Don’t Quit Now.

Connecting Points

Monday, May 13, 2013

Today’s Topic: Work With All Your Heart

Today’s Text:  Nehemiah 4:6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

Older adults were working right alongside of younger ones. Men who are suffering from terminal cancer were carrying and cutting lumber and helping install it. Inexperienced people were carefully listening to instructions and stepping way out of their comfort zone to operate power tools so skilled people could keep working on the installation of the tile. People were stopping in just to see what they could do, and no task was too insignificant for them as they agreed to do it.

This is what I saw last week at our new church building. What an honor to work alongside of people who work with all their heart to the glory of God.

I spent a lot of time out at the building last week, and that’s why my writing of these devotionals has slowed way down. I hope you understand. But you can get great first hand communication if you come out and help. We need help. The deadline for moving is fast approaching, and there is a lot to do.

Near the end of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, Nehemiah was called by God to return to Jerusalem to start the rebuilding process. When he arrived, the first thing he did was to survey the needs. When Nehemiah saw what needed to be done (Nehemiah 2:11-16) he immediately informed the leaders of the need and the plan to fix it. He called them to work.

The people of Jerusalem responded as one, and in a very short time they were half done with the job. Some opposition arose, people got tired from all the hard work, some opposition arose from outsiders which quickly turned into discouragement amongst the insiders, and suddenly the completion of the project seemed overwhelming. (Nehemiah 4:1-12) So Nehemiah prayed, encouraged the people, and put a new plan into place. The people responded, and they finished the job in record time.

With all of that in mind, it is time to report to you exactly where we are in the building process, what the needs are to finish, and encourage you to help in any way you can. Please pray, and provide as God has equipped you to provide for His Kingdom.

Work to be completed:

  • Ceramic tiling of the bathrooms and the kitchen. This is a high priority and it would be nice to have the bathrooms done this week and the kitchen by the middle of next week. This will take several workers to assist our tile layers.
  • Completion of the cypress trim in the church offices. The varnishing is being done today, with installation scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday.
  • Painting, primarily spraying but some rolling and brushing. If you have any experience with an airless sprayer, we would appreciate your help in finishing all of the auditorium walls. We also need people to do touch up painting in next week as the building nears completion.
  • Kitchen Cabinet installation when tiling is completed. The installer could use manpower for lifting and moving and fastening of all the cabinets.
  • MOVING: We need lots of help packing at both our current facility and the church offices. We must have all our storage and personal items out of our building by May 25. We will also be moving many of the office items like the pastors’ libraries and youth equipment during that time.
  • LANDSCAPING.: The parking lot is being staked out this week and will hopefully be done early next week. Once finished, we are responsible for the planting of 55 trees and all the grass. This is where we will need lots of people to help.


  • In addition to the labor required to finish this project, we are in need of financial contributions as well. Many of you have already given sacrificially of your time, energy, and finances, for which we are inexpressibly grateful. Some of you are not able to participate in the labor, but would like to be a part of this great work of God. Thank you in advance for your generous gifts to allow us to provide for the fixtures and supplies that are needed in many of the rooms and for the reduction of our debt, which now stands very near our maximum level.

That’s a summary of where we are. Our goal is to move into the building in early June. Our optimistic goal is that we will have our first worship service there in 20 days. It took the people of Jerusalem only 52 days to guild the whole wall around the city. If we all work with all our heart, we can do it. Call me and I will show you how you can serve.

Pastor John



Upset the Apple Cart

Connecting Points

Monday, May 06, 2013

Today’s Topic: Spilled Apples

Today’s Text:  Deuteronomy 4:35, 39  35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him…39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

I am overwhelmed to the point of speechlessness. Hard to believe, right? But it’s true. I am not able to formulate any clever or clear thoughts to write. I can only think of one thing – the awesomeness of God. He has completely captured my attention this morning by interrupting what I thought were well laid plans of His design, and has totally upset the cart. Apples – golden apples of God’s wisdom – are spilling all over the path of my life, and it is incredible. The potential is unfathomable. The possibilities are indescribable. It is the hand of God moving.

Have you ever had this happen to you? Right when you thought you had brought the plan to conclusion, God upsets it and says there’s more. Our response at such times is important. Some try to pick up the apples and put them back in the cart where they were. Others consider all the apples a waste and move on to find other apples. Some try to find a bigger cart and rearrange the apples so they don’t spill again.

Me? I am just standing here staring at the apples and the cart, and wondering what God is going to tell me to do with it all. Anything I try to do at this point will minimize my understanding of who He is and what He can do. So instead of doing anything, I turn to Scripture and read about His greatness. When His hand interrupts life, I have found that the wisest and best thing to do is to move my eyes from what His hand is doing and focus on His heart that moves His hand.

25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:25-31 (ESV)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (ESV)

For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 8The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Psalm 138:6-8 (ESV)

I confess that my first thought at times like this is to ask, “So God, what’s next?” But I’m learning instead to just wait until He initiates that conversation. Until then, I’m just going to press on with what He’s already said to do, and enjoy His presence as I wait for His next move. There is no other God like Him, and He will fulfill His purpose if we wait for Him to do it.

Pastor John

It’s Better Up Ahead

Connecting Points

Monday, May 06, 2013

Today’s Topic: It’s Better Up Ahead

Today’s Text:  Proverbs 23:17-18 (ESV) 17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. 18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

I’m not a huge fan of the opening weekend of fishing season. Don’t get me wrong, I really like to fish, but I don’t get really excited about it until spawning is over. This year more than ever I’m glad I don’t have a love for opening day, because I’m even less of a fan of ice fishing.

Fishing trips with my sons, my brother and his son, and my best friend are my favorite. The last two years have been similar, as we fished on two lakes we had never been on before. Actually, I had been on them, but only to scout them out to provide everyone else with the best possible experience.

When we got on the lakes for the first time as a group, and headed out from the campsite, it was fun to watch and listen to the guys in the boat as I drove. “That looks like a great spot.” “Let’s try that spot, it looks perfect.” “Slow down, I want to try over there.” Onward I sped, promising them that up ahead was something even better.

How often in our lives are we distracted from what has been promised by what looks good right now? The answer is obvious: it happens all the time. We are compelled by our need for immediate satisfaction to look around, when the greatest gratification is to be found in the glory that is to come. We settle for less than has been promised even though the Guide has been where we are and promises something better up ahead.

I was convicted of that truth this morning when I read today’s promise from Charles Spurgeon’s devotional called Faith’s Checkbook. Here it is:

When we see the wicked prosper we are apt to envy them. When we hear the noise of their laughter and our own spirit is heavy, we start to think that they have the best of it. This is foolish and sinful. If we knew them better, and specifically if we remembered their future, we should pity them.

The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men.

The deathblow of envy is a calm consideration of the future. The wealth and glory of the ungodly are a vain show. This pompous appearance flashes out for an hour and then is extinguished. Is the prosperous sinner the better for his prosperity when judgment overtakes him? As for the godly man, his end is peace and blessedness, and none can rob him of his joy; wherefore, let him forgo envy and be filled with sweet content.

This line truly captured my heart – The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. Let that be our perspective today and every day. Let nothing of the present distract us from the promised glory that is ahead.

Pastor John


Connecting Points

Friday, May 03, 2013

Today’s Topic: Someday…

Today’s Text:  Genesis 45:3-8 (ESV) 3 And Joseph said to his brothers…4 “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors…8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Someday. That word begins many of our thoughts and our spoken sentences. We use it to express goals and ambitions. When I was young I had a lot of somedays. Someday I will be a doctor. Someday I will be a Coast Guard officer. Someday I will be a pilot. Someday I will be a missionary.

We use someday to express hope. Someday the snow will be gone. Someday I will play golf again. Someday I will get to go fishing on open water. Someday the Lord Jesus is coming back.

We also use the word someday to express hurtful thoughts. Someday they will get what’s coming to them. Someday I will pay them back.

That could have been the attitude of Joseph. Sold into bondage and considered dead by his brothers, and reported as dead to his father, he ends up in a foreign land as a slave. Resentment and bitterness could have easily been his choice. Plans for revenge could have occupied his thoughts. Someday I will use my power to teach them a lesson they will never forget. I will pay them back.

We would not have any trouble identifying with Joseph had he done that. We have done it. It would validate our own choices. But that was not the choice Joseph made. He chose a different someday.

I think Joseph chose the most honorable someday anyone can ever choose. He chose to say, “Someday I will return good to those who hurt me and use whatever was intended for harm to produce a blessing.”

That’s what faith looks like – faith in the absolute sovereignty of God. Joseph had faith in the promises of God and the character of God to fulfill those promises without fail. He had faith in the timetable of God: not only is everything for a Divine purpose but also fits perfectly into a divine plan. He had faith enough to endure unjustified suffering multiple times, and like his prophesied Messiah he never retaliated or spoke a word of defense or hurt in return. Joseph had the authority to do whatever he wanted with his brothers when they came to him for help, but he did not do it. He worked out a plan that eventually brought the whole family under his protection while gently teaching them to admit where they had been wrong.

Oh how much like our Savior that is! God the Father, in His eternal love for those He created in His image, has the power and authority to do with us whatever He chooses and our sin deserves, yet He patiently waited for the Someday when He would send His Son to do good for us while gently teaching us to admit where we were wrong. That is the glory of the Gospel – Jesus Christ willingly suffering unjustly for those that He intends to save.

Someday I will get that right. Someday I will stop trying to get ahead, or at least even. Someday I will be strong enough to endure whatever is said about me or done to me and trust God to work it all out according to His plan and in His time.

Lord, let someday be today.

Pastor John

It’s Epidemic

Connecting Points

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Today’s Topic: Purity

Today’s Text:  Genesis 39:9 (ESV) “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

We are surrounded by it. We are constantly confronted with visual images that immediately connect with pride’s pursuit of personal pleasure. From television commercials to regular programming, it is almost impossible to spend more than five minutes watching anything without either innuendo about it or clear and corrupt communication describing it. It covers the magazines at the grocery check-out counter. It pops up in totally unrelated ads on the sides of our Facebook pages. It is not an assumption to say that it sells. We allow it to. We choose to pay attention to it. We are silent about its presence in our lives but even more silent in public about our superficial stand against it.

Fornication is the term that best describes it, even though it is an outdated word according to modern culture. Its definition has been revised to include words like freedom, personal choice, and sexual expression leading to greater fulfillment. But call it what you will, it is outright rebellion against God. It is wickedness and sin.

It comes in many forms, but it all starts in the heart of a person who allows the lust of the flesh to become a choice to gratify self. Sexual expression and sexual experiences of any kind outside of the bond of marriage between one woman and one man is an abomination to the Lord God. Every form of lust and sexual expression other than God’s ordained type of marriage defiles us.

Strong words I know, but they are not mine. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:19-20 (ESV) Paul said, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (ESV)  And Peter said, “The Lord knows how to … keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones. 2 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul has more words about this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  And the writer of Hebrews says this – “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 (ESV)

It is about time that the people who call themselves followers of Christ begin to deal with the issue of secret sexual sin, and become so convinced of Christ’s saving power from all sin that they are able to proclaim as Joseph did in the face of sexual temptation, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

It starts by cleaning up and renewing our minds. How can we say or even desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit when we have made an intentional choice to hang on to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We lust in our minds based on what we have seen and done in the past. We lust with our eyes based on what we want to see again. And it is all motivated by the pride of life that compels us to seek personal gratification because we do not really believe that Jesus Christ is sufficient to fill us and fulfill our lives.

It may not be possible to avoid every display of sexuality in the world around us, but we can certainly say no to every temptation to let it into our hearts and minds. We can turn away, turn off, and turn around every time it presents itself. That is the promise of victory over every sin as we walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. (Read Romans 8:1-11)

So let’s all begin today to have the heart of Joseph, and no matter what society says, recognize that we are all ultimately responsible to God and every sin is first and foremost against Him.

Pastor John