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.