Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas a Season of Time and Light

Time is such an important part of our human experience. We are bound by time and controlled by time. Yet God is not controlled by time since He exists outside of time. Rather time is controlled and planned by God the Father. The Bible says that “when the right time came, God sent his Son {into the world}. A woman gave birth to him, and he came under the control of God's laws. God sent him to pay for the freedom of those who were controlled by these laws so that we would be adopted as his children.” Galatians 4:4-5 (GW)

So when the time was right the light of God (or perhaps I should say God the Light) entered the world and his light became the light of men.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. … The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-5; 9-14 (NIV)

I am reminded of this ancient medieval Christmas prayer at Communion: "...through the mystery of the Incarnate Word the light of God's brightness has shone anew on the eyes of our mind so that, while we see God visibly through Jesus Christ, we may be seized by love for the invisible things of God."

(For those of you wondering where this prayer is found it was translated from the Latin in the Gregorian sacramentary as found in Jean Deshusses, Le sacramentaire grégorian, ses principales formes d’après les plus ancient manuscripts, Spicilegium Friburgense 16 (Fribourg, 1979), pp. 98-106. It's from the preface for the main mass for the morning of Christmas at St. Peter's. Thanks Lester for the reference!)

To each of you may the Light and Life of Christmas make Himself real to you in a deeper more meaningful way this Christmas Season!

Pastor Val

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome to the Murk!

As a young believer I always felt that walking in God’s will would be easier if I could just get rid of self (fat chance!). I also believed that the more mature in Christ I became the clearer God’s will and path for my life would be.

What I have experienced is quite the opposite. Now I know that there are those of you who question my spiritual maturity and I have to admit some days I question it, too. I feel like Paul when he describes his life to the believers in Rome as it is recorded in the letter he wrote entitled Romans.

In Romans chapter seven Paul tells of the struggle he has in knowing what he should to do and yet struggling to do it. He also relates how difficult it is sometimes not to do what he shouldn’t do.

If this sounds like the struggle you go through from time to time you are not alone!

Maybe you thought that if only you could attain some lofty position spiritually you would be able to see God’s will more clearly, as though you are standing on a mountain top overlooking the rest of your life. But what we often see is fog, mist, haze and uncertainty.

A friend of mine following God’s clear leading launched a church in Colorado a year or so ago. In a recent conversation he told me that he felt like he had launched a boat out into a lake that had a murky bottom. He had hoped that by launching out into the deep that the water would gain some clarity. Instead he found that the water seemed to be even murkier!

I think that as a young believer God grants each of us more clarity as to His will and plans for our lives. But as we mature our way seems to grow hazier. We struggle to see clearly the path that has been laid out for us. I think God does this because He wants to teach us trust and dependence on Him.

Psalm 119:95 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Unlike the halogen beams of today, the ancient lamps that the writer of this psalm is referring to produced a rather smoky light that didn’t cast a very large amount of light. Usually it was just enough to guide your next step. God promises to direct our paths but not provide us all of the directions ahead of time, like mapquest.

Does it cause us worry and consternation to see so little of the future? Yes, yes it does! We all wish we had a better grasp on our future. But God is trying to teach us to continue to trust in Him. His plan is perfect (even if we don’t think so from time to time).

Remember God is more interested in building character then He is in providing you comfort (this side of eternity)!

So welcome to the murk!

Pastor Val

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This is the day that we as a nation have set aside to purposefully be thankful. We remember that our situation is the result of things or a being beyond our control. Often we grumble when things don’t go our way, complaining that God could have done things better. Without fully realizing that God has a much better perspective on our situation (our story), we think that we know better then the “grown up” in the situation. After all why would Father be interested in what’s best for His children. Remember James in is letter to the church reminds us that every good and perfect gift come s down from the Father of lights.

Paul reminds us that we are to give thanks for everything. Not just the things we want or appreciate, but everything. A hard command until we understand that Father really has our best interest at heart. He provides only what will ultimately be in our best interest. You see it really is an issue of trust. Are we willing to trust God with our present, with our future? Or are we convinced that we know better then God what we need?

After all finite creatures are so much more knowledgeable then an infinite being. For those of us who have spent any time around small children we know that very often they think they know what is best but often don’t see the bigger picture. They know that their ball has rolled out into the street and they are singly focused on getting the ball. But adults often see a bigger picture. They see the car driving down the street and a child not aware of the danger. When the adult stops the child from running into the street the child is upset that they didn’t get their way not appreciating the larger situation.

Like the small child we also complain when we don’t get what we want, when we don’t get our way. We never realize that we have often been saved a world of hurt, even if we are inconvenienced, suffer setbacks or occasionally endure minor hurts.

So today, let’s give thanks for everything that we have and are going through.

Counting it all joy!

Pastor Val

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Prize of Peace

This past week there has been a lot of talk about peace and prizes for peace. It got me wondering about peace and the chances we have for real peace.

Is it possible for there to be peace in this age? How about the age to come? What will it look like and who will bring us true and lasting peace?

For those of us who are Christ followers we know that true and final peace will not come during this age. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3) As the age comes to a close we know that there will be more and more war and strife. Peace will not be found. (Matthew 24:6).

Jesus himself taught that peace making is a blessed occupation. (Matthew 5:9) But notice that he said peace makers not those who give peace away in a Chamberlin-like fashion. Peace at any cost is no peace at all. There are times when peace making requires non-peaceful methods.

And what about peace? What is peace? Too often we equate peace with the absence of open conflict. But in the Hebrew God calls peace shalom. Shalom is so much more then the absence of conflict. It is the creation of a Kingdom where God reign and rule comes to affect every portion of our life and being. Jesus came to offer a Kingdom of Shalom. But we wanted a peace that was ruled by force. There will come a time when Jesus will rule by force but now He offers us His shalom. Shalom is used as a greeting and a farewell (a wish for God’s blessing to be upon the other person), it is used to express our wish that His will, including His shalom is done here on earth as it is in heaven.

His peace should permeate the lives of all citizens of the God’s Kingdom. Our duty as citizens and representatives of His Kingdom is to seek to further His shalom both in our lives and in the world around us. While it is true that full peace will never be accomplished until after this age when the” age to come” comes, we are still commanded during the time of “now and not yet” to practice His peace to all that we meet.

It is always interesting to watch non-followers of Christ try to create something and long for something that is impossible to attain without the most necessary ingredient – the Prince of Shalom – Jesus Christ our Prince of Peace

Peace to you

Pastor Val

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You're Fired!

Recently I responded to a note posted on one of the ministry bulletin boards that I subscribe to. The situation that I addressed was the potential illegal termination of a staff member at a church. Below is my response. I thought it might be of value to those of you who follow my blog.

I, too have had a couple of "bad" experiences in my 25 plus years in the ministry. The majority of my time in ministry I've been in either the second or perhaps the second to last chair on staff. I feel compelled to address a couple of concerns that have been raised here. There have been times when I felt I got a raw deal, too. But in every situation God was in control. He didn't go out for a cup of coffee only to come back and wring his hands saying "What have they done now?" Father is in and has always been in control!

We are called to be servant-leaders, as such shouldn't we expect to be treated as servants?

Yes churches have by-laws and there are laws in our country that are designed to protect us, but is that what we are supposed to do?? Rely on laws or rely on God?

Remember Joseph? If anyone had a raw deal it was him. From favored son to slavery, to jail, to "second chair" in Egypt. yet in Genesis 50: 20 Joseph says that what men did for evil God ultimately used for not only the good of Joseph, but also his family and entire nations.

Corinthians 61-8 also is pretty specific about not taking a brother (and I believe that could be expanded to include an entire church) to court. I would recommend that in church by-laws, constitutions, etc. add a clause to go to binding arbitration with respected Christians leaders either in your denomination or in your local community.

James 1:2-4 also tells us that the situation we go through (called trials in the Bible) are designed to mature us. Do you and I enjoy these times? No! But in James 1:12, James indicates that we are to stay under the problem. Pray for grace to endure the situation and persevere. Why, God wants us to Grow Up!

I haven't always appreciated what God has allowed me to go through but Father was trying to to conform me to the image of Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 also tells us that the situation that we go through are designed to prepare us for our next ministry. perhaps my worst situation in the ministry prepared me for some of my deepest ministry. I hated what I went through and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but now I wouldn't trade my tribulation for anything because it deepened my relationship with my God and it has given me a deeper ability to minister to others who have been through similar situations.

My belief is that this is true in this situation.

Praying for all of us in the midst of our "situations"

Pastor Val

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Shack

I love to read!

I have a wide and varied interest in many different genres and themes that I enjoy. From mysteries, to SciFi, to adventure, to espionage, to drama I like lots and lots of different types of books. I even have read and enjoyed the occasional gothic novel – usually because my wife tells me how good a particular story was. I also enjoy reading books on leadership, business and of course theology!

In general I don’t care for Christian authors of novels. I’ve tried to read a number of different authors form this unique group of genres and most often I find the writing pedantic, cumbersome and boring. I have grown up being disappointed in novels that are published by Christian publishers due to their lack of skills and often simplistic plot lines.

All of that being said occasionally I am surprised by some novelist like Frank Peretti from a number of years ago. I was fascinated by the way he was able to weave so much theology into his writing and the how even the smallest reference to angelic being was deeply explored in his series on angelic world and how it intersected our understanding of reality. His plots were suspenseful and exciting and theologically he held my interest and admiration on tackling difficult issues and showing us that there are more dimensions then the three or four that we are used to relating to.

Yes, I know that many of us enjoyed the Left Behind series. I too enjoyed the books and was amazed at how the authors were able to weave a pretrib, premil understanding into their books and many of them were good reads. Toward the end, in my opinion, they suffered from writer’s fatigue and I from readers fatigue in their almost Christian SciFi series of eschatology (end times).

Until this past week I wondered when I find another Christian author who would write a novel that would again challenge or at least embrace my understanding of God and the theology of His plan to redeem the world and usher in the Kingdom of Now and Not Yet!

I finished a novel that was written a couple of years ago and became a New York Times best seller. I can’t tell form the face page how many printings this book has done through or whether or not it was originally available in hardback.

What I can tell you is that I had a hard time putting the book down. Perhaps I’m getting more emotional in my advanced age or perhaps God is making me more tender-hearted but there were times that I wept and times when I soared when reading this book.

Oh you want to know the name of the book?

The Shack by Wm Paul Young

Yes it is a novel and as such there will be certain latitudes that the author will take that some will not agree with, but the broad brush of this novel addresses many of the issues that the World is asking and that we as Christ followers are hard pressed to adequately answer.

Questions like:
Why is there evil in the world?
Is God a wrathful God and Jesus a loving God?
What is the nature of the Godhead – i.e. the Trinity?
What is forgiveness and who is it for?
What does God demand of His followers?

These and many more questions are addressed in this novel by Paul Young.

I have to admit that I am still processing this read through my theological knowledge of God, salvation, forgiveness and living in community with fellow believers and more importantly with God.

I can tell you that much of this writing I resonate with and my soul explodes in praise to my creator as I hear and read the issues he tackles. I can only wish that I had had the ability to articulate as well as the author does his understanding of Who God is and What He wants from each of us.

A brief synopsis of the story is that a man, Mack, who has suffered a life battering experience of the abduction and death of a young daughter, is invited ostensibly by God to meet with Him at the place where Mack’s daughter died. Not knowing what or who he will find at this back-woods shed that has been the sight of the greatest tragedies of Mack’s life, he goes that spends a weekend.

While there in an almost Dickens-like tale Mack encounters a number of personalities during his time at the shack. At the end of the weekend Mack’s life is changed.

If you are questioning God or have ever wondered who God is this book will challenge many of your preconceived notations and ideas about God and whether or not He truly is a loving God.

I hope you will read the book and join me in a discussion!

Serving a loving God and Father

Pastor Val

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let The Party Begin!

God is throwing a party by invitation only. I can’t speak for you but I can speak for myself. I want to be invited! Psalm 15 is a list of the qualities that God is looking for in the people He plans to invite.

I think I come out OK on most of the qualifications but one was really tripping me up, the idea of not taking up a reproach against another. Usually this verse (Ps 15:3) is translated that you will do no harm against another. But there is another just as valid way of interpreting this verse. We are not to shoulder the wrongs done to a friend of ours either. You see they have cause for action but we don’t and when they are given redress or cancel the debts for the wrongs done to them we can still be royally angry and there is nothing we can do about it but let it go. The wrong was not done against neither are we owed an apology for what our friend suffered.

“So how does that apply?” you might ask.

Have you ever had people who are no longer a part of your life because they disappointed you or failed to live up to a Biblical principle? I recently was thinking about a person who at one time was a friend of mine and who miserably failed to do the right thing, the honorable thing the Biblical thing for a mutual friend of ours.

It has been years since the incident happened. And I had kinda let the friendship drop because when push came to shove my friend chose the safe way and not the right way. He ran away from the issue instead of meeting it head on. I have always felt bad about the outcome. Our mutual friend was hurt and a leader in authority continued to sexually assault women for years because witnesses valued their jobs over the truth. Sometimes it easier to turn your head and pretend it never happened then to stand for truth, justice and the Biblical way.

So what made me re-approach my friend from years ago? A couple of things: One, I needed to forgive him for being weak. After all I haven’t always been as strong as I should have (Something about casting the first stone or something like that). And two, Psalm 15 tells us that we are not to take up an offense for another. (Yes, Gertrude, the Hebrew can be read that way. The ancient rabbis encouraged us to look at each Biblical concept taught in Scripture as a multifaceted jewel with many different connection points.) So, for me to continue to carry a grudge, for a wrong not done to me but to my friend, has no Biblical basis.

Someone who wants to be invited into God’s house we must be willing to live up to the expectations laid down in Psalm 15. That’s how you and I get invited to God’s party.

So let the party begin!

Pastor Val

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Secret to the End Times

I was recently asked by a lady: “Are we approaching the end times or are we in them?”

My question back to her was “Why are you asking? What difference does it make to you where we are in God’s timeline?”

As far as end times goes the big problem is that we try to figure out when it's going to happen. Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 not to be concerned “about times or dates – for you know very well that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

As if this special knowledge will gain us greater insight into the Scriptures. It would be better to be faithful in doing what God commands - Love God, Love others and Serve this World as Christ did.

When the Bridegroom comes what's important is that the bridesmaids are found faithfully obedient, not looking for God's secret into understanding the end times. (Matthew 25:1-13)

While it's interesting and even fun to speculate on what is happening and when it's going to happen, remember that every generation, for many generations, have believed that the Lord would return during their life time. In fact we are commanded to expect his imminent return. I'd rather be found serving God as He commands rather then worrying if the end times are here.
After all don’t most Baptists (but not all) believe in a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial rapture of the church? If this is true, then we won't be here anyway – so, so what if the end times come? Even if we are here we are still commanded to be faithful in our quest to advance His Kingdom until He returns.

On the other hand, suppose the end times are right around the corner - how should we prepare for them? And more importantly how does this differ as to how we are commanded to live, especially we are to be anticipating His return at any moment! Be prepared! (Matthew 24:44, Luke 12:40)

So the secret to the end times is simply this be watchful for His return and be faithful in His service. For truly, he comes as a thief in the night and no man knows the hour or the day except the Father. (Matthew 24:36)

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

Counting the days

Pastor Val

Friday, June 5, 2009

Here’s Your Sign

Do you remember “playing post” office as a kid?

This is the game in which involved a group of kids who start off whispering a story to the person next to you and so on around the circle. At the end of the circle the last person would tell the group what they heard and the first person would tell everyone what was actually said. It’s always a stitch to see how the message morphed.

Unfortunately “post office” happens in real life much to often.

Usually it happens in “well-meaning” gossip. What happens is some one questions something that they heard, saw, or read and instead of going to the source and clarifying the situation they share it with another person and that person shares it with the next person and so on and so on. Ultimately we have a mountain that was simply a molehill and potentially a life or reputation is ruined.

2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NIV) 11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

Proverbs 16:28 (NLT) 28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Number of years ago a pastor friend of mine was doing research on the Internet searching for some resources on Christian body life. He was studying in his office and at his computer he typed in the phrase “the tie that binds” and hit search. What he found was a list of websites that were S&M sites. He was mortified and absolutely scared that someone would find out and accuse him of surfing the Internet for porn.

He told me the story in confidence some ten years ago and has since said it was OK to pass this story along.

The fear has long since died down but the humor has not passed.

Suspicion and lack of trust runs rampant in many churches and reputations can be ruined and ministries affected by the loose lips of well meaning people. We are all prone to doing foolish things that can take on a life of their own. We need to grant grace in the same way that we have been given grace. Otherwise... Bill Ingval would say:
“Here’s Your Sign!”

Pastor Val

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why I Worship On Sunday

A number of months ago I received an email from a friend who recommended a blog that he has begun reading by Neil Cole. Neil is one of the leaders of the organic church movement and in one of his blogs he asks if attending Sunday services is really all that important. He uses scripture and so called history to prove his point that it is not. You can read Mr. Cole’s specific blog at

I agree with many of the things that Mr. Cole says about abuses that we see in our Sunday worship some 200 centuries since the founding of the Church, but I also disagree with some of his conclusions.

First we must consider what the climate was like for the first century church and what would happen to the church in 3 short centuries of time. Yes, Mr. Cole is correct that many of the gatherings were in homes. And you can read the description of what one of their meetings was like if you pick up a copy of “Going To Church In The First Century” by Robert Banks. In this book Banks accurately describes what a normal worship event was like in many towns and cities throughout the Roman Empire.

But we also know that many believers also met in larger buildings when they were not being persecuted. In the beginning chapters of the book of Acts we find over 100 people together in an upper room holding a prayer meeting. In fact at one time over 500 people witnessed Jesus after His resurrection (see 1 Cor.). We don’t know if this was an open air event or held in a building.

We also see that the Jerusalem church had many people coming together for common meals. When the problem arose regarding the care of the Grecian widows during the meal times 7 men were chosen to act as waiters at the tables to ensure that everyone received their portion of the meal. (We did something similar during our Christmas Breakfast here at Grace. We were concerned about some of the young children in the front of the line taking more then they could eat and there being nothing left for those who were at the end.) So we limited the portions one could take the first time through the line.

The second issue and perhaps the more important issue is: “Should a church meet on the first day of the week?

To this I again would look to the fact that the early believers meet throughout the week as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. But I would also point out that special emphasis is placed on meeting on the first day of the week, primarily to commemorate and celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. (Matthew 28:1) I would further point out that Mr. Cole is correct that the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:2 is speaking about the church collecting an offering for the Jerusalem believers who were suffering a drought and many were impoverished. While the passage does not say that believers gathered for worship on the first day, it has to be implied in the passage. Otherwise we have people who have worked a long day coming together to simply drop off their offering and nothing more. (Un)common sense would suggest that this time could and would make perfect sense for a worship service to happen. Also in Acts 20:7 it is recorded that the disciples in Europe gathered together to break bread (code word for communion) and to hear Paul speak. This seemed the natural thing to do. In my thinking it becomes obvious the Sunday worship was a common occurance.

Another thoughts regarding the Gospels is that all four Gospels indicate that the Resurrection was discovered early in the morning on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Six of the eight appearances of Christ to his followers after the Resurrection took place on the first day: to Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–18), to the women bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Matt. 28:7–10), to two disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13–33), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the ten disciples when Thomas was absent (John 20:19–23; cf. Luke 24:36–49), and possibly (although the text uses the phrase “after eight days”) to the eleven disciples when Thomas was present (John 20:24–29). These appearances of Christ on the first day were sufficient to set it apart as a day of particular significance. If the crucifixion of Jesus took place on the sixth day of the week (Friday), as is traditionally held, then the day of Pentecost that year was also on the first day of the week, since it falls fifty days after Passover (which would have coincided with the Sabbath). If so, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles also occurred on the Lord’s Day (Acts 2:1–4).

A couple of final thoughts on the subject, this one also taken from the ancient church. Justin Martyr (c. 100–165) explains that the church chose this day for worship because it was both the first day of Creation and the day of the resurrection of Christ. Thus the Lord’s Day contrasts with the Sabbath in a second respect closely related to the Resurrection. Whereas the Sabbath, or seventh day, marked God’s resting from his creative activity (Gen. 2:1–2), the Lord’s Day is a day of “new creation.” By worshiping on the first day of the week, the Christian church is making a statement about the new beginning God has made in Jesus Christ and the people of the new covenant (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:1–5).

The church practiced something called the 8th day of the week. The counting of the survivors of the flood with attention to the fact that there were “eight” (
i.e., Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives, Gen 7:13) is attested elsewhere in early Christian literature (cf. 2 Pet 2:5; Theophilus, AdAutol 3.19; Sib. Or. 1.280–81), where “eight” was sometimes given a symbolic significance (e.g., representing Sunday, “the eighth day,” in which Christ rose from the dead: Justin, Dial. 138.1–2; cf. also Barn. 15.9)[3] They believed that the 1st day of the week was the beginning of creation and that like the first creation the new creation began on the 1st day of the week with the resurrection of the Lord. Additionally they saw the first day of the new creation or the 8th day of the week to be the culmination of God’s creation by the new creation that begins to set right the fall of the first creation because of our parents Adam & Eve.

In the early church the number eight held special significance in the understanding of numbers. Just as the number 3 = equaled God (ie trinity) and 4 = creation then 3 + 4 = 7 = completion. The number 8 = resurrection and recreation or new creation. For examples of the number eight and how it means recreation see 1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5.

I firmly believe that we honor not only our Lord’s resurrection but His recreation of a fallen world by worshiping on Sunday the first day of the week!

A part of the re-created order, I’m

Pastor Val

[1]Robert Webber, The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship, 1st ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group, 1993), 196.
[2]Robert Webber, The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship, 1st ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group, 1993), 196.
i.e. id est, that is
cf. confer, compare
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
Dial. Dialogue with Trypho
Barn. Barnabas
[3]J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary : 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 212.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Bank Account

The Bank Account

I read an article on line today about a New Zeeland couple who went to the bank to negotiate a line of credit. They were asking for NZ $10,000 and through a series of human errors they were given NZ $10,000,000 about the equivalent of $6.8 million dollars US.

As you can imagine when the “lucky” couple realized the mistake they made use of the credit and transferred the funds to a bank account out of the country. They are now on the run and there is a massive manhunt underway trying to track them down. Needless to say the bank was quite upset about this turn of events and they are trying to recoup their mistaken largess. So far they have recouped about 2.8 million dollars US and are frantically searching transactions around the world looking for their money.

I got to thinking about how we are beggars who have asked the King for help with our financial needs only to discover that He has offered to adopt us. We find out that we have access to an unlimited the bank account and we don’t have to pay it back!

The Bible tells us that we are joint heirs with the Father’s natural Son and we have been given a bank account full of good things that are there for our use if we only ask for them.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)
for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10 (NIV)
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17 (NIV)
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13b-14 (NIV)
So what are you going to do with your new found wealth? Horde it or share it?

I’m trying to share it with those who need what we have and are anxious to receive it!

It seems that the more I give it away the greater my return on my investment!

Giving it away!

Pastor Val

Monday, March 30, 2009

How To Survive Groupies and Critics

How to survive groupies and critics

Have you ever wondered about why we agonize over criticism? Have you ever wondered is there truth to the voice of the critics. Or have you wondered about the praise of your fans, your groupies? Is there truth in their praises? Each of these two groups want something from you. The questions you need to ask yourself is what is it do they want? And what do I want from them?

Every leader or speaker has them critics and groupies. Each has a unique need and a unique way of responding. Our job is to seek for the underlying truth in their words and concerns.

I ran across a blog today that addressed this issue and I think had some helpful insights in dealing with groupies and critics.

I offer it to you below and have provided the link if you would like to explore Seth’s blog for yourself.

Ignore your critics
If you find 100 comments on a blog post or 100 reviews of a new book or 100 tweets about you...
and two of them are negative, while 98 are positive...
which ones are you going to read first?
If you're a human being and you're telling the truth, the answer is pretty obvious: you want to know which misguided losers had nasty things to say and you want to know what they said. In fact, if we're being totally truthful, it's likely you're going to take what the critics had to say to heart.
That's a shame. The critics are never going to be happy with you, that's why they're critics. You might bore them by doing what they say... but that won't turn them into fans, it will merely encourage them to go criticize someone else.
It doesn't matter what Groucho or Elvis or Britney or any other one-name performer does or did... the critics won't be placated. Changing your act to make them happy is a fool's game.
Here's a surprising thought, though. You should ignore your fans as well.
Your fans don't want you to change, your fans want you to maintain the essence of what you bring them but add a laundry list of features. You fans want lower prices and more contributions, bigger portions and more frequent deliveries.
So, who should you listen to?
Your sneezers.
You should listen to the people who tell the most people about you. Listen to the people who thrive on sharing your good works with others. If you delight these people, you grow.

You can check it out a the link provided below

Sneezers are anyone who virally spreads the things that advance the Kingdom. People have to come into close contact with a sneezer for the virus to spread.

A final thought or two or maybe even three.

Always accept praise and criticism with a grain of salt.

Always take both before Father and ask Him, His opinion

Always listen to His voice and you will never go wrong

Grace 2 U

Pastor Val

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I was recently reading (unfortunately, I can’t remember what or where I was reading, something that is happening from time to time) about Jesus and the many miracles He performed. This author pointed out that many perhaps most of Jesus miracles were performed were as a result of interruptions to the task or purpose He was involved with at that moment in time.

Jesus is at a wedding enjoying the party and His mother interrupts him with a request for help with the wine. After delivering the greatest sermon of all time Jesus is interrupted by a leprous man asking for healing. He is confronted by demonic men on His way to minister to a town. Jesus is teaching about cloths and wine skins and a synagogue ruler interrupts asking for help with his sick daughter. Jesus is on His way to heal a sick girl and He is interrupted by a woman in the crowd who has a blood disease. Jesus is traveling on His way to a destination and a blind man interrupts Him with a request to be healed. After a long day of teaching Jesus is sleeping during a boat ride to the other side of the lake and His sleep is interrupted due tot eh fear of the disciples of a sudden storm. Jesus is teaching and a message comes telling Him his friend Lazarus is dead.

Was Jesus bothered by the interruptions? My only clue to the answer to this question is that Jesus occasionally slipped off either by himself or sometimes with His disciples in order to rest and recharge, so even Christ needed time to recharge His batteries. But on at least one occasion the crowd followed Him and Jesus gave up his rest to minister to their needs.

I could go on with more but I think you get the idea. Ministry is often about the interruptions. This is something I’m learning as a new senior pastor. While I encountered it some as an associate I really have had to come to grips with this reality with my change in position.

Each day I have a list of things I want to get accomplished and each day my success rate varies with the number of things I have checked off my “to do list.” But what I am noticing is that when I am open to the Spirit He chooses to often interrupt my day with more important issues and people with needs and hurts. I am given the opportunity to serve because of the interruptions not in spite of them!

God bless the interruptions and bless you, God, for allowing me to serve

Pastor Val

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Presidential Do Over

Like many Americans and perhaps a lot of people around the world I tuned into the Inauguration Tuesday to watch Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States. It was with some amusement that I watched the first presidential blunder of our new president when Chief Justice Roberts misspoke the oath of office and President Obama stopped midsentence and stumbled over his lines.

After flubbing the oath of office for the President of the United States President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts repeated the oath a second time in front of a few reporters the next day (not because it was necessary but do to an overriding “abundance of caution” by White House counsel. History indicates that this is not the first time that a President has had to have a do over of the oath of office because of flubbing their lines, Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur both were given “do overs.”

While some people might find the concepts of “do overs” wrong, the Bible is full of “do overs” Abraham had a habit of lying about his relationship with his wife and yet God allowed him back into fellowship. David certainly was allowed a do over when his relationship was restored after committing adultery and murder.

Peter was allowed a do over after denying Christ three times he confessed his love and loyalty to Christ three times after the resurrection. In fact if you read 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

While there are always consequences for our action (just ask a farmer what happens if he gets his seeds mixed up when he plants) it seems that humans are much less forgiving then God is. We don’t care to give mulligans unless it’s involves our own failures. Yet Paul has to remind us that we were all sinners but God gave us a do over when we became followers of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

I’m sure glad that we serve a God of “Do Overs!”

Aren’t you?

Pastor Val

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like … The First Century

It seems that the more of the 21st Century that we experience the more it seems that we are living in the past. Bob Webber author of the ancient-future series used to say that the future is found by traveling through the past. He encouraged his student and readers to recognize that today the western Christianity faces many of the same obstacles that believers did during the first three centuries. The plurality of religions and the duality that has crept into Christianity all point to similar circumstances with the early Christians.

Now to start the New Year comes yet another similarity with the first century. Hamas has legalized crucifixion for enemies of Islam. For centuries this form of execution that been called the most brutal of all capital punishments was outlawed. But that no longer is the case.

This announcement was reported in the Jerusalem Post. You can read the entire article at

“On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari'a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.

Hamas's endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn't feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas.”

Isn’t interesting, we have not heard any news reports outside of the Middle East about the reinstitution of this punishment. I wonder when the first sanctioned crucifixion will be carried out. Will the Western News outlets carry it? It makes you feel like we are slipping back in time as we travel into the future.

Jesus said that in this world we would know persecution and if they hated our master why would we expect to be treated any better?

Enjoy the New Year but never forget that our job is to live out our King’s command to spread his message of shalom to a world that hates our King and fights against the shalom that he offers to all who follow Him

Happy New Year may His shalom live in your heart throughout this coming year!

Grace to you

Pastor Val