Yesterday a Meltdown. Today a Fresh Start.

by Dan Behrens on March, 18, 2021 | Evergreen Foursquare Church

We’ve all had our meltdowns. Some necessary. Some not so much. None of them pretty. Can I get an amen? I’ll tell you (not that we’re comparing) my meltdowns are more than ugly; the kind of chaos one can never really unsee. And such was the case yesterday.

Earlier this week, I woke up with a number of rather inspiring thoughts I wanted to share with our church family. Thoughts of what our church has endured these many months during this COVID pandemic. Thoughts of what our pastors and leaders have contended for to encourage a body of believers to dig in deep. Thoughts about the witness of Christ being readily apparent in our lives, especially in the small things. All these thoughts swirling around in my head and a strong sense of urgency to get them out.

As I do a couple times each week, I set up a few simple pieces of video equipment (tripod, light, cords, earbuds) to help me record a short 5-10min clip. I scribble out a few notes, reference a scripture or two, rehearse an illustration, and begin to record. Nothing. A few attempts later, still nothing. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get anything in my head to come out my mouth. A few more attempts. Nothing. After nearly a dozen takes to get even a few statements of fact out my mouth into the air with some sense of clarity or cohesion, I’m a wreck. A careening carousel of frustration, fit-throwing, snapping and stomping off. The witness of Christ has long since left the room. I was indeed, as the apostle Paul laments, “boxing the air”.

Now, I’m sure no one else can relate to such an ridiculous episode. But I should think we all can agree that on nearly every path that leads toward the preverbal cliff there is opportunity to heed the signs, look for exits, or stop altogether. In fact, one might argue that such notions are more than mere notions, common sense, or sensible perspective, but in fact are the whispers of God growing louder, the witness of Christ coming more into focus. The witness of Christ is what others see. Do others see a witness of Christ? Do others see Christ in me? At the very least, are those transcendent qualities of goodness and rightness even remotely detected?

Before I address these questions, let me first say that this whole business of meltdowns into fresh starts involves a demonstrative level of humility. And whether in the midst of some silly fit or something of much lessor or greater consequence, humility is all too often tethered to repentance and apology. Repentance being that crucial about-face we must endure when confronted with one undeniable fact—we are wrong, period. Apology (though not an instant remedy) being that equally crucial pivot toward putting our own words to this one undeniable fact, and that our knowledge thereof now sees the light of day. What follows are the essential ingredients to a fresh start. The stop. The heed. The about-face. A new reality is awakened. We are free.

On the eve of Easter season, a fresh start retains all the aroma of resurrection life, the redeeming sense of salvation from our deepest hells. In contrast, if we really are honest about the facts (that we are wrong and obedient repentance is the only remedy), any hindrance to the witness of Christ in our own selves will, in the long run, be hell.

Now to yesterday. A new day. A fresh start. An apology to my eldest children who witnessed my previous unraveling. A humbling acknowledgement that my behavior matters. My words matter. My emotions matter. We all know well that behavior, words, and emotions are not themselves the wayward path bound for a steep cliff. They are opportunistic offramps where notions of common sense and sensible perspective entertain the light of God and the witness of His son. We do well to not lose sight of this message among our deepest desires for worth and value. My concerns for our church family are good concerns. They have value. My attention to quality and detail is good and right. The witness of Christ in me is at its brightest. Surrender is subtle. Small, in fact. Fragile and miraculous. Enormous as a mustard seed.

Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It (Pre-order) — Fairly Spiritual

by Douglas Bursch on March 18, 2021 | Fairly Spiritual

#PostingPeace

Why is everyone so angry online? The internet seems to have brought the world together only so we can tear each other apart. Social media platforms have become toxic and polarizing environments. Many of us are overwhelmed and disillusioned by endless online conflict and negativity. How did we get here, and what can we do about it? The internet changes not only how we communicate but also what we communicate. Pastor and former radio host Douglas Bursch provides a spiritual examination of why social media divides people and how Christians can address polarization… 

Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It (Pre-order)

Deconstruction? — Fairly Spiritual

by Douglas Bursch on March 1, 2021 | The Fairly Spiritual Show

On today’s show, Doug talks about deconstruction. What does it mean to deconstruct our faith? What are some of the many issues deconstruction deals with? Does all deconstruction look the same or act the same? How should we respond to people when they talk about deconstructing their faith? Doug gives lots of personal thoughts on this important topic.

Summer Fires. Burning Bright. Enduring Witness.

by Dan Behrens on February 2, 2021 | Evergreen Foursquare Church

Summer Fires. Burning Bright. Enduring Witness.
Summer Fires. Burning Bright. Enduring Witness.

The picture below was taken by my father from the front yard of the house I grew up in. The blowup you see is approximately 30 miles away, up the Chewuch River valley that flows down into the town of Winthrop WA. In the days to follow, in what would come to be named “Thirty-Mile Fire”, 21 forest service fire personnel and 2 civilians were entrapped by the blaze—4 of them lost their lives.

On July 10 2001, the day of this photo, I myself was part of a 12 person extended attack firecrew stationed at a make-shift heliport about 8 miles south of this blowup. Our crew had been re-routed off a 12 hour shift on the “South Libby Fire” some 20 miles away, and were stationed as possible reinforcements. The simultaneous incidents of South Libby and Thirty-Mile completely took over our community. The local high school was turned into a state-wide incident command hub in a manner hours—everything happened so fast.

Earlier this year I talked with a good friend and fellow pastor (Lutheran Pastor, Shawn Neider) who also worked the South Libby fire with me all those years ago. We talked about wildfires in general as part of our own experience, both of us from small eastern Washington communities. Numerous friends of mine and even my own family have all worked for the forest fire service at one time.

Shawn and I talked about how fire burns in the two most common fuel types: “light, flashy fuels” like grasslands (vs) what are called “1000-hour fuels” or heavy timber. The comparison I make here is aimed at how one lives out the Christian life with enduring hope, joy, beauty, and unmistakable passion so as to ignite others to the same intense light Jesus himself evokes.

In a typical wind-driven burn, grasslands or light-flashy fuels explosively ignite, burn hot and fast, then quickly die. Their speed is incredible but their danger is relatively minimal. Conversely, a typical wind-driven event in dense, oily brush or heavy timber requires an enormous amount heat-energy to ignite and sustain. Statistically, its quite rare. But once this is reached the duration of the burn is, as they say “1000-hours”. Under the right conditions, unmanned fires of this type can retain there heat energy well into December. Their speed is slower, more subtle, more clever in a way. But their relative danger is incredibly high. In fact, the last hundred years records most wildland fire fatalities have occurred in this fuel-type: “Mann Gulch” “Storm King Mountain” “Thirty Mile” and “Yarnell” four of the most deadly.

When speaking of enduring witness, the analogy I present is very near to Jesus’ parable of the sower’s seed landing in different soils. Which soil type will not only receive the word, but take it into themselves and hold on to it as if holding the one seed to all of life itself? Many will receive. Yet few will bare fruit. That is, few will endure the extinguishing efforts of the enemy. And herein lies a great tension in watching someone burn bright for Jesus. Of course, we want to see people burn bright with passion for the living God. But even more, we want people to burn long long into the late season. To endure with joy and glory.

The questions I ask of myself of my own life (and of others too if I might speak into theirs), are we people of passion and patience alike? Are we willing to let God work in the present? And to do so at his pace in his time?

Again, this tension is quite real. Today is the day the Lord has made. Will we arise with such incredibly intensity that the gates of hell seemingly burn before our eyes only to be snuffed out moments later by a couple gallons of water? Or will we collect our heat, kindle it, make use of temperature, humidity, wind, topography, and adjacent fuels so as to burn bright for the duration, so as to consume everything on the mountain?

The Bible tells us that the glory or “joy” of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8). The Bible also tells us that the glory or “joy” of the Lord is his church (1Thess 2). Indeed we are if we remain in HIM. In Him, we are far more than mere summer fires—an all-consuming column rising mightily into eternity.