King David had reigned over Israel for some 20 years now, and in his complacency, became a little bored. He neglected his kingly duties, didn’t go out to war, roamed his palace at night, and took advantage of his power. Greek Military General, Pittacus, said, “The measure of a person is what they do with their power.” How do you use your power and influence over others? Are you abusive, #metoo, or are you empowering? Do you walk blindly in your sin, or when others hold you accountable, do you repent of your sin and confess your wrong to God? God is waiting to give you another chance, so we need to walk toward God, repent of our sin, and come freely to victory over darkness.
Category Archives: Sabbath Rest
Barak was serving as General for Israel’s Army, under the Judge Deborah. He was given a command, through Deborah, by the Lord, and he refused to obey orders unless his conditions were met. When we rebuff against the Lord’s commands, we are not honoring the Lord. How does your life reflect obedience to God? Are you one to question God’s authority in your life, and therefore not live a life of obedience? How can you learn to serve God better by making your life available to God’s service?
The story of the man healed from paralysis is fascinating. We sometimes mistake it for a simple story of healing, which isn’t ever simple. But this miracle takes a turn and God brings forgiveness along with healing. This is called Shalom in the Bible, God’s salvation (Shalom) is more than peace, it is a wholeness of forgiveness, healing and making things right in the world. Jesus uses this moment in this young man’s life to point others to God. The friends who brought the young man to Jesus were rewarded for their faith. Those who opposed Jesus were dumb founded by his authority from God the Father. All in all this is a wonderful teaching on working with God, instead of for God. Do you understand the difference? Click the link below, and follow along.
What is it like to fast from food for a meal, for a few meals, for a few days? What’s the purpose of fasting? What are people supposed to accomplish through this ancient practice of spiritual growth? Some people skip a meal in the week because they are too busy to eat. Some skip a meal because they’re trying to lose weight. Some skip meals because of lack of income, or lack of convenience, but skipping a meal on purpose for the sake of godliness is an entirely different reason. Join us this week as we look at the benefits of fasting in order to grow your faith.
Please pray for our little town of Windsor, Colorado. We are a grieving community, and the best thing for us is prayer, and normalcy.
I’m a pastor of an Evangelical Covenant Church in Greeley, CO, but we live in Windsor. My daughter is a junior in high school and has seen too much pain in the past month for anyone to suffer. Today I received a phone call from my daughter that there was an entire school lock down in session. Usually this is a drill, “but today, dad, they didn’t say it was a drill. The lady on the speakers just said, ‘everyone get into your classrooms and close all doors.'”
About 45 minutes later my daughter calls me again and she’s crying so hard that I can’t understand her plea. “Dad, he’s gone, Jack is dead. He took his own life behind the school and I don’t know what to do.” What am I supposed to say? “Honey, I don’t know what’s happening, but are you safe?” “Yes, daddy, I’m safe and I’m ok.”
We met for lunch and then went back to the school to see what we could do to pray or listen to kids who were grieving. We entered the library as the building was in trauma crisis reaction. Police, firefighters, EMT and counselors are on hand to speak with those in need and handle the situation at hand. I saw many of my pastoral faith community leaders there to counsel with kids. My daughter embraced her friends and wept with many.
One question that we heard over and over again, “Why are so many bad things happening?” We don’t have the answers to the question why. This month there was a drunk driving collision where a student lost his life, and another situation in a local school of another suicide, a mom died of cancer and loss is rearing it’s ugly head.
A counselor told me once that we all want to know answers to the question why, but maybe the important question at this time is “what can we do now”?
How does our faith shine through when the world seems dark? Where do we gather strength for tomorrow when we need to face our pain and go back to school, back to work and back into the pulpit?
After dinner tonight, I sat with the Bible, longing for Jesus to speak to me and give me another sense of His sure foundation and faith for my life. I searched the Psalms and the Lord spoke through Psalms 94.
16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation (oh Lord) brought me joy. The Lord longs to bring you consolation dear one. The Lord is the consolation for our grief and pain and sorrow.
I don’t know the journey you are walking this season. I do know the pain my family is suffering with all this loss around us. The one who knows pain more than we do, is our Lord God. He knows first hand what it is like to lose his son. He knows grief and loss and sorrow. Come to the Heavenly Father in your time of great need and he will console you today.
Please pray for our little community of Windsor, CO tonight. We are grieving and hurting and low. Somehow we will walk through this to see another day, but for now, our hearts are heavy and sad. There have been too many funerals for high school kids to attend.
We found out something new on our church mission to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua this past week. Not all success is equal to productivity.
You see, we Americans, have a twisted view of success. Success in our country means productivity, bigger buildings, more people in attendance, greater resourcing, greater access to better “things”, so that life will be easier to live. This couldn’t be further from the term success in other countries; at least spiritually speaking.
We went on our first church mission with Crossroads Church of Greeley. At least, it was the first mission our church has done in 5 years, since I have been the lead pastor. I grew up on the mission field as my father was an aviation pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship, and my mother was a public school teacher. I received Jesus Christ into my life when I was 5 years old, while my family lived in Nate Saint’s home in Shell, Ecuador back in the 1970’s. I have missions in my blood, some would say. Our Crossroads Church wanted to serve on mission this year, so we partnered with the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination and Merge Ministries to travel to Nicaragua. We have missionaries on the ground in San Juan del Sur, Esau & Heather Vega, who are serving in this community where Esau was born and raised. They are serving in a church community and surf community with Christian Surfers. Esau was a sponsored pro surfer with Bilabong years ago, and decided to end his sponsorship to work with surfers from his home town who didn’t know Jesus. Now he is forming Christian community with them and teaching them to live the Christian lifestyle while influencing the surfing community.
One day on our mission we partnered with Alpha y Omega Church, where the Vega’s serve. Our team was assigned to help with the construction of a new Christian School addition to the church building. Our men took on the task of chipping away at the cinderblock walls to install electrical conduit for the rooms, which would hold electricity and lighting. One of our guys, Ryan, didn’t feel especially productive that day. That evening when sharing a debrief as a team, Ryan said, “I wished I were more productive, because as a drywall installer back in the US I can get a lot done in a day. I didn’t do much of anything today.” And before he could take another breath, or before another team member could chime in to console his comment, Ryan finished with, “But I don’t feel like productivity is the goal of success in this country.” He was finding his success in the relational building time along side the locals who were patient enough to let us gringos tag along for a week.
Another day on the trip, we took some leaders with us to a nearby community, almost 30 kilometers away, where some 2,000 people live in the jungle. They ride on dirt roads, which are washed out with mud from nearly 6 months of monsoon rainy season. We approached a building that looked like nothing more than a lean-to shack. The four of us got out of the truck, walked through the mud to the log-stairs pounded into a hillside and up to a metal gate secured by a barbed-wire twist around the head post. My heart was full. I heard that 50 some people have been meeting in this church plant for almost 20 years now and they’d like to grow. They’d like to reach more people in their community.
We walked around the site and talked about productivity vs. success. You see, in our mind’s eye, people from the US think that success equals productivity. The first thing out of the mouths of us from Colorado was, “Hey, this is great, we could come back and build some cement stairs, secure a better gate, bring in a dozer and level the ground for a cement floor and make a better building…” We went on and on about how “we could do things better” and make this a great church for the local here.
In a single breath, Esau said, “The people here don’t want that. They don’t want your North American style, they want relationships.”
He continued, “Do you know that this church has been here for 20 years? When I was 11 years old, I dug some of the first trenches to make a foundation. These people don’t want better stairs, it rains too much. They don’t want better stuff, or nicer things, they might get stolen. The people here want to know that you love them, and want to know that you pray for them, and encourage them in their way of life here.”
I asked if we could pray together for the church. When we grabbed the metal gate for a door, I held onto the lock… and began to weep. I felt the Spirit of God move in my soul. I couldn’t stop crying, for about 2 minutes, I didn’t have words. I just cried.
My tears weren’t for the people in this poor an impoverished area. My tears weren’t for their “plight”, as I saw it.
My tears were from the heart of God, reminding me that I have the wrong focus on mission. I have a mindset of productivity to equal success, not relational encouragement to bless another. I had tears because God was convicting me of my inner drive as a resident of the US to be productive and successful, which isn’t the heart of God.
Acts 2:42ff reads …. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I get too caught up on the end of vs. 47, where the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved. I think about numbers, and success, productivity and product. Discipleship, for me, means more people doing more things for God. What a mistake. Sure, God wants His Kingdom to grow, and people need to share the Love of God with the world so they might come to know Jesus and have the Holy Spirit. I don’t discount that for a second. But I think we evangelicals have a lot to learn when it comes to sitting down for a while and just being with people, just resting in the loving Grace of God, just blessing others, and being an encouragement in prayer.
We all walk this path together, don’t miss the success of relationships because we put productivity first. Let’s learn to be people who love people, not strive after things & stuff. I’d like to invite you to pray this prayer:
“Father, forgive me for trying to do more things for you. Forgive me for my need for productivity and success. Remind me to honor the work you have done in the millennia before me and for the centuries to come. Teach me to be still and know that you are God. Teach me to love people and not things. I want to be successful in loving God and loving your people, not successful by being productive.” Amen