Gift of Joy

Gift of Joy

Life’s not easy.  We face uncertainties and unexpected challenge all the time.  But God has given a gift to us to carry us through these times.  That gift is joy, which increases our love, strengthens our faith, and helps us to reach the world around with God’s hope.   In the first chapter of Philippians we learn that the church at Philippi brought Paul tons of joy, even though facing potential death, imprisoned in Rome.  This joy came from the fellowship they shared in the world’s most important mission—the gospel, and in their sharing a common Savior, Jesus.  How is it with you? Do you know that God has built into the fabric of our Christian experience joy?  It comes in waves of affection from our fellow believers, given by His Holy Spirit, right when we need it.  And this joy is backed up by a promise:  He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the end.  We are going to make it & we’ll pass with flying colors! Our God said so. And so we rejoice.

You can click on link below if you’d like to listen to the audio sermon from yesterday’s message to Faith Community Church at Camp Kinser, Okinawa.

–Much love to friends and family across the miles.  You are missed and so precious to me and Damaris.

Rare Christianity: One, John 17.20-26

Rare Christianity: One, John 17.20-26

God is awesome.  Trying to understanding who He is, is tough, but worth the effort. Trusting in the reality of His triune nature: Father, Son, & Spirit, is the biggest confidence booster a Christian can receive as he approaches the Lord and seeks to understand Him more.  Historically when those seeking God lose sight of His triune nature: 3 co-equal, co-eternal persons with different functions but one being,  multitudes are led astray.  If Christ Jesus is believed to be less than fully God (and fully man), the opportunity for forgiveness of sins, the grace of his resurrection power, and the hope of His glory fades and false religions take hold.  Come walk through the Scriptural foundation for understanding God as “trinity.” Look at a key creedal affirmation of the Early Church;  learn the different works of God: Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier; and briefly consider analogies to help us understand how 3 can be 1.  As you listen, may you gain a more rooted faith, deeper trust , confidence to approach Him, and confidence to share His salvation to all those around. Such confidence in the One is rare Christianity.

Click on link below to listen:

Rare Christianity: Gifts, Romans 12:3-8, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, Oct 06, 2013

Rare Christianity: Gifts, Romans 12:3-8, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, Oct 06, 2013

Believers who know their spiritual gifts and use them in unified teamwork change the world. But Christians often neglect to use their gifts. They belittle them, fear to step out in them, or do not recognize them. At times they are over confident in them. When it comes to gifts offer yourself to God. Develop your gifts. Study the gifts lists in the New Testament and read books like “Networking” by Bruce Bugbee. The best spiritual gift is the one needed right at the moment in the church. We need leaders, but more so we need “chairstackers” who glory in doing what needs done and following the lead of pastors and elders. God distributes spiritual gifts to build up Christ’s body that it would effectively bring Jesus’ hope to a hardened, lost world.

Rare Christianity: Different, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, Sep 15, 2013

Rare Christianity: Different, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, Sep 15, 2013

Grace is a gift. It changes everything. The way we naturally respond to it is to want to offer our lives to God. We don’t know how big the change will be. How simple the task He’ll assign us. Or how beautiful the result will turn out. But it will be worth it and we will be changed. The effect of grace is that you are different. Romans 12 tells us: “Don’t be conformed any longer after the pattern of this world, but be transformed.”

Transformation—becoming very different than we had been before, through Jesus’s influence, is something that we should expect in our lives and in our church.

The following question, if applied to the relationships and environment in which we find ourselves will help us to seek God’s will, and to be the difference needed: How would this relationship or place be different if Jesus Christ’s authority and grace were present here?

Click link below to listen to audio:

Rare Christianity: Grace, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, Sep 15, 2013

Kristian moves into our next topic in Rare Christianity. Grace: that favor of God, which is His blessing, loving kindness and sustaining gift of life; is often taken for granted. Because we forget our grave state, how much we needed grace before Christ, we neglect to relish it, and then forget to extend this hope and favor to others who really need it. When grace is understood personally it impacts us as a church and then transforms communities. Kristian will use the grace picture of Philemon, the Christian from Colassae who had to deal with a run-away bond slave who had wronged him, to demonstrate God’s call to live out and extend grace. The imprisonment Paul faced, and the bondage in slavery that Onesimus, the run-away faced, was of minimal difficulty compared to the painful reality of bondage to sin, self and evil that we face apart from Jesus. When we appropriate the gift of His salvation, we are motivated in freedom & in love, to share the Gospel boldly and compassionately. It is God who saved us by His grace that we would do good & touch our world with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Families, friendships, cities, & organizations brought back from the brink by the God who loves to pour out grace.

Click link below to listen:


Rare Christianity: Lordship, 1 Peter 3:15-18, Pastor Kristian, Faith Community Church, Sep 08, 2013

Kristian begins a sermon series discussing essentials of being a Christian. This is a look at fundamentals–what C.S. Lewis called mere Christianity. It’s a Christianity so simple, so straightforward, so undiluted that it is also hard…it’s a Christianity that he longs to see lived out both in himself and those around him. These basics, while they should be commonplace in the life of believers, have at times become scarce, uncommon sights. The world we live in is dying for the gem of simple, rare Christianity.

Today’s focus is Lordship. Jesus Christ’s Lordship over one’s life is essential to being a genuine Christian: to conversion, to sanctification, to calling…to really being His.

Click link below to listen to audio:

Revealer of Mysteries, Daniel 2:1-19, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, July 28, 2013

God, My Revealer of Mysteries, Daniel 2:1-19, Kristian Carlson, Faith Community Church, July 28, 2013

When we confront circumstances we don’t understand, we can rally with friends in prayer, to our God who reveals mysteries.  Mysteries of life, accompanied by struggle & doubt can be cause for some to turn from God.  I encourage you to let mystery drive you to God, like it did for Daniel.  Daniel called his buddies to pray when they faced death.  He looked to God.  He didn’t understand, but he knew the One who did.  Such connection and trust in God deepens our worship, sets us up to hear awesome things from him and can solidify our calling–our very reason for being on earth.

Click on grey link above “Revealer of Mysteries” to hear sermon.


Eyes Right


I wrote the this article for “Okinawa Marine” a weekly publication that shares latest USMC related happenings on the Island. It serves as a link to families and the local community sharing upcoming events, resources and cultural insights.

Have you participated in a pass and review ceremony?  Marching toward the review stand the platoon commander calls out “EYES”… “RIGHT!”   Those in the column to the far right keep head in place and gaze forward, while the rest pivot their heads 45 degrees to the right and look to the reviewing officer, as the unit marches by.

In boot camp, I quickly learned the value of my eyes.  The senior chief yelled:  “EARS!”  I responded:  “OPEN!”  They demanded: “EYES!”  My unit thundered: “SNAP!”

Training our eyes is a tough task.  I believe it’s why the Marine Corps trains its warriors in their proper use from the get-go.

Eyes tell a lot about a person.  Are they wide? Someone is excited with wonder—or afraid with uncertainty.  Do they sparkle? Love or joy is in the air.  Are they downcast?  Someone is sad.  Dark and brooding?  There is anger or vengefulness.

Your eyes can be powerful instruments in your unit, in your home, and toward determining your future.

Caring eyes tell subordinates that they matter.  Attentive eyes signal to superiors respect.  When other warning signs are absent, watchful eyes notice that a fellow battle buddy’s eyes aren’t their normal self. That close attention could save a life.

In your home, and around town, your guarded eyes can tell your husband that he is the only one for you.  Gentle eyes communicate love to your kids, but lazy eyes neglect relationships and waste life glued to a computer screen.

As you consider your future, eyes matter there too.  Vision is about what you see yourself becoming.  If you have strong eyes in this way, you can see yourself in remarkable roles of influence.  You see yourself, your family and your nation becoming so much more.  That vision then becomes marching orders for a new reality which you work to bring to life.

Look at your unit, your home, and your future this week. Have you trained your eyes RIGHT? Consider how to make them SNAP to your unit, to your family, and to seeing your future filled with purpose. 

Life in The Vine

Life in The Vine

I preached this sermon Fathers Day 2013.  Damaris and I were so challenged preaching through the 7 “I Ams.” The idea for the series was her inspiration. If you listen, I think you’ll hear how Jesus has given us real life, He makes our lives count, and if we find ourselves making being with Him our goal, then everything else falls in place. 

First Thoughts


When I taught High School in Milwaukee in 2004 in West Allis, WI, one of my students, Jocelyn, told me to start a blog.  Nine years later, I am ready to accept that assignment.  Why? I want to have a place to share things I am learning. A forum for friends, family, and strangers to engage with me in my journey to follow the Master. There is something special knowing that I am on a journey.  That I am constantly moving away from this temporary, beautiful & drastic life to a place being prepared for me.  Early Christians had a name for this life we lead, they called it simply “The Way.”  Connecting the Way, with the idea of sojourn, with recognition of a Waymaker, and travels and tasks not unlike the daunting task to Mordor, gives me a living metaphor, a true myth by which to understand my way and talk about it with others.

I live in Okinawa with my best friend, Damaris.  She married me and made my dreams come true.  We are pretty young, but we have traveled and seen some special places and met special people.  It’s a challenge and a heartache to be away from family who are more precious to us than anything else on earth.  But we know that we are sent by them and by the Waymaker to walk and live His Way among those that haven’t heard of Him.  Pray for us. And despite the miles, I hope you hear a true story in these pages.   -Kristian

“He knoweth the Way that I take, when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold,”  Job, an ancient who also traveled the Way