A Pastor’s Prayer

I remember the day God called me to serve Him by serving His people.  I was 16 and I was sitting in my room reading and I heard someone call my name, but there was no one around.  I thought one of my sisters was playing a trick on me and I went looking to see where they were hiding – but no one was there.  This happened two more times when I had a déjà vu moment – wait this was the whole Samuel story.  So I stopped and said, “God is that You.”   Turned out it was and on that day God told me He had a plan for my life that involved serving Him by serving His people.  Took me a few years to say yes but ultimately I did.

 

Flash forward seven years and I am getting ready to graduate from Bible College and God spoke to me through a prophet named Bob Laflin and said, “Gary you will not return to the islands, but God has set aside a group of people that you will minister to here.”  In that moment I saw the faces of people flashing across my mind – in the 30 years since I have seen many of those faces come through our ministry.  That was my calling.

 

Thank you for walking with me in the last few weeks as I contemplate and process 30 years of pastoring at DSC.  Today I want to share the last of the three things I feel deeply about that Paul talks about in 2 Thessalonians 1. I resonate with these three areas that Pastor Paul mentions.

 

A Pastors Encouragement.

A Pastor’s Concern.

And closely related to a Pastors Concern is a Pastor’s prayer…

 

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NLT2)So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.  Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

I have a picture of the people I shepherd as being my daughter and one day I am going to get the honor and privilege to walk her down the aisle and entrust her to her bridegroom.  Paul tells us that the church is the bride and Jesus is the groom, the shepherds are the ones who are preparing the bride for the day when she and her groom will be wed.  My responsibility is to ensure she is ready for the groom – that is all at once a great honor and an overwhelming responsibility. 

My prayer for those I lead is that they will live a life worthy of the calling of God.  

That God would say they are living in a way that lives up to what He has called us to.  

 

I am praying that the people I lead will flourish in their faith and obedience and that they will understand the power that they have through the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that God asks of us, no matter how impossible it may seem. 

I pray that they will love God more than they love this world and the things that tempt them to forsake their love for Him.

I pray that the people I lead will live lives that honor Jesus and not just live for their wants and desires and that they will know how much they are loved by God and by me.

 

It has been a labor of love and a deep honor to Pastor every single one of you over the last 30 years, but the reality is I too want to live a life worthy of the calling of God on me.  



A Pastor’s Concern

I remember my first youth camp as a youth pastor.  I had taken about 10 kids to camp and they were driving me insane with their whining, pranking, and all-around teenage antics.  I remember walking through the snow one evening on the way to a chapel (a brief respite without the kids around) and I was complaining to God about how much I was struggling with “those” kids.  As I was complaining about a certain kid, (I can still see his face and even where I was as I was complaining to God) in an instant God opened up my eyes and heart and gave me a glimpse of how much He loved those kids.  I was overcome with emotion and fell to my knees in the snow and started weeping for them.  Ever since that day I have had a deep love for the people God has called me to shepherd.  This is actually a double-edged sword – to love deeply means that you can be hurt deeply – God knows I have experienced that way too many times to care to admit to. The thing that keeps you going is that you choose to not let it make you angry and bitter and you choose to allow the love of God for those people to continue to flow through you.

 

All that to say that when you love deeply you have deep concerns for the ones you love.  Here is how Paul says it…

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 (NLT2)And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.  When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. 

 

I care deeply for the people I shepherd – whether they believe it or not.  Whether I am physically present or not.  I suffer with you and anguish with you.  I have cried for you and contended for you.  I pray that God would provide you rest and refreshing.  I pray for showers of blessings spiritually and materially on you.  I pray that you will experience His best life for you.

 

The crazy thing is that when I pray those things for you and God blesses you, a lot of times it causes you to move away from God and His family.  You get so busy with the blessings you neglect the God who made it all possible, and you don’t have time for the family and shepherd who has covered you and cared for you – even from a distance.  A lot of times people say that I am not there for them but the truth is they are in my thoughts and prayers as I contend for them.  

 

A pastor’s concern is always for the well-being of the people he shepherds, and it has not been any different for me.  To all those I have shepherded over the last 30 years (and they are in the thousands) and continue to shepherd, I love you and pray God’s richest blessings and favor over your lives.  May you prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers.  May you be the first and not the last, head and not the tail.  May He cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace. May He bless your goings and comings and may the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest and abide upon you both now and forever.



A Pastor’s Encouragement

 

How the years have flown by! I cannot believe that as of July 1,2020 I have pastored at DSC for 30 years.  I am not that old!  

 

What memories I have – all of them centered around relationships with people.  Thinking back through the years, what I hold dear has nothing to do with cultural markers of success such as a big church or big buildings, or books written etc.  (These were all things I thought were important when I first started).  No, what I hold dear are the relationships I have had along the way.  

 

I have come to realize that everything that matters most in life is tied to relationships and especially as a pastor I have come to realize how much God has put a love in my heart for the people I have shepherded over the years – the ones who are here and the ones who have moved on.  

 

The next couple weeks I would ask that you would humor me as I share from my heart about three things a pastor feels deeply.  I identify with Paul in so many ways as a Pastor and in 2 Thessalonians he shares the three things that I resonate with.  Will you sit with me for a few moments over the next couple of weeks and hear from my heart?

 

A Pastor’s Encouragement

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:3-6 (NLT2) Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.  We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.  And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.  In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you. 

 

Nothing encourages a shepherd and pastor more than seeing the people they are pastoring flourishing in their faith.  Our goal as pastors is to help facilitate transformation; helping people be made in the image and likeness of Christ.  We want to see your faith flourishing – that is we want to see you choose to obey God’s Word even when the times are tough and it seems counter cultural and counter intuitive.  I recently had a person that I have been shepherding for a long time say, “I know it is wrong but I don’t care.  I know God does not want me to do “this” but it is too hard so I am not going to try.”  

 

These kind of statements cut deeply because you have spent so much time trying to help people understand and obey God’s Word.  You have walked with them and taught them God’s Word patiently and it can be so discouraging when they still choose to disobey.  You don’t love them any less, mind you, it is just so heart rending to see them choosing not to trust and see God’s best for them.

 

The encouragement is great when we see people’s faith flourishing – when we see them choosing to trust and obey God regardless of the circumstances.  It makes all of the hard times and disappointments worthwhile.  

Pastors are encouraged when we see your love for one another growing.  

We are encouraged when we see you trying to work things out and keep relationships intact instead of fighting and dishonoring one another and giving up on relationships.  

We are encouraged when you stay the course in spite of hardships you are suffering.  We boast about you to others because it encourages us so much.

 

For me as a Pastor of 30 years in the same location, I can say with all integrity that my goal is to see the people I shepherd grow into all that God has for them.  I love you all deeply and desire God’s best for you and when you choose to obey God I find such joy and encouragement to go another 30.  



Making Room for Jesus

Trouble at the Inn, by Dina Donahue

Wally Purling was 9 that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth.  Most people in town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up.  He was big and clumsy, slow in movement and mind.  Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which winning was important.

Most often they’d find a way to keep him out but Wally would hang around anyway–not sulking, just hoping.  He was always a helpful boy, a willing and smiling one, and the natural protector of the underdog.  Sometimes if the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would be Wally who’d say, “Can’t they stay?  They’re no bother.” 

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town’s yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, of beards, crowns, halos and a whole stageful of squeaky voices.  No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wally Purling.  They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that from time to time Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn’t wander on stage before his cue.

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn.  Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door.  Wally the Innkeeper was there, waiting.

“What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

“We seek lodging.”

“Seek it elsewhere.”  Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously, “The inn is filled.”

“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain.  We have traveled far and are very weary.”

“There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary.  She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest.  Surely you must have some small corner for her.  She is so tired.”

Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary.  With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

“No! Begone!” the prompter whispered from the wings.

“No.” Wally repeated automatically.  “Begone!”

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away.  The Innkeeper, however, did not return inside his inn.  Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple.  His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly, this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out.  “Bring Mary back.”  And Wally’s face grew into a bright smile.  “You can have my room!”

 Let’s be like Wally and give Jesus our room.

Let every heart give Him their room. 



Dare To Do Big Things for God

Last Sunday we shared the story of Agnes.

She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns.  There she taught for many years and became head mistress of a school.  In 1946, she received her call within a call to work with the poorest of the poor.  By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and trained in the nursing skills needed to carry out her calling.  She prayed, “O God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love.”  In 1997 Mother Teresa got that part of her prayer answered.

Would you say that what she did was wasted time and energy?  Did her one life make any kind of difference? Well she started the order called the Missionaries of Charity.  From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4500 sisters and brothers, over 800 homes and more than 1300 medical clinics that serve hundreds of thousands worldwide.  

Mother Teresa’s did not despise her one talent and bury it – she was faithful to use it and to dare to do big things for God.

 

We can do the same thing! Use what God has given us and dare big things!
God is generous. He has generously gifted you, so dare big things! 

As a person and as part of this church family.

What are you going to use to dare big things for God this season and in 2020?

Why not start with our Random acts of generosity!

Here is the challenge for this week…

  • • Buy a cup of coffee for the person in the line behind you in the drive through or in the store.  Give them the invite card – because that is part of the generosity – sharing God’s family with them.  
  • • Write someone an encouraging note with a gift card and put the card in the envelope as well.  
 
Let’s use what God has given us to make a difference in the lives of people for His glory!


Thanksgiving 2019

Tomorrow we are celebrating Thanksgiving.  Why not take a moment to fill in the following and share it around the Thanksgiving table…
 
  • What smell are you grateful for? What food are you most grateful for?
  • What book are you most grateful for?
  • What sound are you grateful for?
  • What place are you most grateful for?
  • What abilities are you grateful for?
  • What season are you most grateful for?
  • What about yourself you are most grateful for?
  • Who in your life are you grateful for?
  • What tradition are you grateful for?
  • What hard time in your life are you most grateful for?
  • What form of expression are you most grateful for?
  • What small thing that you use daily that you are most grateful for?
 

I am very thankful for the family at DSC.  I have been a part of this family for 30 years and it has been an amazing journey of love, laughter, tears, good times and hard times…and I am grateful for every part of it.  I love you all.   Have a great Thanksgiving.

Pastor Gary


BLESSINGS FROM HEAVEN

WHEN WE SAY WE ARE BLESSED, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

  • Luke 6:20-23 (NIV) 20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

 

To most Jewish people in Jesus’ time, the word “blessing” evoked images of…
  • a long life,
  • wealth,
  • a large, healthy family,
  • a full barn, and
  • defeated enemies.

 

But Jesus tells us that in order for us to be truly blessed and happy in this world it starts with an inward attitude towards circumstances – it needs to be one of unwavering faith in God

 

So many of us fall into the trap of thinking that happiness comes from
  • having great possessions, or
  • holding an exalted position, or
  • enjoying the pleasures and
  • popularity that money can buy.

 

But Jesus tells us that that no amount of “things” can substitute for a personal relationship with God the Father.  If we put God first and pursue relationship with Him then we enjoy our best life now AND then comes heaven (even more blessings!).  We can have our cake and eat it too if we would seek His ways first and foremost.

 

Circumstances, to a person who sees with the eyes of faith and the values of heaven, are not a hindrance to us experiencing joy and happiness. 

 

We are joyful in spite of because God is in control and He has our best interest at heart and that is attitude!

 

Are we growing up in our walk with God or are we still being babies and wanting to walk away from God when it seems like we are not experiencing life the way we want God to bless us?


Are you Gracist?

  • Galatians 3:26–28So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Racial tensions and discrimination is out of control in America. You and I, we can take sides and build walls; or we can be gracists and build bridges.
 
What is a gracist?
Racism: speaking, acting or thinking negatively about someone else solely based on that person’s color, class or culture.
Gracism: the positive extension of grace and favor on other humans regardless of color, class or culture.  From Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, by David A. Anderson
 
In Jesus, we are one.
Race, class and gender, how well you jump through man made hoops, all become secondary to Jesus.  
It’s not that they cease to exist. 
It’s not that we cease to be white or black, cease to be rich or poor, cease to be male or female.
It’s not that we cease to make mistakes…it’s just that those things no longer are reasons to keep us apart.
We reach across those divides, and we show favor to those who are different from us, just as God did for us in Christ.
 
This is the gospel of gracism:
God’s grace not only makes us acceptable to Him, but to each other.
God’s grace not only heals our relationship with Him, but our relationships with each other.
God’s grace not only bridges the divide between us and Him, but between “us and them”. Now it’s just us.
 
We as believers, should be leading the way in reconciliation because God led the way in reconciling us to Himself.
Let’s be gracist this week!


Putting Jesus First

Sunday we talked about putting Jesus first and that meant reordering your life around Him as the center and prioritizing what you have to serve His purposes first and foremost.
 
The challenge was to continually determine if He was first in your life by your thoughts and actions.  Take the test again today…
 

QUESTION 1:  Am I trusting and leaning on God or myself?

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) 5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
 

How am I doing on living out the reality of these truths?  Give yourself a score from 1-10:  1 being not good at all and 10 being I am rocking it!

  • God is the source of all good and He wants to provide for me.
  • I don’t have to worry because I believe that God will meet all of my needs
  • I trust God and then look to see how He wants me to partner with Him.
 

When we fully believe those statements we will live accordingly.  Our actions will line up with what we say we believe. 

So in the midst of trying situations we will not budge from the fact that God has promised to meet all of our needs and He will fulfill that promise. 
 
QUESTION 2:  Who or what is the object of your affections?
 

Our minds, like the needle of the compass, can focus on many things during the course of the day.  But in the end when it is left to settle it will settle on the objects of our greatest affection. 

What does your mind come to rest on? 
Put these in order of priority.
  • God
  • Your job
  • Your family
  • Your girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Athletic pursuits/Sports
  • Money
  • Personal accomplishments
  • Personal possessions
  • Other ______________________________________

   The person who serves no other gods but God will find that his thoughts usually swing around until they focus on God.  He thinks about God, meditates on his truths. 

He worships Him and sees Him in everything around him. 
 
QUESTION 3:  Who are you trying to impress?
 

Circle the one that is number 1. 

  • I live to please myself
  • I live to impress others
  • I live to impress God.
 
People who serve God alone will be controlled by what God wants for their lives.  They will find themselves asking God to reveal His plan for their lives so that they can do what He wants.  They will find themselves saying, “God I will follow you wherever it leads and no matter the cost.”  They will seek to see where God is at work and join Him instead of inviting God to join them, because they truly want to impress God and no one else.
 
QUESTION 4:  What are we living for?
 

We have only one life to live and at the end we will stand before God and give account for it. 

What will be the overriding theme of your life?  Another way to put this is to ask yourself, “What do I want on my tombstone?”  Take a moment to write that down.
 

Having done the test what do you need to do to make Jesus number 1?



BBQ Update

This last weekend we had our Family BBQ and it was a great success.  It was our desire to connect with 50 people who have never been to DSC so we asked the church family to invite their family and friends to the event, and many of you did.  At last count we connected with at least 35 new people on Saturday evening; there were more new people there, but those are the ones that we can account for having met and connected with.
 
Many of our guests commented on how much they enjoyed themselves and were blown away by the generosity of the church family and I had a number of church members tell me later that their friends and family who attended were more open to attending one of our Sunday services.  We are continuing to build relationships and looking for the opportunities to share the Good News with people.  Remember good works produces good will that leads to the Good News.
 
I want to say thank you to all of you who made this event a success: Debbie Dunn who spearheaded the evening, Layla who had such a passion and creativity for it, Justin Eaves who organized the activities, Adina who headed up the food, Michelle who invited everyone in Santa Clarita it seemed, and to every one of you who invited someone and who attended – thank you all for working towards fulfilling our calling to multiply Christ followers!
 
And the job is not done – this was only stage one.  We ask that you continue to invite those people who attended to come to our Sunday services and we ask all of you at the church to make Sunday mornings so amazing that people experience the presence and power of God in such a way that draws people to Him.
 

Have an awesome week and see you on Sunday. PG