Monday, December 31, 2012

Prayer for this week...

I would appreciate you praying for me on Thursday as we have our Prayer and Vision night for FLOOD at Purpose Church: Claremont. We are spending the evening together (starting at 6:30) praising Jesus, looking at God's vision for Claremont, and praying for God to do the impossible and incredible once again through this ministry.

Chapter 01 of God through FLOOD has been amazing these past three years. I can't wait for Chapter 02 to begin.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Thank you so much... and Merry Christmas!

Hi all,
I just wanted to take a quick minute to thank you for your continuous prayer ministry for me. I can't thank you enough, and the things that I have seen God do since you all committed to this has been incredible. I've got a week off starting tomorrow and I am so excited for a little bit of downtime. I hope that you have a great Christmas.

I love you all more than you know.

The Wilderness Is Part of God's Plan


"And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil." — Luke 4:1

Did you know that the wilderness is part of God's plan for every person who desires to be a follower of Jesus? It is so easy for us, when we go into times spiritually that are difficult or when God seems far away, or when temptation seems stronger than normal, to automatically think that there is something wrong in our lives where we are not pleasing Jesus. Now, I will admit that there are times that this may be the case, but not necessarily all of the time.

Notice what the verse says in Luke's Gospel:

1). Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.
There was no break in fellowship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Rather, right after Jesus's baptism, he was full of the Holy Spirit.

2). He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Jesus did not go into the wilderness on his own. Rather, he was led there by the Spirit. Jesus experiencing temptation, and that by the devil, was the will of God for him. He did not fall into this, or walk away from God's will, resulting in his wilderness experience. Rather, this was God's will for him to go through.

3). It was not a short amount of time.
Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days. It did not last a few moments. It did not last a couple of days. Rather, Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness while at his weakest because he ate nothing in his time there. We have to be prepared for the fact that our wilderness experience most probably will not be for a few short moments but rather for as long as it takes for God to accomplish his will in our lives.

If you find yourself right now in the wilderness, ask God to convict you if there is something to be confessed. But if there is not, then first, rely. We as Christians are invited by God to completely rely on him. At no point is he expecting us to be able to face this life alone. Rather, he invites us to rely on him. But second, endure. Every time that Jesus was tempted he used Scripture to combat the temptation. We must be people of the Bible. We must know what it says so that we can stand against the temptation of the enemy. And in due, the enemy will leave us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayer for this week...


Hi there,

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

1). This Wednesday night is our FLOOD finale service. It is the last FLOOD service on Wednesday nights at PFB Church until our move to purpose church on Thursday nights in Claremont on January 10, 2013. It is going to be an exciting night. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach the message this Wednesday night. We are also having baptisms. If you have time this Wednesday night, and can join us in person, please do.

Click here to read all about the move.

2). On Sunday morning I am team teaching with Pastor Andy and Pastor Jay in Claremont at Purpose Church. Please pray for us as we share with the people at Purpose what God has been teaching us this Christmas.

Thank you so much for how often and how faithful you pray for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

For Unto Us... God!

This is the message that Jesus had me teach last Sunday at PFB Church. I was absolutely floored by what it is that he said and did that morning. I share this as a way to say Merry Christmas. May we once again be amazed and in awe of the Christmas season.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Prayer for this week...

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

1). This Friday morning I am speaking at chapel for Crossroads Christian School to their junior and senior high school students. Please pray that I would hear what God wants me to preach for that morning.

That's if for this week. I've got a lighter week as you can tell. Thank you so much.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Prayer For this Week...

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

1). On Wednesday night at FLOOD we are looking at part 2 of our series called "47". The phrase we are looking at is "finished the race..." So please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.

2). On Sunday morning I am preaching at all of the morning services at PFB Church. The title of the sermon is, "For Unto Us...GOD!" The main point: trying to fit our minds around the fullness of the Godhead in the little baby Jesus. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the Trinity and it is leaving me more in awe of the incarnation of Christ. So please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.

Thank you so much for praying.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rejoice in Suffering?


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,... — Romans 5:1-3, ESV

Did you see it? I didn't see it at first. In fact, I really haven't ever seen it until now. It is only three words long but it is so full of meaning. Here are those words:

“More than that.”

More than what? Paul just finished explaining how we as Christians are called and allowed to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Hope. It is that which helps us to keep going on. It is that which helps us to be consistent and to stay faithful when everything seems like it's falling apart. And what is the hope that we have? The glory of God.That one day we will see and experience God and his glory.

Yet, Paul then shares those three little words. “More than that.” More than the hope of the glory of God, we as Christians rejoice in our sufferings. We celebrate in the difficult times because we know that God is doing its work in us. God, the eternal Almighty God of the universe, is personally invested in me, doing his work so that I might look more and more like Jesus every day. And for that I rejoice. And for that we are all called to rejoice. Oh how things would be different if I could truly live in the reality of this.

Jesus,
Please help me live in and see from your perspective that I might truly rejoice in the sufferings that I must go through. Help me to see them for what they truly are: a chance for you to intimately interact with me. Thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Waiting Well for God's Promises

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. — Romans 4:20-21, ESV

Abraham was promised by God that he would have a son. He received this promise when he was 75 years old. And when did it happen? Twenty-five years later. God's promise given to Abraham was fulfilled 25 years after the promise was proclaimed. And the fact that he could have a son at 100 years old was a miracle in itself being that his own body was as good as dead (Romans 4:19). And yet, he waited, and the promise was fulfilled.

He did not wait perfectly, of course. Remember that he and Sarah had an idea to help the promise of God become a reality by having Abraham sleep with her servant to help the process along in bearing a son. And out of that poor decision came broken relationships throughout the generations. But Abraham did still, according to Romans 4, hold out for the promise of God nonetheless.

But how did he do it? How did he remain hopeful when everything seemed against him? He did not waver concerning the promise of God. He grew strong in his faith in the midst of waiting. But how?

as he gave glory to God.

The key to waiting well for the promises of God is to give glory to God. During the waiting, keep your focus on God and make much of him. As you do, be convinced that God is able—that God has power to do the impossible. How much power? Remember, God is the one who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (Romans 4:17). 

So, remember God's power. Give glory to God. Wait. And then enjoy the promise of God when he decides to give it—even if it takes 25 years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Prayer for This Week...

Hi all,
Here is how you can be praying for me this week:

On Wednesday night I am beginning a new three-part series called "4:7." For three weeks we will be looking at this verse:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." — 2 Timothy 4:7

We will be taking a key phrase for three weeks:
  • Fought the good fight - November 28th
  • Finished the race - December 5th
  • Kept the faith - December 19th
I would appreciate your prayers as I prep, pray through, and preach this week on fighting the good fight.

Thank you so much for your constant prayer over me and the ministry that Jesus has given me. I'm humbled by your faithfulness. Thank you so much.

Just AND Justifier

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. — Romans 3:26, ESV

What if God only wanted to be just? Would there be anything wrong on his end if he decided to not play the role of the justifier? Not at all. He very well could have only punished sin and not rescued the sinner, and he would have been completely just in doing that.

But he didn't.

God's grace toward us and his love for us is seen in the fact that God also wanted to be the justifier. We are the recipients of his desire to justify sinners, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:23-25a, ESV).

To only be just God must punish sin. However, to be the justifier of souls, he must punish sin using another target for his wrath and punishment for our sin (propitiation) so that he might extend grace and mercy to us—the ones who brought about sin in the first place.

It is because God wanted to justify sinners that he came for us, as Jesus, to become the new target of the wrath of God so that he might extend grace and mercy to us. And as we place our faith in Christ, we are justified and made right with God because of that punishment that Christ endured on our behalf. And all of this is God's gift to us.

God is just. God is also the justifier.

Wow. Let that sink in and I'm sure you'll say the same thing.

Wow.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Freed to Belong

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. — Romans 2:6-8, ESV

Who is your master? What are you mastered by? We can become very arrogant at times and claim freedom while in reality freedom is defined differently by Jesus than we are used to. Freedom to us, and I'm speaking as an American, usually means that we are not bound by anyone or anything, able to do anything and everything that we want to. The dictionary even defines it this way: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

The reality of freedom is this: I am free to obey Jesus so that I am not bound to sin. I have been freed so that I might belong. I am never free to do as I please, for the things that I truly long for is sin — to fulfill every wish and desire that my appetite to sin has.

Those who do not know or love Jesus are not the enemy (and if you're not a Christian and you're reading this, I'm so sorry if you have experienced otherwise from those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus). Rather, they are those that we are being sent out by Jesus to go after. We are on a rescue mission to free those who obey unrighteousness. You see, those who do not know Christ are not as free as they believe. They, too, are in obedience to something, just as we were before we met Jesus, but this something that they are in obedience to has a desire to hurt and destroy them. They are obeying unrighteousness without even it because it has clothed itself in "freedom."

Christians: we are free to obey. We are free to not sin. We are free to run after those who have not yet experienced true freedom. I AM FREE!!! The battle is real, still, but I am free, because I have been freed by Jesus to belong to Jesus.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You Will Make It to Rome


"There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome." — Acts 28:14, ESV

And so we came to Rome. Six words that really mean nothing to anyone. This is a part in the story that gives us some information but doesn't seem all that life-changing. They made it to Rome. So what? Of course this is where Paul was going but it is not something that stands out as a huge life-lesson. UNTIL, Jesus takes it and opens it up again.

Paul made it to Rome. Why is this so important? Because the journey to get there was quite overwhelming and troublesome. There were assassination plans against Paul. He stood before political and religious leaders, declaring his innocence in the midst of proclaiming Jesus. He experienced being shipwrecked. He was bit by a snake and experienced nothing from it. He healed people on Malta, the people who showed him great kindness when he and the others landed there from their ordeal at sea. They even deified Paul because of his bout with the serpent.

And so we came to Rome. They made it. They finally made it. I've been on long plane rides, but I have never experienced that type of travel itinerary. However, we all will experience our own travels to Rome. You see, we are all on a journey with Jesus. He has called us to a destination, but has included the journey as part of the experience of walking with him. He has not told us to ignore our surroundings as we move closer and closer to our final destination (wherever, whenever, and whatever that is). Rather, he has included the journey in the calling that he has given to each one of us individually. But he also, while calling us individually, brought us together to walk this journey with him. And while I cannot tell you what will happen on the path that he has assigned to you or to me, I can promise you that you we will arrive in Rome one day.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." — Philippians 1:6, ESV

This is the verse that I believe the Holy Spirit brought to my mind while writing this. My final destination will be a reality some day. I will make it, but only because of Jesus with me on the journey. You, too, will make it. Walk humbly with the One who knows the way. Chat with him as you go. Mimic him. Do as he does. Laugh. Cry. Vent. Share. Enjoy. Play. Pray. Enjoy the journey. And when things get tough, continue doing the same. Live life with the One who gave it to you. And at the end you will say, "What a ride." 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prayer For This Week...

Here's how you can be praying for me this week...

1). On Wednesday night we are having our Thanksgiving Eve service at PFB Church called, "Thankful." It's a night of acoustic worship, a short message by me, and then an open mic time for people in the congregation to publicly thank God for what he has done in their lives this past year. Please pray for me as I pray though, prep, and preach this message. Also, come out and join us for this if you're in the area and are able to. If you can't make it in person, join us online at www.floodnow.com.

2). On Sunday morning I have the honor once again of teaching a small group of young adults as they finish up their Basic Training course at PFB Church. It has been a wonderful time with them.

Here is a video update of the big changes that God is bringing to FLOOD. Thank you so much for praying for me as I shared about these last week.


Lastly, I wanted to let you know once again that I am so thankful for you and your love and concern for me through this ministry of prayer. To know that you are praying for me every week as I follow God's call to teach his word is unbelievably encouraging to me. I can't thank you enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prayer for This Week..

Here's how you can be praying for me this:

1). This Wednesday night at FLOOD I am preaching one of the most important messages that I have ever preached at FLOOD. We are looking at what's next for FLOOD. I am so excited about this new direction and what will be happening. I just want to make sure that I present it to the FLOOD family in a way that conveys God's will in this and his excitement for this next step. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through and preach this message.

2). On Sunday morning I get to hang with 4 of the most amazing young adults as we continue through the Basic Training discipleship/leadership development program. I have absolutely loved this time with this smaller group of young adults.

3). I get the opportunity to teach the Coram Deo class this Sunday morning at 9:45 at PFB. I am really looking forward to this time with them.

Thank you so much for praying for me. You all are so amazing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prayer for this Week...

Hey all,
Thank you so much for praying for me last week. It was a whirlwind of places and topics and things that God had for me to do, but it was wonderful.

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

1). Tonight I get to share with a group of graduate students at the Los Angeles campus of Azusa Pacific University.

2). Tomorrow night (Tuesday) I get to share with a group of graduate students in the MBA program at Azusa Pacific on their main campus.

3). On Wednesday night at FLOOD I am finishing up our series called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church" as we look at the Church at Laodicea. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message, that I would preach in such a way that people would meet Jesus.

3). On Sunday morning, I am teaching a small group of young adults who are going through the Basic Training class at PFB Church - discipleship and leadership training. I cannot tell you how much I have loved my time in this intimate setting with these four young adults.

Thank you for praying.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Expect Opposition


As I read all of Acts 14, the same couple of things kept popping out. First, the gospel of Christ needs to preached all over. God has put it on the hearts of his followers to be where he wants them to be, to accomplish what he wants accomplished. So, as Christians, we move and act to see that people come to Christ. And we will see people surrendering to Christ along the way (since the harvest is plentiful). But, we must expect opposition as we move forward in God's plan and purpose. Paul and Barnabas experienced opposition in each place where they saw people surrendering to Christ, believing in Jesus as their Savior and Lord (Paul was even stoned with rocks so badly that people thought that he died and left him for dead)

Opposition is to be expected. It is not only for the few, unless the few are the only ones who are truly being used by God. Opposition is never experienced by those who pose no threat to the Enemy. Opposition is reserved for those who truly follow and obey Christ because they are the threat — because Jesus is alive and well in them. This opposition will come in so many different ways. It is not the same opposition for every single person in every situation. But opposition will always accompany the working of God, but trust God in these times of opposition. He is sovereign and he is with you.

So, if you're living for Christ, expect opposition. Fear when you face none.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayer for This Week...

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

1. This Wednesday morning I have the opportunity to speak to the high school students at Whittier Christian High School. I am still praying through the message. Please pray for me to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to say to those students.

2. On Thursday at noon I get to teach and hang with the students of Western Christian High School. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep and preach this message.

3. On Thursday evening I get the honor and privilege of performing the wedding of Jason Carney and Valerie Kriesel. I am so excited for this couple.

4. On Saturday afternoon I get the honor and privilege of performing the wedding of Dominic Ambriz and Breanna Rodriguez. Breanna was in my youth group when I first started in ministry 19 years ago.

5. On Sunday morning I get to teach a small group of youth adults who are going through the Basic Training program at PFB Church. It has been incredible the past two times that we have met. This is such an amazing group of young adults.

6. On Sunday morning I get to teach at Purpose Church: Claremont at 11:11. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep and preach the message there.

That's it.  Thank you so much for praying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Key To Being More Like Jesus

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at [Stephen]. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. — Acts 7:54-60, ESV

As I began typing out this passage, I had a specific thought in mind to share in this post. But as I kept typing, all of these different thoughts and ideas starting popping in my mind. So, instead of me focusing  on one thought for a few paragraphs, I wanted to share quickly each thought that came to mind.

But he full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God,...
Stephen was experiencing a sight that not many have ever experienced, while those who resisted the Holy Spirit (7:51) went into a frenzy because of the fact that they were confronted with the truth. It is only because of Jesus that we are able to look upon the glory of God — only by his sacrificed and resurrected life is it possible

It is also amazing to me how much the Holy Spirit can impact a life that is submitted and surrendered to him. Perspectives change and lives are impacted because of the difference of being filled by the Holy Spirit. Those who had resisted the Holy Spirit were throwing a tantrum. The one filled by the Holy Spirit was experiencing a view of heaven. What a difference.

...and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
What am I doing everything that I am doing for? Am I doing it for the applause of others or for the ovation of Jesus? So often Jesus is described as the one seated at the right hand of the Father. However, in this verse, he is described as standing. There was no necessity in Jesus standing. He could have remained seated. So why stand? Here's my take: because of what Stephen was about to go through. Jesus could relate with Stephen and his murder because Jesus too had experienced the same treatment from those same "tantrum throwers". So he stood to honor Stephen who was about to die because of his love for Jesus. And Stephen saw it.

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
As Jesus died on the cross, he cried out to the Father to do the very same thing that Stephen was asking of Jesus to do. What does this show me? That Jesus has the same power and authority that the Father has. Jesus is not a created being or a little god. Rather, he is LORD GOD ALMIGHTY! 

And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
While he was being murdered, Stephen asked the Lord to forgive those who were murdering him. How does this happen? How does a man who is being killed pray for the forgiveness of his killers while they are in the act of killing him? Here's the key: "But he, full of the Holy Spirit,..." It wasn't Stephen. It was the Holy Spirit in Stephen. And when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, he can't help but sound like Jesus.

And so here was my prayer this morning after reading this passage:

Holy Spirit,
Please fill me completely and to overflowing today so that Christ may be made manifest and be exalted in and through me. I want my life to be done, leaving only you in me, exalting Jesus to the glory of the Father. None of me. All of you. Please continue your work of destroying me and making me more and more like Jesus.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prayer Update for this Week...

Hi all,
Thank you for praying for me last week. Here's how you can be praying for me this week:

1). This Wednesday night at FLOOD we are looking at the sixth church out of seven in our series called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church" (a study of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3). This study has been blowing my mind. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message. I am really excited about this church that we are looking at this week (the church at Philadelphia).

2). On Thursday morning I will be speaking to about 1,000 8th graders and high school students at Maranatha High School. I absolutely love partnering up with this school. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would give and confirm his message before Thursday. And then pray for me as I preach.

3). This Saturday morning I get the opportunity to speak to a group of 40-50 men at a men's gathering at New Hope Community Church. Again, please pray that the Holy Spirit would confirm his message for these guys.

4). This Sunday morning I get to teach at a discipleship/leadership program at PFB Church called, "Basic Training." We are spending 5 more weeks taking a small group together through this program to develop leaders within our church to take on ministry responsibilities. I am taking certain sections from the book of Acts for this time together. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and teach.

As I say often, thank you so much for your ministry on my behalf. I am so blown away that you have committed to loving me so well through this ministry.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Prayer for this week...

Hey all,

Here's how you all can be praying for me this week:

1). On Wednesday night at FLOOD we are on to the fifth church out of seven in the book of the Revelation as we continue in the series called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church." The topic this week is Jesus' opinion of hypocrisy. Please be praying for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message. I was working through it with some of the FLOOD leadership and I was so excited after our discussion.

2). This Saturday I have the honor and privilege of performing the wedding of a very dear couple to me: Juan Banos and Alexandra Parke. I'm so excited for this day. Please pray that Jesus is honored and that it is a day that this wonderful couple never forgets.

3). This Sunday morning I get the opportunity to start teaching at a discipleship/leadership training course at PFB Church. It's six weeks long and I get the opportunity to teach a small group of leaders at PFB as they walk through this together. Please pray as I prep, pray through, and teach these next six weeks.

4). This Sunday morning I get to hang with the junior high students of PFB and teach them about what I learned in junior high. :) I'm very excited. These are a great group of students.

That's it for this week. Thank you so much for praying.

Maybe Not When, But Definitely What

     "And while staying with them [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, 'you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'
     "So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." _ Acts 1:4-8, ESV

When?

We have absolutely no clue. Now there are some who have tried to figured it out, even predicted it's arrival, but no one really knows.

When would Israel be restored? Jesus' response: "It's really none of your business."

When will Jesus return? I believe that Jesus' response is the same: "It's really none of your business."

Of course, I do not believe that he is saying this in an angry way, but rather in a very loving and gracious way. The fact that we do not know when Jesus is returning, I believe, is one of God's greatest gifts to all of mankind. Think about it. If Jesus told us the exact day that he was returning, then hope would be horribly affected by those who would have to face suffering during the time when Jesus was not returning. But because of the fact that it was left open, with maybe some clues to his return, hope is still present as we look forward to Jesus arrival.

He also protects us from laziness. As human beings we have a tendency toward sin, not toward righteousness. The only reason that I am able to live a righteous life (which I struggle with every day), and to be seen by God as righteous is because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God in me. That's it. If Jesus had told us the exact day that he was returning (or take any topic of God's timing and apply it here), we would be tempted to just sit back and wait until that day. And we all know how well we do with waiting.

Jesus kept us in the dark about when, but he definitely did not keep us in the dark about what. What are we supposed to do until his return? What are we so supposed to do while we wait for God to do what he is going to do in this world and in our lives? First, live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, be his witnesses all over the world. This is what Jesus made very clear.

So I'm guessing the time that is spent by us trying to figure out God's perfect timing of future events is a waste of time, since those things have not been told us. They really are none of our business. But the mission to share Jesus with a broken world still has as much urgency in it as when Jesus gave it to his first apostles. We answer that call and let God "figure out" when everything is going to happen. We remain faithful to what he wants us to do. We wait for when God is going to get it done.

When? It's none of our business.

What? Let's get to work.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Truly FOR Jesus

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. — John 21:25

And this is how John closes his gospel. 

We only know in part the things that Jesus did while he walked the planet. The things that were recorded have been a constant source of encouragement, training, discipleship, discussion and debate for centuries. And the truth of the matter is that we only have a small glimpse into the life of Jesus that was recorded for us to know about.

I've read this verse before. I've taken this same principle away every time. But this morning it became much more personal. Here's what I wrote in my journal:

"And I pray that I will mimic Jesus in this. May I live my life in such a way that not everyone will know everything that I do for Christ so that the motivation for my service is actually Christ."

No applause from people. No one recording what I do. Nothing. Rather, all for Jesus and to his glory.

One day I do want to sit down with the Great Storyteller and listen to all that he did while he walked the earth. I don't want to rent the video of his life, but rather sit quietly at the Rabbi's feet and listen to what he did and why he did it. Until that day: I will live my life in such a way that Christ is honored and glorified and that others are introduced to him through my words and deeds, all for Jesus and to his glory


Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm At Peace

I was just spending time with Jesus in John 20. This chapter shows us what happened to some of those who loved Jesus on the day of his resurrection. Mary Magdalene had gotten up early that Sunday morning to go to the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. When she got to the tomb, she noticed that the stone had been rolled away and the body had been taken (even the wording of that verse shows that she did not believe that Jesus was alive at this point). So she took off running to tell his disciples.

She found Simon Peter and John. On hearing the news, they took off running for the tomb. John, the younger of the two, outran Peter (showing that John had a little bit of a competitive spirit in him since he made sure to mention this in his gospel account), stopped at the tomb and looked in. Simon Peter showed up after John, but went right in to the tomb to see for himself. After they went in, seeing the linen strips lying there by themselves, with the garment that covered Jesus' face folded in a different spot, they went home.

Mary Magdalene stayed there. And then Jesus showed up. She didn't recognize him at first. Rather, she thought him to be the gardner and begged him to tell her where Jesus' body was if he knew. And then the "gardner" said that one word that opened her eyes to the identity of the man before her. He simply said, "Mary." He said her name and she knew it was Jesus.

After that, Jesus showed up in the room where his disciples (minus Judas Iscariot of course) were locked away in for fear of the religious leaders. While the doors were still locked, he just showed up. And his words:


"Peace be with you."

They were dumbfounded at the sight of Jesus in the room with them. But isn't that just like the miraculous? The miraculous always leaves us dumbfounded. Then the Bible says that the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. And Jesus' first words to them were:

"Peace be with you."

But Thomas missed out on all of this. He wasn't there for this reunion with their beloved Rabbi. So when he came back from wherever he was, the disciples told him about what had just happened. His response: "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe" (John 20:25). So eight days later, Jesus answered his request. Jesus showed up, but had these words to say to him first:

"Peace be with you."

Three times in the span of about eight verses, Jesus says, "Peace be with you." I did a search for that phrase and saw that Jesus never used it before his death and resurrection as a greeting toward anyone. But here, in the chapter telling us of his first moments and week of his resurrection, he uses the phrase three times.

So I kept listening and journaling, and this verse came to my mind:

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1, ESV).

How did it feel for Jesus to use those words with that meaning? Because of Jesus' sacrifice, peace with God is available. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, I am good with God. So as Jesus said those words to his disciples, he was proclaiming a major truth: those who have surrendered to Christ have peace with God.

And that truth hit me so wonderfully this afternoon as I looked at those words. So much of my walk with God is trying to appease him, not truly accepting that I have peace with him. I have struggled with this truth for so long over the years. But today: those words rang loud and true. Jesus showed me this afternoon that I have peace with God. And not only that, God's peace, through his Holy Spirit, is with me.

And I'm at peace.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prayer for this week...

Thank you for your prayers for yesterday at PFB. I'm still blown away by what Jesus accomplished. One of the best responses I received yesterday about the message came from someone who attended and then wrote this after:

"The Holy Spirit is amazing!!! Thirty minutes after [the worship service] I got to share Jesus with the Indian woman threading my eyebrows at the Montclair plaza! And while I've been a Christian for many years I have never felt so free to share. Our God rocks!!! When Brian talked about conversations being weird like on an airplane... the Holy Spirit didn't even give me a chance to think about 'weird'! The two girls waiting in line stopped talking when I started talking about Jesus! Afterwards, I went to the car and got my PFB Weekly, invited her to church and gave her my number. Praying for the Holy Spirit to continue his work on her heart and mine as well."

That's when you know that it was the Holy Spirit handling the morning. So thank you for praying.

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

1). Tonight I have the opportunity to share with some graduate students at the LA Campus of Azusa Pacific. I love being the chaplain for this group of people. Please pray that I would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading so that I share exactly what these students need to hear.

2). Tomorrow night I have the opportunity to share with some of the graduate business students at the main campus of Azusa Pacific. Again, please pray for me to know what to say.

3). This Wednesday night we continue through our series at FLOOD called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church." God has been doing some crazy things at FLOOD the past two weeks. Two weeks ago we saw five people surrender to Christ. Last week we saw a little boy get baptized. It's been awesome. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.

Thank you so much for praying.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Prayer Update for This Week...

Hi all,
Here's how you can be praying for me this week with regards to my teaching ministry:

1). This Wednesday night at FLOOD I am continuing in our series called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church." Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.

2). This Sunday morning I am preaching at all three services at PFB Church out of the book of Mark. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach.

Thank you so much for praying for me. It is always awesome to know that so many of you are praying for me. Thank you.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Recommit...

And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. — 2 Chronicles 34:31, ESV

King Josiah had just heard the Book of the Law read to him for the very first time. His response? He tore his clothes (24:19). He was scared and was in mourning because he and the people had not been following God according to his written word.

After hearing it read, he made the commitment stated above. And as I read it tonight, I made the same commitment to God. I have already surrendered my life to Christ, receiving his precious Holy Spirit and the gift of salvation. However, my "recommitment" to Christ tonight is not something that I will do every once in a while. Rather, it's a recommitment that I want to make every day. I want to live my life according to God's revelation for holy and right living as stated in Scripture. I want to live as one who is truly in a covenant relationship with God, understanding what he has done for me and the life that he has called me to. I will do whatever it takes to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all of my heart and all of my soul, to perform the words of the covenant that is written in Scripture.

So, I recommit.

What about you?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Message from IGNITE

Here's the message that I preached from IGNITE on September 8th. I pray that it's a blessing to you.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Legalists Always Kill The Celebration

"So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "Whether this man is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." — John 9:24-25, ESV

The Pharisees could not get past this one thing: Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath by making mud and putting it on his eyes. Jesus doing "this kind of stuff" on the Sabbath always ticked them off. And honestly, I think that's why Jesus made mud. He didn't have to make mud. He could have just spoke and the man would have been healed. He didn't have to make mud and send him on a journey to go and wash his face. He could have just touched the man and left it alone. But he didn't. He ticked off the legalists of the day for a purpose. And what was that? To tick them off.

Through all the questioning of the man whose sight was restored by Jesus, the legalists couldn't celebrate with him because of the fact that something miraculous had happened outside of their prescribed and permitted activities. You see, Jesus didn't break any commandment of God regarding the Sabbath. Rather, he broke the added-on commandments created by the legalists, who elevated their own traditions and permissions to the same level as God-ordained commandments.

So they brought the man in a second time with an agenda. Jesus was getting too much credit for this. There was even division within the Pharisees who were there about what just happened (see John 9:16). And they start off sounding so pious and religious: "Give glory God." And before he could, they stated their opinion of Jesus: "We know that this man is a sinner." So in their minds, the way to give glory to God was to declare Jesus (who is God) to be a sinner because of the fact that Jesus performed the miraculous on the Sabbath, breaking their man-made and too highly elevated opinions. The man responds to their declaration, and it is beautiful. He simply says, "Whether this man is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." It's almost as if he said, "I don't really give a rip whether this man is a sinner or not. All that I know is that I can see because I met this guy." LOVE IT!

What should have been a day of celebration was stripped away by a group of men who had already decided (see John 9:22) what to think about Jesus no matter what Jesus was going to do. This man couldn't celebrate in the miraculous because the religious leaders of that day wanted the miraculous to be undone. The miraculous superseded their personal preferences and traditions, proving that God didn't give a rip about their personal preferences or traditions either.

I want to celebrate when the miraculous happens. I want God to open my eyes to the countless ways that he is intervening in the lives of people so that I can celebrate with heaven rather than sit in joyless skepticism with the legalists of today who can't see the miraculous of God because they are so enslaved to their traditions. I want to celebrate with the liberated. I want to see Jesus do the incredible. I want to sit in quietness of soul, reading his word and listening to his Spirit to know him better, and then see him at work in the world doing what he does best: the miraculous. And I want a front-row seat to that every day.

I want to be part of the celebration, not the kind of Christian that others ask, "Who invited that guy?". As a recovering legalist, I want to see legalists of today freed from their bondage of religion and dance in the dance that Jesus has invited us to: a relationship with the God of the universe.

I want to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who Made That Out of Legos?

This video is actually 7 minutes long and I watched the whole thing. That's right: I watched the whole thing. It is absolutely amazing what people made with Legos.

And as I got to about 5 minutes into the video, the thought came to me: Why is it natural for me to think that people made this amazing system out of legos while so many imagine the universe, and everything in it, coming together by chance? As intricate as this system is in the video, it doesn't even come close to compare with the complexities of the human body.

Just something to think about. I'm thankful that God is the Engineer of engineers, no matter if some don't want to give him credit for it.


Prayer for This Week...

Hey all,
Here's how you can be praying for me this week.

Tomorrow night at FLOOD I am teaching from 2 Chronicles 33. While I was away last week at Hume Lake, I read this passage in my quiet time and the Holy Spirit just made it pop out at me. Since then, I haven't been able to shake it and sense him leading me to teach it at FLOOD. So please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.

Thank you so much for praying.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

God's Extreme Kindness

"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. 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 33:10-13, ESV

Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, the king who had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD, carrying out reform to bring the people back to God. After Hezekiah died, Manasseh became king at the age of twelve and his character came out loud and clear when he took the throne.

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD... For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem shall my name be forever." And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. — 2 Chronicles 33:2-6, ESV

He went the complete opposite direction than his father had gone. And God was angry. But notice the beginning of 33:10 - The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. He called out to them. He was wanting to talk with them but they ignored his word. So he went to the next step. He brought up the Assyrian army who captured Manasseh and led him away with hooks.

This was God pouring his wrath out on Manasseh. This was God handing him over to the commanders of the army of Assyria. But why? Why would God go to such extreme measures?

Because of his kindness.

In Romans 1 Paul brings up the topic of "the wrath of God." After the wrath of God is mentioned, there is a phrase that is repeated a few times: God gave them up...
  • "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts..." (Romans 1:24)
  • "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions..." (Romans 1:26)
  • "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)
God gave them up. But why? Because of the fact that "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4).

Notice the response of Manasseh after being captured and led away with hooks. He humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He humbled himself. And this led him to do the following:
  • he entreated the favor of the Lord...
  • he prayed...
And God's response: "...and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom" (2 Chronicles 33:13). God was moved. God forgave. God restored. And this is what he still does for us today.

I am not saying that every bad situation is thrown at us by God. Some of it is just life, but God's sovereignty is still over "just life." There is a purpose in the pain. But I will also admit that there are things that God hands to us for the purpose of calling us back to himself. As hard as the situation is, his kindness is the motivation of his heart. Kindness? Yes. As far as Manasseh was from following God, God went to extreme measures to get his attention, bringing him back to a "relationship" with himself. And it worked, because after of this "Manasseh knew that the LORD was God" (2 Chronicles 33:13).

God's response to Manasseh's rebellion seems pretty extreme. Think about it: God used an army to get Manasseh to stop long enough to make him see what he was doing. But when has God not used extremes to get our attention or to accomplish his will? Remember the cross? That act of Christ suffering on behalf of mankind was extreme, excruciating, and horrible. But when we see it from God's perspective, that act of wrath was motivated by a heart of kindness, for God so loved the world...

I don't know about you but I'm thankful that God's kindness is so extreme.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Miracles As Confirmation, Not As Foundation


When therefore [Jesus] was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. — John 2:22, ESV

Miracles.

They are so exciting. When one happens (and I believe that they do all the time) no one knows what to say. We use the word miraculous so often, but when it is truly the miraculous, it is obvious because the only response that comes to mind is an inability to respond. Everyone's mouth is open but words aren't flowing. Verbal descriptions seem unable to describe the moment. Tears usually do a better job than words when it happens.

What are some miracles?

People being healed. People being rescued and protected. Water turning into wine. The Red Sea splitting so the Israelites can walk across it. The greatest: Jesus' resurrection. You know: all those cool stories in the Bible.

But, for one example, I also see the sunrise and sunset happening every day as miraculous. Think about it. Our earth is spinning at 1,000 mph while traveling around the sun at about 66,000 mph. Then on top of that, our solar system is traveling around the nucleus of the Milky Way Galaxy at around 540,000 mph. The fact that we aren't just chaotically spinning through the universe blows my mind. I see that as miraculous. But it's become mundane.

But the miraculous, as amazing as it is, is not the foundation to our faith. The miraculous is rather confirmation of the fact that God is still interacting with us. It is not what our faith stands on.

God's word is the foundation.

It is God's word that reveals to us the nature of God. It is God's word that explains the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. It is God's word that describes our fallen nature and God's remedy for our plight. It is God's word that explains times of God's intervention with man. It is God's word that explains how Christians should live. It is God's word that explains God's character. It is God's word that introduces us to the new life that is found in Jesus. The miraculous? Just confirmation of what God has already been telling us.

The response of the disciples to the resurrection of Christ was not another emotional experience, followed by another experience and one more to come later. Rather, the response to Christ's word was a belief in the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. They believed what was said because of the miraculous that they experienced. The word of God became the foundation that the miraculous built on. It was never meant to be the other way around.

So what's our response? Spend time with Jesus in his word. Come to a conviction that his word is true. Look for the miraculous every day to point you to a confirmation of the validity of the word of God. Read the Bible. Study it. Enjoy it. Wrestle with it. Argue with it. Agree and disagree, but always submit to it. Why? Because it is the very word of God. I'm convinced that even the act of reading the Bible can be miraculous when you actually hear God speaking to you through it. His presence, as we read his word, is confirmation of the truth of his word, not the foundation for out faith.

So, be excited when you notice and experience the miraculous. Be excited that the miraculous is about to happen, but stand on the foundation of Scripture. It is that foundation that holds you up during the times when you can't see the miraculous happening.

The miraculous confirms the Bible. It has always been that way. And that will never change.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

LEADERSHIP: Let That Sink In and Scare You

"For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD." — 2 Chronicles 28:19, ESV

The Lord humbled a whole nation because of the evil leadership of the king. A whole nation experienced punishment because of the lack of Godly leadership by Ahaz.

And this humbled and scared me.

I am called to lead the ministry that God has entrusted to him. Those whom God brings into the ministry have been entrusted to me to help lead them along as they pursue Christ. Some come in knowing Christ and some come in completely against Christ. However, no matter where each person is in their journey of following Christ, I am called to help them further on in that pursuit.

The weight of that responsibility really hit me this morning as I read this passage (2 Chronicles 27:1-28:21). Two kings. Two different directions in their leadership. Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and then accomplished things that were beneficial for the people of Israel (even though the people still followed corrupt practices [27:2]). Ahaz, Jotham's son, did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel (28:2-3).

The response of God to the leadership of Ahaz was this: "THEREFORE the LORD his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria,..." (28:5). And all of the people were affected by it.

So it made me stop and reflect on my call as a leader. I'm humbled. I'm overwhelmed so often. The thought of having influence does scare me, but the call to lead is obvious and one that I have accepted. I want to be a leader who thinks through the fact that every decision that I make has an affect on others. I want to lead in such a way that I am a blessing first and foremost to Jesus, and then a blessing to those that I lead.

These verses from Titus stand out as strong reminders of the high calling of leading others as stewards of God's flock:

For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (1:7-9, ESV)

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (2:1, ESV)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (2:7-8, ESV)

I wrote these words in my journal after reading and thinking through this: "But leaders, who never humbly think of their high calling and responsibility, may be the worst and most careless 'leaders' around." 

The call of leadership hit me this morning. My reaction to it: fear and humility. And I'm thankful that my reaction was such. But, I will lead as I follow Christ. I will take God's counsel that he gave to Joshua, apply it, step up to the call, and lead as I am lead.

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:6,7; ESV)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Danger of Strength. The Gift of Pain.

"But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God..." — 2 Chronicles 26:16a, ESV

Strength. Ease. Comfort.

These are what we strive for. These are what we pray for when the tough stuff hits. These three things probably make up the majority of the prayers that we pray for ourselves and others.

Is it wrong to pray for these things? Not at all.

  • Strength to continue in the work that Jesus called us to.
  • Comfort given as we face trials and as pain interrupts our lives.
I want people praying for me like this when I'm in need, but I want to be open to the way that God decides to answer their requests.

Uzziah started off well. It says in 2 Chronicles 26:4 that "he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,..." At 16 years old he became king and started off well in God's eyes. But the problem came when he was strong. Strength is needed to accomplish an overwhelming task. However, that strength can also lead us toward conceit and self-reliance. These character traits are not connected to the life that God leads us into. Rather, they lead us away from God. That's why Paul so thankfully could write this in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harm me, to keep me from becoming conceited." — 2 Corinthians 12:7, ESV

What was the thorn? No one knows. Many people have their opinion but no one really knows. And honestly, do we really think that Paul wrote this verse so that people could sit around and argue about what that thorn actually was or to encourage us toward accepting God's gracious provision of thorns in our own lives to keep us from becoming conceited?

Could it be that God's most gracious and loving act could be given to us through a most annoying and painful trial? Could it be that the very tool of God to move us forward in the journey with Christ we pray against, constantly asking for comfort from it? Even Paul prayed that God would take that thorn away, but he asked three times and left it alone. When he knew God's answer to his request of releasing him from the thorn, he accepted it as God's gracious gift and said,

"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." — 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10, ESV

Content with weakness. Content with insults. Content with hardships. Content with persecutions. Content with calamities.

Content   | eudokeo |
  1. be pleased with
  2. enjoy, take pleasure in
  3. prefer, choose as better
I look at that statement from Paul. I look at the word that he chose to use (content) to describe his heart toward his suffering and struggles. I look at this and admit that I have a long way to go. There is still conceit in my heart which is why God blesses me with the "thorn in the flesh" as a most gracious gift.

Thank you Jesus.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Idolatry of Ministry

I didn't understand it.

Attendance at FLOOD had been strong all summer. I was so excited for this new series that we started on Wednesday night called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church." I just knew that crowds of people would show up for this series, especially college-aged people.

The attendance was the lowest that I had seen in a long time. And it hit me. Discouragement came over me like a wet blanket. I couldn't shake it. I went to bed with it hanging over my head. I woke up in the middle of the night, once again being greeted by discouragement. The next day, more of the same.

So after dropping my boys off at school, I drove to a nearby park to have a life-changing "quiet time" with Jesus to figure out the problem. But when I got to the park, a lake about 40 minutes away came to mind (Lake Gregory in Crestline, CA). So, I got in the car and went there.

When I made it to Lake Gregory, I grabbed my chair and Bible and find a sweet spot right on the lake. And so I was ready for the secret to seeing growth multiply like never before at FLOOD. But the problem that was brought to me was not a quick fix for it was not a simple dilemma.

I opened up my Bible to where I stopped a couple of days before. 2 Chronicles 20. And here's what "popped out" of the page at me:

"Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." — 2 Chronicles 20:3, ESV

He set his face to seek the LORD. And I began to sense the Lord leading me to look at my own life. And the truth of the matter was this: I haven't been setting my face to seek God. Rather, I've fallen back into the duties of following Christ instead of simply loving and relating with Jesus. I had become the very person that I had preached about the night before at FLOOD (see Revelation 2:1-7).

I had become an idol worshipper, and my idol of choice was not technically a "graven image" or some fake deity that demanded sacrifices upon sacrifices to appease it's angry temper. Rather, my idol is called "FLOOD." That's right: the ministry that God has allowed me to lead the past few years has become and idol that I put all of my focus and attention on to "see it grow."All of my efforts and most of my adoration has been spent on a ministry rather than the God of and over that ministry.

I sat there embarrassed. I confessed my sin of idolatry. I remembered how things were before they got so complicated. I repented of that sin, the sin of forsaking my first love, and changed things. One way I changed things was to schedule out my times spent with Jesus before I did anything else. I want to be a man who sets his face to seek the LORD.

The main problem with allowing ministry to take the place of God in your life is that you're always disappointed with ministry. There will always be something that didn't go right or an event that didn't have enough people show up to it (because if I'm really honest, there is always room for one more person to show up). Disappointment and discouragement set in and affected the other aspects of our lives.

So I repented. I came back to that which I knew. I surrendered completely to Jesus once again. I don't want to be consumed by failures or achievements. Rather, I want to be consumed by Jesus, and then follow his lead to see his dreams become a reality. Pete Wilson says it this way:

"Surrendering doesn't mean we spend less energy on pursuing our dreams, but it does mean we spend less nervous energy. It means we see our dreams for what they are—possibilities and promises and goals, not sources of our peace and security. It means our confidence is no longer in our ability to achieve each one of our dreams, but in the strength and power of the God we claim to follow" (Wilson, Pete, "Empty Promises", pg. 153).

To completely surrender is tough for a person who likes as much control over a situation as possible (and if you missed that, I'm speaking about myself). What if I completely surrendered and then everything went south? What if I surrendered, worked hard and then everything failed?

And then I received a Facebook notification. And it showed a good group of people who liked my post from that day. Here is that post:

"But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded." — 2 Chronicles 16:7, ESV

And I knew it was Jesus.

So, I confess to you my idolatry in order that I may be free from of it. I am tired of "doing ministry" with this constant check box and grade book attached to every movement that I do. I confess my need to achieve to feel valued. I confess that I am no more of an expert in ministry after almost 20 years as I was the first day I started (the only problem is that I knew what I was doing that first day of ministry - or so I arrogantly thought).

So, I'm getting back to loving Jesus. I'm getting back to my relationship with him, and my time with him in his word (this morning) was absolutely mind-blowing.

And I learned this: "Our dreams, no matter how great or noble they may be, always make lousy gods" (Wilson, Pete; "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church", 153).

SO FLOOD FAMILY: I love you more than you know, but I love Jesus more than you could imagine. I am all in for Jesus. I am sorry that I once again fell into what we studied on Wednesday night at FLOOD, achieving so much for the kingdom that I actually neglected my relationship with the King. I ask for your forgiveness, for I desire to help you go deeper with Jesus, but in order for that to happen, I have to be diving deeper into Jesus myself.

I can't promise an increase in attendance at anything that we do. But this I can guarantee: Jesus will be present and lives will be changed, no matter how many show up.

I love you more than you.

What a ride,
Brian

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PRAYER FOR THIS WEEK...

Hey all,
Here's how you can be praying for me:

This Wednesday night at FLOOD we are starting a new seven-week series called, "What Jesus Doesn't Like About Church." It's a seven-week look at the seven churches in the book of the Revelation. I am SO excited for this series. Please pray as I prep for, pray through, and preach this message. Thank you so much.

And thank you for praying for IGNITE. It was absolutely EXPLOSIVE!!! Seriously. I couldn't believe how incredible the evening was. We are already planning and excited for our next one (January 26th, 2013). Thank you again. I'll be posting videos and photos of the evening as they become available.

Friday, September 7, 2012

ONE HEART: Connect with God

On Wednesday night at FLOOD I preached on our new vision for the ministry (Connect with God. Connect with others). The first core value within that vision is this:

ONE HEART: Connect with God.

This core value is the first priority—the catalyst— of everything that happens in our ministry. We want people to connect with God.

I have a desire to see every person who is a part of what God is doing at FLOOD to connect with God in a meaningful way, every single day. I want to help create an atmosphere every single Wednesday night at FLOOD where people can come in and encounter God in a real way (of course I can only do my part — God decides how to connect).

This is the first thing. Connect with God.

Have you connected with God today? I would love to hear your story of how you connected with God at some point this week, whether in your personal time with him or at a worship service somewhere. If you would leave a comment below about how you connected with God and what that was like for you, I would love to read about.

Monday, September 3, 2012

IGNITE is COMING!!!

It is just around the corner. Ignite is this Saturday (5:00-8:00pm at PFB Church). Doors open at 4:30pm with free giveaways (the grand giveaway is a new iPad). Check out the video to see what IGNITE is. Check out www.igniteusnow.com to get more information. Bring everyone you know.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Here's How You Can Be Praying This Week...

I am so excited for this week coming up. Last week was wonderful and God did some great things. But I'm excited to see him do even more this week. Here's how you can be praying for me this week:

1). On Wednesday night at FLOOD, I am preaching on our new vision for FLOOD. I am more excited about this vision than I have ever been for any "vision" for ministry in the past. Why? Because it's personal. For the past almost 20 years I have piggy-backed off of the visions of other ministries. However, this one I feel like God gave to me personally for FLOOD. It only took 20 years. Please pray as I prep, pray through and preach this message. Please pray for the FLOOD family, that every person would get on board with the vision and that we would see the greatest ministry ever since FLOOD began.

2). IGNITE is this Saturday (www.igniteusnow.com). We have an incredible worship event planned. Shane Carroll (Lead and Teaching Pastor, Pure Young Adult Ministries) and I will be teaching at this IGNITE. Ryan Hall (Living Waters Church) and Ashley Beckford (Christ Church of the Valley) will be leading worship. Please pray that God would bring Christians from all over the valley (and beyond) to come together for this. Pray for God to move in such a way that we are moved to ministry. Come be part of it if you're free this Saturday at 5pm at PFB Church.

Thank you so much for praying.

Just Let Go

"Be still and know that I am God..." — Psalm 46:10, ESV

"The Hebrews word for 'be still' literally means, 'let go.' It tells us to cease striving at the level of human effort" (Wilson, Pete, Empty Promises; Thomas Nelson, Nashville. pg. 88)

Just let go. Do you remember the first roller coaster that you ever road? I'm not talking about the little kids one. I'm talking about one of those big ones. My first one: Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland. And honestly: I was terrified. Even though I was riding it with my parents, I was still terrified. I had never been on anything so fast (even though I wasn't aware that driving to Disneyland meant that we actually went faster on the freeway than on Thunder Mountain). The first time was scary, but there was an excitement still. And then I went on it again and again. And then I became more brave. I actually let go of the crossbar and put my hands in the air. That's right: NO HANDS!!!

Remember when you could do that? Remember when things were simpler — those days when you were younger. You just knew that everything would be okay. To let go of the crossbar on a roller coaster was a thrill. You didn't think about the "what if" but rather just let go and accepted whatever came.

Do you ever wonder if God is trying to get us back to that place again when it comes to our walking with him? "Let go and know that [he] is God." That's it. Those things that are scary to do. That line that is difficult and intimidating to cross. He may be calling us to finally let go of the worries that entangle us. He may be calling us to LET GO!!! So, LET GO!!!

"Be still and let go of your own understanding.
"Be still and let go of your own human efforts.
"Be still and let go of your desire for more power.
"Be still and let go of your need to control outcomes.
"Be still.
"Be still and be reminded that you are finite... but God is infinite.
"Be still and let God be God in the most intimate places of your life. Because in the end, that's the only power that will change anything" (Wilson, Pete, pg. 88).

So... LET GO!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Here's How You Can Pray...

Hi all,
I just wanted to give you an update on how you can be praying for me this week.

  1. I have the honor and privilege to get to be the speaker for Upland Christian Academy's retreat, this Tuesday and Wednesday. The theme is, "For God and For God Alone." Please pray for me as I prep, pray through and preach at this retreat.
  2. On Wednesday night at FLOOD we are looking at the topic of "PURE." It's a one night look at what the Bible calls us as Christian to — to live lives that are truly set apart for Christ, pure in word and deed. It is true that we are saved by grace through faith. It is true that salvation is a free gift, paid for by the precious blood of Christ. However, the life that we are called to is a life of obedience. Discipleship will cost us everything. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message.
  3. This weekend I get the opportunity to speak for a dear congregation from the San Jose area. This congregation has become very dear to me. The theme for their retreat is, "In Christ Alone." 
This summer has been so busy with ministry at PFB and outside speaking opportunities. This is the home stretch of a great but very tiring summer.

Thank you so much for praying for me. It means more than you know. I love you all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

IGNITE IS COMING!!!

Prayer for this Week...

Hi all,
Thank you so much for your constant support and encouragement through praying for me and the ministry that God has called me to. I personally have a week off from teaching this week, but ministry is still going on at PFB and at FLOOD. Please be praying for our junior high and high school ministries as they organize a huge outreach this Wednesday before FLOOD. It is the "Back to School Rodeo." They are going to have games and crazy stuff from 5:00-7:00pm in the parking lot at PFB. Then, at 7:00pm, everyone will come in to the FLOOD worship service for a time of praise and listening to God's word being taught by my cousin, Megan Marshman (yes I'm a proud cousin - she is the preacher of the family).

Please pray for this outreach. We want to see students and their families who come with them surrender to Jesus and find a church home at PFB if they don't already have one.

Also, please be praying for me on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the young adults of FLOOD are going to Mothers Bay in Long Beach and then lunch on 2nd Street (I know - tough job). I really want to see community build and grow within the young adult ministry of FLOOD, so these types of events are huge. But please pray for me as I will be driving from Long Beach on Saturday afternoon/evening to Hartland, CA (about 5 hours north) to speak at Hartland Camp for a fundraiser worship service on Sunday morning.

Thank you so much. Love you all more than you know.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

JESUS: Our Lord Before Our Savior

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." — 1 Peter 3:15, NIV

Revere Christ as Lord. Lord. The word Lord in the Greek language is kyrios. Here are the definitions that come up for that word
  • he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
    • the possessor and disposer of a thing
      • the owner; one who has control of the person, the master.
      • in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor.
    • is a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants salute their master
    • this title is given to: God, the Messiah.
I know that it is popular to hear pastors/preachers invite people to accept Jesus as their Savior. The only problem with that is that it's not correct. Here Peter tells us as followers of Christ to revere Christ as Lord. Paul, when writing to the church in Rome, told them this: "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [kyrios] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, ESV). 

A good friend of mine uses this line often when preaching to others: "Christ cannot be your Savior until he is your Lord." We are called to set apart Christ as Lord (master, owner, supreme authority). If we do that, our lives will show that we have made that decision and have that conviction. Because if Christ is kyrios of my life, then I will do what he commands me to do.

My life should be proof that Christ is the Lord of my life. Understand me: I am in no way stating that what we do will make us right with God. Rather, our lives and the things that we do will prove that we have been made right with God. Isn't that what Jesus meant when he said:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." — John 15:5-8, ESV

We are called to be different. We are called to holiness. We are called to live lives that are set apart for Christ. We should look different. We should be different. But it starts not with willpower or self-discipline, but rather starts with setting apart Christ as Lord and then actually living our lives as if we have truly done that, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's all about Jesus. It always has been.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Prayer for This Week...

Hi all,
Thank you so much for praying last week. We saw four people profess their love for Christ through believer's baptism. It was such an incredible thing to be part of and to witness.

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

On Wednesday night at FLOOD I am finishing up our two-week series called, "LOVE GOD. LOVE OTHERS." Last week was an incredible look at the first commandment. Believe in the one true God and love him. This week: how to love others.

Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message. I am praying for the Holy Spirit to move in such a way that people in FLOOD sense his leading and accept the call that he has on each one of their lives, accepting the mission that he is calling us all to. I am so excited.

Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Congratulations Steven and Calie

I saw this video of a surprise engagement. It brought so much joy to my heart because Steven was part of my youth ministry back in the day.

Congratulations, Steven and Calie. I'm so happy for you both.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Prayer for This Week

Hi all,
It was an incredible couple of weeks away preaching. God is still on the move, working in the hearts of people as they hear the truth about Jesus. But I have to admit that it is so good to be home.

Here's how you can be praying for me this week.

I will be starting a new two-week series this Wednesday night at FLOOD titled, "Love God. Love Others." We are taking two weeks to look at the greatest commandment in all of the Bible. I am so excited for this series. Please be praying for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this Wednesday night.

Thank you so much.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holy Spirit: Fall On Them Like A Snuggie

Last night I preached about the cross of Christ, presenting the gospel for the 180 or so high school students here at Mt. Hermon. When I finished the message, the students were sent out to a 30 minute time of silence and solitude. From there they came together at the outside amphitheater for acoustic worship.

As the students came in, there was something different "in the air." Worship began and what happened left me speechless. I can't even describe what happened. My best attempt: the Holy Spirit "came into that place" in a way that I can't ever remember experiencing. The worship was pure. Hands raise. Tears shed. Grateful hearts for what Christ did for us on the cross. Hugs and encouragement. Prayer as a family.

As I worshipped and watched what was going on, I saw in my mind's eye a blanket falling over all of the people there worshipping. It pumped me up. So then I prayed this, "Holy Spirit, fall in this place like a Snuggie for each person here. May each person experience you personally."

And I believe he did. I am still speechless. I am looking forward to what happens next.