:: 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.

10 Things I’m Looking Forward To…

10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in NorCal…

1. Adventure Christian Church
– We’re excited to join the team of Adventure Christian Church in Roseville! God is doing a great thing there and I am thrilled to serve with some good friends and alongside a former seminary professor of mine.

2. Family – We’ve missed our family! And with our move back to Sacramento, we’ll be within a two-hour drive of most of our family!

3. Seasons – Instead of two seasons, I’ll get to experience four distinct seasons and appreciate all the beauty that these seasons bring.

4. Green Belts & Open Spaces – No longer will I be living in the concrete jungle. Instead I’ll be living in a land of open spaces, with real rivers and wildlife to appreciate.

5. Reconnecting with Friends – We have some great friends in Sacramento and I can’t wait to live close and reconnect with them!

6. SF Giants – I love my SF Giants! And while I won’t be able to afford to see them with the frequency I did with the Angels, I am looking forward to being at the crown jewel of MLB and routing on the Orange & Black!

7. Lakes – I am looking forward to warm days out on the lake with family and friends. Either skiing on Folsom Lake or house-boating on Lake Oroville with the rest of the clan! Also, looking forward to hiking to Rock Lake in Plumas Eureka State Park once again.

8. Cost of Living – What can I say? The dollar goes a lot further in Northern California. And I am looking forward to getting on board with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps once again.

9. Proximity to Favorite Getaways – We’ve missed being able to drive to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Napa for the day. These are some of the most beautiful places in the world!

10. Our Home – Our offer was accepted on a home in Roseville! It’s a beautiful two-story home, near to the church, with a swimming pool and a dog run already built-in. We look forward to creating special memories in this home for years to come.

Generational Curses?

I was recently asked this question regarding Exodus 34:6-7, which reads, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) The question was concerning verse 7, about punishment for third and fourth generations, and whether this changed with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Here is my response…

There are no generational curses in the life of a Christian. In Jeremiah 31:29-30, God promises us that the children will no longer pay for the father’s mistakes; but, we should also remain in covenant with Him (Ezekiel 18). However, there are spiritual consequences to our rebellion towards God, and it is OUR rebellion, not our ancestors, that is relevant here. However, I do believe we are prone to certain generational sins, because of how we were raised. However, on judgment day, everyone shall give an account of himself to God (Rom 14:12), and for this reason, we need to accept responsibility for our own sin.

In addition, we shouldn’t be quick to blame our personal hardship on the generational sins of our forefathers either. A good example is found in John 9:1-3 where Jesus encounters a blind man who was blind from birth. The text reads, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” So in Jesus’ words, sickness, disease or suffering does not automatically mean there is sin in the camp. Therefore, we should not blame our misfortune or our family’s misfortune on the sins of our ancestors. We alone are answerable for our own sins.

Why Am I Never Satisfied?

A glimpse into Week # 6 of our Why? series curriculum…

God has wired each of us with a spiritual hunger that can only be satisfied by Him. Even when things are going well, there is always a little gnawing feeling within, asking “Is this all there is?” In Ecclesiastes 1:1 -11 & 12:1 -8 we read the bitter ramblings of one of the richest men who ever lived, King Solomon. Although he was enormously wealthy and powerful, and had many women, ultimately he found life meaningless.  The more knowledge he gained, the more he realized that there was nothing new under the sun. The wealthier he became, the more money he wanted. As he aged, he grew depressed at the failings of his once vigorous body. All that he had worked for his entire life seemed like an illusion.

Today there are more than twice as many products and services available as there were ten years ago. But are we twice as happy as we were ten years ago? The pursuit of more only leads to further emptiness. However, there is a different reality and Jesus described it best, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive!”

Here is what Pastor Doyle has to say…

Why Should I Belong?

A glimpse into Week # 5 of our Why? series curriculum…

If we understand that our purpose in life is to glorify God and that we are gifted to serve the body of Christ, then logically we’re going to commit to a body of believers. However, the reality is that many of us still live in isolation. We wonder if we truly have anything to offer the body of Christ. We ask ourselves, “Will I be accepted?” We wonder if we really have anything to offer. Yet, the very thing we fear is the thing we need the most. God did not call us to live in isolation, but in community with one another. Because we cannot see God, we need to see and experience God through his people.

In Acts 2: 42 – 47, Luke portrays the lives of the early disciples worshiping and learning about God together, sharing meals and their possessions while caring for each other. They witnessed miracles done in Jesus’ name and were filled with awe at what God was doing in their lives as they lived in community with fellow believers and invited others to follow Christ with them.

God is love and because of that, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational, and therefore he identifies himself in very relational terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. In fact, God Himself exists in community, and gives us the perfect pattern for how life is meant to be lived in relationship with one another.

Here’s Pastor Doyle’s response to the question…

10 Things I’ll Miss Most About SoCal

Here are 10 things I’ll miss most about SoCal…

1. Our SeaCoast Grace Church Family – Our decision to move back to Sacramento was a difficult one, because we love our church family! There are so many who have welcomed us into their lives, blessed our family and who we will truly miss.

2. Grace Christian School – The staff and faculty at GCS rock! They love their jobs, love their kids and excel at their profession! Having Zach at GCS these past four years has been one of the biggest blessings!

3. Disneyland – Being annual pass holders at Disneyland for three straight years was an amazing experience. Even as locals, whenever we went to Disneyland, we always thought we were on vacation. And every night we were reminded that we lived 8 miles from the Happiest Place on Earth as we heard their fireworks echo through the valley.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Watching Mike Trout play this year has been crazy fun! And I will miss watching Baseball America’s 2012 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year play! This guy is a future Hall of Famer and it was so fun to watch him do his thing and Jared Weaver pitch!

5. SoCal Beaches – We loved hiking Crystal Cove in Newport and kicking it in Seal Beach. This past summer was probably our best summer at the beach.

6. SoCal Weather – Where else could it be 80 degrees in December? With typical 70-80 weather year around, we will miss the weather big time. Although, I won’t miss the May grey and June gloom! They never mention those months in the SoCal marketing brochures.

7. OC Small Group Pastors Cohort – I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Small Group pastoral leadership and I will greatly miss the creativity and ideas that these men bring to the table.

8. Spiritual Mentors – Wow! It has been a blast to reconnect with some of my former spiritual mentors since living in SoCal! In addition, I have been privileged to meet some other wise men who have spoken into my life over the last few years! Thanks Tom, JP, Lyle, Rob, Mark, Michael, Dennis, Ed and Roger. You are amazing men of faith. And I have been blessed by your investment in my life.

9. Amazing Friends – I have met some amazing people since living in SoCal! And I’ve been able to reconnect with some old friends from college that has been such a blessing! In addition, we’ve so enjoyed our visits from NorCal friends and hosting them at our home. Fun times.

10. Proximity to Fun Getaways – We’ll miss our proximity to Palm Springs and San Diego. They’ve been fun places to escape to for a few days.

The Power of Community

This past weekend we showed this video as part of our weekend services at SeaCoast Grace! I’m so inspired by these women who have courageously walked through a difficult season and found the hope and healing they needed, because of their willingness to face the pain and disappointment in their lives, in a safe community with others. Here are their stories…

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