Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Seek First God's Kingdom

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Grace and peace be to you from our God and Father and our Savior Christ Jesus. Easter is Sunday, April 20.  

As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection to our redemption, let us commit to consecrate ourselves to the kingdom focused living described in Christ's Sermon on the Mount. In particular, if we will apply Matthew 6:24-34, we can quell the all-encompassing anxiety over life’s daily necessities that is fueled by the ever-elusive American Dream and achieve such a consecration.

Our victory over anxiety begins when we understand that to consume ourselves with the necessities of life is to lack trust in God’s providential care and to turn a blind eye to nature’s testimony of His splendid sufficiency. Our victory continues when we understand that to consume ourselves with the necessities of life is vain for by doing so we cannot extend life nor improve upon its quality. Our victory continues still when we understand that to consume ourselves with the necessities of life is to misappropriate God-given time, energy, and resources.

So let the Holy Spirit manifest this victory in us now by entrusting ourselves to God’s care in which all self-sufficiency is removed and we find our identity and security in Christ instead of our self-achieved earthly status. Let us also tithe our time, energy, and resources for kingdom good first that the Lord may bless us according to His promise.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

An Open Letter to My Denomination: Have We Lost Our First Love?

Morality cannot be legislated as it is a product of the renewal of one's mind's by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling our hearts. Our nation and world can only be changed via the gospel.  Is Christ our first love?  Are we making evangelism top priority?

An Open Letter to My Denomination: Have We Lost Our First Love?

Four Occasions When You Should Not Respond to a Critic

It is a proven truth that a good preacher will always step on your toes.  That is, you will feel that he is preaching directly to you each and every week.  But there is yet another related truth, everyone has an opinion about how and where the church should be led.  Couple these things and you have ripe conditions for criticism.  Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, encourages leaders that criticism is normal and even warrants reply when the scenario is redeemable.  But as Proverbs repeatedly states, there are times when silence is golden.  Read Rainer's article below.

Four Occasions When You Should Not Respond to a Critic

Gungor's "Beautiful Things" LIVE Experience!

I have always been fond of music done differently and with great creativity. Gungor does just that for Christian music.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

" A Tale Of Two Souls" By Jackie Hill (@jackieehill)

I came across this video after hearing a tale of religious persecution from at a local school.  I thought I would share it as an encouragement for young believers everywhere.  Young believers, Christ remains relevant even today.  But He told us in John 16-17 that the world would not like us for it did not like Him.  But as Paul says (2 Cor. 4.17; Rom. 8.18), enduring the afflictions we experience in this life in a God glorifying manner warrants for us great eternal comforts in the life to come.

See also:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Priesthood of the Believer: Prioritizing Your Created Purpose

From a church newsletter issued Fall 2013:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13
            Fall is officially here with its dazzling changes in foliage, the celebrating of the harvest, and the settling back into our regular routine of school, work, and church.  Now that, both our pews and our calendar are filling up once again I hope the passage above will remind you of a key Christian doctrine, the priesthood of the believer. 

In short, this doctrine states that God has made you a member of Christ’s universal Church—and your local church—to play a vital role in engaging the faith and engaging people for the glory of God!  Without you, the Church, local and universal, is weakened just as when the members of your own body are lost or impaired. 

So as you prioritize your schedule this fall, be sure to put God first and your priestly service in His Church close behind.
Pastor Daniel
A solemn message is on the hearts of pastors across our nation. The message is that the Christian era of the U.S. is now a bygone; a page in our history books. We are now in a post-Christian era in which Christians no longer enjoy a mainstream status.

But there is a silver lining. The historical record shows that it is in such times of persecution and adversity as these that the church has grown the most. We have been praying for a revival in the church for a long time. I believe the LORD is answering that prayer, albeit most mysteriously through the deprivation of our mainstream status.

Though I have described them briefly for you here, I encourage you to read the articles linked below for the full breadth of this message.

The first article describes our new reality in great detail and then calls us to action. It calls us to prepare our hearts and souls to be society’s laughingstock as well as to strengthen our resolve not to cave to the pressure to make Christ more palatable by weakening the gospel.

The second article reminds us that such steadfastness in the faith is impossible to achieve by legalism. Rather, we must depend wholly upon God’s grace both personally and in relating to the lost, especially our persecutors.

The final article reminds us that being the salt and light of the earth is best achieved by reaching the lost first and countering culture second. This is to say, that the only way for self-worshipers to become God-worshipers is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

My brethren, let us therefore renew today our commitment to be unashamed workmen donned with the armor of God. May we also find solace in the words of the psalmist:

They almost destroyed me on earth,
But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.
Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth. - Ps. 119:87-88
The titles below are in part my own summary descriptors and may not reflect in total the personal thoughts of the related article's author.

1. Christians Are No Longer Mainstream: Prepare For And Embrace Our New Reality

2. Dr. Billy Graham’s Grandson Emphasizes Grace Over Legalistic And Moralistic Performance

3. Dr. Thom Rainer’s Open Letter: Let Us Return to Our First Love

Pastor Daniel

Prayer & Fasting: Thoughts From Scripture & Church History

I found Ronnie Floyd's The Power of Prayer and Fasting: God's Gateway to Spiritual Breakthroughs (Revised & Expanded) to be particularly inspirational and insightful over these past several months as God has had me on a journey to a deeper, more vibrant prayer life.  The Holy Spirit has coupled this book with a fresh hunger for Psalms to bring about a truly wonderful season of rejuvenation and spiritual growth.  A number of life and ministry circumstances have also played a role.  Yet in hindsight, the LORD, in His infinite wisdom, graciously prepared me for them via the journey.  Either way, I'm the better for it.

The following thoughts are drawn from Rev. Floyd's book though their organization here is mine in part.  I have used quotation marks and references to give proper credit where due. 

History’s greatest church leaders share a single commonality: "they answered the call to prayer and fasting permitting God to show them much more of what He wanted to do with and through them." Andrew Murray, an imitable missionary to South Africa, wrote of surrendering to this call of God:
...[God] has created the sun and the moon and the stars and the flowers and the trees and the grass; and are they not all absolutely surrendered to God?...And God’s redeemed children...can you think that God can work His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? God cannot do it...God delights to communicate Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him. This one lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. (Floyd, 101-02)
(Andrew Murray, Great Evangelical Teaching: Absolute Surrender (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 718.)
In preparation for your surrender to God’s call to fast and pray, I encourage you to "read Isaiah 58:6-14 as therein God makes 22 promises regarding this worship act. Jot down those promises, then watch God fulfill them as you participate." An old hymn reminds us that these promises have been fulfilled to many Bible champions who surrendered to this same call:
The glory of these [seven] days we celebrate with songs of praise; for Christ through whom all things were made, himself has fasted and prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw the loving God who gave the law; and to Elijah, fasting, came the steeds and chariots of flame. So Daniel trained his mystic sight, delivered from the lions’ might; and John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became the herald of Messiah’s name.
Then grant us, Lord, like them to be full oft in fast and prayer with thee; our spirits strength with thy grace, and give us joy to see thy face. Father, Son, and Spirit blest, to thee be every prayer addressed, who art in threefold Name adored, from age to age, the only Lord. (Floyd, 108-09)
("Hymn," The Magnificant, February 27, 2009, 371.)
You may find Ronnie Floyd's book at:

Pastor Daniel