Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. — Matthew 9:22, ESV
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak." — Mark 7:37, ESV
He has done all things well.
Really? When you read those words do you really believe that? Do I? That Jesus has done all things well? What about during the times when it seems like Jesus forgot to show up? What about the times when he seemed to have failed? What about when it doesn't seem like he really finished a work, leaving you and/or I hanging in the process? What about when he was late?
Here's the thing: all of those "what abouts" are valid, but they aren't true. When I say that they are valid, I mean that from our perspective they hold validity to our experiences of reality. But are they true reality or merely our perspective of reality?
HE HAS DONE ALL THINGS WELL!!!
We can claim this when things seem are good. We can push this when things go as planned, or when God "shows up and saves the day." But can we claim the same thing when Jesus uses the inconvenience or crisis to usher in the miraculous? Of course our answer is, "Absolutely, yes." But now I ask: can we claim that Jesus does all things well even when we have to sit in the inconvenient and crisis for a long time without seeing any hope for rescue? Do we trust Jesus enough to allow pain into our lives to bring us deeper into a relationship with himself? Do we trust Jesus enough to love us beyond ability to comprehend while we experience the storms that are beyond our ability to endure?
Jesus is the God of all. All times. All seasons. All. And in whatever "season" you and I are facing, Jesus is still the God of it. And no matter what we face, we need to ask Jesus for his perspective of his reality. As he does that, he will bless us and show himself faithful once again. This will cause us to proclaim boldly, and without hesitation:
"He has done all things well."
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. — Matthew 4:1
The event that Jesus just finished with was his baptism. And what an incredible "cloud of witnesses" showed up to be part of his special day.
"And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17, ESV).
What an incredible event, followed by a horrifically and horribly painful forty days as Jesus was tempted by the Devil. And the key point to notice in this is right in Matthew 4:1 - "Then Jesus was let up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted..."
You see, this was not a "chance" meeting between Jesus and Satan. This wasn't Satan luring Jesus away from the baptism to meet him unknowingly in the desert to be tempted. Rather, Jesus was led up by the Spirit. This was all in the plan of God.
But how can this be? I see a main reason as being this: Jesus can now relate with us in temptation, for he has been tempted in every way yet was without sin. Jesus experienced a mountain top experience as he went down into the water. He then experienced the valley floor as we he was led up by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
The key to remember in all of it is this: whether you're in a mountain top experience moment right now, or you're scraping you belly along the floor of the valley, God is the God of all of it. Mountain tops. Valleys. God is the good of them all.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
However, we have this other choice. We can run to him and experience life from his perspective, which is true reality. And as we draw in to Jesus, he provides us with what is needed to continue to move forward in the mission that he has given to us.
If you're in the area tonight (Claremont, CA), join us at 6:30pm at Purpose Church Claremont for FLOOD, our young adult worship service as I teach on this from Acts 4:23-31 (472 N. Mountain Ave, Claremont, 91711). If you aren't, join us live online at www.floodnow.com. If you can't make it live, go ahead and subscribe to the FLOOD podcast and download tonight's message.
Hang in there, friend, with whatever is going on in your life. God has a purpose and is in control. He adores you. And for those who are reading this and are experiencing so much pain that it is almost unbearable, hang in there. Jesus is coming. In him is healing and life.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
2 + 2 = 4.
A synonym for run is sprint.
Grass is green (when watered).
The sky is blue (at least the parts we can see without smog or overcast skies).
But God's grace — this makes absolutely no sense. So when John Newton penned the words to, "Amazing Grace", he was really on to something.
Amazing | causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing; startlingly impressive.
It just doesn't make sense. And it is obvious in this verse.
As the churches in Macedonia were experiencing "a severe test of affliction," something startling came out of it. The grace of God compelled them to move completely opposite and away from logical to out of bounds. The grace of God caused them to have overflowed in a wealth of generosity in the midst of severe testing. What was the key?
THEIR ABUNDANCE OF JOY.
With their abundance of joy they faced their extreme poverty with overwhelming generosity, willing to give above and beyond so that others had enough.
What would happen if Christians actually lived like this? What would happen if I did?
It would truly be amazing. It would be by God's grace. And honestly: it just wouldn't make sense.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Thank you so much for praying for me last week while I was in Mexico preaching. It was ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING to see God work. I'm speechless about it. Thank you.
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:
1). This afternoon (Monday) I am officiating the wedding for Jessica Grodeland and Brandon Anderson up at Lake Arrowhead. Please pray for me as I share and lead the ceremony.
2). On Thursday night I am back at FLOOD preaching through the book of Acts. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.
3). On Friday I am officiating at a funeral at PFB Church. I've been told by the family that they are expecting between 400-500 people to show up to this. This is a huge opportunity to share Jesus with a large group of people. Please pray that people would surrender to Christ through this.
4). On Sunday afternoon I have the honor and privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of Erica Wilson and Austin Tenney. This couple has become so dear to me and this is a huge honor to get to be part of their big day.
Thank you so much for praying.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
"COMMON" | idiotes | layman, someone not an expert, untrained
The religious leaders were amazed by the following in Peter and John:
1). Their boldness.
2). The were uneducated.
3). They were common.
That word "common" there is the Greek word idiotes which is where we get our word for "idiot." As Peter and John stood before the 71 members of the Sanhedrin, Peter preached not as a victim in fear before these powerful men, but rather as one with power and boldness. These same members of the Sanhedrin had orchestrated the crucifixion just months before. In this passage they were confronted with one of Jesus' disciples. And their response to him: they were astonished. And why was this? ...they recognized that [he] had been with Jesus.
Peter and John were considered to be "idiots", and yet the wealthy, educated and powerful stood amazed at them because of their boldness and intelligence. But the key to it was not Peter and John. Rather, it was that they had been with Jesus.
Tonight we look at this topic at FLOOD. It is vital to understand that the more that we hang out with Jesus, the more people will recognize by our lives that we have been with him. It will be obvious because of how different we are. We are adequately inadequate, and yet Jesus prefers this. We are not qualified to do his work, and yet he has declared us qualified and equipped us to do just that. Being used by Jesus has nothing to do with how well educated or how wealthy we are. Rather, it has everything to do with whether or not we have been with Jesus. It comes down to our relationship with Christ.
So, are you an idiot?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." — 1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV
What would happen if I actually responded to life WITH everyone else? I can become so focused on my stuff and the things that I need to take care of and get done that I can easily take myself out of community with other believers. Yet, this is a result of self-centeredness, not of following Christ.
This verse, this morning, was a reminder to me that I am on a journey with Christ and WITH OTHERS. And these "others" are not just people that I will bump into here and there, never to see again. Rather, these people are my family because of the bond that comes with being in a relationship with Christ, and who I will be with forever. When one family member suffers, I suffer with them. When one of my family members is honored, I rejoice with them. I don't respond to their suffering with thankfulness to Jesus that I am not suffering. I don't respond to someone being honored with jealousy, wondering when my honor is coming. Rather, I respond to live WITH others and enter into their joys and sorrows, and vice versa. To enter into life with others.
So how are you doing?
Monday, March 18, 2013
"I want to be a good minister and a good teacher. But if my achieving those goals becomes my real source of hope, my significance, my security, more important to me than God's love for me in Jesus, I experience a loss of identity. A pastor is always subject to criticism that can be discouraging when it inevitably happens. But if my preaching and ministry are my ultimate center and I get criticism, then I'm overcome with insecurity. Or when I fail to perform up to my expectations, I'm devastated. Inordinate guilt chins inside me. In the end I begin to disintegrate" (Keller, Tim, "King's Cross", pg. 204).
I read that quote some time back in January of this year and am just now getting around to sharing it. When I read it, it was like an arrow straight to the heart of my being. Today, I can tell you that the Holy Spirit has been working in me, helping me see and find my "significance" in Christ rather than in myself or in my role/calling as a pastor/preacher-teacher. And honestly, a lot of my wanting to be significant comes from me wanting to feel important rather than me wanting to see Christ exalted.
This cannot be.
So that was about three months ago when I read that. Today, here was what the Holy Spirit showed me out of my time with him in Colossians (especially Colossians 2:17):
I'm feeling free. To be significant is pointless if it's about how I feel at the end of the day rather than how much Jesus has been noticed through me every moment of each day. But I can tell you that as I strive to make Jesus my substance, that the benefit of that is that freedom covers me and peace is a reality.
1). Tonight I share with the graduate students at the LA Regional Center of Azusa Pacific University.
2). At FLOOD this Thursday night we are continuing through our verse-by-verse study through the book of Acts. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message.
3). I've got a cough that is holding on pretty well. Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be teaching about 12 times. I really need my voice to hold up and to not be coughing during messages.
Thank you so much.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
I am one of those people who can get so caught up in arriving somewhere that I often forget to pay attention to the journey. I have been invited to walk with God, not just make it to heaven, and yet so often I find myself pressing forward focused on the destination that I often forget that I get to walk with Jesus.
The key thing that I need to keep in mind is this: I know when I have arrived in this relationship with Christ when I am standing before him one day. To feel like I have already arrived in my walk with Christ is to stop walking with him. Arrogance, pride, and a lack of teachability is what awaits me when I believe that I have already arrived. And of this I have been guilty. Often.
I can say that the more that I spend time with Jesus the less that I truly understand. I learn more and then learn that I have so much more to learn. And I don't ever want to lose this.
I pray that this attitude is seen and noticeable in me without me even having to say a word. I still have a long way to go with this, but that's the whole point.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Here's how you can be praying this week. Thank you so much.
This Thursday night I am continuing through the book of Acts at FLOOD. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and preach this message.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Here's how you can be praying this week:
1). Tomorrow night I get to share with the graduate business students at Azusa Pacific.
2). On Thursday night I am teaching on Acts 3 at FLOOD as I share our goals as a ministry.
3). This weekend I have the opportunity to speak at a Men's Retreat.
Thank you so much for praying.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Thank you for praying for me last week. It was a little bit crazy but God was so faithful. Here's how you can be praying this week:
1). Today I am speaking at iPoly (the high school that is connected with Cal Poly Pomona). I will be sharing with their Christian club of between 40-50 students.
2). On Thursday night at FLOOD we are looking at the early church in Acts 2:42-47. What was it about this early gathering of Christians that pleased Jesus so much? What principles do we take from it and apply to ministry today? Please pray for me as pray through, prep, and preach this message.
3). On Friday and Saturday I am speaking to a group of junior high students in Valencia for their discipleship retreat. Please pray that I would hear the Holy Spirit's leading and that he would lead the way in impacting these junior high students for Jesus.
Thank you again for your ministry to me.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
1). Tonight I get to share at a short gathering for the MBA students of Azusa Pacific. Please pray for me as I share with them.
2). Tomorrow night (Wednesday) I have the honor to fill in for Pastor Lisa Toney at PFB Church and get to teach at the Immersion Bible study.
2). This Thursday at noon I am teaching for Campus Crusade at Cal Poly, Pomona. They are having a huge outreach this week. Please pray for me as I share "my story" with them.
3). This Thursday night at FLOOD we are continuing through our study of the book of Acts. Please pray for me this week as I prep, pray through and preach the message on Thursday at FLOOD.
4). On Saturday morning I am sharing at "Man Church" at Pasadena Nazarene. This has always been a great time hanging with other Christian men. Please pray for me as prep, pray through, and preach.
5). On Sunday morning I am finishing up the book of Philippians at Purpose Church. I have absolutely loved the time that I've been able to share with this class.
Thank you so much for praying. It's a busy week but I'm excited about all of these opportunities.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
1). Tomorrow morning (Wednesday) I get to speak to the high school students of Ontario Christian High School.
2). On Thursday night we are continuing through our study of the book of Acts at FLOOD. Please pray for me as I continue to prep, pray though, and then as I preach this message
3). On Sunday morning I get to teach a small group of people at Purpose Church Claremont as we continue to look at the book of Philippians.
Thank you so much for praying.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
1). This Thursday night we are finishing up chapter 1 of Acts at FLOOD. Please pray for me as I'm prepping for this message. I'm not quite sure the direction that Jesus wants me to go yet with this. Thank you so much.
2). This weekend is our youth adults retreat for FLOOD. Please pray for our time together. I'm really excited about this retreat.
That's it for this week. Thank you so much for praying. I appreciate it more than you know.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
"Save yourself!" (see Luke 23:32-39)
He heard it from the crowd. He heard it from the religious leaders. He heard it from the guards. He heard it from a criminal that hung on a cross next to him. Even though each group had different things to say, they all said the same thing: "Save yourself!"
And yet, as I write this, this verse came to mind: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23, ESV). DENY himself. At the cross he was tempted to disobey the very first thing that he told his followers was a requirement to be one of his disciples.
And from the cross he kept hearing, "Save yourself!"
The temptation was that Jesus would save himself. The result if he fell into that temptation would be that he could not have saved us. EVERYTHING was on him at this moment. He was betrayed. He felt completely alone, seeing all of his disciples run away, Peter denying that he knew him three different times, and God turning away from him. The weight of the sin of the world was upon him. And the temptation came. BUT THE JOY kept him up there. The joy of having those that the Father had given to him, to be with him and see him in all of his glory kept him up there (see Hebrews 12:1-2; John 17:24).
HE ENDURED THE CROSS, SCORNING ITS SHAME!
He DENIED himself. He remained on that cross, not just for us but even for those who were calling out for him to save himself. They had no idea what they were asking, and I am so glad that Jesus didn't grant their request.
Thank you, Jesus, that you overcame that temptation of saving yourself. Because you endured, you saved me and I know you.
Monday, January 28, 2013
I just wanted to thank you for praying. I wanted to share four photos with you that will describe how IGNITE went.
This was honestly one of the most powerful worship times that I have ever experienced. It was an incredible night. Thank you for praying.
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:
1). This Thursday night I am continuing through the book of Acts at FLOOD. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message. We've had a great crowd of people coming out to this. I'm so excited about how things are going so far.
2). On Sunday morning I get the opportunity to teach a small group Bible study at Purpose Church. We are going through the book of Philippians in the next 4-5 weeks.
Thank you so much for praying for me.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
There were about 960 high schoolers at this winter camp. On Sunday night, as I called students to surrender to Christ for the first time, or to repent and come back to that relationship with him that they had enjoyed in the past, the response was nothing less than miraculous. I would guess that between 60-70% of the people stayed back on Sunday night to make a decision for Christ and/or repent and come back to Jesus. I couldn't believe what I saw. I even leaned over to someone who was standing next to me to ask him if he was blown away by what he was looking at. He was right there with me: AMAZED!!! Thank you for praying.
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:
1). On Thursday night I am continuing in our study through the book of Acts at FLOOD in Claremont at Purpose Church. This is the third week that we have been in Claremont, and the third week that we have been in the book of Acts. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach this message. I spent some good time studying the passage this afternoon but am not sensing just yet where exactly God is wanting to go with this passage.
2). On Saturday evening we have IGNITE (www.igniteusnow.com). I have a smaller part in this IGNITE as Jarrid Wilson and Phillip Allen come out to teach, with James Rensink and Ryan Hall leading worship. I have an absolutely INCREDIBLE leadership team for IGNITE, and they have worked tirelessly to see this happen. It is this Saturday night at 5pm at PFB Church. I have been excited with the registrations that we have received. People from Carson to a group of 20 from Chino have told us that they are coming, youth groups from Pomona as well as Alta Loma are joining us (along with others).
If you have time on Saturday and want to join us, please do. I would love to see you out there for it (601 N. Garey Ave, Pomona, CA. 91767). If you can't join us in person, please join us live online (www.pfblive.tv)
3). On Sunday morning I am starting a 5-part Bible study through the book of Philippians at Purpose Church in Claremont. Please pray for me as I pray through, prep, and teach this class.
That's about it for now. Thank you so much for praying. God is on the move and I am absolutely blown away by what I have been watching.
Thank you all. I love you more than you know.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:
1). Tonight I am sharing in a short chapel time with the business students in the masters program of Azusa Pacific.
2). On Thursday night I am speaking out of the book of Acts for our second FLOOD worship service in Claremont. Please pray for me as I prep, pray though and preach this message. I so want people to be drawn to Jesus.
3). This weekend the family and I are traveling up to Hume Lake. I have the opportunity of teaching that weekend to about 1,000 high school students. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach the messages up there.
Thank you so much for praying. I can't thank you enough.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Here's how you can be praying for me this week:
1). Tomorrow night is the launch of FLOOD in Claremont. I don't think that I have ever been as excited as I am about this season in ministry. We will be starting the book of Acts. Please pray for me and my team as we prep for this transition. So many people have been doing so much to make this next chapter in the ministry become a reality. Please pray for me as I prep, pray through, and preach the message.
2). This weekend the FLOOD lead team is going on a leadership/ministry prep retreat. Please pray that God will reveal his will for FLOOD for this coming year and give us the ideas that will reach most people for Christ.
Thank you so much for praying. We begin the new year together. I'm so thankful for you.
Monday, January 7, 2013
This is a short post this morning because it is a straightforward statement made by Jesus. Here is the heart of the matter:
If we want to experience the blessed life that God actually wants us to experience, then we have to listen to what he says and then do it. That's it. There's no other way around it.
As some of you read that, a sense of, "I have to what?" comes over you. That phrase "have to" will reveal your heart toward God, his word, and your response. But others will read it and say, "Of course." Why? Arrogance? Some. But for many, it is just an obvious statement.
When we enter into this loving relationship with God through Christ, we come to realize that God's commands are for our ultimate joy. He actually wants us to be blessed in this life. That blessing at times will feel wonderful. At other times, God's blessing is wrapped in the wrapping paper of trial. Either way, God's best is being offered to those who will listen to what he says and then who will do those things.
Do you want God's blessing? It pretty much comes down to listen to and do what God says.
It's that simple. It's our choice.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
You see, I want my life to count. I want to know that at the end of my life I actually made a difference for the kingdom of God. And I don't believe that there is anything wrong with this.
But here's the problem with my thinking. When my focus is on whether or not I'm being effective, then my focus is on me. It's not on Christ or his kingdom, but rather my focus rests on myself and is fed by my own insecurities. Do you what that is? Do you see the core problem here? It's one word.
And do you know what that idol is?
The remedy? Strive to be FAITHFUL. Effectiveness can be manipulated. I can speak in a worship service and manipulate a crowd if my focus is on being effective, because the response of those that I preach to is of utmost importance because my effectiveness is the priority. But when faithfulness to Jesus is the focus, I stay on task and focus on that which is truly the priority: Jesus. I listen for his leading. I obey his will. I strive to do only that which he wants me to. I seek his approval rather than the approval of the crowd. I actually walk with Jesus rather than pretending to.
Some may read this and say, "There's nothing wrong with being effective. In fact, we are supposed to see multiplication when it comes to making disciples." And for those who would say this, I would agree. Unless... Unless your effectiveness is directly connected to your own personal ego rather than to bring glory to Jesus.
How do I know this? Lets just say I have personal experience.
And the thing about focusing on faithfulness instead of effectiveness is this: when you're faithful to Christ, you're always effective. It really can't be said the other way around.
In the end, it really is true: FAITHFUL > EFFECTIVENESS.