Pastor Mike’s Blog

Be Refreshed

Welcome to all you desert-dwellers! You know what the summer heat can do to plants and people. It sucks the life right out of everything. On the withered and weary, the monsoon rains are a welcomed refreshment. The book of Proverbs says that the words of a faithful messenger do the same thing: “refresh the soul” (Pr. 25:13). My hope is that these words may refresh your spirit the same way they have mine. – Pastor Mike
 
Were you refreshed? Please click the icon and leave a comment below.
 
 

Go Ye

Go Ye

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

Jesus holds every believer accountable for fulfilling the command in this verse. Preach means “to proclaim or share.” Every person who knows Jesus Christ has a moral obligation to share the gospel which is simply the Good News of salvation in Christ. Who are we to share this Good News with? “Every creature” certainly includes every single living person.

Christ instructs us to carry this out in the context of our daily lives. The Greek word translated as go in this verse could be translated “as you are going.” We are a “going” group of people–we live busy lives. Today we will have many things that will demand our attention, and in the midst of that busyness, we can miss our purpose. God gives us the opportunity to meet people in order to share the gospel we know. As you encounter people today, look for divine appointments.

-Craig Bowers, Locust Grove, CA (from My Daily Devotional Prayer Book, Thomas Nelson, 2012.)

My Right to Choose

My Right to Choose

Don’t Take My Right to Choose!

Since 1973, a mother’s right to terminate a pregnancy in the United States has been protected by law.  Many Christians believe the Roe v. Wade decision should be overturned. But should Christians expect everyone, even unbelievers, to be pro-life?

The Bible teaches that every life, even in the womb is precious: “Thou has covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14). But what do we say to people do not share this belief?

The question comes down to one’s view of morality. Is morality formed by the consensus of the majority, or is morality superimposed from a higher authority?

You may have heard that Wikipedia.org has suffered “friendly” sabotage from time to time, by those who artificially introduced content on certain pages that did not square with reality (i.e. existence of pink elephants). This tampering illustrates the fact that if consensus is allowed to determine morality, results can fluctuate with votes not truth. That is not only true of the web; it is true in real life. Just because 51% agree that stealing is now permissible would not make it right, nor would it reduce my angst if my neighbor took something from my garage. Lest you think my examples ridiculous, there have been cultures that practiced stealing as a way of life.[1]

No, the belief in morality is the belief in constants/universals that apply to all people in all places. One such universal is the belief in the dignity of every human life. Our country was founded on such a belief. Thomas Jefferson wrote that our independence was based on the fact that every person has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It is this fundamental belief that led to the elimination of slavery. And it is this belief that should lead to the end of abortion. Every life should be entitled to the freedoms protected by the Constitution. Civilized cultures have always championed life, not because of consensus, but because it is right. Call it what you will, but a developing, growing fetus is a life inside the womb, no different from a seed which contains the life of a full-grown plant within itself.

The Roe v. Wade decision put the life of the unborn outside the protection of the Constitution, which was the same rational that was used to protect slavery in this country before the Emancipation Proclamation.  No person’s freedom (i.e. a mother’s) should infringe or usurp the freedom of another. This is precisely what abortion does and this is why it is wrong in a moral society, regardless of one’s religious profession. Protecting life at every stage is the right thing in a moral society.

[1] Otto Koning in the Pineapple Story documents that a tribe in Papua New Guinea did not have a rule against stealing.

SAFE at Church?

SAFE at Church?

People used to refer to houses of worship as sanctuaries, because they were a place of refuge or safety. But no more! The violence at houses of worship like Sutherland Springs, leave us all wondering where we are safe. Not at Walmart, not even in church?!

Why the madding violence? Why must we witness bloodshed in the house of God? Consider this.  In 1877 American Evangelist D.L. Moody wrote: “A good many years ago there was a convention held in France, and those who held it wanted to get the country to deny a God, to burn the Bible—wanted to say that men passed away like a dog and a dumb animal. What was the result? Not long since, that country was filled with blood. Did you ever think what would take place if we could vote the Bible and the ministers of the Gospel, and God out from among the people? My friends, the country would be deluged with blood. Your life and mine would not be safe in this city tonight.”*

Moody nailed it!

Violence follows rejection of God. And the problem with America is that we are unwilling to go there. We already made that decision when we voted God and the Bible out of our schools a generation ago. Not wanting to endorse any one religion, we offered students no religion at all. But more was lost than religion; we lost a fixed moral reference point. And things have been deteriorating ever since. The anti-hate campaigns and the “be kind” bells cannot restrain a heart that has deified itself. So let the talk go on and on and on. Let the media tell us we need better laws, better education, better safeguards. Nope! We need better people. I wonder how much worse it must get before we invite God back?

*D.L. Moody. Moody’s Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers. New York: Goodspeed & Co. 1877. p. 447.

Our Sympathies for Las Vegas

Our Sympathies for Las Vegas

Our sympathies and prayers are with the families impacted by the Las Vegas tragedy.

While we mourn the loss, we are grateful for our Christian faith that causes us to see beyond today to brighter hope tomorrow. The Bible teaches:

1)      This world is not getting better. As much as America thinks it has moved “beyond-needing-God,” events like this show us that society cannot fix what’s broken with mankind. We can’t solve the problems of humanity with better laws, stiffer penalties, or larger fences. Our progressive, pluralistic society is not turning out better people. Only the gospel can change peoples’ hearts and save our society.

2)      The devil may smile but his ship is sinking. “He knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). We should be encouraged that these days of death and destruction will come to an end. With the increase of violence, we can be pretty sure that the devil is running out of time. The Prince of peace is on the threshold. He’s coming soon!

3)      Christians praying is the only hope for our nation. “If my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray . . . then will I heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). Don’t stand aghast. Drop to your knees in prayer. Pray that grace will abound over sin. Pray that the gospel will reach more people, and that hurting families may find the peace that God supplies (Is. 57:19-20).

Sides of Kindness

Sides of Kindness

Kindness is that generous disposition which seeks the wellbeing of others. Yet if the disposition of kindness is to come into full bloom, someone must receive the kindness that is offered.

In the OT account of King David, two chapters highlight David’s kindness and how it was received (2 Samuel 9-10). In the first, David showed kindness to Mephibosheth, the son of David’s friend Jonathan, who was lame in both his feet. David welcomed Mephibosheth to live in his palace, to eat at his table, and to enjoy a royal pension the rest of his days. In stark contrast was Hanun, the new crown prince of Ammon. David sent a delegation to show kindness (10:2), but under bad counsel, Hanun rejected the kindness and humiliated David’s men (10:4-5). Same king, same kindness, two different responses.

The same things happens today. God “[shows to us] the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). Some warmly accept God’s offer to enter His family, to eat at his table, and to enjoy pleasures at his right hand forevermore (Ps. 16:11). These are the children of God through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, there are those who stiff-arm God. Like Hanun, they remain skeptical, even critical of any kindness from God. They fight the very One who wants to show them kindness. They criticize God or even deny His existence. They write books like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and/or spew unbelief in college classrooms “to overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:18). Same God, same kindness, dramatically different results.

This is no small matter, for what one does with the kindness of God determines the destinies of men. On which side of God’s kindness are you?

Daydreaming for Glory

Daydreaming for Glory

Daydreaming . . . we’ve all been there. Like the steady hum of a fan, the teacher drones on in monotone, inviting you to forget the lecture and think of another place, another person, another world. Who can blame you?

But I’m not sitting in a classroom any more. I am living life at a fast pace, and it does not leave me much time to daydream. Like you, I feel the daily pressures of getting things done: get the kids up, get them ready for school, get to work, make progress on my to-do list, be home for dinner with the kids, get the bills paid, and visit the in-laws, etc. And then when you feel as if your life couldn’t take one more thing, in comes something you hadn’t planned on: someone you know dies, someone hurts your kid, some pain takes up residence in your body, or some pressure starts straining your marriage. And you may feel like closing your book and walking out of class and telling God, “I’m through . . .”

But in the classroom of life God invites you to do something no earthly teacher ever would. He gives you permission to daydream.

KJV Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Stability in suffering comes from staring at glory. Soon you and I will be standing in the very presence of God where there are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). And He gives us permission to think about it today. In fact, if you do not daydream a little, your engine is liable to seize up.

Take a moment to daydream about the glory that awaits you. It is just the refreshment your weary soul needs! PMG

Christians R the Refs

Christians R the Refs

“I heard a great analogy just this morning that politics is much like a football game. The two teams are the two parties, and usually, they are trying to tackle each other to the ground!  The church is much like the third group of individuals on the field of play; we’re the ones wearing the stripes, the referees.  As Christians we’re not forever beholden to any political party, no matter what our “party identification” card may say. Like football refs, we are bound to the Rulebook and our role is to consistently remind the two teams of the rules of play. As Christ-followers, we are called to stand on the authority of God’s Word and to vote in accordance with what God has already said! This means we vote for the candidate (no matter the party) whose views and policies are most in keeping with the Bible. This means when clear biblical issues are on the ballot (like the protection of human life at all stages (Ps.139; Jer. 1:5; Gen 9:5-7; Lev 19:32) and the preservation of marriage and family (Gen 2:20-24; Matt. 19; Rom 1) we vote for what God has said even if it’s increasingly unpopular in our society.”  Scott Wilson

For the full article: “Does the Bible Say Anything About Our Vote?”

 

Momma Wears Combat Boots

Momma Wears Combat Boots

Molly was a true American patriot. During the Revolutionary War she had followed her husband’s company as they engaged the Redcoats. At the Battle of Monmouth, she could see the heat was taking a bigger toll on the Continental Army than the canon fire. Rolling up her skirt and grabbing her pitcher, she descended onto the battlefield to bring drinks to the heat-stricken men. When her husband fell behind his canon, not to injury but to heatstroke, she bravely manned his canon throughout the afternoon. Eventually, the sun began to fade and the British withdrew in defeat. General Washington seeing “Molly Pitcher” from a distant made her a Sergeant. Molly, less lady-like perhaps, did the dirty work that had to be done on the battlefield.

There have been women like her down through the pages of history.

The greatest history book of all time, the Bible, tells its own stories of female heroism. Two women were responsible for a great victory in Israel’s history. During the days of the judges, Israel had no king and no standing army. Her enemies exploited this and often oppressed her for years at a time. Deborah, a prophetess, received a word from the Lord, that He would give victory over the Canaanite oppressors. She just needed to find someone to assemble and lead an army. She asked Barak. He agreed somewhat reluctantly: “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go.” (Judges 4:8). Deborah agreed, but warned that he would forfeit the honor: “the Lord would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman” (4:9). Barak and his ten thousand troops went with Deborah to engage the enemy. They did prevail over a much better equipped army, just as the Lord said, but the honor went to a woman brave enough to lead an army into battle.

But that isn’t the end of the story. Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, managed to escape the battlefield and headed north to safety. Weary from the battle and from the foot flight he was making, Sisera eyed the tent of an ally and turned in for a rest. Jael gladly welcomed Sisera, gave him milk, and a quiet place to rest. Unsuspectingly, he lay down. When sleep overtook him, Jael took one of her husband’s tent pegs and drove it through his temple (4:21). Thanks to Jael, not one man managed to escape. Two women did the dirty work that won the victory.

The Bible does not discriminate against women or suggest their enslavement. In fact, belief in the Bible has engendered greater respect for women than they have known throughout history. Where the Bible is not respected in the world, typically women are not either. And when the Bible speaks on women, it reminds us that men and women were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27); that women have just as much claim on the kingdom as any man (Gal. 3:28, 1 Peter 3:7); that women have equal access to God in prayer (1 Tim. 5:5); and that they have gifts essential to the health of the body, we call the church (1 Cor. 12:12).

It is doubtful that we would have a country if it weren’t for the contribution of women like Molly. And it is doubtful that we would have a church either. Would you do more than tip your hat in agreement? Would you do something to show the lady in your life, how much you appreciate her ability to strap on her boots and do the dirty jobs that have to be done? (Oh, and just for the record, my mother did wear combat boots. She served in the US Army.)

Where Was God on September 11?

Where Was God on September 11?

You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001. Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say, ‘Good-bye.’ I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK, I am ready to go.’

I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said. ‘Of course, I will show you the way home – only believe in Me now.’

I was at the base of the building with the [man of God] ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend his flock in Heaven. He heard My voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Virginia, California, Michigan, Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name – though not all knew Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames: ‘Come to Me . . . this way . . . take My hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Towers that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are ‘ready to go.’ I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

 

-God

“Met in the Stairwell” written by Allison C. Coxsey.

Are You a Cultural Christian?

Are You a Cultural Christian?

“Cultural Christianity means to pursue the God we want instead of the God who is. It is the tendency to be shallow in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils us and let us have our own way. It is sensing a need for God, but on our own terms. It is wanting the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him, too. It is God relative instead of God absolute.” (Patrick Morley, The Man in the Mirror. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989. p. 53.)