Here am I, send me…

Dear friends,

I am grateful and deeply honored to have the opportunity to travel at home and overseas to encourage leaders and churches, and to help equip believers to powerfully, compassionately confront suffering. I am deeply grateful for the Holy Spirit’s comforting, life-giving, empowering presence. He is all our confidence!

Update from Ghana: In Ghana I had the opportunity to serve Manna Mission, an organization that runs a hospital, school, church and bible college on a 32 acre compound just outside of the capital city of Accra . I look forward to the returning there.

This fall several ministry opportunities have become available, including overseas schools of ministry and crusades in Cuba and the Philippines and state-side conferences in Indiana and Montana.

I appreciate your faith and prayer support on these next endeavors.

The Lord bless you much.

‘Dav

Therefore I will not fear

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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear thought earth gives way, through the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (Psalm 46:1-3).

A sturdy truth: God is present, very present.

Response: Therefore we will not fear. Never.

Even if: the earth gives way, the mountains crumble into the sea, the sea itself roars and foams and cause the earth to shake. Still, we will not fear. We will not fear.

Trouble can, does and will happen. It can go from bad to worse. But because God is a very present help, the singular resolve of my heart is this: I will not fear. Not even if cataclysmic events cascade around me (or even if a bunch of little things pile up and cast a shadow of threat).

I will not fear. I may lose everything, but I cannot lose if I will not fear.

The Lord is transcendent, greater than and existing over every and all temporal concern.

There is nothing to fear – but Him – and He’s here to help.

The human heart is quick to fear, a result (I suppose) of the fall.

Fear is the condition of the heart when it has lost consciousness of God.

It is why Jesus never was afraid. Except perhaps for that one instant, “Eloi, eloi lama sabachthani” – when for a moment of eternity He took upon Himself the abandoned, fearful heart of an orphaned people.  Jesus bore our fear.

It is why “fear not” or its likeness is one of the most often repeated imperatives in scripture.

The prescription for fear is a deep awareness of God, that He is a very present Help.

The nearness of God, the conscious awareness that He is very, fully present leads my heart to this resolve: I will not fear.

Fear not, and thanks for reading,

‘Dav

 

 

Renewed Resolve to Preach and Practice the Gospel

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At the local church where I serve as teaching pastor, we are in the middle of a series called “The Good News” – we’re surveying the gospel as presented by Mark.

It is a very healthy thing to read through the gospels, letting them speak for themselves to us about Jesus, His ministry, mission and the Kingdom of God. What Mark records for the reader (his intent is to present “the beginning of the Good News”) tells us what Mark believed (probably from Peter’s preaching and tutelage) was important for the reader to know of Jesus.

Again, if I let myself just listen to Mark, then I feel like I am bombarded with powerful, compassionate images of a Christ who spends a great deal of time driving out unclean spirits and healing the sick. And with each sequential occurrence, whether individual or the masses, the crowds become more desperate for Jesus, and His fame (people spreading the testimony of Jesus) grows. The more Jesus heals and delivers, the more people do everything they can to get to Him or to bring others to Him. When Jesus was just being Jesus – he could not even hide from people if he tried. (Yes, there are also those who grow increasingly hostile to Jesus – but this isn’t about them right now). As I read I am overwhelmed with passion, with desire, with delight and deep longing.

And then I pause to consider the trends, the fads, the programs, and paper-back buzzwords and techno-idolatry that I see pushed as “how we’re going to really reach this generation.” Let’s be clear – I love technology and I love communication, leadership and administration. I don’t have time or interest to defend myself on those fronts. My point is that if more leaders were more honest – a great deal of what is pushed and polished has nothing to do with what occupied so much of Christ’s time and energy. I struggle with wanting a better facility, more staff, more funds for more sophisticated operations, and all the same stuff that most leaders wish they had more of or better. And I don’t apologize for wanting all of it. There’s no reason not to be excellent.

But the gospel. The gospel itself is really, really enough. It’s more than enough. There isn’t a facility in my county that could contain the people crowding inside if they thought Jesus was really there touching broken lives. No one would care about acoustics or esthetics. Like those so many long years ago, they’d come to hear and be healed. I believe the Gospel is still powerful. I believe it is still the power of God. I believe the Name of Jesus still authorizes healing and deliverance. I believe untold numbers of people need both. I believe the gospel still works.

So with renewed resolve I will preach and practice the gospel. I trust the Holy Spirit to help me, to guide me, to teach and lead me – and to be the Power and Presence of Christ to us and through us now. My world still needs good news; the Gospel is still the best news.

The Oil that Consecrates

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In Exodus 30:22-33, The Lord gave Moses directions to have a special oil made. Its contents are described in vv. 23-25. Certainly there is historical symbolic significance to each of the ingredients, but more significant to me is the purpose and effect of this oil.

After it was blended by a perfumer, it was a sacred anointing oil. In v. 26 The Lord says this oil is used to anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony and all the utensils, the lampstand, the altars, etc. In applying this oil to these items (anointing them), they became consecrated, and became most holy. Whoa. I slow down and do the math, imagining myself observing and processing this: applying this oil on that object has an effect on that object – it makes it different; it changes its purpose, it is consecrated; it is most holy. This oil on that has made it MOST HOLY. Before the oil, that lampstand was unique and precious. The ark of the testimony was something wonderful. The tent of meeting was uniquely constructed and marvelous. But this oil on those things changed them – the oil wasn’t a reward for their perfection; they weren’t anointed because they were holy. They were (became) holy because they were anointed. Wow. The Lord even says that whatever touches them becomes holy. This is to highlight the reverence prescribed for the anointing oil. It is that sacred and powerful. Wow.

And the next sentence is awesome (in the real, literal sense of that word). That oil is applied to Aaron and his sons. They are anointed with this oil. It consecrates them that they may serve as priests. Can you imagine that reverence, wonder, fear and gratitude? The same oil that anoints and consecrates the ark of the testimony gets poured on Aaron? If that were me, I would feel such a sense of wonder and humility and reverence. I’d say to myself, “I’ve been consecrated to the Lord. This oil has made me holy. I didn’t walk in here holy; I didn’t earn this; it’s not a reward; this is something that has happened to me that must affect everything I do from here on out. I am holy because of this oil; I must live in reverence and wonder of this fact. Even if I can’t see or smell the oil, I know this oil has been applied to my life and I can never be the same.”

Then the Lord says that this oil must never be poured on the body of an ordinary person. It was exclusive. And further, anybody that tried to manufacture this oil on their own… well, don’t (vv. 32-33).

I read this passage today, knowing that this oil represents and speaks to us of the Holy Spirit. His anointing consecrates, makes holy. And I am awe struck and I weep at the concept that this Holy Oil is not applied externally, but has come to abide and saturate my innermost person. And because of Jesus, that oil is for everyone who will trust in Christ. That holy oil, the Holy Spirit, has come to live in me. I am undone. I have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. What He anoints is most holy. The Holy Spirit makes me Holy. He doesn’t validate my own; He imparts His. And I, more than Aaron and his sons, bear the reverent, wondrous, blissful awareness that the Holy One lives in me.

How can I ever live the same way? I am consecrated. I am not my own. I have become His. There is no higher calling or purpose. Consecrated holiness is a reality I live from and because of – not a status I hope to acquire. Even if I fall; even when I plow head-first into the muck and mire of my own sin, there is a greater reality at work. I am defined by this oil; not by my failure. Sin is not my identity and shame is not my destiny. I can quickly repent of and reject filth and folly. I give thanks that because of His Presence effectively at work in me, I can indeed lay aside every weight and sin that easily entangles (Heb. 12). There is a greater reality at work in me, one not of my own doing or invention, one that I neither earned nor can I boast of. He has made me His. It is about that oil. The Holy Spirit makes me holy. The more deeply I believe this, the more boldly and consistently and reverently I live it. If I treat this Holy Oil lightly – as if it were of little import and consequence, then I am little moved and less resolved to live any differently. But I do not. I reverence Him. I trust Him. I trust IN Him. I yield to Him, receiving and relying upon His Person, Power – and Holiness – to live and work in me. I tremble in wonder and gratitude. I rejoice. I am undone. The Holy Spirit makes me holy.

Thanks for reading,

‘Dav

Holiness and Authority

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The man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28) cried out in fear when he saw Jesus, “have you come to destroy us?” He continued, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

That interaction, that phrase caught my meditation afresh this morning. Mark precedes and follows the story emphasizing that Jesus ministered with authority – this exorcism exemplifying such authority. So, assuming a theme of “authority” reading this passage, I take fresh note of what appeared to intimidate the unclean spirit.

The spirit did not cry out that Jesus was the “mighty one” (although He is) or that Jesus was the “powerful one” (although He is), or that Jesus was the “wise one” (although He is). What tormented this tormentor was this: “You are the Holy One of God.” Is it plausible that the authority Jesus radiated found its epicenter in the Holiness he bore?

I wonder if (our) authority is often muted by a casual relationship with Holiness. I cannot entertain or partner with the unclean in one moment and then expect to exercise dominion over it in the next. I don’t mean that a believer should muster and trust in his or her own “holiness.” That’s just laughable. I mean that the Holy Spirit makes me Holy, and because He does, I choose to live that way. I recognize that the Holy One abides in me. I recognize that I belong to and have been made one with Christ – The Holy One of God. And I live that way because I can and because I should. The Holy Spirit makes me Holy.

I reject a casual relationship with Holiness for this reason among many: I suspect there is a causal relationship between the Holiness I am conscious of and authority I exercise.

Starting and Finishing Your Day Better

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“It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening” (Psalm 92:2)

What if I did that?

I think there is more than just poetic rhythm here. Often I’ve read a phrase like this and wondered, “what if I did that?” I don’t mean just give thanks or sing praise (v. 1), I mean literally, actually proclaiming (stating, celebrating, meditating upon) His unfailing love in the morning (like, when I first get up and as I go about the early moments of my day) and actually proclaiming (stating, celebrating, reflecting upon) His faithfulness in the evening (before I initiate the days-end rituals, and as I lie staring at the dark ceiling before sleep takes me). What if I did that?

What if my mornings were greeted by grateful and praise-filled thoughts and words of God’s unfailing love? I can’t think of a better way to begin a day. Consider the bright hope that would be painted across the canvas of my imagination. Think of the peace that would join the start of each day’s journey. Imagine the confidence, the anticipation of good, and the readiness to rejoice. And, I wonder how much more I might be quick to lavish love on others. What if I did that?

And then, what if my evenings were tucked-in with grateful and praise-filled thoughts and words of God’s faithfulness? I could savor the goodness of God. I could view the day’s events through the lens of God’s faithfulness, and fuel the faith for the day to come with the burning coals of gratitude from today. Imagine the peace that would accompany my rest. Consider the potential of displacing of regret, resentment, and discontent with gladness, gratitude, and trust. And imagine what hope will greet my morning. What if I did that?

What if you did?

Thanks for reading,

‘Dav

Whosoever Has the Most Joy Wins

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A merry heart has a continual feast.

I am fan of joy. I have mentioned joy a couple of times, here and there, on this blog. I readily admit that joy is one my favorite themes. I have also found that it is one of the most helpful disciplines in living-out-my-faith. There are a host of solid reasons that scripture invites, implores and enjoins us time and again to rejoice in the Lord – always. And Proverbs 15:15 provides a second-to-none good reason: “a merry heart has a continual feast”. Today’s paraphrase thereof: Whosoever has the most joy, wins.

Joy is the Finish Line

I think that it is reasonable to say that, both in terms of short and long term goals, people want joy. We were made for it. A great deal of the things we do and accumulate are means to enlarge or secure our joy. Trouble is, a great many of those things fall short. Or, in order to sustain the “joy” they give us – we need more or better or new means to joy. However, if I am able to decide to derive joy from and in The Lord – His presence, His promise, His faithfulness, His truth, etc. – then I have a direct, immediate source and reason for joy. I can literally feast on joy now, and not wait until circumstances, people, conditions or assets change. I win!

Joy is Winning

Furthermore, joy precludes and displaces the junk that keeps me from winning. There are a host of loser-attitudes that joy squeezes out of the room like light does shadow. I cannot rejoice and complain at the same time. I cannot rejoice and be bitter. I can’t rejoice and blame others. I can’t rejoice and criticize others. I can’t rejoice and be negative. I can’t rejoice and be greedy. I can’t rejoice and be afraid. I can’t rejoice and be bored. I can’t rejoice and be impatient. I can’t rejoice and lust. I can’t rejoice and lose my temper. I can’t rejoice and despair. I can’t rejoice and give up. But I can rejoice and be grateful, hopeful, patient, positive, kind, gentle, faithful, grateful, optimistic, bold, fearless, encouraging, generous, grateful, content, forgiving, innocent and grateful. With joy I can persevere. With joy I can stand. With joy I can hope. With joy I can rise. With joy I am strong. Really, really strong. I win!

So, no need to wait until the Holiday Season to start feasting. Dig in! The merry heart has a continual feast. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say it – rejoice.

Be a winner. Rejoice.

Thanks for reading,

‘Dav

Fresh Hope from Former Promises

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Isaiah 43:18-19,  “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 44:2-3, “Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing upon your descendants.”

There are a handful of approaches to interpreting and applying ancient prophesies like these.

One way is to read these words and seize upon them as if they were written freshly to the reader. The words are, or have become, God’s specific word to the reader at and for the time of their reading. It is not uncommon to hear that someone has read or remembered these words and re-presented them as the “right now” word of the Lord to the immediate audience and circumstance. One problem with this approach is that it requires a suspension of a great many other facts, including that these words were written to a specific people at a specific time and place and with a specific purpose. If these words were aimed at ancient Israel and their circumstances, did they miss? Have they hovered like Noah’s second dove only to finally descend on the contemporary reader? And if so, which reader? Who gains the right to claim the great promises from these passages?

Another approach is to view these prophetic passages through the long lens of history – and leave them there. It is to assert that Yahweh said this to them, and only them. This approach makes these words interesting, but only as inspiring as reading historical narratives. Having studied them, we might then just place these words on the appropriate shelf in the library – codified accordingly. Tidy, but empty.

I think a better option exists. The contemporary reader can read and re-read these words and find in them revelation and affirmation of the nature of God. We may draw from these passages fresh hope from the same God who breathed these words through His prophets. We can take courage and be inspired by the way God spoke to and about people like us who also blew it – sometimes big time. People who also found themselves thinking things used to better than now, or looking desperately for hope in troubling times. Or people that find themselves in places that seem dry. Or people whose concern for their children, for the next generation, weighs heavily upon them.

What did God say to these people? What does what He said affirm about Who He is and how we can trust Him? What hope can we draw from these words?

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Hey friends, do not live in the past. It takes no faith to live there. Don’t daydream in the rear view mirror. God isn’t out of ideas; He’s the most creative and optimistic Being in the cosmos. He has more up His sleeve than left-overs. Anticipate something fresh, new and life-giving from Heaven. Even if there seems to be no natural way forward, nor any probable means of provision – what God will do will result in you and me declaring His praise. So, lean forward! Look up! Anticipate the goodness of God, right now.

Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant…whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing upon your descendants.

Listen carefully to the Lord who gave you life – He is the One who will give you help.  Do not be afraid. Really: banish fear. Have no company with it. It is not an adviser, but an accuser. Don’t be overwhelmed by what appears to be desperate circumstances. God’s solution for dry and desert places isn’t incremental change, but rather an outpouring of His Spirit. His solution for your poverty is His generosity. In a moment He can change the landscape and climate of your circumstances. So, open up wide and stir your thirst – He will meet you there. But not only you. Know this: He has no interest in single-generation visitation. What God does in and for you and in your midst – He intends to continue. He promises to remain present and powerful with your descendants. What God starts, He sustains. So, have the same attitude as heaven and pray and plan in the same portion as He promises – with an eye on your descendants continuing to benefit from the blessing of the Lord.

There is fresh hope to be extracted from former promises. Indeed, every promise of God is “yes” in Jesus; He fulfills every good thing God has promised to us. And because of that, we may say “amen” to His promises – no matter when they were promised.

Thanks for reading; I hope you’re encouraged today

‘Dav

 

 

His Face, my heart

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Psalm 27:8, “You have said, ‘Seek my Face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your Face, Lord, do I seek.'”

You initiate this relationship. You invite me. You call me. You choose me.

I respond. I choose. I decide. I seek.

My seeking does not earn your invite; Your invite enables my seeking.

I believe You want me. I believe you call me. I believe you desire my company. You want my face.

You want my face.

So I seek yours.

You have said, “Seek My Face.”
My heart says to you, “Your Face, Lord, do I seek.”