man_elevation_freedom_line_fan_54242_3840x1200Have you ever had a night where your mind is so active that you cannot go to sleep? That happens to me more than I’d like. Most often, that which fills my mind is good, sometimes God’s attempt to get my attention.

Recently, as I prepared to lead worship for our Mind the Gaps missions conference, and after rehearsing the night before, the lyric, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence, Lord,” was a sweet prayer in my heart, set to “repeat” as I tried to fall asleep (Holy Spirit by Bryan & Katie Torwalt). I spent the night tossing and turning in and out of that prayerful sleep, until I woke in the early morning hours with the word freedom running through my mind. I recalled the scripture, 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV).

As the band gathered that evening to lead the opening worship, we took some time to pray. I asked them to each share one biblical word that describes what our expression of worship should be and then we prayed for those things. Words like joyful, thankful, reverent, Spirit-filled, truthful and honest came up. My word was freedom. The Lord was honored by our prayers and he gave us the desires of our hearts. The time of worship that flowed from those prayers for the next few days was beyond what we had asked for.

Freedom accompanies the presence of the Holy Spirit. Does freedom describe your experience as a follower of Jesus? Does freedom describe our experience as God’s people gathered to worship in his presence? Since Easter, I have sensed a growing spirit of freedom in our worship gatherings at Trinity Church. The worship team has prayed for this. God has answered by focusing our attention on Romans 8.

The theme of Romans 8 is liberty, and Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones has called it the Mt. Everest of the scriptures. It begins by declaring, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”(Romans 8:1–2 ESV). The chapter ends with an amazing declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Freedom begins when, through faith, we are found in Jesus Christ who instead of condemning us, forgives us, setting us free from the bondage of sin so we can truly live. This is when we are born again, and consequently given the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). The end result of freedom is no separation from the love of God, a good description of eternal life. The space in-between is where we live now. Liberty in the here and now hinges on one main theme that has been playing around in my head and heart as we have been meditating on, and teaching on Romans 8 over the past few months. Freedom is found in knowing that you belong to God … forever.

It has become my life’s calling to help people know what it means to be a child of God, belonging to him forever. God drew my attention to this in a very personal way nearly ten years ago as I began the process of adopting two of my children. He gave me a tangible heart-understanding of the biblical language of adoption when describing his love for me. I was reminded of this calling last summer during a rainstorm in the desert (See my blog entitled,  The Lord’s).

Romans 8 tells you that you were set free for this: to know God in such a personal way that you call him, “Daddy,” the meaning of the word, “Abba.” “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God(Romans 8:15–16 ESV).

 God doesn’t condemn you, rather he adopts you as his child. The Holy Spirit testifies to your spirit that this is true – you really are his child. You really belong to him. This is the key to living in what Paul calls “the freedom of the glory of the children of God”(Romans 8:21 ESV). 

 In your suffering, you can know that you have hope in the midst of our groaning, as your body ages and struggles with disease and decay. In the same way that your spirit has been redeemed, so will your body, along with all of creation. (Romans 8:23).

You can be secure in your weaknesses (insecurities) knowing that he who searches your heart, knows your weaknesses and intercedes for you through his Spirit, working out his perfect will (Romans 8:27).

Your Father works all things together for your good. Your suffering and insecurities are to be addressed within that context of hope and patience (Romans 8:28).

Your security comes from knowing that you are called, chosen by God and that he is at work in your life through the tough stuff (Romans 8:29).

God, the one we call, “Daddy,” is for us, so who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).

Ultimately, it is his loyal love for us that enables us to be “more than conquerors” in the here an now, because we know that his love indeed endures forever.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Romans 8:38–39 ESV).

All of our hope is anchored here. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can say, “I am sure!” He gives us this knowledge and this confidence which results in experiencing our freedom in Christ.

I am praying that knowing these things in our hearts will lead us to a greater experience of the promised presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As God does this in your life and in my life, imagine what will happen when we come together to praise him in our worship services at Trinity Church. Freedom.


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Our Heritage

Facing a Task Map

[This is a second edit due to some friends pointing out that I may have communicated something I didn’t intend to, mainly that I was against being relevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Thus … take two.]

The word “heritage’ showed up a few times in our worship services on Sunday. First it was in the lyric of our opening song of praise, Like Incense. “Your statutes are my heritage forever…,” we sang, declaring that God was our God and that we would ever praise him. Then it was part of the message from Psalm 61. “For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” (Psalms 61:5 ESV). Guest preacher, Richard Bewes focused on our heritage as those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (his Guarding the Heart message.)

I’ve been thinking of my heritage as we prepare to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday this weekend. He was given the heritage of those who fear God’s name, passed it on to his daughter, Julie (my wife), and we now seek to pass it on to our children. Of all his accomplishments in life, this is his greatest, the one for which we are most grateful. Thankfully, my parents did the same for me. Our heritage of faith is that of a firm foundation, building our lives on The Rock that is higher than us. It is the security of being sheltered in the perfect love and care of our Heavenly Father, finding refuge in the shadow of his wings. It is the heritage of praising the Lord every day. (Psalm 61). Unbeknownst to me, my father-in-law, Walt attended our service on Sunday. It was good to have him there.

We closed the service with a new rendition of hymn, Facing a Task Unfinished. Over 5400 churches, in 100 countries, comprised of an estimated one million believers in 13 languages joined to sing Facing a Task Unfinished to rekindle the passion to “go and make Him known.” This was an initiative by OMF (Oversees Missionary Fellowship) in partnership with Keith and Kristyn Getty. We almost missed the blessing of partnering with the worldwide church in this expression of worship and the unity of the faith because I had decided not to do it. I debated using this hymn because, well, honestly I was afraid of not being relevant. (While I was practically thinking about the timing and fit in the worship service and the arrangement and whether it was relevant to sing a traditional hymn in a traditional way, under the surface there was a nagging concern about me not being relevant if I did it. I’m confessing here this insecurity and have asked for and received God’s forgiveness.) In retrospect, being part of the worldwide body of Christ singing a hymn together was relevant. The very heart of the hymn is about the task of inviting others to join the heritage of those who fear the Lord.

Thankfully, when Richard began to close his message Sunday morning a bit earlier than scheduled, I texted our tech crew and slipped the song back into the closing of our worship service. It was powerfully unifying, worshipful and God-honoring. People from every generation have told me how it was a meaningful highlight, worshiping with God’s people gathered around the world that morning. One woman shared how she wept as she sang the phrase, “With none to heed their crying for life, and love, and light, unnumbered souls are dying and pass into the night.” I led the hymn from the piano and the congregation heartily sang it in a hymn-like way – the way I learned to sing hymns in the Baptist Church where I was given the heritage of salvation in Christ.

I strive to keep our music program and our worship services relevant. This is after all part of Trinity’s Philosophy of Ministry*. While I prefer singing a new song, I found myself praising God for my heritage of hymn-singing in the church. I’m glad I went with my gut and added Facing a Task Unfinished back in to our services. New to me, the content of this hymn stirred my heart and I sang every phrase with deepening conviction as the morning progressed. While hymns are not the only way to worship, I was reminded that they are a valid and powerful part of our heritage of faith, our expression of praise as the people of God throughout all generations. I’m thankful to the Getty’s and OMF for using a hymn to call the worldwide church back to the purpose of worshiping God through our commitment to “go and make him known.”


*Trinity’s Philosophy of Ministry statement on our worship services reads: Worship services will purpose to unite the church in worship of our triune God. We will meet with God to give Him praise and grow as His followers who worship in spirit and in truth. We will seek to follow biblical guidelines while remaining relevant in our musical styles and use of the arts and technology, and creative in our expression of praise.

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Here’s My Heart

by guest blogger, Gail Rogers

Music and song lyrics can be incredibly powerful, especially when they resonate and connect personally. As someone who tends to struggle with feeling I need to prove myself, or try to find my value in people, achievements or things – I am reminded that I belong to the One who is constant, steady and sure. This is very grounding and calming.

Upon first hearing this song, I enjoyed it, and knew that it was truth being sung. But as time went by I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Then, last fall, near the end of Women’s Bible Study, I realized why. The words of the song are not just “nice” and they aren’t written to just make us feel happy, better or good. The lyrics are more than that. They are truth. And they aren’t truth simply because I (and others) believe it or want them to be so. The statements declared are biblically based and can be found directly in Scripture. This means that everything we sing throughout that song is far more than fluffy, feel-good sentences. They are true, lasting and trustworthy statements of who we are (and have become) because of who God is. Because of this recognition, and a plan to share this song with the women in the Monday night group, I felt led to study through the lyrics of the song and find where each of the truths could be found in Scripture. It took a weekend, but it was a good time of study and connecting Scripture to song in a tangible way. (Here’s My Heart scripture truths.)

I was also drawn to the structure of the song because it doesn’t focus on “us” only. We are not the focus of our lives and we are not the most important thing. Our Savior, Redeemer, God and Father is to be of utmost importance. The song mirrors that. We do indeed need to know who we’ve become, and are free to be, because of Him. He frees us to think rightly of ourselves and calls us to that. But our life is far beyond us – we aren’t free and healed because of who we are; we are free and healed because of God, His grace and His work in us. Moving from rightly acknowledging ourselves in light of Christ into declaring who our God is and truths about Him is a beautiful model for our daily lives. The end of the final verse speaks to me; for He is more than enough, He is all I have, and He is my everything. I sing these words to glorify my God and to remind myself that I need to live for Him.

With a new year often come resolutions and goals, dreams and desires for something better and for change to be made. There is nothing wrong with that inherently, but as someone who struggles – I stress that we cannot find our worth, our focus, our peace or our assurance in anything but the God who stands sure through time. Resolutions to make good changes in our life will not save us, it will not change who we are from the inside out, and it will not redeem us. Christ’s redemption of our lives is the only way to find lasting stability and assurance in our lives. If there is a change that needs to be made, the best resolution to make is to turn your life over to Him and let Christ’s redemption and the work of the Holy Spirit work in you to truly bring change in your life. Look forward into a new year with hope, and be reassured of His grace. I encourage you not to resolve to just live a better 2016, but this song is a reminder that our lives are not our own, and we will be fulfilled by giving our lives fully to the God who redeemed them in the first place. Resolve to live for Christ not only in 2016 but the years to come. Learn more of Him and work to show the world the God who can redeem all who come to Him.

Signature - Gail



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Christmas Shoe TreeChristmas is a season of giving and receiving blessings. It’s also a hectic season of shopping, family gatherings, office parties, final exams, special programs, and unique holiday traditions. We all make important choices as we shape our plans, attitudes and activities through this Christmas season. These choices could be as simple as whether we are generous or greedy, think of others or mainly of ourselves. Are we going to be too busy to take time to be with people? Will we be stressed or let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts?

The people in the Christmas story made important choices. Mary chose to be available. She accepted God’s plan and turned to give him praise, declaring herself “the bondservant of the Lord.” Joseph chose courage and obedience. Rather than be afraid he trusted God and took Mary as his wife. The shepherds chose to marvel at what they had seen and to spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child. Herod chose pride. Threatened by the birth of another king he chose to destroy in a killing rage. The wise men chose to bow before Jesus. They left everything behind to seek the King so they could worship him, giving costly gifts.

Christmas is ultimately about a choice that God made. Because he loved the world so much, he sent his Son Jesus to save his people from their sins. He chose to wear earth shoes. He chose to take the form of a servant, being made in human likeness, took the form of a man, humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross. But before the creation of the world, he made another choice. He chose us. Blessings, gifts, call them what you will, there is nothing that compares with this choice that God made. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  (Ephesians 2:3,4 ESV).  Once we grasp this foundational and very personal meaning of Christmas we have a choice to make. We choose to ignore and reject or to embrace and believe. The blessings of Christmas belong to those who chose to believe in Christ and then live lives characterized by the spiritual blessings we have received in him.

Christmas Shoe Tree FullOur goal with the Christmas Shoe Tree, envisioned and built by Trinity artist, Ken Weaver, is to encourage the Trinity Church family to choose to wear the right shoes each day this Christmas season. When it comes to our plans, attitudes and activities, we ought to choose to model the attitude of the One we celebrate. Jesus’ close follower and friend, John, tells us that we ought to walk in the same way in which Christ walked. We have been chosen by God; we’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ, whose birth we remember. So let’s be a blessing to those around us, bringing the spiritual blessings we have been given into all of our doings and gatherings this Christmas. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV).


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God, Who Comforts the Downcast

IMG_3154The horror that has played out with the shootings in our community yesterday has shaken us all. We need to individually and collectively cry out to our God of all comfort, strength, hope and peace. Already stories are pouring in about how Christ-followers have been strategically placed by him alongside a grieving friend and colleague, as first responders to the scene, coordinating logistics for the emergency response, in the emergency room helping shooting victims, on rounds with a nurse in the hospital, in the neighborhood of the suspects, and the list goes on and on. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, reconciling the world to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20). Following Paul’s charge, he tells us that we should not receive the grace of our Lord in vain. In other words, we are called to bring that grace to others. Then he gives an example of how someone did this in his life. “For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn –conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 7:5,6) As we receive the comfort of God, let’s do what Titus did for Paul and his friends and comfort others by going to them. We don’t have to say much, rather just love and be present, speaking as the Spirit leads. May I add that we be bold in looking for opportunities to do this? The hymn we are singing on Sunday powerfully states, “his law is love and his gospel is peace.” Let’s live out that love in a very real way as we interact with those in our community that are grieving. We need to be out there helping, available. Let’s fulfill that role that God has given us as ambassadors of Christ living and proclaiming the gospel of peace.


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Glorifying God with Thanksgiving

FullSizeRenderThanksgiving week affords a rare early morning extended quiet time to reflect and give thanks in front of the crackling wood stove. Last night at my worship band rehearsal I had one of those aha moments. I was moving toward this when I chose to open our worship services with this verse.

                    “I will praise God’s name in song 
                    and glorify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalms 69:30 NIV)

What caught my eye was the fact that we glorify God with thanksgiving. This powerful resolution came from the heart and pen of David in the midst of one of his darkest psalms. He is virtually drowning in “deep waters” relationally and spiritually. Dealing with rejection, enemies, ridicule, and his own sinfulness, he can’t see the God he loves and desperately needs. Just before he resolves to praise God and give thanks he says, “I am in pain and distress.” (v.29)

Last night, I shared an excerpt from fellow worship leader, Wayne Stewart’s book Bigger with my friends in the band. To summarize the main premise of his book, he says that we are all on a continuum in our outlook and expression of worship from smaller to bigger. Smaller is characterized by a view that worship is one hour a week. Bigger is that worship is the expression of all of our life. I asked them to share how they have grown to practice their expression of worship in their everyday lives. Food, blessings, God’s continual presence, his peace that surpasses all understanding, his sovereignty directing the very details of our lives were some of their answers. Then it hit me. Recognition of those things is the first step, but recognition alone is not an expression of worship. Thanksgiving is. The moment we recognize that every good and perfect gift comes down from our Father above and turn and give thanks, we glorify him.

Lately, I’ve been captured by another statement in the Psalms from David. Demonstrating a life outlook of bigger worship, he says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:8 ESV). I have previously stated that listening to worship music is one way that we continually set the Lord before us. Thanksgiving is another way. Every time we recognize the hand of God in our lives, when we say the simple words, “Thank you,” we are glorifying him. The more we give thanks to God, the bigger our worship grows. David lived a life of this practice to the point that even in the middle of his darkest moments he resolved to praise the Lord and glorify him with thanksgiving. This is a practical example of what it means to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).

My “thank you” begins with the very reason I have this extended quiet time to write this morning. My beloved wife, Julie and kids, Billy, Maria, Ben and Brandon are enjoying a desert retreat at a condo with a friend, and I miss them. I have a ‘loud,’ busy, chaotic life and I give thanks to God for these precious children that make it that way. I give thanks for every interruption and intrusion into my innate need for solace, for the messy house and broken things, the never ending work, and even the overwhelming challenges and emotions that accompany parenting, revealing my shortcomings (aka sins), drawing me to greater dependence upon the Lord and others for help. I’m so thankful for my partner in it all, Julie Ann, with strength and beauty and selfless expression of love for us all through relentless service. I’m thankful that I live in close proximity to so many of our extended family, seeing them often. I praise the Lord for treasured friends, and time playing music together, or meaningful conversations over a bike ride, cup of coffee, a burger or burrito. I’m thankful for my other family, Trinity Church, experiencing the ‘deep waters’ together over the past few years has caused us to draw closer to the Lord and the practice of “loving one another deeply from the heart.” Sunrises, sunsets, our beautiful valley, my dog, Shadow, the color green, my parent’s Autumn Blaze Maple tree (above), Trader Joe’s Ultra Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, In-N-Out burger, the Word of God, a good novel, yes, thank you, Father, for all of these things from the simplest pleasures to the most profound blessings. Every joy comes from you and so I glorify you with thanksgiving and say along with the psalmist, “Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD!” (Psalms 150:6 ESV).


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Kellee’s Playlist

Kellee's PlaylistWhen we encounter suffering in this life, we have an incredible choice before us. Either we run toward God or run away from Him. David says, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). Jesus’ brother James, tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2) Jeremiah found hope when he chose to remember the steadfast love of the Lord, his mercy and great faithfulness. My friend, Kellee, is showing me how to run toward God and wholeheartedly trust him in her time of trial. She is part of our Trinity Church worship team. Many of you know and have been praying for her mom, Judy, as she battles cancer. A month or so ago, I asked Kellee what worship songs were encouraging her, and her family. She started rattling them off, so I asked her to write them down. Now I’m listening to a Spotify playlist made from songs she recently handed to me on “little Miss Princess” paper.

Worship music is a wonderful way to “always set the Lord before us” so that we will not be shaken. These songs help us to persevere. They cause joy to spring up inside because of God’s steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness. These songs also give us the words to pray when it’s hard to find our own words. Now I share Kellee’s playlist with you, so you may be encouraged in whatever kind of trial you or your loved one is facing. As you listen, remember to pray for, and reach out in love, to those you know who are facing trials. This is after all what it means to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2)


Kellee’s Spotify Playlist

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You are uniquely designed to worship God and there are various ways to do this. Come on October 3, to CONNECT, and experience this opportunity to explore ways to use your gifts to draw near to God. The purpose of this event is to encourage and inspire worship through creativity. Art connects the head to the heart. It is the result of applying knowledge to the soul. You don’t just think art, you feel it, and feel it deeply. Our God, who is worthy to be praised as the creator of the heavens and the earth, created us in his own image with the capacity and mandate to create. We connect with God relationally when our knowledge moves from the head to the heart, finding its fullness of expression in praise. We connect with others when we collaborate and serve together.  Those who serve with me in worship ministries are being transformed by Christ, connected in relationships, engaged in ministry and reaching our world for Christ. We are excited to encourage and inspire you to do what we love to do.

So What Do We do?

We write
We light
We sing and sew
We mix
We direct
We build and paint
We play
We display
We capture stories and tell stories
We dance
We act
We welcome and create
We give
We serve
We worship

After an opening worship service, you will have the opportunity to attend two elective introductory classes of your choice. Rekindle a creative flame that is dim or has gone away. Light a creative spark that’s is in you and waiting to get out.

All are welcome to attend our morning worship service from 8:30 – 10:00 AM. Musical worship will be led by local artist, Aeron Brown who will also be teaching two painting electives. Ed Willmington, Director of the Fred Bock Institute of Music at Fuller Theological Seminary will lead us in teaching from God’s Word. Ed will follow that with two electives on essentials for worshipers and those who lead worship. These two 1-hour elective classes run from 10:15 AM to 12:30 PM.

Come early at 8 AM to register and enjoy a continental breakfast and a cup or two of Redland’s own, Wild Goose Coffee.

Please sign up online so that your elective teachers know that you’re coming. All are welcome, so please pass the word around and invite others. You can request childcare when you register.

See you on October 3rd!


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The Lord’s

The weekend of July 18 & 19, 2015 will forever be remembered as an extraordinary display of God’s abundant love, power and faithfulness in my life. In a dry and weary land where there is no water, the Lord poured out abundant water. An unprecedented tropical storm swept through Southern California and over the course of the weekend poured out over three inches of rain (estimated). Being born and raised in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, the thunder and lightning and downpour of percussive rain put me in a nostalgic bliss. The smells, the sounds, the sight and the feeling of rain pouring down from heaven are a memorial of God’s faithfulness to me, heightening my senses to his presence and power.*

Saturday was an eight-hour travel day as I drove my family home from a week at Mount Hermon, near Santa Cruz, CA. The luscious redwood forest and refreshing cool temperatures represented the sweet refreshment that we received that week. Driving home was bitter sweet as we knew we were headed back to hot, dry, brown SoCal. As Julie and I reflected and planned some action points from our week of camp, God had a surprise for us. We hit some thunder and lightning and a few showers as we drove Highway 46 away from the green coast into the golden brown hills and back to the hot Central Valley. As we climbed the Grapevine on I-5 it began to rain, and it rained hard for the remainder of our two hour drive home to Redlands. It rained even harder yesterday as we unpacked, cleaned up and settled back into life at home. I drifted off to sleep last night to the sound of rain and an occasional splash on my face through the open window above our bed.

Reading through the Chronological Bible this year, I find myself in Isaiah 44 this morning, and this is what I read:

“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 on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
                        like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,
                        another will call on the name of Jacob,
            and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,
                        and name himself by the name of Israel.”” (Isaiah 44:3–5 ESV).

God is speaking to his chosen people who have failed miserably to honor him. While they have been unfaithful, he declares his faithfulness. While they have become “weary of [him]” (Isaiah 43:22), he does not grow weary of them. He relentlessly invites personal relationship. This passage declares what we call the New Covenant, referring to the coming of Christ to forgive sins and the Holy Spirit to empower the church to be a witness for Christ. The New Covenant is what makes a thriving, growing relationship with God possible. It’s grace: God’s loving initiative to bring us near to him.

I love that God’s analogy for pouring out his Spirit is abundant, refreshing, powerful water being poured out on the thirsty land. While a lot could be uncovered in this passage, I don’t want to miss the main thing here, found in verse 5. What is the result of the pouring out of his Spirit? We will be certain of our identity as belonging to the Lord. “One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s …. another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s. (verse 5). This identity is the foundation of the Christian life. In a Facebook world that is so concerned with who I am, my profile and my status, we’ve got it all wrong. On the contrary, everything flows out of knowing whose I am. If I were to get a tattoo this would be it: “The Lord’s,” on the back of my right hand. Every time I look down, I would be reminded not of who I am, but whose I am. I am his and he is mine. Rain reminds me of this and that’s why I can never get enough of it!

One might ask, “How does one belong to the Lord?” It’s simple. You come to Jesus and drink. You believe. “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit[.] (John 7:37–39 ESV). Like a downpour of tropical rain, the Lord pours out his Spirit, not on, but notice this, abundantly into the hearts of all who come to Jesus and believe. The result is that you can know for certain that you belong to him. You can join me in joyfully and confidently declaring, “I am the Lord’s!”

*The catalyst for this blog was Richard Dahlstrom’s teaching last week at Mount Hermon from the book of Joshua: God’s Better Land. Among other things, he encouraged me to memorialize God’s faithfulness and reminded me that whose I am is more important than who I am. The rain coupled with the Isaiah passage is just driving the point home, reminding me that God speaks through his Word and through his servants. Thanks, Richard for being God’s faithful servant and using your gift of teaching to build up the body of Christ.

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Our Task and Our Helper

[Part V in a series on Abiding in Christ]

Through prayer and conversation, Trinity Church leadership has boldly chosen the following central ministry focus for our next chapter together: empowering believers to reach their world for Christ. Our central ministry focus is the main thing that we must all do if we are to be successful as a church, bringing glory to God. While this purpose of the church has been in our documents and teaching at Trinity, for most of us it has not been central. As a community of Christ-followers longing to glorify God, by loving God, loving people, sharing the gospel and serving the world, we believe that by sharpening this focus, we are better aligning ourselves with Christ’s purpose for us, which will bring greater glory to God.

Our main question and discussion as a pastoral staff has been, “How do we do this?” Yet shouldn’t we first consider, “How does God want us to do this?” This is the main thrust of Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room. We must remember, remaining deeply connected to the Vine is the source of all success (fruit). Everything flows from our relationship with Christ. Apart from him we can do nothing. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV). Abiding in Him is made possible through the presence of God, The Holy Spirit, abiding in us. He is our Helper to do God’s will and work in and through us. When we realize this, our commission to make disciples produces joy and freedom. Failure to recognize this produces fear and guilt, and quite frankly, we miss the heart of Jesus who spoke these things so that our joy may be full.

I used to be paralyzed with guilt and fear whenever the topic of witnessing or evangelism came up until I realized that it was the Lord’s work that mattered most and not my own. At that point the pressure was off and I began to relax and move. Now, by God’s grace, and with much yet to learn, I have been useful to the Lord for the purpose of witness and I delight in encouraging faith in others. If you are like me, I hope I might encourage you to relax. You have a Helper. After being with his disciples every day for three years, Jesus says, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7 ESV). It must have been shocking for them to hear that. What could be more advantageous than being with Jesus?

Christ’s disciples were the leaders he chose and trained to carry on his ministry. The advantage is theirs because the Holy Spirit would help them accomplish their mission: to bear witness about Jesus and continue his works. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12 ESV). He also says, “And you also will bear witness [about me], because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:27 ESV). Acts 1:8 says that the Holy Spirit would empower them to be Christ’s witnesses. The chain of witnesses, disciples making disciples, continued on from that day, and somewhere along the way, you and I heard the gospel of Christ because of those who witnessed to us. Upon hearing and believing we have been saved by grace through faith, and are now his disciples too. While we are not the original apostles (eye witnesses), we have the same mission of carrying forth the word and works of Jesus, and the same Helper to guarantee success. What a joy and privilege for us to join with Christ in this foundational purpose of the church. These are exciting times as we trust the Lord to direct our hearts, words and actions into making his central ministry focus, our own.


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