Monday, February 28, 2011

Update and Prayer...

Last week was a little busy but it was a good week.  This past weekend I had a great time teaching the young adults of Living Waters Church.  We were up in Arrowhead, California, and yes - we got snowed in.  :) And it was absolutely beautiful.  God was faithful and did some great things.  Thank you for praying.

Here's how you can pray this week:
FLOOD on Wednesday night.  I am continuing through the book of James.  The topic: trials and temptations.  We're going to look at the similarities and the differences, and how God brings you through both of them.  Please pray for me as I prep and preach God's message.  If you can join us, please do (7pm @ PFB Church - 601 N. Garey Ave., Pomona).  If you can't join us in person, join us online (

Thank you so much for your prayers.  God is on the move.

God Knows the Obstacles

"But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.  So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it." - Exodus 3:19-20, ESV

"Are you sure, God?"

"Are you crazy, God? Do you know how many things could happen if...?"

Have you been there? Have you been at that point with Jesus where he has laid something on your heart to do but you're just not sure how he can make it a reality? So you get scared.  You get worried and anxious.  You ask for confirmation (and according to Exodus 3, God anticipates that confirmation is needed).  And realize: I'm right there with you.

In Exodus 3:19-20, I'm reminded of the fact that God knows the actual problems that will come up.  He actually knows the obstacles that we will face, but he also has the key to the remedies.  Be encouraged.  Be reminded.  The obstacles are already worked out in the timeline of God.  What could happen is not in the reality of God's existence.  "Could" is not in God's plan.  "What is" is all that is.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thankful While In The Storm

"And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat." - Acts 27:35, ESV

Paul is on a boat that is being driven by the storm. The sailors have lost hope. They haven't eaten for 14 days. All sense of survival is gone. It's just a matter of time when the boat would run aground and all would be lost or people would begin to die. Except for this: Paul had been told by God that all on board would live. Paul had an appointment, divinely scheduled by Christ to stand before Ceasar. Paul would make that appointment because he knew that nothing can stop the plans of God. So because God told him that he would live, Paul had hope. He had so much hope that he told everyone to eat. And before they ate, he gave thanks in the presence of everyone there.

Are you in the midst of a storm? I know it's hard to stay positive during them. But I'm not counseling anyone to be positive based on a positive outlook. Rather, I'm encouraging you to strive to see from God's perspective what is actually happening or going to happen during and after that storm so that in the midst of it you can truly be encouraged and thankful, convinced that God is in control. Paul was not promoting self-help here. Rather, because of his divine perspective, he was thankful because he knew that God wasn't finished with him just yet.

Know this: storms will come, but they will never overpower the plans of Jesus. Our job in the storms is to seek Christ's perspective and obey his will. He will bring us through perfectly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Scared of Success

"But when he was strong, he grew proud to his destruction." - 2 Chronicles 26:16, ESV

Uzziah became king of Judah at the age of sixteen.  Sixteen.  During the year that sixteen-year-olds dream about getting their drivers licenses Uzziah was becoming king of a nation.  And here's a beautiful statement about him: "And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.  He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper" (26:4-5, ESV).  At a young age he sought after God.  God's response to Uzziah's search for him was this: ...God made him prosper.  In fact, the writer of 2 Chronicles goes on to say that "his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong" (26:15, ESV).  

And that's where his downfall began.  He became strong.  But the thing is this: what made him think that he was strong.  The fact that he had prospered so much is because God made him prosper.  He didn't cause the prosperity.  He merely rode the wave of success and prosperity that God granted to him.  The only problem is that he crashed.

Uzziah started out so well, but it didn't last.  He was unfaithful to the LORD.  And his life ended far away from where it began.  In fact, Scripture goes on to tell us that "the LORD had struck him.  And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD" (26:20b-21, ESV).  He was excluded.  What a horrible thing to experience.  David, the second king of Israel, said this about the house of the LORD:

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple." (Psalm 27:4)

Here are two things that came to mind as I looked at and prayed through this passage:

1).  Start off seeking God.  It's not about seeking more religious piety.  It's not about searching for your self-identity.  It's about starting out on a search for God.  But in reality, this search can never stop or else one falls into the trap of thinking that they have arrived.  I search to find Christ.  When I find him I find salvation.  After that, the game of hide and seek begins.  What a rush it truly is.

2).  Fear God.  I am so thankful that I have been invited into fearing God.  I know that sounds weird, but it is so true.  In fact, the writer of Proverbs says this about fearing God:

  • "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (1:7, ESV).

  • "The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied, he will not be visited by harm" (19:23, ESV).

Those who say they don't fear God (including many Christians who have made God into their personal genie), miss the important lessons about God from the beginning.  On top of that, they never find true rest or real life.  Fear of God causes one to remain humble.

Jesus - please keep me reverently in fear of you so that I might finish the race that you have marked out for me to run, so that I might truly experience life, and that I might truly enter into your rest, humbly.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Update and Prayer Requests

TO: My Prayer Team

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Last week was unbelievable when it comes to what Jesus accomplished.

God spoke in a powerful way last Wednesday night at FLOOD as we continued through the book of James. We had taken a couple of weeks off from James, as I sensed God's leading to focus on a couple of other topics. However, this week he picked up where he left off and he was amazing.

On Thursday, I spoke at the MOMS group at PFB, and I had a blast. That group of women are so teachable and desire so much for their children to love Jesus. I was truly blessed.

This past weekend, I spoke up at a youth discipleship retreat in Ukiah, CA. It was ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING to see Jesus show up and show off. On Saturday night, there were about 30 students who came forward and knelt at the steps confessing and professing Christ in some way. Some were surrendering to Christ for the first time. Others were "rededicating", while others were coming forward for prayer as they confessed their brokenness. It was beautiful.

Thank you so much for praying. Here's how you can pray for me this week:

1). This Wednesday night I am NOT speaking at FLOOD. My buddy Chris Simning will be speaking. I am so excited because Jesus says things through Chris that he can only say through Chris. If there is ever a week to come and visit, or to watch online, this Wednesday night is the week. Please pray for him.

2). This Friday night, and all-day Saturday, I am teaching at a small college retreat in Crestline. This is always a special time as I get to partner with Ryan Hall and his college ministry.

3). Sunday morning I get to speak to the high schoolers at PFB who aren't able to go on the high school retreat this year. I am SO excited to get to teach in there again. Please pray for me as I pray through and prep that message. And while you're praying, please pray for the high schoolers of PFB who will be at the retreat this weekend. Please pray for huge life-change to occur, resulting in genuine community within the high school ministry.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I cannot adequately put into words what you all mean to me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From Bound to Free

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. - Genesis 41:46, ESV

At age seventeen, Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery.  Thirteen years later he is number two in all of Egypt.  However, the road to that position was not an easy one.  He was sold by his brothers because they couldn't stand him.  He was then sold again by those who bought him from his brothers to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh's guard.  He was then accused of trying to rape Potiphar's wife (accused by her of this) and sent to prison.  Pharaoh has a dream and hears from the cupbearer that there was this guy in prison who can interpret dreams (cupbearer forgot to mention Joseph to Pharaoh for two years).  Joseph interprets the dream, gives wise counsel on how to respond to the dream and is promoted.  This was a thirteen-year plan to get Joseph to this place for God's purposes.  But here are some key things to keep in mind to apply to your own life:

1).  IT DOESN'T ALWAYS FEEL INSTANT.  Joseph was in bondage for thirteen years.  He didn't experience the rose-covered path.  He experienced pain, neglect, loneliness and betrayal.  But in all of it, Scripture is clear to point out that "God was with him."  If you're in the middle of it, hang in there.  The key to the crisis is not how to get out of it (even though you should keep your eyes open for the escape hatch), but rather how to find Christ in the crisis.  When you do that it changes everything.

2).  YOU'RE FREE! How did it feel for Joseph to be in a prison at the beginning of the day to going "through all the land of Egypt" by the end of the day? He was a prisoner at breakfast.  At dinner, he was free.  But not only was he free, he had the power of Pharaoh at his disposal.

"Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck." - 41:42, ESV

Joseph was given new clothes.  He was given a gold chain to wear around his neck.  And on top of all of that, Pharaoh took off his own signet ring and put it on Joseph's hand.  This signet ring was Pharaoh's signature.  When Pharaoh wrote a new edict or law to put into effect, he would use his signet ring as his signature.  Joseph now had that signet ring and all the power and resources of the Pharaoh that came with it.  And the truth for you to remember, Christian, is that you have the power of the King of the universe at your disposal to accomplish his will, along with all the resources that you need to get it accomplished.  You are free.  You have been changed.  And with that, he has given you his power to live by as you walk "through all the land."

If you're in the middle of it, hang in there.  God has a purpose.  He knows exactly what he is doing.  And realize this: he will heal you completely of your past.  He did it for Joseph.  We can see this in that when Joseph got married and had two kids, he named the first boy, "Manasseh."  Do you see it? Of course not.  I didn't either until I saw why he named his firstborn Manasseh.

"Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house.'" - 41:51, ESV

God caused Joseph to forget about the hardship without losing the character, endurance, and hope that came with the lessons learned through hardship (see Romans 5:3-5).  Joseph was freed.  Joseph was empowered.  Joseph was healed.  This is the perfect picture of what Jesus does with each person that comes to him.

Update and Prayer...

Prayer Team,
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:

1).  This Wednesday night at FLOOD, we jump back into the book of James.  The past two weeks God has put it on my heart to speak on two different things.  This week we jump back into the book of James (as far as I know:).  Please pray for me as I prep and pray through this message, and that God would speak in huge ways on Wednesday night.

FLOOD 2/2/2011 (click here to watch)
FLOOD 2/9/2011 (click here to watch)

2).  This Thursday morning I get to speak at the MOMS group at PFB Church.  The topic: "Instilling faith in our kids now to impact them when they are teenagers/young adults".  Being that I'm a dad raising up little boys for Jesus, I don't pretend to have it all together or that I'm even being a great parent, but this is what they asked for.  I believe Scripture has principles to look at but I will not be speaking from personal perfection.  This should be interesting.  :)

3).  This weekend I'm flying up to Ukiah, California to speak to a bunch of youth for their weekend retreat.

Thank you so much for praying..

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FLOOD: Be Encouraged Once Again

Hey all,
I was just reading over some of my past blogs (I know, how sad).  However, I came across this one from Bob Smith giving us mad props.  Be encouraged.  God is doing amazing things.

Encouragement from Bob

It Really Comes Down To What God Says About It

"And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God." — 2 Chronicles 14:2, ESV

Asa begins his reign in Judah.  And as the verse above tells us, he did what was good and right in the eyes of God.  An example of what he did was this:  "He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commandedJudah to seek the LORD,..." (2 Chronicles 14:3-4a, ESV).  Asa was not "politically correct" in his decision to get rid of all of the altars and high places that had been set up for idol worship.  He did not consult the people about their opinion on this subject.  Rather, he sought the opinion of God.  And as a little boy I wonder if he had learned this commandment that would come back to his mind while making this decision:

"You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exodus 2:3-6, ESV).

Asa knew God's opinion on false gods.  He didn't need to pray about it.  He didn't need to seek counsel on it.  God had made it very clear what he thought about this subject.  So, Asa responded to what he knew to be the expressed will of God.  Period.

I know that I am so used to democracy, where everyone has a vote and a say in how things happen.  As I'm reading through Scripture this year, I'm not seeing God's kingdom as a democracy, but rather as theocracy.  In God's kingdom, he is the king.  He doesn't have a cabinet.  He doesn't have a press secretary.  He doesn't play politics.  His standard is his holiness and his expectations are based on his will.  That's it.

I know it's hard to relate with this if you're part of a democracy.  I know it is for me.  It's a challenge to get used to this type of thinking.  God has desires.  He has things that he likes and doesn't like.  We can debate them all that we want, but if he has made them very clear in his word, that's what he expects.  He expects obedience, not our opinions of his imperatives.

At the end of my life I pray that it can be said of me, "And Brian did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God."  The problem is if I live with this as a goal, many people will disagree with me and decide for me God's leading in my life.  However, I am ready to face that type of criticism and opposition.  In the end, Jesus' opinion of me matters more than any other person's will ever matter.  What about you?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How To Get Everything You Want

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4, ESV

Have you ever noticed all of the gimmicks out there to help you lose weight without any effort or change in eating habits required? It's amazing how easy it is to lose weight with no effort and no change of habits with only three easy payments of $49.95.

But here's where it's different. In this blog I want to share with you (with three easy installments of $0.00) the key to getting everything that your heart desires. It's in the verse above. Do you see it? "Delight yourself in the LORD." That's it. If you do that, all of your wildest desires will become a reality.

However, I feel like I need to warn you of something. If you truly do delight yourself in the LORD, he will give you new desires. What do I mean? I mean this: When you delight yourself completely in Christ, he will completely change your heart and desires and give you new desires that are based upon him. This of course is a process but it is the truth. Paul affirms this concept in Philippians 2:13 when he tells us that "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." That word "will" there can also be translated, "desire." So it is God who works in you to desire and to work for his good pleasure.

So here's my promise: delight yourself completely and totally in Christ and he will give you every desire of your heart. But just realize: the desires that he will actually grant to you are the ones that he has changed and given to you. You may say, "But what about my dreams?" Honestly, God's dreams for you are so much bigger and more elaborate than you could ever dream. You may think you may dream big, but let me let you in on little secret: you will never dream bigger than Jesus.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Update and Prayer Time

Thank you for praying for me for last week. God was so faithful in bringing his word. FLOOD was an incredible time as God took us on a side-track away from James for a week. And I was so blessed to hear some people tell me that what I taught on was exactly what they had been dealing with. And my time up at UC Merced with Intervarsity was outstanding. I wrote on that a couple of days ago in a blog titled, "Look Out UC Merced."

Here is how you can pray for me this week:

1). This Monday I talking with the Christian Club board at Glendora High School. We're going to be talking about leadership and how to understand and follow God's vision for the ministry that he calls us to.

2). Monday night I am speaking to graduate students at Azusa Pacific in a graduate chapel that we have been doing once/month since December.

3). This Wednesday night at FLOOD I'm continuing through our series in the book of James. It has been so powerful so far. And we are thanking Jesus for the 6 people that God baptized last week. We had no one scheduled for baptism, but 6 decided that night to make their faith in Christ public through baptism.

4). This weekend I am taking the college students on our winter retreat. I am so excited to get away with these students. Please pray for all of us as we focus on the theme of the retreat, "Rest."

Thanks for praying for me.

Impossible Is Nothing

"God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." - Acts 2:24, ESV

I was reading Acts 2 in my quiet time this morning, and this phrase jumped out at me: "it was not possible for him to be held by it." It was absolutely and completely impossible for death to keep hold of Jesus. There was absolutely no possible way that death would be able to overcome Jesus. Impossible = not possible.

As I read that phrase, this line from one of my favorite sermons by S.M Lockridge came to my mind: "Death couldn't handle him and the grave couldn't hold him."

This is good news. I would imagine that all of us would agree that the fact that death couldn't handle Jesus is great news, but now we wonder how that truth really helps me in the "real world."

1). Without Jesus raising back to life, we would have no hope of overcoming death either. Think of it this way: If death was able to keep the God of universe dead, there would be absolutely no hope for us after death. But because Jesus overcame death, so can we. Death is not the end, my friend. If you've lost a loved one who knows Jesus, realize that they overcame death just like Jesus did because of Jesus in them. You will see them again one day. Jesus in you makes it impossible for death to keep you.

2). What seems impossible for you is no issue for Jesus. To us, death is final. There is nothing that we can do to beat death. However, Jesus defeated it. And honestly: the fact that Jesus was going to defeat death was never a nail-biter or cliff-hangar. Really, if it were a movie, death would look like the clueless and powerless villain that, even though for a moment seemed victorious, was only left with shame and a stupid look of defeat on his face. And the same thing is true for that impossible situation. Jesus is in the hobby of handling the impossible situations perfectly. Be encouraged: Jesus is never stumped. He is never at a loss. It's true that you may not see the solution to the problem that you face, but the truth is that Jesus has already lived through the solution.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Look Out UC Merced

I had the opportunity to teach the InterVarsity group at UC Merced last night in Merced, CA. It was AWESOME!!! Those students had a faith and joy that was infectious. I have never been greeted by so many people when I have spoken to a group before. UC Merced will be impacted for Jesus in great ways because of these young adults.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He's Not About You

"While he was still speaking there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, 'Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?' And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?' And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, 'No more of this!' And he touched his ear and healed him." - Luke 22:47-51, ESV

Jesus cannot stand the chaos. He doesn't like the bickering and fighting. And know this: Jesus does not need us to defend him. His own disciples thought that they were valiantly fighting for their Rabbi. The truth is that they were actually fighting against the will of God. Jesus came to be betrayed. He came to be mocked and beaten. He came to be spit on and slapped, having chunks of his beard ripped from his face. He came to be flogged and to be struck with rods in the head while blindfolded. He came to die on a cross and raise from the dead, but the disciples saw none of this. What they saw was their Rabbi being arrested, betrayed by one of their own. Think about the thunderstorm of emotions that ravaged their minds as they saw Judas betray the Rabbi with a kiss. So they struck out against those that "stood against Jesus." The only thing, by their defense of Jesus, they too had put themselves in opposition against him. Jesus stops his boys. Jesus goes up to the servant of the high priest and heals him, showing that Jesus wasn't taking anyone's side. Jesus was about one thing: his Father's business.

How often have I stood against others while Jesus tried healing them? How often have I tried to defend my Savior only to actually put myself in direct opposition against him? How often have I actually believed that Jesus was really all about what I'm about rather than being about his Father's business? How often have I waged war against those very same ones that Jesus endured God's wrath for, in order to redeem and restore them? How often, because of my own actions, have I caused Jesus to cry out, "No more of this!" because I was not all about him? How often have you? I'm humbled. What about you?