PASTOR'S BLOG

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Pray Now Pray Always

Pray Now Pray Always
So many things in the Christian life are more caught than taught, and I do believe a healthy and biblical prayer life is definitely one thing that needs to be modeled. I did not have a great model for prayer growing up in an unbelieving home or in my semi-annual visits to church. When I was a boy, I was taught that prayer was closing my eyes, folding my hands, and listening as the Sunday school teacher asked God to make us behave ourselves and pay attention during his lesson. As a newly saved adult,  I understood prayer was simply talking with God; however, having prayer become more than just a customary undertaking can still be a bit of a challenge at times for many of us. Over the years of counseling, I have found that most Christians, if cornered on the subject, will admit their prayer life is nothing...
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Nothing to Fear

Nothing to Fear
Most of us can become completely overwhelmed when we are confronted with the words of Jesus from the most familiar version of what the church calls the Great Commission. It is unclear who coined the phrase, the Great Commission, however it’s possible it was likely first used as a summary for the passage in Matthew by Dutch missionary Justinian von Welz.  However, it was popularized by Hudson Taylor. In this passage, Jesus said, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I...
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Come To The River

Come To The River
I do suppose, and I pray my deduction is accurate, you and I desire to live within the beautiful refreshing received through our personal relationship with Jesus. It seems at least (from 25 years of pouring out love and council into countless individuals, marriages and congregations), each of us earnestly desires relief from the soul scorching heat and intense pressure that comes upon us all every day through life’s complexities. As we wait for the soon coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the toils of our life are not going to be backing down any time soon.   Believers all around the world desire, and are needing, God’s sweet refreshing and relief from life's intense pressure and heat, yet it eludes them. They are continuously feeling parched, weary, wounded and worn. They become so completely drained that when it is time to act, they have no zeal or...
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Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine
Imagine being there, on a mountain near Galilee, as the disciples worshiped Jesus after His resurrection. There He is, in His resurrected flesh, risen from the dead just as He has said. So why would some of them still harbor doubt in their hearts and minds? That is a question never answered in the gospels. Jesus simply seems to moves right past the issue to give them the great commission, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20) He plows straight through their struggles,...
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Build it Right

Build it Right
As music students, we all remember those first exciting and difficult lessons. The overwhelming discomfort and frustration that naturally comes from having someone judge and criticize our every movement, was often outweighed by the joy found in the newness of the journey. From our posture, to the placement of each individual finger, all in an exhaustive battle to make sure we have the basic techniques correct, and as close to flawless as humanly possible. Each heartbreaking redirect a music student receives is so that one day, we would be masters of our craft. Those tiny, often mundane and individual skills are laid one upon the other until they have built a strong and completed foundation. The foundational skills upon which we explore the countless dimensions of the musical multiverse while cultivating creative art that motivates the soul, moves the body, refreshes the mind, and invigorates the spirit. Those basic techniques...
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Refreshing Worship

Refreshing Worship
There are, without question, as many definitions for “worship” within the Church as there are churches.  By this I mean to say that the worship experiences differ in their presentation and execution as much as our churches also differ. From the traditional to the contemporary and back again, the pendulum is forever swinging upon our ever-changing cultural and musical landscape. Yet we all must remember and clearly understand that worship is a vital part of every church and every church service and gathering. There are also many things that we should all be able to agree upon. The worship of God should be glorifying to the Name, Nature and Holiness of our Almighty God. The worship of God should be gratifying to the heart of God as He receives the praise, adoration, and exaltation from our lips in a biblical and passionate manner. The worship of God should be unifying to the...
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The Age of Rage

The Age of Rage
For what ever it is worth, social media may not be the best source for news and information. Within it’s binary confine we see an incessant dripping of hate and violence that has become the rising tide of distorted information turning quickly into a raging cultural flood, washing way the common sense a generation within it’s blue-glow grasp. Many young people, most of whom have never seen, nor have known true poverty, are coming together to fight against an enemy that does not exist, save for in the minds of the wanting, lazy, and bitter souls. Solomon wrote, “Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.” (Proverbs 24:1–2) I believe that this wisdom is desperately needed for today. Young and old alike must be reminded that the mob rule mentality, rule by violent consensus,...
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The Life Long Learner

The Life Long Learner
Quite often young men and women wonder why there is so much emphasis about getting a good education. As adults that have “been there, done that” we may not always give the best or most compassionate answers to their questions, that are at best, coming from a place of curiosity and at worst are coming from a place of complete exasperation. The book of proverbs states that we are to, “ Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 23:12) The New American Commentary on Proverbs , Ecclesiastes , and the Song of Songs by Duane A. Garrett makes this statement regarding this verse, “ The acquisition of instruction is not to be taken lightly. The verse is in the imperative and suggests that education is vital to one’s whole life.” We are instructed by God’s Word to willfully and diligently seek out instruction and...
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Finding the Will of God - Part 2

Finding the Will of God - Part 2
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."     (Jeremiah 17:7-8). One of the keys to finding God's will for our lives is trust: trusting God knows what is best for our joy and happiness.  We need to make the choice to put our full confidence in Him. So what messes us up? Instead of trusting in the Lord, we trust in our own heart. Because of the sin nature dwelling in each one of us, we can't trust our own heart.  Jeremiah continues to write,   "The heart is deceitful above all things,...
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Finding the Will of God - Part 1

Finding the Will of God - Part 1
How can we discern the will of God for our lives?  I dare say 90% of our problem when we want to know God’s will is we’re looking for the easy way instead of His way . The first thing we need to do is get our plans - our own will - completely out of the way. We need to seek, from the beginning of any venture of faith, to get our hearts into such a place as to have no personal agenda of our own in regard to the direction we’re choosing. Consider the words of our Savior in the garden,   “…saying, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.”   (Luke 22:42-43) Do you see the order in which things happened? Jesus expressed His desire...
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Life Has Purpose

Life Has Purpose
We have a propose. I think that it’s important for us all to be reminded, more often that not, that we have a higher calling as followers of Jesus Christ, to live and love as He did; selflessly. We should show and give love and compassion with an unmatchable zeal. We should also do everything we do for the Glory of God and not our own. This is easy to write down and read, yet this requires more than a simple head nod to the deep and abiding truth that we have a much greater purpose than turning oxygen into carbon-dioxide. We often want to live a life on the edge of holiness, seeing how close to the fire we can get before we get burned, and we always get burned. Paul wrote to the christians in Rome, ”What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may...
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Hiding From God

Hiding From God
How many of us were terrified each evening at bed time because we were sure that there were monsters in our closets or under our beds? For me, no matter how often my dad looked, it was the family of monsters living under the bed that had me paralyzed with fear. So how did I handle the weight of this daily terror? I pulled out my standard 4 year old logic response and I hid under the covers. Why? Because if I could not see the beast, then the beast could not see me. Many of us feel that way about the Lord. We close doors, pull shades, and turn off lights to hide from His gaze. Drowning our actions in the justification that if He can’t see me, He can’t touch me. We exist in a place of hiding, covering our sinful actions from His sight thinking we can put...
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Living The Dream?

Living The Dream?
Have you ever been caught daydreaming by a friend, parent or teacher? We can easily get lost in lofty visions as we fantasize about our futures. Our imaginations stampede wildly with limitless possibilities that the next adventure may hold for this thing we call life. Those dream are a driving force that can bring change to the broken world. King Solomon warned us however saying, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) Our existence is balanced on the razors edge of life and death every day. James wrote, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;   whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for...
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How Do You Eat An Elephant

How Do You Eat An Elephant
When we come to the beginning of the new year,  many of us think about making new resolutions, setting fresh goals, like going to the gym every day, eating right, or just stop eating donuts.  There are an innumerable amount of other things that sound really good and healthy but we never really follow through with any of them.  We know we shouldn't stay up late (and rise early, as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 127) but we do anyway.  We know we should eat right.  We know we should exercise so we are physically fit.  Many times we just don’t even start or we start out strong and fizzle out.  So why is it so difficult for us to follow through with things we know are good for us? Did you know that 50% of the population makes some sort of New Year’s resolution?  Most will do well for...
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When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough
Many of us have what is generally quantified as driven personalities, referred to by some as those “Type A” people. We quite often get a bad rap for expecting excellence in the things we do. I was asked why I did things a particular way while being told that another way was “good enough”. I must admit doing things the “good enough” way is immensely tempting, because it would save me countless hours and tons of heartache. Some might ask if it is by nurture or nature that we become so willful in our choices for excellence. I would answer, in my case it has been natural and Divine nurture; natural from my parent’s correction and necessity for survival, and Divine by sovereign instruction from God’s Word. I will admit I come by my apathy and laziness honestly. I think every teenage boy does, but I think I was worse...
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The Main Thing

The Main Thing
If I am to be completely transparent about myself, I willfully admit I am easily distracted by everything. The funny thing is I wrote that first sentence an hour ago and am now just getting back to my computer. As a young child in school, I was always more interested with the squirrels - yes, squirrels - that were outside my classroom window than my studies. Decades later, I am still that same child who is fascinated by everything. To say it’s hard for me to stay focused on one thing at a time is a massive understatement. There are innumerable distractions in this temporary life, both physical and mental in which to drown our time and energy. We often talk of keeping the main thing the main thing, but do we really? Are we staying focused on what really matters most or are we allowing interruptions, both real and...
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Who Do We Follow?

Who Do We Follow?
In light of everything that has been happening in the geopolitical saga, which continues to unfold through our endless news cycle, what do we do now? Let’s start with what are understood as the two greatest commandments. After the Sadducees came against Jesus to challenge Him and lost, and lost bad, the Pharisees decided to give it a go. One of them asked , “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself .’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40) We will always see and experience change in our political landscape of leadership. This happens historically time and time...
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Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones
When I was young, my grandfather would whisper in my ear over and over a beautiful piece of paternal wisdom, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about dinner, don't say anything at all if you want to live.” He would faithfully share that with me each and every time my grandmother would make liver and onions for dinner. I have often looked back through my adult life and considered the numerous times I should have applied that wisdom to more than my grandmother’s and mother’s cooking. I have repeatedly noticed that our mouths really do get us in trouble, all the time. From a small tearful disagreement with our spouse or other family member, caused by a hurtful word, to having a knock-down drag-out, explaining to your children why you’re sleeping on the couch for a month, burning the house to the ground kind of troubles. Our wild...
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Personal Responsibility: Get Some

Personal Responsibility: Get Some
When push comes to shove, we are always willing to roll blame onto others for the messes we have created. In the end, many of us ultimately will try to blame God when we are in the middle or reaping the harvest of our lustful desires, willingly, I might add, rashly acted upon. Remember that James, the Lord’s brother taught us, "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:13–15) What a brutally uncomfortable truth. We are actually responsible for our own actions. Why? Because we are the ones who choose to act rashly or foolishly,...
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The Man in the Mirror

The Man in the Mirror
As we wake up each morning, thank God we are alive, do our devotions, have our daily cup of whatever we need to survive another day of facing a world losing its grip on reality, do we ever consider that this day could be our last?  As the deep colors of the night slip into the majesty of a new day, we are ever closer to our eternal home. Whether we arrive in eternal glory through death or rapture, the march of time will stop for no one. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome,  “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of...
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