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Posts from March 2007


I'm putting together a Sunday evening couples class that will start after our current FPU class. I have child care worked out, a couple of really good books picked, and now I'm working on a weekly agenda.

Any interest? Suggestions? Ideas to make this a fun and productive time? Would love your input.

Sunday is here again. We are observing communion this week. Easter Sunday is going to be great! One service! 9:00 a.m. Kid's Egg Hunt and then a 9:30 a.m. Worship Service.

Pastor Mike Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Stop Stressing

Messages_from_godStop Stressing! Definitely easier to say than to do, right? We all have stressful things to deal with in life but some handle the stress better than others. We, as Christians, should be the very best at handling stress. That's not always the case though. If we are not careful the church can be one of the most stressful places around.

In the tenth chapter of Deuteronomy God gave us a wonderful "stress reducing" nugget. This passage of scripture contains two very important thoughts that, if understood and applied, could literally lift the weight of the world from our shoulders.

"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the LORD's commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good. The highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the LORD your God." (Deuteronomy 10:12-14)

First, God asks and answers the question that keeps many people stressed out. What is expected of me? Unfortunately, a lot of people go through life trying to please God without ever asking God what He wants? How can we ever please God if we don't know what God expects? So, what does God want from us? He wants us to respect, submit, love, and obey. While pleasing God is no small task, it really isn't all that complicated. I think sometimes we "stress out" about things that really don't matter to God.

God then reminds us that everything belongs to Him. He owns it all! We are stewards (managers) of many things, but owners of nothing. It's all His! True, it is no small responsibilty to manage the things God entrust to us, but don't forget that He does 'trust' us. God would never give us more than we are capable of handling. God knows everything! He knows our gifts and abilities because He is the one who gave them to us, and He knows exactly what we are capable of. The amazing thing about stewardship is that while we take responsibility, God is the one who takes the risk. Remember, it's all His!

I have to remind myself of this stewardship vs. ownership principle often. All of my work revolves around taking care of God's things, not mine. I'm sure I'm not alone and we probably stress over some of the same things. Here's a few things that can get us stressed out if we're not careful.

  • PEOPLE: "Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?" Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me." (John 21:21-22) Quit stressing about what OTHERS do or don't do! Let God worry about that. We have enough to do without worrying about our brothers and sisters.
  • MONEY: Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33) Our God will bless us and provide for us far better than we could ever do for ourselves. Quit stressing! Remember, Dad owns it all!
  • PREACHERS (Yes, They stress me out sometimes too!): Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should. (Romans 14:4) God has called me to American Canyon. He called me to feed His sheep here, not throw rocks at the shepherd down the street. I hate preacher politics, and I suspect God does too.
  • THE CHURCH: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) I just do what God tells me to do and trust Him to build His church. I TRY not to take things personally, it's not MY church, it's HIS.
  • CHILDREN: Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. (Proverbs 22:6) My children belong to God! He has trusted me to take care of them, to nurture and admonish them.

The list could go on! I'm sure you get the point though. EVERYTHING! It all belongs to God! I take these responsibilities seriously, but ultimately they are God's things! Think about it! We talk about God's Church, God's Man, God's People, God's Kingdom, God's Money. They are all His and He will always take care of His things. So maybe we can quit stressing so much.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. (1 Peter 5:7)


In a recent post I mentioned relationships being the key to happiness. I want to follow up and share with you what relationships are important and what order these are to be in.

The first relationship that we must get right in order to find true happiness is our relationship with God. We are told to "Seek first" this relationship and everything else would be alright. We can never have true happiness without this relationship. It is amazing how God can take even a happy person and multiply their happiness when they get this relationship right. When I'm right with God I don't stress and worry about people and the truth is my other relationships are just better off.

Another relationship that is extremely important is our relationship with our parents. The first commandment with promise was to honor our father and mother, "That it may be well with thee". If we get this relationship right God says things will go well with us and we will live long. I deal with young adults all the time who are messed up and there is definitely a correlation to their relationship to mom and dad. Get it right and get along well!

Husband and wife relationships are very crucial to finding true happiness. It's real tough to be happy when things aren't right at home. In fact the scripture teaches men to live with their wives in such a way that their prayers will not be hindered. God instituted the home before any other earthly institution. It is truly a foundation to a healthy happy life. Invest in your marriage! You bought a new car, a boat, a RV, a new television, and all sorts of other things...why not invest a little in your relationships at home? Go to a marriage retreat or seminar. Make a 'Date Night' a weekly priority in your home.

Relationships with our neighbors are key to happiness. God told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When asked who our neighbor was, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. A story that basically revealed that all mankind is our neighbor, not just people "like us". We will never find happiness if our whole life is just about "us". Start thinking about and caring for others and you will find happiness.

Each of these relationships builds upon the other. They are ordered. They are the key to happiness. All of our "things" will be gone one day. One day all that will remain is God and people, value people.

Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all! Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. (Romans 12:16-18)

Ok. Enough preaching for a weeknight.

Pray for Diane Swain! She's having heart surgery in the morning.

Sharing Some Stuff

ThepowerofprayerPlease pray for Diane Swain this week. Diane will be having open heart surgery on Thursday. We started our church in Hank and Diane's home way back when. Diane is a prayer warrior, a teacher in our Christian school, and an encourager to this pastor. This seems to be the year for heart surgery at Harvest. Mike Smith, Diane's son and our Recovery Group leader, had surgery at the close of 2006. Henry Bradley, one of our Trustee Board members, followed in January. Diane will have the same surgeon who operated on her son. We know that The Great Physician will oversee the whole procedure.

We had a great Sunday at Harvest! I believe we had 144 in attendance with several first time visitors. That is very full for our small chapel, thankfully we have two services now. It was awesome to see our people in action loving and being friendly to our visitors. We are all praying for souls to be saved throughout the year. There seems to be a renewed burden for reaching our unsaved family, friends, and coworkers for Christ.

Our school, American Canyon Christian Academy, rocked the house Sunday morning with an awesome praise song! I'm so proud of our school and staff! They are the best. Sometimes we focus on all the headaches involved with running a school and forget all the blessings involved. I'm confident that Harvest and the Kingdom of God will be blessed for years to come by the lives of these young people we are training today.

I was especially touched by our Harvest Newsletter this week! The testimonies of a few of our members about what Harvest means to them were a blessing. I particularly liked that there was a mix of people, who had been saved and added to the church throughout our journey. We have people who came to Christ in a living room Bible Study, in an old pizza parlor, in a performing arts center, in an old beauty college, and now in our current property. This journey has been so exciting!

Our Harvest Cruise is just two weeks away! I can hardly wait. Cliff Donoho and his wife will be traveling with us this year. Cliff will be preaching our chapel services aboard the ship each day. I love it when I get to sit and have someone preach to me. If you aren't able to travel with us this year start planning for next year. We are going to change things up and plan a trip to Nashville, Tennessee. It is going to be a blast and we would love for you to come along.

Happiness Can Be Found

0800718518_01__aa240_sclzzzzzzz_I just picked up Dr. Frank Minireth's book In Pursuit of Happiness and I'm looking forward to reading this follow up to Happiness Is A Choice. It seems to me that happiness is more elusive today than ever before. This makes the job of a pastor more difficult and heartbreaking. I want the people God has placed in my church to find happiness. It breaks my heart to see the people I love and care for not happy. Unhappy people are also difficult people to lead.

Why is happiness so hard to find these days? Happiness itself hasn't set out to play a game of hide and seek with us. Maybe we just don't understand what true happiness is. Has it been that long since we've seen happiness up close and personal? I'm sure many people in this generation have come from unhappy homes. They are now starting families of their own and still not knowing what true happiness looks or feels like. It is very important that this generation discover happiness.

I think a lot of people do not have a clue where to look for happiness. Dave Ramsey, in his Financial Peace University class, talks about people spending money, trying to buy happiness. He says that money can buy you fun, but not happiness. Look around and you will see lots of unhappy people who are very wealthy. On a recent mission trip I was touched most by the happiness of people who lived day to day with very little money or comforts. Wealth is neither a guarantee or a hindrance to happiness. Where are you looking for happiness?

I believe the key to happiness can be found in ordered, healthy relationships. I wrote the previous sentence several times before I was comfortable with it. My first attempt, "happiness can be found in relationships" wasn't right. There are lots of 'unhappy people' in 'unhappy relationships'. I can't tell you how many singles I have talked to who thought that a relationship would make them happy. They wanted a man or a woman and now they just want out! In order for relationships to be a source of happiness they must be 'healthy'. My second attempt, 'happiness can be found in healthy relationships" didn't really work either. I believe there is an order of relationships. There are some relationships that have to be "right" before we can move on to others. I may have to rewrite the sentence again, but for now I believe that happiness can be found in ordered, healthy relationships.

The happiest people I know are involved in ordered, healthy, happy relationships. Does their happiness cause their relationships to be happy are do their relationships provide them with the happiness they enjoy. The answer is probably...both! They are experiencing momentum at this point, the happier they are the happier their relationships are and the happier their relationships are the happier they are. Sadly, many people experience the exact opposite of this scenario.

I'm just a pastor. I love people. I want to see people happy. I just thought I'd share what was on my heart this evening. I'll continue on this subject tomorrow. Check out Dr. Minireth's book listed above, if not for yourself, for someone you love. We should all equip ourselves to reach out to hurting people.

Mark Driscoll Messages

Many of you know I really enjoy Mark Driscoll's books and sermons. I've been listening to his series on the book of Nehemiah this week and they have all been awesome. The best in my opinion is from Nehemiah chapter 3.

Driscoll pastors Mars Hill Church in Seattle. God is using this church in an amazing way to reach one of the least churched cities in America.

God's Leading

Ig112_02_sts109_02 Have you ever had a difficult time discerning God's will and direction for your life? I was reading through Exodus this week in preparation for Sunday's message and the following verses really stood out to me...

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)

Wouldn't it be great if God still lead us with a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night? It just seems that everything would be easier that way. Can you imagine though, if every believer had their own pillars? Day after day tornado looking clouds leading each and every believer and then in the evening huge pillars of fire leading them through the night. It might be more confusing. Is that your pillar or mine?

The reality is that God was leading a GROUP of people in Exodus, a nation. The cloud by day fire by night method was perfect for that situation. Today, while God has a general plan for all of His children, He also leads us as INDIVIDUALS. He has a specific and unique plan for each of our lives. God has a plan for each of us! How can we know that plan without a pillar of cloud or fire though?

  • Open your Bible and read. It is your road map for life. David told us that the Word of God is like a lamp and a light for our path. How can we ever know the will of God without taking the time to read His Word?
  • Allow the Holy Ghost to guide you. As believers the Holy Ghost will give us peace when we are moving in the right direction and correct us when we are moving in the wrong direction. The Holy Ghost literally picked people up and placed them exactly where He wanted them in the Bible. God doesn't change. He still places us exactly where we need to be. (Jonah, Phillip, Paul, John, etc)
  • Trust God! Even when we don't understand why we are doing something (Proverbs 3:5-6) we must believe that God has a plan and is moving us in the right direction.

I am praying that we will all look for God's leadership in regards to the choices we make daily. GOD STILL LEADS HIS PEOPLE. We just need to look for and follow His leadership.