Friday, December 21, 2007

Where's Demas?

Remember the "Where's Waldo?" books that came out several years ago?

They would put Waldo in with a bunch of other people on different pages and you had to spot him amongst all the other people. It was harder than it looked. My kids and I would search and search, and then one of them would shout and point Waldo out when they found him. It was a lot of fun.

I thought of that when I read in the scriptures about Demas.

2 Timothy 4:10
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Demas was a faithful companion of the apostle, mentioned along with Luke and others in these passages:

Colossians 4:14
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Philemon 1:24
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow labourers.

Demas was one of the followers of Jesus. A missionary and fellow traveller with Paul. Oh the things he must have seen! The miracles he must have witnessed! The souls he saw saved!

And yet....he left.



What do Waldo and Demas have in common?

Well, I'm thinking that if you took Demas and put him in a church of a hundred people or so, he would not stand out. He would be like everyone else. If someone had said, "Find the one person here who will one day leave the Lord?", you wouldn't choose wouldn't pick him....because he would have just blended in, like Waldo does.

But sadly, later on Demas was gone.

I have known many who followed the way of Demas. Believers that I thought for sure would be faithful until the day of the Lord....and now.....they are gone.

But to be honest, I too have been Demas.

At the age of 15 I made a decision in my heart and mind that as soon as I was out of my parents house, I would also be "outta this church." I spent the next several years pretending to be a follower of Jesus, while in my heart I was a Demas.

Ten years later, the prodigal came home.

And yet, I have still had my Demas days, or maybe even a Demas week, or a Demas month. I have certainly had a Demas hour, or minute, or second.

Have you ever been a Demas?

In the title of this post I asked "Where's Demas?". When you go to church this Sunday, look around, Demas is probably there, in the building, singing praises, or praying out loud. Maybe he is teaching a Sunday School class, or leading worship, or even preaching a sermon.

Or maybe, Demas is sitting in your seat, reading your Bible, and when Demas looks in the bathroom mirror at church, he sees you.

If you are a Demas, or know one, don't give up hope. We don't know what became of Demas, but there is a story that Jesus tells of the prodigal son. I'm not going to repeat the story of the prodigal son here. If you are not familiar with the story, go to the book of Luke, chapter 15:11 - 32, and read it. Most of the time we focus on the father, who took the prodigal son back, and the good son, who was jealous of the father's acceptance of the prodigal son. But we forget, there is a third son in this story, the Son of God who left His Father to die for both of them.

So if you have a Demas in your life, or if you are a Demas, I can only say this:

Come home.

The Father is waiting, as we all are, to welcome you back with open arms.

And for the rest, who have struggled with our Demas moments, join me in praying for these that have left their first love, for the love of the world.

Laura D.
Jonathan D.
Steve H.
Gene G.
Katrina D.

and the one closest to me,

Tori P.

I close with the lyrics from a song by Michael W. Smith.Photobucket

I Miss The Way

Once a true believer
Once there was a fire in your soul
You were the epitome of blessed faith astir
With thirst for holiness
And hunger for the Word
Now you move in other circles
To the beat of different drums
And I see only glimpses of the one you used to be
The inspiration that you were to me

I miss the way His love would dance within your eyes
I miss the way His heart was the soul of your life
And somewhere in the saddest part of heaven's room
Our Father sheds a tear for you
He's missing you, too

Some are calling you a prodigal
Some aren't calling you at all
But far away someone is calling you back home
Do you hear it anymore out there on your own


Once a true believer...

Hungering and thirsting for His righteousness,
Pastor Dave

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Got Revival?

I have been reading a book by Leonard Ravenhill called “Revival God’s Way : A Message For The Church”.

This book was first published in 1983, and was reprinted in 2006.

I want to share just a bit of what he says in the first chapter, in reference to the joy that Jesus talks about, that we as His followers, should have.

“This joy was not a passing emotion such as happiness may create. It was not to be partial but complete-“may be full.” Happiness depends on happening. I have seen men in the pulpit seemingly filled with glory. I have seen the same men an hour afterwards filled with gloom. The joy Jesus gives is not effervescent, not a high emotion riding the crest of a fatuous wave. This joy is as real at the graveside as at the fireside. It does not evaporate under the heat of adversity. It does not wither at the onslaught of calamity. It does not sour under the test of poverty. It does not die at the cruel hand of tragedy. It does not falter in the presence of misery.”

He continues:

“Joy is not created by possessions, or by positions, but by a Person – HIM! Let me add, however, that joy is not an inflexible, unvariable thing. It is not a deposit placed in the soul after salvation without any chance of deterioration. It can stand all the pressures Satan or circumstances bring against it; but, and ponder this well, the sun of joy in the soul can be eclipsed by our own disobedience.”

Now this really made me think about joy in my own life. I began to realize that he was right. The times when my joy is full is always when I am being obedient, even in the face of difficulties, my joy would remain strong. But Leonard was not done with me yet. Here’s the rest of what caused me to think:

“Joy requires at least two conditions: submission and service. “If ye abide” – submission – means staying put when it might seem smart to quit. It means “having done all to stand” when there is only a toehold. It means believing God when it appears far wiser to believe everybody else. It means defying one’s feeling and fears and saying triumphantly, “Thy will be done! Joy comes through service. Most Christians are activists; they get caught up in some kind of church work. But not all of it is good. Not all of it is essential. Even missionaries find themselves tangled in lesser things than winning the lost. Un-prayerful souls soon get diverted from the supreme task He appointed for them. This is why submission is also necessary.”

And then he closes with:

“Let me summarize it this way. The way to enjoy indestructible peace and joy is to determine:

1. To do whatever God commands, however difficult.
2. To endure whatever God appoints, however severe.
3. To obtain whatever God promises, however seemingly unattainable.
4. To die daily, however costly the crucifixion.
5. To love my enemies, however misunderstood in this.
6. To pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.”

Myself, I think he has hit on something here.

I think we have a lot of believers running around with stress, sour faces and worry written all over their faces because we want an “easy” fix.

Nobody said living the Christian life was easy. Nobody said it would not be difficult. Salvation is free…discipleship cost.

There’s an old saying that goes: “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

The Christian version of that might go something like this: “Everyone wants to get out of hell, but few want to die to themselves.”

I often here of Christians calling for revival in America again. As I read this book by Leonard Ravenhill, I think what we need is revival in the church again, or better yet, I need revival in my life.

I close with a song from one of my top three favorite Jesus music artists: Keith Green


My Eyes Are Dry
by Keith Green

My eyes are dry, my faith is old,
My heart is hard, my prayers are cold,
And I know how I ought to be,
Alive to you, and dead to me.

Oh what can be done, for an old heart like mine,
Soften it up, with oil and wine.
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love,
Please wash me anew, in the wine of Your blood.

My eyes are dry, my faith is old,
My heart is hard, my prayers are cold,
And I know how I ought to be,
Alive to you, and dead to me.

Praying for revival.....for me,
Pastor Dave

Thursday, December 13, 2007



Today at lunch I was reading a book by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins called, “The Jesus Chronicles: Mark’s Story”.
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It is the second in a series of four novels that they are writing about the authors of the four gospels. I have been taking my time, going through the book at a leisurely pace, enjoying the novelization of the days of Jesus and the early church. Often I have found myself smiling, laughing and amazed. Sometimes I have just let my imagination wonder to what it must have been like to be there walking and talking with Jesus, and to witness or be a part of the birth of the church.

Today I read where Saul, now called Paul, came to the disciples and told of his conversion. It captured the disciples’ disbelief that this man, their former enemy, now wanted to join them in spreading the gospel of Christ. Saul described his blindness on the road to Damascus , and his conversion and of course, they finally came around and embraced Paul as a brother in the Lord.

It got me to wondering about my blindness.

You see, Saul couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

He was so blinded by the laws, the traditions and the religion that he had embraced, that he could not see the one whom they were all supposed to be about: Jesus. He had to be literally blinded before he could truly see.

Which brings me back to my blindness.

I pastor a Southern Baptist Church. Now, I like to tell people that it “ain’t your Daddy’s Southern Baptist Church.”, but we are a Baptist church nonetheless. I am proud to be a Baptist, and to belong to the Southern Baptist Convention (not that I agree with everything they do, heck, I don’t even agree with everything I do).

But first and foremost I am a Christian.

I am a Christian first, and a Baptist second.

Which brings me back to my blindness.

You see, I wonder if some of my “Baptist traditions”, my “Baptist laws” & my “Baptist religion” blinds me to see things the way God does. I think sometimes all the “Baptist stuff” can get in the way and block my vision so that I can’t see all the “Jesus stuff” that I need to see.

What about you?

What blinds you? Do you have to have church “this way” or “that way” in order for it to be church?

Do you think every Christian must abide by your traditions, your rules and your religious ceremonies, or they are just not “Christian” enough?

This is nothing new, it is a problem that ha been going on since the church began. The early church had a difficult time accepting Gentiles (non-Jews) as fellow believers. There was debate, there was dissension, there was arguing, but in the end, the Gentiles were accepted. Some blinded eyes were open. The church grew. And God was honored.

Maybe it’s not a particular thing, but a particular people that blinds us. What would many of us do if a tattooed, pierced guy with a Mohawk hair cut that was dyed purple, came to church and felt that God was calling him to be a missionary to the disenfranchised youth sub-culture, or the biker sub-culture? How would we react? Would we have eyes to see…..or be blinded?

In John 7:24 Jesus said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

Can we see with spiritual eyes, or do our physical eyes get in the way? Does what we see with our eyes blind us to the spiritual vision that God has for us?

In Mark 7:8 he says to the Pharisees "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

There is nothing wrong with traditions, until the traditions get in the way of someone seeing Jesus. When our traditions, rules or Christian measuring stick gets in the way of people who need Jesus, then they need to go.

I'll leave you with the lyrics to a song by Casting Crowns off of their latest cd: The Altar And The Door.
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The song is called, "What This World Needs".

What This World Needs
by Mark Hall & Hector Cervantes

What this world needs is not another one hit wonder with an axe to grind
Another two bit politician peddling lies
Another three ring circus society
What this world needs is not another sign waving super saint that's better than you
Another ear pleasing candy man afraid of the truth
Another prophet in an Armani suit

What this world needs is a Savior who will rescue
A Spirit who will lead
A Father who will love them in their time of need
A Savior who will rescue
A Spirit who will lead
A Father who will love
That's what this world needs

What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside
Have we become so blind that we can't see
God's gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt
What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance
Blending in so well that people can't see the difference
And it's the difference that sets the world free

Jesus is our Savior, that's what this world needs
Father's arms around you, that's what this world needs
That's what this world needs

Ok, I have an appointment with The Eye Doctor now,
Pastor Dave

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Too Busy?

Too Busy?

Ever feel like you are in a whirlwind of activity and you can’t stop spinning?

Being a bi-vocational pastor, my days are often filled to the gills with activity.

My days ususally begin about 5:00 am, and ends between 10:00 and 11:00 pm.

My work schedule is Mon thru Thurs, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Monday evenings I am preparing for the coming Sunday sermon.

Tuesday evenings I finalize the Wednesday night Bible study.

Wednesday evenings I have ½ hour between the time I get off work until I have to leave for Wed. Bible study.

Thursday evenings I am preparing for next Wednesday Bible study.

Fridays I start putting together the sermon for Sunday morning, plus try and get my errands done, and yard work, and deal with any other meetings or church business that has to be done.

Saturdays I finish the Sunday morning sermon.

Sundays are spent up early in prayer, and then it is Sunday School, Church, and home to rest.

Of course that doesn’t include any special meetings, which last week was a budget committee meeting, this week is a church Christmas party, and there are phone calls, church business, my own daily quiet time, and much time spent in prayer for people, places and things.

Add to that time spent with the family, time alone with my beautiful wife and it can begin to feel like the candle is burning at both ends.

Whew! Tires me out just reading it.

Some days I do better than others, and the reason for that is that some days I make sure God and I spend some quality time together.

Sadly, sometimes I put in my quiet time as just something to check off my “to do” list. Those are the days that I get flustered, lose my temper (you haven’t seen it running around anywhere have you?), frustration sets in, and I am exhausted.

Taking time out to rest is important too. Even God rested on the seventh day. Why, because He was tired, exhausted from creating the universe? No. God doesn't get tired. He rested because He CHOSE TO REST. I figure if it's a good choice for God to make, it's a good choice for me and you to make.

I can really relate to these two scriptures these days:

I Kings 19:11-12

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

You see, God is not usually found in our "busyness"....but in our quiet time. He is not in the whirlwind of activity, but in the stillness of the day.

Isaiah 40:31
New King James Version (NKJV)
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

To be strong, we must wait, rest and trust in Him.

I leave you with the lyrics to a song my an early Jesus music pioneer, Chuck Girard.

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Slow Down
by Chuck Girard

In the midst of my confusion
In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God

In the time of tribulation
When I'm feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He is God
And know that He is God

Ok, so now I'm off to take a nap :)
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bigger or Better?

I pastor a small church.

Not as small a it used to be, but still small by most standards.

In October 2004 I accepted the position of Pastor at Loma Rica Baptist Church . There were 12 people there at the time, and two of those would be moving out of state within a few weeks. Our attendance hovered around the mid teens to low twenties for the first year or so.

Somewhere around the end of 2005 I began to notice that we had grown. We were now running in the low thirties. We slowly continued to grow.

When 2006 came and went the high thirties was the norm, with the forties being the occasional surprise.

Then came 2007.

Except for an Easter service we had never had more than 42 or 43. One Easter service we had 50 and we were ecstatic!

2007 changed everything.

Sometime in the first part of this year we went over 50 in attendance, and except for two Sundays since then, we have never had less than 50. Last Sunday we had 65.

Again, 65 may not seem like much to you, but for a church that only seats about 80, and three years ago had 12 people in attendance, 65 is a big deal.

But there have been issues. Two families have left. Last week, due to a misunderstanding on my part and due to me assuming something without clarification I hurt a family (not physically of course). Now I’m sure this is not the first time I have hurt someone, but this time it was brought to my attention, and I felt terrible. I love the people at our church and I never would intentionally hurt any of them. After some conversation things were ok, but the damage was done. The scars will always be there. But I did learn a few lessons.

Lesson One: Make sure when you communicate, and when others communicate to you, that you are both clear on what is being said.

Lesson Two: I’m a human being and I make mistakes ( I already knew this, but I think God wanted to remind me).

Lesson Three: The more people coming to church, the more likely someone is going to get hurt.

Lesson Four: Big does not necessarily mean better.

The first three lessons are ones that most people in churches are aware of. The last one would be called heresy in some circles.

But I stand by it. Big does not necessarily mean better.

I believe the reason I hurt the people I did (and I will take the full responsibility here, they were the innocent party), is that I had focused more on the growth than what God has called me to do. God has called me to shepherd the people under me. I can’t shepherd the ones that leave. I can’t shepherd the ones who don’t come. Getting bigger got in the way of shepherding. Don’t misunderstand me. I still want Loma Rica Baptist to grow even more. With that will come space issues, job issues, building issues, conflict issues and issues with issues. But through it all I must remember I am not called to focus on issues. My focus must be on God, His word, and the people. If I do this, the issues will be dealt with, but not as the focal point, instead they will be dealt with as the by product of a healthy ministry.

I need to focus my time and energy on being a better Pastor, not on Pastoring an bigger church. If I will concentrate on the better and leave the bigger up to the Lord the results will be, well, better. I don't want to give the people I pastor just numbers to talk about during the week, I want to give them something life changing to talk about.

I have a job to do.

I am a shepherd.

I desire to draw people closer to God.

I close with lyrics to a song from Steve Taylor. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I Just Wanna Know
by Steve Taylor

Life's too short for small talk
so don't be talking trivia now
excess baggage fills this plane
there's more than we should ever allow
there's engines stalling and good men falling
but I ain't crawling away

I just wanna know--
am I pulling people closer?
I just wanna be pulling them to You
I just wanna stay angry at the evil
I just wanna be hungry for the true

Folks play follow the leader
but who's the leader gonna obey?
will his head get big when the toes get tapping?
I just wanna know are they catching what I say?
I'm a little too young to introspect
and I surely haven't paid all my dues
but there's bear trap lying in those woods
most of 'em already been used


Search me, Father, and know my heart
try me and know my mind
and if there be any wicked way in me
pull me to the rock that is higher than I


Ok, so there's that
Pastor Dave

Monday, December 10, 2007

It Is Finished

Tonight I was paying bills.

Write a check, tear it out of the checkbook, put it in the envelope....ooops...that one is going to be late, have to run it down to Home Depot tomorrow.

And on and on and on.

I started thinking, I am so glad that God is not up in heaven, having to pay for each one of my sins as I commit them, one by one. I'm glad that none of my sins "sneak up" on God and He has to rush to do something to make a quick payment.

I'm glad that all my sins were paid for at calvary.

John 19:29-30 (New International Version):
A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit

It is finished.

Paid in full.

Thank you Jesus.

I leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by the group Petra.

It Is Finished

John 19:1-30
Words & Music by Bob Hartman

In the heat of early morning on a hill they call the Skull
The roaring of the angry mob had settled to a lull
All eyes were cast upon the man whose hands and feet were bound
They saw him cry in anguish when they heard the hammer pound
They saw the bloody woven thorns with which his head was crowned
They watched the bloody cross of wood be dropped into the ground
The soldiers gambled for his clothes, they watched them win and lose
They saw the sign above his head that said "King of the Jews"
(It is finished) And the sky grew black as the night
(It is finished) And the people scattered in fright
The work had been done, redemption had been won
The war was over without a fight
It is finished
They searched his face for anger for vengeance in his stare
Instead of eyes that burned with hate a look of love was there
He prayed for their forgiveness and bowed his battered head
And no one knew the meaning of the final words he said
It is finished, the provision has been made
It is finished, the foundation has been laid
He paid the ransom due and tore the temple veil in two
And opened up the way for me and you

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Really debt free,
Pastor Dave


Last Sunday I preached a message titled "Unfaithful Worship" from Malachai the 2nd chapter. Before the message was over, the Holy Spirit had convicted me from my own sermon! Truthfully, it had started earlier in the week during preparation of the sermon, and like the energizer bunny, only better, the Holy Spirit kept convicting, and convicting and convicting.

So, what does that mean?

Well, since it has been almost three months since my last post, this is one of the things that i feel I have neglected for far too long. So, I am back. I pray for good, but I know how easy the flesh can creep up and take control.

If anyone is still checking out this blog, please let me know, but even if I don't hear from anyone, I will continue to press on, being obedient to what He has called me to do.

And so, after this, I will be posting the first of what I pray will be a long series of posts.

Stumbling towards the cross,
Pastor Dave