2013

December 2, 2013

INTRODUCTION – Our role as witnesses and dot connectors. As weak as we are, God wants to use each of us more than we could ask or think.

But our limitation as converters – – we can persuade and explain and exhort; but we cannot convert. We cannot stop someone in their tracks and take their breath away, and cause their whole life to pass before their eyes. Only Jesus can do that. And the good news is He continues to do that. Continue reading Jesus – the Great Converter Acts 9:1-19

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INTRODUCTION – Last week we learned some lessons from Philip’s life and ministry regarding what it means to be a witness – noting that of the 20 or so references to the word witness or concept of witnessing in the N.T. – only one is in the form of a verb. In other words – the overwhelming emphasis in the N.T. when discussing the concept of believers witnessing or being witnesses of Jesus and His kingdom is being, not doing. We are witnesses – once we are born again and come into a relationship with the living God. The challenge is learning to be an effective one.

To help us all in that challenge I want to propose a new synonym for witness, and a new handle on our identity in Christ = Dot connectors. You and I are called to be dot connectors for the lost folk in our spheres of influence. Continue reading Wanted! Dot Connectors! Acts 8:26-40

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INTRODUCTION – One of the things we know about the triune living God of the Bible is that to Him “a thousand years is as one day and a day is as a thousand years.” (II Peter 3:8). He is not bound by time. He in fact created time. And thus when He first created man however many thousands of years ago, He could see into the 2nd century and the 10th century and the 16th century and even into the 21st century.
Seeing what He could see, and knowing what He knew – – He decided early on to produce – through the fingers of men – a collection of historical accounts and letters and songs and prayers and prophecies that we today call the Bible. While this – one of a kind collection was penned by 40 different men over a period of 1,500 years, we know from Peter’s second epistle or letter (1:16, 20, 21) and Paul’s second letter to Timothy (3:16) – – – that it has only one author; and that author is the living God. The clearest statement to this effect is II Tim. 3:16, which says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness – – so that the man (or woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” God inspired every word of it; and every word of it is necessary and useful to make us into the kind of people He can use to accomplish His purposes in the earth. Continue reading The Kingdom Advances in Samaria Acts 8:4-24

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September 10, 2013

“Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

There is a very intriguing passage in the book of Acts, (the historical account of the early church that Jesus birthed before He ascended to heaven), which informs us that the apostle Paul had an audience with a government ruler named Felix toward the end of his life. Here is what Doctor Luke – the author of the book of Acts says about Paul’s conversation with Felix, “But as he was discussing righteousness, self control and the judgment to come Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”

Now if you had an audience with a government leader, why would you discuss self control with him? Felix was not a Christian, nor a disciple of Jesus Christ. Well here’s my take on that and its relevance for us. Continue reading Why Self Control is So Critical to the Future of the United States

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Monday August 23, 2013

One thing that I have discovered later in life that I wish had been more clear to me in my first twenty years of life is that there are two kingdoms on planet earth that are in fairly non stop and violent opposition to each other; and every person on the planet is born into one of them and never escapes being its slave (see Jn. 8:34) until Jesus Christ rescues him or her from its chains and then places them in His kingdom (Col. 1:13);….. and that one of the mediums that fuels both of these kingdoms is music.

I didn’t journal in my first 19 years, so I don’t clearly remember when I began to listen to music and sing along with it on a daily basis…. But it probably coincided with the emergence of the Beatles and the Monkeys – – soon followed by groups like Blood Sweat and Tears, James Taylor, Chicago, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the Allman Brothers, etc., etc.. So from about age 9 or 10 for the next 10 years I was immersed in that world of music to the point that today – even though I intentionally stopped listening to those artists when I moved to CA a few months before my 20th birthday – – today if I hear one of those songs in a restaurant or coffee shop or grocery store – – I can still recite the lyrics. Continue reading The Kingdom of God and Corporate Worship

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August 18, 2013
INTRODUCTION – I’ve had discussions with enough of you regarding last Sunday’s service to know that lots of light bulbs were going on, and lots of questions were raised from all that we discussed. This morning we need to revisit some of those things and tie up some other things I sought to convey to you..
Before we discuss some of the subject matter – I want to set the record straight – – I do not have any Harry Potter books by my bedside. But I did win one once at Baywood Elementary – not by design…We were attending Caroline’s open house. And I think I won a door prize. I believe my wife sold it at a used bookstore a few days after I won it, so even if I had wanted to read it, my window for such was very short.

I want to review a few of the truths or principles we discussed last week. What got us going down this path in the first place was what happened in our service two Sundays ago. I felt right before that service – that the Holy Spirit led me to start the service off by reading Matthew 16:13-19. This may be one of the most tragically neglected passages in scripture. So let’s read that now for context:
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Continue reading A Biblical Theology of Music & Singing II

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August 11, 2013
INTRODUCTION – Jesus Christ – during His earthly ministry had an intriguing conversation with a Samaritan woman about worship (among other things). In that conversation He revealed that those who want their worship to be accepting and pleasing in the sight of the living God must worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” He repeats that phrase again to make sure she and we get it. You can read about it in John chapter 4.

One of the ways we have sought to apply this principle in our worship services is that we try to provide an environment wherein truth in all of its breadth and depth is valued and sought – usually in the form of a thoroughly prepared sermon or teaching; and we also try to provide an environment wherein revelation from the Holy Spirit is valued – usually in the form of a spontaneous prophetic word, scripture reading, tongue with interpretation, spiritual song, exhortation, testimony, etc. And we try to cover our worship gatherings in prayer in the days leading up to it. Continue reading A Biblical Theology of Music and Singing – part I

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“The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing – and then marry him.” Cher

“Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.” Albert Einstein

I’ve been fairly embroiled in the battle to strengthen and sometimes salvage marriages for the last 35 years or so. Sadly I’ve seen a few come to an end. But many have grown and strengthened – some have thrived. Continue reading Marriage and the God Factor

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July 28, 2013
INTRODUCTION – One of the things the Jews around the Jerusalem area in the first century were very proud about was the fact (in their minds) that they were sons and daughters of Abraham. Last week we focused our attention on how Stephen helped to bring clarity to the way they saw Abraham’s life and faith and calling as seen in vs. 2-8a of Acts chapter 7.

Whether we are talking about Jews or those who call themselves Christians – many in both camps tend to put their faith and identity in the wrong places. Their perception of what is required to please God and be in good standing with Him – or even who He is – is often not grounded in reality or truth, but is passed down from generation to generation – – and rather blindly and passively accepted as true.
An effective fisher of men or laborer for the harvest will discern in time – where the person or persons they are dealing with or relating to – have put their trust and security, who they really worship, and they will by God’s grace and power – bring these things to light. Most people – whatever faith they claim to belong to – have a really warped concept of God, don’t have a clue what grace is all about, and don’t yet see why it was so absolutely necessary for Jesus Christ to shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. Continue reading The Twelve Patriarchs Acts 7:8b-18

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July 21, 2013

INTRODUCTION – Last week we saw how desperately the world needs the church to produce men like Stephen, who not only are committed to serve the needy and the local church, but who also walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of Christ. We also saw that only when the church’s leaders stick to their priorities of devotion to prayer and the ministry of the word – – and only when the congregations devote themselves to prayer and encourage their leaders to stick to their priorities- – and also gladly serve to take some of the load off the shoulders of their leaders – – will these kind of Spirit filled men be produced. Man centered churches and church programs will never produce men (or women) who are full of the Holy Spirit, full of wisdom, full of faith and full of grace., and who can thus be God’s instrument for transformation in their cities.

And can I add here that ministries that only focus on meeting physical/material needs, and do not pursue the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their own personal lives – – these ministries or ministers will short change our communities, and will not accurately represent the God who loves and longs to invade our cities with His power and transforming grace. Any ministry done in the name of Christ must have people full of Christ doing the ministry. At least we should all be striving for that fullness.
Well today as we jump into chapter 7 we are going to take a good long look at this remarkable sermon or defense that Stephen gave, but before we do – I want to make sure you understand who the defense is being given to and why. Continue reading Stephen’s Sermon & Response Acts 7:1-60

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July 21, 2013

“Be good and you will be lonesome.” Mark Twain

“Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone. This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts and only asks to be loved.” Michael Jackson

I’ve been thinking about the so called goodness of man of late. Many still want to cling to its existence in spite of the ever increasing evidence to the contrary. Continue reading Goodness or Depravity? Some or all?

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July 14, 2013

INTRODUCTION – One of the patterns starting to develop in our journey together through the book of Acts is occasional progress reports or snapshots of the health and fruitfulness and impact of the early church
5 Progress Reports – Snapshots of the Health/Fruitfulness Assessments

Acts 1:14 “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

Acts 2:42-47 – They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Continue reading How to Multiply Disciples – Acts 6:1-15

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July 11, 2013

“I’m a Christian. But Muslims are misunderstood. Intentionally misunderstood. We should all be more like them. They make sense, especially with their children. There is no other group like the Black Muslims, who put so much effort into teaching children the right things,…they don’t smoke, they don’t drink or overindulge in alcohol, they protect their women, they command respect.” Bill Cosby

I’ve come to the conclusion in recent months that we who know and walk with Jesus Christ should stop using the word “Christian”. It only occurs twice in the Bible – once spoken by the unrighteous King Agrippa (Acts 26:28), the other time by the apostle Peter (I Peter 4:16). “Christians” occurs once in Acts 11:26. It is a word that is in my opinion not useful anymore in Western culture. Continue reading Christians or Disciples??

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INTRODUCTION – Not surprisingly, media outlets like the Atlantic Monthly in their June issue – – perhaps hoping to influence the Supreme Court’s any day decision re: marriage – – for sure trying to influence popular culture re: their view of marriage – – these media outlets of late – – have been predicting and proclaiming the inevitable demise or death of traditional marriage as we have known it.

In Liza Mundy’s cover article “The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss” several facts are stated in her introduction to substantiate her claims or conclusions or solutions – such as: 1. Americans are waiting longer to get married or are putting marriage off longer than ever before. The median age of a person’s first marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, up from 23 and 20, respectively, in 1950. 2. Rates of cohabitation ……. or couples living together without getting married have risen swiftly and sharply, …… and more people than ever are living single. 3. Most Americans still marry at some point, but many of those marriages end in divorce. 4. Having children before you marry – if you marry at all is becoming more common. Continue reading Why children and young people can look forward to a happy harmonious heterosexual marriage!

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INTRODUCTION – Progress reports or assessments of the early church = 2:42-27; 4:32-37; 5:12-16. 7 things from this passage, though really only 6 of them are signs or marks of a healthy church that concern us.

Signs and wonders at hands of apostles – vs. 12

Unity among the church – vs. 12b

Healthy reticence to want to join this group – vs. 13a

Esteemed highly or healthy respect by watching world – vs. 13b

Constant growth of new believers being added to the church – vs. 14

Peter’s anointing for healing was being especially sought out – vs. 15

People from cities around Jerusalem coming for healing and “all” getting healed – vs. 16
Continue reading THE PATH TO CHURCH GROWTH AND HEALTH – Acts 5:12-16

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June 16, 2013

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”….” The First Amendment of the United States.

I just skimmed through a file of letters to the editor and articles written by normal citizens, editorial boards, journalists, clergy, etc., during the Prop 8 battle here in CA some years back – all seeking to motivate Californians to vote no on prop 8 and thus to support same sex marriage. Interesting how many times “separation of church and state” came up in those letters/articles. In a number of cases, it was either explicitly stated or implied that we pastors and Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God are free to say whatever we want inside the walls of our church buildings, but in the public discourse we should only be observers because of what Thomas Jefferson said in the constitution about the Separation of Church and State. So freedom of speech applies to everyone in America except us I guess. Continue reading Secularism & the Separation of Church and State

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June 2, 2013

INTRODUCTION – Review of Last week – the early church in Jerusalem walked in a very full measure of purity, signs, wonders, unity, healings to the point where multitudes of men and women were constantly being added to the church and people from surrounding cities were bringing the sick and demonized to be healed and delivered. Even those who were unwilling to bow the knee to Jesus and join this fast growing powerful church respected them from afar.

Transition: Whenever a church begins to walk and minister in the power of God, the enemy rises up in fear and jealousy, and interestingly enough – opposition and persecution often comes through religious not secular leaders.

As we finish chapter five today – we are going to read about two back to back arrests of the apostles by the religious authorities. I believe the Holy Spirit led Luke to record these accounts so we could learn some things about how God defends His church, and how His church must respond when opposition and persecution breaks out. Continue reading The Church’s Defender! Acts 5:17-42

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June 2, 2013

“Life is…..like a B-grade movie. You don’t want to leave in the middle, but you don’t want to see it again.” Media Mogul Ted Turner

“It sounds so trendy, California….but I believe a lot of us feel a kind of hole in our heart – an unfocused ache that’s fixed by some people eating too much, for others with free base. In my case, I’m a romantic junkie.” One time leading Hollywood actress to USA Today

One of the strange things about our culture is how hard our media folk work and angle to interview people who have to be the epitome of emptiness. I have many more quotes like this of “successful” people. But my point is not to trash Hollywood, and there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with being successful. My objective is rather to use their easy to find quotes to illustrate a condition that is true of all of us – – and that is – soul emptiness and spiritual bankruptcy. Continue reading The Danger of Settling for Less

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May 27, 2013
I had already decided earlier last week that I would show a 3-4 min. video clip from Youtube by Toby Keith re: remembering our soldiers’ sacrifices for Memorial Day in our morning service yesterday. When I found out right before the service that my beloved uncle Newton had just died – a month before he turned 91 and a day before Memorial Day, I knew I had to dedicate that song and collage of pictures to him. Uncle Newton, my dad, and my other uncle Bill all served in the military. Uncle Newton lived a decent walk or a quick bike ride from the home I grew up in all my growing up years in Knoxville. He taught me how to shoot basketball with my left hand by humiliating me on the basketball court whenever I started beating him in horse (he would just shoot only with his left hand and make me do the same). Uncle Newton was my Sunday school teacher when I was in early high school years. He loved God, loved our nation, and loved his family and clan. He will be sorely missed.

I’m afraid my generation – and certainly the next one – come to Memorial Day with convoluted emotions if not an absence of emotion altogether. Many of us (excluding some who joined the military) have not fought in any war. If we have obtained our education in public schools we most likely have not given adequate attention to the history of our nation, which would include some history of the condition of Great Britain at the time when our forefathers and mothers chose to leave it for what would eventually become the U.S.A. (One cannot really understand the underlying foundational principles that formed the bedrock of our nation’s identity unless you understand the deteriorating conditions and ideologies that caused our forefathers to leave Great Britain in the first place). Continue reading Fighting for the Soul of our Nation – Happy Memorial Day

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May 18, 2013

“On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women.” Henry Louis Mencken – American writer, journalist of early 1900’s.

“Last night I was seriously considering whether I was a bisexual or not but I don’t think so though I’m not sure if I’d like to be and argh I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, ….” J.C.S. – contemporary female writer/artist/blogger.

Before I decided to use these two quotes, I looked at many others on the subject of sexes or gender. All confirmed why this subject has been on my mind so much this week, and that we have a real problem on our hands. Continue reading Gender – What’s the Big Deal??

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May 9, 2013

After two weeks of roaming the streets of Israel, there are a number of lasting impressions Anne and I had. One of them for sure is the abundance of children we witnessed everywhere we went. The birth rate in Israel is around 3.5, which puts it far ahead of much of the world – especially in the West where the birthrate continues to drop. It was also a great joy while there to Skype with our son and his precious wife and hear she is pregnant! Go Marina!

One of the reasons the birth rate continues to drop in the West is because of the erroneous idea that the world is being over populated and it is going to explode if we don’t exercise some restraint. On March 1st, the L.A. Times reported, “Nearly two-thirds of American voters believe that human population growth is driving other animal species to extinction and that if the situation gets worse, society has a “moral responsibility to address the problem,” according to a new national public opinion poll. Continue reading Give Us More Multiplying Mothers!

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May 8, 2013

When I was a few months away from my 20th Birthday I made a very desperate and seemingly unwise move from my beloved family and home in Knoxville, TN to San Jose, CA. I only knew one person in the western 2/3rds of our nation, but I was very desperate, and needed an overhaul in the way I thought, operated, and looked at life (including the way I perceived God). Soon after I moved there, having my social networks all removed from me, I began to seriously read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time. Because of all of the failure I had experienced in most areas of life by that point, certain verses in the Bible became very precious to me. One of those in particular is Lamentations 3:22,23 wherein Jeremiah the prophet says of life and its God, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Continue reading Banking on God’s Covenant Faithfulness

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This was an address I gave at a regional retreat of our association of churches a few years back.

INTRODUCTION:
My journey:
– Born and raised in a So. Bapt Church – no significant mention of H.S. that I can remember for 19 + yrs
– Navs – 3 yrs.; Bible church in San Jose for 4 yrs. – – minimal emphasis
– Dallas Seminary – there for 6 yrs; Attended a Chinese non/anti charismatic church for 1st 2 yrs; Then an Evangelical Non charism. Church for the last 4 years. Minimal emphasis on positives; warning of negatives re: Holy Spirit
– Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand 3 week vacation in missionary place Continue reading Knowing God the Holy Spirit

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April 7th, 2013

INTRODUCTION – Thursday morning at 1:30 fumbling to find my cell phone…. finally had to turn my little bedside lamp on to find it at which point I was greatly relieved somehow– but my poor wife sat straight up in bed and …..

Sometimes when the light of Christ invades the darkness of people who do not yet know the Lord it jolts and shakes them. Sometimes they greatly resent it, but without this precious light – individuals are at the mercy of the Destroyer, and by the way he has no mercy. Without this light – families crumble; communities are torn apart by all the things darkness specializes in like crime and addictions and greed and exploitation of the weak and vulnerable. Without the light of Christ there is no hope that anything can ever be different than it presently is. Continue reading Brightening Our Light – Acts 4:1-37

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March 2013
This morning – for the first time in my 20 Easters here at LOCF – we are going to have an easter egg hunt – right here in our sanctuary. We have hidden a number of eggs inside our building; and each egg has both something delicious to eat; and something for us to chew on as to why we have come together in the first place. To be more specific – inside each egg we are going to find some clues to some answers to two questions re: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First – did it really happen? And second, if it did, what does that mean for you and me? Why does it matter?

So to answer those questions – we need to find some eggs – and to find those eggs I need some egg finders. Could all of the children in the sixth grade and under come down here and sit with me on the floor? Continue reading The Resurrected and Ruling – Jesus Christ – Easter Sunday

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