Recent: Pastor’s Journal Posts

Desperate Prayer

Originaly Posted on November 7, 2014

Have you ever desperately prayed to God for something? I’m not talking about wishing with all your heart, or begging God as a child pleads with their parent for something they saw in a commercial. But have you ever sunk to your knees, alone by your bed or chair, hands clenched together, speaking out loud to God, asking for wisdom that you know you don’t have yet? Asking God to speak directly to you, to give you a clear path for your feet, and not giving up until God speaks? I’ve only done this a handful of times in my life. This is largely because I let so many things distract me after I begin to pray. I start to focus on my sleepiness and just crawl into bed by impulse, or I realize I’m quite thirsty and must remedy my dehydration, or my stomach growls, thus ending my much-needed talk with God, leaving God attentively standing there as I go off to find a bedtime snack (which is not a good idea anyway).

The times I have prayed with that kind of dedication were the times I found myself suddenly at the end of my emotional, physical or spiritual rope and I furiously needed God to move, because I could do nothing and had nowhere else to go. Do I always have to let myself reach that point where I’m flat on the floor before I will look up? Do I have to wait to turn to God until God is the only option I have left?

I found myself strangely overwhelmed this week, not that it was an unusually busy week or because anything bad had happened, but I just felt it, and it seemed to surround me. Maybe I’ve let things build quietly for months now, I really don’t know. But then I remembered God, and I remembered the covenant we’ve been walking together in for many years now. So I stopped what I was doing, found a quiet and private place, and laid out what’s going on to God, piece by piece, item by item, stressor by stressor… and no joke, I had brand new thoughts on what to do next, or in some cases, a tangible peace and decided trust that I did not have before about the problem.

I’m much freer now. I can breathe. I know that God’s got me, and now I can keep walking forward.

—BrandEn

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On Romans 14:1-12

Originaly Posted on September 12, 2014

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

This Romans 14 section is one of those passages where Paul really gets to me, probably because I find myself arguing with him from time to time, but eventually agreeing with him in the end. When someone confronts me on one of my understandings or life practices, I tend to flip out just a little bit in my head, because I have carefully reasoned through my faith. I am not a spoon-fed Adventist, thank you very much. So if I metaphorically “eat,” I eat because I have thoroughly thought about it and have solid reasons for it, and if I abstain, it is because I have thoroughly thought about that too. I am not one to go through life acting on impulses (except when it comes to donuts… I have a problem with donuts). So when someone who thinks differently than I do and has made different choices than I have, then comes to despise or pass judgement on me, it hurts (and then I turn to my donuts—because donuts accept me as I am). The reverse is also explained by Paul: how can I judge or despise anyone else for what they believe or how they live their faith? Because, as Christians, we are servants of God, and how can we condemn a fellow worker when He is the Boss? They will be standing before God for their abstaining just as I will be for my eating. It’s just like how my mother would remind my brother and me not to tend to each other because “I’M the parent, YOU’RE the child.”

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

So my friends, welcome each other. Don’t despise or judge your sister or brother in Christ for their opinions, because we each answer to our Heavenly Father for ourselves. But then again, from time to time, nothing is wrong with a little well-informed, love-glazed discussion either ;-) —BRANDEN

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On Romans 14:1–12

Originaly Posted on September 12, 2014

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

This Romans 14 section is one of those passages where Paul really gets to me, probably because I find myself arguing with him from time to time, but eventually agreeing with him in the end. When someone confronts me on one of my understandings or life practices, I tend to flip out just a little bit in my head, because I have carefully reasoned through my faith. I am not a spoon-fed Adventist, thank you very much. So if I metaphorically “eat,” I eat because I have thoroughly thought about it and have solid reasons for it, and if I abstain, it is because I have thoroughly thought about that too. I am not one to go through life acting on impulses (except when it comes to donuts… I have a problem with donuts). So when someone who thinks differently than I do and has made different choices than I have, then comes to despise or pass judgement on me, it hurts (and then I turn to my donuts—because donuts accept me as I am).

The reverse is also explained by Paul: how can I judge or despise anyone else for what they believe or how they live their faith? Because, as Christians, we are servants of God, and how can we condemn a fellow worker when He is the Boss? They will be standing before God for their abstaining just as I will be for my eating. It’s just like how my mother would remind my brother and me not to tend to each other because “I’M the parent, YOU’RE the child.”

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

So my friends, welcome each other. Don’t despise or judge your sister or brother in Christ for their opinions, because we each answer to our Heavenly Father for ourselves. But then again, from time to time, nothing is wrong with a little well-informed, love-glazed discussion either ;-)

—BRANDEN

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Unlocking the Vision

Originaly Posted on August 1, 2014

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” ROMANS 12:1

This week I want to reflect on Abraham’s Mount Moriah experience in Genesis 22. This story might just be one of the strangest stories of the Bible. Abraham is awoken in his sleep by God who tells him to go sacrifice Isaac, his son of promise. In the morning Abraham wakes Isaac and tells him that they are to go offer a sacrifice. So they start a quest to find a mountain that God said He would show Abraham.

After a long journey they find the mountain. Climbing up the mountain, Isaac takes inventory and says, “Dad, I think we forgot the sacrifice.”

Abraham replies, “God will provide one, my son.”

Once they reach the top of the mountain Abraham finally speaks to Isaac. “Listen. You are the sacrifice.”

Isaac—being the obedient child that he was—lets his father tie him up and lay him on the altar. Abraham raises the knife to take his son’s life… but just at the last second God’s angel calls to them, “Stop! Don’t hurt your son. Now I know that you fear God.” They then find a ram trapped in the bushes, ready for sacrifice.

This story is very intriguing to me because I think that if I heard voices telling me to kill my son, I would automatically write them off! But Abraham didn’t. He followed what he believed to be God’s will even if it meant giving up his dearest treasure. This story shows a call that God may lay on us. At times, God asks us to lay down what we hold dearest, not so that he can take it from us but so that he can unlock its potential, allowing us to do bigger things then we could do before.

In your life what is God asking you to surrender to unlock its potential? This week as you spend time in prayer ask God to help you to be willing to surrender.
// ANDREW

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Moving Mountains

Originaly Posted on July 25, 2014

This week I have been mentally working through some of the projects I have put on my plate. I want them to happen. They must happen. Some of them are small and almost cute. Some of them are big and intimidating—bigger than I am—really big. Bigger than I can accomplish.

Ya’ll saw my tomato plants I brought to church the other week. Have you ever planted a seed like that? Stuck it in the ground, expecting it to grow? I’ve heard via text from a friend that while I’ve been gone, my precious plants have been neglected and have been scorched by the sun from lack of watering. So sad. Prophetic? Yikes, I hope not! But a warning for sure, that if he hadn’t come along they would have crispified, and this week all my investments would have perished.

Now what about my big plans? What about all of yours? Do we really think that anything we start will take root, grow up, and actually produce something good, something that will make a difference?

Jesus lays out in Scripture that if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. That’s truly amazing, and we can believe and act on that promise. But even mustard seeds won’t grow up to maturity unless they’re watered regularly.

We have some big mountains here that we are want- ing to move. Huge mountains in our families, in society, and even in our own church. We, by just planting those seeds, show our faith that something can be done—that something can be changed. And here I have a simple reminder, but a vital one for our mountain moving ahead: keep your faith well watered as we take action! Don’t forget to drink regularly from Christ, the Source of living water—or truly, our faith will thoroughly crispify, and those mountains we want moved will stay right where they have stood for far too long.

May God bless you all.

// BRANDEN

 

 

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Dating God

Originaly Posted on July 4, 2014

DATING GOD // Branden Stoltz

My best friend just got married last weekend! It was a truly beautiful wedding. Their wedding looked like Pinterest sponsored the whole event, their first dance was viral YouTube-worthy, and how they began their relationship was just as memorable.

He met his now wife-of-one-week through a Bible study he hosted at his house. He first noticed her while she was standing in the kitchen stirring a pot of beans, although he had been told about her already. That week he had finished a ten-day period of fasting and praying for God to act and for himself to be ready for whatever God was going to do in his love life. So when he talked with her and was wowed by her thoughts on God and life, he wanted to get to know her better—only on friendly terms, of course. When she came back the next week, they talked more and they realized they both were runners, so they planned a run for that week.

Their jog started in Loma Linda and their conversation left them lost somewhere in Redlands. During their jog, while still in mid-thought, she halted saying, “Wait! Stop! Don’t move!”

He froze as she ruffled through the bushes, coming back with a leaf in-hand, explaining, “Your deodorant is leaking” as she scraped it off him. He later said, “Well this girl must really like me if she’s willing to get all up in my pits!” She did, and now they’re married! There is a lot of back story to my friend’s love life prior to meeting this girl, but I will simply let the lyrics to their wedding theme song explain that to you:

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were Now she’s here shining in the starlight
Now she’s here suddenly I know
If she’s here it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go And at last I see the light
And it’s like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it’s like the sky is new
And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything is different
Now that I see you

“I See The Light,” Mandy Moore

Our relationship with God can be viewed in the same way. It’s every bit as real as the relationship that grows and blooms between two people. Each one of us must go beyond the first meeting and spend our lives walking and talking with Him. As you review your relationship with God in this “dating” angle, remember that at some point, after you realize that He really is “willing to get all up in your pits,” ask yourself if maybe it’s about time to take your relationship to the next level.

// Branden

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Vision Quest

Originaly Posted on June 27, 2014

Vision Quest // Andrew Froemming

“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain… so he may run who reads it.’” Habakkuk 2:2.

Vision is important. As the verse says, vision is a call to action. Vision is an important concept in our personal and business lives, but it also applies spiritually. The Bible has many stories of people who received a vision that they shared and lived out: Abraham, Jonah, Moses, and Elijah (just to name a few).

What would it mean for us to have our own vision quest? Let’s first look at the origin of this concept that comes to us from Native American culture. For the Native Americans a vision quest is a turning point in life where a person finds oneself and their intended spiritual, life direction and purpose. Do you have a vision for your life? If you answered “Yes!” to that question, how do you believe God fits in to that vision?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” The Bible makes it clear that God has a vision for our lives. Don’t let that scare you. God doesn’t plan to hijack your life, leaving you stuck on a runaway train of destiny. God made you and God is not looking to change who you are. Instead, God wants to bring you to accomplish a higher purpose with your life, more fulfilling then anything you could reach on your own.

This next week, take time to have a prayerful vision quest with God. Ask God, “What are You equipping me to do? What doors are You opening?” Then write down the visions so you can refer to it later and don’t be afraid to step out in faith. I can attest from my life that when God calls you to something. God always provides what I needed no matter how impossible it seems at the time.

// Andrew

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Meet Our Life Coach Consultants!

Originaly Posted on June 20, 2014

Greg Nelson, Spiritual Teacher & Strengths Coach
I believe some of the most important questions to ask ourselves are, Why am I here? Where am I going? And how am I getting there? Spending intentional time reflecting on and discovering the answers to those questions has the potential to radically revolutionize our lives. And our personal transformations then can create a ripple effect that engages the people around us, producing maximum fulfillment, contribution, meaning, and depth.

Greg Nelson. D.Min, a pastor to churches over 30 years, now works primarily as a consultant and coach for organizations such as American Express and Amazon, and is passionate about helping individuals and teams live lives that are based upon their strengths.

Shasta Nelson, Relationship & Transition Coach
No matter how connected we are, how popular we hope we are or how many friends we have on facebook, a nagging sense of loneliness permeates our culture. Whether it’s a move to a new city, a change in our relationship status, a switch in jobs or the entering of a new life phase, the majority of us may feel like we know a lot of people, but we are keenly aware that we are lacking that deep sense of belonging.

Shasta Nelson, M.Div. is the author of “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” and the CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com, a website that matches women to new friends. She brings her pastoral voice to audiences as she travels and speaks around the country on loneliness and healthy relationships, and as a regular contributor in the media, appearing on such shows as The Today Show and Good Morning America.

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Meet Our New Senior Pastor!

Originaly Posted on June 13, 2014

I am very happy to be your pastor and excited to get to know you! In the meantime, here are some things about me I might not share in my message today.

I am the oldest of four brothers and the son of my mother, my father and step-mom. I have three surviving grandparents, one of whom lives down Normandie Ave. from here. My ethnic background is mixed Caucasian with mixed Asian, which makes me fully hapa.

I am the proud parent of two frogs and a beta as well as a whole bunch of plants that love me.

I have degrees in business management, elementary teaching, religion and pastoral ministry, while being deeply interested in animals, ecosystems and space (#Trekkie4life).

Some of my hobbies are cooking, eating, mixed-media art and big projects with purpose. In my spare time I am on my computer exploring the world, people, places and ideas through YouTube, or having deep conversations with friends on Google Hangout.

I have served two church families over the past five years, and ministered to my fellow students while I was in college. I am deeply interested in understanding the life of each person I meet and value my relationships above most everything else. In each person God has invested His supreme interest and value and love. I am trying to do the same.

I look forward to relationship-building, personal growth and deep spiritual contemplation here at Hollywood as we walk together toward Him.

–Branden

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Walking in Victory

Originaly Posted on June 6, 2014

This week we are reflecting on the topic of walking in victory. What does it mean to walk in victory? Google defines victory as an “act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.”

Spiritually, we are in a universal conflict between good and evil. In this battle we are outnumbered and the future would look bleak at best but the Bible tells us that we have an Ally who is all powerful. If we ask, God will come to our aid and alter the course of our life from one of loss to one of victory.

The Bible says in Colossians 2:13-15, “You were dead in your transgressions […] Yet He made you alive together with Him […] having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Jesus.”

Because of Jesus we can walk in victory each day. Walking in victory does not mean that we are perfect people who will never be battered and bruised in this ongoing conflict. It does, however, mean that never again do we have to live in a world with the cards stacked against us. Our Ally has given us the upper hand so we walk in victory. This next week let’s spend time reflecting on how the knowledge of victory affects how we live. In addition let’s also remember to thank our Ally, Jesus Christ, for giving us the upper hand.

Grace and peace,
Andrew

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