Monday, August 30, 2010

Update for This Week...

Thank you so much for praying for me last week.  God was unbelievable in what he accomplished.  Thank you so much for being part of it by praying for me.  Here's how you can pray for me this week:

  • This Wednesday Night.  We will be finishing up our Moxie series by looking at the topic of Boldness to Go - that we as the church are called and commanded by Christ to go out into the world and share his gospel with people.  We are also having baptism this Wednesday night.  So far we have a young lady who has committed to getting baptized.  I'm just waiting to see who else God moves to take this step in their walk with him.  I'm seriously so stinkin' excited for this message.  I was pumped last week, but I think this week's message gets me even more fired up.

That's about it for this week.  Thank you so much for your continued support.

A Heart Transplant Is Necessary

"And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God." — Ezekiel 11:19-20, ESV

As I've been reading through Ezekiel for my quiet time, there has been a key theme that has been standing out: GOD IS TICKED!!! Seriously.  His judgment is being announced by Ezekiel to the people of Israel and Judah.  God is showing Ezekiel signs and using object lessons for Ezekiel to portray to the people about God's coming wrath (click here to read the object lesson that I pray God never calls me to live out. Quick summary: lay on your left side for 390 days. Then lay on your right side for 40 days. Then make bread with specific ingredients to cook it over human dung, but then allowed to cook it over cow dung...).  God is serious when it comes to sin, which causes me to ask this question: am I? God has a standard based on his preference, not my opinion of his standard.  The thing is: he's very serious about his standard being kept.

But then comes Ezekiel 11, showing us the heart behind God's punishment and wrath.  He will give them one heart (being that they are united), and will replace the heart of stone that they have with a heart of flesh.  Why? ...that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. The only way that I am able to obey God, and live for him, is for him to do heart surgery on me.  I CANNOT obey him without him in my life.  I CANNOT follow him without him changing my heart to do so.  God is the necessity to my walk with him, not a nice addition to my life.  It all starts with him.  It ends with him.  It's about me relying upon him so that I can walk with and live for him.  God must begin the new work in a heart in order for that person to begin a new life.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).

It's not about being good so that you can go to heaven one.  Rather, it's about God changing your heart.  The result of this will be an ability to obey his commands.  But the key to the heart change is this: relationship.  Notice the end of the passage: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Our relationship with God has always been at the heart of the matter.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

God Is God and Our Response

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! — Psalm 143:10, ESV

There are four things that are necessary, that I see in this verse, for growth in Christ to occur in every one of his followers:

1).  Knowing who you are not. Notice that David proclaims God to be God.  It starts with that.  When we stop and ponder the size and majestic glory of God, we must stop and fear him.  This fear that we have of God is good, for it leads us to repent.  The fear is not the end in itself, but rather part of the emotions that we should be experiencing as we approach this holy being.  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7, ESV).  And there is this certain right that comes with being God: you're in charge.  God doesn't need my input or opinion on what his will should be.  He's God.  He has a plan, and that plan is perfect.  When I truly believe that I could do better in any situation, or that I have the only true life-giving perspective to a problem, that is arrogance.  But when I humbly seek God's direction and his perspective, admitting that my perspective is limited and that I need God's insight, I do well.

2).  Entering into relationship. Notice again what David says: "You are my God."  David understands that there is a relationship.  He could have just said, "You are God."  That would have been theologically correct, for even though there are many people who do not accept God as God, it doesn't change the fact that he still is God.  So there is something personal in this statement.  It is not merely a statement of fact, but rather a personal statement of relationship.

3).  Be teachable. It is so necessary for us to be teachable.  I'm convinced, and I think I've said something along these lines before, that we when think that we have arrived, it is then that we should be most pitied.  There is a humility that comes with being teachable.  In fact, and this is my personal opinion, a person who thinks that he/she has arrived misses out on the revelation of God.  Here's what I mean: my whole life should be filled with me learning more and more about God.  As God reveals more of himself to me, my love for him grows.  As I love him more, I desire for him to reveal more of himself to me which causes me to love him more... and the cycle goes on.  For those who are not teachable, they don't learn anything.  This causes their love for God to become stagnant and predictable instead of vibrant and growing.  This character quality of being teachable will affect a person's love affair with Jesus.

4).  Learn to act. Notice again what David said: "Teach me to do your will."  David wasn't asking for more information so that he knew the most about God, being able to one day beat everyone at Heaven's version of Trivial Pursuit.  Rather, he wanted God to teach him to do what God wanted him to do.  Our heart should be the same.  As we spend time in God's word and in prayer, we should come away from those times with new ideas of how to accomplish God's will.  And this leads back to the fact that God, who is God, has a will.  This will is not always in perfect alignment with our own.  But honestly, God's fine with it.  Why? Because he's God.  He doesn't need my opinion or approval to do what he wants.  Being God comes with certain perks.  And honestly: God's will is always right.  In fact, when we find our desires not fitting with God's, it is then we need to changes our desires to fit what God wants.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Church: A Poem

My buddy, Ryan Hall, told me about this poem that Hillsong Church has on their website, describing their conviction about what the Church is to be. It's absolutely incredible. It's written by Robert Fergusson, and he nails it. Enjoy.

"She is the plan of God on earth; always in her Father’s eye: Cherished, mysterious, beautiful and potent beyond measure: King empowered and life infused. She emerges triumphant; limitless with potential; a harbor for the hopeless and an answer for the ages: the church resplendent - a bride for His Son.

"She is the body of Christ on earth; born, like her Head, amidst tribulation, under jealous skies. Cradled in her innocence and guarded for His purpose. She grows in wisdom and stature with victory on her lips and freedom in her hands. Hers is an unstoppable cause. She embraces the world with dignity, honor and compassion; gives vision to the sightless and life to the dying.

"She is the family of God on earth. Within her compass, the hungry find sustenance and the weary receive strength. She is a haven for recovering humanity, enthralled by grace. She invites the broken, the vulnerable and the outcast to be immersed in love. She stands imperfect but perfection resides within her. She is flawed but is washed with forgiveness. She has a treasury of faith and a wealth of belonging.

"She is the house of heaven on earth: A representative, resolute to reconcile. The Word within her accepts the receptive but challenges the heartless. She is the ecclesia, called out to serve the world: Calling out to welcome in. Blood-washed and armed with testimony, the cross on her lips liberates the chained and offends the unchanging. Like her Master she is pursued and persecuted. Yet she rises with strength in her heart and fire in her soul.

"She is the bride of Christ on earth; readying herself for the day when all eyes will be upon her. Prepared and presented before the Lord: The Lamb for whom the world awaits, who comes like the rising sun, majestic and magnificent beyond description, which she dazzles with reflected glory. Spotless, perfect and mature, she bows low to cast her crowns and passionately worship Him. Her temporal focus becomes her eternal gaze. She is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Thoughts about Wednesday Night...

Can I just say how blown away I am by Jesus? I was reminded last night that we, the church, belong to him. I was reminded that he will provide everything that is needed to accomplish what he wants. I was reminded that he does everything well.

Jarret Lemaster is on vacation this week, enjoying some down-time with his family. With that, we needed to find someone to lead the praise and worship time for our Wednesday night worship gathering. He talked with Melody and Calli and THEY STEPPED UP!!!! And last night they ushered us into the throne room of Jesus, with the rest of the worship team (you guys ROCK!!!), to where they seemed to be leading worship from.

It was such a powerful time. The message was on the Boldness to Come: to God and together. So very often we do not come to God bluntly/boldly/honestly/ because we are too afraid. However, Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that we are allowed to boldly come before the throne of grace to find help in time of need.

Last night was outstanding! The ministry on Wednesday nights is still growing. The Church that shows up to worship on Wednesday nights is amazing. I can't believe that I get to lead this ministry with the people that I get to partner with. And I am so thankful to be part of it. And the amazing thing: the key ingredient to the worship services on Wednesday night is none other than Jesus. He is the main thing. No matter who is singing/teaching/leading/greeting/praying..., it is always about Jesus getting things done.

To the worshippers of Wednesday night: I love you all. I can't believe that I get to be your pastor. I can't believe what God is already doing through you. And I'm convinced: the best is yet to come. Don't miss next Wednesday night. Finishing up the MOXIE series. Baptism. Commitment to being the Church. It will be epic—it always is epic when it's for Jesus. See you then.

What a ride,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Detours to the Destination" by Steven Furtick

I read the following blog this morning by a Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina.  It was an incredible reminder of God restoring - a theme that I sense God teaching and reminding me of this whole week.  Enjoy.

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.
Job 42:12, 16-17

When most people think of Job, the first picture that enters into their minds is of a man marked by misery. That’s natural, considering it’s the theme of Job 1-41. But it’s also misguided because it doesn’t take into account Job 42.

Job’s story doesn’t end on a note of misery. The final word on Job is not on his pain. His loss. His questioning. Or really anything on the forty-one chapters that precede. It’s an affirmation that Job lived a full life. An affirmation that despite appearances, God never for a second abandoned Job or changed His mind about Job’s final destination.

The story of Job is more than a story about a guy who lost everything he cared about. It’s also about a man who regained it. A man who ended up dying the way he wanted. The way any of us would want.

But not the way he or any of us would have planned.

He died surrounded by family. But it was a family that God had to recreate after he lost his first.
He regained all of his possessions, and even had them doubled. But not before he had to lose everything he had worked his whole life for.

Job’s final destination did not come without detours. And it’s the detours that have the chance to derail our lives more than anything else. Not because God is incapable of handling them or can’t see them coming. But because we cling so tightly onto the path we think we’re supposed to take to get to where God wants us to be.

The single greatest thing standing in-between you and God’s plan for your life is not just your preconceived notion of what that life itself should be. It’s also your preconceived notion of the road you should take to get there.

And it’s a notion you have to let go of.

You might lose your job. You may go through a period of marital unrest where it looks like everything is going to unravel. You may have to move to a place you hate for a season. And you may even have to face an unforeseen illness that threatens your life or the life of someone you love.

Whatever it is, detours are inevitable.

But just because God takes you on a detour, it doesn’t mean He’s changed His mind about your destination. The final word on your life is not going to be the detours you experience. It’s going to be the destination God uses them to take you to.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This coming Sunday I get the privilege of teaching at PFB.  The topic that I feel like God is leading to teach is the topic of Restoration.  As I've been reading through Jeremiah the past couple of weeks, I've come across many verses that show God's frustration with the Israelites that sound just like this:

I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field.  Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will it be before you are made clean? — Jeremiah 13:27, ESV

That's pretty strong language.  In fact, in all my years of growing up in the church, I never once had a teacher read me this verse and emphasize the word "whorings."  This is not a verse of encouragement but of rebuke and confrontation.  God was upset with the way that the Israelites were living.  In fact, this was the type of thing that led God to hand them over to the Babylonians for a time, until...

"Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!" — Jeremiah 31:4, ESV

God's idea of restoration is complete.  Think about it: God restores, or promises to restore, his people from a place of "whoring" to a place of virgin.  The power behind those words/concepts are so powerful.  Two completely and drastically different places in life and yet God can bridge the gap and restore back to purity.

So what's in your past? What keeps you from totally surrendering to Jesus? Is it shame? Pain? Embarrassment? Maybe you think that your life and the things that you've done are far beyond God's ability to reach.  Here's the thing: it's with the span of God's hand that he measures the universe.  His arm can reach anywhere and grab anyone from anything to bring that person to a restored place and relationship with himself.  Have you sinned? Me too.  Everyone has.  But if you don't know him, let me introduce you to Jesus: the one who restores you completely.

Send an email to if you would like to have someone explain to you how you can have a relationship with Jesus.  He wants to restore you.  And if you do know Christ: be reminded of his restoration process.  It is absolutely incredible what Jesus can do in a life.  You're included in that incredible work of Jesus.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prayer Update...

Hey all,

Well it's Monday, and aren't you glad that we get to experience the wonders of a heat wave? :) Here are the ways that you can pray for me this week:

1).  My sleep started to get better when I tried some natural stuff but it has kind of gotten back to where it was before.  Last night I had music playing while I slept and that seemed to help a bit.  I'm doing well, though.  Cat naps are outstanding.  :)

2).  I teach this Wednesday night at PFB.  We are in our second week of our three-week series called, "Moxie".  Last week we looked at being bold to be the church.  This Wednesday: be bold to come God and to worship.  I'll be spending this morning right after I finish this update studying and prepping for that message on Wednesday.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

3).  This Sunday morning I'm teaching at all the morning services at PFB.  The title for the message is, "The Road to Restored." I just finished going through John a couple of days ago in my quiet time and chapters 20-21 SLAPPED ME IN MY FACE!!! I am so pumped up for this message.  I still need to study and prep, but what God has shown me so far in his word has BLOWN MY MIND!!!

Thank you so much for praying.

Just Like That!

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. — Psalm 118:5, ESV

I wrote these three words next to this verse in my Bible this morning: "Just like that!" Look at the "simplicity" of the writer here: He was freaking out because of some situation he was facing.  So, he called out to God.  God answered and set him free.  Here's my question: how can I sign up for direct and rapid response messages from God? How do I get that included in my service agreement with him? It was that easy.  He was struggling so he called out to God.  God answered and set him free.

Now, if you're like me in any way (like being human), you may be thinking, "It can't be that easy because I haven't experienced stuff change that quickly.  I've gone to the Lord in my times of trial and those times continued.  Nothing changed.  I wasn't delivered from the situation.  In fact, it felt like it got worse."  However, maybe the situation didn't change the psalmist.  Rather, may only his perspective did.  Look at Psalm 118:6 (the next verse): "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?"

I see 118:6 being the reason for being "set free" in 118:5.  It could very well be that God totally changed the circumstances and everything got better.  Honestly, that's what most people see as deliverance (myself included).  If this is the case, the circumstances changed and the quick fix happened.  But here's the thing: say that the circumstance didn't change.  Imagine just for a moment that everything in the writer's life stayed the same, or maybe even got worse, but his perspective changed.  His perspective was changed because he called on God.  When he did that, God answered him.  When God answers, we're reminded of who he is (read Job 38-42 to see this played out).  When I compare that with who/what I am facing, I can cry out that I have been set free.

Satan may continue to attack, leaving me feeling "up against the ropes."  The doctor may come out with a tough diagnosis.  The bills may continue to increase while the bank account seems to be diminishing.  The world may vomit on my lap, leaving me to try to clean up it's mess.  And my response: Cry out to God. Hear his answer. Be reminded of his majesty.  Be encouraged in his glory.  Be loved by God.  The perspective will change, even if the circumstances don't, resulting in being set free.  Of course we can still cry out for deliverance from the circumstances, but what a place to be with Jesus when the circumstances never affect my being free in Christ because of the perspective that he has given to me.

Wow - I've got a lot to learn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where You Stand Determines What You See

Click here FIRST and read the passage before reading on.

Mary Magdalene had just frantically returned from an empty tomb — Jesus was not in the tomb.  When she got there the stone was rolled away from the tomb and the tomb that once housed the body of her beloved Rabbi was gone.  So she ran back to the disciples to tell them of what she had found, that someone had taken the body of Jesus.  So Peter and "the other disciple" (John) took off for the tomb.  Peter took off first, running as fast as he could to get to the tomb.  And even in this adrenaline pumping moment of the passage, John points out that "the other disciple" actually outran Peter (a little competitive maybe?).  However, being first does not always mean you get the best seat.

When John arrived at the tomb, he peered in from the entrance of the tomb.  "And stopping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in" (John 20:5).  From that vantage point he saw some but not all.  The passage then says this:  "Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb" (John 20:6a).  Peter didn't wait at the entrance and peer in.  Nothing was going to keep him back from charging that tomb.  Here is what he saw:  "He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself." (John 20:6b-7).  After Peter went in, "the other disciple" joined him (how can you keep standing outside after someone else has conquered fear and gone inside?).

There was something in Peter that propelled him into that tomb.  John held back.  What was it? Look at the passage:  "Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead" (John 20: 8 ).

Getting to worship first doesn't really matter if you don't go all the way in to commune with your beloved Rabbi.  Reading the most Bible passages in one day means nothing if you didn't meet with the One who wrote those passages, inviting you into a relationship with himself.  Showing up to a party before everyone else does not mean that you get to know the host of that party more unless you actually engage in a conversation with him.

Where are you? Are you standing outside peering in to see what it's like, thinking that you have actually come to believe, or have you barreled through the fear of the unknown to see the miraculous that Jesus is and does—seeing for yourself that he truly is that amazing.  If you lean toward the first, it's time to walk on in, conquer your fear, and meet Jesus.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baptism Video from August 4th

In case you couldn't be here on August 4th, here is the video of the baptisms for that night.  An absolutely AMAZING night for Jesus!


When You Know You're Loved

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." — John 20:1-2, ESV

"The other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved..." When I first read this a long time ago, it always struck me as weird thing that John would refer to himself as "the one whom Jesus loved." To me it sounded a little bit arrogant—like a self-proclaiming of superiority or of being Jesus' favorite.  However, when I read it now, I long to be just like him.  Here's why: he got it.  John understood that he was loved by Jesus.  He was not saying that Jesus didn't love the other disciples.  He wasn't even stating that he was Jesus' favorite.  Rather, he had just come to the point of knowing and accepting the fact that he was loved by Jesus.

Do you struggle with this? Do you still live in the "try harder to be loved more" world of religion? For so long I lived my life and walked my walk with Christ in a way to prove to him that I was worthy of his love.  I lived in such a way to show him that I could be loved by him.  The truth of the matter was that during that time, I didn't truly believe that Jesus loved me based upon himself, but rather on my conduct of the day.

And then about 10 years ago Jesus ambushed me with his grace and revealed this truth to me: there is nothing I can do to make God love me any more; there's nothing that I can do make God love me any less.  I am loved by Jesus.  Freedom was introduced as grace broke the chains of religion and legalism.  I cannot say that I don't still struggle with this truth, because I know how often I fail Jesus.  However, during those times of doubt, it is necessary for me to go back to the truth of what Scripture says to me rather than the unreliability of my emotions.

Rest in the truth that you are the beloved of God.  You are loved.  Period.  Enjoy that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."  The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death." — John 18:31, ESV

Here is the question that first came into my mind while reading this verse: why is hypocrisy so obvious to everyone except the hypocrite? Think about it: hypocrisy seems to be the last thing on the mind of the hypocrite, unless to look at the life of another and point out their hypocrisy.  But the personal hypocrisy of the hypocrite is always overlooked by the hypocrite.  How does this happen?

Remember: the religious leaders in John 18, had already had Jesus arrested and had been questioning him.  The main thing was this: they wanted Jesus dead.  They had been plotting how they might get rid of Jesus for so long, but in the verse above they say that it is not lawful for them to "put anyone to death."

In technical terms, they would not be guilty of killing Jesus.  That would fall on the Roman government.  However, the religious leaders of Jesus' day were guilty of hypocrisy, so much so that they missed the coming of the Messiah and actually had him nailed to a tree to be crucified.

After I wrote the above question in my Bible, I wrote the following prayer underneath that: "Jesus — please slap me down when hypocrisy shows up in me." I do not want to be known as someone who lived a life of hypocrisy.  Rather, I want to live a real and dependent life on Christ so that there is no pride left in me that hypocrisy could bunk with.  And here's the truth: if you can't admit that you live the life of a hypocrite at times, you are probably the hypocrite that you so easily judge and condemn as unacceptable.

Think about it: no one admits to being a hypocrite.  However, if every person on the planet were not a hypocrite, then things would be completely different and hypocrisy would not exist.  But all of us are hypocrites.  We all say one thing and then do the opposite.  The key remedy: admit and confess it.  Then entrust yourself to Christ.  Then confess your weakness and that you are being tested.  Then: rest and enjoy your new life.

Jesus - please, no hypocrisy in me.  May I be completely genuine as you are completely genuine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How To Live With No Regrets

"I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." — John 17:4, ESV

How great would life be if we didn't have to deal with regrets? Oh my goodness, freedom would be truly experienced.  And while I can't change my past, I can impact the present and the future.  I cannot control anything—me having any control is a fallacy and facade.  However, I can, by his grace and strength, live in obedience to God (read 2 Peter 1:3-11), accomplishing what he has called me to do (and with that calling comes his empowering).

In John 17, as Jesus is praying this prayer, he is about to be betrayed to go to the cross.  He knows that this is the ultimate act of obedience—the key reason why he came.  And still he was able to proclaim to the Father that he had accomplished everything that he wanted him to do.  EVERYTHING! What a fulfilled life.  What a great way to end a life.

Here's my question to you: how are you doing on that life that God has called you to live? Are you living it in such a way that you feel "confident" that you will be able to say the exact same thing as Jesus did? Some may disagree with me and say that this is not possible.  You may say that there is just way too much to do.  Let me remind you of this:  "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10, ESV). God has prepared the good works that he has for us to accomplish.  If you never get anything done, maybe it's because you're not doing the things you're truly supposed to be doing.

There are a lists of things that we can do and be involved in, but here's the thing: are those the things that you and I are confident Jesus has called us to do? Just because something seems "right" does not mean that it is something that I am supposed to do.  Just because something seems tough doesn't automatically mean that I'm not supposed to do it.  I must humbly walk with Jesus every day (Micah 6:8) and listen to what he calls me to do, and get it done.

I long to be able to look back on my life one day and say the exact same words that Jesus said to the Father.  Of course I have regrets over things that I have already done or failed to do.  Those I can't change.  However, I sure do desire to live from this day forward with that goal in mind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Prayer Update for This Week

Hey all,

I just wanted to ask you to pray for me as I speak this week.

  • Monday - I'm speaking to a group of students in Sun Valley.  I met the contact for this speaking engagement while I spoke in Mexico this past Spring Break.  Here is the theme that she is wanting:  "Embracing God's love - wanting kids to get close to God, to know that God loves them infinitely and that we should do the same with everyone, love our neighbor, our family and also to respect each other.  I want the kids to accept God as their Savior."  So, let's pray that way.

  • Wednesday - I will be teaching at our midweek next generation worship service.  We are starting a new series called, "Moxie."  It's a word that means boldness.  The topic for this week: The Boldness to Be.  Please pray for me as I prep and preach this message.

  • Sunday morning - I will be teaching our high schoolers at PFB for our 9:45 worship time.  Please pray as I prep and preach for this.

Thank you so much for all that you do.  God bless you all.  I seriously can't say thank you enough.

Worship In the Splendor of Holiness

Psalm 96 from the English Standard Version.  As always, God's word speaks for itself.

1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORDmade the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Case You Missed "THE RESISTANCE"

Hey all,

We finished the series called, "The Resistance" last night.  I've had some ask some questions who couldn't make it to the series.  So, here are the videos of the past series (not including last night).

Also, if you're interested in seeing any other messages from the teaching pastors of PFB, click here to go to the PFB Video Library.









Running with the Horses

If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? — Jeremiah 12:5a, ESV

As I have walked with Jesus on this journey through ministry I have learned some things (hopefully worth passing along).  Some of those lessons have come in an easier manner of education while others have left me flat on my tail-end wondering what the heck just happened (and honestly, those are the lessons that are most vivid).

When I first started ministry I knew what I was doing.  Seriously.  I was the expert.  In fact, if Jesus had paged me back then (just dating myself a little bit right now), I would have expected the page for assistance.  I knew what needed to happen and how to get it done.  And honestly, I would often look at other youth ministries around me and wonder why they were so much "bigger" than mine was.  I couldn't understand it.  And here was the reason: they were running with horses while I wasn't ready to do so yet.  I was just starting this ministry thing with Jesus and he knew that I wasn't ready to take on the pressure and stress that comes with more responsibility.

Today I sit as the Lead Next Gen Pastor at PFB Church and I have this issue: I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  I can't guarantee that every person who comes through this ministry will fall in love with Jesus.  I can't guarantee that every single person will be free from any kind of pain or problem because they've listened to my teaching.  I can't guarantee that every single person will even like me as their pastor, teacher, or leader.  But I can guarantee you this: every single person will hear about Jesus because he has taken the attention off of my and placed it on himself (which is the best thing to do anyway).  I can guarantee that people will be invited into a community that is in process instead of one that has arrived already.  I can guarantee that the ministry that God has entrusted to me will be one with his heartbeat for the lost and his passion for the broken, empowered for his Holy Spirit as we truly seek after him..  17 years ago? No way.  I was too focused on me.  Today: let's just say it's amazing how God can strip a person down so that all that he/she has left is Jesus.  I still struggle with pride today, but at least I can admit it now.

Over the years Jesus has brought me to a place where I can run with the horses.  I don't always believe that I can but I am blown away with the ministry that I get to be a part of.  Now I can't run by my own abilities, of course, but he has done a work in me that leaves me completely reliant upon him in order to see anything eternally significant happen.  And with this comes more questions and concerns and worries about the "what ifs" and the "what abouts," but it's better to be clueless and reliant in order to see God's kingdom impacted than it is to know everything and self-reliant, only building a castle in the sand.

This verse has come to mind so often this past year.  I've asked why and I've come to this conclusion: THE BEST IS YET COME!!!! I don't take credit for any of the work that is happening.  I'm just excited to be the world's biggest horse jockey in the race of a lifetime.

LEADERS, CHRISTIANS: We need to toughen up.  We can be honest with what we are struggling with or worried about, but there comes a time when we need to suck it up and realize that our knowing God should change our perspective completely.  In fact, Jesus' advice to us when we worry is this: DON'T!  "Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14:1, ESV).  So, feel the freedom in admitting that you don't have a clue so that you can be part of the miraculous.  Because I'm convinced: as long as there's a way for me to take credit for what's happening around me, I will never be part of the miraculous of Jesus.

I know this seems like a bunch of rambling, but I just had to get it out.  Now it's time to get back in the race.  Will you be coming?

P.S. Click here to read Jeremiah 12 in its entirety.

Update from Wednesday Night

Thank you for praying.  Last night we finished up our series called, "The Resistance."  We finished by looking at the topic of victory—that we have already won because of Jesus.  It was a powerful evening.  We set up a table with pens and paper off to the side of the worship center.  We invited people to go up to the table and write down anything that has been holding them back or something that they feel that they are in bondage to.  After writing that thing down on the paper, they were invited to walk up to the cross we put in the worship center and rip the paper up and put it at the foot of the cross signifying that they were done with whatever that thing was.  There were a lot of pieces of paper at the foot of the cross.

The worship singing time was powerful.  It was incredible to hear the people singing out to Jesus.

Thank you so much for your part in this ministry.  You're amazing!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Updates and Requests...

Good morning, all.  I just wanted to quickly update you on last week.  Here goes:

  • On Tuesday night I spoke to the youth of Pomona New Community.  I absolutely LOVE teaching that group of students.  To listen to the update, click here.

  • Wednesday night at PFB was ABSOLUTELY FACE-MELTING!!! It was outstanding! Seriously.  Josh preached his last sermon here at PFB as the young adults pastor, and he BROUGHT IT! At the end of his message he invited people to surrender to Christ.  Three people stood up to make a decision for Christ.  After that, we had baptism.  We had four baptisms planned for the evening and seven ended up getting baptized.  It was AWESOME!!!! I'll post the link for the baptisms when they are online.

  • On Saturday I performed a wedding for an amazing Christian couple up in Petaluma, California (about 35 minutes north of San Francisco).  I had so much fun.  I love performing weddings for couples who love Jesus and are striving to honor him.  There was one point in the ceremony when everyone in the church sanctuary sang, "Be Thou My Vision" and I was choked up just a little bit.

Thank you so much for praying for me this past week.  I would appreciate your prayers for me for this week for the following:

  • I am preaching this Wednesday night at PFB.  We are finishing our series called, "The Resistance."  We've looked at what the Bible says about Satan, demons, and our own sinful desires.  This Wednesday we are looking at what the Bible says about the victory that is ours in Jesus.  I am SO STINKIN' PUMPED UP!!!!! Seriously!!!! Please come and join us at 7pm this Wednesday night if you can.  If you can't, check it out online at 7pm (click here to watch online).  Also pray for liberation for so many that have been dealing with a bunch of bondage for so long.

  • This Saturday I have the honor and privilege of performing a wedding for a young couple that I love so much.  They are absolutely incredible.  They love Jesus and have a true desire to honor him in their relationship.  And on top of that, the bride is one of my volunteer staff members here at PFB with the high schoolers.  I would appreciate your prayers for this.

  • This coming Sunday morning I am teaching the high schoolers at PFB.  As always, please pray for God's anointing as I teach and for these amazing students to truly understand what God is trying to tell them.

Thank you so much.

Repentance Must Precede Returning

"If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return.  If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, 'As the LORD lives,' in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory." — Jeremiah 4:1,2; ESV

It just makes sense, doesn't it? If at one moment I'm going in the wrong direction, I MUST turn around before I can go in the other direction.  That just makes sense.

I can't turn around without turning around.  I can't go the other direction while still going the same direction.

What makes us think that it is any different with Jesus? I understand this truth: Jesus will accept you just as you are.  I believe that.  I believe that a person who has been walking in the complete opposite direction can come to Jesus with all of the pain and mire that he/she acquired along the way.  However, in order for that person to come to Jesus, he/she must repent.  To repent means to turn around—to make a U-turn.  The prodigal son was welcomed home after his Vegas-fest of wild living and pig food buffet, but he had to leave in order to arrive home.

Have we dumbed down repentance for the sake of personal preference or personal feelings? Have we taken advantage of God's grace because we have been unwilling to call people to repent? "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 2:4). Jesus tells us that repentance is key.

  • "From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'" - Matthew 4:17

  • "Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent."

  • "'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" - Mark 1:15

  • "They went out and preached that people should repent." - Mark 6:12

  • "... But unless you repent, you too will all perish." - Luke 13:5

  • "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who donot need to repent." - Luke 15:7

  • "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" - Acts 2:38

  • "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD." - Acts 3:19

As I said before, I believe that Jesus will accept us just as we are.  I have no doubt about that.  However, repentance must precede returning to Christ.  I cannot hold on to my sin or my old way of life like a little boy holds on to his blanket.  I have to let it go.

I must turn before I return.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't Restate the Problem

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, 'Do you want to be healed?' The sick man answered him, 'Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.'" — John 5:6-7, ESV

Notice Jesus' question.  It's really a yes or no question.  Here it is again: "Do you want to be healed?" That's it.  There's not a whole lot of explaining that needs to come with the response.  And yet, the man responds to by telling Jesus why he hasn't been healed as of yet.  Now of course, at that time in Jesus' ministry, he wasn't super well known for healing people.  Jesus had performed some miracles by this point but not a lot.  So the man had a little bit of a reason to respond as he did.

But here's the thing: why do we still respond the same way? Why do we explain to Jesus the problems in the situation or the reasons why something won't work out.  Martha, the sister of Lazarus, did this same thing when Jesus told them to move the stone before he raised Lazarus to life.  Her first response: "Lord, by this time there will be an odor for he has been dead four days" (John 11:39, ESV).  The thing is this: Jesus knows the problems.  He knows the "dangers."  He understands the difficulties that come with life.  However, Jesus is the one with the solution.   I'm convinced that when Jesus asks a "yes or no" question, he is actually expecting a "yes or now" answer.  So often the miracles of Jesus get lost in our explanations of why the impossible can't happen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Time to Pray

It's that time of week again.  Here is what you can pray for me for:

1).  Pray for Wednesday night.  It is part 3 of "The Resistance".  The topic is: THE FLESH.  How do we as Christians resist the desires of the flesh so that we continue to live lives to honor Christ? Also, it is our baptism service and I know of at least three people that are signed up to get baptized.  That is this Wednesday.

2).  This weekend I am performing a wedding up in northern California.  Please pray for this time.  It's a special opportunity for me to get to perform their wedding.  I met the groom about 8 years ago at a camp that I have spoken at for the past 10 years.  I met her at this same camp two years ago.
Thank you for praying.

So Don't Give Up!

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem.  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. — 2 Chronicles 33:1-2, ESV
First of all, you've got to make sure that you take time to read this whole chapter at some point today (2 Chronicles 33).

I want to encourage those of you who know someone who is so far away from Jesus that THERE IS HOPE, so DON'T GIVE UP.  I was spending time with Jesus in his word this morning (2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33).  As I started reading 2 Kings 21, I read the name: Manasseh.  I knew he was BAD NEWS! And 2 Kings portrayed him just as I remembered that it did the last time I read it.  Here is a list of what Manasseh did:

  • He built altars to false gods (the same altars that his father had destroyed during his reign).

  • He worshiped and served the stars.

  • He built altars INSIDE the house of the Lord.

  • He built altars for the stars of heaven in the two courts of the house of God.

  • He burned his sons as an offering to false gods.

  • He used fortune-tellling and omens.

  • He used sorcery.

  • He dealt with mediums.

He pretty much picked things to do that would tick God off.  And he succeeded in doing that.  And if you only read 2 Kings 21, you would think that he died far away from the Lord.

BUT, then you read 2 Chronicles and you see the extreme that God went to get Manasseh's attention.

"The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.  Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon." — 2 Chronicles 33:10-11, ESV

God took extreme measures to get Manasseh's attention.  And as I was just writing that last sentence, this verse came to my mind: "...God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4b). Paul, in Romans, had just finished talking about God handing people over to their lusts and passions.  God handing them over is his wrath.  And yet, in that wrath, the heart behind it is a desire for them to repent.  And notice Manasseh's response to God's handing him over:

"And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.  He prayed to him and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.  Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God." — 2 Chronicles 33:12-13, ESV

This is one of the most extreme conversions that I have ever seen in Scripture.  Manasseh was absolutely changed because God took him to an extreme place so that Manasseh could experience what things were like with God.

If you have that friend who seems so far from ever wanting Jesus, be encouraged: Jesus has done it before and he can do it again.  Just be prepared when he decides to go to the extreme measure to bring that person to himself.  In fact, one of the most loving things that you could do for that friend is to pray that God would take them to the edge of hell so that they could find Jesus and experience his grace.

DON'T GIVE UP!!! Jesus hasn't.