A great way to grow closer to the Lord is to read His word, pray, and write down what He is teaching you! Many of the people at Paradise Calvary Chapel do just that and we get to share them with you here!
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”
Trust- One word with several different definitions and translations, which can help us daily to strive towards Christ-like lives. If we can trust in God, and others can trust us, we will be used for the glory of God.
As I discussed trust with my daughter, a few days ago we began to define what trust was and how hard it is to build once you have lost trust. I then found this quote, “trust takes forever to build, seconds to break and forever to repair,” (author unknown). This is so true; trust is such an important part of our everyday lives and our Christian walk that the book of Psalms hits on trust over 39 times alone. It is important that as Christians, people can trust us, and we also don’t put our trust in things that aren’t biblical or can hurt us.
I recently was watching a training video on how to build trust during a sales presentation, and towards the end of the 30 minute lesson the speaker took the opportunity to “slip the bible in.” Yes, I was shocked he was discussing trust and then he referred to verses in the bible that referenced trust.
This lead me to think, if someone who is giving a speech to hundreds of people in an auditorium and YouTube channels can “slip in the word of God” why couldn’t I? As I started to pray about this opportunity I soon learned that God is providing me opportunities daily to share my faith with dozens of fellow workers, and clients as I provide sales training. I started to ask God for the right words and time, and a few days later the opportunity presented itself and I leapt forward, and soon a discussion about Christ broke out with a small group and one of the attendees mentioned after the training, I needed that as she was going through a tough time.
My Prayer: Lord, help me trust you in every situation that your plan for my life will be competed. Help me be trustworthy in all that I do, and use me daily to share my faith. Amen.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
My family recently installed Google Home—a subservient little speaker with a lot of backtalk. It’s supposed to be a useful tool: it sets timers for when your meatloaf is done cooking, or plays your music of choice, or tells you what the weather’s like in Cabo...although it refuses to do half the things I request, giving the rude excuse: “I’m not sure how to help with that;” honestly, it unnerves me.
While I was at home one day, I began making a grocery list, even though my mother was already at the store. I’d call out, “Okay, Google! Add cookies to the shopping list,” and the word “Cookies” would fly across space, onto my mother’s phone screen. Eventually, after I had thoroughly scoured the kitchen and couldn’t think of anything else we needed, I had some fun and started saying things like, “Okay, Google! Add Sir Paul McCartney to the shopping list.” My mother came home a few hours later, dropped the armload of groceries in the doorway, and promptly apologized: “I went to four different stores, and not one of them had any of the Beatles in stock.”
Those kinds of silly requests aren’t unordinary, though. We frequently shop in vain:
“Okay, Google! Add a better career to the shopping list. Add more money! Add romance! Add another degree to my diploma! Add peace and quiet! Add more likes, more hearts, more thumbs-ups! Add a life with without family problems, better friends, better health, more time! The reply is always the same: “I’m not sure how to help with that.” Google won’t cut it. You can add to your grocery list all you want, but you’ll never fill a shopping cart enough to stock the pantry of your soul.
“You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes,” (Haggai 1:6).
David wrote that God is like a moth; He consumes what is dear to us (Psalm 39:11). He makes sure this world has as many holes as we do, so it’ll never fully fill us. Our Creator isn’t diabolically planning to leave us empty. He didn’t make temporary things satisfying is because He knew they wouldn’t last eternally. He allows—even intends—letdowns and disappointments because He wants to be the only thing remaining.
He says, “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away…” (Haggai 1:9). When distracting idols hit home, God’s breath—His Word, and our life source (Genesis 2:7; II Timothy 3:16)—removes anything that might take His place. He’s the rock that incessantly stands: eternal, unfailing, fulfilling. We don’t need to buy satisfaction because He bought us. We already have all we’ll ever need, and it’s something we won’t find anywhere in the world—not even in Google.
I have always been a very sarcastic person. Spend an hour with me and you will be sure to confirm this. Sometimes I will flippantly say things that I don't really mean, always in a sarcastic tone. Lately, my husband will reply to me, "You will give account for that to the Lord!" He will say this in a somewhat kidding way, but I will respond, "But the Lord knows my heart!" We may both be correct, but just because the Lord knows my heart, that doesn’t mean that everyone else does. Sometimes I speak my thoughts before I even have time to process them myself. If I am not careful, I might say something in jest that someone will take literally. I might hurt someone or lose my witness. Much of what I say in my sarcasm is completely unnecessary. In all honesty, almost all of the words we speak in a typical day can be deemed unnecessary.
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The Lord has been teaching me that I need to let Him lead my speech. I have never been great with words, so my sarcasm comes most easily and needs to be restrained. I am trying to take James’ recommendation and be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). I am learning to consider whether my words are necessary because “not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23). It is important to remember this also includes the words we text, type, and sing!
The Lord has also been teaching me that I need to let Him lead my silence. Sometimes what is more important than careful speech is knowing when not to speak. There are times when I am quick to offer someone advice when all they really needed was an ear to hear them. I have found that I have missed opportunities to get to know someone better because I did not give them a chance to talk. When I find myself in these situations, I try to remember that there is a time and place for both speech and silence—we just have to discern which is which. When I find myself in these situations, I try to remember that there is a time and place for both speech and silence - we just have to discern which is which.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:… a time to sew and a time to tear; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
On Dec. 12th of 2017 I had a complete knee replacement surgery. One of the unforeseen consequences was me being confined to my apartment for seven weeks after the surgery. Thank God for all the fine ladies at Paradise Calvary Chapel who visited me and brought me meals. I enjoyed their visits. My friends before I go any further, the pain I experienced, after the surgery was the worst I had ever experienced in my life. But one good thing resulted from the surgery, God sat me down and said “read” and “Pray.”
I have always loved reading and decided to do some research on Calvinism vs. Arminianism; that is, predestination vs. freewill. It did not take long before I ran across the writings of C.S. Lewis on the subject. Lewis is one of my personal favorites when it comes to Christian Apologetics, and I had always heard he was a classical Arminian so I wanted to investigate for myself.
I was pleased to find out that Lewis and I were in one accord on the subject of Arminianism vs. Calvinism. It turns out that Lewis’ conclusions fell on both sides of this issue, not because he was confused, but because he thought that it is mostly a non-issue. Lewis poses the argument then that if God created time then time has no effect outside of our existence, and the two views are based on time, therefore they are meaningless in the big picture. In the end I would say that if Lewis were alive today he would probably not commit to either view.
Furthermore, we can’t discuss God within the confines of time. God would not have foreknowledge or past knowledge of an event, he would just have knowledge of it—period. So our discussions of God’s omnipotence and omniscience can’t be done in a linear fashion. God is everywhere and knows everything, end of story. We can’t qualify it with words by saying God knows everything that is going to happen, because to God there is not a future linear time.
It is clear that God’s decision for us is the important thing, and even though we are given free will it is God’s grace that does so and without grace our free will would condemn us. What is important is that I strive daily to walk with God and have committed my life to Him. What is important are my relationships, first with God, then my family, then the rest of God’s creation. In my daily prayers I begin by affirming my commitment to God, then I clean house asking God to forgive me of any sins I may have committed and finally I stay alert for other pilgrims that I may help.
Psalm 121:7-8 “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.
It may come as a surprise to you but my kids are usually the ones to wake up before me. At the early hours of the morning I can hear one of my daughters calling me to wake up. That is, if she’s not already next to me “gently” slapping me on the cheek, saying “Daddy, get up, it’s daytime.” It is sweet but I hope mommy’s cheek is being poked next. All jokes aside, I do love it. Our kids are excited to start their day and the first thing they do, is wake up their parents. They want to talk and play. They depend on us to get them ready, fed, dressed, etc. Our girls are also eager to hear about the plan for the day (at least our older one, she’s four).
The relationship with my daughters has made me consider my relationship with my heavenly Father. Specifically the morning routine, or rather the lack of it. See, sometimes, me calling: “daddy” or poking God for attention doesn’t happen until way after breakfast, maybe even not until driving to work, or already half-way through my shift. I want to wake up excited to be able to pray to God again, just like my daughters want to talk to me. I want to eagerly seek God’s plan for the day. I want to await His instruction before I even climb out of bed. I want to be fully dependant on God every single day, as children are on their parents.
Naturally as the day goes on, so does the relationship. My kids don’t stop needing, wanting, looking for me around the house. Of course most of the time they just want to be fed. It seems there is no end to how much food my little one can eat. I want that same attitude toward God. I need to be running to His word and be fed. I don’t want to think any issue is to small to take to him. My girls certainly don’t think anything is to small. I don’t want to miss a chance to thank Him for taking care of me or an opportunity to ask for His help.
At last, as my girls go to sleep they are excited for the next day and so should I. Who knows what my heavenly daddy has for me? It is my prayer and intention to seek God first thing in the morning and have faith as a little child.
Matthew 18:3 “And said 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.'”
As I began praying about what I was going to share, I was preparing a lesson for the K-5 Sunday school class for Wednesday evening and it was on Psalm 136. If you know the Psalm, it ends each verse with the phrase, “for His mercy endures forever”. I decided that I was going to use this phrase to help me get through as especially trying trial that I was going through, a car with an undiagnosed engine problem. By doing this, it helped see the work that God was doing and not get frustrated worried, as I had begun doing in this situation. So here are some of the mercies that God bestowed on me.
- My car broke down in a grocery store parking lot. For His mercies endure forever.
- I got towed to the dealership at no cost. For His mercies endure forever.
- We were told that the repair may not be covered by the warranty and therefore a rental car would not be covered either. For His mercies endure forever.
- Because we only had the one car, I got to spend more time with my wife as she drove me to work and shared the gospel with coworkers as they drove me home. For His mercies endure forever.
- I was able to use two different family members’ cars while they weren’t being used on days that Crystal was working. For His mercies endure forever.
- There would be no opportunity for us to buy a new car at this time. We would have to wait on the repair, For His mercies endure forever.
- We got the update that they still didn’t know if the car fix or replacement would be covered by the warranty. This after the dealership maintenance department had torn the engine apart and had the car for 10 days. For His mercies endure forever.
- Continued opportunities to share about the situation at work and glorify the Lord. For His mercies endure forever.
This trial, as many do, have given me the chance to trust in him more and not lean on my own understanding of things. I don’t know how a car of so few miles can be having these issues, but God is in control of it and his everlasting love and mercy will take care of us. Repeating this phrase as different things happen to me from day to day over the past two weeks has made me more thankful of everything and much less worried and full of complaints. I have been able to have great conversations about Jesus with multiple coworkers and, more special, my sister.
The shop still has my car and I don’t know what the out come will be, but I know that through God’s mercies the outcome will glorify Him and provide for my family as He sees fit and not how I do and in that I will continue to rejoice!
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split…”
This week was Easter Sunday, a beautiful day of remembrance which we have to remember what Jesus did for us. To Christians everywhere, regardless of denomination, frequency of attendance at church, or even our walk with the Lord, we know what Easter Sunday represents: Jesus Christ, who came to this world over 2,000 years ago, who was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and healed all kinds of people, died for us. Then, three days later, He rose again and conquered death; He set us free from the grasp of sin and snare of death.
To those who aren’t Christians, Easter means nothing. In fact, when I was younger, all that my parents told me about the special holiday was that we got to hunt for eggs and get small presents, and sometimes see the famed Easter Bunny. In a lot of ways, I have fond memories of those days, when my innocence was still with me and I did not know the truth.
I found out what Easter was when I was 19 years old, nearly 7 months after I became a Christian: It’s to remember that Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death. I was flabbergasted. I literally had no idea. To those of the world, like me as a young boy, Easter means nothing more than another day. To those of Christ, Easter means salvation, resurrection, hope, joy, and peace.
It is important to remember on this special day what Jesus went through before He rose three days later. It’s intensely sobering that He died, though he was sinless, a terrible, painful death, for everyone. Jesus Christ left His home in heaven to come down to this place that we call home, for the main purpose of being with us.
That’s why He was born, died, and rose again. That’s the whole point of the gospel: so that we might have a relationship with our Creator, the God who created us. The beautiful thing about Jesus is that He lets us freely choose Him, knowing this is the only way to show that our love and faith is true. He did all of this because God loves us with a perfect love.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely; does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
This week, let us remember what He did for us, that He loves us no matter what, and that He will always pursue us because of His perfect love for us.
As I was driving the other day a song came on SOS radio. It was a song that I know and one that I think is good but this particular time as I was singing the song the words became very real to me.
The chorus goes like this...
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with You’re mighty hand
But even if you don’t
My hope is you alone
It really got me thinking about my life and what my family is going through right now. I thought... wow! Is this my perspective? Am I trusting the Lord even if He decides not to save me from the fire that I am walking through right now? Then I remembered the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. A story that I would say most Christians are familiar with. These three young men loved the Lord and trusted Him with everything. They refused to worship any other god and they were prepared to stand up for the One True God no matter what! They had no fear. Even when the King told them they would be thrown into the fiery furnace! Why? Why were they not afraid? Well, for one fear is not something that comes from the Lord. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ They were also not afraid because their hope was in God and God alone. They trusted that no matter what, God almighty would deliver them from the fire. But here is the kicker, they trusted God even if He chose not to deliver them. Listen to this...
If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.
Do you see that? They said: but if not.
My family has been going through what I feel like can be considered our own personal hell. I’m sure everyone has felt this way at some point in their lives. We are in the fiery furnace and I feel like the furnace is heated seven times hotter than normal. I am struggling. We are struggling. But this song, these scriptures, these young men remind me that my hope is in God. He is in control. He is right beside me walking through the fire with me. In all my experiences in life, God has always delivered me. My family and I, we are blessed. I know my God is able and I know that He can deliver me this time as well, but even if He doesn’t, my hope is in Him alone!
“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
Not so long ago, I watched a compelling, and perhaps horrifying, social experiment. It was about how far can a person be pressured by their peers into doing things they know to be unethical, immoral, and even illegal. Astoundingly, it doesn’t take much to get someone to do something contrary to their nature, especially when they’re just following the crowd or trying to please people; first with a few small innocent compromises, but each compromise makes the next easier. I realized that the experiment was a lot like sin, it never starts with a big and obvious evil, and thoughts of resistance can quickly be drowned out by the lie that if everyone else is doing it then it can’t be wrong.
There have been times in my life when I was able to stand up to pressure, that I looked towards the group and said “no,” unfortunately, there are also many times when I failed to do that. Sometimes it’s hard to be the voice of dissent in the crowd, especially when staying quiet is so much easier. That may have been what Peter was thinking before he denied that he knew Jesus three times, but Peter also experienced that sorrow of realizing he stood in the face of tribulation and failed (Luke 22:56-62).
This is a struggle everyone has to face, both in the world and in the Church, to do what’s right or to be complaisant. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say for certain where we will stand when faced with such a choice—even Peter was confident he would stay with Jesus—but we can prepare our hearts for when we do. Studying the Bible, and growing not only in our understanding but in our relationship with God is fundamental in standing for Him when we ultimately must make our decisions of who to follow; the world, or our Lord. Jesus never promised that following him would be easy—in fact he stated the opposite—but he did promise that whatever cost we face in this world, would be worth the price.
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.’” Luke 9:23-24
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Just outside of San Francisco, there is a beautiful green knoll that overlooks Half Moon Bay. As you approach it, you can see the glistening of shiny objects in the grass. But, as you draw nearer, you are overtaken by the thundering sound of hundreds of whirly-gigs spinning uncontrollably as the ocean breeze catches their delicate arms. It is the deafening sound of collective sorrow, of toys left behind for children who no longer need them - and that is where my beautiful grandson Micah lies.
Micah, our golden-haired, blue-eyed boy, died unexpectedly during his afternoon nap on Good Friday, 2017. While we might argue that 20 months is far too short a life – it was exactly the right amount of time for Micah to do what God purposed for him to do here on earth.
The day of Micah’s funeral, was sunny, beautiful and warm. It was amazing how many journeyed to support us – Christian and non-believers alike. One-by-one, friends of my daughter and son-in-law came up and said wonderful words about Micah and his impact. But the most memorable came when Micah’s Grandpa Morgan got up and proclaimed the gospel message to the hundred or so mourners. He spoke so eloquently and with such conviction that you could have heard a pin drop! I’ve thought many times since then what seeds were planted in that message that would not ever have been planted had this tragedy not occurred.
Through Micah’s extraordinary life and death, I have learned many lessons.
- Life is a gift, God has a plan, and we all have a purpose.
- Tomorrow is not guaranteed so make the most of every day, every encounter, and every opportunity.
- Our sorrow is not unique and because it is not – we can help others.
There are definitely seasons in our lives – and each season has purpose. In this season, we have suffered, grown, loved, been loved and God has provided. He has brought people into our lives that have suffered similar loss and as a result of our loss, we are able to be of kingdom service in giving others the great hope that we have. Because Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave we look forward to an eternal season in which there will be no tears, where we will be healed, and where we will dance!