“O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.” Psalm 30:3-4
At 12:45 am on Thursday, September 27th, I get a call from my Mom in England telling me that my Dad just had a heart attack. She was at the hospital awaiting the doctors. They had just wheeled my Dad back into a room. Gratefully, God wasn’t finished with my Dad and he is recovering well right now. In some ways we saw Ps. 30:3-4 fulfilled before our very eyes.
But at that point it hits you, Life is fragile. Sometimes we think things are so constant and fixed. That people will always be around to call or pick up where you left off. But it’s not always so. Gang, Cherish your loved ones. Tell them you love them again. Value people. God does and we should too.
And yet when a loved one passes, we can know that we serve a great God of comfort and mercy. He reminds us of the hope we have, the love that is real, and the joy that awaits us. Death is hard and it hurts. The tears & pain is real (I’ve see it too many times). But for the believer in Jesus, we can rest in this reality….this world is not meant to be our home. It’s not ever permanent. We are sojourners just passing through. And Heaven is going to be the best family reunion ever!
“Remember the Alamo!”…that’s what they say anyway. Sitting here in the San Antonio Hyatt it’s kind of hard to forget the Alamo, since it’s right out my widow. What is it that we should remember about the Alamo anyway? I do remember being here at the Alamo about 30 years ago and I remember from Peewee Herman that the Alamo has no basement, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean.
For Davy Crockett and Sam Houston, the Alamo was a disaster. That was over 170 years ago, but for some reason we still want to remember it. There have been many disasters since then: How about Custer’s Last Stand, the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam and of course who can forget 9/11. We remember these and more. Why? Are we a morbid people who just like to remember “train wrecks” or is there something more?
I think it was George Santayana who said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If only Hitler had remembered Waterloo we might be living in a much different world today. So, it must be a good thing that we do remember these tragic events so that we can learn from them. Nevertheless, there are definitely some “indiscretions” in my past I would like to forget about. Unfortunately, my friends and family already know about them and consequently, I cannot erase them from the past.
Paul the Apostle had some of those “indiscretions” too. He was talking about sin in the Bible when he said: “I am the chief” (of all sinners). When I first read that I thought, if that’s true, then who could ever be a good person and go to heaven? The answer, of course, is, nobody. So, why was Paul not condemned and what if anything, can be done to save us from condemnation?
God said that if you believe that Jesus died to cover your sins, then: “…I will be merciful to their (your) unrighteousness, and their (your) sins [b]and their (your) lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Heb 8:12).
So, bottom line is: You and God both remember the Alamo, but only you remember your sins because when He looks at you, He only sees Jesus and all else is cast as far as the East is from the West. Your sins are no more.
San Antonio, 2018
“An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable” Prov. 14:4
As I look around my office I notice that it’s a bit messy on first impressions. Sticky notes are placed all over, files are stacked, and yes there is a little dust! I’ve got papers I need to go through for ministry areas, projects we are working on currently, and people’s information and such to connect with. I’ve tried to keep things clean, but it just turns messy again. To some it may look like I’m “out of control” or “don’t care”, but to me I know where everything is and the timing of it. I see the mess different than the outsider. Then I realized something: Ministry is meant to be messy.
It’s messy not in a sense of carelessness in activity or callousness to the call, but in the sense of activity for forward progress. There is always something to do for the glory of God.
You see, Jesus wants His Church to be a light in the community, salt n this earth, busy about his work & witness. That takes planning, preparing, vision, and action. That takes a bit of getting messy. Sure there are costs and risks to take (sometimes we all just want things nice & tidy), but messiness is part of the progress for His kingdom’s sake.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned from the messiness of ministry:
1) MESSINESS KEEPS ME DEPENDENT UPON GOD. When He is in control, I’m not. When I’m a bit over my head, it’s actually a good thing. It’s where God must step in and work and I must step back and let Him.
2) MESSINESS KEEPS ME PRAYING. Knowing there is much to do I find myself praying for these things God is doing. I’m praying for the people it effects, the plans to go forward rightly, the power of the Spirit to be revealed, and the Person of Jesus to be exalted.
So as you look at your day, or your ministry, and think, “What a mess! What am I going to do about it!” Know that it’s never about you getting done a task to check off your list. It’s about you thriving in the mess to let God shine through you.
“O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.” Psalm 130:7
Hope is a wonderful thing. It is not a wishful thinking like a Christmas or birthday gift that may never appear. Hope is based upon a truth that cannot change. It carries with it an assurance of something coming to pass. For the Christian we have hope, not wishful thinking. We have hope in our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:18-19). We have hope in Jesus’ soon return and our glorification (1 John 3:3). We have a hope that doesn’t disappoint (Romans 5:5). It’s not based upon a “maybe if you’re a good boy or girl” (like Santa). It’s not based upon a “possibly if He’s in a good mood today” (like a grumpy grandpa). Nor does it come from a “there’s a slight chance today” (like a weather man). It is not changed by politics or people. It is not hindered by circumstances or situations. No, our hope is secure and solid, based upon His eternal and unchanging character. It is birthed in His eternal truth, wrapped in His love, extends mercy to all, and is effective to redeem every lost soul. Jesus has given us hope, because He is our hope.
What a wonderful song of hope we have to sing to the LORD today! Have you lost sight of the hope that has been given to you through Jesus? Have you been bogged down with the cares of this life that you’ve lost focus? Lift your eyes once again to Him, who is your hope, and thank Him with a new song of hope from your own heart.
“And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat'” - Mark 6:31
What day is it? Wasn’t it yesterday that we just celebrated Christmas? You mean summer is almost here already? The sayings are all to familiar to us all. Time flies and we are busy.
Jesus’ ministry was in full swing by now. The disciples had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded. It was a somber and sad day. They were so busy in ministry that they didn’t even stop to grab a quick bite at In-N-Out! Emotionally they are drained, physically they are lacking, and spiritually they needed to be recharged. How? By spending some solitude time with Jesus.
They probably thought, “Good idea Lord, let’s get to that deserted place. No cell phones, no demands, nap time! Oh, we all need a vacation!” Yet that’s not what Jesus meant. For on the other side was a multitude to minister to and He knew it! I’m sure Jesus was seeing the demand, and their weariness, and knowing what was on the horizon as their Good Shepherd He stepped in to say, “Let’s go guys”.
"But where’s the rest?” they might say. "Where’s the vacation that is so needed? Lord, I’m tired and spent.” Listen, it’s found in the boat with Jesus! That’s the beauty of a boat ride with Jesus. It’s not about getting somewhere all the time and getting things done. It’s about spending some time with the Creator of it all.
Friend, we all need to rest physically. We all need vacations from time to time to recharge. Summer is a good time for that. But is your soul resting spiritually? Don’t neglect those times when the Lord says, “Let’s get away together for a moment. You need it and I’ve got something to share with you”. You’ll be blessed and refreshed in the beauty of that boat ride with Jesus!
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
Life is full of pressures, responsibilities, and pleasures, yet you only have a limited amount of time on this earth. It is difficult to manage and balance all of these things, to fulfill duties and to rest. The easiest thing to do is to get lost in those things that we like and ignore the things we don't.
Some things have no profit at all, whether in this life or the next. Some have great profit in this world and no profit in the next. A person could build great wealth and a great reputation during their earthly life, only to find that when they die, none of it made any difference in eternity. On the other hand, a person could be poor and their name never found on any boards or businesses or in any newspapers, and in eternity find a great reward.
So you must ask yourself, what are you investing in? Our time on this earth is short. Will you be able to enjoy the fruit of your labors forevermore or only for the next 5, 10, or 50 years?
Ask the Lord to help you have a balanced life and an eternal reward. And study His word to evaluate how you are doing.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I’m sitting in the airport in Seattle after dropping my oldest daughter, Hannah, off at Bible college. As I reflect on the past month with her being home I’m amazed at how God has worked in her. She felt the Lord leading her to step out in faith and apply to go to the Seattle campus. The cost was more. The distance was further from home. The place was unfamiliar.
We prayed and gave it to the Lord and God not only provided what she needed, but even more! It truly was a miracle. A step of faith by all of us that I know she will never forget.
We trusted God to get her there, and now as I leave for Phoenix, we are trusting God to take care of her. We won’t be able to hug our firstborn until May. That’s a tough one! It’s another step of faith.
See, God is always calling to us to step out in faith. Some are harder to take than others, but all are necessary. Why? Often through those times is when we see God in a real way. What areas are you having to trust God to move? Finances, health, marriage and family? Don’t give up. Don’t jump ship. Don’t throw in the towel. He isn’t done. Trust Him one step at a time.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."
-Romans 12:15 ESV
More than likely, you are aware that the holidays are filled with much joy, but also much sadness. Have you experienced the difficulty of grief during the "happiest time of year"? Maybe the loss of a loved one, family relationships that are non-existent or abusive, or any number of other things that can make joy during the holidays hard to find.
Some of us are struggling with this more acutely this year, and some have found peace and comfort. For those of you who have been comforted, please be sensitive to those around you that you can comfort with the comfort you've been given (2 Cor. 1:3-4). You don't have to have answers, just an ear to listen or maybe a kind hug to share. But you have to be present and aware of those around you.
For those suffering, don't suffer alone. Reach out and let someone know. You aren't a burden. You are loved. Allow Jesus to encourage you through the compassion of a brother or sister in Christ.
Grace and Peace to you through Jesus Christ,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
Often what gets me through tough times is dreaming of all that God has for us, both now and in the time to come.
What is home to you? When I was a child, I had a naive sense of security in our home. That security was shattered as sin and the ways of this world turned that place into a broken home. Today, I have a sweet home with my wife and daughter... a home that I never dreamed I would ever have or even knew existed, and yet I know it’s not permanent.
Many people search and search for security and a home in this world. But no matter how many moves you make, or how much money you have to remodel, or how much love there is within your family, you’ll never find the home you're looking for here because God designed us for one home, one with Him.
We have only just begun to know all that God has in store for us. Do not waste your time searching for something that cannot be found here, but revel in everything that God has prepared for you. And if you are unsure of what all of that is, open up the Bible and allow God to show you.
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”
- Romans 12:10
Monday we had our Fall Festival at the church. On one hand, it was cool to see so many on our property, from school families, to church families, to community families, it was amazing! Though it was good to see such a great response, numbers are not our goal. What was even greater for me to see was how EACH part does A part for the benefit of ALL parts! And that is what love does. It sacrifices self for the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is His kingdom! That is what the Lord wants of His Church, to love one another practically, passionately, and purely. On Monday, it was not only evident, but also fun!
Unity and love are two factors that we need to give constant attention to in our church and in our lives. Why? Because the effect of sin is selfishness. Unity sets my sights on a bigger picture than me. Love moves me to die to self and be like Jesus to others.
Here are a few reasons to strive for unity in the Body of Christ:
1) Unity in God’s church brings God glory (John 17:22)
2) Unity in God’s church opens the door for great opportunity (to witness to others of why you do what you do) (John 17:21)
3) Unity in God’s church shows maturity (Eph. 4:12-13; Phil. 1:27)
4) Unity in God’s Church is a blessing (ps. 133)
Here are a few reasons to love in a big way:
1) Love is what Jesus commanded us to do (John 13:34)
2) Love is what Jesus wants us to be known for (John 13:35)
3) Without love we are nothing and all sacrifices are meaningless (1 Cor. 13)
4) Love is what endures beyond everything (1 Cor. 13:13)
So, let’s continue to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works (Heb. 10:24), especially as we head into a season of thanksgiving and celebrating the birth of Jesus! Let’s love God greatly, love one another practically, and share Jesus effectively.
Words of encouragement from the leadership at Calvary North.