Thursday, April 30, 2009


According to John Phillips, a donkey is mentioned more than 140 times in Scripture. However, the donkey which heads the list is the one who gave Jesus a ride into town, better known as the Triumphal Entry.

There are some things about this donkey that intrigue me. For one thing, the donkey had to be REDEEMED. According to the Law of Moses, the donkey was pronounced an unclean animal. It did not chew the cud, and it did not have a cloven hoof; thus, it was doubly cursed. Inside and out, it was completely unclean. However, the law also made provision for the condemned beast: it could be redeemed. A lamb could die in the stead of the donkey.

Sound familiar?

It should because we are born unclean, condemned by God's law and sentenced to death. We are doubly cursed. But, the "Lamb of God," the Lord Jesus, has died in our place. Like that donkey, there was nothing we could do to change our condition. But, the lamb died to redeem us.

Not only did the donkey have to be redeemed, but it had to be RELEASED. Jesus told his disciples, "ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither." (Luke 19: 30) The donkey had life, only because of the Lamb; but although it had life, it had no liberty.

I don't know much about the mental functions of a donkey, but can't we possibly imagine how that young donkey may have stood alongside the post, to which it was tied, and dreamed about the day it would be set free. The grass on the yonder hills looked so green. The brook down the hill looked so refreshing. The other animals seemed to be enjoyed the freedom of roaming the hillside. But, it was tied to a post, and the closest it could ever get to freedom was to only imagine it.

How many Christians have been given a new life in Christ, and have been redeemed; yet, they are still in bondage to old hurts, habits, handicaps, and hang-ups. They need to receive the "engrafted" Word of Jesus, "Loose him, and bring him thither." Jesus died to not only redeem us, but to release us. He redeemed us from the penalty of sin's curse; but, He also released us from the power of sin's cruelty.

Finally, once the donkey had been redeemed and released, he had to be RULED. Jesus said that this was a donkey "whereon yet never man sat." In other words, this was an unbroken donkey. It was still full of pride and self-will. It was still full of it's own nature. Again, to delve into the mind of the donkey, I'm sure that he thought, "If I can ever get free, I'm going to run, play, eat to my hearts content." But, I'm sure that he never thought, if I get free, I'm going to let a man control me.

But, Jesus had other plans. He told his disciples to tell the owners of the colt, that the "Lord hath need of him." Thus, as soon as Jesus mounted the back of this donkey, the Master enthroned Himself as the Rightful Owner. All rebellion fled. All fear vanished. We don't read where the young colt bucked, snorted, and kicked while carrying Jesus.

Why? Because it has been transformed from a wild, untamed, cantankerous creature, to an obedient, submissive instrument to fulfill the prophetic word of Zechariah, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech. 9: 9)

It had been redeemed to be released; and, it had been released to be ruled. Its one duty was now to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sound familiar?

Does that not sound like what God desires for each of us? He came to redeem us that He might release us so that He might rule us. As soon as He mounts the saddle of our life, all of our pride, self-will, and cantankerous flesh can be broken so that our sole duty is to lift up Jesus, and carry Him into a lost and dying world.

One final thought.....When He carried Jesus on that triumphal march, and the people lined the streets waving palm branches, singing and rejoicing; do you think the donkey thought all of that pomp and circumstance was for him?

I think it's safe to say that all eyes were on Jesus, not the donkey; but, yet, Jesus used the donkey to lift Him up. If He can do that with a donkey, how much more could He do and would He do with you and me?

I'm Still Amazed,

Pastor Steve

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Lord, Teach ME to Pray!"

There are a couple of topics of which I still, after many years, feel unworthy to preach. One, is faith; and, the other is prayer. These are topics that are easy for us preachers to preach; but, quite different topics when it comes to practice. In regards to faith, I love how Spurgeon put it, "A little faith can take your soul to Heaven; a great faith can bring Heaven to your soul."

Prayer is a subject that, to be quite honest, I misunderstood for many, many years. As a young preacher, I sat at the feet of some of God's prayer warriors, and there was hardly a time, after listening to them describe their times with God, that I did not leave with deep feeling of condemnation. I would read books on the subject of prayer by Torrey, Bounds, Murray; biographies of great men of prayer such as Hyde, Knox, and Murray-McCheyne; and, in spite of my love for books, I would lay them down feeling as if I could never match up to the example they set.

One day, during my quiet time, a verse leaped off the page at me. It was a verse I had read, and I'm sure you have read many times. In Luke 11: 1, the disciples ask a question of Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray." That question struck me for several reasons. It intrigued me that of anything the disciples could have asked, they asked to enroll in the school of prayer. They did not ask to learn how to heal the sick, open blinded eyes, make the lame to walk, walk on water, feed 20,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, or even raise the dead. They asked to be taught how to pray.

Jesus had just finished His own personal prayer meeting, and when it was over he was met with the question from His disciples. Apparently, the disciples either heard Jesus pray, or they saw the effect prayer had upon Him; thus, they in essence ask, "Lord, we have heard You pray, and we want You to teach us to pray like that!"

That brings to bear the question, 'How did Jesus pray?" John 17 is "The Lord's Prayer." Of the 650 prayers in the Bible, none of them hail in comparison to the High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17. The focus of the prayer was a Son talking to His Father in sweet, unbroken communion.

Most prayers focus on what they can get from God, while the prayer of Jesus focused on who He could be with God. Too often, our prayers are focused upon getting God's approval, while the prayer of Jesus focused upon gaining God's attention. Then it dawned upon me...prayer is designed for us to gain God's attention; and, as a result of gaining His attention, we receive the blessing of getting His approval.

Suddenly, I began to realize that prayer was simply spending time with my Heavenly Father. While I had become wrapped up in the blessings, God wanted me to concern myself with the Blessor. I was to become focused on the Giver, not the gifts. When I concerned myself with Him, I became less concerned about what I could get from Him, and became more concerned with just being with Him.

Instead of coming into His presence with my 'Christmas wish list,' telling Him all that I needed (really wanted), I could come into His presence just for the joy of coming into His presence comforted in the fact that He knows what I need, "even before I ask Him." I recently had someone ask me, "Pastor, if God knows what we need before we ask Him, why should we ask Him?" I replied, "Because HE LOVES TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!"

To again borrow the words of Spurgeon, "Some brethren pray by the yard; but, true prayer is measured by weight, not by length."

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

In God's school of prayer, we can bring, or we can just BE!

Still Learning to Lean,

Pastor Steve

Friday, April 3, 2009


Like most of you pastors, the wheels of my mind have been turning as I have been meditating upon the finished work of Christ. Next week, I will turn to the greatest event of history, the resurrection. However, this week, I have walked with Jesus from the judgment hall to the "place of the skull," where the "Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world," was crucified.

Our minds cannot conceive the pain, agony, and torment endured by the One who was fully God, yet fully man. In his book, "The Life of Christ," Fredrick Farrar said, "A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death have to offer...horrible and ghastly. Dizziness, cramps, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of intended wounds. All intensified just up unto the point they can be endured at all. All stopping short of the point that would give the sufferer relief of unconsciousness."

Our blessed Lord has been mocked, beaten, stripped, and scourged with a 'cat-of-nine-tails,' which was a wooden handle with 9 leather strips on it, each strip embedded with glass, or razor sharp pieces of metal. He would be tied to a pole, with his arms pulled up in the air; and, as the whip came down on His back, it would rip hunks of flesh with every lash. The whip would even wrap around His body, cutting open His stomach area, causing His insides to be exposed.

Most victims bled to death at this point, but not Jesus! His work was not yet complete. They must lay Him on a cross and lift Him up, just as Moses had "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." As He hang between 2 thieves, the final hours of His earthly life were about to come to an end. In one final burst of human strength, He cried, "IT IS FINISHED!"

And, then I saw what I had never seen before..."HE BOWED HIS HEAD and gave up the ghost." Do you see that? He BOWED His head! His head did not just fall down or flop over; He BOWED it! His head did not fall in defeat; rather, His head was bowed in victory. His head was not bowed in sorrow, but in submission.

Even in His dying hour, He was in full control even when things seemed out of control. He bowed His head as if to remind them, "You didn't take my life from Me. I gave it of Myself. I could have saved myself; but, had I saved myself, I could not have saved you."

Oh blessed thought that if in His dying hour He was Sovereign, how much more Sovereign would He be now that He is "alive forevermore" and seated upon His Heavenly throne? I can't speak for you, but that thrills my heart to know that the Cross not only revealed His submission, but His sovereignty.

Perhaps your life seems out of control; but, I remind you that the Christ of the Cross is never out of control. We look at a world that is out of control and wonder, "If God is in control, why doesn't He do something about all of this?"


With the BOWING of His head...
God the Father said, "PAID IN FULL!"
God the Son said, "IT IS FINISHED!"
God the Holy Ghost said, "I'M ON THE WAY!"

Thanks be to God for the Christ of Calvary who is still in control when things seem out of control!

Unworthy but not Ungrateful,

Pastor Steve

Monday, March 23, 2009


Well......I guess my first duty is to apologize for becoming slack, the past few weeks, in posting on my blog. I have no excuse, other than to say that every time I have sat down and intended to post my thoughts, something has come up. Thus, if you will be gracious enough to accept my apology, I will endeavor to become more faithful in sharing with you.

Faithful?? What a great word to express my thoughts for today. As I have just finished preaching through the book of Nehemiah, on Sunday AM; and, am continuing to take our church Book by Book through the Bible on Sunday PM, I keep running into the theme of faithfulness.

I learned a long time ago that the Bible is a book which chronicles the unfaithfulness of men, but the unconditional, unchanging, and unchallenged faithfulness of God. Man falls, but God does not forsake. Man sins, but God does not slip. Over and over again, humanity makes a mess, but God always finds a way to clean up the mess.


In the past few weeks, a couple of churches that are dear to my heart have experienced some level of indiscretion on the part of their pastoral leadership. Although I am not surprised by such things any more, I still find myself scratching my head in wonder that we, as men of God, can be so easily led astray. And every time that a man of God falls, there are those who use it as ammunition to shoot the cause of Christ.

Yet, the body of Christ, the kingdom of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit still marches on. God always raises men up to be His Elijah's, and always finds a way to communicate His message to a lost and dying world. Men with, or without, you and I, God will always have someone to "stand in the gap and make up the hedge." Why? Because God's faithfulness does not hinge, or is not affected, by our faithfulness.


Our love for Jesus is questioned, challenged, and put to the test every day of our lives. But, God's love for us is never in question; it is never challenged; and, it is never put to the test. His love is an unfailing love. His love is an undying love. His love in an unchallenged love. His love is an unexplainable love. His love is an unconditional love. I have no way to understand, explain, or grasp it; thus, all I can do is gratefully accept it.


I have heard preachers say, "God doesn't need us," but that is simply not true. God DOES need us to accomplish His work on earth. However, while God does need us; He DOES NOT HAVE TO USE US! If we refuse to make ourselves available to Him, He will always find someone to carry forth His work.

Thus, while we often times act as if we are doing God a favor by serving Him; in reality, God is doing us a favor by giving us the blessed privilege of laboring in His vineyard, and of proclaiming His "unsearchable riches." It has nothing to do with us, but is the result of a merciful, bountiful, and faithful God.

I can't speak for anyone else, but from my heart I can truly say.....


Because He Lives,

Pastor Steve

Friday, February 6, 2009


As of this writing, I am in my 5th week of leading our church through the book of Nehemiah. I have preached through more than 25 books of the Bible, but I do not know of one that I have enjoyed, or has challenged me more than Nehemiah. There are many attributes that I admire about Nehemiah, far too many than this blog will allow. However, one thing is for certain, Nehemiah's are needed to rebuild the walls of the church today.

When word came to Nehemiah about the state of disrepair in Jerusalem, he was immediately consumed with a burden. This was not just a burden that involved asking, but one that involved acting. Unlike many today who see a problem and say, "Let someone else do it;" Nehemiah saw something that required action on his part.

Nehemiah was not born in Jerusalem, but in the land of captivity. He was born in exile. Thus, the only things he knew about Jerusalem is what he heard his family, friends, and loved ones describe as they "hanged their harps on the willow tree" during 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Yet, although Jerusalem was not his place of birth, it was his place of belonging.

When word came to Nehemiah about the broken down walls, the Temple had been complete for almost 20 years. Three remnants of Jews had already been given permission to go back to Jerusalem, led by Zerrubabel, Haggai, and Ezra. While the Temple was complete, the walls and gates of the city laid in ruins; thus, leaving Jerusalem an open target for attack.

Nehemiah watches God work in the heart of a pagan king named Artaxerxes to not only give Nehemiah permission to go, but paves the way with letters, as well as a royal escort. As soon as the people began to do the work of God, the enemy 'kicked it up a notch' and launched a relentless campaign against the workers on the wall. Time after time, Nehemiah, and his workers, had to overcome opposition, oppression, and obstacles to do the work God had sent them home to do. Resolute in their devotion, the workers completed a seeminly insurmoutable task in just 52 days.

One of the truths that God had allowed to sink deep within my heart is the fact that God's will did not allow the wall to be completed without opposition. God could have allowed Nehemiah, and the Jews, to rebuild the wall with no difficulty whatsoever; however, God chose to allow the fight to enhance their focus upon Him.

Needless to say, there are many timeless truths that can be applied practically to today's pastor, preacher, and leader. One of the main truths is that the man of God encounters more trouble and turmoil, struggle and strife than ever before. As we seek to do the work God has called to do, the enemy is constantly on the prowl seeking every advantage to dismantle, distract and discourage us. Simply put, the pastor has embraced a calling that is much more difficult to fulfill than it was several years ago.

However, like Nehemiah, this opposition is more proof positive that God has something big in mind. Spurgeon said, "Whenever God wants to do something big, He does the miraculous. However, whenever God wants to do something great, He does the impossible." We must not get distracted by the fight but we must become devoted to the Finisher of our Faith.

Like Nehemiah, the
"good hand of our God" is with us and "He will fight for us." Thus, regardless of whatever difficulty you may face, just stay on your wall with the Sword of the Word of God in one hand, and the trough of will of God in the other hand. And remember that whatever God has brought you to, He will also bring you through.

Your Fellow Worker on the Wall,

Pastor Steve

Monday, January 12, 2009


Last night, I began to take our church on journey. It is a journey that will cover more than 6000 years, introduce us to 40 writers, only one of which was not a Jew, and take us through 66 books. I am leading our church book by book through the Bible. This is not intended to be an "exhaustive" exposition of each book, but a synopsis of the major themes, truths, and thrusts of Genesis-Revelation. Last night we covered 2000 years, through 50 chapters, of the book of Genesis. We were reminded of the blessed truth that in spite of man's failures, God is faithful. If last night is any indication, it is going to be an exciting journey.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I began the book of Nehemiah. I have always loved the book of Nehemiah for several reasons. It is an excellent book to begin a New Year or any year for that matter. It is a book that provides inspiration, motivation, and prioritization as endeavor to do the work God has called us to do.

The name Nehemiah means, "The Lord has comforted." Nehemiah was a man God raised up to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. I believe the book of Nehemiah is one of the greatest books in the Bible to denote the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men. It reminds us that it is no accident that we are where we are in any area of our lives.

Nehemiah held the prestigious position of being a "cupbearer" to the king. The cupbearer would be much like a 'chief of staff' in today's world. He tasted the king's wine before he drank, and the king's food before he ate it. He was a man of impeccable character and integrity.

The Book of Ezra denotes the 1st 3 remnants of Jews who had been allowed to go home, under the decree of Cyrus, to rebuild the Temple. The Book of Nehemiah denotes the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. The temple had been completed for almost 20 years, but the walls and gates remained in ruins. The people were under great "affliction" and "reproach." There was spiritual discouragement, as well as structural depletion.

Nehemiah possessed a heavy burden for the people and the problem. He saw a need, and he cared enough to respond to the need. He wasn't content to ignore the problem and allow someone else to respond to it. He went into his prayer closet and poured out his heart to God, and petitioned God to allow him to become a solution to the problem.

What God accomplished through Nehemiah is almost hard to believe. God worked in the heart of Artaxerxes, a pagan king, and allowed Nehemiah to return home and finish the project in just 52 days. Nehemiah reminds us that when God wants to accomplish His work, He always prepares His workers. He raises up men, women, boys and girls, gives them a blueprint of His plan, and then enables and equips them for the task.

It has been well said, "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." Position, power, prestige and possessions have never been a prerequisite to be used of God. In most cases, such things simply get in God's way. God takes the weak and makes them a warrior; God takes the cowardly and makes them courageous; God takes the simple and makes them strong; God takes the foolish and makes them faithful; and, God takes the poor and makes them powerful.

As I said to our people, "I have learned that if I make myself teachable, if I make myself dependable, and if I make myself available; then, I will have made myself USABLE for the glory of God."

I am prayerful that God will use Nehemiah to encourage, enrich, and enlarge the faith of His people to realize that the same God who enabled him is the "same yesterday, today and forever;" and, is able to enable us to accomplish the work to which He has called us.

You may not be called to be qualified, but make sure that you are qualified to be called. Make yourself teachable, dependable and available; and, you will become qualified to be usable.

Looking to Jesus,

Pastor Steve

Friday, January 2, 2009


At the beginning of every year, I find myself reflecting upon the words of the saintly Frances Ridley Havergal:

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with thee.

Another year of progress,

Another year of praise,
Another year of proving,
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies,

Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness,
The glory of thy face.

Another year of leaning,

Upon thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service,

Of witness for thy love,
Another year of training,
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,

Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven,
Another year for thee.

As we have crossed the threshold of 2009, there are several things that I have purposed in my heart to accomplish this year. I have asked God for His favor in 3 specific areas: family, integrity and ministry. I desire to be a more godly husband and father than I've ever been, giving my family the assurance that I am the same man at home that I am at church. If I am not what I am supposed to be for my personal family, then I cannot and will not be what I am supposed to be for my church family.

I desire to be a greater man of integrity than I 've ever been. When I speak of integrity, I am encompassing the gamut of sexual, moral, mental and financial integrity. I desire for truth to dominate my "inward parts." I give God permission to "search me" and "know my heart; "try me" and "know my thoughts...see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139: 23-24) I want to give no room for compromise with sinful attractions, sensual affections, and sensual ambitions.

Finally, I desire to for God's favor to rest upon my ministry. I believe that the effectiveness of ministry hinges upon family and integrity. When we are real in private, God can use us in public. I have broken down my ministry into 5 basic areas, and I desire more anointing, favor, and power in each area: prayer, preparation, prioritization, preaching and pastoring.

I want to be a greater man of prayer. I want to pray big! I want to shape my will to come in line with His will. I want to stretch my expectation to overlap with God's revelation. I want to dare to launch out into the deep and believe God for things that have no other explanation but Him.

I want to be a greater man of preparation. I want to be a better student of the Word. I want to fall in love, all over again, with the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word. I want God to unlock the door to the deep, divine truths of Heaven.

I want to be a greater man of prioritization. I want to "redeem the time" God has allotted me. I want to say "no" to things which interfere and conflict with my Heavenly agenda. I want to say "yes" to things which lead me to the "secret place of the Most High."

I want to be a greater man of preaching. More than I desire anything else, I desire more of God's power, favor, anointing, and blessing upon the spirit of my calling. I desire for the little preacher to become smaller, and the Big Preacher to become bigger. I desire for the Living Word to step off the page of the Written Word into the hearts of people.

I want to be a greater man in regards to pastoring. I want the love of the Chief Shepherd to fill the heart of His under-shepherd. I want to see His people as He sees them. I want to love His people as He loves them. I want the care, concern, and compassion of the Good Shepherd to fill, and flood my heart for His sheep.

Yet, as I enter into this covenant, I immediately affirm that what I am unable to do, He is more than able to "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." As the "branch" I desire to abide in the "Vine" to bear "fruit," "more fruit," and "much fruit." As the clay, I desire for the Potter to mold me and make me after His will. My answer is "YES," even before I know the question.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in Heaven,
Another year for Thee.

May God grant it to be so.

Holding Forth the Word of Life,

Pastor Steve