Monday, March 17, 2014

Return from the Holy Land

There is no place like Israel in all the world. You could travel to many wonderful places in the world but I feel as though none can compare to the Holy Land. The most important event in Human History occurred there. The birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Savior of the world.   When you see these places with your own eyes, you never look at the Bible the same way again. This year we took 34 people. We were all on one bus, which makes it easier to get around. This was my 5th trip but it was unlike other trips in the past. The weather was challenging at times. We went from wearing shorts in the Judean Wilderness, to wearing beanies and scarfs in Jerusalem. At one point we even got stuck in a small hail storm. But it was such a blessing. 
One of my favorite highlights this year was being on the Sea of Galilee. Galilee is always one of my favorite spots. This year when we were on the water, the sea was calm. I taught about the story of the storm and how Jesus came walking on the water. When I finished my Bible study the weather suddenly changed. The waves began to rise and the rain began to fall. Its like we were living the actual story. The people had so much fun they were cheering and singing. It was a blessing. 
The other thing that was a blessing on this trip was watching how the Lord led us every step of the way. There were times when we had to be flexible in arrangements, but everything worked out. Prayerfully we will be able to return to the land again next year with another group of people from the church to experience the blessing of Israel. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Important Is Valentines Day?


Is Valentines day really that important? Apparently it is. Last year it was estimated that 233 million roses where purchased on Valentines day. The National Retail Foundation said that half of the gift givers this year will give chocolate and the other half flowers, spending 1.6 billion dollars. Men will spend an average of $175, and women will spend $88 dollars. With those astonishing statistics it seems clear that people feel there is a price to pay to demonstrate your love. Whether you have a valentine or not, one thing you need to know today is that YOU ARE LOVED. The Bible says, that "God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. The bible declares that God loves your perfectly, unconditionally, infinitely. 
God demonstrated His love, not by sending you a gift of flowers, but by laying down His life. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13. Whatever your status is today, be it single, married, or have even gone through a difficult breakup, GOD LOVES YOU. There is nothing that you could do today to make God love you more than He does right now. He values you, He rejoices over you Isa.62:5, He prays for you Rom.8:34, He is coming again to receive you unto Himself that you may one day be with Him forever John 14:3. 

If you are doubting TRUE LOVE, LOOK TO THE CROSS!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Think Before You Ink

As I sat in front of close to three hundred young men, I quickly glanced over the stack of papers filled with questions for the Q&A session. In my opening remarks I let everyone know that I did not have all the answers. In fact, I informed them that I too, have many questions about life that have not been answered yet. With that I assured them I would do my best to answer all the questions I was given from a  biblical perspective. One of the questions that came up had to do with tattoos. "Is it wrong for a Christian to get a tattoo?" 
When I was growing up tattoos were certainly not as popular as they are today. Nor were people as talented with the artistic designs as they are nowadays. Growing up I never thought about getting one. It seemed in my generation, only bikers and sailors had them. But now you see not only young people and athletes getting tattoos, but even grandmas are getting some fresh ink on their feet or wrists. 
There are some who feel strongly that is biblically wrong to get a tattoo. The proof text that they turn to is found in Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you, I am the Lord. In the context Moses was referring to a pagan marking of your body for the dead not tattoos as we have them today. So let me give you my perspective. 

1. Personally I do not have any tattoos, nor do I plan on ever getting any. I choose not to get one, NOT because I think I am more spiritual in any way, nor do I feel that it is sinful to have one. I have no problem with tattoos on other people. I know many amazing believers and even pastors who have scriptures,crosses,pictures, greek words, hebrew letters, that mean something to them. I minister to people regularly who have tattoos and I don't look at them any differently, I honestly don't even think about it, until I was asked this question at the Q&;A. But for me, I exercise my liberty not to get a tattoo. 

2. Now listen, if you are young person living in your parents home, and your folks tell you not to get one, then it is important that you "honor your father and mother" and refrain from getting one. If you feel later on life when your on your own, that you want to do that, that is between you and the Lord. 

But let me share a few considerations before you put on that permanent marking in order that you may be confident in what you decide to do. 

First of all there were many things as a younger man I thought were really cool, but so many of those same things I do not think are cool any longer. And for that matter neither  does anyone else. ;-)
Its a funny thing getting older, your perspective changes. But not only does your perspective change, but your body WILL CHANGE. 
I have known guys that got a barbwire tattoo around their bicep when they were lifting weights 15 years ago, but the barbwire doesn't look as awesome now because they are not able to put up the big iron any more. You may get tweedy bird tattooed on yourself early in life, but as you grow in different areas and change, it looks like "Big Bird".  Having said all of that let me end with this word. Before you put that permanent, unremovable mark, that will be with you till death or Jesus comes again, take some time to pray. Ask the Lord what He thinks. And if He gives you the green light then get the green ink. If you don't have peace about it, then wait. 

Remember this, "THINK BEFORE YOU INK." 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A CAMP AND A VISION

A real quick note on what a blessing it was for my wife and I to be apart of a high school youth camp up in Green Valley. A camp that was built by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa over 20 years ago. We actually attended the very first camp ever held there. Pastor Chuck's Vision was to have a place where young people could go up into the Mountains away from all the distractions and get to know their Creator who loves them so deeply. 
This weekend was my first time being up there since Pastor Chuck's passing. I was reminiscing about the first time we were at the camp even before the chapel was built. It was during the summer and the theme was the book of Revelation. My oldest son was 9months old. Fifteen years later at that same camp my son committed His life to Jesus. In addition to my own children being ministered to,  I thought about how many lives of young people have been forever changed over the years because of that property. What an amazing investment for the Kingdom. Chuck had a vision that he hoped would impact future generations, well he was right.  I pray that the camp will continue to be a blessing to many generations to come. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Put Out the Fires

It was on a Sunday as I was making my way home from church that I saw smoke rising from my neighborhood. This was no BBQ, or chimney burning but an actual fire. As I followed the smoke it was only a few blocks away from my house. I saw neighbors running and fire trucks pulling up. Inside a neighbors garage something had caught fire. Huge billows of smoke flowed out of the garage. We all stood by and observed the brave fire men rush in to put out the fire. 
In the Christian life I have seen smoke rise. There are times when our enemy seeks to start fires around us. Usually they ignite right after a great victory or spiritual blessing. They can cause us to loose our focus and get easily distracted. The best way to handle them is not to overreact, or become fearful, but rather run to Jesus. I found that my God is able to put out any potential threat. The Lord can even use the enemies arson fires for good, because it causes me to immediately turn to my savior. Put out enemy fires with the water of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and prayer. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Review of our Week of Prayer

This week we have set aside 5 days as a church to seek the Lord in prayer. On Monday evening we began with Confession. We looked at a number of things that we needed to repent of ranging from prayerlessness, complaining, gossip and everything in between. Although it was painful to look at things that we can easily overlook, it was a blessing to turn from them in repentance and to experience the times of refreshing that followed.
Then on Tuesday night we moved to a time of Adoration. We considered the attributes of God as revealed in scripture and simply worshipped the Lord for who He is. So much of our times of prayer are spent bringing our requests before the Lord which is a tremendous blessing. However it also important in prayer to worship God for who He is. On Wednesday we began to pray for Revival by asking the Lord to provide a Renewal in our hearts personally, a revival in the church locally, and also an awakening globally. Thursday night we turned our attention toward Missions. We  began to pray over our own Jerusalem and the ministry we do in our community. Then we moved to Judea, and interceded over the ministries we partner with. Following Jerusalem and Judea we prayed over the uttermost parts of the earth, which included the persecuted church. What a humbling thing it is to consider how great the need truly is in the world to hear the gospel.  This evening we will conclude our time of pray by crying out to God over the next generation. 
I am excited to see how the Lord is going to answer our prayers in the days ahead. There is power in prayer. I am reminded of the words of one man concerning prayer. 

"There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer." A.T. Pierson

Monday, January 13, 2014

Good News

Mark 1:1-2 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets:

In Genesis we read, "In the BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth." In John we are told, "In the BEGINNING was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Here in Mark we read "the BEGINNING of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." 
The word Gospel means good news. 
The good news is that although man was formerly separated from God, Jesus died on the cross bridging the gap so we could be reconciled to God. Because of His sacrifice there is atonement for the sins of mankind. Our sins can be erased and forgiven. There is freedom from guilt and shame. There is a glorious liberty found in responding to this gospel. There is a personal relationship provided with the living God. We can have the hope of heaven. We are given the assurance that when we die we will be with the Lord Jesus. There is a hope beyond the grave. The gospel message is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. 
Have you responded to the good news of the gospel? Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

If ever there was a time when we needed good news its now.