Worship

He Will Reign

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15, NIV

imagesI love this verse, from which Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus originates, because of the definitive message that God is in charge and a day is coming where we will be united with all the saints in a glorious celebration of eternal life. And I look forward to the day when we all live in the real life Hallelujah Chorus. Where pain, sorrow and death are no more.

In these verses, we read that God has won the battle over evil and when our struggles will be over. In the meantime we have our work before us. To know what that is, we have to stay connected through worship, prayer, Bible reading and in community.

For the day is coming and the time is short. God’s kingdom is at hand…now is not the time to stop and wait. Now is the time to press on and show our joy and rejoicing with all those we meet, so that all will hear of the name of Jesus.

An Enduring Faith

I just had to share this post, from my good friend Charles. He has given me permission to repost this inspiring story of faith, hope and love…

549869_10200807855348065_337195721_nOn March 17th 2013, my wife Sandra completed her 7th LA Marathon. This year she had the honor of being chosen by the ALS Organization Orange County Chapter to represent them. Sandra was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in October 2010. It’s fatal with no cure. Most people die within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

Just six weeks prior she was hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia, and her ALS condition had progressed to a point where she had to ultimately get a PEG feeding tube put into her stomach for her survival. She was down to 90 lbs and was extremely weak. Her body and neck severely atrophied. In complete faith and reliance on the Lord, we and countless others (friends, family, church, caregivers and many others) prayed for her to be able to physically withstand the race. God answered. She had a smile on the entire race and amazingly endured the whole event. Absolutely amazing.

Yesterday, God taught me and Sandra a little something about faith and hope. When we step off the “cliff of fear and doubt” in complete faith that the Lord will catch us…He does. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ Almighty. There is nothing He can’t do. Nothing. All glory to Him.

Sandra crossed the finish line yesterday in the supportive arms of the Lord. He was cradling her the whole time; it was clear as day. Thank you Lord Jesus for being in mine and Sandra’s lives.

To God be the glory!

Love Builds Up

tumblr_m98r37c2F01qdxd12o1_500We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, NIV

As Christians, we might be well qualified to give the right doctrinally correct response in any given circumstance, but as Paul tells us, our response needs to be done in love. Do we genuinely care about the person we are giving advice to? Or are we only interested in how wise and clever our advice sounds? Paul tells us knowledge alone puffs us up and makes us proud. If we genuinely want to help someone, we need to do it in love.

Rick Warren often quoted as saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways we show we care is by listening. Mostly people can work out for themselves what they should or shouldn’t do. What people really need is a sounding board so they can talk through the issues with someone who is prepared to listen objectively and then allow the person to come to their own conclusions.

The Amplified Bible puts it like this: “Yet mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up…, but love…edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to full stature]. If we respond with love, not information, we encourage others to grow into their full potential.”

I Thank My God

Phil 1:3The pastoral team at SeaCoast Grace Church did this piece over three years ago as a part of our weekend worship service. It was our way of saying thanks to those who were making an eternal difference through the ministries of the church. Seeing it brought back special memories with this incredibly talented team. While most of us have now moved on, I thank God for the time we shared together…

 

:: Love Came Down at Christmastime

At Christmas, we can experience every kind of emotion there is: anger at a disgruntled family member, stress finishing up last-minute shopping, exhaustion after wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve…but when all is said and done, Christmas is about love. And don’t just take my word for it. The nineteenth-century poet Christina Rossetti famously captured the spirit of Christmas when she wrote:

        Love came down at Christmas,
        Love all lovely, love divine;
        Love was born at Christmas,
        Star and angels gave the sign.

And the beloved disciple John wrote in 1 John 4:9:

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

Christmas is not only a demonstration of God’s love, but an expression of God’s character, for God is love (1 John 4:8). The ultimate expression of God’s love was sending Jesus into the world, which is what we celebrate at Christmas, Immanuel – God with us!

God’s ways are always motivated as an expression of his love and as we experience more of his love, we in turn learn how to love others. In fact, our love for others is evidence that God lives in us. When we allow God’s love to shine in our lives, people can see the unseen God at work and that brings him glory, honor and praise.

Christmas wasn’t just a cute little baby being born in a manger on a silent night in a little town of Bethlehem! Christmas reminds us of the Son of God, who for the love of you and me left his Father’s side to make a way for us to know and experience relationship with him. Christmas is a love story.

This Christmas, may you more fully experience God’s unconditional love, so that you may more fully love others as he has loved us!

To God Be The Glory!

The last sixty days have simply been a blur! There has been so much that has gone down, that it’s hard enough to remember, let alone try to capture it in words. When we received an offer to join Team Adventure back on October 3, we were led to a crisis of belief. Do we stay with the status quo? Or do we step out in faith and trust God for the unknown. As we prayed for a sign to determine God’s perfect will, He gave us these words on Saturday, October 6, from the devotional Jesus Calling:

“Be willing to follow wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of My richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith—not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.”

After reading these words, we sensed God saying, “It will be OK. Trust me. I am leading you in a new direction.” With God’s prompting, and receiving the confirmations of godly counsel, I took the leap. And honestly, it felt like I was about to jump off a huge cliff, unaware of how things would truly shake out. However, as soon as I leaped, we experienced God’s provision in so many ways, which only confirmed that God was truly leading us back to Sac!

Looking back on the last 60 days, there is so much I want to write about and give glory to God for! First, we were so blessed by our SeaCoast Grace Church family as we began our transition. We felt loved, celebrated and released to fulfill God’s leading. In addition, the Grace Christian School community was so giving, supportive and key in helping Zach say goodbye to great friends, teachers and administrators. Additionally, I am amazed that we had four offers on our home in four days and sold it for above our asking price. Our realtor Dave Chamberlain and his wife Linda were amazing. They had great faith in our home, the market and represented us very well. On top of it all, we were able to purchase a beautiful home in Roseville, and one with the pool that Zach really wanted.

Finally, we have been so blessed by Team Adventure! They have welcomed us with open arms and been so supportive, encouraging and helpful. Yes, God has led our family well and it’s good to be back in Sac. And as we share a meal with family, or celebrate Zach’s birthday at the local bowling alley with his cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, we’re reminded just why we migrated home. Thanks for your prayers, support and love. I am blessed to call you friends.

:: The Gift of Peace

Peace is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given to us! In Isaiah 9:6, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the peace we would experience upon Christ’s arrival. On any given day, we experience many negative emotions that will try to rule our hearts. This happens when we spend too much time being anxious, angry or fearful. But the good news is that we have the power to choose between letting our emotions rule us or letting the Prince of Peace fill our hearts and mind with tranquility and thankfulness.

The babe in a manger reminds us that God cares about us and wants to change our lives. When He works in the lives of his people we see love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace.  The name Prince of Peace reminds us that only through Jesus will we truly have peace of mind. Christ can indeed bring peace to any situation. The most difficult circumstance, the most ruthless enemy, the deepest pain – none of these are beyond Christ’s reach.

As you worship this Christmas, open your heart, soul, mind and body to his perfect peace. Let the peace of God’s presence transform you today and every day. He can calm your heart and mind. No one brings peace like Jesus.

:: The Hope of Christmas

At Christmas we have great reason to hope! John 1:1 proclaims that, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:14 goes on to say that, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word is Jesus, the living God!

When the prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of Christ, a new hope was born. A hope that lives in us today! And after Jesus came in the flesh, he promised to return and take us to be with him, giving us eternal hope!

Many think the story of Jesus begins with Christmas, a babe born in a stable to a virgin. But we forget, or don’t realize, that Jesus is also referred to as the long-awaited Messiah, the promised one. In fact, the promise of Messiah goes all the way back to the fall (Genesis 3:15). From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells us a story of God’s redemptive plan to bring fallen man back into relationship with Himself, pivoting on the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Whereas the Old Testament looks toward the coming of the Messiah, the New Testament looks at the fulfillment of Messiah and how God’s plan is satisfied in Jesus. And as the story continues, the church looks forward to his imminent return when Jesus…the resurrected Messiah, will reconcile all things unto Himself.

The season of advent has always been connected to the promise of hope. This Christmas, I pray that you may truly rejoice and celebrate the greatest hope that the world has ever known!

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

Top 5 Memories from SeaCoast Grace

Today was my last weekend at SeaCoast Grace Church and I found myself both reflective and grateful for the memories and ministry I have enjoyed these last four years. As I was driving into services for my last time, I was recalling all the fun times and big moments, where I saw God clearly at work. And while there are too many to mention, I did manage to hone in on my Top 5 memories from SCG, so here they are, in no particular order…

1. Impact Seal Beach – Uniting four churches in Seal Beach to serve the City of Seal Beach was so awesome! We got the support of the city, the Chamber of Commerce and support of our congregations to beautify the city by painting signs, planting trees, and beautifying parks. It was a real testimony to the community, as four churches, from different denominations, became one church in action…loving God and loving others.

2. Beach Baptisms – One of the greatest thrills I have as a pastor is celebrating the courage of those who desire to publicly declare their faith in Jesus through the act of baptism. And while every baptism is meaningful, there are some real stand outs to me. One of those, was watching a woman, frail from battling cancer, step into the Pacific Ocean with such courage and determination, and witnessing a large fish jump out of the ocean, as she was being baptized. It was a beautiful reminder to us all that day, of how “we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

3. Night of Worship – Anyone who was at the Night of Worship on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 would all agree, that was a special night! I wish we had this service on our Vimeo channel, because we all sensed the Spirit move in a significant way at SeaCoast that evening. It was truly incredible to watch God do His work, as we offered praise to Him!

4. Good Friday Services – Bringing back Good Friday services to the Cypress Campus was awesome! From packing out the East Auditorium the first year, to filling up the West Auditorium the second year; it truly was a blessing to see. And to be asked to speak at both of these services was an honor. I will also never forget my second Good Friday service as the Campus Pastor in Seal Beach, when I went to open the doors and there was a line of people waiting to get in and grab a seat. That was a first! And there wasn’t an empty seat in the place. Unreal!

5. Dad Life Video – We had a lot of fun as a pastoral team making this video. And it was just good to goof off with my peers and let everyone else see another side of us. It was a demanding two days of video and production, but so worth it. The video still makes me laugh.

There are so many other memories that flood into my head…Eight Great Summer Dates, watching my son do air guitar at the Seal Beach Campus Talent Show, praying with people to receive Jesus, crying with families that lost a loved one, and watching Zach grow to passionately love Jesus. These are the memories I will forever treasure. Thank you SeaCoast Grace Church for ministering God’s grace, for loving my family and for making a difference in my life! You will be missed.

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