Hey Friends,

Our Famous Failures sermon series has taken us deeper than I first expected, and has touched on some very delicate aspects of our faith.  In Sunday’s message, I challenged our congregation by saying, “The most dangerous thing we can do in our faith journey is interpret God’s will through our failures.”

Statements like this need to be digested.  They are not “one and done” thoughts.  In fact, they rub against some of the lies that have been deeply ingrained in our hearts about God.

I strongly encourage you to follow the link and listen again to Sunday’s message.  I actually wish you would listen to it twice.  As you listen, ask the Holy Spirit if you have misunderstood God’s heart and His will for your life because of some of the heartbreaks and failures you have experienced.  Ask God to reinterpret those events through the lens of His amazing love and the truth of His Word.

Here at EFC, we emphasize four simple truths we describe as our “Pillars of Thought.”  We have intentionally established these Biblical statements as tools to help us interpret what God is doing in and around us.  These pillars define our approach to understanding God and protect our hearts from misunderstanding His character.

I pray these principles will come to define your understanding of the heart of God as well, and may they give you courage to rise up from any failure and continue to pursue His glorious purpose for your life.

Much love,

Pastor Eric

The Pillars of Thought that define the revival culture of Emmanuel Fellowship Church are:


It is our adamant belief that the fundamental nature of God’s character is goodness.  When Moses requested to see the glory of God, our Lord responded by saying, “I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.”  (Exodus 33:18-19) The glory of God is His goodness.


Paul teaches that “our citizenship in is in heaven.”  (Philippians 3:20)  We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, we live according to the government, culture, atmosphere, and economy of heaven.  We live from Heaven to earth, recognizing that what is invisible is a superior reality to what is visible.    We will live according to the truth Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)


We see the fingerprints of God upon humanity.  We will live lives of honor toward one another.  We live to see people saved, healed, and delivered from the effects of sin, to help them identify their God-given personality, gifts, and purpose, and to see them actively invest themselves in the work of the Kingdom.  Knowing that everyone is significant leads me to understand that I am significant.


Really.  The Bible says this.  We believe it.



“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” – John Maxwell

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theadore Roosevelt

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  –Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

…with liberty and justice for all.

Liberty and Justice are two of the most noble concepts a person could ever hope to wrap their mind around.  They are everything our immigrant grandparents came to the United States for, they are everything our forefathers fought for, and they are all we have ever known.

Each of us has faced our own set of challenges, obstacles, and prejudices in life, but most of take for granted the amazing grace of living in a society that values liberty and justice.

The book of Nehemiah tells a beautiful story of what can happen when a community sets their hearts to build together, but there is another building story tucked inside of this book.  Right in the middle of this amazing story about rebuilding a wall around Jerusalem is a story about a different kind of rebuilding, the rebuilding of the people who will be protected by those walls.

Nehemiah 5:1-19 (NIV)

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”

3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”

4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. 7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them 8 and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

9 So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop! 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”  Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

What we see here is a cry for justice.  The citizens of Jerusalem are saying, “What is the point in rebuilding a wall if we are still slaves behind its protection?”

This story of rebuilding a wall is particularly relevant to the current social revolution of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

To be honest , I don’t really get Occupy Wall Street.  As near as I can tell, it is an expression of frustration against corporate greed and lack of accountability in our financial sector.  And at that level I can relate to the frustration.

But the entire movement, from the beginning, has lacked a clear voice, and so, at times, it comes across as a whine for socialism, or an expression of jealous greed.  It has even manifested itself in racism toward Jews and a push for complete anarchy.

The confusion of the Occupy Wall Street movement comes from the fact that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants; it just knows it doesn’t want what it has, and, at that level, it ends up sounding like a spoiled child.

What we see in Nehemiah chapter 5 is similar to how people feel who are part of Occupy Wall Street, except that the frustrations expressed by the Jews in that day were extreme and most obviously legitimate.

Nehemiah 5:4-5 (NIV)

4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

And look at Nehemiah’s response.

Nehemiah 5:6-7 (NIV)

6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. 7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them…

Here is the key: Injustice should make us angry, and it should lead us to action.

As I have read about the Occupy Wall Street movement , one of their hallmarks are the slogans they put on their protest signs.  These guys are professional sign makers.

I want to point out three signs that I call: Wrong, Right, and Radical.  And I want you to consider how these three ways of thinking are impacting your life.

Look at this sign:


“We are the 99%” is one of the huge battle cries of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It is a claim that the problems in America should be blamed on 1% of the population who are greedy and keeping the rest of us in poverty.

The first major problem with this claim is that it is simply wrong.

At the bottom of the sign, it says, “Look it up.”  And when you do look it up, you begin to discover how overwhelmingly wealthy we are as Americans.  In the United States, the poverty line is approximately $22,350.  If your household makes less than this, you are considered in poverty conditions in our country.

But do you know where that places you in the world?

According to the Global Rich List, an annual income of $22,350 puts you among the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.  And check this out.  A combined household income of $50,000 would make your family among the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.

So back to our 1% boy…

Do you see his shoes?  Do you see his pants?  Do you see his clean finger nails?  This average American boy is among the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.

What is wrong about his sign is that he is using it to say, “The problems I am facing are someone else’s to fix.”  As long as any of us are looking for someone else to fix our problems, we will stay in a mindset of poverty.

No one is holding you down.  No one is holding you back from being who God has created you to be.  But, if you are waiting for a handout to get there, you just became your own worst enemy.

Here is the next sign.

Ouch, that one hurts my feelings.  But this sign is RIGHT.

Now, I do not believe America has failed as a society, but we have been damaged as a society.  And this sign is right because of the words, “So-Called.”  Anytime someone hides behind the label of Christianity and uses that label as an excuse for greed, selfishness, or hatred, they are wounding their society and they are making a mockery of the teachings of Jesus.

It may not be a secret that you attend church on a Sunday morning, but what does your version of Christianity say in the workplace?  In the handling of your finances?  In your home?  In private?

A half lived faith does a whole lotta damage to our world.

Let’s take a look at one more sign.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

This is a quote from Albert Camus, a 20th century novelist and philosopher. And that, my friends, is the definition of radical.  It is one of the most beautiful sentences I have ever read.  And, in the Occupy Movement, it is being used in exactly the wrong way.  What a heartbreak!

The Apostle Paul says it this way:

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

If you want to see justice in our land, begin by taking responsibility for your actions by doing these three things:

  1. Confront the wrong ways of thinking in your heart.  Filter them through the truth of God’s word.
  2. Accept what is right.  Allow yourself to be challenged by hard truths.
  3. Live radically.

If we would apply ourselves to these truths, I believe we would see true justice and liberty flow like a river through our land, and we would most certainly become ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

As I made my way around the church Wednesday night, meeting people, answering questions, directing traffic, and hugging necks, I was blessed by the sounds I heard all around me.  I could hear the sound of babies in the nursery, the sound of children worshipping, and the sound of teenagers gathered in small groups asking hard questions in their search to understand more about God.

Parents were coming and going, most of them on their way to Lifegroup.  Doors were opening and closing.  Heals were clicking and clopping down the hallways.  It was the sound of life, the sound of messes getting cleaned and problems being solved, and it was beautiful.

Right in the midst of it all, rising above the clamor, I could hear voices.  I could hear the voices of those who had dedicated their night to teaching all of these young, hungry, noisy hearts about the love of Jesus.  I could hear the voices of love, the voices of patience.  I could hear the voices of those who spoke with a hope that their words would impact the lives they were speaking into.

My friends, the sounds of ministry occur because of the vision of those who willingly give their time and energy to love others.  People just like you and me who have resolved to honor God by serving others.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I encourage you to make sure you seize an opportunity to appreciate the people in your life who minister to you and your family.  Make sure you don’t let the month go by without letting them know their loving actions make a difference.

Take the time to say “Thanks!” to each of the fabulous ministers in our church (Pastor Lolo, Pastor Loran, Mrs. Denise, and Pastor Mindy)– the people who lead the way in making the ministry of Emmanuel Fellowship Church so special!

  • T – Take a moment to express your appreciation.  Don’t let it be a passing remark.  Pause, look them in the eye, and let them know you notice the work they do.  Let them know how their service has impacted your family.
  • H – Honor them with your words and actions.  Do not allow the consistency of their service to be taken for granted.  Consider the investment they have made to minister to you and your family and remember to treat them with a spirit of gratitude.
  • A – Ask if they could use a hand.  When you notice a need, be quick to meet it.  Take a few extra seconds to make sure they have everything they need to love and serve your family in the best way possible.  Take the initiative to serve those who serve you!
  • N – Nudge your children to respect and help their teachers and pastors.  A short conversation on the way to church and a positive handoff into the classroom can position your child to be a great influence.
  • K – Keep your pastors in your prayers!  Nothing is more important than a ministry team that is prayed for by their congregation.
  • S – Send them a token of your appreciation.  A card or a gift can be a powerful tool to refresh a heart.  Your investment into them will, no doubt, yield a rich reward of continued ministry to your family.

Follow these links for more great resources for Pastor Appreciation Month:



Here is a video rendition of the opening illustration from Sunday morning’s message.  Enjoy!


Click here to learn more about the Native American Buffalo Jumps Pastor Eric referenced in Sunday’s message.

“No man can make me submit!” Click here to learn more about David Louseau, the UFC fighter Pastor Eric mentioned Sunday whose courage inspired his faith and prayers one night in a hospital room.

Just when I decide to get up and go, when I resolve to cross that bridge and move toward a wide open field and those greener pastures, right at my point of new beginning — there is a troll under the bridge.

Blocking my path, shouting words of intimidation, he is going to roast me, toast me, and eat most of me.  His growls and threats keep me from crossing over, keep me in this dry land.  Like a prison without walls, his words paralyze me and leave me to forage among the thorns for something to satisfy my hunger.

The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale that connects with most every child.  We all remember what it was like to be bullied, to feel too small, and to look across the bridge at a green field we may never get to eat from.  We have all carried the need for a big brother billy goat to fight our troll for us.

And then we grew up.  And the stories that once brought us comfort began to gather dust on our shelves as we set out to fight our own battles, to cross our own bridges, and find our own green pastures.  It didn’t take long before a few disappointments and one too many betrayals left us standing again in a barren field.

Once again, we muster what little courage remains, surprised by the familiar “tip tap” of our feet as we try to cross that bridge.  And once again the roar gurgles out, “Who’s that crossing my bridge?  I’ll eat you up!”

Maybe I should just stop these foolish attempts, maybe I should just give up and come to terms with living a small unsatisfied life in this mundane world.  Or maybe not.

Maybe I should head back to the bookshelf.  Maybe I should dust off that old children’s story and remember how it goes one more time.  Maybe I should remember that I do have a big brother, and He did knock that troll into oblivion, and I can cross that bridge!

Those shouts from under the bridge are only echoes, a fleeting voice trying desperately to maintain its grip of fear over you.  Those words have lost their teeth.  They can bark, but they can’t bite you anymore.  That old troll is not still under the bridge.

So today is the day.  It is time to get up.  It is time to cross that bridge and enjoy the green pastures that wait for you on the other side.  It is time to go.

“So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  (Hebrews 2:11-15)