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Saturday
Jun232018

June 2018

If it’s not already apparent, we’ve entered the “on ramp” that leads to summer, accelerating toward and eventually merging with our distinctive southern heat and humidity (doesn’t that just bless your heart)!  Oh, before you think I’m talking about the weather, think again.  While we’re considering “heat” and “hot,” I really want you to evaluate your spiritual experience.  I say this, because one of our songs for Pentecost Sunday was incredibly moving:

Set a fire down in my soul

That I can’t contain and I can’t control

I want more of You, God

I want more of You, God.

While anyone can sing these words and feel good about the sentiment that’s conveyed – who will have the courage not only to sing the lyrics, but make the words a passionate prayer – a deep-seated desire to be personally fulfilled in their life?  Who will call upon the God who “answers by fire” (1 Kings 18:24)?  Who will seek the baptism of Holy Spirit and fire that Christ brings (Mt. 3:11, Lk. 3:16)?  Who will submit their life to the God who is a “consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29)?  How we answer these questions affects not only each of us personally, but also our local church as well.  I pray God takes these lyrics and ignites a spiritual wildfire (a revival) in each of our lives and our churches!  Praise His name!

In closing, I leave you with these words from the Old Testament:  The fire that was started on the altar (of your heart -- my addition), must never be allowed to stop burning (Leviticus 6:12, ERV).

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

May 2018

Prayer has increasingly been on my heart of late.  In fact, the Lord recently challenged me saying, “Son, you need to pursue a “Phd” – that’s Pray harder daily!  And believe me, this is one undertaking that will not be completed in this lifetime.  Graduation will only come with eternity.  Let me challenge you to think about prayer for a few moments.

I officiated at a graveside recently.  Entering the cemetery grounds, my attention was drawn to a bas-relief on the wall between the front gates.  The inscription said:  Prayer has wrought more things than any have ever dreamed of.  In one simple sentence, the reality and power of prayer is proclaimed; prayer being more effective than dreams.

Oswald Chambers says this of prayer:  Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work. 

I’m reminded of quotes attributed to John Wesley.  He said:  God does nothing but in answer to prayer; and … Prayer is where the action is. 

And we must include scripture …

… pray without ceasing … 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Continue steadfastly in prayer … Colossians 4:2

… be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12

And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray … Luke 11:1

Truly, Lord … Teach us to pray!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

April 2018

And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  - Acts 4:33 (ESV)

These words are an expressive microcosm of our faith, a concise description for the Christian life, and a powerful pattern for us to follow today.

As we consider this verse, the centerpiece would be:  the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  Everything else revolves around and relates to this tremendous truth.  The reality of the resurrection animates and empowers believers.  Here are two observations:

Resurrection empowers our witness:  The word power attracts attention (the disciples especially)!  The power of God can be a means to advance our agendas.  His power can go a long way in helping us achieve our hopes and dreams.  But what is power really for?  In this verse, power is tied to testimony.  The power of God (the resurrection) enabled these men to boldly tell their world about the resurrected Christ.  To speak truth to the “big dogs” of the day required a courage that was other-worldly.  Church, things haven’t changed.  We need power in our day to challenge our world with the truth of the Risen Christ!

Resurrection results in an overflowing grace:  Don’t you love this phrase that characterizes the apostles as having great grace?  This trait of great grace is important for believers today.  Far too many Christians are lacking in this great grace -- and it shows!  So, where does this great grace come from?  It comes from faithfully and powerfully sharing the good news of our Risen Savior with our lost world.  An authentic and compelling testimony leads to a great and amazing grace!  Let’s spread the Word!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

March 2018

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  - Mark 8:34 (ESV)

Discipleship is open to anyone – and everyone!  Jesus asks us to deliberately and decisively exercise our will; to place ourselves behind Him.  He is the leader – and we are the followers.  But Jesus doesn’t stop there.  His call is followed by three commands.

The first command:  let him deny himself.  It doesn’t seem to be a part of human DNA to deny ourselves.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  But Jesus compels us to thoroughly examine our lives, searching for and ridding ourselves of those things that would keep us from being a faithful and fruitful disciple.

The second command:  and take up his cross.  Self denial leads one to take up his cross.  We clearly see God’s purpose for our lives.  We readily embrace the self-giving sacrifice the cross represents.  We lift high the cross – the symbol of God’s Kingdom breaking into human history.  To take up one’s cross is to become a partner in the saving work of God throughout the world today.

The third command:  and follow me.  Self denial and taking up one’s cross has an objective – following Jesus – otherwise, they’re useless exercises of an empty and selfish spirituality.  This is the ultimate command, not to pattern our life after this world – but to pattern our life after the Lord.  Church, may we respond to the challenge of Following Jesus!

~ Pastor John

Saturday
Jun232018

February 2018

The headlines are heart-wrenching.  Prominent and powerful men use their position and influence to force sexual favors from women.  While a horrified world wonders how this could happen, a clear-minded church should wisely and boldly speak the truth found in God’s Word; a truth that’s strong medicine for the moral sickness of our day.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  - Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

While this speaks specifically to marriage, I think it can also serve as a guide for relationships between men and women in general.  Why?  We see the word love and we’re thinking in our western mindset, “a feeling; sensuality or sexuality.”  But it’s not in this case.  The word Paul uses here is that of unconditional, “no-strings-attached” love.  This type of love works in any relationship.  Let’s start with the latter portion of the verse.  The love Christ has for His Church is a pure, self-giving love.  His love seeks the highest and best for His Church.  His love was such that He willingly gave His life for His “bride.”  And men, we are called commanded to emulate this love, not only in our marriage relationship, but also in our relationships with others, especially women.

From a worldly perspective, women are trophies to be conquered, prizes to be gained – mere objects, playthings to be possessed and changed or discarded at will.  This cultural claptrap is equated with “manliness” in our day.  What I would want the world to know is that Christ makes a radical difference in a man’s life, in the way a godly man treats women.  A man completely devoted to Christ will love (that’s agape love) women from a pure heart, seeing them as unique, precious, and valued creations of God.  Authentic Christian men are willing to lay down their lives to protect the honor and reputation of women.  True men of God will always seek the highest and the best for all women.  That’s something the world can never promise or could ever deliver on.  Men of God, it’s time to rise up and stand in the gap.

~ Pastor John