As I reflect back on the ebbs and flows of my spiritual journey, one constant has been spending daily time with God, reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer. Sometimes I awaken in the morning and can’t wait to spend that time alone with Jesus. Other times I get up and sit down to spend time with him, not because I’m eager to, but because I know that if I don’t I’ll drift away from an intimate relationship with him.
This morning I was pondering, “How does one change from a ‘have to’ attitude to a ‘want to’ attitude when it comes to spending time with God?” In Psalm 42, the sons of Korah describe their longing for God like a parched deer, thirsting for a cool drink of water. They draw the parallel with these words, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2).
My wife Brenda, describes a time in her spiritual journey that she began praying Psalm 42:1-2 as a request for God to change her desire to be like that of a deer panting for a refreshing stream of water. She says that one day she realized that God had changed her “have to” to “want to” as a result of those prayers. And now, years later, I observe that continued soul-thirsting after God as she spends time each morning reading and meditating on the Word.
I’ve heard some say that we shouldn’t push ourselves to spend time with the Lord if it isn’t a delight. I disagree! I’ve discovered that you can’t “feel your way” into longing for God, but rather, developing the habit of daily time in the Word and prayer, accompanied with a prayer that God will develop the spiritual thirst in our soul, results in a new longing and increased intimacy with the one who is the lover of my soul.
Here are a few questions to evaluate (with honesty!) your motives in spending time with God:
- What do I believe about spending time with God?
- Do I feel guilty when I don’t read my Bible daily? If so, why do you think that is?
- How would my relationship with God be different a year from now if I spent regular, daily time with him?
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
May God increase our delight in his presence!
Pastor Dave Stewart
A spirit of rebellion is a very dangerous and harmful thing. Let me start by saying it was Satan himself that rebelled against God first, he did not desire God’s will nor did he desire to obey God above all he did not desire that God receive all the glory, he rebelled against God and took angels with him. After that it still wasn’t enough, he invaded the Earth and got a humans (perfected) to rebel against God as well. That one act of rebellion sparked our sinful nature which desires to rebel to this day. Don’t believe me? Look at a small child, you never have to teach them to rebel against you no matter how well you treat them, they want THEIR way and will fight as hard as they can to get it. Rebellion is a real and serious thing and it exists in the hearts of many today who call themselves believers.
Listen to what God’s word says in 1 Samuel 15:23 ”Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft (divination), and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.”
Rebellion in essence is desiring a different type of intervention, stubbornness is a heart focused on a different answer and power, other than God.
The easiest time to rebel is when the situation doesn’t benefit you anymore, or when someone has hurt you. Sometimes a person or leader might offend you or even cause you to lose trust in them which leads to pride, resentment, bitterness and among other things, a spirit of rebellion. Why discuss this today? Why does it matter? I believe the spirit of rebellion is completely demonic in nature and highly influences people to make choices they should not, you see even when the situation doesn’t benefit you anymore, you can still trust God to work it out, that is called faith. It also affirms what scripture tells us in the New Testament over and over again, if we live with Christ we must also be willing to suffer for Christ.
IF you don’t like your leader, your boss, your manager- the situation, don’t allow bitterness to grow within you and give birth to a spirit of rebellion, ask God to purify your heart, seek forgiveness and healing so that rebellion will not get a hold of your heart. Remember this:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Today I was informed that a friend, who’s daughter only 4 years old, passed away after a long battle with Cancer. How do we respond to this as humans? How else but to simply cry with those who cry. Pray, offer love and assistance anyway we can. It is a very, very powerful reminder of our limited time on earth.
This hurts to any parent more than anyone. No parent ever wants to bury their child, yet God did. God knows because He watched His son get abused, beaten and murdered in cold blood. Why? Because He loved US more? Yup. Isn’t that a crazy thought, He loved you and me MORE, enough to allow His own son die in my place.
I rest in that love in times like this. I rest in the thought that God wanted to destroy death once and for all…by dying Himself and resurrecting. I know and believe that this baby girl, is free right now, healed right now, laughing and holding on to Jesus’ hand.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
We’re almost two weeks into our 40 Day Fast, and if you’re like me, when those hunger pangs hit I ask myself, why am I doing this? I can think of about 10 favorite foods that I’d like to eat today, but have chosen not to for a higher purpose. For me, one of the main things that I’m asking God to do during this fast is to bring a fresh touch of spiritual renewal into my life. I want to be more fully surrendered to God and his plan for my life, and to be more led by the Holy Spirit moment by moment.
Another thing that I’m asking God for is that my kids would fall more deeply in love with Jesus and that they wouldn’t be ensnared by the traps of the world or Satan. Let’s take a look at a passage in the Old Testament book of Ezra that talks about fasting and deliverance from attack.
Some background: Ezra called together a band of exiles remaining in Babylon to make the journey back to Jerusalem. There were almost 2000 men, plus their families, who gathered with Ezra on the banks of the river Ahiva. The 700-mile journey would be long and arduous, and the tons of silver and gold they carried made them far more at risk of attack along the way. Ezra was ashamed to ask the king for an armed escort, because he had told the king that God showed favor on those who seek him. The king and others had given 25 tons of silver and almost 4 tons of gold! The risk was not only of losing the treasure they carried, but their lives and the lives of their families as well. [Read the whole chapter here]
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.” (Ezra 8:21, ESV)
I see a spiritual parallel to our lives in this story. We are on a journey from Babylon to the heavenly Jerusalem, and there is an enemy who is seeking to pillage and plunder our lives, families, and spiritual possessions. Many Christians fall prey to the ambushes that Satan sets and become casualties. During the teen and college years our kids are especially vulnerable to being deceived into trading in the journey for the temporary pleasures of the flesh and the world: relationships, sex, popularity, partying, and by embracing worldly philosophies.
Ezra 8:31 records that Ezra and the travelers made it to Jerusalem safely,
“The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.”
Perhaps ambushes were set for them, and enemies tried to attack, yet because the hand of God was upon them, they were delivered safely through their valley of the shadow of death.
I believe that we as parents should not only pray for our children, but like Ezra, we should fast, asking God for safety from the evil one in our spiritual journey. Let’s together seek God for a safe journey for ourselves, our “little ones”, and our spiritual possessions. We can’t be the armed guard for our children like God and his heavenly hosts can be!
May you draw closer to God during this time of fasting, and may he perform his miracles in your life and in those you are praying for!
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a, ESV)
Community Group Pastor
Read from Scripture Proverbs 8:1-36 (Wisdom seen completely in the person of Jesus.)
It has been wisely said that many people might have attained wisdom had they not assumed they already had it. One of the keys to becoming a wise individual is to hear the cry of wisdom. To be teachable is an absolute prerequisite to being made wise. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Jesus said, “for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6. It is not the one who sits back and thinks he knows it all, but the one who hungers and thirsts to be taught, to be instructed, to be guided by wisdom who will grow. Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? Proverbs 8:1. Here, wisdom cries out, “Simple ones, foolish ones, come to me.” It is the wise individual who excepts the invitation.
I want to take a look at God’s word to discover a few examples we can follow of wisdom being revealed. The Bible says King Solomon was given wisdom and knowledge because he asked God for it (2 Chronicles 1:8-12). King Solomon is the author of most of the book of Proverbs. God said of him in 1 Kings 3:12, “There has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.” And in 1 Kings 4:29-34 he is called “wiser than all men and is said to have authored three thousand proverbs and one thousand and five songs. In the book of Proverbs it is written “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” Proverbs 9:10. King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, I believe wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and came to the conclusion, life on earth has no value when I live for myself and my needs. The whole duty of man is written in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.”
Let’s go to the book of Matthew in the New Testament and take a look at the wise men who came from the East. The Bible doesn’t describe these men in detail it just says they were wise men who came from the East following a star in the sky seeking to worship the new born King of the Jews. These wise men were Magi they were into Astrology, God used the stars to draw them to the son. They came super naturally led by a star in the sky.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2 “Wise men came to worship Jesus!”
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold. frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 “Wise Men fell down as they acknowledged and entered into the presence of Jesus, worshipping Him!”
Magi, astrologers, counselors, scientist, wise men of that time had been given knowledge of the Christ they came to worship Jesus, the KING of Kings the LORD of Lords they brought gifts in worship to Him. Gold for a Mighty King, frankincense for a Ministering Priest, myrrh for a Martyred Prophet. The wise men came to worship Jesus whom the Apostle Paul writes in the book of Colossians of the mystery of God in whom are hidden treasures. Colossians 2:2-3 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of the Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
On New Years Day January 1, 2013 the first day of this year the MOTR Ministry met a large group of the saints in the body of Christ on top of Mount Soledad. We arrived early before sunrise so that we could together rejoice as the Sun came up in the East revealing the beauty of God’s creation across the San Diego community a beautiful 360 degree view. The Shofar was blown and we acknowledged God’s sovereignty as the sun came up, giving to God our First Fruits in Prayer and Worship to His Holy name. We came seeking God’s super natural wisdom for the coming year in all areas of our lives, for the church body, schools, community and for this Nation. I believe God will answer our prayers and the Holy Spirit will reveal God’s wisdom to us as we draw closer to Him desiring a continuing love relationship with Him that is real and personal. Excepting and receiving the invitation, to come to Him, to following Him, to abide in Him and to obey his commandments.
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus Christ the Son of God who came and lived as a man here on this earth the sinless spotless Lamb of God. Told us “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
1) This year my prayer for you is that you will ask God for super natural wisdom, knowledge and understanding just as King Solomon asked and received from God.
2) I pray your desire will be to be in communion and worship with God just as the wise men followed the star God revealed to them, found Jesus fell down and worshipped Him.
3)I pray you will show Jesus your love for Him by obeying his commandments as the Father and Son come and manifest themselves to you.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17
In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Pastor Ronnie Holderby
MOTR Men’s Pastor
Two of the best kids on planet Earth…just sayin’
So I’m a very late bloomer. I’ve heard about Crazy Love written by Francis Chan for years. I’ve seen the adds for it’s Community Group videos and heard quotes from Chan periodically. I even read Forgotten God which was written after Crazy Love, but had not yet read this best seller which had spoken to the hearts of so many…
It was the same when the Passion of the Christ was released in theatres. I was a hold out for two years. I couldn’t imagine watching my Lord in the last few days of his life, so I kept putting it off. I even bought the DVD when it was released and waited another year to actually put it in and hit “play.” Hitting play for me, I thought, was willingly walking into a dense cloud of conflicting emotions. Feelings of deep gratefulness, sorrow, flaming anger- all of it. I’ll never forget the flight where I finally pressed play and with a “quivering lip” cried like a baby for the next two hours.
Chapter nine and ten of Crazy Love was the perfect conclusion to an amazing book. It called me to a higher level of sacrifice and a higher level of obedience to God. For me, the book’s summary could simply be that one day we’ll stand before the Creator of our Lives and may he be inclined to say, “Good and faithful servant…”. But is the life we’re living now WORTH the sacrifice Christ made on the cross? Is it worth the crazy love he has showed to us and the cost of this free grace we have been given?
Throughout the book Chan is in a wrestling match with the rich and selfishly apathetic nature of Western Christianity. We know that this isn’t always the case, but it’s undeniable and a blaring weakness of our culture. He does a good job of bringing light to this and calling it out through scripture and love.
When my wife Nicole and I were weeks away from our wedding she had a stroke because her body was filled with blood clots. After six weeks of bouncing from the ICU unit to the neuro-step down unit, and then back to ICU, we came face to face with death on three very real occasions. I hung a sign in our hospital room that read, “When you don’t understand God’s ways, trust his heart.” We reminded ourselves of his heart on a daily basis. When we finally came to the day she was to leave the hospital Nicole felt the Spirit of God say to her, “Nicole, I gave you today. What are you going to do with it?”
I’m reminded of a quote my Uncle Eric shared with me at 15 years old. He said, “Chad, my greatest fear is not that I won’t succeed, but that I will succeed at something that doesn’t really matter.”
If you haven’t already, I pray that today, in this moment, you will get on your knees and experience the crazy love that God offers to you. If you have, I pray that you will join me on my knees and thank him over and over for the grace he has given us.
“You are awesome and words fall short as we seek to describe how wonderful you are. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for bringing us into relationship with you. Thanks for filling us with life. Thanks for the opportunity to share you with others. Help us to live a life worthy of your cross. We need you. We need your help. Help us to love you like we want to. Fill us with more of your spirit. Help us to see the world through your eyes. We want to love you more. Amen.”
TIME OF FASTING & PRAYER
8/15 to 8/21: 7 Day Fast
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
Day 1: Wednesday August 15, Fruit and Vegetables today, pray for the Church body,
Rock Academy, Our families, Pastor Miles, Rock staff and our community.
Philippians 4:6&7, Colossians 3:12-17
Day 2: Thursday August 16, Fruit and Vegetables today, pray against the devil in Jesus
name, against the author of lies, the deceiver and accuser of the brethren, a roaring lion
seeking whom he may devour. Ask God to surround us with His heavenly host, rebuking
the devils plots, plans and schemes in Jesus name. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-8, James 4:7&8
Day 3: Friday August 17, Juices and water, pray for a focus on Jesus, the just shall walk
by faith, super natural Holy Spirit filled men, women, and children.
John 15:5, Romans 1:17, Galatians 5:22-26
Day 4: Saturday August 18, Juices and water, pray for protection of our children,
protection of our marriages, protection of our businesses and work places, protection of
our Pastor and his family, that God would open our eyes that we may see His Angels,
horses, and chariots of fire surrounding and blinding the enemy.
2 Kings 6:16-18, Psalm 91: 1-4, John 14:13-14
Day 5: Sunday August 19, Juices and water, Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in a super
natural way, For God’s ministry and His people, an out pouring of super natural wisdom,
knowledge, understanding, discernment and Holy Spirit filled counsel.
Proverbs 3:5&6, Romans 15:13
Day 6: Monday August 20, Juices and water, Pray for unity, people of one accord, like-
minded in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:1&5, Romans 12:9-21, Philippians 2:1-8
Day 7: Tuesday August 21, Fruit and Vegetables, Pray believing and trusting God all
knowing, all powerful, protector of His people, knowing what the devil means for bad
God All Mighty turns to good, He provides the strength, perseverance, to endure and
overcome the attacks from the enemy Satan himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit in
you pray Satan would be bound in the name of Jesus Christ our LORD. That God would
use the Rock Church as His vessel to save the lost, equip the saints and send out disciples
in Jesus name. Glorifying our Father in Heaven that His will be done on earth as it is in
Heaven. Amen and Amen.
Daniel 6:26&27, 2Samuel 22:2-4, Psalm 113:1-5
Why do we think our lives are all about us? Isn’t it true though, like we are the main character in the movie of our lives? I find the thought of that very, very convicting. At times, I think first of ME being fulfilled, MY dreams, ME being happy, ME being used by God the way I want him to use me. I’ll never forget sitting with Bill, a Professor at Vanguard University, and over a Vegan lunch at the Anti-Mall he explained what it means to be “obedient” with our lives to God. As I sipped my lentil soup he unpacked who should be in the center of our lives and what it actually means to be a follower of Jesus. Convicted deeply, I realized how often I expect the God of the universe to follow me rather than me follow the God of the Universe.
This morning I read this excerpt from CRAZY LOVE written by Francis Chan. I hope it speaks to you as it has me- Enjoy!
Now consider the movie of life… God creates the world. (Were you alive then? Was God talking to you when he proclaimed, “It is good” about all He had just made?) Then people rebel against God (who, if you haven’t’ realized it yet, is the main character in this movie), and God floods the earth to rid it of the mess people made of it. Several generations later, God singles out a ninety-nine-year-old man called Abram and makes him the father of a nation (did you have anything to do with this?). Later, along come Joseph and Moses and many other ordinary and inadequate people that the movie is also not about. God is one who picks them and directs them and works miracles through them. In the next scene, God sends the judges and prophets to His nation because the people can’t seem to give Him the one thing He asks of them (obedience). And then, the climax: The Son of God is born among the people whom God still somehow loves. While in this world, the Son teaches His followers what true love looks like. Then the Son of God dies and is resurrected and goes back up to be with God. And even though the movie isn’t quite finished yet, we know what the last scene holds. It’s the scene I already described in chapter 1: the throne room of God. Here every being worships God who sits on the throne, for He alone is worthy to be praised.
From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us? Our sense in the movie, our brief lives, fall somewhere between the time Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts) and when we will all worship God on His throne in heaven (Revelation). We have only our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don’t know about you, but I want my two-fifths-of-a-second to be about my making much of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That is what each of our two-fifths-of-a-second is about. So what does that mean for you? Frankly, you need to get over yourself… The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.
CRAZY LOVE, Francis Chan Pg. 43-45
Chad Furlong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This photo is of Tom & Heidi Lonsdale who moved their family to Mazatlan, Mexico six years ago to start a cafe and share the love of Jesus to the community. They’ve “put themselves out there.”
Recently I took the TWELVE students to a monastery in Oceanside where we gave ourselves to a vow of silence for 24 hours. I gathered the team and said, “24 hours from this time we will get back together at this very spot. Ready!? It starts… now.”
This is the second time I’ve been on a monastery in this way. At first it’s a bit awkward. No eye contact during hallway passing is a bit weird. There’s of course the hours of solitude in gardens with no words. That’s truly amazing, but, most awkward are the uncomfortable meal times when you’re sitting across from others trying to temper the awkwardness by staring into your plate.
If we put ourselves “out there” with God, there is a point in our journey when everything changes. We let go of hurts and stresses, and grab hold of the overwhelming Creator of the Universe. We become alive and present with him. My goal is not to learn or attain anything in these endeavors. My goal is to simply “be” with the Creator and everything I need to learn or hear from him will happen from that place.
As I write this I am in Mazatlan, Mexico serving my missionary friends Tom and Heidi Lonsdale through their café called the Looney Bean (http://looneybeanmaz.jimdo.com). We’ve been ministering all over the city but our hearts have been left in the dump area. We helped mix concrete with shovels and built an extension off the house of an elderly woman who was hit by a car last year.
When the trucks arrive, families at the dump need to be close so they can gather anything of value from them when they drop material. They will take plastic, copper, and the gold in computer equipment or anything else that can be sold. Because the families need to be close to the action, they actually live in the dump. There is no electricity or running water and their homes consist of plastic or wood and metal all tied together to provide shelter. Their water is contaminated, stored in barrels. Tom and Heidi moved their family here to build a business that would give back to the community. They put themselves out there in a way most people wouldn’t even consider.
Families in the dump wash in and and drink the contaminated water. I watched a mom dunk her 3-month-old baby in a 5 gallon bucket for a bath. The kids are happy, even though they are likely to be hit by a car or get sick. The older mothers I talked with had lost at least half of their children for various reasons.
It’s critical that we set ourselves apart to God for him to speak to us and use us in any way he wishes. I told our team before we started, “God may choose to use us in big ways or small ways, but we are just a tool in his hand to be used how he wishes.” Putting ourselves out there may look small in the eyes of man, but trust me, it’s big in the eyes of God. And that’s all that matters.
This is a trip that will forever change the direction of my life. It’s one of those defining moments that would have never happened if I didn’t put myself out there. So today, wherever you are, put yourself out there. Give something to God that costs you something. Decide to go on a missions trip or reach out to the poor in your community as Jesus did so often. Or send a few emails of encouragement written in the love of Christ and see what God chooses to do with it.
Put yourself out there. Be dedicated to him, and be willing to do something that may be a little crazy. Just see what God will do! Watch the joy he will put in your heart.
If you’re interested in supporting the Looney Bean or learning more about Tom and Heidi and their family, visit http://looneybeanmaz.jimdo.com/.
Serenading Sunsets, Chad Furlong
Psalms 113:3 “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”
Psalms 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be on my mouth.”
Last week I took this picture while sitting on the sand at Pacific Beach. I was waiting for the sun to set, trying not to be distracted by the potential biting of bugs, and soaking in the extravagance that was all around me. It was beautiful. A bit overwhelming actually as kids were laughing and couples were walking hand in hand. The richness of life was at high tide as the sun raced toward the horizon. Ahh, these are the moment I live for!
A man walked passed me with his guitar in hand. He looked homeless, or maybe not. Perhaps a struggling musician, but he wore the wrinkles of a person with a story. Facing the sun he walked up to the edge of the water and unzipped the guitar from its case. He began to play to the setting sun. He bounced around like he was at Woodstock. It was as if he were playing before thousands of people, or no one at all. He was fully alive and present in that moment. He was serenading the sunset.
A prayer rose up in me. “Father of all creation, thank you for this moment. I let go of all that happened today. I accept that it is now over. I praise you and thank you for it. And with all of my heart, I receive the gift that is tomorrow. I love you.”
Regardless of whether I want them to or not, seasons end. That last heavenly bite of Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream- Nooo!! My daughters leaving childhood- My oldest daughter will soon enter her teenage years… Ahhh! Sometimes I feel like I’m losing grip of that heavy rope as it slips in my hands. I have to let go, and praise God because he is good.
To my TWELVE team whom I love incredibly; we are rounding the last corner and heading into the finish line. Thank God for what he’s done, for whom he is, and welcome the beginning of a new day.
To you reader; the day is over. God was kind and good and will be tomorrow as well.