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Posts from April 2008

Fear and Pride ~ Growth

Personal_growth We have started holding services in Vacaville on Sunday nights. The goal is to build up a congregation there and then hire a pastor to lead this new congregation. The first month has been very exciting. We averaged 27 for the month and of course we had lot's of first time visitors. :)

I have pastored for 21 years now and so I was a little surprised to be so nervous on the first Sunday in Vacaville. I'm always nervous when I speak, I think that's a healthy nervous, It keeps me dependent on the Holy Spirit and not myself. I was very nervous about the idea of starting all over in Vacaville though.

I prayed and reflected on these nervous feelings and came to the conclusion they were a mixture of pride and fear. Our church here in American Canyon is really a great church! Our people are wonderful, our music is awesome, our history is exciting, our current work is challenging, our future is filled with potential. Even though I know that it is God who blesses, I still feel very proud to be a part of what He is doing at Harvest. Harvest is safe for me! It's rolling. It has momentum. Vacaville is the unknown, and my nervousness was based in part on the fear that maybe I would fail. Maybe things won't go well. Maybe I'll fall on my face. I don't think I'm different than most people, in that I don't like to fail. So, I think my nervousness was a mixture of fear and pride.

That being said, I still moved forward. We have to keep pushing on and not let fear or pride slow us down in advancing the Kingdom. It's all about faith! Trusting God to do what He will with what we have to offer. Being willing to humble ourselves is what brings on the grace of God. Remember, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. We humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord and He lifts us up.

I think fear and pride are some of the most crippling things in our lives. How many relationships have been destroyed by one or both individuals having to much pride to submit themselves to the other, or to simply say "I'm sorry"? Couples become trapped in a cycle of pain and fussing when each one fears they will be the only one who tries.

Fear and pride undoubtedly prevent people from stepping out and attempting new ministries for the Lord. They since God calling them to do something or speak to someone but they never pursue it because the are either afraid they are not qualified or fear failing when they do try. God chooses us and calls us and He will also equip us for the task at hand. In fact, maybe our faith and dependence on Him is what qualifies us for the mission He has for us.

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7


"He Was My Pastor"

Obama_ncwright_042908 Obama's Got Game obviously when it comes to politics!

He (Obama) disputed characterizations of Wright as his mentor, saying: “He was never my spiritual adviser, he was never my spiritual mentor — he was my pastor."

WHAT?

I laughed when I first read this quote from Democratic front-runner Barack Obama. Who's he trying to fool? After thinking about this statement, I was a little saddened, there are probably lot's of people who could say the same thing. It's just sad that Wright was Obabma's pastor until it didn't make political sense. Makes you think.

Don't get me wrong. I think Obama should have found a new pastor a long time ago. Wright's rhetoric is pretty sick. I guess it didn't bother Barack until he realized it would hurt him in the polls.

Hebrews 13:17   "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."


Things Must Change

Stetzer Ed Stetzer and LifeWay have just released statistics showing that the Southern Baptist Convention is in decline. His commentary on these statistics is very good. You can watch a video interview of Stetzer HERE. The report itself can be found on Stetzer's blog HERE.

One of the things Mr. Stetzer says is that traditional churches are going to have to stop preaching that we become good people by not doing things, contemporary churches are going to have to stop preaching that we become good people by doing things, and both will need to get back to preaching a cross centered gospel. Very good observation! Makes you think.

Stetzer begins the interview by telling listeners that he has odd shaped feet and that it takes him a while to break in a new pair of shoes and that it is painful. He says that as a result he usually wears the same shoes for a long time before replacing them because changing shoes is painful for him. Change is painful! Sometimes people will not change until their current circumstances are more painful than the anticipated change. His hopes are that this recent report on the condition of the Southern Baptist denomination will be painful enough to prompt change.

Free Will Baptists in California are in decline. We've had a high of 80+ churches over the years and have watched that number drop into the 70s, 60s, 50s, and we're heading into the 40s. When will we begin to see that change is needed? Change is not always bad. Are there things that could be changed? Priorities? Organization? Method's? How long will we wait before we are willing to talk about change?

At one time our goal in California was to have 200 churches by the year 2000. That goal, promoted by Executive Secretary Paul Kennedy, inspired me to want to start churches. It still inspires me. We need to be challenged like this more than ever before given the current condition of our state work. We cannot be satisfied with maintenance or addition, we must be challenged with multiplication. Our God is more than able, are we willing?

Why couldn't we be challenged once again to plant new churches up and down our state? I know some will say we need the men, but think about it! We already have men. Why couldn't some of our current pastors begin planting churches in nearby communities? Who knows...maybe just stepping out like this would give other men the courage necessary to step out and attempt great things for God! It is a great sacrifice but God does honor our sacrifices!


The Rose Of Sharon


Song of Solomon 2:1, originally uploaded by CalPastor.

Young Woman: "I am the rose of Sharon, the lilly of the valley."
Young Man: "Yes, compared to other women, my beloved is like a lilly among thorns"

Song Of Solomon 2:1-2

It's interesting to see the relationship between this young man and woman. The confidence of the young woman stands out to me in this passage. She knows that she is the rose of Sharon and the lilly of the valley in the eyes of the young man. He has treated her in such a way that she has confidence in her beauty and the fact that she is special.

Husbands would do well to learn this lesson. Praise your mate with such sincerity that she will know how beautiful she really is. It's great to know how wonderful your mate is, but communicate your feelings so that they will know how you feel.


They Paved Paradise


They Paved Paradise, originally uploaded by CalPastor.

I pulled up to the church this morning and as I was climbing out of my truck this lonely little Lady Bug caught my eye. Now I have the song stuck in my head, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot". I snapped the poor guys photograph and then transported him back to greener territory.


WW Journey Continues


WW Journey Continues, originally uploaded by CalPastor.

All journeys have a destination in mind and my weight loss journey is no different. I'm praying about specific destination goals, but I'm also enjoying some stops along the way. This week I celebrated losing 36.2 pounds.

There are many benefits to a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise and better eating habits. The greatest of these for me would be an increased energy level, better stress management, a feeling of having things in control, and the prospect of a longer life.

I've got a long road ahead of me on this journey but I'm really enjoying the ride at the moment. Last weekend, I cycled the Silverado Trail around Calstoga and St. Helena. This weekend I'll attack the foothills around Folsom Lake near Sacramento. It's amazing how much fun you can have while on a mission.

1 Corinthians 6:19


Great Sunday Night In Vacaville

Vacavilleplant_2 We had a great first worship service in Vacaville on Sunday night! We had 46 attend this week and there were a few other families that could not make it tonight but will more than likely join us next Sunday. Everything went great! The music was very good, we did two upbeat hymns and were treated to special music by Scott and Lisa Myer, our youth workers in American Canyon.

I spoke from Revelation tonight about the kind of church we want to be known as. Christ walked among the seven churches of Revelation and described them. He knew everything about them. As a new church we want to determine to be a certain way. We want to be described as...

  • A Loving Church ~ John 13:34-35
  • A Diverse Church ~ James 2:1-4 (Young and Old, Black and White, Rich and Poor, etc.)
  • A Giving Church ~ 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
  • A Bible Church ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • A Soul Winning Church ~ Acts 1:8
  • AND WE WANT TO BE KNOWN AS...The Church You Got Saved In!

Please keep us in your prayers! I'm sure the real work begins now as we reach out the men, women, boys, and girls in Vacaville and it's surrounding communities.


The Tremendous Task Of Preaching

1433796961_f1dc2b6a53_b Sundays are the most tiring days of the week for me. I am usually drained by Sunday night. I suppose that's why most pastor's take Mondays off. That just doesn't work for me. I teach in our Christian school so Saturdays are the best day for me to be off.

I think most people don't completely understand the awesome pressure a pastor feels each and every week when he steps into the pulpit. Every time we stand in the pulpit we deliver a message from God to His people. There are so many things that can get in the way, including ourselves. I always want to do my very best for the Lord.

I ran across a short note by Dr. John Piper that really states the seriousness of preaching of the Word and explains why it is a tremendous task. He shared two passages of scripture...

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
   and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
   my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
   and like showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
   ascribe greatness to our God!"
Deuteronomy 32:1-3

Our preaching needs to be like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, and at the same time like gentle rain that falls upon the tender grass. Not an easy task! I'm sure we miss the mark from time to time, but it's God we must please with our preaching and not men.


A Pastor's Blessings

2391870710_e116aa96c82 There are things that just happen all the time that we tend to take for granted. Harvest has some tremendous people who labor faithfully without a lot of attention. It's Sunday morning and my mind is going 1000 mph getting ready for our worship service. In addition to my normal thoughts I'm thinking about Vacaville tonight!

I was just thinking about all that happens at Harvest without me ever worrying about it. I'm looking at a wonderful Newsletter that just gets done every week without fail. Today, we'll participate in communion, and that is all set up without me ever thinking about it. Our music will be tremendous today, I have no doubt, and it just happens every week without my help. Children will be cared for and taught about Jesus by faithful loving teachers. I could go on and on, the point is Harvest is what it is because of faithful believers who are committed to Christ and to His church. I am very blessed to pastor this church!

Maybe sometimes we should stop and think about all that happens in life around us and take the time to thank those who make it happen!


Getting Fired Up!

Vfbc I'm getting so fired up about Sunday night! We're having our first Sunday Night Worship Service in Vacaville, California. This week has been crazy, getting things ready, mailing out invitations, and visiting friends and contacts. I know that God will reward our efforts. Keep us in your prayers!

One of our men just emailed me the proposed sign designs from the sign company. Thought I would share. We're separating the words 'Free Will' before the sign is completed, although way back when, that was an accepted spelling. We're going with the upper left design.

If you know people in Vacaville that you would like us to invite to church please let us know. We'd be happy to send them a note and reach out to them.