Archives For micah foster

Remember when you were a kid and you just wanted to play hide ’n seek… like all the time?

I remember playing different variations on that game. Monsters in the dark, Kick-the-can, Tag, Spy, and their are so many more. My kids love playing hide ’n seek. And they’re terrible at it.

They always give up their positioning even before I finish counting. They do the classic thing where they cover their eyes and think that as long as they can’t see me, I can’t see them and I think it’s adorable. My favorite is when they simply slide under a blanket on the bed and don’t realize they’ve made a huge human-shaped lump on top of the bed.

I love playing with them but sometimes I hide a little too long and stay a little too quiet, it freaks them out.

Do you ever feel like God hides from you? Like he’s stayed a little too quiet? Like, is he just playing a huge game of hide ’n seek? Or do you ever wonder if you can you actually find him?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we find a great deal of rich history, from which Jesus was birthed. It’s the historical backdrop of the narrative of Jesus and there seems to be a ton of hide ’n seek between God and the nation of Israel. At one point most of the nation is taken away as captives, as exiles to Babylon, a foreign ancient-world-power.

God writes a letter to the exiled nation of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. And here’s part of that letter as it’s translated in the Message version of the Bible…

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – Jeremiah 29:10-14 MSG

And then later in Jesus’ ministry he’s speaking to a bunch of people in his famous inaugural all-day sermon called, The Sermon on the Mount and in chapter 7 of Matthew he says this

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

So, if you really want to find God, seek him out with your whole heart, hold nothing back for fear of failure because both the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus both indicate that God will be found by you.

About three weeks ago we took some of our students from Two Cities Church to the Fresno Grizzlies baseball game. It was “Christian Fellowship Night” and “My Job Depends in Ag Night.”

During the game I was taking a lot of video on my Go Pro Hero 6 Black. Some kids took notice and eventually came up to us and excitedly asked, “Are you guys YouTubers?”

Josiah thought it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Here are some highlights…

There are many myths we live by that God never intended for us to believe. They’re just things that we pick up on and never really think about. Things that perhaps, you learned from the people who unknowingly taught them to you, by how they lived and how they talked. It’s those off-the-cuff and untested nuggets of “truth” that sometimes make the biggest impact on our theology and faith.

I recently wrote about one of these myths here: The Perfect Before Presence Myth.

In the spirit of the Christmas, today’s myth has to do with the idea of Immanuel.

The Immanuel Means Easy Myth

Here’s the basic idea.

  • Jesus demonstrated his love for us by coming down in human form, Immanuel (God with us).
  • Jesus died for us and then rose again, and provided a way for reconciliation with God.
  • Since we know God is With Us (Immanuel) and God is For Us (He died and rose again for us),
  • We trust Jesus with our lives and everything is easy and clear after that.

Ok, maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but isn’t that how we think? I mean, in fact we tend to believe that if God isn’t answering my prayers in the way that I want, maybe He’s not there at all. Right? Isn’t that our logic?

Here’s the deal though, if God were small enough for you to control with your will, meaning He always did what you asked for, He’d be less-powerful than you and that’s not the God I want to worship, and not the God I’d trust with my life. I want to follow, I want to worship a God that doesn’t do everything I want Him to do, but does what is best for me. Isn’t that what you want? You don’t really want someone to cater to your every emotional whim, do you?

  • You want a Rock.
  • You want Steady.
  • You want Trustworthy.
  • You want All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Everywhere-All-The-Time, not conjured upon your requests and slips out when you’re done with Him.

At least, that’s how I feel. Take for example how Jesus prays right before he’s arrested…

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV

Jesus, talking to the Father, asks for another way… and the Father doesn’t do it. Since when does Jesus ask for something and it not happen?!

Ever get a “no” for an answer to your prayers? It’s not fun, trust me… truuuuuuuust me, I know this one well. But I don’t want a God who changes all his glorious plans because I want Him to.

So here’s the truth…

  • Jesus demonstrated his love for us by coming down in human form, Immanuel (God with us).
  • Jesus died for us and then rose again, and provided a way for reconciliation with God.
  • Since we know God is With Us (Immanuel) and God is For Us (He died and rose again for us),
  • We trust Jesus and follow Him.
  • He acts on behalf of His purposes with our best interest in mind. But His our best interest has more to do with eternity, than the here and now. He’s playing the long-game. He’s knows how everything works out… and it’s glorious.

Following Jesus is like walking in a cloud. You can only see a few feet in front of you and He doesn’t clear the next few feet until you take a couple of steps.

It’s not all smooth-sailing after you take the plunge to trust Jesus and anyone who tells you it is, is either very fortunate or lying. Take a look at all of the major characters of faith, they all experienced darkness and confusion, even after God revealed Himself to them.

I think it’s time we stop, inadvertently, teaching, whether in word or deed, that Immanuel Means Easy. We know better than that, don’t we?

If you’d like to digest these kinds of ideas more, I suggest binge watching these message series:

What myths do you accidentally live by? Are those myths holding you back from truly living a life of freedom?

 

At Two Cities Church, when we say our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, what you’ve got to understand is that’s not an easy thing. There’s often pain involved.

It’s like learning to swim. This summer we welcomed a foster-son into our home. This little 3-year-old boy, in the month and a half he’s been with us, has learned to swim! He wore floaties a handful of times, but doesn’t want them anymore. He actually never really did want them. He would get into the water and immediately want them off. So I’d take them off and he’d shove off from the step. Well, what happened?

He sank.

Thankfully, he held his breath and I was right there with him. I can always see when his eyes go from, “I’m doing it!” and transition to “Uh oh!” And that’s when I’d bring him up and he gasped for air. But he learned quick!

My point is, before we grow, we often experience some sort of pain and we might even have a panic in our yes, but God is right there and he knows when we need to be pulled out and when to push us a little so that we can grow our capacity for holding our breath.

Whatever pain your experiencing, God is growing you in some way. He’s growing your…
  • capacity for empathy
  • trust
  • skills in managing something small, so you can handle something bigger
  • parenting patience (Am I right?)
  • and many other things

And the amazing thing is, one day what you’re struggling so hard with, if you face it again, you’ll fly through it with greater ease.

I mean, when you finally learned to swim, it was amazing… it’s like flying, through water. It’s gliding, it’s smooth and easy movement… you’re no longer frantic or flailing. You understand physics, buoyancy, and the mechanics of how to move through the water with minimal effort.

Think of it this way. God gives you more than you can currently handle, contrary to popular belief, so that you will lean on Him and he’ll grow you.

#FiatFriday is just for fun…

In this episode, Josiah and I explore Woodward Park in Fresno, Ca. It cost us $5 to drive in, but you can always park across the street and walk, run or bike into the park itself. Subscribe to our channel and see more Go.Do videos!

Your local public park can be a great source of adventure. Most people take their kids and sit on a bench while their kids play. They (we… I’m guilty too) use the time to catch up on email or Facebook. But what if we helped their imagination bloom? What if we became part of their games? What if we participated with them? We’re making these YouTube videos to encourage people to play together and Go Do Something. Life is actually pretty amazing and my kids are growing up fast, so I’m trying to be more proactive in enjoying each day with them. Sometimes it’s little and simple and sometimes it’ll be bigger, but it’s something.

What kinds of things do you do with your kids to create memories together?

 

 

thank-you-for-changing-my-view-on-what-church-can-be

Two Cities Church just hit our Two Year Anniversary at the beginning of October. If you’ve been tracking with us for very long you may be asking, “Wait, it’s been like 4 1/2 years since you started talking about Two Cities Church.” You’re right. We spent just over two years building our team before holding regular services, before officially launching. So it’s been two years since we launched every week services, that’s when we were born.

I get calls and emails from would-be church-planters asking about our experience and I love talking to them. It really fills my cup when I can pour out whatever I’ve learned through this process and what I’ve learned from others. So if that’s you, don’t think, “Oh, he’s probably too busy to talk to me.” I’d love to talk with you.

Every few months I write a post about why it, church planting, is worth it. These are moments of clarity. These are events or WINS that help redefine and underscore why what we’re doing matters and I got an email last week that reminded me and our entire team why we work so hard to create a church that unchurched people would love to attend. Here’s a portion of that email:

Attending your church was an amazing experience. I’m feeling a little lost and in a weird place in my life right now. When [my friend] was struggling, she found Two Cities Church and I saw the difference that you made in her life. On Saturday night when she asked me if I wanted to go to church with her, I was hesitant. I was born and raised Catholic but I struggle with some of the stories and beliefs. I haven’t practiced my faith in a long time because I felt that Mass was always so somber and I also wasn’t sure what I truly believe in. [My friend] described your church to me and it was so different from my past experiences. She convinced me to attend. I am so glad that I did. The love, sex, and dating topic is something that I can actually relate to. Your talk really resonated with me. Two Cities is a wonderful, supportive, caring group of people. Being in the weird place that I am in life right now, I feel that a group like yours is exactly what will help. Thank you for changing my view on what church can be :).

That right there. That’s why we do what we do and that’s why church planting and creating churches that unchurched people love to attend matters.

That’s the mission. That’s a win.

If you wish you could bring your skeptical-haven’t-practiced-my-faith-in-a-long-time-friends to church with you. I got some good news, there’s a bunch of churches around the world trying to be a place, just like that. And if there’s not one in your area… start one.

See where they are here: North Point Network Churches.

 

THE PROBLEM WITHWhat’s the real problem with Fresno?

I grew up here and I grew up hearing your words. In many ways, your words have shaped what the people who grow up here, think about here. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • Ugh, it’s just so hot! I hate it here!
  • The only way to survive is to never go outside.
  • Fresno is the armpit of California.
  • Nothing good comes from Fresno.
  • Fresno, the drunkest city in California.
  • Fresno, the meth capital of the world.
  • I can’t wait to graduate and get out of Fresno!

And maybe you graduated and left. But like many of us, maybe you found yourself being pulled back by a gravity you did not understand. And maybe you acted on that gravity or maybe you stay away. Either way…

We need to change our verbage for the next generation. If we continue to talk about how hot it is, how miserable, how awful Fresno is, the best and the brightest will pick up on our scorn and they will leave and they will take their talent and their insight and their drive with them. They will build and contribute to the economy, the industry, the art, the humanity, and the aid of some other people in some other place.

I lived in Malibu for five years and Sonoma County for almost four years and surprisingly, I met a lot of people from the Fresno and the Central Valley area. At the church I worked at in Santa Rosa, we joked about how so many good people come from the Fresno area. We routinely said, “All good things come through Fresno.”

Now, since I’ve moved back and lived here for four years, I’m in love with our cities, with Fresno and with Clovis. There’s so much to love. From a great education, to a police chief that talks to the people and pleads with them to make wise choices, to a mayor who desperately believes in the revitalization of our downtown area, to local restaurants trying to make a genuine impact, not just a dollar. And the list goes on…

I’m not saying we’re perfect, far from it, but we have a strong community and we’ve got people working hard to make a real impact on our problems. People like Feed Our Future Fresno and the Pinedale Impact Center (more on this later).

So, back to my original question, “What’s the real problem with Fresno?” Well, it might be how you think about it.

If you’re going to continue to contribute to the defamation of Fresno, you should probably go find some place to live that you’ll be proud of. I mean it, we don’t have the water or the jobs to support you, so go find someplace that does. Life is too short to live in a place you despise. What’s holding you back? Sell everything, uproot and go. I don’t want my kids to grow up hearing about how awful you think their hometown is. I want them to love it and be motivated to contribute to it. We don’t need to be defeatists, we need to be optimistic and hopeful.

So if you plan on being here, let’s make here the best here it can be.

Let’s be generous and lend a hand to the things that need fixing.
Let’s be active and positive about the future of our great cities.
Let’s be educated and proud of our heritage.
Let’s be supportive and loving to the disenfranchised and marginalized.
Let’s do the things we know we need to do to make our cities even better.

My family and I moved back here to contribute and partake. That’s what being a good citizen is about. You add value to your environment and you engage in the richness of its culture.

But here’s my hunch; a high percentage of you who will move away in the coming months and years, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation, a similar mindset as you have here. You may like the summer temperature in your new location or even the air quality. Those things might be significantly better for you, but in a year or two you’ll find yourself complaining again. The complaints may not be the same, but they will linger. Because your attitude about your city is more about your attitude than your city. Changing your perspective, changes your life and you don’t have to move cities to do that. You may have to move away from relationships or situations, but you may not have to leave your city.

Feel free to disagree, but I love these two cities and I think you should too.


Related Content: 8 Things I learned about Fresno from @HiddenCash

 

 

MicahFoster.net
It wasn’t too long ago that I was having a conversation with someone who was upset that we were baptizing someone. When I inquired why, they said that this person was:

  • Not really a Christian
  • They were still sinning
  • They didn’t know enough about God
  • They didn’t know enough about the Bible
  • and so on…

I couldn’t help but chuckle a little, knowing this person pretty well and the fact that these things could easily be said about them as well. And I simply said this…

“Big scandal, we’re baptizing sinners!”

Needless to say, they did not like my response too much. But it’s true. At Two Cities Church we believe that every person matters and we believe there’s only one who’s ever been perfect, Jesus. We are made perfect in Him, not on our own. If we waited until every person stopped sinning, and had enough knowledge of God and the Bible for them to begin following Jesus, we’d have no church… anywhere… globally. Think about that for a second.

If you waited until you had stopped sinning, cleaned yourself up and had all the knowledge you could ever know about God, Jesus and the Bible– you’d be dead before you could follow Jesus. You can spend your whole life trying to be perfect enough for God, or you can confess your imperfectness and be made perfect through the grace of Jesus Christ.

When Simon (Peter) first came into contact with Jesus he said, “Go away from me, Lord; for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Peter later confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God and Jesus says that upon that confession he will build his church (Matthew 16:13-20).

You think you’re too big of a sinner to follow Jesus? So did Peter. Don’t put it off any longer and don’t judge someone else’s effort to follow, begin with you and begin to follow because God’s grace is a huge scandal and it’s a scandal you need.