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!