Posted on

Christian Heritage, Family Worship and Woodland Christian Church

11182105_852520558117282_102741777934117540_n
Was able to meet these two men, Tedd Tripp and Voddie Baucham, the keynote speakers at the conference.

Friday and Saturday a number of families from WCC attended the Annual Christian Heritage Conference. What a blessing it was for me as a pastor to think of all the great teaching washing over so many in our church family. It’s similar to the feeling I had a few weeks ago when a number of people attended the ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) training in Portland, knowing part of our body is becoming better equipped to minister to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another way the conference blessed me was in regards to strengthening a few of my convictions:

  • Parents need to disciple their children: Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
  • Fathers need to be spiritual leaders in their homes, instructing their children: Ephesians 6:4b Fathers, bring [your children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

These responsibilities don’t belong to the church. This is a divine calling given to parents. When I was involved in youth ministry I saw the failure associated with parents abdicating their roles, believing the church should do what God has commanded them to do. Families need to be praying and reading the Bible together, but while we don’t believe the church has the responsibility to raise the children in the church, it does have the responsibility to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11). This means churches need to come alongside parents and help them fulfill this tremendous calling. Hopefully the Marriage and Family Series – with so much emphasis on fathers being spiritual leaders – has provided encouragement in this area. We want to make sure fathers see themselves as the pastors (shepherds) of their families. One of the ways WCC would like to help equip families in this area is through the family worship guides Pastor Doug will be producing in the near future. The guide will include tools to assist families’ devotional times throughout the week.

With the Marriage & Family Series coming to an end at WCC, we want to make sure we don’t drift away from some of the important principles we’ve learned. James 1:23-24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. We don’t want to be like this! We don’t want to spend months discussing what God’s Word says about families worshipping and praying together, only to turn around and forget what we’ve learned.

Posted on

Our 2014 trip to CA (and Katie’s b-day)

Our 2014 trip to CA

I have to be a little more specific regarding which trip I’m referring to, since I have blog posts on our September 2013 trip to our hometown of Fall River Mills, CA, as well as Parts I and II of our December 2011 trip to Lemoore, CA.

Katie and I had a wonderful time. We visited many of our old friends as well as our previous church, Grace Baptist. We missed all of our Woodland friends and our church family – especially when looking at the pictures of the Harvest Party, but we really enjoyed the time of rest.

We arrived on Tuesday, October 21st in the evening and returned on Tuesday the 28th. We’re stayed with our wonderful friends Dave and Naida, whom we stayed with for our 2011 trip as well (here are previous posts I’ve written about them). We met in 2005 when we attended Calvary Chapel. They visited WCC in June of 2012 and shared during Sunday School, and they’re planning on visiting again in a few months.

Prior to arriving, Dave and Naida asked if we wanted them to fill our schedule with meetings and visits, but we told them we’d be happy relaxing at their house spending time with each other and with them. They’re the kind of friends we can talk with for hours, and even when we haven’t seen each other for years it feels like no time has passed between us. Plus, one of the main purposes of the trip was rest and relaxation…although we still stayed pretty busy…

Like I said, we arrived on Tuesday evening. We spent the evening with Dave and Naida, unpacked, then went to bed.

Wednesday, Dave invited me to meet with him and one of the young men he’s been discipling. In the evening Dave and Naida’s daughter Danielle and husband Charlie (two of our good friends when we were in Lemoore) came over for dinner and spent the evening with us.

1487853_765881626781176_5550665581319840702_o

Thursday, Dave invited me to meet with him and an atheist he’s been witnessing to each week. Our previous pastor, Joe Gruchacz (I began my ministry under him at Grace Baptist as a part-time youth pastor and then full-time associate pastor), scheduled a “Marriage Toolbox” in the evening, which he invited me to lead. It worked out wonderfully since I was able to use the material from our Marriage & Family Series at WCC. I asked Katie to look through my sermons and find the lessons she thought would make good “tools” for people to take with them.

We spent most of Friday relaxing at Dave and Naida’s, and in the afternoon we went to Pastor Joe’s house and spent the evening with him and his wife Janet. They took us to the Cheesecake Factory in Fresno, then we went back to their house and prayed together.

10325242_765315453504460_1857955430012611486_nSaturday, Katie and Naida attended a bridal shower and Dave and I spent the afternoon together. In the evening Dave and Naida put on an Open House for our friends from the area to come and hear about our ministry at WCC.

1801309_765881770114495_920414317427170050_oSunday I preached at Grace Baptist, again using material from the Marriage & Family Series…and again I asked Katie to choose the lessons she thought would be most valuable to everyone. After service, we went out to lunch with a small group of friends.

10623752_765881893447816_5623008548092812676_oThen Sunday afternoon and evening we visited our good friends Steve and Sylvia McCartha, who have really suffered since acquiring Lyme Disease, including not being able to leave their home at times because of Sylvia’s low white blood cell count.

Monday we had a really special morning with Dave and Naida. We spent hours after breakfast talking, and I feel like the Lord really guided and blessed our conversation. Then for our last day Katie and I spent our time together, going out to lunch and walking around the mall. In the evening we had dinner with Dave and Naida and our friends Barry and Pam came over too.

Tuesday morning we got up, had breakfast and headed to the airport. Katie’s father Rick picked us up at the airport, as he was staying at our house with Rhea, Ricky and Charis. My parents were visiting a timeshare and they’d taken Johnny with them. They said they were returning on Thursday, so while we were glad to be back and see our other kids, we were sad about not seeing Johnny (or my parents) for a few more days.

This also happened to be Katie’s birthday, and her sister Molly invited us over to their house in the evening. Molly and her husband DJ purchased a place right next to the church when they moved here a few months ago. Katie knew Molly was making her a cake for her birthday, but my parents surprised us by coming home from their timeshare early with Johnny. It ended up being a wonderful ending to a wonderful week.

photo 1Overall, I’m thankful for my parents and Katie’s parents watching the kids most of the time we were gone (a few other families watched the kids a couple nights and we’re thankful for them too), and I’m especially thankful for Dave and Naida’s hospitality and the love they showed us while we were with them. It was great to see old friends and our previous church, but whenever we’re away it makes us recognize what a gift we have in WCC as well.

Posted on

Be Filled with the Spirit – Part III: It doesn't mean being baptized with the Holy Spirit

Part III

On Sunday mornings at WCC we’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series looking at the instruction for husbands, wives and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4. All the instruction flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 to, “Not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Considering the importance of this verse I wanted to spend a few weeks talking about what it means…and doesn’t mean.

In Part II we saw that it doesn’t mean speaking in tongues, and in this post we’ll talk about what else it doesn’t mean: being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”, some supposed experience that takes place after conversion. The idea is you’re indwelt by the Spirit at conversion, but baptized with Him later.

While the word baptism makes us think of water, it means “immerse” and can refer to being baptized – or immersed – in trials (Mark 10:39), or for the Israelites, even baptized in Moses because of their unity with him (1 Cor 10:2). With that in mind Paul’s crucial words are found in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Paul isn’t referring to being baptized – or immersed – in water, but being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ – or the church – at the moment of conversion.

Paul’s favorite way of referring to believers’ relationships with Jesus is to say we’re “in Christ”, so when Paul says we’re “baptized into Christ Jesus” in Romans 6:1-4 he means we’re spiritually immersed in Him: Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. This should make sense because we don’t become part of the body of Christ through water baptism, but through faith in Christ; water baptism is simply a physical demonstration of what has taken place spiritually as we identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection when we go under the water and come back up.

Paul’s emphasis in 1 Corinthians 12:12 and 13 is on oneness (the word one occurring six times), and there can be “one body” because we’re all baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion and placed into the body of Christ; however, if there was a later baptism that some received while others hadn’t, there would have to be two bodies: one for believers who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and one for those who haven’t received that experience. Ephesians 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Paul couldn’t say this if some believers were baptized at conversion, but others were then baptized later. The clear understanding is all believers receive one baptism by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion.

Posted on

Be Filled with the Spirit – Part II: It doesn't mean speaking in tongues

Part IIOn Sunday mornings at WCC we’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series looking at the instruction for husbands, wives and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4. All the instruction flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 to, “Not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Considering the importance of this verse I wanted to spend a few weeks talking about what it means…and doesn’t mean.

In Part I we saw that it doesn’t refer to the Holy Spirit indwelling us at the moment of conversion. We considered the four individuals in Luke 1 who were “filled with the Spirit” (John in v. 15, Mary in v. 35, Elizabeth in v. 41 and Zacharias in v. 67), and there’s no record of any of them speaking in tongues. The fifth Person in Luke “filled with the Spirit” is Jesus Himself in Luke 4:1, but while the first four were “filled with the Spirit”, Jesus was “FULL OF the Holy Spirit”. Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 say “in [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Nobody would argue with Jesus being the most Spirit-filled Person to walk the earth, but there’s no instance of Him ever speaking in tongues. Some would say there’s no verse saying He didn’t speak in tongues, but that’s called “arguing from silence”, and for reasons that go beyond this post, let me simply say: arguing from silence is very dangerous. We stand on what God’s Word says, not on what it doesn’t say.

Others think “being filled with the Spirit” means you can have more or less of Him, but the truth is you can never have more or less of the Holy Spirit than you have at the moment of conversion. When you’re saved the Holy Spirit indwells you and you receive all of Him: 1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. You either have the Holy Spirit or you don’t, but you can’t have part of Him without having all of Him.

But – and this is very important – you can have more or less of the Holy Spirit’s influence over you. This is why the beginning of Ephesians 5:18 mentions wine: it has the potential to influence people, and so does the Holy Spirit. We are filled with, or influenced by, the Holy Spirit when we submit to, or yield to Him, allowing Him to help us live holier lives:

  • Eddie Rasnake says, “There is no place in Scripture that indicates we can receive more of the Holy Spirit. The real issue is the release of the already present Spirit to have free reign in our hearts. It isn’t about us having more of Him, but of Him having more of us.”
  • John Napier said, The goal of the Christian life is not to gain the Spirit-filled experience; rather, the goal is to remain Spirit-filled. That should be the normal Christian life.”
Posted on

Be Filled with the Spirit – Part I: It doesn't mean the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

Part IWe’re in the middle of our Marriage & Family Series at WCC and all the instruction for husbands, wives, and children in Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4 flows from the command in Ephesians 5:18 Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. Considering the importance of this verse, I’m going to discuss what it means – and doesn’t mean – over the next few weeks.

First, we’ll talk about what it doesn’t mean…

Paul is not talking about the Holy Spirit indwelling us, as that happens at the moment of conversion: that is a one-time, instantaneous event when we put our faith in Christ and are regenerated, or born again, or brought to life spiritually. Paul is talking about something else in verse 18 though: the Greek would actually be better understood as: “keep on being filled” or “stay filled with the Spirit”, because Paul is describing something that should be ongoing our lives. And what is that? Interestingly, the beginning of the verse is how we understand what he’s saying, and when you catch the contrast it makes perfect sense: alcohol has the potential to influence people – when people are driving drunk, we say they’re “driving under the influence” – and just like wine has the potential to influence people, so does the Holy Spirit have the potential to influence people.

This begs the question, “How are we filled with, or influenced by, the Spirit?” The answer is actually simple to understand, but difficult to live out: by submitting to or yielding to Him. When we don’t submit to or yield to the Holy Spirit, we’re not being filled with – or influenced – by Him. This is what Paul’s talking about when he says:

  • Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Some people will say you’re grieving or quenching the Spirit if you don’t do certain things, usually speaking in tongues, but that’s not what these verses mean.

Consider the theme in Luke 1 of four different people being filled with the Spirit (John the Baptist in v. 15, Mary in v. 35, Elizabeth in v. 41, and Zacharias in v. 67), but there’s no record of any of them speaking in tongues. Were they grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit? Of course not, and even though two of them were moved to make dramatic declarations (Mary’s Magnificat in vv. 46-55 and Zacharias’ prophecy in vv. 68-79), they weren’t spoken in tongues.

More in Part II on the 5th Person filled with the Spirit: Jesus!

Posted on

Missing a Sermon

Missing a Sermon

We’re beginning our Marriage & Family Series and I’ve asked the congregation a favor: “If you miss a Sunday please be sure to listen to the sermon on our website.” I’m making this request because sermons build on each other. While we’ve been in Luke it’s been important to know what took place earlier to better understand what will take place later, but during this series it’s going to be even more significant for understanding and spiritual growth to be familiar with the material previously preached. For example, yesterday’s sermon discussing the Greek words for love (eros, storge, phileō, and agapaō) will prepare us for this Sunday’s sermon on Ephesians 5:25 which says, Husbands, love (agapaō) your wives, just as Christ also loved (agapaō) the church and gave Himself for her.”

I’ve said before that I pray throughout the week about what God wants me to preach, down to the individual words; my prayer could be summarized as, “Lord, what do You want to say to Your people through me?” In a recent post, Pastors are Prophets???, I discussed prophecy being part of the preaching of God’s Word. This is according to 1 Corinthians 14:3 which says, He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” The Amplified words it this way: “The one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose IN INSPIRED PREACHING AND TEACHING] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation. Unfortunately, we tend to think of prophecy as predicting (foretelling) the future, but it’s much better to think of prophecy as proclaiming (forth telling) the Word of God.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “[Jesus] gave pastors and teachers [to the church], for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The Greek construction of the words pastors and teachers indicates the terms go together; in English they could be hyphenated as pastor-teacher emphasizing the pastor’s ministry in teaching. 2 Timothy 3:17 says, “Scripture equips the man of God for every good work.” If pastors have the responsibility to equip the saints, and Scripture is what they’re equipped with, it only makes sense pastors would shepherd or feed God’s flock by teaching them Scripture. My desire is for God to use me to equip WCC for ministry, which for the Marriage & Family Series will be the ministries of family and marriage. I pray God uses these sermons to equip the members of WCC for every good work in their homes.