Who are you and what are you doing here?

I am reading in the book of Jeremiah and I was struck with a couple of things that I would like to share with you.

It becomes quite clear as you read the Old Testament that God is not only a God of love but One who judges men when they continually disobey Him and turn away from Him.  Eventually everyone and every nation will be judged by God and no person or nation can despise God’s law and defy His rule without suffering for it.  The book of Jeremiah is a reminder of that. 

In calling Jeremiah, God told him that what He was calling Jeremiah to would be unpopular but that it was necessary – people don’t want to hear that they are being disobedient to God because they want to do their own thing! It is no different today.

In the poem “The Present Crisis,” American poet James Russell Lowell wrote words that summarize Jeremiah’s life and ministry:

Once to every man and nation comes
the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood,
for the good or evil side.

Though at first Jeremiah hesitated when God called him, he surrendered to the Lord and became one of history’s most decisive spiritual leaders. Sadly, however, the people who most needed his leadership rejected him and turned their backs on God’s Word.

As never before, there is a need for leaders like Jeremiah who will obey the Word of God without fear.
The politician asks, “Is it popular?”
The diplomat asks, “Is it safe?”
But the people of God should be asking, “Is it God’s will? Is it right?”
 
Our homes, churches, cities, and nation needs us more than ever to be truly people of God who live with conviction by God’s Word and character.  We cannot sit on the fence or play with both feet in different worlds any longer – people’s lives hang in the balance and as we heard on Sunday, eternity is just a heartbeat away. 
We must have a sense of urgency regarding the things of God. 
No more situational morality. 
No more serving God when it is to our convenience and advantage. 
Let us live by God’s law and love the people of the world deeply. 
 
Come – the harvest awaits!


Living Like Children of God

Sunday as we were finishing up 1 Peter we talked about being sober: having a self-discipline to not become intoxicated by the world around us. I came across this article in my devotions from Book of Common Prayer app, and I wanted to pass it along.
 
“For many of us, the judgmental, arrogant, legalistic Christianity we knew growing up has created a suspicion of discipline and order that can lead to a pretty sloppy spirituality. Reacting against the institution’s sickness, we easily find ourselves with little to help us heal from our own wounds, create new disciplines, and carve out a space where goodness triumphs. People who are afraid of spiritual discipline will not produce very good disciples.

Community is pretty hip these days. The longing for community is in all of us. We long to love and to be loved. But if community doesn’t exist for something beyond us, it will atrophy, suffocate, die. Discipline and discipleshare the same roots, and without discipline, we become little more than hippie communes or frat houses. We easily fall short of God’s dream to form a new humanity with distinct practices that offer hope and good news to the world. Like any culture, we who follow the way of ­Jesus have distinct ways of eating and partying, different from the culture of consumption, homogeneity, and hedonism. Our homes, our living rooms, even our parties can become places of solace and hospitality for those with addictions and struggles. But it doesn’t happen without intentionality. Dorothy Day said, “We have to create an environment where it is easier to be good.”

Our communities should be places where people can detox, whether that be from alcohol, tobacco, gluttony, shopping, or gossip. We long for a space that tips us toward goodness rather than away from it, where we can pick up new habits — holy habits — as we are formed into a new creation, transformed by God.”
 
Glad to be on this journey with you all as we travel as strangers and aliens through this world.  Let’s live like citizens of heaven.
 
 


Loving His Presence

Recently I was reading in Exodus 33 and came across a verse that really resonated with me and I felt it was a word to DSC.  In the story Moses is talking to God about leading the people of Israel and making sure that God would be with them.  Moses tells God that He must be with them because…

  • Exodus 33:16 (NLT) 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

 I love that last part – “your presence among us sets us apart…”

That has been my prayer for DSC – that God’s presence will be evident among us and that His presence will set us apart.  We are not just striving for good programs and well planned events (we still do those) but more than those things we want the presence of God among us.


BREAKTHROUGH FAITH

  • ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace…'”

We experience great glory at DSC when we continue to grow up our faith.  Lets take a look at what happens as our faith increases.

1. Faith shrinks my problems.

The first thing that I do when I begin to open the eyes of my heart, Lord, and I began to see what God is doing around me and I begin to look at things from God’s viewpoint, it shrinks my problem.

If you have a big God – problems gets small.  
If you got a small God – problems get big.
  • Genesis 18:14 (NIV) 14  Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

The Bible says, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

2. Faith opens the door for a miracle.

Faith can move mountains.
If you study the Bible and if you study history, you find that every time God moves on earth and does a miracle it’s because somebody believed. Your faith opens the door to miracles.
 
  • Mark 11:22-24 (NIV) 22  “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23  “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Every time you stretch your faith God does miracles – every single time.

  • What’s the mountain in your life?
  • What’s the mountain that needs to be moved?
  • What’s the thing that has never moved, it hasn’t moved, it’s not going to move, it never will move?
  • What is the mountain in your life that you’re saying, “It’s never going to change”?

Some of you have already decided that the mountain stays.  That’s a self-defeating or self-fulfilling prophesy.

You want God to perform the impossible in your life then we need faith.

  • Matthew 13:58 (NIV) 58  And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

The people’s lack of faith caused Jesus to not do many miracles.

3. Faith moves God to act on my behalf.

  • Matthew 9:29 (NIV) 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you“;
If you expect God to do a little in your life, He’ll do a little.
If you expect God to do a lot, He’ll do a lot.
If you don’t expect God to do anything, He won’t do anything.

“According to your faith it will be done onto you.”

The problem with us is, we think the wrong thing moves God.

God is not moved by my complaints.
God is never moved by my griping, my complaining, my grumbling, my whining, none of that moves God.   God is moved when I say, “God, I’m trusting you and I’m expecting you to keep your promise. You put your name on that promise and I’m expecting you to do it.
 
4. Faith turns God-given dreams into reality.

I want to challenge you to dream about your relationships, your marriage, a family, your career.

The Bible is full of people who had God given dreams.

  • Abraham dreamed of being the father of a great nation.
  • Moses dreamed of setting the people free.
  • Joseph dreamed of saving the nation and his own family.
  • Daniel and Paul and David, over and over and over, all through the Scripture, all kinds of people who were inspiring dreamers.
  • Ephesians 3:20 (TLB) 20  Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask.

What are you afraid to ask God for? Don’t limit God by your unbelief.

5. Faith gives me power to hold on in tough times.

Faith doesn’t always take you out of the problem. Faith often takes you through the problem.

Faith doesn’t always take away the pain.  Faith gives you the ability to handle the pain.

Faith doesn’t make life heaven on earth.  This world is never going to be heaven on earth.

Things are never going to go perfectly on this planet. You will always have pain and you will always have suffering in your life. Faith gives you the ability to handle it.
 
I am praying God will build your faith as He did with Abraham so that you will experience breakthrough in your life.  


Growing, Sowing and Going

  • Colossians 2:7 (TLB) 7 Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done.
  • Hebrews 6:1 (ETRV) 1 So we should be finished with the beginning lessons about Christ. We should not have to keep going back to where we started. We began our new life by turning away from the evil we did in the past and by believing in God. That’s when we were taught about baptisms, laying hands on people, the resurrection of those who have died, and the final judgment. Now we need to go forward to more mature teaching.

God wants you to grow in your faith.  Not be a spiritual baby.  He also says, “I want you to sow in faith.  I want you to learn to become generous.”

You cannot become like God without becoming generous. 

  • 2 Corinthians 9:6 (TLB) 6 But remember this—if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much.

 This is the law of you reap what you sow. 

It’s true in every area of life. 

  • If you sow criticism you’re going to reap criticism.
  • If you sow love you’ll reap love.
  • If you sow kindness you will reap kindness.

BUT you always reap more than you sow. 

When you plant one corn kernel in the ground you don’t get one kernel back.  You get a whole stalk.  You always get more back – either positively or negative of what you put out in life.  And the Bible says if you sow generously you will reap generously. 

 

So grow in faith, sow in faith and then God wants you to go in faith.

  • Hebrews 11:8 (TLB) 8 Abraham trusted God, and when God told him to leave home and go far away to another land that he promised to give him, Abraham obeyed. Away he went, not even knowing where he was going.

Would you do that? 

Abraham was up in years. He was in retirement phase, getting ready to hang it up and settle down and God said, “Get ready for the greatest journey of your life.”  One thing I have experienced personally is that when you live by faith it involves going, often to places you hadn’t any idea you were planning to go to. 

Growing, sowing and going…by faith!

Everything that God does in your life he does because of his mercy and grace and your faith.  He does it by grace through faith. 

  • Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
  • Matthew 9:29 (NIV) 29 “According to your faith will it be done to you”;

Jesus says you get to choose how much God blesses your life. 

A lot of faith – a lot of blessing. 

A little faith – a little blessing. 

No faith – no blessing. 

Your choice.

For the next 10 weeks we are looking at the life of Abraham and his journey of faith, come GROW, SOW and GO with us as we journey together in this life of faith.



Happy New Year!

Dear DSC Family,

I am entering my 27th year as a Pastor here and by now I hope you know how much I love you, pray for you, and want God’s best for you. You also know that through the years and through many struggles, weaknesses, and fears, God has been making me into a man of faith, so when I talk to you about growing, sowing, and going in faith, it is not theory or just words to me. It’s personal and profound.

In every step that I’ve led you to take by faith, I’ve watched you grow and become stronger, better, and more beautiful men and women of God. I could not be more proud of you. I am the most blessed man on earth to have the privilege of being your pastor.

2017 is upon us and this year is a year that will require great faith as we choose to pursue God’s purposes and plans for us.  This is an important moment, a sacred time, a time to make another faith choice.  It really is a simple choice…Will we be comfortable with where we are as a church and just ride out our existence or will we choose to step into a new era in our church’s history as God calls us to become a Great Commission Movement? 

I am not ready to pull back into comfortable, boring safety, and I don’t believe that is what you want either!  God has recently reminded me that our best days are still ahead of us, because as long as our hearts are beating it means that God is not finished with us! This is going to be a great year.  Say it out loud, hear yourself say it and believe it because it is the truth.

I am asking you to join me, to step out in high risk faith in every area of our lives. 
  • Step out in faith and pray for, invest in and invite people to relationship with God and His family.
  • Choose to put aside time for prayer, bible reading and journaling.
  • Continue to give sacrificially and faithfully as you fulfill your Daring Faith pledges.
  • Join us in our 28 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

elegant-happy-new-year-goldThis moment in history is your opportunity . . . to make an eternal difference with your time, talent and resources. . . to store up treasure in heaven . . . to build something that will outlast your life . . . and to be a part of a miracle. It will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Let’s go for it!

Happy New Year and let’s get ready to see God do amazing things among us.



Joy To The World

There was always a lot of proclamations surrounding Jesus. 

  • Declarations to foretell His coming.
  • Declarations to introduce Him when He arrived.
  • Declarations of who He was to those who did not yet know. 
 
Angels appeared to Shepherds proclaiming…
  • Shepherds told others…
  • Wise men left the comfort and safety of their surroundings and proclaimed…
  • The Christmas story is filled with instances of never keeping the discovery of the gift to themselves but proclaiming it. 

The declaration of Jesus is a vital part of the life of any believer.

We are introduced to Him by the declaration of others
We accept and believe that He is who they say He is and we declare our belief.
We pass on the good news by declaring it to others.

When we, just like the cast of characters in the Christmas story, encounter Christ or the proclamation of Christ there is always some sort of transformation that takes place that should lead to more proclamation.

The type of proclamation depends on the type of transformation that takes place. 

We are looking for radical, God-filled transformation. Transformation that led lowly shepherds to become preachers. 
Transformation that took some nameless country bumpkins and turn them into extraordinary world changers.
Transformation that made rich and learned men venture beyond the borders of safety because they knew that what lay beyond the horizon was worth chasing after.

Let’s face it though…
Proclamation of Jesus has become a dangerous activity today and if we are honest we much prefer safety than danger.

However if we are introduced to Christ and believe that He is the Son of God and receive him as our Savior and Lord then a transformation will take place that will require proclamation even when it is not so safe.

Jesus Himself tells us that we are to proclaim Him to the world around us even if they are not always open to it.

  • Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Does that sound safe to you?  No way, it is why Jesus had to say don’t worry I will be with you as you do this, because he saw the look of terror on their faces.

The shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men…these people that we have romanticized and made a
clean little story of were people who stepped out of their comfort zone and lived dangerous lives because they came face to face with God and it transformed their lives.  Ultimately that transformation led to the dangerous life of proclamation.

This Christmas season will you live dangerously and proclaim the good news.
christmasstories_eve
 
 Start by inviting someone to church with you and also invite them to our special Christmas Eve service on Saturday December 24th at 10am. 
 
Christ has come for the world to know!
 


A Culture of Refreshing and Honor

Quick question for you?

What does the Flash, the Encourager, the Cake Boss, the Negotiator and the Tabitha all have in common?  Don’t know?  They are all awards that we will be giving out on at our Grateful Gathering on Friday November 18th  along with many other awards.

November is the month we set aside as a month of thanksgiving and honor and so on Friday November 18th, starting at 6:30 pm we will be meeting together to celebrate the people who make ministry happen at DSC.  Everyone will be honored and some will receive special recognition.  If you have been invited then I ask that you make every effort to attend.

Speaking of thanksgiving have you taken time to write a note to someone and put it on the wall of honor?  Right at the entrance of the church auditorium there is a table with note cards on it and we are encouraging everyone to take some time and write a few notes of thanks and encouragement to people in the church family who have ministered to you personally or through their ministry at DSC.  We have also made available some gift cards that you can purchase to put in the Thank You note.  Simply take some time to write a note and then put it on the wall so that the person you are writing it to can come and get it. 

Another way of honoring people would be to write them a text of post on Facebook and tag them.  Let’s look for ways to publicly honor people and thank them this month.  It is such an amazing way of refreshing people..

 

  • Romans 2:10 (NLT) 10 …there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good…


Stopping ourselves short of God’s promises

 
We have been reading through Joshua as a church and I wanted to share an excerpt from my journal entry of Joshua 22.
 
Read Joshua 22 for the context of the story (along with Numbers 32)

“Got to admit that I read this passage and initially was on the side of the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manesseh, BUT I am reminded of a few things.

God’s inheritance was the land of Canaan. When these three tribes settled in the land
across
the Jordan from Canaan Moses was at first angry with them for suggesting this arrangement but then he agreed because he made them swear that they would fight with the rest of the tribes till the land was conquered. (Numbers 32) And if you read the account it never gave any indication that Moses consulted God on this decision.
 
They liked the land because it was good for raising livestock. Anyone remember Lot doing the same thing? This decision based on economics set them up to be far away from God’s temple and altar.
It disconnected them from the rest of God’s people. I see so many people like that today…they choose economic comfort instead of being close to God’s people.
Then they say things like, it wont affect us we will still be connected and so they set up artificial means for their children to remember God. An altar that is only a representation of the real altar. Guess what, it never works – the children begin to worship at the artificial altar rather than the real deal.
 
How often we do battle for the will of God to be accomplished and then choose to live on the border, outside of God’s appointed place of blessing?
How often we spend 28 days in prayer and fasting and experience God’s power and then promptly go back to living on the borders for the rest of the year?
How many people become Christ-followers and settle on the borders, not willing to trust God that in His promised land we will experience all that we need to live healthy and prosperous lives?
How often are we making decisions for our lives and our families based on the pay even though it means you will have to sacrifice your connection with God and His people?
 
These arrangements never end well for us. Don’t be like the Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manesseh who seemed to have done a good thing but they should have backed up further and made the right decision in the first place so that they did not have to build symbolic altars.”

Numbers 32:1-5 (NKJV) 1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock, 2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the country which the LORD defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5 Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.”



Building Bridges of Friendship in Our Community

 

Let’s face it, in our desire for the church to be vibrant, growing, and healthy, it sometimes can lead us to over-focus on ourselves, instead of the ministry the church does in the community.

Vital to our missional strategy of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere is the need to impact community residents regularly, repeatedly, redemptively and unconditionally.

When we as a church chose to live on mission, there’s a strong temptation to go in all directions at once. We realize there are so many needs and so many ways to help, but, it’s not the amount of activity that matters; it’s the impact we are having. We chose Rio Vista Elementary school to serve frequently, generously, and beneficially.  We have been cultivating this relationship for the last year and a half.

Now we are continuing in the process of serving for their benefit, not ours.  This is our way of building bridges of friendship and trust with our community.  We are not serving primarily to get people to join our church, but it does provide a context for us as believers to demonstrate the Gospel for those who, otherwise, would not experience it.

I recently read about a church who decided to adopt their city offices, offering free volunteers for any civic function. At first their offers fell flat. City offcials were skeptical that church members would manipulate this opportunity to promote itself and button-hook guests into one-sided religious debates. After months of saying “no,” the city had a need for volunteers they could not fill any other way.

When church members came and served without wearing church logo shirts, without hanging a banner advertising their service times and location, and without handing out ‘Come Worship With Us’ cards—the city was relieved. The church was invited back…again and again. Careful to love and serve the city for its benefit alone, the church developed a reputation for being authentic, caring, and generous.  Relationships formed. Trust developed. In time, several city employees gave their lives to Christ, and some are now regulars at the church.

Working As a Team

To become a vibrant church that reaches the community, we must work as a team.  We have people who have been building relationships with the school and its teachers and administrators and now we are hosting a block party to raise money for them.  We need you on the team to help put the block party on.  Will you join in serving our community so that we can build bridges of relationships and trust with our neighborhood and will you commit to praying for the people we will serve, that they will experience the love and grace of God through God’s people and that they will ultimately come into relationship with the Father.