generations of faith and salvation

Last Sunday, couple folks were baptized at Quest. Their stories of coming to faith in Jesus always moves me. With permission, here’s the story of Rosalind – one of only 30,000 Karaite Jews in the world and now one of two Karaite Jew believers.  I want to encourage you to read it and be blessed.

quest church baptism

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” Genesis 12:1-4

It feels like my faith journey began before I was born. I guess that’s why my testimony might feel more like a history lesson than a story about God’s grace, but the fact that I’ve made it here is almost testament enough.

I am a Karaite Jew; a sect of Jews that has been around since God passed down his laws to Moses. Originating in Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris-Euphrates river system (present day Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc.), only 30,000 of us remain in the world today, 4,000 of which reside in the U.S.

My parents were born in Egypt and, like many of the Karaite Jews, were also imprisoned, and then expelled, Continue reading “generations of faith and salvation”

the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest

still_sebastians_voodoo_02

Thanks to the collective wisdom of our larger staff, I pulled this “voodoo video” from last week’s Good Friday service.

But I still really like this video.  Very thought provoking so I’m now sharing and showing it here on my blog – for your viewing and commentary (video below).

It’s disturbing on several levels including the usage of ‘voodoo’ in it’s title which isn’t the best word in a church context but from an artistic level, this is an amazing video. The incredible animation is created by 26 year old artist Joaquin Baldwin.  I don’t know him personally but after watching this video, I suspect he may have been influenced by Christianity in some shape or another.  When you watch the film, you’ll see some Christian parallels.  Had I shown it, it would have taken some good explanation why I was showing the clip.

Here are the reasons this video really made me think: Continue reading “the voodoo video i couldn’t show at quest”

the 7 life lessons of craig wong [1972-2009]

craig

Please do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read this and pass it on to others. I want to share 7 Life Lessons of a younger man named Craig Wong (1972-2009) who despite his arduous battle with brain cancer over the past 15 months, began sharing “Craig’s Life Lessons” to as many people who would listen…

The call of being a pastor has its ups and downs – as it reflects the ups and downs of life.  I believe in the gospel that is Christ and the good news that not even death can separate those that have claimed Christ in their lives.  But there is still mourning and grieving in the loss of a loved one.  As a pastor, there are times I honestly wish I didn’t or couldn’t be emotionally connected to my flock.  But then, that simply wouldn’t be worth it.  This past year, our church came alongside the pain of numerous in our church community. I presided over the memorial service of a newborn baby that died 3 minutes after birth.  Today, I officiated the burial service of Craig – son, brother, husband, father to two, and friends to so many.

Honestly, I did now know Craig well prior to the diagnosis of a brain tumor in October 2007.  He was experiencing headaches so he went in to the doctor on a regular Friday afternoon for what he perceived to be a “routine check-in” only to be told he had a brain tumor.  I remember receiving that phone call.  The brain tumor was initially diagnosed as benign but when they went in to remove the tumor several days after that Friday, it was found to be malignant and the tumor has already begun its ugly growth.  I have gotten to know Craig, his wife, and their larger groupr of family and friends over the past 15 or so months and realized that even in his 36 years of life, he left an amazing legacy.

He loved his wife, loved his children, loved his family, and was devoted to his friends.  And all those relationships were informed by his faith and love for Christ.  This was apparent today as several hundred folks gathered later in the afternoon after the burial for the “celebration of Craig’s life.”

I still remember learning about his first response once he work up from his first surgery upon learning the tumor was not benign but malignant:

“Is this hereditary?  Will my kids be ok?”

I don’t know why this has been so emotional.  I guess they all are in their own way.  Perhaps, it’s because Continue reading “the 7 life lessons of craig wong [1972-2009]”

there’s probably no god

Have you seen this picture [and article] of a London bus with the the following advertisement/banner posted to its side:

There’s Probably No God.  Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.

They were placed on 800 buses and in the next few weeks, another 1000 advertisements will be placed in the subways systems in and around London.

Question: What do you think ?

photo from International Herald Tribune

Most Christians push back and get all riled up.  For starters, don’t even mention the word ‘persecution.’  This isn’t persecution.  Personally, I think this is good for three reasons:

1.  Christians shouldn’t feel entitled to anything. Continue reading “there’s probably no god”

mother teresa’s “crisis of faith”

Just returned from a several day speaking engagement to New York/New Jersey.  Will post some notes later on the trip.  Long non-stop flight back so took the time to read the article in Time Magazine entitled, Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith.

There may be some or many that may be disturbed and/or discouraged by the article.  In some sense, I felt “sad” for Mother Teresa for the “crisis” she was going through but simultaneously convicted by the life she pursued in FAITH despite the lack of perfect convergence of all things spiritual.  I look forward to reading the book [Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light] when it is released later.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Continue reading “mother teresa’s “crisis of faith””