Wednesday, May 6, 2015

THE CALL TO PREACH


I remember reading an interview with mega-church pastor and author, Andy Stanley, where he asked his Dad, mega-church pastor and author, Dr. Charles Stanley, about the call to preach.  He said he asked his Dad if a preacher had to be called, or could he volunteer.  Andy said he never felt a call to preach, but that he wanted to volunteer.  I don't recall what the answer to his question was, and I am in no way questioning the ministry of Andy Stanley.  I have been encouraged a great deal by his work in the ministry, and have learned from his teaching.

For me, it has never been a question of whether or not I was called to preach the gospel.  The question has been instead, have I always answered the call to preach the gospel.

I first felt the calling of the Lord to preach when I was only fifteen years old.  Just a kid, in ever sense of the word.  I felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit at church camp that the Lord was calling me to deliver His Word.  I remember thinking how foolish that the Lord would call a teenager to preach...but the stirring of the Spirit would not let go, until I let go.

But the call to preach was not the only call that I heard during those years.  The world was calling too.  

For several years I tried to answer both calls.  I lived with one foot in the church, and one foot in the world.  I held onto the Lord with my right hand, and embraced the things of the world with my left.  

As you can imagine, this double-minded lifestyle is not one that can last very long.  Something had to give.  Sadly, what gave was my commitment to the Lord and the preaching of His Word.

Over the next several years, my life spiraled out of control.  Eventually, I found my way back in a church service, and there the Holy Spirit really got a hold of my life.  The Spirit had been working all the time, but I was resistant.  I was the prodigal son, living life in the pig-pen, but not realizing just where I was.  Until that fateful morning.

Soon, the calling returned, which should not have surprised me, because I was familiar with what the Word says about the gifts and calling of the Lord in Romans 11:29, "...God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable."  In other words, no matter what I had done - God was not removing the call.  Now, I may have done things that would make the results of the scall less effective - and that is a subject for another time, but God was still calling me.

This time, after some counseling from my pastor, I answered without reservation, and so began what is now a 31 year journey as a preacher of the Word of God.  I have preached up and down the state of California in many churches and towns.  I was a pastor of one church for five years, and am now in my eleventh year of my second pastorate.

But guess what...this past year, after all this time, I began to doubt the call of God upon my life.  I have been going through a rough time, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  I found myself questioning the Lord - and not in a legitimate sort of way - I found myself questioning His goodness, and I found myself angry at Him.  I felt betrayed by people I loved, and most of all, I felt betrayed by God Himself.

Now the key word there, especially when it comes to God, is "felt" - just because I felt it - didn't make it true.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  After a wrestling match with the Lord, I pleaded with Him to just show Himself to me...to just show me, in the midst of this wreck that I called my life, I just wanted assurance that I really did hear the call - that I really was doing His will.  I didn't want to do this any longer, especially if He was not in it.  

What I love about what happened next, is that God didn't split the skies, or write on the wall, or send a prophet to my front door.  He did what He often does....through His Word, He spoke to me in that still small voice, that those who know Him recognize.

I read these verses the very morning that I had my shouting match with the Lord.  In 1 Timothy 4:7 I read the instruction that Paul gave Timothy, "...train yourself in godliness."  And then in verse 14, Paul says, "Do not neglect the gift that is in you..."

That morning, I wept.  I repented.  I worshiped.  I praised God.  I realized that I had been focused not on the One that had given me such a gift and calling, but that I had been focused on the pain that I was in due to what I was dealing with in my life.  Don't misunderstand me, the pain was real, the problems are real, the issues are real - and they are still here - but rather than trust in the Lord and continue to do what He had called me to do - my focus was on man.    

I had neglected my training - and I had neglected the gift that God placed in me.  The gift that He had given me.  

That morning, while preaching the sermon (yes folks, this all happened on a Sunday morning) - I felt so alive.  I knew that this is what God had called me to do.  I was firm in my calling and firm in my answer to the Lord.  Here am I Lord, use me, in whatever way You see fit.

I don't know what the future brings - I may not be a pastor next week, or next year.  But this I know - God has called me to preach the gospel, and so I will....wherever the Lord gives me opportunity, I must preach the gospel.  Like my brother Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, "...and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"

My prayer is simply that the Lord might use me, in whatever way He sees fit - that He might pour my life out as an offering to Him.

In His service,
Pastor Dave




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WRESTLING WITH GOD




Last week I wrestled with God.  I lost.  I guess that is not surprising.  
After all, if you could beat God at wrestling, He wouldn't be much of a God now would He?

We were wrestling about His calling on my life.  I had attended a great event on Sunday evening, that featured among other artists, the group 
Rend Collective Experiment.  It was a moving time of worship, conviction and praise.  I left primed and pumped.  But by Monday and Tuesday, something had happened.

I wanted to just quit.  I wanted to quit the church, quit life, just quit.  That was when the wrestling started. Over a couple of days the Lord and I wrestled over my one statement to Him:  I'm done.

I told Him that it was over.  I was done doing this Pastor gig thing.  It wasn't because of issues in the church, although there are issues - every church has issues, so that was nothing new.  It wasn't because I did not believe in Him.  It was not because I did not love Him.  

As I wrestled with Him, He spoke to me...no, not in an audible voice (although I think that would be very way cool - and a bit frightening all at once) - no, He spoke to me in my heart.  Now, if that has never happened to you before, I don't know how to explain it, except it was as clear as if He had spoken to me in an audible voice.  What did He say?

He said, "Your'e done when I say you're done."  He went on over the course of a couple of days to tell me in a variety of ways, that my problem was me.  Not anything specific, just me.  He reminded me that he called me to pastor Loma Rica Baptist Church (and if you know the whole story behind that, you would know He is understating the fact).  He reminded me that this pastor gig is not about me, it is about Him.  He reminded me that the problem was that I was playing at being a pastor and I was guilty of doing things under my own power.  He told me to test Him.  To go all in for the All in All.  To go all out for Him.  To pour myself out for Him, and see what He would do.  

When I finally cried "uncle" - He then blessed me.  I fully understood then what Rich Mullins had once said about wrestling with God.  He said something like, "It does no good to fight against God, because He'll give you a bloody nose, and then He'll give you a ride home on His bike."  Like Jacob of old, I have wrestled with God and the Lord touched me, and I will never walk the same again.  Like Rich Mullins when he wrestled with God, I got a bloody nose, but then the Lord gave me a ride home on His bike...and what a ride it was!  It was a death-defying ride on the handlebars with my hands raised high and my voice crying out as aloud as I could, "I LOVE YOU JESUS!  I AM YOURS!  POUR ME OUT FOR YOUR GLORY!'

But it didn't end there...I then went to our local Christian book store and was told about a brand new book...wouldn't you know it, 
 it was called "All In" by Mark Batterson. 


The premise of the book...to go all in for the All in All.  Of course, I bought it, and devoured it.  I would highly recommend it to you.  No, it is not theologically deep, but it is life changing long.

God changed my life this last week.  I ditched the sermon I had been preparing as God gave me a new sermon, and not just that, but a new series of sermons.  I entered the pulpit more excited about preaching than I had in a long, long time.  I worshiped with more abandon than I had in a long, long time.  

If your relationship with the Lord is not what you thought it would be, or not what it used to be, or not what you would like it to be, I have only one thing to say.  Wrestle with God about it.  You won't win...but in the end, I guess you will.

Praying that my Shepherd, Jesus, will be the Shepherd for everyone.

Pastor Dave


Monday, June 17, 2013

SOME THOUGHTS ON PSALM 63


During my daily readings today in Psalm 63 I had several thoughts come to mind, and since it has been a long, long time since my last post, I thought that it would be a good time to fire up the old blog and begin to share what the Lord gives me during my daily readings.

This whole Psalm is simply beautiful, and I would encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but here are just a few portions, along with my thoughts.



Psalm 63:1 "O True God, You are my God, the One whom I trust.  I seek You with every fiber of my being.  In this dry and weary land with no water in sight, my soul is dry and longs for You. My body aches for You, for Your presence."

On the one hand, my soul is often dry, and this land, this world is dry and weary, and nothing truly quenches my thirst.  I do long for refreshing waters from the Lord, and I have ached for His presence.  These are very real feelings that I have had.  

And yet...

Do I really seek the Lord with EVERY FIBER of my being?  What would that look like?  What would that feel like?  How would my life be lived out if this was a reality, rather than just a piece of poetry that sounds nice when I say it or would look good on a bumper sticker?  It has made me pray today, "Lord, help me to seek YOU with every fiber of my being.  Help me to be all about YOU.  Help me to live every moment for YOU.  Imagine if the church would be a place where people who sought the Lord with every fiber of their being came to worship together and share what the Lord is doing in their lives as they seek HIM with all they are.  Imagine what this church would do as they left the four walls of the building and lived a life among those who do not know the Lord.  

Psalm 63:2 "So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory."

Sadly, worship in the local church has become much more about us than it is about Him.  We should come ready to encounter God in a special way.  And we should be able to encounter this great, awesome, holy, and only true God no matter what else is going on around us...if we will simply focus on Him.  That means if there is a noisy baby around us, or if people are coming or going, or if the music is our thing, or the worship team is not exactly on key, or the music is too soft, or too loud, or too contemporary, or not contemporary enough.  Imagine what our services would be like if we would spend the time when we worship the Lord with music as a time when we were drinking in HIS strength and HIS glory!  Don't you think that people would be lined up for miles to try to get into a building where you could encounter God in this way?  I do.

Psalm 63:3 "My lips will glorify You, because Your faithful love is better than life."

Far too often, my ability to glorify the Lord has more to do with how my life is going at the current time than the fact that His faithful love is better than life.  I have found that if I can just focus on the Lord, that the things that bring me down, that distract me, that cause me to stumble, that make me angry, that cause me to want to just chuck it all in - well, those things fade into the background and eventually disappear when my mind, my heart and my life is focused on the faithful love of the Lord.  It truly is better than life, because this life, no matter how good it is, is not without its share of pain and hardness.  But a life lived in the faithful love of the Lord is better than what we have here, because it is a love that leads to action that is invested in eternity.

Psalm 63:8 "I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me."

In high school I had a best friend named Rick. We were so close that we called each others parents, "Mom & Dad." Often our other friends would mix our names us and call me Rick and him Dave. If we went somewhere without the other person, we were always asked, "Where's Rick?" or "Where's Dave?" This was because even though we did not spend every moment with each other, our friendship for a few years was so tight, that people did not think of one of us without thinking of the other one.

That's how it should be with the Lord. I want to be so close to Jesus that when people see me, they see Him. I want to be so close to Jesus that when people think of me, they think of Him. I want to be so close to Jesus that if someone wanted to know where Jesus was, or how to get to know Him, that they would come to me...because they know that Jesus and I are tight.

Ok, so there's that.
Pastor Dave


Thursday, January 17, 2013

FLEE!

During my daily readings this morning, I found myself reading this verse from the book of Job:

Job 1:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes.  How then could I look at a young woman?”


This got me to thinking…just what did Job mean when he said that he made a covenant (an agreement) with his eyes…and followed it up with the question, “How then could I look at a young woman?”


Did this mean Job never looked at young women?  What about his own daughters when they were young women?  What about young women in the marketplace?  How did he avoid them?  No, common sense told me that it meant more and yet, less than that.


It could not have meant that he did not ever see any young women.  So it meant less than what we see at face value, and yet, the truth is that it means so much more than what we can see at face value.  The Hebrew language means much more than just “look” - the word used means (among other things), “to separate mentally, distinguish, look well to, view, think - to get.”


This tells me that Job was saying that he had made an agreement that when he saw a young woman, he would not let what he saw, turn into desire, or let his thoughts dwell on a  young woman in a way to get her for himself.  In other words - he was avoiding lust and sexual sin - which begins not with an outward act, but with an inward desire.


From here, my mind went naturally to 2 Timothy 2:22 which says, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”


The Amplified version expands on this by translating the verse in this way:  “Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.”


This flies directly in the face of our culture today, where sex is used to sell everything from hamburgers to cars.  Our televisions pump sexual situations and sexual immorality straight into our homes on a daily, and often an hourly basis.  


Sadly, if you sound the alarm about this in our culture you are labeled old fashioned, unrealistic, or a prude.  If you sound the alarm in the church you are told that you are legalistic, or that you are trying to avoid the “real world.”
Funny, Paul instructed Timothy to flee that which would be considered lust, or lustful.
Why do we no longer do this in the church today?  I get why the culture no longer does it, but why are you labeled as legalistic if you flee, or run away from nudity, sexual innuendo, scantily clad men & women in advertisements, or others visual forms of lust?  Is Paul being legalistic here?  Is Paul being unrealistic here?  If so, would that not make God a legalistic?  Would that not make God unrealistic?  After all, the Scriptures re not man-made, but God-breathed.


I think the truth is that too many of us as Christians just don’t want to work as hard as we would need to in order to “flee youthful lusts.”  Since our culture is saturated with it, we would have to be always on guard - and plan on taking measures to deal with it…and that takes work.





I would encourage every believer I know to purchase the book, “The Hole In Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung, for the chapter titled, “Saints and Sexual Immorality” - it is worth reading and the price of the book for this chapter alone.


Oh be careful little eyes what you see…


It is time for the saints to once again flee.


Making a covenant with my eyes,
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, January 15, 2013





The last few weeks have been unlike any others in my life. I cannot fully describe it, only to say that I have felt revived in my relationship with the Lord in a way like never before.

I feel fired up, yet humbled down.

I see the grace of God more clearly, and yet am aware of the depth of my sin more deeply.

I see people in a different way. I see souls…souls in need of healing, in need of grace, in need of mercy…in need of Jesus.

I see time differently.

I turned 55 in September. My natural Father died at 49. My Mom went to be with Jesus at 62. How much time do I have left?

How much time to I have left to love my wife and kids? How much time do I have left to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around me? How much time do I have left to share with people that they need Jesus?

I feel the Lord calling me to a level of commitment that I have never felt in my 44 years of knowing Him.

I feel that He is calling me to totally abandon myself to Him. I hear Him telling me to pour myself out for Him.

And I want to do this…oh how I want to do this.

But….

But I am afraid.

What will it cost?

I know the answer.

Everything.

What changes will it require me to make?

I know the answer.

Everything.

And so, I must decide.

Two roads lay before me.

Do I take the narrow one that He is calling me to travel?

Or do I continue to walk my own path…follow Jesus my own way?

I know the answer…even as I am afraid of the answer, I know what it will be.

I will choose the narrow road.

I am sure I will stumble down this road.

I am sure I may even veer off of it from time to time.

I have no doubt that I will fall on occasion.

But when I do, when I fall and skin my knees, I want to bleed Jesus.

I want my spiritual muscles to be stretched beyond my abilities, and to ache and cry out Jesus!

I want to every breath I have to be Jesus.

Pray for me, I think the ride is going to get a bit bumpy from here on out.
Pastor Dave








Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts."

When I read these words of the prophet Jeremiah today I couldn't help but think of the number of people I know who search for answers everywhere except for the Word of God.  

I thought of how often I have approached reading the Word as an exercise  or a discipline, but not as a delight.  Don't get me wrong, there is benefit in exercise and discipline, even if we don't find it a delight - but shouldn't we who are the children of God, who call the Lord "Abba" - Father - Daddy - delight in reading His love letter to us?

I was watching the "Elephant Room 2" video last night - Session 3, Conversation 6 discussing the moral failings of pastors and church leaders, Crawford Loritts made the following statement, "...I've never talked to anyone who fell morally who was consistent in their times alone with God.  Never.  And I've been in the ministry for forty years."  He goes on to explain it a little deeper, "You can read your Bible  until the cows come home  and be legalistic about it and that is not a cure for sin.  What I'm saying is that the authentic passion for Jesus, a hunger and thirst to love Him more, to know Him more, to create that spiritual hothouse...we need to create cultures in our church where holiness and passion for Jesus is everything."

The connection between the two is obvious.  We cannot and will not fall more in love with Jesus, know Jesus more, have more passion for Him and hunger and thirst for Him apart from time spent in His Word.  John tells us that Jesus is the Word!

John 1:1 & 14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,full of grace and truth."

The answer to overcoming sin in our lives is really simple. Read the Word. Delight in the Word. When the Word becomes our joy - sin will always look ugly and wretched and sick. When our relationship with Jesus is of the utmost importance to us, we will always want to spend time learning of Him, drawing closer to Him, loving Him, communicating with Him...and yes, reading His love letters...all 66 of 'em.


Time to hit the Book,
Pastor Dave

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First one to comment on this blog - not on the facebook post but on this blog - I will mail you out a free book.  I have one copy of "Revival Praying" by Leonard Ravenhill.  It is an older edition - but this is a must read book for anyone who desires revival and is passionate about prayer.  Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of some regular posts on this often neglected blog of mine.  Post a comment about the blog - about the book - about the author of the book - about yourself - whatever, and if you are the first - the book will be sent out within 48 hours of the post!