Monday, April 28, 2008

God's Impetus

Acts 12:8 Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.

Notice God intervening to save. Amid all the things that ensnared Peter, bondage/chains, sleep, guards, darkness, and nakedness….God was the one to send angels to wake Peter from sleep (spiritual sleep), to free him from his chains (sins), to subdue the guards (Satan), to bring light into darkess (spiritual condition)…and remind Peter to cloth himself…

Peter’s response was similar to the response of one who has been called by God, and with childlike faith he/she follows. Not really “understanding” the call to come out of sin, enprisonment, darkness, nakedness, bondage (chains)…maybe even considering it a dream or vision….yet Peter followed.

God, as you continue to bring people to ANC who are in bondage of sin, who are asleep, who are in darkness, who Satan has a hold on… let us be faithful in speaking your truth to them. They may be blindly following the prompting of your Spirit, not understanding “WHY” they actually are at church, but you do. Give us discernment to minister to them, give us a heart to love them, give us your words to speak to them, and give us wisdom to teach and direct them.

And God…..Thank you for drawing me back out of my own chains. You are faithful when we are faithless.

Friday, April 25, 2008

One Body

Acts 11:17So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"

Can you believe circumcised believers would have a problem with new Gentile (uncircumcised believers)?
That is so foreign to us (sarcasm noted) . Differences between believers…what about Baptist and Methodist or Presbyterians and Charismatics. Yet theirs was more deep seeded than this, almost hatred. But as soon as Peter explained that God poured out his Holy Spirit the same way as he had them, they had no more objections.

I feel the lesson in this is simple. Put aside our differences and recognize that we have different methodologies, but the same Spirit. There is no sense putting up barriers to non-believers by speaking poorly or arguing differences between man made denominations. What we should be doing is coming together as believers, and working together to take care of the homeless, the poor, the widows, and the orphans. And in turn, do our best to be united in the Truths that Christ gave us all. The Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus birth, life, death, burial and resurrection.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

God Appointments

Acts 10:13Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." 14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."15The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."28He said to them(family at Cornelius’ house): "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
I think its cool that God used Peter’s vision/dream about eating/consuming what the Jews considers to be ‘unclean’ for consumption…and that Peter made the connection between unclean food and unclean/uncircumsized people. God does not show favoritism… yet
Peter and most Jews were so hung up on what was against the law…that I believe it took supernatural appointments to overcome.
Cornelius was one such appointment….he felt something before Peter’s arrival…so he gathered his family and close friends. I have seen this repeated over and over in my life…where a child or sibling comes to know the Lord and brings the entire family to “taste and see” and a whole family is impacted by the message of the Gospel.

God I pray that we don’t lose sight of the fact that you know our names, you know the number of hairs on our head and the number of days we will remain on this earth. You also create these appointments and I pray that we are faithful when you call us to speak and faithful when you call us just to listen. Use and and keep us close to you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

At once....

Acts 9:20At once he (Saul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

Saul spent three days in Damascus with scales on his eyes then several days he stayed with the disciples…that’s what separated Saul from being a murderous enemy of God, to being an on fire ‘preacher’ of God’s word.

And it didn’t take long for the hunter to become the hunted.
23After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him.
Three verses later, Saul has so offended the Jews (much like Jesus did) with the Gospel, that they are conspiring to kill him. Wonder what their thought on that “do not kill” commandment was.

God…we know we are ‘screw ups’, your word says that all have sinned (not one is without sin) and fall short of your Glory…..I take comfort that you use screw ups….because it really gives you all of the glory. We also know that your arm isn’t too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Thank you for saving us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into[a] the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Samaria had long been the area the Jews had written off. Samaritan were second rate, undeserving and just an avoided people. Samaria had been a place of great debauchery, sorcery, magic, and occult. So when the people of the land, the Samaritans, accepted the word of the lord….they were baptized. Yet they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit.

My question this morning was why.

Some suggest that Phillip, not being an Apostle (but only a disciple), couldn’t convey the Holy Spirit…but could only baptize. I don’t agree with this.

I believe, as I saw in another commentary, that the fact that Peter and John going to lay hands on the Samaritan people…was more for ‘the church’ than it was for the Samaritans. Therefore the withholding of the Holy Spirit wasn’t a testament to Phillips inability as much as it was an act toward church unity. The church was made up mostly (at this point) of Jews, and they were so racist…toward the Samaritans. Peter and John physically laying hands on them was an outward sign of us all being one body and of acceptance.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Give an idiot a microphone....

and I say stuff like:
now is the time for me to pray for the prayer...
we are taking a mission trip to Mexico...on the other side of the river....which is where Mexico is.

at least I dont spread them out...those were both last night in about a 30 second span.

Why shouldn't I be satisfied?....Seriously?

Acts 7:53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."

Stephen sets the stage to smack the self-righteous pompous ‘religious’ leaders in the face with the idols they have created for themselves. He tells the story from Abraham to Jesus…in a very succinct way…and I can imagine the priests…hanging on every word….realizing his accuracy of historical facts, yet becoming increasingly angry at his tone.

The ‘coup de gras’ comes when Stephen tells them…even the laws that they have kept…they have picked and chosen the ones to keep…thus making it (in God’s eyes) like they have kept NO LAWS….and ultimately killed God’s appropriation in Jesus.

Funny…the pattern of disbelief the entire nation of Isreal had, from Moses’ day. Yet God in his love knew that, and made a way to redeem mankind.

Our disbelief causes us create Gods. I could retrace my life as Stephen did for the Jews… from the moment I chose to accept Christ….I have chosen status, money, sports, girls, reputation, work, religion, pleasure, acceptance, possessions and family over God. The awesome thing is that God understood my need for a savior based on the condition of my heart…and just wants me to recognize that without Jesus, I am lost…the things that I elevated to god-status do nothing for me in the eternal spectrum.

I like to think…that some of the people, possibly even some of the priests….some may have heard and believed. What a compelling testimony of Stephen…that is as effective today as it was then…
In effect God used that testimony to in conjunction with his revelation to work in the heart of Saul.

God your creation is so fragile...we have been since you created us. From Adam to me...our heart are prone to wander...searching for that next best thing, when you are the best. And like my kids...I love them when they love me and I love them they are 'boneheads'. I know the idols I created are not pleasing to you....I pray that as I create new ones...that you will convict me. Even now...dont let me become a "self righteous pompous religious leader", keep me humble and satisfied in the abundant life you have for me. Why shouldn't I be satisfied?....Seriously?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Church Growth

Acts 6:1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

Guys, this is sure sign that things are going well in “The Way”..the first century church. Numbers are being added to the disciples every day….so much so that some of the basic core duties that church is to be about were being neglected. This is why equipping (giving away mininstry) is so important.

I have seen ineffective ministries where the “pastor” take on all the roles…and there is only so much a single man can accomplish. But an effective leader empowers others to do that ministry….leaving himself to operate within his strengths.

Jesus chose 12 as an example of discpleship. He poured himself into them….and then empowered them to go do ministry. I think this serves as a great example for us at ANC….or any church. Where you see a need, make yourself available. Be a blessing to leadership.

I can imagine….much like in 1st century church, the needs were easy to see, and the excitement of growth and the newfound power of the Holy Spirit had people on fire to serve and make a difference. The challenge is when the newness has worn off….to remain Christ focused and Spirit led.

God, thank you for your Holy Spirit. Allow Him to work in us to do things in His power and not our own.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gamaliel's Moment

Acts 5: A Pharisee named Gamaliel addressing the Sanhedrin, "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

There were those who came before Jesus, claiming to be ‘somebody’ and they died…

I stand by my assertion that I have always believed….that if for no other reason to believe that the events of Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection actually happened, we do not need to look any further than the Apostles themselves. These events, their boldness (post-resurrection) give me a peace that they experienced life change after Christ appeared to them and filled them with the Holy Spirit.

Gamaliel may as well have said it… If they are worshipping The One True God, they will not back down….if not…they will just fade away. This Pharisee was ‘right on the money’ and made a great argument on the behalf of these men and God. This is the first time that I recall a Pharisee publicly on the right side of a God movement.

Men, I believe that there is a great lesson to learn from the Pharisee this morning….people are watching, believers and non believers are watching…and their assertions are the same…..if we truly believe, and our lives were bought with the blood of Christ….there is no backing down. Our persecutions fail in comparison to those the Apostles were facing, yet so many times we turn belly up at the slightest sense of discomfort.

Be bold like Peter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

“There couldn’t possibly be just ONE way!”-Oprah

Acts 4:11He is" 'the stone you builders rejected, 
 which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Capstone or cornerstone…..the place where two walls intersect…also foundation. Stregnth of the cornerstone was and is most important. With a week stone, the integrity of the structure is in question.

Brandon and I just built this deck in his backyard….this area is called Hat-o-vallarta (ask him about it) the deck is awesome….but yesterday I as asking him about the integrity of this back corner that deck. Basically it only has two screws into a 4x4 fencepost. Now, that may be strong enough for the wooden deck, but my suggestion was to figure out some way to reinforce that. Its integrity is in question, and over time….may become a problem.

Jesus as our conerstone will never lose its integrity…it may be called into questions, but the claims of Christ are all true, nothing has been proved false.

Another use of Capstone is the pinnacle, or crowning achievement. Jesus was that and his resurrection stands as Gods only means to be saved as we see in 12. Scary thing to me is that influencial people and their claims of salvation. Apparently never read the bible.

How much influence does Oprah and people like her have? “There couldn’t possibly be just ONE way!”

12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Not the “light” not your “chakrah” no other “paths” , not “allah”

Guys DO NOT ALLOW watered down examples of God’s perfect plan to go unchallenged. Pack verse 12 away in your heart and when we hear garbage like Oprah’s, lovingly (if at all possible) steer people toward God’s word….not your words.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Greater Things

John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Acts3: 6Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.

Peter and John were right in the middle of experiencing greater things. I don’t know if they had healed anyone before…but they didn’t hesitate in healing this man. The cool thing is what they did after, as those same people who flocked to Jesus (and eventually had him killed) flocked to them…because of the miraculous healing.
Peter set them straight. As Peter could have taken a little ‘fame’ a little of the ‘rock star’ status…he went straight after the Jews who missed it, and gave Christ all the glory.

This was probably a little bit different phenomenon in those days. Even Jesus, as he first started healing, told people do not tell anyone. Now you have these guys healing in the name of Jesus. This had to drive the Pharisees nuts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Experience God

Acts2:36"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?

Any wonder Peter laid out the first evangelistic message? I want his boldness. I want his conviction. I want his resolve. The Word of God is sharper than any double edged sword…..and it cut these Jews “to the heart”. When God moves and speaks….he elicits a response..and the Jews gathered here wanted to know from the Apostles… what now? Experiencing God’s Blackaby said that you cannot enter the presence of God and remain unchanged.

I’ve been in places and sermons when the spirit moves and its an awesome place to be. But I would love to see thousands come at one time to know the Lord.

God, give me the boldness of Peter, the same drive as one of these apostles who had seen you laid in a tomb and just 3 days later, risen and alive. God, save us from this corrupt generation. Give us a heart for the parrishing. God let us at ANC usher in Your Holy Spirit, so that people who come to a service will encounter You, Living God.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Missionary Mandate

Acts 1:8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I’ve always been intrigued by the power of the Holy Spirit. My very first bible I owned, I still have…but the first verse I ever underlined…the first verse I ever learned was Acts 1:8.
This power is one of boldness, one of wisdom, recollection, authority, love, truth….and countless others. Jesus breathed this Holy Spirit on his disciples and these men gained all confidence of their faith, that they lacked in the moments prior.
As new believers, the same Spirit breathed on the disciples, makes His home in us. Empowering and supplying us with all the attributes mentioned above.

“…and you will be my witnesses..” you will tell all you have seen(learned) locally, regionally and globally. It is only by this divine power that we are able to, at the same time, be witnesses to all these places. It is a mandate, its not a suggestion…Jesus didn’t say, if you get around to it, or if it’s comfortable. He provided us everything we need in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses.

Witness \Wit"ness\ 1. To see or know by personal presence; to have direct cognizance of. 2. To give testimony to; to testify to; to attest.

In a trial witnesses are brought in to tell their experince and attest to what they know or have seen. Just like in a trial, the persons credibility is key. Let us be credible witnesses. Let our yes be yes and our no be no. Let us be men of our word. Let us be men of character. Let us be men who take responsibility. Let us be men who are known to be lovers. Let us be men who reflect Christ… that our credibility is NEVER in question.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

teachable spirit

John 21:17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" 
 Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

After Jesus asked Peter the first time, “do you love me”….Peter would have no way of knowing Jesus was leading him to the emotional recognition of his denying Christ 3 times. Christ was gently correcting, again bringing Peter to a teachable place. Peter’s response was, “you know I love you.”

The second time Jesus asked Peter…the response was the same, but the time….Jesus said, “take care of my sheep” instead of feed. Jesus is The Shepherd, and was asking Peter in his absence to nurture and care for his flock. It is important that Peter love the Shepherd….if he did not, he would not love the flock of the shepherd. A hired hand, who is paid with money…will not lay down his life for the sheep or the shepherd who hired him…..Jesus knows that Peter will be put to the test…and it is important for Peter to know (unlike when he denied Christ) that he must love The Shepherd more than life itself.

The third time Jesus asked Peter, I’m sure a rush of emotion came over Peter. Anger, embarrassment, sadness, hurt….yet Jesus, in that moment lovingly reinstated Peter. He had about a week or two to think about the denial..and I’m sure was kicking himself, and Jesus wanted him to know…it was alright, I still love you, and I trust you to tend to my flock, my sheep that I love.

God, give me a teachable spirit. Break me of my pride….give me ONE passion, to follow you alone. You are worthy of ALL of our affection, you know I love you!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

fill me

Guys this morning, I sit in room, that I sit in day after day, and I’m in need. I have been in God’s Word, I have been in His house, and I have been at His work, yet I have not been constantly ‘in His Spirit’.

John 20:21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, keep breathing that breath of the Holy Spirit on me. As I find myself in constant need of more of you….I pray for myself and those I care for......refresh us, fill us, consume us. God, it is such a privilege and honor to represent you…yet without you in us, we are unworthy….we are unclean, we are merely sinners who believe in you. With your spirit, we are mighty warriors equipped for battle against an enemy who desires to ‘steal kill and destroy’. As you send us, it is apparent we need your Spirit.

Father, by your spirit, convict us. Make us see areas of our lives that we have conveniently overlooked, areas we hold private, areas no one knows about…and break our hearts. We desire to be HOLY because you are HOLY. You want us to be like you.

Father, by your spirit, console and comfort us. We all have hurt, and we all have areas of weakness. Make us whole, give us life.

God give me extra measure of your Spirit, pressed down and overflowing. My desire is to walk with you, to know your heart, to be hurt by things that hurt you, and to love those that you love. To know how to love them, to see their needs and , by your spirit, supernaturally give us wisdom and insight into their hearts. I am sorry that I have forgotten HOW to seek first your Kingdom.

Thank you Father.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It wasn't Pilate.....

It is apparent Pilate is not wanting Jesus to be crucified! Several times he attempted to get Jesus to change his story…and several times he tried to get the Jews to relent from their blood-thirsty plan. Why do we think that is?
Did Pilate have a change of heart?
Did Pilate suddenly decide that ‘the best thing’ would be to let this man go?
Did Pilate finally believe that Jesus was who he said he was....and was fearful of the reprocussions?
One of the thoughts I had was that Satan was somehow involved….but now don’t believe that to be true. Satan cannot see in the future and therefore would believe that the death of Jesus would be a good thing for him. Satan wasn’t “in on” God’s redemptive plan, and would have no way of knowing that Jesus death was all part of that.

John 19:16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Another small detail that has escaped me as I’ve heard and read this story a million times, is that Pilate had written “King of the Jews” and that the Jews were not happy about it. "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

22Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." I feel this is what God, in his sovereignty, had Pilate write.

I am just awed at the whole story…How Jesus went before a kangaroo court, accepted the trumped up charges, was “judged” by a Governor with an agenda (his own job/neck) and went to the cross for our sins and ultimately God’s Glory!

Monday, April 07, 2008

What is Truth?

John 18:38"What is truth?" Pilate asked.

What a great question Pilate! The sad part about the story is that Pilate didn’t care what the truth was. He was more concerned with his own position, status or whatever or whoever had influence over him. I think he must have heard this ‘idea of truth’ and in a cowering way….kind of a reluctant half question half statement…what is truth?

Pilate was, as we like to say today, affected by cultural relativism. His perception, the Jews perception, the disciples perception were all different. And when the world asks the same question today, it is swayed by all the many influences that make up our culture.

Our foundational truths as believers, are what give us moral absolutes. The main question is…..IS GOD WHO HE SAYS HE IS? In verse 37 Jesus said…..”In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

Jesus was sent to answer the question…What is Truth? "I am the way and the truth and the life.

People, we aren't doing a very good job handling the Truth....

Friday, April 04, 2008

Our Lord's Prayer for Us

John 16:9b I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message

Its hard not to read this and see that Our Savior has a crazy kinda love, not only for His disciples….but for us as well. Jesus prays to the Father for
1. God to glorify himself
2. His disciples
3. Their protection
4. Their sanctification
5. Us
6. Our unity with each other/one body
7. Our eternal salvation

All in the power of the name….of God the Father. All to the glory of God the Father.

Talk about…The Lord’s Prayer.

Holy God, thank you for your precious gift of Jesus. His love, for a group who constantly needed more assurance and continued to stumble, is unbelievable. Living on this side of cross seems to be similar in that, we look to your word for assurance, and yet we still continue to stumble. Have mercy on us for our unbelief, our wandering hearts, which seem set in a way that is opposite of what you would have for us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


John 16:33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

The disciples world is about to be rocked…and Jesus knows this. So he speaks peace over them. He wants them to experience the calm within the storm, the peace that passes understanding, and peace like a river.

‘In this world’, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, national tragedy or betrayal of a friend invokes similar turmoil in our lives that the disciples experienced…and we beg God for His peace. This peace is truly a gift.

When my dad died suddenly of a heart attack 5 years ago….I was so unbelievably at peace….I couldn’t imagine not being a believer, and not having that peace that God provides his children.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


John 15:(4b)No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Can you bear things that have the resemblance of fruit? I think you can….could we be doing the same things as a non-believer….and one be fruit and the other sin. Does it really matter?

8:This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Fruit glorifies God. Good deeds without the spirit, do not. Fruit cant be fruit unless it is of God.

16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.
Believers were created to bear fruit….if we are not bearing fruit…then we are either sinning…or we are not saved (chosen and appointed). Not much room there.

Is it fair to judge others? A previous pastor of mine, told us to be fruit inspectors. You will know they are my discples by their love (fruit) for one another…. I think we are commanded to pay attention to these things…so that we can spur each other to good deeds (more fruit). Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control (did i leave one out?)…against these things there is no law…..PLUS they glorify God.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gift of the Holy Spirit

Yesterday was an awesome day for me. Didn’t accomplish much….but was just an awesome day of reflection, affirmation and hope. As I read today, I know that the Holy Spirit that guides me daily, and honestly steered our family to Austin….is a promise of Jesus and He acts and helps and guides and teaches as well as comforts, counsels and convicts

John 14:26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

What a great gift the Holy Spirit is to us as well as the disciples. The disciples were supernaturally reminded of EVERYTHING Jesus had said.

Also, I can almost hear Thomas whining… will we know where you are going? How will we know how to get there….and the answer is a key verse to our faith….
John 14:6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Not a way, one of many ways….but the way. I didn’t say it….Jesus did. He left NO wiggle room. People talk about Christianity being exclusive…’s not Christianity…. but Jesus. Whats funny is, he wants EVERYONE to follow….but he wants everyone to follow ONLY HIM.

Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit. For all that He does for us.