Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shaking off the Dust


In the book of Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas had been sent out on their first missionary journey. They landed in a place called Antioch Pisidia. While there, the Lord opened up a door for the presentation of the gospel. The Gentiles who had listened to the message Paul presented "begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath."vs.42 Paul and Barnabas responded to the invitation, and came back the following week. The crowds had grown since their first meeting as the whole city came out to hear the Word of God. However there was a group of Jews who also showed up, and because they were filled with envy they began to contradict, blaspheme and oppose the ministry of the apostles. At that moment Paul and Barnabas came to the realization they could not reach those who were opposed to them, and therefore Paul declared, "we turn to the Gentiles."vs.46
The Gentiles heard those words and it says a number of things took place.
For one thing they were "glad and glorified the word of the Lord."vs.48 And "the word of the Lord was being spread." People were coming to faith in Christ in spite of the opposition. Yet there was a second round of intense persecution, and Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region. The Bible records that they "shook of the dust from their feet"vs.51, then they went to the next city resulting in "disciples filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."vs.51

A couple of lessons surface from this passage of scripture.

1. The Work of the Gospel will always incite opposition.
2. There are those you can minister to, and others you cannot.
3. Sometimes all you can do is shake off the dust and move on.
4. God is faithful to work and get us where He wants us to go even through opposing circumstances.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Band of Brothers


Today I had the chance to get together with some other pastors who have been my friends for many years. We gathered in a home in OC and spent time in worship and prayer. It was such a blessing. It was so great to be with the men in that room who have encouraged me through the years. Men that have picked me up when I was down. And men whose hands I have strengthened as well. Men who have taken radical steps of faith in their lives and ministry. All of us who have taken God at His Word, stepped out in faith, and seen Him move in our lives. Also each of us has received our wounds from the battle that are scared, but healed. It was like being with fellow soldiers from different fronts of the battlefield. Today was as one man said during our time a "landmark moment." I believe it was. God is on the move. He is working. Perhaps there is a heightened sense of awareness due to the days we are living in. All of us were in agreement that we are nothing without Jesus, and want to continue to serve Jesus. Getting together with likeminded people in prayer in worship is priceless. Thanks for today brothers. I was radically encouraged to live for Jesus more recklessly and reminded why I serve Jesus.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Calvary Chapel Montebello


I have many favorite Bible teachers. There are so many gifted men that present the word of God in a way that I can understand and for that I am grateful. I only pray that I can do the same thing for others. One of my favorites is Pastor Pancho Juarez. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the rough part of Santa Ana, what Pancho shares resinates with me. His messages are insightful, challenging, and he has a great sense of humor. I am fed spiritually when I listen to the Word being rightly divided.
On Sunday I had the privilege of going to Calvary Chapel Montebello where pastor Pancho teaches. Through the month of September CCM is presenting teachings that emphasize Gods plan for the marriage. They have had guest speakers come to teach. Yesterday I got the chance to teach on the subject of marriage. Honestly I was a little intimidated. Pancho taught at the beginning of the month, then a Dr. who is a marriage counselor, then another guy whose ministry is all about marriage, and then me. It is kind of funny, right? Our Lord has a sense of humor..At CCM they have four services, the first one starts at 7am, and the last one is at 1:30pm. I woke up and 4:30am and got there by 6am.
It was such a joy to see the amazing work that God is doing in Montebello. The church body, the staff, the presence of the Holy Spirit, times of prayer, the worship, and the congregations amazing sense of rhythm. I drove away from the church excited about Jesus. I had trouble sleeping last night because I was thinking about all the folks that we were able to pray with. I am continually learning that God is faithful even when we are faithless. I gleaned so much from the ministry in Montebello. I am encouraged and inspired to be faithful where God has placed me and give to Jesus, my family, and our church body all that I can as an act of worship to my Savior.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Redirected Attention


And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

I am currently reading through the book of Acts devotionally and was struck by this verse. Jesus had been speaking about a kingdom that would eventually come. The disciples would often ask Jesus when the kingdom was coming. Now that Jesus had died and resurrected the disciples again want to know if now is the time for the Kingdom to begin. Jesus responds to their question by saying in essence, that was not to be their concern at that time. It was not for them to know about, right then.
Listen, it is not wrong to ask the Lord a question. It is not wrong to seek clarity on something that you felt the Lord has spoken to you. The Lord encourages us to ask. He bids us to come and seek Him. He loves to hear from us. However it is not uncommon for the Lord to redirect our thoughts onto other things that are to take precedent in our thinking. It wasn't that the Kingdom of God wasn't important. It was that the Lord had some other things He wanted to do, namely add to the kingdom. In order to do that He was going to empower His disciples to go out and preach the gospel. There was something that the Lord had for His disciples at that time, and It did relate to the Kingdom; but not in the way they assumed. What they were to be concerned with was waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them. That was to be their priority. The Lord redirects their focus. So often that is what the Lord does with us as well. My concerns are valid. My questions are important. These things are a priority, yet at the same time there is something else the Lord may want to do that I was unaware of. My train of thought can get so wrapped up in one direction that I overlook something. Thus the Lord in His infinite wisdom will redirect me. I often feel like the disciples in this passage as the Lord speaks to me, "John its not for you to know this right now, but this is what I have for you today." All I can say is , "okay Lord You know whats best."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9-11 Remembered


I can still remember where I was when it happened. We were on vacation in Naples Florida. My wife and our three little boys were staying at a condo for a week. During our stay there was a threat of a tropical depression. Yet unbeknownst to us and to the world, another storm was about to hit. We rarely watch the news, but I received a call from my assistant pastor who was back at the church. He informed me of what had happened at in New York. I quickly turned on the news and to my shock and horror I watched with the rest of the world the twin towers crumble to the ground. A tragedy like no other had affected our country. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, children, sons, daughters, grandparents, all of us were affected. Sorrow beyond measure, inconsolable grief flowing from the heart of a nation. Then out of the ashes at ground zero, stories began to surface of heroic acts of brave men and women. Those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of others. At that time the country came together in a united effort of prayer. It seemed for a brief moment America was returning to its foundation. By the grace of God triumph came out of tragedy.
However there are still many today who are grieving over their loss of a loved one. There lives will never be the same since that fateful day nine years ago. Our hearts go out to them and we pray for them. That horrible event left an indelible mark upon this nation. I personally do not see the world as I once did. Yet as crazy as this world becomes, I will keep looking to my Savior Jesus. I know that all of the things going on at the present time are leading up to, and will culminate in His return.
For those of you struggling today over your loss, know that you are in our prayers. We will never forget what happened. We know that we cannot replace your loss, but we also know there can be comfort in the midst of your loss. May the Lord bless you today, and may God bless America.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Semester at SOW


In addition to my children going back to school I am going back to teaching. I teach at the School of Worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The School of Worship is a one year program preparing and equipping worship leaders for the ministry. The teaching is a wonderful blend of both biblical and musical instruction. I teach one class a week entitled, "The Principles of Ministry." In years past I have taken the class through the book of Nehemiah. Along with studying the book of Nehemiah the students read the classic book by Alan Redpath, "Victorious Christian Living." However this year we found out the book was out of print. Thus the Lord has led me in a little different direction. I am still teaching principles of ministry, but this semester we will be considering the life of David.
The story of the life of David is filled with ups and downs. It consists of anointing, preparation, and a destiny to be fulfilled. I am thrilled to be studying it with the class. I am not sure if you have ever found that your times of studying through the Word parallel your life. Then when you teach the passages that you are living they truly come alive. Well off to class, have a great day... PJ

for mor information about SOW visit: http://sow.cccm.com/

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do you sense the change?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
It has been quite the interesting summer, in that it hasn't really felt all that much like summer. Why is that? I am not sure. Perhaps global warming, indian summer, or el nino, take your pick. I was remarking to some friends today that I wore a full wetsuit the entire summer save one or two days. Oh well, I honestly do not mind. I actually like fall. With the fall season comes change. The change of leaves, change of weather, change of schedule, change of clothing, pretty much there is change. Change can be good. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, "there is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction."
Some folks however do not like change. They prefer a routine with no alterations. To some, change incites fear because they are not sure what to expect. As a Christian the Lord is constantly moving and working in ways that I did not expect. Sometimes He works on mountaintops and other times in the valleys of life. Yet that is what makes it exciting. Walking with the Lord where He leads is an adventure. As in the physical universe there are seasons, so too in the Christian life there are seasons. The important thing to remember is that although almost everything in life changes, there is one thing that remains constant, the Lord. The Bible tells us, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8. Which means His love for you doesn't change. His grace will remain sufficient. In trial He won't forsake you. In lonely days He will not forget you. It is good to know in a ever-changing world, there is an unchanging God.


Some Exciting News: Book Release

I am not sure who reads this blog, but i think there are perhaps a couple of you..If you do read it, thank you, and I pray that it has been an encouragement to you...In fact it is because of some of the encouragement that I have received that I am coming out with my first book.
It is a 180 day devotional entitled "A Daily Walk." Now it isn't Oswald Chambers or Charles Spurgeon, or AW Tozer, but I pray that it will minister to someone just the same. We are working hard to complete it and meet our deadlines. When it is completed I will let you know. The book will be similar to what I write here regularly.
I also have a couple other projects that I am working on. I would totally appreciate your prayers in the process. I have had to silence many internal critics to move forward in releasing these things. I am thankful for those in the body of Christ who have the gift of exhortation.
prayerfully we will have this out and available by Thanksgiving and ready for Christmas. Love you guys... IN JESUS PJ