Monday, November 24, 2014

A.W. Tozer: Dispositional Sins

A convicting but important word from Tozer. Many sins that actually are greatly offensive to God and others are often brushed off as "innocent" quirks. Tozer thought otherwise, and today I want to learn the lesson he brings.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
--Ephesians 4:31

Dispositional sins are fully as injurious to the Christian cause as the more overt acts of wickedness. These sins are as many as the various facets of human nature. Just so there may be no misunderstanding let us list a few of them: Sensitiveness, irritability, churlishness, faultfinding, peevishness, temper, resentfulness, cruelty, uncharitable attitudes; and of course there are many more. These kill the spirit of the church and slow down any progress that the gospel may be making in the community.

Many persons who had been secretly longing to find Christ have been turned away and embittered by manifestations of ugly dispositional flaws in the lives of the very persons who were trying to win them....

Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. People of the world usually pass through the circle of disciples to reach Christ, and if they find those disciples severe and sharp-tongued they can hardly be blamed if they sigh and turn away from Him....The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Love Each Other

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 22:34-40) The mark of a Christian is love, loving God and loving people. If we love God, we will love others also. This doesn't mean we don't speak the truth, but it does mean that we speak it lovingly, concerned for others and intent on practicing what we preach. May we love God and others today!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Poem: It is titled Called

came across this poem and thought it was very moving.
Five miles southeast of Nazareth
A young man drew his final breath,
And perished in his mother's arms.
She stared across the olive farms
South to the Plain of Esdraelon;
And back and forth she rocked her son,
Her only son, and held his head
Against the breast where she had fed
Him with her bitter milk and tears.
For dark and bitter were the years
When he was born. His father died
Before the child could walk. His bride
Of twenty months had buried him,
With help from friends, out on the rim
That falls steep toward Samaria.
And spices from Arabia
Were given by the neighborhood,
As everyone agreed they should,
Because she had no other family.
But yet there was the son, and he
The widow's only hope.
Twelve years
They lived together, and her fears
Grew less as he became a man.
And then the dread disease began:
At first the intermittent cough;
And then the puzzling fever off
And on; and then the constant wheeze;
And then the nights upon her knees:
"Almighty God of Abraham,
Take pity on me, Lord, I am
A widow; he's my only son.
If he should die I am undone!"
And then the purple spit appeared,
And all the worst that she had feared.
To fight his final fears she tried
To hold him tight until he died.
And back and forth she rocked her son
Above the Plain of Esdraelon.
Her friends made fit the burial place
Out on the rim, and made a space
Beside his father, and prepared
The body while his mother stared
Across the Plain, too stunned and weak
To work or cry or even speak.
But then, come burial day, at length
She summoned up her little strength,
And with the child and crowd and pain
She led them out the gates of Nain.
And now, behold, the Word of God!
The rock- and ocean-splitting rod!
Along that very road there came
A band of men, and One whose name
Is Jesus Christ the Lord. They bowed
Politely to the grieving crowd,
But one: the Lord had fixed his eyes,
As though he heard a thousand cries,
On her. And when she saw his face
She stopped, and silence filled the place.
A strange and awesome feeling fell
Upon that crowd, and they could tell
That this exchange was very deep.
And then he spoke and said, "Don't weep."
And something happened in her heart
That made the heaviness depart.
And then he motioned to the men
Who held the box, and when
They looked at her and saw her hope,
They set it down and loosed the rope.
As gentle as a hand could be,
He made the coffin cover free,
And then with father-fingers lay
The strips of facial shroud away,
And spoke with passion in his eyes:
"Young man, I say to you, arise."
And he arose. And Jesus placed
Him in his mother's arms, and faced
Her one last time. Perhaps the two
Of them alone were all who knew:
Two short commands were all he said—
Two people quickened from the dead.
Who can withstand the word of Christ!
It has for ages now sufficed
To bear the universe it made!
Come let the glory be displayed
Of Jesus Christ's triumphant voice!
The dead rise not by their own choice,
And none of us would live at all
But by the Lord's triumphant call!
This is the truth of candle two:
The call of God makes all things new.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

D.L. Moody: The Secret of Joy

Remember, then, that love is power, and peace is power; but now I will call attention to another fruit of the Spirit, and this too is power - the grace of joy. It is the privilege, I believe, of every Christian to walk in the light, as God is in the light, and to have that peace which will be flowing unceasingly as we keep busy about His work. And it is our privilege to be full of the joy of the Lord. We read, that when Philip went down to Samaria and preached, there was great joy in the city. Why? Because they believed the glad tidings. And that is the natural order, joy in believing. When we believe the glad tidings, there comes a joy into our souls. Also we are told that our Lord sent the seventy out, and that they went forth preaching salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, and the result was that there were a great many who were blessed; and the seventy returned, it says, with great joy, and when they came back they said that the very devils were subject to them, through His name. The Lord seemed to just correct them in this one thing when He said, "Rejoice not that the devils are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." There is assurance for you. They had something to rejoice in now. God don’t ask us to rejoice over nothing, but He gives us some ground for our joy. What would you think of man or woman who seemed very happy today and full of joy, and couldn’t tell you what made them so? Suppose I should meet a man on the street, and he was so full of joy that he should get hold of both my hands and say, "Bless the Lord, I am so full of joy!" "What makes you so full of joy?" "Well, I don’t know." "you don’t know?" "No, I don’t; but I am so joyful that I just want to get out of the flesh." Would we not think such a person unreasonable? But there are a great many people who feel - who want to feel - that they are Christians before they are Christians; they want the Christian’s experience before they become Christians; they want to have the joy of the Lord before they receive Jesus Christ. But this is not the Gospel order. he brings joy when He comes, and we can not have joy apart from Him; there is no joy away from Him; He is the author of it, and we find our joy in Him.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflecting on Life

And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ (Lu 5:39)

In September I celebrate 41 years of attempting to study and teach the Bible. I must say that upon reflection, I must confess that I have so much further to go in my understanding of God's Word, and that there are many portions that to this day remain in many way obscure, even opaque. I more deeply realize that at this time I am looking through a glass, darkly (1 Co 13:12) and need more illumination of the Spirit then ever before.

So much of what I read is difficult to truly understand in the deepest portion of my soul. I truly want to, and seek God to impart to me not only understanding, but depth of experience and I grieve at my own inability to completely practice all that the Lord has given to me to preach. In a similar but not identical way, like Isaiah of old, I realize that I have a message that I give that is beyond my understanding and experience. I remember him preaching "woes" to Israel, and then when he himself sees the Lord in His Temple can only say "woe is me!" I would assume that personal revelation to be the real foundation of a proclaimer of God's truth, a personal knowledge of one's own sinfulness and a revelation of God's holiness.

Over the years, God has been increasingly good to me, for which I stand truly humbled and thankful. A faithful and loving wife, children that follow the Lord (even if imperfectly, like me), grandchildren that make up my very heartbeat, friends that are very special to me, and a church that contains many who actually love me, warts and all. Amazing.

After 41 years, I desire to remain fresh and open to what the Spirit wants to do today. Being a veteran of the Jesus Movement brings with it a certain sentimental love for what God did in my and so many other lives in our early days. I have fond memories of fellowship with other believers that was daily, and of times that we would gather after bible studies to just share and think about what God spoke to our hearts that night, and how we could put the truths we received into practice. It was new wine deposited in new wineskins.

I want to have a heart that appreciates the new wine, and do not want to become an old wineskin.

This is something that we older believers need to be on guard against. Especially as we look at a younger generation that is being entrusted with the eternal truths of the gospel. We forget where we ourselves came from, and how long it has taken for Jesus to break us of sinful habits and un-Christlike attitudes. We see younger people and think that they somehow are supposed to act like older and more mature saints, and grow frustrated when we don't see maturity in them, a maturity that sometimes is sadly lacking even in our own lives.

Amazing isn't it, how we can point fingers at others about things we ourselves have been guilty of in the past?

I think of my friend Raul's son, Ryan. Raul has been a faithful messenger of Jesus for many years, and to his heartbreak had a son who rejected the gospel and lived a terribly sinful life. For many years Ryan has been dear to Marie and me, and we prayed for him without knowing how deeply lost he had become. It was our great joy to hear that God grabbed his heart, and to see him today preaching and sharing the love of God is a blessing to our hearts that causes tears to form in our eyes.

I wonder how many "mature saints" prayed for him during his difficult years? I wonder how many judged Raul and Sharon as ungodly, or unqualified to serve the Lord based on their view of what "holiness" is and their personal view of properly raising children? Perhaps they could have remembered their own sinful past, which would have provided a platform of mercy that could have been extended to the son who was breaking his parent's hearts. It is always good to remember that Jesus did not come for the well, but for the sick. He did not come for the righteous, but the sinners and His desire for us is to learn what it means when God says "I desire mercy and not sacrifice". This applies to all people, and I for one thank God for those who did not give up on Ryan, and who did not give up on Raul.

Old wineskins.

May God move on the older generation to patiently love and lead the younger. They need our love and our guidance, and they look at the way we treat each other and them and come to conclusions about the goodness and mercy of God. No, we do not condone and accept sin. Sin put our Savior on a cross, a most painful and shameful death. But at the same time, we must seek God to enable us to care for others, pray for others, receive our brothers and sisters, and to be available to help them to see how good our God really is.

May we love Jesus more then we love our own opinions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Grief Revisited:Thoughts on the Death of a Friend

Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.

As I write this, I am saddened and even a bit shocked over the death of my friend and fellow Pastor Steve Mays. Steve was an anchor in the Calvary Chapel movement for over 4 decades, and his home going, though something all can rejoice in, is still a huge loss for the fellowship of Calvary Chapel of South Bay, the fellowship of Calvary Chapels worldwide, and the body of Christ at large.

I don't remember exactly when I first met Steve, as it was over 30 years ago but I do remember that even then he had a very sober attitude towards ministry and God's word. I met, in him, a fellow lover of God and from that point on my respect for him continued to grow.

I will miss him deeply.

I still remember being asked to speak at his church services when he met in a smaller building around a mile from its present location. Steve had taken over the church in 1980, and began ministering at that time to around 50 or so members. When I went to teach his Sunday services the sanctuary at that time held around 700 and he held two services, with neither one heavily attended. Over the years Steve faithfully delivered God's word and the church continued to grow. I remember when they bought their present location. Steve asked me to come and see what the Lord was doing, and I was so blessed to see their new place, and as the years progressed I was able to see the Lord add to the church until it reached its present 9,000 members.

O the amazing grace of God.

Over the years Marie and I had opportunity to become friends with Steve and his wife Gail. We went to Alaska on a cruise, went to Washington, DC, and I had the blessing of teaching his fellowship and speaking at conferences on several occasions over the years. As recently as April Steve, though not physically well, came and blessed our church by teaching my midweek study. My daughter Anna told me that she really loved Steve and appreciated his messages, and to hear her say this blessed my heart because I did too.

In June, I saw Steve at the pastor's conference. I was visiting with friends when I heard him call my name, and I excused myself from my friends and spoke to him. After visiting for a few minutes, he said to me that he was going in for another surgery, and that he would be calling on me to teach while he was recuperating. My last words to Steve were, "Just give me a call. I love you, man".

Well, yesterday we got the call but it wasn't to come share at his church. It was to remember his life.

I will remember.

We served together on the Calvary Chapel Association board, a board that was set up before our beloved pastor Chuck moved to heaven. It is made up of men chosen by Chuck with the intent of shepherding the Movement that many of us are veterans of. One of the men said to me yesterday, "Well, this is the first one of us to go to heaven". Those words struck a chord in my heart, and it reminds me to keep my hand to the plow, and to keep my eyes on the prize, and to stretch for the tape so that I, like my beloved Pastor Chuck (today marks the anniversary of his going to heaven) and my friend Steve may one day hear the words "well done" from our beloved Savior Jesus.

I will miss my friend, but as a Christian I know that we never really say "good-bye". For us, it is always, "I'll see you later!"

Though these words are really for me in that Steve can't hear me say this, still I will say "Steve, I love you man. See you later".

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seeking the Lord

Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3) In the Book of Zephaniah, God has declared that He would bring judgment for the evil that various nations had been guilty of, yet still calls out for repentance, one that is seen by righteousness and humility. May we have these qualities in our own lives, being thankful that we escape the Lord's anger because of our faith in Jesus!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Dream

  I have the most interesting dreams. The other night I had such an emotionally moving dream that I thought I would share it with you. I was in Grand Central Station in New York, seated on a bench. I was watching people as they walked by, and I could tell that I was actually looking for someone. I was obviously waiting, and as I was seated I was getting anxious. I kept looking at every person passing by, and the more that passed by, the greater sense of loneliness I would feel. As I was seated, suddenly a mist surrounded me, and then I found myself on a train. While in a dining car on the train, a young woman approached me and we began to talk. She was a stranger, but I recognized her as Marie, though at the time I did not actually know her as Marie, we began to talk. As we talked I began to realize that she was the person I had been waiting for, without knowing it. The more we spoke, the more anxious I got because I knew she was sent there on the journey to be with me. When that thought dawned on me, once again the mist began to cover me and the people who were in the car with us began to fade away. I suddenly grabbed Marie's face and kissed her, and drew her to me and began to cry because I knew that this moment would be over and I would lose her. She was the one I was lonely for, but she would be taken from me. As I held her, I began to sense that we were being separated, and I began crying and told her "Don't forget me! Don't forget me!" and she disappeared and immediately I found myself on the same bench in the train station. I was totally broken, once again watching people pass me by when a woman whose back was to me dropped something and bent down to pick it up. I got up from my bench and knelt down to pick up what she had dropped, and when I stood up to hand it to her, I saw that it was Marie. I then woke up and I must confess, I had tears in my eyes.
    I guess the reason why I took the time to write this out was to express openly how blessed I am that God gave Marie to me. She really is the "woman of my dreams!" and I am so terribly in love with her and thankful to God for giving me a woman who would travel faithfully with me on this journey of life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Great Story

Psalm24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have right standing with God their Saviour. They alone may enter God’s presence and worship the God of Israel.

David Augsburger tells the true story of Lt. John Blanchard, a young soldier in basic training during World War II.

One evening he wandered into the Army library and found a book to read. As he worked his way through the book he became quite impressed with the notes penciled in the margins. The feminine handwriting showed insight and understanding as well as a touch of tenderness. He flipped to the front of the book and found the name of the previous owner, a Miss Hollis Maynell. Blanchard did some research and found out her address was in New York. He wrote a letter to her, and the next day he was shipped overseas.

For 13 months the two of them corresponded, and during that time they began to open their hearts to each other. It soon became apparent that they were falling in love. One time he asked her to send him a picture, but she refused, saying that if he really loved her it didn't matter what she looked like.

Finally the day came when they were to meet in Grand Central Station in New York. She told him, 'You'll recognize me by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." At one minute till 7:00 the soldier straightened his uniform as people walked toward him, his heart pumping with anxiety and anticipation for the long awaited moment. 

In Blanchard's own words: "A young woman was coming toward me, her figure was tall and slim, her blond hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears, her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her entirely failing to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved in her direction, a small provocation smile curved her lips: 'Going my way, soldier?' she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I took another step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. 

She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump; her thick ankled feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes. But she wore a red rose on the rumpled brown lapel of her coat.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was being split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld me during the long months overseas. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped a small worn blue leather copy of the book which was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. 

"I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lt. John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me here; may I take you to dinner?' The woman's face broadened in a tolerant smile. 'I don't know what this is all about, son,' she answered, 'but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. She said if you were to ask me out to dinner I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test.'   

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Power of Love

This is from a devotion by D.L. Moody:

Love will rebuke evil, but will not rejoice in it. Love will be impatient of sin, but patient with the sinner. To form the habit of finding fault constantly, is very damaging to spiritual life; it is about the lowest and meanest position that a man can take. I never saw a man who was aiming to do the best work, but there could have been some improv...ement; I never did anything in my life, I never addressed an audience that I didn’t think I could have done better. And I have often upbraided myself that I had not done better; but to sit down and find fault with other people when we are doing nothing ourselves, not lifting our hands to save some one, is all wrong, and is the opposite of holy, patient, divine love.

Love is forbearance; and what we want is to get this spirit of criticism and fault finding out of the Church and out of our hearts; and let each one of us live as if we had to answer for ourselves, and not for the community, at the last day. If we are living according to the 13th chapter of Corinthians, we will not be all the time finding fault with other people. "Love suffereth long, and is kind." Love forgets itself, and don’t dwell upon itself. The woman who came to Christ with that alabaster box, I venture to say, never thought of herself. Little did she know what an act she was performing.

It was just her love for the Master.

She forgot the surroundings, she forgot everything else that was there; she broke that box and poured the ointment upon Him, and filled the house with its odor. The act, as a memorial, has come down these 1800 years. It is right here - the perfume of that box is in the world today. That ointment was worth $40 or $50; no small sum of those days for a poor woman. Judas sold the Son of God for about $15 or $20. But what this woman gave to Christ was everything that she had, and she became so occupied with Jesus Christ that she didn’t think what people were going to say. So when we act with a single eye for the glory of our lord, not finding fault with everything about us, but doing what we can in the power of this love, then will our deeds for God speak, and the world will acknowledge that we have been with Jesus, and that this glorious love has been shed abroad in our hearts.

If we don’t love the Church of God, I am afraid it won’t do us much good; if we don’t love the blessed Bible, it will not do us much good. What we want, then, is to have love for Christ, to have love for His Word, and to have love for the Church of God, and when we have love, and are living in that spirit, we will not be in the spirit of finding fault and working mischief.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DL Moody: Peace Declared

When France and England were at war, a French vessel had gone off on a long voyage, a whaling voyage; and when they came back, the crew were short of water, and being now near and English port, they wanted to get water; but they were afraid that they would be taken if they went into that port.

Some people in the port saw them, saw their signal of distress, and sent word to them that they need not be afraid, that the war was over, and peace had been declared. But they couldn’t make those sailors believe it, and they didn’t dare to go into port, although they were out of water.

At last they made up their minds that they had better go in and surrender up their cargo and surrender up their lives to their enemies than to perish at sea without water; but when they got in, they found out that peace had been declared, and that what had been told them was true.

So there are a great many people who don’t believe the glad tiding that peace has been made.

Jesus Christ made peace on the Cross. He satisfied the claims of the law, and this law which condemns you and me has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He has made peace, and now He wants us just to enjoy it, just to believe it.

Nor is there a thing to hinder us from doing it, if we will. We can enter into that blessing now, and have perfect peace. The promise is: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Now, as long as our mind is stayed on our dear selves, we will never have peace. Some people think more of themselves than of all the rest of the world. It is self in the morning, self at noon, and self at night. It is self when they wake up, and self when they go to bed; and they are all the time looking at themselves and thinking about themselves, instead of "looking unto Jesus".

Faith is an outward look. Faith does not look within; it looks without. It is not what I think, nor what I feel, nor what I have done, but it is what Jesus Christ is and has done, and so we should trust in Him who is our strength, and whose strength will never fail.

After Christ rose from the grave, three times, John tells us, He met His disciples and said unto them, "Peace be unto you". There is peace for the conscience through His blood, and peace for the heart in His love.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Few Thoughts: Ramblings From an Old Mind

July 26th marks the 33rd anniversary of our first Sunday morning service. Our church actually began before July as a home study, but we launched our church services as a new fellowship on that Sunday morning, and it was a very exciting time indeed.

l still remember sitting on a stuffed chair, barefooted, as we began our journey into what would become Calvary Chapel Chino Valley. Our first study was taken from Isaiah 43:18-19, and l simply called it A New Thing. Indeed, God was doing a new thing, and for the most part there seemed to be an excitement in us all as we began the journey together. We had around 25-30 adults, and 5-10 children (three of whom were mine!), and Marie was the first children's minister. What a memorable morning.

The people who joined me had said they wanted to see what God would do in our midst, and it had been my hope that we together could find out. Sometimes it saddens me a bit when l realize that out of the original group, a handful remained to see. Others are now unaccounted for, while still others moved on to other places. Some said good-bye, others didn't think it necessary, while others felt the best thing they could do was to leave and invite others to go with them. That too still saddens me but has deepened my concern for the spiritual maturity of the church l pastor, which has led to my trying to be a better pastor and brother in the Lord in general.

Over the 43+ years l have walked with the Lord, l have seen the Body of Christ change in many ways. Various movements have blown through like hurricanes, scattering and confusing the sheep. Signs and wonders, prosperity, seeker friendly, emergent, "hip" churches and a variety of others have sprung into being. They have had one thing in common: they do not center their spiritual life on an actual understanding of Scripture. They do give lip service to studying the Bible, but they do not actually teach it. It reminds me of Jeremiah 5:31, where the Lord laments "The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so".

As l write this, l am wondering how long l have to continue teaching and ministering. l am growing older, and am aware that l am not in step with the direction people seem to be bent on traveling in. Recently we had our Calvary Pastor's conference, and my age group was referred to as "dinosaurs" by some who attended. Some think it time that we get out of their way. We are not using enough cool language, and are just too rigid when it comes to encouraging people to abstain from alcohol or to live godly lives. Some believe that we Calvary guys are not ecumenical enough, or that we are simply ignorant and unschooled men who are not in step with the times. We need to move out of the way so that the clever pulpit personalities can take over and lead the charge. This has made me wonder if l have anything to say that people will hear. l honestly just don't know.

For those reading this note, you can see that my heart is greatly troubled by what l see. Like the Jewish prophet Dylan (smile) once wrote, The times they are a changin', and l just won't change with the times.

l still believe that there is nothing better then knowing Jesus. That loving Him, His Word, and His people is what it is all about. That telling the truth is most important, no matter how people respond to what is said. l still long to teach God's word correctly, rightly dividing it and avoiding the adding of stories that make me look important, or exaggerating successes with the effect of impressing people who might be gullible enough to trust me.

l long for youth to grow up enough to see that their friends are dying and perishing without Jesus, all while many are more intent on stretching their liberties to include their love affair with alcohol. l desire people to give to Jesus in their offering what they gave to Starbuck's or Coffee Bean this week so that the church can actually reach lost people. l long for people to come to Christian music nights, not to dance and enjoy themselves but to actually truly worship Jesus. They will fill up the hall and when the offering is received, never give a dime to the Lord and that breaks my heart. For some reason they simply don't see that it really isn't all about them.

Maybe this is simply the rambling of an old man, l don't know. l can't help but remember when l was first saved, how we would make the One Way sign after singing a song about Jesus, and how we loved one another. We were scum that had been scraped off of a sewer, and were made sons and daughters of God and were so thankful for His love for us. O Jesus, please refresh us once again.

Yes, 41 years of ministry and 33 years of pastoring this church and it hasn't been an easy road. More pain and disappointment then l can actually write on this page.

Yet, in the midst of all this l can say one thing. My God has never left me nor forsaken me. Nights of crying over a child that has gone wrong (yes, many left when l told them…after all, how can someone like me actually lead a church if my kids aren't perfect?) and pain in losing my parents and those whom l loved deeply. Staff that was unfaithful, and leaders in the church and friends that never even said good-bye when they left and who were bent on undermining the work here.

With that said, God is on the throne and we are still standing. And by His strength l will continue to stand, for He is able to make me stand. l will remain faithful to Him, and though this might seem a bit melancholic to many, sometimes anniversaries are more of a challenge then a memorial. May God move us into the future, and l pray that those who will hear what the Spirit says will obey Him as He speaks.

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Would See Jesus

John 12:20-21 There were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:  The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus

         I couldn't believe what he was asking me.
         As he sat across from me, in my church office, my head swirled with confused thoughts, and every fiber in my being refused to even entertain the request he had just made of me. 
         It was 1983, and I had known him for approximately two years. He was part of our fellowship, had been part of a home Bible study I once taught, but in reality, I did not really know him. 
         Though I knew him, I did not know him very well. 
         He was one of those members of the church who was never really greatly committed, often leaving the fellowship for short periods then always returning.
          He wasn't close to me, but at the same time, he wasn't what I would call a complete stranger, either.  Now he was in my office, asking me to do something that was very hard for me to do.
         "Pastor, I got arrested, and have to appear in court next Tuesday", he said. "Would you please appear with me in court? I don't want to go alone". 
         It wasn't that I didn't want to go with him. It is true, I had a great many Pastoral tasks to perform that week, but it wasn't just that I was loaded with these matters that caused me to recoil.
          It was what he had been arrested for. 
         He had been caught in an act of physical intimacy, an act that had occurred in a public place. This obviously, was terrible. What made it more difficult was that he was caught in this particular act with another man. And now he was asking me to appear in court with him. My head reeled! How could I do what he was asking of me? 
         I felt that if I appeared with him in court that those present that day that heard the nature of his offense would immediately associate me with this particular sin. While I understood myself to be a sinner (just a guilty as any other sinner, and no better than anyone else), yet this really hit home.
         Still, I knew I must go with him. 
         He was crying out for help, and came to the one person he could trust, the one person he wanted to appear with him; the one person who had told him over and over again of God's love, of God's forgiving power, of God's ability to change a life.
         I did the only thing that I could do that day, I agreed to be there with him. 
         That following Tuesday, I went to court with him. 
         I sat there, as his friend and his Pastor, and I drove back to my office with him. I also spent the next several weeks ministering to him, doing my best to help him to see that Jesus could set him free.
         Today, there are many people crying, "Sir, we would see Jesus". 
         Let us make it our prayer to represent our loving, forgiving Savior properly. 
         Let us pray that the Lord will fill our hearts with faith for the impossible, love for the unlovely, hope for the hopeless. 
         Let us be careful to show the world Jesus.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Lu 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 
My daughter Anna and I were standing quietly on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was such a beautiful moment as she and I held hands and looked across the Sea and began to share our hearts with one another. She was a little girl at the time, no older than ten, and I was her proud daddy so very much in love with her.
As we stood there by the shoreline, I said to her, "Honey, let's make a memory. This will be forever stamped on our hearts, our moment together". As we silently gazed across the Lake, I quietly began to sing a silly little song to her. "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime. Be my little sugar, and love me all the time". I was just trying to make her smile but instead of laughing, she began to cry and buried her little head in my chest. I did not realize it, but her little heart was moved within her when I sang the words, "Be my little sugar, and love me all the time".
Something inside of her responded to my promise to love her forever, my promise to be there for her, my promise to think of her always and to never forget our moment at the Lake. To this day, many years later, if I sing that little song to her, her eyes will immediately tear up. We made a memory that will always be ours, a memory that will always be special.
On the night Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus took the bread and the cup, blessed them, and served His disciples their last Passover supper that they would ever share with Him on earth. As He gave them the bread and the cup, He gently told them, "Do this in remembrance of Me". In a way, it is as if He was saying to them, "Guys, let's make a memory. Every time you do this in the future, think of Me." He was saying, "Think of all we have been through, and all that we have shared together. Think of our laughter, our tears and the joy we have had, and long for the time when we will be together once again."
Every time we share communion, we do so thinking of Him.
We think of His love, of His grace, of His mercy towards us.
We remember His death, His burial, and His resurrection.
And we especially think of His soon and very soon, returning for us.
In a very special way, Jesus has made a memory with you.     

Monday, July 7, 2014

While it is Called Today

Hebrews 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
         "Pastor, may I speak to you for a moment?"
         It was after third service, and frankly, I was tired.
         To be honest, I was already thinking about going home, and resting; in a few short hours, I would be returning for the evening service, and looked forward to a brief rest in the afternoon. But there was something about the way he asked me, and though I had never seen him before, I felt I should give him the few moments he was asking for.
         After finding a quiet place to share, he began by giving a brief testimony.
         He told me that he had visited our fellowship over a year earlier. He had appreciated the music, enjoyed the warmth of the fellowship, and had been left with an overall first impression that was positive. 
         The only problem he had had that day was, he did not like me
         "When you came out and taught, I frankly thought you were arrogant and opinionated. I disliked you immediately", he said. "I left the services that day convinced that I would never return to this church"!  
         As he shared this with me, I could not help but wonder how it was that he had returned. If he was so negatively impacted by me, and what I had to say, how is it that he had come back to the church?
         Immediately, my silent question was answered.
         He said, "Three months ago, I was driving by this church. I did not know that during the intervening year, you moved. It was Easter Sunday, and I was looking for a place to go to church. I noticed a long line of cars waiting to enter the parking lot, and thought that if so many people were coming to this church, I should give it a try. Because it was so crowded just getting in, I decided to leave, go to another church, but was determined to return the next week."
         He went on to say, "Once again, I enjoyed the music, and was attracted by the people. You can't
Imagine my surprise when you came out to speak! I was so upset, but I decided I really should listen to what you had to say. At the end of the service, I heard the invitation, and gave my heart to Jesus".
         I was blessed to hear that he had given his heart to the Lord, but he was not finished.
         "This is what I want to share with you, Pastor", he said.
         "A few weeks ago, an old girlfriend called me, and told me to have myself tested for HIV/AIDS. I went, and was tested, and have turned up positive". "What am I going to do?"
         My heart went out to him, and we prayed, and I encouraged him to hold on to the Lord, and to trust and serve Him for as long as God gave him strength.
         I could not help but think that, in the year between his first reaction to the message of the gospel, and the day that he finally surrendered to Jesus, he had continued a lifestyle that ended up infecting him with a disease that ultimately ended his life. Why did he find it necessary to wait? Why did he not give his heart to Christ, that day instead of waiting a year before yielding to Him? 
         From that time until he died from AIDS, my friend served the Lord with a complete heart, taking missions trips and serving here at our church. Ultimately, I had the sad task of performing his funeral service. I still think of him, and still grieve over his death.
            Today, you will have many opportunities to make decisions, to follow Jesus, or to disregard His word. It is my hope and prayer that today, you will hear His voice; that today, you will dedicate you life to serving Him. I pray that today, you will resist the deceitfulness of sin. Please, do not harden your heart; follow Him, obey Him, but most of all, love Him. As Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments".  

Monday, June 30, 2014

A.W. Tozer: Failure and Success-Faith Dares to Fail

A good thought for us to meditate on today! What is real success, especially in our spiritual life? Some think it is outward, but God says it is something different

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God. --1 Corinthians 4:5

God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.

God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things. We cannot buy God's favor with crowds or converts or new missionaries sent out or Bibles distributed. All these things can be accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit. A good personality and a shrewd knowledge of human nature is all that any man needs to be a success in religious circles today....

We can afford to follow Him to failure. Faith dares to fail. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

D. L. Moody: The Triumphs of Hope

In the fifteenth chapter of Romans, thirteenth verse, the Apostle says: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." The next thing then is hope.

Did you ever notice this, that no man or woman is ever used by God to build up His kingdom who has lost hope? Now, I have been observing this throughout different parts of the country, and wherever I have found a worker in God's vineyard who has lost hope, I have found a man or woman not very useful. Now, just look at these workers. Let your mind go over the past for a moment. Can you think of a man or woman whom God has used to build His kingdom who has lost hope? I don't know of any; I never heard of such an one.

It is very important to have hope in the Church; and it is the work of the Holy Ghost to impart hope. Let Him come into some of the churches where there have not been any conversions for a few years, and let Him convert a score of people, and see how hopeful the Church becomes at once. He imparts hope; a man filled with the Spirit of God will be very hopeful. He will be looking out into the future, and he knows that it is all bright, because the God of all grace is able to do great things. So it is very important that we have hope.

If a man has lost hope, he is out of communion with God; he has not the Spirit of God resting upon him for service; he may be a son of God, and disheartened so that he can not be used of God. Do you know there is no place in the Scriptures where it is recorded that God ever used even a discouraged man.

Some years ago, in my work I was quite discouraged, and I was ready to hang my harp on the willow. I was very much cast down and depressed. I had been for weeks in that state, when one Monday morning a friend, who had a very large Bible class, came into my study. I used to examine the notes of his Sunday School lessons, which were equal to a sermon, and he came to me this morning and said, "Well, what did you preach about yesterday?" and I told him. I said, "What did you preach about?" and he said that he preached about Noah. "Did you ever preach about Noah?" "No, I never preached about Noah." "Did you ever study his character?" "No, I never studied his life particularly." "Well," says he, "he is a most wonderful character. It will do you good. You ought to study up that character." When he went out, I took down my Bible, and read about Noah; and then it came over me that Noah worked 120 years and never had a convert, and yet he did not get discouraged; and I said, "well, I ought not to be discouraged," and I closed my Bible, got up and walked down town, and the cloud had gone.

I went down to the noon prayer meeting, and heard of a little town in the country where they had taken into the church 100 young converts; and I said to myself, I wonder what Noah would have given if he could have heard that; and yet he worked 120 years and didn't get discouraged. And then a man right across the aisle got up and said, "My friends, I wish you to pray for me; I think I'm lost;" and I thought to myself, "I wonder what Noah would have given to hear that." He never heard a man say, "I wish you to pray for me; I think I am lost," and yet he didn't get discouraged!

Oh, children of God, let us not get discouraged; let us ask God to forgive us, if we have been discouraged and cast down; let us ask God to give us hope, that we may be ever hopeful. It does me good sometimes to meet some people and take hold of their hands; they are so hopeful, while other people throw a gloom over me because they are all the time cast down, and looking at the dark side, and looking at the obstacles and difficulties that are in the way.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Great Devotional Thought From Tozer

Just what attracts us to the church we attend? What a question to ask, especially from a pastor. Still, after nearly 41 years of walking with the Lord, and after 38 years of ministry, the things Tozer says are things I and many of my fellow pastor friends see quite regularly. Is the church you attend helping you to really know Jesus and His word? Tozer says it well, and what he says should be heard clearly. Here you go, may the Lord minister to us all!

Failure and Success: The Great Goddess Numbers

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. --1 Corinthians 3:12-13

The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity, with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, the size of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.

This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.

A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Will You Also Go Away?

John 6:67  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away?

         I had gotten to the point of where I just wanted to give up.
         I am not sure why, but so many things had piled up on me at one time that I had just gotten to the point of breaking. Work, college, teaching two Bible studies a week, an emotional letdown, plus an assortment of other concerns had just pushed me over the edge. I had gotten to the point of just wanting to give up.
         I just didn't care anymore.
         I can still remember my mother's face when I told her that Christianity was a good philosophy for some, but as for me, it just didn't seem to work. She was so upset, and understandably so. I had led her to the Lord in January of 1971, and here it was November of 1975 and I was talking about throwing in the towel.
         I had been teaching Bible studies in my parents' home since September of 1973, and had shared many times about the faithfulness of God, the purpose of trials, and how God would never leave you nor forsake you. I knew these things, but for me, it seemed as if the heavens were brass and God had turned His face from me. I somehow was convinced that God loved other people, but He just didn't love me. So I told her, "Christianity just doesn't work for me". As she walked out of the den, I felt terrible. I didn't want to be a cause of stumbling for her and yet I honestly was so depressed I just blurted out what I was feeling.
         I can still remember sitting on a couch in the den with my bible open next to me. I didn't want to read it, but I picked it up and began reading the gospel of John, chapter 6. Then I came to verse 67, "Will you also go away?" I can't explain it in any way but must simply say, I knew God was asking me the same question. I remember praying, "God, where is there for me to go? When I got saved, I lost all my old friends, I am in Bible College, and my only dream for the last five years has been to one day pastor a church. Where can I go? There is nowhere I can go"!
         These were not words of faith and love, but rather of confusion, anger, and frustration. I felt like I was stuck, and had no alternatives. After praying these words, I continued reading the passage. John wrote, "Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (V68-69).
         As I read these words, I began to cry. I remember praying, "Where can I go Jesus? What is there in life, but You? I am hurting so much inside, I feel like I could die. But I am convinced that You have the words of eternal life. I know that you are the Son of the living God. Help me, please!"
         I wish I could tell you that immediately my depression left me, but it didn't. I struggled for some time after, but the struggle changed. I no longer felt like a helpless victim of circumstances, and no longer felt abandoned by God. I understood that the victory that would overcome the world would be faith; faith in a loving God Who would walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. 
         My healing came through surrendering to God's word, and receiving God's promise to be with me and to never leave me. 
         Today, if you are hurting or feeling low, trust in the promises of God and return to His word. After all, where can you go?
             He has the words of eternal life.

Monday, May 12, 2014

For the Love of David

Deut. 6:6-7 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

         Such a beautiful baby boy. 
         There really was no question what we would name him. Though I had toyed with the idea of naming him Aaron Michael, the moment he was placed into my arms I knew he would be named David. 
         David Aaron. My son. My namesake. My first little boy. 
         He had dark brown hair, and large brown eyes, and was absolutely beautiful.
         So beautiful was he that we would be stopped by strangers who would just stare at him and inevitably say, "What a gorgeous little girl!"  Immediately I would correct them. "This is not a little girl. This is a little boy! His name is David!"
         Little boys have a way of worming their way into your heart, and he was no exception. Filled with energy, always running, always getting into one adventure after another. 
         When David was two years old, his aunt Pattie bought him a Superman cape, and from that moment on, he and his cape were inseparable. He had to wear his little cape 24 hours a day. He would wear it when he went to bed, and he wore it throughout the day, only removing it when he took his daily baths.
         I remember vividly coming home from the office every night only to be greeted by Superbaby, as he would hold his little arms out in front of his little body, and would pretend to be flying from room to room, always off on a new adventure, always protecting his family from danger. 
         I loved him so much, my little boy, my David.
         On one occasion, our young family went on a vacation, and we took his older sister Carin and him to a museum in Morro Bay, California. We were standing in the parking lot, outside of the museum entrance, and David (wearing his cape) and I were standing next to our car as my wife Marie and Carin walked across the parking lot and stopped and waited by the curb. I told little David "Now stay right next to me while I get this bag out of the backseat" but David would have none of this. Like a bullet, he ran across the parking lot to his mother, not seeing a car coming in his direction. With a scream coming from both Marie and me, the driver of the car slammed on her brakes, narrowly missing my two-year old baby boy.
         When things like this happen, it is amazing what goes through your mind. At that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart. It was a simple question, but one that has remained with me from that point on.
         "Your little boy almost came home today. What have you poured into his heart that has really counted?"
         Obviously, how much can one pour into a two year old? Yet, that one thought has remained with me from that day on. What am I pouring into my son that really counts? If he is taken home before me, what thoughts will I comfort my wife, family, and myself with? What have I given him that will last eternity?
         Today we have an opportunity to pour into the lives of those we love lessons that will last literally for eternity.
         Let us have something to give them that will last.
         Let us give them faith and love. 
         Let us give them Jesus.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Look of Love

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

         She was the love of my life.
         She had won my heart before I had even met her, and from the first time I saw her, my heart was forever captured.  She had beautiful brown eyes, short curly brown hair, the most gorgeous complexion, an infectious smile, and skin as soft as a baby. 
         As a matter of fact, she was a baby. 
         But she was not just any baby, she was my baby. My first baby. My Carin Marie. And I was head over heels in love with her. 
         As many first time father's can understand, I was afraid when I first thought of being a father.  Would I be any good at it? Would I be loving, kind, gentle, fair? How will I discipline this baby? How will she affect my relationship with my wife? So many questions, so many prayers.
         And then it happened. Carin was born, and before you knew it, the doctor was placing in my trembling hands a little bundle of noise. 
         "Look, momma," I said to my wife Marie, "we have our little girl".
         We brought her home, but my questions still needed to be answered. How can I show her how much I love her? How can I learn to love her? How can I learn to love?
         One day, the Lord gave me the answer.
         I was standing next to Carin's bassinet, holding her in my arms, and looking deeply into her eyes. I can remember saying to her, "Baby, your daddy loves you. He loves you with all of his heart". My eyes were brimming with tears, and I was holding her tightly as I just gazed at this beautiful bundle of love, this gift from my Father to Marie and me. As I held her, and gazed at her, my sister in law came into the room. I can still remember turning to look at her, and the look I gave to her was the same look I was giving to my baby.
         At that moment, the Lord spoke gently to my heart.
         "You have been asking Me to show you how to love" He seemed to say. "If you desire to learn to love others, then you must first look at Me. If you look at Me in the way that you are looking at your baby, then you will see that it will not be so hard to love others. The key, My son, is to first look at Me."
         How simple, and how true. 
         Today, if you find it hard to love others, spend some time looking first at Jesus.

Monday, April 28, 2014

His Voice

John 10:4   When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice

         As any parent knows, hardly anything is as comfortable as being in bed on a cold winter's night, wrapped tightly and warmly in your blanket and comforter. Once I get into bed, I do not plan on leaving that bed until I am almost forcibly removed the following morning. I am especially difficult to remove if it is cold in the house. There is just something about stubbing your cold big toe on a hard bedpost that is completely unacceptable!
         When my family was younger, we lived in a two-bedroom house. Three of our kids shared one bedroom, and Marie, our fourth baby Anna Rebekah, and I shared the other bedroom. Eventually the Lord graciously provided us with a four-bedroom home, and we moved Anna into her own room.
         At first, she didn't like this much. Though the home wasn't much larger than the home we moved out of, yet because she had been sleeping in our room for so long, the thought of her being in her own room really made her uncomfortable.
         I can still remember one night in particular. 
         It was late, it was cold, and I was in bed. I was also nearly completely asleep when I heard her shaky, squeaky little voice piercing the darkness. 
         "Daddy, I'm scared! Come and get me!"
         I rolled over and told Marie, "Honey. The baby is calling you!" 
         "No she's not", Marie said, "I distinctly heard her cry out Daddy!"
         At that moment, I did what any thinking daddy would do. I said "Anna, I'm not getting up!  If you want to sleep in our room, you're going to have to come here yourself!" Immediately she cried out, "I can't come, daddy! I can't see in the dark! Come and get me!"
         Now what was I supposed to do? I was too lazy, too cold, and Marie wouldn't get up! I did the next best thing. "Honey, you can come to my room. I'll just keep talking, and you follow my voice!" This she did, and the next thing we knew, she was cuddled up in our bed, sleeping comfortably, as happy and contented as she could possibly be. (And I was still warm!)
         As selfish as it may seem to you, I actually was teaching Anna an important lesson. 
         The lesson is this: Whenever it is dark, and we are not sure of where we are to go, the best thing we can learn to do is to call out to our Father, and when He answers to simply follow our Father's voice. So often in the darkness of night and in the times of uncertainty everything around us cries out to distract and turn our attention away from the Lord. I have found that the very best and safest thing we can do at such a time is simply to follow His voice. By following His voice, we will be brought to safety, comfort, and peace. 
         His voice cries out through His word, the Bible.
         Spend time today, learning from His word, and learning to hear His voice. He calls to you, even in your darkest nights, and will lead you to comfort, peace, safety, and warmth, in Him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Will Never Leave You

Hebrews 13:5 God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

         "Dad, will you please pray for me?"

          "Of course, son. What would you like me to pray for you?"

          "That tomorrow I'll get picked to play on the team. Every day, everybody else is picked first, and I am left off the team. I'm the best at throwing the football, and it's a game of catch that we play during recess, but I'm always the last one to get picked. Please pray that I'll get picked for the team."
         I indeed prayed for him.
         I prayed that he would be picked for the team. 
         But I also prayed that he would know how much he is loved.
         When he asked me to pray, my son was sitting next to me on our living room couch. His little head was nestled on my chest, and I put my arm around his shoulders. Such a big boy, no longer a small child, but in his eyes tears were forming, and sobs came gushing forth as he asked his father to pray for him.
         I am not embarrassed to say that as I prayed for my son, I also cried.
         I cried because his pain touched me. 
         I cried, because he is such a gentle loving little guy, and to see him hurt broke my heart. 
         I cried, because this is a pain he is feeling that I and so many others am so familiar with. The pain of being the new kid. The pain of being rejected. The pain of needing to belong and being left out. 
         I especially cried because I could not help him. He was alone at school, and I could not be there, to pick him for my team.
         How I loved my little boy, how my heart was so easily touched by his pain. I wished I could be there for every disappointment, for every rejection, to scoop him up in my arms and to say to him "Son, I love you. You are so dear to me. If others don't  see you for what you are, I surely do. Though others reject you, you will never be rejected by me."
         I am simply a human father, filled with sin and imperfect in every way imaginable. Yet I love my child. If I so passionately love my child, as flawed as I am, I can only imagine how loving my heavenly Father is who loves me more than I could ever dream of loving my son. I have come to firmly believe that the Lord never rejects His children. Because I believe this, it is to his heavenly Father that I directed him.
         As I prayed for my son, I thanked God because, though I could not be present on the schoolyard to hold him and be his friend, Jesus certainly could be. It is Jesus who never leaves us. It is Jesus who never forsakes us. Even though men may reject us, we will always be accepted by Him.
         Today, if you feel a bit sad or are struggling with a sense of rejection, take heart. There is One person who loves you completely, and that One person is the Lord. Turn your eyes to Him today. Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you. He never will leave you, nor forsake you. 

            He loves you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Genuine Revival? Pt. 2

Cal Thomas wrote something worth reading:

In calling for a spiritual revival in America at his Lincoln Memorial rally Aug. 28, talk show host Glenn Beck reached back into history and touched on a familiar theme.
What would a genuine revival look like and how did those that have transformed America several times in the past get started? Earlier revivals were not created from the mobilization of large crowds. They occurred when people did something infrequently observed in modern times: humbled themselves.
Depending on how you count them there have been at least three “great awakenings” in American history. All of them—along with revivals in other countries—had one thing in common. They all began with what the late revival historian J. Edwin Orr called “a concert of prayer.”
The 1857 revival is instructive. It began when two men working on Wall Street decided to meet once a week on their lunch hour to pray for revival. They soon decided to meet daily. They did not issue a press release. Other men soon joined them. The group grew so large they started meeting at night in churches and invited their wives to participate.
Revival came like a brush fire, exploding not only in New York City, but also up the Mohawk River and down the Hudson, into Appalachia. According to, from February to June 1858, “around 50,000 people a week were added to the church—in a nation whose population was only 30,000,000. Across the Atlantic another million were won to Christ by 1865. . . . Ulster saw 100,000 converted, Scotland 30,000, Wales 100,000 and England 500,000.”
Besides prayer, another characteristic of the 1857 revival and all other revivals was genuine repentance and a confession of personal guilt before a holy God. Anyone familiar with the Old and New Testaments knows that humbling one’s self before God gets His attention faster than any earthly pursuit or agenda.
Modern evangelicals, so preoccupied with who is in the White House or which party controls Congress, might benefit from studying the results of the revivals. As Orr tells it, not only did the 1857 revival have a profound social impact on America, it also dramatically affected every society it reached. Following the revival of 1905, crime virtually disappeared in London. The police had little to do, so they formed quartets and sang at the revival meetings.
A Chicago shoe salesman named Dwight L. Moody wanted to teach Sunday school at a local church, but was told by its superintendent that the church already had 16 teachers too many. The superintendent instructed Moody to “get some boys off the street” and “take them to the country. . . . They will be your class.” That was the beginning of a ministry and missionary work that lasted 40 years.
Revivals don’t ratify the earthly aspirations of humanity, including selfish political agendas. They are about glorifying God. Too many modern Christians have it backward. In a real revival the Lincoln Memorial event would have been a result, not an attempt to cause a revival. People would have assembled who had already repented in private. They would not have bemoaned a decline in American “morality,” but instead have fallen on their knees (or faces) and cried out in genuine repentance and humility.
On his blog, Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., writes: “Too often, and for too long, American ‘Christianity’ has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at the heart mammon worship. . . .”
What passes for American Christianity today is increasingly counterfeit. It appears more focused on a transient earthly kingdom, rather than a heavenly eternal kingdom. That is idolatry and violates the First Commandment: “Thou shall have no other gods before me.”
When Christians obey that Commandment, and humble themselves, only then might revival follow.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Genuine Revival?

I read this recently and thought it good enough to post. There is great excitement about turning back to God, but I do believe that we need to think about what is actually happening. Can a Mormon lead a revival? Are we so hungry for change that we will discard discernment?

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they've heard the gospel, right there in the nation's capital.The news media pronounces him the new leader of America's Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America's Christian conservatives have no problem with that.If you'd told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it's not. It's from this week's headlines. And it is a scandal.Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn't the problem. He's an entrepreneur, he's brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I'm quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the "Tea Party" or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.It's taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined "revival" and "turning America back to God" that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we've relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We've tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political "conservatism" and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.Too often, and for too long, American "Christianity" has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That's why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don't like to talk about sin. That's why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12-20). As long as the Serpent's voice is heard, "You shall not surely die," the powers are comfortable.This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn't mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn't worried about "revival" or "getting back to God." What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.We used to sing that old gospel song, "I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown."  The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any "revival" that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a "revival" of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).The answer to this scandal isn't a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn't a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.It's sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, don't get me wrong, I'm not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel. He doesn't need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

Monday, March 31, 2014


In the 1860's David Livingstone returned to Great Britain on his first vacation after 16 years of traveling in the interior of darkest Africa. Livingstone was asked to speak at the University of Glasgow, but perhaps he would have declined if he knew what was in store for him. It was the custom of undergraduates those days to heckle the speakers who came, and they were well prepared for this preacher. They had peashooters and trumpets and rattles and noisemakers of every description. David Livingstone walked out on to the platform. Here stood the man who had walked 11,000 miles all over Africa. His left arm hung limply at his side having been almost ripped from his body by a huge lion. His face was dark and leathery brown from 16 years in the African sun. His face was furrowed with deep lines from African fever that racked his emaciated body. Savages, as well as Turks who hunted Africans to sell as slaves had attacked him. Livingstone was half-deaf from rheumatic fever and half blind from a branch that had slapped him in the eyes in the jungle. The students stared and they knew that here was a man that was literally being burned out for God. Not a rattle moved, not a foot shuffled and a hush crept over the vast auditorium as they listened in total silence as David Livingstone told about his journeys and the tremendous needs of this vast African population. "Shall I tell you," he said "what sustained me in the midst of all those toils, hardships, and incredible loneliness? It was a promise. The promise of the Lord that "I am with you always even to the end of the world." It was this promise that Christ would be with me personally right next to me every hour of each day that gave me the courage to continue day after day," Livingstone said
For David Livingstone Jesus Christ was with him, and Livingstone lived as if Jesus Christ was right next to him each moment. In Livingstone's diary we find his tremendous prayer, "Lord send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me; sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart." And Jesus said "David, I am with you always". Livingstone's wife Mary finally came to meet him in Africa, and for months she sailed on the ocean and then she cruised up the steamy mosquito swarming rivers. Soon after she greeted her husband she contracted African fever. Night after night, day after day David sat up with her and wiped her fevered brow. And slowly she worsened and finally took her last breath. Mary was dead. David Livingstone buried her under a huge tree and then he fell on that mound of dirt and wept. The Lord reminded Livingstone of his prayer. Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart. His body was broken, his loved ones were gone, and he seemed alone and discouraged. He was overcome. How did he deal with sorrow and grief? This is what he wrote in his diary. "My Jesus, my King, my Life, my all. I again consecrate my life to you. I shall place no value on anything I possess, on anything I may do except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ." When he arrived back home he found that natives had stolen his food and worst of all they had stolen his medicine chest with the quinine and other medicines to alleviate the pain of those terrible African fevers. For Livingstone the loss of these essential things was a death sentence and he cried out to God. "Oh, God you promised to be with me." Then he heard the sound and he looked up from his prayer. For five years he had not seen the face of a white man, and now, in the midst of the interior of Africa he looked up and he saw a white face walking toward him. Behind this white man was a whole caravan and above them flying in the wind the American flag. It was Henry Stanley who uttered those unforgettable words, "Dr. Livingstone I presume". For four months Stanley lived in the same hut with Livingstone. He nursed Livingstone back to health. Stanley had been an atheist but after those four months living with Livingstone Stanley became a Christian. Livingstone refused to return to civilization with Stanley. Instead Livingstone plunged deeper into Africa. For Livingstone the end was approaching. His diary said, "Lord help me to finish thy work this year to thine honor." And so he did. He came to a place where his strength was completely spent; his feet were lacerated and ulcerated with boils. He had nothing to eat but hard maize (dried corn) for months. Gradually all his teeth became loosened and fell out. He was deserted by everyone with the exception of three of his followers who tried to carry his very sick body back to England. Livingstone could not walk, he couldn't stand, and he couldn't go another step. His response was simple: Livingstone commanded his friends to put him on a stretcher and carry him onward. "I will not swerve one hairs breadth while I still have life." Deeper and deeper he plunged into Africa on a stretcher. Propped up, he proclaimed the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all with whom he came into contact. And then there came a day when Livingstone couldn't even be moved. It was pouring rain. A small temporary hut was quickly made. Livingstone was lying on his cot in the middle of the night when the servant boy who lay across the doorway to keep out wild beasts heard Livingstone stir. The servant boy got up and saw Livingstone agonizingly roll out of his cot and on to his knees and with his hands folded in prayer. After a while the boy went back to sleep but in the morning when he looked on Livingstone he saw him still in prayer. Several people came asking for Livingstone but the boy told them that Livingstone was still in prayer not to disturb him. Finally the boy became concerned and said to Livingstone softly "Sir", no answer. "Sir" still silence. He crept closer to him and touched his cold cheek. Livingstone died on his knees in prayer.
David Livingstone died in a village in Zambia, on 1 May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. Britain wanted the body to give it a proper ceremony, but the tribe would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa! Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died, now the site of the Livingstone Memorial. His body together with his journal was carried over a thousand miles by his loyal attends and was returned to Britain for burial. After lying in repose his remains were interred at Westminster Abbey Livingstone had lived his life in the presence of Christ and he left this life in the presence of Christ. Jesus said, "I am with you always" and He had kept His promise.
Livingstone's life consisted of 39 years, traveling 29,000 miles across Africa bringing light to darkness. Two million Africans were brought to the Gospel and the light he brought continues to shine to this day. For every mile Livingstone walked or was carried, he was strengthened by Jesus' promise: "I am with you always".

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

But Once

Hebrews 9:27   And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

         He was a high school friend.
         I couldn't really say that he was a best friend, or even a close friend, but I did count him a friend. When we were both 16, we occasionally hitched rides together during the summer, thumbing our way to the beach. On various occasions, we would encounter one another at a Friday or Saturday night party. His name was David Smith.
         We weren't best friends, couldn't be called good friends, but we were friends. 
         We were standing outside a local hamburger stand in Whittier, California, directly across the street from the high school we had graduated from just the year before. He was talking with some friends, and I was talking to some other friends, and though I knew he was there, I hadn't spoken to him.
         As I turned to leave, Dave called to me and said "Hey, David! Catch you later!" I can remember turning to him and saying, "Yeah, we'll see you around!" 
         That was the last time I saw him alive. 
         Later that same day, David Smith climbed on to his Honda cafĂ© racer motorcycle and, after taking a variety of drugs, drove face first into a pick-up truck parked by a curb. 
         David was killed instantly.
         We had a party immediately after his funeral. One of our friends remembered David saying that he didn't want a sad gathering at his funeral but that he would rather have a party. A good sized group of his high school friends got together that day, and we all partied, drank, and cried. 
         David Smith was 18 years old.
         Though I wasn't a Christian at that time, I distinctly remember feeling that life was getting increasingly shorter. As a teen, you can feel invulnerable. You can feel like you will live forever. Because of this, it especially strikes home when one of your friends dies. It has a way of waking you up. It reminds you that you aren't in control. You are not the captain of your own ship or the master of your own destiny. In reality, like the Bible says, you are simply a vapor, a temporary blip on the screen.
         You are here today, you will be gone tomorrow.
         David's death made an impression on me. It was eventually one of the ingredients the Lord used to bring me to Him. It is appointed unto men once to die, the scripture says.
         And after death, the judgment. 
         How grateful I am to know that, if the Lord should tarry and I should die, that my way has been directed towards the Lord. Today, we will inevitably come into contact with many we expect to see tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. The fact is, tomorrow is promised to no one. Let us endeavor to keep that in mind the next time we come into the David Smith's of our lives, the ones who are waiting to meet the Lord. God help us to lead many to the saving knowledge of the Lord. Let us lift up heavy hands, and continue leading people to Jesus, today.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Place for You

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

         He was my uncle, my father's younger brother. He was dying of cancer. 
         At one time he was a big, strong, truck driver. He was handsome, with thick black hair, a trimmed mustache, piercing green eyes, a broad strong back, and muscular arms developed over the years he had worked so diligently to provide for his family. As a little boy, I was a bit afraid of him because, like all the Rosales men, he had a loud voice and a gruff way of speaking and when he spoke to me, he would speak so loudly it would scare me. Still, I loved him. He was my Uncle Ray.
         But now, he was dying. Cancer ravaged his once strong body, and treatment had removed his beautiful black hair and his trademark Rosales mustache. My father had called me and had said "Son, your Uncle Ray is about to die. If you want to see him before he passes on, then you should get to the hospital as soon as you can". I remember driving to the hospital that night, thinking of how much I loved him, and how much he meant to me. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked around and gazed at my other uncles and cousins. I especially looked at my uncles; honest, hard-working men who carried the name of their father with dignity and who owned the values he worked so hard to instill in them. Men who knew what it was like to rise early in the morning to work a long and hard day. Men who refused to complain, and who would not entertain the thought that somehow they ended up with less then they deserved. 
         I thought of my father, who had done the best job he could to instill those values in his own family, in his own sons, and how I owned those values and was doing my best to pass them on to my children.
         I left the visitor's room, and went to see my uncle.
         Lying on the bed was a living skeleton, a shadow of the man he once was, devoid of his hair, skin that was yellow, sunken cheeks, eyes closed. Lying on the bed was a grain of seed, being prepared for the Resurrection. As I approached his bedside, his wife said, "Mijo (my son), your uncle is unable to respond. He hasn't spoken all day, and I don't know if he will hear you or talk back to you. Speak to him like a Rosales, so that he can hear you!" Instantly I remembered the trait of my family, as we all speak loudly, and I smiled. I approached his bed and said  "Uncle Ray, I have come to pray for you". Immediately he mumbled "Pray", and I took him by the hand, and I said "Jesus has gone ahead, and has prepared a place for you. He is waiting for you, and soon, you will be with Him in glory". And I prayed my last prayer for my beloved Uncle Ray. In a few short hours, he went home to be with Jesus. A few days later, on a Sunday afternoon, I preached to around two hundred of my relatives, encouraging them to have what my Uncle Ray had, a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Uncle Ray was now beholding the face of Jesus, and his desire would be that we all would one day do the same.
            Just think. We have a place waiting for us, prepared by Jesus Himself. How I look forward to being there with Him. But until that moment, I have decided to take as many people with me as possible. Today, remember, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for you. Let us not be selfish, let us not go to heaven, alone.