CalvaryFTL Blog

Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is here to help people from every walk of life experience a growing relationship with God.

Jun 30

Character In Crisis

Something interesting happens in times of crisis…true character is revealed.  All pretense is put aside and the “true you” takes center stage.  That’s never more evident than when David was temporarily disposed by his son, Absalom. 

For nearly 25 years, Israel had been under David’s leadership.  Now, Absalom supplanted his father and forced him to flee Jerusalem like a fugitive.  Consistency and stability gave way to displacement and disorientation…it was crisis time.  And the true colors of four characters are revealed in 2 Samuel 16.

Ziba (16:1-4).  Fleeing Jerusalem, David meets Ziba along the way.  Ziba looks like an ally at first by offering David provisions.  But in reality, Ziba lies to David by telling him that Mephibosheth, whom David had shown special care and compassion towards, had turned against him.

Why did Ziba lie?  About 22 years previously, David ordered Ziba and his family to take care of Mephibosheth, who was disabled.  This probably wasn’t Ziba’s preferred lot in life, but when King David tells you to do something, you do it!

But now he has the chance to turn the tables and recover the years of sacrifice he lost for Mephibosheth’s sake.  He lies to David about his master, and as he’d hoped, David grants him all of Mephibosheth’s possessions.  But in lying, the truth about Ziba is revealed.  He was dissatisfied with his place in life.  He coveted something else, and was willing to hurt others to get it.

Shimei (16:5-8).  David continues his flight, and now a man named Shimei comes out of the woodwork and starts hurling stones and curses at David.  Not much is known about Shimei, but we do know that he was a descendant of Saul, whom David had displaced by God’s will.

Shimei must have seethed with resentment towards David for years.  Rather than recognizing David as being God’s choice for the nation, Shimei focused on how his position was upset.  His lineage was no longer in the place of power, and it festered and festered like a boil until crisis burst it open.

Abishai (16:9-10).  One of David’s nephew’s who was accompanying him, Abishai, offers to go and kill Shimei.  We can probably understand the offer, but it revealed a carnal character. 

By “carnal”, we mean “natural”, “earthly”, “worldly”…we mean an attitude that only takes the natural realm into account.  It’s sort of the perspective that we’re born with as we come into this place called earth…the standard our fallen world lives by, especially in times of crisis.  But this carnal character contrasts with the character revealed in David.

David (16:11-12).  Instead of accepting Abishai’s offer to kill Shimei, David tells him to hold-off.  Why?  Because David set his sights on the spiritual realities that Abishai couldn’t see. 

David recognized that God was ultimately presiding over all that was unfolding in this time of crisis.  Perhaps God was allowing this in order to teach David an important lesson.  If so, he wanted to submit to it.  Shimei was an unwelcome instrument, but David bowed beneath God’s hand holding the instrument.

Crisis revealed dissatisfaction in Ziba, resentment in Shimei, carnality in Abiahai, and spirituality in David.  It showed who these people really were and you can take this to the bank; crisis will reveal who we really are, too.  Which is a reason God allows crisis to occur in our lives…too reveal our true character.

What will it look like?  Who will we resemble, Ziba, Shimei, Abishai, or David?  Crisis will come, and when it does you will see the “true you”.  But in the time leading up to crisis, we’re wise to submit to the Spirit’s work in making us more spiritually-centered, like David.  Let’s yield to that process now, so we’ll be ready and unashamed when crisis comes. 


Jun 21

Have you signed your teenager up for camp yet?

Summer Camp is a fun-filled, Christ-centered week! It’s where so many young people make their decision to follow Jesus.

This year’s camp promises to be time well spent with friends as students deepen their relationship with God. Studies at this year’s camp will focus on passages in the gospels that explore Jesus’ most profound and radical statements.

Days will be rounded off with fun daily activities, lake games, boat rides, pool, paintball (extra cost), volleyball, basketball, and more.

When: HSM [High School ministry], July 14-18 | 678 [Middle School Ministry], July 21-25
Where: Camp Geneva, Fruitland Park, FL

678 Registration Required   HSM Registration Required

“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”—Matthew 11:6 (NKJV)


Jun 7

Serving Where Called

“God, please do something about this trap I’m in. I don’t want this to be my legacy!”

Glenn flipped past another album cover, then another, and another. Every image only increased his certainty that there was more to life than the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle the album covers exalted.

As the owner of nine record stores in Virginia, Glenn sampled the “good life” as music company executives wined and dined him to elicit support for their next big single. “Here I was, [a guy] in my thirties, a player in all the politics involved in getting songs to #1 on Billboard,” explains Glenn. “I loved what I did, but that day, sorting through a bin of albums in one of my stores, I didn’t feel powerful or successful. I felt evil. I felt dirty. That’s when I asked God to rescue me.”

Changes Coming
Around that time, the record business declined. Glenn decided to leave the music industry and move to South Florida. “I had visited Florida often, but those trips had been all about partying. Living here full-time was very different. I knew I needed to work, but I arrived with no friends and no business,” Glenn says.

Before long, Glenn met a man who needed an investor in his car export business. “We started sending Volkswagons and Jeeps to East Germany after the wall came down. Then someone cancelled their order, so I had to figure out how to sell Jeeps here in the states. Soon I was buying and selling Jeeps on Dixie Highway.”

When the Internet started to gain popularity in 1996, Glenn saw the potential for a world-wide audience. He started selling Jeep parts on AOL classified ads and was soon shipping them around the world.

As Glenn’s business grew, so did his family. Glenn met and married Maureen, and they had a daughter. The family attended a Methodist church, but Glenn admits he was very selfish, and what they heard at church had little or no effect on his life.

An Invitation
A friend of Maureen’s invited them to Calvary Chapel, and when the speaker asked those interested in salvation to come forward, Maureen asked Glenn to go with her. “In my mind I was already saved, but I walked forward and discovered I was a long way from what God wanted from me.”

Glenn and Maureen began attending Calvary regularly, and they also started serving. For the next ten years, Glenn became deeply involved in the Men’s Ministry and served as a deacon. He and Maureen also led a couples Bible study. When their daughter was ready for school, they sent her to Calvary Christian Academy.

Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed

What Glenn and Maureen were learning at the weekly Bible studies started to change the way Glenn viewed his business. “For years, we had a large banner on our business website that offered free shipping. When we couldn’t continue it financially, God told me to replace it with our company verse: “Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 TLB).

Despite the clear promise of this verse, Glenn wrestled with the effect such a bold move would have on his business. “I broke out in a sweat just thinking about how our Muslim, Jewish, and atheist customers would react. In the end, the responses were mixed—some good and some bad—but business continued to boom.”

After seeing the fruit from a single verse, Glenn felt like he could do more to share God with his customers. He began including in each shipment a sheet of Bible verses that explained how to be saved. As simple as that step was, Glenn had no idea the impact it would make for customers around the world, especially in countries where there was little witness to God’s love.

As God expanded Glenn’s outreach through his business, Glenn began feeling that many of his efforts within the church were motivated by a desire for position. “I was trapped in my works. Rather than my service coming from my relationship with God, I was trying to cross items off on an internal checklist. I had lost the joy I felt in serving. I stepped down as a deacon, and Maureen and I stopped serving in the Couples Ministry. I knew it was the right decision, but I still felt like something was missing. We are all created to do something in the body of Christ, but I wasn’t sure of my role.”

The Next Step
It would take a 2007 newspaper article on the heartbreaking conditions in Haiti to reveal God’s next step to Glenn. “I read about the people of Cité Soleil eating mud pies just to have something in their stomachs.” Glenn and one of his employees, Bob, traveled to Haiti to see for themselves what could be done. “Before we left, Americans were being told not to come or if they were already in Haiti, to get out because of the violent food riots.” Glenn shares. “But I kept thinking about the sermons I had heard at Calvary on James 1:27, where God describes pure religion as helping the widow and the orphan. We decided to go anyway, and the day we arrived, the riots stopped.”

Glenn and Bob toured orphanages during the day and spent evenings at the Hotel Montana, where they met a Haitian man who was a former child slave. He had a large shipment of medical supplies, and Glenn and Bob were able to connect him with one of the orphanages they had visited. “Over the next several months, I continued to connect resources from the United States with the need in Haiti. Those efforts began a partnership that led to us opening an orphanage in Gonaïves,” Glenn explains. And the ministry didn’t stop there. They are now in the process of moving their orphanage to the city of Jacmel so they can be a part of what God is doing through Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale and the Haiti Initiative.

Looking back on the past seven years of ministry in Haiti, Glenn downplays his role. “The decision to resign as a deacon was difficult, but God has shown me how I can take what I’m learning at church and apply it to my area of influence. I realized early on that God has wired me more for business than for evangelism,” Glenn says. “I’ve seen God honor our decision to establish a time of prayer in the morning with some of my leadership team to pray for wisdom, our company’s future, and for our seventy employees.”

Glenn says he previously served to fulfill what he thought God expected of him. Now he’s discovered if he prays and seeks God’s will daily, God will direct his paths. “I still don’t have a clue as to why He chose to use me to affect the world through my business, but I’ve discovered the truth of Psalm 37:4 that promises as we delight ourselves in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts.”


The Modern Gateway to Life

God is a pursuer.

In the Old Testament, God sent prophets to deliver messages to His people. In the New Testament, Jesus sought the lost. He went where the people were. He didn’t wait for them to come to Him.

Calvary Chapel’s mission statement is to make disciples. Today, more than ever before, we have the ability to share the message of hope and redemption to a great multitude of people. We are able to do this through the Internet, the modern “gateway of life.”

For millions of folks around the planet, life happens online. That’s why the ministry of our Web Campus is so vital. It provides an opportunity for people around the world to hear the message of Jesus and connect with pastors, believers, and others on the same journey. Web Pastor Dan Hickling says that as disciples and disciple makers, “it is our responsibility to establish a presence and represent God’s truth and love at the ‘gateway’.”

According to Pastor Dan, this gateway, or Web Campus, is a window into the online audience. “It’s not anonymous,” Pastor Dan explains. “It’s a place where we can interact with people, build relationships, trust, pray, and ask questions.”

Pastor Dan believes relationship is essential to discipleship. He says the Web Campus allows personal interaction, so that as much as possible, viewers will have the same experience as they would have if they attended the physical Calvary campus in Fort Lauderdale.

Although the internet audience is a diverse demographic, the bond of Christ unites unlikely people. “It’s amazing to see people logging in from places like Italy, Scotland, Korea, and Bahrain,” says Pastor Dan.

Many who watch the service via the Internet, even from within the Fort Lauderdale area, are in a spiritual wilderness, according to Pastor Dan. “They have lost trust in their local churches; they’re disillusioned with it. But being in the wilderness, they are often the hungriest. We have found that when it comes to faithfulness and dedication to the ministry God is doing here, affinity can trump vicinity.”

VOLUNTEERING FROM ZIMBABWE

One example of this is Lenard, a faithful Web Campus volunteer from Zimbabwe. Lenard grew up in a Christian home and knew a lot about the Bible. However, he didn’t know God personally. “Going to church was simply part of my routine,” Lenard explains, “and when I was old enough to make my own decisions, I stopped going.”

Lenard experimented with the nightclub scene, but it left him feeling empty and unfulfilled. After a while, he started attending church again. One evening he had a candid conversation with the pastor and realized he had never personally received Jesus. “That night in 1989, my life changed forever!” Lenard says.

After several decades, Lenard—still active and serving at his local church in Zimbabwe—happened upon a Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale teaching online. He was so inspired that he searched online for Calvary and found the Web Campus. “I was able to catch the Sunday afternoon service that weekend and logged on to the Web Campus,” Lenard says. “It was an amazing blessing to be able to hear sound Bible teaching, and interact with others at the same time.”

After a few months of logging in and contributing to the prayers and conversation, Pastor Dan asked Lenard if he would serve as a volunteer. Lenard accepted and has since been serving as the moderator for the fourth Sunday service each week. “Seeing the passion and dedication of the Calvary staff has compelled me to apply that same passion and fire in my local fellowship,” Lenard explains. “I am certain I didn’t stumble onto the website by accident. God called me to [Calvary] to serve and encourage people … from my computer in Zimbabwe!”

GREETINGS FROM NEVADA

Lisa, a volunteer in Nevada, has also seen God work and transform her life through serving as part of the Web Campus team. “I was blessed to be born to Christian parents who love God and were faithful to teach me about the Lord. I grew up in the Catholic faith, yet always felt somewhat confused by the teachings. I also felt the sting of always having to earn my salvation,” Lisa shares.

During her teens and early adulthood, Lisa went through a season of rebellion and wandered from her faith. During that time, she says she felt something was missing. She still loved God, but she wasn’t sure how to live for Him. “I lost much of my identity by my early twenties, but in 1997, the Lord used my older sister to help guide me, and I received Jesus that year.”

The next thirteen years of Lisa’s life were spent searching for a church and discovering her new relationship with God. “I tried to find a church, but I was never able to find the right church. Living in rural Nevada, the churches in my town were not a viable option at that time.” One day, Lisa decided to search online for a church and found Calvary’s Web Campus. “When I pressed ‘Go’ on my computer, that’s when the Holy Spirit pressed GO in my spiritual life!”

Several months later, Lisa enrolled at Liberty University online and needed a pastoral recommendation letter. Still actively logging onto the Web Campus each week and being an active member of the community, she contacted Pastor Dan. After speaking on the phone with him, he asked her to join the volunteer team of the Web Campus.

Today, Lisa serves in the Web Campus as a greeter during Sunday services. She also oversees the Prayer Wall Ministry and reaches out to women who need prayer. “God has used the Web Campus to help me grow in leadership and exhortation, and has facilitated amazing development and maturation in my prayer life. My gift for prayer has been honed and, where I used to be scared to speak up and pray in front of others, now I’m always excited to pray with and for people.”

Because of the confidence she gained by serving online, Lisa and her husband took the leap and became more involved in their local church. “I am now part of the prayer team at that church, am starting an outreach ministry, and feel more of a sense of community,” she says with a smile.

Lisa is not the only Web Campus volunteer who is also involved in a local church. “This is our way of indirectly investing in the entire body of Christ,” says Pastor Dan. “We are leveraging technology to meet the spiritual needs of people around the world and empowering people to go into their communities and do the same.”


»Follow Pastor Dan on Twitter


Conquering Anxiety

Anxiety has a way of defining and destroying lives—even the lives of believers.

This crippling emotion robs people of their joy and peace through fear and apprehension. For Honor Weber, the avalanche of anxiety crept up on her out of nowhere, and it took almost two decades of suffering before she was able to understand how these negative emotions operate. As Honor discovered God’s design of the brain and how it works, she began to overcome her anxiety. Today, Honor leads a class at Calvary Chapel called Unmasking Anxiety.

Honor says the fact that God is using her to help others is a perfect picture of God’s redemption. During one season in her life she was “in and out of psych units” more times than she cares to remember. She would curl up on her kitchen floor and cry hysterically—and now, with that same voice, she addresses her class with assurance, encouragement, and laughter. “Just thinking about how God equips and educates those who are suffering through anxiety and sets captives free—using a woman who wasn’t—well, it’s the heart of God on full display!” Honor says.

Honor has been leading Unmasking Anxiety at Calvary Chapel since 2011, and in those years God has restored relationships, redeemed homes, and brought peace into the minds and hearts of many. Unmasking Anxiety teaches participants how to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. Honor says the way we naturally phrase thoughts determines how our body reacts and processes information. “God has given His children the honor of being the gatekeeper of their own mind!”

BRAD: A RECLAIMED LIFE
Brad, a young man in his twenties, has seen God completely transform his life through Unmasking Anxiety. “I struggled with panic attacks, obsessive anxiety, and depression most of my life, but it all came to the forefront after complications from a surgery,” Brad explains.

Severe panic attacks kept Brad up at night shaking, praying, and begging for deliverance. “It got to the point that I could not get out of my room, much less my bed,” Brad recalls. A college student, Brad had high hopes of finishing his degree and going on to graduate school. Because of his anxiety, however, he was forced to withdraw. “I wanted to reclaim my life, so I began seeking help from doctors and counselors, but the only answer they could offer was medication.”

Brad’s relationship with the Lord deteriorated, and before long he was using alcohol, Adderall, and Xanax to escape the symptoms of his anxiety. But these crutches only masked the real problem, and he ended up getting two DUIs and spent thirty days in jail. “This is when I began to reach out to the Lord for help,” Brad explains. “I knew He was the only option left if I wanted to be who I knew I was deep inside.”

After the jail experience, Brad got serious about his life. He quit drinking and abusing drugs, finished his undergraduate degree, and was accepted into a master’s program at FAU. But the stress started to build, and anxiety began to creep back into his life.

Thankfully, Brad’s father learned about Honor’s class and put the two in contact with each other. Because Brad’s schedule didn’t allow attendance at the class, he purchased the audio sessions and listened in his car. “I found Honor’s passion and knowledge, combined with biblical principles, to be exactly the formula to help unmask my anxiety and destructive thought patterns … God used Honor to liberate the Word and teach me how to use it to bring my thoughts into captivity and learn to reverse this pattern of thinking that I have been so entrenched in for most of my life,” Brad says.

JENN: A RESTORED LIFE
Another student, Jenn, also had a life-changing experience in Unmasking Anxiety. “My life was a wreck,” Jenn explains. “I was constantly looking to doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. It seemed I was always sick or in some sort of excruciating pain … but all the tests came back normal. I felt hopeless.”

Then, through a series of divine appointments, Jenn met Honor. After a few one-on-one sessions, Jenn realized her symptoms were a thought-driven spiritual battle. “I began seeing that anxiety had taken control of my life, and it was affecting me in ways I hadn’t seen before. My physical symptoms were really symptoms of something much deeper. Honor helped me realize how much fear and worry were controlling my life.”

In the class, Jenn learned to take her thoughts captive and trust in God. “I had to learn that the Lord is in control of my life. He had to be the one consuming my thoughts—not my husband, my kids, or my fears. Honor gave me so many practical tools to apply God’s Word. I learned that anxiety didn’t just ‘happen’ to me. I was choosing to ‘do’ anxiety by allowing my thoughts to go down a path of fear instead of hope,” Jenn says.

Just as Jenn began turning the corner, one of her worst fears came true—her husband left. “I felt like my whole world was falling apart … but it was during this time that I learned to depend totally on the Lord. Honor was there to remind me of the tools I had learned. Now it was time to put them into practice,” Jen explains. “I had to dig really deep, but I learned that no matter what anyone else did around me or to me, I am responsible for my thought life and my walk with Jesus. I leaned on my relationship with Jesus and allowed it to consume me. And that’s when I found true freedom.”

Jenn was now free to grow in her walk with the Lord. She was also free to let God work in her marriage. “As I focused on what God wanted to do in my own life, He was working in my husband’s life and softening his heart. I started feeling more love and appreciation for him than ever before.” Before long, the Lord brought Jenn and her husband back together, and Jenn says God “is doing a brand new work in our marriage.”

HIS PERFECT PLANS
Honor recently had the privilege of seeing two of her students, Damon and Julie, get married. They met last year in her class, where they were both seeking help for strongholds of fear. “Isn’t God amazing?” Honor exclaims. “Aren’t His plans truly perfect and made to prosper us? It was no coincidence they took the class together. God brought them together as they became more than conquerors through Him.”

Not sure if we will put this in. Let’s discuss:
If you desire to unmask the anxiety in your life and experience God’s freedom, call 954-453-9230 or e-mail HonorW@CalvaryFTL.org.


Meet Our Lead Pastor: Doug Sauder and His Family

During our mid-week evening service on May 7, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale proudly announced that Pastor Doug Sauder has been appointed as the lead pastor and president of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. And you, our church body, responded with amazing support and enthusiasm over the news.

For the past fifteen years, Pastor Doug has been on staff serving in a variety of pastoral roles, including leading weekend and mid-week services as well as serving as the president of 4KIDS of South Florida. As part of his new role, he’ll lead, direct, and schedule the teaching pastoral team by continuing to use a rotation of teaching pastors for the weekend and mid-week services for our 10 campuses throughout Florida.

To help you become better acquainted with your new lead pastor, we thought we’d share some fun facts on Pastor Doug and his family.

Pastor Doug …

  • Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Graduated from South Plantation High School
  • Attended the Apostolic Christian Church in Plantation as a young man
  • Worked as a teacher and coach before becoming a youth pastor
  • Graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Education
  • Ordained to the ministry in October 2004
  • Married Suzanne on February 28, 1993
  • Has three children: Jackson, Kaden, and Kennedy
  • Likes playing chess, basketball, and reading
  • Drinks iced tea by the gallon
  • Has written the book, The One Factor

How would you describe your recent roles and responsibilities?
I have had the unique opportunity to serve within the local church as a pastor at Calvary Chapel as well as part of a statewide foster care ministry, 4KIDS of South Florida. Here at Calvary Chapel, I have overseen regional campuses, Family Ministry, and our Next Gen Discipleship Ministry. As president of 4KIDS, I’ve been able to work with a network of churches, organizations, and government agencies both locally and around the state as we build a culture of orphan care in an effort to impact our community, our state, and our country.

How did you become a believer?
When I was twelve, I felt this heightened sense of the reality that God existed. I wanted to follow God, but I didn’t know what to do. Now, I know that I wanted to go forward, but my church didn’t do that. Eventually my heart cooled, I stopped praying, and I became more of an agnostic. At times, I would sit at home drunk and pray, “God, if you make a car drive by my house at 3am, then I’ll know that you’re real and I’ll follow you.” If someone could have guaranteed that God was real, I’d have been right there. I’m not one to do things halfway. After a near-death experience while on a camping trip in Minnesota, I started thinking, “If I’m wrong and God is real, I’m taking a major risk that could have a really bad payoff.” That led me to a pathetic sinner’s prayer: “God, if you’re up there, I’m going for it.” And nothing’s been the same since. 


What do you want your children to learn?
I meet many Christians during premarital or family counseling, and it seems like even though they’ve grown up in Christian homes that there are character qualities that are missing or not as strong as others. I spend a lot of time looking at my children and working on two or three areas so that they don’t have those deficits when they get married. 



What are those character qualities?
Courage. I think our society is severely lacking that quality. A few more that come to mind are integrity, humility, generosity, a heart of justice to help the oppressed, compassion, sacrifice, self-control, diligence, and faith. I want to be involved in the spiritual relationship that my sons have with the Lord. I want to see it, I want to understand it, and I want to talk to them about it.

Who are your favorite people from the Bible?
I guess Joseph, Joshua, and Nehemiah since they were all visionary leaders. They helped people “see” the end and inspired them to get there in spite of their current circumstances. They had a spiritual tenacity to lead people through tremendous obstacles. That’s why my favorite phrase is “We’ll get there.” When things seem overwhelming I want people to remember that if God is leading us, if it’s His vision, then we’ll get there. People will follow a leader who is following someone himself … so if I can stay close to Jesus and hear His voice there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.

To read more on Pastor Doug and all our Calvary pastors, visit CalvaryFTL.org/Pastors.

 


God is doing a fresh, new work at Calvary Chapel, yet the mission of our church remains the same—to make disciples. As we continue in our mission, we’re asking that you come join us in prayer. Please pray for Pastor Doug, his family, and our entire leadership team. Pray for God’s favor to guide them with wisdom and discernment in their specific responsibilities.


Ordinary People

The purpose behind VARY, from the day of its inception until now, is to inspire and inform you, our church body, about the various things God is doing in and through Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

Through this publication, we get to share stories about ordinary people whose lives have been changed … people who are now being used by the Lord through Calvary to do His work in the lives of others. We also get to relay important information about what’s going on throughout the church.

God is at work within us corporately and individually, and we’re seeing spiritual growth

There can be no doubt that, since the last report was published, a great many things have changed at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. But one thing has remained the same: God is at work within us corporately and individually, and we’re seeing spiritual growth.

As Pastor Doug Sauder assumes the role of lead pastor and president of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, we are energized by what God is doing. We’re encouraged by the response we’ve received from you, and we’re excited about this new season of ministry.

Within this issue of VARY, you’ll get to read a little more about Pastor Doug, his family, and his new role. You’ll also get to experience God’s restorative touch at work through the stories of some amazing people.

  • In “Conquering Anxiety,” you’ll learn how even in a psych ward, a jail, or a prison of your own fears, God is swift to heal, redeem, and restore.
  • In “Serving Where Called,” you’ll meet Glenn, who found himself miles from God’s will—even as he crossed off his internal checklist to spiritual advancement.
  • In “The Modern Gateway of Life,” you’ll discover that God’s Word, coupled with the reach of the Internet, is bringing hope to spiritually isolated people around the world.

It brings us great joy to be on this journey of faith with you and we believe that the best is yet to come!

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)


When Jesus Asks

I’m marching through the Book of Matthew in my own personal devotional time, and I’m rounding that corner where Jesus starts to confront the religious rulers of His day.

As much as I love reading about Jesus’ miracles, I have a stronger connection with these exchanges with the spiritual “know it alls”. Maybe it’s a matter of relatability. I’ve never witnessed a man walking on water or a leper instantly cleansed. But spiritual know it all’s…yeah, I’ve encountered a few of them, and have been one myself on many occasions.

Suffice it to say, there’s something in these exchanges that resonates with me in a powerful way. Here’s what typically happens, the rulers approach Jesus with a trick question designed to put Him in His place. They assume they hold serve because after all, they’re the professionals and experts when it comes to spiritual things.

But everyone is an expert in their own minds until they encounter the Son of God. Jesus would often respond to their trick questions with a question of His own. “Was John’s baptism from Heaven or from men?” (21:25), “Which son did the will of his father?” (21:31), “Whose image is on this coin?” (22:20), “How can David call Him Lord if He is his Son?” (22:45).

I could go on and on, but I think we get the point…nobody scores on Jesus with trick questions. He flips the script before anyone even realizes it. The Son of God can show the spiritual know it all how little they do know just like that! Again, there’s something incredibly attractive to me about that principle…probably because I can relate to having been on the sharp end of those questions.

When the Lord asks us a question within the context of our relationship with Him, He’s actually saying something profound without actually saying it. He’s causing us to process and work through the answer for ourselves…setting our heart and mind in motion. And as we go through this process, we come to not only know what the answer is but we also understand why the answer is what it is.

…everyone is an expert in their own minds until they encounter the Son of God…

Here’s an example from my own life; at one point in my ministerial life, I was questioning my calling. Should I really do this or was there something else that I was meant to devote my life to? As I was driving along asking myself and God this question, another question sort of broke into my train of thought, “Is there anyone else who can do what you do?” I know where that question came from and it wasn’t me.

I don’t want to come off as haughty here, because there are plenty of things I am not really good at (anyone who has worshipped next to me can vouch), but when it came to the ministry responsibility that I was entrusted with at that particular time, there wasn’t anyone else in place to do what I was doing. I was sort of “it”. And with that simple question the Lord revealed the what and the why of my question. I was to continue in my calling, because God had equipped me to do it and hadn’t chosen to equip anyone else for it. OK…next!

All of this is to say, the Lord speaks to us in pivotal moments through the medium of questions. If you ever sense the Lord asking you something via an impression in your heart or mind as you ask Him your questions in prayer, or as you settle your heart in studying His Word, pay attention! The question He asks you is designed to lead you down the path of not only knowing what but understanding why, as well.


A Lesson From Satan

I think its accurate to declare that Satan’s understanding of human nature is second only to God’s. After all, the devil has been watching and observing us from the very beginning, studying our many weaknesses and mercilessly exploiting them. Nobody’s book on humanity is as thick as Satan’s…he is our apex predator (1 Peter 5:8).

But we can learn a critical lesson from him. In a weird sort of way, we can see the spiritual blind-spots inherent in our nature by looking at Satan’s tactics against us…and here’s a big one;

“He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” [Revelation 13:15 NKJV]

In the last days, Satan will unleash his agenda on planet earth, which revolves around what many scholars have termed “An Unholy Trinity”. Three characters will dominate the world stage; Satan himself, the Beast (or anti-christ), and a False Prophet who serves as a sort of satanic spokesman.

All three are operating together to fulfill this satanic agenda. The ultimate goal is seen in the verse above…to get all of humanity to worship an image of the Beast. Don’t miss that! Satan’s aim isn’t to get the world to worship him necessarily, but to worship an image, an object, that represents him.

Why? Remember Satan knows our nature better than we do. He knows that human beings have an insatiable appetite to devote themselves to something material. We want to go “all-in” with something we can lay our eyes and our hands on. History undeniably attests to this.

Our fallen nature is wired to cling to the physical…and Satan knows it! So what better way to use our own predisposition against us than to prop up something tangible and convenient for us worship?

By contrast, God calls people to worship what they cannot see…Him. Why? Because the act of worshipping what we can’t see develops our faith, and that’s what God is ultimately after. He is in the business of transforming our fallen way of worshipping the material into the way of worshipping the invisible.

How do you know God is at work in your life? What do you tend to devote yourself to? Do you primarily pursue the things that you can experience and enjoy via your senses, or via your spirit? The answer goes a long way in revealing where our hearts are heading.

More than ever before, our culture is propping up material substitutes for us to worship. The climate of celebritization has never been more charged than now. Run down your cable and you’ll find celebrity athletes, vocal coaches, dancers, pastry chefs, reporters, draft analysts, designers, home remodelers, exterminators, and even pastors.

Being entertained by all this is one thing, but be careful! When left unchecked, our human nature is more than willing to oblige an unhealthy obsession with them. But there’s only One Celebrity we should be obsessed with. We cannot see Him, but the healthy heart is going to be bowed in the direction of His throne in Heaven.

Let’s learn a lesson from Satan. May we put the brakes on falling at the feet of anything material in act or attitude…and may we check our hearts when we find ourselves focusing more on the seen than on the Unseen One.


Answer Pastor Doug’s ‘Bible Bite’ Question

A Bible is the most important thing you could get your hands on!

We can easily take that for granted where we live, but so many people throughout the world have no way of reading even a book of the Bible. Some are threatened with prison if they are caught with it.

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

That’s why, when Pastor Doug was recently asked by The American Bible Challenge to do a short intro on their program, he gladly accepted. Constant reading, learning, even testing your knowledge of God’s Word is the best way to apply it to your life.

We encourage you to tune in to watch The American Bible Challenge Thursday nights at 8pm on ‘GSN Today’ throughout the summer.

Watch Pastor Doug’s ‘Bible Bite’ question below and (without looking it up!) give your answer in the comment section at the bottom of this article.


Page 1 of 3