Sunday, June 7, 2015

Despised and Rejected

The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. John 7:7 

At church we are currently studying through the gospel of John and there are certain passages that stop you in your tracks. 
I don't believe that any person desires to be hated, but rather to be loved. A Christian who is filled with the Spirit, desires to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, which is love. When walking in the love of God, we never want to set out to intentionally offend people with the message of the gospel. When sharing the gospel we are to do so with compassion, love, and grace.  However the truth of the gospel does offend people.
When we declare that we are all sinners, destined for hell and judgement, and that the only way to Salvation is through faith in the finished work of  Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection, that can be offensive. It can incite rejection, hatred, and even violence. 
Nevertheless Jesus told us that these things would take place. There was no one more compassionate than Jesus, but the world despised Him. There was no one more gracious than Jesus, and yet the world rejected Him. There was no one as loving as Jesus, and yet the world crucified Him. 
There is a danger in the church today that we must be mindful of. The danger of watering down what the Bible says in order to make it more palatable lest we find ourselves being hated. The danger of compromising what the Bible says concerning how we are to live in this world, in an effort to show the world "LOVE." According to the scriptures, the Love of Jesus can be demonstrated in many different ways. 
The world demands tolerance, according to how they define it, and if the Christian "lovingly disagrees" or chooses not to attend, they maybe on the receiving end of more and more hatred. Certainly our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith know this by experience.

quote: These days its not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”  Ravi Zacharias

Now that presents us with a difficult decision. Should I compromise what the Bible says, in an effort to demonstrate what "I believe" to be LOVE?  Or do I stand and live according to what the Bible says, and potentially be HATED? We should never compromise what the Bible says regardless of the consequences. Jesus said "a mans enemies may even be those of his own household" Matt.10:36. He also said, "he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matt.10:37. Sometimes we have to make the difficult decision not to be involved with certain things in this world. The reason is not because we do not love those in the world, but because we love Jesus more. As a result we could be misunderstood and no longer welcome. We may be branded as unloving, judgmental, critical by both nonbelievers and believers.  Because I don't participate, it may cause some friendships to come to an end. It may close the door on a potential evangelistic opportunity. Now if that happens, I don't stop loving those people, or praying for them. I will continue to look for ways to be a light.
As believers in this world we are to demonstrate the love of Jesus, but we are also called to stand for the truth of God's Word. It is better to be rejected in this world, and accepted in the next. It is better to go outside the camp bearing the reproach of our savior, for here we have not continuing city but we seek the one to come. Heb.13:13

Sadly I have found in my own life there have been occasions when I was hesitant to share the gospel with someone because I had a greater fear of how they would look at me, then the fear of where they would spend their eternity. Surely the fear of man brings a snare. 

I ask myself, "If Jesus was despised and rejected will I be applauded and accepted? If Jesus took up His cross am I to avoid taking up mine?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Go Forward

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, WENT FORWARD. 
John 18:4

Have you ever stopped to consider what Jesus knew? He knew that in only a short amount of time that the crowds that sang His praises would demand His crucifixion. He knew that all of His disciples would leave and forsake Him. He knew that Judas would betray Him. He knew that Peter would deny Him. He knew that He would be falsely accused, spit upon, scourged, brutalized, crucified. He knew that He would be separated from His Father as He took upon Himself the sins of the world.... and for all the knowledge that He had He  still went forward.....

But let us not forget that He also knew that He would rise from the dead. He knew that the veil in the temple would be torn from top to bottom. He knew mankind would now have the opportunity to be saved from sin, from death, and from hell. He knew that many would turn to Him and be reconciled to God. He knew that you would come to believe in the gospel. He knew that although this was the most difficult thing that anyone could ever walk through, that this was part of the Fathers plan and will for His life.  Therefore although He despised the shame of the cross, the Bible says for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. 

Oftentimes the knowledge of what lies ahead can make us stop moving forward. Sometimes knowing what we know, may tempt us to go backward instead of forward. Yet as we look at the example of Jesus we find strength and courage to take the next step. Perhaps the Lord is saying to you today... go FORWARD.

"I can go forward when I know that Jesus has gone before me." 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Finally

"Do you ever feel like this
with the promises of God?
Waiting Patiently"
Reading through the Bible once again I am right in the middle of the life of King David. What an amazing story. David was a man after God's heart and uniquely called to lead the nation. Yet from the time of his initial anointing, until the fulfillment of Gods promise, he encountered many challenges to his faith. Whether it was a giant on the battlefield, or King Saul who hunted David for years in order to thwart the plans of God, David kept on going.
 It seems from his story that there were definite seasons when he doubted Gods promises. There were times when he thought "what's the use?" Then the day finally came. A day I would imagine that David thought would never come. It was the day God's promise was fulfilled. 
After reigning in Hebron for seven years and six months all of the tribes of Israel came to David. They reminded him that he was apart of them, he was like family to them. They also recalled that in times of battle that David had been faithful to lead. David behaved wisely on every errand he was sent. He remained faithful even when others weren't watching. But the Lord was watching.  David was also reminded of the promise that God had made to him that he would "shepherd" the people. David could not bring God's plans to pass in his life and neither can we. We must trust the Lord and keep walking by faith. The Lord knows what He is doing and why He is doing it, even if we don't. Don't forget He loves you, and that like in David's life, the Lord is working all this for your good and His ultimate glory.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Compelled Youth Workers Conference

Last weekend we were in Florida serving at a Youth Workers Conference held at Calvary Chapel Vero Beach. The theme of the conference was "Compelled" taken from 2 Corinthians 5:14 "For the love of Christ compels us.." Pastor Jim Gallagher and the ministry team did an amazing job putting on the conference. It was such a blessing to gather with people who are faithfully serving the young people within their churches. They have such a heart for the next generation and are doing all they can to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Someone said that "the church is only one generation away from extinction." It's always been on our hearts to invest in the next generation of leaders. We want to be able to impart the things that we have learned, and seek to be an encouragement to them in their calling. The conference was very simple. We had worship, prayer, teaching from the Word, and fellowship. Yet although it was simple, it was very fruitful. If you would like to see any of the conference it is now available on our church app. 

My wife and I also had the privilege of returning to our first church plant in Brandon Florida. Words cannot describe how blessed we were to see that the work continues to go on. To be able to revisit the the work of God  did in our lives during those ten years was a real boost to our faith. We got to see so many people who are like family to us. I was reminiscing to myself and thinking, "what if we never had moved to Florida?" We would have missed out on all that the LORD did and continues to do. I am so grateful to my Savior for giving us the grace to serve Him.  It was a wonderful time of ministry, but it is also great to be back home. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Calvary Fitness Initiative

Much of the work of the pastor involves reading, studying, sitting, counseling, teaching. Without a game plan, its easy to get physically lethargic. Recently at work, the guys on staff started what we call the Calvary Fitness Initiative. I know, it sounds official right? Its not that big of a deal. The guys on our staff decided it was time to loose a few pounds and start eating healthy. We didn't necessarily need to become Gluten-FREE but Glutton-FREE. 
The guys all weighed in on the scale and set their goal for the next five weeks. We also downloaded the MyFitness Pal app. that logs in what we eat, and when we exercise.  Its been great to be able to hold one another accountable.  A few of the guys are really charging. We are all trying to eat better and exercise so that we can be the best for the Lord we can be. Keep us in prayer. And if you feel led, join the initiative. Bodily exercise profits a little, godliness is profitable for all things. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Back Under One Roof in SJC

I wanted to take a moment and give an update on Calvary Chapel in San Juan Capistrano. Some of you may know that close to 6 months ago we were faced with some challenges that required quick and decisive decisions. First of all our church doesn't own its own parking lot... its crazy... We use the school parking, city parking ,and we also lease a parking lot. However back in the summer we were told that our leased parking lot was going to be taken and construction was going to begin. In addition to loosing our lots, the south band offramp to our church was completely shut down. We decided to pursue our options. The Lord was so faithful to open up the door for us to meet at ShoreCliffs Middle school in San Clemente. With a large population of our church traveling from San Clemente it made it convenient for them. All the other services were held in San Juan. We basically extended our staff and volunteers and spread out four weekend services into six, in order to meet the needs we had. 
The team of people that set up weekly and served faithfully were amazing. The main service at ShoreCliffs was well attended and done extremely well. It reminded me of starting all over again.  
Nevertheless overtime, I found it to be difficult to minister in the way I am used to. If you don't know much about me, I am a pastor that enjoys being with the sheep. I watched my pastor every week walk the aisle after each service and be available for the people.. that was my model and thats how I have ministered for 20 years. I like to be where the people are. But during this season when second service ended I would get in my car and drive 7 miles down the road. It was the hardest thing for me to do. I understood it was for a season and that it was necessary for the time being, and it was a blessing, but I was excited to get back to being under one roof. 
Also we came to find out that our folks like the live service over the video feed service. I personally feel the same way. As we came up to the five month mark our parking in SJC was extended, and the offramp, although still congested, had opened up. So we decided it was time to bring it back under one roof again. I can honestly say it has been an amazing blessing. The people that had never served before who were serving at San Clemente had been trained to serve in San Juan. Those who hadn't led before and were given opportunity to lead in SC, were now leading in SJC. We grew spiritually as a fellowship and even numerically by the grace of God. But more than anything I learned what it is to step out when God says step out and that He uses our steps of faith for His purposes. Also I am so grateful for a fellowship that is willing to trust God and step into the Jordan when called upon to do so. 

At the present time we are still actively looking for another location.. please pray for us...also we are still doing a weekly outreach in San Clemente at a Methodist church on Thursday nights. Myself and Raul Ries teach a small Bible study which has been  huge blessing.  A special thanks to those of you who supported us through this season of transition giving us the benefit of the doubt,  and prayed for us... from our church body, volunteers, and staff thank YOU....!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Encouraging Exhortation for Pastors from Pastor Chuck

Having been a pastor now for 20 years I know what it is to question myself at times, as to whether or not I am doing everything I should be doing. Am I doing enough?  Or to ask myself, am I doing it right? Its always a blessing to have a reminder that reaffirms your calling and your job description. Recently I have been teaching through the book of Acts in our fellowship,  and I listened to one of Pastor Chucks sermons on Acts 20 and I found it to be a tremendous blessing. I was reminded what my role is in the body of Christ and what I am to be doing within that role.  Below is an excerpt from his message. I hope your encouraged.~PJ

Now take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that you feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood (Act 20:28).
And this is the charge and the responsibility that God has placed upon the ministers: to feed the flock of God. But it is so difficult to find pastors today who will really feed the flock of God. We get letters by the hundreds. People are hungry to be fed the Word of God. And so Paul said to these overseers of the church of Ephesus, "Feed the flock of God." Peter in writing his epistle said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep." I don't know why pastors don't realize that this is the most important function of a pastor is to feed the flock of God. We have those who are seeking to entertain the flock of God. And then God help us, unfortunately we have those who are seeking to fleece the flock of God. But how few are really feeding the flock of God.The reason why you feed them is in that they might become strong. Because wolves are going to come in. Paul shared his concerns, "after I depart grievous wolves are going to enter in among you, not sparing the flock (Act 20:29)."
Men who would try to draw groups after themselves. There's always that. God establishes a work, and then there are always those who try and come in. Even out of your own midst, there will come those who will try to break off a group, to bring them as after themselves. Sad and tragic. Paul when he was writing to the Ephesians said that God has placed in the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. That's what we're here for. That you might be fed the Word of God, that you might be perfected for the work of the ministry. The building up of the body of Christ. Until we all come into the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God. Into that complete person. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the image of Christ. That you be no more as babes who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men who lie in wait to deceive. ~ Pastor Chuck on Acts 20:28