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.

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.


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

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.