Comfort Those Who Mourn

woman-crying

“Being happy-go-lucky around a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing his jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in his wounds.”

Proverbs 25:20 (The Living Bible)

This passage stood out for me because a friend has recently lost one of their parents. Most of us have lost a loved one, so we have some idea of the pain and grief it brings. Even followers of Christ, who know we’ll be reunited with our loved-ones someday in eternity, are not immune from the feelings of loss when death takes someone close to us.

As a Christian, I have the privilege, “to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)  I have received great comfort from Jesus in my times of greatest distress, so I have a responsibility to comfort others in the same way.

But how can we do it practically?

I think this passage in Proverbs gives some guidance about how NOT to comfort people. Too many people (even well-meaning Christians) feel that they have a responsibility to put on a fake smile and speak in empty platitudes in the face of tragedy. I think we do it either because we don’t know what to say in those situations or we’re afraid that people may think we lack true faith if we can’t be “happy-go-lucky” in the face of loss. Too often, taking this course causes more harm than good.

I think the key is to consider how Jesus comforts us. I’m comforted to know that Jesus is, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)  I know that He wept when He saw Mary’s grief at her brother’s death, even though he knew her brother, Lazarus, would shortly rise from the dead. (John 11:33)  I remember the amazing compassion he showed to the sick, damaged, and afflicted He ministered to during his earthly ministry. All of these things give me the confidence to know that I can bring my pain to Jesus because He is no stranger to pain Himself. He is a faithful friend to whom I can pour out my heart, without fear of condemnation or misunderstanding.

Lord, give me the same heart of compassion that You have. When I see someone grieving, enable me to comfort them with the same comfort You’ve given me – by holding them, or crying with them, or even just being there without saying anything at all. Give me wisdom to know when to speak, when to be silent, what to say, and what not to say. Most of all, Lord, I pray that those who grieve would ultimately find their comfort in You, because You have triumphed over death!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Motives, Actions, and Rewards

Cup-Cold-Water

“John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.  Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Mark 9:38-50 (ESV)

I admit that I have a hard time understanding what Jesus is teaching here. I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me understanding. Jesus promised that the Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 16:13) and I’m claiming that promise today in Jesus’ name.

I think there is a dual focus in this teaching. First, Jesus seems to be showing that He is the one who matters – His power and His person. When John tells him that they stopped someone exorcising demons in Jesus’ name because, “he was not following us,” Jesus corrects him. Jesus points out that the issue is that a mighty work is being done in Jesus’ name and then points out the benefit to the one who has done the work – he won’t be able to soon afterward speak evil of Jesus. Here’s what I take from this:

  • Just because someone doesn’t belong to “our group” doesn’t mean that they don’t belong to Jesus.
  • When a mighty work is done in Jesus name, it brings glory to Him and also benefits those for whom the work is performed.
  • Even if the “worker” of the mighty work isn’t a disciple of Jesus, there is still hope for them to turn to Christ. After doing the a mighty work in Jesus’ name, they won’t be able to quickly speak evil of Him.
  • Jesus will receive the glory if the work was done in His name.

I’m NOT saying that we shouldn’t exercise discernment and be wary of false teachers (or those who are not true disciples of Jesus, but seem to be doing mighty works in His name).  I’m also NOT saying that we shouldn’t warn our people about these teachers when evidence of their carnality eventually comes to light.  What I AM saying is that our attitude should be more like Paul’s attitude in those situations.  He writes to the church at Philippi about those teachers who were preaching Christ, but doing it from impure motives.

“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:  The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;  but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Philippians 1:15-18

The essential question seems to be this, “Is Christ accurately being preached?”  If so, then we have reason to rejoice.

Jesus also seems to be teaching that actions are important – both good actions and bad.

  • Giving a cup of cold water to a disciple (for Jesus’ sake) results in a reward, even if the giver is not a follower of Jesus
  • Causing a little one to lose faith results in terrible punishment, even if the one responsible is a disciple of Jesus.
  • Our members (eyes, hands, feet) can easily lead us into sinful activity. If they cannot be controlled it is better that they be removed.
  • Everyone will be “salted with fire” (i.e. tested with trials). This is in contrast to those who are thrown into Hell where they are not “salted” with fire, but where the fire never dies.

I think that having “salt in ourselves” means to be embracing the trials that are sent to humble us and conform us to Jesus’ image. When we fail to learn the lessons that those trials bring, the “salt” of the trial loses it saltiness and fails to have the desired effect – which ultimately is to cause us to live at peace with each other.

I’m interested in your thoughts.  Please post your comments so we can discuss.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Purpose and Passion

Passion_400

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Luke 12:11-12 (NKJV)

The company I work for has been following a continuous improvement process called CEO2.  One of the positive things to come from the process is that each employee was challenged to compose a statement that defines their “Purpose and Passion.”  When I did the exercise I created two statements.  I took both to the CEO2 trainer and said, “These two statements are very different.  The first has to do with my work in technology.  The other statement reflects my true passion.  Which do I choose?”  The trainer said that it was important that I choose the statement that accurately describes my true “Purpose and Passion.”  Here’s what I wrote:

“With integrity, intelligence, and passion I challenge myself and others to discover what God has revealed about Himself in His Word so that we can love Him with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.” 

One of the CEO2 practices that McKissock has adopted is that at the start of every meeting each participant must share their “Purpose and Passion” statement.  I love it!  It essentially means that I get a chance to be a witness for Christ (essentially sharing Luke 10:27) at every meeting where I’m a participant.  Recently I met with our COO/CFO and we started the meeting by sharing our “Purpose and Passion” statements.

That’s when I got a real surprise.

After I recited my P&P statement, the COO/CFO stopped me saying, “What I hear in your statement is your passion to be a preacher.  That’s great, but how does it apply to your work here at this company?”  He was quick to assure me that he wasn’t implying that I should leave the company because my passion doesn’t revolve around my work.  He was just curious how I applied my purpose and passion to my work on a daily basis.

What an amazing opportunity!

I asked him to imagine a circle divided into wedges (like a pie).  I explained that most people view their life this way – as a set of disconnected and isolated compartments.  One “wedge” is our work, another is our family, another is our hobbies, another is our faith, etc.

Lifecircle_258

I shared that my perspective as a Christian is very different.  Jesus doesn’t want to simply occupy a “compartment” in our lives.  He doesn’t want to compete with other pursuits for our attention or be unrelated to other aspects of our lives.  Jesus wants (and deserves) to be at the center of our lives.  I then asked him to imagine the same circle, divided into wedges, but with a smaller circle in the center – touching each of the wedges in the “pie”.

Jesuslifecircle

I explained that I apply my “Purpose and Passion” by placing Jesus at the center of my life where He directly affects everything in my life, including my family, my work, my relationships with others, how I use my time, etc.  I was then able to give him a few specific examples of how I’ve tried to bring a Biblical perspective to my work by being a faithful employee, relating compassionately to my co-workers, acting with integrity, etc.

I’d been praying for an opportunity to share my faith with the COO/CFO, but I’m hesitant to do so on “company time.”  It was such a blessing when God provided the opportunity for me to share about my relationship with Him in response to my COO/CFO’s question.  It was the very opportunity that I’ve been praying for.  God is so good!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s Not “Blind” Faith

Donkey_tied_up_400

“If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 

Mark 11:3

Years ago, one of the young men on our church worship team regularly used this incident in Jesus’ life to tease me.  I had a Taylor acoustic guitar and (even though he was primarily a drummer) he really wanted one.  When I’d take it out of the case he’d say something like, “You should give me that guitar.”  When I’d ask why, he’d smile and say, “The Lord has need of it.”  I’d just smile back and say, “He hasn’t said anything to me about it.”  We’d both chuckle, and then get back to practice.

Frankly, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by this passage.  Jesus sends two of his disciples into a town with instructions to untie the first donkey colt they see and bring it to Him.  He instructs them what to say if they’re questioned.  They follow Jesus’ instructions and are indeed confronted (probably by the donkey’s owners) about what they’re doing.  When they reply, “The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately,” the men drop their objections.

Why?

I’ve heard some teachers speculate that Jesus set this up in advance with the donkey’s owners, knowing when and how He would be entering Jerusalem.  While I admit it’s possible, that just doesn’t seem like Jesus’ style.  Others are just amazed by the “blind faith” shown by the donkey’s owners.  Just because these two men say, “The Lord has need of it,” they’re willing to let them walk off with the donkey!  Talk about blind faith!

Well, I think this story does teach us about faith, but not “blind” faith.

Consider the disciples’ faith.  Jesus is asking them to do a very strange thing, but they don’t hesitate.  They had faith in Jesus, but it wasn’t a “blind” faith.  Their faith was based on evidence.  For three years they had walked with Jesus and He had never steered them wrong.  Their faith in Him was built on a solid foundation of who Jesus was and all He’d done.

Consider the faith of the donkey’s owners.  This even takes either in Bethphage, a village very near Bethany where some of Jesus’ closest friends (Lazarus, Mary, and Martha) lived.  I think it’s safe to speculate that Jesus (and probably His disciples) would have been known in this area.  The people would have been familiar with His miracles and His character.  When the donkey’s owners heard that Jesus needed this animal and wouldl return it when He’s finished, they knew they could trust His word.  Their faith was built on solid evidence too.

I think about it like this.  If I found two strangers in my driveway, trying to start my car, I’d certainly confront them.  If their response was, “‘Joe’ needs it and he’ll send it back when he’s done,” I’d probably respond, “Who’s Joe?”  Then I’d call the police.  However, if I saw two guys from our church in my driveway trying to start my car and they said, “Pastor Jeff needs your car and he’ll send it back when he’s done,” I’d toss them the keys.

What’s the difference?

I know my pastor.  He’s demonstrated that he’s a man of God who can be trusted.  I know his integrity.  If he needs my car, he’s welcome to it.  If he had to send two guys to pick it up (instead of coming himself) he must have a good reason.  If he says he’ll return it when he’s finished, I know he will.  My faith in Pastor Jeff is built on years of evidence of his character.

My faith in Jesus – in His goodness, mercy, grace, and provision – isn’t a “blind” faith.  My faith is built on the solid evidence of His character as I’ve seen it in the scriptures and as I’ve experienced it in my life over and over again.  He has demonstrated so many times that I can trust Him.  I have no reason to doubt Him and every reason to trust Him.

Thank you, Father, for giving me a faith that is based on evidence and the sure foundation of Your Son, Jesus!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

God’s Amazing Provision!

The-infant-moses-is-found-by-pharaoh-s-daughter-floating-on-the-nile-in-a-basket_i-g-17-1745-zol3d00z

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

Exodus 2:7-9 (ESV)

I’m amazed by two things in this passage.  First, God honors obedience.  Pharaoh had declared that all Hebrew male babies were to be executed at birth.  The Hebrew midwives refused to obey this ungodly edict.  Moses’ parents also refused to comply and went to great lengths to protect their new baby boy.  It must have been terrifying for them to know that they were defying a ruler who had total power over them.  Even so, they recognized that they owed their ultimate allegiance to the God of heaven, not to an earthly king.

Second, God provides for us in amazing and unexpected ways.  Miriam watched as servants pulled the baby’s basket from the Nile river and presented the child to Pharaoh’s daughter.  She thought and acted quickly, offering to go and find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child.  The result is that Moses’ mother had her child rescued, restored to her, and God used Pharaoh to pay the bills!  What an amazing God we serve!  I’m reminded of what Jesus promised His disciples in Mark 10:29-30

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 

When we give up something that we love, God is faithful to restore and to bless beyond anything we have given up.

Father, help me to walk in obedience to You, even in the face of opposition from the world.  Enable me to stand strong for You, even when it means choosing to obey Your Word over following an ungodly law of man.  I pray that You give me wisdom and discernment like You gave Miriam, and the courage to act boldly when You present an opportunity.  Finally, Father, I pray that I will always trust in Your faithfulness to provide for all my needs. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Jumping For Joy vs. Staying In Bed

Bart_wo_coat_run_400

“Bartimaeus yanked off his old coat and flung it aside, jumped up and came to Jesus.”

Mark 10:50 (The Living Bible)

This morning I had a rough time getting out of bed.  I ran yesterday (so I’m sore).  I stayed up too late reading (so I’m sleepy).  I just didn’t feel right.  I was laying there praying, telling God that even before my feet hit the floor that I wanted to give my day to Him.  I was sincere, but the truth is I would have preferred to stay in bed.

I’m convicted by Bartimaeus’ response to Jesus.  He knew that Jesus was his only hope to receive his sight.  Even when the crowd told him to be quiet, he continued to cry out to Jesus for help.  When Jesus called to him he, “yanked off his old coat and flung it aside, jumped up and came to Jesus.”

How many mornings do I sluggishly drag myself into the presence of the Living God?  Lord, forgive me. I want to have the same response to Jesus as blind Bartimaeus.  I want to be filled with joy and excitement every time I have the opportunity to come to You.  I want to throw off my “old coat” (the flesh), fling it aside, and run to You for healing and rescue.  I realize that when I don’t respond like this it’s because I’ve allowed myself to become complacent and take You for granted.  I don’t want to live like that.

Like David I pray, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” (Psalm 51:12).  Let me jump up, throw off my “old coat”, and run to Jesus!

** Image courtesy of Ammom Perry.  View his “doodle” blog at http://doodletillomega.blogspot.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wasting Our Time

Piles-of-money_400

“Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich.  Why waste your time?  For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!”

Proverbs 23:4-5, The Living Bible

I’m not sure why The Lord is highlighting this verse for me this morning.  I honestly don’t think this is something that I currently struggle with.  I know that I tend toward “work-a-holism”, but money isn’t really my motivation.  I’m motivated by pride, arrogance, and a desire to make a name for myself among men.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Those are serious issues that require repentance any time they rear their ugly heads.

I do see this happening all around me though.  We live in a culture that is obsessed with acquiring more and more “things” and “riches”.  We have a sense of entitlement, as though we deserve more than we have.  I see people working long hours, trying to climb the corporate ladder, all so they can “get more” and “have more”.

I remember when I was working in Kane.  I was struggling with this very issue.  I remember vividly when God showed me what a materialist I had become.  I had fallen into a terrible trap.  God showed me that the more “things” I acquired, the more my bondage to those “things” increased.  I thought I owned my possessions, when in fact my possessions actually owned me!  There is wisdom in the quote, “What we strive to attain, we must strive to maintain.”

Just because I learned that lesson several years ago doesn’t mean that I don’t occassionally fall back into those patterns.  I do.  Heavenly Father, when I begin thinking and acting that way I pray that You show me my folly.  Remind me that everything will eventually be tested by fire and only that which was done for you will remain.  Eventually, all of my possessions will crumble into dust.  How much wiser to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt 6:33)?  How much better to “lay up treasures for yourself in Heaven” (Matt 6:19-20)?  That is the only wealth we should be concerned with acquiring.

Lord, make me content with what I have.  Give me a willingness to be generous with the resources You have blessed me with.  Eradicate from within me any desire for riches or worldly wealth.  Protect me from making money or possessions an idol.  Keep me from the folly of seeking anything other than Your kingdom and Your righteousness.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Waiting for God’s Timing

Clock3

“One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ”

Exodus 2:11-12

We know from the book of Hebrews that when Moses came of age he made a conscious decision by faith to be identified with his own people (the Hebrews) rather than continue to enjoy the sinful pleasures of the palace as a son of Pharaoh (Hebrews 12:24-26).  He made this decision while the Hebrews were in terrible bondage to their Egyptian overlords.  I pray that I, by faith, would have the courage to make the same decision – to reject a life of comfort, ease, and pleasure in order to receive the scorn and persecution that comes to those who follow Christ.  Lord, please give me this kind of faith!

At the same time, it seems that Moses had a clear desire to deliver his people from their oppression (and perhaps a sense that this was God’s desire for him).  When he saw a Hebrew worker knocked down by an Egyptian overseer, he first looked to see that there were no witnesses present.  He then struck and killed the overseer and buried his body in the sand.  This is a classic example of trying to accomplish the Lord’s will using human wisdom and means.

The results are both disastrous and miraculous.  It is a disaster as Moses’ act of murder is discovered by Pharaoh and he is forced to flee to Midian where he spends the next 40 years as a lowly shepherd.  It is miraculous for exactly the same reason!  God used this tragedy to:

  1. Remove Moses from Egypt (and to remove “Egypt” from Moses)
  2. Humble him by giving him a job considered disgusting by Egyptians; working as a shepherd.
  3. Teach him to be a faithful employee to his father-in-law, Jethro
  4. Teach him to be a faithful husband and father
  5. Show him the folly of acting (even from good motives) in his own strength, timing, and wisdom.

I realize that I have to be careful not to make the same mistake that Moses made.  I’ve often run ahead of God – trying to accomplish His will in my own strength, my own wisdom, and my own timing.  Invariably, the result is that things quickly go wrong and I find myself calling out to God for rescue.  I’m gradually learning that I need to wait on Him – waiting for His strength, His wisdom, and His timing, all of which are perfect.  I’m grateful to know that even when I foolishly run ahead of Him, He is able to “work all things together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).  Praise God for His great mercy and love!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Contentment in All Circumstances

Fiddler-on-the-roof

“The disciples were incredulous!  ’Then who in the world can be saved, if not a rich man?’  they asked.”

Mark 10:26 – The Living Bible

The disciples were reacting to Jesus’ statement that it is nearly impossible for a rich man (i.e. one who trusts in riches) to enter into the Kingdom of God.  I puzzled over this passage yesterday and today in my devotions I was drawn to it again.

Why did the disciples think it would be easier for a rich man to enter the Kingdom?  It reminds me of the scene from “Fiddler on the Roof” where Tevye is singing, “If I Were A Rich Man..”  In one verse he sings:

If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray,
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall,
And I’d discuss the learned books with the holy men
Seven hours every day–
That would be the sweetest thing of all…

It must have been similar in the disciples’ time.  Those who were rich had leisure to study, pray in the temple for long periods, have access to the religious leadership, etc.  Jesus’ disciples must have thought that it would be so much easier for the rich to enter into the Kingdom because they didn’t have to be so concerned with the daily grind of working a menial job.  They could really focus on their relationship with God.

I can’t fault these guys.  Isn’t this similar to what I’ve been thinking recently?  If only I didn’t have to work at McKissock every day I’d be able to be at the church. I’d be able to do the work that needs done at our radio ministry.  I’d have time to prepare and record a daily radio show, etc., etc., etc.

The reality is that God has provided this job for me and I need to be content to stay there until He moves me someplace else or provides something different.  I need to be content that if it’s His will for me as a Pastor that I also work a full-time “secular” job for the remainder of my life that I’m okay with that.

It’s not our job status, wealth, poverty or anything else that keeps us from entering into the Kingdom of God.  We enter in by His Grace.  It’s also not my job status, wealth, poverty, or anything else that prevents me from enjoying the abundant life that Jesus wants me to enjoy.  It’s my refusal to find contentment and joy in my relationship with Him instead of in my circumstances.  That’s what blocks the joy that can only be found in Him..

Lord, forgive me.  Help me to find my joy and contentment in You and You alone each and every day – regardless of my circumstances.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Small Church – Big Surprise

“For who has despised the day of small things…” Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV)

Just so I’m not misunderstood, I’d like to start by making two things clear:

1. I’ve visited many Calvary Chapels, both large and small. One of the things I enjoy when I travel is visiting other churches and worshipping with my brothers and sisters. I make it a point to see if there are any Calvary Chapels in the area that I’m visiting so that I can attend worship on Sunday and (if possible) a midweek Bible study. I confess that I usually don’t mention that I’m a Calvary pastor – at least until after the service.

2. I don’t think that small fellowships are intrinsically “better” or “worse” than large fellowships, or visa-versa. The fact that I’m an assistant pastor at a “small” fellowship doesn’t make me particularly biased toward small fellowships. In fact, when I travel I admit that I enjoy visiting “large” Calvary Chapels because (in addition to solid Bible teaching and great worship) they usually have coffee shops and bookstores!

My family is visiting Maine for the first time. Since our first day in Bar Harbor was Sunday, I’d made plans for us to attend church. My initial thought was to visit Calvary Chapel of Bangor where Ken Graves is the senior pastor. Although I’ve never visited the fellowship, I’m pretty sure that CC Bangor qualifies as a “big” Calvary – at least compared to CC Russell, PA! On the drive in we passed a small building with a sign reading “Calvary Chapel Downeast”. Intrigued, I did a quick Google search. While CC Bangor would require a drive of over an hour, CC Downeast in Trenton, ME was just 20 minutes from where we were staying. After spending 15 hours in a car on Saturday that made the decision a no-brainer for my family – CC Downeast would be our Sunday morning destination.

In the interest of total disclosure I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. After all, I was pretty sure that CC Downeast wouldn’t have either a coffee shop or a bookstore, and I’d never heard of the pastor. If it sounds hypocritical that I (who have often railed against our creation of “celebrity pastors”) would want to see a “big name” pastor rather than an “unknown”, then you are absolutely right! I’m ashamed to admit that I wanted to go to a “big” Calvary, hear a pastor I knew from the radio, and sit in a bookstore and drink flavored coffee. Talk about fleshly motives! God forgive me!

We arrived at CC Downeast and were welcomed very warmly. They didn’t have a bookstore, but they did have some very solid books on sale in the foyer (and the coffee was free)! The fellowship was as small as I expected and I was a little disappointed to see that the senior pastor was away and the youth/assistant pastor would be preaching. Frankly, he seemed pretty nervous about being up front.

The next 90 minutes were a blessing! The worship was authentic and heartfelt. People sang and raised their hands in worship, pouring out their love to our Heavenly Father. The prayers weren’t polished – they were sincere and straight from the heart. Pastor Ross preached a message that was the equal of anything I’ve heard at a Pastor’s conference. He covered the chaotic state of the world, the futility of trying to change things by political means, the necessity of our standing strong in the grace of Christ, the urgency of reaching a lost and dying world with the Gospel, the reality of Jesus’s soon return, and the joyous fact that no matter how bad things in the world may get, we have nothing to fear!

When the Jewish exiles from Babylon returned to see the temple that Zerubbabel had built, they wept because it lacked the size and grandeur of Solomon’s temple. They forgot that God doesn’t measure things the same way that we do. We measure by size and appearance while He looks on the inward parts, not the externals. We should be careful not to despise the “day of small things,” – or small fellowships. That’s the lesson God taught me this week.

It may take a few weeks, but when it’s online I encourage everyone to check out Pastor Ross’s message at Calvary Chapel Downeast. (http://www.ccdowneast.org/

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments