Sea I Told You So!

This weekend my family and I thoroughly enjoyed some rest and relaxation in Monterey, Ca.  Although we didn’t drive the 17 mile scenic route or play on the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, we did spend time at the beach and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is a place you must visit some time – it says so in Hezekiah 3:23).

Each day we spent time as a family in God’s Word and on one of those days we traces some passages that spoke of the “sea” such as:

Job 11:7-9 – the limits of the Almighty are “broader than the sea.”

Psalm 93 – the Lord is mightier than “the breakers of the sea.”

Psalm 95:3-5 – God is greater than the sea He created.

Micah 7:19 – “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14 – “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Now that’s all great stuff…simple principles and truths to remember:  God is mighty, sovereign over creation, thoroughly forgiving and glorious.

But then we turned to Revelation 21:1 which says:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”

What? Did I read that correctly…”there is no longer any sea.”  Huh?  How can that be?  Questions!  Questions! Questions!

What would this world be like without a sea?  No more fishing, or harbors (habas – if you are from Boston).  No more psychedelic jelly fish, hammerhead sharks or lighthouses isolated on wave beaten rocks.  No more sea food (now that could be close to heaven), innocent little Nemo’s swimming around or sea weed entangling propellers.  No more barnacles, Spongebob or Patrick.  No more giant squid, hunting for Red October or Wilson…

Seriously, at face value this seems like a huge loss!  It leaves us a little confused and somewhat empty – unless, of course you have lived your entire life in Iowa’s cornfields and never experienced the tranquility of contemplating by the seaside.

So, what do we do with this?  How do we imagine surviving or life without a sea?  What is going on here?

Well, there are generally two views regarding this, but let me first say that any time we are looking at prophecy we must be careful to not say what isn’t in the text or to avoid what seems to be obvious.  Also, prophecy is often a cloudy and incomplete picture, so we must be mindful that we may not have the complete picture.  Also, in this text, we have a one-off description of the eternal state without any supporting or clarifying data from other passages.

All that said, we shouldn’t throw out hands up in despair and give up…no, we should seek to come to some understanding and then consider the implications…so here goes.

Some take this passage as “Symbolic“.  There seems to be a symbolic connection with evil and the sea.  For example, the ESV Study Bible notes say,

The sea was no more does not mean there will be no bodies of water in the new earth (cf. 21:6; 22:1–2) but refers to the source of earthly rebellion, chaos, and danger—the sea from which the beast emerged (13:1; Dan. 7:3). This symbolic (or literal) source of rebellion will no longer threaten creation’s perfection.

Others take this passage as “Literal“.  They say that the sea will be removed, but there will remain bodies of water, but that the source of all of those bodies of water is found in the River of Life (22:1-2)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

I would tend to agree with the more “literal” understanding that what man needs and is sustained by is the water of life that comes from the throne of God.  Yet, there is something symbolic about that, isn’t there.  It reminds me of Psalm 1:3-4 where we are told that we are to be like…

…a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Those who are God’s will be sustained by Him, in life and throughout eternity.  There is something very comforting in this.  God’s presence and power, nurture and strength are all sufficient for us now and even in the perfected creation we long for.

One final implication is this:  We can often come to passages like this and feel a sense of loss simply because what we have learned to love in this world, which is a gift from God, may not be present in heaven.  A few example to add to our discussion would be hunting (lion sits down with the lamb), marriage (we will not be married or given in marriage), family (you may not be very interested in “great godly Grandma” when you arrive)…etc.

These all seem like losses to us, but when we compare them to the reality of being with Jesus and gathered together for worship around the throne they pale in comparison.  The Godhead will be our focus in heaven and we will not want for anything else.  We will be complete and satisfied through and through.

So, live life for God’s glory today, but always in light of eternity.  It always tends to change your perspective of things…

So, the “sea will be no more”.  I’m happy giving up the sea for Jesus…

I’m just glad I get to keep playing Golf!!! :0)

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The Mystery of the Trinity

Yesterday I found myself sitting in an Adult Sunday School class where the subject for the day was the Trinity.  The instructor, a very learned and gifted teacher, guided the class on some of the implications of getting the Trinity wrong, and included the statement that…

“since the doctrine relates to our understanding of who God is, what He is like, how He acts, and how one approaches Him, distortions in understanding potentially jeopardize one’s salvation.”

Now, anytime a pastor uses the expression “jeopardize salvation” our ears perk up and we begin to struggle.  “How could my lack of understanding jeopardize my salvation? Don’t we believe in the perseverance of the saints?  Have we not been saved because of God’s grace freely bestowed on us?” Well, yes to all the above, but if our view of God changes or is distorted it is a grave position we have placed ourselves in.  And, to say that it “potentially jeopardizes one’s salvation” is to draw out the depth and gravity of such a position.

So, I believe that most who will read this article likely believe in the Trinity, but the difficult question is this, “How do we explain it?”  (hands scratching heads now…)

  • Well, of course there is the age-old illustration that the Trinity is like an egg: Yoke, White, Shell – three parts but all an egg.  Hmmmmm…..that just scrambles things in my head.
  • Well, how about water…yes, that’s it.  The Trinity is like water: Liquid, solid, gas — three parts but all water.  Hmmmmmm……but how can water be liquid, solid and gas all at the same time?  What that actually teaches is Modalism, i.e. that God was manifest in three persons:  God the Father, then God the Son, and now God the Holy Spirit – this is what Oneness Pentacostalism teaches (i.e. T. D. Jakes and the like) and that is a distorted view of the Trinity.

Well, maybe its like one blog article that has three parts.  O.K. maybe not, and that is the point.  Illustrations like this might draw us closer to an understanding or they may distort our view.  What we need to do is recognize three things:

  • The Bible teaches that God is One (Ex. 20:2-3; 3:13-15; Deut. 6:4-5, 1 Tim. 2:5-6)
  • The Bible teaches that there are three who are God (or claim to be God) – Father (1 Cor: 8:4-6; Mat. 6:26, etc.), Son (Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:2, 8, 10) and Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; John 16:8-11)
  • The Bible teaches the three-in-oneness of God (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Cor. 13:14, Matt. 3:16-17, etc.)

It must be noted that thought the Trinity is nowhere overtly discussed in the Bible, it is clearly implied throughout the testimony of the Scriptures.

Now, add to that that Church History is a record of the struggle of the church to come to a comprehensive and orthodox understanding of the Trinity and the nature of Christ.

The Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. established the orthodox position that Jesus is the same essence as the father.  It is usually understood as the “battle over a dipthong.”  The two options are as follows:  homooisios (that Jesus is of a similar essence to the Father) and homoousios (that Jesus is of the same essence as the Father).  Such small differences (oi & ou) in the Greek word, but significant implications.  Arius believed that Jesus was similar to God, but not the same as God.  Millard Erickson tells the story of a church bulletin in which the congratulations were extended to a couple who had been “untied in marriage.” Getting the Trinity wrong has lasting and distorting implications.  It changes our understanding of who God is, what He does and how He does it.

For some reason this diagram reminds me of a flux capacitor

He is God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit – Coequal, united and fully divine.

It is a mystery in that we have difficulty in bringing the above systematic truths to bear in one picture.  Yet, we believe it wholeheartedly, because that is what the Scriptures teach us.  We must be careful that we don’t go beyond Scripture as well as deny what the Scriptures teach.

Now, may…

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Universal Healthcare…?

Well, today is another day that will go down in the history books – arguments, protests, back-room dealing, compromises, smoke screens and constitutional abuses as well as representatives voting in ways that seemingly don’t reflect the wishes of their constituencies…all taking place on a Sunday, and I’m not talking about life in a local church.  No, we are talking about choices in the highest ranks of our government.

“Everyone deserves health-care” we are told.  “Everyone in their right mind wants it” is the mantra.   “We want to provide health-care for anyone and everyone whether they can afford it or not.”  Of course, such claims also come with a big price tag, and, usually with the government, that price tag is not widdled down and streamlined, it is usually padded and/or laced with  extra stuff unnecessary for providing proper health care.

Many people are crying foul because of the apparent violation of the constitution.  Others are feeling relief because they may now get the attention they need and haven’ t had due to their lack of resources.  One thing is for sure…the country is divided over this and there will be some real battles that will take place at the polls and on the quality level of health-care.

As I thought about this “great debate” that has been taking place over the last few months and has recently become the talk of the country, I couldn’t help but notice some of the parallels:

Universal health-care “is” available for all, but not in the way that people have been talking about it over the airwaves.  This universal health-care comes to us free of charge through the sacrifice of a loving Father Who sent His Son to this earth to die on a cross, becoming sin for us through His bloody offering which has given us life everlasting.    So, there is a universal health-care, and it is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, there are some who like that universal Gospel health-care, but insist that only certain people who pay for Gospel health insurance are worthy of receiving any kind of medical treatment.  Such people are excellent Gospel  citizens, faithfully and religiously attending church, reading their four chapters in the Bible every day, refraining from any kind of worldly entertainment, giving tithes of their resources and spending time serving in their local churches.

Others, however, also like the universal Gospel healthcare, but think that so much of the Gospel is too restrictive.  Rules, rules, rules…we are so sick and tired of keeping all the rules.  We just believe that everyone, no matter how sick they are, should be the recipients of that health-care whether they ask for it or not…and, because they are needy, more needy than most, they deserve it more.

If only they really knew the kind of health care that God truly offers.  It is only because of God that universal health care is even possible.  God knew our needs, sought us out, looked at our best interests and drew us to Himself.  We can work hard all our lives trying to keep all the rules, but eventually we will come up short because we will never measure up as being worthy.  No, God the Father listens to our advocate (Jesus our representative) as He pleads our case before Him.  We are guilty!  We deserve death!  We are unworthy!  But a quick look at the evidence of nail scarred hands & feet soon strip away any accusation.  We are covered by His blood; we are protected by His grace; we are sons in His family.

Maybe it would be better for us to spend more time talking about “Eternal Health Care.”  Not that the current debate isn’t important, but it pales in comparison.  Eternal health is the real issue.  We are enemies of God unless we are the recipients of His free grace.  We are blind until we receive the necessary faith to believe and see with new eyes.  We are in darkness until the light of the Gospel (the eternal health care plan) is shining on us.

It is so easy to get caught up in the current national debates.  I do have an opinion on the matter.  I personally think that we should have less governmental control and presence – I did live in England once, you know.  But honestly, that’s just my opinion.  God’s truth makes my opinion seem like the smallest neutron in a grain of sand in comparison to the universe of His wisdom and purposes.  He is trustworthy…and He has an eternal health-care plan…

It is the Cross…It is Christ…It is the Gospel…

No house needs to pass that Bill.  No Senate needs to affirm it.  No President needs to sign it into law.  No…what matters is that…

God has spoken…

“Eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Holy Cow!

Today I took advantage of the low 60`F weather and the end of the rain to venture outside to do something that I absolutely love to do – Mountain Biking.  There is a thrill to riding off road that is truly enjoyable:  smelling the natural ambiance of a freshly growing forest; racing through a jagged canyon; climbing a mountain with the promise of a panoramic view of the Bay Area, etc.  These all make the time enjoyable as well as an opportunity to think, meditate and exercise my ever aging body.

So, I decided to go to Garin State Park near my home in Hayward, CA.  The ride begins in a picturesque valley that meanders through picnic areas, by a pond, splashes over a ford and  winds to the top of a ridge.  When the path reaches the ridge the rider must pass through a gate – the kind of gate that animals, cattle, etc cannot go through.  Well, I came to this gate and facing me, on the other side, were ten bulls.  They all looked at me daring me to come through…so I did.  I moved slowly and they all looked at me and lowed at me.

Now, I am not a country bumpkin.  I know nothing about cows and cattle, but hey, this was my first ride of the year and I wasn’t going to be held back by a few bulls!!!  I just applied what I had seen on TV and made sure I didn’t look them in they eyes…and thankfully I wasn’t wearing red!  But, they would have to get out of my way…and they did, very slowly, but they did.

So, I began to ride past them and then realized that much of the path before me was a mess of hoof plowed mud…but this was my first ride and I wasn’t going to stop.  I figured that the path would smooth out ‘just around the bend,’ (“psych”) and it did, but only for a bit, then once again the thick mud punctured by hoof holes would give me a slick and bumpy ride.

Eventually the path cleared up and for the downhill trek I raced to the bottom enjoying the bumpy and rut ridden path as I went.  I was Mountain Biking and loving every moment of it.

The next stage  took me over a number of beautiful bridges and through some old encampments and then at one point I encountered a bridge which apparently was the bottleneck and the only way through to the next rolling canyon…but before me, across this bridge and for over fifty feet was another muddy, hoof beaten bog that reminded me of the Slough of Despond from Pilgrim’s Progress.  I reasoned to myself, “I am not going back…it would mean I have to go up hill and through the herd of bulls.”  So, dutifully and loyal to my goal I pressed on, walking my bike through the muddy (Note to reader – “Muddy” here is a broad term, if you get my drift!) path, slipping, slurping and hoping for some solid ground to ride on.

After the bridge the path turns left and as I rounded the corner I realized that I had just gone from bad to worse.  Now, with the Slough of Despond behind me I had over fifty bulls staring me down and about ten of them standing right on the path through which I must travel.  What should I do?  Go back through the Slough of Despond or press on and face the bulls.  This isn’t quite like being between “a rock and a hard place” but more like being between  “a bog and a bull face!” Fifty bull faces!  So, pride would not let me turn back.  What kind of man would do that?  There was only one choice, and that was to climb this hill while walking my bike through the muddy path snorting at all the bulls around me.

And then it dawned on me.  God was teaching me a parable of sorts.  Here I am, covered in mud.  Going back is not an option.  The way ahead seems dangerous, difficult and a hard climb.  Add to that the not knowing how each of the bulls would respond to me.  Would they charge?  Would they run me over?  Would they back kick me as I passed by?  Whatever way I feared that they would respond I really only had one option – Press On!  If they charged me, so be it.  I am in the hands of a Sovereign God.  I could see the headlines, “Local Pastor Struck Down by Sacred Cow” or “How the Pastor must Posture when put out to Pasture”.

Life is often full of bog’s that slow us down and people that we are not sure about.  They look at us as we go through our trials and often we don’t know what they are thinking.  Our minds can play tricks on us and we might even think that they want us to fail or fall, but we must press on.  Sure, the road is slimy, difficult and often an up-hill battle, but it pays to keep your focus, keep plodding along and reach your goal.

The truth is that I came upon three groups of bulls today, and by the time I reached the third group I just waved and rode through them being careful, but also being confident.

It was a good lesson for me to learn.  The bog can seem difficult at times and it is easy to let your mind wander thinking about what other people are thinking or even hoping that rest or a smooth ride is just around the corner.

But there is only one Person that matters, and He is seated on a throne, high and lifted up.  And there is only one path that is worth following, and that is the path that He has laid out for us.  So, there really is only one right option — press on, for His glory…

Or, to put it another way… we must keep mooooooooving…

Or…as the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:12-14…

“Not that I  have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

“Egypt My People”…Huh?

There are a lot of things that I have yet to learn about God’s Word and about God’s grace toward mankind.  That’s why I rejoice in the following passage from the book of Isaiah, chapter 19…

24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”

Did you get that…Israel, Egypt and Assyria will be united.  Now, after you have done a “Cheeto’s Cheeta” head shake read that statement again…Israel, Egypt and Assyria will be united!  Isn’t there something wrong with that statement?  Don’t those three nations seem to be at odds with each other throughout history so that their unity seems suspect?  How can Egypt and Assyria ever be united?  They are historically arch enemies, constantly in conflict with each other.  Look at how gracious the Lord is toward the nations:

  • Blessed be Egypt my people… (what?)
  • Blessed be Assyria the work of my hands…(Huh?)
  • Blessed be Israel my inheritance…(Right…but)

Hmm…  So there may be hope for us after all, eh?  Let’s read some more of the Isaiah 19 passage…

16 In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts shakes over them. 17 And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians. Everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose that the Lord of hosts has purposed against them.

18 In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction.

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. 21 And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.

O.K. so God, in that day, will both “strike” and “heal” Egypt, which results in their return to the Lord.  That sounds very much like what we know to be “the Gospel”.  Wickedness confronted, conviction, repentance and the granting of mercy.  One fruit of that repentance will be the reconciling of relationships…

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

The old arch enemies are building a highway between each other.  There is friendship, relationship and joint worship taking place.

24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”

So, think about this…

What we have here is an example of how God restores relationships, of how he extends eternal mercy to His enemies and His people’s enemies.  It is an example for us so that we can find hope and grace in the midst of our trials and discouragements.  It is a reminder for us to maintain our Christ-likeness as God is at work, even in our most difficult circumstances, especially when we are mistreated by those who are against God and His will.

It also sheds light on God’s promise that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Thank You, CVFirst Church Family…

Dear CVFirst Family,

Elia and I want to take this opportunity to let you know how much of a blessing you have been to us during one of the most difficult times in our lives.  We truly love you and are struggling with the fact that we are no longer part of the CVFirst family worshiping together.  The role of a Senior Pastor (and his wife) with his flock is a precious relationship and the outpouring of love you have shown to us has been a great encouragement and has helped to reinforce that God has been at work through us to minister to you over the last five years.

On the day of my resignation we were amazed and touched by your tears, your expressions of frustration and regret.  You have responded to us with the utmost affirmation and appreciation that any pastor and wife could want or hope for.  On the days after, your letters, e-mails, facebook messages and phone calls were and still are precious to us.  Rarely does a day go by that we are not receiving ongoing encouragement from you.  You are all to be commended and I am proud to have served along side you in the ministry.

So, please accept from us a deep and heartfelt “thank-you” from the bottom of our hearts.  We love you and are grateful for how God has been at work through you.

Now, here are some ways that you can be praying for us:

  1. That God would open up a door of ministry for us to walk through.  God has called me into the ministry and I don’t plan on letting Him down by giving up on that call.
  2. That God would give us wisdom for the present – i.e. How to prepare for our near future, what to do with our house, the possible need for Rod to get some kind of job to make sure needs are being met.
  3. That God would give us opportunities to minister and serve Him during this time of transition.
  4. That we can learn all the lessons God wants us to learn during this time.
  5. That we would resist the flesh (anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, etc.) and lean wholly on Him.
  6. That our family would grow together during this time of trail and adventure.
  7. That God would allow me the opportunity to be strengthened by attending a Pastors Conference in the near future.  I need to be under the ministry of the Word directed at pastors.
  8. That I would get the long list of “honeydo’s” done in a timely fashion…

Here is how I (we) will be praying for you:

  1. That you will keep Jesus Christ central in all things.
  2. That you will allow the Holy Spirit to fashion and shape your conscience through the water of the Word of God.
  3. That you would act on the directives of God’s Word to be people whose consciences will guide you in all wisdom and understanding.
  4. That God would allow your hurt, anger and frustration to be fuel for God’s will to be manifest in your lives and in your church rather than for anger and bitterness to reign.
  5. That you would take advantage and learn all the lessons that God wants you to learn from all that has taken place giving you confidence for what He has for you in the future.
  6. That God would help CVFirst to be the church God wants it to be for His glory and none other.

On a final note please let me encourage you to do the following.  It is probably the most important practical ministry you can be doing right now:

Love, pray for, encourage and support your Pastoral staff and their wives.  They are faithful men of God who have had to endure this season with a special grace, wisdom, patience and longsuffering that can only come from our Sovereign God.  Let me encourage you to tell them how and why you appreciate them.  Write them letters of encouragement giving specific reasons why you love them and are thankful for their ministry.  I want them to know how much you love them (just as you have shown us).  They are worth it and deserve the utmost respect, honor and support for their unwavering loyalty to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Don’t wait to tell them…they need it…they deserve it.

Now, although we are not gathering to worship with our CVFirst church family, please know that you are loved, missed and always welcome.  You are never a bother to us and we are more than happy to have you stop by, call or ask for prayer.  We love you all very much.

Still very much in His grip…

Rod & Elia

“D-Fence”

Recently, the question that people are asking me is the same: “Rod, how are you doing?” And, I could probably give you an honest answer, but, if you really want to get to the heart of the matter let me ask you to take the time to listen to this message by John MacArthur on March, 3rd at 7:00 p.m. during the annual Shepherd’s Conference.  It is entitled, “A Ministry of Integrity.

You can listen here

Or watch it here

Honestly, I remembered that the conference was going on, wishing I could be there, and that they usually have a live-stream covering the events in the auditorium.  I was so surprised and encouraged by what God was saying to me through this message.

Truly, if you love your pastor in whatever church you are in, or if you are a pastor and need to be encouraged to persevere in your ministry, this is a message for you.

So, if you really want to know what I am thinking and feeling, listen to this message…use your imagination and gift of application and you will have a better understanding how you can pray for me and for any Pastor who serves the Lord faithfully week after week…

What is interesting is that I received two text messages “out of the blue” from people sitting in this service asking me if I was listening.

Now That’s a Library

A pastor’s library is a priceless treasure that he seeks to build, not with chaff that blows away, but with the food and nourishment necessary to complement a true and healthy understanding of the Word of God.  My library is squeezing away at six book bookshelves.  That’s over 20 years of accumulation…but that is like a drop in a bucket compared to some…

Take a look at Albert Mohler’s Library… (note how he speaks about “rooms” and not bookshelves)

Then be amazed with J. Ligion Duncan’s “Study Room” which is bigger than many seminaries…

These are two of the guys from T4G (Together For the Gospel) coming up in April – guys I appreciate because of their balance, precision, passion and love for the Gospel, God and His people.

Who knows…maybe I’ll be a part of it this year…

Dad…Where Are We Going To Church On Sunday?

“Dad…Where are we going to church on Sunday?”  That’s a question I have rarely had to answer.  Maybe while on vacation it has been asked a couple of times, but as a Pastor that’s not a question you want to hear.

Well, right now it is my reality and God has allowed our family to grow together during this season of uncertainty, but He has also allowed us the opportunity to visit a few ministries that we would not normally have the opportunity to visit.

God took us first to NorthCreek Church, in Wallnut Creek, for two Sundays.  This a large ministry shepherded by Jon McNeff, and, unlike so many large churches in the Bay Area, NorthCreek is committed to the careful and faithful exposition of God’s Word.  They are also committed to Biblical Counseling and that vision being fleshed out among their membership.  Their facilities are impressive, but not gaudy…Simple and functional so that man is not the center of attention but Christ and His Word.  They also hosted the Marriage Conference that I was privileged to share a workshop at.  Excellent God-centered worship, penetrating baptisms and effective Word based ministry….

This past Sunday we visited a church that was closer to home, Grace Bible Church in San Leandro.  This is a young and up-and-coming ministry shepherded by Jesse Gistand.  He is an African-American pastor committed to the Doctrines of Grace and preaches with passion and that unique ethnic style that I could never mimic.  Visiting this church was very much like my wife’s home church in Oakland – passionate singing, an interactive crowd, time in the word.

One of the unique things that I noted was that in both churches the Pastor spoke for at least 1 hour…and the people enjoyed it, wanted it and the churches are growing because of it.  Clearly the priority of the Word is important in these churches, and that is a great encouragement to me.

So, as my family continues to ask, “Dad, where are we going to church?” I hope to learn much more about other ministries in the Bay Area that are committed to the same principles as I hold to.

Hmmm…where to next week?

God is good…