Sunday, March 29, 2009


I recently received an email from Hillsong Church promoting some conferences they are having in the U.S. coming up. Their vision for these events is incredible. Check out the description below:

My favorite part is the first paragraph. It's much like the series my church recently went through called REPULSED. Here it is again:

To be changed from the inside out so that as the Church, we would go out and change our world. It’s about coming together with hearts as one, losing ourselves in worship to our creator and finding our purpose in creatively meeting the real needs of humanity.

What an awesome prayer and desire! This, I believe, is what the Church should be all about. If you want to check out the ENCOUNTER conferences, click HERE.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Matthew - The Record of Jesus the Messiah

If you read my previous post you are aware that I have been thinking a lot about the Bible lately. I have realized that it's been too long since I have really dug into the Bible and studied it in depth. Furthermore, through recent discussions I have also came to the conclusion that I need to touch up on my knowledge of Jesus and the gospels. So that is what I'm going to do. I started studying the book of Matthew, verse by verse, a couple of days ago. It has already proven to be a huge refreshment for my soul. If any of you are feeling the same way I am then I invite you to join me as I look in depth at the "record of Jesus the Messiah." I will be posting my thoughts on the gospel weekly and I welcome any comments or insights that I may have missed. Below is my reading plan.

I wanted to get some some context for Matthew so I did a little bit of research first. One of my favorite commentary series for personal Bible reading is "The New Daily Bible Series" by William Barclay. His commentary is both pastoral and scholarly, yet he writes in a way that anyone can understand. If you are interested in any of these just search his name at and you can find his commentary for every book of the New Testament.

The book of Matthew along with Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels, which simply means "seen together." They get this title because they are very similar in their content and structure
while each of them have some unique additions and omissions. Even though they are similar they each have a different audience. For Matthew, his audience is the Jewish community. Barclay says, "It is Matthew’s primary and deliberate purpose to show how the Old Testament prophecies received their fulfillment in Jesus; how every detail of Jesus’ life was foreshadowed in the prophets; and thus to compel the Jews to admit that Jesus was the Messiah."

Throughout Matthew's gospel the Old Testament Law is held in high esteem. This would be huge for a Jew because the Law was everything to them. Jesus says that he did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it (Mat. 5:17-20).

Matthew is also very interested in the Church. It is the only Synoptic gospel that even uses the word Church at all! Only Matthew says that disputes are to be settled by the Church (18:17). By the time Matthew was written, the Church would have been a very important part of the life of a Christian.

Barclay says that Matthew's dominating idea is that Jesus is King. We see that from the very beginning of the gospel that he demonstrates the royalty of Jesus. In fact the genealogy is simply to prove that Jesus is the Son of David. You have probably heard that title of Jesus before and Matthew uses that name for Jesus more than any other gospel. Matthew's picture of Jesus is of the man born to be King!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Like Honey on my Lips

Psalm 119:97,103,105

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.

I absolutely love the Bible. It is the most beautiful and confusing book of all time. I believe wholeheartedly that it is God's Word that He inspired through individuals to be a testimony of two things: 1) Who God is, and 2) How to have relationship with Him.

I say it's confusing because there is a lot more to the Bible than we tend to think. It's simply not as cut and dry as many people believe. In fact, it is nearly impossible to just pick up the Bible with the assumption that it will be clearly understandable. Why is this? Why would God not make His word clear? Perhaps it is because God wants us to look to Him, and not only His Word. Maybe just maybe the Bible has the potential of becoming an idol if we aren't careful to handle it properly. Maybe God doesn't want us to have it all figured out, and so somehow not to have any need for Him in our daily lives. I know I am guilty of going straight to the Bible for things instead of praying to the living God who promises to be dwelling in me. I don't know. Just a thought...

The problem I see is that we can twist and skew the Bible to make it say whatever we want it to say - within reason of course. Ultimately, the Bible has caused more divisions, more church splints, and created more denominations and religions than anything else. Wait? Did I say the Bible has done this? Maybe what I mean to say is that people's understanding of the Bible have created these things. It is not the actual Bible that creates any division, but rather it is what people claim the Bible actual says that is the author of such division. It is this fact that makes my heart heavy.

The reality is that we all have certain lenses in which we view the Bible. Each person that picks up the Bible and reads it, interprets it through their own worldview. It has been said that once the Bible is read it ceases to be God's Word and becomes the reader's interpretation of God's Word according to their own values and convictions.

So what's the point? Should we not even attempt to read the Bible because it's impossible to understand? I don't think that's the case at all. I think the important factor to helping us understand the Bible is historical and cultural context. The Bible must be read with the knowledge of who the original audience was. For example, when we read the book of Colossians, we are reading a letter from the Apostle Paul to the Colossian church. This letter and others like it were written to a specific group of people, in a specific point in time. To ignore audience and the historical/cultural context would be pointless. Too often we read it and think it is talking directly to us within our 21st century world. I do believe that God uses the Bible to teach us and guide us, but we must be open to what it is actually saying and who it is saying it to.

There is mystery to the Bible and there is mystery to God - something that our minds can't fully comprehend. But thank God that He doesn't require us to have it all figured out. To me that is the beauty of the journey. Let us jump in and continue to strive towards more understanding of God and His Word. After all, it is honey to our lips.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

One thing I love is history - especially Church history. Though there is a lot of myth and legend connected to St. Patrick's Day, the story of this man is incredible. If you don't know anything more about March 17th other than that you're supposed to wear green and run from the leprechauns, then let me tell you. St. Patrick was captured by Irish raiders in Great Britain when was he was a young lad - 16 years old. He became a slave and after six years he escaped. He later received a vision from God calling him to be a missionary to his former captors. Though it was a bit rocky at first, Patrick eventually had great success, baptizing people by the droves. Soon after, monasteries began sprouting up all over Ireland. Ireland then began to send out many missionaries to other countries. And it was started by one man - good ole' St. Patrick. Here is a insightful article (Who Was St. Patrick) I found on if you care to know more about this great man of God. If you don't have time to read it, you may enjoy this short video - click here.

PS. I wonder what method of evangelism Pat used? Was is street evangelism? Did he hand out tracts? Was it friendship evangelism? Haha, just kidding....bad joke :-)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why They're My Favorite Band...

Coldplay was recently featured in an interview with Steve Kroft on 60 minutes. You can check it out here. I love me some Coldplay!

I really appreciate the humility, determination, and work ethnic this band has. They aren't out there to be the "greatest band in the world." They are just doing the very best they can with what they have. Here are some quotes from Chris Martin that were inspiring to me.

"We rely more on enthusiasm than actual skill...Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically and people will like it more."

"I can't dance like usher, I can't sing like Beyonce, I can't write songs like Elton John. But we can do the best we can with what we've that's what we do. We just go for it."

Kroft comments that before the end of their tour they will have played before 3 million people, but you wouldn't know it from talking to them. Je found them modest and self effacing. He says:

"You won't catch this band in tight leather pants or snorting drugs off the back of a stripper. The British press often rags on them for being too earnest and boring. They are extremely consciences, dedicated to their music, and leave a small carbon imprint. They all share equally in the profits..."

What is more, the band has certain rules that they abide by when making new music/albums. This is incredibly fascinating and just awesome! You can see them in the interview and I also found them on a website:

2. PRODUCTION MUST BE AMAZING, RICH, BUT WITH SPACE, NOT OVERLAYORED, LESS TRACKS, MORE QUALITY. GROOVE AND SWING. Drums/Rhythm are the most crucial thing to concentrate on; diff. between bittersweet and science of silence
6. PLEASE KEEP MYSTERY. Not many interviews.
7. GROOVE AND SWING. RHYTHM AND SOUNDS MUST ALWAYS BE AS ORIGINAL AS POSSIBLE. Once jon has melody, twist it and weird it sonical.
8. Promo/review copies to be on vinyl. Stops copying problem. Sounds and looks better.
9. Jaqueline sabriado, ns p cc, face forward
10. Think about what to do with charity account. Set up something small but really enabling and constructive. Ref; j oliver fifteen

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Trip in Photos

Mauritania Trip from Jared Ulrich on Vimeo.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Finally Here

Many of you have asked when I am going to blog again, if ever, and here it finally is. I apologize for the hiatus, but many of you know I recently went on a global connections trip to Northwest Africa for two weeks. Though I have been back for two weeks, I am still processing my experiences and did not want to blog on anything else until I talked about my trip. Thanks for being patient :-)

I feel like I learned a lot on my trip and I am definitely still processing things to this day. People are always asking me, "how was your trip?" I never really know how to answer that question. It's just impossible to put an experience like this into words. Nevertheless, I have attempted to do it. The following is a journal entry of mine that I wrote when I got home. Hopefully it will give you a glimpse of what God taught me in Africa.

February 22, 2009

The theme I adopted for this trip was "to see the world how God has to see it everyday" [this will make more sense as I explain]. Going into this trip I knew a few things. First, we were going to be in an extremely poor area - one of the poorest regions in the entire world. It is also considered to be 100% muslim and hostile to Christianity. We would be going into a world of spiritual darkness and extreme poverty - a reality that God sees and is heart broken over each and everyday.

I have been to many places in the world and have seen poverty, but this time it was different. This time, God spoke to me and simply said:

"you have been greatly blessed with many things and I have opened your eyes to the reality of the rest of the world. As you have seen and have now witnessed, you have a responsibility to help be the solution."

God's voice was clear. I kept hearing "you have a responsibility," as I walked the dirty streets filled with trash and filth everywhere, complete with smells far less than pleasant. "What will you do to bring my Kingdom to earth?" This is a scary question for me and I have no elaborate answers yet. However, I know that I must do something. And no, I'm not talking about being some sort of heroic savior like the Western World often see;s itself as. I'm not talking about selling everything and moving to Africa either. But, there must be something more that rich, wealthy, healthy disciples of Christ can do to bring God's Kingdom of hope, peace and restoration to ends of the earth.

I read Brian McClaren's book, The Secret Message of Jesus, while on the trip and I believe it was not a coincidence. In it, he suggests that Jesus' sole message is that the Kingdom of God is at hand - that Jesus came to bring life to the full, not for the future, but NOW! His intention was never that "eternal life" would be limited to "life after death" where we just wait around till it came. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a guide to a new way of life, life to the full, that is Christ in us the hope of glory, in order that we may experience the Kingdom of God HERE and NOW. God wants to restore His broken world NOW. He has a SOLUTION and it is "Christ in YOU." God is not wanting to bring us up in to heaven right now. He wants the Kingdom of Heaven to invade the earth.

God wants to work in and through us. It is a big responsibility! Again, I don't entirely know what it means specifically, but it means we must do something. Going to church, singing praises, soaking up messages, giving our tithes is not enough. Jesus commands:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

"and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Will we be the solution?
Will we be the light to the darkness?
Will we be the hope for this hurting world?
Will we bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth?

God has given us an incredible opportunity to partner with Him in the restoration of the world. He wants to use us. He is choosing to need us to bring His Kingdom to earth. He wants us to become like His son. The apostle Paul knew and understood this, saying "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Phil. 3:10-11)

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