Monday, December 28, 2009

Pastor Chuck and simple thoughts

Some have wondered, after hearing of Pastor Chuck's recent illness, about his condition. Pastor Chuck suffered a minor stroke, and after receiving a medical examination, is now resting. From what I understand, his doctor has stated that Chuck will make a full recovery, and for this I am truly thankful. We should keep him in prayer, as well as Kay and his family, not to mention the beloved congregation at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I love my pastor dearly, and am praying that he will have a full recovery. Just yesterday, Dec 27, I celebrated my anniversary of coming to faith in Jesus. Over these last 39 years, my pastor has made the most significant mark in my ministry life, and I for one am very grateful for him, on both a ministry and personal level. When my dad went to be with Jesus, Chuck became even more dear to me than he was before, and in many ways I have come to see him as a "father" to one who is now "fatherless". As I look back over 39 years, I am amazed at what the Lord has done with this young, wanna be hippie kid. Truly, from the lowest I could be, God has faithfully done works in my life that only He could do, and for that I am eternally grateful. May the Lord continue working in us all, and may He touch Pastor Chuck and bring him to complete healing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is God Able

As I consider the state of our nation, not to mention California, I can't help but notice how unprepared we all seem to have been for what we are enduring now. Some seem to think that the downturn we have experienced was something that almost came suddenly, without any warning. Obviously, this is not the case as there were rumblings about "recession" going on for some time before the house came tumbling down.
What is telling is how the church, the body of Christ, seems to have been taken in the same way that the nation was taken, and that is they were taken by surprise. I guess many didn't learn the lesson that God gave us in Proverbs, when He said "Go to the ant you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest" (Pr 6:6-8), and "The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer" (Pr 30:25) Sadly, it seems sometimes that our priorities are not what they can be, and it takes "tough times" to awaken us out of our sleep and energizes us to re-prioritize our spending habits.
When God was speaking through Haggai to the people of Israel, He said to them "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of Hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house" (Haggai 1:9) The fact is, we still have money to spend, and we do spend it but we spend it on ourselves. I was mentioning on Sunday that people (Christians) spend more money on Halloween costumes, Starbucks, and Michael Jackson movies then they give to the Lord.
Of course, this is not every person.
There are many who place God first in their giving, but the overwhelming majority of people do not give to the Lord in an entire year what they gave to In-and Out, IMax, or Nordstrom's, bottom line.
Our church has been blessed by the Lord, and I am thankful for all that He has done through so few people. We have a very large church, yet with the amount of people we have we have less than 1/7 supporting the other 6/7 of the church. If people who never give anything would give to the Lord the cost of even one of the cups of coffee they drank this week, our offering would go up over 30 thousand dollars in a week. Think of that for a moment, and ask yourself what you could do for the kingdom of God if you had that amount.
This can sound like I am asking people to stop drinking coffee, or even asking for their money. Of course, there are many who think that way and are suspicious whenever money is mentioned. These are the same ones who think that Disneyland ought to be free, or the government should give everybody free stuff. The fact is, the church is designed to care for itself, and it does so through the loving giving that comes from God's children. What I am concerned about is that the people of God are not exercising faith, and they do not really believe that God will care for them. Jesus said that His Father cares for the birds of the air, and even said we are much more important than mere animals. If His Father cares for them, will He not care for us? Well, the overwhelming amount of people saying that they love God are denying that He loves them, because they do not believe what Jesus said, period. In reality, many are confessing Christians and practical atheists. They just don't believe God really will care for them.
With this in mind, it is my prayer that we actually begin to do even as He said to do. He said Put me to the test, and the only time I remember Him ever saying "Test Me" is when it came to trusting Him with our finances. We need to learn that He is able to do more, abundantly more, than we can ask or think. God is greater than any recession, but if we don't learn the lesson from the ant (which is budgeting/preparing for the future) then we will be no different than the rest of the world, looking to man to care for our needs and forgetting that our Father said He would.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Israel '10

Hey guys...if any of you who read this blog are between 18-35 and were wanting to go with us to Israel, you're going to have to get your deposits in pronto. We only have 10 who have done so, and if we don't have quite a few more, I will have to cancel the trip. If you are planning on going, please let us know and get your deposits in as soon as you can. I will be canceling the trip in November if we don't get deposits, so if you're planning on going, now's the time to let us know...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's been awhile

Well, the month of Sept is almost over, and the Sunday night services emphasizing reaching the lost have had a wonderful impact. We saw quite a number of people respond to the invitations, and I am so blessed that our wonderful friends came and ministered to all who showed up. Mike MacIntosh, David Trujillo, and Pancho Juarez took time out of their very busy schedules to come and minister to us, and I thank God for them and their friendship, but especially for the love they have for the Lord and the lost. For those who showed up for those services, I am sure you were just as blessed as I was to see what God was doing.
I realize that special services draw people on a one time basis. Some like certain speakers, and so they make an effort to be there to hear them. My encouragement would be, now that so many have taken the time and made the effort to come, those of you who have done so can be encouraged to continue doing so. It is so important to be fed, and if you are able to make it out to a Sunday night service, then please continue doing so. It is such a blessing to see so many getting fed, and so many lives being changed for the good. Keep it up!
I am not sure yet what we will do on Sunday nights, but I am already making efforts to invite friends to bring messages. Still, God's word, worship, and withness is available to any who desire it, and hopefully Sunday night will once again be a blessing for many.
On another note, the yearly Woman's conference we have here is coming up soon. I encourage every woman to come if possible, and prayerfully many will bring friends whom we can introduce to Jesus Christ. The conference is for teaching as well as winning people to Jesus, so mark your calendars and be with us. It is October 17th, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The yearly men's conference in Anaheim is scheduled for the next Saturday, Oct 24th and should be a blessing. Men, it is always a blessing having you there with us, so please come and be encouraged.
Finally, I am looking closely at the 1835 trip to Israel that is scheduled for April. If we don't have more sign ups, we will be canceling the tour. If you are considering going, you will need to put your deposit down real soon, or we will have to cancel. No pressure, if you can't do it, hey maybe some other time. But if you want to go, and it can be worked out, please get your deposit in ASAP so we can secure the flights! Love you guys, and hope to see you tonight or Sunday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

go and preach

We have been given the commission to go and share the love of God with the world. Of course, we have opportunity of doing this wherever we are, whether it be in a church service or whether it be when we are getting a cup of coffee. The obvious fact is we have opportunities of speaking of the wonderful works of God wherever and whenever it is possible to do so. Recently i have been thinking that i need to do this more often, and because of this we decided to have a month dedicated to simply encouraging people to get right with God. It is my desire to see many come to faith in Jesus, especially those who are members of this church who are not saved. Funny, you can call a church your home church, and still be unsaved and there are many here in that condition. I pray that the Lord touches them tonight, and that they come to faith in Jesus.
On the 13th, Mike MacIntosh will be sharing the Word. Mike is somebody that I have respected for many years, and is a tremendous example of faith and a heart for the lost. He has seen many churches planted from Horizon San Diego, and has had a school of evangelism for longer than I can remember. He speaks in Mexico often, bring the Festival de Vida outreaches and has seen thousands come to faith in Jesus through this ministry. Raul will be with us also, and we will close the month off by having Pancho share. It will be great and I am looking forward to seeing God move as only He moves. Plan on being with us for all four nights: hey, you might want to make Sunday nights a priority again!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hold On

Well, the Lord is moving wonderfully and I am enjoying seeing the work that He is doing. We have seen quite a number of people answering invitations in church, and I can't help but believe that the Lord is doing something that He has desired to do for some time now, but I have simply not responded. I believe He desires all people to be saved, so giving invitations is simply another opportunity to give people the chance to respond, right there and then, to the opportunity given to them to know Jesus. We have seen quite a number come forward, and believe this will continue for some time to come. I pray God keeps touching lives!
On Sunday night, I will open up a series that is simply designed to give people another opportunity of getting right with God. We will begin the series by meeting in the Chapel. I don't know what to expect numbers wise, so I will just start the series out there. If too many show up for the chapel, we can quickly move it to the sanctuary, but I haven't any sense of what is going to happen, so I will start out there! We will have our own worship team start out the night, then will have a guest band that truly is anointed (Joseph Barkley, formerly of Plumbline)and then will have Moriah share a song, as well as a young girl in our fellowship named Talisa...then, on to the Word and prayerfully, people will get saved and others will re-commit their lives to Jesus.
We are in the last minutes of the last hours of the last days, and it is my hope that God will touch and deliver many people over the next month. Mike MacIntosh, who happens to be one of my good friends and a powerful role model in my life, who is also a great evangelist will be with us on the 13th, and on the 20th we will have Raul, and will close up the series with Pancho. Pray that God moves, and if you can make it, please do and bring an unsaved friend!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another Year Older and...

Well, tomorrow is my birthday, and to be honest this is one of those birthday's that can come and go and it won't make much difference to me. I haven't ever really been someone who cares much about my birthdays, but for some reason this one can go by and I won't pay much attention to it. I think it is because things are pretty hectic in my life at this time, and because there is much going on, this day doesn't hold any meaning to me other than it marks another year of inhabiting this literally old body! Oh well! The thing that is more impacting is that the next birthday I celebrate will mark 60 years of life. At that point, I think I will take notice. Part of the reason is, it won't be that long until I am 70!!!!! Now that makes me feel old, let me tell you. I have several friends who have entered their sixties successfully: Mike MacIntosh, Bob Grenier, Raul Ries, Don McClure, John Milhouse, and Jim Orate have all entered in to their Senile Sixties and all seem to still be able to tie their shoes and to chew their food without it dropping out of their mouths (except for Raul)! Still, that is one year away so let's see what happens when it gets here!
On another note, September will be a good month for ministry. We will have four Sunday nights set apart for special services with an emphasis on evangelism. Please think of friends and family who need Jesus, and invite them to come with you to the services. They will take place every Sunday night of September, and we will have some seasoned guys sharing the word with us: Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, and Pancho Juarez will all be joining us, and we also will have special musical guests, so the evening should be a real blessing and I pray that many people come to faith in Jesus. God knows that this nation really needs Him, and I pray we can do our part in this area to bring Him to people.
I was asked to be a guest on TBN in September, on the 14th but was unable to commit to being on the show. Arthur Blessit asked if I could join him as he hosts that night because he knows that I got saved under his ministry, and wanted me to come on and share about what the Lord did that day back in 1970. I would ordinarily have joined him, but I will be in Santa Cruz participating in a pastor's conference and so won't be here in the area at that time. TBN said that the next time he hosts, perhaps I can come on the program and I would definitely do so if I could bring a witness for Jesus.
On Sept 13 we will have a special guest for our Sunday morning service, as we will have Lt. Gen. Boykin with us. He spoke at our Men's Conference in June, and was quite a hit with the guys, so I believe he will touch quite a number of people when he comes. It is the week-end anniversary of 9/11, so I think many people will have an opportunity to get a good reminder of what we as a country have gone through, and I pray the Lord uses it to touch many lives.
Personally, as I observe this nation I cannot help but weep for it, it is so very lost. ABC is going to begin airing a program that is supposed to be a comedy about families, and guess what? Two homosexuals will be part of the "families" that make America laugh. The creators of such sit-coms know that Americans can view people differently if they get to know them in situational comedies, and the progressives who are trying to redefine family use TV programs to do so. Look at the popularity of Ellen, and remember the sit-com Will and Grace and you will see how people are softened up to believe things that are not lined up with Scripture through the brainwashing of TV programs like these. This is in line with the desire to get homosexual marriages legalized in California, and there is no doubt that this is part of a larger strategy to bring that about. No, I am not suggesting that ABC specifically sets out to spend millions of dollars to re-create America, but at the same time believe there to be a spiritual impetus behind all the evil that is presented as good. All one has to do is spend ten minutes reading Ephesians 4 to see this. There, Paul speaks of unbelievers who live in the futility of their mind, whose understanding is darkened, who are alienated from the life of God, have degenerated pasted feeling and have given themselves over to lewdness, etc. Paul is simply saying that people reject God's light and as a result, walk in habitual darkness, living in a world of make believe because they will not walk in truth. As Pr 21:2 says, Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. These people creating a new society are walking according to their own wisdom, but in doing so are rejecting the clear word of God on the matter. You see the same thing with the "Evangelical" Lutheran denomination that just gave permission for their ministers to live openly homosexual lives and to still pastor churches. I am telling you, we are definitely fighting for the life of the souls of America and we need to wake up to this. Because of this we do need to reach out, so I pray that people will actually show up on Sunday nights with unsaved friends. To be honest, I pray they will show up all the time!
Finally, a friend of mine was telling me how people will see a retreat is coming up, and if they are parents will send their kids to the retreat but because they do, they themselves don't go to the Marriage retreat because they can't afford it. He said that he tells his friends that if there is only one retreat they can go to, it should be the Couple's retreat because the kids need solid parents, and by going to the Couple's retreat, they as parents get closer to God and become better moms and dads. I can't help but agree with this. It starts with the parents, and trickles down into the family. For my married couples reading this, save up for things that build up your marriages and get involved!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life in the slow lane

Well, we are on a two week "vacation" and I am hoping we actually do vacate, though it is really not something we ever really do! The fact is, i have been called up for jury duty, so i will have to see if i am going to serve this week...i won't find out until tomorrow, so we shall see! I can't help but hope that they don't require me to serve, as I really do need some time off between today and Wednesday.
Speaking of today, we had a guest teacher, Dr. Hindson, and I know that he is always informative and encouraging, so I pray that everything went well today. This Wednesday, Dave Trujillo will be with us, then next week we will have Larry Powers (always a blessing) and then on Wed night, we will have a friend from Germany named Nick Long...the church will be in good hands, and prayerfully Marie and I will get some rest.
Our married couple's retreat starts on Friday, but Marie and I will go to Palm Springs this Wed (God willing) so we can rest a bit before the week end...retreats are always such a blessing, and the place we stay for this one is really a great hotel...i just wish more people were able to get away for these kinds of teaching/ministry week ends...many years ago, when our church was around 1/3 our present size, we took 360 couples on a married couple's retreat. It was the largest we have ever seen, 1/3 of the church got away for a week end...of course, we have never seen anything like it again, but man was that ever a highlight for us!
Our Monday night study seems to be going well, and for that I am thankful. I pray that the study takes off, and that more and more find it in their schedules and priorities to make it out to the study. Mike called it Committed because that is what he believes the church needs to be, and man if that age group grabs hold of the thought, it will be a dynamic study and powerful group of believers. The fact is, that is the age group of this church when we first began, and look at what the Lord did with that original tribe! May He do even more amongst us!
In September, we are planning on having a month of guest speakers on Sunday nights and I really believe we are going to see Jesus do some wonderful things. Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, and Pancho Juarez will all be teaching/evangelizing Sunday nights in September, and I am expecting to see many, many people come to faith in Jesus through their ministries. I more than likely will kick the series off by teaching on Sept 6, and then will step back and watch God move! It is going to be great!
We have a number of people who have signed up with interest for Israel, over 60, so I pray that they all can go. I long to spend time with them in the Holy Land, and we are really looking forward to doing so. On our way home from Israel, Marie and I will be stopping for a few days in London, as I have been asked to teach at a Calvary pastor's/leaders conference in Oxford, and have agreed to do so, so when our group leaves for the States, Marie and I will leave later on the same day for London. Last year some 500 leaders/pastors attended the conference, so I am not sure what will happen this year but it will be a real blessing, and we are looking forward to participating in it.
Next week I have to go to a dermatologist for a biopsy. I have a couple of spots on my nose and my doctor said it would be good to have them removed, and checked out so I have to go in and have a portion of my nose removed, and stitched up. Man, I don't look forward to doing that and may have to postpone it, as I really would prefer relaxing a bit before coming back to the office. We shall see!
Anyway, one last thing and I will sign off: I am now on Facebook...I thought it would be just another opportunity of keeping in touch with friends and church family, so we'll see how that, at my age I am supposed to be slowing down but then, hey there isn't that much time left, so it's time to go full speed ahead! Jesus is even at the door, so there's no slowing down for this old man!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I just passed another milestone in my life. On July 31, I celebrated my 30th anniversary of ordination. After serving for a little over two years at Calvary Chapel of Claremont, the pastor at that time (Marco Alvarez) ordained me as one of his two assisting pastors, and in Feb of 1980, I was brought on paid staff, serving full time until I left in July of '81 to plant this church. I remember distinctly how exciting it was for me to actually drive to the church office on my first day as a full time staff member. That week I put in 70 hours, and was so blessed to just be there in the office, helping the church and assisting the new pastor who had taken over when Marco moved on.
One thing that I have learned in the years I have served the Lord is that God is the God of new things. I have learned not to settle for the "same old same old" that can pass for life (and even ministry) but to remember that the Lord is infinitely creative, and that the Lord wants us to remain flexible and open to whatever He might want to do. This is much of my philosophy of ministry, trying to remain in a place that God can move and do whatever new thing He might lead us to do.
I ended my time with the 1835's, and frankly miss spending time with them, even if it was only in the capacity of teaching the group. Marie and I see such potential and such need for such a group, and would have enjoyed being able to be there weekly, but to be honest I think they need much more than we can give them (socially, ministry) so I am hoping that the group will continue meeting and growing under Mike Callahan. Mike has a burden for the group (he is 24) and his wife Sarah is a real jewel, so I think that the group will not only be taught, but will also be given opportunity to go outside of the four walls of the church and do something for the Lord in the community, perhaps even world wide. I am hoping that many will go with Marie and me to Israel, and pray that they will do whatever is necessary to go! We shall see, as many have taken registration forms and many have shown an interest. It is one of those things that budgeting (bad word for many) is much worth the effort!
On another note, I am taking two weeks off (kind of) and will not be in the pulpit from the 9th to the 16th. Next Sunday morning we have Dr. Hindson, an expert in the Last Days and a very good teacher. The church will definitely be blessed by this man as he brings a study for us. On the following Wednesday David Trujillo will be with us, sharing from the word and filling us in on an outreach that he is putting together for Los Angeles at the Nokia. David has got a good ministry going in a very tough place, as he is ministering in South Los Angeles. The Lord is moving through him, and I think he will bring a powerful message for our church.
Finally, I have felt led to have open invitations once again, and on Wednesday night and Sunday morning (third service) we saw quite a number of people respond to the invitation. It just is a very spiritually exciting and blessed thing to see so many come to faith in Jesus, and I pray that God will continue moving, bringing many to faith in Jesus. Sometimes we may mistakenly think that we can bring people to crusades for them to get saved, when in reality they can bring their friends to church services and they can be saved there. Crusades and outreaches are not the only place people get saved at! It might interest you to know (by actual statistical research) that as high as 90% of those who come forward at a crusade or an outreach are re-dedications, and not first time professions of faith. They come forward because they want to make a public decision, or they have not been walking solidly, or for various other reasons. We get excited to see them do so, but when you consider the incredible amount of money that is put in to such events (sometimes 100's of thousands of dollars) we need to evaluate if that is the best way to spend the Lord's money. While I am not opposed to getting the name of Jesus out, still I am more of the opinion that evangelism is the work of the church, and we are all being equipped to "do the work of an evangelist". We may not be gifted evangelists, but we certainly have received the Spirit to "be witnesses" as well as to give a witness. This is one reason why I have returned to giving invitations in church services, as people should be given an opportunity to get right with God, even if it is a simple as a re-dedication. I pray the Lord continues moving in all ministries taking His name out to the world, but I especially pray that the church remain evangelistic.
Finally, I was interviewed recently for a magazine called Outreach, and will be one of the featured pastors in an upcoming edition. Our church also was listed in a book published by Church Growth Today, and we have a chapter in the book that speaks of what the Lord has done in our church. When you consider that there are over 500,000 churches in the US, it is amazing to see what God has done in our midst, and I stand in awe and eternal thankfulness for what He is doing, and for those whom He has graciously introduced me to, who attend our fellowship and who serve so faithfully in our midst. Again, 28 years and still counting! In spite of all His blessings here on earth, I still cannot help but say Even so, Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New life

We had our baptism service last Sunday, and it was quite a blessing as it coincided with our 28th church anniversary. I must confess that it was a blessing for me to be there on Sunday night, as I have not regularly done Sunday night services for quite some time now; it will be two years in September. We had a great turn-out for the study, had a time of joy with our guests 2 or More (actually, several come here to church) and all in all, it was just a blessed time.
When I was walking to the pool to conduct the baptism, somebody spoke to me as I was passing by, and I joked with him and went to the pool. On my way back, he was still standing there and spoke to me again. I looked at him, and to my surprise it was a friend of mine named Bill, a guy I have known since I was five years old. I could not believe my eyes, as it has been years since I last saw him. Bill was the one who first introduced me to Calvary Chapel, and is the one who drove me to the Hollywood Palladium, the location I met Jesus as my Savior. I have to tell you, it was a joyful surprise to see my old friend. We visited for awhile, and the following Thursday met for lunch and some catching up. I do hope we will be able to make a regular habit of this! He is encouraging the study to budget and come with us to Israel in April of '10...I sure hope many can come, as Israel has proven to be a tremendous blessing to Marie and me when it comes to re-kindling our faith. I wish every person in our church could one day go with us, it is such a blessing.
We started our new bible study for 18-35 year olds last Monday. It is called Committed and is now being led by Michael Callahan, a young man who literally has grown up in our church. We have a burden for that age group, and Mike shares this burden so it is my hope and prayer that he will be able to handle this ministry. It is his first adult bible study, so I pray he is given a chance to succeed by all who show up, and if they hang on, I think it can be a very good group and good bible study.
At the moment I we are looking to start a Spanish language Sunday morning service, but are waiting on the Lord to give us somebody who can lead the worship. We need somebody who is anointed and mature in the faith who also can sing in Spanish! If you know of anyone, please let me know!
Well, I just wanted to pen a few words, so I will close now. We'll see how tomorrow goes! I pray the Lord meets us in a special way! See you in church!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


All of us like to mark our calendars in remembrance of events that really have impacted us, especially when those events were special. This Sunday is one of those events, as we as a church will recognize our 28th year of ministry. We began holding Sunday morning services on July 26, 1981. I was one month short of my 31st birthday, and Marie was 29 years old. We had three kids at that time: Carin, who had just turned 4, David, who was 2 years and 8 months old, and Joseph who was just short of 3 mos. of age. Three babies and a new ministry, what a memory.
Our first Sunday morning was held in a house on Palmetto, in Ontario. It was being rented by my sister in law, Patty and her a couple of her friends. Eventually, my mom and dad bought that home, and when my dad went home to be with Jesus, Patty and her husband Matt ended up buying it, and live there to this day. On our first Sunday, we had around 25 adults, and about 10-15 kids. Marie was the Sunday school teacher, and I believe one other young lady volunteered to help. I taught out of Isaiah, and we enjoyed our first Sunday morning service a great deal. We didn't receive an offering (a tradition we held for many years) and just let people give as the Lord led, which obviously we still do. God moved, and we all were blessed. I asked the people if they wanted to return next week, they wanted to, and off we went for the next 28 years. What a great memory.
So much has happened over the years, both joyful and sad. We have seen many come to our church, and many more leave. I believe that if every person who ever called this church "home" would show up for church at one time, we would need a stadium to hold them all. Thousands have come over the years, and many more have left. Some left with tears, some left with anger, some just left, and others went to heaven. Still, we have seen God do wonderful things and will be forever (literally) blessed for what He has chosen to do here.
What makes it even more special is that we will have a baptism as well as an anniversary celebration, taking place Sunday night. I wanted a single baptism service this year, and it is great that it falls on our 28th anniversary, as it is always special to have a baptism and having it coincide with our anniversary is wonderful. Talk about new beginnings! We will have a time of worship, a short video that we originally showed at our 25th anniversary, and the baptism (with cake after the service!) It will be fun and fulfilling, all at the same time.
It is interesting, but three of the most important dates of my life will be celebrated on a Sunday. Our church anniversary, which is 7/26, my birthday, which is Sunday 8/23, and my spiritual birthday 12/27 all fall on Sunday's this blesses me to be able to be with my church family on all of those special days.
On another note, we will continue our 1835 study this Monday, with Michael Callahan doing the teaching. We have special music with a group called LoveLite, and it should be a great evening. I do hope those of you who are in that age group will show up, and be blessed!
We are looking forward to the Israel trip with them, and I actually think it will be able to happen. We actually can't go if we don't have enough to fill a bus, so being aware of the economy and all, we have to be careful not to over commit, still we have had a good amount of interest, and it looks like it is going to happen. I sure hope it does, but then again, it all is in the hands of the Lord and the desire of the group!
Anyway, just a few rambling thoughts put down for whomever might read them!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

what is in our future

Well, tomorrow Marie and I will finish our time with the 1835 group, but I must say it has been fun and quite a blessing for us. We love that particular age group for several reasons: our own children are within that group, many decisions await people at that age, and the fact is, Marie and I won't be around that much longer so I want to do what I can to keep the fire going in these young hearts. We have a burden for people in general, but have a special love and concern for this age group in particular. Out of that age group (I would assume), the next Calvary Chapel Chino Valley senior pastor will come. Now, before any of you begin hoping it is soon, no, I don't think that it is that close to happening! Still, the reality is that we are getting on in age and it won't be that long until I hand over the church to someone with vision and energy (not to mention maturity, faith, love, etc) who will take the people further in to the things of God. With that in mind, I do what I do with the hope of reaching some who will be used mightily of the Lord.
We will continue a Monday night study, and I will be handing the teaching over to Michael Callahan, Mike Callahan's youngest son. Michael is a thoughtful young man, and it is my hope and prayer that he will be able to connect with the group. We will divide the age group in to 18-25 and will begin a 26-35 group in the near future. I am also looking to start a Spanish language Sunday morning study, but am looking for people who can lead worship in Spanish, not an easy thing to do!
Oh well, time to finish this post! Hope to see some of you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

God loves us

I am thoroughly enjoying the Monday night study with the 18-35 group. Song of Solomon is a book that contains so much practical information, and it seems that the people showing up seem to be enjoying the study. This is an age group that is dear to Marie and me, so being with them and answering their questions has been refreshing and enjoyable.
As we have been doing the study, some have asked how long it will continue. It is probably going to last for a few more weeks. I am looking at the moment to break the group into two separate groups, 18-25 and 26-35...they will meet on different nights of the week...I really don't know how the people are feeling about doing something like that, so I will ask next week. They may not want to do this, so I will have to hear from them to see. To be honest, I am tempted to keep the study going as I really enjoy being there. That might be something to consider. Still, it may be the subject matter that is drawing this group, and if I were to just do a regular bible study, they would probably not be interested because they can come on a Wednesday night, or a Sunday morning and have a regular bible study. I don't really know if any would actually want to keep coming on Monday nights and will have to see if they would like to.
I have been asked about a Spanish language bible study, and am considering starting one, possibly in September. We have so many in our church with parents who speak Spanish and desire studies in Spanish, so I may start a Sunday morning study in Spanish. Of course, I can't teach that study, but I do have some in this church who feel a true burden to teach in Spanish and who care for those whose first language is Spanish, so it is worth looking at closely. We shall see! At any rate, I see the need and hope to be able to do something to meet it.
Tonight we are looking at Ezekiel 16, and man is it a tough chapter to teach. God is hurt and angry at Judah/Jerusalem and pretty much lambasts them throughout the entire chapter. He calls them some pretty terrible names, even referring to them as a harlot! Man, if this doesn't reveal the holiness of God and His hatred for sin, I don't know what does. He said that Israel was worse than Sodom...think about that one for a moment! That is sooo heavy! He says that they are worse than prostitutes, because prostitutes charge for their services, but they actually pay people to be with them! Man, is the Lord angry over their sin. One of my commentators said that this is like the church today: it does not care about God's Word, and it does not care about holiness. This in many ways is true, as you can see that many "churches" just invite people to show up, but don't give the word. One church invited men for Sunday services by offering them free beer if they showed up on Father's Day. I think God weeps over this. Let's get serious with God, and let's serve Him with all of our hearts.
Finally, we are looking to take the 18-35 age group to Israel in '10, from April 11-22nd. The cost will be between 35-3600 dollars (closer to 3500) and will be a joy and a blessing. I have been asked by someone 36 if they can go, and I said yes but I am not taking people much older than that...I really want to spend time with the younger group this time. Think about saving your nickels and dimes, and go with us!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

just a thought or two

It is so hard to believe that we have already entered in to June....I am not kidding when I say that this year is flying by! We did so much last month, so many church functions and events. I can honestly say that I am so personally blessed to be part of a church that is so alive. So many volunteers helping to produce great ministry. We had a men's breakfast, men's retreat, men's conference, a single mom's banquet, a family day, National Day of prayer service, Jr High Lockup, Moment's with the many things in one month. We could do nothing without so many dedicated people serving the Lord.
I spoke at the national pastor's conference last week, and we as a team taught through 2 Timothy. I taught on being Vessels For Honor, and though I did not say this for fear of sounding prideful, I could not help but think of how many vessels we have here who are truly gold and silver. God and silver represent members of the church that are sold out and highly prized in the Hand of God. They have a value and worth that is immense, because they desire to be used by Him. They are faithful soldiers, dedicated and disciplined athletes, and hard working farmers to use Paul's metaphors from 2 Ti 2. We have many such dedicated people here, and I rejoice to be with them. All of our dreams and visions would come to nothing if we did not have people sold out and desiring to see the same things that we see. We have Jonathan's here, and we have armorbearers working alongside and I have to tell you, I remain so blessed when I see this. Thank you all for such service to the Lord, your work of faith is not going unnoticed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Day

We had our men's retreat last week, and it was one of those retreats that significant things happened in a "low key" kind of wasn't real emotional, moving, or "earth shaking", just slowly progressing to a closing that was appropriate....when we began Calvary Chino Valley, it was my original desire to see men draw closer to the Lord, so I spent my early years building up men's, our men have many things to be involved in, and it blesses me to know that some have taken advantage of such ministry opportunities...our women also have great opportunities, and it is great to know that the Lord has moved with them too, in wonderful ways...I am looking forward to Friday's night of worship with the Katina's, which is open to the entire body and anybody who wants to come, and then the next day, we have our 13th annual men's conference...that will be good, too....I pray that men show up!
I really am enjoying our young adult's has been a blessing to me to have it and Marie and I enjoy answering the questions that are being posed by the group. A young man told me that his favorite part of the night is the question/answer period, as it gives him opportunity to hear his own questions answered, posed by someone else! This is practical, and I truly enjoy it...Finally, with the California Supreme Court upholding Prop 8, the battle goes into second gear...homosexual activists didn't get their way, so be ready for some real angry whining! Rally's and protests will be the norm, and for me this is actually something that can turn out good, as voters will have the opportunity of seeing first hand what this really is all about. I was intereviewed by the Daily Bulletin yesterday concerning my thoughts on this, and I told the reporter that I knew this was just the beginning of more protests...the will of the people has been heard, but sin has a way of progressing, and this is not going the letters to the editor in the Orange Co. Register were solidly anti Prop 8, so we know that this battle is person said that it is the battle for the mind of our youth, in that younger people have less concern about marriage and its definition then the older generation...God help us all to raise up a generation of people who solidly stand on foundations that are solid...Ps 11:3 asks the question If the foundations are destrotyed, what can the righteous do? Of course, this is right and we need to remember that the war is on God, and His word, and His institution of marriage....this is not cultural or social, it is spiritual so let's keep close to the Lord and His word in this conflict...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a joy

We started the young adult's study a couple of weeks ago, and I have truly enjoyed it. There is something about that age group that Marie and I have a special love for, and for the life of me I can't really say what it is! Perhaps it is because those are some very important years for most people, as they were for me. Graduating high school, getting saved, going into the service, going to college, getting married, having kids, buying first homes, all of that took place for us during those "in between" years. So many decisions that are of critical importance are made during those short years, so for Marie and me, it is a joy to be able to spend time with people at that critical juncture of their lives.
We have a good attendance, filling up the banquet hall, and I am slow in wanting it to grow any further, because if it does we will have to leave the hall for the chapel, and I fear some of the personal feel that I have in the banquet hall will be lost in the larger space. Still, I don't want anybody who wants to be there to not be able to because of space limitations, so we shall see. 
One of the things I am enjoying is the time we are taking to answer questions. This is new for us, as most of the studies are simply closed with prayer, so we are getting used to the new format. Because of time constraints, I am not answering all of the questions that are being asked, but am going to shorten my answers so Marie and I can answer more questions. The questions are good, and I think it is something that needs to be done, so we will do what we can to accommodate more questions!
We will be leaving tomorrow for northern California, Mt. Shasta to be exact. A Calvary pastor friend of mine has asked us to teach at their annual couple's retreat, so we leave tomorrow out of LA. I am at the point of life that I really don't like leaving, and to be honest, we are so busy at this time that it is something that is a bit difficult. We return on Sunday night, and I will teach on Monday, then Wednesday, then we will go to the men's retreat, and then return to teach on Sunday, then Monday, and then will teach again at the Men's conference the following Saturday, then will be going to the Pastor's conference and will teach there. So you can see, we are pretty busy. Still, I would rather burn out then rust out (though I don't plan on doing either one!)
Anyway, tonight we have our study in Ezekiel, and it is a tough portion of scripture. I pray that it makes sense, and that we can leave these studies loving God more completely. I hope you are able to join us, and please make an effort to be with us this upcoming Sunday, as we resume our Truth Project studies Sunday night!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Beginnings

Well, the trip to Wisconsin was good. We left on Thursday morning (Marie and I) and arrived in Chicago after 3 1/2 hours, for an hour layover. While there, I grabbed a Chicago dog (hot dog) and really enjoyed it....for some reason, I have always liked hot dogs, and I especially like Chicago dogs....they are just delicious. Anyway, after that we got on a plane and made it to Appleton, WI in less than 35 minutes. The conference had already begun, so we got there in time for the evening service, spent time with some friends and went to the hotel. We have a few churches that we planted in the area, and it was a blessing to see some of the guys. Jeff from Madison, WI and Bill from Moline, IL were there, as well as Mike Whitney who came all the way from Great Falls, MT showed up, too so it was a blessing to see them. We have a brother from Iowa City, IA who wanted to come, but at the lost moment was unable to...bummer. It would have been nice seeing him.
We taught on the church in the Last Days, and looked at the 7 churches of Revelation to do so. We are definitely living in the end times, and as we went through those churches, you couldn't help but see how they are pictures of the church today. 
Upon returning home, we had the joy of being in church on Sunday. Originally I had planned on taking the day off, but it just didn't work out. Still, it is always a blessing to be with the church, which brings up current news.
I am blessed to know that between 13-1500 people think their faith is important enough to make it out for our Truth Project series. That blesses me, because the teaching is different in style but so rich in content. If you are reading this and are able to make it to the study, and haven't been yet, please make an effort to be there. It will enrich your faith tremendously.
Also, next Monday is the first 18-35 bible study in the Song of Songs. I will be teaching from the direction of love and romance in relationships. We don't have childcare, but I think we will have around 300 or so there, at least for the first study! People have a tendency of jumping on the wagon quickly, and falling off even quicker! Still, Marie and I look forward to spending time with that age group, taking questions afterwards, and spending time with them. We have looked at taking that age group to Israel next year, and have a bit of get a good price will require 35 sign ups, so let's see how many people actually can go. The price is still high, and I am trying to find a way of bringing it down to something more manageable, but we shall see. As for now, the price is around $3700, give or take a couple of hundred dollars, so let's see if anybody actually can afford the trip. If they can't, then I will have to think this one through. I really want to go with that age group, and we will do what we can to make it possible. It would require being able to save around $300. a month for the next year to go, and I sure hope people are able to do that. We really love Israel, and the trip is so worth it as it makes your bible come alive. We shall see!
Well, time to sign off....tonight we go into Ezekiel 7, and that ought to be interesting! Judgment, judgment, judgment! Heavy book...pray for me to give the full counsel, but to do so remembering the grace and mercy of God, even if it isn't being spoken of in that passage!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Random thoughts

Well, I am planning on starting the Song of Songs series in May, probably the first Monday night of the month. I am still deciding where to hold it, as I really am not sure how many people actually will take the time to come to such a study. We aren't going to be able to have childcare, as I can't stretch the childcare ministry that far. We just don't have that many people with the heart, desire, willingness or whatever to serve in that area, and as a result I can't expand some ministries or even think of starting new ones. Sad to admit, but understandable. So, with that in mind we will start the ministry but cannot provide childcare for it.
Still, I think it is going to be a good study, and Marie and I look forward to it. As I see it, the overwhelming majority of young people I know have a genuine need to look at relationships from a biblical perspective. I am really amazed at how unprepared people are for dating and marriage. I have come to believe that the majority of young people that I see who are presently in a dating relationship most definitely haven't learned to put other people first. The ones I am familiar with are so centered on getting what they want, when they want it, no matter what that they honestly seem blind to the feelings of others. They also don't seem to understand that sacrifice in a relationship (as long as it isn't sinful!) is normal, but that it takes two to make the relationship work, so one person isn't supposed to do all the sacrificing! I could go on and on about this, but I do see this as a real need and hope that by teaching this book, people will get a clue and start working on their dating relationships, not to mention marriages and child rearing. Though the study won't have childcare, married people are invited, as the book ministers to some basic elements of marital relationships too.
I am leaving this Thursday to participate in a Pastor's/church leaders conference being held in Wisconsin. I have been asked to teach two studies out of Rev 2-3, which is the section containing Jesus' words to the 7 Churches. It ought to be interesting, as we are looking at it from the perspective of ministry in the church. I will be teaching on the churches of Ephesus and Sardis, and it should be an interesting study fo me to prepare. I often desire to gain practical insight into ministry, and this is good for me and hopefully, will bless those in attendance. I am pretty tired at the moment, and am a bit concerned because of the strain I have put myself through recently. Traveling to Israel, and then returning jet lagged to do Wednesday, two Good Friday studies, and four Easter day studies has taken its toll on me, and I am pretty fatigued. Now, I have to travel and then return to do my Sunday morning study, soooooo...I am a bit concerned (not to mention Marie being concerned). I am considering asking somebody to handle a study or even have guests for my Wednesday and Sunday morning next week, but it really is too late for that. Still, it might be wise for me to do so, so I can get some rest. We shall see.
Finally, today is my son Joseph's birthday. He is 28 years old today, and to be honest it seems that the days since he was born have just flown on by. Of course I remember his birth vividly. Marie told me around 6 AM that she was having contractions, and within 3 hours or so, we had our son. I held him in my arms, and raised him before the Lord and prophesied over him, saying "this one shall serve the Lord"....I remember it vividly. Funny thing, but pretty much everyone who knows him sees him as a loving and caring man, and indeed he is. He is going to school now, just made the Dean's List (I am blessed by this) and has been accepted into the school's nursing program. Joseph feels that he is to enter the medical profession to help people in their time of sickness and pain, and I am blessed that he feels that way. I pray the Lord uses him mightily in this field.
Well, enough rambling for a Saturday morning. I think I'll get a cup of coffee! God bless!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Well, here we are....Easter week! This is one of those seasons that we as believers rejoice to participate in, because the entire reason for our existence as Christians is spoken about, debated, embraced and many times, rejected but it still gives us wonderful opportunities to simply repeat the grand story of God's love and redemption. Just think: God soooo loved the world that He gave us His precious and wonderful Son. 
With this in mind, we must remember that Easter is about Him: what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is about to do. It is not about us: it is not about our needs, our wants, our wishes, visions, or even our heartaches but is all about Him. How He loved us, how He reached out to us, how He gave His Son for us, and how He is willing to forgive and even save us. We are the objects of His affection, but they are His affections and are given to us simply because He desires to have them for us! Amazing, isn't it that God would even pay a moments thought to such as we. 
I think the psalmist says it well when he writes When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Ps 8:3-4) Great question, isn't it? What is man that You should even spend a moment of Your time thinking about us? But He does, and O how grateful I am to Him for doing so. No only does He think of us, but He has acted on our behalf that He might rescue us from an eternity without Him. He gave us His Son, to rescue us from our own mad and destructive ways, and for this we must all stand humbled and thankful.
While in Israel, we once again had such a blessed opportunity of seeing the locations of so many of the stories that we have read in our bibles, and have been influenced by. When asked which site is my favorite, the absolute top of the list is the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Regardless of whether it is the actual site of Jesus' burial, the fact is there is just something about being in that garden, seeing an open and empty tomb, and celebrating communion with your church family. How I wish everybody who calls on the name of Jesus could experience such a trip. Obviously, it is so personally enriching that I have decided to return to Israel every year that the Lord allows me to and this next year, I am hoping to take a group from the ages of 18-35. 
Some may wonder why I would want to take people to Israel who fall into that age category. The fact is, that age group means much to me for many reasons, not the least being that they represent the future of the church in America. Not just CCCV, but the whole future of what God is doing in our beloved nation until Jesus returns. It is a critical age group, a group that has so many challenges before them: unprecedented challenges that my generation did not have to face.
Take for example marriage, and its definition. Because so many come from broken homes, marriage has no special meaning to the vast majority. For them, whether they marry or not really doesn't matter. Living together, trial marriages, and a host of other alternatives are presented as all having pretty much the same value. Even kids raised in Christian homes have seen such carnality in their homes that they do not really see marriage as preferable. For many, "love" is more important than "right", so for them if two same sex individuals love one another then why should they be denied the right to be in a miserable marriage? Listen, when Jolie and Pitt are looked at as role models, and when Madonna is looked at as being a humanitarian and a good example of a loving mother, you have some major disconnection here! When well known "christian" people are caught in homosexual affairs, or divorce their wives, or are caught with prostitutes, the church which was intended to shine brightly in the darkness loses its luster (no pun intended, but hey, that was pretty good!) and as a result, the name of God is blasphemed amongst unbelievers. 
With that said, I desire to invest more time in the lives of this specific age group, hence we will be having the Song of Solomon series starting very soon. It will last for 9 weeks, and what is keeping me from announcing its start date is simply the fact that my calendar is full at the moment. I leave on the 23rd of this month for two days to participate in a pastor's/leaders conference in Wisconsin, then in May do a couples retreat in Northern Cal, our men's retreat, and our annual men's conference which leaves little time/energy to do the Monday study. Still, I am looking for the start date and will have it settled by next week! Why? Because Marie and I greatly desire to be with our young adults, and the sacrifice is more than worth it!
Well, time to sign off! Good Friday services tomorrow will be a real blessing, and I am looking so forward to being here! Easter Sunday is going to be electric....God is going to move mightily. The wave is coming in, and it is huge so invite all of your friends and family to come to church, catch the wave and enjoy the ride! 
It's all about Him! He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Well, we are off today to Israel, and our ride to the airport is getting here in 20 minutes. I thought I would write a quick good-bye to you who have been reading this blog, and hope that it is something you have enjoyed and may even appreciate to some degree.
We had a good study last night, as we have just begun and expedition through Ezekiel. It is an amazing book, and to be honest is a bit difficult to teach, especially when it comes to imagery and the like. Still, I am finding it to be practical, as God emphasizes His word so often in the book. Ezekiel is to speak to a rebellious group of people who are so backslidden God calls them "goy", or gentiles. They are worldly, so worldly that He does not even refer to them as His chosen ones, but simply pagans and heathens. Sad, isn't it? The question is: can He say the same thing to the church today, and the answer is Yes. There are many who think they are saved who are actually still unregenerate, and because this is true, I think this book will be an eye-opener for us all.
My prayer is that we will all get much from this book, and I pray that I will be an encourager and not one who beats or discourages the church through the tough passages. It is so convicting to me, and I pray that the Lord will use it to encourage all His children to love Him and be serious in our walks with Him.
Well, gotta go now, we are about to leave. If you think this blog is worth reading, please drop me a line once in a while and let me know. Though it isn't set up to dialogue (I do that through my email address) I do read each note and appreciate hearing from you. God's blessings be on all of you, and prayerfully we will be home on April 2nd. 
Oh yes, make an effort to be at church, and this next Wednesday when the Katinas are with us, I am sure you will be blessed and encouraged. Steve Mays will also be a blessing, not to mention the other teachers we have listed and ready to go. Dr. Morris is going to bring a dynamite message, so don't miss it! He provides answers for the question of evolution vs. there and be blessed. 
We love you..

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Clean Heart

Our women's retreat is being held at Murrieta, and the ladies showed up last night ready to receive from the Lord. In the midst of an economic hard-time, 580 women thought that getting away with the Lord and other women was something they needed to do, and it was such a blessing to be with them. The theme this year is A Clean Heart, and we began the teachings last night by looking at Ps 51. We all know that this psalm was written after David had his infamous affair with the beautiful Bathsheba and expresses the deep anguish of his soul. In it he cries out for God to mend the bones that He had broken, and asks God to create in him (David) a clean heart. He did not want reformation, or renovation, but re-creation and cried out to God for that to happen for him. Of course, this is the wisest thing to do, as God is the healer of broken hearts, and God is the maker of all things new, and because of David's broken and contrite spirit, God met him in a beautiful way.
I mentioned to the ladies last night that Bathsheba was interesting, as she willingly yielded to David's advances, but after having intimacy with him went and performed the Law of Moses' requirement for ritual washing. I mentioned it is like going out with someone, having intercourse with them, and then coming to church the next day thinking everything is all right. Bathing or showering after the fact does not make the heart clean, as the stain of sin is on the inside and not on the outside. David and Bathsheba needed God to cleanse their inside, and that could only come from His washing and cleansing. 
I believe the Lord wants to do a cleansing in our hearts, daily. Like David, I have come to understand that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, and that a broken and contrite heart God will not despise. In other words, weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning. 
Sometimes I fear that my fellowship does not understand why I so constantly encourage people to be real and honest with themselves, and God. It is because this is where healing has its origin. Too many people are deceiving themselves by reducing the evilness of sin, and misunderstanding the grace of God and as a result believe in a kind of grace that permits them to sin like the devil but still go to heaven. Of course, this is not true and isn't taught in the bible, but I encounter great amounts of people who, though they do not specifically say this, live this way every day. They go out on a Saturday, party or whatever, and then BANG they are in church the next morning, sometimes teaching in the children's ministry with no sense that they have done wrong. 
The fact is, David knew he had sinned, greatly. He said Against You, and You alone have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight--God, I am so sorry because I sinned against You, and I need You to forgive me. And God did, but the repercussions remained for the rest of his life.
When we have the sense of God's forgiveness, we are then placed in a position of speaking with understanding. David said Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. God, by your mercy extended to me, I can become an example of just how merciful and forgiving You are, and I will share Your wonderful grace and mercy to all who will hear. There is just a joy in being forgiven that moves us to share with others, and David found it a joy to be able to share with others of God's great love. 
He said O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. May that be our prayer today, that we as forgiven people simply open our mouths to share of His great love, and that our lives reveal what God can do with a broken vessel.
See you in church tomorrow! Daylight savings time starts, so don't forget to change your clocks. First service is going to be very very small!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Having not seen, you love

On Sunday morning, I encouraged the church to take part in the How To Give Away Your Faith series we are having on Sunday night's. I believe that, when someone comes to faith in Jesus the most natural thing in the world is to share what has happened with others.
     Sometimes people seem to be reluctant about sharing their faith. Perhaps they don't share their faith because they just don't want to be pushy, or they are shy, or are unsure of themselves. Sometimes they just aren't living for the Lord, and because of this just don't have the credibility. They know that Christians "witness" but because they are not living for the Lord, they really don't have anything to say. Their lives just undermine the message, so for them it is better not to say anything than to share while knowing themselves to be hypocrites. Though I don't encourage hypocritical witnessing, still the fact is the message is what saves you, not the messenger! When I got saved, the guy who pushed me the hardest to become a Christian backslid and has never returned to the Lord. He wasn't genuine, but the message sure was! 
At any rate, sometimes people just aren't comfortable witnessing, so we started a series last night on how to give away your faith....we had a good turn out for a Sunday night (around 500) and I am hoping and praying, even expecting it to grow from there because I was told that it was very good. That truly blesses me, and I am looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do through this. 
I believe that the Lord loves to do different things when it comes to getting His name out to the people. He uses events, like retreats, breakfasts, conferences and even church services, and crusades but when it comes to the number one way He gets His word out, it is simply through His people "being witnesses". Jesus said this in Acts 1:8: He said You shall be My witnesses. We are His living testimonies, we are the gospel in human flesh, we are His witnesses, and as His witnesses, we share His message as we live it out. Part of living out His message is the sharing of it, and for me it is such a blessing to see many people hungry to learn to live out and give out His word to their friends and loved ones.
After we complete this series, we will have Palm Sunday, then Easter Sunday, and then move on to a 12 week series called The Truth Project. Several friends of mine have hosted this, and it has absolutely revolutionized their churches. I will be giving more information out in the future about it, but I have heard nothing but good. When that is completed, I am planning on having a month of Sunday nights with guest speakers, sharing about missions, not to mention our annual baptisms that are coming up sooner than we think! 
Next Friday we have our annual women's retreat, and it blesses me to know that, in spite of the doomsday prophets scaring people about their finances, the women's retreat was not only filled up, but has a waiting list. This reveals genuine faith on the part of the families that sacrificed to make it possible for a wife or daughter to be in attendance at the retreat. God is going to move on the hearts of the ladies tremendously, and I am already rejoicing over what He is about to do. Then, on Sunday, after morning services I will be leaving for Tucson to participate in a Pastors and church leaders conference, and it will be such a blessing to once again encourage the people to live for Jesus. My topic will be out of 1 Pe 3:1-7, encouraging couples who are in ministry to keep Jesus in the center of their marriages. 
All of this is exciting to me, and I pray that the Lord just keeps moving in and through us until the day comes that He takes us home to be with Him. 
Oh yes, one last thing. I have been asked when the series on Song of Solomon will begin. I am looking to start in sometime after I return from Israel, but haven't landed on a date yet! It will be for the age group of 18-35, and I am looking forward to starting the study soon.
And all of this is because having not seen Him, we love Him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Just Thinking

On Sunday I will be teaching out of 1 Sa 7, and will observe how it took twenty years for Israel to finally miss having a relationship with God. The ark of the covenant had been sitting for 20 years in the city of Kirjath Jearim while all along the nation continued to be in bondage to the Philistines. Finally, the people of Israel were ready to listen to Samuel, and as prophet and judge, he instructed them to repent and to return to the Lord. They were to put away their foreign gods, idols that had replaced the true and living God, and to return to living lives that were pure and dedicated to Him. They had begun worshipping Baal and Astarte, pagan nature gods that were worshipped through sexual orgies and other abominable practices.
Sounds kind of like Mardi Gras, doesn't it?
Here we are in the 21st century, and God is still calling His people out of darkness! For 40 days, people will mark each day as being one day closer to Easter, and will still be missing out on what it means to be a follower of God. It isn't just denying your flesh for a short season that pleases God, it is loving Him so much that each day is simply another day of enjoying fellowship with Him, and learning to do the things that please Him.
The funny thing about doing what pleases Him is that in pleasing Him, I actually have a sense of peace and well being that results from just loving Him. Dying to the flesh is actually something that results in such blessings that it results in me saying to myself "Man, that wasn't so hard! Why didn't I do that long ago?"
When the children of Israel returned to the Lord, they immediately had a response from those who had kept them enslaved. The Philistines readied their army to attack, but God came to their rescue and they were victorious over their foes. Even so, when we decide to resist the enemy and return to the Lord with a full heart, we can expect both opposition and victory. In opposition, we gain experience and learn that the flesh never rests, but when God rises up on our behalf, we also gain the experience of knowing that our God is on our side, and we can not only survive, but be victorious! God is great, and in Him we move from glory to glory!
Have a great week end, see you on Sunday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

God is good

As we are now in the second month of our new year, I cannot help but remain excited about what the Lord continues to do in our lives. Our church family is doing well during this season of transition, and though many have found themselves in financial strain, I have noticed that many more are holding fast to God and His promises, and are growing stronger in their faith in Him and love for His people.
We recently had a great men's breakfast here with Miles McPherson, and it was a tremendous blessing. We saw around 1,300 men in attendance, and around 100 answered Miles' invitation that he gave at the conclusion of his message. The previous night, over 120 men were here at the church preparing for the next day, and many men were here at 4:00 A.M. to get ready for the breakfast. I was so blessed to see and hear of such commitment, and I am so blessed to be part of a church with such caring people
Our women's retreat is filling up, and we will have 600 women in attendance. In a time when many are scaling back, it seems to me that our ladies are exercising faith in a very tangible way, and I am certain that as they attend the retreat, they will be met by the Lord and encouraged by Him, and this truly blesses my heart. 
This year, we are going to dedicate a great portion of our Sunday night services to teaching our people how to give away their faith, as well as reasons to believe. In March we will begin a series on How to Give Away your Faith, and then are planning on a 14 week series called The Truth Project. When we finish the series on truth, we hope to spend a few weeks emphasizing missions, and I am sure this is going to produce great fruit.
We are looking to have a week of prayer soon, and I am excited about that as we see the Lord move in wonderful ways when we seek His face in prayer, and fasting. And then, we also have the Israel trip coming up as well as Easter services. These are exciting times, indeed.
As I watch what is going on here in our beautiful nation, I cannot help but look even more hopefully for the return of the Lord Jesus. I do not get overly concerned over much, but what really does cause me great concern is watching the moral decline of our beloved United States. With that in mind, I am planning on doing a series soon out of the Song of Solomon. I am looking at my calendar to see when I will be able to dedicate myself to teaching this series, and hope to be able to do so in the not too distant future. The thing is, I am not going to teach it on a Wednesday or Sunday, but am planning on teaching it on a Monday night for people who are between the ages of 18-35. The reason is because I want to speak about relationships, especially dating relationships that lead up to marriage. With so many people confused about this topic, I think Solomon gives great wisdom concerning love and its proper expression between a man and woman, and hope to be able to give a study, and then Marie and I will take questions. I will announce this study as soon as I find the dates, and can secure somebody to lead worship for the series. I am pretty excited about this, as I have wanted to teach this series for quite some time, so it looks like it may happen soon.
  I am also looking to have a Friday night study for people between the ages of 26-35. It will be called The Vine, and I have someone who is hoping to be able to minister the word on that night. Again, I am awaiting music ministry but will be looking to start this ministry fairly soon. 
This year, for our annual Men's Conference, we are going to have a special guest with us by the name of Gen. William G. Boykin. He is retired now, but was part of the first guys to be in what is called Delta Force, and eventually became the commander of the unit, and his faith in Jesus and testimony is going to really hit the guys. It is going to be great. 
Anyway, I guess that's enough rambling for now. I will be going to central California this week-end to minister at a men's conference, but I am sure that come Sunday, God will meet many people in our services. I love you guys, God bless and I hope to see you when I return.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A New Year

Well, now that we are a few weeks in to the new year, I can see that we have our work cut out for us. We have a new president, and I am wanting to give him an opportunity to settle in to the position and begin his job. The whole media nation has certainly taken to him, with lots of love from the press (Bernie Goldberg refers to the media as his base) and we hear glowing things every time we open the paper or listen to the news. 
So, we shall see. 
With this kind of "free pass" having no one willing to criticize anything he does, I am sure he will work unopposed for some time. We now have a tax czar who didn't pay taxes, a secretary of state who never had diplomatic experience, and a whole host of old guard politicos in key much for change! 
On the anniversary week of Roe V. Wade, the rescinding of the prohibition of American tax payer dollars spent on overseas abortions was enacted, opening up federal money to be shipped overseas for abortion clinics while the March for Life (the largest pro-life rally in the US) was ignored. The announcement came on Friday afternoon, the time when this kind of news is best ignored.
Still, we wanted change and we got it, and happy days are here again! 
I am buying Sophia some dolls named after the Obama girls, a dress for Marie modeled after Michelle's, and some coins and commemorative plates with Obama and JFK side by side! This is exciting!  I might even start playing basketball....nah, can do! 
With all of this, I am still hopeful because God has a way of waking us up, and I fully expect a wake up call. 
I was mentioning on Sunday that young people have a tendency of wanting young people to lead, and because of this those who are older are not necessarily respected. Job made it clear that with the aged comes wisdom, as time, experience, and the fear of God has a tendency of teaching life lessons that simply accrue over the passing of years. At my age, I do not rally behind younger, unproven leaders but I do have a heart to see them succeed and especially desire our President to succeed. Not because of the "historical significance" but because we love him and want his life to be touched by God, and also because we know that he carries a tremendous weight on his young  shoulders. At my age, I have seen many young men and women with great potential but never living up to it, so my prayer is that Obama will have people of integrity around him, and that if he truly is a Christian (though he said he hasn't been in church regularly for years, and apparently never listened to Rev. Wright) I pray that he will somehow be touched by God. 
During the time of Samuel, when Eli sinned God sent a man of God to clearly reveal his sin to him, so I pray that the Lord will have prophetic people speaking to Obama, and I pray that he will have the willingness to hear. We should all keep him, his wife, his babies, and this nation in prayer, because at the moment there is no one to oppose a complete transformation of the nation's core, as we know it. The Republican party does not have the votes to keep the Democrats in check, so unless the will of God and the will of the people is understood, many things will be done that bring harm to this great nation. 
Finally, when the terrible tsunami hit southeast Asia, a man was on the shore as the sea began to recede. Seeing all of the fish  exposed, he went out and began gathering them up, thinking he had been blessed with a great catch! A man was on the roof of a building, video taping what was going on and could see the wave in the distance. He began crying out loud to the fisherman to come back to land, to run for his life because the wave was coming, but the fisherman was so caught up with his prosperity that he did not listen to the warning. We saw the video of this event, and saw the wave as it hit him with the force of 1,000 Mac trucks, and he was killed instantly, still holding the fish in his arms. We Pastor's are supposed to cry out warnings when we see danger, but too many people are fishing, caught up with their own prosperity and they do not see the wave as it approaches. I see a wave, it is in the distance, but it is coming....we need to be prayed up because this nation does not see its need for God anymore. 
It just wants fish.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Wow, it is really a trip how we are suddenly in a new year, isn't it? I don't know, perhaps it is simply because I am growing older, but it sure seems like time is flying. My grandson Josiah is five, my granddaughter Sophia is now one, and my kids are no longer just kids but are all growing older themselves! Amazing! I am wondering what the Lord may want to do with this fellowship this year, and am waiting to see how He will lead us. Changes (slight) are in the air, and I am anxious to see how they will affect our fellowship here in Chino. One of our "techies" Tom Mulcahy resigned his position to take a job with the U.S. government, and we are so blessed for him, and he leaves with our blessing. We will miss him, as he was saved under my ministry and has served on staff for many years. We are re-working our men's worship team, and believe God is going to do a new thing through them. We are still waiting on the Lord, as He will give us a new worship leader to move our worship teams forward, and are looking to add a new feature to our web page, in which on a weekly basis I will record a five or ten minute message just sharing with our viewers some things the Lord has laid on my heart. We closed down the patio and outside overflows, and have it all under the chapel roof, and for me it was a no-brainer! When I began teaching, on the very first study I ever taught, I let the people know that we were gathering together, not to eat cookies and drink coffee, but to listen to God's word. God's word should be listened to reverently, simply because it is God's Word! Do you remember when Ezra read God's word to the returning exiles? Nehemiah 8: 2-8 reads: Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand stood (various leaders)....And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered Amen, Amen while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also (the leaders) and priests helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God and they gave the sense and helped them to understand the reading. It had come to my attention that the patio/overflow areas had become more of a place where people were drinking their coffee, bringing breakfasts, talking, etc. and I could not see how this fit in with what we as a church were founded on. I started '08 with a series on What is the Church? and had tried to say we are more than just a group gathering together, but are to really live out to the best of our abilities what we learn from God's word.... sooooo, I am praying that those who habitually sat outside will come into the sanctuary, and will grow in their maturity and desire for the Lord, His word, fellowship, prayer, and all that goes along with being a Christian. We shall see, but I am excited to think of what the Lord will do with us this year! I pray I might take God more seriously this year, and hope I can encourage our church to do the same! God is so good, and so worthy to be praised, as we shall see every time we gather and read from His word, and leave this place ready to practice what we are learning!