Turkana tribe in northern Kenya

Here is some video footage of the area in northern Kenya that Randy and Becky Coates and family have been called to minister.

Randy reminds us that “it is not hopeless. God is on the throne. We are available to be His hands and feet. Our churches are standing strong. We ask for all of you and those you know, not to forget and to continually pray for our people.

Turkana: The forgotten famine

Famine is spreading across the horn of Africa. It has killed tens of thousands and is threatening the lives of millions more. NBC’s Rohit Kachroo traveled to Turkana, a remote area in Northern Kenya.



The Compassion of God – Jonah 4:1-11 – My notes from a Tim Keller sermon. iTunes

Photo. Pacific ocean.

The big idea: God teaches Jonah about His great mercy and compassion, showing us Jsesus Christ.

Point one. God’s compassion
A. Gods heart is voluntarily attached to us. V9-10 we see his broken heart is grieved. Jonah’s heart is grieved because it is attached to a plant AS Gods is attached to this city of Nineveh. Humans have to attach to something but. Not God – he voluntarily attaches to us.

B. God is not moved by us in general but by our condition.
Vs 11 the phrase no knowing their right hand from their left is a reference to spiritual blindness. This is what has God concerned.

C. God forgives readily.
He does not work to get them formally in the covenant first, nor join as allies of Israel. He only says for them to not be so violent.

Point two. Christ’s compassion
The climax expression of Gods compassion is Jesus on the cross. Jonah was outside the city weeping that they were not going to get destroyed. Jesus wept outside the city and desires to save Jerusalem as a mother fird protects her young. Jesus died in grief outside the city. When water and blood came out from his heart when the spear pierced him, it meant that he died of a broken heart. A heart broken from compassion.

Point three. Our compassion. How do we get some?
How can we be compassionate as Christ was compassionate?

A. Don’t enjoy or avoid giving criticism.
Unlike jonah, don’t shirk from speaking the truth but do so with huge compassion and tears.

B. love cities.
We are to love people and not have the same love for plants like Jonah did.

C. Forgive readily.
Don’t make people gravel when they are asking your forgiveness. Mark 11:35 and chapter 2. The lowered man did not have time to repent verbally. Jesus just forgave him because he knew his heart’s cry God readily forgave these Ninehvites.

D. Expect trouble in your life.
God won’t let you go off and be stupid. He shows us his pursuing love with Jonah. God blasts Jonah’s gourd. The quick growing plant was Jonah’s pleasure and comfort. Why does God scorch it and kill it? Because he loves jonah. It’s unloving to leave him there in the shade waiting for the fires how of God to destroy the city. He makes him uncomfortable to have him hold tighter to God John Newton wrote a hymn on this story (see below).

E. Go out of your way to make time to weep.
Get involved with pain in friends and the poor. Attach yourself to others until you weep. God did for me in Christ! 🙂

“I asked the Lord” By John Newton, rerecorded by Indellible Grace, 2008I asked the Lord that I might growIn faith, and love, and every grace;Might more of His salvation know,And seek, more earnestly, His face.’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,And He, I trust, has answered prayer!But it has been in such a way,As almost drove me to despair.I hoped that in some favored hour,At once He’d answer my request;And by His love’s constraining pow’r,Subdue my sins, and give me rest.Instead of this, He made me feelThe hidden evils of my heart;And let the angry pow’rs of hellAssault my soul in every part.Yea more, with His own hand He seemedIntent to aggravate my woe;Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,I answer prayer for grace and faith.These inward trials I employ,From self, and pride, to set thee free;And break thy schemes of earthly joy,That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

An Exclusive Comfort (John 14:1-6) Facing the troubles of a fallen world, Jesus alone offers God’s l asting comfort

Pacific ocean. Blick sr emailed to me. 2011

VII. The Sermon: An Exclusive Comfort (John 14:1-6). Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Church

The irony of this scene is that Jesus is the one about to die and the disciples should be comforting him. But he comforts them.

The Big Idea: Facing the troubles of a fallen world, Jesus alone offers God’s lasting comfort.

I. Find comfort in the command (v. 1a). Let not your hearts be troubled.

External. Circumstances can and will be a source of consternation.

Internal. Most days, however, our trouble comes from inside of us or our internal response to external things. It is what I am doing, and what I am plotting that is disturbing. John Owen reminds us that any seed of sin wants to result in full blown immorality. James 1:14-15 says the same thing.

To all of this, Jesus says let not your hearts be troubled. Find comfort in his command to not be troubled. But how?

II. Find comfort in the condition (v. 1b) If you believe in God.

It is interesting that Jesus says this to a group of Jewish men. He says that they need to believe in Jesus as they believe in God since Jesus is God. This is why our hearts will not be troubled, because we see God in the face if Jesus Christ, God in the flesh for us.

III. Find comfort in the preparations (vv. 2-4).

The fact of Jesus leaving is just a temporary thing. He will be separated from them, that is true. But as we heard today, Psalm 90 is echoed in his words. Lord, you have been our dwelling place. Now one day we will have eternal dwelling place in the presence of God. In this life we may lose family or home, but, in this future that Jesus is talking about, we get it back.

IV. Find comfort in the exclusivity (v. 6).

No one finds this kind of comfort except through Jesus. Vs 5 Thomas asks where Jesus is going, and how can they know the way? If all religions, we say, get to the same place, then how do we know which one to pick? However, Jesus says that no one comes to the father except through Jesus. If we know Jesus, then indeed, we CAN come to the father. It is not a question of how many years you have been in church, or if you have been catechised, baptized, etc. He says if you know me, Jesus, then you have access to the Father.

Pastor Lloyd Jones in England in the middle 1900’s said that it is too often that when we lack comfort, it is because we are LISTENING to ourselves instead of PREACHING to ourselves. What do we preach to ourselves? The one who commands us to not be troubled was troubled for us that we may be at peace – peace with the father, peace in ourselves, peace with our work, and peace with one another!

The passage. John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 13: the final apologetic. Facing his hour, Jesus commands a universal apologetic for those who are truly his followers. Sermon by Pastor Kyle McClellan

Photo. Through Richard Blick, Pacific Coast light house, 2011

IX. The Sermon: The Final Apologetic. John 13:31-38 – Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church

Intro. This passage is a radical departure from the “might makes right” ethos of Rome and our world.

The Big Idea: Facing his hour, Jesus commands a universal apologetic for those who are truly his followers.

I. A glorious death (vv. 31-33).

Daniel 7 prophecizes centuries earlier that this Son of Man is to come. The desciples see this as the king who comes to “clean house”. However, they do not see it as triumphant in his death the way that Jesus means. The kind of glory that Jesus is talking about will come through his death and IN his death.

II. No hesitation (v. 34).

The only one to give commandments in all of scripture is God. That is why it is huge the way that John tells us that Jesus says he has a new commandment for us – to love one another. Why is Jesus giving commandments when only God can? John is showing us that Jesus IS God.

III. Embrace the authenticity of a radical discontinuity (v. 34-36).

If you love one another, by this all people will know you are my desciples, Jesus says. So how is it that the people of the world will see the authenticity of the gospel message? Through the love of his follows for one another. In addition to this, it is not just so that the world will know Christianity is true, but it is so that WE will know its true too!

1 John 4:7-8. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. Great assurance of our own salvation is through the means the holy spirit uses of us loving others. This, however, is impossible! Jesus’ qualifier on HOW we are to love one another is HOW he loved us, including laying his life down for us.

Radical discontinuity: this type of life is not how the world works nor how the Roman society opperated under “might makes right.” In our culture it is not about who has the sword as much as who has the checkbook. Our rugged individualism of our country means that at the end of the day, we really love ourselves and those close to us more than the oppressed and / or others different than us.

In the midst of this discontinuity in our culture, how do we live today in love for one another in Fremont? Sacrificial love for others has no real witty response.

IV. Not yet (vv. 36-38).

Peter says, “Lord, why can I not follow you now?” After a year and a half of following Jesus many desciples leave and Peter says he and the 12 disciples won’t leave because they have nowhere else to go. Jesus alone has the words of life. So Peter’s question is a good one.

The irony is that Peter will deny him in a matter of hours, then be restored, then one day WILL die for Christ upside-down on a cross.

How is this cast of misfits of disciples able to love one another the way that Christ loved them? It is impossible. Paul tells us that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. They are able to do these things when they get the Spirit, a power from outside themselves.

We cannot love this way from the outside in – conformance to this new law. It is only from new hearts brought by the Holy Spirit that we can do this from the inside out. THIS IS the final apologetic.

Assurance of your salvation is as important to those who love you as for yourself. The Holy Spirit convinces us of this as we live out of this final appologetic.

John 13 Jesus washes the disciples’ feet: In the final day of his life, Jesus offers a cross-centered parable and demonstrates absolute control over the events of His Passion.

Photo by dad. 2011. Pacific ocean

IX. The Sermon: A Parable – Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: John 13:1-30

Intro. John moves his narative now from the public life of Christ now to the private. Why does Jesus act in such an astonishing way as to go against the norms of the day and wash the desciples’ feet? He is not giving us another sacrament of washing feet, but he is explaining the cross.

The Big Idea: In the final day of his life, Jesus offers a cross-centered parable and demonstrates absolute control over the events of His Passion.

Point One: Not another sacrament, but a parable that explains and is explained by the cross (vv. 1-5).
They would have already bathed for dinner but walking to the house they would have gotten dirty, dusty, and exposed to animal by product as well. The lowest, newest slave would have offered the guests to clean their feet.

This text is not just about servant leadership, though it is. It is about teaching the cleansing of sin that the cross will provide all who believe on Jesus. This is about fulfilling all that the Old Testament pointed to, namely, as we read Psalm 103 the One who will remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.

Point Two: Accept the first condition of discipleship (vv. 6-10).
If the master serves the servants, then everything we know about what a master does in this new kingdom is turned on its head. The cost of discipleship in its first condition is that it requires self-surrender. Jesus lovingly and patiently corrects Peter’s thinking. Jesus dictates what is proper – not us. If we are not willing to submit ourselves to what Jesus ordains as good and proper, then we have no place with Jesus.

Point Three: Accept the model and adopt the mindset (vv. 12-20).
Blessed are you if you do them. It is not just about knowing these things but doing them as well. Human power and human authority have been turned upside-down by the cross. Jesus is not establishing a new order but restoring the order as it was originally designed. In the garden of Eden we thought we would become the master. It is a lie. There is but one Master and we are his servant, his children. Jesus reclaims his rightful place as master not by swinging a sword but by washing feet and dying. Phillipians 2 reminds us how Christ emptied himself to serve. Remember, He is not turning the world upside-down but rather right side up!

Point Four: Relax! Jesus is in total control (vv. 1, 3, 7, 11, 18, 21, 26-28).
See the contrast how clueless the desciples are compared to how many times the passage says that Jesus KNEW (vv. 1, 3, 7, 11, 18, 21, 26-28). Literally Jesus tells Judas do more quickly what you are already doing. Jesus’ time has come. He knows it, and he is ready. Therefore, we need to relax more too. We need to relax regarding how we are trying to figure things out that Jesus already has figiured out. Jesus has come, and in the cross he takes everything we seem to know and turns it right side up. Jesus was in total control of all the events, including the trajectory to the cross. He remains in control! He is restoring all things to God the father.

The passage:

1Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,£ but is completely clean. And you£ are clean, but not every one of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant£ is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,£ £‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

21After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus,£ 24so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus£ of whom he was speaking. 25So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

IX. The Sermon: Light, Belief and Judgment – John 12:35-36, 44-5. Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Pre sbyterian Church

Photo. Macinac bridge, upper Michigan. 2011 photo by Richard Blick

The Big Idea: In the final week of his public ministry, Jesus offers three truths that challenge our cultural status quo.

Point One: Jesus is a crummy postmodern (vv. 35-36).
Just because we can pick somewhat our kid’s birthday, don’t be fooled into thinking that we can control all things. We can’t conform things in our reality into what we want. Jesus says that there is darkness and light. Postmodernism says that we can conform our reality to what we want it to be. Reality, however, doesn’t conform to what we want. We need to conform our life to what God reveals.

Point Two: Belief is to be lived, not merely held (vv. 35, 47).
True belief is not believing in belief. Authentic belief is not just mental ascent to a group of ideas, but rather what we believe is to be lived. Unbelief means that we are not keeping Jesus’ words. There is a liveable quality to the Christian life. The beauty of the gospel ought to transform our lives. When we behold that kind of beauty we are changed.

Point Three: Certain judgment (vv. 47-48).
Jesus says that he did not come to judge but to save on this trip from heaven. He says we already have a judge. John 3:17 says that those who do not believe are condemned already. On his next trip he comes as the judge, judging by the words that he spoke which were given him from God.

The irony of the cross is that Jesus did not die for his injustice and disobedience, but rather he died for us and our sin.

What is your story? Are you conforming to the world or to what Christ revealed.

The Sermon Passage: John 12:35-36, 44-5

35So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them

44And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.