Friday, July 25, 2014

Overwhelmed?

2 Chronicles 14:11 And Asa cried out to the Lord His God and said, "Lord it is nothing for you to help either with many, or those who have no power, help us, O Lord our God for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord You are our God, do not let man prevail against You

Asa was a good and godly king, however he was not except from attack. An Ethiopian Army mounted an assault and came against Asa. The King turned to the Lord in prayer and he acknowledge the greatness of God. Asa realized that the Lord did not need a large army to defeat the enemy. Nor did He depend upon the power of man. The Lord was able to deliver His people. The Lord was looking for someone to trust Him and take Him at His Word. Asa looked to the Lord and placed all His faith and trust in Him. The Lord delivered Asa and the Kingdom from the enemy. 

Perhaps this day you are under spiritual attack. The thoughts on your mind are like an oppressive cloud that seems to hover and block the sunlight of Gods precious promises. You cannot seem to get yourself out of it. Like Asa, turn to God in prayer, acknowledge His power, turn Your thoughts toward the Lord, and then rest in Him. He will come through, He always does. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Times We Are Living In

A number of things have been brought to my attention in the last several days that have reminded me once again of the times in which we are living. 

ISRAEL AT WAR: The State of Israel has launched a counter attack against Hamas, calling up thousands of reserves to put an end to the bombing of its citizens. "Operation Protective Edge" continues to move forward as innocent people are affected on both sides and the world looks on praying for peace to come to that land. 

EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNED: The President of the United States signs an executive order that will bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The President ignored requests from faith leaders asking for an exemption for religious organizations. Will this be a launching pad for lawsuits against Christian organizations that disagree with the Presidents order? 



RUSSIA: As Russia continues to flex its global muscles as the news reported an airplane being shot down by separatists who are supported by Russia and killing 298 civilians. How will the world respond? 



FAITH AND VALUES: Last week in the Orange County Register the article in the "Faith and Values" section read in bold print, "Some Evangelical Christians, Are Rethinking The Bible". The article went on to sight growing numbers of people calling for a less literal interpretation of Scripture.  Saying that there isn't a literal place called hell. 


As I consider all of these things and more going on in the world I believe that the LORD is still in control. In churches around the world Gods people are praying for revival. There is a unified cry for the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit. The things that are unfolding at the present time, may be the very things that the LORD will use to bring us to a place of desperation. The Lord said, "if my people will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways…" 
In the History of the Nation of Israel the Bible records how the Lord used difficult times to bring the people back to Himself. As all of these things unfold we begin to recognize our need for God. The Lord has a purpose for us at this time in church history. I am encouraged and excited about what the Lord may do in the future. But we must be empty before we can be filled, humbled for we can be exalted, broken before we can be whole, and weak so that we might experience Gods strength. 

Do your work Lord in these days! Lord fulfill with Your hand what you have spoken through Your word! 


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of Prayer

In recent days at Calvary San Juan we have seen the Lord do a deeper work in our fellowship through prayer. You always here it said that, "there is power in prayer", and "prayer changes things". We are finding that it is true. It has been such a boost to our faith to see lives being changed, people being saved, and even some being healed. Another blessing we have been discovering through prayer is the atmosphere in our church is changing. There is a greater desire for more of Jesus and an expectation of a work of His Holy Spirit in our lives. As we observe what is going on in the world, and even in some places in the church it can be discouraging. Yet we have a ongoing and growing desire to see The Lord work in these last days. People in this world are looking for hope, and we have the hope and that is Jesus.
Another thing we are seeing is an increase in spiritual attack. It has come in many different forms. The enemy is greatly bothered when Gods people begin to pray. He begins to use different tactics to try and undermine the work of The Lord. We can feel tired and suddenly find all kinds of reasons why we don't need to gather for prayer. Also the enemy tries to cause division or confusion amidst Gods people. Nevertheless this causes us to pray more earnestly to our Lord. With all the bad things you hear about every day I wanted to testify that God still works through prayer. And if revival is gonna come in these last days it's gonna start with Gods people on their knees. Church don't stop praying!!!!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Would You Pray With Us For the Next Step?

In the middle of August we will have completed our 7th year of ministry here at Calvary Chapel SJC. We are so thankful for what the Lord has done these last 7 years and we are excited to see what He will do in the future. I wanted to take a moment and ask you to join us in prayer as we go forward as a church. We have outgrown our current location in SJC and have been praying about what to do next. Land is expensive, and buildings are hard to come by around here in SJC. We are trusting the Lord for His provision. If you come across anything that you know is available,  be it a church, or land, or something along those lines, would you call our church office at 949-443-2572? Ideally we want to stay here in the SJC, San Clemente, Dana Point Area, but we are open to whatever the Lord has. I felt like if I put it out there people would pray with us, and maybe someone may even have a lead for us to look into. God is faithful He has always provided for us. I'll let you know if anything comes up. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Forward Motion Pastors Conference Review

This year our Calvary Chapel West Coast Pastors Conference was held at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. When we first got word it would be at the church and not the Murrieta Bible college I was a little worried. I was afraid I would miss the fellowship with guys that I have roomed with over the last 18 years. But CCCM did such an amazing job with the set up it made fellowship so easy. I felt like I saw more guys I knew then when we have had it at Murrieta. Another added blessing was that we were able to bring our staff guys. Which I was so thankful for. They got to hear some amazing bible teachers, and catch a vision for the future.
The theme of this years conference was Forward Motion. In light of Pastor Chucks passing many of the veteran pastors sought to help us not to forget the past and the rich heritage we have, but also to keep moving ahead in our calling in the future.  I was able to take something away from every speaker that shared. I have so many notes to go over and pray through. It gave me a real excitement to continue to serve Jesus. We were reminded repeatedly how important the work of the Holy Spirit is within the life of a Pastor.
During the conference there was a moment when the Lord ministered to me in an even more personal way. It was during Don McClure's message. Some of the things that he shared took me right back to when I was first called into the ministry. I was reminded of many of the things we had gone through that taught us so much. Also I was reminded why I am still in the ministry at the present time, and really what ministry is truly about. I was so moved that I gathered our staff together and we went outside and I told them that, that was what I wanted them to hear. I felt like that was the heartbeat of ministry. A crucified man, preaching a crucified savior. Sacrifice and faithfulness to our calling is what true success in ministry is all about. I can't speak for everyone who attended the conference, but speaking for myself, I am going forward with my eyes fixed upon Jesus and what He has called me to do here in South County. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pastors and Alcohol?

Questions: Should Pastors Drink Alcohol?:  

This question has seemed to come up quite a bit lately. People want to know if there is a standard for Pastoral leadership within the church that would include abstinence from alcohol. It is not my intention to look at the first miracle of Jesus in turning water into wine, and build a case for the water to wine ratio or anything like that. Also I am not attempting to look at every angle of this matter.  I simply want to take a practical look at the subject and give a perspective on it. I am also not saying that every person has to agree with my perspective, but I am hopeful that it may encourage someone in pastoral ministry to think about the decisions they make and how it could potentially affect others. With that preface lets consider what the Word of God says on the issue. 

Drunkenness: There is absolutely no doubt that Bible forbids drunkenness. For information read the following passages just to name a few.(Isa.5:11, Prov.23:20, Rom.13:13, Gal.5:19, Eph.5:18)  My question is how do you know if your actually inebriated and crossed the line?   I love what I heard Pastor Greg Laurie say one time, "you'll never have to be concerned about falling into the sin of drunkenness if you never have a drink."  Why take the chance?

In the Old Testament you find that there were those who would take a Nazarite vow. During the  time of their vow they would refrain from wine according to Numbers 6. Also we find the priests refraining from wine in ministering in Leviticus 10:9. When they were ministering in the tabernacle  the Lord did not want their judgment to be clouded in any way.  

In the New Testament some of the debate over pastoral liberties has come from the meaning of the Apostle Paul's reference in 1 Timothy 3 where he lists the qualifications for a Bishop (overseer, elder, pastor). Paul writes that a man should be blameless or above reproach in the way that he lives his life. Then Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:3 a bishop is not to be given to wine. When you look up the original greek it is the word paroinos. As you examine the word you then could read various scholars and commentators on the subject splitting the grammatical hairs of what it means and does not mean. But the question is then raised, "Was Paul saying we should abstain completely, or was he saying a pastor has liberty as long as he is not given over to it?" Again I am not one to debate the finer points of the greek language, but rather share why I believe it could be a danger and a hinderance to the pastors ministry, and thus why I choose to refrain from the consumption of alcohol. 

The Old Life: To me when I think of alcohol, it represents the old life before I knew Jesus. Whether that was one drink or multiple ones. When I came to Jesus that is not when I started drinking, that is when I put it away. The reason is because it was representative of the old man, or who I used to be. Why would I want to go back? I don't. 

The Observation of Devastation: In all of the years that I have been pastoring I can tell you that I have never once seen anything good come from alcohol. But I have seen violence, divorce, loss, devastation, drug abuse, abortions, unwed mothers, tragic accidents, death, all as the result of alcohol. A recent survey I read said that 1 out of 7 people who drink become alcoholics. At some point it started with one drink, which led to the next. Most people that I have counseled with, who are given over to alcohol never thought they would end up where they are at. They never expected when they took that first drink it would lead to a divorce, child support, rehab, D.U.I.'s and more. 
Let me ask you, "Would you keep a dog in your house that severely bit 1 out of 7 people that came into your house?"  Did you know that 1700 college students die every year because of over drinking? I am certain that most of them thought they could handle it. 1700 college students is the equivalent to 4 full jumbo jets of people, and they all die. It kind of puts it into perspective.

The Potential to Stumble Others: I realize, as a Pastor, that the calling I have has a great amount of influence within peoples lives. That responsability  is something that I take very seriously, and seek to walk in the fear of the Lord over how I live my life before my God and before people. For example, "If I were a social drinker, and say 7 people decided to follow my example and 1 of the 7 becomes a alcoholic and end their life in total destruction, is that a risk I am willing to take?!. NO WAY! Also I find it troubling today that the phrase that is being used so often to justify even for pastors is the phrase, "in the privacy of your own home." As long as its in the "privacy of your own home" its okay. But how far do I carry that reasoning? what else could potentially fall under that category? Also I realize First of all, that its not my home, its Jesus' home. Furthermore being a father I have always considered my children within our home. Forget for the moment I am a pastor, I am also a husband and father. I don't want to go down the road of justifying what I do at home, verses what I do when I'm outside the home. I know me, I could easily do that….

Not Legalism but Wisdom: There are undoubtedly people that are on the other side of this argument who may even go so far to call me the "weaker brother, or the legalist". That is something I am willing to live with. As I personally weigh out the consequences of a decision, "for me" it is clear, that I don't want alcohol, and a lot of other things, to be apart of my life and ministry. Furthermore at "CCSJC" I encourage all our young men in leadership who have a desire to be pastors to take that same stand.  I even encourage our congregation in the same way, that although they may have the liberty, to be very careful that the liberty does not become a cloak for sin. That a little leaven could potentially spoil the whole lump. Or worse yet that we would stumble someone with our liberty, whether in the privacy of your own home, or the public outside your home.

Galatians 5:13 For you brethren have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.