Crips & Bloods: Made in America

30 10 2010

Crips & Bloods: Made in America

Most Americans have some kind of opinion about the impact that crack cocaine and gang members had on the late eighties and early nineties. It’s impossible to know what another person’s life was like.

Hearing someone’s life story is a great way to learn. This video production gives you a rare look into what it’s like inside the war between Crips and Bloods in LA. A war on US soil that has claimed over 15,000 lives. Generations of lives torn apart by conflict that can and must stop.

Here you find a real description of what the life is like. The initial groundwork of facts provides a helpful context for how this sort of tragedy builds. The interviews give you a real sense of just how trapped most gang members feel. You can feel the pain.

Growing up with one parent, working for a living, would be difficult for any child. Add to that living in a neighborhood without a support system to help… No child should have to see their parents, friends, and siblings buried.

I can’t imagine raising our kids without my wife. Let alone trying to do it while earning a living. We have helped people through this challenge before. Think about adding to that the pressure of not being able to find a decent job, as a parolee, and dealing with the cost of past mistakes.

Life without family, support system, and positive role models is a reality for millions around the world. When we live with the ability to help children in this situation – we live with the ability to improve our world.

Don’t look away when you see the faces of those who have lost so much, in the murder of a loved one. If we are going to change our country we must know just how much we are losing.

Our reality is that no major US city has enough help for our children to overcome the challenge of their real life. When a child’s life is ripped apart by drugs, prison, murder, violence, prostitution, and abuse… there should be help available.

Don’t you think?

Thankfully there’s real hope seen here. You’ll see great interviews with some of the men, including ex-gang members who are now working to change their communities. Having spent time in LA with people doing gang outreach, I’ve seen what this is really like.

There are many examples of people working on a few of the core problems addressed in this film. Probably too many for me to mention. One friend of mine, John Gray, is involved in just such an effort. Firebird The Movie will give you a glimpse of this work.

In LA, The Dream Center changes lives every day. I have visited their outreach center on a couple of occasions and it will cause you to question the validity of your own personal daily activities. Pastor Matthew Barnett and his team rescue teens and adults from the streets. There are many ways that they are positively changing LA. They have also served as a great pattern for other outreaches.

Bringing real change can be a daunting challenge.

It takes grace.

It takes hard work.

It takes love that lives a sacrifice.

It can be done.

I am a zombie believer!

29 10 2010

You’re probably getting ready for Halloween and thinking, WAIT, BEN, WHAT?!?!…that is to say that I believe in the resurrection from the dead!

Wikipedia (the source of all useful info, right?) says that a zombie is “a creature that appears in books, films and popular culture. It is typically a reanimated corpse, or a human being who is being controlled by someone else by use of magic. More recent stories have used a pandemic illness to explain them. Stories of zombies originated in the West African spiritual belief system of voodoo, which told of the people being controlled as laborers by a powerful wizard. Zombies became a popular device in modern horror fiction, largely because of the success of George A. Romero‘s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.[1] ”

I am a zombie believer, but THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

True, zombie stuff is getting more popular all the time.

You see as a believer in Jesus Christ I believe in the resurrection from the dead! That’s one of the things that makes me different. I think it’s something that a whole lot of good church going Christians haven’t given much thought to.

Consider a couple of stories that cannot be refuted historically.

Luke 7:11-15

11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

John 11:38-44

38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.

39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

John 20:11-16

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.

13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.

15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

Acts 9:36-42

36 There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcast). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. 37 About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. 38 But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”

39 So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. 40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.

42 The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.

Ok Ben, what’s the point?

Resurrection from the dead is real. I believe that Jesus is alive today after three days in a tomb.

That means that Jesus is more powerful than death!

Think about that today. I mean really chew on it. What does that mean to you? What does that say about any challenge you face today? Who is your source of life? Who should you talk to everyday?

If you want to learn more about Resurrection you should check out 1 Corinthians 15 before you read anything else…and definitely before you go watching another scary movie!

My wife and I love watching The Food Network’s The Best Things I Ever Ate!

23 10 2010

My wife and I love watching The Food Network’s The Best Things I Ever Ate!

Food that is made with passion is such an amazing experience. Compared to the much less interesting processed foods that are eaten most often, by most of us. Great food that is made from real natural ingredients makes such amazing difference in flavor!

Every time I make coffee, with fresh beans, from my french press…people who have only had drip coffee LOSE THEIR HEADS! You can’t knock it until you try it!

Get yourself some Stumptown, or another coffee bean locally roasted, take care of the bean and then grind it while your water is boiling. Don’t make your coffee when the water is at boiling temp. WAIT. Then get your grinds in the press, add a bit of hot water, WAIT, add the rest of the water, WAIT, stir, WAIT, press, WAIT, and enjoy. The waiting is possibly the most important part of the process. You can’t rush something that good!

What’s good with coffee? A dish like Huevos Montelenos – Golden West Cafe (just a couple of blocks from our house) picked out by Duff Goldman – The Ace of Cakes of Charm City Cakes (which is also just a short jaunt from our house).

They do cakes in shapes you would never expect.

I love to eat. I love people who are passionate about what they do and how they live. It’s great to meet someone for the first time, who has an opinion.

This series gets an uninhibited honesty out of these hosts…just by getting them to talk about their favorite foods. It’s so enjoyable to hear a fun conversation about the good stuff in life.

Food has the potential to be so very passionate. Fast food has just wrecked our taking pleasure in eating. Sitting down to enjoy a great meal with friends and family should be one of the highlights of our week! If that’s the case, putting a little thought into what kind of food you want to enjoy has a whole new motivation.

There’s medical and psychological proof as to the benefits of laughter and food. I think that there really is something to this. We should all laugh more and enjoy what we eat more!

You should check out this show it’s a ton of fun! For the most part, you will love hearing these people who are so passionate about food describe their favorite dishes. It’s a great laugh and a good time to get the imagination going…instead of the usual novacane for the brain of typical TV.

Of course there are a few dishes that are really weird.

At the top of this post I included the link to the page about the show. Check it out!

Enjoy great food with your family and friends this week!

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise – Spike Lee

20 10 2010

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise – an HBO documentary from Spike Lee

Around a year after Katrina I spent a week serving in New Orleans. What I saw and heard changed me. But how quickly we forget!

Recently I watched the HBO/Spike Lee documentary “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise”. You may want to do the same. It’s rough. If you can wade through this entire production it will rock you. I had to watch it in four sittings. This is reality. Don’t look away. …see below…

Spike Lee returns to New Orleans five years after Katrina to follow reconstruction efforts. This four hour documentary, from HBO, walks through the local impact, initial response, long term plans, real estate changes, and the struggles for hospitals and schools to move forward. It also visits Haiti after its tragedy bringing light to the connections with New Orleans. Before wrapping up, this experience also details the Deep Water Horizon explosion where BP’s well had a catastrophic leak into the Gulf for at least 86 days. This will likely affect the Gulf Coast for more than 20 years.

Did this stuff really happen? These three separate incidents will certainly mark history. I knew that I did not know much about each of these events, but I was not aware of how little I knew. Sure I had read about what was happening at the time. Yet, it’s a good time to learn more. By no means is this documentary comprehensive. Taking in the human experience is, well…learning…as much as listening to the facts that were represented.

Immediately I remembered driving through the Ninth Ward. There and elsewhere we had seen houses destroyed with still, at a year later, with no work being done. Taking pictures in one neighborhood, one resident asked me if I was the insurance guy. I met a family whose house was completely lifted off the foundation. It landed on a street. During the evacuation a hole was cut into their house so that cars could drive through. They lived in a tent on the foundation for five weeks. The church I served in New Orleans was near a water treatment facility. This meant that a week after the storm they still had more than a foot of sewer sludge in their facility. They pulled together, at first just the pastor and his wife in boots with shovels, and cleaned having their first worship meeting within two weeks of the storm. A year later and other large churches in the area were still not resuming services. Several stories like this ran through me during the chapters of this presentation.

The still and video images chosen will keep you involved in the story line. Many of the major players in these events are interviewed here. You will see a very balanced measure of perspectives juxtaposed.

Schools and hospitals serve all of us. Yet there is enough to learn about their normal function to write a series of text books. The conversations about how the storm impacted both schools and hospitals give you a real sense of what real life must be like. It’s not pretty. Life there is hard. If you’re reading this the chances are that you have it easy in comparison.

The interviews of everyday people and those making top level decisions provide so much perspective. You learn about what has impacted New Orleans. You learn about who is trying to shape New Orleans.

Spike Lee stays true to his form. Thankfully the choice of music does not follow the mellow dramatic or glam rock flavors you might expect from a current network video production.

I came away from this with a sense of shared experience. There is so much tragedy in the world. New Orleans, Haiti, and the Gulf of Mexico have certainly seen their share over the past decade. Having recently spent time talking with friends about how quickly we forget about the experience of 9/11 and its affect on NYC…being reminded of suffering in New Orleans rocked me. I don’t think that the average American has a sense of how much these events affect our present and will impact our future.

Beyond that, I came away with a fresh urgency to learn more about our new city Baltimore. Maybe we have more to learn about what questions we should be asking.

Why is it, corruption in power has become such a taboo topic? Have news outlets become more obsessed with competition than with the truth?

Responsible governance can work best in the way of servant leadership. This means working for the best of the people as a whole. When individuals serve a purpose that is greater than themselves, they are at their best! Why does this seem to be such a secret to leaders and media outlets?

US cities have much in the way of untapped resources. We have millions of people with something to offer. Is it possible that we lack connectedness? The US would be greatly improved by more of our personal energy given to causes that release our potential.

We are now asking ourselves how we can serve our neighborhood and the communities of our city. It’s possible that through serving we can learn how decisions are made. Maybe through service we can impact things for the better.

God help me not become distracted by my own life to the point of ignorance.

God help me learn about other people.

God help me ask the right questions.

God help me be creative in how I can help.

God help me make a positive difference in Baltimore, New Orleans, and our great country.

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.

A word of warning: there are a few sections of the documentary that are graphic in nature.

Resume for Ben Malmin

19 10 2010

Benjamin Malmin – Cover Letter

Phone 443.759.7587

At 36 years old I have been married for 14 years and we have two small children. This means that I am young enough to be fiery and passionate, yet I am old enough to have accomplished a bit and had life kick me around a bit. I know how to check my ego at the door and work in team. I know how to come in as a clean slate and absorb how you do business, and then replicate it. I am an insatiable learner. I know how to follow and work hard. When the time is right I know how to lead with understanding and empathy.

I love a challenge!  Working in team and leading by serving are familiar tools for me.  Communication is my specialty.  It may be one on one, small groups, or hundreds at one time.  I have inspired groups to move toward their goal!

Developing relationships is a strength of mine. Helping people become more effective really turns my crank. I love to see an individual advance beyond what they thought their capabilities had been. Getting the right people on the bus and seeing them move the same direction gets me up in the morning.

Having a voice in how business is done has been an honor of my past positions. I would hope to improve any team I serve with.

Directing teams, coaching sales staff, managing non-profit organizations, creating business systems, and inspiring individuals have been my specialties.

My wife and I just moved to Baltimore. We love the city! I’m looking for a new opportunity.

Please let me know if you would like an interview,

Thanks for your time in consideration,

Ben Malmin
410.929.1619                                                                             You can also find me on linked in.

Professional experience

1/2007 – Present

Pacific Benefits Group

Portland, OR

Manager of Sales Training – Assistant Sales Manager

  • Personal sales performance set at “Senior Agent” production throughout career.
  • First month as a sales agent set new records for production with 30 applications.
  • Personal sales persistency rate at highest in the company.
  • Set a new company standard for combination of quantity and quality of sales.
  • Daily Management of the Sales Floor including 35 sales agents.
  • Directed the Sales Training System, including new hire and existing agent training.
  • Created, maintained, and oversaw implementation of sales scripts.
  • Performed individual sales agent coaching, which involved personal evaluation of sales quantity and quality, goal setting, and time line for improvement.
  • Conducted company-wide training sessions regarding insurance products, sales techniques, time management, and government regulation.
  • Interviewed, evaluated, and hired prospective health and life insurance producers.
  • Provided teamwork in the oversight, evaluation, and termination of unsuccessful agents.
  • Created and implemented sales contests for increased sales production.
  • Responsible for constant email correspondence with product updates, government regulation, goal setting suggestions, time management principles, sales production incentives, and sales techniques to health and life insurance producers.

7/2001 – 11/2006

Eternity Productions

Portland, OR

Outreach Director – Assistant to Director of Eternity Productions

  • Generated new accounts while managing client relationships in the US & Canada.
  • Negotiated new customer contracts.
  • Provided contract oversight and client support of 180 stage productions.
  • Trained new Outreach Directors, Assistant Directors, and Technicians.
  • Directed staff production teams throughout their project.
  • Evaluated the performance of the staff team as individuals and a team, and coached their improvement as individuals and a team.
  • Recruited, trained, and directed teams of volunteers up to 150 at a time.
  • Managed vendor relationships, including: vendor selection, contract negotiation, and ongoing relationship.
  • Directed 75+ stage productions across the US.  These productions were viewed by over 200,000 individuals.
  • Assisted in the forecast and management of a $350,000+ annual budget.
  • Purchased an average of $20,000+ in staff airfare annually.
  • Negotiated contract of $40,000+ print material annually.  This included the management of 35+ print projects each year.
  • Negotiated contract of $12,000 video production.  Assisted in the direction of this project which won 2005 “Telly” Award.
  • Created & maintained the organization’s relationship management database.

1/2000 – 7/2001

Apple Music

Portland, OR

Sales Associate

  • Generated acoustic guitar sales for beginner to advanced level musicians.
  • Increased sales volume and clientele awareness of variety of brands.
  • Created database of existing clientele for marketing of custom products.

6/1997 – 12/1999

The House of Prayer

Richmond, VA

Director of Youth Ministries

  • Accountable for teaching groups of up to 135 teens & young adults weekly.
  • Recruiting, coaching, and oversight of thirty volunteers.
  • Trained volunteers for specific positions.
  • Project management – three annual retreats and 2 week international tours.
  • Responsible for departmental budgeting and forecasting.
  • Development of annual curriculum for the weekly and monthly programs.
  • Provided crisis management and family counseling.
  • Taught 8th grade Bible course and Bible College Apocaplyptic Lit. & Church History courses.
  • Developed internship/ mentoring program.  This included standardized curriculum, organized volunteer activities, and personal accountability.

6/1996 – 6/1997

Gresham Colortile

Gresham, OR

Assistant Manager of Builder Accounts

  • Generated builder and retail accounts for flooring sales.
  • Provided retail/builder customer service, including trouble shooting.
  • Expanded current builder accounts.
  • Estimated material and labor costs of retail/ builder contracts.
  • Managed sub-contractors and their projects.


8/1992 – 5/1996Portland Bible College 

Portland, OR

Bachelors of Theology — Cum Laude

Student Body Vice President


Health & Life Insurance Producer Licensed in 12 US states

References from most recent direct supervisors and a few clients:

“I have known and worked with Ben Malmin since 2007. His work excellence, skill, and professional demeanor contributed mightily to our team and was instrumental to the success of our sales organization. We were very sad to see Ben move to the East Coast and would highly recommend him to any organization where sales excellence, training, and professionalism is important. He has my highest recommendation.” John Klemin General Manager  Pacific Benefits Group

“Ben is one of the best sales professionals that have worked with me. He is outstanding with clients and closing the sales! Whatever company he works for will be greatly rewarded!”
Edward Schefter Founder & Director of Eternity Productions

“Ben served as a full time staff member with the specific responsibility of Youth Pastor. He also participated weekly in staff meetings contributing to decision making concerning the church at large. Ben was well liked and demonstrated wisdom and people skills above his years. His performance was exceptional. I would highly recommend Ben to anyone wishing to hire someone with exceptional people skills, work ethic, and character.” Stephen M. Stells Senior Pastor  The House of Prayer

“I have known Ben Malmin for 18 years, and he has my highest level of endorsement. He has an acute mind, an incredible work ethic, and the ability to get the best out of those around him. Feel free to contact me with any questions.”  Mike Hennigan Senior Pastor  Victory Christian

“Not only is Ben responsive, trustworthy and friendly, but he is also knowledgeable and helpful. He is always willing to lend his expertise to a person, regardless if it will result in a client or not. Ben always has his client’s best interest in mind. I trust both Ben’s advise and his character. I would highly recommend Ben Malmin.”  Sarah Nashif Online Programs Director Portland Bible College

“One of Ben’s many strengths is that he asks the right questions. This lets him understand your problem and find the optimum solution. Ben walked me through the complication of buying family health insurance with calm and expertise. Whether you’re shopping for insurance or looking to hire a salesman with integrity and team spirit, you won’t be disappointed.” Greg Wheeler Client

“I have known Ben for many years, and have been struck by the consistency and excellence of his character. In that sense, Ben is a “throw-back” in that his word is his bond, and if he says something, you can trust that he will do all in his power to accomplish it. I have also benefited from Ben’s excellent service and research on my behalf as a client of his in the past. I can with great confidence recommend Ben without reservation, knowing that he will exceed your expectations in any capacity that he commits to.” October 3, 2010  Wayne Little CEO/CTO  Lit DATA Solutions

B Malmin 2010 resume

We think about someone in the way we first met them. Who is Jesus to you?

6 10 2010

We think about someone in the way we first met them.

Have you ever bumped into someone that you haven’t seen for years? Hey! It’s you! How are you? Are you still working at…? I sold carpet to pay my way through college. That was years ago. Once in a while I will bump into an old client and they immediately associate me with flooring. Worse yet I bump into one of my childhood school teachers and have to apologize for being a pain in school. They always seem relieved to see that I “turned out alright”.

When you meet someone, again after years apart, it takes a while to adjust to who they have now become. If it’s a niece or nephew, and the last time you saw them was when they were a toddler, it’s great to see who they have grown up to be.

If you’re reunited with someone who was a mess as a teenager and they are now a responsible parent you have more to learn about them. You can’t freeze frame them…meaning you can’t assume that they still are the way they were at age 16.

How did you first come into contact with Jesus Christ?

Where did you meet Him? How does that define Jesus to you? Who do you say that He is?

Is He the stuff of stained glass and a crucifix to you? Is He a cartoon drawing from childhood Sunday School books? Is He someone you make fun of?

Maybe He’s more meaningful than that to you. Maybe you came to a point of believing that He forgave your sins. That’s amazing isn’t it!?!

Did you stop learning about Him? Is there more about Him to consider?

Jesus is the:

Prince of peace, Son of God, Breaker, Warrior, King, Priest, Intercessor, Deliverer, Redeemer, Friend, Mediator, Healer, Lifter of your head, God with us, etc.

Have we limited Jesus Christ by the context in which we first met Him?

Jesus the Builder – Do you see Jesus as a builder?

1. Mt 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church!”

Jesus says “I will build”. Jesus, son of the carpenter, would have been familiar with construction. He chooses this word picture carefully. He knew that this meant work. He knew that this meant an expensive long term project. He knew that this meant working toward a goal in the future. What does this say to you about Jesus?

Take a minute to think about your perception of Jesus. Does this fit for you?

He also says “my church”. This is a transition point to speaking in the “possessive”. Sounds like Jesus takes this personally.

2. Ps 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the House they labor in vain that build it.

We don’t build it. We don’t take credit when it goes well, and we can’t take the blame when it goes bad. We take responsibility for our part and defer to the Builder.

That’s not to say that we can’t mess it up. Certainly we can.
One of our goals has to be staying out of His way, and instead working according to His plan.

There’s a freedom in realizing this. It’s His project. He has the plan. We don’t have to show up to work, but we can be involved. We get to be a part of the project.

3. 1 Corinthians 3:7-11 Jesus is the foundation:

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

During ancient times, they would dig until they hit rock before they would lay the foundation. One author visited a house in Nazareth where they had dug down 30 feet to reach rock and them built walls, using arches, up from that point.

Who Jesus is, how He came to earth, how He lived, how He died, and how He lives again speaks to us about Him.

He is the starting point.

4. Jesus’ words as the foundation:

Matthew 7: 24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So much of what Jesus said, during His time on earth, is useful as a foundation to build your life. It is life. It is relevant to what we experience everyday no matter what state we are in.

The same is true when we set out to work for Him. He has a plan. We have to remember that if it’s not built right it will fall apart.

5. What are we supposed to do? How are we, as believers, involved?

A. Great Commandment: Love God and Love People.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Jesus taught us about balancing everyday real life. He taught us about a daily relationship with Father God. He taught us about pursuing a relationship with God that grows. He taught us about balancing our work with serving other people. If you pay attention, when you read the books of Matthew/Mark/Luke/John, you will see Jesus managing responsibilities with taking time to help people. During the year I work to read those books over and over again to help me learn from how Jesus lived and what He said.

B. Great Commission:

Go, with people focus, connect with people, bring them to Christ, lead them to next steps in Christ, baptize them, teach them that which is from Christ and remember that He is with you always!

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus gave us a mission. It’s for every believer. He knew it would be a challenge for us. That’s why He drew up the plans. That’s why He’s still the One who is building.
Jesus knows how to work. He is not asking us to do anything that He didn’t do Himself.

With us, it’s a work in progress.

We now have a responsibility to share our faith with others. When people respond, we grow in faith together and follow the steps that Jesus laid out for us.

C. Building with living stones.

1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus brings the materials into order (strength by structure). As a carpenter, Jesus would have learned about structures that were strong and those that fell apart. He would have known that carefully selecting your building materials matters. He knew that bringing those materials into order could provide the strength to help that structure stand for a long time. It’s the same today. You don’t build a structure to stay for the weekend. You build to have a place to call home for a lifetime. Jesus knew that if He could bring together chosen materials (you and me) and cause them to work together a spiritual home could be built.

So many people today do not know what it is like to live in a good home, a home with a family that loves each other. Millions long to know the peace from being a home like that. We can build a spiritual home where people can find peace in Jesus!

D. Follow the Jesus pattern.

He called them together.

Takes one step at a time: He does you watch, then you do He watches.

Mark 6:6-13 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Rebecca and I have long felt called to build a soul winning church in a city on the water. We have dreamed of being in a city where we could interact with both the “under privileged” and the “over privileged” in a place where we could serve both the “under educated” and the “over educated”. We believe that we are called to and uniquely positioned to be able to help people come into faith in Christ, equip them, and then send them to serve their context – to become a “city within a city”.

What if?

What if we could serve God’s vision to build a church that served the city? What if the church had both spiritual depth and cultural relevance? What if it attracted people in because it trained believers to live a missional life out in the community? What if the church had passionate presence driven worship with the power of the Holy Spirit, connected with the mind of the guest by the power of the Scripture?

What can God do? What happens when we see Jesus as the Builder?

When you look at your phone and you see that someone you know and love is trying to connect with you, YOU DON’T WAIT to

4 10 2010

When you look at your phone and you see that someone you know and love is trying to connect with you, YOU DON’T WAIT to find out what they have to say. It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call, text, tweet, email, or any other kind of message. You get the message.

Truth is that Someone is crazy about you. God, our Creator and King, is trying to communicate with you. He is alive. He loves you. He has something to say.

The Bible is alive and full of His words for you! You will find times were one word, one thought, or one phrase will change the rest of your day. It will change your life.

Don’t read it out of guilt or duty. Read it because it is full of life. Read it because it is full of the love that you need. Open yourself up to hear what God has to say to you.

When you find something that speaks to you, stop! Soak it in. Think about it. Pray about it. Write about it. Memorize it. Don’t just try to power through the chapter. Meditate on that one word or phrase. You will find life!

Recently our CBC Baltimore team spent a little time with the Scriptures below. I just wanted to share them with you. Below the final section I listed a few questions that we discussed.

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1      O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2      You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3      You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4      Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5      You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6      Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7      Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8      If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9      If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10      even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11      If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12      even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13      For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14      I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15      My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16      your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17      How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18      Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
19      If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20      They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21      Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
22      I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23      Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24      See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Acts 2:25-28

25 David said about him:
“ ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26      Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27      because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28      You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

Romans 5:6-11

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Ephesians 1:5-8

In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 4:4-10

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 1:1-4, 11, 38-39

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Mark 2:1-12

1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Questions to consider:

1. What is happening in this story?

2. What is Jesus trying to say?

3. What does this say to you personally?

4. What does this tell you about the message you can carry to others?