Where Did the Giggles Go?

From Giggles to Guilt and Back Again

Psalms 38:4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

Today’s Psalm is quite a contrast to the 37th Psalm we studied last Thursday. We’ve gone from giggles to guilt. David has moved from delight to despair. But before we just brush it off as emotional instability, let’s consider the reality of what is happening. David has sinned. We are not told what the sin is, and that’s probably good or we would find reason to exclude ourselves from the message of this Psalm. His sin has resulted in health problems (vs. 3), heaviness of heart (vs. 8), hopelessness (vs. 10), and broken relationships (vs. 11). His guilt has overwhelmed him. He compares the weight of the guilt to a burden too heavy to bear.

I have been deeply convicted for the past few weeks that revival is necessary for the church. But I believe it can only come if it begins with me…and you. Revival starts with prayer – specifically prayers of repentance.

We must pause to consider that we may not take seriously enough the guilt of our sin. I see an “easy believism” in our modern-day evangelical movement that is leading people to a false sense of security. By that I mean that far too many people believe that they are saved from their sin because of their head knowledge of the facts of Christianity yet have never experienced the death of their flesh and the resurrection of the life of Christ in their hearts which transforms their lives. They reject the idea of repentance. They conform God to an image of their own making, and attempt to use Him as nothing more than a blessing machine for their lives.

The reality of this was demonstrated to me several years ago during a conversation I was having with a young man. He was telling me about some friends of his who profess to be Christians and were even involved in a Bible Study with him. They fell in love and decided to get married. After the engagement they moved in together. When confronted with this by a Christian friend, they rejected his “opinion” of what he told them was sin, and they said, “What right do you have to judge us. We will be judged by God alone.”

Your reaction to that statement will indicate your true beliefs about God. You will either agree with that couple and claim your rights to live according to your own opinions, or you will fall on your face with a righteous and healthy fear of God and consider the grace He has granted you to remain pure and blameless in the midst of this corrupt generation, praying the whole time that you will not fall into the same complacency and self-serving attitude about sin.

How great is the deception of Satan in the lives of people when they can proclaim their right to sin with an understanding that God will judge them, and yet not fear the judgment. Who do they really think God is? And why do they really believe they are truly saved when they think that way? How can people claim to be taking delight in the Lord while they are taking delight in their sin?

When we delight in the Lord, we will hate sin! When we walk in fellowship with the Lord, sin offends us because it interferes with the delight of our fellowship. When we are in love with the Lord we cannot be in love with the world. When anything threatens to interfere with our relationship with Jesus, we are to reject it and willfully turn from it. We must want nothing to interfere with the beauty of our relationship with Christ. That is the test of true love. True love immediately and forcefully rebels against anything that threatens the love relationship.

That’s how your marriage should be. Your spouse should see you immediately and forcefully rejecting anything that comes into your field of vision or sphere of influence that could threaten your intimacy. If your spouse can’t see that, then how are they supposed to trust your love for them? Anything that threatens intimacy with the one you claim to love should overwhelm you with guilt and a burden that is too heavy to bear.

So it is with Christ. No matter how we have humanly qualified sin as small or justified it as necessary for some personal fulfillment, that sin should immediately overwhelm us with guilt and Godly sorrow that drives us to repentance. I think we as Christians have quenched the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to such a degree that “little” sins no longer affect us. Maybe the reason the power is gone from the church today is because the lives of the people of God are filled with sin that is excused as insignificant.

Let us prove that we take delight in the Lord by not taking delight in sin. Let us fall on our knees today and confess our deception and repent of our sin. Let us cry out to God for forgiveness. Let us proclaim with David, O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.

Then, and only then, will the giggles return.

Real Men Giggle

Learn to Giggle

Psalms 37:3 – 7 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Of all the Psalms we have studied so far on our journey, this Psalm has more scenic overlooks for me than any other. I no sooner get back out onto the road and start moving through the Psalm and I must turn off and contemplate the beauty of what God is saying to me. Time does not permit me to take you through every stop, so let me focus on where I spent most of my time this morning.

In verses 3-7 we are given four guidelines that if followed will bring great blessing to our lives. Here they are:

  1. Trust in the Lord and do good. When we fully trust our lives to God’s care, then we can fully do God’s will knowing that the outcome is in God’s hands. When we do, we are promised a dwelling place and the provision of all of our needs.
  2. Delight yourself in the Lord. More about this in a moment.
  3. Commit your way to the Lord. In everything you do, do it all in the name of the Lord and for His honor and glory and this will be the result – you will be declared righteous and just in the sight of all men. Even though they may speak evil against you for a time, your consistent commitment to Christ will shine the light of Jesus into their lives. (Matt. 5:16 – let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.)
  4. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Even though you may suffer for your stand for Christ, be still. Don’t try to fix everything. Don’t look for manmade solutions. Wait patiently for God’s timing and outcomes, and keep doing good. (1 Peter 4:19 – So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.)

But back to #2 – Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. When you read that the first time where did your mind quickly focus its attention? Mine went right to getting the desires of my heart. How quick we are to jump into selfishness. How fast we are to latch on to any statement that fulfills our own objectives. The flesh is easily resurrected, isn’t it?

Why are we not first drawn into the delight we are to have in the Lord? I think it’s because our hearts are not soft and pliable enough to find joy in the simple things God is doing for us and giving us each day. The word delight is interesting. It is used only 10 times in the Bible, and two of them are right here in this Psalm. The word means to be soft, pliable, dainty, and delicate. One Hebrew dictionary even uses the term effeminate. Not a great word to describe the men who are reading this, or the one writing it. We want power. We want action. We want adventure. We want to be tough. But God wants us to be soft enough and in touch with our emotions enough to know Him intimately. Let me try to make the application for all of us, male or female.

I have a grandson who is adventuresome. He is mister activity. When he was younger He loved horses, and would ride his stick-horse all around the house every day. It’s the first thing he went for whenever he arrived at our house. He put on his hat, grabbed the horse, and galloped around yelling “Giddy up, cowboy!” He was having fun.

But one evening I saw him truly take delight in something. He came out to the kitchen carrying a book that made sounds to accompany the pictures. He wanted to show me something. He sat down in the middle of the floor and turned to a page with a picture of a man sleeping. He pushed the sound button and I heard snoring. He waited for a response from me. “Where’s that snoring coming from?” I asked. He started to giggle, and giggle, and giggle. He was taking delight in the response the sound of snoring was bringing from me. There was no activity, no running around, and no adventure. He was quiet and soft and pliable, and he was delighted.

We need to sit down and be soft and pliable before God. We need to realize that our greatest moments of delight will be found in hearing a response from God, and that God speaks in a still, small, and soft voice that is impossible to hear above the noise and adventure of our lives. The response we will hear is God’s will as He replaces our desires with His desires for our life, and then grants them.

What portion of our day is spent in pursuing the adventure of our own desires based on the strength of our own hearts? How often have we really heard the still small voice of God because we are making so much noise with our own activity? Men, why are we so afraid to be soft once in a while? God promised that when we are, He will give us the desires of our hearts. It is in the delicate moments of Christ infiltrating our hearts and softening them that we become real men – men who know the heart of God and understand His desires for our lives.

God didn’t ask us to not be men. He didn’t ask us to become effeminate. He didn’t ask us to stop taking risks and enjoying adventure and using our power. He just asked us to take delight in Him by staying soft enough to hear from Him.

So take some time today and every day to sit down and learn to giggle by hearing the voice of the Lord. It will not only refresh you, but it’s contagious to those around you.

 

Are We Practicing True Equality?

Love Practices Equality

Psalms 36:5 – 8  Your steadfast love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.

Songs have been written from these verses in Psalm 36. And rightly so. King David is contemplating God’s love. He describes it as immense – reaching to the heavens – priceless, and unfailing. When he thinks about how to illustrate God’s love from a human perspective, he declares this –  both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.

Here we have what I think is the purest and most practical description of God’s love – He treats everyone equally!

When Jesus walked on the earth we saw God’s love in action. We saw God choose shepherds to hear the first announcement of Jesus’ birth. We watched Jesus choose tax collectors, fisherman, and societal unknowns as His disciples and ministry trainees. We were amazed when we saw Jesus touch lepers and fellowship with prostitutes.  We were overwhelmed with his love towards those who hated him and hung him on a cross when He asked God to forgive them for what they were doing. The social, cultural, political, or financial status of a person means nothing to Jesus – He loves them all equally! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

WOW! What hope that gives us. Jesus will love me no matter what I’ve done or who I’ve been. How liberating!

Several years ago after a worship service where I had preached from God’s word about the encouraging endorsement God places on our lives and the eternal embrace of His love, a man with a criminal record came to my wife and said to her, I finally feel free. I can let go of the past and it doesn’t have to have any power over me any more. I am finally out from under the burden of my sin. When she told me that news I was overwhelmed with joy. Someone had found refuge in the shadow of God’s wings. That’s what makes God’s love priceless. People, no matter who they are, can meet God as they are.

The challenge for us is this: how can we get out of our comfort zones we have created for our lives and let the love of God be lived out in relationships with others no matter who they are? We must begin to show love to others equally as God does. Our love is not priceless nor is it unfailing. God’s love in us is! We cannot truly love others with our love, but we can let God’s love for others flow out of us. We can reject the fleshly tendency towards discrimination. We no longer need to choose our friends based on personal benefit or personality preference. We can overflow with the love of God that accepts people as they are for who they are and introduce them to the Savior who will transform their lives into what He wants them to be. No longer will we choose our relationships based on what we want people to be for us, but we will choose to relate to people based on what God will do with their lives. We will look at people with the compassionate and caring eyes of Jesus. We will touch the “lepers” of our society and we will fellowship with the outcasts of our culture so that they may find refuge in the shadow of God’s wings.

But in our efforts to reach out to the low among men we must not ignore the high among men. Sometimes it is easier to reach out to the needy than it is to reach out to those who believe they have everything they need. We must not forget that the earthly castles and kingdoms being built by the successful people around us are not truly satisfying their souls either, and that they need the love of God too. They may appear content, satisfied, and fulfilled on the outside, but inside they are longing for the priceless and unfailing love that only God can provide. Jesus said it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven because it is hard for them to give up their faith in their own accomplishments and treasures and put their faith in Him alone, but Jesus did not say it was impossible. We must reach out to the high as well as the low that are around us.

Someday, at God’s banquet table in heaven, we will feast on the abundance of God’s house. God will choose the seating arrangements. I will never know whether the person I am sitting next to was considered high or low among men, and they will not know that about me. All we will know is that in Christ we are equal and we are joint heirs of all things. Let’s make sure we start practicing that equality today.

 

Who Is the Real Enemy?

Identify the Right Enemy

Psalm 35:27  “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

No cute stories today. No attention-grabbing quotes. Just good Bible study.

Go ahead – take the plunge.

As I began to read the 35th Psalm this morning, I was struck with the thought that this Psalm is an allegory of spiritual warfare. I think it would be wise for you to read it.

PSALM 35

Now, after reading it, was it not your first impression that the Psalmist is talking about all of the people who oppose him and intend to harm him? It was mine.

But as I looked at it, knowing that David had many enemies and there is a personal application to his present circumstances, I wondered if there was a more significant application that reaches to us all. I especially thought that when I considered the context of phrases like “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in His salvation,” and “O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him.” I began to think that this Psalm is an allegory that proclaims an eternal truth of salvation rather than just a testimony to David’s deliverance from personal enemies.

I am convinced that we are fighting the wrong enemy. We are paying far too much attention to people who are not really our enemies and by doing so the real enemies are more dangerous than ever because of our denial of their presence and power. Our enemies are not people, but rather the spiritual forces of evil, with a leader who roams the earth like a lion seeking to devour us.

The Apostle Peter recognized this when the Holy Spirit spoke through him and said,   Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

It is Satan and his demons who ultimately contend against us. (vs. 1) It is Satan and his demons who are the ones who seek after our lives and devise evil against us (vs. 4). It is Satan who stands before the throne of God as the accuser of the brothers of Christ and maliciously assaults us with false accusations. (vs. 11)

Yet it is the Lord Jesus Christ who takes hold of His shield and buckler, and draws His spear and javelin and becomes our salvation. (vs. 2-3) It is the LORD who will rouse Himself for our cause and vindicate us according to His righteousness. (vs. 23-24)

Then, in joyous celebration we will shout, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

So go back and read the whole Psalm again, this time as an allegory of the spiritual warfare that took place when Jesus Christ conquered the Enemy and brought us our salvation. Put yourself and your present situation into the Psalm, and replace the people you think are causing the problems with the spiritual forces that truly are. My guess is that you will discover a new perspective on things. And when you do, you too, like David, will be motivated to tell of the LORD’S righteousness and of His praise all the day long. (vs. 28)

Sing Like A Canary

Sing Like a Canary

Psalm 34:1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Okay, I get it. It’s pretty obvious what the Lord wants to teach me today.

Just as I was completing my journey to the office this morning, Ron Hutchcraft came on the radio with his daily devotional. It started like this:

Our dog, Missy, had to share our attention with another pet. Yeah, it was a canary that we named in honor of one of our Native American friends. We named the canary Cherokee. Now, this little yellow cheerleader was great for when you were in a bad mood because he never was! As soon as you uncovered his cage in the morning, he began warbling his repertoire of happy tunes. It might be a sunny day, and you had happy singing from him all day long. It might be a miserable day. Guess what? Happy singing all day long! It didn’t matter how the people around our canary felt; happy, stressed, noisy, quiet, or down. It just didn’t matter. No matter what, he was always singing!

My thoughts went back to what my attitude had been when I rolled out of bed this morning. I was tired of these allergies, and the cough that accompanies the constant sinus drainage. Three weeks is enough, and I’m ready to feel better.

When I arrived at the church and sat down at my desk to start my devotions, I opened my Bible to today’s Psalm – the 34th.

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

I skimmed over it, not wanting to face the fact of failure this early in the morning. I kept reading.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD…Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Okay, I get the point. I paused and confessed my prideful attitude to the LORD, and started reading again – this time with a spirit of anticipation of seeing the goodness of God.

  • I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. God hears me in my time of need and delivers me after I acknowledge Him with praise.
  • Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Frowns and furrowed brows are replaced with radiant smiles when we look into the face of Jesus rather than the face of our circumstances.
  • The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Even though I cannot see it, there is an embankment of divine construction surrounding me, which is impenetrable by the enemy of my soul, and the gate is guarded by the Angel of the Lord. At all times He is delivering me from the dangers that I cannot see.
  • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Why is my memory of all the goodness of God in the past so susceptible to being overwhelmed by the perceived magnitude of my current situation? I have tasted, and I have seen, and I can consider myself blessed if I choose at this moment to take refuge in Him and stop hoping for improved circumstances to change my attitude.

Then I read this final confirmation of God’s message to me:

       But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Here’s what really challenges me – God has said that when I seek Him, and look at life from His perspective, I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED TO HONOR GOD AND SERVE HIM.

EVERYTHING.

Therefore, I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Deadly Distractions

Deadly Distractions

Psalm 33:1   Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.

I get distracted easily. I can be right in the middle of a…there’s a squirrel in my birdfeeder.

Now, where was I? Oh, I remember. I am easily distracted. Not only in my personal life, but in my spiritual life as well. As a follower of Christ I am also easily distracted. In fact, I think the whole church – the Body of Christ – is easily distracted and has fallen victim to a deadly ploy of God’s enemy the Devil. If Satan can distract us from the fundamental truths of the Gospel then He is succeeding at hindering the work of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the mission of Christ through the church.

I know what Jesus promised and I believe it – On this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. However, while the outside forces of evil cannot stop Jesus from building His kingdom, the internal influence of unfaithful people can certainly cause issues. And that is exactly what is happening.

My though process this morning all started when I read the 33rd Psalm. I underlined this phrase in verse 1 – Praise befits the upright. As I read on I was reminded of all the things for which I have reason to praise God.

  • His Word is upright, meaning straight and true.
  • His works are always done in faithfulness to His nature and character, so they are always good and for His glory.
  • The earth is full of His steadfast love.

Then I read verses 6 through 9, and was distracted by the realization that the truths they contain have become a huge distraction for the Christian community, and is one of the weapons our Enemy is using to keep us from spreading the Gospel.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.  He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.  Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!  For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

It is fitting for the upright to praise God for CREATION. It is not fitting for His followers to be debating it or trying to make it fit within an evolutionary model. We have become so distracted by trying to blend our beliefs into a scientific model that we have minimized the very nature of God. We are guilty of worshiping our understanding of the creation rather than worshiping the Creator. (Romans 1:21) And as a result of not honoring God and giving Him thanks even when we cannot comprehend Him or His works, we have brought futile thinking into our churches so that some are even accepting the horrifying sins that result from exchanging the truth about God for a lie. (Romans 1:24-32) It is a terrible thing we have done, as followers of Jesus, to ourselves exchange the truth of God for a lie, and then justify it with a spiritual rationale of seeking higher knowledge and revelation.

Here’s what I see. Over the last few generations it has become increasingly popular to evaluate the fundamental truths of the Gospel by looking for possible alternative interpretations and applications. It all stems from man’s pride, in which he attempts to fulfill his need to know. We have been distracted by the possibility that we can answer eternal questions about the Infinite One within the confines of finite understanding. We have decided that there must be a way to explain the nature and power of God in a rational way so that unsaved people, who have no spiritual understanding, can accept what we believe.

The distractions we have chosen are designed by the Enemy of our souls to enhance our pride in our own knowledge. This stands directly opposed to faith, and as a result the church of Jesus Christ is weak and inept at standing as a beacon of hope in a dark world. We have engaged the culture on an intellectual level, and have removed faith from the foundation of who we are. We are choosing to trust in our own abilities and wisdom so that we can praise ourselves. We are distracted from praising God.

The Psalmist emphasizes the hopelessness of this distracted pursuit. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples…The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.   The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Our distracted into intellectualism is not the answer. It is a false hope. Our only hope lies in the fundamental truth that God is Who He says He is, and He has done exactly what He said He did. He is our hope – Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.  For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.  Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

My friends, it is time for some deep soul-searching. We live in a generation that has validated the re-evaluation of the fundamental doctrines of God as a healthy pursuit. NO! It is a prideful pursuit to validate man’s identity, not God’s. Let us leave the distractions, and return to a life of faith in God, and let us praise Him and give Him thanks even though we cannot fully comprehend Him. We are called to live by faith, and God said that everything not of faith is sin. Let us not be the reason that the Enemy of God has a foothold in His precious Son’s Body.

Pastor John

Mid-Day Darkness

Turn on the Power

Psalms 32:1 – 2 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

It’s the time of year when the weather can get pretty intense. Atmospheric conditions can quickly spawn thunderstorms that can produce heavy rain, hail, strong winds, and even tornadoes. The consequences of some of these storms can be pretty severe. Even the smallest storms produce lightning that can interrupt the flow of electricity to our homes, plunging us into darkness. At times like that we realize how much we depend on that invisible power.

To compensate, we light candles or grab a flashlight and carry it with us. But light is not the only area of our lives that is affected. There’s no television, no traditional food preparation, and no heat or air conditioning. No matter how many substitutes we find for electricity, we cannot return to our normal lifestyle until the full power is restored. When it is and the lights come back on, you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the people affected. We can eat. We can open our garage doors again. Our air conditioning comes back on. We can go to bed in peace. We feel safe and secure again. We are thankful for the blessing of light.

When I read the first two verses of Psalm 32 today I was reminded of another time when a city was plunged into darkness. Unlike the summer thunderstorms, it was not caused by an electrical failure. It happened at three o’clock in the afternoon. In an instant in the middle of the day the world was plunged into total darkness. No, it was not an eclipse of the sun by the moon – it was an eclipse of the Son by sin. The Light of the world had been extinguished while hanging on a cross. Darkness invaded the earth. There on the spiritual power pole of eternity the Son of God had surrendered His life on behalf of mankind and there was no more light.

Sin always results in darkness. The darkness we experience in our mind, soul and spirit is the product of sin. We cannot call ourselves blessed when we are in the darkness of sin. Even though we have tried to light candles here and there in our lives and carry flashlights so we can see where we are going, we know in our hearts that we are still walking in darkness and the True Power is not on. We know that we are covering sin somewhere in our lives, and we are deceiving ourselves by thinking we are living in the light by carrying manmade lights.

Here’s what the Apostle John says about that – God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1)

Oh how we have lied to ourselves. We have convinced ourselves that as long as people don’t know the truth about who we are and what we do, the façade of light we have turned on is sufficient. But in our hearts we know that living in candlelight does not satisfy us fully, and that darkness is still pervasive. As long as we claim that the power is on while knowing that there are areas of darkness in our lives, we cannot be fully blessed and experience the fullness of the Light as God intended.

But there’s great news for us. The Power has been restored. The Light of the world was resurrected.  Darkness has been conquered once and for all, and the Power can never again go out. Darkness does not have to exist in our lives. The Apostle John goes on and says, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

But we must understand that the only way for us to walk in the light is to stop lying about the presence of darkness. The blessing of God can only be fully experienced and appreciated by those who have no deceit in their spirit. There can be no compromise with sin. There can be no cover-up of sin. There can be no complacency towards sin. When we come to Jesus in full humility and transparency, revealing every part of our lives to Him, His blood covers it all and restores the power.

Hallelujah!

So do not fear opening your heart up to Jesus – even those long-hidden dark secrets. He has already paid for every one of them, and He wants to bless you with His total forgiveness and restore you to His fellowship in the light. After all, aren’t you tired of the dark? Isn’t it time to turn on all the power?

Pastor John