“A Series of Important Dedications”

“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
— 1 Peter 3:14b–15a (NIV84)

There are many ways and various “ceremonies” we can participate in to dedicate something. From Baby Dedications to wedding ceremonies, we have all witnessed or participated in some form of dedication….

As we move past BAU, into a season of hope and transformation, I would like us to seriously consider participating in the “Prayer at the Heart,” this September. It will not only be commemorating the Feast of Trumpets, but it will also be an opportunity to once again to dedicate, (or rededicate) our lives to following the Lord Jesus.

A little history on various dedication “ceremonies” at VBC: In 1997, while I was interim pastor, we held a ceremony to repent of the rather awkward and sometimes spiteful split Valley Bible had from its mother church. I was then led to ride my bike in a rather spiral-shaped path starting at G Road by the freeway and arriving at the church as the focal point. I then anointed the center of what is now our parking lot.

Then, in the early 2000’s, we anointed and prayed over all the doors of the building, dedicating them afresh to serving the Saints and those who seek to know the Lord Jesus. Shortly after this, we did a “Jericho Walk” around our land. Yep, we marched 7 times in silence around the perimeter of our 4.5 acres, breaking the silence on the 7th lap with cheers and praises as our then music leader led us is songs of praise. (They neighbors thought we were strange!)

Throughout my 23 years here as pastor I have often knelt in the center of the floor and prayed that we would be dedicated to Living the Resurrected Life of the Lord Jesus, drawing many from all over the valley and all over the world who desire to serve with a heart that has been broken and made whole.

I need not mention our month’s praying and fasting, but this is but one of the many “ceremonies” we have participated in over the years of Valley Bible. I do not have space to recount all the countless people who have knelt in the same spot I have, who have anointed the door frames & parking lot, who have and continue to pour their sweat & tears into this body called Valley Bible.

This past July, Valley Bible Church celebrated its 47th year as a fellowship, as a light in this neighborhood and community. Another “thing” I heard from the Lord this past fast was to continue to “Build with the Past, to Live for the Present While Planning for the Future.” And part of this future is rededicating ourselves to passionately Pursue the Lord Jesus, as we build families to live His Word!

Join me in the pursuit,

Pastor Mike

“Resurrection Power”

As we enter the season of celebrating our Lord Jesus’ Resurrection, I would like to remind us of His Resurrection Life in and through us.  The focus verse for this blog is Phil. 3:10-11 with our dear Brother Paul confessing:

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. —Phil. 3:10-11 (NIV84)

First, notice that “the power of His resurrection” presupposes death. This death is death to sin, self-desires, selfishness — “self!” Clearly, this is a lifelong process of choosing to die to the old nature and confessing the Lord Jesus Christ is our Life to manifest the New Nature!

Second, notice “sharing in His sufferings” presupposes a “painful” process when we are dying to self and living in the Resurrection Power (aka, Resurrection Life). All challenges, trials, difficulties, and hardships can be viewed as a part of this “sharing in His sufferings” (no matter their source). When viewed this way, the Hope of the resurrection sustains us in the trial.

This brings us to the third observation: Attaining “to the resurrection from the dead.” This is a Both/And. Both in the eternal state when the Lord’s Kingdom comes, and there is a new heavens and a new earth, And in the here and now! Right now we can experience, in some small measure, the Resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ as He resurrects a crucified aspect of our lives, making it more like Him.

So, join with me this Resurrection Season in Celebrating both the Resurrection and the process of the Resurrection!

Living in the Hope of the Resurrection,

Pastor Mike

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree: Two Trees of a Different Sort”

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV2011)

Have you ever noticed that the Christmas Tree is much different than the Easter “Tree”?  One is an evergreen, symbolizing Life, the other an instrument of torture, symbolizing death. And yet the one leads to the other. Two trees, two symbols, but One Lord and One Life—Life eternal and abundant because of what was done on the one Tree that gives us gifts under the other tree.

Perhaps you can take a little time this season to ponder these two trees, especially as you exchange the gifts under the one? Let it remind you of the Gift that was exchanged for you on the other.

Join me this December in being truly Merry People who sincerely wish others a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year

13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13–15 NIV2011)

A Blessed and Merry Christmas & a Peace-filled New Year,

Pastor Mike

“Entitlement vs. Humility”

 “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” [Romans 8:32, NIV84]

If we feel entitled to something, then gratitude and grace are abandoned. If you owe me Love and respect and attention, then there is no room from gratitude and thankfulness on my part (just a snarky arrogance), and, as for grace, well, it is no longer “unearned and unmerited,” right?

So, as we enter this “Thanksgiving Season,” join me in pondering the above verse, and allowing for the Grace of our Lord to swell within us a humble gratitude of thanksgiving. No, we are not entitled to His Love and Grace, but, oh, my friend, we can definitely be recipients of it….

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV84)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV2011)

Praying for Humble Hearts,

Pastor Mike

“Still A Servant Leader”

Date: 9-7-14
Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: Join James’ example of keeping a servant’s heart even though he was thrust into the ‘spotlight’ of leadership.

My Thoughts:
James was clearly humiliated to discover that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. This is evident in that he, like Peter, ‘required’ a special audience with the Risen One (see 1 Cor. 15:5-7). In this humiliation, James chose, as his older Brother did, to take on the form of a servant (see Phil. 2:7-8); thus, the ‘title,’ servant, in the opening salutation of his letter.
But at some point in his walk with the Master, he was asked to step up and be a leader in the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17 & 15:13ff). He was even consider a “pillar” in the church; and he’s listed first!
Lifestyle worshipers, have you been offered a position of leadership? At work? In your home? In school or a community club? In the church? If so, join James’ example of keeping a servant’s heart even though he was thrust into the ‘spotlight’ of leadership. … But, remember, at least he stepped up…. How have you responded when leadership was ‘thrust’ on you? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. — 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV84)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV84)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
— 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be the servant leader in my Life You have designed me to be. May I hear Your voice and obey Your promptings as You empower me by Your Holy Spirit to live a Life that is pleasing to You. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“First Responder’s Role”

Date: 8-24-14

Text: Proverbs 24:11  Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Do you consider yourself to be a “First Responder”?

My Thoughts: 

The First Responder’s initial responsibility is to make sure the area is secure before entering into harm’s way. But they are urgently looking for ways to help. Some go in when there is still danger, e.g. a fire, but they are taking a calculated risk that will more than likely assure their safety as well as those they are trying to rescue….

Lifestyle worshipers, do you consider yourself to be a “First Responder”? If so, are you sensitive to your surroundings as you respond to those who are “staggering” to death? How urgently are you looking for ways to “help”?  

Or maybe you do not consider yourself a first responder…. Any thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

— Jude 22, 23 (NIV84)

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ

 Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV84)

 But 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.

 Acts 1:8 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, as You reduce me to Love, instill in me Your passion for the lost. Keep excuses and rationalizations far from me. For Your Name’s Sake, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“A Wasted Effort”

Comments on Proverbs 19:19  A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The ‘hotter’ their temper becomes and so, too, the consequences intensify.

My Thoughts:  Perhaps you’ve even attempted to rescue a hot-tempered person from the consequences of their actions; maybe you’ve even excused their behavior—as I had for years, “I’m just a hot-headed ______!” Fill in the blank. But Lifestyle worshipers, we know that this Scripture does not speak in vain: when we rescue the hot-tempered, it is a wasted effort because we will have to do it again. Why? Because we ‘spared’ them from the consequences of their actions! And the more frequently we do so, the ‘hotter’ their temper becomes and so, too, the consequences intensify. … A painful but essential truth…. Do you see this starting in childhood? I have. What can parents do to train their ‘hot-tempered’ child? Any thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. — Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV84)  

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. — Proverbs 29:17 (NIV84)

Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives. — Proverbs 19:18 (NLT)  

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for rescuing those who ought not be rescued. Grant me the wisdom and compassion to discern the difference. Be my Courage to discipline my child. In Your Name, Amen.