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Posts from April 2007

Free Will Baptist State Meeting

I'm in Turlock, California today at the Free Will Baptist State Meeting. We have some great churches in California and the Turlock Church is one of our best. They are in a new building and are continuing to grow.

Brother Richard Adams just preached a great message from Psalm 78. Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? California is a wilderness for Free Will Baptists these days but God can indeed do something great among our churches.

I'm looking forward to being home tonight. It seems like I've been gone forever. The Harvest Cruise followed by Revival in Visalia has kept me on the move. A good non-fat latte and my favorite chair sound so good at the moment.

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When The Wine Runs Out

Threerivers013_copyI snapped this photo on my way back from North Fork Road in Three Rivers, Ca. on Monday afternoon. I messed with it a little to give it a dreamy kinda look. So, yes it's supposed to look like this. :)

I went totally "old school" Monday and prepared my message for the Revival I'm speaking at without the use of a computer. I found a secluded spot on the Kaweah River, spread out my Bible and notebook on a blanket, and just spent a few hours with the Lord. The sound of the river was so peaceful and soothing.

Here's where the Lord took me...

The next day Jesus' mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother spoke to him about the problem. "They have no more wine," she told him. "How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come." But his mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Six stone waterpots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes and held twenty to thirty gallons each. Jesus told the servants, "Fill the jars with water." When the jars had been filled to the brim, he said, "Dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies." So they followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. "Usually a host serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone is full and doesn't care, he brings out the less expensive wines. But you have kept the best until now!" (John 2:1-10)

I spoke about Jesus' first miracle at the wedding of Cana. He turned the water into wine. The thought that was on my heart was "What To Do When The Wine Runs Out". Jesus was there at the wedding when the wine ran out, but he didn't become the focal point of the story until the wine ran out. Jesus is everywhere, omnipresent, but we don't usually need Him until we need Him. Does that make sense?

Here's a few other ways to put this. What do you do when the luck runs out? What do you do when the party's over? What do you do when you are running on empty? What do you do when you've hit rock bottom? You get the picture! We all have found ourselves there haven't we? It's so good to know that God is there and ready to refill us when the wine runs out. What do you do when the wine runs out? Many times God is our last resort.

When we do call on Him to refill us, He fills us with new wine, that is far superior to what we have ever tasted. The Master said in the story that most grooms would serve their best wine first and then bring out the cheap stuff, but he marveled that in this instance the best came last. I think many folks are satisfied with things the way they are until they finally taste what the Lord has to offer. When we finally run dry and call on Jesus to refill us He fills us with life like we have never experienced.

The Key to being filled when have run empty? Mary, the mother of Jesus, makes it as clear as you can get. She said, "Do whatever He tells you to do". Has the wine run out at your party? What is God telling you to do? Why aren't you doing it?

On The Road Again

Dsc_6239_copy_2This will be a "Berry" interesting week for me. (Forgive the corny play on words) I'm on my way to Visalia this week. I will be preaching a series of messages for the Demaree Free Will Baptist Church. I served as youth pastor in this church when Kathy and I were first married 22 years ago. Please pray with me and for me this week. I want to be used by the Lord to touch people's lives wherever I go. Also, please pray that I don't eat too many of their delicious strawberries. :)

Mike Smith, our New Beginnings Pastor at Harvest, will be filling in for me once again. Mike is an awesome speaker with a truly inspiring testimony of God's grace and mercy. Many of our workers at Harvest have come through this New Beginnings Recovery Group. Those who have been delivered by God, from the depths of their sins are many times the most willing to serve the Lord. It is an amazing thing when a slave to sin is set free and then makes a decision to willingly submit themselves to a loving God.

I had a conversation this week with one of our members about God's deliverance and it has had me thinking about freedom ever since. Here are a few New Testament passages that are on my mind this morning.

So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. John 8:36 (The Message)

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1)

I have actually been struggling with this whole freedom and bondage issue lately. I have found myself living, doing things, and not doing things, in an effort to make the people around me happy. Sometimes people try to pull us into this type of bondage but many times we just assume this unhealthy responsibility ourselves. The truth is, I have only one person that I am responsible to please. The Lord is my master! I am responsible to please Him and Him only. That is a very big responsibility but it is far more achievable than trying to please a hundred different people with a hundred different ideas of what I should be and should be doing.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4 (English Standard Version)

My desire is that Harvest will be a church filled with people who are willing servants of the Lord. Servants who take their responsibility of serving the Lord seriously and always seek to please Him above all else. Servants who do their very best for their Lord and Savior. Once God delivers us from the bondage of sin we must not allow ourselves to become slaves to anyone but Him! We are servants for sure! We are here to minister to the people God places in our lives, but don't forget that we work for God and not man. He sets our schedules, gives us our breaks, promotes us, and gives us time off. He is the one that evaluates our performance.

"Serve the Lord with gladness!" Psalms 100:2(English Standard Version)

In The Mission Field

Cattle in Mustard

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.(Psalms 50:10)

I was blessed Monday evening with the opportunity to do some photography with an honest to goodness professional. Harold Davis has some tremendous photos that caught my attention about two months ago while I was preparing to go to Yosemite to take pictures. This guy was nice enough to invite me to take pictures with him Monday evening at Point Reyes, near San Francisco. I had a blast and learned a lot, including how much I need to learn.

We had several things in common. We both love our wives with all our hearts. We both have three children, he has boys and I have girls. We both love nature photography. We both shoot Nikon. I discovered late Monday night, as we called it a day, that we both love his wife's Turkey Cranberry Sandwiches! (Thank You Mrs. Davis!). I also discovered that we had an interesting difference. I was raised in a Christian home and Harold was raised in an atheist home, yet there we were, our journey had put us together in God's gallery, enjoying His greatest works of art.

This was one of my most enjoyable experiences in photography. I couldn't help it! I am a pastor after all. I love the Lord and I love people. I had to talk a little about the Lord. It was brief but I am praying that the Lord will use me to reach people like Harold with the Good News! There are so many truly wonderful people all around us that need to see the light shine from the lives of Christians. It is unfortunately very easy to become isolated from the very people we should be reaching with the Gospel. If we're not careful we spend 100% of our time with other Christians and that leaves a huge void in this world. God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son for them, so that they can have eternal life. Who will tell them?

I'm feeling more like a missionary today than I have in a while. I think, as a pastor, it's very easy to lose touch with the world outside of our church. We preach, teach, disciple, nurture, plan, organize, administrate, and keep ourselves way too busy at times. Trymon Messer, one of the greatest soul winners I have known, made a statement to me while while walking around Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. He said that if I had to choose between being a great preacher and being a soul winner, be a soul winner! I think of that statement often. I don't really think God wants me to choose between the two, I think He wants me to be both.

Who have you spent time with lately? Who have you opened your life and heart up to? Who have you talked to about the Lord? We need to get busy! "The Time Is At Hand".

Pastor Mike

Panic of Heart

It's Sunday and I just can't help teaching a little. I was reading in Deuteronomy this morning and ran across this verse in chapter 28 verse 28 (maybe we could call this the 28-28 Syndrome).

"The Lord will strike you with madness, blindness, and panic." Deuteronomy 28:28

The King James Version says, "madness, blindness, and astonishment of heart".

God promises blessings to us if we obey Him and carefully keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and then warns us of the curses that may come upon us if we refuse to listen to him and not obey all of His commands and decrees (Deuteronomy 28:15-68).

The words of verse 28 just seemed to stand out to me because of all that we hear today about mental illness and especially anxiety. I know that there are legitimate medical and chemical causes for many of the emotional issues of our day but there are also spiritual causes.

A closer walk with God can always help and sometimes cure our emotional woes. If our depression or anxiety is physical or chemical, getting closer to God will help us get through it. If our depression or anxiety is spiritual then getting closer to God will give us victory.

Getting on track with God requires taking the time to read His Word and pray every day! He will open our eyes if we ask Him to, and reveal areas where we are not obeying Him completely. We should not take the little things for granted! Solomon said, "It's the little foxes that spoil the vine". We must obey Him completely!

I'm on my way home today! Refreshed and excited about all that God is doing and will do at Harvest.

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Sunny San Diego today! I got up early and did 45 minutes on the stationary bike. I'm looking for photo spots this morning. There are so many beautiful places to see.

Cliff did a great job in chapel yesterday. He spoke about revival and a need to rekindle the fire of God. He did have to slow down on the wife jokes since his lovely wife Kathy is with him this year. They are celebrating their 32nd Anniversary this week.

"As we walk along the road of life, we can sense that Jesus is there too; As we read His word and hear His voice, we will find He kindles fires anew." - Hess

If I remember correctly, fire requires three things...(Ziegler would know for sure) an igniter, oxygen, and fuel. I suppose we could be the fuel, the Word and Will of God could be the oxygen, and the Holy Spirit would be the igniter. If there is no fire in our walk, then what is missing?

Our Fellowship Cruise is off to a great start! Sweet spirit! We are setting dates for next year's trip...Nashville Spring Break! It's gonna be a blast! Start planning to travel with us in 2008.

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Anchors Away!

I'm jazzed! On my way to Los Angeles to start our Harvest Fellowship Cruise. Cliff Donoho is our chapel speaker this week and I'm expecting a blessing. Easter Sunday was great! There was not a seat in the house this morning. Praise God!
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