Only God knows if he is taking me into heaven after I die, but at least I get to experience a bit of it at any time while I am here on earth."
So are you going heaven or are you going to hell? Where am I going to end up?
One more time: "I don’t know," AND...whether you consider yourself spiritual, atheist, religious, agnostic, Muslim, Hindu or even British I invite you to join me in this journey trying to live my life in the way of Christ, NOT in the way of what you and I have perceived as the way of Christians. Follow Jesus for a while and your life will probably be better. Not easier, but better. Then you can decide if want to take the leap of faith that Jesus died for your sins, that he is THE Son of God. I don’t even know if that’s true, but I have come to a place in my life that I have faith in Jesus, and sometimes I even have something "near" faith in Christians.
Since Google does not decide whether or not I am going to heaven or hell, I am going to add an SEO related link to this post: denver church
Who knows, maybe it will help lead someone to the way of Christ!
Saturday, April 09, 2011
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Saturday, April 02, 2011
Morph: Romans 5 - Resistance Training
Morph: Romans 6 - I ( ___ ) therefore I am
Morph: Romans 7 - Upside Down World
Denver Easter Service April 24:
FAQS4GOD: Romans 8 - Does God Really Care About Me?
On Easter we are going to answer questions for or about God at www.FAQs4God.com.
People are submitting their questions randomly and we encourage everyone to do the same.
Have a great April!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I think it would be an awesome way to see the Grand Canyon on the way to Disneyland with the kiddos.
Anyone have any suggestions when it comes to renting an RV and going on a RV trip?
Their site needs a little work, but you can get to it via this link...
RV Rental Denver
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
You are welcome!