Pastor’s Blogs

“Two Ways to Step out in Faith”

As I read the Word, I discovered at least two ways to step out in faith. The first way is like Moses & the Israelites. Moses is told by the LORD in Exodus 14:15-22: “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” This step of faith was after the waters had already been divided. Oh, Moses still had to act in faith raising his hands. If nothing happens, no harm. Just an old fool lifting his hands. This step of faith was clearly the Israelites walking between “a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Ex. 14:22 NIV84). Imagine their reluctance. Huge walls of water could come crashing down at any time…, but they all made it, even Moses, whose faith initiated theirs….

 The second way to step out in faith is somewhat opposite of Moses’. In Joshua 3:9-16, the priests are basically told to get their feet wet first before the waters will “wall” up and they can cross the river on dry ground: “And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the LORD of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap” (Joshua 3:13 NIV84). Imagine the priests’ reluctance. The river was at flood stage with rapid currents, and yet they are told to step into the water before the miracle will happen….

Which way do you prefer? Before or After? Which way is the LORD prompting you? As we wait on the LORD to provide finances to pay our bills & repair our cars, or fix our relationships, do we need to  step out after or before He “parts” the the waters? Both require faith. Both result in a miracle. And yet, each is uniquely different. Again, which way is the Lord Jesus prompting you to step out in faith?

Whichever way it is, make sure you take a big step!

“for we walk by faith, not by sight—2 Corinthians 5:7:15–16 (NASB95)

Walking together in Faith,

Pastor Mike

“In Order To Bloom….”

Keeping with the “April Showers Brings May Flowers” theme, I know you know that in order to bloom properly, flowers needs to be properly watered, fertilized, weeded, and, oh, yeah, plenty of sunshine…. 

So, if you and I are going to bloom and be a wonderful fragrance for Jesus, we, too, need to be properly watered, fertilized, weeded, and get plenty of Sonshine….

Too little or too much water or fertilizer will either dry us out or not be sufficient, or  it will flood us or burn us up. We need just the right amount of the Word (Eph. 5:26) to water and fertilize us…

Next comes the weeding. I personally weed my flowerbeds daily and no less than four or five times a week. Likewise, I find that daily confession keeps my soul’s flowerbed clear of any “weeds” that will suck my water, fertilizer (attention and development, etc.) from me. Some may go days without weeding (i.e. confessing their sins; and much to say about establish weeds and their root systems, but this is for another blog), and they will find that these weeds are stealing essential nutrients from their soul—beyond the physical and emotional drain….

And are we getting plenty of Sonshine? I have to be intentional here, too. Not just reading the Word, but fellowshipping with others who shine for Jesus. The Word shines a bright light on my soul and my brothers and sisters are both sonshine and water, refreshing me and correcting me on my Journey with Jesus.

Is your “flowerbed” helping you to bloom?

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”—Ephesians 3:16–19 (NIV84)

In the Hope of Healthy Flowerbeds for blooming,

Pastor Mike

“The Storms of Life”

We all grew up with the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” It was said whimsically, hopefully. We know that the flowers are the blessings—the beauty—of life; ah, but the showers…, they get in the way of life. We may handle a gentle Spring rain, or a mild thunderstorm, but the fierce lightning of a potential tornado sends us, at best under, under the covers and at worst into the storm cellar…. 

Sadly, instead of seeing the good that comes from the “April shower”, thunderstorms and tornadoes, we want sunshine all the time, but a line in a song my son-in-law, Josh, wrote observes, “all sunshine makes a desert, you know.…” It is the April showers that quench a dry and thirsty soul. It is the thunderstorms that drive us under the covers of prayer and under the wings of the LORD; … and it is the tornados of life that remove a lot of what got in the way of our relationship with the Lord Jesus….

Painful, but true. Questions of “why” this or “how come” that may still linger in the aftermath, but as our Beloved brother, the Apostle Peter notes:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”—1 Peter 4:12–13 (NIV2011)


“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”—1 Peter 1:6–7, (NIV84)

All the “April showers” we encounter are ordained to bring the beautiful glorious “May flowers”  of our Lord Jesus Christ’s glory. How? Revealed in and through us. Just amazing, isn’t it?

In the Hope of May Flowers blooming,

Pastor Mike

“Have You Been Passed Over?”

Have you ever been passed over for a promotion? A team’s choice? By a love-interest? All these hurt deeply, especially when we feel there is no future. Worst: When we feel the LORD has passed over us and chosen someone else…. 

Notice I said ,“feel”? You know the right answers. You know He has not forgotten about you or passed over you, but for some of us these feelings are hard to dismiss….

But the good news—the GREAT NEWS, is the LORD has passed us over! But not in the way the world has. You know this! He has passed over our sins and failures; our missteps and our misgivings; our weak faith and lack of faith. All these—and so much more—He has passed over. He has not only passed over them, but He has removed them from us. How far? 

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”—Psalm 103:12 (NIV84)

Why? “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7 NIV84). 

So in our doubt, in our unbelief, in our insecurity look to the Lord Jesus: “…“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV, emphasis added)

He is the greatest blessing for being passed over, right?

With Joy of being Passed Over, 

Pastor Mike

“Have a Hard Time Loving?”

In the past decade or so, it has become rather popular to say, “I love you,” when we part with Loved ones. I do not want to challenge the sincerity of the one saying this, but I do want us to challenge ourselves….

Do we? Do we Love them? Or are we just caught up in a culture of saying something we kind of mean? 

So in this Month of Love, I’d like us to truly inventory our Love for our Loved ones (and for Jesus, too, by the way). I would like us to see how much we are willing to Love our Lord Jesus and each other as He has Loved us.

I’d like us to Love as smooth as S.I.L.C.

Sacrifice, but don’t complain.

Initiate, but don’t impose.

Listen, but don’t assume.

Care, but don’t possess

 If we but yield to the Lord Jesus to have Him do these simple Love-Acts of Kindness in and through us, we would be more than modeling the Love we profess at each parting…, and we will be manifesting the Lord’s divine Love of  Grace….

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. –1 John 4:16-18 (NIV84)


Pastor Mike

“Have a Hard Time Breathing?”

I recently heard of a friend’s formal diagnosis of COPD. I’ve known for awhile that they used a nebulizer and often struggled with breathing. My heart goes out to them. Beyond the causes & cures, remedies & maladies, they still carry on….

Do you have a hard time breathing too? Occasionally, I’ll struggle catching my breath, but this is not a constant daily occurrence. Yet again, I know many that do….

As I was pondering this, I was wondering if people who do not pray frequently are like those who have a hard time breathing. Maybe they often struggle catching their breath, much like a COPD diagnosis?

Having a poetic license with no expiration date, I like to propose another explanation of the COPD acronym: Commune Often; Pray Daily!

The early church did; why can’t we?

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 Holman Christian Standard Bible).

The Early Church communed with the Holy One and each other daily (Acts 2:46ff). They made it a habit. Should not we, also? Praying for one another? Communing with one another? Let us start off this New Year with some strong breathing exercises and change the diagnosis from clinical COPD to heavenly COPD (Commune Often; Pray Daily).

Join me in taking a deep breath,

Pastor Mike

“Worth Celebrating?”

Far away the Third World War may be brewing. Nearer to home, inflation has eaten what little we did have. In the home, tension and challenges keep mounting up… and it’s Christmas Time!

Do we max out our already maxed-out credit cards to keep up with past celebrations of Christmas, buying gifts to place under the tree…?

Or do we shut ourselves in and pull the proverbial blanket over our heads hoping all this is nothing but a bad dream?

Or do we dig down deep, trust the Lord to provide our “daily bread” as our cup surely will overflow with His goodness, and creatively celebrate Christmas?

Which do you choose?

Perhaps our faith, “—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — [is being] proved genuine [so that it] may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7 NIV84). As we engage these purifying trials during this Christmastime, I want to encourage you most sincerely that, “Yes, Christmas is worth celebrating!” The Lord is giving us ample opportunity to trust Him, especially during this celebration, challenging us to think in different ways, replacing the “old wineskins” (that are cracked and faded) with “new wineskins (that are soft and flexible).

We can join the prophet in rejoicing no matter what because, “God is Good All the Time No Matter What!”

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” — Habakkuk 3:17–18 (NIV84)

Join me in the Celebration because it is worth it,

Pastor Mike

“Thankful for Naming Our Rainbows?”

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thes. 5:18 (emphasis added, NIV84)

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Eph. 5:20 (emphasis added, NIV84)

Ah, yes, it is that time of year again to focus on being thankful. I am truly grateful for this time of year, as it calls us to reconsider and refocus on what we are truly grateful for. With thankfulness in mind, perhaps you have heard the above two verses, but never together? Perhaps you have heard it taught from 1 Thes. 5:18 that we are to be “thankful in all circumstances” but not for all circumstances. I heard it again about a year ago….

But if this is so, then how does Eph. 5:20 fit into the “thanksgiving” framework? As you can clearly see from the “emphasized” “for”, we are to be thankful for every “thing”, and this clearly is “everything”. We are to be thankful not just for our food, our clothes, and our families, etc., but we are to be thankful for our circumstances, too. “For” them….

Why do you suppose the Lord is teaching us this? Perhaps one suggestion is: “Since He is working all things out for the good, I can be thankful for this hard, unpleasantand rather difficultcircumstance knowing that the Lord is working even this out for the Good”? What do you think? Is this a viable observation?

If so, then allow me to share a thought from Emily E. Ryan’s Devotion from September 3, 2023, in Mornings with Jesus. She writes this:

…I recently realized that I not only name my weather-related storms, but I also name the storms in my life. I’ve survived Hurricane Miscarriage, Tropical Storm Unemployment, and many others. But what if I stopped naming my storms and started naming my rainbows instead? The Bible Says that Jesus created the rainbow to be a reminder of His covenant with us. … Within that promise is also a reminder that the storms of life do not have the power to destroy us. They may cause damage but even in their destruction they leave room for Jesus to step in and provide, teach, comfort, or save. If I stay focused on Him, I will always find rainbows at the end of my storms.

Join me in naming our rainbows, even before the stormy circumstances are over, because I know I can always give “thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus.”

Join me in the Naming Process,

Pastor Mike

“Pressing on Together”

Brothers & Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:13–14 (emphasis added, NIV2011)

What does it mean to press on together? …

I have been asking for quite some time now how do we press on together—especially in light of our month of prayer and fasting. I believe some wisdom can be garnered from Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (NIV84):

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (NIV84)

In the first passage, the Apostle Paul is pressing “on toward the goal to win the prize,” and it may appear he is doing this in isolation of others (i.e. by himself)—well, he is in prison, right? But this is a common missing interpretation, and definitely misapplication of this text. Throughout this letter, Paul mentions several saints who are working with him, who are pressing on together with him: Timothy (Phil. 2:19-24); Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25-30); even Euodia and Syntyche are mentioned as “contended at my side in the cause of the gospel (cf. Phil. 4:2-3), not to mention the “loyal yokefellow” and Clement of vv. 2, 3.

The Point? It is clear that even the “great apostle” Paul knew Ecc. 4:9-12. He knew that if he fell, he needed someone to pick him up; he knew that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Just for fun, if we posit that the Lord Jesus is the “third strand,” then we still need another to keep us warm or help us up while we are still here on this planet, right?

In his book, Never Live by Lies, Rod Dreher identifies three “Families” that encourage people to press on even in very dark times: The Biological Family; The Church Family; and the Cultural Family. Here at Valley Bible Church, we are building biological families who strengthen the Church family and influence the cultural family. All this is through pursuing (pressing on towards) the Lord Jesus Christ and Living His Word.

Will you join me today to Build families who press on together to pursue the Lord Jesus and Live His Word?

Join me in the pursuit,

Pastor Mike

“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