Archives For micah foster

When I was nine or ten years old, I built a fort out of tree limbs and debris. I leaned them up against the front of our house like some sort of natural shelter. I thought it was awesome. My dad, on the other hand, did not. It was an eye sore for the neighborhood, not something a home-owner wants to be known for.

He made me take it down, just as quick as it went up. In that moment he simple told me, “No, you can’t put this here.” But his “no” wasn’t forever. It also came with a promise.

HE ALSO TOLD ME, “YES, I WILL HELP YOU BUILD A REAL FORT.”

In my brain, that meant that day. But again, he said, “No, not now.” He was much too busy and I totally understand that. His office was at home and I was constantly trying to disrupt his workflow. He had tight deadlines and no guarantee of income. He had to work hard to keep the business and our family afloat. He continually, and gently, pushed me out of his office while he worked. Something I do now, everyday, with my own kids.

So his “no” was temporary. He would help me. But it would have to be on his time table.

Weeks went by, maybe even months and I continually asked him, “Can we build the fort today? Can we? Can we? Can we?” And eventually, after many attempts to get this project started, I almost gave up hope.

I needed someone to intercede on my behalf. Someone who also had the ear of my dad, someone who had a relationship with him that was all their own and could plead my case on my behalf.

I needed mom.

My mom marched into that office, after noticing my defeated plea, time and time again, she said, “You promised and you need to follow through.” And in that moment, the plan was birthed. My dad said, “Okay, this Saturday we’re going to start working on it.” I was thrilled. This was going to be fun.

Early that Saturday morning, we went to get the supplies: wood, nails, shingles, windows, hinges, siding, electrical boxes… this wasn’t what I was expecting. This was shaping up to be something far better!

We worked all day, several days, and by the end I had a majestic fort. It was beautiful. I don’t know the exact dimensions, but I think it was probably in the neighborhood of 100 sq ft, complete with electricity, bunkbeds and trap-door for entry. Basically a tiny house on stilts.

This was epic.

  • If he hadn’t squashed my little fort dream…
  • If he hadn’t promised me a new one…
  • If I hadn’t persisted in that promise, continually asking for fulfillment…
  • If my mom hadn’t interceded on my behalf…
  • And if he wasn’t a man of his word…

…I WOULD OF BEEN STUCK WITH THAT LITTLE JUNKY FORT.

But that little junky fort was the prelude to something amazing.

YOUR EARLY UNDERSTANDING OF GOD IS TYPICALLY SHAPED BY THE BEHAVIOR OF YOUR FATHER.

If you had an absent father, a missing father, or a work-a-holic father… you tend to view God in the same light. And the same things can be true of your mother, but for whatever reason, dads tend to have a bigger impact on your impression of God than moms.

I AM GRATEFUL THAT MY DAD SHOWED ME THAT A FATHER CAN BE TRUSTED.

But at some point,every father, no matter how great, fails. They are not perfect. They say the wrong thing. Their busyness or frustration bubbles up into words that cut like a knife and can’t be unsaid. So, as we mature, we must realize, whatever good our fathers showed us was from God and whatever deficit they created in our hearts was not because of God, but prideful-sinful-human nature.

God can be trusted, no matter what.

If you have a father-wound, as we all do to some degree, I want to challenge you to let that go, to forgive. If you have been struggling with the idea of a perfect-heavenly father because of your experience with your earthly father… choose to trust. He can be trusted.

HE MAY BE SAYING “NO” TO YOUR JUNKY-FORT-DREAMS NOW, BUT HE’S GOT SOMETHING FAR BETTER IN MIND.

  • Be patient.
  • Keep asking.
  • Don’t lose hope.
  • Get someone else to intercede in prayer for you.

And believe this promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NIV

Awareness is the enemy of contentment.

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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.