Pastors Blog

Yes, it has been awhile. Call it a time of anxiety and stress that resulted in seeking God’s peace and His will. There was never a doubt that God was Sovereign and had His pulse on the situation. There was never a doubt that God was in the middle of my circumstances and guiding me through like a Father guides his three-year-old son down the steep and craggy path to the fishing hole that lies at the bottom of the hill. God continually calls me to wait on Him; to press into Him; to know that He is God and there is no other; to trust Him with all of my heart and mind anul and strength.

God has walked me and my family through many trials and travails. We have altered the way we do church and ministry; we have closed a child care center and been stymied in our six-month attempt to open a family child care. We have rejoiced in the mountain tops and in the canyons so deep that the daylight was nothing more than a glimmer. This story is not about us. It is HIS story,,,what true history is.

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“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” -John 7:38 (NIV)

I was praying with a small group of pastors and ministry leaders at the Together-in-Christ meeting this past Wednesday morning. One of the pastors (whose church is going through tough times similar to what we have been experiencing at FCF) shared this story that I found encouraging. He said that as he was in the middle of praying for relief from some trying circumstances, God told him to check on two citrus trees that he had planted a few years ago. When God brought this thought to his mind, he immediately realized that he had failed to protect the roots from the cold winter last year. He said that in order to protect a citrus tree from the freezing winter, one should surround the base of the tree with a mound of dirt. A careful check of the trees showed no sign of life. He was pretty certain that his failure to protect the trees the previous winter had killed them.

But, then God told him to water the trees. When he told God that he believed the trees were dead, God told him these exact words: “Water the death of vision.” And so, he began to water the trees daily. The trees that normally flower in February and March sat lifeless through June and July. But, every time he thought of stopping the watering process, the Lord reminded him to continue to “water the death of vision.”

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5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.  -Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

When those who you considered brothers and sisters-in-Christ have deserted you, where do you turn? When those who you considered to be trustworthy and full of grace turn your back on you without a word of admonition or even a “thanks for the memories,” what do you do?

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“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” -Exodus 9:16 (NIV)

This was the verse that God gave me as I sat in the weekly gathering of pastors, prayer warriors, and marketplace leaders that we know as Together-in-Christ. Formerly the Sonoma County Pastors Prayer and Ministry Alliance, the group meets every Wednesday morning to pray for each other and for the churches on Santa Rosa as well as for the city and county.

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Is this how God intended for us to build His church? A slick postcard/mailer campaign advertising our exciting programs; a friendly atmosphere with a safe and fun children’s ministry; a charismatic pastor who can hold your attention with his deft storytelling and quick wit? As the pastor seeking to see God’s new church grow, am I to rely on the “Power of Back to School” rather than the power of the Holy Spirit? The question as I see it is, “Did God give us specific instructions on how to build the church? And, are there examples in the New Testament where we see God’s plan in action?”

Today, I was presented with a quandary. Should I insist on holding our Sunday 3pm service, or should I instruct the church to go and serve? Should I stick to the program or should I go with the Spirit? In the end, the decision wasn’t really that hard after all.

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10 Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” –Genesis 18:10-14 (NIV)

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As any churchgoer who tuned in to watch the recent NBA finals contest between the Lakers and Celtics already knows, the term redemption is probably now heard more often in NBA sports broadcasts than in homilies. A Google search under “redemption” and “NBA” generates approximately 2 million hits—more hits than “redemption” and “Christianity.” The term can also be found in more than 2,600 stories on ESPN.com.

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Psalm 65:1-8 (NIV)—Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,  who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.  Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.

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Who do you stop to pay tribute to on Memorial Day? There is one particular man that I have spent time remembering over the years. That man is my Uncle Lee—formally known as Captain Linus G.K. Chock, US Army.

I have one particular, special memory of my Uncle Lee. In the summer of 1964—when I was all of 8-years-old, my Uncle Lee came to visit our family when we lived in Kansas City, MO. Somewhere in my possession is an old Brownie photograph—anyone here remember a Brownie camera?—that my Uncle Lee took of me in my blue jeans and tee-shirt and Kansas City A’s baseball cap posing like I had just made some sort of heroic, Willie Mays kind of catch.

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