The Spirit is Not a Tamagotchi

This blog is for those who consider themselves Christians. If you are not, but are intrigued by the title, feel free to read through the following, and then consider asking God what He does, and where He is at right now, like you would when meeting someone new.

I recall in the late 1990’s the Japanese toy that was released, called the Tamagotchi. This was like a digital pet that lived inside an egg-shaped piece of plastic. You could “feed” this non-furry, little creature. You could play with this mini-byte creature, as I remember. You could even see this creature sadly pass away, I think. Boo hoo.. For millions of consumers, you could possess this little toy to your Millennial heart’s content. Sadly, this is an illustration of how some of us as American Christians seem to view the Holy Spirit (also God’s Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, if you prefer), their sweet, little possession.

In our Wall-E-esque, consumeristic lives, we Christians seem to get so defensive of how without a doubt, “we have the Holy Spirit,” as though we know oh so certainly. Jesus said that the Spirit comes and goes like the wind, but perhaps that’s another blog. Scripture is clear that God reigned in the ministry of Jesus, with the Holy Spirit at work. They were one and the same, the Trinity at work, God at work. Is God the Spirit at work in America, however? Has the Church yearned for the Spirit in these days, or have we quenched the Spirit, as Paul instructed the Thessalonians not to.

God’s Spirit cannot be contained and possessed like all the little Tamagotchis floating around in boxes today. The Church is not to be the spiritual Costco that sells the Spirit to you in exchange for a life-long membership and shift-filling. The Spirit is more than just “this little light of mine.” He is the Grand Initiator for salvation; the grand Creator of new life inside of us. We don’t possess the Spirit; the Spirit simply wants to possess us! He brings arms out of sockets, and joy out of hearts. Oh, but that’s right; our pseudo-joy comes from an anti-social network and our hospitals are good enough to attach arms onto sockets. It really is true; Christ didn’t come for the wealthy and perfect, but for the sick.

The never-ending result of a lifelong Spirit-plan is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-3) The key is to continue asking God for His Spirit, and to continue walking and talking with Him. Jesus taught us to hang out with Him endlessly. If we don’t, we won’t see any attributes of God’s Kingdom. Don’t despise Christophanies (and I’m not talking about Jesus metaphors in film); they’re happening today. Don’t despise messages of people receiving physical sight, or people coming back from the dead; they’re happening. Don’t despise the service you gave to the lady down the street; you were serving the Lord of the universe. These didn’t happen because we obtained the Spirit one day in the past. They happened because the power and love of God possessed us, the light of the world.

I don’t have much more to say, except that God yearns for us to set aside our iDolatry on five or six inch screens, and take a walk, talking with the Maker of all. Let’s ask God for the Sprit of power, love, and a sound mind to overtake us. Instead of treating God like a small toy or technological device that we obtained in the past when we got “saved” (by the way, let’s ask ourselves what we got saved from), let’s allow the Creator to consume us with any opportune slot in our day, right now.

David

Swinging into a New Season

Hello, friends!

We want to update you with what has been happening in southern California since we sent out our blog/newsletter for August last month.

First off, we received our two AC units just days after informing you all of how hot it was getting here in Pasadena! It is now a balmy 77 degrees outside. 😉 However, last week temps shot up into the mid 100’s, and for two North-westerners, that becomes unbearable! We’ve had those units cranking ever since they were installed.

All temps set aside, we’d like to let you guys know of what has been happening in our lives for both Jess and I over the last month. After prayerfully discerning and visiting many, many churches, we landed out of all places at an Indonesian church called Maranatha Christian Fellowship, just north of Los Angeles.

Now, not knowing anyone in the Pasadena area, Jess and I were hoping for and actually believing that we would make some great friends on the Fuller campus, at our job sites, and eventually in our church community. The reason for landing with this church community is the result of some great neighbors and new friends that Jess and I have made. Andrew, Joyce, and their one-year old son Sean are from Melbourne, Australia where they are helping to lead at Maranatha. Andrew also is studying at Fuller, and as we all got to know each other better, we began attending church with them.

We are now so thankful to call them some amazing, new friends and to partner with them at Maranatha and to see what’s in store for the future. Unbeknownst to Jessica and I when we moved, it’s shocking to see how much we’ve been able to assist as well in such little time. I’ve been so honored to already have gotten the opportunity to teach to the youth group twice, as well as occasionally “slappin da bass” for worship services. 😉 Jess has already been able to lead in various worship services for the youth from the keys and as always, has been a great example for the girls!

Just recently, Andrew and I attended a small meeting of pastors from all over the Orange County area. Called Mission Orange County, they convened in unity to strategize how all the churches can function as one powerful team to be more effective to reach the people of Orange County. Every church is so unique, and it was great to see how each community can look to love the respective people of their neighborhoods more properly and strategically.

Thank you for any thoughts and prayers you may have had for Jessica and I regarding provisional finances. Jessica has picked up more work at ULTA Beauty and is considering more leadership roles as well within the company! As far as school goes for me, I just submitted my final paper on how and when liberal and conservative theologies diverged, within a philosophical context. I will be starting my first quarter here in Pasadena in just a couple weeks! I’ll be taking an Interpretive Practices course, as well as a course on spiritual applications within a church community.

It’s so crazy to think that Jessica and I are coming up on our one-year anniversary next month! We never would have thought one year from our wedding day that we’d be living in southern California with great friends from Australia, while attending an Indonesian church where we are the only American Caucasians in attendance!

God is given many attributes: omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent, merciful, and true. Yet there’s one that needs to be more popularized: the everlasting Surpriser. We have experienced this adventurous surprise, finding ourselves here on a journey with him as the captain. I just want to leave you all with just some things we’ve seen happen and ways you could be praying for us. If you’re not comfortable praying, momentary thoughts for our well-being would be appreciated!

Great happenings

  • Surprising financial provision when we needed it most!
  • Some amazing new friends from the land down unda!
  • a loving and caring church community
  • Skills and talents being used
  • Jessica flourishing at work in a new environment!
  • Jessica and I becoming better best friends each and every day through the move and coming to our first completed year of marriage!
  • Learning to love Californians better and spending time with God in a new environment
  • Academic success
  • A greater vision for brining our unique talents and abilities to the Orange County area, specifically Irvine!

Ways you could pray for us:

  • Continued financial support and miracles for Jess and I as we adjust to southern California
  • Continued open doors for us along with Andrew and Joyce to make an impact in loving and reaching those in southern California
  • Discernment in what I’m (David) learning as I begin classes where a different intellectual persona on the Pasadena campus exists, in contrast to Fuller Northwest in Seattle
  • Cultivated and good relationships Jessica may have when at work
  • Opportunities to travel! (whether for work, leisure, or to see friends/family)

We miss you all!

Love,

David and Jessica Zimmerman

Pasadena, “Athens of the West”

Hello all!

It’s been quite some time since last blogging, but idealistically would love to be blogging here each month. (Reminders a month from now are welcome) I saw it fitting to post a new blog, considering my wife Jess and I have relocated to Pasa-flippin-dena, California and are away from many friends and family who we miss!

We are over a month in now from arriving in July and still can’t believe we live here. Some may know that I lived in Ventura, Ca (about 1.5 hour drive up the coast) for about a year, but I had never been to Pasadena. We live on the top floor of a historic house on the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary. I’ll be halfway done with seminary at the end of this calendar year (2014), and most of my classes I have left will be less theological and interpretational, and more pastoral and vocationally-centered. 

The house we live in, for those in Seattle, remind us very much of older buildings in the Wallingford area. There’s a cool, standing bath tub in our bathroom and around 517 nooks scattered throughout the apartment. It does get VERY HOT, being that it’s on the third floor and without AC. Two units have yet to be installed, but they have arrived (apparently), and we have been calling nearly every day for their installation!

Getting back to the house itself, it is registered as one of the 125 historic places in Pasadena that are nationally registered. Pasadena in the early 20th century was booming economically and architecturally. It was on par with LA at the time as the two premier cities in southern California. It was deemed as the “Athens of the West,” (I take pride in now getting to study here in seminary) an intellectual and cultural center for science, astronomy, and the arts, with CalTech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory here in the area. Einstein even came and did some teaching here after moving to the states! 

Jessica and I live in the downtown area, so we are able to go on many walks and explore the nearby coffee shops, bookstores, and stores in general. Old Town Pasadena is a renovated area where the old buildings from the early 1900’s now contain fresh, popular and hip spots inside for dining, shopping, and other commercially-centered spots. (Intelligenstia coffee, H&M, Forever 21, Apple, small diners, etc.) It’s also on the same road that the Rose Parade travels down on New Year’s Day. 

Socially speaking, we’ve made some great friends and met some great people that live in the same house we do. The house actually contains 8 apartments inside, all of which only house families with Master’s or PhD students attending Fuller. 

School and work wise, Jessica, as some know, will be starting work this week at ULTA Beauty doing hair and makeup. She also will be launched back into the ministry at ULTA, as she will be using her friendly skill of connection and communication to listen to and make friends with all the clients that are soon to come, and shine brightly with her personality that instantly makes anyone open up and become more optimistic towards their situations they choose to share with Jess. 

I’m not working right now but am taking a class this summer through all the moving so I kept momentum going with school. I’m taking my first online class, and it happens to be Philosophy of Religion! We’ve covered topics such as that compare faith with reason (and how/if they’re compatible), epistemological (how knowledge forms) methods for arriving at a justified knowledge, arguments for and against the existence of God, evolutionary theory, the big bang theory (and a possible fine-tuning of the universe), and anthropological topics that cover dualisms, monisms, and trichotomisms on whether we have a soul and/or spirit, along with our physical bodies.

We both believe that God has done some amazing things already, in providing for us, connecting us with some amazing people, and leading us down the path He has for us, which is starting to contain much bigger things for our future than we would have imagined. We believe that we were (perhaps unknowingly) led down here with an assignment to reach out, see growth in, and practically love the people of the LA region, with both of us having received hearts of compassion specifically for this region years and years ago. 

I think that’s all for now, but next time, perhaps I’ll dive more into the church community side of things, and share what and how the Lord is leading us in solidifying our church community to serve in and help grow, person by person. We love you friends and family that are in Vancouver, Camas, Covington, the Seattle area, and the Ventura County area! Thanks so much for all your support! 

Lots of love,

David and Jessica Zimmerman

Life on this Side of the Wedding Day

Hello everyone! It’s been quite some time since I’ve been blogging. Main reason being is because I’m now a married man who had many merry responsibilities leading up to the big day! Jessica and I are so excited for what’s to come in our lives and are also so glad to be done with wedding tasks. 🙂 Our honeymoon was in Costa Rica and it was so amazing. We lodged at three different spots in the country, all unique in their own way. We saw many animals of course, had the Caribbean Sea across the road from our first spot, a volcano off our balcony at the second spot, and the beautiful Pacific on our third (along with a tribe of monkeys on our last balcony one morning!). We went on a rainforest tour as well that ended with some adventurous zip-lining! I personally loved it. It brought back memories on a much more grand scale of the little zip-line my dad put up near the tree fort he built for me and my siblings as kids. The thunderstorms are also simply shocking! The thunder has a different sound it seems and when in Costa Rica, you definitely know that when it rains, it pours. As a fan of Jurassic Park, I had to shut myself up multiple times from quoting the movie for how much the country reminded me of the film. One of the tour guides even remarked (without my initiation) how “these kind of trees” were filmed in the second Jurassic Park. (The Lost World, obviously!) 

Now being back in the small city of Bothell, I’m so excited for what’s to come in our lives as a couple. As she currently is working her tail off with her passion for makeup, hairstyling, and fashion, I’m at home antsy to begin my first quarter of seminary since last summer, starting in January. I took the fall quarter off for obvious reasons. 🙂 With God opening job interviews for me in a much more fluid way than I remember trying to attain work at a younger age, I’m excited to see what He will do through Team Zimmerman. 🙂 

I also wanted to just thank all of you for your love, support, and encouragement towards Jessica and I with such an amazing time we’re in right now. Each of you have helped us, shaped us and molded us into the people we are today. We hope to not only post some photos soon, but a couple of wedding videos as well. 🙂 Hope you all have an exciting Christmas season and a momentous new year! 😉

Psalm 2

The psalmist is speaking of the surrounding nations and their fury against the Lord and his messiah. This psalm easily speaks to us today and does not only speak of Christ as the Father’s anointed. This psalm is in context with the psalmist as king over Israel. When being told to ask the Lord, the Lord will give the nations as an inheritance. This psalm furthermore not only is directed to the present king over Israel and over a future messiah in the Christ, but to those of us who have been made new by our Christ. Christ himself quotes this passage in Revelation 2:27 when speaking to the church of Thyatira. If this is the case and John the Seer received an authentic vision from the throne of God, then this clearly is a direction given by the Lord to his church. We saints today can come before the throne of grace and trust in him, believing that as we serve in this life, doing the works that he has ordained for us, we can stand believing that we in the age to come will rule and reign with Christ over the nations, an inheritance eternal that does not run out. The day will come where we too along with our Lord will rule and shepherd over the ends of the earth

James: A Necessary Letter in a Consumerist Nation

I am a Millennial. I was born in 1984 and am on the older side of this generation. For those not aware, Millennials comprise at this time those roughly between the ages of 18 and 35. I remember using a typewriter for homework in the first grade and remember playing an X-wing computer game with a joystick on my dad’s first PC in the third grade (DOS/Windows 3.1 of course). I rarely died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail, and the original Sim City in grade school was my favorite. I’ve never played The Sims. I played pogs in fifth grade and had a substantial collection, along with slammers. I saw the original Dream Team play in 1992 and as many of us remember, the demonic sounds of modem dial-up when we signed on to AOL (America… Online) was just cacophonous. I’ve seen many technological advances in my young life with many transitions. Alanis Morissette on cassette tape… to Eiffel 65 on CD… to Daft Punk on my iPhone (I had/have all three of those by the way).  One element has been constant throughout all these industrial advances though in my life. That element involves financial enough-ness. The items listed I assure you were not stolen. They were purchased by either me or by family members. I’ve noticed something though that many others in the Millennial generation I believe are getting tired of. Many of us are simply getting tired of consumerism, materialism, and constant bombardments of advertisement.

You may wonder what this has to do with my blog title. What does James in the Bible have to do with this? Well, quite a bit actually. You see, I was born into having enough; enough for food, clothing, shelter, and large Christmases at my grandparents’ house. I had enough as a pastor’s kid. I had enough when my parents separated and divorced. I had enough in high school. I had enough when I moved to Seattle. I was on food stamps years ago, but still, I had enough. I had enough to move to California. I had enough when I moved back to the Northwest for seminary. And yet, my studies at seminary have hit me like a ton of bricks with a worldview shift I never saw coming. The book of James needs to be taught more in many evangelical churches and it simply is not getting fair treatment.

With all the enough I had, I didn’t realize the majority of the time that the enough was always a gift to give to others so others may have enough. James says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” I was told faith alone was needed to be saved and once saved, start living like Jesus. I’ve found though that many of us view living like Jesus not by the teachings He actually gave and are written in our cute, highlighted Bibles. Many of us view living like Jesus by how much we can preach like St. Paul and make converts around the world. It’s about not looking at this or that, lest we destroy our purity. It’s about being more extroverted since being shy could be an oppression you need healing from. It’s about being like the world, and yet never in it. Isn’t this backwards? I though the principle Jesus hoped and prayed for was that His disciples would not be of the world, and yet in it.

I thought it was about loving your neighbor, with love of course being a word of action, not a feeling. When I study my Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the monstrous theme I continue seeing is good works! Now before us Protestants instantly view me as a heretic, explanation may seem like it’s needed. Don’t get me wrong. An encounter with and belief in Jesus Christ as God’s Son should go without saying. Evangelism with our words is vital. Prayer in your bedroom as opposed to on Facebook is vital. Believe it or not, even fasting is very vital today; though this makes us Christians look weird and super-spiritual in a postmodern world. Bible study I believe is very vital. But when studying the good works of King Josiah, the Law of Moses, the teachings of Jesus, and the corrections of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation (these only being a few examples), the point is clear. If you really got saved and believe in Jesus, you’re now on the side of doing good works. Good works on the other side before Jesus has no place in Christianity. We must as evangelicals begin to start understanding our Bibles and understand that evangelism is a gift, not a command to the entire church. Love on the other hand, is a command to the whole church. Love is charity. Love is practically putting your life aside to help others. We evangelicals who see our salvation sealed because we got faith in Jesus one night must wrestle with James 2:24: You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James was addressing believers much like us today. They were hearing the teachings of Paul going around that faith alone was all they needed. But Paul to make clear was addressing the works of the law in Judaism as opposed to good works. Works of the law is not the good works of a Christian. Giving to the poor is the work of a true Christian. Giving to the poor without genuine belief in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection though is only making you feel better. If we are to be the Bride of Christ that waits for His imminent appearing, we must be doers of the word, and not hearers only. We must be doers of the word, and not preachers, fog machine operators, coffee sellers, and van drivers only.

To do the word is not to attempt to look cool to the world and simply invite them to a cool church service. The harvest is external, not internal. Doing the word is doing what Jesus taught. By the way, no longer can we theorize the Sermon on the Mount. If we do, please choose to read Matthew 7:24. The teachings of Jesus are not impossible for those walking with the Holy Spirit of God. Let our good works shine in the world, that people may see them and glorify God in heaven! Jesus always preached that the Kingdom of Himself was near. And yet He always did signs and wonders to back what He was saying. He didn’t stop with invitations and words. He cast demons out. He healed people. He gave food to thousands. If we’re really saved by grace, it’s not so we can order up a #2 super-sized sermon every week, though we need to be taught from the Bible and I will always love a meaty message with encouragement and discipleship. According to Scripture, being saved by grace means that we now are enabled to bring justice to those who have none! Matthew 25 as the parable of the last judgment is all about how the nations treated those in prison, those who were naked, those who were hungry and thirsty, those without a home, and those who were sick. In a visually-stimulated world we live in, society doesn’t want to hear anymore about how we’re better than them since they don’t have Jesus. They want to see with their eyes how we’re living and serving like Jesus.

Do you have enough today? Do you see yourself as a believer in Christ? If so, I’m challenging myself and you the reader to read through James. Begin to see how it connects so strongly with what Jesus actually taught. His great commission in Matthew 28 was to make disciples, teaching them to observe all things He had commanded them. Those things were the teachings in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Pray to live it out at your job. Pray to live it out inside the building where people gather to hear about Jesus. Jesus wants His body not to be paralyzed, but mobile and active. We should live this way. We definitely have been given enough to do so.

David John

Pacific Rim Review – 4/5

I had heard the rumors. It seemed like just another cheesy summer movie. And ironically, that’s partly what the director was going for. What was surprising was how fun and entertaining this movie was for me. If I was 9 years old and had gone to this movie, Pacific Rim would have left me just as scared as Jurassic Park did when I actually was 9 in 1993 and saw it in theaters.  Del Toro slyly made fun of Transformers in my opinion, and gave the video game and theme park industries many future ideas. Pacific Rim was a thrill ride for me that blended elements of Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Independence Day. (Honorable mentions: Pans Labyrinth, Battleship and Transformers) This movie left my jaw dropped on multiple scenes! The special effects and action left me speechless, though the plot line was thin, which Del Toro probably felt apathetic towards given the story and action. I highly recommend this film for action and special effects lovers, but not for those wanting an intellectual sci-fi. Sci-fi indeed, minus the intellectualism! A modern thrill like Jurassic Park was in the 90s and a mocking display of what Transformers could have been, Pacific Rim was a highly entertaining and enjoyable film that leaves all robots in disguise also in the dust! (Cue cheesy cartoon music) “We ARE.. the resistance.” 

David John