Latest Entries »

Thankful Jesus is Coming

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.” – Revelation 3:11.

Hold fast.

It means to keep carefully and faithfully. To not discard or let go.

In a world that sees increasing pain, confusion, and strife, there is the temptation to fail in this command.

To become frustrated, jaded, or hopeless.

Or lighten one’s grip on the plow as it strikes rocky soil repeatedly. To look back.

There is the danger of parading experience, the mumbo-jumbo of academia, or relevancy as the answer to the increasing pressure to discard or let go.

What did the church of Philadelphia have that they weren’t to let go of?

“…for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.” – Revelation 3:8b

Cling to the truths found in God’s Word and the character of Jesus.

Simplicity in the midst of an ever-more complicated world. That’s a breath of fresh air.

And we’re to cling with what little strength we have left, knowing that Jesus is returning soon.

“And every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” – 1 John 3:3.

I’m so grateful Jesus is returning. That He will fix this messy, hate-filled, confused world which He bled for. I’m so thankful that my job in the meantime is clear.

Hold fast.

Are you feeling like life is frustratingly complicated? Take a moment and thank the Lord for giving you His Word, His character, and the promise of His soon return :)

 

Thankful To Be Counted Worthy

Today I received a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It advised me that while our ministry “may address ballot referenda and engage in other forms of issue advocacy”, we “may not use congregational resources to advise people to vote for or against specific candidates for public office.”

I was then informed that the IRS has recently formed a specific wing (PARC) “to investigate allegations against houses of worship for potentially unlawful forms of campaign intervention.”

These unlawful practices include the distribution of voter guides.

“Did not we straitly command you that you should not teach in this name?” – Acts 5:28.

Oh Will, some might say, no one’s telling you you’re not allowed to talk about Jesus. Don’t make this into something it’s not.

But I’m not.

The Good News of Jesus Christ means there’s a problem. That problem is sin. Your sin. My sin. That which lacerated the Son of God’s body, ripping and tearing away flesh. That which nailed my Jesus to a cruel cross to bear the wrath of a perfect God who won’t ignore the vile selfishness that inflicts so much pain in and upon those He created.

Your selfishness. My selfishness.

The Gospel only makes sense when there is an understanding of my wickedness which separates me from God.

And that means churches talk about sin. It means we address wicked policies and wicked people. It means we address the adultery, lying, theft, hatred, gossip, pride, hypocrisy and folly of republicans, democrats, independents, congressman, presidents, businessmen, fathers and wives.

“We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29.

This isn’t about politics. Politics doesn’t change lives.

This is about the Great Commission. We’re called to seek and save Americans, not America. To go out into all the world and make disciples, by preaching the awesome news that Jesus died for our wickedness, and to teach those who receive Him how to have a deepening relationship with Him.

When I read about the life of Stephen, and his martyrdom at the hands of the political leaders of his day, I admire his willingness to die in order to spread the love of the One who died for him. I often look at my Christian life and feel very small in comparison to him.

And as such I’m so thankful today “to be counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” That the church I serve at has stood for truth faithfully enough to receive a threat. I’m grateful my God is enthroned on high, far above the politics of man. I’m thankful that He’s more than able to give the necessary courage to speak the truth in love come what may.

“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – 2 Timothy 4:2.

Have you considered lately that trials and troubles are evidence that the enemy sees you’re doing something right? Take a moment today to thank God that your life has been counted worthy to register on the enemy’s radar :)

 

“The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” – Psalm 29.

Sometimes it whispers behind me, like Isaiah said. Prompting me. Guiding me.

Others it crashes like thunder upon the mountain when God spoke the commandments to Israel for the first time. It reverberates from my mind to my heart like the lightning in that holy cloud.

Then there is that still, small voice wooing me back to Him with conviction when I’m not where I should be like Elijah.

This book that contains everything that pertains to life and godliness.

It can sit on a desk calling to me. I can resist it in my laziness or carnality. I can study it and apply it with excitement or intellectual stimulation.

Sometimes, in those oh-so-God moments, I tremble holding it.

Each word a gentle hammer breaking up the fallow ground in my soul. A fire burning away what’s not of Him. With Isaiah, I cry, “I am undone!”

But then it strips me bare like a Laodicean and clothes me anew soothing my worry and shame.

Reminding me of who I am, and what can never be taken from me. It builds me up and calls me to stand, holding forth the Word of life to others.

Is there any other voice that can reduce us to a pile of salty tears and ignite a fire inside that can’t be contained?

“Give unto the Lord, O you mighty. Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” – Psalm 29:1-2

Oh, I am so thankful for the powerful Word of God! Have you taken time to open His Word and hear His voice today?

 

Your word stands through the ages, Your voice shatters the darkness

In you we are more than conquerors

You speak, strongholds surrender, Your name overcomes the enemy

In you we are more than conquerors

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful God is Greater

“Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed….for there be more with us than with him.” – 2 Chronicles 32:7.

I came across an article two days ago that stated one in four Protestant Pastors struggle with depression, anxiety, or burnout. This closely mirrors the numbers given for the general population (one in five).

What does it mean?

That there’s a lot of hurting people, and we have an enemy who has no issue kicking us when we’re down.

When Hezekiah became king of Judah, he inherited a mess from his wicked father Ahaz. The temple had been desecrated. Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel had plundered his cities. They’d emptied their treasury to buy off the king of Assyria to help, but he took the money and ran.

Into this situation Hezekiah brought genuine reforms, urging the people to draw near to the Lord. And they did. But right in the midst of this rebuilding effort, guess who shows up.

The king of Assyria with 180,000 soldiers.

During his rampage through the Middle East, he conquers both Syria and Israel, and now he’s surrounded Jerusalem.

That’s when Hezekiah utters those words above. Be strong. Don’t be afraid of the King of Assyria. Why? Because we have the bigger army.

Say what?

The king continues in v8. “With him is the arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.”

Martin Luther penned the following in that famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

 

The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him.

His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure.

One little word will fell him.

 

I’m so thankful my God is greater than anything the enemy can throw at me. That He is with me and fights my battles for me. That when I grow weary in the fight, I can take my stand knowing He will make me stand.

Have you taken the time to acknowledge that God is greater than whatever you are facing today? Stop for a moment and worship Him in His almighty power.

“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” – 2 Chronicles 20:15.

Have you ever felt like you weren’t up the task God set in front of you?

Tell me about it.

I’ve known my wonderful bride for 25 years, but I’ve still got so much to learn about being a good husband.

Parenting? Four kids, one in his teens, yet I still see so many areas of deficiency in my fathering.

I should have work down at least, right? 18 years as a Pastor has only shown me more and more how much I’m in over my head.

But here’s the cool part.

When Jehosophat’s kingdom was invaded by the Moabites and a bunch of other “Ites”, he felt the same way. 2 Chronicles 20:3 says, “And Jehosophat feared…”

It’s okay to feel afraid. It’s not okay to stay there. Here’s the rest of that verse

“…and he set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”

Jehosophat took his fear to the right place and led the nation in seeking God for help. God responded with those beautiful words in verse 17.

“You shall not need to fight in this battle: position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, not be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.”

I’m so thankful I don’t have to give in when fear grips me. I’m so grateful I can stay in my lane knowing that God takes care of the rest. That I have the promises of His Word to quench the fiery darts of the enemy.

Has the enemy been threatening or discouraging you today? Take some time to place those before His throne of grace, and then leave them right there at His feet. The battle isn’t yours. It’s God’s!

“And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with you to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on you…” – 2 Chronicles 14.11

Life is fragile.

The smallest nudge of circumstance can send us to heights of euphoria or depths of despair.

As such we face the twin danger of becoming confident in ourselves or disgusted with ourselves. Both occur when I get my eyes on my circumstances and stop being confident in the Lord.

This is why the reign of king of Asa fascinates me. He was a good king, and when faced with a massive invasion, he utters those words above.

Help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on you…

Despite being severely outnumbered, panic is absent from his prayer. It was nothing for God to intervene. Being outnumbered didn’t factor into the equation :)

And yet 25 years later, Asa responds differently when a smaller kingdom threatens his economy. Asa takes the money from people’s offerings at the temple to buy off a pagan king to help him. It succeeds.

But not without cost.

Because Asa never came to the Lord with this lesser problem, God sent the prophet Hanani to rebuke him. He reminds him of that event  25 years earlier when God rescued them from the invading army.

“…because you did rely on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:8b-9.

I’m so glad my God longs to show Himself strong on my behalf! That He isn’t far off or too busy. I’m so thankful I can always have confidence in His willingness to work in and through my life!

Have you taken time today to place all your confidence in the Lord? Whether things are awesome or fragile, stop for a moment and lay them at His feet :)

“…and the children of Judah prevailed because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers.” – 2 Chronicles 13:18b

Abijah was David’s great-grandson. Despite this rich heritage, he followed in the ways of his father, Rehoboam. While David was a man after God’s own heart, check out Rehoboam’s testimony.

“And he did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 12:14.

Everything David built, Rehoboam destroyed in a day. After he succeeded Solomon, leaders from the other tribes approached and asked him to lighten the load of Solomon’s oppression.

What did Rehoboam do? He tightened the noose.

And ten tribes broke off to form their own kingdom.

Due to this friction, there was constant tension between the kingdom of Israel in the north and Rehoboam’s kingdom of Judah in the south.

Upon taking the throne Abijah continued his belligerent policies toward the north, and it triggers a full-scale war where he’s outnumbered two to one.

While Abijah climbs a mountain and proceeds to lambaste the rebels, fathers and sons wonder below if they’ll see their families again.

I guess we’re not the only generation with a dearth of good leadership.

Well, the northern king, Jeroboam, uses the speech to lay an ambush from behind. And now it springs.

What does Abijah do? The text doesn’t say. But the people of Judah do something :)

“…and they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets. Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to the pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.” – 2 Chronicles 13:14b-14.

I’m so thankful the Lord is there even when all I see around me is pain. That when the world looks darker and darker, He’s still at work. I’m so grateful He still uses surrendered lives to make an impact.

Have you taken time today to yield everything to Jesus? Rest in His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Don’t give up the fight. The gates of Hell won’t prevail against His church!

All of the praise unto your name!

Be lifted higher!

Thankful for Hope

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13

Hope.

That daring expectation of God’s goodness which enables me to pick my foot up and take the next step in this thing called life.

Despair.

The complete loss or absence of hope. That which rails at me to give up the fight, to lay down and wait until death claims me.

Both have been the experience of saints through the ages. David surely understood them.

Imagine being betrayed by your own father-in-law, a man afflicted by the hordes of hell whom you soothed with your sweet songs. Hunted like a dog, ripped from your closest friend, and slandered by those who should have supported you.

If that wasn’t bad enough, David had two opportunities to take Saul’s life and end this madness, yet he honored the Lord and spared him. And how was he rewarded? Further hunts for his life.

David eventually loses heart and flees his homeland to join the Philistines. To prove his loyalty, David claims his spoils come from raids on Israeli cities, when in reality he’s wiping out every living soul in the surrounding pagan cities to cover up his lie. In fleeing Saul, David becomes every bit the same monster.

The last vestige of hope falls while he and his men march to war against his own people. The Philistine leaders get cold feet and order David and his men to leave lest they turn traitor. But when David arrives at his city, he finds the women and children gone, taken captive by Amalekite raiders.

At this moment, not only had David lost everything. He’d cost his men everything. And now they want to stone him.

If ever there were a time to lay down and die, it was now. Why fight anymore? All his efforts, both righteous and wicked, had led to complete failure.

Yet, in that moment, David chose to reject everything his senses told him and laid hold of hope.

“…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” – 1 Samuel 30:4.

Paul the apostle understood this battle. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he revealed his ministry team was so burdened with the weight of their difficulties that they “despaired even of life” .

Yet, he grasped hope. “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are confused, but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8.

I’m so thankful there is hope when I’m weighted down. That when I’m confused by life or broken by my own failure, I don’t have to give up. That I can say with David in Psalm 42:5, “Why art thou cast down O my soul? Hope thou in God.”

If you’re struggling with despair today, lay hold of hope. Fight! Reject the lies of the enemy, for you are  not destroyed :)

And listen to this song. I think it will lift your spirits.

Find hope
When all the world seems lost
Behold
The triumph of the cross
His power
Has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The greatest name of all….

 

Thankful for God’s Wisdom

Ever stared at a gargantuan task and wondered where to start?

I brought home a sub a few days ago from a nearby restaurant and had that feeling. With meat oozing from every inch of the bread, every choice promised disaster. But also potential reward.

I’m pretty sure Solomon faced a much taller challenge when he succeeded his father David.

Yeah. That David.

How do you live up to the sweet Psalmist of Israel and the man after God’s own heart?

Now add to that the responsibility of building the Temple. Talk about a big sub.

“Give me now wisdom and knowledge that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” – 2 Cronicles 1:10

Instead of staring at the job facing him and trembling with inactivity, Solomon took it to the Lord. And here’s the beauty.

God answered :)

The Lord gave Solomon the wisdom he needed, and then added additional blessings because of his humility.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally…” – James 1:5a

I’m so thankful that whatever task I’m facing, I can confidently ask the Lord for wisdom, knowing that He’ll supply it. I’m so thankful that I never have to fear rejection or shame when I run to Him in faith.

Are you facing a big task? Is God asking you to step into the unknown? Run into His loving arms with confidence that He gives wisdom to those who trust in Him!

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus through all ages, world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21.

I can’t think of a better verse that describes just how good God has been to me since my introduction as the new Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Orlando last Sunday.

Surrounded by friends, long-time and new, whose hearts were open to one another and all that God wanted to do.

Showered with love and welcome.

Fellowship that could have gone on for days if we didn’t need sleep.

If God would have asked me how my ideal day should be, I couldn’t have planned it to go as well as He did.

As I lay in bed Sunday night, I couldn’t rest. I longed to shout praises to my glorious God for His abounding goodness toward His people. For the kids sanity I settled for endless whispers of thanks until I drifted into the land of dreams :)

Unto Him be glory in the Church indeed!

I’m so thankful for my God’s abounding goodness. I’m so grateful to serve alongside brothers and sisters who hunger and thirst for more of Jesus.

Have you taken time today to thank God for how good He’s been to you? If not, stop what you’re doing, and sit at His feet for a moment. Remind yourself of His glorious character.

And worship.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 283 other followers