J​oy in Obedience

As I’ve been reading again through the book of Joshua, I was struck by one observation and declaration made by the author. It’s found in chapter 12 right after the tribal allotments of the land were solidified. It simply reads, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

What God said He would do, He did.

He made good on His word. 

He didn’t forget or forsake one single promise.

The reading of this verse brings great hope and comfort, but the realities that took place after this verse leave questions. From this point on, all throughout the periods of the Judges, the promised land changed hands several times. Israel experienced loss and defeat. To this day, they don’t possess all of the land that God promised. So, did God keep His promise of not?

The short answer is yes, of course, He did. There was a specific moment in time when God delivered to the children of Israel all the land that He promised. The problem? While God kept His end of the bargain, the people neglected theirs. God delivered to them the land of promise, but the people failed to keep their promise to drive out every enemy from the land, which brought forth trouble in future days. There were also seasons of disobedience that brought forth needed judgment from God as well as certain natural consequences. The point is short and straightforward.

Israel’s problems were not a result of neglect on God’s part, but disobedience on theirs.

I think there are some valuable principles here we can glean from today. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us that every promise of God in Christ is, “Yes and Amen.” Every promise of the New Covenant has been confirmed in Jesus. God has been and will be faithful to deliver those promises in full. While every promise is ours in Christ, I believe that our enjoyment and experience of those promises is often dependent on our obedience to walk fully in them by faith.

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A Dying Pastor

A fellow pastor is dying.

I just got word of a young, fellow senior pastor who tried to commit suicide on Friday. His fate is still unclear as he is on life support. This breaks my heart for so many reasons. I don’t know the source of this man’s pain or the reasons for his actions, but it has brought to mind something that I have been long burdened by.

Our culture has created a celebrity pastor model that no human being can effectively measure up to. Christian, please remember that your pastors are just people. They too are sheep that are part of the same flock as you. They are men who are being sanctified and are doing their best, by God’s grace, to shepherd the flock of God and be an honorable example of Jesus. Unfortunately, pastors also make human mistakes. They fight with their spouse, they aren’t always great fathers, they battle with temptation and pride… and they are afraid of vulnerability. They fear being eaten alive by the sheep if they disappoint them in any way. Instead of dealing with the criticisms of nonunderstanding people, they instead put on a face and press through their struggle… alone and isolated. This is unhealthy and often ends in tragedy. I’m not excusing the blatant sin of some pastors, hypocrisy from the pulpit, or the responsibility of a pastor to be honest and maintain his integrity. There are certainly high biblical standards for the office of overseer that must be taken seriously. I will say, however, that the celebrity culture and human expectations that have been laid upon pastors today are heavier than what many are able to carry.

If we are honest, we can clearly see that there has been an unbiblical precedent set for today’s ministers. Yes, pastors need to take heed to their character and doctrine, but people need to pray for, support, submit to, and show grace toward their pastors. As a pastor, it’s time to speak up. Not merely for my own sake, but for the sake of those who have given their lives to the calling of leading, teaching, and shepherding God’s people. It’s a hard job and not for the faint of heart. There are unspoken battles, intense spiritual warfare, and unbelievable mental and emotional weights that every pastor carries. The culture has to change both internally within a pastors heart, and externally within our churches.

Instead of idolizing your pastor, support him. Instead of criticizing his every move, pray for him. Instead of demanding from him, empathize with Him. Instead of assuming the worst, have a conversation with him. And to my fellow pastors, don’t hide in the shadows. You need accountability, and you need friends. Face it, you need the body of Christ just as much as they need you.

Fellow Christians, please join me in praying for and encouraging your pastors as I also pray for the pastors in my life. And please pray for this young pastor, his wife, and his three children. If you made it this far, I ask you to share this and help encourage pastors everywhere. #Pray4Pastors

Update on AB 2943

Update on CA bill AB 2943:

As many of you know, I’ve been posting updates on the progress of California’s AB 2943 bill. In a disappointing but unsurprising vote, the California Senate has overwhelmingly decided to move AB 2943 to the assembly for final approval before heading the governor’s desk. This bill prohibits the exchange of money for any efforts to help someone navigate coming out of an LGBTQ sexual identity. In reality, this bill isn’t about money or business practices, but about a minority group of people who want our laws to declare that there is nothing wrong with the LGBTQ lifestyle.

Does this anger me? Sure. I have a level of righteous anger at this arrogant and blatant disregard for personal freedom and God’s moral standards. Like righteous Lot surrounded by the perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah, I too have a vexed soul. But the larger part of me is saddened. It grieves me to consider those who genuinely want help but will not be able to find it easily. I’m broken-hearted for those who will spend their lives being affirmed by society in a false and dangerous sexual identity. I fear for the godless men and women who think they are casting an archaic God out of their modern society, but in reality, are only storing up judgment for themselves.

This battle is about more than a bill; it’s about the need for revival and salvation to come to our state and nation. Thankfully we serve a God who uses Satan’s schemes for His ultimate glory. It will be amazing to see how God uses this development to bring about His greater plan.

People of God, continue to pray! Pray for our leaders and our state. Love your neighbor, preach the gospel, and stand for truth. I rejoice that we are going to see God move in mighty ways in the days to come!

The Fire we Need

Our state is on fire literally.

Our nation is on fire socially, racially, spiritually and politically.

Our world is burning in the fires of poverty, injustice, and wickedness.

The entire world without Christ is headed toward the fires of eternal judgment.

In the meantime, the one thing that needs to be ablaze, but instead sits as a smoldering, smoking remnant, is the church. Yes, there are pockets of flame burning brightly, sparks that are ready to ignite, but in many places, I see passion waning.

Oh, we might be fired up, but that’s different than being on fire. We’re fired up about politics, were fired up about people being offended by us. Many things fire us up. That’s good and fine, but we don’t need any more smokescreens. What we need is the fresh fire of God.

We are in desperate need of the blazing passion of the Holy Spirit to ignite our hearts to lavish obedience, and the fervent coals of love, compassion, and truth to reignite our mission. We need the fire of prayer once again filling the halls of our churches, burning down barriers of kind-heartedness, and the inferno of faith turning our unbelief into ashes. We need the fire of holiness to spark up consecrated lives for Christ and His kingdom, and the heat of God’s righteousness to burn away the dross of our idolatry.

I’m convinced that the one fire the world needs is a church full of Christians who have decided that their lives no longer belong to themselves but Christ; a church that burns on the pure, life-giving fuel of the Holy Spirit, emitting the aroma of life and shining brightly the light of truth.

Christian, start burning and watch the trail of beauty that God leaves in your path.

Ephesians 5:14 – Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

God of Small Things

The vastness and greatness of God are unfathomable. When we consider the works of God, from creation to salvation, it is plainly evident that God is big (or as my daughter would say, “ginormous”). I wanted to lay that out there lest what I say next is misunderstood. The Bible is clear; we have a big God! But here’s the catch–We have a big God who delights in doing small things. The fact that God even loves you is proof that small things matter to him. King David plainly understood this. Consider the words of Psalms 8 & 144 where the Psalmist ponders, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” How can a God so interminable be so intricately acquainted with the ways of a creature that is so infinitesimal?

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Independence Day and the Cross

July 4, 1776, represents the day when the thirteen original colonies rarified their declaration of independence, declaring their sovereignty and freedom from the rule of the United Kingdom of Britain. Most people don’t stop to consider that the war for that independence didn’t come to an end until November 30, 1782, approximately six years after Congress signed that landmark document. In other words, freedom was declared a reality before the battle was over.

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A Marriage for the Mission: Part 2

Yesterday I laid out the need for healthy, biblical submission that is required for a missional marriage. Today we will briefly look at the second essential ingredient.

2. Christ’s mission first (A mutual prioritization’s around Christ’s mission)

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In 1st Corinthians 7, Paul writes something that at first glance seems drastic and irrational. Yet, it’s in the following principle we find what should be the prioritization scheme of every couple in Christ.

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