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May 19, 2010

switch!

Hey Guys, from here on out, I'll be on Tumblr...follow me here: http://jonathonwelch.tumblr.com/ and here: http://thereforethecross.tumblr.com/

Same great stuff...

March 22, 2010

Expectancy :: Do you Believe that God is on the Move?

The church is not a building. It is not about filling up seats and being consumers. We are called to embody the gospel and essentially be the church - the hands and feet, the temple of Jesus. With that said, there is something powerful when the body of Christ gathers together corporately as a large group in what we would call a "church service".

Tonight was one of those powerful nights. The last week was rough. This week is not gonna start off good either with a mid-term on the Qur'an that is taunting me. I was broken and worn down from life. Yet, as I drove to RH Fullerton, I came expecting that God would be on the move. I knew that what my soul and body needed was to gather together with the Saints. I did not know what God would do, but I was expectant that He would refresh and revive me tonight.

As the team was praying for the 7pm service, I was barely functioning. People could tell. It was bad, but the week had worn me down. By the time the 7pm had concluded, my countenance changed. Tiredness turned into energy; brokenness turned into hope; grief turned into joy. I was a changed man as I was able to let go of the flesh wounds of my week.

The expectant attitude, by the end of the night produced a brand new man. Once the 9pm was over, I realized that what I had experienced tonight was far more beneficial then sleep. It was far more relaxing and energizing then anything I could plan. What I realized, is that this expectant heart lead to the realization that even after a testing week I am ready to get back in the game and go run the race.

Where can you begin to be more expectant of God moving in your life? Where can you know that God is already moving? Where is it you need to God to transform and redeem in your life right now to allow you the agility and ability to run the race?

March 19, 2010

My Life as a Metaphor

As a writer and communicator I love analogies, metaphors, imagery and similes. They are a powerful means of expressing oneself or a concept one is trying to get across. It just so happens that because I am a sports fan they usually rely a lot around sports. Today is no exception.

The past week started off beautiful and full of hope, it was amazing. I was so stoked at what God revealed and showed me. But, like always, God is trying to make sure I know what it is going to cost to follow Him completely, take up my cross, live sacrificially and carry His name.

So here is how I would describe my past week: This week threw me nothing but knuckleballs. Catching them is quite difficult and tiring; it is better to just wait until they have stopped moving and pick them up.

Jesus is good. He is worth it all. Thankfully, He has blessed me with the ability to carry a big load and has used many circumstances in my life to refine me into a man who will bend but not break, who will get knocked down but not beat.

January 20, 2010

Middle Schoolers Teaching a College Student

This isn't my first rodeo. I'm not a virgin when it comes to ministry experience and going through the highs and lows of seeing people encounter Jesus. Just like in my life where I have times when I'm really in tune and times when it just seems like I'm bouncing off the walls and not paying attention to anything that God is trying to tell me.

But even with this understanding, it is funny how God is constantly using Middle School boys to teach me about the Gospel and myself. Tonight was no exception. I love my Middle School boys. I love being able to lead a Life Group at RockHarbor with about 10 of these boys. I love the fact that I get to come alongside their parents and assist their parents in teaching and showing these boys what following Jesus looks like. It is a privilege and an honor - one that I would never trade for anything in the world.

Occasionally though, there are moments and times where patience is tested and God has to keep reminding me that it is Him who does the ministry and not me. All I do is partner up with Him in the work he is already doing.

Tonight was one of those nights. I swear people must think I'm crazy for enjoying and wanting to work with these Middle School students - but helping them encounter Jesus is an amazing thing to be part of. One thing I love so much about Middle Schoolers is that I constantly find them teaching me so much about myself: my depravity, my inclinations, my defaults, Jesus, teaching, and ministry. Sometimes I feel they teach me more then I teach them.

The night was full of stress and Middle School craziness. At one point I almost cracked, I never do that. But at the end of the night I had the pleasure of praying a blessing over my boys and here it is:

"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

It was a great reminder that God's the one who does the work and speaks to these boys not me. I only hope they know how much I care about them and long for them in the same way and fashion for them to have continuing encounters with Jesus...

January 10, 2010

Hello 2010 (Twenty-OH-ten)!

I know it is now the second week of the new year but I don't do resolutions anyways. What I like to do is look back, remember and celebrate while looking forward and anticipating what God is going to do and how God is going to use me in the upcoming year. Ever since the holidays have passed I've been priviliged with the ability to reflect, pray and meditate on what God has done and is going to do - it's an amazing thing.

2009 like every year of my college career has been one of learning and trials. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. I'm so glad that my college career has not been easy. But of all the things that I will forever remember 2009 for is that it is in the Spring of 2009 that God showed up and began (key word) to add details to a calling of the Kingdom I'd been feeling for 5 years. It was this year where he added legs and pictures to the calling and vision He gave me 5 years ago. For that I'm extremely grateful and in typical God fashion, He used all kinds of trials and ways to get me to see it. I love it. In fact, I'm gonna be less cryptic now but to know more about what the vision and calling is, check out my other blog "Therefore the Cross". But in short, its to plant a church or at the very least to be extremely open to idea of planting a unique expression of the local church in order to advance the Kingdom and reach those who desperately need Jesus. It's gonna be a fun journey.

Meanwhile, 2010 has arrived. For a while I didn't know what to think about this new year - but the past week of meditating and praying has made me realize several things. 1) There is nothing set in stone for my life this year after May. 2) It's going to bring a new unique set of trials and learnings. 3) It's going to be full of learning about living with a thorn in the flesh. 4)It's gonna be an adventure. 5) It's going to be one of the most exciting years of my life.

Noteworthy things that 2010 will bring: starting my last semesters of college; graduation (unless my Senioritis defeats me); seeing and assisting with the launch and campus plant that is RockHarbor Fullerton; attempting to find a job that pays the bills and health insurance; starting Fuller Theological Seminary (I hope); moving to Fullerton (if I can find a job).

It's going to be an exciting year and those are just things I can honestly, faithfully, prayerfully count on being a part of. I know there are many surprises that I don't even know about yet.

Twenty-OH-Ten is going to be a great year. And I'm really looking forward to the unexpected...

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Second blog post I'll have written tonight - it is a good night! But, with all that being said, today is Thanksgiving and I want to sit back and reflect and give thanks. I want to look back on the past year and my life and be able to give thanks to God and establish some "Missional Monuments" (cheap plug coming. see my other blog to know what I mean. haha :p ) to point people to Jesus. So, I'm just gonna start and see how I do...

Before I go into my process I need to start off with this. I'm not going to be "thankful" for Jesus. Why? Because, I'm not called to be "thankful" for Jesus. I'm called to give my life to Jesus. I'm called to pick up my cross and follow the way of Jesus. I'm called to live my life in the same way that Jesus lived his incarnational life. Honestly, me being thankful for Jesus is mere peanuts compared to what He has called me to do for Him. With that being said though, I'm humbled, encouraged, motivated, and exceedingly grateful that my God chose to humble Himself, live as a man and incarnate Himself all because He loves me despite the fact that I'm not worthy of being loved. Despite the fact that I have no business serving Him, or being a part of His kingdom, because I'm a sinner the size of Texas, the size of the great wall of China. I could never do anything to earn my ticket to heaven or earn my right to carry my cross - but Jesus, despite knowing all of what I just mentioned, ushered way too much grace on me. In fact, not only did he "punch" my "ticket" to heaven. He also, gave me the Holy Spirit - which is all about allowing me to carry my cross and help other encounter Jesus by bringing the kingdom to earth one little bit at a time. So, for that I'm thankful and all things that I'm thankful fall under this overarching theme. Hope that helps.

1) Family: I have no idea where I'd be without them right now. We are a tight group and have learned what it means to say that blood is thicker then water. This year, along with the past 4 have been some increasingly hard ones - but yet, Jesus keeps showing up and I don't know if we have ever been as close or as fulfilled as we are now. Jesus is good.
A) Mom and Dad: Thanks for allowing me to live under your roof, save some money, and not be even more in debt while I go to college and devote my life and time to ministry on campus and in the local church. You rule. Dad, also, thank you for being the biggest mentor and teacher in my life. There's something Biblical about that and it just feels good! Mom, thanks for always being there to share stories and facts with me, helping me keep my brain sharp. Thank you for always having the ability to be willing to explore whatever journey God is taking me down, even though you may be a few steps behind me I know you always support me!
B) Brother: We've seen quite a bit together. And here, 5 years later we are both alive. Jesus is good. Even, if we both might not be at 100% right now. He saved our lives so what is a little physical pain gonna do to us?
C) Sister: I can't believe we used to hate each other. What a sad time that must have been. Now all I know is that you are one of my best friends and closest confidants. I know things might not always go according to plan or how we hope for it to go, but yet, somehow, we are there to keep each other calm and sane and will always fearlessly support and push each other to the limits know by man. We make a good team.

2) My brotherhood: It would take far too long to name you all and why I'm so grateful for each and everyone of you. But, just know, that I get to live life with some great men who love Jesus and are constantly reaching for a little bit more of the Kingdom. I'm glad we get to refine each other as "Iron sharpens Iron"... We've been through a lot, and sure that there is even more to come.

3) My community: Living life in community is the only way possible. I'm so excited for how God is placing community in my life. After the horrid ending, where I thought I was done with the local church, God stepped up in big ways and placed me inside the community that is known as RockHarbor. It feels like I've been here all my life. And, I love that the deeper I go, the more it feels like home. Thus, by doing that it has placed in my life and community some pretty great people to do life with and have at my side. Thanks.

4) My Mentors: There are several men that God has placed in my life who have a prominent role in my life to shape and mold my life and character. I'm so thankful for these, wise older men who are farther along on the journey then myself. Some of them I've known for longer then others, but everyone is extremely valued. I'm excited to see how God uses you in the coming year to shape my life and character and to get the chance to use all that you've taught me to pass down to someone else.

5) Middle School Ministry: I know I'm there to teach them and help them encounter Jesus, but these students are constantly teaching me and reminding me that my relationship with God is not some formulas or theology or list of facts - but a living, breathing relationships that is not predicated by age. It has been amazing to get the chance to be able to speak into their lives and I look forward to seeing them continue to Encounter Jesus. On top of that, I'm thankful for the other leaders inside this ministry who battle for these students with the same passion and zeal that I do. It is so encouraging to know that it is not my sole responsibility for thse students. You guys and gals rule!

6) CSUF: The past 2 years here have taught me so much about myself and my unique calling. Without these two years and the friendships I've made here, I don't know where I would be. Its also funny, because these two years have taught me the importance of living life open handed and how to hold your life loosely.

7) Orange County: Yeah, I'm thankful for the epitome of consumerism and the American Dream. Not because I like it, but because it is a constant reminder of how much work there still is to be completed here. This county needs Jesus and I'm so grateful to have been born here and spend my time here doing ministry to people who do not think they need Jesus. Sure, its tough soil, but I wouldn't choose anything else.

8) Fullerton: I love you. I want to move inside your city walls. I want to live missionally in your city 24/7/365. Can you help make that possible?

9) RockHarbor: Thanks for giving me hope again in the local church. You have no idea how much I needed you.

10) Relative Good Health: Sure, I might be a 22 year old with arthritis in every joint on my body - but I'm alive and my left ACL is healed. Jesus is good and if he has saved my life once, then a little arthritis is a minor flesh wound compared to where I have been.

11) Singleness: The past 9 months have allowed me to sell myself out and devote myself to the Gospel and ministry. What a blessing that has been. Thank you for showing me that a relationship is about finding a gospel partner, and yes, I'm willing to wait as long as that takes to find one. I'm so thankful for how I've been able to encounter Jesus and learn more about my calling these past 9 months. It's just what a man needed.

12) Friends: While, I think brotherhood and community sums this up, I wanted to make sure no one was hurt. My friends rule. Sorry I'm so busy to be able to see you/talk to you more often. :(

13) Job: I have a job. Its a relatively good job. Good co-workers. Thanks so much!

That's it guys and gals! I might have more, but that's all i can think of - so I ask, what are you Thankful for? Let me know, I look forward to hearing it!

October 20, 2009

Sometimes I want to Go "HULK SMASH"

So, I was perusing the internet tonight and found an article on an insensitive, no grace, no loving, example of Jesus pastor who lashed out at Tom Brady and others for having sex outside of marriage - claiming because of that they were bound to Hell (http://backporch.fanhouse.com/2009/10/19/good-news-pats-haters-tom-brady-is-going-to-hell/?icid=main|aim|dl4|link5|http%3A%2F%2Fbackporch.fanhouse.com%2F2009%2F10%2F19%2Fgood-news-pats-haters-tom-brady-is-going-to-hell%2F).

So, I post this on Facebook and a bud of mine posts another link on Facebook from the same church holding a Bible burning night on Halloween. Here's the link: (http://amazinggracebaptistchurchkjv.com/Download99.html). Read it - it's classic. Not only are they burning any version of the Bible in English that is not the KJV but also books by heretics such as: Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Charles Swindoll, John Piper, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, Mark Driscoll, Mother Teresea, Erwin McManus, Rob Bell, Brennan Manning, and my favorite "etc". So in other words, any pastor or church that does a better job then his is a heretic, therefore they all should be burned.

Oh, and books are not the only things to get burned. They are also burning music. The genres included are: country , rap , rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contemporary Christian , jazz, soul, oldies but goodies, and of course, again my favorite "etc". So, what can I listen to? Just say what you truly feel - all music is evil, or as they call it "Satan's music".

Oh, it get's better - THEY BACK THIS UP SCRIPTURALLY!!!!! "The Scriptural bases for what we are doing each year is found in Acts 19:18-20 'And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.'

Oh, and did you catch it - THEY DO IT EVERY YEAR!!!!!! This is a quality place for sure - and if you look at the link, you can see that its a hip place - just look at their "amazing" web page, I'm sure this attracts a lot of normal, missional, Jesus loving, not hateful, people and set's a great example to the world of what Jesus is all about... NOT!

This just makes me angry - why?!?!?!?!?!?! Why are there so many bad churches who do not live incarnationally like Jesus? If I'm every driving through North Carolina, I know a church that I won't be checking out. I better stop typing before I go "HULK SMASH" on my laptop...

P.S. On the plus side, they will be serving Fried Chicken... Maybe we should have a book burning of all their material?