Tag: Christian Living

What If Prayer is Unanswered?

Life is unexpected. Have you noticed that things often do not turn out the way we think they will, even when we pray? Perhaps you have been praying for a certain friend or loved one, and you have not gotten the answer you had hoped for. Or ...

Keeping the Main thing the Main Thing

We were about six months into our church plant in Oregon, when I headed out one day to a nearby lake just to spend some alone time with the Lord. For a church plant, things were going ok. We had a great school to meet in, and people were co...

God Still Works Miracles

"Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot; there let us rejoice in Him!" (Psalm 66:5-6). One effective temptation to despair i...

When Everything Falls Into Disorder

While Evangelical Progressives applaud recent cultural changes, those of the Conservative branch are concerned as traditional values are thrown over in favor of the Moral Revolution. What they need to remember is that this is the way it’s b...

The Necessity of Applying the Gospel to My Own Heart

I’ve spent most of my adult life in the city. I like the feel of concrete under my shoes, the convenience of functioning public transportation and rubbing shoulders with people from all walks of life. Several years ago, my family needed to ...

Don't Stop Crying Out to God

The story of the blind beggar, found in Luke 18 is one that has recently had a powerful impact on my attitude toward prayer. The healing of Bartimaeus is the final miracle Jesus performed during His time on earth. I think it is profound th...

Be Faithful to Your Calling

Almost a year ago there was a need for a new youth worship leader, and therefore I was thrust into a whole new world. I thought, “I’ve led worship for years. This’ll be easy!” Famous last words.  I committed to a year of serving in yo...

Making Sense of the Unfathomable

"When I remember God, then I am disturbed; when I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah. You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak"– (Psalm 77:3-4)   It’s one thing to bring your troubles to God. It’s anot...

Why Burdens Aren’t Bad

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is full...

Finding Peace in Surrender

The idea of surrender, most commonly, has negative connotations. We think of armies and nations that have surrendered in wars; they saw that they were defeated by the victors, and so they gave up, admitted defeat and surrendered t...

When God Has Another Plan

The pain got worse, as all my gym friends surrounded me on the ground, and I heard one of them whisper to the other, “Oooh, it’s…”  I could only imagine that my ankle wasn’t looking so hot and was possibly ballooning to double it’s size. Su...

A Building is Only as Strong as Its Foundation

A building is only as strong as its foundation. The walls can’t even support its own weight. But when that weight is transferred to the foundation, the whole building is stable.I learned this as I meditated through Psalm 55:22: "Cast your b...

An Open Letter from a Pastor to His Sons

To my sons whom I love more than words can say: "If there was only one principle that I could impart to you, what would be the most impactful for this life and the life to come? By the grace of God, the priority of this value is so clearly ...

A Culture of Wannabes: Be Imitators of God

A "wannabe" is defined as: 1. A person who wants or aspires to be someone or something else or who tries to look or act like someone else.2. Something (such as a company, city or product) intended to rival another of its kind that has been ...

Fight the Lies of Fear with the Truth of God

There was a time in my life when I was totally paralyzed by fear. I lived in a perpetual panic attack for a period of about six months. At that time, I believed that I was physically sick; I was having strange and terrifying symptoms that w...

Are You Praying with Honesty?

I was driving alone in the car, and I was thankful for the solitude. The silence was like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, and I yearned to just visit with for awhile. As I drove up Warner Boulevard, my head was spinning with the...

Be Anxious for Nothing

I will never forget the day I received the hospital bill in our mailbox. I was having a particularly cheerful day up until that moment. As I reached in and perused the typical "junk" advertisements for a car lot sale, coupons for Memorial D...

Three Principles in Pursuing God

How do you have a decent quiet time? What does one do? And most importantly, why even do it? George Mueller, who sustained his orphanages by prayer, thought he had to travail in prayer every morning. He would go quite a while working at it,...

Why I Need to Discern My Thought Life

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses spoke to a new generation about to enter the Promised Land. He gave them both a history lesson and reminded them of the terms of their covenant with God. He wanted to make sure they didn't repeat the error of their p...

Three Hindrances That Need to Be Stripped From My Life

A few years back I had this great idea of restoring a 1972 Chevy Blazer 4X4. I loved that specific year, great body lines, removable top, and it looks great with a 6" lift kit. A good friend in the restoration business started the search an...

Is God Listening?

“O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come” (Psalm 65:2). I am so thankful for the character of the Living God! He is a good God…and He is a God who hears prayer!! What if God was deaf to our prayers, or didn’t care? Many think of ...

Three Key Steps in the ART of Letting God Lead

Recently I was given the great privilege of seeing some of the fruit from the youth ministry I pioneered over 15 years ago while speaking at a youth retreat. As I observed those I once encouraged encouraging others, it led me to consider th...

Funky Feet and Fixed Focus: Lessons and Warnings on LOVE

"Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God." —Jim Elliot (1927-1956), martyred for sharing the love of Christ. In the next article, I will tell you about when a heavy jug of aged, North Philly [homeless-...

Robbed of Joy

I wasn’t always a pastor. I remember the first job I had in college, working for my uncle at his car lot in a questionable part of town. I drove my old ’86 Dodge convertible to work each day and always parked it with the top down on the sid...

Don't Fear Loneliness

I have known loneliness in my life. When I first started to follow Jesus, I was 24 years old. Soon after making that decision, I moved to a new house. During this period I lived alone in a house with no television and no internet. I lived l...

"Rock of Ages:" Three Aspects of Salvation

Nothing in my hand I bring,simply to the cross I cling;naked, come to thee for dress;helpless, look to thee for grace;foul, I to the fountain fly;wash me, Savior, or I die. It was a stormy night in Somerset, England, in 1763. A large thunde...

Jesus Brings (More) Life

While all God’s Word is inspired and profitable ( 2 Timothy 3:16), most Christians have favorite passages. Sometimes we talk about our “life verse” by which we mean something especially relevant to our entire lives. Then there are seasons i...

Merry Christmas from CalvaryChapel.com

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'"– Luke 2:13-14 Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from ...

Christmas Eve: “Emmanuel at Street Level”

I wrote a Christmas song a few years ago imagining the Nativity story from Joseph’s point of view. I was driving home from Sacramento, California, late at night, listening to Christmas music in mid-December. Here’s a verse or two of that so...

Home for Christmas: Pondering the Gospel this Advent Season

Christmas is often a time of reminiscing, rejoicing and reconnecting with family and friends.  It is the occasion to celebrate with friends and family that make the Christmas experience so meaningful. In fact, it is often a time when we lov...

Good News for Zechariah and for Us

“And Zechariah said to the angel, 'How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.' And the angel answered him, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you thi...

Christmas and the Incarnation of Christ

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). Christmas is a celebration of God in His humanity. Our faith is unique among world religions for this simple belief: Our God chose to stoop, to lower Himself, to become one of us...

How Creation Reminds Us to See the Glory Behind the Beauty

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1). “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him...

"I Can't Get No Satisfaction:" Consumerism for the Believer

In the West we live in a consumer culture. By nature we are consumers. Let me list just a few of the items we consume daily: coffee, phones, fashion, handbags, shoes, house decor items, jewelry, watches, cars...the list goes on ad infinitum...

Work Out Your Own Salvation

Maybe you’ve heard of CrossFit. I’m one of those crazy people who have bought into their way of using constantly varied, functional movements at a high intensity. Basically this just means you work really hard, never at the same things, in ...

Lessons on Compromise and Concession from Gibraltar

Wars have been fought for almost every reason: land, resources, honor, greed, politics, religion...They are costly in human lives and for local economies. At times, the best the victors can hope to gain is a stronghold, a place to anchor do...

How Does a Believer Follow Jesus?

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (...

The Reformation Through Jewish Eyes

As the Church prepares to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017, there is much to celebrate. Truly the Reformation has been an impetus for glorious eternal good. Yet, it may be helpful to understand the Refo...

Where Are You Placing Your Identity?

We all had a starting point in life. I was born into a Christian home with a pastor for a father. My parents have been married about four decades. My family ate dinner around the table almost every night, did Bible devotions and went to chu...

Understanding the Difference Between Abiding & Abounding

I don't know how I did it. How did I somehow change the word "abound" into "abide?" Allow me to revel in either God's ability to redeem a typo or perhaps God's wisdom and sovereignty to actually set up a misunderstanding. Through a series...

Three Christlike Attributes We Find in the Warrior Caleb

In Israel's heyday, to call someone a "dog" was an insult, not a stage name in the rap game. Some say the name "Caleb" meant "dog." Well, not anymore. The Caleb of Israel changed all that. We know Caleb as a warrior, a man of faith, a fait...

The Blessings That Come When We Fear the Lord

"Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it" (Proverbs 15:16-17). "Better is." What a phrase. It strikes me as final,...

The Effect of Being Reasonable in Conversation

On Labor Day, my wife Karen and I hosted a BBQ in our condo complex, and some of our neighbors joined the fun. One couple has been married 59 years. They met in Memphis and were high school sweethearts. His sister used to hang out with Elvi...

The Good Kind of Lack

Lately I’ve been finding that lack is good. I live in a foreign country, in the capital city of a people with a different culture and beautifully complex language. I often don’t understand. I’m always guessing, based on people’s hand gestur...

JESUS IS GREATER Than Everything Today Throws At Us

Whether you encounter difficult trials or unexpected joys today, it’s imperative to remember that God is greater than anything you experience. He’s bigger than any obstacle, enemy or tragedy, and He’s better than any material blessing. The ...

WHY SHOULD I WAIT FOR THE LORD ANY LONGER?

“Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” This is a question King Jehoram of Israel asks during a long lasting and grueling siege of his city. Have you ever asked this question? Are you asking it right now? Sometimes our situation seems ...

The Power of Spiritually Healthy Habits Part 2

In part one of this article, I shared four tips I gleaned from the New York Times bestseller: The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I’ll add to it with steps five through nine here: 5. DEVELOP A KE...

The Power of Spiritually Healthy Habits

While most Christians desire to become more consistent in studying the Bible, many struggle with making it a daily part of their lives. We commonly bear witness to Paul’s battle revealed in Romans 7:15, “…For what I will to do, that I do no...

How Do You Handle Betrayal?

Betrayal is like a shadow and tense music in a horror film. It fills us with anxiety and clouds our lives with its presence. Sometimes it can be anticipated. There are signs that it's about to ruin a friendship or work environment, but it's...

Has a Piece of Sin Latched Onto You?

You don't exactly plan to be living in luxury on a mission trip, but you do hope to at least get a good night's sleep. Our hopes were dashed a little in the middle of our mission trip to Vietnam. There's no nice way to put it; the hotel we ...

Where to Find Wisdom

I love the book of Job. I am so glad that God included it in the Bible. Its wisdom and raw gritty honesty about suffering is refreshing. One of my favorite sections, though there are many, has been Job’s cry for wisdom in chapter 28. It is ...

Nothing is Impossible with God

I've been through a lot of pain in my life. If you know my story, you know I've faced death of family, heartache and depression in my short years. Not long ago I was in so much emotional pain I wondered if I would ever be happy again. But m...

Where Strength is Found

“And they said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah: “This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth’"(2 Kings 19:3).This verse paints a vivid picture as the...

"Sinner" is No Longer Your True Identity

At the beginning of every year, every season of life, or every day, we can say, "We have not been this way before." A new adventure, a new way, things that never happened to us before give us the opportunity every day to experience God’s pr...

Digital Distractions: What Can We Do?

In my last post, I discussed the damage digital distractions can inflict on our lives if we don’t find a healthy balance. Not only are we susceptible to physical pains and compromised productivity, but we become insensitive and apathetic to...

Four Ways the Bible Encourages Creative Expression

God likes creativity. It’s possible to think He is merely a strict taskmaster in the sky, begrudging us any sort of enjoyment in life. But He is the Creator God, and we are made in His image and likeness. That situation holds plenty of impl...

Should I Still Trust When Life is Unstable?

I was probably about 11 years old, and we were having a small gathering at our house for some people from our church. A man with a huge glass of iced tea walked over to our rickety piano bench to sit down. As soon as he sat on the unreliabl...

Example of God's Constant Presence From 1870 Paris

There are times in history that seem difficult to find the Gospel light (periods when Christians appear to be lost in the background of governmental upheavals and war). Often, these are used by critics of the faith who point to a Christian ...

The Sobering Gift of Leadership

Jeff Jackson will be a workshop speaker at the 2017 Pastors & Leaders Conference, happening in 7 DAYS! Visit pastorsconference.calvarychapel.com for more information or to register! As a follower of Jesus, the greatest leader that has e...

Don't Quit

Every difficulty we experience in life is either an opportunity or an obstacle. The Chinese symbol for the word “crisis” is actually two separate symbols: one for the word “danger” and the other for the word “opportunity.” Many of us are vi...

Uncertainty Opens the Door for Faith

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of...

Where Did the Word "Refugee" Originate?

It is no understatement to say the refugee crisis in the West is troubling. I find myself looking nervously at images of the masses fleeing one situation while they etch out a hope for a better existence. The situation continues to grow and...

What Worship Can Accomplish

Pastor Ray Bentley will be speaking at the 2017 CCCM Pastors & Leaders Conference, happening June 26-29! Do we know what worship means and does? Singing in church with fellow believers, raising your hands and feeling emotionally moved ...

Where Love is Infinite & Need is Fulfilled

The story of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5:21-34 has always been one that has stuck out to me in the Bible. It is a stunning encounter with the compassionate heart of Jesus, where we see Him heal a woman who would have been de...

Seven Principles for Cross-Cultural Impact

Pastor Jeff Jackson will be a workshop speaker at the 2017 CCCM Pastors & Leaders Conference on June 26-29. For more information, please visit the website. The book of Daniel contains some of the most incredibly accurate, predictive pro...

It's Not About What You Ought to Do

Sometimes I feel trapped by the all the things I think I ought to do. I ought to do more; I ought to sin less. I ought to feel better; I ought to become stronger. But somehow these oughts remain, and I’m still lacking. You see, oughts, no m...

Three Principles to Conquer Giant Problems

The story of David and Goliath is a familiar one to us all. But could it be that in the familiar, we miss the important? Three principles about conquering giant problems in our own lives are taught through the story of this one young man. I...

Why Do Spiritual Droughts Happen?

Back in the 80s, my buddies and I wanted to go on a mountain hike up to the top of Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The La Luz Trail was the way to go. We embarked early one Saturday morning on a typically hot day. Sandia Peak is 10,...

There is Good in This Harsh Reality

I like to think I am an enjoyer of good things. A sunset of brilliant colors, a cup of coffee that tastes of good quality, a flower that smells of good sweetness, a book that makes me recognize new (or old) goodness. Good is good. Sometimes...

Authentic Christianity: Wired for Ekklesia

In Acts 2 we learn some very important things about Authentic Christianity and Authentic Church. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed the Gospel (the record of what God has done for us in the sending of His Son). 3,000 men and women be...

How to Absorb That Blow of Criticism

One of the most humiliating things I’ve ever agreed to was allowing people to line up and “pie” me in the face. When I was a student pastor, someone “dreamed-up” the idea to host a fundraiser with our students that would include my wife and...

Do You Have a Slave Mentality?

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright” (Leviticus 26:13). A remarkable young woman named Amy, who I met in Sing...

Do You Understand That You Are a Son?

Oh, that we could begin to explore what it means to be in relationship with God. We have several metaphors that together help us gain an understanding of who we are in relation to God. Jesus called us servants, but if that was as far as it ...

Who is the Hero of Your Sermon?

I remember as a young Christian reading through Isaiah and running into the passage where God says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1). I recall the feeling of despair that welled up in my ...

Four Promises of God for the Suffering Christian

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is such an amazing bit of real estate in the Bible! In it, we discover that Paul, the great apostle, church planter and New Testament author experienced the same kind of deep, personal pain we experie...

Five People You Are Destined to Love

Who do you love? There are so many people that come to mind. Nevertheless, they might not be the ones that God has destined me to love. Have you ever wanted to know, “Lord, who are the people that I am destined to love?” The author of the B...

Grace Towards Those Who Don’t Seem to Deserve It

Every generation, we think truth is new to us. There is a beauty in that and a danger as well. There is a beauty to discovering grace, finding ourselves surprised by the way God loves us and how utterly undeserving we are. There is a joy to...

Legalism or Realism: Understanding the Difference

He was observably upset, “You’re being legalistic!” were the last words I ever heard from Zachary, as he slammed my office door hard enough to break the jam. I sat there for a moment listening to the slamming of the front doors of the churc...

Don't Give into the Stronghold of Fear and Uncertainty

If there's one thing I've learned living in a massive city like Paris, it's that distraction is often times an attractive means to hide uncertainty. When we were hit with the terrorist attacks, there was a time of grief and shock, especiall...

Relax! You're Surrounded - Steps to Peace Amidst Chaos

I love everything about travel, except the travel. Travel is hard, even after finding a worthy reason to leave home. We rush through traffic to make it to airports just in time. We deal with parking lines, check-in lines, baggage lines, sec...

Real Hope for the Depressed Soul - Part 3

This is part 3 of a 3 part series. You can find part 1 and part 2 here: Part 1 Part 2 Practicing Priesthood In the previous posts in this series, we looked at the need to set the culture in regards to depression, as well as provide training...

Should a Pastor Ever Say No When You Ask for Help?

Ask yourself this question, do the words I use matter? The answer should be a resounding, “Yes!” rhetoric is the art of discourse; an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivat...

The Holy Spirit & Intentionality in Discipleship

I’m not a huge pastry fan, but I do enjoy a fresh, hot slice of apple pie with a generous scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. The rich, creamy ice cream, luxuriously melting over the warm, flaky, buttery crust, is pretty much irresistible. Pie...

Real Christians Can't Watch the Oscars...or Can They?

It’s that time of year again! On February 28, 2016, the rich and the famous will descend in mass upon the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California for the 88th Academy Awards. Guests have shelled out serious cash for multi-thousand-dollar out...

How Christians Can Bring Positive Change to America

Regardless of our philosophical viewpoints, I think almost everyone would agree. We live in very interesting times. We are in the midst of one of the most highly contested presidential elections we have ever seen. While some are passionatel...

Asking the Right Questions

I love the way Jesus used questions: But who do you say that I am? (Luke 9:20)Do you believe this? (John 11:26)Do you not yet understand? (Mark 8:21) When I was young, I'm certain I asked many questions. Children simply do. We are innately ...

5 Practical Ways to Battle Sin

Christians are free from sin’s rule, but not from its attempts to regain control. The battle that exists inside all of us, between sin and the new nature, will continue until we get to Heaven. This fact, however, is not a bleak one. The Bib...

Close Encounters of the Disastrous Kind

“The godly may fall seven times, but they will get up again.” -Proverbs 24:16 “If God is for us who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31 It happens to us all. Near misses, close calls, averted disasters, followed by that sobering realization th...

Be Supremely in Love with Jesus

Have you ever been in love? Have you experienced compelling, intense, strong feelings or emotions for someone? Have you yearned to spend time with someone because it felt so good to be in his/her presence? Have you ever dreamt about spendin...

Vital Principles for Healthy Relationships

"You shall go... and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:4 Relationships are a key part of life. Healthy relationships lead to a good life and unhealthy relationships will make life very difficult. The most important earthly relations...

Is God Needy? Why God Insists that We Love & Trust Him

I listen to podcasts. It’s a great way to maximize my time while doing other things like driving, working-out, and cleaning around the house. While on a run recently, I was listening to the TED Talks podcast titled Believers and Doubters. I...