Posted by: pastordarren | September 11, 2015

Remembering and Healing

This will probably be like many posts today, but still wanted to share.

As I begin the day today, I am remembering the events of that fateful morning 14 years ago.  I was late to the breakfast worship committee meeting (as usual) and had a tape on in my truck which means I did not hear about the attacks until later that morning.  Stunned, angry, hurt and shocked, I with most in the country watched as the events unfolded through out the day.  Praying for those in the towers, Pentagon, the planes and the first responders, we watched as first responders continued to go into those areas to rescue and help all they could.  Many at the cost of their own lives.

Later that afternoon, I attended a prayer service at another church.  One of the hymns we sang was “It is Well With My Soul”.  I sat there thinking it is NOT well with my soul and to this day, even knowing the story behind the hymn, I struggle with singing it.

Over the years, there has been many things that have come out of the events of that day, war, increased security, uncertainty, but there has been healing and rebuilding and remembering as well.

It is still not well with my soul.  I have come to know that none of the hate, violence, attacks, etc., whether in our country, our cities, and our houses and around the world should be well with our soul.  We must continually work toward healing, forgiveness, and loving our neighbor.  This is the call of God shown through Jesus and the scriptures.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Let us bring healing as we remember as we love our neighbor, as unlovable as they may seem, and in doing so, push back the darkness in our world.


Posted by: pastordarren | January 1, 2015

Into 2015

I found the follow poem in a recent cartoon, Non Sequitur, and wanted to share it with you. You can view it online at funnies/nonsequitur/s-1596101?ezine=323


Your Story

What’s going on here? Where is this place?
Who are all these people? What do they want?
And, why? Who are the “good guys”?
And who are the “bad guys”?
Is this the story’s beginning? Middle? Climax?

These are your questions.
There are no wrong answers.
This is your story.

Now go ahead and jump in.
Let your imagination run free.
Your story can be as long or short as you like.
You can write it alone or make it a team project with family or friends.
It’s entirely up to you!

I think the imagery in these simple words caught my imagination as we go into 2015. We don’t know what the year will hold for us, our families, our church. There are a lot of different ways in which we can approach our new story in the new year, with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Or we can have hope, joy love, peace and faith in our God who loves us and gives us grace and in community with our church family who is growing together in relationship with our God.

I am looking forward with faith to see what stories will be written this year and how God will be present throughout all of them. Someone once said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future”.

What and who will your story include this year? It is my prayer that whatever is included in each of our stories and our collective story of the church, they will be written together with God in faith and grace!


Posted by: pastordarren | December 8, 2014


Prepare – Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,     who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,     make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

As we begin the second week in Advent, I hope we have been focusing on watching the signs around us for the coming of Jesus. As we have watched, we now move into preparing for the coming of Jesus, with the story of John the Baptist.

Sometimes in life we don’t have the opportunity to prepare for an event. The surprise of something comes upon us and overwhelms us and we then have to play catch up.

John the Baptist, takes the role that Isaiah writes about, in preaching and preparing the people for the coming of Jesus’ in His ministry. John begins by calling the people to repentance and baptism in the Jordan River. As they did so, he also reminded them that there was another coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

I’m guessing that many of us have begun to prepare for the Christmas season with decorations, gifts, music and other festive things. Have we though, as we have watched the signs, began to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Jesus?

Another way to ask is that are we helping to prepare our families, friends, neighbors, community for the coming of Jesus in ways that will “. . . make straight paths for Him” in the hearts and lives of those around us?

As we prepare ourselves, let us too, help prepare the path for those who don’t know and may not have been watching for the coming of Jesus.

Prayer: Father God, help us to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Jesus and use us to help prepare others to receive the coming of Jesus too. May our hearts and lives be open to receive Him as He comes to us today. Amen

Posted by: pastordarren | November 30, 2014

Watching and Waiting in Anticipation

Watch – Mark 13:28-37

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

As the horizon begins to brighten, even just a little, begin to watch for the coming of the sun.

As the buds appear on the trees, we know that spring is coming soon.

The Jewish people had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah for hundreds of years. Looking for the signs, watching for His appearance, waiting for the hope and Kingdom that was to come.

Jesus, in the passage from Mark, reminds us, that even though He had come, there was still another coming and that we were called to wait expectantly and watch the signs and for the returning at the end of time.

As we begin the season of Advent, we begin a season of waiting in two different times. The signs of the season are all around us, yet do we see the truth they are pointing to. We are waiting and watching for the birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. We are waiting for this event that has already happened and yet will happen again. We are also waiting and watching the signs that will point to the coming of Jesus again, even though we are told we don’t know the time or day.


Most holy God, thank you for providing signs of Your presence and signs of Jesus’ comings. Help us to keep our eyes open to watch and be aware of what those signs point to so that we will not miss the coming of Jesus into our world and the coming of Jesus to lead us into the next. Amen.

Posted by: pastordarren | October 31, 2014

Wonderful Fruit

I used to love to stop by road side fruit stands, get a huge, fresh pear, and enjoy it in the middle of a busy day.  The only reason I don’t any more is that we don’t live where we have access to stands with pears!  As I would finish one off, I was usually in the mood to go get another.  I was able to do this again, albeit with blueberries this summer because of my wife’s job at a blueberry farm and she even brought them home.  It is something about the wonderful fruit that draws me back again and again.

I was reminded of this enjoyment as I am preparing for the sermon this Sunday from Luke 6:43-45:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

There is no way that I would have chosen a bad pear and the farmers would not have put one out because they would turn people away.  Jesus says here that it is our heart and what is there that will be seen in our words and actions.  If there is grace and love then that will be evident in what we do and say.  If there is fear, anger, unforgiveness, etc., then they will show themselves in our actions and words.

In the church, too often, we don’t let the transformative power of God make us different and create a clean heart in us.  We instead continue to produce questionable fruit that is made to look differently or excused in one way or another.  It is that change that our faith is supposed to bring, that will change the way we act and talk.

I wonder, what flows out of my heart through my words and actions?  Is it goodness that speaks of Grace and Love and draws people into God’s presence?  Or is it spoiledness the will turn them away and leave them hurting even more?

What flows from your heart?

Posted by: pastordarren | October 22, 2014


We face them every day – Choices.  Some are simple others more complex but unless we make the choices before us, then weChoices will not move forward.  What ever choices are before us, there will be effects from them.  You can call them results, consequences, or whatever other term you choose but the will be there.  All of our choices have consequences.

It can be as simple as what you choose to wear or eat each day.  If we wear shorts and flip-flops on a day that is snowy and cold, we will probably be miserable.  Or if we eat something that is full of fat, grease and calories; we will not be feeling very well.

Think though, about the choices that will affect others and most of them do.  The reasoning that we use to make our choices will be based on a lot of different criteria, including what I want (or we want), financial, time, etc.  None of those are necessarily wrong but let me give you another criteria – others. The results of our choices will spill over and affect those around us in our families, work and school, churches, even those we don’t know.  I’m sure that we have all been affected by the choices and actions of those around us to varying degrees and it is easy to point out what someone else has done, but harder to see what we have done to others.

Coming from a background of faith there are certain ways of making choices that are important, even if you are not a person of faith, think about these things.  When the consequences of our choices bring about harm and pain to others instead of healing and reconciliation, then we should seriously look at what we are choosing to do.  When the results of what we choose is going to exclude and alienate someone or a group, then we need to stop and think it through again.

Spock once said this, “The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, or the one.”  The scriptures tell us to think of others before ourselves.  Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Jesus lived this way. Maybe this is not such a bad way of thinking.

Posted by: pastordarren | October 16, 2014

Heaven at 6500 Feet

Heaven at 6500

Heaven at 6500 Feet Redfish Lake, Stanley Idaho

Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to gather with our extended family at a place in central Idaho called Redfish Lake. This is a glacier carved and snow fed lake in the middle of the Sawtooth Mountains that is a beautiful place not just to gather and relax but to renew your spirit as you recognize the presence of God in your midst. I also had the privilege of baptizing one of my cousins as she continued her faith journey. It really is Heaven at 6,500 feet.

Many mornings, I would wake up and while making and drinking my coffee, would watch the sun rise on the mountains, being quiet and still, recognizing and reconnecting with God’s Spirit. The passage from Psalms 46: 10 was constantly before me, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We all need those times of getting away and being renewed, even Jesus did this from time to time. Away from cell phone, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc. to really take the time to ‘detox’ and listen to God speaking to us. It is hard to put all that down, to quiet our own minds and hearts and really experience God. It is easier when we are away, but it is necessary on a regular basis. There is so much that clamors for our attention, so many distractions to deepening our relationship with God, we have to be disciplined in what we do and how we live.

Taking the time each day when you are most able to put aside the business of life and all it demands, takes some work and effort but it is necessary. Through quiet prayer, listening to God speak through scripture and other disciplines of ‘being still’ in body, mind and spirit, we can regularly experience the presence of God even in the midst of the chaos of the world. Read the whole of Psalm 46 to see how the psalmist describes this.

I hope that you would have a place where you can get away, that is special and you can escape to and really hear God’s Spirit. I also hope that you take those opportunities on a regular basis and develop the discipline to stop in the middle of life’s business and listen to what God is speaking on a daily basis.


Posted by: pastordarren | October 10, 2014

An Anxiety Fueled World

fear-and-anxiety-shutterstock_104556128-617x416We live in a world that is both filled with and fueled by anxiety and fear.

So much of what we do and who we are is based around the fears and anxiety of perceived threats, worries about what could happen and fears around things that we have no control over and they ultimately end up controlling our lives.  They can be big things – war, sickness, famine, etc.; or small things – latest clothing, gadgets, etc.; and everything in-between.  Many times these things so consume our lives that we can not see the anything but the fear and anxiety and we become paralyzed.  We know too, that this type of worry and fear can eventually lead to an early death.

So what do we do about it?  I don’t think it is wise or even possible to shut out the world, we all have to live in the world and address the things of life that we face.

We can’t run from life but we can’t worry and fret either.  Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

There is so much in the world that we are not in control of, but as Believers, we are supposed to have faith in God who IS in control.  Things may not go as planned and in the time that we want them to go, yet through prayer and faith, we place it all in God’s hands.

This is usually a hard journey for us because it very much goes against our nature and what we are surrounded with each day.  This is a lesson I am continually learning and relearning too.  When it is Jesus that is at the center of our lives, the anxiety, worry and fear is displaced from our lives to the point that it no longer consumes and controls us.  This doesn’t mean that we stop working in the areas that we can, helping those who are in need, and being watchful for things around us.  We just realize and live by faith that God is in control.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a wonderful prayer that many of us know the opening to, but the whole of the prayer is very powerful as well.

The Serenity Prayerseren

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

What are the areas of anxiety, fear and worry that you have and how can you give them to God in prayer and petition and then receive God’s peace?

Posted by: pastordarren | October 8, 2014

Developing Patience

I have not posted here in a while, but after moving to Dallas First Christian Church in Dallas, OREGON (not Texas) and being here for about a year, it is time to start again.  I will be trying to post 2 or 3 times a week, at least one addressing the sermon for the coming week.  I always invite your comments and thoughts, as long as they are respectful of everyone.

One of the issues that I’ve been dealing with is the development of patience.  Here are some thoughts:

How many times do we, in our everyday lives, miss different things, chances to grow as believers, chances to touch the lives of our neighbors (someone with a need), chances to show love to those who need to know that love. There is a great scene in the movie “Evan Almighty” where God (Morgan Freeman), meets with Even’s wife as she is trying to figure out what is happening. As they talk, God speaks these words: “. . . Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something, if someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If they prayed for courage, does God give them courage or the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prays for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings or does He give them opportunities to love each other?” (Click here to view the video clip.)  I have been wondering lately about that word ‘opportunity’.

There are times each day where we have opportunities to grow, to be stretched, and to respond to what is placed before us. Wouldn’t it be nice to pray for something – patience, courage, close family, peace, self-control, etc. – and have them immediately a part of our lives. It might be nice but it would be too easy. It would be like taking a short cut in learning something or getting somewhere and missing the journey, and sometimes the struggle to get there.

The journey of faith is just that, a journey. We don’t get to the end immediately nor do we have everything done for us. We have opportunities each day to notice what is around us and how we are going to respond. Many times, I find myself focused on other things and not on what the Holy Spirit is trying to show me and teach me. Specifically, the lesson of patience. The process of purchasing a house, the waiting for the paperwork to go through has, and continues to be, a lesson of learning patience and waiting for God’s timing in things.

I pray for patience and get opportunities to be patience with the process and people. Sometimes I’m not, but I’m learning and in the learning, the lessons learned will stick. Are you aware of your opportunities around you?


Posted by: pastordarren | October 16, 2013

The Changing Cycles of Life and Living

20130917_084109I can vividly remember when growing up, going with my parents to these new video stores to rent a VHS movie AND the Video Cassette Player, spending $25-30 to watch a movie that the top quarter of the screen was messed up because we could never get the tracking just right.  It soon became that the rental came down in price, stores got rid of the machines because people were buying their own and video stores sprang upon every corner and in most strip malls.

Then the transition to DVDs happened, which got rid of the tracking issues, but whether or not you purchased or rented, had to have new machines to play the DVDs and replace the tapes that you had at home.  For a little while you could get both technologies together but it did not last long.  With the advent of HD TVs, we moved to Blu Ray discs which required a new way of playing them, although the Blu Ray players could play the DVDs.  We still had rental stores that also included video game rentals for most  of the systems.

We are in the middle of another transition, from the Blu Ray to streaming our movies, TV shows and even our games.  With the advent of services such has Netflix and Hulu, we can get on demand almost anything we want in HD any time that is convenient for us.  With the streaming happening the video stores are on their way out.  The picture with this post is of the last Blockbuster closing in our area.  There is no longer a demand for the rentals when we can stream and we don’t even have to go out to get the movies.  In short, we still have our movies and entertainment, yet we have changed the way in which we receive the material, share it, and enjoy it.  In other words, can can stream Star Wars on my big screen TV, put in one of several versions on DVD, or if I can find a working player, put in a VHS copy (and still deal with tracking).  Basically the same movie viewed in different ways.

When I saw the store closing and snapped the picture, I began to think about these transitions and how it is not just related to the video industry but to our lives as a whole, including the church.

I came across the following quote the other day, that even though is 150+ years old, speaks to our lives today:

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, December 1, 1862

How often do we try to deal with the problems and situations of our current, daily life, with ways and means that are not appropriate for what we are living in.  As the video industry changed over the years, we gained things and we lost  things.  Some people maybe upset that they can’t go to the store and rent a tape or DVD, yet we are adapting to the new technology and opportunities that streaming affords.

In what ways are we trying to address issues in our community with past resources?

In what ways are we trying to address issues in our government with past methods and models?

In what ways are we trying to address issues in our churches with past mindsets and practices?

The issues in our churches is what hits home for me.  I believe that those who hold the faith and strive to grow and live it truly want to do so.  That doesn’t mean that we have to do things the same way or that holding on to the things of the past will engage the culture of today.  In other words, the ways in which we live out our faith, structure and live as a local, regional, and national church will be different from even 15-20 years ago.  Those practices and disciplines will draw from the past, such as the Spiritual Disciplines that have been part of the Christian life for hundreds of years, yet the way in which they are practiced are new.  There will also be things that we may have to leave behind and find new ways of living, structuring , and engaging that are more suited for today.

I believe that each person and each church will need to find that way and it begins by carefully looking inside at who they are and the culture around them.  Then finding new ways to address where they are and incorporating people into the Body so they can grow and express their faith too.

What do you think?  Where are areas where new ways of thinking and doing are needed and what might some of them be?

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »