Ministry Blog

That small word
May 24, 2018

In 1 Cor Chapter 12, Verse 28, there is a list of spiritual gifts. In the middle of that list is the word “Helps”.  The original word for this in the greek is “antilapesis” meaning “the rendering of assistance or relief.” In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful word/ideas in the bible. The principle here is actually to help, to move from thought or idea into action. The book of James, he states that having faith without putting it into action is the same as the body without its spirit, completely dead.

1 Corinthians clearly shows us that we all have a gift from God and it’s not just the five fold ministry. Once a believer catches the spiritual principle of assistance (or helping), it truly doesn’t matter where they assist. God places His anointing upon them for that cause. God places His empowerment, sealing, and invigorating anointing upon the individual for the work of the ministry. It seems to be what people miss; helping, assisting, getting involved and representing Him is God’s plan for us, and for the ones, we are helping. So, He is more than excited to empower us for Kingdom success.

So when was the last time we just helped out where you were needed? When someone asks if we can help clean up the café or sweep the bathrooms or one of a million things it takes for a church to run, did we say yes? When the Holy Spirit drops a thought in your head, to blow off the parking lot of the church with the new blower we just bought; don’t just think about it take action.

So, rise up, o servant of the Most High, step out into faith and the anointing of God. Whether it’s in the church nursery, cleaning the church or helping in the local soup kitchen, bottom line we are called to the ministry of HELPs.

 Selah (pause and meditate)

Ministry Blog

Inventors in Faith
Jul 09, 2017

Our family recently moved into a new rental house and as we were getting ready to close the front door for the last time I said, "Why don't we do one last once-thru."  I'm not sure if I coined the phrase "once-thru" myself or if I heard it from someone else and stole it, but it started when we were itinerating as missionaries in 2002.  During that year we booked an average of 22 appointments a month with churches and pastors to explain our vision.  This meant that is was necessary for us to be on the road about four days a week living in hotels.  

Our first two children were only two and three years old at the time and so we had a ton of toddler accessories to load along with our luggage.  Many of these accessories would be shoved down into the sheets of the hotel bed, or under the bed, or down inside the pillow case, or in the bottom of the bathtub or even tossed into various garbage cans for no reason whatsoever.  It was a pain to buy new accessories at every Walmart along our tour so we worked hard to preserve as much as we could.  So each morning before we jumped into the mini-van I began saying "Let's go through the hotel room one more time."  After saying this a hundred times it turned into, "Let's do a once-thru."

There were many more inventive ideas that came out of that unique time in our lives, and we have passed on all our little tricks of the trade to other evangelists and missionaries.  Being in a position of desperation is a great motivator that God has used repeatedly in the lives of believers to compel them toward change and perhaps even miracles.

The Bible says that there was a woman who had suffered from bleeding for many years and used all her money to find a cure to no avail.  She was desperate.  

Mark 5:27 says "When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was free from her suffering."  

To this point there is no record of anyone being healed by simply touching the garment of a spiritual leader or prophet.  This does not mean it had never taken place, but according to biblical records it wasn't common practice.  The disciples were certainly not expecting someone to try this because they said to Jesus, "You see the crowding against you, and yet you ask 'Who touched me?'"  Even Jesus seemed surprised and caught off guard that power had left him.

This woman's great faith was an original idea birthed out of her desperation that compelled her to think outside the box.  Jesus seemed to love this kind of faith, not only from this particular woman, but also the Roman Centurion who honored Jesus' authority to heal, as well as Zaccheus the tax collector who humbled himself and climbed a tree to see Jesus pass by.

What is even more incredible is how this one act of faith inspired many others to attempt the same thing that is later recorded in the next chapter. 

Mark 6:56 says "And wherever he went into villages, towns or countryside, they placed the sick in the marketplaces.  They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed."

We have a tendency to look at our suffering myopically which means you might be narrow-minded and short-sighted in how you perceive your situation.  We often think to ourselves, "I am the one who is suffering therefore I should be the center of everyone's compassion and attention in order to help me."  But God's pattern to bring about change in our lives is to use desperation rather then comfort to get our attention.  

Your faith to survive a difficult journey could inspire others to have the faith for their own circumstance.  Be an inventor and a trail blazer of new acts of faith!  You might open the door for hundreds or even thousands to be blessed because of your courage!

~ Pastor Robert
 

Ministry Blog

What kidney stones make us think about
Jun 12, 2017

I was preaching a sermon recently on a Sunday morning and I began to feel an excruciating pain in my back while I was on the stage at the church.  It was extremely difficult to concentrate, but I kept going while whispering to myself, "Just don't pass out in front of everybody."  I don't know if it was an adrenaline rush but somehow I made it to my closing prayer and grabbed a bar stool chair and gingerly sat down next to the pulpit.  I could tell that everyone was concerned for me, perhaps because I was pale and perspiring profusely.  I dismissed everyone and walked down the stairs off the platform and sheepishly told my compassionate wife, "I think I need to go to the ER."  

Wives are so intuitive and she said, "I think you have kidney stones again."  Just the words 'kidney stones' made me sick to my stomach as I remembered passing two of them seven years earlier while we were living in Modesto.  Some gracious friends helped me out the back door of the church and several members waved at me as we drove away in the car to the hospital.  My wife was trying to encourage me by saying, "Well the preacher in the movie, 'Heaven is For Real' didn't even make it through his sermon when his kidney stones started passing, so you must be really tough!

In that moment I didn't care about being tough, I didn't care who heard me moan and groan.  I didn't care if my shirt was tucked in or if I looked presentable or not.  All I cared about was focusing on the pain until I gave birth to three baby stones.  I was caught in a sort of time warp in which everything slowed down like pressing slow motion on my DVR.  At the hospital they gave me an I.V. and some powerful pain medications and I rested in the hospital bed for several hours until they had completed all their tests.

There are moments in our lives when the world stops.  Most of the time life is rushing by, and before you know it you have gray hair and your kids are walking out the door to go to college.  But the world seemed to stop when we received the news from a CHP Officer at our door in 1990 that my sister Jeni had passed away.  The world seemed to stop again when I got married and when our first child was born.  There have been many days of crisis as well as joy, and the world halted on every one one of them.  Each one is a surreal experience, in which a wide range of emotions, including the feeling of shock, overwhelmed our minds and hearts to the degree that nothing else in the world mattered.

Regardless if you believe that Jesus will come back a second time or not, there will be a world-wide moment of shock when a loud trumpet will sound from a high ranking angel.  In an instant, a dramatic transformation will take place that I imagine will be the greatest 'rush' of our existence.  Even though we will live in paradise for millions of years we will all tell our story over and over again of what we were doing when we were grabbed by the Spirit of God and literally thrust up into the clouds.  There will be many people who will still be on the ground dealing with their own version of shock as they become aware of the fact that people have disappeared!

Ironically, throughout biblical history and the history of the church there have been very few moments in which God displays His power with 'shock and awe.'  More often than not, his miracles are subtle and his power is displayed through human compassion rather than with lightening bolts.  But in the end, he will let loose with all of his power and the world will tremble.

As a young man I used to wonder what it would be like to graduate high school, get married, have babies and how long I would live before I die.  For my 10 year old son, nothing else exists in his short little life except waiting for the day he is allowed to have a cell phone.  One day he will get it then worry about something else.  All of our dreams seem distant but eventually they come.  All of our fears of crisis, the longing for special days, the wonder of any first time experience bring shock and perhaps awe.  This is life, and it's exhilarating to live it everyday.  

Yet most people dread the thought of heaven because somewhere in the history of the universe they got the idea that if we live in a perfect environment then life will be boring.  But I think we will still have surprises, moments of shock and awe, as we explore a new world and fill the universe.  Scientists tell us that it would be a huge waste of space if the only life in the galaxy is on our planet.  If we filled the earth with seven billion people in under 10,000 years, how long would it take us to make a dent in the universe after the first million years of eternity?

It's funny what kidney stones will make you think about.

~ Pastor Robert
 

Ministry Blog

Adapting to a Shift in Kingdom Culture
Jun 10, 2017

I have friends who regularly remodel their home every few years, simply because they're bored with the old look.  The furniture, wall hangings and trinkets could easily sell for retail prices in any mall, but they've stared at it all long enough and it's time for something new.  Of course, we love getting all their hand-me-downs, so when they announce they're making another change we selfishly get excited to inherit their junk.

It has been my observation that there are those who are energized by "change" and those who abhor it.  There are thousands of epic war stories in the church community in which the "Contemporaries" battle the "Traditionalists" every Sunday morning.  After years of studying these shifts in religious paradigms I have come to believe that we need to tweak our semantics for clarification.

First of all, there is a big difference between the words "kingdom" and "church."  Not every church is part of kingdom culture.  Kingdom culture is dictated by the moving of the Holy Spirit to bring about change, revival, cleansing, anointing, restructuring, releasing or even closing.  We have to discern what God is doing and adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for believers to differentiate between adapting to the "new thing" God might be doing in the Kingdom versus churches who make changes simply to adjust to pop-culture.  This is more than just a generational battle although it can seem that way.  For example, the old-timer who says they don't like "change" may not realize that they are not only resisting pop-culture, but also the changes being introduced by the Holy Spirit to do a "new thing" in the Kingdom.  

We can't perceive all change as evil because God himself invented the concept of change.  As we all know, Jesus was the greatest example of a shift in Kingdom culture.  Nearly of all his peers involved in religious leadership resisted the changes instituted by the Father, and subsequently missed the new thing God was doing in regards to salvation, grace and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I have challenged myself to discern and embrace the changes that God wants to bring into the Kingdom.  Each new generation must be careful to share the gospel in relevant ways without falling in love with the world.  It's a fine line with semantics, but for all those who hate the word "change" I present a new word that might be more palatable for you, and that's the lovely word, "adapt."  God himself never changes, but he loves to do a new thing and we are compelled to adapt to his pace, his timing - his new vision.

~ Pastor Robert
 

Ministry Blog

Eating Pizza Watching the End of the World
May 10, 2017

I was sitting down with my family at a local pizza restaurant and on the wall mounted television was a report regarding a group of people who were protesting a crime that had been committed in their town.  My teenage son mumbled to himself, "C'mon people, can't we just all get along?!"  I responded to him by saying, "Son, the spirit of the antichrist is loose in the world, and things will only get worse."  Now most people might think that is a morbid response filled with doom and gloom, but I have raised my kids to know the difference between personal faith, kingdom hope and the end of the world.  Many believers get those three perspectives confused.

In spite of the fall of the local economy or even a national recession, God can still work in your personal economy to bring provision and even blessings.  This kind of personal faith is at work regardless of current news reports, the Geo-political environment or those affected by 'hard times' all around you.

In the same way, the Kingdom of God will march forward no matter what the enemy tries to do to defeat it.  Christ told us, "Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."  Even though many religions around the world are growing and we face periodic corruption in the church, the Body of Christ will flourish because of our kingdom hope.

Now the end of the world is another matter.  Up until the time of the end, the spirit of the antichrist is already at work in the world (as mentioned in 1 John 4:3) even before the actual person of the antichrist rises to power.  So when I told my son that "things will only get worse" he understood my other teachings that we can still be blessed as a family and our church will continue to grow even though all around us we see the world progressing toward absolute selfishness as described in 2 Timothy 3...

"...There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..."

So as we finished watching the news report I told my family, "Guys, there are groups within every culture that are angry, but it doesn't mean that the entire culture is angry.  You must be careful to not allow yourself to become prejudiced toward any culture or people group based on a few angry people who might give that particular group a bad reputation."  But in my heart, I knew that this anger and prejudice we see in the world will continue to grow until the end times, because God prophesied how corrupt the world will ultimately become.

As believers we are called to rise above all this and be a shining light of hope that tells the world that the Kingdom of God (the church) is still relevant, bringing good news in a dark and angry world.  We are citizens of a higher kingdom, and we must resist the temptation to join the polarizing angry rhetoric that is consuming our society.

~ Pastor Robert

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